Response to Bhakti Charu Maharaja
BY: A CONCERNED DEVOTEE
Washed up on the shore: "mission drift" or "swami drift"?
Dec 15, 2011 UK (SUN) My dear Bhakti Charu Maharaja,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Shrila Prabhupada. First, let me say how much I appreciate your courage in writing to the Sun and expressing your views. For many years now, decades really, ISKCON has lumbered in two directions, the party of the wealthy elite on one hand and the proletariat on the other. Many of us would lay the blame for ISKCON's "mission drift" upon the unwillingness of the leaders to establish a reasonable dialogue with their peers. Therefore, let me say how wonderful it is that you are willing to set an example for the other members of your GBC party and come forward and answer your critics. I hope that others from your party will also meet with the devotees in a spirit of healthy discussion to discuss the unanswered issues that are raised in the Sun.
I hope I speak for all Sun readers when I say that I look forward to the responses of other stalwarts of your GBC who are eager to sort out important issues in a way that befits ISKCON's brahmanas. With your help and understanding we can in this way return to the one-party system, the party of Shrila Prabhupada.
Now, I am sure that you wish only for a free and frank forum in which there is no diplomacy, so let us put formalities aside and be honest. You will not mind it mentioned that I detected more than a few Titanic holes in your letter. Truthfulness demands I point out that your logic has more holes than a screen door. First, you state that "so many untrue things" are published on the web. Perhaps you are talking about ISKCON News, your official GBC mayavadi website wherein Radhanath Swami writes about converting from a Jew to a Hindu and finding the essence of all religious paths. Speaking of false propaganda, it is on ISKCON News that Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is presented as a "playful god" by the Editor. By the way, Maharaja, do you think Krishna is some playful god? No? Then why have you as a GBC allowed the Editor to have this sort of blasphemy on her site linked to ISKCON News?
So perhaps the falsity you are seeing on the web is a bit closer to home than you'd care to admit, isn't it? However, the Sun isn't one of the untruthful sites because the only concern of this paper's readers is that Shrila Prabhupada's message and mission be properly represented. When so much muck is being created by your inept GBC body, what is the need for fabrication? Yet if there is a mistake, it is the Sun's editorial policy to reveal and admit such flaws and to eat a bit of humble pie rather than play hide and seek as per the GBC's example.
The purpose of the Sun is to steer the Hare Krishna movement, which is in danger of drifting over the falls, back on course. The avowed policy is one of protecting the World Acharya's life mission rather than promoting sensationalism. We fear Vaishnava aparadha as much as any devotee, yet there comes a point when the disciple becomes fed up and he must take a stand. It is never offensive to call a spade a spade and this is a direct instruction from Shrila Prabhupada. Sinless brahmanas destroyed the sinful King Vena and this was their duty as the heads and protectors of society. The GBC has destroyed ISKCON's brahminical class, and as this letter will show they may have had deliberate and ulterior motives for doing so.
In fact, I am sure that no devotee would be happier to see the Sun become redundant than the Sun's own Editorial staff. Since the Sun is not supported by advertising, there is hardly a question of it being profitable. Getting out the message each day is costly in terms of time and money. It would be nicer to read Shrila Prabhupada's books than to have to cross swords with arrogant leaders. In a perfect world, or a perfect ISKCON, the Sun as it is today just would not need to exist.
If the Sun would ever go the way of the transistor radio, its demise would come about because ISKCON's GBC would have turned over such a leaf as to finally deal fairly and honestly with their brethren. There will be no need for the Sun when the rich Swamis move out of their mansions, when ordinary kanistha adhikarys cease proclaiming themselves acharyas, and when the backs of innocent devotees are not broken by the top-heavy burden placed upon them by ivory tower exploiters. What need of the Sun when devotees will once again become inspired to serve the mission of Krishna consciousness by the potency of the message preached as it is--rather than by incentives in the form of cash and green cards? When the GBC learns to respectfully deal with all of Krishna's servants in a fair and compassionate manner, the Sampradaya Sun as it is presently conceived might just as well set. Or as a welcomed alternative, the paper could shift policy and print the good news about an enlightened leadership that truly represents the World Acharya.
So let us see if today's Sun is involved in false propaganda. For this there would be no better place to begin than right here and now, with you. The Sun was one of the few sites to voice a concern over the huge amount of Society resources that you squandered to make the Abhaya Charan DVD series, using a chain-smoking shudra to play Shrila Prabhupada.. The Sun was the only e-paper to raise concerns when you organized a New Age Festival in South Africa in which Shrila Prabhupada was severely minimized. Now, are these facts or false allegations, Bhakti Charu Maharaja? Did you think that it was proper to place a tiny picture of the Shrila Prabhupada underneath a much larger picture of a woman--naked except for a loose towel--and lying on her back? And what sort of disciples do you have when the only dull-brained argument they could muster in your defense was something to the effect, "Well, Prabhus, we had to have a semi-naked woman on the poster because if we put Prabhupada there, who would come?" Any genuine spiritual master would have written into the Sun disowning any dumb rascal who makes such a statement. Where were you then? So let me ask you, where is falsehood and where is truth?
You speak of serving Shrila Prabhupada. For many on the GBC, it appears as though their idea of serving Shrila Prabhupada is the creation of their own breakaway "sampradayas". Officially sanctioned nuevo-acharyaism is raising it ugly head once again, and this can only continue to deplete the vitality of the mission and hopelessly splinter the movement. The ruse is the same as the Gang of Eleven from 1978, but it is more subtle today, as ambitious men lay in wait for their golden opportunities. But the graffiti has been sprayed upon the wall, and from watching your activities, one might be excused for thinking that it appears to have fingerprints that resemble yours.
From judging the difference in the so-called "disciples" of ISKCON today and the original sankirtan army from the 70's, it is as though entirely different movements have splintered off. These pseudo-ISKCONs are arranged under a loose infrastructure of "I'm OK, you're OK" cronyism at the highest levels. Splinter groups are protected and supported by the muscle power of leaders who, truth be told, care more for imagined glory and prestige than saving the world with sankirtan yagna. New devotees believe in Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, the New Age, Hinduism, Buddhism, karmi jobs, democracy, America, President Obama, science, the lunar landing and the equality of ISKCON with all other religions, including tribal animism. Such ignorance worn on the noses of the new devotees is not the fault of the newcomers. They have been misled, because they have been told that this is what ISKCON is meant to be. This mission drift is the fault of the Captains who are drunk with power at the wheel.
I have noted that like many of the Nuevo quasi-acharyas, you maintain a hefty collection of digital self-portraits. I have seen the encyclopedic photo gallery of you on ISKCON Desire Tree, where thanks to computer magic you appear more replete with siddhis than Satya Sai Baba. There are just too many Photoshop pictures of you to count. There you are, floating above lakes, washing ashore upon ocean tides, hovering in Arizona canyons or hiding inside gigantic flower petals. Many photos of you have mayavadic or Utopian quotes appended to them, quotes which have more to do with imaginary world peace or a youth-happy world than Krishna consciousness. This is very troubling and it raises a red flag.
In India, panthi Swamis (non-sampradayic "leaders") are revered with manufactured photos, painted halos, heart-warming quotes and blind worship. It is a mayavadic, concocted mish-mash and you are propagating it. After appending some feel-good words beneath their likenesses, the blind followers fashion a statue of their heart throb mayavadi swami of choice, then they perform puja with their prayerful requests for "money, power and a big bungalow." Is this how you want to be remembered? And is this how you wish to see Shrila Prabhupada represented?
O Swami, please bless us mortals here below
Now If not, then why have you allowed the huge cache of your Photoshop siddhis to be perpetuated at ISKCON Desire Tree? These photos are even turning up in the Sun lately, as devotees find them so annoying as to require critical comment.
One who claims to be a harbinger of truth should at least be honest. Why don't you write to the Editor of ISKCON Desire Tree and tell him to delete all those imitation demi-god portraits, the ones wherein you are sitting on clouds like the guru of the king of heaven?
But getting back to your recent letter, you gave a lengthy explanation of your past service. Well and good, but it really had nothing to do with the subject of the letter. The way you wrote about yourself, it sounded as though the GBC couldn't exist without you. In fact, the GBC is meant to function as a sort of de facto acharya. Rather than creating your own unauthorized and wasteful projects, you are meant to represent Shrila Prabhupada. GBC means that a group of imperfect men will put their heads together and conclude what would please the pure devotee. But today, despite the droves of GBC members, ministers, committees, etc., it seems that the fatter your country club becomes, the farther away from the original teachings of the World Acharya the Titanic of ISKCON drifts.
And, thank you very much, the example is right there in your letter. You write that:
Now "As a GBC I had to resolve many crises, for example, I was asked to resolve the bankruptcy of New Mayapur in France. After much hard work of rallying the devotees around the world to raise funds and negotiating with the banks we managed to buy New Mayapur back which was liened for about $2 million."
No doubt this was a great service, to save New Mayapur. However, if your presence was so essential there, why then did this showpiece of ISKCON become a haven for non-ISKCON cults ever since the period of time you mention? Could you not do anything for its spiritual upliftment, as you did for its finances? It is only for the past two years that New Mayapur has been re-established as a bona fide ISKCON center. Where have you been as the GBC or past-GBC?
Next you write:
Now "ISKCON was transitioning from a sankirtan-centred economy to a congregation-centred economy. Many of my GBC Godbrothers found themselves spending time arranging for funding of projects that were crippled by the sudden diaspora of temple devotees. It was at that time that I started to encourage qualified and capable devotees to start businesses to support the activities of ISKCON."
It is remarkable how historians and professional apologists love to speak in passive tense. You write that the Society "was transitioning" as though it happened on its own. Well, if such things happen on their own, what is the use of leaders like you? It is like the news saying, "Libya transitioned to a more democratic system of government." This is how conspiratorial hands are washed of dirt and blood when history is changed. And "diaspora"… hmmm. Say, you don't suppose a heavy-handed GBC had anything to do with that, e-r-r-r sudden diaspora, do you?
The above paragraph is a self-indictment against the entire GBC for allowing the essence of the movement, the brahminical preachers, to be swept aside because they were treated as subordinate and less important than donor/guests. You and your cohorts drove the essence of the movement away. That is the translation in a nutshell. This statement of yours when seen in its barenaked state shows how the GBC have dismissed the brahmana preachers as redundant and have encouraged karmi activities and values in the place of preaching Bhagavad Gita As It Is. Little wonder the GBC doesn't care whether Srila Prabhupada's books are edited, or whether devotees are genuine surrendered preachers, or karmi operators, or green card beggars.
Pure and simple, you and the GBC have turned ISKCON into a karmi organization. You GBC's who encourage mission drift in the form of changing of the books, sampradaya splintering, high-living swamis, mundane schools, sahajiyasm, poor-feeding and destruction of the class of sankirtan brahmanas are the captains of the Titanic. In a very short while you will reap the results for treating Krishna's movement as though it were your personal pleasure craft. In fact, for decades now the brahmanas have been pointing these deviations of the GBC out, but only recently have a few internal voices been raised, as seen in Shriman Krishna Kirti Prabhu's eyebrow raising article here on the Sun http://www.harekrsna.com/sun/editorials/10-11/editorials7883.htm.
Life is good.
Thanks once again for giving us the opportunity to respond to you, Maharaja. I look forward to your reply and further dialogue with all GBC members whose policies support mission drift.
Yours in Shrila Prabhupada's service,
A Concerned Devotee