ISKCON secularisation continues 

Autumn 2006

Previously we provided illustrations of how ISKCON has deviated from the original mission of its founder and Guru, Srila Prabhupada, as the message of pure Krishna consciousness has become diluted. From selling courses on mantra meditation, to "soul mate yoga", to demigod worship and opening a school which teaches the syllabus of the government, ISKCON's descent into commercialisation continues unabated. This dilution of one's spiritual principles, in an attempt to become more mainstream, is more accurately known as "secularisation", with commercialisation being merely one symptom of this spiritual dilution. As ISKCON's own Communications Journal notes, secularization is: "change in the direction of accommodation with mainstream cultures".

However, ISKCON's mission is supposed to be to influence the mainstream culture to adopt Krsna consciousness, and not the other way around. Nowhere was this trend towards accommodation of both the wider "Hindu" and mainstream culture more apparent than at this year's Sri Krishna Janmasthami festival at ISKCON's UK headquarters, Bhaktivedanta Manor where, in the drive to appease the Hindu dollar, the focus on Srila Prabhupada's teachings seems to have been lost - as we illustrate below.

Keynote speaker

Previously, the following warning was given by Bhaktivedanta Manor's one-time GBC representative and voted-in guru, HH Sivarama Swami:

"In July, a well-known Hindu organization launched a worldwide yatra on the grounds of Bhaktivedanta Manor. To preside over the function, they invited many spiritual leaders. [...] When I saw the mélange of spiritual dignitaries, I had second thoughts. On the stage were to be two yogis, a guru, a Sankaracarya, and myself - compromising association! […]
I felt that you, Srila Prabhupada, our Society, and of course Krishna had been grievously offended."
(HH Sivarama Swami, Vyasa Puja offering, 2002)

However, the keynote speaker at this year's Janmasthami festival at Bhaktivedanta Manor was the famous Indian yogi-guru His Holiness Swami Ramdevji Maharaja. According to the Maharaja's bio, he is

"the first, in the world health history, to use freely available Pran (Oxygen) as a medicine and in turn succeeds to cure thousands of grief stricken persons suffering from lethal diseases like Diabetes, H.B.P., Angina, […]"

In this regard Srila Prabhupada, the Founder of ISKCON's Bhaktivedanta Manor, states:

"The guru does not mean that I keep a guru. So as order-supplier "My dear guru, I am suffering from this. Can you give me some medicine?" "Yes, yes. Take this medicine." "Yes." Not that guru. If you are suffering from some disease, you go to a physician. It is not guru's business to give you some medicine. A guru's business is to give you Krsna."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, August 7th, 1973)

So while the Maharaja may have excellent credentials as a healer, we do question the wisdom of the Manor's management in selecting him as their keynote speaker on Lord Krishna's appearance day, particularly in light of both Srila Prabhupada's teachings and the warning given by their own previous GBC!

Human chain is "festival highlight"

The Hindu Forum of Britain, whose Spiritual Commissioner is the Manor's Temple President Gauri Das, issued the following press statement about the high point of the Janmasthami celebrations:

"The highlight of the festival is a human chain to pray for the victims of terror and war."

This "highlight" was to take place as the time approached for Krishna's divine appearance at midnight. So instead of everyone being urged to meditate on this divine appearance of the Lord, on His Appearance Day, which is supposed to be the highlight of Janmastami, instead all the many thousands of worshippers were encouraged to meditate and pray for the victims of the many political problems engulfing the planet.

Charity's philosophy rides roughshod over Bhagavad-gita

This urge to promote a secular approach to religion was continued via the promotion of "Hindu Aid", a charity which was allowed to distribute a brochure at the Janmashatmi festival in Srila Prabhupada's temple that directly contradicted the teachings of Srila Prabhupada. We reproduce just one of these statements from the brochure, to illustrate the point:

Hindu Aid: "For Hindus, serving humanity is like serving God."

Srila Prabhupada: "In the Bhagavad-gita is there such statement, that "Service to humanity is service to God"? Is there any statement? There is no. This is wrong theory. Don't maintain this. This is a very wrong theory […]
Then why do you say like that? And Krsna says openly, mam ekam saranam vraja. He doesn't even recommend to worship demigods. […]
So these are imagination, concoction. They are not authorized."
(Srila Prabhupada Conversation, April 24th, 1977)

ISKCON's wholehearted promotion of such activities inside Srila Prabhupada's temple in the name of accommodation and liberalism should be contrasted with their attitude to anyone who dares to utter that Srila Prabhupada is the Guru of ISKCON. As noted, such persons are subject to bans and violence.

The wedding business Please compare the following statements:

Bhaktivedanta Manor: "Weddings [...]
Bhaktivedanta Manor with its beautiful and spacious building and grounds has made it a very popular venue for this auspicious ceremony. […]
As part of the purification of the wedding ceremony we ask both Bride and Groom to refrain from eating non-vegetarian food and taking intoxicants for at least 48 hours before the wedding ceremony."
Srila Prabhupada:

"Uninitiated couples cannot be married by us. We shall not take the responsibility of an ordinary marriage maker. Our practice is to help devotees for advancing in Krishna Consciousness."
(Letter 11/1/70)

Bhaktivedanta Manor :

"Cost of wedding ceremony in 2007 - £2401 ($4500) for a temple room booking"

Srila Prabhupada : "No, we are not marriage company. We get married our students if there is necessity, but we don't.... Marriage means they will arrange their marriage in our temple. […] Similar proposal was there in Montreal. Then it will become a business. They are not devotees."
(Conversation, 17/6/76)

"N.B. You can allow the sacrifice in the Manor for Mrs. Mehta, but as with the weddings, they must pay for the room. (Don't have it in the temple room.) She can bring her own brahmanas." (Letter, 3/2/75)

As was pointed out previously, such dilution of the spiritual principles taught by Srila Prabhupada is only to be expected, when Srila Prabhupada himself has been removed as the Guru from his own movement.