An Open Letter to the Iskcon GBC

Nov 10 2017 - Krishna Talk 202

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The following is a letter written in response to an Iskcon GBC in relation to the recent Krishna Talk article 201, “Gaura-Radha-Madhava and the Temple of Misunderstanding”.

Dandavats ________Swami,
All glories to Sri Sri Guru and Gauranga.

Received your email and noted everything carefully. I think these topics can be discussed in more detail when we meet face to face, but here are a few comments that you might think upon in the meantime. Also attached are photos of the original Radha-Govinda in New York, the present little Gaura-Radha-Govinda in New York, Gaura-Radha-Govinda in Kolkata, Gaura Radha-Madhava in Mayapura, Gaura-Radha-Giridhari at Iskcon Puri, Gaura-Radha-Radhanatha at Iskcon Durban South Africa, Gaura-Radha-Kanaiyalal at Kanai-natshala, Iskcon Bengal, Gaura-Radha-Krishna at Udampur, Iskcon Jammu & Kashmir and Gaura-Radha-Murlidhara installed on 4th Oct 2017 at the Iskcon Bhakti Center in New York City.

 

Original Radha-Govinda in New York
Original Radha-Govinda in New York

 

Small Gaura-Radha-Govinda in New York
Small Gaura-Radha-Govinda in New York

 

Gaura Radha Govinda in Kolkata
Gaura Radha Govinda in Kolkata
Gaura-Radha-Madhava in Mayapura
Gaura-Radha-Madhava in Mayapura

 

 

Gaura-Radha-Giridhari at Iskcon Puri
Gaura-Radha-Giridhari in Puri
Gaura-Radha-Radhanatha at Iskcon Durban South Africa
Gaura-Radha-Radhanatha in Durban

 

 

Gaura Radha Kanaiyalal at Kanai-Natshala
Gaura Radha Kanaiyalal-Kanai-Natshala
Gaura Radha Krsna at Udampur
Gaura Radha Krsna at Udampur

 

 

Gaura-Radha-Muralidhara, Bhakti Center, New York
Gaura-Radha-Muralidhara, Bhakti Center, New York

 

The original Radha-Govinda Deities in New York were a gift from Gayatri Devi, the Queen of Jaipur. They were established during a pandal program in Jaipur and then sent to New York with instructions by Srila Prabhupada to be installed on the altar. The Gaura Radha-Govinda Deities in Kolkata were established during the time, and under the direction, of Srila Prabhupada. The little Deities of Gaura-Radha-Govinda in New York which are presently on the altar, were established after the time of Srila Prabhupada, but by whom, I do not know.

The worship of Gaura-Radha-Krsna Deities was not stressed by Srila Prabhupada for Iskcon centers outside Bengal, yet we see that the Gaura-Radha-Krishna deity conception is being introduced by Iskcon at many of their centers around the world. Srila Prabhupada did stress this by his actions in Mayapura and Kolkata – the two main seats of the Gaudiya sampradaya, but not for elsewhere.

So, how is it that the Gaura-Radha-Krishna Deity conception is being introduced worldwide by Iskcon, yet it is being neglected at Iskcon Mayapura where Srila Prabhupada established the first Gaura-Radha-Madhava Deities in Iskcon? This, in my opinion, is a very curious question.

You have said, “You have to admit, other than having Gaura-Radha-Madhava as his personal deities, Srila Prabhupada did not stress, either in writing or example in other places…”

Dear Maharaja, this is an insufficient argument simply because there are many things that Iskcon does or says that were never ‘stressed’ in words, actions or writing by Srila Prabhupada, and in some cases, are complete fabrications.

For example: Prabhupada never stressed that, “My books are the law books for the next ten thousand years.” He only said it once and Tamala-Krsna Goswami and Rameswara were the only persons to hear him say it. Yet, this quote has been stated countless, countless times by Iskcon leaders, as if it were the greatest thing Prabhupada had ever said.

The Asta-sakhis at Iskcon Mayapura are another example. Prabhupada supposedly gave the instructions to install the Asta-sakhis to Bhavananda, yet he never mentioned it to anyone else or in any other place.

Then there is the issue of the famous saying, “Books are the basis, Preaching is the essence, Purity is the force and Utility is the principle.” Arguably, this is one of the most famous sayings in Iskcon. Yet His Divine Grace never once uttered those words, nor authorized any devotee to turn that saying into a motto for Iskcon. It was Rameswara Swami who found that little saying in a book of Chinese poetry. He read the little poem to Prabhupada, but Prabhupada made no comment whatsoever. Yet, you ask the average devotee in Iskcon and he/she will say that Prabhupada had said it, as if Prabhupada himself invented the statement.

Prabhupada also never gave the meaning of the gopi-bhava sannyasa-mantra to anyone. Any conception in Iskcon of the sannyasa-mantra comes from outside Iskcon, not from Prabhupada. But in most cases, the sannyasis just mindlessly chant their sannyasa-mantra with no conception at all.

Furthermore, the only meaning of Brahma-gayatri that Prabhupada gave was that the gayatri worships the sun-god. That conception is the most general meaning amongst Hindus. It is certainly not the conception of Brahma-gayatri in the Gaudiya sampradaya. Yet, that was the only meaning Prabhupada ever gave.

Prabhupada also never mentioned who was the diksa-guru of Bhaktivinoda Thakura. So should we assume that Bhaktivinoda did not have a diksa-guru?? Prabhupada also did not mention who was the diksa-guru of Gaura Kisora Dasa Babaji. Prabhupada did not explain how there are huge gaps in our sampradaya, such as the hundred years gap between Baladeva Vidyabhusana and Jagannatha Dasa Babaji.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura stressed over and over again in his writings the preeminent importance of the dasa-mula tattva, yet Prabhupada never mentioned the dasa-mula by Bhaktivinoda. Ironically, Iskcon preachers give seminars on the dasa-mula although Prabhupada did not stress it, or even mentioned it.

And, as I pointed out in my article, Srila Prabhupada never called the temple in Mayapura the Adbhuta Mandira. He called it the Planetarium. Yet even today, Iskcon leaders insist on calling their temple the Adbhuta Mandira. The Adbhuta Mandira is actually the temple envisioned by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and built by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta at Yogapitha in 1933. Ignoring facts, history and philosophy, Iskcon leaders invent things just to further their institutional gains.

Probably the most powerful statement attributed to Srila Prabhupada is, “Everything is in my books.” Yet despite this, the Iskcon leaders historically have always had to go outside Prabhupada’s books, lectures, conversations, letters, etc. to resolve the many questions that continue to arise. We, on the other hand, having taken Prabhupada’s direction to approach Srila Sridhara Maharaja in matters of philosophical enquiry, never have to go elsewhere to answer our questions. Having rejected Prabhupada’s instructions to approach Srila Sridhara Maharaja, Iskcon leaders have in the past and at present continue to seek their guidance/siksa outside Iskcon, but from various dubious and bogus sources such as the Copper Plate Baba, Haridasa Sena Baba, Madhava Dasa Baba, Anantadas Baba, Fakir Mohan, Bhakti-carana Dasa Baba, Ramesh Baba and others. The Iskcon leaders are also prone to take siksa from the leaders of other sampradayas who do not accept the divinity of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, such as the Madhvas at Udupi and the Nimbarkas in Vrndavana – not to mention the employment of exorcists/ghost busters to drive away the demons from Iskcon.

At present, of the approximately 103 sannyasis in Iskcon many worship, either personally or in their temples, the govardhan-sila, yet we do not find anywhere that Srila Prabhupada authorized such worship. However, looking at the greater picture of the Gaudiya sampradaya we indeed see that the worship of the govardhan-sila is most authorized. The only mention of worshipping stones from Govardhana by Srila Prabhupada is found in the Krsna Book as follows:

"The identity of Krsna and Govardhana is still honored, and great devotees take rocks from Govardhana Hill, and worship them exactly as they worship the Deity of Krsna in the temple.” (Krsna Book – Worshipping Govardhana Hill)

According to Prabhupada’s personal servant at the time, Hari Sauri Prabhu, Prabhupada said that, “Our Jagat-guru Swami knows our philosophy very well.” But are they, the GBC, willing to accept that, or will they reject that because Prabhupada didn’t stress it? The answer is obvious - they reject it. Give a dog a bad name, then shoot it!

Did Srila Prabhupada ever say what to do in future if the guru falls down/bloops? No, he did not, and unfortunately that disaster has befallen many devotees in Iskcon.

There are many things of importance that Srila Prabhupada did not stress, explain or even touch upon and the list goes on and on, but no time here.

Not to rattle anyone’s head too hard, but I can’t help but mention here two, amongst several, of the absolutely bogus activities welcomed by Iskcon in their temples that were completely abhorred by Srila Prabhupada. The first that comes to mind is Iskcon having invited the bogus Hindu guru, Amma Sri Karunamayi to speak at the Iskcon temple in Washington DC. Then there was the big event of inviting India’s number one sahajiya and Bhagavata reciter, Murari Bapu, to give a seven day Bhagavata discourse at Iskcon Mayapura called the Bhagavata-sapta. Need I remind you how much Srila Prabhupada detested the idea of Bhagavata-saptas? The event was for collecting money and the result was that many Iskcon sannyasis have now adopted the method of Bhagavata-saptas as their preaching technique.

In this regard we quote here Srila Prabhupada in a letter to Hansduta Prabhu:

"Regarding the Sikh gentleman's request to use our temple for performing some Sikh religious ceremony: You know that we have refused even the Hindu people to hold demigod worship in our temple, and what to speak of the Sikhs, who are not to the standard of Vedic principle. As a matter of fact, we should not allow anyone to hold any function in our temple…” (Letter to Hamsduta, October 10th, 1968)

However, for the sake of money collecting, that instruction by His Divine Grace has been thrown to the wind – or was it simply because he had not given it enough ‘stress’ by repeating the instruction a dozen times or more?? I guess we will never know…

In closing, I again ask, how is it that the Gaura-Radha-Krishna Deity conception is being introduced worldwide by Iskcon, yet it is being neglected at Iskcon Mayapura where Srila Prabhupada established the first Gaura-Radha-Madhava Deities in Iskcon?

I personally fail to see how you, or anyone else, can argue against the position of giving preeminent importance to the worship of Sri Sri Gaura-Radha-Madhava at Iskcon’s world headquarters in Mayapura. But then again, I’m not institutionalized and therefore I have no commitment to follow in the line of failed decisions and misconceptions.

We’ll talk more the next time we meet.

Hoping this finds you well.

Your servant,
Swami Narasingha

 

ADDENDUM
The full letter sent to Swami Narasingha by the GBC member is as follows:

Dear Maharaja,

Dandavats. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

I read your original article, and even if I can't succeed, I am making a plea, this time stronger, to take into consideration your point on Gaura Radha Madhava. I'll let you know if I make any headway.

Although you may not be inclined, I think a statement from you, with evidences, including any quotes from SB Siddhanta S Thakura, and/or Srila Sridhara M, about the necessity of showing the highest conception via Gaura Radha Krsna, without the other remarks, may allow me to go farther.

As per our talks years ago in Mulky, which I still have, I was trying to achieve a platform of dialogue, and in spite of some elements, many are desirous of doing so, as we did with ______ Swami. You have to admit, other than having Gaura Radha Madhava as his personal deities, Srila Prabhupada did not stress, either in writing or example in other places, other than NYC (where there is Gaura Radha Govinda, but I'm not sure that it was always that way, maybe you can confirm). He established Radha Krsna and Gaura Nitai.

Anyway, I agree with you, and I will also ride them again about the sign [ISCON], which you have rightly observed, is an embarrassment to Iskcon.

You have a lot to contribute, but changing a big society is not so easy, but it can be done. Hope that your health is good, and to see you soon.

Your servant,

……. Swami