A Loss of Faith in Prabhupada and Krsna in
BY: JAYA MADHAVA DAS (ACBSP)
Back in 1993, when I was still single and living in Seattle, Washington, my father died suddenly. I quickly flew back to my home in Philadelphia - my hometown, where I joined ISKCON and where I grew up. I flew there to be at my father's funeral. After my plane arrived at Philly airport, immediately after leaving the airplane I searched the airport terminals high and low for any book distributers. I must have spent an hour looking for devotees there. Zero. That's what I found to my great surprise... not one devotee there.
I was once a Philadelphia Airport book distributer. Nervous, shy and green, but I did my best to distribute books under extreme harassment / pressure from the authorities at the airport, its employees and the bully police. Having read Srila Prabhupada's books and taken him very seriously, I knew this was an emergency situation. These people are going to hell, to the lower species of life... hog, dogs camels and asses, and insects. Plus I knew this was pleasing to HDG Srila Prabhupada. It was hard work and blissful, and I do not regret doing it for a moment. I mourn the fact that it is gone now in ISKCON in most of America. What a tragedy!
[PADA: This is the first problem, most of these "leaders" really did not care that much about Srila Prabhupada, his books, or his program of liberating the mass of people from taking birth as dogs, camels and asses. They are seemingly mainly concerned about getting some Hindu bodied persons to come to "their" (hi-jacked) ISKCON temples to give a donation.
This is evidently the same sort of "showing of the deity program" that also happened in the post-1936 Gaudiya Matha. Srila Prabhupada said -- their preaching almost stopped to nil and their temples became "places for eating, sleeping and collecting donations" and "several men were fighting over one room in the temple" etc.
In sum, their people wanted worship, money, followers and real estate and not so much -- to preach about Krishna to the fallen souls. The GBC has pretty much copied that whole process, ok maybe they had to kill a few more dissenters than were killed post-1936.]
I was so disappointed and stunned to find no devotees at the Philly Airport. Remember, this was 1993, well before many airports were closed to book distribution. There was apparently no fight left in ISKCON, although Srila Prabhupada said impossible is a word in the fool's dictionary. Who are the fools? It's us. No faith.
[PADA: There was a fight, they kicked out the people who were distributing the books and doing the harinama programs. The GBC as a group basically went to war against the preaching of Lord Chaitanya's movement.]
I had already seen in Seattle in the 90's a mass exodus of temple devotees, falling away from the Seattle Temple, which was leaning then towards Indian support under the hand of Harivilas das. This was very disturbing to me and other devotees. After my father's funeral and the family gathering was over I went to the Philly ISKCON temple and low and behold, the same Hinduized focus was happening there.
[PADA: For the most part, the Hindus are not too aware of the internal disputes going on in ISKCON, and they sort of make the temples into their cultural centers, and give some donations. They are sentimental towards Indian culture, but they do not seem to be aware of all the GBC's guru problems and so forth, so they are ripe candidates to soak money from.]
It became alarmingly obvious to me this was a trend spreading everywhere in ISKCON. Devotees were leaving and no one was going out to get them back, or making new devotees. So this Hinduized thing was the New ISKCON. And along with it came few or no Hari Nams, and few very book distributers.
[PADA: Yep, here in Berkeley Hansadutta kicked out almost every single Prabhupada devotee. By 1984 there were only three left in the temple, and one of them was Hansadutta. And he was attracting criminals, so the police made 74 felony arrests in one year from his "devotees." There was simply no interest in keeping the devotees of Prabhupada because they were worshiping "the posthumous acharya." And this created the exodus, which was really a purge, the devotees didn't really all want to leave, they were ordered to leave. And if they did not leave Hansadutta's goondas might beat them up ... it was a sort of violent take over of the ISKCON properties.]
How can ISKCON do Hari Nams and Book Distribution properly without temple devotees? The bottom line is, no one is joining and no one is alarmed. Only money seems to be the goal. Once the Indians were bought from India to be Temple Presidents, their aim was to collect money from local Indians in the West, and to cater to their whims/Hinduism... not Srila Prabhupada's strict programs. Deity worship suffered, Hari Nams went away, and so did book distribution.
[PADA: Right, they are trying to sell Brooklyn temple so they can move to an area where there are more Hindus, so this was their agenda all along, take over the property, remove the devotees, and collect from the Hindus.]
Imagine... you are from India, it's your dream come true to live in America/UK (even as a devotee). To get that dream house, dream education, and of course more money… that's the dream of so many of the people that ISKCON has kissed up to for support all these years... Materialistic Indians who left India for the American Dream. But that soon will end. (It's already becoming a nightmare.) I know Indians are pious, and I appreciate that they have saved many of our ISKCON temples, but at the high cost of compromise… at the expense of losing the Bhakta Programs and the brahmachari and brahmacharini ashrams (the temple devotees). This is the price, and it was far too high to pay in return for their financial support.
A godbrother recently told me that 'Vaisesika prabhu has written a book about book distribution that will be released soon. Part of what he examines is whether temples can be maintained today with that sort of model, i.e., street kirtan and book distribution. That's a real challenge. And it's not as simple as saying, "just depend on Krsna and it will all work out.'
[PADA: All of these leaders are focused on the Hindu collections as far as we can see ...]
As a long time brahmachari and book distributer, I am aghast at what I think I'm hearing from another godbrother book distributer. Tell me it's not true! Is this lame excuse how far you go in ISKCON after accepting a high position as guru/GBC? By Ignoring compromise in ISKCON?
Is there now a total lack of faith in Srila Prabhupada's exact Instructions for ISKCON? Seems like it. Do younger devotees follow properly Srila Prabhupada's instructions or read his books? Do they ask questions of their gurus, GBC or leaders when they say questionable things or make programs not sanctioned by Srila Prabhupada? Preaching that does not adhere to Srila Prabhupada's mandate -- that ISKCON devotees follow Guru (Srila Prabhupada), Sadhu (advanced devotees in good standing) and Shastra (only Srila Prabhupada's books, lectures, conversations and letters to His disciples)?
When I joined the temple in 1975, it was after many, many years of procrastination. Devotees preached to me many hundreds of hours and spent personal time with me. They cared about me and my Krsna consciousness. They cared about me, period. It's called personalism… not impersonalism. For my part, as the saying went in ISKCON then -- 'I was attached to Maya'. They were right. But they never gave up trying to save me... Bhakta Michael... that was Srila Prabhupada's Mercy. WHERE IS THAT MOOD NOW IN ISKCON? To get people to move into a temple and surrender!
As this article is a direct response to the article ''Harinama Implosion'', I must explain how Hari Nams made me and thousands of others into devotees. I was just a mere 17-year old teenage hippie and college student in Philadelphia. I thought the devotees were strange, but after taking prasadam they gave me and hearing and joining Hari Nams in 1970's Philadelphia, and reading Srila Prabhupada's books, going to the Sunday Feast and on weekdays too, I got purified gradually. Then I met Srila Prabhupada in 1974 at the JFK Airport with the devotees, and later I stayed on longer at the Temple for the programs at Henry Street in Brooklyn, New York. That made a huge impression on me. And when Srila Prabhupada came to Philly Ratha Yatra in July of 1975, I surrendered and moved into the Philadelphia temple. I became a full-time book distributer and Hari Namer.
Before I joined, I always cherished hearing the sound of the drums, kartals and devotees chanting in streets. Srila Prabhupada's disciples were in devotee clothes. This was common on the Philly streets, from morning to late afternoon, and sometimes all day and night (in the 1970's).
That program of Hari Nam made me and thousands of devotees in America and around the world. Combined with the kindness and attention of Srila Prabhupada's disciples to me, I was finally influenced to move into a temple and be a full-time devotee. I moved into the Germantown temple on Woodlawn Street, and I never regretted it.
I was back in America and went to the Philadelphia temple in 2015 for a visit. It was mostly empty, except for the Sunday Feast, attended by 99 per cent Indian devotees. These days no one comes to the Philly Temple much... it's a big empty building and although the Deities reside there, many of its rooms are empty... once ashrams... The hallways echo with silence… it's a failure.
The real life in ISKCON temples was in temple devotee-making, Hari Nams and Book Distribution. Every Town and Every Village. We had bus programs preaching all over. Now it's gone. There is no legitimate excuse or substitute for Hari Nams, Book Distribution or Bhakta Programs, now almost extinct in ISKCON. Instead, temples cater to Indians for money and do Hindu/New age programs. They Ignore Srila Prabhupada's Instructions to preach to locals and give Krsna's Mercy to everyone and anyone, regardless of race, money, financial status, education.... non-sectarian. ISKCON was supposed to be non-sectarian, not a religion that caters to Hindus or New Age groups. ISKCON was not meant to cater only to select college students or people with money. This is discrimination, and it's very, very wrong. It's maya, NOT following Srila Prabhupada.
Under the guidance of the so-called 'ultimate managing authorities', the original preaching mood is now essentially dead in America, Canada and Europe. This is maya, Kali's work. The ISKCON movement is in trouble. It is stalled, stagnated spiritually in the West and elsewhere due to the irresponsible and heartless behavior and calculated compromise of the GBC Body and the gurus and leaders who support their compromise, instead of supporting Srila Prabhupada's exact strict Instructions for all areas of managements and preaching in ISKCON.
Unless the GBC correct the mistakes they have made, ISKCON cannot usher in auspiciousness for America and the rest of the world, which is in dire straits now. It is a politically, financially and a spiritually bankrupt world, heading to Hell in a hand basket .
As Govinda dasa points out, there is a Hari Nam and Book Distribution implosion in the ISKCON West, and If we don't fix it, the implosion may be WWIII, or worse. It's time to preach strongly for Srila Prabhupada. No excuses, no time to waste with more compromise and Happy Face PR like we find on the ISKCON websites.
It's NOW. Now is the time.....
Om Tat Sat
All glories to Srila Prabhupada
Thank you for your time
[PADA: They never had faith or things would not have come to this state so quickly. ys pd]