ISKCON’s new mission


IRM

Back To Prabhupada, Issue 30, Winter 2010/11

ISKCON’s rejection of Srila Prabhupada as the movement’s guru has been accompanied by a wholesale abandonment of his key teachings in every other major area of operation as well. As we document below, ISKCON today has evolved into a brand new movement, barely recognisable from the movement founded by Srila Prabhupada.

God

The Krishna consciousness movement, by definition, involves exclusive worship and focus on God, Krishna. Srila Prabhupada states:

“this Krsna consciousness movement simply advocates worship of Krsna to the exclusion of the demigods.”
(Srimad-Bhagavatam, 4.31.14 purport)

However, as documented in detail in previous BTP issues, ISKCON temples are no longer the preserve for the exclusive worship of Krishna, with the worship of demigods now occurring alongside the worship of Krishna. This is admitted by ISKCON’s leadership:

“Temples once the exclusive hold of Gaura-Nitai and Radha- Krishna now are dominated by murtis* of demigods.”
(HH Jayadvaita Swami, ISKCON Studies Conference, Italy, 28/7/2007)
* sacred statues

Deity worship

Even when Krishna is worshipped in ISKCON temples, non-authorised methods have been introduced to accommodate popular culture:

“I covered the altar with fluffy white cloth that looked like snow, and made a big snowman wearing a harinama chaddar, offering incense and ringing a bell,” she says. “I even had devotees make a big reindeer pulling a sleigh, which was set up on the altar so that it looked like Radha-Govinda were on it.”
(ISKCON News, 26/12/2009, report on ISKCON Ireland)

We do not find Srila Prabhupada authorising reindeer, snowmen and Santa Claus’s sleigh as being part of the deity paraphernalia for Radha-Krishna’s altar worship. On the contrary, Srila Prabhupada stated that:

“The Deity worship should be done just in the way it was carried out in my presence.”
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 13/11/1970)

“The greatest danger to our movement will come when we manufacture and create our own process for worshiping the deities.”
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 4/1/1973)

Radha Krishna
Santa's sleigh, reindeer and polar bears on ISKCON altar

Hare Krishna Maha-mantra

The Hare Krishna Mahamantra is meant exclusively as a means of spiritual purification to connect us to Krishna. It is never considered a mantra meant for acquiring material benefits, and indeed such a conception is condemned by Srila Prabhupada:

Hari-sauri: “If you advertise the maha-mantra gives some material benefit, isn’t that an offense?”
Srila Prabhupada: “Then that is aparadha**.”
Hari-sauri: “Yes.”
Srila Prabhupada: “That is aparadha.”
(Conversation, 25/2/1977)
** offense

Yet such advertising is indeed done to make the scared Hare Krishna maha-mantra more appealing to a mainstream audience. Below is an example from “Veda Lifestyle”, which is an official department of the ISKCON UK Headquarters, Bhaktivedanata Manor:

“Join us for this relaxing Mantra Meditation workshop and acquire tools for:
• Peaceful contemplation
• Focus and alertness
• Decreasing stress
• Reducing anxiety
• Spiritual experience
This process is said to mysteriously heal the spiritual, physical and psychological body.”

(www.krishnatemple.com/home / www.vedalifestyle.co.uk, archived December 2010)

Publishing

Alongside the Hare Krishna Maha-mantra, Srila Prabhupada’s ISKCON movement was based on the exclusive printing and distribution of his teachings, in the form of his books. This is no longer so, with The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust (BBT) routinely publishing and distributing non-Bhaktivedanta books, in which Srila Prabhupada’s radical message is watered-down. And, as reported in BTP 28, the BBT is now even planning to expand into publishing fiction! Additonally, many of the ISKCON guru hoaxers are also pushing the distribution of their own books in competition with Srila Prabhupada’s books. To get an idea of the effect of just how much Srila Prabhupada’s books are being displaced in his own movement, we may note, for example, that the “Bhaktivedanta Library Services” is dedicated primarily to non-“Bhaktivedanta” services, with 2/3rds of its stock from authors other than Srila Prabhupada.

Preaching

An ISKCON leader admits that the movement’s approach to preaching is the opposite of that taught by Srila Prabhupada:

“The decision was made that deity worship must be maintained but that the preaching would be reduced. The problem is that this is exactly opposite of what Prabhupada wanted. [...] We find ourselves relying on a congregation [of Indian Hindus] who desire nice deities so they can worship. They give money so we have to satisfy their desires. We are not exactly employees but in many ways that is true. We have given up our autonomy and independence and become uninterested in preaching. The risk is that the temples will be transformed into third-class mundane institutions because of the exclusive focus on deity worship rather than preaching.”
(GBC representative and ISKCON guru quoted in Hare Krishna Transformed, Burke E. Rochford, NYU Press, 2007)

One striking example of the “new ISKCON’s” de-emphasis on preaching comes from HH Radhanatha Swami, who is one of the most heavily promoted gurus today in ISKCON. On national US television he stated:

“And we believe that chanting divine sound vibrations or mantras helps us to awaken and access that source of love that’s within all of us.”
(HH Radhantaha Swami, Fox TV News interview, Seattle, 16/8/2010)

Yet he refused to mention even what that mantra is, or for that matter, even the name of Krishna or Srila Prabhupada throughout the whole interview! It has come to something when the “Hare Krishnas” are becoming afraid to say “Hare Krishna!” One may compare such statements to the bold preaching performed by Srila Prabhupada in his media interviews.

Philanthropy

To appear mainstream, ISKCON is active today in a whole host of various philanthropic causes which have no connection to any Krishna conscious activities prescribed by Srila Prabhupada. One example clearly illustrates this:

“The Lotus Trust, the welfare arm of Bhaktivedanta Manor Hare Krishna Temple raised thousands for local charities, including the Great Ormond Street Hospital during a Charity Walk on Sunday 18th July.”
(ISKCON UK website, 20/7/2010)

Again, such activities are condemned by Srila Prabhupada:

“Therefore the so-called good men of this world, who are engaged in so many welfare activities, humanitarian activities, by mental concoction, they may be all foolish activities in the estimation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They are very much puffed up, that “We are doing this, opening hospital and school, and philanthropism, nationalism.” Is there any such thing in the Bhagavad-gita? Is there any advice that “You open hospital, school and do this philanthropic work”? No.”
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture. 3/8/1973)

Education

With a view to being recognised and “accredited” by the State, ISKCON has largely abandoned its gurukula system of education, in favour of various initiatives which promote secular education. These range from offering the government curriculum to degrees in subjects that are not based on Srila Prabhupada’s teachings, such as the “Yoga Master BA” provided by the Bhaktivedanta College run by ISKCON Budapest. Yet Srila Prabhupada did not advocate accommodation with the state in regards to education:

“We haven’t got to take any help from the government by getting so-called accreditation. If outsiders want to send their children to us, it will not be for their accreditation, but because they will get the best education for relieving them of all anxieties of material life and for this education the government has no idea.”
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 7/3/1972)

“Government curriculum is useless.”
(Srila Prabhupada Conversation, 24/6/1977)

“Our school will not be government recognized because we cannot follow the government syllabus.”
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 12/4/1972)

Gopala Krsna: “I was thinking, Srila Prabhupada, we should get this gurukula accepted by the government also...”
Srila Prabhupada: “No, no, no. Never do that.”
(Conversation, 25/10/1972)

Festivals

In its attempt to be more appealing to the public, ISKCON festivals are now more akin to visiting a carnival or circus. For example, please see pictures above of the circus and gymnastics “yoga” “entertainment” laid on by the organisers of the Budapest Rathayatra. These activities have no connection to Lord Jagannatha being taken in procession with kirtana (glorification of the Lord’s names with musical instruments), which is how Srila Prabhupada established Rathayatra to be celebrated. The expansion of Lord Jagannatha’s festival into hodge podge “entertainment” activities which have no connection with Lord Jagannatha is now a common occurrence at ISKCON Rathayatras.

Rathayatra Rathayatra
Budapest Rathayatra 2010: Turning Krishna festival into a circus


Identity

It is only apt, that having taken on a new mission which has no connection to Srila Prabhupada’s original ISKCON, today’s ISKCON should also be attempting to adopt a new identity. Srila Prabhupada made strenuous efforts to educate the public that ISKCON and Krishna consciousness is separate and distinct from the “Hindu” identity:

“There is a misconception that the Krishna consciousness movement represents the Hindu religion. […]Sometimes Indians both inside and outside of India think that we are preaching the Hindu religion, but actually we are not. One will not find the word Hindu in the Bhagavad-gita.”
(The Science of Self-Realization, chapter 3, ‘Krsna Consciousness’)

Ironically, now the reverse process is taking place, whereby ISKCON is actually attempting to take shelter under the umbrella of Hindu identity, rather than distinguishing itself from it.

Academic confirmation

Academics whom ISKCON has specifically invited to study the movement, provide independent confirmation of the fact that ISKCON has completely diluted its spiritual purity to launch effectively what is a new movement, different from that established by Srila Prabhupada:

“In a state of decline, the leadership turned away from the movement’s radical goals and lifestyle and focused instead on building congregations of Indian Hindus in its temple communities. […] Indian Hindus reshaped ISKCON’s religious culture and overall mission as a new religious movement.”
(Burke Rochford, Hare Krishna Transformed, NYU Press, 2007)

“Attempts to distinguish ISKCON as a universal religion from “Hinduism” still occupy the thoughts of some devotees, but ISKCON leadership has long since distanced itself from the robust exclusivist theology of 40 years ago.”
(Anna King, The Hare Krishna Movement, I.B. Tauris, chapter 8, 2006)

The “robust exclusivist theology of 40 years ago” of course refers to the teachings of the movement as given by Srila Prabhupada.

Conclusion

Having left Srila Prabhupada behind, ISKCON’s leadership has naturally also left behind Srila Prabhupada’s movement and teachings, with top to bottom deviation in every sphere. Such wholesale deviation is the natural consequence of the desire to take the place of Srila Prabhupada:

“Our mission is to serve (...) Not that you take the place of the guru. That is nonsense, very dangerous. Then everything will be spoiled.”
(Srila Prabhupada Conversation, 20/4/1977)

Please chant: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna, Krishna, Hare, Hare, 
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama, Rama, Hare, Hare.
 And be Happy!