Wednesday, October 19, 2016

ISKCON at 50: A Review

Back To Prabhupada, Issue 50, Winter 2015/16

ISKCON will organize a number of self-congratulatory events this year to celebrate it having come a long way in reaching its 50th Anniversary. However, as this review of ISKCON's "accomplishments" after 50 years shows, it has only come a long way away from the ISKCON that was established 50 years ago by Srila Prabhupada.

Key area comparison

On the following 2 pages we have made a comparison in key areas between the ISKCON Srila Prabhupada established and the ISKCON of today, 50 years on. Please examine it. These comparisons demonstrate that today's ISKCON is a completely different entity from the original ISKCON. Not only is it a different ISKCON, but none of the differences have been authorised by Srila Prabhupada, and therefore are just straightforward deviations. To make the comparison simple and easy to understand, it is largely restricted to titles and pictures. But it is self-explanatory. And we have given all the evidences for these differences and why they are deviations in previous issues. For example, in regards to the introduction of demigod worship into ISKCON temples, we have noted Srila Prabhupada stating:
"[...] this Krsna consciousness movement simply advocates worship of Krsna to the exclusion of the demigods."
(SB, 4.31.14)
And Srila Prabhupada never sanctioned the opening of schools that provide regular material education accredited by the government. Rather, he stated that:
"Our school will not be government recognized because we cannot follow the government syllabus. We want to teach only Krishna Consciousness." 
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 12/4/72)
And in regards to how ISKCON celebrates its festivals, we have noted Srila Prabhupada warning:
"So far the Road Show and this Yoga Village are concerned, these things should be stopped. Simply perform our kirtana. If we divert our attention in this way, the whole thing will gradually deteriorate. [...] Such inventing spirit will ruin our this movement. [...] Stop all this. Simply have kirtana, nothing else." 
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 5/11/72)
And so on. We can note that Srila Prabhupada's warning that the "inventing spirit will ruin our this movement" is actually applicable to all the deviations we have listed ISKCON engaging in.


As the chart overleaf documents, the differences between ‘ISKCON at 50' and the ISKCON Srila Prabhupada established are not just restricted to the key issue of "who is the Guru", but in every key area. We are in effect talking about two completely different "ISKCON"s. These differences, such as going outside of Srila Prabhupada's recorded teachings, are just as fundamental as whom one officially accepts as their diksa guru at an initiation ceremony. For it becomes irrelevant to claim that "only Srila Prabhupada is the diksa guru" if one does not accept "only Srila Prabhupada as one's authority"! Hence, we have seen that even those who pay lip-service to the position of Srila Prabhupada being the only diksa guru in ISKCON, will also share some of the deviations in these other key areas which are listed in the chart overleaf.
Due to space restrictions, we are limited to only offering differences in 12 areas. We could actually have listed many more. But what is given here is more than enough to document that ‘ISKCON at 50' is not the ISKCON Srila Prabhupada established.

ISKCON leaders agree

Below, ISKCON leaders themselves give their own "review" of today's ISKCON. And we will see that these leaders, who are themselves actually responsible for the state of affairs in today's ISKCON, agree with our analysis of ‘ISKCON at 50' offered in the chart overleaf.
Firstly, there is general agreement about the fact that today's ISKCON is a different and deviant ISKCON to that established by Srila Prabhupada:
"There's even a whole book written about it called Hare Krishna Transformed, by E. Burke Rochford, Jr. about how the movement has deliberately changed from what Prabhupada instituted. [...] I see ISKCON as being increasingly off course."
(Bhakti Vikasa Swami, Lecture 24/8/11; Sannyasa Reports, 2014)
"[...] we have lost our way from Srila Prabhupada's mood, mission, and methods for how to progress and how to attract the conditioned souls."
(HH Kesava Bharati Dasa Goswami, Sannyasa Reports, 2014)
"[...] if current trends within ISKCON are not addressed, we are already on our way down the path to a slow death of assimilation and irrelevance."
(Badrinarayana Swami, GBC, "Who Are We and Where Are We going? A Fight for the Soul of ISKCON", 2015)
In addition, there is also agreement in specific key areas of deviation highlighted in the chart. For example, here are statements about the changes in ISKCON in regards to: focusing on Indian congregations, making money off of Vedic teachings, paying salaries, and establishing non-gurukula schools:
"[...] appreciating his [Hridayananda Dasa Goswami's] genuine desire to reach significantly beyond the comfort-zone of Indian congregations and to recover the trajectory of significant world-change envisioned by Srila Prabhupada."
(HH Krishna Kshetra Swami, Sannyasa Reports, 2014, emphasis added)
"As far as income amidst formal preaching work; we have to be careful to not sell (make money off of) Vedic teachings."
(HH Bhaktisiddhanta Swami, Sannyasa Reports, 2014)
"I strongly disagree with the practice of the temple managements' paying a salary to full-time grihasthas and pujaris in various temples wherever I visited. The is not according to Srila Prabhupada's orders. They may be provided with living facilities but no salary."
(HH Navayogendra Swami, Sannyasa Reports, 2014)
"So like this, schools and colleges, Srila Prabhupada was very clearly against mundane education which is why he set up gurukulas. Nowadays, schools in ISKCON, they proudly announce that ‘Our school is affiliated with the Cambridge Board' ".
(HH Bhakti Vikasa Swami, Lecture, 24/8/11)


Thus, our review of ‘ISKCON at 50' as being a different and deviant movement must be accurate if even ISKCON's leaders agree. After all, they should know -- they caused it! Thus, 4 decades of deviation since Srila Prabhupada physically departed is hardly a cause for celebration.

ISKCON at 50: Not Srila Prabhupada's ISKCON 

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