Organisational Size v. Success


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 50, Winter 2015/16

At the beginning of the year, on January 3rd, ISKCON's Communications Ministry sent out a press release worldwide to officially launch the "celebrations" for ISKCON's 50th Anniversary. The quotes in the shaded panels below are taken from this official press

Organisational size

"[ISKCON] is arguably the largest and most influential of global Vedic (Hindu) organizations [...] 600 plus Hare Krishna temples around the world attract an estimated nine million worshippers per year [...] 65 eco-farms and 110 vegetarian restaurants."

The press release makes claims such as these to argue that ISKCON as an organisation today is large and growing. However, according to ISKCON's official "World Sankirtana Newsletter", ISKCON today still distributes less books annually than it did in 1977. And its own leaders make statements that can be used to argue that even organisationally, ISKCON is making less progress than when Srila Prabhupada was officially its diksa guru, almost 40 years ago:

"In most temples the leadership seems to have given up on making and keeping full-time devotees, especially brahmacaris. The emphasis in our temples has transferred to developing the congregation, especially in maintaining the Indian communities who provide most of our financial support."
(HH Kesava Bharati Dasa Goswami, Sannyasa Reports, 2014)

"Compared to during Srila Prabhupada's time, ISKCON is stagnant. When you go to the West, you see Indians manning the temples. This means that Westerners are not joining".
(Krishna Kripa Dasa, "Insights from Bhakti Charu Swami", 24/3/07)

However, for the sake of argument, let us cast aside these objections, let us be generous, and assume that ISKCON today is indeed organisationally successful, in the manner stated in the official press release.

Actual success

However, organisational progress, such as the accumulation of properties as temples, is only the means to an end. That end being to make people Krishna conscious. Hence, Srila Prabhupada states:

"According to revealed scriptures, if a spiritual master can convert even one soul into a perfectly pure devotee, his mission in life is fulfilled. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura always used to say, "Even at the expense of all the properties, temples and mathas that I have, if I could convert even one person into a pure devotee, my mission would be fulfilled."
(Cc., Adi-lila, 7.91)

Therefore, Srila Prabhupada explains that actual success must be measured in spiritual rather than organisational terms:

"I want to see that one disciple has understood Krsna's philosophy. That is success. That's all."
(Room Conversation, 12/4/75)

This spiritual measurement is based only on how much the philosophy is understood. Srila Prabhupada states "That is success. That's all".

No spiritual success

The press release does not offer any evidence of such spiritual success. On the contrary, it does offer evidence that ISKCON is not spiritually successful. In its very opening statement, the release states:

"1966 was a significant year. [...] The Soviet Union's Luna 9 made the first soft landing on the Moon".

However, Srila Prabhupada teaches that, according to our Vedic literatures, not only did such a "landing on the Moon" not happen, but it is actually impossible:

Reporter: "Do you feel that if the United States or the Soviet Union were to attempt a landing and their spacecraft went down, what do you yourself expect..."
Srila Prabhupada: "No, so far our calculation goes, from the books, nobody can do so. That is impossible. [...]"
Reporter: "But would the flight that was just completed, that doesn't contradict with anything in this book? [...]"
Srila Prabhupada: "But so far we have got information, no flight has been successful to land there till now. [...] this process will not help us to go to the moon planet."
(Interview 26/12/68)

This press release is ISKCON's official communication to the world. Thus, the very first message broadcast around the world about ISKCON's 50th Anniversary is that there is Krishna conscious philosophy that ISKCON does not understand. Hence, there is no point advertising the "celebration" of ISKCON's 50th Anniversary, when at the same time ISKCON is also advertising that it has not understood the teachings given in the Vedic literatures. For ISKCON becomes meaningless if it does not even accept the same teachings that it is supposed to represent.

This lack of philosophical understanding advertised globally, merely epitomises ISKCON's condition today. This condition, which was just documented in the previous article, is that ISKCON today is engaging in large scale deviation from the ISKCON that was given to us by Srila Prabhupada. This deviation is further proof that ISKCON has not understood Srila Prabhupada's teachings. Therefore, due to this huge lack of understanding, ISKCON is not actually successful at all.


Correct paradigm

This basic difference between Srila Prabhupada's definition of success and organisational development gives us the correct paradigm with which to understand what is occurring in ISKCON. For example, please consider this challenge sent to us by Druva Dasa of the Kharkov Yatra in the Ukraine:

"But my question is regarding the organization. [...] ISKCON in the CIS countries is developing actively? [...] but now, even if the present system is not correct, the society is anyway growing rapidly."

Shockingly, it is claimed that "even if the present system is not correct", it does not matter since the "society is anyway growing rapidly". Thus, it is claimed that organisational size rather than adherence to understanding Srila Prabhupada's correct system, is all that matters. But Srila Prabhupada states that spiritual (philosophical) success is the only success that matters. And, as ISKCON's press release and our previous article demonstrate, no matter how "rapidly" ISKCON may or may not be "growing", this has not been accompanied by success.


BTP continues to document in every issue that, according to Srila Prabhupada's definition of actual success -- as measured by understanding Krishna's philosophy -- ISKCON is not successful.

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