Principles v. Property


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 56, Summer 2017

Deviant leader

In the previous article, we detailed the GBC's decision to remove Ramabhadra Dasa ("RB") as the Temple President of ISKCON Brooklyn. This was done by a GBC statement, which revealed that RB:

"- failed to ensure that a full morning program, including Srimad-Bhagavatam class, takes place in the ISKCON Radha Govinda Mandir on a daily basis, and
- have yourself neglected to regularly attend a temple morning program for a number of years, thereby failing to provide the spiritual leadership required of an ISKCON temple president according to Srila Prabhupada's wishes.
- for several years, he has failed to ensure that a full spiritual program is held at the temple every morning, and he himself has not regularly attended such a program."

(GBC Decision Removing Ramabhadra Dasa as Temple President of ISKCON Radha Govinda Mandir)

Thus, according to the GBC, for "a number of years" and "several years", RB has not been qualified to act as a Temple President, but has instead been deviating by not upholding the spiritual standards required of himself and his temple.

Tolerating deviation

Yet, during this same "number of years" that RB was supposedly deviating, the GBC took no action against RB for these deviations. Rather, these deviations have been cited only now as part of the reason for why RB has been removed, due to the battle over the sale of a temple property (as detailed in the previous article).

Thus, the GBC has revealed that:

a) It allowed deviation by an ISKCON leader for "a number of/several" years.
b) Only when the leader disagreed with the GBC in regards to the control of a property worth $60 million (value reported by Sesa Dasa, chairman of the GBC Brooklyn Temple Sale Committee, at a "town hall" meeting on 15/5/17 at Brooklyn Public Library, NY), did it take action, with the deviation simply used to "dress up" the case for removing him.

Therefore, if the GBC was interested in acting as a matter of principle regarding spiritual deviation, it would have taken action against RB as soon as he deviated spiritually. Instead, the GBC only acted when he "deviated" over an issue that actually mattered to the GBC — a $60 million property.

1) Spiritual deviation by an ISKCON leader will be tolerated by the GBC as long as the leader is allowing the GBC to be in control of resources.
2) The same deviation will then only be invoked as an excuse when the GBC needs to regain that control.

A pattern

An egregious example of the GBC tolerating deviation by an ISKCON leader for many years as long as said leader is "co-operating" with the GBC's control, and then dredging up that same deviation later merely as an excuse to regain control, was reported by us in BTP 18 (please see "GBC's 25 Year Guru Cover-up Falls Apart"). There we detailed how the GBC admitted that after knowing that Balabhadra Dasa ("BD") was eccentric and materialistic, it still voted him in as a ‘good-as-God' diksa guru. And that it allowed BD to continue posing as a bona fide guru for 13 years after he had been observed deviating.

However, again, these deviations were only revealed belatedly when excuses were needed to take action against BD, since he had decided to continue deviating independently, rather than under the GBC's control.

A culture of deviation

Thus, we have clear evidence that rather than taking immediate action based on the principle of needing to safeguard ISKCON from spiritual deviation, the GBC will instead tolerate a culture of deviation, wherein ISKCON leaders will be deviating for many years, but no action will be taken. Rather, such leaders will be supported and promoted, and action will only be taken when the GBC's control over resources is threatened.

Hence, this establishes a precedent which means that right now, all over ISKCON, many leaders could be deviating, and the GBC could have known about their deviation for many years, but it will still be allowed to go on. Rather, only if that leader threatens the GBC's power and control, will such deviations even be revealed, as such deviations can then be conveniently used by the GBC when it suits the GBC's purposes. Thus, the GBC cannot be trusted to act on the basis of needing to ensure spiritual purity in ISKCON.

Conflict of interest

In order to take control of a temple property, in this case the Temple President can take advantage of state laws which require the temple to be registered in the name of an independent non-profit legal entity. The Temple President is then able to claim that legally, this entity is not controlled by the GBC, nor is it even in the name of, or part of ISKCON. Yet, the same Temple President has happily acted under the authority of the same GBC and in the name of ISKCON for decades. Because previously such obedience and co-operation served his interests, as much as it did the GBC's. Now, there is a conflict of interest, as both wish to control the $60 million property. Thus, the GBC suddenly "remembers" the Temple President is a deviant. And the Temple President suddenly "remembers" that the temple was never part of ISKCON, or under GBC control!

This scenario, whereby the GBC and Temple Presidents will co-operate for many years while it serves both of their interests, but then fight to take control of resources and property, has played out a number of times before. And no doubt it will do so again, as the Society is full of individuals, whether on the GBC or in the temples, who are guided by the desire to control and gain access to resources in the shape of property, devotees, money, etc., rather than act based on spiritual principles.


In the previous article we saw that the GBC will protect a fellow GBC member and voted-in GBC guru for engaging in the same deviation that it will remove a lesser leader for. Thus, clearly the GBC is guided by the need to protect its gurus and its power structure rather than acting on the basis of spiritual principle.

And here we see actions that were not guided by the principle of acting against any spiritual deviation as soon as it occurs.

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