Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Manidhara and the shadow world of ISKCON

Manidhara and the shadow world of ISKCON

Question: I Just came across this video of Manidhara

, a prominent ISKCON book distributor since 30 years in Germany, he was one of the biggest supporters of Harikes and still believes in appointed gurus and sends Harikes donations, cash, to Florida. His point is, the internet is a shadow world, and since the Prabhupadanugas are mainly active in cyberspace, they live in an illusory world. Any suggestions?
Answer: Why do we have Google, YouTube, Twitter and FaceBook? Why so many devotees are chatting on the internet via YouTube and FaceBook? That is right, to meet friends who live beyond their boundaries. And to stay in contact we write emails via cyberspace.
On one side cyber space communication is not an alternative to personal interaction and actual physical devotional service. But on the other hand it helps to stay in contact and make new relationships with like minded devotees in real life. To use the internet for preaching is the positive alternative, the big Brihad Mridanga. Srila Prabhupadas original books are online and there are nice Krishnaconscious homepages also.

Haribol Prabhus, all glories to Srila Prabhupada.
Interesting point and a basic question, too.
One way is to ignore cyberspace completely, like other Kali-yuga inventions. A linear way of thinking, but continuously getting more complicated nowadays.
The other way is being creative, just get the best out of it and try to use it for Krishna.
Admittedly, without cyberspace I wouldn’t have discovered Srila Prabhupadas teachings at all, wouldn’t know about Prabhupadanugas and couldn’t try to realize Krishna daily.
Thanks to this shadow world I had the opportunity to meet devotees in real life and know who they are, too.
Without it, that would have been much more difficult or even impossible for me.
Hare Krishna,
PADA: This is good. This devotee (Manidhara) is talking about how we are dominating the internet. OK, we have not got the temples, but we are gaining support on the social networking sites, with our Bangalore program and so many other independent programs. That means they are acknowledging: on the internet, we are cleaning their clocks. As far as doing living preaching, they are not doing that either, they have made some hindu car pooja programs and they are mainly getting hindu funds, they are losing their “living” people every day.
They have the shadow of ISKCON, their temples are having bed bugs problems because they have kicked most of the living people out. Every day, we have more (living) people on board, whether we are using the internet or some other means, we are gaining support and they are losing support. And — the fact this man (Manidhara) has to discuss our internet presence proves how powerful it is. When the public meets a live person, that live person googles Hare Krishna, and our sites come up near the top of the list. They cannot avoid us any longer. This video is a recognition how we are taking over their media control. Goody! ys pd
Thanks for your opinion.
Manidhara noticed at least 11 so called gurus initiating in this part of the world, falling down — 4 of them are dead, 1 left the path of bhakti altogether, 1 joined another sampradaya, took re-initation in a matha which doesnt even recognize Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Maharaja as bona fide. 180 Prabhupada disciples kicked out of ISKCON.
For thugs like Manidhara this is not worth mentioning. Instead, those who have been kicked out and try to remind people of Srila Prabhupada, kicking them once more, giving them the business.
Those who presently officiate in central Europe, conspicuously incapable of doing any basic preaching, since 20 years no media coverage, no prominent people taking to chanting the holy name.
E.g. all temples in Austria closed since ten years – France, Italy, Spain, Greece, Portugal, Serbia, Armenia, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, Herzegovina, Lithuania, Macedonia, Slovenia, Estonia, Turkey, all in bad shape. No temples at Mediterranean islands like Capri, Malta, Ischia, Cyprus, Rhodes, Crete, Gran Canaria, etc.
What is rather shocking how present ISKCONites seem even more hostile than karmis. Whenever one of their leaders falls down or is forcibly removed, they feel good, a murmur goes through the crowd, “now we move up”.
A phenomenom we normally only see in the animal kingdom. Nothing of that sort like, change one’s mind and put Prabhupada back in the center.
On the other hand, if the Prabhupadanugas would be running something like a vedic village with cows and pasture land, people would surely join bigstyle.
But why we should do this, Prabhupada never wanted cheap followers who join because of economic reason?
Dear Prabhus, Dandavats! AGTSP!
Srila Prabhupada started his worldwide preaching in the USA as we all know. When I first saw him at SF Rathayatra he gave a speech and said if America becomes Krsna Conscious the whole world will follow. Our reputation has dwindled in the last 30 years but we are still somewhat leaders. We have the most Prabhupadanugas outside of India, Bangalore etc., and the Truth is spreading mostly because of the Internet.
The eastern block and European countries are behind but will come around in time. I really think a lot of the eastern devotees are being told to avoid the Prabhupadanugas and the Internet.
Dhanesvara is living there and says they are about 25 years behind us, and he likes it that way. We need to start a world Sankirtan Party and travel all over the world doing Harinam, preaching about Srila Prabhupada, and distributing his original books. This Golden Age of Lord Chaitanya’s is in a slow pace right now but is destined to pick up big time by 2012. So let’s keep the faith and the practice and hope for better days ahead.
Hoping this meets you well and Happy in Krsna Consciousness
Your eternal friend and servant
Gauridasa Pandita Dasa
Manidhara destroys Sweden Devotee Yatra
by Bhakta ******, Sweden – Date: Fri, 27 Oct 2000

Original message to Adridharana Prabhu:

Please note that I understand you have much more important things on your priority list than what I would like to share with you here. So it is not very urgent relatively speaking, but I still feel I have to confide my situation to someone since certain older things bother me again, and even more in the light of what is going on in Iskcon today. If you feel that my story below is of any relevance to the mission of IRM, then you are welcome to email me for further detailed info etc.
My name is Bhakta ******, I live in Sweden, and I have associated with Iskcon in Sweden since 1988. I am not an official member anymore (congregational or other), nor have I surrendered to any Iskcon spiritual master apart from Srila Prabhupada + one particular devotee whom I personally cannot consider as Iskcon (although others may see him as such. More info on this below).
I write you this to seek personal guidance regarding my spiritual life from someone who doesn´t support the activities of Iskcon, and whom I therefore can consider trustworthy. Of course, as bad as the situation is today it is practically impossible to trust Anyone within the realms of Iskcon – inside our outside – so I must admit that I write to you also in an ambivalent mood. I hope you can excuse me for this, but I think you agree also that is is most understandable, especially for someone like me who is nowadays in a very remote position as far as Iskcon and Iskcon-devotees are concerned. Today I can only judge from what I read and hear, but considering the devastating personal interactions that I have experienced years ago, it still makes sense to write you this.
My personal troubles and experiences of rascal-Iskcon began in 1990. I had only been trying to become a devotee for two years, mostly on my own but also by regularly visiting the temples in Stockholm. So because I was neophyte I was also a bit fanatical about the idea that this movement must be flawless and perfect in all aspects. I had discovered something wonderful in my life, so for me it was disastrous when I came to hear about the things that had happened only a few years earlier (the falls of Bhagavan, Jayatirtha, Hamsaduta, Kirtanananda etc). I was given this information from sources outside Iskcon of course, so it felt natural for me to inquire more about that with people Inside Iskcon. But very soon, to my big surprise, I realized that this was the last thing I should have done, at least if I was the least interested in my well-being as a devotee!
As it happened, in the summer of 1990, I joined the Sunday feasts on a regular basis, and on one particular Sunday a new devotee I hadn´t seen there before joined me for prasadam. As it turned out, we continued feasting and discussing every Sunday for weeks to come, and I was very happy with his association (he was a new bhakta also, but more dedicated than me; already living in the temple and having taken shelter under Harikesa Swami, whom he worshipped and spoke very dearly of.
This Sunday bhakta of mine (I call him Bhakta D from now on) was a great inspiration for me, and also the only devotee at the temple that I felt easy with.
So when the bad reports about previous misdealings, crimes etc within Iskcon reached me around this time, I naturally turned to Bhakta D to confide. So I wrote him a personal letter and sent it to the big temple where he lived outside of Stockholm.
While waiting for a reply from him, I visited another Sunday feast at the Stockholm temple (for some reason Bhakta D was not there on that Sunday), and after the lecture (given by a Swedish devotee), I delievered a controversial question in front of the whole congregation of devotees and guests. The lecture had explained that a devotee of Krishna is faultless and cannot fall down. So this invoked my bold question that “Then why is it that many Iskcon devotees have fallen down and committed crimes?”
The temple room became very silent for a few seconds, and within a minute another Swedish devotee (of higher rank) rushed in and rescued the one who had given the lecture, saying to me that no such things had happened at all and that I was completely misinformed. The strange thing was, that while I took prasadam after the questions&answers were completed, the very same devotee approached me and asked if I wanted to do any practical service in the temple. I found this very odd since he had been so furious with me only minutes before.
Well, I continued visiting the temple almost on a daily basis, mostly purchasing tons of books etc from the temple shop (as I had done for the last two years). I was very inspired with reading and completing my Iskcon library. So one day when I was in the shop looking at books as usual, all of a sudden I was practically “kidnapped” – well, at least that´s how it felt when the temple president Manidhara dasa together with the angry devotee from the Sunday feast rushed into the shop and ordered me to follow them to the office. In that office I experienced harrassment that I thought a Krishna devotee uncapable of.
The temple president (Manidhara dasa, disciple of Srila Prabhupada) was so furious that his eyes were glowing and steam could be sensed filling his presence in the room. He yelled at me at the top of his lungs for at least half an hour, giving me hardly any chance to respond (although I kept mild and as humble as possible). In this half of an hour, he “explained” to me that I was a demon, that I was worse a demon than a deprogrammer, that I could consider my spiritual life to be exterminated, that I was banned from “all Iskcon temples all over the world”, and much more I don´t want to mention here. The other devotee supported him completely, although in a more passive way. I tried to explain my case as constructively as possible, but I was told that all I could produce was lying! In fact, according to Manidhara dasa I had never even associated with Bhakta D at any Sunday feast, less discussed anything with him!!! (of course, I couldn´t prove that I had because I had been foolish enough not to attach any hidden microphones or cameras to my body at those happy prasadam conversations!)
So I was thrown out because of a letter and a question at a Sunday lecture.
In order for you to understand all the complications involved, I must explain also my relation to Vegavan Prabhu. Vegavan (disciple of Srila Prabhupada, and one of the devotees who established Iskcon in Sweden in 1973) had himself experienced severe conflicts in the mid-80´s. He had been temple president for many years, chairman of Swedish Iskcon, and very popular and well-respected in general. But when he expressed opinions about the zonal acarya system, he and his family soon found themselves thrown out on the street by Harikesa Swami. So Vegavan formed a branch called The Bhaktivedanta Society and established a temple in Stockholm together with some other Iskcon devotees who also left Iskcon during this mid-80´s tumult. Vegavan kept preaching from his own radio station etc, and that is how I discovered him in 1989 and finally accepted him (in my heart) as my spiritual master.
I was very happy with my relationship to Vegavan Prabhu up until this Manidhara episode occured. I will not dare to speculate about Vegavan´s attitude towards Iskcon at the time (nor of today as we have very little contact nowadays), but it seemed to me he was forced into a conflict of interest since he apparently tried to make peace with Iskcon. So in that process of his I guess it was not very good for him to support me officially. He continued to welcome me to his temple, but he also chastised me for having written that letter to Bhakta D etc. From Manidhara´s point of view at the time, Vegavan didn´t support me at all, rather “Vegavan almost had to puke when he heard about you!” [quote Manidhara in the office room].
I can also quote from a letter he sent me in this connection: “Regarding your comment about Vegavan Prabhus appreciation of your activities, it shows that you still didn´t understand anything. I would like to request you not to bring this subject matter up during your presence at Hare Krishna center, since it seems that you like to perceive some controversy between Hare Krishna Center and Vegavan Prabhus temple. Even there would be such a differences of oppinions I can assure you that you have no brain to understand them, neither is it beneficcial for your spiritual life to absorb yourself in such an analytical studies. These things have nothing to do with Krsna-consciousness and if you are realy serious to BECOME a devotee of Krsna (it seems that you act like if you already BECAME one) then I would request you to dedicated your energy fully to the service of Vegavan Prabhu instead of using his good name to prove other vaisnavas wrong.” (letter from Manidhara dasa November 27, 1990)
So I found myself in a very awkward situation; I was a neophyte devotee who had just been informed that he had committed the most severe of offenses, that against Vaisnavas (which I was well-read enough to understand as the end of my spiritual life.) I continued serving Vegavan Prabhu by doing translation work for years to come, but I could never again feel or even hope for the spiritual bliss that I had indeed experienced before the bad things happened, and I blamed myself for this of course.
Nevertheless I have never given up in my struggles to become a devotee, and I must admit that I can feel a litle relief today when I see that what I did in 1990 was not so wrong after all, because nowadays its seems that almost everyone is doing it, and it has almost become a virtue also. But I have lost many years of association with devotees due to the fact that I was “destroyed instead of being saved” [by Manidhara and others].
The actual reason why I am writing you this, is because I would like you to be aware of the existence of Manidhara dasa. I was not the only one destroyed by him. He has terrorised the Stockholm temples for many years, he was notorious for this, and many sad things happened under his leadership, among those a devotee dead in the toilet of the Stockholm temple after a drug overdose. To the great relief of many devotees who had been terrorised by him, Manidhara finally had to leave Sweden a couple of years ago, and he went back to his home-country the Czech Republic. And he left as his usual self; I heard reports that he expressed lethal threats against devotees who wouldn´t support him in his attempts to take all the temple money with him etc.
You may already be familiar with Manidhara, or you can read his 2000 Vyasa-puja offering to Srila Prabhupada and just see how he hates people in general. I just hope he isn´t continuing his terror in Czech Republic at this very minute. Knowing what he has done in the past, and considering also that he was a close buddy to Harikesa, I felt it nessecary to make you familiar with him, and also lighten the burden of my heart as well. I can tell you much more, but of course I have no real reason to at the moment. It´s just a little profylactic info I am sending you, as you know that we can expect just about anything from Iskcon devotees these days, and who knows – maybe Manidhara is still up to things and will cause some real disturbance someday… (he certainly has the character for it).
(by the way – Manidhara was also in charge of stopping my preaching activities in 1996. I was then living in a small town far away from any Iskcon temple, and I had finally regained spiritual strength and inspiration to do some preaching. So I asked Vegavan Prabhu if he agreed that I arranged for a small temple in my home where I would invite people for prasadam and discussions etc. Vegavan welcomed my idea, so I immediately started to launch the project. Of course, as soon as this came to the knowledge of Iskcon in Stockholm, I had to spend my time corresponding with Manidhara instead. The only result achieved was that the Swedish National Board refused me to use Srila Prabhupada´s books in any kind of preaching. They also informed Back To Godhead, and when BTG informed me that I could not be listed anymore even in the harmless Gatherings section, I had to give the whole project up.)

I have one personal question also, which I put forward to you because you are trying to revive Iskcon, because you are stressing the ritvik system etc. What is your opinion on a situation such as mine regarding the guru issue? I agree completely that Srila Prabhupada must be the center of Iskcon. As for the technical truth of Srila Prabhupada´s orders concerning future initiations, I don´t have the energy to study all the interpretations, as you may well understand. I would like to be able to maintain a simple understanding of what guru is, not indulge in a lot of speculation depending on the words of devotees fighting against each other. Since I accepted Vegavan Prabhu [in my heart] as my personal guru, I have never had any trouble with such a comprehension. And since Vegavan indeed is an Iskcon authorized diksa spiritual master, and since he never rejected me as an aspiring disciple (although he told me in 1996 that he wanted to take an amount of years off from the duty of guru), I still consider him as such.
But considering the points you are stressing in the name of IRM, I write you this in a confused state again…not knowing what is the absolute truth in these matters, or who is in possession of it… Because if I would follow the standards presented by you, I could no longer expect to ever be a disciple of Vegavan Prabhu. Not that I would not like to become Srila Prabhupada´s disciple, but I think you understand my dilemma (since Vegavan Prabhu is not [yet] among those rascal gurus, and since an aspiring disciple will always defend his gurudeva of course! — this may be my ignorance at present time, so this is where I ask your guidance.
I hope I haven´t wasted your time completely. I wish you good luck in your efforts of reviving Iskcon, and if there is anything I can do in this regard, do not hesitate to contact me.
yours, Bhakta ******, Sweden

Supplementary data 26. February 2002

“The issue of Manidhara is an important one, not just because I have been a victim myself of his terror and psychological abuse, but because I do know that many others in the past have also been demolished by his tyranny, probably to a greater extent than myself, and I suppose one cannot expect him to have changed that much nowadays but that he simply moved his dictatorship to another geographical region.
My personal privilege is that as an non-official member of Iskcon, I am not dependant either upon him nor upon the system of hierarchy in which he would feel he could do me some potential harm. That is why I can speak freely. But for official members and temple devotees who are under his direct or indirect jurisdiction at present time, it must be a very difficult situation to even consider criticizing his behaviour [if indeed his behaviour is the same today as it has been before; this I do not know by personal experience `cause I have had no pratyaksa of him since 1996.]
Every honest devotee is afraid of vaisnava-aparadha, to a much greater extent than required unfortunately, and tyrants like Manidhara are materially very intelligent and know exactly how to utilize this fear so that they can make the most of their abuse of other people. And this is dangerous, because if a person like that is not stopped in due time, there may be no end to what he can do in the future, because as we all know, greed is endless, just like weeds if not properly rooted out.
Ultimately, the conclusion of someone like Manidhara still being situated on a fixed position within the movement, is a symptom of a defective system of management as a whole, and that should be the main focus of Iskcon reform.”

Manidhara destroys Czech Devotee Yatra

Prague, Czech Republic
26th of September 2000
Dear Maharajas and Prabhus, PAMHO. AGTSP.
Today we, a part of devotees in Czech republic named later on, would like to express, after a long time of considering the whole matter, our grievancess and complaints against the leadership here in the Czech yatra, particularly devotees named below, for years longing manipulations and misuse of their positions, for misconduct, misinterpretation of sastra, dishonesty, discrepances between pracar and acar, blesphemy, spreading of rumors and lies about others with certain aims and threatening those unwilling to unconditionaly surrender to them.
We have formulated this petition with an aim to stop this years lasting ‘ruleship’ of harsh and rude treatment from their side which has lead many people in the past to leave ISKCON and many times process of devotional service altogether. Which has lead to misunderstanding of what heritage Srila Prabhupada gave us, which has made many people unhappy, which has made many people to cry in a sorrow mood.
We have formulated this petition with an aim to stop a misinterpretation of sastra and its use with manipulative motivation, as well as, that ISKCON laws are not only maintained, but also that devotees in general should know about their existence as such. The same it is with every years resolutions of the GBC.

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