“…being forced out of ISKCON…”
The following comment of mine failed to pass moderation on Mother Radhapriya’s blog, under her discussion of “The Grapes Are Sour–Leaving ISKCON (Part I)” (link)
I’m posting it here (with a few typographical edits, as well as further comments noted in [brackets]), which I probably should have done anyway.
I was surprised to see this written by Sita-pati:
“It’s not like people are being forced out of ISKCON these days because of what they think/believe/whatever.”
I definitely felt forced out of ISKCON back in 2005. That wasn’t so long ago that it wouldn’t qualify as “these days,” IMHO. I thought he knew what happened.
One devotee who had been found guilty of child molestation by the CPO was not required to follow his rectification plan, and was instead invited to my community and lavishly glorified from the Vyasaasana by two popular gurus. I was a community board member, and my wife was on the Child Protection Team, we tried to address the issue but were met with hostility and denial. I was threatened and publicly condemned, and a conspiracy formed to get impeach me from my service. Devotees called my guru, who first made promises that he eventually forgot, and chastised me over the phone, and lied to me to hide that anyone had called.
Of course, there was a lot more that happened, but the gist was that I got run out of ISKCON for doing my service in the face of hypocrisy. More than a half-dozen brahmanas lied to me, including my guru. Also my guru told me my blogging about these activities would stop my brahmana training if I didn’t stop immediately, though he apparently never read my blog himself.
Some of us expect more from their guru than that. Anyway I was so broken by all this that I quit chanting Hare Krishna entirely for almost two years as I fell into deep depression. Eventually, desperate for devotee association, I apologized to everyone and begged forgiveness. Most devotees couldn’t do any better than accepting my apologies; few acknowledged any fault on their part, including my guru.
Gradually I made my way back in, but then we had a community meeting where most of the disciples of one recently deceased guru were fiercely arguing over some political appointments. Later our GBC explained that the new bylaws giving temple control to the GBC were meant to protect the temples against ISKCON’s enemies like rtviks and Narayana M.’s followers. [In my view, the GBC calling devotees "enemies" is effectively forcing them out of ISKCON.] I had heard some of the debates about guru succession before and thought the rtviks had made their case very well, so I looked into it more and concluded that I had to agree with their view of what Srila Prabhupada had ordered.
This is why I’m perplexed by Sita-pati’s statement. First my idea was that a “guilty” finding [by] the CPO should not be ignored, and that a known child molester should not be glorified, especially not by gurus speaking from the vyasaasana. For that I got practically forced out of ISKCON. Now, after so much suffering and eventual return, I find myself in a situation where my GBC would group me as a person who is an “enemy of ISKCON” because I can’t find anywhere that Srila Prabhupada authorized diksa gurus or any change from the rtvik system of initiations that he had instituted when he was physically present. Even still I find similar prejudice here, so that I don’t know if my comment will pass moderation just because of a how I understand historical documents pertaining to Srila Prabhupada’s orders. [As we know now, my comment was rejected.]
I wonder how I failed to get my rose-colored glasses. Honestly I was more inspired for Krishna consciousness before I ever visited an ISKCON temple, just from reading Bhagavad-gita As It Is, but at least I’m still trying. I don’t really know if I’m in ISKCON or out. I guess I’m in at least until I’m told otherwise or if the next scandal goes over the limit. I’m just focusing on Srila Prabhupada while trying not to lose any devotee friends and not worrying about institutional loyalties. I hope that’s ok.
I won’t post her e-mail to me stating her rejection of my comment, since I did not ask for her permission; but what follows was my response to her rejection letter.
Dear Mother Radhapriya,
Hare Krishna. Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to
Thank you for your personal response. I’m not entirely surprised that
you did not allow my comment, though I am disappointed. I was not
arguing on behalf of the rtvik view; I only said that I found that my
review of the evidence brought me to that conclusion. My only purpose
for saying that much was to show that, contrary to Sita-pati’s
assertion, devotees are in fact forced out of ISKCON based on what
they “think/believe/whatever.” His claim is false, and should not be
allowed to stand unchallenged.
You had a question, “If it was not necessary for the Spiritual Master
to be physically present(meaning still on the planet) to give diksa
then why do we all not just take diksa from Lord Krishna?” I find it
rather “nonsensical” [I wasn't going to use such a strong word, but since that was how she described my view, it seemed fair] as well, but please allow me to give a brief
response. If you really don’t want an answer, you can skip the next
First of all, Krishna is on the planet in many forms, so if being on
the planet is the qualifier, then we should be able to accept
initiation from Him. Certainly He is capable of initiating anyone, or
bringing everyone immediately back to Godhead, or whatever. However,
Srila Prabhupada instructed that we are to accept initiation from the
current acarya, and he did not designate any successor acarya(s) or
diksa guru(s). Instead he fully empowered rtviks to initiate on his
behalf, though they later falsely claimed themselves appointed by him
as initiating gurus, which proved itself a farce. That was morphed
into the current system, which is no more authorized by Srila
Prabhupada than the Zonal Acaryas was. He never said the system he
set up was meant to end with the conclusion of his manifest pastimes
here. When asked (May 28, 1977) how initiations were to be performed
after he was “no longer with us,” he said “officiating acarya,” and
“rtvik acarya.” The July 9 letter referenced that conversation, which
indicates that it was an official announcement addressing the same
question. On October 18, 1977, he used the word “deputy,” or a
variation thereof, five times, indicating that even then they were
still initiating on his behalf. He never authorized any acarya or
diksa guru, at least not on record. It’s that simple.
It’s nice that you love your guru, but, [your] calling him “His Divine Grace”
is a violation of certain GBC resolutions passed in 1999, which he
is responsible for failing to instruct you about.
ISKCON Law 188.8.131.52 reads, “No one in ISKCON will be addressed either
publicly or privately with honorific title “His Divine Grace” or the
honorifics ending in “-pada”. Disciples may address their ISKCON diksa
or siksa gurus as “Gurudeva” or “Guru-maharaja”.”
The fact that he did [not] inform you or otherwise allows you to honor him
with that title is a violation of Resolution 407 on his part. The
“It is therefore resolved THAT all ISKCON diksa and siksa gurus and
other authorities are responsible to instruct initiated devotees and
aspiring initiates in the above mentioned details of worship and see
that they are implemented no later than Srila Prabhupada’s Vyasa-puja
celebration in 1999. After that time, devotees who fail to uphold
these practices shall be subject to censure.”
Were you aware that your guru was in violation of ISKCON law by
failing to instruct you that certain honorifics are reserved for His
Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami? I’m sorry but it appears true.
Furthermore, under ISKCON Law, it’s not [as much] your fault; it’s his, and
it’s not the sort of violation that makes a person seem “so humble.”
Rather, it makes you both “subject to censure.” I’m not that
interested in writing to him, so maybe you can mention it to him.
Good luck with that.
Sincerely, your servant,
Honestly it’s hard to believe the GBC ever really intended to do away with their accepting of honorifics that were said to be reserved to Srila Prabhupada. It does look good on the books though. The weird thing is that I’ve found that pointing out these rules doesn’t do anything except make devotees get angry at the one citing them. It seems like a kind of bait for exposing devotees who think Srila Prabhupada really deserves a special place in ISKCON, so that these devotees can then be ostracized. That’s my experience anyway. What a shame.