Devotee Writings etc.

ISKCON, ISKCON 2.0 and Beyond, Eunuch “Gurus” and What Comes After, Part 3 of 5

By Nitya Krishna dasa

The Devil in the Wrangling Details

The deposing of Srila Prabhupada as absolute spiritual authority and tolerance of mayavada certainly leads one to think that the ISKCON institution is now following a different process than his. This quote, cited previously, bears repeating:

“We cannot simply accept that part of the scripture we like, and reject what we don’t like, and still expect to get the result. For example, a hen lays eggs with its back part and eats with its beak. A farmer may consider, ‘The front part of the hen is very expensive because I have to feed it. Better to cut it off.’ But if the head is missing there will be no eggs anymore, because the body is dead.” Conversation with Father Emmanuel, Schloss Rettershof, Germany, June 22, 1974

In this analogy cutting off Srila Prabhupada pretty much means that the eggs of sincere, serious devotees will no longer be produced, what to speak of having the hellish reactions of condoning his blasphemy affect the association.

Srila Prabhupada Founder-Acarya of ISKCON, a GBC foundational document (something that loyal members should follow and preach), similarly presents a number of concepts that don’t originate from either sastra, sadhu or Srila Prabhupada. A slightly earlier document, the 2012 Harmonizing ISKCON’s Lines of Authority is related and also described as an “official GBC policy paper.” We have already discussed how the GBC “board of directors” has expanded from being the “ultimate managing authority,” as described in Srila Prabhupada’s will, to being the all encompassing authority over all things “spiritual” as well. Srila Prabhupada Founder-Acarya of ISKCON pretty much formalizes this as “foundational” to the institution:

“The institution that would be able to act . . . over large spans of space and time needs a unique form. . . an organization in which the ultimate authority would reside in a board of directors . . .” Srila Prabhupada Founder-Acarya of ISKCON, Text

“Stating that he wanted there to be ‘hundreds and thousands of spiritual masters’ within ISKCON, he implied that the normative guru-disciple relationship would be perpetuated within the unified institution under the direction of the G.B.C. In such an organization, many gurus would be able to act with concerted force, operating together with other leaders and managers in collegial accord.” Srila Prabhupada Founder-Acarya of ISKCON, Outcomes

“One central challenge is to integrate the guru-disciple relationship—which carries its own proper demand for deep loyalty and commitment to the person of the guru—within a larger society that demands, in a certain sense, a higher, all-encompassing, loyalty. Srila Prabhupada Founder-Acarya of ISKCON, Outcomes

The first quote endows the GBC with “ultimate authority,” and the others specifically describe how the so-called gurus should subordinate themselves to the body in “collegial accord.” As a university professor, Ravindra Svarupa was quite familiar with the structure of how faculty is managed. By the time the reform movement gathered in the mid-80’s, it was starkly clear that many of the so-called gurus were incapable of the sense control described in Srila Prabhupada’s books:

vāco vegaṁ manasaḥ krodha-vegaṁ
jihvā-vegam udaropastha-vegam
etān vegān yo viṣaheta dhīraḥ
sarvām apīmāṁ pṛthivīṁ sa śiṣyāt
“A sober person who can tolerate the urge to speak, the mind’s demands, the actions of anger and the urges of the tongue, belly and genitals is qualified to make disciples all over the world.” Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhupada, Nectar of Instruction 1

Tolerating the mind’s demands would include not indulging in mental speculation or following that of others, such as the deviations from guru, sadhu and sastra we are describing. If the institution’s so-called gurus were actually on Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhupada’s standard, there would be no need to manage them with the university faculty model or anything else because fall-downs would be rare. This means their subordination to the GBC is a bald-faced admission that these people have shown themselves largely incapable of the above basic qualities of a genuine guru. Bureaucracies are needed to manage those who can’t control their senses, not serious devotees beyond the neophyte platform. Neophyte devotees can’t act as gurus because they aren’t free from material anarthas themselves, much less capable of freeing others. 

”You are correct when you say that when the spiritual master speaks it should be taken that Krishna is speaking. That is a fact. A spiritual master must be liberated.” Letter, June 10, 1969

This “GBC as ultimate authority” concoction is also part of Harmonizing ISKCON’s Lines of Authority, wherein one of the section titles is “Spiritual Masters Are Not Independent.” This section includes the text, “Those serving as spiritual masters in ISKCON are meant to follow the instructions of Srila Prabhupada and work under the GBC Body.” This blatantly contradicts Srila Prabhupada and the sastra’s statements about bona fide spiritual masters not being subject to criticism.

In standard Vaishnavism “ultimate authority” is always found in the person of the bona fide spiritual master. Srila Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakura did not enumerate the glories of a board of directors in his Sri Sri Gurvastakam. He described the person of the pure devotee spiritual master:

saksad-dharitvena samasta-sastrair
uktas tatha bhavyata eva sadbhih
kintu prabhor yah priya eva tasya
vande guroh sri-caranaravindam
“The spiritual master is to be honored as much as the Supreme Lord, because he is the most confidential servitor of the Lord. This is acknowledged in all revealed scriptures and followed by all authorities. Therefore I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of such a spiritual master, who is a bona fide representative of Sri Hari [Krishna].”

yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasado
yasyaprasadan na gatih kuto ‘pi
dhyayan stuvams tasya yasas tri-sandhyam
vande guroh sri-caranaravindam
“By the mercy of the spiritual master one receives the benediction of Krishna. Without the grace of the spiritual master, one cannot make any advancement. Therefore, I should always remember and praise the spiritual master. At least three times a day I should offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of my spiritual master.” Srila Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakura, Sri Sri Gurvastakam 7-8

The statements of said scriptures on this are also clear:

ācāryaṁ māṁ vijānīyān
nāvamanyeta karhicit
na martya-buddhyāsūyeta
sarva-deva-mayo guruḥ
“One should know the ācārya as Myself and never disrespect him in any way. One should not envy him, thinking him an ordinary man, for he is the representative of all the demigods.” Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 11.17.27

tad-vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet
samit-panih srotriyam brahma-nistham
“In order to learn the transcendental science, one must approach the bona fide spiritual master in disciplic succession, who is fixed in the Absolute Truth.” Mundaka Upanisad 1.2.12

yasya sākṣād bhagavati
jñāna-dīpa-prade gurau
martyāsad-dhīḥ śrutaṁ tasya
sarvaṁ kuñjara-śaucavat
“The spiritual master should be considered to be directly the Supreme Lord because he gives transcendental knowledge for enlightenment. Consequently, for one who maintains the material conception that the spiritual master is an ordinary human being, everything is frustrated. His enlightenment and his Vedic studies and knowledge are like the bathing of an elephant.” Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 7.15.26

Srila Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakura describes how honoring the spiritual master “as much as the Supreme Lord” is “acknowledged in all revealed scripture and followed by all authorities,” yet apparently Ravindra Svarupa and the GBC don’t feel that the ISKCON institution needs to conform to this standard. By accepting the above “official GBC policy papers” does the GBC think they are the same as or above these recognized authorities? Perhaps the GBC should be reminded of the third and forth offenses to the holy name, both of which are committed by ignoring the revealed scriptures and previous authorities.

“The ten offenses against the holy name are as follows: . . . .(3) to neglect the orders of the spiritual master, (4) to minimize the authority of scriptures (Vedas),” Purport, Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita, Adi 7.73

The logical conclusion of this “governing board as ultimate authority” policy is that the so-called gurus are brahmanas or spiritual authorities in name only, a kind of domesticated eunuch in spiritual terms. How can the disciples see such a docile person as superior to them or “heavy with knowledge?” How can they be confident such an impotent person will deliver them from material existence? The mere fact that they are submitting to a mundane board of directors indicates their inherent fallibility. No genuine guru or brahmana would do so.

“Guru or… First of all, try to understand what is the meaning of guru. Guru means heavy. So one who knows more than you, or one who knows perfectly, that, he is guru. So if you know anything perfectly, then you are guru. But if you do not know anything perfectly, then you are not a guru. You are rascal. So guru means one who knows perfectly. So if you find out somebody, that he knows everything perfectly, then he is guru. That is the first prayer of Gurvaṣṭaka. Saṁsāra-dāvānala-līḍha-loka-trāṇāya kāruṇya-ghanāghanatvam. Everyone is in the blazing fire of this material existence. It is just like forest fire. Just like if there is fire in the forest, all the inhabitants of forest, all the animals, they become so much in perturbed condition. So guru means to rescue from this forest fire. So therefore it is said, ghanāghanatvam. A forest fire can be reduced or can be extinguished… Fire, there must be water. But wherefrom the water will come? Your fire brigade, bucket full of water, will not save. The water must come from cloud. So therefore guru is the cloud. He has taken the mercy from the ocean, or from God, and he pours the mercy. Immediately the fire is extinguished, and you are saved.” Morning Walk, December 15, 1973, Los Angeles

The deification of the GBC in Srila Prabhupada Founder-Acarya of ISKCON continues with these quotes:

“It is customary in India for an acarya to leave his institution to his chosen successor as a legacy in his will. . . By thus establishing the G.B.C. and leaving it as his chosen successor at the head of ISKCON, Srila Prabhupada insured that the order of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura would continue . . .” Srila Prabhupada Founder-Acarya of ISKCON, Reasons

“The action Srila Prabhupada took in 1970—establishing the G.B.C.— allowed him in 1977 to set this down as the first provision of his ‘Declaration of Will’: ‘The Governing Body Commission (G.B.C.) will be the ultimate managing authority of the entire International Society for Krishna Consciousness.’ By thus establishing the G.B.C. and leaving it as his chosen successor at the head of ISKCON . . .” Srila Prabhupada Founder-Acarya of ISKCON, Reasons

These are just lies and exaggerations. Srila Prabhupada’s will does not at all name the GBC as his “successor,” and certainly not in the spiritual sense Ravindra Svarupa attributes to it here. Ravindra Svarupa is here engaging in word wrangling of a very devious (duskriti) kind. Harmonizing ISKCON’s Lines of Authority employs a slightly different line of wrangling to come to the same self-serving “ultimate-authority-successor” conclusion. The authors even quote Srila Prabhupada:

“Srila Prabhupada thus clearly established the GBC as the ultimate managing authority and also indicated that the GBC’s jurisdiction includes the responsibility to offer spiritual guidance (siksa) to the whole of ISKCON, including all devotees serving as spiritual masters: Reporter: ‘Is there anyone who is designated to succeed you as the primary teacher of the movement?’ Srila Prabhupada: ‘I am training some, I mean to say, advanced students so that they may very easily take up the charge. I have made them GBC.’ In other words, although the GBC is the ultimate managing authority in ISKCON, the GBC’s duty is not only to manage but to teach.” Harmonizing ISKCON’s Lines of Authority, (their parentheses) 

So yes, the individual GBCs were enjoined by Srila Prabhupada to inspire the devotees with spiritual teachings, and it is not inconceivable that either individual GBCs or the body as a whole might privately instruct someone acting as spiritual master. Giving such guidance, however, hardly implies that either the individual GBCs or the body are any genuine guru’s “spiritual authority” or replacement spiritual master. Besides, any real spiritual authority would have to represent guru, sadhu and sastra transparently, something we are demonstrating that this GBC body fails to do whenever it suits their needs.

Srila Prabhupada also hoped that the individual GBCs would take his training fully to heart and “Amara ajnaya guru hana. ‘You become guru.’ But be qualified. Little thing, strictly follower” (Room Conversation, April 22, 1977, Bombay). The quote cited above in Harmonizing ISKCON’s Lines of Authority was just repetition of what Srila Prabhupada said any number of times – that he wanted all his disciples to become spiritual masters – and that he had perhaps higher expectations of the GBC men. Seeing the quote in this self-evident, mukhya-vritti (face-value) manner that agrees with his many similar statements does not at all confirm the further use of devious, faulty logic used by Harmonizing ISKCON’s Lines of Authority.

At no point in the cited quote (or anywhere else!) does His Divine Grace say that the GBC body will be his spiritual successor. In the document quote qualified individual GBCs were certainly hoped for as guru-successors, something completely in accord with guru, sadhu and sastra, but not the apasampradaya concept that the GBC body would be such. Only an undiscriminating fool ignoring Srila Prabhupada’s books will accept these arguments in Srila Prabhupada Founder-Acarya of ISKCON and Harmonizing ISKCON’s Lines of Authority that a mundane board of directors is any kind of spiritual successor. This is little more than the self-serving bureaucracy of an institutional religion primarily concerned with maintaining control over its members. 

“GBC members are simply to see that things are going on. Other centers have got president, secretary, etc. and they are managing separately. That is the formula. So how is it that the GBC are the final authority? They are simply to examine that things are going on nicely, that is all.” Letter, July 9th, 1971

As such, the concept that the ISKCON institution’s board of directors has spiritual authority over gurus is what is known as an unnecessary religious principle or ”ugra-dharma.” A serious transcendentalist prays to be protected from such ideas:

mām ugra-dharmād akhilāt pramādān
nārāyaṇaḥ pātu naraś ca hāsāt
dattas tv ayogād atha yoga-nāthaḥ
pāyād guṇeśaḥ kapilaḥ karma-bandhāt
“May Lord Nārāyaṇa protect me from unnecessarily following false religious systems and falling from my duties due to madness. May the Lord in His appearance as Nara protect me from unnecessary pride. May Lord Dattātreya, the master of all mystic power, protect me from falling while performing bhakti-yoga, and may Lord Kapila, the master of all good qualities, protect me from the material bondage of fruitive activities.” Srimad Bhagavatam 6.8.16

As cited in the above letter, Srila Prabhupada foresaw the GBC’s tendency to become the “final authority.” He certainly did not endow them with the power to select and manage those of his disciples who would act as gurus after his physical departure. One could accept that he expected them to police rogue devotees or so-called gurus in the name of seeing “that things are going on nicely,” even though the actual policing might be done by the individual temple presidents. As such, the GBC could provide a forum for discussion of the so-called guru’s deviations in conduct or philosophy with the possible consequence that the offender would be prohibited by those presidents from preaching in Srila Prabhupada’s temples.

The problem with the GBC deciding who can be “guru” in the ISKCON institution is that they then have to share in the bad reactions when a recipient of their endorsement becomes a deviant and misleads their followers. Apparently they like the bad karma of doing just this for forty-some years. Selecting “gurus” also creates unnecessary centralization with the GBC at the center as “final authority.”

“Mass Liberation”

There are other concepts in Srila Prabhupada Founder-Acarya of ISKCON that differ from the fundamentals of Krishna consciousness.

“ . . . we will return to the kingdom of Krsna not as isolated individuals but all together.”
Srila Prabhupada Founder-Acarya of ISKCON, Reasons

Salvation for a Gaudiya Vaishnava means socialization . . .” Srila Prabhupada Founder-Acarya of ISKCON, Reasons

This isn’t at all what Srila Prabhupada taught. He said each individual devotee is responsible for his or her future:

“When flying an airplane, one cannot take care of other planes. Everyone has to take care of his own plane, and if there is any danger, no other plane can help another in that condition. Similarly, at the end of life, when one has to go back home, back to Godhead, everyone has to take care of himself without help rendered by another. The help is, however, offered on the ground before flying in space. Similarly, the spiritual master, the father, the mother, the relatives, the husband and others can all render help during one’s lifetime, but while crossing the sea one has to take care of himself and utilize the instructions formerly received.” Purport, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.15.50

Devotee: What determines, Srila Prabhupada, if one is serious or one is not serious?
Prabhupada: Well, this seriousness comes after many, many births. It is also not so easy. Rupa Gosvami says, tatra laulyam api mulyam ekalam janma-koti-sukrtair na labhyate. He wrote a verse, krsna-bhakti-rasa-bhavita matih kriyatam yadi kuto ‘pi labhyate: “The Krishna-bhakti, Krishna consciousness, this thing, if you can purchase somewhere, just immediately purchase it.” krsna-bhakti-rasa-bhavita matih kriyatam: “Just purchase.” Yadi kuto ‘pi labhyate. First of all, if you want to purchase, the things must be available. Yadi kuto. Therefore kuto ‘pi, “If it is available, immediately purchase.” Then next question is, “What is the value? What is the price I have to pay?” Then he said, tatra laulyam ekalam mulyam, “Simply your serious eagerness to have it. That is the price.” “Oh, that I can have very easily.” “No.” Janma-koti-sukrtair na labhyate: “That laulyam, that seriousness, is not obtained after thousands of years’ pious activities.” It is so difficult. Janma-koti-sukrtair na labhyate. People are acting piously, but that kind of seriousness is not available even after executing pious activities for thousands of lives. So that seriousness is also very difficult, to become very serious that “In this life I shall finish my business and go home, back to home, back to Godhead.” Bahunam janmanam ante jnanavan mam prapadyate. Krishna says, “After many, many births, when actually one becomes in knowledge, he surrenders unto Me.”Conversation, June 29, 1972

Here Srila Prabhupada makes clear that becoming serious enough to go back to Godhead is “very difficult.” Ravindra Svarupa, on the other hand, sounds more like a Christian priest when he implies that one simply has to be “together” with the ISKCON institution to guarantee that he or she will attain that destination. This is also stated in the document’s forward by a fellow-institutionalist:

“The phrase ‘Founder-Ācārya’ is not just a title but a transcendental system intended to protect, preserve and give longevity to an institution dedicated to the mass liberation of conditioned souls all over this world in this dark abysmal age of Kali.” Bhakti Caru Swami, Forward, Srila Prabhupada Founder-Acarya of ISKCON 

We can expect the leaders of institutional religions to claim that following them circumvents achieving the serious and intense eagerness needed to fully surrender to the Lord. Ravindra Svarupa and Bhakti Caru’s standard for liberation, namely being a loyal member of the ISKCON institution, is not that of Krishna as given in Bhagavad-gita:

kama-krodha-vimuktanam
yatinam yata-cetasam
abhito brahma-nirvanam
vartate viditatmanam
“Those who are free from anger and all material desires, who are self-realized, self-disciplined and constantly endeavoring for perfection, are assured of liberation in the Supreme in the very near future.” Bhagavad-gita 5.26

Sectarian Religion

The fundamental premise of Srila Prabhupada Founder-Acarya of ISKCON is also inherently flawed because it is little more than a sectarian advertisement. All the nonsense about the new meaning of “founder-acarya,” mass liberation, ultimate authority and ”chosen successor” all add up to the narrow conclusion that this particular worldly institution is uniquely empowered to give Krishna consciousness, unlike others. Where is the broadmindedness? With a slightly different exterior, isn’t this the same concept that acknowledged sahajiya groups like the caste goswamis assert – that only our hereditary or social group can deliver real Krishna consciousness? The GBC’s structure isn’t the real Gaudiya Vaishnava parampara standard. It’s sahajiya.

“Otherwise one will gradually become sahajiya or one who takes spiritual advancement as something materially manifest.”  Letter to Makhanlal, Los Angeles, June 3, 1970

The ISKCON institution and its GBC are materially manifest entities, hardly pure Vaishnavas. They only represent Srila Prabhupada and Krishna if they follow the parampara standard of guru, sadhu and sastra. Conversely, anyone who knows the science of Krishna can give real Krishna consciousness.

kibā vipra, kibā nyāsī, śūdra kene naya
yei kṛṣṇa-tattva-vettā, sei ‘guru’ haya
“Whether one is a brāhmaṇa, a sannyāsī or a śūdra, regardless of what he is, he can become a spiritual master if he knows the science of Kṛṣṇa.” Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya Lila 8.128

“This Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is specifically meant for educating people about the spirit soul. It is not a sectarian religion. It is a science. Don’t take it as a type of religion. It is a course of education which is understandable by the human society, not by the cats and dogs.” Lecture on Bhagavad-gita 4.10, Geneva, May 31, 1974

Real Krishna consciousness is a science that, although faith is required, is ultimately independent of one’s temporary belief. It is the absolute truth. The result is attained by submitting to the guidance of the possessor of real Krishna consciousness, the bona fide spiritual master. Becoming Krishna conscious is solely dependent on the transparency of the guru and the sincerity of the disciple. God can be seen through His pure representative. Time, place and circumstance or the name of the institution and its board of directors don’t matter in the least because they are all temporary bubbles in the material ocean.

“Ahaituky apratihatā. Apratihatā means nothing can check. Anything material impediment, is not able to check Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Ahaituky apratihatā yayātmā suprasīdati. If you follow this method how to awaken your Kṛṣṇa consciousness, then automatically your ātmā will be satisfied, oh.” Lecture on Srimad Bhagavatam 1.2.6, London, July 23, 1973

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura describes as “ass-like” the sectarian bias found in Srila Prabhupada Founder-Acarya of ISKCON and other official GBC policy papers. The idea that eternal spiritual truth is only associated with some worldly distinction like a specific social group or institution inherently creates sectarian conflict.

“Differences that arise from places, times, languages, behaviors, foods, dresses, and natures of various communities are incorporated within people’s spiritual practices and gradually make one community so completely different from another community that even the consideration that everyone is a human being may cease to exist. Due to these differences there is disagreement, cessation of social intercourse, and fighting, even up to the point of killing one another. When an asslike mentality becomes prominent within the kanistha-adhikaris, they certainly indulge in these things. But if they develop a swanlike mentality, then they do not take part in quarrels; rather, they endeavor to attain a higher level. Madhyama-adhikaris do not quarrel so much about external standards, but they are always attacked by philosophical disagreements. Sometimes they condemn the standards of neophytes and establish their own standards as superior. They condemn the neophytes deity worship in order to establish the worshipable Lord as formless. In such cases, they are also considered asslike people. Otherwise, if they had a swanlike mentality and a desire to attain a higher level, they would respect others practices and inquire about higher topics.
“Contradictions actually arise only due to asslike mentality. Swanlike persons consider the necessity for different practices according to one‘s qualification, so they are naturally detached from sectarian quarrels.” Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Sri Krishna Samhita, introduction

It should be clear that the recent leadership of the ISKCON institution has evidenced a certain lack of faith in guru, sadhu and sastra. The zonal acaryas either didn’t believe the process of Krishna consciousness would enable them to become pure devotees or couldn’t be bothered to wait for that to occur. This lack of faith then metastasized when they became scandalized and saw many of their disciples give up Krishna consciousness altogether. Then to put Humpty back together the GBC further didn’t believe they needed to condemn the zonal acaryas lies and ambition or conform to guru, sadhu and sastra by not becoming “superior” to their alleged gurus.  They also didn’t believe they needed to defend Srila Prabhupada when he was criticized by some of movement’s women and their supporters or when Radhanatha Swami introduced blatant mayavada in a book they approved.

The Business of “Krishna Consciousness”

The more recent history of the ISKCON institution was nicely summed up by 20th century American philosopher Eric Hoffer: “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket” (The Temper of Our Time). Srila Prabhupada also likened pretender gurus to businessmen:

Srila Prabhupada: …So therefore the conclusion is guru is necessary and guru is he who is representative of Krishna. Otherwise he’s bogus.
Pushta-Krishna: What about the so-called gurus that take a little bit here and a little bit there?
Srila Prabhupada: So-called gurus, they are so-called gurus. They are not gurus. That is already explained. If one does not speak what Krishna speaks, he is not guru. If you accept so-called guru, that is your misfortune. What can be done?
Pushta-Krishna:
Some of them will say some things that Krishna says, but they’ll take from other places also. What is the position of such persons?
Srila Prabhupada: He’s most dangerous. He’s most dangerous. He is opportunist. He’s finding out customer, something here… According to the customer he is giving something, as the customers will be pleased. So he is not guru. – Answers to a Questionnaire from Bhavan’s Journal, June 28, 1976,                 New Vrindavana

Although the zonal acaryas may have had some criminal or racketeering elements, it seems that by now the ISKCON institution is, at least, well into the business stage. According to Srila Prabhupada the pretender guru is more motivated by getting followers and their money than he is in giving the unvarnished truth of Krishna consciousness, that medicine that can deliver the followers from the disease of repeated birth and death. The pretender will leave out unpleasant details or embellish the philosophy with more attractive facades (like hatha yoga or stress relief “preaching”). As described previously, some unpleasant details being considered for removal are Srila Prabhupada’s statements that relate to women, race or homosexuality.

Another recent business concept is that of “branding” one’s company or product. The ever-evolving brand of the ISKCON institution clearly draws heavily on being the institution that Srila Prabhupada founded. However, as accurately described previously by E. Burke Rochford and as evidenced by the extensive editing of Srila Prabhupada’s foundational books, etc., his position has become more of a figurehead as opposed to the absolute source of real Krishna consciousness.

Doing business, even with “Krishna consciousness,” is an inherently fruitive activity. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada wrote that the chanting of devotees committing offences to the holy name does not immediately bring one to the goal of love of Krishna, but results in short-term fruitive gain.

“Those atheists committed severe offenses at the feet of the holy names by their faithlessness. In other words, they did not believe that by purely chanting the holy names one attains love of Krsna, by namabhasa all of one’s anarthas are destroyed and one is freed from all material miseries, and by chanting with offense one achieves the fruits of trivarga—dharma, artha, and kama.” Commentary, Sri Chaitanya Bhagavata Adi 7.20, English translation by Bhumipati dasa

Srila Prabhupada spoke similarly:

“Similarly, first there is offensive name and, if you avoid, avoid the ten kinds of offenses, then gradually it becomes nāmābhāsa. And Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākura has said, Namācārya, that by nāmābhāsa one becomes liberated. There was some argument with Haridāsa Ṭhākura and one brāhmin in the office of Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī’s father, uncle. So there were some high level talks on this nāmābhāsa. So by nāmābhāsa one becomes liberated. By chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra offensive, one becomes materially happy or distressed, but when one comes to the stage of nāmābhāsa, he becomes liberated. And when he chants pure name, there is kṛṣṇa-prema. Just like Rūpa Gosvāmī: he was chanting. We are also chanting. But we are not in the stage of Rūpa Gosvāmī or Sanātana Gosvāmī and Haridāsa Ṭhākura.” Lecture on Nectar of Devotion, October 31, 1972, Vrndavana

In other words, the result of the ISKCON institution’s leader’s chanting could be little more than the tri-varga of their followers and the wealth and adulation they bring – a very good business in the name of spirituality indeed. And of course those leaders love to rub the noses of opposing factions and critics in those results of their preaching (“What have you done?”). The real question is whether ones chanting is going to take them to the ultimate destination of the lotus feet of Krishna.

“Some people may say, ‘The birds can also imitate making sounds like the name of Krsna, and as a result they can also attain a higher destination such as liberation.’ In reply to this, it may be said that imitating and following are two completely separate activities. Although the imitators may make various sounds perceivable to senses in the material sky as the name of Krsna, they are not uttering with service inclined tongues the pure holy name of Krsna situated in the spiritual sky and perceivable to purified senses. The materially motivated sounds resembling the holy names that are uttered for the purpose of material enjoyment that is unrelated to Krsna are not vaikuntha-nama, or spiritual names. Since such sounds are able to award insignificant results, they are simply known as namaaparadha, or offenses to the holy names, and as such they cannot awaken one’s love for Krsna, which is the fruit of chanting the pure names.” Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada, Commentary, Sri Chaitanya Bhagavata Adi 16.287, English translation by Bhumipati dasa

“In Srimad-Bhagavatam, a distinction between real religion and pretentious religion has been clearly made. According to this original and genuine commentation on the Vedanta-sutra, there are numerous pretentious faiths that pass as religion but neglect the real essence of religion. The real religion of a living being is his natural inborn quality, whereas pretentious religion is a form of nescience that artificially covers a living entity’s pure consciousness under certain unfavorable conditions. Real religion lies dormant when artificial religion dominates from the mental plane.” Purport, Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita, Adi 1.91

ISKCON, ISKCON 2.0 and Beyond, Eunuch “Gurus” and What Comes After, Part 1 of 5

ISKCON, ISKCON 2.0 and Beyond, Eunuch “Gurus” and What Comes After, Part 2 of 5

ISKCON, ISKCON 2.0 and Beyond, Eunuch “Gurus” and What Comes After, Part 4 of 5

ISKCON, ISKCON 2.0 and Beyond, Eunuch “Gurus” and What Comes After, Part 5 of 5

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