Srila Prabhupada, His Movement & You


ISKCON is Like the Great Holy River Ganges

Here I would like to humbly suggest a positive alternative for the future development of ISKCON, which necessitates an understanding of what ISKCON is. Everyone says, “ISKCON, ISKCON, ISKCON….” But what is ISKCON?—That is the question.

ISKCON is like the great holy river Ganges. The discrepancies we see there should be considered just like the foam or stool and dead bodies we see occasionally floating in the holy river Ganges. They never contaminate the river Ganges; rather, Ganges can absorb unlimited contamination and sins of unlimited sinful persons, and still it remains pure.

As the mighty Ganges flows down from Vaikuntha and Lord Shiva, through the Himalayan mountains, through the plains of India, ending finally at the Bay of Bengal and apparently enters the salt water ocean, but in fact does not merge into the salt water ocean but goes underwater and descends to other lower planets, returning eventually to Vaikuntha, so similarly, ISKCON flows down from Goloka Vrindavan through the mighty mountain peaks of the great acharyas, through His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and his disciples who appear to be merged into the mainstream of the human society for preaching Krishna consciousness and who are all destined to go back to Godhead.

No one has any proprietorship over the Ganges. However sinful one may be, no one can throw him out of the Ganges. That would be ridiculous.

If we accept the holy river Ganges as being analogous to the flow of transcendental teachings coming down from the spiritual world to the material world via the disciplic succession (Brahma, Narada, Vyasa, Madhvacharya, Bhaktivinoda Thakur, Bhaktisiddhanta and Srila Prabhupada), then some of the incongruities which we as devotees sometimes experience in ISKCON may be resolved in a realistic way.

We have already pointed out that although garbage, debris and dead bodies are to be seen floating in the holy Ganges, it is understood that the Ganges never becomes impure or polluted on that account. So ISKCON may also have apparent undesirable and non-spiritual aspects, even demons amongst its members—still ISKCON should be accepted as pure always. As with the Ganges, we simply push the undesirable debris and garbage aside and take our bath, similarly, in ISKCON we may brush aside or avoid the apparent non-spiritual members and their effects and try to dip deep into the instructions of Srila Prabhupada (books, instructions, etc.). Another consideration is that the river bed on the Ganges may be very broad, but that does not mean if we simply sit on a sand bar “where the river obviously is not flowing,” we are dipping in the Ganges River. So ISKCON, as an institution, has a very wide bed, but in many parts of the ISKCON institution there may be no flow of transcendental instructions or life.

The actual flow of the Ganges River is always changing. So Ganges means only where there is an actual flow of water. Where there was water last year there may be no water this year. So in ISKCON, what was spiritually vibrant at one time may have become completely dry and mundane at another time.

Although one may bathe regularly in the Ganges River, at no point in time does one ever become Ganges, nor does one ever have the right to restrict others from bathing in the Ganges. So a devotee does not become ISKCON. He is either a sincere recipient, practitioner and distributor of ISKCON’s transcendental knowledge coming from Prabhupada, or he is simply motivated to take material advantages by associating with ISKCON members. Some people may be fishermen and earn their livelihood from the Ganges in that way, thus receiving little or no benefit at all from the Ganges.

The Ganges River is most clear, uncluttered and consistently flowing nearest its earthly origin, Gangotri in the Himalayan mountains. Srila Prabhupada can be accepted as the mouth of the Ganges, known as Gangotri.

The early pioneering devotees who assembled around Prabhupada and engaged to help him push his ISKCON world-wide can be compared to pilgrims who trek to Gangotri for purification. Some of such early devotees eventually became known as ISKCON leaders. However, no provision has ever been made by Prabhupada to give any of such leaders authority to be guru-acharyas or to restrict, cast out, or “excommunicate” any devotees from the association of ISKCON, just as a pilgrim reaching the mouth of Ganges, Gangotri, does not have any right to restrict or cast out or “excommunicate” other pilgrims from bathing in the holy Ganges River, nor does he automatically become their guru, simply because he has trekked to the mouth of Gangotri.

All rivers entering the Ganges become Ganges. All rivers flowing away from the Ganges become non-Ganges. That is to say, they lose their spiritual power. But also, we should know that sometimes within the Ganges riverbed several separate streams of flow may be seen. So ISKCON may have diverse flows of spiritual activities in its one institution. Sometimes Ganges goes underground, so also may ISKCON go underground.

Sometimes Ganges floods beyond its banks. Similarly, ISKCON will flood beyond its normal institutional banks. In all cases, we must remember that as the holy river Ganges is not to be controlled by anyone, not even by her own river banks, similarly ISKCON is not an institution to be controlled by anyone. It is completely spiritual, and therefore everyone under all circumstances should be encouraged to dive deep into the transcendental flow of ISKCON’s teachings (as per Prabhupada’s books, etc.), and thereby be saved from material existence.

All kinds of persons take advantage of Ganges. Some ply their boat from one side to the other, taking passengers to and fro, thereby earning their living in that way, some earn their living as fishermen, and others use the river waters to irrigate their crops. Indeed, the British filled their ocean-going vessels with Ganges water, knowing of its unusual qualities. And lastly, some persons simply bathe in the waters of the Ganges with full faith in her transcendental power to wash away their sins. So it may be with ISKCON or as we say, “a house in which the whole world can live.”

The conclusion is that everyone, under all circumstances, should be encouraged to dive in deep into the transcendental flow of the river of Srila Prabhupada’s instructions. If someone helps us in that endeavour, we would offer the appropriate respect due. But we should always remember that for such assistance we are not obliged to become blind followers to be exploited by such helper gurus for money, prestige, or other material enjoyments in the name of Prabhupada and ISKCON.

Sometimes pandas [extortionists] post themselves at popular bathing ghats along the Ganges river or popular temples like Jagannatha Puri. They take money from innocent pilgrims, bewildering them to believe that without their intervention or assistance, no blessings are forthcoming from the river or the gods. In our ISKCON, we see many such panda- like gurus—those who pose themselves advantageously for extracting wealth, honour and sense gratification from innocent disciples, bewildering them to think Prabhupada’s and Krishna’s mercy is only available if one submits to them. Such gurus may be compared to dead bodies floating in the river Ganges. The materialistic activities such gurus introduce for collecting money from the innocent public may be seen as garbage and debris floating in the holy river Ganges. The preaching these panda-like leaders do to encourage and perpetuate such practices can be compared to the stool and foam seen floating on the surface of the Ganges. It can be easily brushed aside. However, when dealing with dead bodies or garbage and debris, it is advisable to wait till they float by until entering the holy river.

Actually, anyone can have full access to the flow of transcendental instructions of Srila Prabhupada, which are just like the great holy river Ganges flowing uninterruptedly down from Vaikuntha, through the disciplic succession. Those who have set themselves up as pandas for regulating and extorting the
innocent public should be avoided.

A temple may be compared to a ghat along the river Ganges, which is built for the convenience of the pilgrims. But sometimes it is seen that these ghats become so crowded with materialistic men looking to exploit innocent pilgrims, it is often better to enter the Ganges at some secluded or less crowded place. In other words, it is advised by Lord Chaitanya, Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Srila Prabhupada that it is better to remain at home and practice Krishna consciousness by following the principles and chanting the Holy Name than to prematurely abandon one’s social position to join a temple or math, thinking thereby, “I am a first-class devotee.” Such thinking should be avoided.

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22 Responses to Srila Prabhupada, His Movement & You

  1. I shall be including sections of this very intelligent, but flawed, commentary in an upcoming article that will be posted on one of our websites. As I told you in 1988, I would read the book that you gave me. I have read, more than once, both of your books, as well as this article. You are close. The quote from Vaikunthanatha, as potent as it appears to be, is still evidence not conclusive proof. Indeed, and somewhat ironically, you have prominently posted in another section of your website, that famous letter you received from His Divine Grace wherein he said that his movement may have gurus given the title of Bhaktivedanta (for their advanced learning and realization in the supreme science) by 1975. This was not realized, however, as we all know. Instead, eleven men–yourself one of them–went, in your own words to me back in the Eighties “way too far.” Nevertheless, misuse of a great science does not render it useless. The rittvik process (and I spell this word exactly as you do, so we have something in common there) in relation to Srila Prabhupada ended on November 15, 1977; the last genuinely initiated disciple of Prabhupada was Mahapurana das, an African-American devotee, at (again, somewhat ironically, although Nityananda prabhu was already in Mississippi by that time) the New Orleans yatra just hours before Prabhupada departed us in manifest form. The real issue here is not rittvik; the real issue is “regular guru, that’s all.” What did that mean? I ask this rhetorically, as I am confident that I know what it means. Similarly, as was revealed in your presence at Topanga Canyon in early December of 1980, the eleven men named on July 9-10, 1977 where not to create any kind of exclusive monopoly based upon their having been given the renewal of the service of rittvik, which had been suspended for a period of time before that summer. I think that you would agree that close is not good enough here. We may put together the pieces of the puzzle in a different chronological order–and that is to be expected–but, when it is finished, all the pieces fit together in one way and one way only. There is one perfect way, and we both agree that the vitiated GBC has not established, nor does it represent, that way. Yet, there arguments have some power to them, especially in terms of pragmatic considerations–Western pragmatism, that is. Indeed, I pick up no dearth of pragmatism in your presentations both in your books and on your website. The issue is not pragmatism itself, as Prabhupada was very results oriented. The issue is the difference between Western pragmatism and Vedic or Vaishnava pragmatism. There is one essential difference between them, and a hint of what that is can be found in Nityananda prabhu’s favorite slogan: Satyam eva jayate.
    One other thing to keep in mind. Kindly do not misread anything personal into this, because it is not intended for any specific initiated devotee (1966-1977) of Prabhupada. We both agree that the GBCs of Prabhupada and his guru deviated in egregious ways. What was the ultimate result thirty years after the first such deviation? Or, rather, how did Lord Chaitanya choose to rectify that situation? It wasn’t via any kind of rittvik arrangement, was it.
    So, I am being stimulated to some extent by what I am reading on your website and in reviewing your books (I have both of them) once again. In due course, it should produce an article that goes into detail on all of these spiritual raw nerve topics. Obviously, I had very little association with His Divine Grace in comparison to your good self; I was only alone with him once for about four minutes. So, you are very blessed, and I admire your spiritual good fortune. It empowers you to carry on, no doubt. Still, you and I have another thing in common that is certainly rare amongst Prabhupada’s actually initiated disciples, viz., neither of us was preached to before coming to the temple and deciding to surrender. I have read your historical account, it was impressive, and I could relate to it. Mine was different, obviously, but the principle was the same. As such, we each stand for something and push something independent of mass opinion and negativity of the enforced conformity. Your version of rittvik–and there are quite a number of them–is different from the others, and that is to be expected, also.
    Once I produce the above-mentioned article (for the first time, I am seriously considering employing the A & A format in doing so), would you like me to notify you of its posting along with a hyperlink? I shall not be offended if you answer this specific query in the negative nor shall I be offended if I do not hear from you at all. We are all meant to reach the stage of sthita-prajna, in which it is certain that His Divine Grace would order us to become diksa-guru, not rittvik. Until then, we are meant to preach to newcomers, stress Prabhupada as their siksa-guru, and keep them in the process at the level of sadhu-sanga. It is an impetus to get very sincere and serious and reach the stage of mahimni sve mahiyate, i.e., drsta evatmanisvare. If we could not or cannot reach even this stage, which is prior to bhava, then what was the meaning of Srila Prabhupada coming here in the first place and training us to become gurus? And he certainly wanted this, as you well know, and as evidenced, if not indeed proved, by his letter to you in 1975.
    Hoping that this meets you and your good wife in good health and cheerful mood, I beg to remain . . .
    Your eternal servant,
    KAILASA CANDRA DASA

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  3. Suvarna says:

    Thank you for this book Hansadutta Prabhu. Very wonderful writing. I am very grateful. Thank you. Your servant Suvarna

  4. Suvarna says:

    is this book available to purchase?

  5. I have no motre copies for saler, you can download the whole text from Nama Hatta, or write to daschan@streamyx.com…… perhaps they have a copy,
    Thank you nfor appriociating my realizations. I do not write for money, or noteriety. I have written according to my experience and heart felt love for Prabhupada

    Your humble servant,
    I shaould have done better,
    But I fell. failed and am very repentant about that, and still working to get up and do the right thing.

    • tarunkrishna das says:

      Haribol ji, may i say Hansdutta ji at least you have said you made mistakes , been open about what went wrong for you, not many from that time have or ever will,..so bless you ji ,..haribol

    • Nilesh Dalal says:

      Hare Krishna prabhuji,
      Please consider to reprint your book not for fame or for glory but to help other innocent jivas from following the bogus gurus. I just discovered your website. But there are others where this message has to be reached. Please help to redirect Prabhupada’s vision in it’s true direction. Senior true devotees like yourself is our only link to the truth.
      Hari Bol.

    • dhaval moradiya says:

      hare krishna
      i want to purchasse of this book …

  6. Martin says:

    Hare Krishna. Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

    For many years I have been searching for the audio of the so-called appointment tape of May 28, 1977. Do you have the audio file, and if so, could you please email it to me or post it to YouTube? I have read the transcript and understand that Srila Prabhupada appointed ritviks, but I would like to hear the audio for myself.

  7. William Regular says:

    Hare Krishna!!
    Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!!

    Thank you very much for your profound realizations. i really felt indebted.. it gives me more light since you personally advice me to read first before i come to visit any ISKCON temple. i will write you someday in regards of this book.
    Again, thank you very much Hansadutta Prabhu

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  9. Lou says:

    Dear Hansadutta Das,
    I remember you in Berkely in 1976 or so. I used to frequent the temple there often. I have not been to an ISKCON temple since then although I occasionally try to keep up on ISKCON news. I am a devotee of Avatar Meher Baba. I have no qualifications to judge but the letter you’ve shared seems to clearly spell out Srila Prabhupada’s wishes. It makes it very clear: “The newly initiated devotees are disciples of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada …” It is truly a shame that ISKCON has been divided all these years and I pray your efforts are helpful. Congratulations on your honesty and sincere work.

  10. Probir saha says:

    Jay radha!! I love “krishna” but i love you too.,’prabhupada’

  11. Vishnujana says:

    Hansadutta please accept my humble obeisances as a older Godbrother. I would like to talk to you about the ritvik system and where do you stand with post 1977 ISKCON. I would also like to know if you yourself know about the poisoning of our Spiritual Master A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada by your Godbrothers (perhaps you were aware but did not do anything) as well as your Godbrothers and the heinous acts they have done such as kirtananda and bhakti thirtha and many others. Please write back to me as soon as possible. If you truly following Srila Prabhupada you would allow for us to start a conversation to help this poor lost soul find some happiness. You are one of the last Ritvik Representative of Srila Prabhupada who was chosen by HIM. do not let this go to waste. Rise up Hansadutta and fight for Srila Prabhupada if you are sincere. Do not become clouded by illusion like arjuna at the battle of kurusetra with his family members. Just because they are your Godbrothers does not make it right to let them destroy Prabhupada ISKCON and take so many to hell with them. there are many scattered sects of the ritvik camp around the world with some truly devoted to Prabhupada and others for some materialistic purposes. Are we to let our faith become like the christian faith which is scattered from protestant to catholic to coptic orthodox to Pentecostal? Why do you sit and do nothing? Become a true ritvik and defend Prabhupada order and stop this second poisoning which is being done to Prabhupada Books. They are new devotees that are coming in this movement and many are lost because of the so many ritvik camps as well that they do not want to associate with ISKCON example my self and few friends. All I ask of you from my self is to write back to me so we may talk with my friends on your place and what we can do. Hare Krsna Jai Prabhupada.

    • Vishnujana says:

      Srila Prabhupada: Keu bole je keu poison kore diyeche. Hoy to tai.
      Translation: Someone says that I’ve been poisoned. It’s possible.

      Balaram Mishra (?): Hmm?

      Kaviraja: Kya farma rahe hain?
      Translation: What is he saying?

      Srila Prabhupada: Koi bolta hai je koi mujhko poison kiya gaya hai.
      Translation: Someone says that someone has given poison.

      Kaviraja: Kisko?
      Translation: To whom?

      Srila Prabhupada: Mujhko.
      Translation: To me.

      Kaviraja: Kaun bolta hai?
      Translation: Who said?

      Srila Prabhupada: Ye sab friends.
      Translation: These all friends.

      Bhakticharu: Ke boleche, Srila Prabhupada?
      Translation: Who said, Srila Prabhupada?

      Srila Prabhupada: Ke boleche.
      Translation: They all say.

      Tamal Krishna: Krishna das?

      Kaviraja: Ao ko kaun poison dega? Kis liye dega?
      Translation: Who would give you poison? Why would anyone do that?

      Tamal Krishna: Who said that, Srila Prabhupada?

      Srila Prabhupada: I do not know, but it is said.

      Exchange 1 – Mixture of English, Hindi and Bengali (9/11/77)

      Jagadisha: Srila Prabhupada, can you tell us why you want to go on the parikrama? (travelling to visiting holy places)
      Prabhupada: …good paddy.
      Tamala Krsna: This seems like suicide, Srila Prabhupada, this program. It seems to some of us like it’s suicidal.
      Prabhupada: And this is also suicidal.
      Tamala Krsna: Hm. Prabhupada said, “And this is also suicide.” Now you have to choose which suicide.
      Prabhupada: The Ravana (A great demon) will kill and Rama (God) will kill. Better to be killed by Rama. Eh? That Marica–if he does not go to mislead Sita, he’ll be killed by Ravana; and if he goes to be killed by Rama, then it is better.
      [Room Con. Nov. 10, 1977, Vrndavana, India]

      Prabhupada: All right. You take Babaji Maharaja. That will be my going. (“devotees” laugh)
      Krsna dasa Babaji: Jaya. (laughter)
      Tamala Krsna: Yes, the bullock cart will go tomorrow
      Prabhupada: Yes.
      Tamala Krsna: To Govardhana.
      Prabhupada: Yes, other devotees can go. I cannot go.
      Tamala Krsna: No, they’ll go on your behalf, but you will go one day. That we promise you. (“devotees” laugh)
      “Devotee ?”: (under breath) Sati (other “devotees” laugh)
      Prabhupada: All right.
      Tamala Krsna: Our greatest pleasure will be to take you on tirtha-yatra, Srila Prabhupada. We wanted so much to go with you on that.
      Prabhupada: Thank you very much.

      (Vrindavana, India – 10th November 1977)
      http://www.prabhupada.org.uk/paul/08.mp3

      here is the conversation of his final days. You were there werent you? therefore if you knew of this publicly repent and work to fight against your “Godbrothers” and if you sincerely and honestly did not know then research and hear what they did to our Guru Maharaj and understand what you must do.
      http://www.prabhupada.org.uk/paul/prabhupada_poisoned.htm

  12. Krishna Tungal says:

    All Glories to Srila Prabhupada,
    Hare Krishna to all the devotees.

    What Vishnujana Prabhu said is 100000% true. Hansadutta Prabhu, you can do it, we all here to support you..

    HariBol….

    Your servant
    Krishna Tungal

    • Aaca says:

      Dear Jagaddharta Prabhu Thank you for your comments. I beelive that you are correct in your appraisal that we have underestimated world affairs as a causative influence. Srila Prabhupada has given us all the knowledge and perspective to understand the complexities of modern life and how we are entangled in the modes and more importantly how to get disentangled. Srila Prabhupada gives us the tools it is up to us how or when or if we employ them. He nor Krsna will do this as this is our duty to free ourselves. The Demon Kali has his agents both outside and inside of FISKCON. To have them inside ISKCON is impossible for inside ISKCON is where Srila Prabhupada’s vision lies illuminating the absolute truth. FISKCON adherents do not have this vision and so they will cheat us. It is only when we can understand this difference, that is between ISKCON and FISKCON that we can begin to free ourselves. Yes no one comes close to Srila Prabhupada! Nor are they meant to. He is the Acharya of ISKCON no one else. We have to all come together by aligning our visions to his and in order to do this we must understand our predicament within the Geopolitical sphere and to know where the Krsna Consciousness Movement is being compromised, where our own vision has been affected and obscured. Yours in the service of Srila PrabhupadaAdmin

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  16. Hansadutta Prabhu, you are in an excellent position to understand the ritvik issue because you were an ISKCON temple president, a member of the GBC body, a BBT trustee, an “appointed guru,” and a “zonal acharya.” Your booklet is what convinced me, even before “The Final Order” was published.

    Also, no ISKCON leader dares to debate with you. All that they ever do is resort to low-class name-calling!

  17. hansadutta das says:
    September 12, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    I have no motre copies for saler

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