Welcome to ISKCON Saint Augustine

This blog is dedicated to His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Ratha Yatra

Join Us for the Fifth Annual Rathayatra in St. Augustine

Feb 24, ST. AUGUSTINE, FLORIDA, USA (SUN) — Saturday, March 20, 2010, beginning at 11:00 a.m. in the Main Plaza—St. George Street and Cathedral.

500 years ago, the mainland of North America was first sighted by the Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon. He named it "La Florida," Land of Flowers. Soon after, the historic city of St. Augustine was founded. At the same time, Lord Caitanya was in another part of the world inaugurating the Sankirtan Movement. Lord Caitanya predicted that the chanting of the Holy Names of Lord Krishna would spread to "every town and village," and now we are seeing that prediction come true! St. Augustine hosts more than 5 million tourists each year, and now these tourists will be blessed by Lord Caitanya's prediction as they witness the Fifth Annual Festival of the Chariots and Rathayatra in that historic city.

The procession route is about a mile long and can be easily walked by all age groups. It begins at the main Plaza (St. George Street and Cathedral) and will travel down Cordova, Orange, Castillo, St. Francis, Cordova, back to King St. and end at the Plaza. The parade will move in a leisurely fashion, stopping here and there along the route, giving way to song and dance. Following the procession, there will be family-friendly activities at the compound, lots of entertainment: Indian dance, music, singing, arts, and books. But the big draw is a delicious vegetarian feast, free to all.

Eight Ratha Yatras are held yearly in the state of Florida: Miami, Jacksonville Beach, Tallahassee, Orlando, Tampa, Gainesville, Daytona Beach, and St. Augustine. This St. Augustine festival is sponsored by ISKCON of Alachua, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, whose Founder/Acarya, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada wanted these festivals everywhere.

All devotees are invited to come, and a bus will be arranged for transportation. We are seeking sponsors for flowers, prasadam, and devotee transportation. For more info contact: Bhadra das at (352) 316-4560 or bhadradas@gmail.com or Dharmaraja das at (352) 538-0292. If anyone wants to perform on the stage, contact Gaura Shakti das at 352-213-5550.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Our Founder and Inspiration

His Holiness Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada

Saturday, January 9, 2010

New Vrindaban Community Graces Magazine Cover

The Winter issue of IN Wheeling Magazine, a quarterly publication devoted to the city of Wheeling, West Virginia, features ISKCON’s New Vrindaban community as its cover story. The in-depth story chronicles the history of the community and focuses on how both devotees and their neighbors have grown to appreciate and learn from one another. The story is accompanied by color photos of devotees and Prabhupada’s Palace of Gold, and a video montage is included as an “online extra” on the magazine’s website. The issue also features ISKCON leader Malati Devi Dasi as one of ten local religious leaders interviewed about how to achieve peace.

We feel that this story – with its recognition of the Krishna devotes as “true West Virginians who proceeded their Catholic, Pentecostal, and Protestant ancestors in search of religious freedom in the bowels of a rugged land where the hills make one’s eyes look up to the heavens” – is especially significant considering the tensions that once existed between the New Vrindaban devotees and local residents of Wheeling.

–ISKCON News Editors

An Unexpected Journey
The Krishnas find an unlikely home in the hills of West Virginia

By Dominick Paul Cerrone
Photography by Jack Blackwell, BlackStone Photography of WV

The road leading to the New Vrindaban Palace of Gold is tortuous, and snakes through some of the roughest interiors of West Virginia. Until recently, much of the road was unpaved, and before that, there was no road at all to the original community. Driving it can awaken the most agnostic of souls out of a mundane slumber and into the realm of heightened awareness. The final epiphany of the opulent black and gold palace at the end of the harrowing drive, called by the New York Times “America’s Taj Mahal,” seems to spring out of nowhere from the ruddy, West Virginia hills.

The Palace of Gold, at the end of a long harrowing drive, seems to spring out of nowhere from the ruddy West Virginia hills.

In some ways, the road resembles the same unexpected path of the one hundred or so original members of New Vrindaban, located approximately 15 miles south of Wheeling in the middle of nowhere in Marshall County, West Virginia. As a group of young, idealistic, self-described naive kids, mostly from larger metropolitan areas, the journey began in the early 1960’s and early 1970’s. However, in finding God, they also found a new home, learned over the years that they had more in common with the locals than they first had realized, and over time, have grown to realize that they, too, are true West Virginians who proceeded their Catholic, Pentecostal, and Protestant ancestors in search of religious freedom in the bowels of a rugged land where the hills make one’s eyes look up to the heavens.

“There is a wrinkle in time when synergy happens. That is what the sixties was for us. You had a lot of people searching and someone who comes along who is able to inspire so much,” says original member and current Marshall County resident Krsna Dasa. Dasa was a young hippie, born and raised in New York City, who encountered the first Krishna community there in the 1960’s.

San Francisco native now proud to call West Virginia her home. The soft spoken, charismatic Malati devi dasi spent time with George Harrison back in the day.

That person who inspired was His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. In 1966, he founded the Hare Krishna movement (International Society for Krishna Consciousness, or ISKON) in India and left for the United States almost penniless to deliver a new consciousness, which attracted the counterculture of the western world increasingly hungry for eastern philosophy. After opening up a house first in New York and then San Francisco, he wanted to open a transcendental place of pilgrimage in the West.

In the late 1960’s, an iconoclastic Marshall County resident with his own Buddhist ashram here ran an ad in a small San Francisco hippie paper about free land in Marshall County for anyone who would use it for spiritual purposes. The Krishnas responded, and their journey moved from the fringes of urban America to one of the most red-blooded areas of the country. New Vrindaban would become the first rural Krishna community in the country, and to this day, its Palace of Gold is esteemed by all Krishnas as one of its great pilgrimages.

By 1973, Dasa, along with a cohort of young men and women in “saffron robes and shaved heads” had arrived at New Vrindaban, West Virginia, as a “rag tag group of kids seeking spiritual truth.” Dasa recalls those first early years. “We were literally starving, living off of nothing, with no hot water and wood heaters in shacks,” he recounted about the early days when there was not even a road to the isolated community. “It was so weird for us to be here in West Virginia. In the early days, there was very little activity outside the community. We were the same way as the Amish. We were nice but kept people out. It was exclusive.” Reflecting on those days of youth, Dasa laughed about their immaturity and attitude of superiority. “We thought if we associated with the outside community, we’d become impure. We were so extreme that we would not see a doctor if we were sick. Some stayed in the commune two years without leaving.”

Much like the inception of many religious communities, the original Krishna community in New Vrindaban was insular and rigid, trying earnestly to obtain the perfection of life through being what they consider servants of God. As clear monotheists, the Krishnas deviate from their polytheistic mother religion of Hinduism. In that way, Krishnas had to develop thick skin to breech the divide between the prehistoric demigods of Hinduism and the God of Christianity. While many Westerners considered the Krishnas at odds with their beliefs, some Hindus considered the Krishna community rigid in its belief, and fundamentalist in its interpretation of Hindu characters. For Hindus, Krishna is just one of seven avatars, or appearances, of one of its three primary gods, Vishnu, the god that preserves. For the Krishnas, Krishna is elevated to be the one God, incarnate in many forms.

A Krishna in ceremonial attire inside the Palace of Gold.

Malati Devi is currently one of the 32 or so Governing Body Commissioners (GCB’s) that oversee the spiritual and philosophic endeavors of ISKON. She first met the Krishnas in her hometown of San Francisco at their second house in the country. She now proudly calls New Vrindaban her home. Malati was one of the first Krishna converts in the country and has a very clear, direct understanding of the ISKON movement, which she says is nonsectarian. “We believe in one God, not limited to one name. We call him Krishna.” She continues, “we accept Jesus Christ as the son of God. We believe we are all servants of God and that the perfection of life is the realization of this.” Specifically, she refers to the Krishna understanding of material and spiritual body. Whereas Christian theologians have labored over the nuances throughout the centuries defining the essence of material versus spirit, Krishnas are unequivocal in their understanding of that. “The soul goes from one body to the next. We have a material body, and the spark of life is the soul,” says Malati. “We also have a spiritual body. The ideal perfection of life is to fully enter into this spiritual body.”

Prabhupada encoded this in 1966, and is considered to be the last one in a lineage of disciples of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu from the 15th century in Mayapur, India, along the Ganges River. This is where the devotional Sankirtan movement of call-and-response chanting based on the teachings of Baghavad-gita was born. Malati visits there twice a year as a GCB member. “You get your spiritual batteries charged here.”

Malati, an uncommon mix of humility and charisma, however, has often been the one charging other peoples’ batteries in the past. Perhaps her most noteworthy association was the friendship she and her husband Shyamasundar had with the Beatles. She and her husband were part of that very first convoy of Krishnas from the US on a mission to import Krishna spirituality to the United Kingdom in the 1960’s. They eventually set up the Radha Krishna Temple in London. In order to obtain recognition, her husband had the idea to meet the Beatles, with the goal of getting the pop stars to chant “Hare Krishna” as a way of getting the new eastern philosophy known. “We chanted and got arrested in front of the Apple Studio,” recalls Malati. “We ultimately got their attention by making and sending in apple pies to the studio.” She also fondly told a story about sending a wind up apple holding a “Hare Krishna” flag into the studio.

Beatles guitarist George Harrison had taken to both Malati and her husband immediately. They ultimately lived with George and his wife Patti for some time. “We were quite integrated,” says Malati. “He was receptive and very spiritual.” Eventually, he asked Malati and her husband for help in making a new record after his departure from the Beatles, one that would hit the top of the charts in both England and abroad in 1970. “My Sweet Lord” ushered into the mainstream culture the fusing of western and eastern religion, and to this day, the song has become one of the most iconic components of the Krishna religion.

My sweet lord (hallelujah)
My, my, lord (hallelujah)

Hm, my lord (hare krishna)
My, my, my lord (hare krishna)
Oh hm, my sweet lord (krishna, krishna)
Oh-uuh-uh (hare hare)

Long before Malati would arrive in New Vrindaban in 1991, those lyrics would resonate with hundreds of youth from throughout the country. Many of them would come to New Vrindaban in the early 1970’s to begin work on creating one of the country’s most compelling religious shrines. “We were 98% untrained,” recalls Dasa. “We read books, went to visit people—it was basically learn as you go.” The palace was built for $500,000 in materials and countless hours of sweat from the 250 devotees in the community at that time. The New York Times reported on its grand opening on September 2, 1979 and quoted the leader of the commune, Kirtanananda Swami Bhaktipada. “In the beginning, we didn’t even know how to lay blocks. As our Krishna consciousness developed, our building skills developed, then our creativity developed and the scope of the project developed.” The palace serves as an eternal home and memorial for Prabhupada, who visited the site during construction but died two years before its completion. The palace is strewn with Italian marble floors, walls inlaid with Iranian onyx, gold-leafed column caps, stained glass peacock shaped windows, and crystal chandeliers. Much of the outside is gold-leafed. The approach onto the palace, keenly situated above the 2,000 plus acres of the Krishna’s forested hills dotted with farms, is awe-inspiring.

According to the Times, reaction by the locals was mixed. For Dasa, many people “looked past who you were.” He specifically remembers the help the fledgling community got from neighboring veterinarian families with the commune’s cows, and farmers that came to help with the farms. The Times quoted a local as saying, “I believe everyone has a right to their religion, though theirs is an awfully queer one.”
The growing New Vrindaban community, which peaked at almost 800 members in the early 1980’s, raised the eyebrows of a nation that was emerging from a tumultuous two decades of social liberation and transformation. In April of 1980, Life Magazine featured two young Krishna girls from New Vrindaban on the cover of its magazine and chronicled the daily life of the insular community through a series of eerie black and white photographs. “We went from starving and living off of rice soup to making the cover of Life,” noted Dasa. The photographs depicted women and men kept in separate quarters, tonsured children raised in boarding schools with no mattresses, Sanskrit being studied, and devotees waking at 3 A.M. for daily worship.

The unconventional mores of the community often placed it at odds with the local media and government. The commune’s original leader, Kirtanananda Swami Bhaktipada, was no help to the emerging religion’s public relations. His interfaith movement at New Vrindaban placed it at odds with the international ISKON movement. Several years after the completion of the palace, Bhaktipada was arrested on allegations of child abuse and the conspiracy of murdering two fellow members of the community. He was excommunicated from ISKON in 1988 by the GCB and indicted on more crimes in 1990 by the federal government. After a defense by famed attorney Alan Dershowitz, he eventually was able to return to New Vrindaban, but was permanently ousted in 1994 by members there, and New Vrindaban returned in good standing to its ISKON community in 1998.

By that time, something else had happened in the community that would indelibly change perceptions both of the Krishna devotees and those outside. “The real genesis for the community,” explains Dasa, “was when our kids went to the public schools. In the old days, the community was geared toward isolationism. The idea that our children would have gone to outside schools was not a question.” That changed with the closure of the commune’s own school. The once forbidden commune had decided that it was time to become one with its larger community.

Dasa recalls one antidotal story particularly well. “When my kids were young, one of them joined the basketball team. One day, I pulled up to drop off my kid, and I overheard the coach say, ‘there comes the critters.’” Dasa recalls his uncontrollable anger at the time. That all changed by the end of the season, when the coach pulled Dasa and his wife aside. “I had bad impressions of you all, but after getting to know your son, I have converted,” said the coach.

It was not only locals who were undergoing a conversion, but also the Krishnas. Malati Devi described the transformation of her community in New Vridaban after the dark years of the 1980’s. “With all the stuff we’ve been through, we’ve all been humanized as we have grown up. We are a lot more like our neighbors than we thought. We’ve become less rigid in our outlook,” she says. Internationally, the Krishna communities transformed from authoritarian communities to democratic ones, where members have a voice, and spiritual and administrative management have been separated. Local Krishnas now actively work outside the community, own their own businesses, and are connected through modern technology to the rest of the community. “In the meantime, people have become more open. We have found common ground,” says Malati.

So much so, that a local mother in Marshall County was overheard recently talking about how her son had been hanging around the wrong crowd. According to her, that all had changed for the better when he started hanging around a Krishna kid. “They’re a breath of fresh air,” says another man, a long time Marshall County educator. He was particularly proud of one of the first Krishna students who entered the public school system in the 1990’s and is now graduating from Duke University. “They have an enterprise here in the county and definitely want to become part of the community.” Another man, a Wheeling doctor, was excited that his daughter was coming home to visit from North Carolina, to attend an interfaith conference at New Vrindaban. Tourist bureaus and locals alike boast a visit to the palace as one of the area’s most endearing experiences.

New Vrindaban sisters walk the marble floors of the Palace of Gold, “America’s Taj Majal.”

Today, there are approximately 200 people living in New Vrindaban, with over 1,000 supporters who visit regularly. Only 15 to 20 remain of the original pact of idealistic youth that made that original journey deep into the West Virginia hills. The palace has seen its share of problems, both spiritually and structurally. Valiant efforts by the community to restore the palace have been successful, and the temple still shimmers atop the hill as it has now for 30 years.

“There has been nothing about the journey that I expected,” waxes a philosophical Dasa. “If the journey is what we expected, we probably would not be on the right road. After all, ‘Thine will be done.’ It is not our choice.”

“Our neighbors are welcome, and more and more, they are coming,” says Malati. “We’ve been finding common grounds of appreciation to meet.” She cited the recent “Farm, Faith, and Food” symposium that the community hosted that, like many symposiums, attracted people from the outside.

Perhaps, as the Krishnas become one with their home, there are signs that West Virginia is gradually becoming one with the Krishnas. Dasa says, “no matter what struggles we have, we have such a beautiful place. The people here are wonderful—we are living our life in heaven.” That would be “Almost Heaven.”

Monday, January 4, 2010

Duties of GBC and Guru in ISKCON


Jan 03, INDIA — Srila Prabhupada created the GBC Body to oversee that his teachings are properly implemented within ISKCON. These teachings direct that everyone in ISKCON, including initiating and instructing gurus, work cooperatively under Srila Prabhupada's authority system to spread Krishna consciousness. Unfortunately, since the departure of Srila Prabhupada, the GBC Body has not maintained his clear authority structure. The Body has often delegated its authority to individuals or groups who act more as independent authorities and less as subordinate servants to ISKCON as a whole. In the absence of a clear authority structure, ISKCON sometimes swings from one extreme to the other, sometimes from autocracy to bureaucracy.

Amidst these swings a lack of cooperation, clear vision, and faith in Srila Prabhupada's teachings among ISKCON leaders has diminished the resources necessary for important programs, such as mass book distribution, regular harinams, gurukulas, and self-sufficient farm communities. In the absence of a GBC Body that clearly represents the desires of Srila Prabhupada to preach Krsna consciousness as a unified movement, the Society remains together more on the basis of a loose confederation of initiating gurus and independent local leaders, than as a unified movement of surrendered servants.

United on what basis?

Unity is very important, but more important is truth. If unity of the Society is on the basis of individual gain for sense gratification and personal prestige, what will be the value? ISKCON and its members can be successful in spiritual life only if they work purely to satisfy Lord Sri Krishna and His representatives, the previous acaryas.

Should any or many of Srila Prabhupada's servants be acaryas?

Pure devotional service means working not only with humility, but also with discrimination according to the absolute perspective. One on a higher level of devotional service clearly knows, in all circumstances, Lord Krishna's desires and how to fulfill them. This knowledge requires transcendental awareness and expertise. A devotee who has attained the stage of uttama-adhikari possesses such knowledge. (1)

The Supreme Lord's representatives are on different levels. One level comprises those who preach according to their degree of realization to help those on lower levels of consciousness advance. A devotee on this level is generally on the platform of kanishtha- or madhyama-adhikari realization. Another level comprises those devotees who, being situated in transcendence, can convey perfect understanding of Krishna consciousness under all circumstances and to all audiences. The acarya in the true sense of the term is on this level—that of an uttama-adhikari Vaishnava. (2)

The advanced devotee manifests transcendental qualities and realization because of his unalloyed Krishna consciousness. (3) When an iron bar is completely and steadily immersed in a fire, it becomes just like fire. Such an uttama-adhikari Vaishnava is in perfect touch with the Supersoul and at every moment knows the Supreme Lord's desires. He can convey the Lord's desires to his followers with perfect discretion. Such a perfect devotee has no material desires and is never agitated under any material circumstance. (4)

Different levels of preachers

An uttama-adhikari perfectly realizes he is not the independent doer of the activities performed by his body; he knows he is an instrument for his spiritual master and the Supersoul. If he takes disciples, he is not bewildered into thinking that he has become their proprietor, nor does he wish to enjoy his disciples, either grossly or subtly. (5)

Although sastra recommends that the spiritual master generally should be chosen from among uttama-adhikari Vaishnavas, one may sometimes choose a spiritual master from the second- or even third-class level. Although disciples think of the spiritual master as their guru, no bona fide spiritual master thinks he is a "guru;" he thinks of himself only as the servant of his spiritual master and Lord Krishna. When he gives instructions to his disciples, he knows these instructions come from the disciplic succession, through his own spiritual master, by the grace of the Supreme Lord in his heart. When his disciples follow such instructions, he learns from them how to be a better servant of his spiritual master and the Lord. Thus he takes his disciples as his guru. (6)

Guru as representative of the Supersoul

Both the initiating and instructing spiritual masters represent of the Supersoul. (7) The guru is actually one; the guru is the Supersoul. The guru, as the representative of the Supersoul, may appear differently externally, but the transcendental message is the same. Therefore, no real representative of God can disagree with another representative of God. Sometimes it seems there are disagreements among genuine representatives of God, but these are not disagreements, only different perspectives on the same subject. When disagreement or confusion arises among Vaishnavas about transcendental subjects, it is almost always a symptom that at least someone involved, if not everyone, is not perfectly in touch with the Supersoul and thus lacks a clear perspective on the transcendental platform.

Pretension will lead to falldown

Sometimes someone may pretend to be a self-realized soul. Such pretenders may try to hide their imperfections. However, when discovered, such a cheating mentality will only serve to diminish their followers' faith in the Lord and His representatives. Just as a sterile woman cannot give birth to a child simply by imitating the sound of a pregnant woman, no one can become an uttama-adhikari Vaishnava by imitation. The pretentious imitation of an uttama-adhikari Vaishnava will lead to offenses and eventual falldown. (8)

The aspiration to be a reputed preacher based on desires for profit, adoration, and distinction is subtle, but nonetheless a product of sex desire. As soon and as much as there is material desire, one's consciousness is covered and one is disqualified from acting independently based solely on one's own inspiration, without consultation with authorities. (9)

It is not necessary to pose oneself as a pure devotee when one is not actually a pure devotee. A pretentious person, by politics, often obligates his followers to worship him beyond what he merits. Everything should be done naturally. Worship should not be manipulated by force or politics, but by genuine love according to the devotion that one inspires. (10)

Art of cooperation

To spread Krishna consciousness in the absence of an advanced uttama-adhikari Vaishnava, third-class and second-class Vaishnavas must follow the instructions of Srila Prabhupada and learn the art of cooperation. (11) Such cooperative devotional service based on truth will also help the devotees advance to the higher platforms of pure devotional service. A first-class devotee naturally knows the art of cooperation.

How to settle disagreements among devotees

On a spiritual topic of disagreement, if no one devotee's judgment is recognized as final, then devotees should resolve their differences by patient investigation done in a humble prayerful mood based on Srila Prabhupada books, instructions, and example. By the mercy of the Supreme Lord, such an investigation produces a clear understanding among the devotees, who can then act to serve the Supreme Lord with full conviction and enthusiasm.

The GBC Body, while acknowledging its imperfections, must naturally function as the ultimate governing authority of ISKCON. (12) The GBC derives its authority from Srila Prabhupada's instructions and must try to understand them and execute them as he would desire. Therefore, the GBC Body's authority must rest on humility and truth. According to Srila Prabhupada's instructions, the GBC Body's principal duties are to organize the worldwide preaching and to supervise the local temples and their members. Each GBC member should see that the devotees whom he or she is serving as a GBC secretary are performing activities in a Krishna conscious way and are enthusiastic to spread Krishna consciousness. The GBC Body and its members are not to interfere unnecessarily in the affairs of the local temples. (13)

The GBC Body also must be vigilant that the management system Srila Prabhupada created is not interfered with and that the actual purposes of ISKCON are purely maintained. The Body must see that its members are doing their service properly and that no one in ISKCON is falsely assuming a role of authority.

The initiating guru in ISKCON

The initiating gurus in ISKCON derive their authority from the orders of the previous acaryas, as revealed by Srila Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada clearly established ISKCON's system of management with Temple Presidents, Secretaries, and Treasurers, under the supervision of a GBC representative and ultimately the GBC Body. He gave no managerial position to the initiating gurus within ISKCON. Therefore, even after initiating disciples, they are subordinate to the managerial authorities established by Srila Prabhupada.

The principal duty of an initiating guru is to act as an acarya for disciples and demonstrate how to follow the example of Srila Prabhupada and carry out his instructions. The initiating gurus must also show their disciples how to work cooperatively with other devotees in the preaching movement of ISKCON. (14) Srila Prabhupada has given the position of ultimate authority in ISKCON to the GBC Body, so how can an initiating guru make a claim of absolute authority over his disciples or proprietorship of their assets? Of course, the mood of the disciple is that of surrender to the guru, but the mood of the bona fide guru is also that of surrender to the instructions of his own guru. That is disciplic succession.

Why the Gaudiya Matha failed

After the disappearance of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, members of the Gaudiya Matha disobeyed the orders of their spiritual master by establishing an acarya system, and thus did not work cooperatively to spread Krishna consciousness under a GBC system. Instead they divided into different camps that elected acaryas as their leaders. The result was that the preaching stopped. (15)

Why ISKCON is in danger of failing

Srila Prabhupada also established a GBC Body and asked everyone to work under its direction. The members of the Body were to see that the purposes of ISKCON as expressed by His Divine Grace are maintained, and that, if possible, the preaching mission is expanded. (16) But as with the Gaudiya Matha, just after His Divine Grace's disappearance, leading disciples disobeyed the orders of the Founder Acarya to work cooperatively under the GBC Body and, although the GBC Body met yearly, each initiating guru virtually occupied the position of an acarya in his zone. These diksha gurus divided the world into 11 zonal acarya regions and disunited the mission. Some of these initiating spiritual masters claimed that they had become perfect uttama-adhikari Vaishnavas simply by Srila Prabhupada's having appointed them to the position of initiating guru in ISKCON. Generally, without supervision by the GBC Body, they controlled their disciples and assets collected in ISKCON's name. Often, the initiating gurus' absolute authority over their disciples undermined the authority of local temple leaders. The GBC Body at that time often allowed the initiating gurus to assume unrestricted authority. Later on, the resultant fall-downs of most of these zonal acaryas further disrupted the mission.

The imitation of uttama-adhikaris by these neophyte devotees undoubtedly led to their fall-downs and many subsequent problems in ISKCON. The GBC Body didn't properly understand its duties or the position of the initiating guru in ISKCON. Even to this day, although there are no longer official zonal acaryas in ISKCON, many of the same misconceptions have continued to create division among the Society's members, as well as to discourage some sincere devotees, who have consequently distanced themselves from Srila Prabhupada's movement in various ways. Those who control the assets and followers in the Society are rarely accountable for their activities. Thus in ISKCON we not only still have what amounts to zonal acaryas in different parts of the world, such as India, but we have independent temple presidents or preachers accountable to one but themselves.

ISKCON sometimes takes pride in accomplishments that prove to be only temporary. Sometimes our successes in these areas have demonstrated ISKCON's strengths in having determined and faithful preachers who are willing to make sacrifices to spread Krishna consciousness, but have also distracted us from the deeper management problems in other areas.

For example, in the former Eastern Block nations, in the absence of a strong Krsna conscious leader, a pattern is sometimes visible. After the demise of the Communist system, many people became interested in the process of Krishna consciousness and joined the temples. This resulted in a large force of preachers and a surge in book distribution. However, after some time the devotees married and had children, and then preaching and book distribution diminished, and ISKCON began to look more like a church than a preaching movement. Although strong senior preachers certainly added to the initial success—and still add to the on going success in these areas—ISKCON's success appears to be due more to circumstances than to a viable management system that encourages long-term preaching.

Another example can be seen in India, where there are many successes. However, again it is likely that success is due not to a viable management system, but to the unique circumstances of India, which are sometimes the underlying factors that have resulted in many devotees having been initiated and large temples having been built. These unique circumstances include cultural receptivity to Krishna consciousness, combined with a natural acceptance of an acarya system that appeals to the sentiments of the mass of Indian people. Indian people, due to their cultural heritage, are naturally sympathetic to many of the ideals of Krsna consciousness and often easily give support to ISKCON. However, sometimes in India and abroad, the devotees who are engaging Indians sometimes take advantage of this propensity and do not always focus on training the Indian congregation to come to a higher standard of sadhana and engage them in preaching the mission of Lord Caitanya.

The absence of a strong GBC Body and management system has created a authority vacuum within ISKCON. The devotees who join ISKCON often are more loyalty to their initiating guru than to the management structure of the Society. We have seen big temples such as in Bangalore leave ISKCON, and without learning from our mistakes, we do not sufficiently supervise our leaders or the Society's projects. In some places, the strategy of a charismatic leader and experienced managers has encouraged many devotees to join and take initiation. However, when the devotees do not identify themselves as subordinate to the authority structure of the ISKCON society, in the future, when the current gurus leave their bodies, it is not clear what will to happen to such projects.


The last snare of maya is to think oneself God, or even God's pure representative, worthy to be worshiped and served by others. It is an attachment that can adversely affect one's mentality and dealings with others. It is an attachment that is difficult to give up. It is an attachment that has ruined preaching movements such as the Gaudiya Matha. Presently the GBC Body lacks authority. Some of its leading members are initiating gurus who do not want to surrender their high degree of autonomy in the Society. Some leaders in ISKCON cooperate with the Society only as long as they can retain their own autonomy. Many second-generation disciples whose gurus have fallen down have lost faith in ISKCON authorities. On the other hand, some disciples think that it is only their guru who will save them.

If the GBC Body is to regain its authority, its members must become a disciplined body of devotees who are clearly selfless and enlightened in their dedication to Srila Prabhupada's mission. The GBC members must cooperate to advance the world-wide mission of preaching Krishna consciousness and to educate the devotees of ISKCON in Srila Prabhupada's philosophy and practical management systems. To achieve this goal, a strong system of training all the devotees, and especially the potential leaders, should be instituted in the Society by the GBC Body. This system must ensure that all the leaders share the same understanding and values of spiritual principles and the managerial structure of ISKCON.

The gurus, initiating and instructing, have important roles in ISKCON. The GBC Body must see that they and everyone else perform their services not as masters but as servants of Srila Prabhupada and his Society. Only if the leaders sincerely try to become servants of the previous acaryas and give up the controlling and enjoying propensities can Srila Prabhupada's mission succeed. If the leaders take up this mood, they will find infinitely more spiritual pleasure in acting as Krishna's simple instruments than in continuing even a subtle controlling mentality in trying to be appreciated as apparently empowered spiritual preachers.



"The devotee in the first or uppermost class is described as follows. He is very expert in the study of relevant scriptures, and he is also expert in putting forward arguments in terms of those scriptures. He can very nicely present conclusions with perfect discretion and can consider the ways of devotional service in a decisive way. He understands perfectly that the ultimate goal of life is to attain to the transcendental loving service of Krishna, and he knows that Krishna is the only object of worship and love. This first-class devotee is one who has strictly followed the rules and regulations under the training of a bona fide spiritual master and has sincerely obeyed him in accord with revealed scriptures. Thus, being fully trained to preach and become a spiritual master himself, he is considered first class. The first-class devotee never deviates from the principles of higher authority, and he attains firm faith in the scriptures by understanding with all reason and arguments. When we speak of arguments and reason, it means arguments and reason on the basis of revealed scriptures. The first-class devotee is not interested in dry speculative methods meant for wasting time. In other words, one who has attained a mature determination in the matter of devotional service can be accepted as the first-class devotee.
(NoD Chapter 3: Eligibility of a Candidate for Accepting Devotional Service)


"There are two kinds of instructing spiritual masters. One is the liberated person fully absorbed in meditation in devotional service, and the other is he who invokes the disciple's spiritual consciousness by means of relevant instructions. Thus the instructions in the science of devotion are differentiated in terms of the objective and subjective ways of understanding.
(Adi 1.47)

"The acarya in the true sense of the term, who is authorized to deliver Krishna, enriches the disciple with full spiritual knowledge and thus awakens him to the activities of devotional service."
(Adi 1.47)


yasyasti bhaktir bhagavaty akincana
sarvair gunais tatra samasate surah
harav abhaktasya kuto mahad-guna
manorathenasati dhavato bahih

All the demigods and their exalted qualities, such as religion, knowledge and renunciation, become manifest in the body of one who has developed unalloyed devotion for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vasudeva. On the other hand, a person devoid of devotional service and engaged in material activities has no good qualities. Even if he is adept at the practice of mystic yoga or the honest endeavor of maintaining his family and relatives, he must be driven by his own mental speculations and must engage in the service of the Lord's external energy. How can there be any good qualities in such a man?
(SB 5.18.12)


"By the process of executing regulated devotional service, one is actually elevated onto the transcendental stage, beyond the material modes of nature. At that time one's heart becomes illuminated like the sun. The sun is far above the planetary systems, and there is no possibility of its being covered by any kind of cloud; similarly, when a devotee is purified like the sun, from his pure heart there is a diffusion of ecstatic love which is more glorious than the sunshine. Only at that time is the attachment to Krishna perfect. Spontaneously, the devotee becomes eager to serve the Lord in his ecstatic love. At this stage the devotee is on the platform of uttama-adhikari, perfect devotion. Such a devotee has no agitation from material affections and is interested only in the service of Radha and Krishna.
(NoD Chapter 17: Ecstatic Love)


"The author of Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu, Srila Rupa Gosvami, very humbly submits that he is just trying to spread Krishna consciousness all over the world, although he humbly thinks himself unfit for this work. That should be the attitude of all preachers of the Krishna consciousness movement, following in the footsteps of Srila Rupa Gosvami. We should never think of ourselves as great preachers, but should always consider that we are simply instrumental to the previous acaryas, and simply by following in their footsteps we may be able to do something for the benefit of suffering humanity."


"On the whole, you may know that he is not a liberated person, and therefore, he cannot initiate any person to Krishna Consciousness. It requires special spiritual benediction from higher authorities.

The statements of Thakura Bhaktivinode are as good as scriptures because he is liberated person. Generally the spiritual master comes from the group of such eternal associates of the Lord; but anyone who follows the principles of such ever liberated persons is as good as one in the above mentioned group. The gurus from nature's study are accepted as such on the principle that an elevated person in Krishna Consciousness does not accept anyone as disciple, but he accepts everyone as expansion of his guru. That is very high position, called Maha-bhagavata. Just like Radharani, sometimes thinks a subordinate of hers as her teacher, to understand devotion of Krishna. A person who is liberated acharya and guru cannot commit any mistake, but there are persons who are less qualified or not liberated, but still can act as guru and acharya by strictly following the disciplic succession. It is the injunction of the sastras that anyone who sees the Deity in the Temple as made of wood or stone, or considers the acaryas and gurus as ordinary common men, and discriminates Vaishnavas or devotees as belonging to a certain group or caste, are called hellish."
(Letter to: Janardana -- New York 26 April, 1968)

But the spiritual master does not think of himself as Hari. Although he's offered the respect of Hari, he thinks himself as humble servant of Hari and all others. A spiritual master takes his devo..., disciples as his spiritual master. That is the position. He thinks that "Krishna has sent me so many spiritual masters." He does not think himself as spiritual master. He thinks himself their servant. Because they have to be trained. Krishna has appointed him to train them. Therefore he thinks himself as servant of the disciples. This is the position. So when one is advanced, he can see the importance of devotees.
(The Nectar of Devotion--Vrindavana, October 23, 1972)


Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami states that the instructing spiritual master is a bona fide representative of Sri Krishna. Sri Krishna Himself teaches us as the instructing spiritual master from within and without. From within He teaches as Paramatma, our constant companion, and from without He teaches from the Bhagavad-gita as the instructing spiritual master.
(Adi-lila: 1.47)


"However, one should not imitate the behavior of an advanced devotee or maha-bhagavata without being self-realized, for by such imitation one will eventually become degraded."
(NoI Verse 5)


A neophyte devotee is certain to be attacked by other material desires as well, namely desires for women and money. In this way the heart is again filled with dirty things and becomes harder and harder, like that of a materialist. Gradually one desires to become a reputed devotee or an avatara (incarnation).
(Madhya lila 12.135)


Prabhupada: "...after you, who will take the leadership?" And "Everyone will take, all my disciples. If you want, you can take also. (laughter) But if you follow. They are prepared to sacrifice everything, so they'll take the leadership. I may, one, go away, but there will be hundreds, and they'll preach. If you want, you can also become a leader. We have no such thing, that 'Here is leader.' Anyone who follows the previous leadership, he's a leader. 'Indian,' we have no such distinction, 'Indian,' 'European.' "
Brahmananda: They wanted an Indian to be the leader?
Prabhupada: Yes. (laughs) "Everyone, all my disciples, they are leaders. As purely as they follow, they become leader. If you want to follow, you can become a leader.
(Room Conversation, November 2, 1977)


"Srila Prabhupada emphasized, "Your love for me will be tested how after my departure you maintain this institution. We have glamour and people are feeling our weight. This should be maintained. Not like Gaudiya Math. After Guru Maharaja's departure so many acaryas came up. We have won so many important court decisions." (TKG's Diary: Prabhupada's final days)


Srila Prabhupada's Will 1977


Prabhupada: The... The money matters should be dealt with the president, secretary and the treasurer, three men. Out of three, two should sign. And GBC's business is to see that things are going on, money matters. That's all. GBC is not supposed to deal directly. He has to inspect. That's all.
Atreya Rishi: So I can cross this...
Prabhupada: Just like... But the thing is, if the GBC and the president is the same man, that is not good. That is not good. The president should be separate. So the president, treasurer and secretary, they will deal directly, and GBC should inspect book, account, that it is done very nicely. That's all. You can question, "Why you have done this?" That's nice. Otherwise, in the..., it will be difficult to manage.
(Conversation with GBC March 1974)


"So it is the duty of the spiritual master to promote the devotees from the kanishtha-adhikara to the madhyama-adhikara. Not to keep them. My Guru Maharaja, sometimes he used to lament because so many disciples he had, but nobody was coming out very nice preacher."
(The Nectar of Devotion--Vrindavana, November 4, 1972


The words daivera karana indicate that by dint of providence, or by God's will, the followers of Advaita Acarya divided into two parties. Such disagreement among the disciples of one acarya is also found among the members of the Gaudiya Matha. In the beginning, during the presence of Om Vishnupada Paramahamsa Parivrajakacarya Ashtottara-sata Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada, all the disciples worked in agreement; but just after his disappearance, they disagreed. One party strictly followed the instructions of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, but another group created their own concoction about executing his desires. Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, at the time of his departure, requested all his disciples to form a governing body and conduct missionary activities cooperatively. He did not instruct a particular man to become the next acarya. But just after his passing away, his leading secretaries made plans, without authority, to occupy the post of acarya, and they split into two factions over who the next acarya would be. Consequently, both factions were asara, or useless, because they had no authority, having disobeyed the order of the spiritual master. Despite the spiritual master's order to form a governing body and execute the missionary activities of the Gaudiya Matha, the two unauthorized factions began litigation that is still going on after forty years with no decision.
(Adi-lila 12.8)


Prabhupada: Stick to our principle, and see our GBC is very alert. Then everything will go on, even I am not present. Do that. That is my request. Whatever little I have taught you, follow that, and nobody will be aggrieved. No maya will touch you. Now Krishna has given us, and there will be no scarcity of money. You print book and sell. So everything is there. We have got good shelter all over the world. We have got income. You stick to our principles, follow the... Even if I die suddenly, you'll be able to manage. That's all. That I want. Manage nicely and let the movement go forward. Now arrange. Don't go backward. Be careful.
(Room Conversation April 22, 1977, Bombay)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

In the News

by Madhava Smullen on 26 Dec 2009

Posted January 2 , 2010

On Saturday December 12, nine ISKCON devotees were arrested while chanting Hare Krishna outside the 2009 UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.

80,000 people from around the world had taken to the streets at 3pm on Saturday afternoon in a mostly peaceful rally demanding the gathered political leaders to take stronger action against climate change.

Demonstrators walked through the city, carrying banners that read “Demand Climate Justice,” “The World Wants a Real Deal” and “There is No Planet B.”

While ISKCON devotees supported the message of environmentalism and care for Mother Earth, they were mostly there to spread Krishna’s name amongst the huge crowd.

When a few youth activists at the tail end of the demonstration threw cobblestones through the windows of the former stock exchange and Foreign Ministry buildings, police in riot gear moved in and arrested an unprecedented 968 innocent people, saying that it was in “preventative action.”

“We were made to sit on the ice cold road with our hands cuffed behind our backs for four hours, and were not allowed to go to the toilet,” says Keshava Priya Dasi, one of the peacefully chanting Hare Krishna devotees that were rounded up with the crowd.

The protestors were then transported in buses to a nearby detention center where they were held in cramped steel cages for several more hours. Devotees were released by 11:15pm; many others were held until the next morning, when all but thirteen were finally released.

Devotees called the treatment “outrageous” but saw the positive side, saying “It was a very good opportunity that Krishna arranged to spread His name.”

Others were not so generous. After a further 257 protestors were arrested on Sunday, Danish human rights groups claimed that the police may have breached European law and called for their government to launch an immediate inquiry.

Claus Bonnez, a lawyer working with Krim, a human rights and legal support organisation, said: “This has all been done under the fairly new law which entitles police to arrest people and keep them for up to twelve hours. But according to the European Court of Human Rights process, the police will have to prove that it is necessary for democratic society to make such arrests. And I don’t think that the Danish police will be able to prove that."

Ida Thuesen, of Amnesty International Denmark said: “We call for the government ombudsman to begin an immediate investigation into the arrests last night. When nearly 1,000 people are arrested and then all but thirteen are released it means that many of those people were just innocent people in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

One of Denmark’s biggest newspapers and its national TV channel also chipped in. Keshava Priya Dasi and Chaitanya Chandra Dasa were invited to speak on TV 2’s Good Morning Denmark, while Minister of Justice Brian Mikkelsen was challenged on the same program to “defend the police’s actions towards the Hare Krishna devotees and all the other innocents who had been arrested.”

The Minister of Justice apologized in the interview, mentioning that all the innocents who had been arrested could apply for compensation from the government.


Friday, December 18, 2009

Auspicious Passing of Jayo Das

Auspicious Passing of Jayo Das

by Gajahanta das

Posted December 15, 2009

I will try to narrate a brief summary of Jayo das's service to Srila Prabhupada, although I cannot adequately glorify the true nature of his service. I request those who also knew him to please add to or correct what I am recalling.

Jayo prabhu joined ISKCON in Los Angeles, served on the Namahatta Party under Gurukripa Swami and Yashodanandana Swami collecting in Japan for Srila Prabhupada's Mayapur and Vrindavan projects. He served in India on the BBT Library Indian party, distributing books to colleges and libraries in India. Wearing a Santa Claus suit outside of Macy's on Fifth Avenue, he distributed the most Krishna book sets ever distributed in one day as a resident of the Manhattan West 55th Street "skyscraper" temple. He carried Srila Prabhupada on a palanquin barefoot through Vrindavan on parikrama after Prabhupada's departure.

He served HH Bhaktisvarupa Damodar Swami collecting for the Manipur temple and the Bhaktivedanta Institute. During those years we ran an old Alamo Motel together in Oklahoma City in the 1980s.

Jayo das continued to serve Maharaja over the years to the best of his capacity, living simply as a poverty-stricken brahmachari, and he never married. He would visit my family often while we were both going to school in Oklahoma City and was always very affectionate to our children. We would often invite Indian graduate students for home programs with chanting and prasadam. Bhaktisvarupa Damodar Swami would come, and we would arrange for university professors to come to the program as well.

With the help of his brother, Henry Solomon, he eventually moved to Denver. As his health began to fail, he never complained, was always jolly and always recalled his days of direct fundraising service to ISKCON with great affection. He had the opportunity to visit the Manipur temple project, continued to visit me and my family in Florida and attended the installation ceremony of Radha Shyamasundar in Alachua. I am honored to have served Srila Prabhupada together with him and call him my dear friend and godbrother.

His uncontrolled diabetes had led to a septic foot injury two years ago that required the amputation of his foot. He later had to undergo acute emergency care and last year broke both legs in a fall, after which he was confined to a wheelchair. In part due to his fragile condition his doctors determined his cancer to be untreatable.

Due to the prayers and well wishes of all of the devotees and especially by the sincere heartfelt endeavor by Pranaballabha das and Padmalocana das in Denver to serve Srila Prabhupada's devotee, I am happy to report that Jayo das's departure from this world was very auspicious.

He fasted from water and food on the occasion of Saphala Ekadasi, while absorbed in constantly hearing the recording of the Holy Name from His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

In the narration of the glories of Pausha-Krshna Ekadasi, Sri Krishna states to Yudhisthira: "I do not become as pleased by sacrifice or charity as I do by My devotees' observance of a full fast on ekadasi. To the best of one's ability, therefore, one should fast on ekadasi, the day of Lord Hari. Anyone who properly observes this glorious Saphala Ekadasi — even unknowingly, like Lumpaka — will become famous in this world. He will become perfectly liberated at death and return to the spiritual abode of Vaikuntha. Of this there is no doubt."

The Skanda Purana also declares: hari-namaksara-yuktam bhale gopl-mrdankirtam tulasi-malikoraskam sprseyur na yamodbhatah ("Those whose body is adorned with tilaka or gopi-candana, and marked all over with the Holy Names of the Lord, and whose neck and chest are adorned with tulasi-mala, will never be approached by the Yamadutas.")

Jayo prabhu had requested his brother that I take his ashes to India, which I will do at the proper time. Thank you for all of your prayers, well wishes and letters of support for his spiritual journey back home back to Godhead.

I have received the following e-mail from our devotees in Denver, Pranaballabha das (ACBSP) and Padmalocana das (BSDS):

I would like to relate to you some of the events that occurred today, the passing from this world of Jayo das prabhu. Today is Saturday December 12, 2009. Pradmalocana das prabhu and I arrived at the St. John's Hospice center at around 12:45 pm.

We went immediately to Jayo's room, where we found him still breathing but not externally conscious. We adjusted his headphones (Srila Prabhupada chanting japa) so that he could hear clearly. We discussed Jayo's condition and asked the nursing staff to bathe his body as well as to change his clothing. We left the room while the nursing staff attended to his needs.

Then we went back into his room and proceeded to mark his body with Tilak and Gopichandana. Then we placed a new Brahmin thread over his shoulder, and decorated his body with flower garlands from the Deities. I then placed Tulsi leaves in his mouth and around his head. Then we poured Ganga water in his mouth while chanting the Maha Mantra. We then noticed that his breathing had all but stopped. The time was approximately 1:20 p.m. (MST). We called for the head nurse to come to attend to Jayo. She pronounced that his heart had stopped and that he had passed away.

Then we asked for the use of a private room so that we could perform the last funeral rites for our dear departed godbrother. JayoĆ¢�™s body was moved into a very nice room, where we chanted the required mantras and said our heartfelt goodbyes.

A funeral home director arrived shortly after this to take the body to the crematorium. He discussed with us that the cremation will probably take place once all of the legalities and paperwork are completed (Tuesday or Wednesday of next week). Padmalocana and I will attend the cremation next week.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Correcting ISKCON’s Guru System

August 10, 2009 by Bhakti Charu Swami

By Bhakti Charu SwamiBhakti Charu Swami

Being enlivened by so many thought-provoking observations and concepts on the subject of guru-tattva and the ISKCON institution I feel inspired to express some ideas and understandings on this issue.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, while reviving Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s Sankirtana movement, realized that the massive task of spreading Krsna Consciousness all over the world, in every town and village, would not be possible without the collective endeavors of committed devotees for generations to come. Therefore he saw the need for an institution, and gave the blueprint of that institution in the form of his “Namahatta” (the market place of the holy name) and “Visva Vaisnava Raja-Sabha.” (the Royal Assembly of the Vaisnavas from All Over the World). Srila Bhaktisidhanta Sarasvati Thakura gave a shape to that concept in the form of his “Gaudiya Matha” and when that institution fell apart, Srila Prabhupada revived the spirit of his Guru Maharaja through ISKCON.

It is important to note that Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur, Srila Bhaktisidhanta Sarasvati Thakura and Srila Prabhupada, all three of them, gave more importance to the institution than to their own authority - in spite of being the founders and organizers of their institutions they placed themselves as ordinary members of their respective institutions. For example, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura indentified himself as the sweeper of the Namahatta. Srila Bhaktisidhanta Sarasvati Thakura called himself the servant of the Gaudiya Matha, and Srila Prabhupada identified himself as a mere member of the Governing body of ISKCON.

Although Srila Prabhupada spread Krsna Consciousness all over the world within the amazingly short span of ten years time, he knew that he would not be able to spread it in every town and village during his lifetime; rather, it would take generations to achieve that. That is why he was so emphatic about the effective continuity of his mission through his ISKCON. Personalities such as Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Srila Bhaktisidhanta Sarasvati Thakura and Srila Prabhupada come to grace this world only once in a blue moon. It is Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s causeless mercy that those three personalities came in such a succession. Their appearances on this planet was actually Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s divine arrangement for reviving His Sankirtana movement and fulfill His prediction that Krsna Consciousness movement would spread in every town and village on this planet. Although, being empowered by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, they could achieve anything and perform incredible miracles, yet, for the sake of fulfilling the ultimate purpose of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s mission they emphasized the collective continuity of the movement through an institution. Srila Bhaktisidhanta Sarasvati Thakura was an extremely brilliant personality who attracted countless luminaries of his time within the fold of his Gaudiya Matha. However, soon after his disappearance when the Gaudiya Matha disintegrated, in spite of all those luminaries the propagation of Krsna Consciousness practically stopped.

Srila Prabhupada explained that, that happened because most his prominent followers could not understand the importance of continuing his mission through the institution he established. They held on to the traditional concept and concluded that a spiritual heritage could not effectively continue through an institution managed by a bunch of mundane managers, they defied the instruction of their spiritual master and appointed an acarya [who eventually fell down] the institution that he so meticulously structured collapsed.

Srila Prabhupada, in order to protect his ISKCON from such an unfortunate possibility, emphatically told us not to make the same mistake that his god-brothers made after his Guru Maharaja’s disappearance. He advised us to continue the mission under the authority of a collective management structure. Nevertheless, after Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance, we in ISKCON also made a similar mistake. Thinking that Srila Prabhupada had appointed 11 successors we also plunged in to the same syndrome of appointing spiritual heads of the institution presuming that after Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance they inherited ISKCON.

In 1987, about 10 years after Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance, this mistake was addressed by concerned leading devotees of ISKCON, but was not fully corrected. Just by adding more gurus and allowing them to initiate wherever they could attract disciples, that mistake was only diluted to some extent but was not really corrected.

Recently, the GBC body became painfully aware that through that mistake a parallel line of authority has been created in ISKCON which is causing a considerable amount of damage to the institution and is stifling the growth of the movement. It is very laudable of the GBC body that they have taken this issue very seriously and are working hard to rectify it.

In order to effectively establish an institution we need two essential elements - the head of the institution, and its management structure. In ISKCON we have to be absolutely clear that Srila Prabhupada is the head of the institution and he will continue to be that as long as the institution lasts, and the management structure Srila Prabhupada established - the GBC, temple presidents, departmental heads, etc, must be fully functional without any deviation.

If we compare the institution of ISKCON to a corporate structure, then we must recognize that Srila Prabhupada is the proprietor of ISKCON, and the other leaders of this institution are the managers. The managers manage, and although they get their remunerations and incentives for that, the profit belongs to the proprietor. In ISKCON, it is important that we clearly recognize the fact that everything in ISKCON, including even all the devotees, belongs to Srila Prabhupada, then only this mistake that is stifling the growth of our institution will be rectified and Krsna Consciousness movement will start to spread once again, all over the world, in leaps and bounds.