Friday, July 1, 2016

Plight of Seattle Washington Temple

[PADA: This seems to be the pattern originally created by Tamal Krishna swami, to drive out the Westerners and make ISKCON's buildings into a sort of "Hindu cultural center," which is what Tamal did in Houston and Dallas. 

After that, many other GBC gurus followed suit, and thus a number of ISKCON temples in North America are now financed and managed by Hindus, and there are often Hindu programs in Srila Prabhupada's ISKCON's temples, which he did not authorize or desire. 

This pattern also happened in the Gaudiya Matha. Srila Prabhupada they appointed bogus gurus; then kicked out most of the devotees; then made their buildings into a "showing the deity" business. The GBC are apparently doing these same things. 

Notice that Bhakti Caru and others are seemingly not very interested in fixing this process in Seattle, or in the rest of North America's temples. Good job Rocana, you created the same false guru program as the Gaudiya Matha, and now ISKCON is following their "guru's fall down left, right and center" siddhanta, and now -- their self-same business model! You guys created Gaudiya Matha Pt. 2 with your bogus living gurus program. 

ys pd]   

The Plight of ISKCON Washington


A goal of the Vedic Cultural Center (VCC) or ISKCON of Washington (the legal name of the non-profit for the Seattle temple) around 12-13 years ago was to foster and increase its East Indian community. The organization started to accommodate Sri Vaisnava followers at that time.

Around that time also, Harivilasa dasa (the local GBC, Board Chair and Temple President) systematically discouraged Westerners from visiting the temple and provided practically no community infrastructure for Western devotees in the Seattle area, thus encouraging many of them to relocate to other Vaishnava communities, including Gaudiya Math, within and without ISKCON.

In the mid 1990s half the congregation was comprised of Western devotees; however, by 2005, with the exception of Harivilasa dasa, the Seattle temple congregation was practically 100% East Indian ethnic background. Harivilasa dasa openly expressed his opinion at a temple Istagosthi in the mid 90's, that East Indian immigrants are better than locals and that Westerners were not worth cultivating as devotees. ISKCON Seattle succeeded in opening a new temple in 2008 in Sammamish, at the site of the previous temple (which was an older house that had been converted into a makeshift temple) with the help of dedicated volunteers.

Later Harivilasa dasa strongly embraced the Sri Vaisnava community because he could see that these Sri Vaisnava followers, who were mostly working in IT industries, possessed significantly more financial resources than other East Indian immigrants. At first he invited a local Sri Vaisnava priest named Dikshit (who mixes demigod worship with Sri Vaishnava style worship) to the temple. Subsequently, Sri Dikshit started his own organization with a temple for his followers, as he didn't wish to continue his affiliation with ISKCON. 

This didn't stop Harivilasa dasa, who kept engaging Sri Vaisnava followers with an open door policy by encouraging their sannyasi leaders, gurus and priests to visit the Sammamish ISKCON temple and allowing them to conduct pujas, archanas and kalyanams (wedding of Lord Srinivas or Lord Rama) in the temple hall and/or at rented facilities.

In 2012, Harivilas dasa staged a Sri Vaisnava festival called Srinivas Kalyanam with a Sri Balaji priest and utsav deities from Tirupati Balaji. This function was attended by at least 1,000 Sri Vaisnava people; at that time he proudly announced to his guests his plans to open an authentic Sri Balaji temple in Bellevue. Later, he devised a strategy to open a Sri Balaji temple in Sri Vaisnava style with ISKCON style Radha Krishna worship in the same building. 

His reasoning was that if Sri Vaisnava followers can have a Sri Vaisnava style facility that is controlled and managed by him, then it should bring in more prestige, power, money and followers to support various Indian entertainment or cultural programs. Since 2010 this arrangement has enabled him to tap into great numbers of volunteers that he utilizes to hold many Indian fairs, such as Ananda-Mela (An East Indian and Bollywood festival for Indians held in Redmond, near Seattle). Since most East Indians enjoy Bollywood and strive to preserve their cultural heritage, he fulfilled this desire for the Indian community of Seattle.

Later in 2013, ISKCON bought a commercial office building at Bellevue that was under construction for a Sri Vaisnava temple. Soon thereafter he realized that the GBC didn't like his plan of total deviation and mixing the ISKCON worship with Sri Vaisnava followers; thus he devised a crafty scheme in which he created a new nonprofit organization that would lease the building from ISKCON for pretty much free. 

He reasoned that such an arrangement would keep the GBC from complaining about and investigating this new Sri Vaisnava project; also by this methodology he could officially tell his peers that a separate organization was renting or leasing the space and opening the Sri Balaji temple: ISKCON of Washington was simply the landlord for this project. He clearly needed this pseudo organization to be completely separate from ISKCON of Washington so as to avoid obvious GBC interference on the issue of deviation and to avoid possible sanctions against him, etc.

There was an investigation by the GBC of allegations of illegal corporate matching fund activities (this was based upon an internal investigation).
In November 2015, Harivilasa was removed as a GBC for ISKCON from all the temples he formerly managed. He was also removed as GBC, Temple President and Chairman of the Board of Directors for ISKCON of Washington. [Per the 2016 GBC Resolutions, Harivilasa resigned.] 

One of the new GBC's (Ramai Swami and Sesa dasa are the other two GBC's for Seattle), Bhakti Charu Swami, is very nice to Harivilasa dasa, and has not initiated realistic and effective parameters for organizational change and governance; thus Harivilasa dasa continues to manage the Seattle temple unofficially or with help of proxy.

Major changes were expected as a result of the new managerial shift, but not much has really changed. The following continues:

In Dec 2015, Harivilasa dasa continued to bring Santa Claus and other popular Christian holiday themes to the temple as official programs for the congregation

He set up an altar in the hall of the Sammamish temple for the Sri Vaisnava followers with Sri Balaji Deities in Jan 2015

He organized a Holi or color festival where Bollywood music was performed in Feb 2016

He opened a computer related company called SITAS at the Seattle temple that teaches computer programming classes to adults, and kids camp with only technology related topics by charging fees, etc.

Bollywood entertainment programs continue to dominate their cultural venues, as in the past. (See

His latest development (July 3rd through July 7th) is to organize a five-day lecture series by Sri Velukudi Swami for Sri Vaisnava followers in the temple hall in front of the Sri Sri Radha Nila Madhava deities at the ISKCON Seattle Temple in Sammamish. For sure, he will get paid a good sum of money by Sri Vaisnava followers. Why is an ISKCON Temple hall being rented out for non-ISKCON types of religious activities that are contrary to Srila Prabhupada's teachings?

Will someone be held accountable for this complete deviation, for the sake of the Deities and Srila Prabhupada? How long will this atrocious behavior be supported by the GBC? The ISKCON Seattle Temple is setting a very new precedent of expanding their game by opening a temple for other sampradayas. What has become of Srila Prabhupada's beloved ISKCON?

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