Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
Although I’m addressing this message to all the early Vancouver devotees, I am writing this in an attempt to express myself on a subject that was brought to the surface of consciousness while many of us were participating in the “talking circle” at Saranagati, directly after Jagadisa dasa’s departure. At this meeting, Partha dasa spoke briefly about his positive experiences with Jagadisa dasa. One of his remembrances was around the cleaning up of the big mess supposedly created and left exclusively by Bahudak dasa. This was, as I recall, after Bahudak dasa returned from spending a great deal of time and energy attending the reform meetings and leading the troops in battle. This attitude expressed by Partha dasa, which many devotees in the community are carrying around, has come to my attention on more than one occasion, and I would like to say that I consider this to be a serious misconception.
Because Jagadisa dasa Prabhu was the Vancouver GBC representative at that time [mid-eighties], and because his recent departure has again brought this issue to just under the surface, I move that it’s high time we discuss this controversial matter “threadbare”.
Many of you were part of the Vancouver temple community’s brahminical council. I realize that I wasn’t personally present in the Vancouver temple during that time, but I was visiting frequently, and met with Bahudak dasa on quiet a number of occasions. I have been corresponding with Bahudak dasa lately, and he is slowly reviving his natural attraction to this philosophy and lifestyle after his faith. I also had the opportunity, with pleasure and pride, to associate with Bahudak dasa while we were both heavily involved in the fight to de-throne the counterfeit acaryas. We had many opportunities to engage in in-depth discussion on the matters of the day.
As most of the reform meetings were held in Towaco, New Jersey, it wasn’t possible or practical for many other senior members of the Vancouver temple to attend. Because they could not attend these important meetings, they did not have an opportunity to witness first hand the excellent job Bahudak dasa was doing on behalf of all the disciples of Srila Prabhupada throughout the world. I can well imagine that Bahudak dasa was very distracted from his regular duties as the Temple President at the Vancouver temple, and no doubt it was hard for the treasury to pay his airfares, which afforded him the opportunity to attend these historical meetings and head-up the crusade.
Bahudak dasa was also one of the main literary contributors, and was helping to create the crucial written materials which were essential in order to keep everyone throughout the world informed and enlivened. He was, by far, the most enthusiastic and qualified participant in this noble effort. His extraordinary ability to expertly articulate the grassroots devotee’s position had the die-hard acarya-ites worried, and finally helped bring about some needed change within the society.
Please keep in mind that all the reformers, especially Bahudak dasa, were obliged to carefully keep the essential topics of these discussions quiet, especially around the temple community, due to the reality that the sankirtan department consisted mostly of disciples of the very bogus acaryas we were trying to expose.
Many austerities were required in order for Bahudak dasa to pull off this momentous feat, and he was motivated by a deep conviction that the philosophical deviations coming from the very top ranks of the organisation must be put to a halt. These deviations resulted in many atrocious activities which were being covered up, not the least of which was the systematic sexual exploitation and psychological abuse of devotee children at the society’s gurukulas - especially the one in Vrindabin, where his own children were among the victims.
I can testify that in many intimate talks I had with Bahudak dasa during this period, he confessed his great regret about how he had become very contaminated, particularly after 1978. Bahudak dasa, as the Temple President’s representative, had been included in the closed door meetings of the GBC, and was repeatedly exposed to the poor example set by the flamboyant, high-flying super acaryas. Over the years, his direct association with them fanned the flames of his own material desires, which he admitted lead him to cut an obnoxious and unrealistic profile around the temple community, thus offending many of his Godbrothers. Having a predominately Ksatriya-like demeanor, taking on this fight with the zonal acaryas was his way of expressing his frustration and anger at being duped, and gave him an opportunity to correct the contaminated atmosphere that had contributed to his own falldown, and had spoiled the mood at the temple. He even set-up the brahminical council, which gradually came under the influence of Jagadisa dasa, but Rajarsi dasa still eased him out of his long held position.
Unfortunately, upon returning from the crusades he didn’t have a sufficient opportunity to make amends for his past misdemeanors, for a number of reasons. First, his efforts had been undermined by the “Benedict Arnolds”, i.e., the traitors within the reform movement such as Rabindra Svarupa dasa and Vipramukhya Swami, to mention a few. These were the ones who took the poisoned bait offered by the old boys club, and thus became third-tier gurus in exchange for allowing the power-brokers to keep their ill gotten gain of disciples and position within ISKCON. Secondly, because of the neglect of his duties as Temple President and protection of his family members, his whole life required a thorough overhaul, which he was prepared to do. Thirdly, the original GBC were still in power, and the local GBC, Jagadisa dasa, had developed a personal dislike for Bahudak dasa.
Jagadisa dasa concocted a theory that all the problems within ISKCON were not due to the assumption of the acarya position by unqualified neophytes, but were primarily on account of the mode of passion Ksatriya-types being in charge of the temples and the BBT, etc. He was convinced that the Brahmins such as himself were the unheard intelligence in the ISKCON administration. Bahudak dasa, of course, fell within the category of these “out of control Ksatriyas” whom Jagadisa dasa, along with GBC’s like Bhagavan, Harikesa, Ramesvara and other leaders, did not look kindly upon. At the same time, Bahudak was also opposed to all the so-called Brahmins, like Jagadisa dasa and Satsvarupa dasa Goswami, who actively supported the Paundraka Acaryas throughout the entire zonal-acarya period. They were the ones who were used by the big guys to pen their bogus position papers, and by doing so, added their intellectual support to the justification, rationalization, and defense of this policy which covered everyone over for many years. All these factors played against Bahudak dasa during that period, and he was temporarily stunned into an almost suicidal mentality, weakened, depressed and quite vulnerable.
In my estimation, Jagadisa dasa was in denial about his implication in the grand hoax and as he usually does, came up with a half-baked rationalization theory that essentially exonerated him of any blame in the big mess that had resulted after Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance. We have just again witnessed his emotional needs concoction. Before that was his anarchist theories and his attraction to the conspiracy theories of the right-wing John Birchers. Even his Varna Asrama formula is far fetched speculation, and has the element of “let us pretend that we are brahmins, ksatriyas, vaishas, etc.” Frankly, I believe Jagadisa dasa has major psychological problems with denial and responsibility.
When the weakest of the imitators began to fall - Hansadutta, Jayatirtha and Bhavananda - and the philosophy became harder and harder to defend, Jagadisa dasa did not want to face the responsibilities of being an honorary member of the old boys club. He and other philosophers cooked up their own angles of vision and speculations, and shared them with persons like many of you in the Vancouver area. You have been the proverbial guinea pigs for Jagadisa dasa’s concocted, inapplicable theories for a long time now.
Bahudak dasa was unceremoniously pushed out of the nest, by the local community that he was the undisputed leader of for many years, by the big loving family consisting of seven children and a wife (who he discovered was cheating on him and hated him), what to speak of his supposed friends, such as Partha dasa, Bala Krsna dasa, Dharma Rupa dasa, Rajarasi dasa, Yamala Arjuna dasa, Yoginatha dasa, Dudhidhara dasa, Tarakanatha dasa, Stanura dasa, etc., who all seemed to hint that it was better that he give up his position. You voted to take away his living accommodations and allowance, and he was expected to do his service and support his large family at the same time.
In his mind, he was faced with the frightening task of putting back together a promising career he had scarified over 15 years earlier, so as to serve his Spiritual Master selflessly. It appeared to him, with good reason, that everyone he cared for had abandoned him completely. How would any of us stand up in such a test? Besides Jagadisa dasa’s subtle influences on the situation, it is Bahudak dasa’s postulation that Rajarsi dasa had been feathering his nest after the departure of Dharmarupa dasa, and he knew that the only one who could detect his activities would be Bahudak dasa. I won’t go into details here, but there is some convincing evidence to support this accusation. All in all, Srila Prabhuapda lost a valuable warrior in both Bahudak dasa and Jagadisa dasa. Everyone else involved in that incident back then has left the Vancouver temple and their Lordships, Sri Sri Radha Madana Mohana behind, in the dubious hands of the ISKCON authorities.
If we can learn something from all this unfortunate mess, then we can leave it all behind and correct our misconceptions, approach all those we have offended and ask for their forgiveness, and then sit down and discuss where to go from here. Hopefully the overall conclusion is we’re going back to the shelter of Srila Prabhuapda by giving up some of our false independence. Many of you heard the thunder clap during Srila Prabhupada’s maha Vyasapuja ceremony, when Gaura Nitai read the last two stanzas of Srila Prabhupada’s Vyasapuja offering from 35 years ago entitled, “Phalgun Krsna Pancami”:
77. Still they are searching after peace. Preach Krishna consciousness. Fulfill their desires.
78. Today my brothers, get to this task. Save the battered souls by
79. Srila Prabhupada, please be merciful today. This time have
compassion. You are not a conditioned soul of this material world.
80. Whatever independence we have, let it be cast to the waters. The
lowly Abhay offers this presentation today.
I ask you now, did the Vancouver temple dramatically improve in the long run under Jagadisa dasa’s plan, without a strong leader? Did Jagadisa dasa provide for or replace Bahudak dasa as the leader? Has the temple found anyone of Bahudak dasa’s caliber to replace him as a dedicated leader? Wouldn’t it have been wiser back then, in hindsight, to help reform Bahudak dasa, rather than reject him and virtually force him out of Srila Prabhupada’s house? Besides, it was Srila Prabhupada’s decree that no one could replace Temple Presidents in this manner. Srila Prabhuapda always encouraged rectification over rejection. The zonal acaryas did far more damage than Bahudak dasa, and were far less receptive to reforming their devious mentalities. These real offenders are still left unchallenged by most devotees, and continue to be glorified to this very day. They have cost the temple much more money, grief and confusion than Bahudak dasa ever did.
No one seems to remember that it was Bahudak dasa’s expert political maneuvering that prevented the temple from falling into Hansadutta’s hands in 1978. Bahudak dasa, as well as many other Temple Presidents, were classic scapegoats for the higher-ups, and everyone fell for the propaganda because it was easier than confronting the heavyweights. We all have to assume some responsibility for the situation that developed in Vancouver, as well as for the mess the movement is in now. We all should have been serious about making spiritual advancement so that we could see through all the nonsense and hype, and therefore have spoken up on the side of truth and fought for justice.
We all know Bahudak dasa has many faults, as do we all, but by and large, he has a soft heart and therefore took this rejection very hard, especially coming from all those whom he had assumed were his well wishers. It has taken him over 10 years to recover to a point that he can again appreciate the positive aspects of this unique gift given to him by the maha bhagavata
Acaryas, who are really the only ones who didn’t abandoned him.
In a recent e-mail exchange, Bahudak dasa stated:
“Although the pain of those days will probably always be with me, I also realize that on some level it was time for me to get out and these were the events that were necessary to precipitate my leaving. I had become arrogant and corrupted by power and I was deep in denial in many ways. I believe that being honest with oneself without pretense is a fundamental step towards self realization and it was time for me to face the music without props and get bared down to the depths of my soul. The journey of despair that I took was fueled by three great events or tragedies; leaving and being rejected by a community that I had given my life to, finding out that my children who I thought I had sent to heaven were in many ways in hell, and discovering that my closest friend in the temple was having an ongoing affair with my wife and that they both hated me. These were the shocks that toppled the once unshakable Bahudak dasa and sent me on a journey to Hell. The hand of destiny, or karma or God was very much behind this stripping of my ego in the crucible of pain. In Dante's Inferno, Dante writes that going to Hell is a man's journey to the pit of his own soul where he faces the consequences of his acts. He also writes that a person must go to Hell before being reborn. So by that view, my journey was a necessary one, and perhaps will help me on the road to enlightenment.”
Yes! we can simplify and justify everything by saying bluntly that it was his karma, he obviously deserved what was coming to him, that it was Krsna’s arrangement, etc., just as many can now say the same things about Jagadisa dasa. Who can argue with this generalized type of analysis? But our philosophy is much deeper and exacting than this superficial perspective. We, as senior disciples of Srila Prabhupada, are expected to be embracing the mood of a compassionate preacher of Krsna Consciousness, exemplified so clearly by our Guru Maharaj. We should be heartbroken [para dukha dukhi] to see the bewildered spirit souls suffering from the hellish effects of this Age of Kali, especially our own Godbrothers and previous preaching and kirtan companions. All this excruciating pain is due to not receiving the soothing rays of the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu, who is indiscriminately passing out the medicinal cure for this age, the chanting of the holy names. It is in this caring mood that we have to attempt to invite all the previously trained up sankirtan devotees to become re-enthused to join us in spreading the holy name to every town and village.
This dark history, which we all have just lived through, from Srila Prabhupada’s physical departure in November 1977 until His 100th Centennial Birthday this year, has to end now, with devotees like myself, Bahudak dasa, Bala Krsna dasa, and others. We have to begin forgetting the past that sleeps, forgiving one another for any and all offenses that we have inadvertently committed due to our neophyte condition, and we have to get back to business. We can begin by sitting down together and planning how to fulfilling the desires of our Beloved Spiritual Master, Srila Prabhupada.
We have to give up on the dreamy notion that the so-called big devotees at ISKCON headquarters in Florida, and their impotent local representative, are going to do something. They are more bewildered and contaminated
than we are. They are expending all their energy trying to deal with the burdens of their own offenses as well as all the sinful reactions of their disciples, as well as trying to maintain their absurd profiles. They are worse off than a starving householder with ten children. We have to accept that there are no big devotees amongst us or out there in ISKCON-loka. Srila Prabhupada is the only big devotee. We are all small nonsense, trying to be devotees, but collectively, if we can cooperate, we can make a difference and accomplish something. It may not be grandiose, but it will be a lot more than we could do individually, and certainly more than we are doing now.
This is what Srila Prabhupada wanted after He entered into maha-samadhi. He certainly didn’t want what has happened since His departure to continue on indefinitely, until the whole thing is ruined. He certainly didn’t want us to endlessly fight over who is going to be the big absolute guru, or the Rttvik Acarya, for that matter. Srila Prabhupada is the only absolute leader for all of us, at least for right now. So, we have a choice - we can wait around for another Acarya or we can follow the present Acarya. What else can be done?
Krsna is giving us another opportunity to wake up, as a result of this situation presented by Jagadisa dasa’s desperate attempt to be an honest man and salvage what is left of his life, after years of pretense and dishonesty. I wish him well and pray for his recovery. We can certainly use his help in the future once he goes through his purification, like some of us have already gone through - Bahudak dasa, Bala Krsna dasa and myself among them. 28 years ago we started this journey together, full of hope and dreams. We never would have dreamed in a million lifetimes that it would have brought us to this place.
Krsna is not a sentimentalist. He brought his best friend Arjuna out into the middle of a battlefield, where all of his attachments were in full view. And after the battle, when almost all of them were dead, he went on to kill the Pandava’s small children as they innocently slept. Saranagati is a relatively peaceful place, but it is still the material world, and we have to fight our way out of it by putting Krsna [Srila Prabhuapda] on our personal chariots, where we can listen to His advice every day. This is a test that has presented itself, whether it’s understanding Bahudak dasa’s story, or Bala Krsna dasa’s son’s death, or Jagadisa dasa’s leaving. If we pass this test, then there will continue to be others. That is the price of being Krsna conscious. Queen Kunti prayed to let these calamities happen again and again, because she knew Krsna comes again and again to protect his devotees.
Please forgive me if I have offended any of you. In the aftermath of tragedies, I know the community at Saranagati Village is increasingly taking shelter of one another, and of Srila Prabhupada. In this mood, may the healing begin on a greater scale, beginning with us.