Invitation to GBC, ISKCON Gurus and Leaders
Copied from FB forum:
Monday, March 29, 2010 at 10:51pm
It has been quite a while since I have contacted you all - almost 25 years.
In that time many things have changed for all of us. However, I would like to draw your attention to an inflammatory issue that has surfaced in the public domain. This topic has the potential to turn a spark into a major meltdown surrounding Prabhupada and the movement he created. With the presence of the internet, Vedabase, Vanipedia, etc., a compilation of Prabhupada’s statements and views has led to some intense questioning of attitudes, that some see as historically affecting the society in dysfunctional ways. http://harekrishnawomen.wordpress.com/about/
You most likely are aware of these statements which depict Prabhupada in a conflicting light. Since they have surfaced in various threads not only on my page but in the public domain, I believe you should weigh in on them in a timely manner keeping in mind the ramifications that arose from denying the full truth of the gurukula experience. This forum is open to you to do so. Since deleting them is no longer an option, empowered discussion appears to be the call. Such discussion could possibly offer you an opening for bringing the society to a better and more encompassing position.
In the past the GBC has taken time to discuss and resolve issues like; the descent of the jivas’, the validity of women Guru’s and the truth about chocolate. But it might be more pressing to address the charge surrounding these theological and social issues, seemingly founded in Prabhupada’s views, and release them before it becomes deadly in the court of public opinion. Deep massage that releases blockage is a better alternative than a nuclear meltdown.
To say that there is no need of change or improvement in how Gaudiya Vaishnavism is being presented, is a position I believe few would accept. So I am inviting you to participate in this forum as much as you feel inclined, with the intention to promote a greater healing.
I have read some of the distasteful and hateful internet diatribes reflecting the lost love between us. I also see the prolonged and numerous court cases taking place, where millions of dollars are being spent in Prabhupada’s name. There have been hundreds of women and children psychologically, physically and spiritually wounded from their time in this movement. Many followers of various guru philosophies have been disenfranchised from each other.
Some wounds originate from us- leaders past and present, and some put responsibility on positions that Prabhupada seems to have held during his time with us. We are all in a position to contribute to a greater peace on earth by healing the issues that are particular to the ISKCON experience, as well as those which are pervasive everywhere.
On this ksetra of cyberspace, it is possible to allow Krsna to drive our chariots through impossible Vyuhas to attain victory for all.
Here is the Link to the Forum discussing these topics; http://www.facebook.com/notes/william-ehrlichman/an-open-forum-for-synthesis-going-beyond-debate/379449229485
PS. If you don’t have a Facebook account, you can access the topic directly with this RSS feed: http://www.facebook.com/feeds/notes.php?id=100000500643803&viewer=100000500643803&key=e8d430b440&format=rss20
CLICK HERE TO COMMENT; http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=379449229485
Copied comments thread follows:
My guess is the same as Kusum Sraman's .They will try to protect their own donations and quite rightly ...
The rest of the world is unexplored ,and there are enough people outside ISCKON who would greatly appreciate any spiritual association or connection and some inspiration .
By the way , I liked the ' namaste' .
March 30 at 1:43am ·
As Sanaka says it is a 'thorny topic', because it calls to question the cultural ideology and position of the founder. Leaders and disciples are then forced to disagree with or interpret the corner stone of their faith and the meaning built in their lives. Can it be done without putting the founder on trial? Therefore, as he concludes 'I will be very surprised', I am forced to agree; because I don't think they can.
March 30 at 1:50am ·
Thank you, Bhagavan, for the call for leadership. Certainly, Srila Prabhupada never shied away from any preaching opportunity and expressing a point of view. The fact that many of them clash with contemporary thinking should be no surprise - and to judge Srila Prabhupada from the standard of contemporary views is misguided. Srila Prabhupada wanted "thoughtful men" and thoughtful men (and women) dialogue (istagosthi). Unfortunately, a strange form of diatribe has become commonplace amongst Srila Prabhupada's espoused followers.
It would be nice to hear the voice of ISKCON in the world again - insightful social commentary. Srila Prabhupada's words about "dead men" not being able to preach come to mind. Where are the harinamas? What's happened to the quality of temple prasadam, kirtanas, etc? Where are the strategies to promote Krsna conscious - whether converting the non-devotees, ministering to those who have previously committed but may have lapsed, providing whole of life guidance to those born in the movement or even the current (young) sadhakas? Are ISKCON's "leaders" developing the capability of successive generations of devotees or enjoying the trappings of stardom?
In the absence of socially relevant messages from ISKCON's leaders, more and more of those who came to Krsna Consciousness inspired by Srila Prabhupada's teachings look outside ISKCON for mature and intelligent perspectives on life's important issues....
Just as the Srimad Bhagavatam is described by Srila Vyasadeva as being heard, sung and accepted by purified men who are thoroughly honest despite imperfect composition, it's time for a reasonable and honest exploration of the imperfections in ISKCON's approach to date. These need not, if honestly faced, represent insurmountable constraints or fatal flaws in ISKCON's fulfilling of the purposes for which Srila Prabhupada established it. However, as long as ISKCON's leaders avoid such uncomfortable topics and stay in the safe zone of preaching purist ideals to their adoring followers then my belief is that ISKCON will, for the most part, continue to unravel as a preaching force and settle further and further into the comfortable maintenance arrangements that have become more and more the norm of late.
I also suspect that ISKCON's leaders will sit this one out - indifference, smug judgements, cowardice?
It's not been my intention to upset anyone - perhaps to prick a conscience here and there, to stimulate a response...
March 30 at 3:04am ·
Damodara Dasa ,thank you for phrasing so nicely my beliefs as well .
March 30 at 4:12am ·
Yves Rc Ayoun
To my obersvation, especially over the past decade, ISKCON is facing a major shift. And really, like it or not, the shift will take place with or without the core leadership. There are far more Gaudiya devotees who are already making the transition than those who are holding the fort, though it is delapidating in substence. And I don't believe that preaching and upholding the torch of sankirtan is only for those who sit in a GBC meeting or a temple council meeting.
An order was given by Mahaprabhu (yare deka tahe kaha krsna upadesh) that order was handed down to the acaryas all the way to Srila Prabhupada who clearly and repeatedly gave the same order. That order is also in the books that are being distributed to every town and village. It is not the monopole of a segregated group of aspiring pure sadhakas, but to anyone who wants to teach Krsna bhakti according to time place and circumstance, with intelligence, proper judgement, balance, experience and of course proper sadhana and vaisnava blessings. But that order is there and all it takes is for one person to take it up and make it happen.
Within the next 20 to 30 years we are going to witness and be part of a wave of departures from this world. It is going to be quite something. And then what will happen to ISKCON? (I have my personal speculative siddhanta on that one but...) How many years do we have to do the needful, which is to break the mould, lest it breaks down by itself. But breaking it will. That mould is what Prabhupada wanted us to grow out of, each individual. If it can be done as a unified voice and the strength of senior devotees, great. If not, each of us have to chiesel away at the mould. 90% of the second generation is only a few years younger than the first one and with about the same amount of seva mileage. So what is holding us back?...
And then you have this fast growing third generation. They are bubbling with enthusiam. They are smart, talented and determined. Watch that space...
It is perhaps true that Bhagavan prabhu's visionary ideas of looking at the future of Prabhupada's legacy from the top of the mountain with a clear vista will be laughed at, brushed off or even ignored. But that does not stop the rest of us to roll up our sleeves. Though there is no "us and them" in that endeavor, we saw what Prabhupada accomplished without "them" (GM).
Last week a very bad smear campain exploded in Israel about a group of devotees who had been so closed up for years. They are now accused of breaking up families and facing court. I'd say, unless ISKCON devotees endeavor to integrate themselves within mainstream society and participate in their community, what chance have we got to be heard? Who? the Hares? Oh the weirdos chanting on the street. What do they do all day? There are vaisnava communities that are very involved I must say.
And then we have the hot topic of ISKCON being invaded by the Hindu community. Well there is a natural history to this going back to the Zonal acaryas. But today 90% of ISKCON temples are made of Indian congregation and you know, all to their credit and immense piety. But it's very high maintenance and duing that time, we don't see local devotees joining, be it at the asrama or in their own homes. So yes, deities are being looked after nicely, bills are being paid, festivals are crowded, but where are the neighboors, the media, the school kids, the community elders, the Gvnt reps? Has ISKCON become a Hindu cult?
All those things need to be thoroughly analyzed and an intelligent project and allowances have to be made for the future. The recent presentation on "Who is a Member of ISKCON" did not go much further out of the GBC room this year. There is a lot more work to be done dear friends and it starts, just like in spiritual life, by hearing....what others have to say.
March 30 at 4:15am ·
Guru Gauranga Das
Good points from Damodar and Radhacharan Prabhu. Why wait for the GBC's, have we all become powerless and thoughtless as we depend on them to change the thinking that is disenfranchising others? Why don't the GBC's seriously consider how to socialize ordinary people into Vaisnavism?
March 30 at 4:43am ·
Is there ANY discussion between the ISKCON leadership & the Prabhu's? Do they EVER answer or discuss the issues with the members of ISKCON (the devotees? It seems there is no leadership..
In Vrindavan Kurma Rupa decided he wanted to protect cows. He started with 1 baby cow and now has over 300....
If someone wants to do some service or project don't wait.
Rupa Raghunath in Vrindavan has 3 schools & clothes &, teaches & feeds them. On his own he started doing this, while also doing Prasadam distribution to the locals & digging wells, doctors for people & animals.....One person with a desire can do wonderful things. Take inspiration from any devotees... Who is the real leader? I think it is those who actual inspire us , not necessarily someone with a position...Although a position is no impediment. dhrits
March 30 at 6:53am ·
Sri Tulsinath Dasa
Thank You Bhagavan Prabhu, Dandavats to you and all the assembled devotees here, It seems the whole problem is distinguishing Prabhupadas comments when he is speaking Absoloutely, and when he is speaking GENERALLY. Even in the Bhagavatam purports we find statements which are general and not absoloute. Prabhupada would comment on common material conditioning, it was not an Absoloute statement about all people at all times and in all places. But the general patterns that were there. Srila Prabhupada does not descriminate. Material nature descriminates and he was straightforwardly explaining the facts in a general context which often was not an absoloute fact and did not apply to everyone. Also In Prabhupadas statements in letters where he makes seemingly Absoloute statements which are different in each circumstance.
Consider, for example, these various instructions regarding what is most important:
“. . . this sankirtana or street chanting must go on, it is our . . . most important program.” (to Bali Mardana and Puñöa Kåñëa, September 18, 1972)
“Now the most important point is to recruit life members as many as possible.” (to Dayänanda, February 8, 1971)
“Now I very much appreciate your activities for conducting our school . . . and I consider your work the most important in the society. . .” (to Son and Daughters in Dallas, June 20, 1972)... See More
“I consider this Mayapur Project to be our most important work. . . .” (to Tamäla Kåñëa, June 28, 1972)
“The most important thing is that you must follow all of the rules and regulations very strictly.” (to Tapana Misra Dasa, May 26, 1975)
“There is no doubt about it, to distribute books is our most important activity.” (to Ramesvara, August 3, 1973)
I see the problems to have all come from an immaturity to understand Srila Prabhupadas statements in the proper context between general and Absoloute.
March 30 at 7:21am ·
Part of the problem is people letting other people make crucial personal life decisions for themselves. I'll take advice and opinions but to do what is WRONG for you and then blaming others--whose fault really is it? If there is an institutional problem (I'm not close enough to the center or have even been an initiated devotee to have been entangled enough), I'll support any reforms. The issue of sexuality and women needs a look at as I don't believe that celibacy is always a healthy life choice and to be made to feel bad for having normal, God-given feelings is probably destructive. I'm well aware that my life needs improving! No one has given me a bad time about my choices in my corner of ISKCON. The guru-disciple relationship also needs to be looked at critically, too. If you see the gurus as something more than teachers or administrators, then there is an inequality/status/power differential that has the potential to be abused and used as a tool of unhealthy domination/submission. I have made a commitment to myself to not make any vows that I cannot keep. Individuals have responsibilities to themselves and others that we are not free of because we take shelter of a guru. Perhaps people want to avoid responsibility for their own lives?
March 30 at 8:20am ·
Visnu Murti Barriball
before "putting the founder on trial" it is indeed important to understand in depth what it is that the founder actually stood for. As that becomes clearer, then it seems quite obvious that our relationship with him will also become clearer. Personally I know of no other way to begin a serious process of understanding what it is that Srila ... See MorePrabhupada stood for, other than a threadbare study of his teachings that he left us. And indeed that is his open invitation to anyone, to seriously and scrutinizingly study his books. If this is not done, then any trial that Srila Prabhupada is placed under, will not be fair. We need to have lots of sincere informed discussions about the development of KC within our individual lives and as communities. These informed discussions will bear its real fruit if it is based in in-depth knowledge of Prabhupada's teachings. This is why the Vanipedia collaborative project is being developed. www.vaniquotes.org for there is no mystery as to how to study. It must be via a threadbare process, that is both comprehensive and thorough, all the while cultivating the proper attitude. We are finding that by pursuing this process alot is being clarified. For example, a few days ago the devotees were challenged by a governmental body from Belgium about Prabhupada's relationship with Hitler and the possibility that he supported him. So I started to compile threadbare all that is documented of Prabhupada regarding Hitler, and from that I personally find it impossible to say that he had affection for Hitler. Here is the link: http://vaniquotes.org/wiki/Hitler Devotees can see for themselves. Prabhupada stood for Krsna, not Hitler.
March 30 at 8:25am ·
I've read through the vani quotes on Hitler and they don't establish NEGATIVE sentiments from Srila Prabhupada towards Hitler either. In these quotes, Srila Prabhupada has used Hitler's name to illustrate power in the material world, along with Churchill, Napoleon etc. We now know that Srila Prabhupada said that Hitler was not such a bad man. And ... See Morehe used Shakespeare's description of Shylock to illustrate his attitude towards Jews - and even laughed about it. As a Jew - I find these attitudes offensive to the extreme.
March 30 at 9:09am ·
How literally/seriously does one take the oft repeated quote: "Women are less intelligent than men"? I take it as a product of his culture, not God's opinion.
March 30 at 9:36am ·
That does sound like an institutional problem; and thanks for informing me of that; I didn't know! My understanding is that "you are not your body"--gender is irrelevant.
March 30 at 10:26am ·
Fernando Rodriguez Torres
In times of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, the figure of authocrats were very appreciated all over the world. Mussolini and Hitler were considered figures of success, able to bring order to countries in times of general despair. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta often spoke of Krishna as the original authocrat, and this word didn't have at all a peyorative connotation. After WWII, those figures got the destiny of losers, so that's their fame now.
Srila Prabhupada knew different conceptions of Hitler and dictatorships during his lifetime, but the point is never to try to bring-out of his mouth some declaration that can be viewed as politically wrong in the present times. He lived other times and acted as a man of other times. The attempts of trying to impose on him attitudes contrary to present moral standards are superficial, however well articulated, insistent and repeated. He is on the safe side always.
I think Bhagavan in this forum is trying to help us to trascend ideologies, say sets of moral values that simplify our thinking or make us to avoid thinking. So trying to impose on Srila Prabhupada's the concept that he was not a moral person is an ideological effort. Srila Prabhupada was Srila Prabhupada, a fluent energy of devotion and humanity who gave different inputs to different persons in different times and with different moods. So, what's the need of freeze him on a stereotyped clichè of any kind? He is still alive with us in many forms, so please try to understand him and interact with him in the right way, forgetting the frustration and anger due to bad practices of the past, that are born simply of misunderstanding his words. His books are always there to solve all knots of ignorance.
March 30 at 10:32am ·
Fernando I believe that basically you are right but the point Lisa is making is still valid and even though we may personally be protected against such beliefs due to our faith still
blind faith may have its impact and may be a powerful one since ambiguity doesn't produce the best results as people are inclined to clear cut proposals.
It appears that there might be a statement of differentiation from these views and a creation of a new paradigm ,more in tune with western society ethics as we experience them today ,without deviation of the spiritual principle .
March 30 at 10:54am ·
Yes Lisa you are right but still it is better if we abstain from critising Srila Prabhupada so much ,maybe one day we will understand .
In the meantime acting on a new paradigm for ourselves while letting others have their due based on their understanding is the best action
Maybe we should turn a new leaf and put everything behind as the inexplicable means of The Lord or His devotee.
As previous devotees positive action is the best way to satisfy the soul proper and not dwelling on what we all presume to be ' unhealthy ' notions within the frame of our understanding .
March 30 at 11:04am ·
I the soul has no material designation - it is not male, it is not female ...then why is this not practised within ISKCON? Especially where it comes to women who have been practising devotional service for some time. Where is the understanding, where is the practial application - why this hypocrisy when it comes to women?
March 30 at 11:11am ·
It shouldn't be tolerated within ISKCON, but not only is it tolerated, it is perpetuated.
March 30 at 11:11am ·
Prabhupada also taught that skin color and religious affiliation were temporary, material conditions. Were those quotes taken out of context? Plus, slavish devotion to every word uttered from his mouth/pen uncritically is not what "consciousness" is all about....
March 30 at 11:12am ·
And we who joined were aggressively questioning the ways of the world. It was our rebellion which led us to ISKCON, but this same rebellion was never encouraged afterwards. I don't believe that we were correctly informed of a life in devotional service and what it would entail. We were selectively informed in order to coerce us into joining - making devotees is a highly prized status. We gave up our jobs and our families, not realising that when we were sick we would be sent back to our families and when we got married we would have to work again.
March 30 at 11:17am ·
I mean Hiranyakasiphu was a great demon who tormented his own son and probably killed thousands while being a great devotee in his previous life playing his part with Krishna .
The workings of karmas are intricate and we don't have the whole picture in order to judge appropriately .
We are no longer institutionalised so as to suffer due to decisions taken by others .We are free thinkers ....
Why should ISCKON torment us or occupy our thoughts other than taking advantage of every facility they offer?
March 30 at 11:19am ·
Don't want to be blind, either...and then again, am on the margins of the movement so I never saw the inner workings. Just know some really nice, if somewhat puritanical, people.
March 30 at 11:31am ·
I do remember some of them rabidly advocating the death penalty...I have been outspoken about that and I wonder if that was a factor in my not hearing much about that anymore (or maybe they just don't talk about that around me!)
March 30 at 11:35am ·
my point of wieu is that, being iskcon a young movement has to be collaudated on the western socitey we obviuosly,that mains spiritual principals has to remened identical but also we must adobet his contenior on this everychanging society, i thnig all this thing is a fisiologic process of un institution, as child has pass thrwoth many illiness for to build his immune diffence, naturaly after the departure of Srila Praphupada thye were many devotee
good administor but on the spiritual education were not prepare enough , and for to be sure... for not make a mistake they became very rigid and ortodox on the the education so the consequence came automaticly sexual problem, disirispect to the lady, the devote not filosoficly incline were sudra and so on..... following many regulation ..but.. start to go far from compassion and love
March 30 at 11:58am ·
Fernando Rodriguez Torres
Lisa, what you are saying is not the synthesis, it is a extreme.
I think that the point here is the same that was being discussed at Topical Discussions conferente on Pamho system many years ago, and the one that forced the closing of the pamho conference due to GBC presures. Now it comes again because there is need of developing this knowledge.
I think we all here know which the point is, or which the points are, they can be articulated in a series of definite questions. Did Srila Prabhupada's make mistakes? Were all of his words to be taken in the absolute sense? Was he following a trial and error process or everything he did was perfect? What should we do if we discover evidence of his mistakes? Can our faith still be absolute? What is the purity of a pure devotee? etc...
Those who think that he was an absolute personality in the literal sense, will take as a perfect instruction even his most insignificant word not considering place or circunstances, and when they realize he was not absolute in everything, will take the same mood in refuting him.
There was Madhava Gosh prabhu from New Vrindavana who gave very valuable points of sinthesis in understanding the human and divine nature of Srila Prabhupada. I don't want to paraphrase him here, maybe if somebody knows him can invite him to the discussion.
On the other side, the GHQ, right wind followers of Prabhupada were defending the absolute value of every one of his words, so they were pushing the sexist approach as a absolute value. Jahnu das and his wife from Mayapur were so staunch in defending this view. At the end, the GHQ won the political fight and was able to supress the pamho conference. They went to the GBC and said that Dhyanakunda from northern countries offended Srila Prabhupada and Lord Ramacandra, critisizing Him because of His rejection of Sita after hearing people speaking bad of her.
So, that was more or less the map there. I think it is the same discussion with new robes and names.
March 30 at 12:06pm ·
I'm only discussing this to contribute to the forum. problems with ISKCON are not a feature of my life at all.
March 30 at 12:19pm ·
I looked at the article "Race, Monarchy and Gender: Bhaktivedanta Swami's Social Experiment", by Ekkehard Lorenz. Prabhupada was a visionary; he had a lot of ideas that didn't work very well transplanted to the West, and sometimes his ignorance (like about Hitler and women, political systems) was revealed. All the more reason not to hang onto his... See More every word. A critical perspective is important. That does not subtract from his undeniable talents and inspirational power; remember, God gave you a brain; use it!
March 30 at 2:06pm ·
Vinode Vani Dasi
Who IS this Vrajabhumi? She/he is so critical of devotees, I wonder why she masquerades as a devotee. I have read on the internet posts by Hindus who are very critical of ISKCON and want to expose it as anti-Hindu and anti-Vedic. They feel that ISKCON promotes a very narrow, racist view of the Vedic philosophy.
March 30 at 3:27pm ·
Your email to GBC proposals was posted on the PAMHO Prabhupada disciples conference, where I read it.
I agree with you that the interpretation, understanding and application of Srila Prabhupada's teachings according to time, place and circumstance is a general topic which overshadows all these smaller ones.
In the history of religions we see such differences in interpretation, understanding and application fall into basically two classes.... See More
I'm sure you are familiar with the meanings of these terms within the Jewish community. Christians, Muslims, and even Vaisnavas have such divisions. A good example is the Vadakalai/Tenkalai (Northern and Southern Culture) split in the Ramanuja sampradaya, or the Vyasakuta/Dasakuta differences in the Madhva sampradaya. I believe we can learn much from the historical record of the splits that occurred within these groups and even from those we are more familiar with like the Catholic/Protestant, Suni/Shiite, Mahayana/Hinayana, and Svetambara/Digambara.
What we are seeing within, not only ISKCON, but the whole gamut of Gaudiya Vaisnava groups today is friction between those who believe in an Orthodox interpretation and those who believe in a Reformist interpretation. Both Orthodox and Reformist Vaisnavas believe they are preaching and acting in accord with the "spirit", if not the letter of the teachings of Srila Prabhupada, the previous acharyas and sastras.
What you are seeing is the beginnings of a formal split between these different Orthodox and Reformist groups within ISKCON.
Splits have already occurred where members of ISKCON have left and either created their own organizations (maths), gone to other Gaudiya Maths or exist within loose confederations of likeminded devotees (rtviks, etc).
The question may also be framed in terms of whether one thinks it's important or not for ISKCON as an organization to remain seemingly undivided or not. Divisions will always be there. The question is whether they should necessitate organizational division and (physical or legal) separation or whether they can be accommodated within the (physical or legal) ISKCON organization.
March 30 at 3:51pm ·
Guru Gauranga Das
Nice clear analisys by gaura Keshava Prabhu. I would like to offer the following comments to clear up some assersions that Srila Prabhupada condoned Hitler.
In regards to the quotations where Srila Prabhupada appears to show support for Hilter, we have to understand the social political influences that he was subjected to. India was being ruled by the British, Gandhi had been running his non-violent rebellion since 1917. The British were so heartless they did not give up their grip on India for decades even with the non-violent movement of Gandhi.
When World War II began Indians empathized with the Japanese and Hitler against their common enemy the British. Subhash Chandra Bose, a Bengali had agreements with the “Axis of Evil” to hand over Indians from the British army and used them in the newly founded INA to fight against the British in India. Calcutta, the Britishers HQ for South East Asia affairs was Bombed by planes sent by Subash Chandra Bose. Hitler was ultimately seen as a hero that was helping India rid themselves of the British.
If you look at the cause of the killing of Jews by Hitler, you will find that it was elite philosophy of superiority that was commissioned by the British in the eighteen hundreds, who paid Max Muller a German Indologist a Princely sum of 10,000 pounds a year to belittle Vedic knowledge. The ultimate insulting blow given by Max Muller was “The Aryan Invasion Theory”. This theory states that Vedic knowledge was brought to India by blonde haired, blue eyed Europeans. His theory perverted Vedic concepts so much that it put forth the Europeans and especially the Germans as the Aryan supreme race. This was effective in convincing Indian scholars and the elite to bow down to their white masters. Now where do you think Hitler got his ideas from, using a Swastika and terms like Aryan race?..
When Draupadi was sneering at Bhishma on the Bed of arrows, and recounted how he did not stop the kurus disrobing her. Bhishma admitted that because I was living in Durodhanas’ house I was affected by eating their food stuffs. Now, how are each one of us affected by the politics and the countries we reside in? Is it not reasonable to assume that Srila Prabhupada shared in some of the sentiments of his countrymen? If he did, does that mean that he maintained those views? No, I don’t think so. My reading of Srila Prabhupadas’ books tell me that he was clear, we see everyone equally. Sometimes he may recount the nostalgic history of his country and try to clarify the real history, not the history the British wanted to present. Which was that due to their good heartedness they gave India over to Gandhi.
March 30 at 4:26pm ·
Yves Rc Ayoun
Dear Sigalit (what a nice name)
I dont think we ever met before. I have been involved with the Israeli yatra for a long time. I first went to israel in 1975 and then after joining I
moved to the Tel Aviv temple in 1996 when Guna and Varsha were in charge. At the time I discovered that there was a large community of devotees "out
there" that were not welcome so I gave attention to them and brought them... See More
in. These were the Russian devotees who later created the big Ariel
community. I also arranged deities for them to worship and installed them.
I have known and still know every devotee in the Israeli yatra. I was, for
some painful reason, the catalyst for Guna and Varsha to leave Tel Aviv and start the Yoga of Love. We had different ideas and it was no long possible
to co-exist. I wanted an open-to-everyone Iskcon and they wanted an
exclusive group under their wings.
You can see today the difference in the preaching. The Russian preach
openly. They do harinam, they do festivals and everyone knows who they are. Harish is now in the news as family breakers. No more to say...
The reason why I mentioned smear campain is because of the link some friends
of mine in Israel sent me after the news came out. You can read it and see
what you think. http://www.notes.co.il/tomer/66216.asp
With the media, and especially in Israel, there is always exargeration and inflated facts. That's how media makes money. But there is also truth to
what has been exposed and it was good that it was exposed. Guna and Varsha
are very dedicated devotees and strong sadhakas, but living in denial is not
a life and imposing that denial on others is also not a life. Rabbits can
dig a hole as deep as they can but the hunter will always find them. Israel
is such a small place, it is not possible to hide anything and surely not
from the media and not from a society who is headless as to its spiritual destination and fear of being crushed.
Somehow I could not find your posting on the thread of posting on Facebook, possibly because it was not revelant to the discussion and was removed by Bhagavan. So I am replying to you directly. It would be nice to meet you
some day. Take care and Shalom.
March 30 at 4:58pm via Email Reply ·
Guru Gauranga ji, I agree with you. Certainly Srila Prabhupada knew what was going on in India and around the world. You could note that in the 50's and 60's it was quite common for many people to think of the end of the world through Nuclear armageddon. Prabhupada spoke of his belief in that, and that it would occur between India and Pakistan SOON. That was 30+ years ago. It does not mean we should have no faith in Prabhupada but clearly no one knows the future.
March 30 at 5:40pm ·
Miquel Rabell Bhakti-yoga
Despues del acontecimiento, me alegro de saludarte aunque sea virtualmente jeje.. Cuando visites en mi muro, deja constancia si te ha gustado algo de econom... See Moreía=ecología, que es la formula que sustituye al mercadillo liberal de la oferta y la demanda, que es diferente del desarrollo energético de autonomías para la demanda de huertos familiares con sus paneles solares, sus higueras y emparrados de uva, lúpulo y guano, su pastoreo de vacas y sus benditas fuentes de aguas cristalinaaas jeje.. Un fuerte abrazooo!! Hare Krishnaaa!!
March 30 at 7:00pm ·
I never had a chance to see your comment. Did you remove it?
March 30 at 7:21pm ·
I'm not sure if it's a good idea to rationalize what Prabupada said about Hitler by contextualizing it as a cultural conditioning. Most everyone in the entire world except for neo-Nazis and white supremacists will react very negatively, not only to what Prabhupada said, but also to your rationalization. It's one thing if Prabhupada would have said ... See Morethose things in the 1940s, but 30 years later everyone knew of Hitler's atrocities and criminally insane evil mentality. Couple that with what Prabhupada said about Jews, black people, native Americans and dark skinned people in general -- what comes across to an average person is support of Nazism, racism and antisemitism. Arguments can be made by devotees to show that Prabupada also taught the highest spiritual principles of equality. But that will not negate his troubling statements nor assuage over 99% of anybody who hears what he said. You simply cannot say what he said and get away with it in today's world.
The best way to deal with this situation is to simply acknowledge that he was not perfect, had his faults, and vigorously outright reject what he said as completely without merit, wrong, and inconsistent with our values and beliefs. That we condemn his statements in the strongest possible terms. Failure to do so will meet with disaster -- as has started to occur in Belgium. The E.U. is fanatically anti-nazi, as is the British Commonwealth and America, what to speak of Israel, which is forging a close relationship with the Indian government. These modern western societies are fanatically politically correct -- if you react in anyway but with contrition and absolute rejection of what Prabhupada said, if you show any rationalization, that will not be acceptable to them and their media, and quite possibly governments with anti-nazi laws.
March 30 at 8:23pm ·
Yves Rc Ayoun
Sagalit must have removed her posting. I did receive it by email. It addressed a specific issue shaking the Israeli yatra right now and she mentioned specific names and sequences of events that did not leave her with a good taste. Maybe she thought it was not relevant to this forum.
March 30 at 9:23pm ·
Guru Gauranga Das
To Pam Ho
Your arguments do not come from a desire to appease the major powers that be, rather they stem from an unbalanced perception of Prabhupada. The World is engaged in an elaborate experiments by molding society toward consumerism and a Wall Street centered Index of human happiness. We are not trying to see Srila Prabhupada as being free from... See More the cultural and historical influences he lived in, and neither are we trying to throw the baby out with the bath water. The quotations on your website are less than a few pages, if that’s all you can dig up with the help of Vedabase etc. then you haven’t convinced me yet.
Before the 1990’s no one had the internet, now with the internet anybody has access to information. To presume that Srila Prabhupada who dedicated his life to spreading KC from the moment he arrived in the USA had time to research about atrocities in concentration camps is ludicrous. Srila Prabhupada opened over 100 temples all over the world, started BBT initiated thousands of disciples, built major temple projects in India and in his spare time translated more than 100 books from Sanskrit into English while writing elaborate purports. Just because you can potter around on the internet all day doesn’t make you or anyone else more in touch with truth.
The fact some of SP disciples have gone to lengths to crystallized ideologies on these statements is outrageous. Or that the GBC has not made statements on behalf of Srila Prabhupada and ISKCON retracting these is also troubling. Again to reiterate, it is not logical to try to reject his books, teachings and his movement on the basis of these few statement. The objective of his books is to attain love of God, if you get love of God by following these books then he has succeeded. So the tree is judged by its fruit. Before Srila Prabhupada came to the West there were already over 500 translations of Bhagavad Gita, these translations did not even make one Krishna Bhakta. Since Srila Prabhupada brought his translations to the West, there are now hundreds and thousands of Western Krishna Bhakta’s. Say what you like things are going on, try as you may to stop it, you will not succeed, but if you’re willing to help by balancing peoples understanding of Srila Prabhupada in a positive way, then Krishna will give you all success. Take the strategy of character assassination and you will fall flat.
March 30 at 9:54pm ·
Yves, u are reading thoughts! The main point was that after 30 so years some karmiphobic splinter groups still have not learned anything and their behavior causes grave damage to KC in general. I have always wondered about so many leaders in Iskcon and outside it, who mainly attack and criticise other people and religions (they call it challenging... See More) in order to proof they are right. I think it much more respectable to show the right from within, rather then the wrong outside.
I am tremendously enjoying the "inside" discussions on this page which let out thoughts and opinions never before raised (not because they were not there, but because few dared). There is no question in my mind that this is the right way....
March 30 at 10:51pm ·
Welcome back Sigalit
March 30 at 11:00pm ·
March 30 at 11:14pm ·
Guru Gauranga Das, I have to disagree with you. It's not about appeasingn or unbalanced views, it's about doing what is right for the here and now in order to attract people to take up Krishna bhakti, and to give inspiration to those who may lose faith. I fully understand that whatever Prabhupada said or did was inspired and controlled by Krishna, ... See Morethe same for what you say, or I say. We are all part of Krishna's magical mystery show. If we try to recognize that reality, by being conscious of the truth of here and now, Krishna can show us amazing things.
March 30 at 11:33pm ·
Dear Guru Gauranga - I am still struggling with what Srila Prabhupada said about Hitler and the Jews. I had never read these particular quotes before now. I may have over-looked them when i was living in the temple, committed to following Srila Prabhupada's movement .....but it's not so easy for me now.
If you take osho for example - who was born in 1931 and who was 14 years old when WW2 ended, he had this to say about Hitler and the Jews:
"This man killed millions of people for stupid reasons. He killed Jews, MILLIONS of Jews, with this stupid idea: that it was because of the Jews that Germany – the race, the country, the nation – had fallen low; because of Jews the First World War had been lost....
Now these are all stupid reasons, with no logic, no relevance. Jews had nothing to do with the First World War, they had nothing to do with the fall of the German race. Really, they had given the greatest geniuses that Germany has ever known: Karl Marx was a Jew, Sigmund Freud was a Jew, Albert Einstein was a Jew. In fact it was the Jews who were the cream, but he killed millions of Jews."
He also had this to say about Gandhi:
My Nani said I should go to see Mahatma Gandhi if I wanted to and she prepared a very thin muslin robe. Muslin is the most artistic and the most ancient fabric too, as far as clothes are concerned. She found the best muslin. It was so thin that it was almost transparent. At that time gold rupees had disappeared and silver rupees had taken their place. Those silver rupees were too heavy for the poor muslin pocket. Why am I saying it?–because something I’m going to say would not be possible to understand without it.
The train came as usual, thirteen hours late. Almost everybody was gone except me. You know me, I’m stubborn. Even the stationmaster said, “Boy, you are something. Everybody has gone but you seem ready to stay the whole night. There is no sign of the train and you have been waiting since early this morning.”
To come to the station at four o’clock that morning I had to leave my house in the middle of the night. But I had not yet used those three rupees because everybody had brought so many things with them, and they were all so generous to a little boy who had come so far. They were offering me fruits, sweets, cakes and everything, so there was no question of feeling hungry. When the train finally arrived, I was the only person there–and what a person! Just a ten-year-old boy, standing by the side of the stationmaster.
He introduced me to Mahatma Gandhi and said, “Don’t think of him as just a boy. The whole day I have watched him, and I have discussed many things with him, because there was no other work. And he is the only one who has remained. Many had come but they left long ago. I respect him because I know he would have stayed here till the last day of existence; he would not leave until the train arrived. And if the train had not arrived, I don’t think he would ever have left. He would have lived here.”
Mahatma Gandhi was an old man; he called me close and looked at me. But rather than looking at me, he looked at my pocket–and that put me off him forever. And he said, “What is that?”
I said, “Three rupees.”
He said, “Donate them.” He used to have a box with a hole in it by his side. When you donated, you put the rupees in the hole and they disappeared. Of course he had the key, so they would appear again, but for you they had disappeared.
I said, “If you have the courage you can take them. The pocket is there, the rupees are there, but may I ask you for what purpose you are collecting these rupees?”
He said, “For poor people.”
I said, “Then it is perfectly okay.” And I myself dropped those three rupees into his box. But he was the one to be surprised, for when I started leaving I took the whole box with me.
He said, “For God’s sake, what are you doing? That is for the poor!”
I said, “I have heard you already, you need not bother repeating it again. I am taking this box for the poor. There are many in my village. Please give me the key; otherwise I will have to find a thief so that he can open the lock. He is the only expert in that art.”
He said, “This is strange….” He looked at his secretary. The secretary was dumb, as secretaries always are; otherwise why should they be secretaries? He looked at Kasturba, his wife, who said, “You have met your equal. You cheat everybody, now he is taking your whole box. Good! It is good, because I am tired of seeing that box always there, just like a wife!”
I felt sorry for that man and left the box, saying, “No, you are the poorest man, it seems. Your secretary does not have any intelligence, nor does your wife seem to have any love for you. I cannot take this box away–you keep it. But remember, I had come to see a mahatma, but I saw only a businessman.”
Even if prabhupada was a product of the society that he lived in and Osho was too - then the honest words of both these men still sums up who they were in their essence.
I am in favour of rebellion - and I can even except that Prabhupada was in favour of Hitler and and against the Jews - but he doesn't give an honest reason that helps me to understand why.
Even though Prabhupada was 65 years older than Osho - they lived through the same era of WW2.
I am disillusioned by what seems to be Prabhupada's small-minded and distasteful attitudes on this subject.
March 31 at 1:49am ·
Everything Srila Prabhupada said had a context - which is often not apparent when simply reading the written word later. Sometimes he was being intentionally inflammatory - even in a teasing manner. For instance, the female interviewer who Srila Prabhupada wound up about women having smaller brains - which was, by the way, a scientific position at one time during Srila Prabhupada's lifetime. There is a fine line here. I do not wish to relativise what he said. But it does need to be taken in context. And we also need to not judge it from our current sense of political correctness. We are, after all, part of a failing civilisation at this point in history. We can also look at Srila Prabhupada's example. How did he personally treat women, black people, etc? There are things that Srila Prabhupada said that trouble me too. But it's important that we remain conscious of our conditioning, biases, filters, etc.
I do not condone the discrimination that has taken place in ISKCON - nor the unfair treatment of any living beings.
At the same time, is it fundamentally wrong to have (or express) views/generalisations about a group that has some common characteristics - e.g. English people being indirect in their speech, German people liking order, etc. I appreciate that it's not politically correct to do so - but is this really a noble thing? What if I feel uncomfortable with Islamic fundamentalists? Does it make me "immoral" for expressing this?... See More
It's natural to want to find someone to blame for the misfortune that a group one identifies with has suffered. At the same time, the sages teach us that forest fires don't always need someone to start them. People suffer. It's the human condition. We can try to make Srila Prabhupada responsible for the immaturity of others - and the suffering this causes - by claiming that some of his statements were reckless, prejudiced, imbalanced, etc. Even to do so is to assume a position of moral superiority.
Is our society with all of these "standards" of political correctness such an enlightened one? We might not like much of what Srila Prabhupada asserted about the roles of men and women - but did he make it up? Or was he asserting a Vedic viewpoint? Srila Prabhupada demonstrated more openness than his contemporaries and predecessors to making adjustments according to time, place and circumstance - and, no doubt, was he still physically manifest, he would continue to adapt the application of Krishna Consciousness to suit changing circumstances. At the same time, he said that he wouldn't change Krishna Consciousness "to suit the Americans".
My sense is that we haven't often given sufficient thought to how challenging it is to introduce transcendental knowledge and an aligned culture into a foreign culture - where different memes, norms, beliefs and customs prevail. Though there has been suffering, much of it has been "perpetrated" by sincere devotees who may just have been immature in their skills or realisation. Sure, there will have been miscreants who consciously exploited others or situations for their own gain but I suggest that, for the most part, this will have also been due to people finding themselves in positions of power before they had sufficiently matured. Are they to be scorned as evil? Or forgiven as human?
As ISKCON has been moving into unchartered territory, it is to be expected that there would be errors. How long we stay licking our wounds - nashing our teeth, looking for someone to blame, etc. - is also a matter of maturity. Let's learn from our mistakes - maturely (and humbly) discuss how to get things right. And let's cultivate forgiveness. trnad api sunicena, taror iva sahisnuna, etc.
March 31 at 3:22am ·
Prabhupada is essentially conservative. And the problem is that so many came to KC - and were considered very non-PC by doing so - out of their rebellion and disatissfaction with the worldview which they were being exposed to ....spirituality was very underground even in 1985 when I joined ISKCON. Saying the word God made you unpopular ...and I ... See Morelost all my friends when i joined. It was a mistake to think that these same people would not question further, would not continue to rebel and would not further risk popular opinion to stand up for what they believed. ISKCON is a conservative society and one which will not tolerate liberal views. If anything it will continue to become more and more conservative. It makes sense to me now how i would never have been able to survive, thrive and be happy long-term within ISKCON.
March 31 at 3:52am ·
To all and especially to Alexis, Pam, Lisa .......
As Pam said, to find a synthesis to these seemingly irreconcilable points of view is the challenge and is unheard of. The only option for success that we have is to climb to a higher vantage point. So here is something to consider thru our histories:
We can begin with Krsna's premise that "every endeavor is covered by some kind of fault..." In this world, everything has denial mixed in with Truth, be it ever so small, that will effect the outcome of our endeavors. Please note this is without intent to offend……
We are the most contemporary chapters of the Mahabharata saga.
It begins with Bhishma denying Amba's love albeit it for a higher purpose, so she/he came back in the end to kill him as Sikhandi.
Out of social shame, Queen Kunti, denied her first born son Karna, who went on to become the sworn enemy of his own brothers due to her. Denial from social conditioning covered her true feelings.
Arjuna looked down upon the Ekalavya, who without formal initiation by Drona, worshipped his guru nonetheless via a mud figure in the jungle and became superior to Arjuna in talent. Arjuna, of Nara Narayana fame, complained to Drona that he was supposed to be the greatest, and so caused the poor nishada's thumbs to be amputated.
Later, when the competition came to test the prowess of Drona's students , Karna appeared uninvited into the arena, and again Arjuna was challenged. He secured his place only by belittling Karna's cast saying he was not fit by birth to challenge him. At that time it was none other than Duryodhana who spoke truth that a person must only be understood by his qualities - the same truth that Caitanya fought for against the caste brahmins.
The great Yudhistira, the embodiment of truth and dharma, gambled away his wife and family being effected by the social customs that a ksatriya can not back down from a challenge. He found himself being swept away by his addiction and denied his family's security allowing them to be banned to the forest.
To master the art of fighting Karna lied to his guru who then failed to see Karna's love for him, and denied him success in battle by cursing him.
Perhaps most outrageous of all, the Mahajana Bhishma, sat silently and denied Draupadi's honor as she was being molested in the arena, and out of social conditioning, so did every one of her husbands.
Prabhupada would never see himself above these historic personalities. As such the issue before us is, did his history also affect him? This doesn't mean that he didn't give us Radha Krsna. It only means that the truth was packaged in some of his relative experience.
Did this affect his society? I would say yes. I do believe women suffered because of cultural ideas that he grew up with. Does that mean he did not deliver Krsna? Absolutely not. If we expressed to him today what we have understood to be a better way to do things or say some things, do you think he would ignore you or put you down? I don't believe so.
I myself expressed great anger later on that the discussions we had with him regarding guru succession was not taken to more detail.
So, there is smoke everywhere. But smoke is not fire.
Here we are looking for the fire and recognizing the smoke
March 31 at 5:25am ·
Guru Gauranga Das
I can fully understand how much pain this quandary must be causing you. The way that I have always understood the quotes made by Srila Prabhupada about Jews, was in the context of Judaism.
For instance Srila Prabhupada continually got on the case of Mayavadis, Christians , Buddhists, Jews and Mohammedans . In Judaism ones religion is intimately connected through his birth or explicit rules for conversion. This creates an exclusive identity connecting the body to the religious rituals and ideologies.
Srila Prabhupada was not against Jews per se, rather he felt that all these religious designations did not have the absolute truth. There are many more quotes where Srila Prabhupada is criticizing the Christians badly. Now if every Western European Caucasian identified their body as being Christian and then criticized Srila Prabhupada for the way he treated and dealt with them, where would it end? Next the Bhuddists, Mayavadis etc.
Basically Srila Prabhupada declared war on designations. If you see yourself as a Jew, then you will be affected. Srila Prabhupada criticized the British constantly, do the British devotees take it as an insult, no rather they echo his feelings.
Just to lighten this up a bit hereare some quotes to see the positive aspect.
Morning Walk July 30th 1975
Prabhupāda: Cow is not very beautiful. (laughter) in the human society the Jews are most beautiful. Is it a fact? Jews? Yehudi.(?)
Morning Walk April 22, 1974
Prabhupāda: No, no, no, he may say. What was previously, we are not concerned. But you have left already this Jewish Old Testament. You have got New Testament. You are not Jewish. So why do you bring that Jewish for your defense? You have already rejected it.
March 31 at 7:03am ·
Lots to think about ...and one only identifies how you feel when it rises from the subconscious ...over time. I accept what you say Bhagavan. And I agree. Guru Gauranga - you have become a friend and in my world, friends get away with murder ;) Am I a Jew - I have no idea .....I am connected to religion through the people I love. I don't like abuse... See More of any kind, and I would define myself as anything if it were necessary for fighting abuse. Damodara Das - I don't see ISKCON leaders here or elsewhere, correcting the injustices that have been perpetrated. I imagine that they are still very much alive and well in that society of devotees.
March 31 at 9:02am ·
If one is a bit familiar with vedic astrology .
One can see that in that particular field authorities often make absurd and absolute statements that one is warned not to accept verbatim but exercice some synthesis and put them in the context of what the writers have already stated.
Raman and others seem to refer to Hitler very often in the best... See More light possible ,saying that he had ruchaca yoga,sun in exhaltation and other factors in his chart that made a strong leader out of him.
It's more like recognizing the universal elements that aided to the achievements of the personality rather than the person itself
April 1 at 2:03am ·
please alexis kriel, can u tell me what exactly and when srila prabhupada spoke something against jews, i would like to know if you dont mind/
April 4 at 8:38am ·
Hi Tusti Dev - if you read through this thread, from the beginning and click on the links to the other discussions....you will find the quotes - as I did.
April 4 at 10:10am ·