GBC Debates the Saving of ISKCON’s Soul


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 50, Winter 2015/16

On the eve of ISKCON's 50th Anniversary, a paper titled ""Who are we and where are we going?": A Fight for the Soul of ISKCON", was published by GBC member Badrinarayan Dasa Goswami ("BAD"). This paper, like the IRM's review of ‘ISKCON at 50' just presented, does not celebrate ISKCON as standing on a firm foundation due to having reached its 50th Anniversary. Rather, it argues that the very future of ISKCON is at stake. All quotes in the shaded panels below are from this paper.

Following the IRM's lead

"Is our goal to find a way to fit comfortably into the current flow of the modern world or are we meant to change the world's cultural, social, and economical structures? Are we so eager to gain a seat at the table of established institutions that we are no longer willing to rock the boat or take a challenging position?"

BAD here echoes the exact same concerns of the IRM regarding ISKCON's trend towards secularisation and compromise.

"Without answering the above questions we are groping forward in the dark with no compass or map. We are building a conflicted, ad hoc social structure and set of standards. We have no cohesive, unifying vision. The result is a patch-work social framework that at times is at war with itself."

Again agreeing with the IRM, we have a GBC member admitting that ISKCON is essentially blind, without a vision or sense of direction, and further that it is at times at war with itself.

"How we answer the questions above will define whether ISKCON succeeds or fails to fulfil the vision of Srila Prabhupada".

Having identified that ISKCON is in serious trouble, BAD agrees with the IRM that these issues need to be tackled in order to ensure that ISKCON is actually adhering to Srila Prabhupada's vision.

"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. The simple truth is that in debating and answering the questions above, we are talking about nothing less than defining the soul of ISKCON and its future."

Indeed, BAD goes even further and states that unless the current trends prevalent in ISKCON are dealt with, ISKCON will actually be finished!

Therefore, this paper by a GBC member provides further evidence that the IRM's verdict about ‘ISKCON at 50' is neither alarmist nor biased.

Missing the cause

BAD writes that his paper:

"was born out of the debates over female diksha gurus, women's roles in ISKCON, and "Krishna West"".

The fact that such debates are even taking place over very basic issues demonstrates how ISKCON is ignorant of even the fundamentals. And BAD has therefore correctly identified the symptoms of confusion, lack of vision, disunity, compromise and assimilation afflicting ISKCON. But BAD is unable to identify what is the underlying cause or disease that gives rise to these symptoms, or offer a solution. Rather, at the end of the paper, he can only meekly suggest that:

"The GBC needs to sit together, discuss these issues, and answer these questions."

But the cause and solution to the problems afflicting ISKCON are simple. For example, if we simply adhere to the fact that Srila Prabhupada never ordered any successor diksa gurus, then the issue of "female diksha gurus" disappears. Because neither female nor male unauthorised, disobedient successor diksa gurus are necessary. Another example is the issue of assimilation. BAD explains that accommodating the public can cause such assimilation:

"do we go down the path towards accommodation (with its hope of greater acceptance and its risk of assimilation)."

One such example of accommodation in ISKCON has been to introduce the worship of demi-gods, in order to gain acceptance amongst the Hindu community. But Srila Prabhupada did not sanction the worship of demigods, much less call for them to be installed in ISKCON temples (please see article on page 3). Thus, if we again adhere to Srila Prabhupada's orders, this issue also disappears.

Can't give solution

Thus, the cause of all the problems BAD has identified is disobedience to Srila Prabhupada's orders, and the solution is simply to obey Srila Prabhupada. However, neither BAD nor other ISKCON leaders are able to see this because they are the ones who are causing all these problems in the first place! For example, a chief promoter of demigod worship "accommodation", with a view to "acceptance" and risk of "assimilation", has been BAD himself! In BTPs 10 and 11 we featured his plans in San Diego to construct a new temple to include: "Shrine for Ganesh; Shrine for Shiva, Murties of Shri Parvati (Amba), Linga, Nandi Murti", at a cost of nearly half-a-million dollars.

Another example is BAD peddling the lie that Srila Prabhupada authorised male successor diksa gurus:

"If Srila Prabhupada had wanted Vaisnavi diksa gurus as part of ISKCON's culture, why did he not put even one Vaisnavi on the list of gurus he named?"
(BAD, Text PAMHO:24768239)

But Srila Prabhupada did not give a "list of gurus he named". He did give a list of *rtviks* he named, but that is an entirely different matter altogether.



BAD states that GBCs like him need to be "deep philosophers":

"The GBC [...] Prabhupada says they have to be acarya-like, they have to be deep philosophers".
(BAD Lecture, 9/2/14)

However, as seen above, BAD and all other ISKCON leaders have been unable to become "deep philosophers" and grasp Srila Prabhupada's philosophy. Rather, they have only grasped the path of disobedience. This is because they are motivated by PAD (Profit, Adoration and Distinction) desires for positions in ISKCON (whether as guru, GBC, sannyasi, temple president or whatever). And as long as such motivations and PAD desires remain, the lack of understanding and disobedience will continue:

"As soon as personal motivation comes in it is not possible for one to understand our Krishna Consciousness philosophy."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 21/9/1970)

-- regardless of how many times the GBC may "sit together" and "discuss these issues".

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