Something is Truly Wrong in Brooklyn NY ISKCON Temple
BY: MUKUNDA DAS
Jul 08, 2011 — BROOKLYN, NEW YORK — For a number of years things have been very disturbing within the Brooklyn Temple under the management of Ramabhadra prabhu and his wife Satya dasi. This must be the only temple that doesn't show financial reports to the congregation, and there have been a number of board members thru the years that have stepped down when told they weren't entitled to see them.
It is, however, very well known that Ramabhadra has created a kingdom for himself, which is in reality watched over by various strategically placed video surveillance cameras. After all, he does have quite a bit to protect, but we will be getting to that shortly...
How is it that emblazoned across the front of the Temple is a sign stating that this is an ISKCON Temple, when in fact it is actually incorporated as the Bharati Vedic Society? This would seem rather odd now, wouldn't it... But upon further inspection we see that this was done as a crafty way to avoid being held accountable in the Robin George case, and later to protect itself from the Gurukuli abuse case.
To the left of the Temple is a Bingo Hall which pays the temple $10,000 per month for rent. As far as I know gambling is a violation of the 4 regulative principles as is smoking. When trying to enter the temple you must hold your breath as a way of not being poisoned by the second hand smoke. It must also be noted that on numerous occasions you can smell the cigarettes in the temple room, which can't be all to pleasing to their beautiful Lordships, Sri Sri Radha Govindadev.
To the right of the temple entrance is a parking lot which the temple previously owned and any real estate broker will be able to prove this simply by accessing city records. However, Satya devi refuses to admit this... It is also a known fact that they sold this property. The question now becomes, for how much and who was it that actually profited from this sale?
The Temple has begun doing for hire weddings now. It should be noted that these weddings are at a cost of $5,000 just to rent the temple, and this is before the cost of prasadam. The people that are being married aren't even initiated devotees… but then again, who really cares as long as Ramabhadra can turn a profit. The temple itself is paid for free and clear so there is no mortgage to be paid. Everything is pure profit.
The Brooklyn Temple has no Food for Life program, and there are no book distributors that go out on a daily basis. The lone book distributor has a book table set up on Sundays, and it should be noted that he wears saffron cloth while being gainfully employed as a Registered Nurse. He, like many of the other temple residents, is a paid tenant, meaning he pays rent for the privilege of living in the temple. Most people that live in the temple are paying for the privilege to do so.
No Food for Life and no book distribution in the most influential city in the world... How many people can say they feel that this would be pleasing to Srila Prabhupada?
How much money has the temple store generated in the 20 plus years since Ramabhadra took over, and just who is it that profits from this venture? The temple also has a restaurant downstairs that generates over $2,000 weekly. Where does all of this money go? This is an important question, given the fact that no one is able to see the temple's financial records.
It is also a shame to see that there are no devotees living in the temple other than Ramabhadra, Satya, Gauranga (the nurse), Aryha, the two pujaris, Jorge the cleanup man, and the two paid cooks from India. The two cooks are very nice devotees, but in a city of 8 million people and thousands of devotees, shouldn't we be able to find devotees to cook as a service, as opposed to having to import paid servants from India?
How much money has been raised over the years through the bake sale on Sundays and holidays? What has become of all this Laxmi? After all, at a cost of $2 per samosa, among other things, you can certainly turn a hefty profit. I would assume that this is how Satya and Ramabhadra travel back and forth to India to keep the temple store running. This must be a very lucrative business, given the fact that Ramabhadra went out of his way to let Chatauratma know that he was taking over the store from him when he became the president.
Given the fact that Ramabhadra was the temple pujari before becoming the President we must also wonder, where did the money come from to take over the temple store? He also started a marble furniture business which didn't go anywhere. You can still find the marble in the temple basement. For years he also sold Jadurani dasi's Seva Kunja painting illegally. He had the gull to claim ownership of this painting, even though he had absolutely nothing to do with the painting itself. He cowardly relented and stopped selling this painting when threatened with legal action. Ramabhadra also allegedly stole the artwork of his first wife, Parvati dasi from France.
There have been so many donors throughout the years that have been thrown to the curb or who stopped being members of the Temple community after they realized that they were just being milked. There is a $30,000 altar in the basement that was paid for by a devotee who lives in the Bronx. This devotee and his wife contributed large sums of money to the temple, but haven't been seen in ages. Satya actually had the gall to contemplate calling them for a donation for this year's Ratha Yatra after having not spoken to them in ages. But hey, in the world of ISKCON, this is normal behavior... chew 'em up and spit 'em out.
The congregation has changed so much over the years. Long gone are all of the western devotees who gave their energy to help Srila Prabhupada establish his ISKCON society, only to be replaced by the Indian community.
Ramabhadra has offended so many devotees over the years that they will not set foot into the Temple anymore. I have personally witnessed him threaten the physical well being of many devotees. He is such a coward though, that he would always threaten to have someone carry out his threats.
I have also had him tell me on more than one occasion that he is firmly convinced that Radhanath Maharaj was involved in the murder for hire of Sulocana prabhu, but he will continue to allow Maharaj to preach because he packs the temple every time that he is in town. He also had no problem allowing Maharaj to promote his book, because there was the almighty dollar to be made…
I would also like to know how it is even possible that Satya could allow a young west Indian guy from Trinidad named Vinda to do service in the deity room when he is not initiated. As far as I know, one should be a Brahman initiated devotee in order to do deity service. I guess when you have chased away all of the qualified servants, as Ramabhadra has, you really have to lower the temple standards.
The temple programs have become so uninspiring, because they are all led by Ramabhadra prabhu. There is a Wednesday program which entails kirtan, class and feast. It was a complete shock to have attended this program and in the midst of taking prasadam, which consisted of kichari, halava and leftovers from the restaurant, I realized that there was absolutely nothing, and I do mean nothing to drink... not a drop of anything... Does this seem at all normal, or have I just lost my mind? We used to have the most incredible feasts in the Brooklyn temple as well as legendary kirtans. That is, until Ramabhadra took over. He has single-handedly run everyone out of the temple. I thought as devotees we were meant to encourage people along the path of bhakti and not do everything in our power to thwart the desire of others.
How responsible can the North American GBC members be after having allowed the situation to spiral out of control for so many years? After all, we all know how incompetent and uninspiring Romapada Swami is. And we also know that Ramabhadra and Romapada Maharaj have been fighting over the same kingdom for years. How much personal wealth has been gained in the name of serving Krishna? Ask Romapada Maharaj to see his financial statements... fat chance of that...
So we must all ask ourselves, how long can we allow this to go on? Will we simply sit back and allow Ramabhadra prabhu to sell the temple and relocate their Lordships to Long Island, as he has stated is his desire? How many times can they be moved after having been installed? The last effective manager that ISKCON of NY has seen was Srila Prabhupada himself, and during His time we all know that ISKCON was growing by leaps and bounds. Srila Prabhupada always stated that his success was rooted in the fact that he simply followed the orders of His Beloved Gurudev, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur. His movement grew through love and compassion for the plight of all living beings and a genuine desire to see all people put an end to the endless cycle of birth and death. It was never about making money. If it were, Srila Prabhupada never would have closed the Spiritual Sky incense business. Things have to change in order to please Guru and Krishna, because the situation here is at an all-time low.