I was interested to read Radha Caran dasa's letter on Chakra entitled "How Much Longer Before They Fall?", wherein he warned us that ISKCON is presently under threat of harm or destruction at the hands of its own "members".
"Those who strive in going from one controversy to another —rttvik, poison, guru, jiva, GBC issues— live in a world of frustration and unfulfilled material desires. What they are doing by agitating and creating havoc is basically expressing their envy, personal shortcomings, illusion, and madness. They speak like snakes and breath Vaisnava aparadha, although they claim to fight for righteousness. They are in fact beating their own spiritual master and blocking the expansion of the sankirtana movement. This is demoniac and the only expected reaction for that is falling."
Radha Caran dasa has clearly articulated the mood of many ISKCON members in this expression of his fear, and in the loathing he has for those he believes are threatening Srila Prabhupada's mission.
It is certainly true that at the present time there is the potential for a monumental crisis of faith among the individuals who still serve within the institution. The possible consequences may be viewed as proportionate to the number of faithful followers of the gurus now under serious scrutiny. The faith of many has been shaken by recent events, and there have been serious reverberations throughout the society. In some cases, information has come to light that exposes discrepancies so obvious they cannot be ignored. For many devotees, a point of saturation is suddenly reached in their consciousness, and they experience something of a "flash bulb" reaction when faced with distressing facts they have previously denied or defended against. Consequently, the exaggerated qualities they have unconsciously projected onto their gurus and leaders are exposed as false, and they are left to suffer: some go through the pain of withdrawing their faith, while others fervently increase their faith to fanatical levels.
This sort of traumatic shock has impacted many unprepared individuals, bringing about severe consequences. The perpetual ISKCON solution is to avoid -- at all costs – having the truth become public knowledge. The GBC continues to reject all arguments that the retraction of illusionary projections is ultimately best for the mental and spiritual and health of the bewildered conditioned disciples. Instead, they rest on the sastric emphasis requiring disciples of the guru [diksa] to overlook "spots on the moon". This attitude undoubtedly benefits the aspiring disciple, as long as the guru is a very advanced soul. The impostor diksas, on the other
hand, are consciously exploiting this sastric injunction instead of highlighting those passages which deal with the exalted qualifications required of a bonafide diksa. Quotations such as the following are seldom presented:
Radha Caran dasa's posting has given us an opportunity to witness a public display of false projection of transcendental qualities upon the undeserved guru, and the potential serious ramifications.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, "Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya, what are you
saying? Lord Visnu, save Me! Such glorification is simply another form of
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was a little embarrassed by the Bhattacarya's
statement; therefore He uttered the name Visnu to save Himself. The Lord
herein confirms that if one is overestimated, glorification is just another
form of blasphemy. In this way He protests this so-called offensive statement.
To make allegations against a very senior Vaisnava and accuse him of having said and done certain things to our Founder Acarya is the work of the devil. We cannot take these matters to a judicial court, but the assembly of devotees and I shall say, "Those who can stand up and disclaim those nonsense allegations should take strong actions."
By its potency, such glorification may unavoidably result in surcharging the already predictable tendency of a neophyte to invoke his full projections, and great harm can be done…all in the name of love for one's guru Maharaj. The powerful effects of projection can be seen in a variety of way: the compulsive desire to be always in the guru's presence, to gladly receive the guru's smallest glance, hanging on to their every word, mimicking their values and ideas, the extreme dependency and devotion, the relinquishing of so much of their identity, and so forth. All show that the disciple is in the grip of a compelling projection. This "inner connection" is institutionally promoted and encouraged, but the disciples are not warned of its liability when the guru is not qualified.
If we have any doubt that the right attitude of "trust and devotion" is based at least partly on projection, we might consider the all too numerous examples of the betrayal of disciples by their gurus. In these cases, the good qualities seen by the disciples were obviously not truly or fully present in the guru. The disciple's imagination constellates the projection of good qualities on the bogus guru, and the disciple suffers. This projection may, in fact, have activated certain desirable qualities in the disciple, and it may be said that he is thereby benefited. Of course, with a living "evil" guru, the disciple is also telepathically linked to his depravity. This we saw in the cases of Kirtanananda, Hansadutta, and Jayatirtha.
If the guru is simply seen as the "postman", or as a symbol of the sampradaya, there may be some benefit. Unfortunately, disciples don't only view their gurus in this manner, especially in the Vaisnava [personalist] tradition. They expect and strongly desire a combination of teacher, father, deity, ambassador of the previous acaryas and avatars, and ultimately Sri Sri Radha-Krsna. The Buddhists and Shancarites have an easier time with this problem because the ultimate goal is not "love of God" and they more simply refer to the guru as "symbol".
The imitation of Srila Prabhupada by his so-called older sons [inheritors] was ceremoniously imposed upon all the other disciples. But this was predictable. There is no other logical explanation for the supercilious display of pride and self-deception manifest by those whom we falsely and foolishly projected the quality of humility onto, except that this mentality was well developed for many years prior to Srila Prabhupada's disappearance. They were given the benefit of doubt long enough for them to get a firm strangle-hold on their previous Master's society.
Prior to 1977, many devotees had unconsciously, emotionally and falsely projected exalted spiritual qualities upon their senior institutional authorities. In reality, the leaders possessed these qualities only within their false ego conception of themselves. Regardless, these mythical perceptions were consciously implanted and cultivated in the minds and hearts of the fresh-faced ISKCON "foot soldiers" by their revered commanders. The primary impression the elite leaders wanted the devotees to embrace was that "the originals" had a far more loving and intimate relationship with Srila Prabhupada than any of the "small-timer" disciples could ever aspire to.
Most of the leaders who were catapulted into institutionally powerful positions in the late 60's were, by 1977, very expert politicians. In ISKCON, that meant they were practiced at the art of acting like the "sold out, do-or-die" disciple of Srila Prabhupada. Again, accurate historical memory reveals that these mythical qualities were simply projected on them. Common-sense dictates that these transcendental attributes could not have genuinely been present. We were fooled by our own ignorance, and surcharged by wishful thinking. The magic journey to the promised land evaporated soon after Srila Prabhupada's departure, and we were left to deal with the reality of our neophyte condition.
Twenty years later, I am still flabbergasted by the fond and reverential accolades which continue to be bestowed upon past fallen zonal-guru heroes. A majority of the original eleven unceremoniously departed their Spiritual Master's mission, plundering all they could get away with, knowing their disciples and the GBC would be too bewildered to go after them. Misplaced endearments for the likes of Ramesvara, Bhagavan, Kirtanananda, Hansadutta, Jayatirtha, and Bhavananda, are reminders of just how calcified our false projections actually are. During that era, we lavished undeserved spiritual qualities on local leaders. I vividly recall impassioned lectures extolling the virtues and benefits of book distribution, and well crafted motivational essays in the sankirtan newsletters. We were constantly given the subtle reminder that the "managers" were instrumental in bringing about great success.
The group myth of the "super prabhus" was cultivated by the media moguls of the 70's; Ramesvara [BBT] and Satsvarupa [BTG]. After their coronation in 1978, all eleven of the super-gurus promptly went about exploiting and expanding their unique personas. Their carefully planned and well practiced theatrical performances were similar to those of movie actors or rock stars, determined to cultivate a recognizable public image. They knew what sort of "characters" their fans and followers wished to applaud and embrace. Behind the scenes, we often find that "stars" are struggling psychologically and emotionally, and doing everything in their power to hide it from their loyal fans. And just like the fans of these matinee idols, the disciples of ISKCON's newage gurus are also willing to disregard, justify, and worst of all, concoct a philosophical rationalization to deal with the glaring character flaws exhibited by their beloved guru.
Many gurus don't follow even the basics, such as attendance and enthusiastic participation in Srila Prabhupada's morning sadhana program. Many don't regularly chant 16 rounds of japamala, blatantly allowing their senses to become irregulated and out-of-control. Srila Prabhupada's program requires the average newcomer to expect to be corrected for not strictly adhering. Srila Prabhupada's original description of the primary duty of the GBC members was to travel from temple to temple insuring that the members "follow strictly". We know that this farce of the GBC being embroiled in complex international administration is not what Srila Prabhupada directed them to do. To emphasize the essential basics when one is not personally being a teacher by example is always awkward, so usually that subject is not brought up on the lecture circuit. Instead, plenty of stories about the guru's experiences with Srila Prabhupada, or the lesser-known pastimes of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu are the order of the day. Stories are often used to highlight the obligation of the disciple to be a "sold-out animal" for their eternal Guru Maharaj. The subtle message in their stories is that they were completely sold out to Srila Prabhupada…and their disciples should be just like them.
The neophyte disciple is influenced by many contradictory messages as he steps onto a spiritual path that demands tremendous change. There are new moral injunctions to be understood, new disciplines such as the four regulative principles and daily chanting of sixteen rounds, study of difficult Sanskrit texts, dietary changes, etc. If the disciple is to make these transformations and persist with them, he must be swept up with the guru's message and persona. In other words, successfully following this particular spiritual path usually requires the power of projection onto the guru for us to make the necessary changes. Yet, as we have seen and will continue to see in the future, projection has its liabilities when the guru is not pure.
Radha Caran dasa wrote:
"The letters of those two madmen are not just going to some web site or just ending up on the desks of senior devotees, who might be able to handle the accusations being made. These letters also fall into the ears and hearts of much younger devotees, disciples, and followers, and cause them to commit offenses by doubting and becoming independent from Prabhupada's ISKCON, what to speak of public opinion. This is really what we should be in anxiety about: the innocent and the masses."
Exploitation of the newcomer is a common psychological ploy. The neophyte
cannot detect their own personality, does not have faith in their own intuition, so they feel the need to inflate the power of their guru and their special relationship to him. All conditioned souls have a primitive need to inflate their own
undeveloped personality and importance to the outside world, and this is simply
another way of doing so.
The disciples may believe that their guru, in some mysterious way, brought about,
triggered, or made possible a spiritual glimpse of their eternal identity, or even
graced them on the mundane level so that their intellectual and communicative
skills greatly expanded or their ability to boldly distribute books and/or collect
money increased. All in all, such experiences can effortlessly heighten the illusion
of the spiritual level of the guru to an extraordinary degree. Is it any wonder that
such numinous experiences occurred, and caused some to believe that their guru is
truly the Acarya - a "direct representative of Krsna"? Having someone enkindle our spiritual evolution can easily turn a guru into a god, or induce us to transform reverence and admiration to idolatry and guru mania.
Radha Caran dasa wrote:
Now my spiritual master, Tamal Krishna Maharaja, is being accused of
1) having poisoned Srila Prabhupada,
2) causing Visnujana Swami's death
3) having blasphemed his spiritual master and minimized his position.
No devotee properly engaged in devotional service will spend time debating whether this is true or not.
Within ISKCON, an accurate depiction of history is as popular as a scud missile with those who are desperately depending upon and clinging to the blemished but mythical reputation of their guru. In an environment where the truth must always be "managed" and the most contentious issues may not be freely discussed, casual accusations and gossip run rampant. Certainly one must be diligent in order to sort the wheat from the chaff. Yet one of the greatest dilemmas we face today is that we are forced to somehow or other compare Srila Prabhupada to the existing/surviving new-age gurus of ISKCON. Yes! misconstruing Srila Prabhupada as a direct "Visnu tattva" incarnation is nonsense, but attributing to him "saktavesa" or "nitya siddha status" is absolutely correct. In fact, many of Srila Prabhupada's own learned Godbrothers have confirmed this as being the case. I am certain that the "official" Vaisnava history will depict him as being in this position. Srila Prabhupada was many things to many people, but he was always a perfect ambassador for his Guru Maharaja and the entire sampradaya. We cannot avoid making the comparison between the qualities manifested by Srila Prabhupada and the qualities of a bonafide diksa guru as he taught them, and the qualities of the diksa gurus in ISKCON today.
Radha Caran dasa wrote:
"There is no time to try and evaluate whether Prabhupada was poisoned or not, whether there should be ritvik or not, whether there should be initiating gurus or not, whether the jiva falls or not, whether the GBC should manage or not."
We have had 20 years of actors playing the part of diksa/acaryas. How much time has been wasted by the performers, and by the bewildered disciples who are left to sort out the many contradictions which surround them? One of the diksa guru's most commonly utilized "abracadabra" techniques has been to emphasis their distinction of being one of the "close" disciples of Srila Prabhupada. In replacement of the traditional Bhagavad-Gita class, it has now become vogue for the gurus to recite their personalized version of Srila Prabhupada stories. The reciter of these pastimes always presents himself as the main protagonist. After a period of practice on the Vyasasana, he writes his memoir book. The author of the Lilamrta began this practice soon after Srila Prabhupada's departure. Satsvarupa dasa Goswami depicts himself and his friends as being the "chosen ones". The reader is left thinking that they were all qualified to assume the title of "present acarya[s]"and that Srila Prabhupada is a sadhana siddha, just like them.
ISKCON's diksa gurus have adorned themselves with institutional position and power, sannyasis status, guru worship fanfare, and ceremony like the plumage of the peacock, all-attractive to the fresh-faced recruits. The competing gurus have
deceived themselves into thinking that they are dovetailing psychological "hooks"
to the advantage and benefit of the newcomer. This outlook indicates that many have misconceived the pre-samadhi institutionalization of glorification for Srila Prabhupada as a bonafide motivational technique: "it was employed by Srila Prabhupada, and can therefore can be imitated by those coming after him." Let us not attribute to conspiratorial malice that which can be accurately described as stupidity, immaturity, or insincerity.
The question remains -- is it preferable to see the truth, face reality, or is the preservation of the myth of the "imperfect" guru a proper application of the principle of using everything in Krsna's service… even illusion?
Radha Caran dasa tells us:
"We cannot take these matters to a judicial court, but the assembly of devotees and I shall say, "Those who can stand up and disclaim those nonsense allegations should take strong actions."
Radha Caran dasa's attitude and opinions seem to mirror those of his guru, Tamal Krishna Goswami, who recently gained media attention with his "cut out their tongues, then kill them" lecture. Radha Caran dasa is obviously a passionate, frustrated, and disturbed individual. He has exhibited a mood of extreme anger, which is a gateway to hell. I wonder if any GBC authority, after reading his public missive, will take the time to offer him some needed counseling, or will attempt to correct his philosophical misconceptions.