BY: JAYA MADHAVA DAS (ACBSP)
Oct 20, 2011 — MOSCOW, RUSSIA (SUN) — Judging by the recent Sampradaya Sun articles exposing to the public Uncle GBC Hari Vilas das Prabhu’s shameless demigod worship in Issaquah, Washington, one would have to be deaf, dumb and blind to not see how wrong and really seriously off ISKCON Seattle (and much of ISKCON) has become. And it’s not the first time this has happened. Hari Vilas as a GBC has allowed so many compromises and deviations (for money) — ISKCON’s New Age, Hindu trend.
I lived in Seattle for 10 years (1990-1999), and I saw it going down (spiritually) and was helpless to stop it. Over a decade ago myself and two other Prabhupada disciples personally had a meeting with Hari Vilas das about the demigod worship and Hinduized programs in the Seattle ISKCON Temple, circa 1998. Ironically, he agreed with us that it was not correct, but afterwards did nothing to normalize ISKCON Seattle. When I telephoned to ask him why he agreed to our complaints but did nothing to correct it, I was greeted by such foul language… every four letter word in the book he shouted at me! This is true!
This, my dear Prabhus, are the kind of devotees who are the management of ISKCON now. Many GBCs and temple presidents are virtually without any real accountability. That’s a fact. It’s tragic, sinful, and greatly offensive to HDG Srila Prabhupada. Moreover I have to say none of this would be happening in ISKCON anywhere without GBC neglect.
They are allowing all this embarrassing nonsense in Prabhupada’s temples (Hinduized, New Age, Mayavadi Impersonalism, personality cults, etc.) Full credit must go to the whole GBC as a body for not correcting this downturn in ISKCON. They have failed at maintaining Srila Prabhupada’s directions on ”How to manage ISKCON.” The proof is in the pudding… the book distribution, Harinams, Bhakta Programs and brahmacari ashrams have gone way down in the West, and money is more important then following Srila Prabhupada’s instructions (or devotees) for many leaders in ISKCON. This is tragic. Hellish.
We no longer make devotees, we import green card devotees or pay salaries to the temple president and devotees. That’s what has happened to Srila Prabhupada’s original ISKCON in the USA, UK and EU. It seems that even if some GBCs did want to restore ISKCON, there are now too many rich and powerful gurus who will fight off any real reform in ISKCON to bring it up to the spiritual standards Prabhupada wanted for it.
Many leaders have become reckless impersonalists, who do not care and cannot be bothered by ISKCON’s deviations. It’s all about money. He who has the money is bulletproof from any GBC corrections. There has been a mass exodus of so many sincere devotees — those who were neglected, ignored and thrown out because they pointed out Maya in ISKCON’s Temples.
Mahavidya das prabhu is a perfect example of a sincere godbrother who got shown the door, once he exposed the deviations at the Bhaktivedanta Manor (and it’s still a Hinduized ISKCON Manor). We have all seen the blatant compromises to ISKCON in the Pacific Northwest. Now many ISKCON temples copy this. It’s heartbreaking for any sincere Prabhupada disciple or follower to see these strange, unauthorized kinds of deviations becoming institutionalized in ISKCON, be it Seattle or the Bhaktivedanta Manor or Utah Krishna’s, etc.
In Houston, ISKCON had its Deities ripped off and in the UK, one temple burned down… all Hinduized temples. Is this something to take notice of? Is KRSNA giving us a hint… get back to Prabhupada’s ISKCON or else face severe reactions? Looks that way.
ISKCON temples who are Hinduized show an endless lust for money, performing illegal weddings for Indians, cars blessings, etc… not caring for the devotees who worked so hard in the previous years. This is a crime and a twisted, selfish way of managing ISKCON. God help those who continue this off the wall trend. It’s no wonder the GBC has lost nearly all its respectability in the devotee community.
If someone were to investigate under what name the ISKCON Seattle temple is, they will be in for a big surprise! Yes, so many so-called American ISKCON temples are no longer legally registered as ISKCON. Check it out yourself. Hence, the GBC can’t touch them… its Seattle, Utah… Canada, etc., it’s a fact.
For the readers of this article, I present the history of how Seattle ISKCON made its long journey downhill. All this misfortune has happened to a once thriving ISKCON temple in Seattle that once had a large devotee community and bramacari /brahmacarini ashrams. In the USA/UK/EU, the bramacari/brahmacarini ashram are almost dead on arrival. Another Tragedy.
After Srila Prabhupada left the planet, Hansadutta was put in charge of Seattle and Berkeley (all now under Hari Vilas das Prabhu). I need not go into the details of what happed with Hansadutta das; the whole world knows of his infamous falldowns and false ego pride and how it eventually ruined all these wonderful preaching zones and devotees lives. After Hansadutta das was relived of his GBC position and guru status, his former zone (like so many other zones in the USA and EU) was almost destroyed. Most devotees went for the exit doors and never came back to ISKCON.
I saw all this happening personally, as I was in Seattle before the temple (a nice church in a great location) was closed down by another fallen Zonal guru, Jagadisa das. He decided to move ISKCON to a dumpy one floor house in Issaquah, Washington, far from the city, and isolated from mainline preaching.
Eventually Jagadisa das also took a big fall and to his credit, Hari Vilas saved the ISKCON temple in Seattle from closing its doors. That said, its sad to see Hari Vilas das is now running the ISKCON center like a Hindu business, and he could care less about little issues, like worshipping the demigods in front of the Deities in Srila Prabhupada’s temple. Any new bhakta can read Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As Is and understand that demigod worship is NOT WHAT WE DO AS KRSNA BHAKTAS in ISKCON.
What will happen about all these deviations in Seattle ISKCON, at the Bhaktivedanta Manor, etc.? Sadly, nothing. Not one damn thing will change. Therefore, if we really care about the deviations in ISKCON, there is no one stopping us from preaching and starting centers for Srila Prabhupada, even if it’s from our humble homes. Just do it.
Don’t hold your breath for the useless GBC body to change anything in our lifetime. CEOs like their job security. Lord Krsna has a plan to fix things in ISKCON, but we may not all live to see it.
In closing, I want to relate a short story about an encounter I had in April 2011 at ISKCON Mayapur. I met one devotee who warned me not to read the Sampradaya Sun online. When I told him I wrote articles for it he was speechless.
Seems that one of the few websites online to address real serious issues in ISKCON is, in fact, the Sampradaya Sun. It’s not a sell out to useless New Age/Hinduism…mish mash, wishy washy preaching as seen currently in ISKCON. Many sincere writers of Sun articles speak from their hearts and tell many uncomfortable truths about what’s gone wrong in ISKCON. In fact, they care so much about ISKCON, that’s why they speak out. Unfortunately, it’s all too apparent the GBC body just isn’t listening.