The illusion of freedom


Back to Prabhupada, Issue 27, Spring 2010

By Krishnakant

A popular saying, credited to the famous German author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, is “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free”. That is because, if alerted to their enslavement, it is very likely that they would continuously rebel, trying to become free. This “illusion of freedom” is a tactic employed by leaders of destructive cults (and others) to similarly keep their followers loyal and enslaved. On the one hand, members of a destructive cult will be urged to “think for themselves”. They are advised to take special “courses”, “education” and “training” to foster this false sense of freedom. In reality though, day-to-day in ISKCON, the member will have his thoughts strictly controlled via the justification of avoiding committing “Vaishnava aparadha” (offenses against devotees), excommunication and other scare tactics. We present here a case study of ISKCON GBC guru HH Sivarama Swami (“SRS”) engaging in such tactics. All quotes in the paneled boxes will be from a recent podcast broadcast by SRS on February 2nd, 2010.

Blind Faith

“He may be a sadhaka which is also fine. The guru may be a sadhaka guru. He’s not a siddha guru. Either a sadhana- siddha or a nitya-siddha. But he should be a strictly- following sadhaka guru. And it’s the duty of devotees to accept people on the basis of laksana. Yad laksanam proktam. We should judge things according to their qualities. And that really is what Krishna Consciousness is about. We’re meant to be about anything other than blind faith even within our own followers.”

Yet, hypocritically, SRS does not allow his own followers to do this, if his own position is threatened, forbidding them to read BTP, lest their blind faith in SRS be disturbed:

“I am writing to you in regard to the magazine “Back to Prabhupada,” which many of you may have received and seen […] Therefore ritviks and their literature should be ignored […] This same instruction is reflected in the direction of the GBC Body, the ultimate authority for ISKCON, in their 1990 law regarding ritviks and their doctrine: […] The tone of the above law makes it quite clear that persons who are in breach of it can expect to be the object of serious sanctions.”
(SRS Letter to all devotees, July 17th, 2008)

“I would just like to request devotees who receive such magazines to bring it in to the temple, give it to me I’ll collect it, it shouldn’t be around in the devotee community.”
(SRS, Istagosthi, Budapest, July 17th, 2008)

SRS makes it clear that if anyone dares to read BTP there will be “serious sanctions”, and so desperate is he to make sure that no one does read BTP, he even offers to act as the personal ‘collection man’ for the magazines! In addition, following the sending out of these warnings, SRS dispatched devotees to visit devotees’ homes and ask them to return BTP. Hence, it’s all very well telling devotees they must use their intelligence to judge and not be blind followers, but at the same time SRS insists on such blind following!

False advertising

“We have many examples of devotees who in ISKCON were deemed to be very advanced devotees, pure devotees and then they left Krishna Consciousness, gave up their service as guru and sannyasi and so as they were being advertised as being uttama-adhikaris, they turned out they were just barely kanistha-adhikaris. […] Srila Prabhupada in the Upadesamrta purport in verse 5, verse 8, points out that it’s the responsibility of devotees - verse 5, excuse me - for devotees to actually understand the level of spiritual advancement of a Vaishnava.”

At the forefront of this false advertising was, of course, SRS himself. From 1978-1986 we had many fallen gurus, as SRS himself admits:

“I was seeing deviations in ISKCON and this one was really a major deviation. Fallen sannyasis, drugs-induced ecstasy, illicit sex, and needless to say that it was clear that the gurus were fallible.”
(SRS, Podcast, October 3rd, 2006)

Two such examples were Jayatirtha and Bhagavan (two members of “The Great Guru Hoax, Part 1”), whom SRS falsely advertised and enforced as uttama-adhikaris (topmost pure devotees), right up until they actually fell down and left ISKCON. Subsequently, SRS actively promoted two more bogus gurus, both of whom left ISKCON after displaying similar fallen behaviour: Vipramukhya Swami and Balabhadra Das, a.k.a. Bhakti Ballabh Puri Goswami. Of the latter, even SRS admitted that, as the resident GBC, he was ultimately responsible for demanding devotees follow this false guru:

“Anyway I prefaced my talk at that meeting by apologizing to the devotees, as I had done to devotees in Scotland, that being GBC I was ultimately responsible for what happened, or at least the direction in which Balabhadra was going in.”
(SRS podcast, September 27th, 2007)

So again, it’s all very well cautioning against false advertising, and the need for devotees to not be taken in by this, but SRS has been at the forefront of forcing devotees to accept such false advertising!

Spiritual science

“That is what Srila Prabhupada called spiritual science, and we should go on the basis of spiritual science, rather than just hearsay, speculation, wishful thinking and so on. Unfortunately, that’s been the situation within our own movement.”

SRS states that we should go on the basis of “spiritual science” rather than speculation and the like. Yet, we have proven numerous times in BTP that SRS is an example of a person who does not know “spiritual science”, as he constantly contradicts Srila Prabhupada. SRS’s disciples are not allowed to access this spiritual science, but rather must only accept his speculations.


The whole purpose of this podcast from SRS was to educate devotees against blind following, false advertising and speculation. But we have shown that, in practise, SRS actually enforces these very things! This hypocritical contradictory double-talk is common in mind-controlled brainwashed cults, where on the one hand, to engender a false feeling of freedom, cult members may be told to think for themselves, but on the other, the actual actions taken by the cult ensure that blind following is ruthlessly enforced.

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