Born Again Krishna’s

ISKCON Gurus_s

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada disappeared from our mundane vision in 1977. This event caused dramatic changes within the Hare Krishna movement.

The first thing was, as Srila Prabhupada was no longer physically present, who would initiate the new devotees? Many of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples had the desire to become gurus, but they were not qualified gurus. Guru is not a cheep thing. Many devotees were attracted by the fame, adoration, profit and distinction which accompany the position of acarya, rather than the sincere desire to please Krishna and Srila Prabhupada and save the fallen conditioned souls from rotting in this material world by giving them Krishna consciousness. Ultimately the devotees named by Srila Prabhupada as authorized to give ritvik initiation on his behalf convinced the general devotee community that Srila Prabhupada had intended them to be his successors.

Srila Prabhupada’s “successors” then carved up the world into a number of zones. In each zone one of the successors was to be the “zonal acarya” and he would be the only “spiritual master” in that zone and all new devotees would have to take initiation from him. Why not? After all he was a paramahamasa, a pure devotee on the topmost platform of devotional service, he was non-different from Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself!

This, apart from being a quite ridiculous proposal, had the effect of creating factions within ISKCON. Of course factions existed when Srila Prabhupada was physically present, but they were not as serious as the ones which developed as a result of the “zonal acarya” system.

Disciples of one “guru” were convinced that their “guru” was the only “pure devotee”, he was right and everyone else was wrong. Much stress was given to the necessity of pleasing the guru to get the mercy of Krishna and any devotee who did not accept this system was in trouble. He was a demon, he was blaspheming a pure devotee, simply an envious rascal and such enemies of the Hare Krishna movement were thrown out, often violently. All to keep these “acaryas” in their positions.

"Srila Bhaktsiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura says that a devotee does not care about his own happiness or distress; he is simply interested in seeing that Krishna is happy, and for that purpose he engages in various activities. A pure devotee has no way of sensing happiness except by seeing that Krishna is happy in every respect. If Krishna becomes happy by giving him distress, such a devotee accepts that unhappiness as the greatest of all happiness. Those who are materialistic, however, who are proud of material wealth and have no spiritual knowledge, like the prakrta-sahajiyas, regard their own happiness as the aim of life. Some of them aspire to enjoy themselves by sharing the happiness of Krishna. This is the mentality of the fruitive workers who want to enjoy sense gratification by making a show of service to Krishna." (CC Ant 20.52)

The new “acaryas” didn’t exhibit the qualities of real spiritual masters, yet the ISKCON philosophy was they were paramahamasas, topmost devotees, on a level equal with Srila Prabhupada. The difficulty was they didn’t exhibit the qualities one would expect to find in pure devotees. Srila Prabhupada had shown real compassion for his disciples and for all living entities, he also had real love for Krishna and really enjoyed chanting Hare Krishna, speaking about Krishna, writing books about Krishna, preaching enthusiastically about Krishna consciousness, seeing his disciples advance in Krishna consciousness an seeing the Hare Krishna movement spread all over the world. In Srila Prabhupada, all these qualities were real, he was really dedicated completely to serving his spiritual master and Krishna by fulfilling their desire that Krishna consciousness be spread all over the world.

The new “acaryas” didn’t follow in Srila Prabhupada’s footsteps, they tried to imitate him. They didn’t have the deep love for Krishna Srila Prabhupada had, nor even firm faith in the process of Krishna consciousness. Srila Prabhupada always followed the disciplic succession, he never concocted anything new. He simply presented the timeless philosophy of Krishna consciousness as he had received it from his spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, who had received it from his spiritual master, Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji Maharaja, who received it from Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura and so on right back to Lord Brahma, the supreme and first created living entity in this universe. Lord Brahma received this knowledge directly from Krishna by revelation from within the heart.

The new ‘acaryas‘ didn’t have the pure devotion which was the attractive principle behind Srila Prabhupada’s success… but still they insisted on advertising themselves as great devotees.

"Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura comments that persons who are actually very poor because they posses not even a drop of love of Godhead or pure devotional service falsely advertise themselves as great devotees, although they cannot at any time relish the transcendental bliss of devotional service. A class of so-called devotees known as prakrta-sahajiyas display devotional symptoms to exhibit their good fortune. They are pretending, however, because these devotional features are only external. The prakrta-sahajiyas exhibit these symptoms to advertise their so-called advancement in love of Krishna, but instead of praising the prakrta-sahajiyas for their symptoms of transcendental ecstasy, pure devotees do not like to associate with them. It is not advisable to equate the prakrta-sahajiyas with pure devotees. When one is actually advanced in ecstatic love of Krishna, he does not try to advertise himself. Instead, he endeavors more and more to render service to the Lord." (CC Ant 20.28)

Srila Prabhupada, unlike the new “acaryas” didn’t rely on material formulas. He was fully confident of support and maintenance from Krishna. He accepted Srila Bhaktsiddhanta’s instruction that there was no need to worry about money, “simply do something nice for Krishna, and Krishna will supply the required money and men.” Srila Prabhupada went to the United States with just seven dollars and some volumes of Srimad Bhagavatam which he had translated and printed in India. He spoke on the Srimad Bhagavatam and Bhagavad-gita and chanted Hare Krishna, and Krishna sent everything abundantly.

"If we are in spiritual strength there will be no scarcity of money; and the spiritual strength is that each and every one of us must chant 16 rounds of beads and follow the rules and regulations with great adherence." (8 Feb 1970)

So many men, so much money, so many books published, so many temples opened. Srila Prabhupada changed the whole world. There can hardly be anyone on this planet now, particularly in the developed countries, who hasn’t heard or chanted Hare Krishna. This is no small achievement. Srila Prabhupada repeated this instruction, “just preach and Krishna will send everything,” but his disciples couldn’t hear it. After his departure this instruction was very quickly forgotten.

With Srila Prabhupada no longer physically present to encourage the devotees to print and distribute his books and to stamp out the deviations and corruption within ISKCON the “acaryas” had a wide scope of activities. In Srila Prabhupada’s presence there was an incense business, Spiritual Sky, and some selling of devotional records, and, although Srila Prabhupada initially approved of the incense business, subsequently he rejected all business enterprises as a distraction from book distribution. Srila Prabhupada wrote hundreds of letters pleading the devotees to concentrate on selling his books, not on business activities. But Srila Prabhupada wasn’t physically present any more, and Srila Prabhupada’s letters were safely locked away where no-one could read them, so the “leaders” of ISKCON were free to concoct anything that they liked and exploit the sincere devotees who trusted them and expected them to give them Krishna consciousness.

"Regarding record albums,[of Srila Prabhupada and other devotees singing Krishna conscious songs] it is something sentimental. they will purchase and hear for sometime and throw it and purchase another. A book purchased will remain, and once even one line is read, that will benefit the reader." (to Hansadutta 9 Sep, 1974)
"This record distribution has caused havoc. It should be stopped immediately. I have also asked Hansadutta to stop it. Book distribution is our real business. If we give them a record they simply hear some magical sounds and take it for sense gratification, but if they receive one of our books and read even one page, they get eternally benefited. Therefore I am stressing this book distribution, not other things. Stop record selling completely. This is my order." (to Ajit 6 Jan, 1975)
"I have considered this matter of record distribution and I have decided that it should be immediately stopped. It has simply caused havoc. It should be stopped everywhere. The stress must be on books, nothing else needs to be sold... The records are not important. My books are important. You should make arrangement to distribute them in as much quantity as possible."(to Hansadutta 6 Jan, 1975)

The mood within ISKCON had dramatically changed. Instead of the emphasis on endeavoring to please Srila Prabhupada and Krishna by preaching and distributing books, the emphasis was on making lots and lots of money.

"It is very risky to handle material things and business. We are naturally business-minded, and so as soon as we get some opportunity, this mentality becomes strong. We have already got our book-selling program. It is better not to divert to other lines of business... Unless everyone of us sticks to the regulative principles of chanting, there is no other alternative than fall-down. This is a fact. I repeatedly say this, so if people do not follow, what can I do?" (to Karandhara 19 Oct, 1973)

Srila Prabhupada had instructed that devotees in ISKCON should simply endeavor to preach and distribute books and Krishna would automatically provide all of the men and money required. Unfortunately the “zonal acaryas” had not understood Srila Prabhupada’s instructions, nor did they have faith that Krishna would send everything if they simply followed Srila Prabhupada’s instructions by distributing his books and taking the preaching mission seriously. In fact, in many cases, they didn’t even want to preach and distribute books. ISKCON’s new policy was that preaching requires lots and lots of money. With this policy the devotees were convinced that book distribution and direct preaching were less important… the main thing was to make lots of money.

"Yes, my order still stands. Please organize Back To Godhead distribution and do it nicely. Sankirtana [street chanting] and distribution of our magazines and books is our real program. Other things are secondary... Attention diverted to incense distribution is not a very good sign. We should give all our energy for distributing Back To Godhead." (to Satsvarupa 21 Jun, 1971)

The “zonal acaryas” were able, with much word juggling and redefinition, to convince the general devotee community that Srila Prabhupada was taking about business and making money when he talked about “sankirtana” (the congregational chanting of the holy names of God). Of course there were devotees who didn’t fall for this, but they were branded as demons and envious rascals and generally they were kicked out of ISKCON.

Somehow the “zonal acaryas” convinced the devotees that business was sankirtana and that the devotees going out and selling Hong Kong oil paintings, tee-shirts, records, Persian rugs, etc., were the topmost preachers and were Srila Prabhupada’s and Lord Caitanya’s best devotees! Personally I have never understood how anyone could have fallen for this, but, the power of association is very strong. At that time the ISKCON temples were full of “gung ho” salesman, totally convinced that being a salesman was the most pleasing thing to Srila Prabhupada and Krishna. The one who makes the most money wins! So less intelligent new devotees coming into this atmosphere were quickly convinced that Srila Prabhupada wanted them to make lots of money, the more money the better. Anyone who had the intelligence to question the system had a very, very difficult time in ISKCON and as a result many sincere devotees were forced out of ISKCON, being branded as demons and envious rascals for questioning the words of the pure devotee “acaryas” who had ascertained that, according to the time and place it was no longer appropriate to sell Srila Prabhupada’s books to the poor fallen conditioned souls who are rotting in this material world simply due to a lack of Krishna consciousness, the very essence of Srila Prabhupada’s books. It was now more appropriate to sell them nice oil paintings of landscapes, trees, still-life and so many mundane subjects along with baseball caps, bumper stickers and a host of assorted “paraphernalia.” The “acaryas” had determined that by selling all this mundane rubbish to the fallen conditioned souls they would become Krishna conscious and the Krishna consciousness movement would expand. Unfortunately they were mistaken. Nothing auspicious can ever result from the blatant rejection of the orders of the spiritual master.

"Our first business is this book distribution. There's no need of any other business. If this book distribution is managed properly, pushed on with great enthusiasm and determination, and at the same time our men remain spiritually strong, then the whole world will become Krishna conscious." (to Satsvarupa, 5 Jan, 1976)

With their new money making philosophy devotees took to business with great enthusiasm and they were successful in making enormous amounts of money. Unfortunately most of the money was misappropriated, embezzled and wasted on luxurious arrangements for devotees eating and sleeping facilities and to maintain their families. Srila Prabhupada’s intense desire to save the fallen conditioned souls and please Krishna and his spiritual master by preaching Krishna consciousness and distributing books was lost. Every zone took to this business activity to a different degree, depending on the mood of the “zonal acarya.”

The emphasis on business struck at the very heart of ISKCON and Srila Prabhupada, book distribution. As the devotees were busy doing business there was no longer any time to distribute books and preach. The chanting parties disappeared off the streets, the book distributors were no longer to be seen in the car-parks and airports, The Hare Krishna’s had vanished!

"I started my movement with my books. And we shall be able to maintain everything with the sales of the books. The temples will be maintained by the book sales, and if there are no more temples, then the books shall remain." (to Hansadutta 8 Nov, 1973)

As business became more and more a way of life in ISKCON most of the devotees became just like materialists. The temple presidents and the sannyasis were preaching that it was necessary to work hard day and night in these mundane business activities to raise enough money to maintain the temple. This was a very depressing job… just what many devotees left behind them when they joined the Hare Krishna movement.

"Asuras(demons) always engage in atheistic material activities, exploring ways to utilize the resources of matter to enjoy sense gratification. The visnu-bhaktas, Krishna conscious devotees, are also active, but their objective is to satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead by devotional service. Superficially both classes may appear to work in the same way, but their purposes are completely opposite because of a difference in consciousness. Asuras work for personal sense gratification, whereas devotees work for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord. Both work conscientiously, but their motives are different." (CC Adi 3.91)

Many devotees could not come to accept this business activity so they were left with no option other than to leave ISKCON. In the meantime the “zonal acaryas,” temple presidents and other “advanced devotees” in ISKCON were able to live a very comfortable life at the expense of younger, naive devotees.

"It is better not to divert to other lines of business [than book selling] This boy Rsi Kumar appears to be lost coming in contact with business. I heard he was coming to India and staying at the hotel without coming to the temple. Similarly Hayagriva is also lost almost. So, the situation is not very favorable. There is the story of the bed-bug. In the winter season the bed-bug appears to be only skin, but in summer season as soon as it gets the opportunity of biting and sucking blood, it becomes fatty. Sometimes we may artificially renounce the world, but as soon as the opportunity of sucking blood is there, we turn again into a bed-bug." (to Karandhar 19 Oct 1973)

ISKCON’s emphasis on making money meant devotees no longer needed to understand the philosophy of Krishna consciousness to perform their service. This is very different from book-selling where a devotee must convince people to purchase the books by glorifying the book and Krishna. A sincere book-distributor must, therefore, carefully study the books to enable him to convince people of their worth. A painting distributor, selling Hong Kong oil paintings, doesn’t have any need to preach or study, he just needs to become an expert cheater.

"If you start trading business then so many problems will be there. We should produce just enough for our own use. Trading leads to envy and jealousy and cheating, then everything is lost. I am seeing now that the business activities in our society, they are increasing. Originally I allowed that Gargamuni could start the incense business. I thought that the Ramakrishna mission, they are doing it, so what is the harm? But now I see that Spiritual Sky, they have so many programs. And now there is jewellery business going on. So why should the business increase? Nanda Kumara, he came here to India simply for doing business That is not required. So I have given him sannyasa and now he is finished with all business, and he will go to Africa to preach. So this business should be discouraged, otherwise, if they do it, our men will again become karmis. Our business is simply book distribution." (to Jagadish 20 Nov 1975)

When a new devotee came to a Hare Krishna temple enthusiastic to preach he would quickly be convinced that to preach the temple needed money and to get that money the temple had to do business. If he wanted to pull his weight and help Srila Prabhupada spread Krishna consciousness he’d better give up those idealistic thoughts of going out and chanting on the streets and distributing books, rather he should grow some hair, put on ordinary clothes and get out there and sell whatever the temple was currently in to. The main thing was to make as much money as possible.

"Ours is a cooperative movement, with Krishna and the advancement of Krishna's movement at the center, and we must continue to sell as many books as possible, but discuss everything amongst yourselves and do it nicely without irritating anyone, that is the art." (to Butatma and Keshava 2 Nov, 1972)

New devotees would also be encouraged to get out of the “offensive” idea of trying to please Srila Prabhupada. By doing that he was “jumping over” the current acaryas and thus making a great offense which could finish his spiritual life. The only way he could please Srila Prabhupada, they said, was by taking shelter of and surrendering to the “zonal acarya” who was a pure devotee and therefore non-different from Krishna. He should be worshiped as if he was Krishna. As soon as the new devotee surrendered to the “zonal acarya” he had to obey his orders unquestionably. The “zonal acaryas” (with one or two rare exceptions) were great supporters of this new “sankirtana“.

A whole new system of measuring spiritual advancement and service to the guru was born. The mighty dollar. The more dollars the devotee collected the more spiritually advanced he was.

"Regarding your question, actually it is a fact that ultimately everyone should preach and distribute books if they want to please me in the best way. Book distribution must be given stress always. He has spoken the right thing. If you do this sincerely, it is a fact that Krishna will supply everything else required." (to Sri Govinda, 12th. Jun, 1974)

To explain this business activity within the framework Srila Prabhupada had given for Krishna consciousness some word jugglery was required. It was clear that Srila Prabhupada wanted book distribution and that he didn’t like the idea of devotees being distracted by business. Book distribution and street chanting were termed sankirtana (the congregational chanting of the Holy Names of the Lord), and Srila Prabhupada definitely wanted his devotees to perform sankirtana unlimitedly. So the leaders in ISKCON redefined the word sankirtana to mean business in the minds of the devotees. They called candle selling, tee-shirt selling, record selling, painting selling and all types of “charity” collections sankirtana. This enabled ISKCON leaders to say “Prabhupada wants you to go on sankirtana,” which was true, of course, but Srila Prabhupada’s idea of sankirtana and ISKCON’s new conception of sankirtana were vastly different.

"Actually, any activities performed favorably for the satisfaction of the Lord, under the direction of the spiritual master, are spiritual. But for a person to disregard the order of the spiritual master and act by concoction, accepting his nonsensical activities to be spiritual, is maya. One must achieve the favor of the Supreme Personality of Godhead through the mercy of the spiritual master. Therefore one must first please the spiritual master, and if he is pleased, then we should understand that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is also pleased. But if the spiritual master is displeased by our actions, they are not spiritual." (CC Adi 14.29)

The justification of this program was that the businesses were preaching and therefore part of the sankirtana movement. One might well ask (and many did) “How can selling a Hong Kong painting be preaching?” Of course there was a well thought out answer for this one. The devotees were not actually doing business, they were “engaging” people in Krishna consciousness by “liberating Laxmi” (the Goddess of Fortune). The liberated “Laxmi,” which was money, was meant to be used for printing Prabhupada’s books and spreading Krishna consciousness. Because the “Laxmi” was to be used in spreading Krishna consciousness the devotee collecting the money and the person giving the money would benefit spiritually. Unfortunately, more often than not, the money was either embezzled or used for providing nice facilities for the devotees and their families, particularly the leading devotees, rather than being used to increase the preaching and book distribution. The result of this was instead of making spiritual advancement, everyone involved in these business transactions was implicated in unlimited sinful activities. The materialists didn’t benefit spiritually and the devotees didn’t make advancement towards the ultimate goal of life, Krishna consciousness.

"The temple is managed by Srimati Radharani, Laxmiji; so why should there be want? Our philosophy is, if anyone comes let him take prasada, chant Hare Krishna and be happy. Everything is being supplied by Krishna, Krishna is not poor, so why we should deny them? This should be done at any cost. There is no difficulty, it simply requires good management." (to All Temple Presidents 18 Jan, 1977)

There was a prevailing mood that anything was justified in “sankirtana.” The end justified the means. This idea was preached and reinforced by many leaders in the society and devotees were engaging in all sorts of illegal and underhanded schemes to “liberate Laxmi.”

"So far as making some false story for collecting money or distributing books, of course we can do anything for Krishna, but that is supposed to be reserved for very advanced experts in Krishna consciousness--they know how to catch the big fish without getting wet. So it is not very much advisable to make lies just to sell books. If we simply stick to describing how wonderful is Krishna, then whatever we may lie or exaggerate, that will not be a lie. But other things, lies, they will not help us to train ourselves in truthfulness. Lie to some, not to others, that is not a good philosophy. Rather the Brahmins are always truthful, even to their enemies. There is sufficient merit in our books that if you simply describe them sincerely to anyone, they will buy. That art we must develop, not the art of lying. Convince them to give by your preaching the absolute truth, not by tricking, that is a more mature stage of development of Krishna consciousness." (to Sri Govinda 25 Dec, 1972)

The mood of business and money making in ISKCON was encouraged by most of the “zonal acaryas,” who instructed their disciples, “If you want to please me then make lots of money.” In many zones the “spiritual advancement” of a devotee was measured by the amount of money he could collect. It didn’t matter so much that he didn’t seem to be following the regulative principles very strictly or chanting 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra… if he was a big collector he was a pure devotee, he had Krishna’s and the guru’s mercy and he was on his way back to Godhead! Even recommendations for second initiation were often made on the basis of “sankirtana” performance.

"I want to stress to you to be very cautious about giving the recommendation for second initiation. There are four orders of life, it is not that everyone has to be a Brahmin just because he has been initiated one or two or any number of years. Especially if one cannot even rise early for Mangal Arati he should never be given second initiation." (to Nityananda 26 May, 1974)

Often it was assumed that if a devotee was not a big collector he was in maya (illusion), or in other words he wasn’t a serious devotee. Srila Prabhupada had a different idea on this matter. He said the spiritual master is not pleased by a disciple who collects a lot of money, however, he is very pleased by a disciple who takes the preaching mission to heart and tries to please his spiritual master and help the conditioned souls by giving them Krishna consciousness. Srila Prabhupada particularly liked the devotees who took his book distribution as their life and soul and he made it very, very clear that the book distributors were the real preachers and that his disciples should either be book distributors themselves or they should dedicate their lives to serving the book distributors.

The “zonal acaryas” were accepting worship on the level of paramahamsas (the topmost liberated souls), but they were far from that level. One by one the “zonal acaryas” fell down from their lofty heights, leaving their disciples bewildered and heartbroken. For one who has surrendered to and been cheated by someone in the past it is very difficult to surrender again. A few of these brokenhearted devotees were able to take shelter of Srila Prabhupada and continue their devotional service, but most of them lost their taste for Krishna consciousness, having been cheated and exploited by ISKCON, and went back to material life.

"The Krishna consciousness movement is meant for devas, or devotees. Demons cannot take part in Krishna conscious activities, nor can devotees in Krishna consciousness take part in demoniac activities or work like cats and dogs simply for sense gratification. Such activity does not appeal to those in Krishna consciousness. Devotees accept only the bare necessities of life to keep themselves fit to act in Krishna consciousness. The balance of their energy is used for developing Krishna consciousness, through which one can be transferred to the abode of Krishna by always thinking of Him, even at the point of death." (CC Adi 3.91)

As ISKCON was now stressing activities which were not godly. (ie: mundane business) and devotees generally had no option except doing this mundane business or leaving ISKCON, the situation was very, very difficult for sincere devotees. On one hand they could do this mundane business, but that would mean growing hair and dressing and acting like a materialist and associating with materialistically inclined people on their level. This is totally unbearable for a real devotee. When Lord Caitanya was asked what the symptoms of a devotee were, He said, “asadhu sanga…,” a sadhu (devotee) is one who avoids the association of the asadhu, the non-devotee. Srila Prabhupada said he established ISKCON so he wouldn’t have to associate with the non-devotees. Now ISKCON was forcing the devotees to associate with the materialistic people in the name of sankirtana.

"I shall stay in any place hell or heaven, if it is approved by you. Of course, on behalf of Krishna I am accepting your sincere service, but on the whole I am servant of the servant of Krishna, and because you are all sincere servants of Krishna, I am your servant. I shall be glad to stay wherever yourself, Rayrama, and others like me to stay." (to Brahmanannada, 16 Feb, 1968)

The position the devotees were put in was extremely difficult. On one hand, if they stayed within ISKCON, they would be forced to associate with materialists on their level in these business activities, and on the other hand they could leave ISKCON and try to be Krishna conscious separately, however only a very advanced soul can remain Krishna conscious without the association of other devotees. In any case, devotees don’t want to leave the association of other devotees. There is great pleasure in the association of devotees, which cannot be understood by non-devotees.

The result was many devotees were convinced to surrender to mundane business activities and to give up preaching and distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books. Association is extremely powerful. Generally devotees only associate with other devotees. In this way we can remain firmly fixed in Krishna consciousness. What about the preachers? What about the book distributors? You might well ask. Are they not associating with non-devotees? Why are they not contaminated by preaching to the materialists? The secret is that the preachers are merciful to the fallen conditioned souls. They can see that everyone is suffering simply because of a lack of Krishna consciousness. They want to help the suffering conditioned souls by giving them Krishna consciousness. However, they never associate with the materialists. The preacher gives his association to everyone, but he only takes the association of other devotees. He never takes the association of materialistic people. In any case those who are preaching by distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books are given special protection by Krishna.

The devotees engaged in mundane business activities had nothing to remind them of Krishna in their service and no chance of talking about Krishna either, whereas the book distributors were distributing Krishna in the form of Srila Prabhupada’s books, they were constantly talking about Krishna to the conditioned souls to convince them to buy the books and they were rapidly making advancement in Krishna consciousness. The business devotees, however, were associating with mundane people and talking about the Hong Kong paintings, or whatever mundane paraphernalia they were selling so naturally their consciousness became totally mundane.

This change of ISKCON’s activities–from distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books to distributing mundane goods–changed everything. The devotees were no longer preaching and Srila Prabhupada’s books were not being printed or distributed. The devotees lost their taste for Krishna consciousness. At this point many devotees left the movement, however there were also many who stayed. There was a group of devotees who saw ISKCON as their “career path” and they were interested in capturing important management posts and ultimately becoming spiritual masters and enjoying the associated fame, profit, adoration and distinction. These devotees were plotting to advance within ISKCON in exactly the same way the junior clerk in some large organization plots to become the managing director. These devotees never know what spiritual ecstasy was because they were never able to taste it. They simply feigned chanting Hare Krishna when other devotees were watching and they slept and engaged in sinful activities when no one was watching. (Of course Krishna is always watching!!) These devotees studied Srila Prabhupada’s books and became quite expert at preaching. They could give very convincing lectures and most devotees were convinced that these men were advanced devotees. They were in many cases very intelligent, but their intelligence was used in the wrong way. They were simply scheming to become temple president, then GBC, then guru, then Krishna!

There is a narration in the Srimad Bhagavatam about a demon of the name Hiranyakasipu. He was a very determined fellow. He wanted to be the lord of the entire universe and he wanted to be immortal. He knew that Lord Brahma was the supreme person in the universe and that if he was pleased he could offer great benedictions. The demigods, such as Lord Brahma, are generally pleased by their devotees if they perform austerities, the voluntary acceptance of suffering for a greater cause. So Hiranyakasipu was determined to perform very great austerity to please Lord Brahma and receive benedictions from him. Hiranyakasipu went to Mandara Hill and performed great austerity by standing on his toes with his hands in the air. He kept this pose for thousands of years, so strong was his determination. He was so powerful that even though ants built their anthill around his body and ate all his flesh, he kept the life-force within his bones. After some time he became so powerful that an enormous, unbearable heat began to emanate from the anthill which covered him. This heat was so intense that it even disturbed the demigods in the heavenly planets. The demigods decided to go to Lord Brahma to petition him for a solution to their discomfort.

On the request of the demigods Lord Brahma went to the place where Hiranyakasipu was performing his austerities. At first Lord Brahma could not see where Hiranyakasipu was, but then he saw the anthill which was radiating so much heat and light. He could then understand, “Here is Hiranyakasipu.” Lord Brahma sprinkled Hiranyakasipu with a few drops of water from his kamandalu (water pot) and immediately Hiranyakasipu was transformed into a very beautiful golden complexioned man. Hiranyakasipu then immediately fell flat at Lord Brahma’s feet and offered him prayers. Lord Brahma was pleased by the prayers and austerities performed by Hiranyakasipu and he offered to give him benedictions. As a result of these benedictions Hiranyakasipu became very, very powerful. So powerful that he conquered almost all of the planets in this universe and had most of the demigods, who usually serve Krishna, serving him. He turned the whole universe upside down. Only a few demigods were able to escape his influence.

The point of this narration is the entire incident, including Hiranyakasipu’s great austerities and his achievement of almost unlimited power is completely material. There is not even the slightest tinge of transcendental activity, although mundane men may consider it very spiritual.

Similarly some “devotees” in ISKCON have performed great austerities and have become learned in the scriptures and very powerful, but the purpose is not spiritual, the purpose is totally material. They simply want fame, profit, adoration, etc. Their end will be similar to the end of Hiranyakasipu. You can read the Seventh Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam to see what happened to Hiranyakasapu.

Currently the GBC is recommending devotees who have taken initiation from a “fallen” guru to take reinitiation from another “ISKCON GBC approved” spiritual master “in good standing.” Many devotees have gone through the motions of taking reinitiation from a new spiritual master but generally they don’t surrender to their new guru–once bitten twice shy.

"Don't be allured by cheep disciples. Go on steadfastly rendering service first. If you immediately become guru then service activities will be stopped. As there are many cheap gurus and cheap disciples without any substantial knowledge manufacturing new sampradayas with service activities stopped, and all spiritual progress choked up." (to Acyutananda 21 Aug, 1968)

ISKCON gurus checking their email
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare

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3 Comments on "Born Again Krishna’s"

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  1. Kevin Wild says:

    I good read. I recall my first contact the Hare Krsna’s in 1970’s, and Srila Prabhupada was visiting Sydney. I was young and realised this man was a person others looked towards for guidance. He did not strike me as a ruler, more of a guide. This grabbed my attention and remained with me until I first entered Govinda’s in Parramatta around 1978. Here I was to meet devotees, several I knew from pre-krisna consciousness days. It was here I was introduced to chanting the holy names and kirtan. There were times in my life I had felt at peace, mostly because I was unconscious, due to alcohol and drugs. Then suddenly, chanting the holy names, I was once again at peace with myself and with the world, and with God, except this time, I was conscious. Over the years the devotees drifted away, disenchanted with ISKCON, some have left this world, some remain within ISKCON. The ISKCON I saw during the seventies has evolved quite a deal. The factions remain, and more often than not, the ego’s. Petty quarrels within the organisation, personalities leave new comers thinking that ISKCON is not a welcoming place. The temples become little more than cafe’s as devotees chat through aarati about somebody elses misdeeds and how they are not good devotees. Wannabe musicians now pollute the temples with their egos, rather than devotional servents leading kirtan. Social media is rife with ridicule of other religions and beliefs. How could an organisation thrive in this environment? Where are the new wave of devotees leading kirtan through the streets? Who is distributing books? Whilst there are precious few of these people in the new wave of consciousness, they are vastly outnumbered by those who see an opportunity to boost their ego. If Prabhupada was to visit some of the Australian temples, he would close the doors and restore direction. To be sure, there has been vast changes in the world since the 1970’s, books have made way for computers, laws prohibit kirtan without license and so, the duty of the new devotees is to find new and innovative ways to fund the temples, and to bring Krsna Consciousness to the people. My plea to devotees is this. Leave your ego at the door. Let Krsna’s love shine through you to others. Then you will see the way forward. Haribol!

    • madhudvisa-dasa says:

      Hare Krishna Kevin

      Very nice to hear from you Prabhu.

      The only think I want to point out is was it was always illegal to distribute Prabhupada’s books practically everywhere except in public places in the US. But mostly everywhere else it was completely illegal. It was completely illegal to distribute books on the streets in Australia in the 70’s but the devotees did it because the streets belong to Krishna and they are working for Srila Prabhupada and Krishna so the devotees are naturally authorized to sell Prabhupada’s books anywhere. It was completely illegal in England, in Europe, so many places. Even maybe you know in Melbourne at one point they put many of the devotees in prison for chanting Hare Krishna and distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books on the street. And there was so much persecution of the devotees all over the world. But that did not stop them from selling Srila Prabhupada’s books on the streets and chanting Hare Krishna on the streets. So Prabhu these laws do not matter. Krishna consciousness is transcendental to the law. Every place belongs to Krishna. We can have kirtan anywhere. Everyone will be happy to see the devotees chanting Hare Krishna on the streets again. It is just these lazy ISKCON devotees. You say ‘why not go out on Harinam Sankirtan,” and they say “Can’t, It’s illegal….”

      Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

      Madhudvisa dasa

  2. pandava dasa says:

    All glories to Prabhupada!
    I was initiated years ago by Iskcon guru who is still preaching in europe. I haven’t been aware of many wierd stuff of organization for years, it’s a shame that so many bad things happened. For you, direct disciple of Prabhupada it must be painful. Seems that Iskcon is positively changing :-)maybe slow but is changing. Temple in Mayapur will be finalized soon.
    with ups and downs I’m still chanting and preaching in many ways – that is true life giving source for somebody who wants to be called a devotee. Lets look to the bright side and chant Holy Name and continue service for Prabhupada.

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