Prabhavishnu: A Fallen Prince
BY: ROCANA DASA
Feb 04, 2012 — CANADA (SUN) — This essay is focused on the public apology letters recently released by Prabhavishnu Prabhu. Other Sampradaya Sun contributors have addressed the messages communicated within these letters. For the most part I’m in agreement with these observations, so I’ll avoid being repetitive.
Srila Prabhupada states that the initial objective of an expert preacher is to have the opposing party reveal their mis-understanding of the Absolute Truth by having them speak and/or write their position. Prabhavishnu’s two open letters reveal his present state of contaminated maya-consciousness.
His first letter focuses mainly on his self-diagnosed physical and mental exhaustion – no mention of his spiritual ill health. He lays the blame for his anxiety ridden state primarily on his personal services/duties to his Spiritual Master, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami. As a true blue ISKCON-ite, he has adopted the perception that service to the Spiritual Master is non-different from serving the institution known as ISKCON. In his mind this means that accepting the sannyasa order, becoming a member of the GBC and assuming the duties of a diksa guru are more in the context of service within ISKCON rather than a committed vow to his Spiritual Master.
His resignation letters appear more in the style of corporate executive or political functionary rather than a disciple begging forgiveness from his Spiritual Master due to abandoning his vows and service. Does this scenario remind anyone of the first section of the second chapter of the Bhagavad-gita? Arjuna surrendered to Lord Sri Krishna, but our Godbrother Prabhavishnu dasa declined, and we see the results.
Prabhavishnu writes that he always chanted his rounds, attended daily kirtan, etc. He is either lying or he is committing offenses to the Holy Name. He has essentially told us that he is abandoning his divine duties in order to reside in a warm, comfy country (Thailand) in the intimate company of a nice wealthy Chinese businesswomen.
Any fool who swallowed the story that “the swami” made the acquaintance of this woman a mere nine months ago deserves to be duped. Naturally, the public have been more than curious of the actual details, and it took the GBC until just this week to release their own ‘comprehensive report‘.
How did an ISKCON Vaisnava swami make the acquaintance of such a lovely lady? Was she in the habit of attending the Bangkok temple? I think not, or he would have mentioned this important piece of information. This only leads us to assume he went “woman hunting” as his Spiritual Master frequently refers to it in his lectures.
In his letter, our renounced ex-swami informs us he has no immediate plans to marry his oriental lover. Every bhakta knows that this is very much against our Vaisnava principles. In fact, Srila Prabhupada stated many times in many lectures that this attitude is symptomatic of a “dog-like” mentality.
Are Prabhavishnu’s pastimes proof that the sadhana process doesn’t really work? According to him he was chanting the prescribed number of rounds. He continued to perform his arduous GBC duties and diksa guru service. He was associating with the “advanced” devotees in the Holy Dhama. But despite all these auspicious activities, Lord Sri Krishna choose not to protect him from falldown.
According to the Science of Devotional Service, our Godbrother must have been committing some very serious offenses. What are they? As students of the teachings of the Sampradaya Acaryas we reject the notion that serving the Spiritual Master and the devotees is a cause of falldown, or even mental and physical deterioration. The promise of the Lord is that He will provide you what you lack so long as you are sincerely serving and are not offending the Lord or His pure devotees.
But Prabhavishnu is blaming the service itself on the fact that he, through his own free will, put himself in these circumstances. In his deluded state of consciousness, he has essentially analyzed his situation to be the result of him being put into an untenable situation for him, because he’s a certain type of personality. According to his own personal analysis he’s a kind, gentle person who’s not suited to sannyasa and travelling, he’s not suited to be a manager or a GBC, and he’s not suited to be an initiating guru. So if you look closely at what he’s saying, he feels he’s more suited to being in Thailand with a non-devotee businesswoman, living comfortably. That’s the way he’s personally most suited, it’s his nature.
In the follow-up “damage control” letters penned by our vomit-eating (vantasi) Godbrother, he shares with his public the Reader’s Digest version of his illustrious devotional history. The gullible ISKCON-ite will only be familiar with the sanitized depictions of ISKCON’s history after Srila Prabhupada’s departure, but historical reality tells a different story, and Prabhavishnu’s version of his service history must be understood in the true historical context.
In typical swami-speak, we hear that our sincere and eager young recruit was ordered to take the difficult flight to the exotic land of India. Upon safely landing, our ideal brahmachari assumed valuable service to Srila Prabhupada under the guidance of a local GBC. In fact, after Srila Prabhupada went into Samadhi, this GBC man became a Zonal Acarya, now know to us as His Divine Grace Jayapataka Swami Acarya-pada.
Prabhavishnu took sannyasa from Jayapataka during the period of 1979 to 1981. During this period, most of the Zonal Acaryas were engaged in their one-upmanship game. One of their competitive practices was to initiate their local leading brahmacaries into the sannyasa order, because one’s prestige as a Zonal Acarya was enhanced by the number of “junior” sannyasis you had working under you. Obviously, our self-confessed Prabhavishnu was a victim of this practice. But it wasn’t “the GBC” who coerced the reluctant Prabhavishnu dasa Brahmachari into accepting the vows of a sannyasi – it was the Zonal Acarya, Jayapataka Swami. The lay of the land in that dark period was that it was the Zonal Acarya Board who dominated the other non-Zonals and big ISKCON leaders, not a functioning GBC board.
While I have penned a number of articles in the series, “Princes of the Zonal Acaryas“, I have not as yet described the princes of Jayapataka Swami, include Prabhavishnu. One of the questions I pose in these articles is: in their supportive role, do these princes suffer reactions for the sinful offenses of their Zonal Acarya Godfathers? Logically and sastrically, one can assume that they do.
Prabhavishnu was dishonest in not clearly stating that it was, in fact, Jayapataka Swami who paved the way to his taking sannyasa, becoming a GBC and a diksa guru. Even today, regardless of how many of these “princes” are sacrificed, it is taboo to mention the names of the Zonal Acaryas who are responsible. ISKCON members can avoid exclusion from the society for any abominable practice, up to and including murder and child abuse, but if one dares to criticize or blame the top leaders, then excommunication is assured. Myself and many others stand as examples. Prabhavishnu, on the other hand, reveals in his letter that he hopes to be later included in ISKCON society, especially in the zone of Jayapataka, where he can join the ranks of ex-Swamis like Hari-sauri and Bhavananda, who are enjoying a comfortable existence there.
Despite his recent medical disability, Jayapataka Swami stands out as the sole remaining active Zonal Acarya. During the reform period (mid-1980′s) when the Zonal Acaryas were in fear of losing everything, Jayapataka stood out as the architect of the GBC-oriented system that has evolved into what is today the “ultimate managing authority”, or the collective absolute acarya of ISKCON. Let us not forget that in 1978, Jayapataka was a key philosophical exponent of the Zonal Acarya system. According to Prabhavishnu’s letter, Jayapataka Swami pressured him into becoming a GBC member.
Also keep in mind that in 1984, Zonal Acaryas like Jayapataka were under a great deal of grassroots pressure to reform, or else. In response, they decided to capitulate by opening up the GBC and approving a selective group of new gurus. In the wake of the dramatic falldowns of Hansadutta and Jayatirtha, the blush had come off the rose. Their artificial, concocted system was quickly deteriorating. Jayapataka knew more than anyone that Bhavananda was a mega- scandal just waiting to happen. So Gopal Krishna Swami, Jagadisa Swami and a few others were reluctantly given club membership, as de facto replacements for the original fallen Zonal Acaryas.
It was the exposure of Bhavananda that heralded the Reform Movement. At this point, the politically astute Jayapataka Swami understood that he had to pad the GBC with his “yes-men”. And voila! Prabhavishnu was appointed to the GBC.
Today, we see that Prabhavishnu has craftily composed his “swan-song” letter. His real targeted audience is those who knew what sort of backroom politics surrounded his GBC appointment, and he’s letting them know that he’s now suffering the results of that maneuver. But at the same time he is not being too straightforward, risking the wrath of Jayapataka Swami, who would see to it that Prabhavishnu never set foot in Mayapur again.
The carefully orchestrated so-called Reform Movement resulted in the then surviving Zonal Acaryas keeping their multitude of disciples and political GBC positions. The only permitted reform that slightly diminished their power base was that the newcomers could now initiate in what had once been their exclusive zones.
Accurate ISKCON historical memory tells the story of the opening up of fertile initiating areas for the latecomers, due in part to the falldown of Zonal Acaryas such as Harikesa, Ramesvar, Bhagavan and Bhavananda, as well as the fading out or retirement of Satsvarup and Hridayananda, and the departure of Tamal Krishna. Prabhavishnu followed the disciple gold trail to Eastern Europe and “down-under” (Australia and New Zealand), gradually accumulating 1,500 of his own disciples. And if you consider his recent duck dive from this perspective, you will get a clearer understanding of the reasons he is now being trampled by an accumulation of elephant offenses.
How many more of these second-tier ISKCON approved initiating diksa gurus are being lined up by Lord Sri Krishna’s faithful servant, the dreaded Mayadevi, to suffer a drama of self-destruction and humiliating exposure? The most incredible aspect of this inevitable- as-death drama is that the other close associates of Prabhavishnu are deluded into thinking it will not happen to them! Of course, Srila Prabhupada warned his disciples that their main fault was they were not enough afraid of Maya.
Prabhavishnu has admittedly adopted and is preaching the modern concocted philosophical conception of position and responsibilities of being a diksa guru. Vaisnava sastra does not support the notion that an initiating diksa guru just accepts disciples on behalf of an institution, such as we see in the present day ISKCON. Preaching and promoting bogus siddhanta is categorically one of the worst forms of offense a Vaisnava can commit. First, Prabhavishnu supported the Zonal Acarya concept; now he preaches that the definition of diksa initiation includes the disciple’s official admission into an invented religious practice, thus usurping ISKCON, the original mission of a Sampradaya Acarya.
Such nonsense rhetoric is being presented by many ISKCON diksa gurus today. A perfect example is Bhakti Caru Swami, as heard at a recent initiation ceremony lecture he gave in Germany. In this lecture, Bhakti Charu articulates in some detail the philosophy that many of these gurus have adopted, which is not in line with Srila Prabhupada’s program. This Kaliyuga concept is summarized as follows: Srila Prabhupada is responsible to take their disciples back to Godhead, through his books/teachings, along with the disciple’s local temple authorities. The local devotees recruit and train and engage the diksa guru’s disciples. But this institutionalized guru system is the ultimate responsibility cop-out, and is nothing less than outright cheating. These itinerate “tax collectors” show up at the temple every few years, primarily for the purpose of accepting guru daksine and to remind their “disciples” to regularly transfer money to their personal Paypal account.
Sastrically and traditionally, bona fide Vaisnava diksa gurus are obliged to take full responsibility for training their disciples. Srila Prabhupada demonstrated this principle perfectly. He established ISKCON in order to fulfill this responsibility to his disciples. Srila Prabhupada mentioned on many occasions that he created all his books in order to provide his disciples with pure unadulterated siddhanta, and temple communities so as to provide his sincere followers with a pure atmosphere in which to engage in Krishna consciousness.
In his apology letters, Prabhavishnu is also not pointing out that under this crazy ISKCON initiation system, he was allowed and encouraged to accumulate far too many disciples. Today, we can all witness the reality that this bewildered, fallen fool could never maintain even one disciple, let alone 1,500. Is this scenario offensive to the Sampradaya Acaryas?
The bona fide initiating guru system is an essential pillar of our unalloyed philosophy. Our Vaisnava siddhanta is resting on a foundation of loving personalism. Bhakti is best described as the mentality of being the ‘servant of the servant’. In other words, if some living entity renders you service, whether it be family members or even a cow, then you are indebted to them. Demigods, brahmanas, kings are all providing service. The disciple is informed of their debt to the guru, who is assumed to provide valuable service, but if the guru doesn’t serve and instead just takes service without reciprocating, then they are running up a large debt.
Both parties in a genuine loving relationship must play their part. Prabhavishnu’s circumstances indicate that he is totally indebted. He has failed to be a transparent via media to his Spiritual Master and ultimately to Lord Sri Krishna. He foolishly thinks he can hide out in some demoniac country in the arms of a representative of Maya and not have to pay. How delusional is this?
In the Srimad Bhagavatam we hear, on the highest possible level, about the terms of pure relationships, as experienced between Lord Sri Krishna and the gopis of Vrindavan. Krishna explains that He is so indebted to the gopis that He can never repay them for their unalloyed loving service.
In this material existence, taking on the vows of a bonafide diksa guru is most serious. It is not a game or a business. Yet in the ISKCON corporation, power is relative to how many disciples you have initiated, which impacts your personal cash flow. It appears that there is no conception that all this laxmi has to be repaid or transferred to the proper eternal bank account. The diksa guru cannot simply take money from disciples, and utilize that laxmi in order to establish an illicit relationship with a non-devotee Thai women, who wouldn’t be interested in her lover if he was just an impoverished Hare Krishna devotee.
It’s a well-known fact throughout the world that tourists fly to Bangkok in order to enjoy sexual encounters. Prabhavishnu should have known that Bangkok is the graveyard of many past ISKCON sannyasis – even during Srila Prabhupada’s lila. Paramahamsa Swami was a Bangkok victim. Hari-sauri broke his sannyasa vows in the Far East, and it seems that Prabhavishnu is essentially following in the footsteps of Hari-sauri das. Hari-sauri helped set the precedent and standard, although it now appears everyone has forgiven and forgotten the history of this once pompous swami. Hari-sauri broke his vows with a Chinese businesswomen. His friends on the GBC got him remarried, gave him a position, and helped him write and distribute his books on Srila Prabhupada. He is now enjoying a comfortable householder existence in Mayapur Dham, enjoying with friends like Bhavananda. Prabhavishnu knows Hari-sauri as a friend from Calcutta. In his bewildered mind, he no doubt concludes that his buddy Hari-sauri gave up sannyasa and is now enjoying a good grihasta life, so why can’t he do the same?
In his letters, Prabhavishnu has even let us know that after some amount of time has passed, he’ll come searching for a Hari-sauri style comfortable position within the institution. Meanwhile Hari-sauri has come to Prabhavishnu’s defense, saying in the ISKCON forums that the things being said about Prabhavishnu in the Sampradaya Sun are just terrible – he himself is certainly not part of the ‘community of concerned devotees’ who would ever be so critical of a fallen swami. No, of course he wouldn’t. He wants Prabhavishnu to enjoy the same level of acceptance and short memory for offenses that he himself enjoyed. Hari-sauri does not seem realize that he has helped to set the standard in ISKCON, and others in future will look to him as an example of why their own falldowns should be quickly forgiven and forgotten.
We have had another similar example recently, with rumors circulating that a disciple of Srila Prabhupada’s, one of ISKCON’s most famous chefs has impregnated a girl half his age. After engaging in illicit sex and having still not married the girl, the Sun is now getting many complaint letters that this senior devotee is still willing to shamelessly sit on the asana, giving lectures in the temple – and the temple authorities are nonchalantly willing to invite him to do so. Like Hari-sauri and Prabhavishnu, this prabhu will no doubt serve as an example to brahmacaries and dissatisfied grihastas on what can be considered acceptable behavior for an ISKCON devotee.
We hear many statements to the effect that it isn’t worth the effort and risk to try and reform ISKCON. Yet through the vehicle of the Sampradaya Sun, so many contributors are presenting the real facts, thus giving reality checks to sincere souls. But is it just too far gone? What set of circumstances would result in an ‘ISKCON spring’, not unlike what we have witnessed in the Middle East? Grassroots uprising are happening all around the world, as people push to get rid of tyrannical regimes. What would it take to create a grassroots uprising in ISKCON, in order to purge Srila Prabhupada’s mission of all these contaminated leaders? It is my strongly held belief that the ISKCON rank and file must begin by seeing the truth through the eyes of Sastra, informing their fellow Godbrothers and sisters of the hidden facts. Personal stories must be told, no matter the cost. The truth about the degree of contamination that is now rampant in our ISKCON society must come out, in full view. If left in the shadows, it will just continue to grow, as it has for the last 30 years – a deadly cancer that is destroying Srila Prabhupada’s movement.
In Prabhavishnu’s case, he knows that Jayapataka Swami still welds a great deal of power. If you hope and plan to serve in the Holy Land of Mayapur, which is controlled by Jayapataka and his disciples, then you must stay silent. One of the well used and predictable responses we hear from apologists like Hari-sauri, is that Srila Prabhupada was very forgiving when his swamis fell down. In particular, we are reminded of the story of Madhudvisa Swami. The short story is that Srila Prabhupada chastised those who were criticizing Madhudvisa, saying it is wrong to drive him away. This pastime of Srila Prabhupada’s is undeniable, but it should be taken in context. I’m certain Srila Prabhupada did not intend to have this unique set of circumstances eclipse the teachings of our Vaisnava sastra. There are so many other statements made by Prabhupada in his purports and emphasized many times in his lectures, which offer a different view, and they cannot all be simply ignored in favour of this one convenient example. Yet we are asked by the interpreters of Srila Prabhupada’s lila to ignore the mandates around sannyasi deviations, and to instead speculate that Prabhupada would apply the same principles with today’s deviating swamis as he did during his lila, with Madhudvisa.
The powerful GBC members wish to be seen as the present day Acaryas, which means that whatever they want is truth, despite how their decisions contradict Sastra. On the other hand, if anyone dares pointing out their faults or challenges their authority, then the predictable reaction is that of a thunderbolt. Many highly esteemed disciples of Srila Prabhupada have been driven out, while total deviants have been given all compassion and facility. Bhavananda stands are proof positive. In comparison to the chronic debauchee Bhavananda, who resides in Mayapur Dham under the shelter of Jayapataka, Prabhavishnu is sure to be shown mercy and compassion by the great Jayapataka after the dust has settled. And in return, Prabhavishnu clarifies in his letter that the GBC are great, sincere and hard-working, and he instructs his disciples to take shelter of them.
Each reader has their own unique set of circumstances. Some are directly impacted by the Prabhavishnu scandal while others have another reality to deal with. But we have all been forewarned by the great Sampradaya Acaryas to expect this type of spiritual confusion in the Age of Kali. Lord Caitanya and His bona fide representatives have given us the most absolute of all Absolute Truths and the knowledge and means to achieve it. Chaitya Guru (Paramatma) is within everyone’s heart and is directing us according to our desires. My writings are sincerely meant to give another perspective, beyond what is made available within the institution. One ultimately has to fly their own plane, using whatever knowledge has been made available. Many accuse me of being offensive, but I am simply trying to help the reader avoid committing the same offenses that have brought Prabhavishnu to the pitiable condition he now finds himself in.