There is a "Fire" in ISKCON -- Time to Put It Out!
BY: DASARATH DAS
Mar 20, 2010 SEDONA, ARIZONA, USA (SUN) "It is very sad and unfortunate that the GBC will not treat you in a just and fair manner if you are meek and humble. The GBC body definitely needs reform, and if you have truth with you, then I request that you don't accept unjust treatment from North American (NA) GBC but fight back. Truthfulness is the only leg on which Dharma is standing, therefore if truth is with you then Dharma is with you. Then I am sure you will be successful in your campaign to cleanse the NA GBC of corruption.
"In my humble opinion the North American GBC members should resign and let successful persons like Svavas and others take over. In 24 odd years, the present members of the NA GBC have failed to bring ISKCON back to what it was in 1977. Rather it is worse now than what it was in 1986, if you see the situation of the temples with barely any devotees to staff them. The "corporate" ISKCON leaders think that with their meetings and computers they can revive the sagging growth of Krishna consciousness in the USA, but they are in illusion. It will never happen. It is not Srila Prabhupada's formula."
-- Received today from a top ISKCON leader in India
Sometimes it is said by our acaryas, that the spiritual master becomes even more divinely present in the absence of his vapu, or form. The proof of that statement is shown by all the amazing amount of love devotees inside of ISKCON have for Srila Prabhupada, most of whom today have never met him personally in that once available lila. Srila Prabhupada's mercy is so much pouring down on those devotees, that they are, as we direct disciples experienced in the period from 1965-1977, communicating and
reciprocating with him through the absolute platform of devotional service.
Once upon a time, I remember how devotees in the period of Prabhupada's physical presence would do anything and everything to protect His Divine Grace, and his Movement, even at the sacrifice of their life. What could be more glorious for any of us?
Many years ago a statement was made in Radha Kunda, Vrindavan by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur to his loving and faithful disciple, Abhaya Chan De (our beloved Srila Prabhupada), that there was "a fire in the Gaudiya Math". He was explaining this in confidence to our Srila Prabhupada to give importance to the preservation of the mission and teachings of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, at all costs. And he saw by his spiritual vision that this disciple, Abhaya Chan De, would be especially receptive and dutiful to try his best to help protect the sacred mission of Sri Caitanya.
As in any fire, it can consume the property and totally destroy it, or it can be extinguished by willing hands and fire extinguishing agents. Similarly - THERE IS A "FIRE" IN ISKCON! Most devotees recognize this. Many leaders of ISKCON recognize it. But very few, and really a few, are willing to help to extinguish the "fire". And so it goes on consuming the ISKCON institution, as the saktyavesa-avatar Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada warned of his own institution in his times. That is very surprising to me, for if devotees who are trained in guru (the acarya), sadhu (the previous acaryas), and sastra, react together to extinguish the "fire" and put the Movement safely back on track, all will be well, and devotees will be happily and cooperatively working in the gifted Society of ISKCON that Srila Prabhupada left to us all to both promote and to safeguard. Granted, although there are still many devotees inside ISKCON who are happy in their service, there are many more who have left.
But some person(s) have started the fire also! There are signs of lots of smoke and flames being pointed out to the GBC, the worst being corruption and no accountability in the GBC itself. Their preferred system of management is totalitarian with complete immunity from even the suggestion of correction, followed by punishment to the daring who challenge them. And that environment is just where corruption will blossom, and where devotees will say, "that's enough, I can't follow them or ISKCON any more. Prabhupada means purity. Why are they doing these things?"
There must be "good guys" on the GBC who know that ignoring the many complaints of the devotees is wrong. But they are lying in their beds and are not rushing to the scene to put out the fire in their spiritual master's house!
Who, or which devotee, knowing that if Srila Prabhupada was in a house that was actually burning down, would not sacrifice their life to try and put the fire out? Who, except maybe some persons lying in those beds who have started it? Who, except maybe those who are enjoying the comforts and become intoxicated by the benefits of leadership positions, ignore and exclude some of their most important responsibilities. If those "good guys", GBCs or temple presidents, do not try to save ISKCON from the "fires" of internal strife set by a few of it's own internal members, is it not a betrayal to Srila Prabhupada and a betrayal to his mission of ISKCON?
All Srila Prabhupada's instructions are there in how to maintain our own Krishna consciousness and how to make further progress by the mercy of guru and Krishna. His instructions are there in how to spread the Krishna Consciousness Movement. His instructions are there also in how to manage the Krishna Consciousness Movement, instructions ranging from temple and sankirtan management, all the way to how to manage the GBC.
And the present theme everywhere that Srila Prabhupada established from day one is - "purity is the force"! That quote by Srila Prabhupada is the main guiding light of the Hare Krishna Movement. It needs to be present both personally in every sadhakas practice, and it needs even more to be in the implementation of the management of all the affairs of ISKCON's leaders, especially by ISKCON's Temple Presidents, and even much more so
by the GBC members.
As everyone knows, leadership is crucial, and proper leadership of the GBC where the "purity is the force" principle is not compromised, will lead to the success of ISKCON, as will minimizing it will lead to the failure of ISKCON. All this is rather easy to do, to preserve ISKCON. We simply preserve what Srila Prabhupada left by his instructions, with all the directions of management (literally) for ISKCON, its leaders, and its members.
I also received the following email just today, from one devotee who responded
to the recent articles I have written on the Sampradaya Sun. As others have before, he very intelligently points out the daily flaws allowed to fester in the GBC. His name is kept anonymous for reasons of reprisal:
Dear Dasarath prabhu,
PAMHO. You don't know me personally, but I remember you from many years ago, when you were in.... I was just starting to come around the the temple at the time that you were in the process of handing over the temple presidency to your successor. I have been associating with the devotees ever since, though not continuously. But I am an active member of the congregation here. I read the Sun regularly, as well as some other sites. I actually wrote to you a while back when you were voicing your displeasure over the GBC situation that you were dealing with at that time, and you asked me if it would be OK to use some of my comments as evidence of support of your position.
I feel very bad about the current situation that you find yourself in, in regards to this "probation" situation, on a couple of accounts. The first being for you personally, as a human being. From my perspective, you are being treated like a political prisoner in a third-world dictatorship. Political dissent is never tolerated in such places, especially when the "offense" is to point out the shortcomings of the "ruling elite." The "ordinary rank and file" are viewed as the "little people," who are no more than a botheration to the rulers. And you are not even in the class of "ordinary rank and file." You have done so much for Srila Prabhupada and his ISKCON movement, very probably much more than many of these GBC guys. So I am very sorry that this is the thanks that you receive in return for decades of service to Srila Prabhupada and Lord Caitanya.
The second point, and maybe even the real issue here, is what to do about this out-of-control GBC? It seems to me that they have effectively seized control of ISKCON, and will not even consider the smallest semblance of accountability to the very people that they are supposedly there to provide for. A government's job is not to rule over the people with an iron fist. It is to provide a stable environment so that the society under their charge can prosper and flourish unimpeded, in a peaceful and cooperative manner. As you well know, the GBC have effectively usurped the will of the people, and have turned their positions of authority into a racket.
The apparent intent is to provide THEMSELVES with an environment where THEY can flourish and prosper, and to hell with everyone else. This kind of political manipulation is one of the reasons I have always maintained a certain distance from ISKCON. On the one hand I love the devotees. I love our little temple here. I love our Deities, the sanga, the prasadam, the kirtan and bhajan, and most all of the rest of the program. But on the other hand, this business of an absolute, authoritarian cabal that tolerates no dissent of any kind, even when appropriate or well-intended, has always been an issue for me. I have never been able to see myself surrendering my autonomy to such a mafia, for lack of a better word.
I would be very interested in hearing your thoughts on how this situation can be changed. I am just a very, very small observer of this drama, and I don't pretend to be anything that I am not. But I do consider myself to be a friend and supporter of ISKCON, the ISKCON that Srila Prabhupada started, not the current way of doing things. I commiserate with you and what is happening with you. I can see that if these gestapo-like techniques can be used on someone of your qualification, with your many decades of service, then obviously they can be used on anyone. This situation of unbridled tyranny by the GBC must end. I just don't know how that will happen, or why Sri Krishna allows these things to go on.
For what it is worth, you have my full support, prabhu. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help.
The solution is obvious and waiting. Let us all work together and try and put out the "fire" in Srila Prabhupada's house - ISKCON. We welcome your correspondence firstname.lastname@example.org.