Saturday, February 13, 2010

Life After ISCKON, Interview part 3

GG: How do you look at the sannyas ashrama now?

B: Let me preface some things first before answering that question. I firmly believe that the healing process, call it self-realization, must be centered around reconnecting with God the Father and Goddess the Mother. Prabhupāda introduced us to Mahaprabhu’s teaching that God is Two. We have original cause separation issues not only with God as Father but God as Mother. We have separated from the Two for reasons we must find within ourselves, through the self-realization process. The enlightened souls help us know the transcendent Male and Female nature of the Source that we are part and parcel of and of our patterns that deepen the separation.

With that being said, through self-realization, our eyes open to reintegrate our own male and female, (yin and yang polarities), being part and parcel of Them. The male (yang) polarity is our ability to understand truth thru the vision of spirit, while our female (yin) polarity feels truth thru the emotional will and body. Feelings, emotions, desires and free will, are the feminine side that is often mistrusted and made out to be the lower or inferior aspect of the self. It is not so. This apprehension is reflected outwardly by the inability of men to balance or compliment women and is further expressed as male dominated, patriarchal governments, societies and religions that in one way or another suppresses and try to diminish the female energy.

With that in mind, I feel that sannyas if taken, should be at the end of life, after learning how to truly balance with the feminine energy. Often times the preaching by sannyasis about women is based on a broad stroke of fear and judgment. For the most part, I don’t feel sannyas is a helpful, healthy or safe choice for most young men.

GG: What are your thoughts about the grhastha ashrama?

B: There are probably as many separations and divorces within ISKCON as outside. You cannot put two people together in marriage just because they are practicing bhakti yoga anymore than marrying two people who are practicing any other type of yoga. There is a learning curve to understanding your partner that cannot be experienced by pushing a fast forward button with a fire yajna and instruction by the priest saying no divorce. Such expectations for success can be a serious gamble.

Individuals hardly understand their own personal issues before they get married. If marriage is the only option for people to be intimate without extended time together, it is a high-risk investment of your life. The children that come from unprepared relationships are at risk because of divorce. Often, a child comes when all a couple really wanted was to experience each other sexually. Yet, they couldn’t do that without guilt, because sex was considered “only for having children”. Relationships can become a pitri dish for growing neurosis when there is guilt intertwined with sex.

The way of sexuality is described in depth in the Kama Sutras. At its height, sexuality is meant to be a meditation in pleasing and understanding your partner and simultaneously opening a channel to God and the creative and healing force within each person. All are meant to be satisfied. After all, sex is part of the creation and the Creators cannot be separated from Their Creation. Spiritual sex opens the heart and mind to receiving information and communication. It is not simply an itch that needs to be scratched. As we invite God into our food, our thoughts, our meditation, our work, sex is no exception. If however, you judge all sex other than for procreation as a weakness or as being illicit, you deny you are part and parcel of the sexual energy of God. Anything can be misused and abused. Spirituality means not denying God’s presence and involvement in anything we do.

When partners have an accurate awareness of each other and have experienced freeing one another from blockages, they have a good foundation for bringing children into the world. Birthing each other comes before birthing a child. Then there is greater likelihood both parents will stay together and the child can experience what being balanced looks and feels like.

GG: Some time ago you got involved in the BBT legal case. What prompted you to participate?

B: I was approached initially by Gupta to become involved, because of my being an original BBT trustee. Hansadutta, who was also a BBT trustee; was using his position to print books in Malayasia, independent of the present BBT directors. A lawsuit resulted. It got so insane that ‘devotees’ from one camp literally burned thousands of Bhagavad Gitas from the other camp.

Originally I declined to be involved, because of past conflicts with Hansadutta. One day when I was at the Los Angeles temple, I met Swavasa, the temple president. He looked especially glum and I asked him what was happening. He told me he had come from a 10 hour deposition in the case that had cost thousands of dollars. When I learned from Gupta that hundreds of thousands of dollars were actually being spent by ISKCON from BBT funds, I was incredulous. I thought about how Prabhupāda had told us in his room that “every paisa should be spent cautiously”. So I felt impelled to help him end the squandering, which was being done in his name, by people who could never have collected such sums themselves, nor have the courage to ask Prabhupāda directly for such sums. Lacking the ability to find enlightened spiritual solutions, people resort to guns or legal guns to procure limited success.

GG: You may be aware that there has been a ten year court battle between ISKCON authorities and the management of the Bangelore Temple and millions have been spent.

B: Prabhupāda wrote in his diary when he first came to New York, that he received a few dollars donation from one of his guests so he was able to go out and buy chapati flour to offer to Krishna. When I was GBC in India, he chastised us for being a few paisas off in the bank reconciliation. Prabhupāda hated waste and squandering. Evidently those signing the checks are convinced that he approves going to court is the only way to resolve this conflict

Going to court is gambling, regardless of how airtight you think your case is. Gambling is something to be avoided when dispensing laxmi, especially laxmi that belongs to your guru. The courts are often no better than gambling casinos. Not being KC enough to call forth the Deity or guru’s presence into the quandary necessitates this wasteful misuse of laxmi to the lawyers. This is the state of affairs today. The leadership does not see how they are causal in bringing any of this about.

The challenge here is that there are two opposing forces to everything. Two opposing ISKCONS, two opposing sets of GBC, two philosophies of initiations, two sets of Prabhupāda’s giving each party the go ahead to do battle - and two Krishnas that everyone is depending on to defeat the other party.

I do not believe that Prabhupāda would want his funds to be spent fighting for years in courts, regardless of where the funds came from. I do believe that he would want all money to be used for nonviolent goals and not be put into the pockets of lawyers. I do believe that he would not tolerate the viciousness of attacks by either party.

There is no certainty that all parties involved have made no errors or done everything with true righteousness without a pinch of self-righteousness. As such, Krishna can appear to either party as an unexpected turn of events that can foil even those who are convinced they have the best intentions. Why is it said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions? It is because good intentions can have denial intertwined with truth and that can lead one to unfortunate places. One need only look at the gurukula history or the guru history to see this twist.


  1. posts part 2 and part 3 are the same...

  2. Thanks for pointing this post replication issue. It has been updated now and post #2 and post#3 are now different.


  3. Wow...thank u so very much your word's have helped me begin a new chapter of healing.After being misled myself to a zonal "Acarya" who was later accused of the most heinous acts imaginable towards children and then pratically forced into illegal "Laxmi rescue" scheme's it's refreshing to see such honesty and I feel great insight into what we all really wanna love so much , Srila Prabhupada's ISKCON

  4. Bhagavan Prabhu, I hope you don't mind if I ask...

    What you write about the grihasta asrama and sexuality makes so much sense; but Srila Prabhupada gave his followers a much different standard. He was the one who instructed the disciples not to practice their sexual energy outside of procreation, and as far as I know, he enforced this instruction. Even now one does not get initiated if he deviates from the standards that Prabhupada defined.

    What do you think about this. Was Prabhupada wrong when he set the standards for his Western disciples? Was he a pure devotee? How can a pure devotee go wrong in such a core issue?

    the confused bh Bernard

  5. Bernard,

    Prabhupada came to the west and saw the excesses going on in everyone's life-from meat eating to corporate exploitation in N.Y. skyscrapers to the sexual revolution. In establishing ISKCON he sought to bring balance into the lives of his disciples so they would be focused. He stated often that he only had time to build the framework of the house and it was up to us to do the finishing work. When things didn't work out as he planned, he changed direction. At first he didn't even want women in the movement then he gave them brahmin initiation. He adjusted the number of rounds he required and didn't approve of divorce but again remarried couples.

    As you may have read, he personally had a tumultuous relationship with his wife and had to let go of a woman who he care for deeply. As such it is only natural that he brought his own life experiences with him when he met us. We can not take out of the equation that not only was Prabhupada a mahatma he was a human being as well, albeit it not an ordinary one. He was a giver of the Vedic conclusion and the Vedic culture of which tantric sexuality, as illuminated in books like the Kama Sutra, could be learned.

    As a sannyasi he chose to point out the dangers that could arise from sex. He also pointed out problems that could stem from eating too much, at the same time he wanted us to eat tasty prasadam. He warned about the excesses of money yet had us collect millions for temples and books. There are many details he could have chosen to go further into but his nonstop focus was publishing books and establishing temples. For the most part when he discussed sex, he would point out its downside.

    With that being said, there is a whole slew of problems that arose from sexual denial that have shaken the movement through out its history. Because you have a car accident doesn't mean that driving isn't safe. It means that some people may take their eyes off the road. Accepting that God is the source of all things, including the sexual energy, it stands to reason that if we follow that energy back to the source we can find our origin in love. So the abuse of something does not negate its intended manifest function. Krsna is clear in BG that everything should be done as an offering to Him.

    So how do you offer sex on the altar of the body, mind and heart? You do not exclude the Creator of the senses from the work of the senses. If the senses, mind, intelligence and the atma itself are part and parcel of God, everything has its intended brilliance. As we say, iron when put into the fire becomes fire.

    It is your responsibility if you chose to do something that sounds one way but feels another way. The "sounds good, feels bad" experience or intuition, is a red flag not to be ignored when finding truth.

    A man doesn't have to lose his energy thru sex, a woman has a right and need to orgasm. Children have the possibility of being born from sexually and spiritually balanced parents.

    I hope this moves the dialogue along,


  6. Wow!

    This is exactly what would have been my next question to you, considering our discussion around love/sex and relationship seminars for ISKCON devotees.
    What about what Prabhupada said about sex?
    And you answered it before I got to the question.
    Someone else beat me to it.
    I love that, because this proves that it's an actual, general issue that engages more than just a few.

    One of my ideas around Srila Prabhupadas attitude towards sexuality, is also that he went to British schools, was raised with a Victorian view, due to the British influence, which of course influenced the whole of India.

    For centuries, the British didn't care that much about the lives of the Indian community - they where mostly into trading and plundering. But in the 19th century, when the British learnt to know more about the tantrics, they were appalled by the Indian religion, mixing sex with divinity, and the hindu ways at a whole. So they went on a mission to erase the tantrics, and to "salvage" the barbaric hindus, by sending thousands of missionaries into the villages, establishing western christian (British, victorian) ideals all over the place.

    So it is also my theory that when Bhaktivinode Thakur went about to stop the local "Krishna-lila games", it was to gain more respect for the vaishnava tradition from the British. And he was a magistrate within a British system, so there is logic behind it.

  7. I am not referring to these things as a critizism towards previos acharyas, but only to understand that they acted within a context, adapting to a certain situation. Every true teacher/leader has to see the present, and act accordingly.

    My personal experience is that strict celibacy is an impossible ideal to pursue. We can see the result of this (not only in ISKCON), and if we want devotional attitude and philosophy to prosper, we have to act accordingly.

    We live in different times. Prabhupada was born in the 19th century, and he was really old, even when he arrived in the US, more than 40 years ago. The gift he brought is absolutely priceless and eternal. But we should also remember that he did not copy the style of his guru - he created something entirely new, something his guru may or may not would have thought of, or even gone along with, at least in detail.

    But he did follow the instructions of his guru - in his own way. The particular details were not the central issue. The outer form must always serve the inner purpose - not the opposite.

    So my conclusion is that we have to be equally wise, and like previous acharyas, we have to adapt, and create a new form that serves the purpose as efficient as possible.

    If we keep our minds and hearts focused on the core issue - the all-pervading Love for God – the world, other people and ourselves –we can, and should, create new ways to live and spread a higher consciousness.

    Bhaktisiddhanta sent his sannyasis out on motorcycles. That was radical beyond belief. Prabhupada was no less radical in his spreading of vaishnavism all over the world.... Visa mer

    So we have to ask ourselves - in what way can we become better, more truthful, more loving, more devotional, more humble (less ego) and more generous?

    And I am sure that the answer will undoubtedly be very radical. But maybe it's worth a try?

  8. Bhagavan Prabhu, thank you for the quick and thoughtful response.

    It seems that my question is as much a "pure devotee question" as it is a "sexuality question".

    During my tenure in "official" ISKCON, I was under the impression that a pure devotee is, well, somehow above humanness... the word "apauruseya" means exactly that. Since (s)he is guided directly by Krishna, therefore his teachings are perfect and fit for those to whom it was uttered. When asked about his purports, Srila Prabhupada said that they are dictated by Krishna himself.

    You give a different interpretation of a pure devotee, which is much more consistent with the known history. You said that Srila Prabhupada was not only a mahatma, but at the same time he was a human being too. His motivations were perfectly pure; as for his practical policies, some of them worked, and some of them ought to be reworked... I can accept such a definition of the pure devotee, one who is driven completely by the motivation to please Krishna, but on the other hand without the complete knowledge and omnipotence of Him and influenced by his surrounding. But it is somehow disagrees with the view I was exposed to within ISKCON. Then, I don't have much knowledge about pure devotees - if I met any face to face, they were humble about it and I never got to know for sure.

    And now we can return to my original point... It was Prabhupada who instituted the complete celibacy within ISKCON, but also, as far as I know he wasn't the only one in the disciplic suggestion. Indeed, when I voiced my doubts to my spiritual authorities, arguing that sexuality (including non-procreative one) can be quite possibly also the God's and Goddess' energy, they sternly warned me that this was the siddhanta of the sahajiyas. They told me that there really exists a group in India that practices non-procreative sex to realize their Godly/Goddessly nature respectively through its released energy, and that this is a very offensive and dangerous form of mayavada. Sex is to be used only for having spiritually taught children, they emphasized, and quoted Shridara Swami's commentary on Bhagavad-Gita 10.28, which supported their position. To my further counterarguments about Kama Sutra, and those surprising passages in the Shrimad Bhagavatam (Kardama and Devahuti, and Indra's boon to the women in exchange for accepting his sinful karma etc.), they again quoted Bhagavad-Gita, this time about "the flowery words of the Vedas", and that these were written for the common non-devotees, while for devotees aspiring to serve Krishna, the standard is complete celibacy except if you want to produce children. So, at the end, they had our whole parampara to support the official ISKCON position, and I ended up without any sadhu-guru-shastra support as an undisciplined sex freak with mayavadi tendencies. It was quite a frightening thing to find out that not a single member of the parampara had anything encouraging for those like me who are not up to the standard yet have a desire to practice bhakti-yoga. Finding myself to be totally unqualified - and now bereft of all chance for ever getting initiated, which is said to be a basic requirement for the devotional service of Krishna, - I was so shaken that I was contemplating on going back to full karmi life; by Krishna's grace, my good wife discouraged me from doing so. So I still practice Krishna consciousness to the extent I can do so at home and at work, and sometimes I go to Sunday feasts and kirtans (which seems to be the few parts of ISKCON life still open to me). But I am still confused and full of doubt, because I know that my (well, our) acts are not up to the shastric standards and am not sure if I can ever become a real devotee. You said that "sounds good, feels bad" situations are to be mindful of . Yet I am in a "sounds bad, feels good" situation..


  9. To answer the above comments; to be a pure devotee is a rare thing, but even to qualify as a sadhu requires celibacy. The comments about getting in touch with Goddess energy, becoming more "loving" through sexual routine, and so on, are sentimental, and as such appropriate for ordinary householders. Neither they nor their children will be "pure" devotees. Was it cruel to preach "pure" devotion to persons who did not fully realize that they could never attain it? So, there are fall back positions. Earn money, buy books and distribute them. Associate with more advanced devotees. Chant your rounds and join a kirtan. But give up aspiring for "pure devotion." On the other hand, if the senseless evil of repeated birth and death has you feeling down... you're a "mayavadi." Bite the bullet, and accept that in some future life you are going to have to follow celibacy, although it seems like that would be impossible now. Krishna can do even that if he wants to. In a recent lecture a devotee told how another devotee approached Prabhupada saying; "How can one practice celibacy?" Prabhupada's reply was; "It is impossible." The devotee asked again on other occasions. Finally Prabhupada explained; "If Krishna wants..."

    It is false ego to think one has circumvented the requirements of ascetic life by "Goddess energy," and is as good as (or better than) a pure devotee. Vimukta manina... but no doubt women like to hear that sort of stuff. They also love to hear the word "love."

    My advice to men for a happy marriage is to learn to wash pots and pans, and then do it... in all seriousness. Neglect this advice at your peril.