The 'Jewish Background Devotees' Demographic in ISKCON Leadership
BY: MUKUNDA DASA
Jun 09, NEW YORK, USA (SUN) In reply to Nrsimhananda prabhu’s harsh comments… I believe the term is 'Anti-Semitic', not 'anti-semetic'.
Anti-Semitism is an interesting concept in this day and age. Although Semites are members of the Biblical ancestors of the Arabs, Aramaeans, Assyrians, Babylonians, Chaldeans, Sabaeans and Hebrews, etc., the term "anti-Semitic" (or "anti-Semite") usually refers to Jews only. It was coined in 1879 by German journalist Wilhelm Marr, in a pamphlet called, "The Victory of Germandom over Jewry". Using ideas of race and nationalism, Marr argued that Jews had become the first major power in the West. He accused them of being liberals, a people without roots who had Judaized Germans beyond salvation.
In 1879, Marr founded the "League for Anti-Semitism". (Wikipedia) Nowadays the term is being used to describe anyone who factually or fictitiously claims or states anything that may be construed as being negative to any person of Jewish ethnicity. It has, in effect, been used as an offensive measure to stop any form of critical dialogue regarding the Jewish people, no matter how true or false it may be.
Devotees since the inauguration of ISKCON have recognized the role that Jewish background devotees (JBD’s, for the purpose of simplification) have played in ISKCON. This is no secret. If one speaks of this in positive and glowing terms it is thoroughly accepted without comment. If anyone has a realization or evidence that shows the JBD’s in a lesser light, it is strongly denounced as Anti-Semitic.
Surely there is no harm in intelligently discussing the subject of the Jewish influence in our movement without resorting to being labeled as an Anti-Semite or being labeled a Bigot.
It is indisputable that we are all conditioned souls and therefore subjected to the four defects of the living entities. Unless and until we are free of the modes of material nature, we will not be free of these four defects. That means: me, you, Tamal Krishna Goswami, and the Jewish people. In fact, no culture or people are free unless they are, in actual fact, God conscious. Is this not so?
The samskaras from our childhood do affect us in our adult life unless we are liberated. This means Tamal Krishna Goswami is also affected by these modes and cannot possibly be free from his cultural conditioning. As far as his Atheistic parents are concerned, a Jewish person can be an Atheist and can also be a Jew. Being an Atheist does not mean the person is not culturally conditioned. Atheism is an opinion and not a cultural samskar. There are many Jewish Atheists who believe that Atheism does not negate their Jewish culture.
Having said all of this, I would like to ask Nrsimhananda prabhu why he has only pointed out his opinion of me being Anti-Semitic, and did not make comment on the real issues? The issue is that when you analyze the movement’s development towards academia, liberalism, pluralism, corporatism, and impersonalism, you will find devotees who hail from a Jewish background. The real issue is that these JBD’s are steering the movement into becoming a generic religion and using academia and interfaith ideologies to do so. These JBD’s don’t make public their papers and ideas, which are well guarded by the walls of academia and cries of Anti-Semitism by apologists and uneducated disciples and associates.
We know that these JBD’s are being very secretive in publishing their views and opinions. If you logged onto the ISKCON administered Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies website, you will find Dr. Kenneth Valpey’s (Krishna Kshetra prabhu's) papers are presented in a list of many other lecturers. The only problem is that his papers are not downloadable nor are Madhavi Nevader's A Jewish understanding of monotheism in the Hebrew bible: In conversation with Hindu perspectives. Both Dr. Kenneth Valpey’s and Madhavi Nevader’s are not, but the other lecturer’s lectures are freely available and easily downloadable.
Try and find a copy of Tamal’s Thesis. Dr Lipner, Tamal Krishna Goswami’s handler, states in Tamal’s Obituary: “He placed the last chapter of his dissertation on my desk before he left for India. We were due to discuss it the week after his return. It is my intention to seek to publish the thesis in his name after due formalities have been seen to.” Dr Lipner, a Professor at Cambridge University England, has not to date published or made public the work of the student he glorified so much. It has now been seven years since Tamal Krishna Goswami’s demise.
Nrsimhananda prabhu, if you looked at the Jewish influence in our movement from a simple statistical point of view and compared it by world population standard, the Jewish people number some .2 percent of the world population. That is Point Two Percent. If this math is correct, then if there were 10,000 active devotees in the movement there will be only 20 devotees who come from a Jewish background. I think you will find that there are many more than that number. What that means is not of interest here. What is of interest is how many devotees in leadership and senior positions in ISKCON are JBD’s. You will certainly see that a disproportionate number of our leaders are of Jewish background.
As Kailasa Candra dasa mentioned in his article "“ISKCON” Gurus, Initiations, and Party Men":
“In America, Jews account for less than three percent of the population. But six of these eleven pretender maha-bhagavats, so-called Zonal Acaryas, were of Jewish descent. That’s well over fifty percent of the so-called successors. Why so many Jews? TKG, himself of Jewish decent, was the man exemplifying the whole scheme. Was it some kind of Jewish cabal?”
The fact is that there is a disproportional number of JBD’s to non-JBD’s in the leadership of our movement, especially when you are referring to world population statistics. For example, if there were conservatively speaking 300 senior leaders in our movement, according to world population statistics at least 0.6 of them will be JBD’s. That is, only ľ's of a person would be a JBD. If we are referring to Americans, where 3% of the population are Jews, then 9 would be JBD’s. But the movement is not made up of Americans. Looking at these very simplistic statistical results we can at least expect that one or maybe two of our leaders would be JBD. If I was to count how many JBD’s I know are in leadership, I would hazard a guess that it would be considerably more than .2% -- at a very conservative guess, I would say at least 50% are JBD’s. Do the math yourself and see how many you know are our senior leaders and gurus. You will probably find that the percentage could well be much higher than I suspect.
Nrsimhananda prabhu, how many of our leaders who are JBD’s promote Pluralism, Academia, Secular Education, Interfaith and Liberalism? Then see if I am being Anti-Semitic, or am I being realistic.
Diacritical Theology is the main thrust of the various Religious Academic Institutions and interfaith dialogues. This form of Theology demands an academic approach to Scripture and its implementation. Diacritical Theology, put simply, means that one must use one's intelligence to critically analyze Scriptural text and the word of the guru or theologian.
I would like to apologize for my mistake in my last article, as I was led to believe that the paper I was given from a very reliable source was, in fact, Tamal Krishna Goswami’s Doctoral Thesis, when it was not. It was, in fact, the work of both Tamal Krishna Goswami and Krishna Kshetra prabhu that was used in a book that was published by Columbia University Press which is part of the prestigious Columbia University. A Doctoral Thesis is an internal process, but to have their work published in a book that is representing ISKCON academics and Srila Prabhupada is a very serious thing. The fact that the GBC is approving that their senior leadership who hold official positions in ISKCON are publishing literature that may be offensive and that misrepresents our Founder-Acarya Srila Prabhupada is a very serious matter.
The result of Tamal Krishna Goswami's and Krishna Kshetra prabhu's analysis of Srila Prabhupada and his teachings is clearly evident in this paper. We have no need of Tamal Krishna Goswami’s so-called Doctoral Thesis to elucidate their opinion. To sum it up, they say that Srila Prabhupada's time has come to an end and it is now the time of the Academic Diacritical Theologian. Srila Prabhupada’s approach was old school, top down authoritarian, and acculturated blind following. Therefore, it was counterproductive for the achievement of the fullest human potential. He promulgated an archaic sectarian approach to religion that did not allow for open and honest religious dialogue and acceptance of other faiths.
In other words, they know better than Srila Prabhupada.
Nrsimhananda prabhu, if you were to critically analyze the paper that they presented to the academic world, then maybe you will see what I am saying instead of hiding behind name calling.
I fully acknowledge that there are many sincere JBD’s in ISKCON who are very serious about their spiritual life and are serving Srila Prabhupada to their best ability and with all their heart, who have nothing whatsoever to do with these people. To these devotees I offer my most humble and sincere apologies if I have offended you. My only desire is to have this subject matter discussed in an open and honest manner and to end all this secrecy and deception. For what a wicked web we weave when at first we practice to deceive…