What Happened to the Hare Krishnas? (Classic)

What Happened to the Hare Krishnas?
by Madhudvisa dasa

Preface Growing Pains
Introduction The Zonal Acarya System
The Hare Krishna’s Go West Born Again Krishnas
What is a Hare Krishna Anyhow? The New Guru System
Srila Prabhupada – A Transcendental Manager  Purity is the Force!
The Hare Krishna Movement in the 70’s  Books are the Basis
Problems from India Concluding Words (by Srila Prabhupada)


I offer my respectful obeisances to my eternal spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. He has saved me from the repeated cycle of birth and death in this material world and enabled me to have a slight glimpse of the beautiful cowherd boy, Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This little glimpse has enabled me to leave behind the mundane aspirations and desires I had previously and in some small way to enjoy the nectar available through serving Krishna and His pure devotee. I have no way to repay my debt to Srila Prabhupada. The only thing I can do is to try and follow his instructions and push on the preaching of the Krishna conscious movement all over the world.

Srila Prabhupada said if you become a devotee of Krishna the whole world will become your enemy, and to some extent I have experienced that. Of course it is to be expected as practically speaking the whole world is engaged in sense gratification and Krishna consciousness is a threat to this.

I wouldn’t mind so much if it was the general public who were inimical and causing obstructions to the preaching work, but, although there are some “demons” out there who can be quite annoying, the vast majority of people are not demons, they are innocent souls who have been mislead by the sinful atmosphere of this Kali-yuga, the iron age of quarrel. The problem I am facing is that some so-called devotees of Krishna are making it difficult to preach Krishna consciousness

Srila Prabhupada had the same problem. Practically speaking the only serious threat to his movement came from his godbrothers, the other disciples of his spiritual master, His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktsiddhanta Sarasvati Maharaja. His godbrothers had their own preaching organizations in India and saw themselves as world-preachers, jagat guru’s (guru for the whole world), but they never left India, despite the fact that Srila Bhaktsiddhanta Sarasvati had asked all his senior men to travel to the Western countries to spread the message of Krishna and Lord Caitanya. But they were not interested. They had their few temples and enough followers to send out begging money on the basis that it was for the service of Krishna but they were simply eating and sleeping. They had no life for the preaching work. When they saw Srila Prabhupada succeed in the West in fulfilling their spiritual master’s desire, instead of congratulating and encouraging Srila Prabhupada they criticized him. They were envious of his position, envious of his followers, envious of his large number of opulent temples all over the world. Even up to today Srila Prabhupada’s godbrothers are causing great problems within his society.

Now we have seen ISKCON (Srila Prabhupada’s preaching movement) develop, since Srila Prabhupada’s departure in 1977, into something quit different from the movement he established. There is still lip-service to the instructions of Srila Prabhupada and if you talk to one of todays ISKCON devotees they will still talk about Prabhupada and Krishna, but something has changed. The mood of pure devotional service has gone. Srila Prabhupada wanted his ISKCON to be a society of pure devotees, because it is only through the association of pure devotees that one can advance in Krishna consciousness. It is true that one can be a mixed devotee, the demigod’s are all devotees of Krishna, but they still maintain some independent material desires. This means they can’t leave the material world, they are simply promoted to a higher status to fulfill their material desires. It is not such a wonderful thing to be a mixed devotee, there are so many mixed devotees. Practically every religious group on the planet is promoting some sort of mixed devotional service. But that is not bhakti, that is not love. It is a business. If I have faith in God and I approach Him to serve Him with some motive in mind this is a business transaction. It’s good, in the sense that such a person is pious. When he is in need he turns to God to fulfill his needs, but it’s not Krishna consciousness and it’s not what Srila Prabhupada established ISKCON for.

So ISKCON has become an institution where the majority of members are practicing Krishna consciousness or devotional service to some extent, but not completely purely. Many members of ISKCON today have some motivation, some personal desire to fulfill through their devotional service. It’s understandable enough as there has been a history, since Srila Prabhupada’s departure, of leaders who are themselves materially motivated. Many of the former leaders of ISKCON have fallen away and in retrospect it can be seen that they were not pure devotees at all. The leader has a big effect on his followers and a cheating leader tends to attract cheating followers. So the current institution, ISKCON, can be very difficult if one is sincerely trying to practice pure devotional service, as that mood is no longer there.

My personal position is that I have absolute faith in Srila Prabhupada, my spiritual master, and Krishna and I am trying with all my energy and intelligence to engage myself and everyone else in the service of Srila Prabhupada and Krishna, but there’s no place for me in ISKCON. They just don’t know what to do with me. Because they are preaching some watered-down philosophy to the devotees to encourage them to do business and make lots of money rather than to preach and distribute Srila Prabhupada’s books my presence in the Temple makes them feel uncomfortable, because I just want to preach and distribute books, and I want to do it with the other devotees. So it’s very difficult. I wouldn’t say that the ISKCON devotees are demons or against Srila Prabhupada, generally they are all great souls who have dedicated their lives to preaching Krishna consciousness. It’s just because of bad leadership the temples are in the state they currently are and the pure devotional mood has been lost.

For me there is nothing more enjoyable than the association of devotees who are dedicated to pushing on Krishna consciousness by following Srila Prabhupada’s instructions and distributing his books. Simple, uncomplicated souls who are not interested in politics and diplomacy and who are actually following strictly the path of saddhana bhakti as presented by Srila Prabhupada.

Disciples of Srila Prabhupada follow four regulative principles: no illicit sex life, no intoxication of any sort including tea and coffee, no gambling and no meat eating. They rise early every morning, before 4:00am and attend the Mangal Aroti ceremony in the temple. They chant at least sixteen rounds of the Maha-Mantra, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare / Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare, daily and they engage themselves full-time, 24 hours a day in practical service to Krishna under the direction of the spiritual master.

Quit a difficult task you might say! In fact to do all these things is impossible unless we have developed some real love and real attachment to Krishna and Srila Prabhupada. If the love and attachment is there there will never be enough hours in the day to serve Krishna and Srila Prabhupada and such service will place us in the ever increasing ocean of spiritual bliss. So the more we serve the more our desire to serve increases.

The development of this love and taste requires good association. The reason Srila Prabhupada established ISKCON was to provide a place for people interested in spiritual life to come to and associate with pure devotees so they could develop this love and attachment. Unfortunately in ISKCON today someone who wants to develop this pure service mood is seen as something of a fanatic, they call it the “Pure Devotee Disease” and anyone who exhibits it is encouraged to come back down to earth, be realistic and keep on going out there and collecting money and bringing it back to the temple. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to develop attachment and love under such circumstances. Usually the reverse happens, innocent and sincere young people join the movement and by association with the “devotees” who are not very serious and who have their own personal motivations for performing devotional service, these new devotees become more materialistic and move further away from Krishna and Srila Prabhupada by living in the temples.

This causes a great dilemma in the minds of many sincere devotees. Often their faith in Krishna consciousness is shattered as they are sincerely trying to follow the process of Krishna consciousness, but instead of becoming purified, they become contaminated. Instead of becoming free from material desires they become riddled with them. It’s the power of association. Unless the temples are full of pure devotees or at least devotees aspiring for pure devotional service they are useless. There is no difference between a temple full of mixed devotees and a Christian church or some other place where God is worshipped. There is no doubt that God is worshipped in the Churches and there is also no doubt that the people engaged in such worship benefit spiritually, but it’s not pure devotional service.

I know Srila Prabhupada most dearly wants his books to be distributed, and I have always tried to distribute as many books as possible, but it is very difficult if you are surrounded by “devotees” who are not interested in distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books.

I want to distribute Srila Prabhupada’s books, but the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, the publishers of Srila Prabhupada’s books, won’t sell them to me. I have to preach, it’s Srila Prabhupada’s desire, so what to do??

Krishna consciousness has nothing to do with politics. It is about developing our natural constitutional loving relationship with Krishna. Its a completely natural, simple and joyful process. So I urge you to read this book and more than that I beg you to read the books of my eternal master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, then your life will be truly sublime.

Thank you very much. Hare Krishna

Madhudvisa dasa
Dated at Sydney May 8, 1994


Even a person with no knowledge can immediately acquire all knowledge simply by the benediction of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Therefore I am praying to the Lord for His causeless mercy upon me.

I offer my respectful obeisances unto Sri Krishna Caitanya and Lord Nityananda, who are like the sun and moon. They have arisen simultaneously on the horizon of Gauda to dissipate the darkness of ignorance and thus wonderfully bestow benediction upon all.

Glory to the all-merciful Radha and Madana-Mohana! I am lame and ill-advised, yet They are my directors, and Their lotus feet are everything to me.

In a temple of jewels in Vrndavana, underneath a desire tree, Sri Sri Radha Govinda, served by Their most confidential associates, sit upon an effulgent throne. I offer my humble obeisances to Them.

May Gopinathaji, who attracts all the gopis with the songs of His flute and who has begun the most melodious rasa dance on the bank of the Yamuna in Vamsivata, be merciful upon us. (Srila Krishnadas Kaviraja CC Mad 1.1-5)

Krishna consciousness is not a new creation. Krishna consciousness has always existed. It is our original pure consciousness. While we are in contaminated consciousness here in the material world we are in material consciousness, but if that material consciousness is purified our original consciousness, Krishna consciousness, is revived. There are different processes for reviving our original Krishna consciousness, basically divided into three: mental speculation, meditation yoga and devotional service. There are different ages, or yugas, which this universe passes through on a cycle lasting for 4,300,000 years. This cycle is similar to the changing seasons we see every year. We know that after winter there will be spring and after spring there will be summer. Similarly, on a larger scale, there are four ages, Satya-yuga, Tretya-yuga, Dvarpa-yuga and Kali-yuga. Satya-yuga is called the golden age because in this age everyone is pure and spiritually advanced. The conditions in the Satya Yuga are particularly suitable for the practice of meditational yoga as people have long lifetimes and are undisturbed. The conditions degrade until Kali Yuga, the present age, which is the most degraded age, people being short-lived, always disturbed, very sinful and not at all intelligent. Because in this age we are very unfortunate there is no chance for us to practice either meditational yoga or mental speculation. The only practical option open to us is devotional service, Krishna consciousness.

The Krishna consciousness movement of congregational chanting of the holy names of God actually began in full force five hundred years ago. At this time Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who was none other than Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself, took mercy on us, the fallen souls in Kali-yuga by flooding the subcontinent of India with the chanting of the maha mantra Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare / Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Lord Caitanya was delivering pure love of God, the topmost spiritual achievement, freely to everyone without consideration of their qualifications. No other incarnation of God has ever been so merciful. To reveal the secret of what real love is, Krishna came to earth in the guise of His own devotee – as Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. With his chief associates – Nityananda, Advaita, Gadadhara and Srivasa – He taught how to develop love of Godhead simply by chanting Hare Krishna and dancing in ecstasy.

The Hare Krishna’s Go West

Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu desired this chanting of Hare Krishna and dancing in ecstasy be spread all over the world, in fact he predicted that one day the whole world will dance in ecstasy to this chanting of Hare Krishna. Until His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada left India for the United States in 1965 no one in India could imagine how the prediction of Lord Caitanya could come true.

At the age of sixty nine, Srila Prabhupada travelled to the United States with nothing but a few dollars and a stock of Srimad Bhagavatam volumes he had translated and printed in India, along with his most valuable asset, unflinching faith in Krishna and the order of his spiritual master.

In the United States Srila Prabhupada established the International Society for Krishna Consciousness(ISKCON) in accordance with instructions of His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur, his spiritual master. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta instructed Srila Prabhupada to present the philosophy of Krishna consciousness in English and to preach in the Western countries.

Although Srila Bhaktsiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, my beloved eternal spiritual master, guide and friend, according to material vision passed away from this material world on the last day of December, 1936, I still consider His Divine Grace to be present with me by his vani, his words. there are two ways of association - by vani and vapu. Vani means words and vapu means physical presence. Physical presence is sometimes appreciable and sometimes not, but vani continues to exist eternally. Therefore we must take advantage of the vani, not the physical presence. Bhagavad-gita, for example, is the vani of Lord Krishna. Although Krishna was personally present five thousand years ago and is no longer physically present from the materialistic point of view, Bhagavad-gita continues. (CC Ant p319)

Srila Prabhupada, after studying the Americans and their way of life, moved to the Bowery, and later to the Lower East Side in New York. At this time the ‘Hippy’ movement was emerging and many dissatisfied young people had started moving to the area. These young Americans were unimpressed with the materialistic lifestyles of their parents, they were concerned about America’s involvement in the Vietnam war and the proliferation of nuclear weapons. They were looking for an answer. They wanted peace, love and happiness and with this vague notion they converged on the Lower East Side of New York in search of utopia. For many of these ‘flower children’ Srila Prabhupada provided just what they were looking for. A spiritual lifestyle, peace, happiness and a real purpose in life. Srila Prabhupada’s method was simple. He sat underneath a tree in the park and chanted the Hare Krishna mantra, spoke on Bhagavad-gita As It Is and distributed prasadam (food spiritualized by offering to Krishna). He saw no distinction between people, young or old, black or white, man or woman; to Prabhupada they were all spirit souls who were lost in the bewildering network of this material world. His only desire was to help these lost souls find their way back to Krishna, their eternal father. He knew that they were suffering because of forgetfulness of their eternal relationship with Krishna, and as a humble servant of Krishna he was just trying to give them the right direction so they could reestablish that lost relationship with Krishna. This simple program gradually attracted many sincere young boys and girls to Krishna consciousness.

Srila Prabhupada was so merciful that he brought Krishna from Vrndavana to the middle of the worlds largest, and most important cities. He said “Actually I am not happy here, I was happy in Vrndavana, but in pursuance of my spiritual masters order I have come here.” And Srila Prabhupada’s living conditions in America at that time were certainly very difficult. The Bowery and the Lower East Side were full of drug-crazed hippies and drunks, winter in New York was bitterly cold, very difficult for Srila Prabhupada who was used to the climate of India, and the people who were attending his classes were generally totally addicted to all sorts of intoxication and illicit sex life, and not very respectful or well behaved. On top of this many were full-on impersonalists – more interested in becoming guru’s themselves than serving Srila Prabhupada.

Srila Prabhupada had come from Vrndavana, the spiritual world, into the darkest reigns of hell. Still, patiently and with great determination, he presented Krishna consciousness to everyone he met. He went out alone to perform sankirtana in the park. He just sat down and chanted Hare Krishna and preached to anyone who would listen. It is not that Srila Prabhupada had success very quickly or easily. He arrived in the United States towards the end of 1965 and for twelve months he had no fixed place of residence and apparently very little success in his missionary work. But still he was preaching. For some time he stayed in the Misra Yoga Society and there are tapes of his classes preaching to Dr. Misra’s students. It’s the same Srila Prabhupada, the same hard line uncompromising Krishna consciousness, the same plea to please surrender to Krishna, please give up sense gratification and serve Krishna, work for Krishna’s pleasure and you’ll be happy. Srila Prabhupada, and his preaching didn’t change at all from these first recorded classes when he was alone (apparently) in the United States with no means of support and no disciples to the stage where he had ten thousand disciples and was being worshiped in such a grand way. He was still the same Prabhupada, still pleading that we should surrender to Krishna, that we should work for the pleasure of Krishna’s senses and forget our personal sense gratification. There are also tapes of classes Prabhupada gave to a few students who would visit him in the very small narrow room he lived in on the Bowery. There’s even classes given in somebody’s garage at a time when Prabhupada had no where else to preach! Prabhupada was so determined to preach Krishna consciousness under the most difficult conditions.

So, by the grace of Lord Caitanya, this movement is already introduced in the Western countries beginning from New York. Our first movement, the sankirtana movement was introduced in New York. I came to New York first. I began to chant this Hare Krishna mantra in Tompkins Square park. So I was chanting there for three hours with a small mrdunga and these boys, American boys, they assembled and gradually they joined and it is increasing. First of all it was started in New York in a store front, 26 2nd. Avenue. Then we started our branch in San Fransisco, in Los Angeles, in Santa Fe, in Buffalo, then here. We now have 20 branches including one in London and one in Hamburg. In London the boys, they're all American boys and girls, they're preaching, they're not sannyasis, neither they are Vedantists, neither they're Hindus, neither they're Indian, but they have taken this movement very seriously. Here, at this meeting, one lady has come from London. She was very much praising our movement in London. In London Times there was an article, they said that "Krishna Chanting Startles London." So we have got many followers now. All my disciples till now, at least in this country, they're all Americans and Europeans. They're chanting, dancing and issuing our paper Back To Godhead. Now we have published so many books: Srimad Bhagavatam, Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Teachings of Lord Caitanya. So this movement is not a sentimental movement. We have background. The highest philosophical background.(SPL 69-006 Address to Columbas Indian Association 11/05/69)

Srila Prabhupada had absolute faith in the power of the Hare Krishna mantra and the association of a pure devotee to deliver anyone, no matter how fallen, from their material life and raise them to the platform of pure devotional service. Who else would be prepared to undergo such severe difficulties to spread Krishna consciousness? Prabhupada said that when he was planning to come to America to preach the babajis in Vrndavana had advised that it was not necessary to leave Vrndavana, simply by practicing Krishna consciousness in Vrndavana all benefits were there. Prabhupada had a very nice position in Vrndavana. He was respected as a scholar and great devotee, his residence was the most sacred Radha Damodara temple and he had all facilities to practice Krishna consciousness in a very sanctified atmosphere. But he gave all this up to follow his spiritual masters instructions and preach Krishna consciousness in the West.

In the preaching work of the Krishna conscious movement, we, as the servant of the servant of the servant of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, fully believe in the words of Krishna and His servants, the disciplic succession. In this way we are presenting the words of Krishna throughout the world. Even though we are neither a rich man nor a very learned scholar, and even though we do not belong to any aristocracy this movement is still being welcomed and is very easily spreading all over the world. Although we are very poor and have no professional source of income, Krishna supplies money whenever we need it. Whenever we need some men Krishna supplies them. This is stated in Bhagavad-gita (6.22): yam labdhva caparam labham manyate nadhikam tatah. Actually, if we can attain the favour of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, we do not need anything else. We certainly do not need those things which a mundane person considers to be material assets.

When Srila Prabhupada incorporated ISKCON in 1966 he stated the following as the aims and objectives of the society:

  1. To systematically propagate spiritual knowledge to society at large and to educate all peoples in the techniques of spiritual life in order to check the imbalance of values in life and to achieve real unity and peace within the world.
  2. To propagate a consciousness of Krishna, as it is revealed in Bhagavad-gita and Srimad Bhagavatam.
  3. To bring the members of the society together with each other and nearer to Krishna, the prime entity, thus developing the idea within the members, and humanity at large, that each soul is part and parcel of the quality of Godhead(Krishna).
  4. To teach and encourage the sankirtana movement, congregational chanting of the holy names of God, as revealed in the teachings of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
  5. To erect for the members and for society at large a holy place of transcendental pastimes dedicated to the personality of Krishna.
  6. To bring members together for the purpose of teaching a simpler, more natural way of life.
  7. With a view to achieving the aforementioned purposes, to publish and distribute periodicals, books and other writings.

Srila Prabhupada worked tirelessly to establish the Krishna consciousness movement all over the world by encouraging his disciples to open new centres, by translating the major Vaisnava scriptures into English and by traveling and preaching extensively. He showed by example how one can live and work simply for the pleasure of Krishna, he gave his disciples the highest knowledge and enabled them to experience pleasure on the spiritual platform. His serious disciples were easily able to give up illicit sex life, intoxication, meat eating and gambling, and to develop all the qualities of pure devotees of Krishna. Srila Prabhupada said that the process was simple, he was engaging them in chanting Hare Krishna and giving them prasadam(food spiritualized by offering to Krishna) and the result was he was turning ‘hippies’ into ‘happies.’

You begin chanting and hear for a few seconds or a few minutes. You immediately come to the spiritual platform of ecstasy. Therefore Caitanya Mahaprabhu recommended this process not only for India, but for all the people of the world. He said that prthivite ache yata nagaradi-grama.... Prthivite means the face of the world, ache and there is, naga means town and grama means village or county. So He said that as many villages, towns or counties there are in human society on the surface of the globe My name, meaning Lord Caitanya's name, because He introduced this simple method of chanting Hare Krishna, will be celebrated. That is His prediction. So we can see practically also that somehow or other in your country this chanting of Hare Krishna was introduced practically only for one year but it is being popularized. People are taking it very seriously. Even some places where I never visited, they're organizing centres. I have received information from Buffalo, from Atlantic City, one little boy, Terry, he's organizing, he has invited some of our brahmacaris to go there. And I've received letters from Germany, from Holland, they have also begun chanting Hare Krishna. In England, the Beetles, they are also chanting, so this is getting popular in the Western countries, and it will get, I am sure. So this chanting process introduced by Lord Caitanya should be seriously taken up so that our aim of human life will be successful. (SPL68-066 Mar, 1968)

Very quickly centres were established in almost every major city in the world, and devotees were seen on the streets every day chanting:

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare

and dancing in ecstasy, distributing books and Back To Godhead magazines.

In the early days of the Hare Krishna movement the devotees took very seriously Prabhupada’s desire that sankirtana, the congregational chanting of the names of God, should be performed as much as possible. So the devotees were out on the streets chanting Hare Krishna and distributing Back To Godhead magazines practically all day, every day. In most cases the temples were supported financially primarily by this sankirtana collection, the proceeds of the Back To Godhead sales. If the devotees went out and chanted for 6-8 hours each day they were bound to collect at least $80 – $150 which was quite sufficient for paying for the Back To Godhead magazines, the temple rent and food. And that’s the way Prabhupada liked it. He wanted his students to live very simply and advance in Krishna consciousness, simply depending on Krishna for their maintenance.

Just like you are going to sell our magazine [Back To Godhead]. So this magazine selling or taking some contribution is not our business. Our business is that we are spreading Krishna consciousness. People are hearing something about Krishna and because we are helping we are also hearing. We are also benefiting. When we speak to someone about Krishna then I hear also. Sravana kirtana. The first, preliminary step is going on, hearing and chanting. So in this way we shall take all opportunity so that 24 hours, whether awakening or sleeping, we shall always think of Krishna. That is perfection.

This sankirtana [street chanting] and Back To Godhead distribution was unbelievably effective in bringing Krishna consciousness to the notice of practically everyone in the Western world. Even though Prabhupada had very few disciples, in 1968 there were not more than 100 and at the beginning of 1970 there were not more than 300, the effects of their preaching were enormous. It was as if a army of Hare Krishna’s had descended from Vaikuntha and were attacking the whole materialistic Western world!

After a rather slow start the spread of the Hare Krishna movement was dramatic. From a small store front in New York and a few hippy followers in 1966 to a world-wide confederation of over 108 temples, farm communities and schools all over the world by the mid ’70’s.

Srila Prabhupada travelled constantly to nurture the tender devotional lives of his thousands of disciples. Wherever he was Srila Prabhupada would rise very early in the morning and write his books. Between 1966 and 1977 Srila Prabhupada wrote an amazing number of books. He published almost eighty 400 page books. Srila Prabhupada also left thousands of hours of instruction in the form of his morning and evening classes, morning walks, room conversations and letters to his disciples.

Srila Prabhupada constantly stressed that the most important aspect of the Krishna consciousness movement was the distribution of his books. His constant stress on book distribution inspired his disciples to distribute books in unbelievable quantities…the world has never before seen such a huge quantity of religious books distributed so enthusiastically and widely.

There is no doubt about it, to distribute books is our most important activity. The temple is a place not for eating and sleeping, but as a base from which we send out our soldiers to fight with maya. Fight with maya means to drop thousands and millions of books into the lap of the conditioned souls. Just like during war time the bombs are raining from the sky like anything...

The reason Srila Prabhupada was so enthusiastic that his books be distributed in unlimited quantities was his faith in the transcendental sound vibrations they contain. Srila Prabhupada called his translation of the Bhagavad-gita, the principal Indian scripture, Bhagavad-gita As It Is. He explained that there were already dozens of translations of Bhagavad-gita in English, but practically all of them were written with some motive in mind other than simply presenting the conversation between Krishna and Arjuna as it was spoken. Because Krishna is famous, Krishna’s book, Bhagavad-gita, is also famous. Many unscrupulous people have taken advantage of the popularity of Bhagavad-gita and have used Krishna’s book to present their own concocted philosophy. Srila Prabhupada noted that the conclusion of Bhagavad-gita was to surrender to Krishna, however, until he published his Bhagavad-gita As It Is, although there were dozens of other translations of the Gita in English, not a single person in the Western world had become a devotee of Krishna. Now after reading Bhagavad-gita As It Is thousands and thousands of people were becoming pure devotees of Krishna and rejecting the materialistic way of life.

Prabhupada’s books contain the timeless science of Krishna consciousness as it has been handed down through the disciple succession from Krishna Himself. They are not interpretations or one man’s idea. They contain absolute, authorized knowledge. Because they contain the words of Krishna and narrations about Krishna’s activities and the activities of His devotees they are nondifferent from Krishna. Krishna, Krishna’s names, His pastimes, and everything connected with Him are completely spiritual and transcendental to the mundane material world. Therefore, reading Srila Prabhupada’s books is direct association with Krishna. Simply by reading one can be transported to the spiritual world. These books are so potent that even if someone touches them his life will be changed. So devotees distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books don’t just sell religious books. They are giving people Krishna.

I am very keen on the distribution of my books and I am very indebted to all of you for your untiring efforts to see that every man and woman in America gets one of my books. If they simply read one page, even if they do nothing else, they can become perfect. (to Haribasara 20 Apr, 1974)

Prabhupada’s emphasis on book distribution and his great satisfaction on hearing of temples and devotees successfully distributing his books inspired the devotees to increase more and more.

Again I am feeling overjoyed at hearing of your increased distribution program and I request you to increase more and more. There can be no limit to our distribution because Krishna is unlimited, so you may instruct the devotees there about this. (to Nityananda Feb 18, 1973)

I am especially happy to hear from you about the huge distribution of books in the Canada zone. That is the most auspicious sign. You are making good progress, that I can understand. As soon as I see that there is such increased book distribution figures, I take that to mean that all other programs are successful as well. I am especially encouraged to note that you have sold 268 of our Bhagavad-gita As It Is in only three weeks time. That is very, very satisfying to me. (to Jagadisa Jan 5, 1973)

Regarding book sales figures, please endeavour in this way. This is the only solace of my life. When I hear that my books are selling so nicely, I become energetic like a young man. (to Ramesvara, 1974)

The book distributors discovered many novel and effective ways of selling Srila Prabhupada’s books and as they surrendered more and more to book distribution both their results and the spiritual pleasure they were feeling was increasing unlimitedly.

I have read the plans of Ramesvara and Triparari to attend the fair and to distribute books to the thousands of people who will be coming; whatever transcendental tactics you leaders think best for distributing the books you can employ. Please keep me informed as the fair develops. (to Haribasara 20 Apr, 1974)

Wherever devotees took distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books as their life and soul everything was auspicious. There where plenty of enthusiastic devotees and the mood was ecstatic. The experience of a book distributor who was prepared to tolerate the difficulties and go out and sell Srila Prabhupada’s books to people, who were initially not very interested, and to see them become transformed in front of their eyes, simply by touching the book and hearing the philosophy of Krishna consciousness, is impossible to explain. Every devotee was practically seeing Krishna work every day. The devotees were practically realizing the philosophy of Krishna consciousness. The book distributors had so many realizations to share with each other and so much to talk about, and everything was about Krishna, Prabhupada and book distribution…there was absolutely nothing else to talk about! The book distributors were getting practical realization of Krishna consciousness and they were very happy. Of course there were many difficulties from the material point of view. But the book distributors were experiencing a variety of transcendental bliss that only those who seriously dedicate their life and soul to the orders of a bona fide spiritual master can experience.

Your sankirtana reports are very encouraging, especially that one girl, Gauri dasi, who has set an all ISKCON women's record of 108 big books. This is very wonderful. Formerly this would have been considered impossible, but now, by Krishna's grace everything is becoming possible. Encourage them all to increase more and more. (to Rupanuga)

Occasionally a devotee would complain that the emphasis on book distribution meant it was difficult to have chanting parties (sankirtana) on the streets as much as in the past. In this regard Srila Prabhupada followed his spiritual master. The clay drum which is used in the street sankirtana is called a mrdunga. Srila Bhaktsiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, Prabhupada’s spiritual master, said that this clay mrdunga can be heard for one or two blocks, however, the printing press can produce books which can go all over the world. So Srila Bhaktisiddhanta coined the term brhat-mrdunga meaning the greater mrdunga, to describe the printing press. So this book distribution is the greater kirtana. Prabhupada stressed that the street chanting (sankirtana), temple worship and book distribution should go on, side by side, although of all activities book distribution is by far the most important.

I blindly follow my Guru Maharaja. I do not know what is the result. So I am stressing on this point of book distribution. He told me this personally. Book distribution is bhagavata-marga and temple worship is pancharatriki-viddhi. Both are important for cultivating Vaishnavism, but comparatively speaking bhagavata-marga is more important than pancharatriki-viddhi. As far as possible, both should go on in parallel lines, but still bhagavata-marga is more important than the other. (to Sri Govinda 12 Dec, 1974)

Regarding sankirtana [street chanting] and book distribution, book distribution is also chanting. Anyone who reads the books, that is also chanting and hearing. Why distinguish between chanting and book distribution? These books I have recorded and chanted, and they are transcribed. It is spoken kirtana. So book distribution is also chanting. These are not ordinary books. It is recorded chanting. Anyone who reads, he is hearing. Book distribution must not be neglected. If things deteriorate that is another thing, but it is not the fault of book distribution. (to Rupanuga Oct 19, 1974)

ISKCON had grown into a large organization and there was always a danger that individual devotees who did not take Krishna consciousness or Srila Prabhupada seriously, who had their own material desires to satisfy, might try to exploit the movement and the devotees. The spiritual master is the manifest representation of Krishna, and, although he is the representative of Krishna, he is worshiped and respected as Krishna. A bona fide spiritual master has no desire except the desire to please Krishna. He acts as Krishna’s representative, and he accepts service on Krishna’s behalf. The very opulent worship offered to Srila Prabhupada by his thousands of disciples all over the world was often not understood by outsiders and sometimes it was envied by so-called devotees who were more interested in their own fame and reputation than the glorification of Krishna and Krishna’s pure devotee. It was these self-interested so-called devotees who would create many problems and difficulties for Srila Prabhupada and the sincere devotees because their goal wasn’t the advancement of the Krishna consciousness movement… it was the fulfilment of their own material desires for fame, profit, adoration, followers, etc.

Prabhupada stressed that his students should do everything for Krishna and nothing for their own sense gratification. He clearly instructed that if they sincerely tried to preach Krishna consciousness, Krishna would send everything required including money and men.

The area of our activities is expanding. Under the circumstances, if our management goes on nicely to maintain our prestige and good name, that will be our success. Such status quo can be maintained only on our being freed from any kind of sense gratifying attitude, because pure devotional service means: anyabhilasita-sunyam, or without any other desire than to satisfy Krishna (to Bhagavan Feb 16, 1971)

Perhaps the most amazing thing about Srila Prabhupada was his humility. Although he had ten thousand disciples all over the world in more than one hundred centres who accepted and worshiped him on the same level as Krishna, Srila Prabhupada always remained unaffected.

I think that His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura is always seeing my activities and guiding me within my heart by his words. As it is said in the Srimad Bhagavatam, tene brahma hrda ya adi-kavaye. Spiritual inspiration comes from within the heart, wherein the Supreme Personality of Godhead, in His Paramatma feature, is always sitting with all his devotees and associates. It is to be admitted that whatever translation work I have done is through the inspiration of my spiritual master because personally I am most insignificant and incompetent to do this materially impossible work. I do not think myself a very learned scholar, but I have full faith in the service of my spiritual master, His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. If there is any credit to my activities of translating, it is all due to His Divine Grace.(CC Ant p320)

What is a Hare Krishna Anyhow?

The purpose of this Krishna consciousness movement is to keep our minds constantly on Krishna. Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and He is a person… Receiving Krishna consciousness means receiving light. People are exhausted with the materialistic way of life especially in the West. Now the Krishna consciousness movement is giving new life to Western society… The great souls are always chanting about Krishna. Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare/ Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. They are also endeavouring with great determination in their devotional service. For instance in the Krishna conscious temples the devotees rise early in the morning at 4:00 A.M. and they immediately bathe. Then they go to mangal-aroti at 4:30 and after mangal-aroti they study the Vedic literatures. These are the processes by which we can awaken our dormant love for Krishna.

Because we are part and parcel of Krishna – just as the son is part and parcel of his father – there is a natural love between us. However somehow or other the son leaves home and forgets his father. The father of course never forgets his son. He thinks Oh, my son has left. If he would only come back! Krishna thinks in this way. We are all sons of Krishna and Krishna is more anxious to get us back home back to Godhead than we are to go. Therefore Krishna comes and says You rascal! Give up all this nonsensical material enjoyment. You have manufactured so many religions and dharmas. Just give them all up and surrender unto Me.” Krishna comes Himself and leaves behind His words. His words are also Himself because His words are absolute.

Presently we do not see Krishna but if we actually advance we will see Him. When we see the Deity in the temple we think Oh, this is an idol. It is not Krishna. If we think in this way we have not seen Krishna. Krishna is also present in His words in Bhagavad-gita. That is krsna-vani the message of Krishna. The stage of awareness of Krishna can be attained when one is advanced in Krishna consciousness. Then one can understand that Krishna is present in the Deity in Bhagavad-gita in the taste of water in the sunshine in the moonshine and in all sound. Krishna is present everywhere but one has to acquire knowledge in order to know how to see Krishna. That is mukti liberation. That is Krishna consciousness. That is also the process of bhakti-yoga – sravanam kirtanam visnoh smaranam… Deity worship is arcanam chanting is vandanam and dasyam is working for Krishna and spreading this Krishna consciousness movement.

Generally we experience that people are primarily interested in seeing Krishna but why is the emphasis on seeing? Let us hear about Him We must come with a little faith and as we hear that faith will increase. One should come to the temple listen to talks about Krishna and then after some time officially take initiation into the service of the Lord. That is called bhajana-kriya. At that time one has to abandon illicit sex intoxication meat-eating and gambling. If one is still attached to all these habits he should know that he is not making progress. When one is actually advanced in bhajana-kriya all the anarthas (unwanted things) will be finished. Param drstva nivartate. When one appreciates something better he rejects all kinds of nonsense. Once one gets a taste of Krishna consciousness he cannot remain without it. A drunkard cannot remain without a drink but a devotee is drunk with Krishna consciousness. The immunization against all material diseases is this Krishna consciousness. To become immune to the infection of the modes of material nature we have to engage in bhakti-yoga. Once we attain the perfectional stage we attain ecstatic love of Godhead. In that state we cannot remain without Krishna for a moment. That is called bhava and that bhava may increase to maha-bhava. This is not possible for ordinary human beings but it was possible for the gopis and Radharani. Indeed they could not live without Krishna. This is the highest stage of liberation.

Attachment to matter is the greatest entanglement of the spirit soul. But the same attachment when applied to self-realised devotees opens the door of liberation.

Attachment for one thing is the cause of bondage in conditional life and the same attachment when applied to something else opens the door of liberation. Attachment cannot be killed; it simply has to be transferred. Attachment for material things is called material consciousness and attachment for Krishna or His devotee is called Krishna consciousness. Consciousness therefore is the platform of attachment. If we simply purify the consciousness from material consciousness to Krishna consciousness we attain liberation. Despite the statement that one should give up attachment desirelesness is not possible for a living entity. A living entity by constitution has the propensity to be attached to something. We see that if someone has no object of attachment if he has no children he transfers his attachment to cats and dogs. This indicates that the propensity for attachment cannot be stopped; rather it must be utilized for the best purpose. Our attachment for material things perpetuates our conditional state but the same attachment when transferred to the Supreme Personality of Godhead or His devotee is the source of liberation.

It is recommended that attachment should be transferred to the self-realized devotees the sadhus. And who is a sadhu? A sadhu is not just an ordinary man with a saffron robe or a long beard. A sadhu is described in Bhagavad-gita as one who unflinchingly engages in devotional service. Even though one is found not to be following the strict rules and regulations of devotional service if one simply has unflinching faith in Krishna the Supreme Personality of Godhead he is understood to be a sadhu. sadhur eva sa mantavyah. A sadhu is a strict follower of devotional service. If one at all wants to realize Brahman or spiritual perfection his attachment should be transferred to the sadhu or devotee. Lord Caitanya has also confirmed this. lava-matra sadhu-sange sarva-sidhi haya: simply by a moments association with a sadhu one can attain perfection.

The sadhu’s business is to be very tolerant. When one becomes a devotee many people become one’s enemy because in this age people are asuric demoniac. Even one’s father may turn into an enemy like Hiranyakasipu the father of Prahlada Maharaja. Prahlada was only five years old and was chanting Hare Krishna but his father was prepared to kill him because he was a devotee. Hiranyakasipu was saying Why are you chanting Hare Krishna? Why are you speaking of a separate God? I am God. That is the meaning of asuric demoniac. Rascals who claim to be God themselves are simply demons. Although Prahlada’s father was insisting that he was God Prahlada Maharaja could not accept this. He simply accepted his father as an asura and consequently there was a quarrel between them. When Hiranyakasipu asked Prahlada Maharaja What is the best thing you have learned from your teachers? Prahlada replied O best of the asuras, as far as I can understand, because we have accepted this material body, we have to accept death, but this is not the object of human life. Human life is meant for moksa, liberation. Unfortunately, foolish people do not understand this. Krishna says. mrtyuh sarva-haras caham: I am death and I will take away everything you possess (Bhagavad-gita 10.34) Hiranyakasipu was such a powerful demon that even the demigods were afraid of him but Krishna took everything away in a second. Hiranyakasipu was looking for security and he was thinking. “I will not die in this way and I will not die in that way.” But he did not think that he would be killed by the Lord in the form of Nrsimha. However intelligent we may be and however much we may try to cheat Krishna Krishna is always more intelligent. When mother Yasoda tried to bind Krishna with a rope she found the rope was always two inches too short. Our intelligence is like that. We want to cheat God and surpass Him but that is not possible. People think themselves very advanced in knowledge but actually due to their pride their knowledge is taken away by maya. Krishna actually takes the knowledge away from atheistic demoniac people like Hiranyakasipu. Atheists do not know that Krishna’s intelligence is always at least two inches greater than anyone else’s.

Those who are mahatmas are always engaged in chanting Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare/ Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. Bhajana is chanting of Hare Krishna. If we serve a mahatma like Haridasa Thakura who was always engaged in chanting Hare Krishna our path of liberation is opened. However if we associate with materialistic people who are simply mad for sense gratification we take the way of darkness.

A sadhu (devotee of Krishna) is tolerant merciful and friendly to all living entities. He has no enemies he is peaceful he abides by the scriptures and all his characteristics are sublime. His concern is to enlighten people in devotional service; that is his mercy. He knows that without devotional service life is spoiled. A devotee travels all over the country from door to door preaching Be Krishna conscious. Be a devotee of Lord Krishna. Don’t spoil your life in simply fulfilling your animal propensities. Human life is meant for self realization, or Krishna consciousness. These are the preachings of a sadhu. He is not satisfied with his own liberation. He always thinks about others. He is the most compassionate personality toward all fallen souls.

While engaged in preaching work he has to meet with so many opposing elements and therefore the sadhu has to be very tolerant. Someone may ill-treat him because the conditioned souls are not prepared to receive the transcendental knowledge of devotional service. They don’t like it; that is their disease. The sadhu has the thankless task of impressing upon them the importance of devotional service. Sometimes devotees are personally attacked with violence. Lord Jesus Christ was crucified Haridasa Thakura was cained in twenty-two market places and Lord Caitanya’s principal assistant Nityananda was violently attacked by Jagai and Madhai. But still they were tolerant because their mission was to deliver fallen souls.

At the present moment it is very difficult to avoid the company of asadhus those who are not sadhus. It is very difficult to find a sadhu for association. We have therefore started this Krishna consciousness movement to create an association of sadhus so that people may take advantage and become liberated. There is no other purpose for this society.

A sadhu does not create enemies. If there are enemies they become envious out of their own character not out of any provocation on the part of a sadhu. A sadhu simply teaches My dear human being, my dear friend, just surrender to Krishna. Enemies arise due to man’s envious nature. Canakya Pandit says that there are two envious animals – serpents and men. Although you may be faultless either may kill you. Of the two Canakya Pandit says that the envious man is more dangerous because a serpent can be subdued by chanting a mantra or some herbs but an envious man cannot be subdued. In Kali-yuga practically everyone is envious but we have to tolerate this.

Envious people create many impediments to the Krishna consciousness movement but we have to tolerate them. There is no alternative. One must be peaceful and depend on Krishna in all circumstances. These are the ornaments of a sadhu. We should find a sadhu and associate with him. Then our path to liberation will be open.

Krishna consciousness is our original consciousness but somehow or other it has become covered by material attachment. The question is how to give up material attachment and become attached to Krishna. The process is sadhu-sanga association with a sadhu. We have many attachments in this material world but we cannot make these attachments void. We simply have to purify them. Some say that if the eye is diseased it should be plucked out but that is not treatment. Treatment is removing the disease. Somehow or other there is a cataract and if the cataract is removed one’s eyesight will be revived.

We have described the symptoms of a sadhu and we have stated that a sadhu should be accepted by his characteristics. It is not that we accept anyone who comes along and says I am a sadhu. The characteristics of a sadhu have to be present. Similarly it is not that anyone is accepted who comes along and says I am an incarnation of God. There are characteristics of God given in the sastras (scriptures). sadhu-sanga association with a sadhu is very essential in Krishna consciousness. People are suffering due to contamination of tamo-guna (darkness ignorance) and rajo-guna (passion). The sadhu teaches one how to remain purely in sattva-guna (goodness) by truthfulness cleanliness mind control sense control simplicity tolerance full faith and knowledge.

Instead of thinking Unless I have a drink, I will go mad, one should think Unless I associate with a sadhu, I will go mad. When we can think in this way we will become liberated. Caitanya Mahaprabhu has stated that He wants every village in the entire world to be a centre for Krishna consciousness so that people can take advantage of sadhus and in turn become sadhus. This is the mission of this Krishna consciousness movement. We simply have to voluntarily undergo some penance in the beginning. It may be a little painful in the beginning to refrain from illicit sex intoxication meat eating and gambling but one has to be tolerant. To cure a disease one may have to agree to undergo a surgical operation. Although the operation may be very painful we have to tolerate it. This is called titiksavah. At the same time we have to be karunikah – that is we have to take compassion on the fallen souls by going from town to town to enlighten others in Krishna consciousness. This is a sadhu’s duty. Those who are preachers are superior to those who go to the Himalayas to meditate. It is good to go to the Himalayas to meditate for one’s personal benefit but those who undergo many difficulties in order to preach are superior. They are actually fighting for Krishna’s sake and they are certainly more compassionate. The sadhus who leave Vrndavana to fight in the world to spread Krishna consciousness are superior sadhus. That is the opinion of Krishna in Bhagavad-gita (18.68-69):

ya idam paramam guhyam – mad bhaktesv abhidhasyati
bhaktim mayi param krtva – mam evaisyaty asamsayah

na ca tasman manusyesu – kascin me priya krttamah
bhavita na ca me tasmad – anyah priyataro bhuvi

For one who explains the supreme secret to the devotees, devotional service is guaranteed, and at the end he will come back to Me. There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will there ever be one more dear.

If we want to be quickly recognized by Krishna we should become preachers. This is also the message of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. It is not that one should remain in India; rather one should travel all over the world to preach Krishna consciousness

Not only is a sadhu everyone’s well-wisher but he is not an enemy of anyone. He is santa peaceful. These are the primary characteristics of a sadhu. He is also attached to no one but Krishna. mayy ananyena bhavena. These are the external and internal symptoms of a sadhu.

A sadhu simply takes pleasure in hearing about Krishna and talking about Him. There are many pastimes enacted by Krishna. He fights and kills demons and He performs His pastimes with the gopis. He plays as a cowherd boy in Vrndavana and as a King of Dvaraka. There are many books about Krishna krsna-katha and this Krishna consciousness movement has already published many of them. Apart from Bhagavad-gita which is spoken by Krishna we can read these other books. In this way one can learn the art of becoming a sadhu. Simply by hearing about Krishna and speaking about Him we will be immediately relieved from the suffering of this material condition. This symptom will be visible when one no longer has material attachment. A sadhu does not think of himself as Hindu Muslim Christian American Indian or whatever. He simply thinks I am the servant of Krishna. One need only learn this process in order to render the best service to humanity.(from Teachings of Lord Kapila Chapter 11.)

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare

Srila Prabhupada – A Transcendental Manager

The success of ISKCON (the International Society for Krishna Consciousness) was a direct result of Srila Prabhupada’s devotion, determination, purity and intelligence, however, he was a soul completely surrendered to Krishna. He depended completely on Krishna. So ISKCON succeeded because Srila Prabhupada was totally dedicated to the order of his spiritual master and Krishna. Srila Prabhupada was the force behind ISKCON but the thousands of young boys and girls who surrendered to him and accepted him as their spiritual master were the Krishna conscious soldiers fighting maya (illusion) on her own territory. Srila Prabhupada was always unlimitedly grateful to his disciples for helping him fulfill his spiritual master’s orders. He even sometimes said, “My spiritual master has sent you all to teach me how to be Krishna conscious.”

Srila Prabhupada didn’t want to control everything himself. He wanted to encourage his disciples to take responsibility and use their intelligence in devising ways to spread Krishna consciousness. He wanted his disciples to become competent in all areas of practical work and management as well as being learned in the philosophy and expert preachers. He didn’t like centralization or bureaucracy. His management program was always for independent and self-supporting centres not in any way dependant on any other centre. The only exceptions to this independent and self-supporting model were his Indian projects where he made Bombay the head office and he personally managed everything from there. He also centralized the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust as it would have been unworkable to have every temple printing books. There had to be some central body to coordinate book publication.

...I have heard from Jayatirtha you want to make big plans for centralization of management, taxes, monies, corporate status, book-keeping, credit, like that. I do not approve of such a plan. Do not centralize anything. Each temple must remain independent and self-sufficient. That was my plan from the very beginning, why you are thinking otherwise? Once before you wanted to do something centralizing with your GBC meeting, and if I did not interfere the whole thing would have been killed. Do not think in this way of big corporation, big credits, centralization - these are all nonsense proposals. Only thing I wanted was that books printing and distribution should be centralized, therefore I appointed you and Bali Mardana to do it. Otherwise, management, everything, should be done locally by local men. Accounts must be kept, things must be in order and lawfully done, but this should be each temple's concern, not yours. (to Karandhara 22 Dec, 1972)

Srila Prabhupada wanted a confederation of independent ISKCON centres each managed by a Temple President, Secretary and Treasurer. His mood was that each Temple President should develop the preaching in his area at his own creative rate.

The formula for ISKCON organization is very simple and can be understood by everyone. The world is divided into 12 zones. For each zone there is one zonal secretary. His duty is to see that the spiritual principles are being upheld very nicely in all the temples of his zone. Otherwise each temple shall be independent and self-supporting. Let every temple president work according to his own capacity to improve the Krishna consciousness of his centre. So far the practical management is concerned, that is required, but not that we shall become too much absorbed in fancy organization. Our business is spiritual life, so whatever organization needs to be done, the presidents may handle and take advice and assistance from the GBC representative. In this way let the Society's work go on and everyone increase their service at their own creative rate.

...We request that everyone take these formulas to heart and execute them very conscientiously. In this way we shall certainly be successful in pushing on this movement. (Signed by Srila Prabhupada & Karandhara dasa 22 Apr, 1972)

Prabhupada wanted to give his disciples all opportunities to preach without being burdened by bureaucracy and mundane organization. Even the Governing Body Commission (GBC) was not meant to be a managing body as such. The GBC members were to travel and preach in their zones and enliven the devotees spiritually. They were also given the responsibility to ensure that every devotee in their zone was strictly following the four regulative principles (no illicit sex, no intoxication, no meat eating and no gambling) and that every devotee was completing at least 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra daily without fail. They were also to ensure that all routine work in the temples was being carried out to the proper standard. This included cleanliness, the standard of Deity worship, etc. Their position was to advise and assist the temple presidents but they had no authority over the temple president, nor did they have any power to remove the temple president. The temple president could only be changed by vote of the members of the temple.

Srila Prabhupada wanted all of his temples to be “revolutionary clean”, he wanted every disciple in ISKCON to rise before 4:00am and attend the 4:30am temple program. He wanted everyone to chant at least 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra daily and to strictly follow the for regulative principles (no illicit sex, no intoxication, no meat eating, no gambling) and he wanted his books distributed as widely as possible. Outside these areas Srila Prabhupada gave a great deal of freedom to his disciples. He had faith in his disciples. He accepted that they were intelligent and he wanted them to use their “American brains” in Krishna’s service. Srila Prabhupada usually only gave the broad idea of what he wanted and left the details to his disciples. Even his most dear project, his book publishing work, was delegated almost completely to his disciples. Srila Prabhupada dictated his books and gave general ideas about the size of the book, the paintings, etc, but the actual publication work he left to his disciples. In book distribution Srila Prabhupada told his disciples he wanted them to distribute his books. He didn’t tell them how or where, he expected them to use their intelligence and work out how to do it.

Right form the early days of ISKCON at 26 2nd. Avenue in New York Srila Prabhupada gave much of the responsibility for the management and preaching to his disciples. Prabhupada worked on his translations, gave morning and evening classes and guided devotees where required. He answered their questions and instructed them in the practical aspects of Krishna consciousness like cooking and cleaning, but left them to manage the temple and to a large extent the preaching. Srila Prabhupada had established the Back to Godhead magazine in India as his own preaching program and now in the United States he had given Back To Godhead to his disciples. The Back To Godhead gave his disciples a forum for their preaching at their level of realization. Many of the early Back To Godhead articles were quite esoteric and often had very little to do with the philosophy of Krishna consciousness, but Srila Prabhupada encouraged his disciples, praised their Back To Godhead articles and knew that, in time, with practice and realization their writing skills and philosophical understanding would improve. And he was right. In a few short years Back To Godhead went from a “esoteric” mimeographed newsletter to a beautiful full-color magazine presenting the philosophy of Krishna consciousness so nicely and clearly that anyone could easily understand and appreciate it.

Srila Prabhupada was always enthusiastic to push his disciples forward and to see them advance in Krishna consciousness. Hearing and chanting are the two most important processes in advancing in Krishna consciousness. He wanted his disciples to hear from him, but then he wanted them to take the responsibility and preach by repeating what they had heard. Even if devotees were not very advanced or philosophically realized he wanted them to give classes and speak their realizations of Krishna consciousness. He would encourage quite new devotees to go off to another city or country to establish a temple there. Prabhupada had great faith in the process of discussing the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad Bhagavatam in the association of devotees.

Srila Prabhupada gave much stress to being engaged in Krishna’s service 24 hours a day. He was personally always engaged in Krishna’s service and he wanted to see his disciples follow his example. From the very first days of ISKCON Srila Prabhupada tried to engage any interested person in Krishna’s service 24 hours as day. In the first store-front temple Prabhupada had his disciples preaching, cooking, distributing prasadam (spiritual food), writing articles for Back To Godhead, printing, collating and stapling the Back To Godhead, painting pictures for illustrating his books, sending sankirtana [street chanting] parties out to chant in the city and parks and many other activities. He said that “We are just trying to be engaged in Krishna’s service 24 hours a day, even if we have to invent some service to keep us busy.”

The idea is that we can only do one of two things. We can serve Krishna or we can serve maya (illusion). If we are not fully engaged in serving Krishna then maya will take the opportunity and engage us in her service causing us to fall from the spiritual platform and again become entangled in material activities. There are many regulative principles in Krishna consciousness but they are all summarized in one: Always remember Krishna and never forget Krishna. If we are engaged serving Krishna 24 hours a day we will automatically always remember Krishna and never forget Krishna and all the regulative principles will automatically be followed.

This chanting means always remembering Krishna. Cooking, I am cooking for Krishna, I am typing for Krishna, I am going to preach for Krishna, I am distributing Back To Godhead for Krishna. In this way always remember Krishna. That will make you perfect... Therefore it is equally good for anyone because we can engage anyone in the business of Krishna. If somebody has no knowledge he can simply sweep the floor of Krishna's temple. That will make him remember Krishna. That I am cleansing the floor of Krishna's temple. He's as good as the editor of Back To Godhead.

The thing which separated Srila Prabhupada and his ISKCON from every other religious or philosophical group was he was asking his disciples to fully surrender to Krishna and spiritualize their whole life. He was interested in pure devotional service and training his disciples to become pure devotees. There is no shortage of people or organizations who are prepared to give some percentage of their time and energy to God. But Prabhupada wanted one hundred percent. Prabhupada could have had millions and millions of disciples if he had relaxed the rules and regulations. But he was not interested in that. He wanted a few pure devotees, not millions of mad sentimental followers who were not serious about surrendering to Krishna or giving one hundred percent of their time and energy to Krishna.

...they say that everyone is God... So we are realizing by meditation that I am God, you are God, my brother is God, my father is God, everyone is God! This is going on. We want to stop all this rascaldom. That is our challenge. We may not have as many followers, we don't care for that. We don't want these nonsense followers, many thousands. What will they do? But if we can turn one man into Krishna consciousness perfectly he can do tremendous work in the world. That is our principle. We don't want nonsense. (SPL 68-030 27 Nov, 1968)

The Hare Krishna Movement in the 70’s

(This is an account of the activities of the Chicago ISKCON temple adapted from Morris Yanoff’s book “Where is Joey”)

Two American Airlines jets were unloading at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, the world’s busiest. I watched eight Krishnas gather eagerly to meet a crowd of passengers.

As the first stream of travellers came through, I observed tall Gadapati hold out his hand toward a sailor, and wondered how far he would get.

“Hi buddy, welcome to Chicago.” From Gadapati’s manner, one might have thought he had been sent by the Mayor himself. A lonely kid in a strange city, the young sailor seemed pleased to be greeted. He dropped his duffel bag between his feet in order to accept the yellow-jacketed copy of the Gita from Gadapati.

Just then, little Deva dasi, blond and smiling sweetly, deftly pinned a wine-red carnation on the lapel of an old gentleman.

Gadapati, another Gita in his hand, was showing the sailor the picture pages. “You believe in God?” he asked. “Oh, yes.”, he replied. “This is all about God.”

Day after day the young devotees diligently piled passengers with books or carnations, reaping thousands of dollars in donations.

Having learned that the temple had an open house at five every Sunday, I decided to attend. I drove to the converted YMCA building on Emerson Avenue one September afternoon. Painted yellow and with the Hare Krishna mantra in red letters across the front, the temple stood in sharp contrast to the small store fronts which flanked it and to the large new senior citizens’ housing complex facing it from across the street.

A clutter of shoes inside the entrance door induced me to remove mine. Unshod, I went painfully on callused feet into the large, rather bare reception room. Other than two easy chairs, there was a large table covered with the sect’s literature – the books and magazines were vividly illustrated with scenes from Hindu mythology.

A young male devotee in a saffron dhoti, called out “Hare Krishna,” to which I stiffly replied, “How d’ye do?” When he introduced himself he gave me his Sanskrit name and wished me a happy new-year. Was he Jewish, I wondered? By now, there were several other visitors. We were led down a flight of stairs into a brightly lit, high ceilinged hall which must have been the former basketball court of the YMCA. Its walls were painted cream, the floor covered with black and white tiles. At the north end was a dais on which stood a large framed picture of the aged founder and head of ISKCON, Swami Prabhupada. It was hung with floral wreaths and propped upon colorful cushions. The south end of the hall was screened by drapes. As there were no chairs, everyone sat on the floor. About twenty visitors, mostly young, a few with children, arranged along the east wall facing the centre. Along the west wall were a few women devotees in flowing, gaudy saris. All the devotees moved silently and swiftly on bare feet.

A devotee came to the middle of the floor and sat down cross-legged before a microphone facing the visitors. His dark eyes were sunken; his high cheek bones, large nose, and shaven head gave a skull-like appearance. Introducing himself as Purana, he launched into an explanation of the Krishna consciousness movement. Meanwhile, more and more visitors kept arriving, until there was about fifty, half of whom were East Indians who came in family groups. With the exception of one black, all the devotees were white.

The speaker interlaced his talk with Sanskrit phrases. “We are not our bodies,” he began “We are atmas, spirit souls. Suppose I amputate my arm,” he proposed, making a motion of cutting at his left elbow. “There is my arm.” He looked at the ground to his left. “It is lying there rotting. Is that me? No. I am not my arm. Neither am I my body. That too will die and rot eventually. I must be something else, something indestructible which continues after I shed my body. That something is the atma, a tiny particle of the universal Atma, Krishna. When the body dies the atma leaves to enter another body and begin a new cycle.” He paused to let the thought sink in. “The real you is your spirit soul, your atma. It yearns to reunite itself with Krishna from whence it came. But the atma is burdened by karma, by its previous lives, by materialism, which is attractive to the body; by the senses, seeking self-gratification. Thus we find it difficult to get out of the cycle of repeated birth and death, samsara. We are doomed to continue on the wheel of birth, misery, old age, and death.

“This world,” he continued, “is maya, illusion. The real world, the one the soul yearns for, is Krishna, with whom there is eternal bliss. How can we become free from the cycle of samsara and reunite with Krishna? Through Krishna consciousness, the way taught by our spiritual master, who comes to us from Krishna Himself through a five-thousand year succession of spiritual masters. That way is not difficult. We have only to chant the holy name of God, Krishna, stop eating the flesh of living things, refrain from illicit sex, smoking, gambling and frivolous sports. In whatever we do we need to have Krishna in our thoughts; do everything for Krishna.”

He asked for questions. A young women with two children asked, “May we not be both body and soul?”

“The body,” he replied, “is of no importance. It is like a suit of clothes. When it’s worn out you take it off and throw it away.”

I raised my hand. “Perhaps this life is all there is to enjoy and once dead there is nothing else?”

“If you believe that,” he said, “I can tell you nothing.”

A young women, who said she was Catholic, asked why all the devotees were young.

“What do you mean ‘young’? We have some devotees over thirty; our spiritual master is seventy-nine.”

“Another question,” she continued, “how do you define illicit sex?”

“All sex is illicit, except between husband and wife, and then only for procreation. All our troubles are due to this material body which seeks to gratify itself through sex, animal flesh, empty amusements, drink and dope. If we give in we are bound to the cycle of samsara, to eternal misery, birth after birth without end.

He stopped, turning slowly to look at the Swami’s portrait and then back to the audience. “Our spiritual master teaches us to become devotees of Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is far more beneficial than any of the material things we are conditioned to like. If a person overcomes this disease of his soul, he attains the Supreme Lord’s abode and never has to come back to this miserable, material world. He will have achieved eternal bliss.”

He dealt with their dietary rules which prohibit the meat of cows, sheep, fowl, even the eating of eggs. At some length he described the usefulness of the cow. He rhapsodized over a long list of dairy products from cheese to yogurt. “How do we show our gratitude to this wonderful animal?” he asked. “We murder it.” He concluded with a reference to the ceremony we were to participate in, after which we would have “prasadam, the remnants of food offered to Krishna.”

A devotee with a two-ended hand drum stepped up to the microphone and rehearsed us in the Hare Krishna mantra, the maha mantra. We chanted after him, phrase by phrase: “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare / Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare.” He interjected, “Our spiritual master teaches us that all we need to do to become blissful is to chant Hare Krishna and take prasadam.” He beat the drum slowly with his hand and we chanted after him. He took steps from side to side in rhythm; we followed. He sped up the chant and step. I had no stomach for it and after a few rounds stopped and merely looked on. No one seemed to notice, or to care. Most of the visitors, however, got into the swing; some who seemed to have previous experience raised their voices and stepped with verve.

More devotees appeared, mostly men. As they entered on bare feet they came to their knees before Prabhupada’s picture. The men were in the centre of the floor, the women grouped along the west wall chanting dignifiedly, demurely stepping from side to side. They began to jig as the chant speeded up and the sound volume rose.

After fifteen minutes, at a signal from the drummer, the devotees turned to the south wall. The curtains pulled back to reveal a spotlighted scene of portrait paintings, flowers and fruits. The centre picture, standing on brightly colored pillows, was a youthful couple, whom I guessed to be Krishna and his consort(their word), Radharani. On either side were pictures of Prabhupada’s predecessors. They were painted in the same style and colors as the book covers on the reception room table.

When the curtains parted, there was a heightening of excitement; the chanting increased in tempo and volume. The drummer at the microphone, from whom the chanters took their cue, varied the chant. The jigging had turned into dancing, becoming wild as the drummer increased speed. Some of the men at the very centre leaped straight up, arms thrust high. A devotee, clanging small cymbals in time to the chant, ran madly around the room, head thrown back, shouting, his throat straining. The women members, graceful in their saris, kept up their side-step on the outskirts of the men’s group, adding their voices to the volume of sound. Several of the male visitors, all young, joined in the leaping, but none of the East Indians. They remained in their place, chanting and jigging.

When the leaping and shouting reached an unbearable peak, the drummer sounded a new variation in reduced tempo. It was a relief. But, as the new tune continued, the pace increased and again came to strenuous, ecstatic leaps. Sari billowing, a woman devotee stepped up to the alter, her hands making motions before the portraits. The pungent odour of incense saturated the hall. It was a signal for the sound system to be turned up. The din of chant, drum, cymbals, and at the climax, the wild cry of a conch shell, rose to such a level I had to cover my ears. The dancers faces shone with sweat, their eyes were frenzied. But when the chanting abated, they gradually assumed a normal mien. A half-hour had passed since the drapes had been drawn back. A voice invited us upstairs for prasadam.

A neighbour who worked in a health food store had given me the name of a customer who had recently joined the cult. I asked if Tom was here today.

“I was telling Joan at the health food store that I would like to know more about Krishna consciousness,” I said to Tom, when he was brought over to me. “She suggested I talk to you.” Barefoot and dressed in a yellow dhoti, he was cordial and invited me to come upstairs for food.

The room above the temple was of the same size but with a low ceiling. Paper plates with food were spread over the floor and alongside each plate was a cup of fruit liquid. My dish consisted of a scoop of saffron rice, an eggplant mixture, cooked fruit, and a fried dough cake. The eggplant was spiced with curry, the rest bland but too sweet for my taste. We ate with our fingers, the devotees licking theirs clean after every mouthful. Many went to the large pots at the front of the room for second, and third helpings.

Tom and I were joined by a big devotee, over six feet, and unlike others, paunchy. His plate was filled to overflowing; he caught the drippings and carried them to his mouth. Tom introduced him by his “Spiritual” name and, at my blank look, said, “Call him Don.”

Don did most of the talking. He was filled with proselytizing zeal and had difficulty talking and eating at the same time. Directly behind us was a black woman devotee passionately explaining her beliefs to a husky, young black man. All over the large room there were similar clusters of visitors and devotees. Sunday open house seemed to be the cult’s occasion for winning converts.

Don returned with a second plateful. “We are eating prasadam,” he said, “food blessed by Lord Krishna. If we eat prasadam and chant Hare Krishna, that’s the remedy for all the evils in this material world.” Tom listened with the eager look of the novitiate.

I’m Jewish,” I said, “and religious Jews also thank the Lord for their food.”

“But they eat meat,” Don said accusingly. “They don’t follow their own commandments: thou shall not kill.”

“Perhaps that commandment was not meant to apply to animals,” I responded.

“It’s killing though, any way you look at it, the taking of life.”

I turned to Tom. “How come there are no Hindus among the devotees?” He smiled wryly; it must have been a sore point. Don answered. “They say they know all about Lord Krishna, so they don’t have to join. They come only for the ceremony on Sundays.”

“And for the food,” Tom added sarcastically.

I asked if the centre picture was a representation of Krishna and His wife. Tom started to answer when Don interrupted. An exchange followed which I couldn’t understand.

“That’s not a representation,” Don said, “that’s Krishna Himself.” I looked puzzled. We don’t worship a symbol, only the real thing. Those are deities you saw. The Supreme Lord Krishna and His Consort. I couldn’t love a symbol, could you?”

He stared at me for an answer. I was at a loss for a reply which would not offend. A thought popped into my head. “I read somewhere about a Greek philosopher who said that if horses had a god, he would look like a horse.” “A soul may go into a horse,” Don said solemnly.

“A man’s soul?”

“That’s right. at death it can go into anything, any other form of life, even an insect. You heard Purana earlier. The atma, that’s the soul, leaves the body at death and enters another form.”

“Unless you’re in Krishna consciousness,” Tom explained, “then the soul flies directly to Krishna’s abode.”

“Are children subject to the same laws?” I asked.

“Of course,” Don answered. Children are responsible for their own souls. The main thing is to teach them about Krishna, otherwise they don’t serve God and waste their lives doing nonsense. They become victims of sense gratification, movies, sports, TV.”

“What about learning math? Or the sciences?”

“When one has Krishna, he needs nothing else,” Don replied. “He may think he has everything, but without Krishna he has nothing. Prabhupada said it is our duty to teach how to love God and worship Him in our daily lives. All other aims in life are useless, temporary.” Don’s face glowed with conviction.

“Don,” I said, “you speak of God and Krishna using the names interchangeably. Other people worship God but not Krishna.”

“Such people are to be commended. But the Gita says, ‘Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me.’ Other ways of worshiping God are wastful. One who is serious should come to us.”

“Tell me about Prabhupada?”

“He’s our spiritual master.” Don said.

“Like a Guru?”

“More than that – much more.”

“Is he your Christ?”

“Something like that,” Don said, “he gets his knowledge directly from Krishna.”

“The man who led the chanting said that all one needs to do to reach Krishna consciousness is to chant and eat prasadam.”

“That’s right. If you do enough chanting you won’t be troubled by the material world, by sex and other distractions. Chanting purifies.”

“How much is enough?” I asked.

“Well they say that Prabhupada chants all the time, even in sleep. But every devotee is required to chant the maha mantra sixteen rounds a day; a round has 108 beads, so your total is 1,728.”

I was amazed. “1,728 times a day?”

“At a minimum,” Don said.

“How long does it take?”

“To one who is proficient two, two and a half hours.”

“Children too?” I asked.

“We start them young. By the time they’re nine or ten they do the whole bit.”

“What does that do to you?”

“You’re repeating the names of God – Rama and Krishna. ‘Hare’ addresses the energy of God. You are fixing your mind on Him. If, for example, you are chanting His name at the time of death, you will get a spiritual life and never be reincarnated again. If you are thinking of a dog at the time of death then you will become a dog in the next life. If you are thinking of your wife you will become a women.”

“What’s so bad about that?” I laughed.

He did not share my humour. “Prabhupada says that women have half the brains of men.”

When I could not restrain a smile, he added, “You may smile, but it is a fact.” I wasn’t going to argue with him. “You cannot understand what chanting does,” he continued, because there’s no way to explain it in words. For instance if you’re thirsty and say ‘water,’ will your thirst be satisfied? Of course not. But when you say Krishna, He is actually present. We experience Him. We experience His qualities of eternity, knowledge and bliss in the sound vibrations of His name. He took in my incomprehension.

“You cannot grasp this intellectually; you have to experience its transcendental meaning for yourself.”

“How would I know if it’s working for me?”

“It would be self-evident,” he said with certainty. “If you eat a meal, you know when you are satisfied. Right? When you chant Hare Krishna, you will know beyond a doubt that it’s working for you.”

Corroboration came from Tom who had been listening avidly. “That’s right.”

“Are you suggesting I try it?”

“Why not?” Tom urged. “No one’s too old for Krishna.”

“Let me ask you this, Don. Purana spoke only of birth, old age, misery and death as man’s cycle on earth. What about joy? Surely everyone has some happy moments, even some great ones.”

Don replied, “The pig lies in the filth of his pen swilling garbage. He thinks to himself,’This garbage is great; I’m happy.’ Do you think he’s happy? People confuse happiness with sense gratification.”

“You suggest the pig as a comparison with our lives?”

“I’ve lived both ways,” Don said, “I should know.”

By this time very few were left on the floor. Still wanting to talk to Tom alone, I thanked Don for his explanations and for his patience. “We have a class at the temple in Bhagavad-gita,” he said, “visitors are welcome.”

“I’ve read the Gita,” I said.

“Have you?” He was delighted. “You’ll like the class.”

“I’ll think about it,” I said. Tom walked me to the door. Outside the night was warm and I suggested that we sit on the temple steps for a moment. Several devotees were standing around on the upper step; we seated ourselves on the lowest.

“Joan says that you no longer visit her food store,” I said.

“No need to now. I get my food here at the temple.”

“Tom, how did you get to meet the Krishnas?”

“I was on State Street downtown one Saturday afternoon, and I ran into them dancing and chanting. They looked so happy.” His face lit up at the recollection. “I hung around and talked to them. They invited me to the temple. I came the next day, a Sunday, to their open house. I came again the next Sunday. I began to look forward to Sunday’s; that used to be the worst day for me. Then I took a class. It got so I wanted to stay there all the time.” He talked readily like one who is glad to testify for his new-found religion.

“Were you employed?”

“I worked in Skokie for the regulator company.”

“I know their plant,” I said. “I was in real estate before I retired. I represented an investor group who bought sixty acres and developed them into an industrial park. Your company was just west of our park, it’s a big outfit.”

“Sure is; over a thousand people. You feel lost; a tiny part in a big machine.”

“Didn’t you have friends?”

“I wouldn’t call them friends, just people to say ‘Hi’ to.”

“What does your family think of you joining the temple?”

“Not much. My older brother visited me last week. ‘It’s your life,’ he said.”

“What about your parents?”

“My father died a couple of years ago. He was the only one I really cared for.”

“Was your family church-affiliated?”

“I was born Catholic, but it didn’t mean much to me. I didn’t know what religion really meant until I joined the Krishnas.”

“Can you explain your feeling?”

“Like Don said, it’s hard to put into words. Once during aroti – that’s the temple ceremony – we were sitting before the alter, a few of us, chanting under our breaths. I felt a strange sensation as if Krishna was present. It gave me goose-pimples.” He fell silent, sensing his mood, I too kept still.

A red thunderbolt powered down the street and came to a screeching halt before a red light. Inside was a young man with a girl by his side. The radio was booming disco music.

“At one time,” Tom resumed, “I would have given my right arm to be in his place. Now I have nothing and desire nothing. When I joined I turned everything over to the temple. It wasn’t much. Now I own nothing, not even these clothes. Everything belongs to Krishna. I eat what’s provided; sleep on the floor.”

“It must have been quite a change.”

“It wasn’t easy. It was rough getting up before dawn, cold showers, the change of diet. And the dancing! My feet are still swollen.” He looked down at his bare feet, wiggling his toes. “But they’re toughening.” “Do you have a temple job?

“For now, I’m setting up the library. It’s a mess. People borrowing; no records. I’m cataloguing the books, setting up a loan system.” I turned our conversation to what was on my mind. “I saw a few children tonight, the boys with shaven heads.”

“We have some marrieds. They live in separate quarters.”

“Do their kids go to school?”

“They’re too young. When they are five they are sent to our Dallas school.”

“They’re sent off by themselves, without the parents?” I showed surprise. Tom nodded, “Kind of rough, I guess, at that age.”

“What of the older children, ten, twelve?”

“I think when they’re that age they are sent to our farms. We have one in Mississippi and another in West Virginia.”

The devotees who had been lounging above us had gone in. Tom was becoming restive. I liked him for his honesty, his willingness, on the basis of a tenuous relation to a mutual friend, to discuss his intimate thoughts. I wanted to know him better, to deepen our relationship. I desired profoundly to understand, if I could, the nature of his experience.

“I would like very much for my wife to meet you,” I said. “She’s in a wheelchair. Is there any chance of you visiting us? We live fifteen minutes away by car.”

He hesitated. “I would have to get permission.” Seeing my disappointment, he added, “I’ll tell them I’ll be spreading the word. That should do it.” I gave him our phone number; we shook hands cordially and parted.

(from “What Hapened to the Hare Krishna’s” by Madhudvisa dasa)

Problems from India

The success of Srila Prabhupada’s preaching and his increasing number of temples and disciples all over the world caused many of his godbrothers (other disciples of Srila Bhaktsiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, Srila Prabhupada’s spiritual master) in India to become envious of him and his society. Generally Prabhupada’s godbrothers did not approve of his preaching work. Srila Prabhupada had only a relatively small amount of direct association with his spiritual master and spent very little time living in the Gaudiya Math temples(his spiritual masters preaching mission). He sometimes spoke on the Srimad Bhagavatam in the Gaudiya Math and helped with raising funds, but basically he was considered a householder and businessman. No one within the Gaudiya Math ever imagined Prabhupada would go to America to preach and spread the mission of Krishna consciousness all over the world. However Prabhupada’s ISKCON had made their tiny preaching attempts in India look insignificant.

Srila Prabhupada’s godbrothers had more personal association with Srila Bhaktsiddhanta than him and some of them had been sannyasis (renounced) for many years. If anyone was to be a world preacher surely it would be one of these advanced, renounced sannyasis who had received so much personal training from Srila Bhaktsiddhanta. In the Gaudiya Math way of things Srila Prabhupada really didn’t have much importance and no one would have considered him even a candidate as a world preacher.

The real difficulty for the Gaudiya Math began when they disobeyed the orders of Srila Bhaktsiddhanta. He instructed them that after he left his body they should make a Governing Body and conjointly manage the preaching mission in that way. He didn’t want an acarya appointed in his place as he could not see anyone qualified. But after Srila Bhaktisiddhanta’s disappearance his disciples decided to reject his instructions and elect an acarya. It was a disaster and the result was the disintegration of the Gaudiya Math and the end of the preaching. Srila Prabhupada saw all this going on and criticized his godbrothers for going against Srila Bhaktsiddhanta’s instructions but he kept aloof from it. He preached independently and went about working and planning how to execute the order of his spiritual master. Srila Prabhupada was the only disciple of Srila Bhaktsiddhanta who sincerely took his instructions in regard to preaching in the Western countries to heart and was determined to follow them. He received the blessings and mercy of Srila Bhaktsiddhanta, Lord Caitanya and Krishna and was empowered by them to spread Krishna consciousness all over the world. But his godbrothers were far from happy.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, the devotee who reestablished Krishna consciousness in India after unscrupulous so-called devotees had depreciated the real purpose of Krishna consciousness by performing all sorts of sinful activities in the name of Krishna, had prayed for the day when the English, the Germans, the Americans and all people of the world would come to Mayapur (the birthplace of Lord Caitanya in West Bengal) and dance and chant “Hari Bol.” Srila Prabhupada’s godbrothers couldn’t conceive how this was possible but Srila Prabhupada fulfilled this desire of Bhaktivinoda Thakura by building the Sri Mayapur Chandradoya Mandir and bringing his disciples from all over the world every year to celebrate the appearance of Lord Caitanya. This was a great achievement and a cause of joy and great celebrations for all the sincere devotees, but not all of Prabhupada’s godbrothers were happy.

In the material world generally we want to become the greatest person. If we see someone else in a superior position the tendency is to try to do something to reduce his greatness in comparison to our own position. This is called envy.

A pure Vaisnava is very happy to see a person elevated in devotional service. Unfortunately, there are many so-called Vaisnavas who become envious to see someone actually recognized by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. It is a fact that no one can preach Caitanya Mahaprabhu's message without receiving the special mercy of the Lord. This is known to every Viasnava, yet there are some envious people who cannot tolerate the expansion of this Krishna consciousness movement all over the world. They find fault with a pure devotee preacher and do not praise him for the excellent service he renders in fulfilling Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's mission.

This envy is not the feeling of a devotee. When a devotee sees another devote who has achieved the mercy of Krishna he becomes very pleased, thinking how nice it is that the other devotee is serving Krishna so well. There is transcendental envy which is completely different from the mundane envy of the material world. A devotee may think another devotee has served Krishna so nicely and want to surpass him by serving Krishna even more. The difference is the central point and objective is to serve Krishna, there is no malice or bad feeling involved. Srila Prabhupada was able to inspire his devotees to increase book distribution more and more by encouraging this competitive spirit. Devotees competed to distribute more and more books and Prabhupada made it very clear that the more books they distributed, the more pleased he was.

Unfortunately, many of Srila Prabhupada’s godbrothers did not like the idea that he was preaching Krishna consciousness all over the world and was clearly fulfilling the desires of their spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, while they sat comfortably in India with their temples and a few disciples – but no preaching. Srila Bhaktsiddhanta had clearly instructed all his disciples with the ability to preach in English to travel to the Western countries and spread Krishna consciousness, however, most of them didn’t even travel outside India and the few that attempted had no success in preaching Krishna consciousness on foreign soil. Srila Prabhupada is the only disciple of Srila Bhaktsiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura who took his spiritual master’s orders as his life and soul and left India determined to preach in the West.

There are many disciples of Bhaktsiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, but to judge who is actually his disciple, to divide the useful from the useless, one must measure the activities of such disciples in executing the will of the spiritual master. Bhaktsiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura tried his best to spread the cult of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to countries outside India. When he was present he patronized the disciples to go outside India to preach the cult of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, but they were unsuccessful because within their minds they were not actually serious about preaching His cult in foreign countries; they simply wanted to take credit for having gone to foreign lands and utilize this recognition in India by advertising themselves as repatriated preachers. Many swamis have adopted this hypocritical means of preaching for the last eighty years or more, but no one could preach the real cult of Krishna consciousness all over the world. They merely came back to India falsely advertising that they had converted all the foreigners to the ideas of Vedanta or Krishna consciousness, and then they collected funds in India and lived satisfied lives of material comfort. As one fans paddy to separate the real paddy from useless straw, by accepting the criterion recommended by Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami one can very easily understand who is a genuine world-preacher and who is useless.

The secret of success in advancement in spiritual life is the firm faith of the disciple in the orders of his spiritual master. The Vedas confirm this:

yasya deve para bhaktir
yatha deve tatha gurau
tasyaite kathita hy arthah
praksante mahatmanah

To one who has staunch faith in the words of the spiritual master and the words of the Supreme Personality of Godhead the secret of success in Vedic knowledge is revealed.

"The Krishna consciousness movement is being propagated according to this principle, and therefore our preaching work is going on successfully, in spite of the many impediments offered by antagonistic demons, because we are getting positive help from our previous acaryas. One must judge the action by its result. The members of the self-appointed acaryas party who occupied the property of the Gaudiya Math are satisfied, but they could make no progress in preaching. Therefore by the result of their actions one should know that they are asara, or useless, whereas the success of the ISKCON party, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, which strictly follows Guru and Guranga, is increasing daily all over the world. Srila Bhaktsiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura wanted to print as many books as possible and distribute them all over the world. We have tried our best in this connection, and we are getting results beyond our expectations."(CC Adi 12.8)

From their comfortable position in India Srila Prabhupada’s godbrothers criticized his changes in preaching Krishna consciousness according to time and place. They criticized Prabhupada’s decision to allow women to live in the temples, his taking part in the marriage of his disciples, the giving of Brahman initiation to non-Hindu’s, and many other things. Prabhupada countered them by saying that to preach in America was not the same as preaching in India and without some adjustment it would not be possible to spread Krishna consciousness all over the world. He had the results to prove it. Dozens of temples, schools and farm communities all over the world and thousands of disciples strictly following the four regulative principles (no illicit sex life, no intoxication, no meat eating and no gambling), chanting at least 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra daily and fully engaged 24 hours a day in serving Srila Prabhupada and Krishna.

These envious godbrothers took every opportunity to cause trouble within ISKCON, both directly and on a more subtle level. Whenever they got an opportunity to preach to Prabhupada’s disciples they tried to crack the basic foundation of ISKCON – the devotees absolute faith in Srila Prabhupada as a bonafide representative of Krishna.

"Regarding Bon and Tirtha Maharaja, they are my godbrothers and should be shown respect. But you should not have any intimate connection with them, as they have gone against the orders of my Guru Maharaja." (to Pradumnya Feb 17, 1968)

"...I am greatly surprised for Bon Maharaja's initiating you in spite of his knowing that you are already initiated to me. So it is a deliberate transgression of Vaisnava etiquette, and otherwise a deliberate insult to me. I do not know why he has done this, but no Vaisnava will approve of this offensive action..."(to Mukunda Mar 26,1968)

"Regarding the Gaudiya Math books being circulated there, who is distributing? Who is sending these books? The Gaudiya Math does not sell our books, why should we sell their books? Let me know. These books should not at all be circulated in our society. Bhakti Vilas Tirtha is very much antagonistic to our society and he has no clear conception of devotional service. He is contaminated. Anyway, who has introduced these books? You say that you would read only one book if that was all I had written, so you teach others to do like that." (to Sukadeva Nov 14, 1973)

"...now, one thing is I understand that in the past you were visiting Lalita Prasad and that you may also be planning to continue visiting him when you return to India. This is not approved of by me and I request you not to go and see him any more. He holds a grudge against my Guru Maharaja and even if it is transcendental it will gradually appear mundane in our eyes. Whatever is to be learned of the teachings of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura can be learned from our books. There is no need whatsoever for any outside instruction. So I hope that you have understood these matters and I pray to Krishna always for your protection and advancement in Krishna consciousness." (to Gurukripa and Yashodananda Swamis, Dec 25, 1975)

"I am in due receipt of your letter dated Sep 3, 1975 with the enclosed statement about Bon Maharaja, so I have now issued orders that all my disciples should avoid all of my godbrothers. They should not have any dealings with them, nor even correspondence, nor should they give them any of my books or should they purchase any of their books, neither should you visit any of their temples. Please avoid them." (to Visvakarma Nov 9, 1975)

"I can understand this cunning Puri dasa has taken advantage of your simplicity. So any of my godbrothers cannot help me in this way of book writing because they are unfortunate in the matter of preaching work. They are simply trying to infiltrate our society to do something harmful by this attempt. So please do not have any correspondence with this Puri or any of my godbrothers, so- called...(to Karuna Sindhu Nov 9, 1975)

Growing Pains

As the Hare Krishna movement grew Srila Prabhupada handed over much of the management to a body of devotees he had formed called the Governing Body Commission (GBC). He wanted the GBC to take over management responsibilities to enable him to spend more time on his most important project, writing his translations and purports on the Srimad Bhagavatam and other literatures.

Unfortunately there were differences of opinion among GBC members leading to arguments and fights. But more importantly, the GBC often made decisions which were not in line with Srila Prabhupada’s guidelines and teachings.

Srila Prabhupada concluded that the society was contaminated by a “poisonous effect.”

"Regarding the poisonous effect in our society, it is a fact and I know from where this poison tree has sprung up and how it has affected practically the whole society in a very dangerous form. But it does not matter. Prahlada Maharaja was administered poison and it did not act. I think that in the same parampara system that the poison administered to our society will not act if some of our students are as good as Prahlada Maharaja."(to Hansadutta Sep 2, 1970)

The problems became so bad that at a festival at New Vrndavana in West Virginia in 1970 a number of Srila Prabhupada’s sannyasis began preaching Mayavada philosophy to the devotees assembled at the festival.

"Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu gave protection to devotees and killed many demons in the course of His preaching work. He specifically mentioned that the Mayavadi philosophers are the greatest demons. Therefore he warned all others not to hear the Mayavada philosophy. mayavadibhasya sunile haya sarva-nasa: simply by hearing the Mayavada interpretation of the sastras, one is doomed." (CC Adi 17.53)

The sannyasis at New Vrndavana claimed Srila Prabhupada was actually Krishna, that he was displeased with them and had left the movement. It was now up to these sannyasis to lead the movement…

"I do not know what was resolved at New Vrndavana. But I have heard that Brahmananda is preaching about me, that I am Krishna, that I am Supersoul, that I have withdrawn my mercy from the disciples, that I have left the society, and so on. I do not know how far they are correct, but I have written him a letter that he may not do something which may harm the interest of the society. You are also one of the members of the GBC, so you can think over very deeply how to save the situation. It is a fact, however, that a sinister movement is within our society. I have not heard anything from Krishna dasa and Syamasundara, so all of you may try to save the society from this dangerous position." (to Hansadutta 2 Sep, 1970)

"The ambitious Mayavadi philosophers desire to merge into the existence of the Lord, and this may be accepted as sayujya-mukti. However this form of mukti means denying ones individual existence. In other words it is a kind of spiritual suicide. This is absolutely opposed to the philosophy of bhakti-yoga. Bhakti- yoga offers immortality to the individual conditioned soul. If one follows the Mayavadi philosophy, he misses his opportunity to become immortal after giving up the material body. The immortality of the individual person is the highest perfection stage a living entity can attain." (CC Mad 6.169)

The Hare Krishna movement had become a large organization and things were not always going on according to the standards and regulations established by Srila Prabhupada. The GBC’s failing to follow Srila Prabhupada’s instructions was an indication of very serious problems at all levels of the society. Devotees in ISKCON had lost their enthusiasm to preach and things were becoming very degraded.

"I am a little observing now, especially in your country, that our men are loosing their enthusiasm for spreading our program of Krishna consciousness movement. Otherwise why so many letters of problems are coming, dissatisfied? That is not a very good sign. The whole problem is they're not following the regulative principles, that I can detect. Without this enthusiasm will be lacking. Even mechanically following, and if he gets gradually understanding from the class, he will come to the point of spontaneous enthusiasm. This spontaneous loving devotional service is not so easy matter, but if one simply sticks to the rules and regulations, like rising early, chanting 16 rounds, chanting gayatri, keeping always clean - this enthusiasm will grow more and more, and if there's also patience and determination, one day he will come to the platform of spontaneous devotion, then his life will be perfect. All this I have told you in "Nectar of Devotion". So I do not think that the leaders are themselves following, nor they are seeing the others are following strictly. This must be rectified at once. Each centre remain independent, that's all right, but the president and other officers must themselves follow and see the others are following the regulative principles carefully, and give them good instruction so they may understand nicely why this tapasya is necessary. And GBC and sannyasis will travel and see the officers are doing this, and if they observe any lowering of the standard, then they must reform and advise, or if there is some discrepancy I shall remove it." (to Karandhar 22 Dec 1972)

Even the basic requirements such as following the four regulative principles (no illicit sex life, no intoxication, no gambling and no meat eating) and the chanting of at least 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra daily were being neglected by many devotees. And this was not only the case for new devotees. Many of the leaders, Srila Prabhupada’s “right hand men”, the GBC and temple presidents were not following.

"Our spiritual way should strictly observe the following points especially:

  1. Neatness and cleanliness of all personal body. (I still see those who are initiated as Brahmins, they do not wash their hands after eating even; of course, there may be so many defects due to your birth in non-Brahmin families, but how long shall it go on? It is a very easy thing.)
  2. Chanting 16 rounds daily. (I don't thing everybody's following these principles.)
  3. Temple worship, which should be performed rigidly between 4 and 10 a.m.) I find that devotees are still sleeping up to 6 or 7 o'clock.

So on the GBC agenda I do not find any such program for reforming our past bad habits. So kindly, as president of Hamburg centre you try to observe yourself all the regulative principles and see all the members are following. Recently I have received from one sannyasi complaint about another sannyasi who is not chanting regularly. So it is our view that we shall be strictly following the rules and regulations." (to Hansadutta 11 Mar, 1972)

A new type of devotee had surfaced within ISKCON. The pseudo- devote. These pseudo-devotees feigned attraction to Krishna and Srila Prabhupada and pretended to be following the process of devotional service, however, they were not working for Srila Prabhupada and Krishna. They had their own personal goals for fame, wealth, followers and sex life.

"There are many pretenders who refuse to work in Krishna consciousness but make a show of meditation, while actually dwelling within the mind upon sense enjoyment. Such pretenders may also speak on dry philosophy in order to bluff sophisticated followers, but according to this verse these are the greatest cheaters. For sense enjoyment one can act in any capacity of the social order, but if one follows the rules and regulations of his particular status, he can make gradual progress in purifying his existence. But he who makes a show of being a yogi, while actually searching for the objects of sense gratification, must be called the greatest cheater, even though he sometimes speaks of philosophy. His knowledge has no value because the effects of such a sinful man's knowledge are taken away by the illusory energy of the Lord. Such a pretenders mind is always impure, and therefore his show of yogic meditation has no value whatsoever." (Bhagavad- gita As It Is 3.6 purport)

Because the pretenders did not seriously take to the process of Krishna consciousness, they were not purified of mundane desires and could therefore never taste the ecstasy and spiritual bliss experienced by sincere devotees. Instead they became envious of the sincere devotees, envious of Srila Prabhupada and envious of Krishna. These so-called devotees actually worked against Srila Prabhupada and his attempts to spread Krishna consciousness from within the movement. This was one of the symptoms of the Mayavada contamination which had been administered to ISKCON.

Srila Prabhupada always stressed that success in spiritual life depends on pleasing Krishna, and Krishna is pleased if His representative, the spiritual master is pleased. Unfortunately these pseudo-devotees had other ideas…

"One should have unflinching faith in Krishna and similarly in the spiritual master. That is the way of understanding the secret of Krishna consciousness. Unfortunately, an attempt has been made lately to shake this formulae. This mischievous attempt has done great harm, but if you, the members of the GBC can rectify this mischievous attempt, then there is still hope of making our progress uninterruptedly. I hope Krishna will help us...The GBC's duty is therefore to see that every member is following the rules and regulations and chanting 16 rounds regularly on their beads. I hope that the GBC in cooperation with the sannyasis in their touring program will be able to keep vigilance systematically in order to keep the society as pure as possible." (to Bali Mardan Aug 25, 1970)

The Mayavadis and impersonalists have a different view of the spiritual master. They see acceptance of the spiritual master as a step in the process of ultimately becoming one with God, or actually becoming God. Their philosophy is that everyone is God, however, in the material world we are covered by maya (illusion), and have therefore forgotten our natural godly position. They use the spiritual master as a stepping-stone. They take some instruction and then think they can kick the spiritual master out of the way and take his place.

"The Mayavadi philosophers are engaged in their missionary work of spoiling the Vedic culture by preaching that everyone is God... Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu never accepted such foolish and unauthorized ideas. He strictly warned mayavadi-bhasya sunile haya sarva-nasa: 'Anyone who follows the principles of Mayavada philosophy is certainly domed.' Such a fool needs to be reformed by punishment." (CC Adi 12.35)

When the Mayavadi makes a little advancement by serving his spiritual master, he becomes puffed-up and wants to take the place of his spiritual master. Instead of remaining an eternal servant, he wants to be the master.

These Mayavadi ideas had surfaced in ISKCON and many “big” leaders were contaminated by this philosophy. The Mayavada philosophy is very subtle and extremely difficult for neophyte devotees to detect. This is because the Mayavadis, don’t directly reject the Vedic scriptures. Lord Caitanya said the Mayavadis are even more dangerous than the Buddhists, because the Buddhists reject the Vedic scriptures and it is clear to everyone they are definitely not devotees of Krishna. The Mayavadis, however claim to be devotees of Krishna, they read and speak on the Bhagavad-gita and the Srimad Bhagavatam, they chant the Hare Krishna mantra, and they claim to be great Vaisnavas.

Although externally the Mayavadis may appear to be great Vaisnavas (devotees of Krishna), actually, in their heart they don’t believe that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, nor do they accept Krishna’s pure devotees as being non-different from Krishna. For them there is no concept of God being personal. Ultimately they think everything is Brahman (spirit) and that they are also Brahman. So they conclude they are at least equal to God. (Everything is Brahman, I am Brahman, God is Brahman, so I am God!) This attitude often leads to a devotee who may be following the regulative principles of devotional service, chanting Hare Krishna, reading profusely, and even performing quite severe austerities in devotional service. Because of these activities he may be regarded as an advanced devotee by other devotees. But, the underlying philosophy motivating his activities is wrong. He is not working for his spiritual master and Krishna, He doesn’t necessarily even believe in Krishna or have any faith in his spiritual master. His motivation is completely selfish. He is thinking that if I study all these books, if I get up early in the morning, if I chant and dance enthusiastically in the association of the other devotees, they will think I’m a very advanced devotee. Then I can become the temple president and I will be in control of all the devotees in the temple. I’ll be able to get them to do anything I want….because the temple president is the representative of Krishna…he’s non-different from Krishna….he should be worshiped like Krishna…… then why stop at temple president? I can become the GBC, then all of the devotees in the country will worship me. Why stop there? I can be Jagat Guru (Guru of the whole universe), then everybody will worship me!

So in this way the Mayavadi increases and increases his desires for fame, adoration, profit and distinction to the maximum possible degree. Ultimately he desires to become the supreme controller, Krishna. Eventually he believes he has become Krishna and perhaps he can attract a band of like-minded “disciples” who worship him as god. To a sane man this sounds ridiculous. How could people be so foolish to worship an ordinary mundane man, full of ordinary mundane faults as God? But people are amazingly stupid. At the time of writing this the newspapers are full of stories about some crazy man in Texas who claimed to be Jesus Christ. He locked himself up with 100 or so “disciples” and set fire to the place. His “disciples” voluntarily burned to death in the fire. Srila Prabhupada repeatedly emphasized that this world is a place of the cheaters and the cheated. This “Jesus Christ” was a cheater and his “disciples” were cheated. This same scenario is repeated over and over again here in the material world. It is not so long ago that Bhagavan Sri Rajniesh was attracting hundreds and thousands of “disciples” to his bogus free-sex religion. The problem is that people want to be cheated. They want to be told they can retain all their sinful activities and material desires and at the same time justify it by some bogus “spiritual” path. The Christians have been doing it for a long time now, “No one is perfect, you can’t be perfect, Jesus died for your sins, Jesus forgives, just keep on partying and come to church on Sundays! Jesus forgives!” A very nice philosophy?

It would be unrealistic to think that the Hare Krishna movement has been free from this type of contamination. There were many pseudo-devotees who were not at all interested in Krishna consciousness or Srila Prabhupada. They were simply interested in exploiting the Hare Krishna movement and the devotees for their own ends. So they developed a new philosophy by utilizing the Mayavada technique of word juggelery and redefination and they managed to turn Srila Prabhupada’s ISKCON into a mundane business organization. An organization of the cheaters and the cheated. Although they were outwardly preaching Krishna consciousness, and some were even great scholars with the ability to speak on Krishna consciousness very convincingly, much of it was false. Many were after followers, fame, profit, distinction, etc. So although, in many cases, even though their preaching was completely in accordance with Srila Prabhupada’s teachings and books, because their desires were material, not spiritual, the effect of their preaching and Srila Prabhupada’s preaching was totally different.

When Srila Prabhupada preached all spiritual results were there. Even though English was a foreign language and his accent was difficult to understand for many Westerners, because his desire was pure his preaching was magnificently successful. Srila Prabhupada’s achievements are inconceivable from the material point of view. His was so successful because Krishna was helping him all along.

The pseudo-devotes, however, didn’t get any help from Krishna. they were able, for a short time, to make a false show of Krishna consciousness, but they could only attract sentimentalists and other envious persons like themselves. So gradually the Hare Krishna Movement degenerated into a mundane organization. It became like hell for serious devotees. As a result many devotees were forced to leave as they could no longer practice Krishna consciousness peacefully in ISKCON.

Gradually the mood within ISKCON changed from a group of dedicated servants of Krishna and Srila Prabhupada enthusiastically and actively trying to please Srila Prabhupada by distributing his books and preaching strongly to a group of envious materialists engaged in mundane business and money making trying to exploit each other and the public for their own personal sense gratification. They had totally neglected the preaching work. The transition was subtle and even imperceptible to devotees within the movement. As time went on they just forgot what Krishna consciousness used to be like. They forgot the ecstasy, the joy, the enthusiasm, the challenge… it was all a blur in the past. Somehow they thought that this thing they were doing now was Krishna consciousness. They really couldn’t perceive any change. Isn’t maya wonderful!

What was left was a band of envious men all trying to take some position of power and control and a bunch of sentimental devotees, who mostly believed in Krishna and had faith in Srila Prabhupada, but were not very philosophically inclined nor very intelligent. These sentimental devotees were easily diverted from the real path of Krishna consciousness by the envious pseudo-devotees. They didn’t have the ability to tell the difference between Krishna and maya.

"Raksasa means almost man-eater. For their self satisfaction they can eat even their own sons. They're called raksasas. No sense. My sense gratification should be satisfied, never mind, you go to hell. This is the age. We create a machine that everyone comes and becomes smashed in that machine and my sense satisfaction is there. Although I'll never be happy by such sense satisfaction. This is going on. You can know that this world is now managed by the raksasas. They don't mind what is happening. They're prepared to sacrifice everything for fulfilling their whimsical nonsense. They're called raksasas. They are very much enamoured by this material civilization. They cannot understand and they will never try to understand because they are raksasas." (SPL66-036)

As more and more pseudo-devotees captured positions of power in ISKCON things rapidly deteriorated. It came to the point that temples would even directly reject Srila Prabhupada’s orders in his presence. This was particularly the case with engaging the devotees in business activities instead of book distribution and preaching. Srila Prabhupada didn’t want it, and he said so many, many times. But the pseudo-devotees wanted it and didn’t care in the slightest what Srila Prabhupada wanted.

Apparently the “leaders” in ISKCON preferred to engage the devotees in mundane business activities instead of the preaching work because there was more money to be made in business than preaching, and the society needed money to preach. But there was another reason. Envy. The difficulty was that the “leaders” were becoming rapidly separated from Krishna consciousness. Their consciousness was absorbed in other things, however, the book distributors and new devotees joining the movement were in ecstasy in Krishna consciousness. They were in spiritual ecstasy because they were following Srila Prabhupada’s instructions, following the regulative principles, chanting at least 16 rounds daily and distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books. They were so happy, their faces were so bright and their feet hardly touched the ground. This was unbearable to the morbid, materialistic and contaminated pseudo-devotees who were after fame, profit, followers,… They couldn’t bear it. So this new business program was developed. Take these ecstatic book distributors off book distribution. Get them to grow hair and wear ordinary Western clothes and send them out selling mundane paraphernalia instead of Srila Prabhupada’s books. It was a very successful program and it quickly transformed ecstatic book distributors into morbid materialists. The materialists like to see others suffering… the last thing they want to see is ecstatic book distributors.

"Suppose you are selling Back To Godhead. Does it not remind you of Krishna? Does it not remind you about Krishna? What are you selling Back To Godhead for? You could sell another popular magazine which would sell very nicely, quickly, thousands of copies. Why are you taking this Back To Godhead? For Krishna. You are not for business. You are not an ordinary newspaper seller. Why are you taking Back To Godhead? Your motive is that people may know about Krishna. That is your motive. If magazine selling is your business then you can take any other sense gratifying magazine. There are so many and you can sell, you can make some profit. So we have to mould our life in such a way that we shall always remember Krishna. Therefore remembering Krishna is my primary business and we have to act in such a way that we may not forget Krishna. That should be the principle. That is the secret."

The Zonal Acarya System

Before Srila Prabhupada left his body he named some disciples who could give ritvic initiation (accepting Srila Prabhupada’s disciples on his behalf). These devotees could chant on the beads and initiate new devotees, but these new devotees would be disciples of Srila Prabhupada, not their disciples. Tamal Krishna, Prabhupada’s secretary at that time, outlined the whole procedure in a letter sent to all temple presidents six months before Srila Prabhupada left his body. However, when Srila Prabhupada left his body there was confusion as to how the future initiations would go on, although it seemed clear that Prabhupada understood the system he established would continue after his disappearance, otherwise why would he go to the trouble of having Tamal Krishna document it and notify all temples? Srila Prabhupada was staying in Vrndavana at that time and he knew quite well he was leaving his body very soon. If he had wanted his disciples to be acaryas in their own right surely he would have said so. At this time the GBC took advice from one of Srila Prabhupada’s godbrothers on the future initiations within ISKCON. It is strange that the GBC went to Prabhupada’s godbrothers for advice on such an important matter when Srila Prabhupada had warned so often that his godbrothers were envious of his success and couldn’t help in the preaching work…”They are simply trying to infiltrate our society to do something harmful…”

Srila Prabhupada had followed his spiritual master Srila Bhaktsiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura by not naming an acarya to take over his position, instead, he had formed a governing body, the GBC, which was to cooperatively manage the preaching. He already had a system in place enabling a number of his disciples to initiate disciples on his behalf, they would still be Srila Prabhupada’s disciples, not disciples of the devotee who was performing the initiation ceremony. There are many indications that Srila Prabhupada intended this system to continue after he disappeared from our material vision and there are absolutely no indications that he approved of these devotees taking over ISKCON as his successors. Unfortunately the Gaudiya Math advice was the men named by Srila Prabhupada as ritvics should be treated as non- different from Srila Prabhupada. They were acaryas in their own right, entitled to sit on highly elevated vayassanas (seats), entitled to the title paramahamsa (the topmost devotee) and names like Visnupada and Bhaktipada, almost on the level of Prabhupada. Overnight these devotees became “rubber stamped” as pure unalloyed devotees and were to be worshiped on the same level as Srila Prabhupada. There was no question of of Srila Prabhupada’s other disciples ever reaching the status of “zonal acarya”; in fact, Srila Prabhupada’s disciples were expected to worship these “zonal acaryas” as if they were their disciples, if they refused there was no future for them in ISKCON.

"You have written that the devotees there say that you cannot know me, but only Kirtananda Maharaja can know me. But if Kirtananda is a disciple and he can know me, and you are also a disciple, why you cannot know me?" (to Satyabama dasi and Paramananda dasa 20 Jul, 1974)

All emphasis was placed on pleasing the “zonal acaryas” and Srila Prabhupada was put well into the background. It was considered offensive for a devotee to directly worship or approach Srila Prabhupada. He could only please Srila Prabhupada by pleasing the “zonal acarya.” Even disciples of Srila Prabhupada were expected to follow this procedure.

Any new devotee coming to ISKCON had no choice but to take initiation from the “zonal acarya” in his area. There was no room for questioning. If anyone did question the “pure devotee zonal acarya,” it was considered blasphemy and he didn’t have much chance of staying in ISKCON.

From the beginning an intelligent person who had studied Srila Prabhupada’s books could see the flaws in the “zonal acarya” system. Because speaking out against the “zonal acarya” was considered blasphemy a devotee who could see problems had to either keep his mouth closed and take initiation from the “zonal acarya” or leave.

This system made ISKCON a laughing stock for the Gaudiya Math and also for many Indians who were well aware of the actual qualifications of a spiritual master. Although the ISKCON “acaryas” were confident they were pure devotees on the same level as Srila Prabhupada, anyone looking on from outside the movement who knew the qualifications of a pure devotee could see how ridiculous this was. Prabhupada’s godbrothers and his so-called “leading disciples” had succeeded in destroying the credibility of ISKCON which Srila Prabhupada had fought so hard to establish. And still no one in ISKCON seemed to know what was happening.

"...our leaders should be careful not to kill the spirit of enthusiastic service, which is individual and spontaneous and voluntary. They should try always to generate some atmosphere of fresh challenge to the devotees, so that they will agree enthusiastically to rise and meet it. This is the art of management: to draw out spontaneous loving spirit of sacrificing some energy for Krishna. But where are so many expert managers? All of us should become expert managers and preachers. We should not be contented. There must be always some tapasya, strictly observing the regulative principles - Krishna consciousness movement must always be a challenge, a great achievement to be gained by a voluntary desire to do it, and that will keep it healthy." (to Karandhara 22 Dec, 1972)

Many young people were attracted as a result of the devotees preaching and from reading Srila Prabhupada’s books. They came to ISKCON and accepted these “zonal acaryas” on face value. All the devotees in the temples were praising them as pure devotees (anyone who didn’t was thrown out) and they seemed to be advanced devotees. Many of these young people took initiation from the authorized “guru” in their area. That was their only option – there was no other way according to the ISKCON devotees. These new devotees were not aware of the poisonous effects of Mayavada philosophy which by now were spread throughout the entire society. They didn’t even know what Mayavada philosophy was! Once they joined the movement they received little training in Krishna consciousness, they were not encouraged to read Srila Prabhupada’s books. The main program was to make money for the temple. The result was most of these devotees never really understood what Krishna consciousness was and therefore didn’t experience any spiritual pleasure. This was because they were not following the process given by Srila Prabhupada. It was not their fault… The ISKCON devotees were not actually presenting Krishna consciousness any more. Everything had changed. Instead of always thinking of Krishna and distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books the devotees were now always thinking of money and selling anything and ev- erything they could lay their hands on, simply to make money. Many new devotees left after a short time because there was no pleasure or satisfaction at all in ISKCON anymore. The preaching was contaminated with Mayavada poison so just by listening to the classes devotees would loose any attachment they may have had for personal devotional service to Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

These devotees either left, became contaminated themselves and joined the “Mayavadi” club, or became unhappy and frustrated within ISKCON.

"Srila Bhaktsiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura suggests that people who are materialistically inclined and sahajiyas, or so-called Vaisnavas who take everything very casually, are both visayi, materialists. Eating food offered by them causes contamination, and as a result of such contamination, even a serious devotee becomes like a materialistic man. There are six kinds of asso- ciation - giving charity, accepting food, offering food, talking confidentially and enquiring confidentially. One should very care- fully avoid associating with the sahajiyas, who are sometimes known as Vaisnavas, and the non-Vaisnavas, or avaisnavas. Their association changes the transcendental devotional service of Lord Krishna into sense gratification, and when sense gratification enters the mind of a devotee, he is contaminated. The materialistic person who aspires after sense gratification cannot properly think of Krishna.

The organization built by the “zonal acaryas” was not Krishna consciousness. It was guru consciousness. Everything was centred around pleasing the guru and blind submission and surrender to the guru. Of course submission and surrender to a bona fide guru is good… even if it is blind faith. But the real spiritual master does not encourage blind sentimental following. He establishes Kr- ishna consciousness scientifically and authoritively from the authorized scriptures and trains his disciples in Krishna consciousness to enable them to thoroughly understand the philos- ophy. However, if a disciple doesn’t take advantage of his spiritual masters training, if he has faith in Krishna and his spiritual master and follows strictly the regulative principles of devotional life and chants at least 16 rounds daily, the end is the same. He is Krishna conscious. The difficulty is devotees who don’t have a solid philosophical understanding are usually not very fixed in their devotional service. Such philosophically naive devotees are also prone to exploitation. Because they don’t know the philosophy of Krishna consciousness they have no way of determining if the directions of the other devotees are correct. They are also unable to select a bona fide guru – they can’t tell maya (illusion) from Krishna. Basically they are religious fanatics. Srila Prabhupada so often referred to religion without philosophy as sentimental or fanatical.

The “zonal acaryas” themselves had no ability to preach and no real understanding of the philosophy of Krishna consciousness so they couldn’t attract intelligent disciples. They couldn’t properly present the philosophy of Krishna consciousness. Only the envious and the sentimental were attracted. Of course many intelligent people read Srila Prabhupada’s books and were attracted by Krishna and Prabhupada, but usually their intelligence enabled them to see the devotees in the temples were not following the instructions clearly given by Srila Prabhupada in his books. So most intelligent persons didn’t join the movement and the ones that did usually got such a hard time from the devotees within ISKCON, who saw their intelligence as a threat, didn’t stay long. If somehow an intelligent person did stay within ISKCON he also became contaminated by the Mayavada philosophy and became just as bad as the others. The power of association is very strong.

"The pseudo religionists have neither knowledge of nor detachment from material affairs, for most of them want to live in the golden shackles of material bondage under the shadow of altruistic and philanthropic activities and in the guise of religious principles. By a false display of religious sentiments, they present a show of devotional service while indulging in all sorts of immoral activities. In this way they pass as spiritual masters and devotees of God. Such violators of religious principles have no respect for the authoritative acaryas, the holy teachers in the strict disciplic succession. To mislead the people in general, they themselves become so-called acaryas, but they do not even follow the principles of the acaryas."

"These rogues are the most dangerous elements in human society. Because there is no religious government, they escape punishment by the law of the state. They cannot, however, escape the law of the Supreme, who has clearly declared in Bhagavad-gita (16.19-20) that envious demons in the garb of religious propagandists shall be thrown into the darkest regions of hell. Sri Isopanisad confirms that these pseudo religionists are heading toward the most obnoxious place in the universe after the completion of their spiritual-master business, which they conduct simply for sense gratification." (Sri Isopanisad Mantra 12 purport)

ISKCON quickly became an organization that took innocent people and under the guise of educating them in Krishna consciousness proceeded to do just the opposite. Everything looked and felt almost like the same Krishna consciousness Srila Prabhupada had established. Actually the movement seemed to be booming… going forward with great leaps and bounds. There were more temples, more devotees, more of almost everything. So things appeared to be suc- cessful. However it was all maya (illusion).

The reason for the apparent boom in Krishna consciousness was the new “acaryas” relaxed ISKCON’s views on the regulative principles. Srila Prabhupada was very emphatic that everyone in the temples must strictly follow the four regulative principles (no illicit sex, no intoxication, no meat eating and no gambling) and that everyone attend the morning temple program at 4:30am and that all devotees be fully engaged at all times. Although Prabhupada had great difficulty enforcing these rules it was at least clear that all these principles must be followed and one not following had no claim to be a member of ISKCON. The new “acaryas” didn’t have the same attitude to the regulative principles. Many of them were not following themselves so they could hardly inspire their disciples to follow. Their measure of spiritual advancement was different. It often had much more to do with how much money a disciple could collect than anything else. The change was not entirely obvious as devotees were still preaching that “you should follow…”, “you should chant 16 rounds…”, the classes sounded much the same as Prabhupada’s, but these devotees were not following themselves, nor did they have any intention of ever following. Many people picked up this subtle change and realized that now they could live in an ISKCON temple without following the regulations or chanting 16 rounds, and they could get some big post of power (temple president, etc) and exploit the devotees. No one was going to challenge them or check if they were following the principles or chanting their rounds… the field was wide open…

"Therefore the spiritual master gives different varieties of engagements to devotees in Krishna consciousness. For example, under the direction of the spiritual master the devotees may sell books in Krishna consciousness. But if the devotees think that the energy invested in selling books should be diverted in to selling jewellery, that is not a very good idea. Then we would become nothing more than jewellers. We should be very much careful not to be diverted from Krishna consciousness. Even if there is danger or suffering in Krishna consciousness, we should tolerate it. We should even welcome such danger, and we should pray in apprecia- tion to Krishna." (Teachings Of Queen Kunti)

The purpose of our lives, our whole existence, is to render service to Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Actually we have no other business. If we try to gratify our own senses it will end in frustration and suffering, no matter how attractive the sense gratification appears in the beginning. However, if we work for the satisfaction of Krishna’s senses, our natural constitutional position, we will enjoy transcendental bliss, ever increasing ecstasy on the spiritual platform, even though it may appear like poison in the beginning.

It is a prerequisite for a devotee to at least accept the principle that material activities aimed at sense gratification are a cause of suffering and repeated birth and death while service to Krishna liberates one from all the suffering of the material world and puts one on the transcendental platform. When Srila Prabhupada was physically present he had many problems with so-called devotees who didn’t even accept this basic principle. They were feigning Krishna consciousness to get some position, power, fame, wealth, reputation, followers and so on. For them Krishna consciousness was a totally mundane affair about exploiting other devotees and Srila Prabhupada’s ISKCON for their own personal benefit. In Prabhupada’s presence he somehow adjusted things so the preaching went on. It is one of Srila Prabhupada’s glories that he could take anyone, even an all-out demon, and engage him in Krishna consciousness. Even though these demons didn’t accept Krishna consciousness, Srila Prabhupada was able to extract so much service from them. After Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance, however, these materialists in the guise of devotees had an open field for their nefarious activities.

For a devotee it is difficult to understand that someone, especially another so-called devotee, could not believe in Krishna or accept Srila Prabhupada as a pure devotee and worship him as being Krishna in the form of the spiritual master. These things are crystal clear to even the most neophyte devotee. However the grossly materialistic demons and the more subtle Mayavadis and impersonalists will never accept Krishna or His pure devotee. That is their nature. The demons can’t stand the pure chanting of Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare / Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare, nor can they bear to see devotees advancing in Krishna consciousness and the Krishna consciousness movement spreading all over the world. As a devotee is prepared to surrender his life, his energy, everything to preach Krishna consciousness, the demons are similarly prepared to sacrifice everything and dedicate their whole life and energy to stopping the advancement of the Krishna consciousness movement. Personally it amazes me how dedicated these demons are. They won’t stop their nefarious activities even though they are suffering greatly and it is as plain as day that Krishna is God, Srila Prabhupada is a pure devotee and they are demons. Still they want to be gurus and take as many disciples as possible with them to the darkest reigns of hell to suffer perpetually in the most unbelievable agony.

So ISKCON became an organization run by these demons and the sincere fools and envious rascals who took initiation from the demons were dragged down to their level of consciousness. As a disciple of a pure devotee develops all the qualities of the demigods by serving a bona fide pure devotee spiritual master, similarly, a servant of a demon in the guise of a devotee develops all the qualities of the demons. This really changed the mood in the ISKCON temples. Even the devotees who were initially serious about serving Krishna and had some faith in Krishna consciousness were quickly contaminated by this very effective process of association with and service to demons.

ISKCON had been transferred from a society that was turning demons into devotees to a society turning devotees into demons! Anything is possible in this dark age of Kali-yuga it seems. This reversal of the process caused great confusion and distress for devotees who were sincerely trying to become Krishna conscious but were getting the opposite result. Devotees would rise early in the morning, attend the temple program, hear the classes of the “pure devotee” preachers and go out all day selling Hong Kong oil paintings, or whatever was the most effective way to make money for the temple and their “guru,” but instead of decreasing their material desires, their material desires increased more and more. Many, many thousands of devotees went through this process and left the Hare Krishna movement in a worse state than when they joined. ISKCON was now bring out the worst in people, instead of reviving their long forgotten love for Krishna.

Devotees subjected to this treatment suffered greatly. Some committed suicide, many went crazy and most lost faith in Krishna consciousness and went back to suffer in the material world.

"Those who are nondevotees, those who are mental speculators, those who are fruitive workers, those who are meditators or mystic yogis, cannot explain the science of God. This is especially mentioned also by Sanatana Gosvami, another great saint; those who are not in devotional service, nongodly, those who have no faith in God - such persons should not be allowed to speak on the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad Bhagavatam, or any other literature which is in relationship with the Supreme Lord. So it is not that anyone can speak the Bhagavatam or the Gita and we will have to hear it. No. Sanatana Gosvami especially prohibits us; we should not hear of the Supreme Lord from one who is not purified."

"One may ask, "How can you taint the words of Krishna, which are naturally transcendentally pure? What is the harm if we hear from the nondevotee?" This question may be raised. The example given here is that milk is very nice and nutritious, but as soon as it is touched by a serpent it becomes poison immediately. The serpent is very envious. He bites and puts to death immediately, unnecessarily, and therefore is considered the cruellest animal amongst the living entities. In the sastra nonviolence is recom- mended, as in every scripture, but the serpent and the scorpion are allowed to be killed. You cannot say that milk is so nutritious, and we can drink - what is the harm if it is touched by serpents? No - the result will be death. One should not hear at least the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad Bhagavatam from those who are not devotees of the Lord, who have no realization of God and who are envious of Him. Their touch renders it poison. The words of the Lord are always sublime, but as soon as they are touched by the serpent like nondevotee, one should be very careful about hearing." (Krishna Consciousness - The Topmost Yoga System P94)

Born Again Krishnas

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada disappeared from our mundane vision in 1977. This event caused dramatic changes within the Hare Krishna movement. The first thing was, as Srila Prabhupada was no longer physically present, who would initiate the new devotees? Many of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples had the desire to become gurus, but they were not qualified gurus. Guru is not a cheep thing. Many devotees were attracted by the fame, adoration, profit and distinction which accompanied the position of acarya, rather than the sincere desire to please Krishna and Srila Prabhupada and save the fallen conditioned souls from rotting in this material world by giving them Krishna con- sciousness. Ultimately the devotees named by Srila Prabhupada as authorized to give rtvic initiation on his behalf convinced the general devotee community that Srila Prabhupada had intended them to be his successors.

Srila Prabhupada’s “successors” then carved up the world into a number of zones. In each zone one of the successors was to be the “zonal acarya” and he would be the only “spiritual master” in that zone and all new devotees would have to take initiation from him. Why not? After all he was a paramahamasa, a pure devotee on the topmost platform of devotional service, he was non-different from Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself!

This, apart from being a quite ridiculous proposal, had the effect of creating factions within ISKCON. Of course factions existed when Srila Prabhupada was physically present, but they were not as serious as the ones which developed as a result of the “zonal acarya” system.

Disciples of one “guru” were convinced that their “guru” was the only “pure devotee”, he was right and everyone else was wrong. Much stress was given to the necessicity of pleasing the guru to get the mercy of Krishna and any devotee who did not accept this system was in trouble. He was a demon, he was blaspheming a pure devotee, simply an envious rascal and such enemies of the Hare Krishna movement were thrown out, often violently. All to keep these “acaryas” in their positions.

"Srila Bhaktsiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura says that a devotee does not care about his own happiness or distress; he is simply interested in seeing that Krishna is happy, and for that purpose he engages in various activities. A pure devotee has no way of sensing happiness except by seeing that Krishna is happy in every respect. If Krishna becomes happy by giving him distress, such a devotee accepts that unhappiness as the greatest of all happiness. Those who are materialistic, however, who are proud of material wealth and have no spiritual knowledge, like the prakrta-sahajiyas, regard their own happiness as the aim of life. Some of them aspire to enjoy themselves by sharing the happiness of Krishna. This is the mentality of the fruitive workers who want to enjoy sense gratification by making a show of service to Krishna." (CC Ant 20.52)

The new “acaryas” didn’t exhibit the qualities of a real spiritual master, yet the ISKCON philosophy was they were paramahamasas, topmost devotees, on a level equal with Srila Prabhupada. The difficulty was they didn’t exhibit the qualities one would expect to find in pure devotees. Srila Prabhupada had shown real compassion for his disciples and for all living entities, he also had real love for Krishna and really enjoyed chanting Hare Krishna, speaking about Krishna, writing books about Krishna, preaching enthusiastically about Krishna consciousness, seeing his disciples advance in Krishna consciousness an seeing the Hare Krishna movement spread all over the world. In Srila Prabhupada, all these qualities were real, he was really dedicated completely to serving his spiritual master and Krishna by fulfilling their desire that Krishna consciousness be spread all over the world.

The new “acaryas” didn’t follow in Srila Prabhupada’s footsteps, they tried to imitate him. They didn’t have the deep love for Krishna Srila Prabhupada had, nor even firm faith in the process of Krishna consciousness. Srila Prabhupada always followed the disciplic succession, he never concocted anything new. He simply presented the timeless philosophy of Krishna consciousness as he had received it from his spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, who had received it from his spiritual master, Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji Maharaja, who received it from Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura and so on right back to Lord Brahma, the supreme and first created living entity in this universe. Lord Brahma received this knowledge directly from Krishna by revelation from within the heart.

The new ‘acaryas’ didn’t have the pure devotion which was the attractive principle behind Srila Prabhupada’s success… but still they insisted on advertising themselves as great devotees.

"Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura comments that persons who are actually very poor because they posses not even a drop of love of Godhead or pure devotional service falsely advertise themselves as great devotees, although they cannot at any time relish the transcendental bliss of devotional service. A class of so-called devotees known as prakrta-sahajiyas display devotional symptoms to exhibit their good fortune. They are pretending, however, because these devotional features are only external. The prakrta-sahajiyas exhibit these symptoms to advertise their so-called advancement in love of Krishna, but instead of praising the prakrta-sahajiyas for their symptoms of transcendental ecstasy, pure devotees do not like to associate with them. It is not advisable to equate the prakrta-sahajiyas with pure devotees. When one is actually advanced in ecstatic love of Krishna, he does not try to advertise himself. Instead, he endeavours more and more to render service to the Lord." (CC Ant 20.28)

Srila Prabhupada, unlike the new “acaryas” didn’t rely on material formulas. He was fully confident of support and maintenance from Krishna. He accepted Srila Bhaktsiddhanta’s instruction that there was no need to worry about money, “simply do something nice for Krishna, and Krishna will supply the required money and men.” Srila Prabhupada went to the United States with just seven dollars and some volumes of Srimad Bhagavatam which he had translated and printed in India. He spoke on the Srimad Bhagavatam and Bhagavad- gita and chanted Hare Krishna, and Krishna sent everything abundantly.

"If we are in spiritual strength there will be no scarcity of money; and the spiritual strength is that each and every one of us must chant 16 rounds of beads and follow the rules and regulations with great adherence." (8 Feb 1970)

So many men, so much money, so many books published, so many temples opened. Srila Prabhupada changed the whole world. There can hardly be anyone on this planet now, particularly in the developed countries, who hasn’t heard or chanted Hare Krishna. This is no small achievement. Srila Prabhupada repeated this instruction, “just preach and Krishna will send everything,” but his disciples couldn’t hear it. After his departure this instruction was very quickly forgotten.

With Srila Prabhupada no longer physically present to encourage the devotees to print and distribute his books and to stamp out the deviations and corruption within ISKCON the “acaryas” had a wide scope of activities. In Srila Prabhupada’s presence there was an incense business, Spiritual Sky, and some selling of devotional records, and, although Srila Prabhupada initially approved of the incense business, subsequently he rejected all business enterprises as a distraction from book distribution. Srila Prabhupada wrote hundreds of letters pleading the devotees to concentrate on selling his books, not on business activities. But Srila Prabhupada wasn’t physically present any more, and Srila Prabhupada’s letters were safely locked away where no-one could read them, so the “leaders” of ISKCON were free to concoct anything that they liked and exploit the sincere devotees who trusted them and expected them to give them Krishna consciousness.

"Regarding record albums,[of Srila Prabhupada and other devotees singing Krishna conscious songs] it is something sentimental. they will purchase and hear for sometime and throw it and purchase another. A book purchased will remain, and once even one line is read, that will benefit the reader." (to Hansadutta 9 Sep, 1974)

"This record distribution has caused havoc. It should be stopped immediately. I have also asked Hansadutta to stop it. Book distribution is our real business. If we give them a record they simply hear some magical sounds and take it for sense gratification, but if they receive one of our books and read even one page, they get eternally benefited. Therefore I am stressing this book distribution, not other things. Stop record selling com- pletely. This is my order." (to Ajit 6 Jan, 1975)

"I have considered this matter of record distribution and I have decided that it should be immediately stopped. It has simply caused havoc. It should be stopped everywhere. The stress must be on books, nothing else needs to be sold....The records are not important. My books are important. You should make arrangement to distribute them in as much quantity as possible."(to Hansadutta 6 Jan, 1975)

The mood within ISKCON had dramatically changed. Instead of the emphasis on endeavouring to please Srila Prabhupada and Krishna by preaching and distributing books, the emphasis was on making lots and lots of money.

"It is very risky to handle material things and business. We are naturally business-minded, and so as soon as we get some opportunity, this mentality becomes strong. We have already got our book-selling program. It is better not to divert to other lines of business..... Unless everyone of us sticks to the regulative principles of chanting, there is no other alternative than fall-down. This is a fact. I repeatedly say this, so if people do not follow, what can I do?" (to Karandhara 19 Oct, 1973)

Srila Prabhupada had instructed that devotees in ISKCON should simply endeavour to preach and distribute books and Krishna would automatically provide all of the men and money required. Unfortunately the “zonal acaryas” had not understood Srila Prabhupada’s instructions, nor did they have faith that Krishna would send everything if they simply followed Srila Prabhupada’s instructions by distributing his books and taking the preaching mission seriously. In fact, in many cases, they didn’t even want to preach and distribute books. ISKCON’s new policy was that preaching requires lots and lots of money. With this policy the devotees were convinced that book distribution and direct preaching were less important… the main thing was to make lots of money.

"Yes, my order still stands. Please organize Back To Godhead distribution and do it nicely. Sankirtana [street chanting] and distribution of our magazines and books is our real program. Other things are secondary.... Attention diverted to incense distribution is not a very good sign. We should give all our energy for distributing Back To Godhead." (to Satsvarupa 21 Jun, 1971)

The “zonal acaryas” were able, with much word juggling and redefination, to convince the general devotee community that Srila Prabhupada was taking about business and making money when he talked about “sankirtana” (the congregational chanting of the holy names of God). Of course there were devotees who didn’t fall for this, but they were branded as demons and envious rascals and generally they were kicked out of ISKCON.

Somehow the “zonal acaryas” convinced the devotees that business was sankirtana and that the devotees going out and selling Hong Kong oil paintings, tee-shirts, records, Persian rugs, etc., were the topmost preachers and were Srila Prabhupada’s and Lord Caitanya’s best devotees! Personally I have never understood how anyone could have fallen for this, but, the power of association is very strong. At that time the ISKCON temples were full of “gung ho” salesman, totally convinced that being a salesman was the most pleasing thing to Srila Prabhupada and Krishna. The one who makes the most money wins! So less intelligent new devotees coming into this atmosphere were quickly convinced that Srila Prabhupada wanted them to make lots of money, the more money the better. Anyone who had the intelligence to question the system had a very, very difficult time in ISKCON and as a result many sincere devotees were forced out of ISKCON, being branded as demons and envious rascals for questioning the words of the pure devotee “acaryas” who had ascertained that, according to the time and place it was no longer appropriate to sell Srila Prabhupada’s books to the poor fallen conditioned souls who are rotting in this material world simply due to a lack of Krishna consciousness, the very essence of Srila Prabhupada’s books. It was now more appropriate to sell them nice oil paintings of landscapes, trees, still-life and so many mundane subjects along with baseball caps, bumper stickers and a host of assorted “paraphernalia.” The “acaryas” had determined that by selling all this mundane rubbish to the fallen conditioned souls they would become Krishna conscious and the Krishna consciousness movement would expand. Unfortunately they were mistaken. Nothing auspicious can ever result from the blatant rejection of the orders of the spiritual master.

"Our first business is this book distribution. There's no need of any other business. If this book distribution is managed properly, pushed on with great enthusiasm and determination, and at the same time our men remain spiritually strong, then the whole world will become Krishna conscious." (to Satsvarupa, 5 Jan, 1976)

With their new money making philosophy devotees took to business with great enthusiasm and they were successful in making enormous amounts of money. Unfortunately most of the money was misappropriated, embezzled and wasted on luxurious arrangements for devotees eating and sleeping facilities and to maintain their families. Srila Prabhupada’s intense desire to save the fallen conditioned souls and please Krishna and his spiritual master by preaching Krishna consciousness and distributing books was lost. Every zone took to this business activity to a different degree, depending on the mood of the “zonal acarya.”

The emphasis on business struck at the very heart of ISKCON and Srila Prabhupada, book distribution. As the devotees were busy doing business there was no longer any time to distribute books and preach. The chanting parties disappeared off the streets, the book distributors were no longer to be seen in the car-parks and airports, The Hare Krishna’s had vanished!

"I started my movement with my books. And we shall be able to maintain everything with the sales of the books. The temples will be maintained by the book sales, and if there are no more temples, then the books shall remain." (to Hansadutta 8 Nov, 1973)

As business became more and more a way of life in ISKCON most of the devotees became just like materialists. The temple presidents and the sannyasis were preaching that it was necessary to work hard day and night in these mundane business activities to raise enough money to maintain the temple. This was a very depressing job… just what many devotees left behind them when they joined the Hare Krishna movement.

"Asuras(demons) always engage in atheistic material activities, exploring ways to utilize the resources of matter to enjoy sense gratification. The visnu-bhaktas, Krishna conscious devotees, are also active, but their objective is to satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead by devotional service. Superficially both classes may appear to work in the same way, but their purposes are completely opposite because of a difference in consciousness. Asuras work for personal sense gratification, whereas devotees work for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord. Both work con- scientiously, but their motives are different." (CC Adi 3.91)

Many devotees could not come to accept this business activity so they were left with no option other than to leave ISKCON. In the meantime the “zonal acaryas,” temple presidents and other “advanced devotees” in ISKCON were able to live a very comfortable life at the expense of younger, naive devotees.

"It is better not to divert to other lines of business [than book selling] This boy Rsi Kumar appears to be lost coming in contact with business. I heard he was coming to India and staying at the hotel without coming to the temple. Similarly Hayagriva is also lost almost. So, the situation is not very favourable. There is the story of the bed-bug. In the winter season the bed-bug appears to be only skin, but in summer season as soon as it gets the op- portunity of biting and sucking blood, it becomes fatty. Sometimes we may artificially renounce the world, but as soon as the opportunity of sucking blood is there, we turn again into a bed- bug." (to Karandhar 19 Oct 1973)

ISKCON’s emphasis on making money meant devotees no longer needed to understand the philosophy of Krishna consciousness to perform their service. This is very different from book-selling where a devotee must convince people to purchase the books by glorifying the book and Krishna. A sincere book-distributor must, therefore, carefully study the books to enable him to convince people of their worth. A painting distributor, selling Hong Kong oil paintings, doesn’t have any need to preach or study, he just needs to become an expert cheater.

"If you start trading business then so many problems will be there. We should produce just enough for our own use. Trading leads to envy and jealousy and cheating, then everything is lost. I am seeing now that the business activities in our society, they are increasing. Originally I allowed that Gargamuni could start the incense business. I thought that the Ramakrishna mission, they are doing it, so what is the harm? But now I see that Spiritual Sky, they have so many programs. And now there is jewellery busi- ness going on. So why should the business increase? Nanda Kumara, he came here to India simply for doing business That is not re- quired. So I have given him sannyasa and now he is finished with all business, and he will go to Africa to preach. So this business should be discouraged, otherwise, if they do it, our men will again become karmis. Our business is simply book distribution." (to Jagadish 20 Nov 1975)

When a new devotee came to a Hare Krishna temple enthusiastic to preach he would quickly be convinced that to preach the temple needed money and to get that money the temple had to do business. If he wanted to pull his weight and help Srila Prabhupada spread Krishna consciousness he’d better give up those idealistic thoughts of going out and chanting on the streets and distributing books, rather he should grow some hair, put on ordinary clothes and get out there and sell whatever the temple was currently in to. The main thing was to make as much money as possible.

"Ours is a cooperative movement, with Krishna and the advancement of Krishna's movement at the centre, and we must continue to sell as many books as possible, but discuss everything amongst yourselves and do it nicely without irritating anyone, that is the art." (to Butatma and Keshava 2 Nov, 1972)

New devotees would also be encouraged to get out of the “offensive” idea of trying to please Srila Prabhupada. By doing that he was “jumping over” the current acaryas and thus making a great offence which could finish his spiritual life. The only way he could please Srila Prabhupada, they said, was by taking shelter of and surrendering to the “zonal acarya” who was a pure devotee and therefore non-different from Krishna. He should be worshiped as if he was Krishna. As soon as the new devotee surrendered to the “zonal acarya” he had to obey his orders unquestionably. The “zonal acaryas” (with one or two rare exceptions) were great supporters of this new “sankirtana”.

A whole new system of measuring spiritual advancement and service to the guru was born. The mighty dollar. The more dollars the devotee collected the more spiritually advanced he was.

"Regarding your question, actually it is a fact that ultimately everyone should preach and distribute books if they want to please me in the best way. Book distribution must be given stress always. He has spoken the right thing. If you do this sincerely, it is a fact that Krishna will supply everything else required." (to Sri Govinda, 12th. Jun, 1974)

To explain this business activity within the framework Srila Prabhupada had given for Krishna consciousness some word jugglery was required. It was clear that Srila Prabhupada wanted book distribution and that he didn’t like the idea of devotees being distracted by business. Book distribution and street chanting were termed sankirtana (the congregational chanting of the Holy Names of the Lord), and Srila Prabhupada definitely wanted his devotees to perform sankirtana unlimitedly. So the leaders in ISKCON redefined the word sankirtana to mean business in the minds of the devotees. They called candle selling, tee-shirt selling, record selling, painting selling and all types of “charity” collections sankirtana. This enabled ISKCON leaders to say “Prabhupada wants you to go on sankirtana,” which was true, of course, but Srila Prabhupada’s idea of sankirtana and ISKCON’s new conception of sankirtana were vastly different.

"Actually, any activities performed favourably for the satisfaction of the Lord, under the direction of the spiritual master, are spiritual. But for a person to disregard the order of the spiritual master and act by concoction, accepting his nonsensical activities to be spiritual, is maya. One must achieve the favour of the Supreme Personality of Godhead through the mercy of the spiritual master. Therefore one must first please the spiritual master, and if he is pleased, then we should understand that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is also pleased. But if the spiritual master is displeased by our actions, they are not spiritual." (CC Adi 14.29)

The justification of this program was that the businesses were preaching and therefore part of the sankirtana movement. One might well ask (and many did) “How can selling a Hong Kong painting be preaching?” Of course there was a well thought out answer for this one. The devotees were not actually doing business, they were “engaging” people in Krishna consciousness by “liberating Laxmi” (the Goddess of Fortune). The liberated “Laxmi,” which was money, was meant to be used for printing Prabhupada’s books and spreading Krishna consciousness. Because the “Laxmi” was to be used in spreading Krishna consciousness the devotee collecting the money and the person giving the money would benefit spiritually. Unfortunately, more often than not, the money was either embezzled or used for providing nice facilities for the devotees and their families, particularly the leading devotees, rather than being used to increase the preaching and book distribution. The result of this was instead of making spiritual advancement, everyone involved in these business transactions was implicated in unlimited sinful activities. The materialists didn’t benefit spiritually and the devotees didn’t make advancement towards the ultimate goal of life, Krishna consciousness.

"The temple is managed by Srimati Radharani, Laxmiji; so why should there be want? Our philosophy is, if anyone comes let him take prasada, chant Hare Krishna and be happy. Everything is being supplied by Krishna, Krishna is not poor, so why we should deny them? This should be done at any cost. There is no difficulty, it simply requires good management." (to All Temple Presidents 18 Jan, 1977)

There was a prevailing mood that anything was justified in “sankirtana.” The end justified the means. This idea was preached and reinforced by many leaders in the society and devotees were engaging in all sorts of illegal and underhanded schemes to “liberate Laxmi.”

"So far as making some false story for collecting money or distributing books, of course we can do anything for Krishna, but that is supposed to be reserved for very advanced experts in Krishna consciousness - they know how to catch the big fish without getting wet. So it is not very much advisable to make lies just to sell books. If we simply stick to describing how wonderful is Krishna, then whatever we may lie or exaggerate, that will not be a lie. But other things, lies, they will not help us to train ourselves in truthfulness. Lie to some, not to others, that is not a good philosophy. Rather the Brahmins are always truthful, even to their enemies. There is sufficient merit in our books that if you simply describe them sincerely to anyone, they will buy. That art we must develop, not the art of lying. Convince them to give by your preaching the absolute truth, not by tricking, that is a more mature stage of development of Krishna consciousness." (to Sri Govinda 25 Dec, 1972)

The mood of business and money making in ISKCON was encouraged by most of the “zonal acaryas,” who instructed their disciples, “If you want to please me then make lots of money.” In many zones the “spiritual advancement” of a devotee was measured by the amount of money he could collect. It didn’t matter so much that he didn’t seem to be following the regulative principles very strictly or chanting 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra… if he was a big collector he was a pure devotee, he had Krishna’s and the guru’s mercy and he was on his way back to Godhead! Even recommendations for second initiation were often made on the basis of “sankirtana” performance.

"I want to stress to you to be very cautious about giving the recommendation for second initiation. There are four orders of life, it is not that everyone has to be a Brahmin just because he has been initiated one or two or any number of years. Especially if one cannot even rise early for Mangal Arati he should never be given second initiation." (to Nityananda 26 May, 1974)

Often it was assumed that if a devotee was not a big collector he was in maya (illusion), or in other words he wasn’t a serious devotee. Srila Prabhupada had a different idea on this matter. He said the spiritual master is not pleased by a disciple who collects a lot of money, however, he is very pleased by a disciple who takes the preaching mission to heart and tries to please his spiritual master and help the conditioned souls by giving them Krishna consciousness. Srila Prabhupada particularly liked the devotees who took his book distribution as their life and soul and he made it very, very clear that the book distributors were the real preachers and that his disciples should either be book distributors themselves or they should dedicate their lives to serving the book distributors.

The “zonal acaryas” were accepting worship on the level of paramahamsas (the topmost liberated souls), but they were far from that level. One by one the “zonal acaryas” fell down from their lofty heights, leaving their disciples bewildered and heartbroken. For one who has surrendered to and been cheated by someone in the past it is very difficult to surrender again. A few of these brokenhearted devotees were able to take shelter of Srila Prabhupada and continue their devotional service, but most of them lost their taste for Krishna consciousness, having been cheated and exploited by ISKCON, and went back to material life.

"The Krishna consciousness movement is meant for devas, or devo- tees. Demons cannot take part in Krishna conscious activities, nor can devotees in Krishna consciousness take part in demoniac activities or work like cats and dogs simply for sense gratification. Such activity does not appeal to those in Krishna consciousness. Devotees accept only the bare necessities of life to keep themselves fit to act in Krishna consciousness. The balance of their energy is used for developing Krishna con- sciousness, through which one can be transferred to the abode of Krishna by always thinking of Him, even at the point of death." (CC Adi 3.91)

As ISKCON was now stressing activities which were not godly. (ie: mundane business) and devotees generally had no option except doing this mundane business or leaving ISKCON, the situation was very, very difficult for sincere devotees. On one hand they could do this mundane business, but that would mean growing hair and dressing and acting like a materialist and associating with materialistically inclined people on their level. This is totally unbearable for a real devotee. When Lord Caitanya was asked what the symptoms of a devotee were, He said, “asadhu sanga…,” a sadhu (devotee) is one who avoids the association of the asadhu, the non-devotee. Srila Prabhupada said he established ISKCON so he wouldn’t have to associate with the non-devotees. Now ISKCON was forcing the devotees to associate with the materialistic people in the name of sankirtana.

"I shall stay in any place hell or heaven, if it is approved by you. Of course, on behalf of Krishna I am accepting your sincere service, but on the whole I am servant of the servant of Krishna, and because you are all sincere servants of Krishna, I am your servant. I shall be glad to stay wherever yourself, Rayrama, and others like me to stay." (to Brahmanannada, 16 Feb, 1968)

The position the devotees were put in was extremely difficult. On one hand, if they stayed within ISKCON, they would be forced to associate with materialists on their level in these business activities, and on the other hand they could leave ISKCON and try to be Krishna conscious separately, however only a very advanced soul can remain Krishna conscious without the association of other devotees. In any case, devotees don’t want to leave the as- sociation of other devotees. There is great pleasure in the association of devotees, which cannot be understood by non- devotees.

The result was many devotees were convinced to surrender to mundane business activities and to give up preaching and distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books. Association is extremely powerful. Generally devotees only associate with other devotees. In this way we can remain firmly fixed in Krishna consciousness. What about the preachers? What about the book distributors? You might well ask. Are they not associating with non-devotees? Why are they not contaminated by preaching to the materialists? The secret is that the preachers are merciful to the fallen conditioned souls. They can see that everyone is suffering simply because of a lack of Krishna consciousness. They want to help the suffering conditioned souls by giving them Krishna consciousness. However, they never as- sociate with the materialists. The preacher gives his association to everyone, but he only takes the association of other devotees. He never takes the association of materialistic people. In any case those who are preaching by distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books are given special protection by Krishna.

The devotees engaged in mundane business activities had nothing to remind them of Krishna in their service and no chance of talking about Krishna either, whereas the book distributors were distributing Krishna in the form of Srila Prabhupada’s books, they were constantly talking about Krishna to the conditioned souls to convince them to buy the books and they were rapidly making advancement in Krishna consciousness. The business devotees, however, were associating with mundane people and talking about the Hong-Kong paintings, or whatever mundane paraphernalia they were selling so, naturally their consciousness became totally mundane.

This change of ISKCON’s activities – from distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books to distributing mundane goods – changed everything. The devotees were no longer preaching and Srila Prabhupada’s books were not being printed or distributed. The devotees lost their taste for Krishna consciousness. At this point many devotees left the movement, however there were also many who stayed. There was a group of devotees who saw ISKCON as their “career path” and they were interested in capturing important management posts and ultimately becoming spiritual masters and enjoying the associated fame, profit, adoration and distinction. These devotees were plotting to advance within ISKCON in exactly the same way the junior clerk in some large organization plots to become the managing director. These devotees never know what spiritual ecstasy was because they were never able to taste it. They simply feigned chanting Hare Krishna when other devotees were watching and they slept and engaged in sinful activities when no one was watching. (Of course Krishna is always watching!!) These devotees studied Srila Prabhupada’s books and became quite expert at preaching. They could give very convincing lectures and most devotees were convinced that these men were advanced devotees. They were in many cases very intelligent, but their intelligence was used in the wrong way. They were simply scheming to become temple president, then GBC, then guru, then Krishna!

There is a narration in the Srimad Bhagavatam about a demon of the name Hiranyakasipu. He was a very determined fellow. He wanted to be the lord of the entire universe and he wanted to be immortal. He knew that Lord Brahma was the supreme person in the universe and that if he was pleased he could offer great benedictions. The demigods, such as Lord Brahma, are generally pleased by their devotees if they perform austerities, the voluntary acceptance of suffering for a greater cause. So Hiranyakasipu was determined to perform very great austerity to please Lord Brahma and receive benedictions from him. Hiranyakasipu went to Mandara Hill and performed great austerity by standing on his toes with his hands in the air. He kept this pose for thousands of years, so strong was his determination. He was so powerful that even though ants built their ant-hill around his body and ate all his flesh, he kept the life-force within his bones. After some time he became so powerful that an enormous, unbearable heat began to emanate from the ant-hill which covered him. This heat was so intense that it even disturbed the demigods in the heavenly planets. The demigods decided to go to Lord Brahma to petition him for a solution to their discomfort.

On the request of the demigods, Lord Brahma went to the place where Hiranyakasipu was performing his austerities. At first Lord Brahma could not see where Hiranyakasipu was, but then he saw the ant-hill which was radiating so much heat and light. He could then understand, “Here is Hiranyakasipu.” Lord Brahma sprinkled Hiranyakasipu with a few drops of water from his kamandalu (water pot) and immediately Hiranyakasipu was transformed into a very beautiful golden complexioned man. Hiranyakasipu then immediately fell flat at Lord Brahma’s feet and offered him prayers. Lord Brahma was pleased by the prayers and austerities performed by Hiranyakasipu and he offered to give him benedictions. As a result of these benedictions Hiranyakasipu became very, very powerful. So powerful that he conquered almost all of the planets in this universe and had most of the demigods, who usually serve Krishna, serving him. He turned the whole universe upside down. Only a few demigods were able to escape his influence.

The point of this narration is the entire incident, including Hiranyakasipu’s great austerities and his achievement of almost unlimited power is completely material. There is not even the slightest tinge of transcendental activity, although mundane men may consider it very spiritual.

Similarly some “devotees” in ISKCON have performed great austerities and have become learned in the scriptures and very powerful, but the purpose is not spiritual, the purpose is totally material. They simply want fame, profit, adoration, etc. Their end will be similar to the end of Hiranyakasipu. You can read the sev- enth canto of Srimad Bhagavatam to see what happened to Hiranyakasapu.

Currently the GBC is recommending devotees who have taken initiation from a “fallen” guru to take reinitiation from another “ISKCON GBC approved” spiritual master “in good standing.” Many devotees have gone through the motions of taking reinitiation from a new spiritual master but generally they don’t surrender to their new guru – once bitten twice shy.

"Don't be allured by cheep disciples. Go on steadfastly rendering service first. If you immediately become guru then service activities will be stopped. As there are many cheep gurus and cheep disciples without any substantial knowledge manufacturing new sampradayas with service activities stopped, and all spiritual progress choked up." (to Acyutananda 21 Aug, 1968)

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare

The New Guru System

With the “zonal acarya” system in tatters due to the fall of many of the so-called acaryas the GBC established a new system allowing any disciple initiated by Srila Prabhupada to apply to become a guru. This considerably increased the number of gurus in ISKCON, but did nothing to solve the problems resulting from the “zonal acarya” days. The qualification for becoming a guru seems to now be something of a political matter between the local temple authorities and the GBC.

"Another examination will be held in 1971 on the four books, Bhagavad-gita, Srimad Bhagavatam, Teachings of Lord Caitanya, and Nectar of Devotion. One who passes this examination will be awarded the title of Bhaktivedanta. I want all my spiritual sons and daughters to inherit this title of Bhaktivedanta, so that the family transcendental diploma will continue through the generations. That is my program. So we should not simply publish these books for reading by outsiders, but all of our students must be well-versed in all of our books so that we can be prepared to defeat all opposing parties in the matter of self-realization." (to Hansadutta 3 Dec, 1968)

It is obvious Srila Prabhupada wanted his students to take Krishna consciousness very seriously and advance to the stage where they would be capable of becoming spiritual masters in their own right and initiating their own disciples. However, guru, means literally ‘heavy.’ So to become guru is no small matter.

"Keep trained up very rigidly and then you are bonafide guru, and you can accept disciples on the same principle. But there's a matter of etiquette. It is the custom that during the lifetime of your spiritual master you bring the prospective disciples to him, and in his absence or disappearance you can accept disciples without limitation. This is the law of disciplic succession. I want to see my disciples become bonafide spiritual masters and spread Krishna consciousness very widely, that will make me and Krishna very happy." (to Tushta Krishna Swami, 2 Nov 1975)

Unfortunately, after Srila Prabhupada left his body ISKCON institutionalized the concept of guru and rubber-stamped some unqualified men as guru. This appeared to work for some time, but such unqualified men have no ability to actually spread Krishna consciousness. They succeeded in attracting some sentimental dis- ciples and some envious ones as well who wanted to take their position. However, sincere devotees found it very difficult to stay in the new ISKCON built around the false idea that the new “acaryas” were on the same level as His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

If there is no one qualified to take the position of guru or acarya you can’t rubber-stamp unqualified men and expect success. Srila Prabhupada, of course, knew where his disciples were situated spiritually, so he established a system which would allow his disciples to go on initiating new devotees, however the new devotees would be disciples of Srila Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada did not say that the eleven he named were acaryas or that they could take disciples on their own behalf. This idea came from the Gaudiya Math after Srila Prabhupada left his body.

Although this issue has been the subject of rather heated debate over the past years between groups who have their own vested interests to protect within ISKCON, any impartial observer can see that there is no point of justifying the “zonal acarya” system when most of the so-called acaryas have fallen down from spiritual life.

The current system is not different from the “zonal acarya” system. The only real difference is there are more “acaryas.” The new gurus still want worship on the level of Krishna from their disciples…everything is the same…nothing has changed. So if the “zonal acarya” system is not bonafide, the current guru system is equally un-bonafide. It is sure to collapse in the same way the “zonal acarya” system collapsed.

An acarya is not a cheep thing. Simply by GBC approval one doesn’t become an acarya. This is similar to the Mayavadi concept of taking sannyasa. The Mayavadis think that by taking sannyasa they become equal to Narayana or Krishna. Similarly, it seems, that ISKCON devotees think that they become equal to Srila Prabhupada by GBC approval. However it is not GBC approval that makes a devotee a qualified acarya. It is his sincere desire to please Srila Prabhupada and Krishna, and such an acarya does not have to be approved by anyone, he is self-effulgent. The whole world will accept him as a spiritual authority, as they did with Srila Prabhupada. He certainly won’t need GBC approval, any more than Srila Prabhupada needed the approval of the Gaudiya Math. In fact the Gaudiya Math never approved of Srila Prabhupada’s preaching and they still refuse to accept that Prabhupada is even entitled to be called Prabhupada (they call Srila Prabhupada “Swami Maharaja” – even now!) So as the Gaudiya Math was left behind by Srila Prabhupada, ISKCON may be left behind by the next self- effulgent acarya.

"Almost all the conditioned souls within the material world are envious. Jealous people generally turn against one who automatically attains some reputation. This is natural for jealous people. Consequently, when a devotee is fit to receive worldly reputation, he is envied by many people. This is quite natural. When a person, out of humility, does not desire fame, people generally think him quite humble and consequently give him all kinds of fame. Actually a Vaisnava does not hanker after fame or a great reputation."(CC Mad 4.147)

"This is the function of the GBC, to see that one may not be taken away by maya. The GBC should all be the instructor gurus. I am the initiator guru, and you should be the instructor guru by teaching what I am teaching and doing what I am doing. This is not a title, but you must actually come to this platform. This is what I want." (to Madhudvisa 4 Aug, 1975)

Purity is the Force!

Srila Prabhupada was convinced the problems within ISKCON could not be solved until every devotee was chanting sixteen rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra daily, rising early to attend the 4:30am Mangal Arati ceremony, following strictly the four regulative principles and being fully engaged 24 hours a day in serving Kr- ishna. He was so convinced of this that he made it the prime duty of all GBC members to see in their respective zones all devotees in all temples came to this standard.

"As GBC you must see to it that the highest standards of routine work are maintained throughout all the centres, and that chanting, rising early, cleansing, and all other aspects of our regular program may not be neglected. That is our first business. GBC man should not dictate very much, simply supervise and see that the standards are maintained." (to Hansadutta, 14 Feb, 1972)

Srila Prabhupada sometimes used an analogy common in Bengal; it is said that it is better to maintain an empty barn than to keep many cows who are not giving milk. He said, therefore, that it is far better to have a few serious devotees than to have many neophyte devotees.

The GBC members, for one reason or another, didn’t make a serious attempt to encourage devotees to come to the standard Srila Prabhupada required and, as a result, the problems within ISKCON were never solved. They just became worse.

Currently ISKCON is not presenting Krishna consciousness in a pure way, and it is certainly not representing Srila Prabhupada’s dynamic preaching mood and great compassion for the fallen conditioned souls. The movement has been contaminated with the poison of Mayavadi philosophy introduced in 1970 to such an extent that most ISKCON devotees today have either never tasted the transcendental ecstasy of serving Krishna or they have forgotten what it is like. ISKCON has become an organization of the cheaters and the cheated who are trying to exploit each other for sense gratification, both gross and subtle. Still, a few sincere young people join the movement after reading Srila Prabhupada’s books, but they are soon contaminated by the poisonous atmosphere and generally either leave or become materialists within ISKCON hankering after position, fame, power, profit, etc.

ISKCON is misrepresenting Srila Prabhupada and Krishna and it is doing great damage. ISKCON has become a mundane organization exploiting the public and the devotees by collecting funds and utilizing them for eating and sleeping under the plea of serving Srila Prabhupada and Krishna. This is a great pity as everybody is suffering and rotting in this world simply due to a lack of Krishna consciousness. Because ISKCON is currently unable to deliver Krishna consciousness there is little hope for the suffering world at the moment.

“I do not wish to discuss about the activities of my godbrothers, but it is a fact that they have no life for preaching work. All are satisfied with a place for residence in the name of a temple, they engage disciples to get foodstuffs by transcendental devices and eat and sleep.

“They have no idea or brain how to broadcast the cult of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. My Guru Maharaja used to lament many times for this reason and he thought that if one man at least had understood the principle of preaching then his mission would achieve success. In the later days of my Guru Maharaja he was very disturbed. Actually, he left this world earlier, otherwise he would have continued to live for many years.

“Still he requested his disciples to form a strong governing body for preaching the cult of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He never recommended anyone to be acarya of the Gaudiya Math. But Sridhara Maharaja is responsible for disobeying this order of Guru Ma- haraja, and he and two others who are already dead unnecessarily thought there must be one acarya. If Guru Maharaja could have seen someone who was qualified at that time to be acarya he would have mentioned. Because on the night before he passed away he talked of so many things, but never mentioned an acarya.

“His idea was that acarya was not to be nominated amongst the governing body. He said openly that you make a GBC and conduct the mission. So his idea was that amongst the members of the GBC who would be successful a self-effulgent acarya would be automatically selected.

“So Sridhara Maharaja and his two associate gentlemen unauthorizedly selected one acarya and later on it proved to be a failure. The result is that now everyone is claiming to be acarya even though they may be kanistha adihikary with no ability to preach. In some of the camps the acarya is being changed three times a year. Therefore we may not commit the same mistake in our ISKCON camp.

“Actually amongst my godbrothers no one is qualified to become acarya. So it is better not to mix with my godbrothers very intimately because instead of inspiring our students and disciples they may sometimes pollute them…They cannot help us in our move- ment, but they are very competent to harm our natural progress.” (to Rupanuga 28 Apr, 1974)

Srila Prabhupada said we need devotees like Prahlada Maharaja to defeat the demonic, Mayavadi mentality in ISKCON. Therefore it is our responsibility to Srila Prabhupada to take Krishna consciousness very seriously, avoid poisonous association, chant the Hare Krishna maha mantra and read Srila Prabhupada’s books incessantly and simultaneously distribute Srila Prabhupada’s books and preach Krishna consciousness loudly all over the world. If we do this to the best of our ability we will please Srila Prabhupada and get his mercy.

All glories to His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada who has come to the Western countries to defeat the philosophies of impersonalism and voidism and in their place establish pure devotional service to Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare

Books are the Basis

One Krishna book sold means we go forward one step in our Krishna consciousness. We should always remember this. (to Vishnujana 4 April, 1971)

Through the distribution of this literature, we can completely annihilate all the bogus yogi groups in the world. Of this fact I am sure. Therefore there is no need for us to directly attack these charlatans but simply by this distribution of books the sunlight of Krishna consciousness will prevail.(to Ramesvara 14 February, 1973)
My first concern is that my books shall be published and distributed profusely all over the world. Practically, books are the basis of our movement. Without our books our preaching will have no effect.(to Mandali Badra 20 January, 1972)

The best news is that you are increasing nicely the distribution of my books and literature. This is the best activity, to distribute solid information about Krishna. Our preaching stands solid on these books. No other movement or cult has such a vast background of authority. So we are not afraid to challenge anyone and everyone to defeat their philosophy on the basis of that authority. Krishna appreciates such strong preachers as His dearmost servants, so let us work very enthusiastically to drive away rascal philosophy and establish the real religion of Bhagavad-gita As It Is. (to Upendra 8 December, 1971)

Here at Mayapur my Guru Maharaja was printing one paper. It was selling for only a few paise. Sometimes whenever one brahmacari would go to Navadvipa and sell even a few copies, I would see my Guru Maharaja become very much pleased. Even if the brahmacari was not a very important member, my Guru Maharaja would become very, very pleased with him. He personally instructed me that books are more important than big temples. At Radha Kund he told me that since constructing the big marble temple at Bhag Bazaar, there have been so many difficulties. Our men are envious over who will live in each room. I think it would be better to take off all the marble and print books. He told me this personally. So I am always emphasizing book distribution. It is the better kirtana. It is better than chanting. Of course chanting should not stop, but book distribution is the best (to Srutadev 24 Oct, 1974)

Regarding printing our books and literatures, I may inform you in this connection that I saw one bulletin of “Indian Railways” in which it was specifically advised that every railway servant should see to it that the wheels of the carriages or vehicles must be moving always, which means the railway is going nicely. Sim- ilarly all of us should see that our literatures are profusely distributed. That means our missionary work is going on nicely. Otherwise we are simply sleeping and eating. The literature we have already designated as “brhat mrdunga.” So distribution of literature means great Sankirtana.(to Karandhara 9 Oct, 1971)

Opening temples should not be encouraged at this time. Subal did the same thing in Santa fee years ago, why again is he doing the same thing? Hansadutta in Germany instead of increasing the temples and Deity worship he has increased the Sankirtana parties. He is running on 8 new busses and distributing large quantities of literature, this is more important. Neglectful Deity worship means offence. So make propaganda in this way, but in the bus there should not be Deity worship, simply the picture of Guru Gurunga.(to Jagadish 15 Aug, 1973)

So now Krishna has sent you a nice bus, and you also have a good field for preaching. Chant, dance, distribute books and Prasadam and everything will increase automatically. (Satsvarupa 8 Aug, 1973)

Gradually, we shall replace the literatures which are currently popular with our own style of transcendental literature. I have tried it: any page you open, that is wonderful reading matter. My ambition is to spread these books far and wide all over the world so that everyone shall read at least one of our books and that will change his life. If only 1% become devotees, that will change the world.(to Karandhar 2 May, 1972)

It has been brought to my attention that some of my students are not studying. I do not know if this applies to you or the devotees under your care, but I must stress again that we must have our classes one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening and the devotees must also chant regularly their sixteen rounds and follow the principles. The rest of the time they may go on distribution of my books. So I hope you will do the needful in this regard.(to Ramesvara 14 Feb, 1973)

You state that you will be the largest distributor of “Back To Godhead” in the world. That statement is very pleasing to me, because more than anything I want that my students should distribute my books and literatures profusely all over the world, and this should be our foremost concern, how to do it properly. But one thing, now you must try very hard to live up to your promise of becoming the largest distributor! (to Sridama 17 Nov, 1971)

Book distribution must not be neglected. If things deteriorate that is another thing, but it is not the fault of book distribution.(Rupanuga 19 Oct, 1974)

Householders can earn their livelihood by distributing our books also. This is one of the points of our new book distribution program and you can get more details from Karandhar or Rupanuga.(to Sri Govinda 13 Jul, 1971)

It is much more important that you utilize your valuable time and energy to distribute our magazines and books. That is real propaganda work.(to Sri Govinda 13 Jul, 1971)

Book distribution is a very important program and you should give much attention to developing it. If anyone simply reads our KRSNA Book, Teachings of Lord Caitanya, Nectar Of Devotion, Bhagavad- gita As It Is, he is sure to become a Krishna conscious person So somehow or other, either through the schools or colleges, libraries, life membership program or ordinary sales, we must push on this literature distribution program. It is so important and a most valuable service to Krishna. (to Vamanadev 5 Mar, 1971)

I am glad to hear from you how the distribution of literatures is improving. That is the real meaning of improvement.(to Balavanta 22 Dec, 1971)

Again I am feeling overjoyed at hearing of your increased distribution program and I request you to increase more and more. There can be no limit to our distribution because Krishna is unlimited, so you may instruct the devotees there about this.(to Nityananda 18 Feb, 1973)

I am very pleased to hear from you that book sales are increasing very fast. I am hearing such good news from all over the society, and this pleases me more than anything.(to Bhakta 16 Jan, 1972)

I am most pleased that you are distributing many books. Go on increasing books, and go on increasing my pleasure.(to Giriraj 28 Dec, 1971)

I am very much pleased to hear of your increased book distribution and it gives me great pleasure to hear of your increased eagerness to distribute my literature.(to Ramesvara 14 Feb 1973)

I am very pleased that your literature sales are increasing. I want this especially, that my books be sold everywhere, as many as possible. Kindly do this and I shall be very pleased.(to Bhakta 20 Nov, 1971)

Just try to give this Krishna philosophy to the intelligent class of men, and distribute our books as many as possible, and all your efforts will come out successful.(to Krishna devi 20 Nov, 1971)

Practically our society means books, so if there are no books how can we preach? (to Bali Mardan 28 Dec, 1971)

It is very good that you are also going on Sankirtana [Street Chanting] and distributing books. Others will be enthused to distribute by your example. That is our life. anandambudhi- vardhanam. (to Ramesvara 14 Nov, 1974)

It is so very nice to hear how the book distribution is going on. This is our main business, distributing these books all over the world and thus turning the minds of the fallen souls towards Krishna. (to Sri Govinda 31 Jan, 1973)

Yes, you are correct that by distributing books, the income will be sufficient for all programs. (to Tripurari 12 Nov, 1974)

These books are so potent that anyone who reads them is sure to become Krishna conscious. They are so nice. So we want to make propaganda in that way. And if you are enthusiastic & sincere in your efforts, then Krishna will give you all facility. (to Prahladananda 17 Jun, 1971)

Regarding book distribution, this is my foremost desire, to have my books circulated profusely. (to Prabhu Vishnu 4 Jan, 1975)

Book distribution is preaching, it should not be thought of as done for money. It is executed as a preaching purpose. With these guidelines in mind, try to distribute as many books as possible. (to Kurusrestha 23 Jul, 1973)

I am especially glad to see how nicely your St. Louis temple is distributing “Back To Godhead Magazine.” Only three years ago I asked Dai Nippon to print 20,000 copies and barely we could distribute them. But now in your temple alone you are distributing so many, so this is very, very encouraging to me. It is the per- fect form of preaching. Follow the line laid down by Prahlada Maharaja and try to take everyone back home, back to Godhead. And this is done by distributing our literature. I am so much pleased upon each and every one of you for helping me this way to push on this great movement. (to Vamandev 3 Dec, 1972)

This book selling is the real preaching of our cult. Especially when you sell “Caitanya-caritamrta” and “Srimad Bhagavatam.” They will understand what we mean by reading these books. (to Tripurari 12 Nov, 1974)

I am encouraged to see your report of books sold, because it proves that you consider it your responsibility to see that more and more people are reading our literature. Actually, this is the solid base for our preaching, and if someone reads our Krishna philosophy he becomes convinced. So try to increase the effect of preaching by distributing many books and magazines, and this is the basis of all your success. (to Jagadish 17 Dec, 1971)

Thank you very much for your endeavours in book distribution and please offer your good wife my blessings for her service in this connection. Our preaching work will be measured by the quantity of books we distribute so continue ever-increasingly. (to Makanlal 11 Dec, 1973)

Your report of book distribution is very encouraging. Make a program to distribute our books all over the world. Our books are being appreciated by learned circles, so we should take advantage. Whatever progress we have made, it is simply due to distributing these books. So go on, and do not divert your mind for a moment from this. I have full confidence in you. (to Ramesvara 4 Jan, 1975)

This book distribution program is our real propaganda work and Krishna is giving you intelligence how to do it nicely. Thank you very much. (to Madhucara 25 Sep, 1971)

We stand on our Krishna philosophy, and because it has the full potency of Krishna Himself, there is no limit to the effect it will have upon the world if we remain sincere and convinced for spreading this philosophy purely. (to Bahlasva 30 Nov, 1971)

I’m especially pleased to hear that your distribution of our books and magazines has increased. Go on in this way, increasing more and more. Each time someone reads some solid information about Krishna his life becomes changed in some way. These literatures are the solid ground upon which our preaching stands, so I want that they should be available to everyone, as many as possible. So please try for this. (to Damodara 3 Dec, 1971) We must become now very serious to save the people of the world from this very dangerous situation. So become very convinced yourself of our philosophy and then your preaching will act. And try to sell as many books as possible at all the schools and colleges. This is scholarly information, flawless science. Kindly assist me in this great work, and know it for certain, that by your sincerely working in this way, you shall very soon go back to Home, back to Godhead. (to Locan 24 Nov, 1971) As more students become involved in our philosophical discussions, you will be able to sell them our books. I want that my books and literatures should be very widely distributed, as many as possible. (to Galim 20 Nov, 1971)

Especially you must always be eager to supply all our branches all over the world with whatever literature they require, not that they must pay and then get books like ordinary mundane business. It is not that they shall not pay for books, but that payment must come gradually and in regular instalments. (to Kirtiraja 27 Nov, 1971)

Your book distribution, that is very nice. Our books are unique, and all this distribution means that they are being appreciated. There is no such literature throughout the whole world. (to Bhakta 4 Mar, 1973)

So far as the woman distributors who have left New York and Boston temples and have gone to New Vrndavana, they should return immediately and resume their original service. In Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s Movement everyone is a preacher, whether man or woman, it doesn’t matter. I do not know why Kirtananda Maharaja is encouraging our woman devotees not to go out on Sankirtana for book distribution. Everyone should go out. (to Karandhar 6 Oct, 1973)

Transcendental Book Distribution Ki Jaya!
All Glories to Srila Prabhupada!!!

Concluding Words

by His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Srila Narottama dasa Thakura says, chadiya vaisnava seva nistara payeche keba: Unless one serves a Vaisnava he cannot be delivered. The spiritual master initiates the disciple to deliver him, and if the disciple executes the order of the spiritual master and does not offend other Vaisnavas, his path is clear. Consequently Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu requested all the Vaisnavas present to show mercy toward the two brothers, Rupa and Sanatana, who had just been initiated by the Lord. When a Vaisnava sees that another Vaisnava is a recipient of the Lords mercy, he becomes very happy. Vaisnavas are not envious. If a Vaisnava, by the mercy of the Lord, is empowered by Him to distribute the Lords Holy Name all over the world, other Vaisnavas become very joyful – that is, if they are truly Vaisnavas. Why should a Vaisnava be envious of another Vaisnava who is successful in spreading the Holy Name of the Lord? An actual Vaisnava is very pleased to accept another Vaisnava who is bestowing the Lord’s mercy. A mundane person in the dress of a Vaisnava should not be respected, but rejected. This is enjoined in the sastras (upeksa). the word upkesa means neglect. One should neglect an envious person. A preachers duty is to love the Supreme Personality of Godhead, make friendships with Vaisnavas, show mercy to the innocent and reject or neglect those who are envious or jealous. There are many jealous people in the dress of Vaisnavas in this Krishna Consciousness movement, and they should be completely neglected. There is no need to serve an envious person in the dress of a Vaisnava. When Narottama dasa Thakura says chadiya vaisnava seva nistara payeche keba, he is indicating an actual Vaisnava, not an envious or jealous person in the dress of a Vaisnava.

A jealous person in the dress of a Vaisnava is not at all happy to see the success of another Vaisnava in receiving the Lords mercy. Unfortunately in this age of Kali there are many mundane persons in the dress of Vaisnavas and Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has described them a disciples of Kali. He says, Kali-cela, he indicates that there is another Vaisnava, a pseudo-Vaisnava with tilaka on his nose and kunti beads around his neck. Such a pseudo-Vaisnava associates with money and women and is jealous of successful Vaisnavas. Although passing for a Vaisnava, his only business is earning money in the dress of a Vaisnava. Bhaktivinoda Thakura therefore says that such a pseudo-Vaisnava is not a Vaisnava at all, but a disciple of Kali-yuga. A disciple of Kali cannot become an acarya by the decision of some high court. Mundane votes have no jurisdiction to elect a Vaisnava acarya. A Vaisnava acarya is self-effulgent, and there is no need for any court judgement. A false acarya my try to override a Vaisnava by a high-court decision, but Bhaktivinoda Thakura says that he is nothing but a disciple of Kali-yuga. (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, Ch 1, 218-219)

Srila Prabhupada Ki Jaya!

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