The “ISKCON” Paradox

July, 2018

First of a Two-Part Series

by Kailäsa Candra däsa

“. . . it is admitted that all the statements in the Bible are not directly spoken by Jesus. Some of them are staged through the mouth of Jesus Christ . . . there are many passages in the Gospel which are later on set up to be spoken by Lord Jesus Christ, but actually they were manufactured by different devotees.”
Letter to Satsvarüpa, 10-31-69

“Knowledge revealed therein (Vedas, Mahäbhärata, Rämayäëa, Småti çästras) may appear in the beginning to be unbelievable. This is due to our nonsensical paradox that we want to verify everything by accommodating in our tiny brain.”
Caitanya-caritämåta, Ädi-Lélä, Summary Study of Chapter Five, 1967

Charlie don’t surf!”
Lt. Col. Kilgore,
“Apocalypse Now”

It is a paradox that Lord Çiva, the Supreme Personality of Servitor Godhead, living like a beggar (and always without a crown), without any residence, often makes his devotees rich and powerful, while Lord Viñëu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, sometimes reduces His devoted servants to poverty. It is a paradox that the Supreme Lord walks but does not walk, is far away yet very near, as well. He is also within everything yet outside of everything. People of Western faith say that it’s a paradox that God, as Iesus Kristos, came into the world to suffer for all fallen men.

Of course, Vaiñëavas understand all of that differently.

Material nature presents many paradoxes, and some of them, like death, are very severe.

At the time when a human being is required to be most meditative, fixing his or her mind on Kåñëa and preparing to transfer to the spiritual world, the overwhelming majority of them are faced with the greatest possible pain, bewilderment, and distraction in the form of agonizing death. Yet, some so-called paradoxes are hardly even in that category.

For example, T.K.G. and his ilk would not allow Çréla Prabhupäda to be taken out on parikramä near the end of his manifest days, on the plea that such a journey would kill him; this despite the fact that Prabhupäda ordered that he be taken out on parikramä. When Hansadutta said that Prabhupäda’s disciples were obliged to take him out on parikramä, T.K.G. severely chastised Hansadutta for allegedly jeopardizing the life of the guru by following Prabhupada’s order. T.K.G. said to Prabhupäda that, because they loved him so much, it was a paradox for them to execute his order. He then followed that up by stating that they wanted him to live, but they also wanted to do whatever he wanted done.

Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary defines a paradox as a condition, situation, act, person, or statement that appears to be contradictory and opposed to common sense but may still be true–an anomaly or apparent contradiction, something with seemingly contradictory qualities and/or phrases imbedded in it. In Kåñëa consciousness, there are certainly some anomalies that are transcendental and inconceivable. Then again, there are other paradoxes that are difficult but can be solved via realization.

On the other hand, there are many that are shallow and easily decipherable. Lower than these are alleged paradoxes. Prabhupäda’s presentation was not only grounded in çästra but also rational, logical, and loaded with common sense. His movement was transcendental to all that is mundane. That does not mean, however, that everything seemingly connected to it was magical, full of mystique, and, even when clearly contradictory, was what it claimed (or claims) to be. The “ISKCON” Paradox is not difficult to overcome, and this two-part series should help you know what it is and what it is not.

“ISKCON” leaders only recognize those that are part of its mafia or obey its orders, i.e., all others are not entitled to understand it outside its own vision, and, if they try, they only make aparädha. “ISKCON” is believed by its adherents to have an automatic, divine status as the only via medium for Prabhupäda’s disciples to reach the spiritual world. That’s their view, but you need not share it. If you are not a part of that institution does not mean that you have no chance to receive Prabhupäda’s mercy. That you do not swim in “ISKCON” waters is actually a good thing, and it does not mean that you are not entitled to make progress in spiritual life. Part of that progress is overcoming the “ISKCON” mystique.

The Gouòéya Mutt Paradox

“This is sahajiyä-väda. He is thinking, ‘Oh, I have become liberated. I don’t require any direction of my guru. I’m liberated.’ Then he’s rascal. Why this Gauòéya Maöha failed? Because they tried to become more than guru.”
Room Conversation, 8-16-76 in Bombay, India

All our godbrothers . . . know it, because, from the very beginning, guru mahäräja was serious about publication. He started press and published these books. This Bhägavata was published by him, and the journal, six journals, he was very much fond of publishing, publication. Very, very. He told me directly that, ‘If it was possible to get the marbles from this Gauòéya Maöha and sell it and convert it into books, I would have done it. Because I know there will be blazing fire in this place.’”
Room Conversation, 9-6-76 in Våndävan, India

The past is never dead.”
William Faulkner

The relationship between His Divine Grace Çréla Prabhupäda and Gouòéya Mutt contains paradoxes. Many devotees, fearing aparädha, decide to make no attempt to bridge those apparent contradictions, while others elect to confront and solve them. The statements of Çréla Prabhupäda concerning Gouòéya Mutt certainly lean negative, and no sane person will deny that. Prabhupäda himself was not under the laws of karma at any time, but that does not necessarily mean that Gouòéya Mutt, post-Bhaktisiddhänta, was entirely transcendental to vikarmic reactions. After all, major deviations from the Äcärya are not conducive to freedom from the reactions which follow such deviations.

The effects of karma may be very old indeed.”
Bhagavad-gétä, Introduction

The argument that time has nullified Çréla Prabhupäda and his strained relationship with that institution, that the post-1937 Gouòéya Mutt is dead and irrelevant, can only be valid if the influence of Gouòéya Mutt on Prabhupäda’s movement never transpired in the first place or is no longer active. But is it thoroughly expunged?

Such is certainly not the case. “ISKCON” shares the deviation of Gouòéya Mutt, although not exactly, i.e., its deviation has manifested differently. Such a difference could only have been expected; if the latter deviation (and its aftermath) was exactly the same as that of post-1937 Mutt, “ISKCON” would be very easily exposed. The “ISKCON” deviation is similar in some ways to that of the Gouòéya Mutt, but different in other ways.

“Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvaté Öhäkura, at the time of his departure, requested all his disciples to form a governing body and conduct missionary activities cooperatively. He did not instruct a particular man to become the next äcärya. But just after his passing away, his leading secretaries made plans, without authority, to occupy the post of äcärya, and they split into two factions over who the next äcärya would be. Consequently, both factions were asära, or useless, because they had no authority, having disobeyed the order of the spiritual master.”
Caitanya-caritämåta, Ädi-Lélä, 12.8, purport

“ISKCON” uses this purport to allegedly prove that it has remained bona fide, that it did not do anything comparable to the Gouòéya Mutt deviation. Such propaganda is only effective on the low-information, less intelligent devotees who have bought into “ISKCON” myths and its mystique. They do not overcome the “ISKCON” Paradox. Two powerful men attempted to become the Äcärya after Çréla Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvaté Öhäkura departed physical manifestation, while eleven did so after Prabhupäda left. Except for the numbers, there is stunning similarity between that latter deviation and the original one.

It is not a fact that Gouòéya Mutt did not vote in an Äcärya. It did. That person was Änanta Väsudeva, a great scholar, preacher, and influential member of the Mutt, who published many commentaries of the Six Gosvämés . In the process, Kuïjabiharé, who was also very influential (but in an entirely different way), broke off to form the first schism. There are similarities in “ISKCON,” as at least three (of the original eleven) pretender mahäbhägavats broke away from the mother ship very soon, rejecting the authority of its governing body.

The “ISKCON” G.B.C. had no right to rubber-stamp eleven so-called uttama-adhikärés as dékñä-gurus. It had no right to divide up the world into eleven zones as their fiefdoms. It had no authority to decide who is guru amongst Prabhupäda’s initiated brähmins, what to speak of materially empowering eleven of its own to be worshiped as good as God.

The post-1937 deviation of Gouòéya Mutt was injected into “ISKCON” in March of 1978 by an influential Mutt leader, Swämi B. R. Çrédhar, who, as a member of its original governing body in the Thirties—also voted for Änanta Väsudeva as Äcärya forty-one years earlier. Swämi B. R. Çrédhar laid the foundation of the 1978 deviation of the leading secretaries of ISKCON, by influencing them in any number of ways.

He influenced them to believe that rittviks automatically become initiating spiritual masters after the departure of the Äcärya. Those eleven rittviks, appointed by Prabhupäda in July, 1977 to conduct initiation ceremonies on his behalf, parlayed that influence in a big way, as we all know. He influenced them to accept the zonal äcärya concoction, also unauthorized, which set the stage for the implementation of the afore-mentioned eleven zones. He influenced them to believe that anyone qualified to be a guru must be worshiped as a jagad-guru, even if he has not reached that stage. He influenced them to believe in a slogan, popular during World War II, to the effect that simply donning the uniform of a soldier (or a paramahaàsa, as per the analogy) turns you into a soldier (or a jagad-guru).

ISKCON” bought into all of this terrible advice, and it went all in. How can anybody say that this influence is dead and gone? Some of those eleven deviants are still initiating disciples, and at least one of them is still accepting uttama-adhikäré worship. When the pretender mahäbhägavat imposition was exposed, except for those who directly defied the G.B.C., all of The Magnificent Eleven were allowed to remain so-called dékñä-gurus, recognized as such by the institution. None of their so-called initiations were invalidated during the re-adjustment known as the mid-Eighties institutional crisis.

Are those deviations alone enough to also disqualify “ISKCON” as asära? Less than this was more than enough to disqualify Gouòéya Mutt in the eyes of the real Äcärya, Çréla Prabhupäda, who emerged in due course. He specifically labeled Gouòéya Mutt as asära. Let us not forget that this condemnation was published in a purport to one of his books, thus lending it heavy-duty credibility and durability.

As an Äcärya on the highest platform of devotional service and realization, Prabhupäda’s liberal or even affectionate view of his godbrothers (expressed here and there, and very infrequently) can be adjusted by higher intelligence. Whatever the paradox of the Gouòéya Mutt may or may not be, none of Prabhupäda’s dékñä or çikñä disciples should conclude that the Mutt past is dead–not as far as its influence on “ISKCON” is concerned. The cause is still present in its effect, and those effects, although now quite old (when measured in terms of a human lifespan), are still active. No need for apparent contradiction here.

Questions and Answers

Q: Is there anything in particular that makes the “ISKCON” Paradox more difficult to solve than it otherwise would be?

A: There are two other influences within it which must be recognized first. Then, they must be confronted and overcome. Each of these has created its own sub-paradox so to speak, and they manifested within Çréla Prabhupäda’s movement in the Seventies. These two extraneous elements weaseled their way in during that volatile decade, and they made today’s “ISKCON” Paradox all the more difficult to solve.

First things first. In the Sixties, the charismatic guru was everything to and for those seekers (from the hippie religion) who approached Eastern teachers and discipline. Certainly, Çréla Prabhupäda realized this and thus took full advantage of it. Those were glorious days, but his foundation was, paradoxically, just the opposite from all of the other gurus (using the term generically here) who came from the East and exploited that millieu.

Prabhupäda would develop his movement via guru-paramparä–not as a wild card, like those others. He would do so in an organized way, as an organized culture. Although the Äcärya (himself) would always remain in the center, his movement was to expand in a manner which none of the other Eastern cults ever could. He expressed this directly in late 1976, indicating that his plan for actuating the disciplic succession had only been partically accomplished:

“. . . why these rascals are speaking not in the paramparä? That is my seed of starting this movement. I must start the movement. That is the impetus of this movement, that they must speak according to the paramparä. And someone allowed them to speak otherwise? Therefore, I wrote this book, Bhagavad-gétä As It Is. Don’t make interpretations, and, by the grace of Kåñëa, it has become to some extent successful.”
Room Conversation, 12-26-76

Prabhupäda was radically different from the other Eastern teachers. This was a paradox that most of the newcomers to his movement were unaware of—but that changed over time, even within the hippie milieu. When seekers (in the Sixties and very early Seventies) first came into contact with Prabhupäda and/or his devotees, they did not know that he opposed all of the other Eastern “gurus.” That changed as time went on, but those who joined him soon became brutally aware of it. Prabhupäda made no compromise whatsoever with the wild cards nor did he associate with any of them for any length of time.

However, there was another influence (also from India) lurking in the bushes: The godbrothers. In the beginning, Prabhupäda’s authority chain was fundamental: Himself to the temple president and then to that temple’s devotees. At that time, for about the first year of his mission, the devotees did not even know what was Gouòéya Mutt. That would change as we all now painfully know. Having read the previous section, perhaps you now have solved that particular paradox.

In Part Two, your author will similarly confront the G.B.C. Paradox, which means confronting a mystique which is even more difficult to overcome than that of “the godbrothers.” You cannot overcome the “ISKCON” Paradox without first overcoming its other paradoxes.

Q: Does Neo-Mutt make the “ISKCON” Paradox more difficult to solve?

A: There may be a Neo-Mutt Paradox, but it need not concern us. It has no relation to “ISKCON,” as Neo-Mutt is a separate, reactionary deviation from the mother ship. It is a competitor, and these two are inimical to one another, except at the very deepest plane. Neo-Mutt never actually infiltrated “ISKCON” in any meaningful way, although there was aborted attempt at cooperation between them in 1990 (evidenced by the brief publication of the “Vaishnava Journal”), along with T.K.G.’s flashing chance at cooperative räsa-lélä bliss with Swämi Näräyan’s branch of Gouòéya Mutt. The G.B.C. and Gouòéya Mutt, on the other hand, perniciously infiltrated Prabhupäda’s movement in a major and profound way.

Q: But isn’t Neo-Mutt an outgrowth from Gouòéya Mutt?

A: Sure, but the damage was already done—and the two afore-mentioned paradoxes were already established by the time of its emergence. The schism between “ISKCON” and Gouòéya Mutt went down while the Mahä-maëòala was still in its formative, incipient stage. Also, Gouòéya Mutt was, and remains, an organized religion, whereas Neo-Mutt, with the exception of the small cult in Mathurä district, is composed of wild-cards who are doing their own thing. None of them has any desire for a connection with “ISKCON” anymore, what to speak of infiltrating it and changing its character.

Q:What about Rittvik?

A: Rittvik is Prabhupäda-centered, unlike either Gouòéya Mutt or Neo-Mutt. It certainly wanted to infiltrate “ISKCON,” and that is evidenced in many ways, e.g., the most influential Rittvik group was called the ISKCON Reform Movement (I.R.M.). However, all that has changed, as even that particular group of rittviks, despite using the same acronym, has changed the meaning connected to the words represented by those first letters.

Rittvik was poised to create a sub-paradox within “ISKCON,” but the mother ship’s leading secretaries, led by Professor Blueblood and his Second Transformation of the mid-Eighties, decided not to incorporate Rittvik into their scam. Indeed, the afore-mentioned “Vaishnava Journal” was created in order to forge a united front (of “ISKCON” and Neo-Mutt) against Rittvik, which was a breakaway deviation. It appeared as a formidable force that could catch fire within the devotee community at large, both in India and the West.

Although Prabhupäda-centered like “ISKCON,” Rittvik has no relation to “ISKCON,” as Rittvik is a separate, reactionary deviation. They are competitors and inimical to one another, except on the very deepest plane, viz., the quasi-esoteric. Rittvik never actually infiltrated “ISKCON” in any meaningful way, and it is virtually certain that such will remain the case, at least for the near future.

Q:What is the mother ship, ultimately? Is it Gouòéya Mutt or “ISKCON”?

A: Although an argument could be made for the former, that would only be of academic interest. For all practical purposes, “ISKCON” is the mother ship from which all the other splinter groups (deviations) have been born, even though they are now inimical to it.

ASCME: “ISKCON” as the All-in-All

“. . . it is a fact that much propaganda was made against him (Hitler). That much I know, and the Britishers are first-class propagandists. And I have heard that his officers did everything without informing him. Just like in our ISKCON, there are so many false things: ‘Prabhupäda said this, Prabhupäda said that.””
Letter to Kåñëa däs, 11-7-72

“ . . . he must know how that non-sectarian institution is possible. So, factually, Krishna consciousness is non-sectarian movement. There is no sectarian question. . . If Mr. Rose is serious to give facility for a non-sectarian institution in that part of the country, he should understand Krishna and this philosophy thoroughly. Our Krishna consciousness movement is no religious movement as it is generally understood.

Q: Can one be identified with a school?
A: That means losing the school.
P. D. Ouspensky, The Fourth Way

In the mid-Eighties, there was a change in “ISKCON.” It was a major change, as that apa-sampradäya, through force of adverse circumstances, completely shifted away from emphasis on (so-called) empowered gurus to fixation on THE INSTITUTION. Identification with THE INSTITUTION became the new strategy–in part, as damage control. This is known as the Second Transformation, and it was led by Professor Blueblood. Nothing even slightly changed at the root level at that time, of course, but this transformation was not merely tactical; it was major and strategic. It turned the school into the all-in-all.

Now, as you all know, the “ISKCON” Party Men whole-heartedly welcomed that transformation, but they would never agree to placing quotation marks on each side of their ACRONYM. However, your author must do so, because this article is not dealing with Prabhupäda’s original ISKCON, INC. entity. He was the centerpiece in that corporate creation, and THE INSTITUTION of today is different.

Becoming lost in the school is not our process. Identification with, and service to, the bona fide Äcärya is what is wanted, not fixation on “ISKCON.” However, by mid-1987, six of the eleven pretender mahäbhägavats had been exposed as having engaged in either heterosexual or homosexual activity while acting as initiating guru. At least three of them were also exposed as engaging in intoxication; more would be exposed in future years. Their movement was on the verge of cratering, so Professor Blueblood, the man of the hour, arrived with his collegiate transformation in order to save the day.

That transformation also created a sub-paradox. As such, it is a more recent sub-paradox than the others discussed in this two-part series. The Second Transformation was a sub-paradox that fit very nicely within the “ISKCON” Paradox, as it powerfully augmented it. The Second Transformation of identification with THE INSTITUTION (rather than with any initiating spiritual master) appeared to substantiate the belief that their new movement had an automatic, self-corrective mechanism (ASCME) embedded in it.

Even before Prabhupäda left, just before the imposition of the zonal äcärya scam, the Party Men were all moving in the direction of identifying with the movement rather than with its leaders. Once the Second Transformation ensued, the zonal äcärya era was seen as little more than a speed bump—a big one, no doubt—that had delayed the implementation of “ISKCON” as the be-all and end-all. “Service to THE INSTITUTION!” would be the new rallying cry, and a new collegiate mode of determining truth was thus introduced.

It caught on quickly, because it allowed for all kinds of nescience to be circumvented and (apparently) overcome. Scapegoating was utilized, also, as part of rallying behind the “ISKCON” banner. Yet, it served an even more effective purpose, as it enabled anything and everything to go on–as long as it was approved by “ISKCON.” Pledging allegiance to “ISKCON” facilitated all kinds of non-Vaiñëava activity, i.e., if you were known to be a loyal Party Man to THE INSTITUTION, then your status—and your actions–were secure.

Adherence to, and identification with, THE INSTITUTION allowed for laxity and less responsibility. On the other hand, the pretender mahäbhägavats had been scrutinized constantly by almost everyone during the eight years of their heady reign. The new regime, however, did not provoke doubting disciples or envious godbrothers in that way.

Such is the nature of the cult’s transformations, viz., each new one is, in actuality, worse than the previous one, although generally not seen as such. There is no automatic, self-corrective mechanism embedded in “ISKCON.” The only thing automatic about it is that the institution will always kick the can down the road and buy more time until it can come up with another transformation to cover the mess left by the previous one, when it’s seen as dying. The cult is expert at covering its own tracks, and ASCME is a big part of its diabolical expertise.

Proceed to Part Two


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