The Indian Express- Iskcon to offer degree course in Vedic studies
BANGALORE, April 20, 1998:The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (Iskcon) is to start a three-year bachelor of Vedic studies degree course in September. There would be an entrance test to access the spiritual inclination of prospective students and the course would be more like the Gurukul system of studies, according to Madhu Pandit Dasa, the temple president.
The Indian Express- ISKCON bhakts wage war against gurus, on the Net
NEW DELHI, July 6, 1998: A cyber war has broken out on the Net over the rot in the leadership of the International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). The Society, which was set up in 1966 and boasts of 500 centres across the globe, is not new to controversies. But this time the spiritual ante has been upped in India, and insiders say the ISKCON bubble is ready to burst.
Heading a mini-revolt against the ISKCON leadership is Vineet Narain, Editor of Kalchakra, who says he joined the “faith” in 1992 but was now set to expose the wheeling-dealings of the so-called gurus. Narain says he would be joining hands with the Prabhupad Anti-Defamation Action (PADA) group, whose activists have been flooding the Net with missives against ISKCON leaders.
Narain explains that while unrest in ISKCON has been simmering for years, things were now coming to a head. Devotees had been challenging their gurus all over India — a few days ago devotees in Bangalore “defeated” their American guru — and a historiccongregation to thrash out the issue of degeneration of leadership was being convened tomorrow (July 7).
“The ISKCON gurus are required to follow a life of simplicity and austerity which the founder Swami Prabhupada did,” Narain explains. “Instead they are lording over a multi-million dollar empire, symbolised by chartered planes, Rolex watches and silk robes. I am determined to expose the frauds the ISKCON gurus are committing.”
ISKCON followers in other cities agree that a chain reaction had been set off against the show of ostentation and opulence at their centres and temples. Satish Kapur, a businessman from Amritsar, says that while he continued to follow the basic philosophy and tenets of ISKCON, he felt the new-generation gurus had ruined everything. “They consider themselves to be gods and expect us to renounce everything for them. Why should we donate properties and leave our families for men who have opened shops in the name of religion?” he demands.
Agitated ISKCON followers citeexamples of the series of scandals to which some of the 70-odd gurus of the Society have been linked. Cases of molestation, sodomy and smuggling involving the gurus have been reported in Europe and USA.
Two recent developments have hastened the pace of dissension and the ripples have reached India via the Net. The first lot of documents downloaded by irate followers were the contents of a “discussion paper” on Srila Prabhupada’s instructions for “initiation within ISKCON” which the Governing Body Commission (GBM) had asked for in 1996.
The Indian Express- ISKCON plot gets a poisonous twist
CALCUTTA, AUG 10, 1999: The founder of a worldwide religious cult lies in his deathbed, `whispering’ that he has been `poisoned.’ The `whispers’ lay buried in his last conversations that were taped. More than 20 years after the guru’s death, the tapes are dug out of archives and digitally processed for clarity at laboratories in the USA. The finding, according to a book just published in the USA, is that Srila Prabhupada, also known as Bhaktivedanta Swami, founder of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) `was poisoned, but by whom is not yet known’.
The book, by Nityananda Das, a longtime American devotee of ISKCON, has rattled the schism-ridden fraternity as never before. For, although it doesn’t pin the `poison’ charge on anyone conclusively, it does offer a list of suspects who include some of the guru’s `closest’ disciples. And all the suspects hold very senior positions in the order’s hierarchy.
And the book, titled Someone has poisoned me, has come at a time when two ISKCON factions arelocked in a case in the Calcutta High Court where the final hearing is due this Thursday. The official group served an expulsion order on six disciples, including the presidents of ISKCON temples in Calcutta, Bangalore and Singapore, but the court had stayed the expulsions.
The London-based ISKCON Reform Group is also a party to the case and it has accused the official group of usurping the order in violation of the founder’s directives. In its interim order, the court has directed that all initiations into the order would be subject to the final verdict in the case. It was the court case that had engaged the rival factions for several months now. But the book, which an ISKCON devotee described as a `bomb ticking for long’, has caused a `veritable explosion’ in the sect. The rebel group is naturally jubilant, though none would talk openly about it. To it, the book is a damning proof that those who took over from the founder had taken to foul means. The ISKCON gurus of today are all usurpers, the rebelsargue, because Prabhupada never approved of the guru system. To them, he was the only guru and his disciples could at best graduate to ritwiks (priests).
`It’s these ritwik theorists and the ISKCON Reform Group that are also behind the poison theory,’ said Hari Sauri Das, co-director at the sect’s spiritual headquarters over the telephone from Mayapur in West Bengal’s Nadia district.
He dismissed the book as one full of `conjectures and flimsy evidence’. `We dont give it any credibility,’ Hari Sauri Das, a British-born, snapped. But he went on to recall that the author Nityananda Das had been ex-communicated from the order way back in 1990 and had been subsequently arrested for drug-related offences in southern USA where his firm was also confiscated.
The times of India- Kolkata cops search city’s Iskcon temple
BANGALORE, Sep 25, 2003: Kolkata police arrived in the city on Thursday and searched Iskcon temple premises here looking for four persons from Kolkata Iskcon temple against whom there are non-bailable arrest warrants.
However, the search proved futile as none of the wanted persons were present in the Iskcon premises here. The team returned empty handed, Bangalore police who assisted Kolkata police team said.
Four persons identified as Abhidaran Das, Brindavan Das, Manoranjan Das and Uttam Das are accused of indulging in financial misappropriation and falsification of documents in Kolkata’s Iskcon temple. For this, a lower court in Kolkata had issued non-bailable arrest warrants.
On a tip-off that, the accused have been sheltered here, Kolkata police team arrived here.
Kolkata police team’s visit to local Iskcon temple resulted in a drama on Thursday morning.
Initially, temple authorities did not allow Kolkata police to search the temple premises and insisted for search warrant.
Later, they allowed the police team to go around the temple. Meanwhile, somebody informed the media about Kolkata police team’s search. Media members mainly photographers and TV camera crew rushed to the Iskcon temple.