Skip to content

An epiphany

October 21, 2011

I was born into the International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), otherwise known as the “Hare Krishna Movement”. In fact, I was even born on the “appearance day” (i.e. birthday) of its founder, in the same village in India where its primary deity, Krishna, is said to have been born on Earth some 5,000 years ago. Despite my “auspicious birth”, I don’t consider myself an expert of this religion by any definition and have never quite felt like I belonged. Unlike so many others who grew up in the Movement, I can’t recite ślokas on demand, quote the Bhagavad Gita, or properly explain the main tenets of its creed. I don’t even follow all of its four main guiding principles. Except for being a lifelong vegetarian. Mostly. I have stuff that contains eggs once in a while. And I’m not a big gambler. But I have had “illicit sex” during my lifetime and do enjoy the occasional alcoholic beverage.

In my teens and 20’s I was embarrassed to say I was a “Hare Krishna,” for all the same reasons it is ridiculed so readily in pop culture. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, each of these words is an example. I still cringe a little bit when I hear the words—which pop up everywhere by the way. It was in a question on Jeopardy. There’s a Pictionary clue about it. You can buy a Hare Krishna Halloween costume. Or a Hare Krishna Zombie action figure. Wait, that last one is kinda awesome.

For most of my life I could never figure out why it made me so uncomfortable. There were a few years when this turned into a kind of identity crisis. Let me explain something for a minute to illustrate how this has played out for me and then I’ll get back on track. You see, I couldn’t get away from it.

It all starts with my name. I would meet someone. They couldn’t pronounce my name. I would explain how to say it. They would comment and ask, “What a beautiful name, where’s it from?” I’ve tried various pat answers, each with a goal of ending the conversation as quickly as possible. “It’s Indian”—which sometimes garners the dreaded “What tribe?” response. Real Indians give me mixed responses. It’s either a double-take—“But that’s an Indian name!” (as if I’ve violated some racial norm), or it prompts a big gracious smile and then a welcoming, you’re-one-of-us type of air takes over the interaction. An “I was born in India” usually helps too. “It’s a long story” never works. Usually the response is along the lines of “Oh, did you make that up?” Probably the worst experience was when I was 15 and called into a radio station contest. The DJ joked—on the air—to my poor teenage self’s utter mortification: “Did your mom have a little too much to drink when she gave you that name?” For a few years I tried going by fake names when asked by strangers and asked friends and colleagues to “just call me Nan”. Eventually that had the reverse effect of hurting my sense of identity even more, so I took back my real name.

So, as I hope you can imagine, if I had that much stress with just my name, it got really hard when it came to figuring out where I fit in the world with things like spirituality and finding real purpose and meaning in my existence.

By the way, if you want to know the real story, my name was given to me by, again, the founder of ISKCON, Srila Prabhupada. Nandini is Sanskrit, and translates to something like “treasured daughter”. When I was placed on his lap, he reportedly didn’t hesitate and proclaimed my name “Nandini!” and then explained that it was the perfect name for me, considering I was born on Nandottsava, the day after Krishna’s birth when His father Nanda held a big celebration. So there again, being named by Prabhupada was considered another very special rite in this so-called religion that I was born into.

I’ve spent my whole life trying to figure out why being associated with my religion of birth makes me queasy. I’ve realized it is indubitably part of my identity, so I can’t ignore it. Identity is formed, or at least initially molded, in childhood.

Mind you, I don’t have only negative memories or impressions from growing up in the Movement. I traveled all over the world, so the globe seems a whole lot smaller to me than to some. I have an affinity for understanding Eastern cultural icons. I love the music, the food, and many more elements—either because they appeal to me inherently or perhaps it’s out of nostalgia.

In any case, despite all those things, I still cringed for most of my life at the mention of “Hare Krishnas” and was mortified if anyone would know that’s how I grew up. But finally one day it clicked: I didn’t identify, and indeed, had an aversion to the Movement because it stole my childhood. Despite my birthplace, my name, and all that auspiciousness, my childhood was not a special one. It was full of trauma, abandonment, and abuse.

And I’m not unique. This is not my sob story. I actually have some monumentally hopeful things to say, so stick with me.

Almost every person in my generation of the Movement suffered some sort of abuse. It got better later—some of my younger brothers have had wonderful, wholesome experiences. Yet, it’s still happening. As is the case with child abuse—it can become an ugly cycle of the abused sometimes becoming abusers themselves, often at a young age before ever learning right from wrong. Others in my generation have lived out their lives in other tragic ways. Depression. Alcoholism. Drug abuse. Prostitution. Living on the streets. Mental institutions. And, as I’m sure you might guess, suicide. Probably the least of the effects (although some devotees say it’s the worst) has been a complete loss of faith and rejection of everything spiritual that ISKCON is supposed to stand for.

ISKCON lost its way after its founder passed away in 1977, although it was possibly doomed from the start. It tumbled into a spiral of corruption, greed, and criminal behavior. And that only describes what happened to the people in charge. ISKCON was and is governed by humans after all. And as thousands years of history have proven, problems arise in all societies, small or large, due to human flaws. And this was a small society, truly segregated from larger civilized culture. In fact, the outside world was reviled and painted as the enemy to keep people locked in. Our parents’ counter-culture ideals got lost somewhere along the way in the very institutionalized, authoritarian environment they so despised in their youth. It has only been in recent months that I’ve finally settled on an assessment of the group as a whole. It was a cult, just like everyone said it was, complete with brainwashing and group think.

There is really nothing else to explain the greatest tragedy of ISKCON—what happened to an entire generation of its children. And that’s where I would like to focus. Like the Catholic Church and many other religious groups, ISKCON has suffered from scandal and missteps in managing cases of child abuse. A large group of kids that grew up in my generation and went through the worst of it collectively filed and won a lawsuit against the leaders of ISKCON in 2000. For the kids who either entered the movement with their parents at a young age or were born into the movement in the 70’s and early 80’s, being in the Movement involved every range of abuse. Most kids were enrolled in gurukula ashrams (think parochial boarding schools), hundreds or even thousands of miles from their parents. These schools varied greatly in how stark or miserable they were. Some were just austere but full of fun and adventure, while others were like prisons, in every sense of the word. Children were often deprived of nutritional meals, beaten, molested, “disciplined” with brutal punishments, and for some, things were much, much worse. And by children I mean some as young as 3, but the standard age kids were sent away began at 5.

In general, throughout the Movement, like women, children were treated as third-class citizens. In the artificial class system that was created within the cult, the single, celibate male was revered as the most important while families were not supported in a way for them to be successful as important units where children could thrive. Instead, children were removed from the family unit and put in these ashrams to be cultivated into the next generation of devotees. But the cultivation was perplexing. Kids got such mixed messages. On the one hand they were told they were fortunate to be born into the Movement, as if they were somehow the Chosen Ones. On the other hand, they were inundated with language that was harmful at worst, ridiculous at best, and never age appropriate. For example, girls as young as 4 or 5 were castigated for wearing a ponytail instead of a braid—told they were “agitating the men”. The same went for girls of any age wearing a part in their hair—that meant they were “dressing like a prostitute”. The list goes on.

Although all kids suffered some form of neglect, abandonment, or physical and sexual abuse, the boys had it worst in the brutality department. And for girls, things would not let up even as they grew older. Some girls as young as 12 were married off to grown men, in what could only be described as a human trafficking scheme.

Something I’ve always sought when reading about the abuse scandals in other religious organizations is an answer to: why? What is it that makes abuse so rampant at the hands of priests or authority figures in the Catholic Church? Is it the celibacy? Because that’s one thing Catholicism shares with the Hare Krishnas—sexual repression. Is it that priests have the power to absolve people of their sins? Maybe they have a bloated sense of power that they can excuse their own actions. In a way, that is another thing they have in common with the Hare Krishnas. Devotees believe in karma, yes, but they also put an irrational weight on chanting certain mantras to absolve oneself of sins. So, false piety? Could that be it? Ultimately I don’t know why the perpetration of sexual abuse exists historically in the Catholic Church. And I’ve given up trying to figure it out (I’ll leave that to some very capable people fighting that fight). Maybe it’s simply evil, human flaw, whatever.

But what I really do not understand, is how an entire generation of children were mistreated in the Hare Krishna Movement. How does this happen when this is your God:

(c) August Abhay Charan Illo (my brother)

Krishna. The all beautiful. The innocent, beautiful baby and young boy, whose pastimes are celebrated by millions. And not a perfectly behaved boy, mind you. A naughty troublemaker that tested the patience of his mother. He got into stuff. He stole food. He ran off all day to have fun with his friends in the woods. Played tricks on people. Teased the village girls. Yet, Krishna was the object of pure love and devotion by all those around him. To this day He is worshipped as this form. Revered as this form. A child.

It makes me wonder if perhaps a group that calls themselves the International Society of “Krishna Consciousness” seems to have monumentally missed the mark. Just imagine, for a moment, if being “Krishna Conscious” meant being conscious of how Krishna might be connected to the hearts of people around us. The children around us.

Imagine for a moment what it would mean if we looked at children as a direct connection to God. Let me explain. If you know a child, have a child, or even simply look back to when you were a child yourself, stop and think for a second about the wondrous way that children approach the world around them. While we as adults might be absentmindedly occupied in our thoughts, pondering some bill we have to pay or what’s stressing us out at work, the child next to us proclaims “a bird!” with exuberance, follows an ant’s progress across the sidewalk, or steps on a leaf and becomes fascinated with the sound and texture of it.

What if children are actually connecting us to the beauty of the world, to Creation, to God, whoever that God may be. It’s as if God is saying to us, “Look! Everything you need to know about how to live and love in this world is right in front of you, showing you, teaching you. But hurry, it’s fleeting! Notice it. Cherish it. Protect it. Make it last, because it will fade or become dormant once innocence is lost.”

Innocence. It’s what only children possess. It’s what makes their world worth protecting. There is wisdom in innocence. Think of all we can learn if we just stop and observe what they teach us just by being who they are:

Children are curious.

Children live in the moment.

Children are resilient.

Children feel every emotion absolutely.

Children are honest.

Children love unconditionally.

Indeed, it is by observing all these qualities in my own children that I feel truly that they have brought me closer to God. It is my own children that gave me this epiphany about how, just maybe, actual Krishna Conciousness was possible. How ISKCON got it tragically wrong, but still offers a silver lining—maybe it is a gift to have been introduced to God as a sweet child, celebrated and worshipped.

But this realization goes way beyond my own children. After pondering this concept for the last eighteen months, I truly believe there is almost nothing in life that you can’t tie back to the importance of childhood, of innocence, and honoring and protecting both. It’s not just a concept for parents to embrace. And this isn’t a new concept either. Although the phrases have become clichéd—“It takes a village to raise a child,” “the children are our future”, and so on—it really is true.

When I reflect back on ISKCON, I lament over the experiences of my generation of worldwide brothers and sisters that grew up in the Movement during those first 20 years. It troubles me to no end that, in a way, we were a lost generation. Opportunity squandered. Just imagine what ISKCON would be today if the focus had been on families and children—protecting, nurturing and empowering them to be the backbone of the Movement. Instead, it’s now a shadow of what it could have been. Most of us survived, and many of us have even done quite well finding our way in the world. But many others have not. And regardless of the level of healing we have each undergone, all of us have struggled with our identities, our past, our confusion about where we fit in the world. Yeah, so just imagine.

My husband, my brothers, and many friends have expressed out loud our commitment to break the cycle of whatever abuse was passed down to us. It stops here. Now. With our generation. It is our collective responsibility to protect the rite of childhood.

Innocence is precious.

Childhood is sacred.

So I’m going to leave it there for now. There is much more to say and to share. I’ve created this website to do just that. Thank you for taking the time to hear what’s in my heart.

Advertisements
49 Comments leave one →
  1. stritama dasi permalink
    October 22, 2011 12:17 PM

    Thank you Nandini for your sincere words and realizations…yes, we must be the change we want to see.

  2. Krsna bhamini permalink
    October 22, 2011 2:36 PM

    So true what you have expressed. I was one of the beginning devotees and although I was raised w a loving family and had a great 1st 20 years, I was attracted so much by Krsna and Srila Prabhupada and much of the essence of the philosophy of bhakti, that the crap that came along w it was accepted as austerity for Krsna or something like that. We were caught in the trap of being submissive and humble and didn’t want to be rejected for individual thinking. Like you said, cultish if we couldn’t be true to our inner values and that family life was frowned upon. To learn how to be balanced in the face of such overt control over self was very difficult .
    It was like the serpent with the jewel on it hood. Krsna and bhakt were all attractive but we got bit over and over by the serpents in the guise of
    Many of the “devotees”. Real devotees begin w being loving human beings and are
    godlike to All , women , children, men and animals. Many so called devotees who perpetrated so much injustices upon others
    were maybe only nice to the animals.

  3. October 22, 2011 5:02 PM

    Very well written, Nandini!
    I am very happy that you have written about this very important point or better, fact, which is missed by far too many.
    Here in Mayapur families are being encouraged to stay together and children get nutured and raised by the parents and the large community. There is a light at the end of a dark tunnel. Times are changing for the better of our children.

    • Krsna bhamini permalink
      October 24, 2011 1:26 PM

      My husband raised a good point that there was alot of upheaval in the world at that time as well. The Vietnam war, 60’s, drugs, sex, etc., no leadership. That is one reason we were so drawn to the person of Srila Prabhupada who was so loving. But obviously we interpreted so much wrong. Prabhupada wrote to me that my first duty was to see my children develop nicely but that was very difficult to do w male leaders that sent fathers and mothers out all day on sankirtan etc and family unit was not honored or respected. Not only in our movement, but those turbulent times in the world created so much divorce . You are absolutely right. Beautiful Krsna is about acting loving to all. Only then will we have healthy families, schools, religious organization and world.

  4. Katie Kern permalink
    October 23, 2011 2:50 AM

    Thank you for this. I hope my children read this article. We will definitely be discussing it today over breakfast.

    One of the reasons the children in the Hare Krishna movement could be abused was that marriages were arranged, women were ridiculed, considered unintelligent, ignored, labeled as
    trouble makers, and beaten. Despite being treated as possessions many of us fought with
    our spouses on behalf of our children. Appeals to so called authorities were useless. I once overheard one of the “appointed” gurus talking to others and laughing over my sincere appeal for help with the conflicts in my marriage.

    My children were never sent away but they were given to others for indoctrination. My oldest son was removed from my home and lived with his father separately from me until our community fell apart due to the arrogance of its leaders. For years we both have dealt and still deal with anger issues.

    What was done to idealist women and men and to innocent children in the name of religion was
    unconscionable. The smell of incense nauseates me to this day. At the same time what initially attracked me, the philosophy, the beauty of the literature and the deities, and the wonderful food still maintains its appeal. However, the guilt I feel over not removing my children from the stupidly distortioned lifestyle they were born into never really leaves me.

    You should know that I have a firm belief in God, in Krishna. In all the worse moments in my life I have felt protected and loved. However, I am and never will be part of any religion.

    Once again, Nandini, thank you.

    • October 23, 2011 9:46 AM

      Thank you so much Katie for your kind words and I respect and admire your bravery and love for your children. Actually I always have. You were always such a strong woman in my eyes and I aspired to be like you even years later. I’ll NEVER forget how you stood up for my mom and our family to the people in charge. All of your kids and stepkids will always have a special place in my heart. Thank you again.

  5. Kamalini Darling permalink
    October 23, 2011 7:30 AM

    Yes, I do imagine what ISKCON would have and could have been like if we gave emphasis on protecting and nurturing all of our children.

    I have shed many tears after hearing of the abuse that our children underwent, including my own. We were so trusting of others, that they could do a better job than us as parents. When we watched Maddie’s play, “Burnt Ladu”, we could really relate to how you all must have felt and feel now.

    I am so very sorry.

    I run my own devotee preschool, and my mission statement is that I want children to grow up and say. “I had a happy childhood. I love Krsna consciousness.” It really does take a village.

  6. Nama Illo permalink
    October 23, 2011 3:47 PM

    Nicely put.

  7. Nitya Siddha dasa permalink
    November 15, 2011 6:48 AM

    Thankyou Nandini for this very moving article.I deeply sympathise with you.Krishna is the all powerful supreme Lord,but also a person who out of His causeless mercy appears in this material world to perform His pastimes.Yes He walks amongst us and shows us that by acting exactly like a human being that He is a person with thoughts and feelings like all of us.Krishna never condones or tolerates any one of His sons being abused by others, whatever body they may be in,be it an ant or Lord Brahma.The abuse that was perpetrated against the children of Iskcon was done by imperfect and materially conditioned individuals acting under the influence of the modes of ignorance and passion.And for this they are beiing punished by the laws of nature.That is Lord Krishna’s mercy upon them,that they should be corrected by the laws of God.Krishna is the original primeval lord and He loves each and every one of us,even His wayward sons.He is all knowing and all powerful.He is not envious of or partial towards anyone, being equal to all.He gives everyone a chance to be an independant lord within His material creation and if anyone breaks His laws then they must accept the consequences.These laws are in place to correct and reform all the rebellious living beings within His creation and bring them back to their senses and ultimately back to the spiritual world.My only advice to anyone would be to read all of Srila Prabhpadas books,especially the Bhagavad Gita and the Srimad Bhagavatam.The knowledge in these books is perfect and non-different to Krishna Himself.It is here that you will truly find the Lord. Your friend, Nitya Siddha dasa

  8. November 15, 2011 7:25 AM

    Well thought out and beautifully written.
    My husband was raised in the old days of the movement, and for the problems he suffers as a result of his abuses, he is looked down upon by many, and seems to be avoided sometimes by other gurukulis who have it more “together”. That hurts the worst.
    I loved your thoughts on Krsna as a child as the beautiful object of our worship, and I believe you are right, that as we (if we) make spiritual advancement, those qualities of innocence, etc. can and will manifest.
    Thanks for sharing. You should write a book.
    Love, Subhadra

  9. Susan Mitchell permalink
    November 16, 2011 2:57 AM

    Nandini, this is expressed in such an eloquent yet ‘real’ way. As a fellow gurukula survivor I can tell you that your words are clear and true. Well done for having the courage to express this. I love you, Nandini, you rock.
    Lots of hugs, Susan (Sumangala)

  10. Dhira Lalita permalink
    December 8, 2011 12:35 AM

    I feel so touched reading about the mature and compassionate loving sentiments of Nandini and everyone who has posted here. I, too, have gone through my own quiet devastation of hope and faith as a young devotee in Iskcon, although I was not a gurukuli.

    Even in the golden early days of bliss and powerful faith, I would stop for a moment and wonder why hardly any older devotees were around, or why the younger generation seemed so “spaced out.” But now I know something of what happens when one’s trust is betrayed again and again.

    I’m working with forgiveness of myself, forgiveness of others. I remind myself everyday,”I forgive as I wish to be forgiven.” Guilt and anger are real, and need to be acknowledged and worked through, but ultimately we are pure spirit soul, and divine happiness is our rightful claim.

  11. Alex permalink
    December 9, 2011 5:17 PM

    Hari Krishna Nandini,

    Thank you so much for sharing what is in your heart. It is beautiful piece of writing which is so honest and thoughtful it manages to touch and affect the hearts of others. It made me cry.

    I came across Prabhupada’s beautiful ideals in the 1980’s and after reading a few books I was inwardly changed. But in Iskcon the guru’s were already insane with their new found power. I was disgusted with the movements attitude to women etc and decided karmi society was more enlightened and left their association.

    I raised my children outside of Iskcon and outwardly hid my devotion to Prabhupada. My children aren’t devotees and don’t chant Hari Krishna and this is something I still feel some sadness about. I feel like I have failed them in some way, although it is nothing compared to how I would feel if they had been exposed to the gurukula experience.

    But I still feel like I haven’t given them everything they need to live well as adults in this world because they have no substantial connection to any philosophy or religion. Its a big bad world out there, and it must be difficult to live in it if you have no philosophy to explain it. Of course I have told them of these things, but as you know, your childhood shapes who you are for the rest of your life. But they are all thoughtful, compassionate people and I am endlessly proud of them.

    I love that you have spoken out and spoken so honestly. This is the greatest weapon against abuse. Abuse is shameful and thrives on secrecy. It is very courageous of you to do this. I also love that you have overcome your experiences and have managed to find the positive side of suffering. Its so inspiring.

    I’ve bookmarked your blog and am looking forward to hearing anything else you have to say.

    • December 9, 2011 6:50 PM

      Thank you Alex for your kind and touching words. It fills my heart with gratitude that my story spoke to you. Your children may surprise you with what they discover on their own and what manifests for them in the world. One thing I’m only beginning to start to understand is that everyone’s journey is their own and so different from others.
      With gratitude,
      Nandini

  12. Nandu Illo permalink
    December 9, 2011 8:01 PM

    I love the honesty this has.

  13. Agni-Tattva Das permalink
    December 11, 2011 10:34 AM

    Friends, you were hoodwinked by ISKCON! It and its parent organization, the Gaudiya Math are not a Gaudiya Vaisnava sampradaya with a transcendental canal-lineage flowing with the love and mercy of Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu, the love God (Krishna) and love personified (Radha) incarnate. It is a Hindu cult with all its dark corruption, deceit and misreprentation as experienced by thousands over the decades and as described in the Sri Bhagavata as a kaitava-dharma, cheating religion. Its deceit and corruption was from the top down.

    Despite the attempts of apologetics to paint the founder of ISKCON as a saint beyond faults and having nothing to do with the ills of the IS GONE movement, Bhaktivedanta Swami was made aware of the abuses, but did nothing to address the issues. He allowed the boarding school programs to go on which were a viable means to get parents to do more work in the communities by sending tender aged children to its own brand of school slaughterhouses. The cult earned its notorious image through the plundering money collecting and book-selling business with skies are the limit tactics which he blessed. He even accepted large sums of money from a sannyasi (renunciates? – give me break) earned through drug trafficking for his Indian temple projects. In other words, the Sri Krishna-Balarama Mandir of Vrindavan was built on the bones of children, women and men who fell victims to the use of narcotics. This was done to promote his name and fame as the greatest Indian guru, the one who tamed his ‘dancing white elephants’. He successfully created fear and isolations within his followers to stay within the fold of his institution, like cattle within a fenced ranch. The fear to question and doubt his actions or inaction still keep many of his devoted flock of followers from growing individually and function as normal and responsible people with the world. Many still accept poverty level lives with their families because of the fears and taboos of integrating with the rest of society and have warped medieval notions that the world is flat, that women have little intellectual capacity, that Blacks are better off as slaves, that Indians are superior to non-Indian (disparagingly called ‘mlecchas’) and last but not least, that brahmacaris and sannyasis are superior to married Vaisnavas.

    Bimal Prasad (aka Bhaktisiddhanta) laid the groundwork for the holier than thou attitude by those who wear the saffron cloth. He attempted to create an uber mensch (superior race) society of sannyasis and brahmacaris with a monastical approach and with the evangelical fervor of the white Christian missionaries of Victorian England who preached in India. He instilled the ideological hatred amongst his followers towards the married family brahmana Vaisnava lineages of the authentic Gaudiya Vaisnava sampradaya as well as the ascetic members of the babaji community who followed in the footsteps of the Six Goswamis by not accepting sannyasis but living humble lives with humble names as Krishna das Babaji without attachments to temple properties and material possessions. He admitted to the ascetic Vaisnava community of Vrindavan in the 1920’s that he had no diksa from Gaura Kishor Das Baba of Navadwipa. Bimal Prasad created his own cult following and fabricated rituals and mantras of initiation and sannyas in ways that appeared ‘Vedic’ but had nothing to do with the genuine lineages of the Caitanya sampradaya. After the Gaudiya Math dissolved after his death because of the discovery of the no lineage issue, everyone went his separate way. Swami Bhaktivedanta a grhastha at the time and later a sannyasi also went his own way.

    • March 27, 2012 10:40 AM

      Hey Thanks for the post Agni-tattva Das ji. I think I will leave Iskcon 🙂

  14. Koti Sreekrishna permalink
    December 20, 2011 8:52 AM

    Nandini, thanks for sharing your well written and meaningful words. I am no Hare krishna man, but have cherished Bhagavad-Gita (BG) from age 9. By then I had memorized all 700 plus verses. I grew up in a traditional Srivaishnava family (Ramanujacharya tradition) and in fact hail from the same family tree of Ramanuja, with Nathamuni and Yamunamuni as my 29 and 27 th great grand fathers. BG is an amazing scripture, and Krishna is a highly unique personality in the entire Hindu heritage. His BG is “Sarva anukoola shaastra” (guide convenient to everyone). However, people who were well versed in it, including my own father, made it sarva anaanukoola shaastra (inconvenient to everyone). ISKCON did the same thing. I don’t think anybody got the pulse of Krishna or BG. After reading 50 plus versions of BG translations (including Prabhupada’s), I was dissatisfied as to how they all got it wrong, even if not in the same places. Obviously, they were all sincerely stupid in front of Krishna or his BG. That is why you have these cultish mindset and settings. For Krishna and BG, the whole world/universe is home. Mind you, BG does not even say visit Dwaraka, or Mathura or Brindavan! BG never said anything against meat consumption, which Prabhupada and many acharyas make a BIG DEAL. It is the prasada (blessing) bhaava (attitude) that BG suggests. Even if you eat a dry leaf with arrogance, you only eat sin. They also created advaita, dwaita, vishishtadvaita schools, while BG does not ecen use those phrases! Krishna said anything you do, make that an offer to the Supreme (Krishna). Sarvam Krishnarpanamastu should be the feeling- not just wearing some head gear, face mark, dhoti/saree and lock up yourself in a cult doing arathi, keertan, and service to krishna idol! After being disgusted with the existing BG translations, I teamed up with my nephew, who is 31 years younger and put together a new translation- free from divisive and sectarian interpretations and interpolations. We did this out of disgust and for our own mental peace. Feel free to read our work at: http://newbhagavadgita.in/2009/01/contents.html

    • Govindan permalink
      December 24, 2011 8:03 AM

      Koti Sreekrishna,

      Please state the Chapter number and stanza number where you have difference of opinion in the BG of Prabhupada’s transalations

  15. December 20, 2011 9:00 PM

    My view on why abuse happened in Iskcon.

    http://www.chakra.org/discussions2/RenewalSep03_10.html

  16. Knn permalink
    December 24, 2011 2:18 AM

    Christian evangelist scoundrels are experts in creating fictitious characters like Jesus and have made Christianity the largest religion in the world using falsehood, money and muscle power. Read the book “Jesus Never Existed” by Kenneth Humphreys.
    So I doubt whether Nandini is a real girl or not. I have come across various cases of this type and later on found the allegations to be false. First of all, she has not given her full identity. What is the use of blaming Bhagvan Sri. Krishna or Iskcon. Whichever Hindu organizations are performing well or and is a threat to Christianity, satanic Evangelists and Commies will infiltrate their rank and file inorder to malign the organization by various methods- allege sex abuse , murder and keep narcotic substance inside the Ashram and then inform the police etc. Perhaps the person who committed sexual abuse is an agent of the Christian missionaries. If this stupid woman had become a drug addict (due to her own past karma), she requires lot of money and the Christians might have offered her millions to write such a derogatory and rotten article against Iskcon. She has also created a blog, which means it is a steady source of income. Since she is really not a devotee of Sri Krishna or even interested in spirituality, and is addicted to certain vices, it appears that whatever happened to her might have happened outside the ashram. She has not read the Bhagavad Gita nor understood the meaning thereof. In Chapt 7 of the Bhagavad Gita it is clearly written how the people behave in the Kali Yuga. It is worth mentioning that the Sage Vyasa wrote this treatise 5000 yrs ago!
    If this woman was really a victim of sexual abuse why did she not file a legal case filed against the person who had committed the offence. By writing this type of articles now what does she have to gain, except money? Since the name of the particular ashram, year of the incidence etc. are not given, it is obvious that this Nandini is really a fictitious character.

    • Knn permalink
      December 24, 2011 3:37 AM

      There is no moderation required. Everybody is free to express their views. I have only stated the truth, from my own experience of the satanic evangelists in India.

  17. niscala1 permalink
    December 26, 2011 5:31 PM

    Meat eating is a both a “big deal” and the conclusion of the equal vision described in the gita- or would you put your own daughter in a truck and have her taken to the slaughterhouse, killed and then eat her, or allow others to? What is the difference, spiritually speaking, from your daughter, your mother, and a goat? Absolutely nothing. Anyway, it seems many so-called Hindus agree with you, and see no need to stop this shocking suffering, both to animals and to those they see as in lower castes. Equal vision means a change in behavior It means that I consider gold and a stone to be the same, and walk past it. It means that I see a cow and an elephant with the same empathy as I would my newborn child. The greatest proponent of animal rights was probably SP- because he made more people into lifelong vegetarians than anyone else.

  18. niscala1 permalink
    December 26, 2011 5:50 PM

    Read thrid Canto, Kapliadeva teachings. Especially the verse that those who make even the smallest distinctions based on material difference, to them the Lord comes as “the blazing fire of death” The implication of that, my friend, is that you do not distinguish between animals and humans, you treat them with the same respect. Indeed, since Krsna declares himself the father of all living entities, they are all your brothers and sisters. So by eating meat, you are partaking of fratricide, and by buying it, you are in efffect paying the hit-man, who killed your borthers and sisters, just so you can eat their flesh. Would a really good Hindu eat his own sister? Or pay for someone to kill her, then eat her? You are probably outraged by such a suggestion. Therefore, a good Hindu, who follows the gita and cultivates equal vision, could also not possibly buy meat.
    It may be argued that plants are also our bothers and sisters, which is a fact, and for this reason some vaisnavas avoid plants that need to be killed to eat them- for many foods do not need to be killed to be eaten. Fruits, milk and many vegetables fall in this category. Since every living entity is food for another, and since we need to eat something, we choose foods that cause the least distress to our brothers and sisters. I have had experience with potatoes, that one can pick off a tuber without killing the plant, the same goes with spinach and even lettuce, while eggplant and other vegetables like tomatoes grow as fruit. Lentils are the seed of a plant, I believe. So these are serious considerations for one who has equal vision. One with no such vision, considers it all irelevant to the worship of God, bhakti, But the Lord declares his worship to be “as useless as pouring ghee into ashes”

  19. niscala1 permalink
    December 26, 2011 5:57 PM

    Actually, it was lack of equal vision that was the root cause of the child abuse scandal, or at least one of the roots. If we had the same respect for children as we did for sannyasis and other big shots, children would have been given all facility- and we would be ready to learn from them, all the invaluable lessons Nandini speaks of. We could no less find ourselves able to abuse or neglect a child, or a woman, as we could a GBC sannyasi guru.

    • January 6, 2012 11:04 PM

      Very true. Children were looked down. If child cannot follow their rules like chanting 16 rounds etc, then the child is fallen. It was duty of teachers to force them to become devotees. How can society love children if they have such attitude towards them?

  20. niscala1 permalink
    December 26, 2011 6:00 PM

    yes, knn, and we are free to consider it non-worthy of response, being full of hatred.

  21. December 27, 2011 12:46 PM

    Mata Nandini, Your sincere candor and practical example is what brings hope for others, regardless of political, personal or protaginist opinions and comments. As long as you keep your faith intact the subtle and not “so subtle” distractions will not detour you from your sadhana, I’m sure you are already beginning to realize that. Continue to become the great human being you are, for one cannot even become a Vaisnava if they are not a true human being and you will gain even more permanent wisdom and happiness.

    • January 6, 2012 11:13 PM

      Krishna is in everyone and is everything. So, see others as manifestation of Krishna and treat them as you would like them to treat you. These basics makes one dear to Krishna.

      When I came to know about the abuse of people around me, I understood the importance of childhood. The way we treat children in their childhood can leave permanent impressions on their life. So, I spend lot of time with my kids and treat them with love and respect. I enjoy with them and have fun with them. They are being raised as happy kids. I see sports are meditation and service to Krishna for kids.Even if they are going through tough times, sports take away their mind from it. So, I encourage them to play sports and do outdoor activities.

      Not only I do that, but I also try to share this with my friends and help them to become better parents.

      • niscala1 permalink
        January 7, 2012 11:38 AM

        Thank you so much GM for sharing your profound knowledge and realizations. It’s true that our philosophy and our understanding of the philosophy are two quite different things. Our understanding of it depends on whether we read or hear the sastra in the mode of passion, goodness or ignorance. In ignorance, when one reads any criticism of the person in illusion, whether by SP (easy to find) or Sri Krsna (His use of the word “mudha” and criticism of the “demoniac nature”) one uses such concepts to put himself over and above others, because envy is his motivation and that envy provokes him to believe that he is in a superior position. It also provokes him to punish, push down and/or eliminate those under him, and being as he is- a servant of the illusory energy, he thinks- nay he really believes- that he is on the transcendental platform. Actually, he is of the demoniac nature, because he displays all the symptoms of that type of person- proud, envious, ready to crush others.

        In goodness, because one is reading for purification, one thinks “I am the person being criticised here. I am in so much illusion, so attached. Upon analyzing myself, I can see various demoniac tendencies. I feel a pinch of envy when someone else is glorified and I am not. I like to see myself promoted over and above others” Such awareness is self-discovery, and the path out of illusion. One has, out of humility and desire for truth, separated the creeper of devotional service from the weeds that strangle it- weeds that “look exatly like the bhakti creeper” The process of devotional service, when performed by such a person, is very powerful, and destroys all these seeds of envy, long before they bear fruit in the manner of vicious and cruel behavior.

        Unfortunately we are utterly sold out to the idea that because we have called ourselves “devotees”, we are transcendental to the modes, and any criticism of the demoniac nature cannot apply to us. It can. It does. Can it apply to others? Of course, but we have no capacity to see other’s entanglement in the modes, if we have no such vision ourselves. Any such capacity, done in imitation of SP and Krsna, will be just the projection of our own demoniac qualities. Better to honour others, as enjoined in the sastra, until we are capable of separating ourselves from illusion. Then with clear vision, devoid of envy, and only motivated to enlighten, with a heart full of love and concern, our words can be cutting and painful.(as the words of a sadhu certianly are)..but they will awaken and liberate, not crush, intimidate or dispirit. We cannot jump to that platform prematurely, for that would be only in imitation of the great souls whose words were like arrows (Re Vidura) but who did great deeds by sharp and painful criticism.

  22. December 27, 2011 12:50 PM

    Now is this Knn also a fictious character?

  23. niscala1 permalink
    December 30, 2011 5:48 PM

    Happy 2012 to everyone! May it be free from all child abuse and neglect, as well as all tolerance of child abuse and neglect! May it be the start of everyone getting involved in protecting children from harm, abuse and poverty, animals from mistreatment and slaughter, and the vaisnava religion from ambition and duplicity. May the vaisnava religion, with its unique vision of God in the heart of all, be actually taken up by those who purport to be vaisnavas, so that others can see its real value, which is now hidden beneath the mud of materialism. May those once abused, follow the example of heroes like Nandini and others, who refuse to let the evil they once suffered, be experienced by others. Otherwise, it is not a New Year at all- its the same old one repeated.

  24. January 7, 2012 2:48 AM

    (Following article sent to Chakra)

    Nandini Stocker shares her experiences in Iskcon in “Reflections On ISKCON’s Lost Generation” . In her article, she talks about the rampant and pervasive abuse on children in the Hare Krishna society. Nandini writes, ” Almost every person in my generation of the Movement suffered some sort of abuse.”. She questions these inhuman and unimaginable acts of abuse in religious organizations. As she finds no answers, she gives up. She writes, “Ultimately I don’t know why the perpetration of sexual abuse exists historically in the Catholic Church. And I’ve given up trying to figure it out.” Many people have commented on this article and the common theme is to blame post-1977 ISKCON leaders. Most members of Iskcon, including the leaders, joined this organization with a hope. They were looking for something higher in their life. God is within us and we are always seeking Him. In their search of God, they followed Iskcon’s philosophy which promised to take them back to Godhead. But in the process something went wrong. Instead of finding God, many committed grave offenses of exploitation of children and women. This abuse was pervasive to a degree that almost all children in the Hare Krishna movement during the 70s and 80s have suffered it. What went wrong! Abuse can’t be blamed on people as most members were good people. The common element among these followers was the philosophy. It is this philosophy which blinded them and resulted in a pervasive culture that supported abuse.

    Many scriptural concepts are misunderstood in ISKCON. The qualifications of a devotee is one of them. Due to this misunderstanding wrong people have been considered as “advanced devotees” and have become leaders in ISKCON’s history. One example was Kirtanananda Swami who died in late 2011. Many Iskcon devotees including two prominent Iskcon Swamis went to bow down to his samadhi even though he hurt a significant number of people. Dhunurdhar Swami is another example. He was Iskcon guru till early 2000s even after he was found guilty of violent abuse of innocent children in Vrindavan Gurukul.

    Another misunderstood concept in the philosophy of Iskcon is the attitude of a devotee towards others. The judgmental and intolerant attitude towards others is encouraged. People are labeled as fallen, offenders, vaishnava aparadhis, karmis, rascals etc. Those associated with such labels are treated with contempt by Iskcon members. That is what happened with innocent children. They were labeled and seen with contempt because they couldn’t behave as the adults demanded. This resulted in society’s neglect which left the children vulnerable to abuse.

    Who is advanced devotee? How we should treat people around us? Answer to both of these questions are related. In Ramayana, Lord Rama describes the qualities of a devotee as follows – “Ananya bhakta is the person who has firm determination that I am servant of Rama (God) who manifests in the form of the whole animate and inanimate world”.(Kishkindha Kanda 3) What this means is that the devotee sees his beloved Lord in all people around him. Therefore, he treats them with love, respect, care and appreciation. Service to Krishna is direct service to people around us. As Krishna is manifesting in people around us, such devotee does not judge or label people. Instead he is always ready to give them happiness.

    Lord Krishna explains the same understanding in his last instruction to Uddhava as follows – “I consider this process — using one’s mind, words and bodily functions for realizing Me within all living beings — to be the best possible method of spiritual enlightenment.“ (SB 11.29.19) “With a pure heart one should see Me, the Supreme Soul within all beings and also within oneself, to be both unblemished by anything material and also present everywhere, both externally and internally, just like the omnipresent sky.” (SB 11.29.12) “For him who constantly meditates upon My presence within all persons, the bad tendencies of rivalry, envy and abusiveness, along with false ego, are very quickly destroyed.” (SB 11.29.15) “Within this world, whatever is perceived by the mind, speech, eyes or other senses is Me alone and nothing besides Me. All of you please understand this by a straightforward analysis of the facts.” (SB 11.13.24)

    The above vision of a devotee is also described by Lord Krishna as “Vasudeva Sarvam” in BG 7.19 which means to see everything and everyone as a form of the Lord. Just like not eating meat is a basic principle of a devotee, in the same way treating everyone with love and accepting everyone as a manifestation of the beloved Lord should be the basic requirement of a devotee. If this key principle of Gita was practiced in ISKCON, the life of second generation devotees like Nandini would be different.

  25. niscala1 permalink
    January 7, 2012 11:40 AM

    that our philosophy and our understanding of the philosophy are two quite different things. Our understanding of it depends on whether we read or hear the sastra in the mode of passion, goodness or ignorance. In ignorance, when one reads any criticism of the person in illusion, whether by SP (easy to find) or Sri Krsna (His use of the word “mudha” and criticism of the “demoniac nature”) one uses such concepts to put himself over and above others, because envy is his motivation and that envy provokes him to believe that he is in a superior position. It also provokes him to punish, push down and/or eliminate those under him, and being as he is- a servant of the illusory energy, he thinks- nay he really believes- that he is on the transcendental platform. Actually, he is of the demoniac nature, because he displays all the symptoms of that type of person- proud, envious, ready to crush others.

    In goodness, because one is reading for purification, one thinks “I am the person being criticised here. I am in so much illusion, so attached. Upon analyzing myself, I can see various demoniac tendencies. I feel a pinch of envy when someone else is glorified and I am not. I like to see myself promoted over and above others” Such awareness is self-discovery, and the path out of illusion. One has, out of humility and desire for truth, separated the creeper of devotional service from the weeds that strangle it- weeds that “look exatly like the bhakti creeper” The process of devotional service, when performed by such a person, is very powerful, and destroys all these seeds of envy, long before they bear fruit in the manner of vicious and cruel behavior.

    Unfortunately we are utterly sold out to the idea that because we have called ourselves “devotees”, we are transcendental to the modes, and any criticism of the demoniac nature cannot apply to us. It can. It does. Can it apply to others? Of course, but we have no capacity to see other’s entanglement in the modes, if we have no such vision ourselves. Any such capacity, done in imitation of SP and Krsna, will be just the projection of our own demoniac qualities. Better to honour others, as enjoined in the sastra, until we are capable of separating ourselves from illusion. Then with clear vision, devoid of envy, and only motivated to enlighten, with a heart full of love and concern, our words can be cutting and painful.(as the words of a sadhu certianly are)..but they will awaken and liberate, not crush, intimidate or dispirit. We cannot jump to that platform prematurely, for that would be only in imitation of the great souls whose words were like arrows (Re Vidura) but who did great deeds by sharp and painful criticism.

  26. Agni-Tattva Das permalink
    January 7, 2012 12:02 PM

    There is much anger amongst many of the members or former members of ISKCON who went through abuse. Much of the anger is not only about the acts of abuse themselves, but on the attitude of the members who were, or still are in management positions who were responsibility of oversight of these facilities where the abuse occurs. It is common practice in much of the civilized world that those who are in leadership positions are held accountable. Leaders either step down or are removed. The problem is that in ISKCON not much of this has been seen over the years since its onset. It was only after many years later and after much consistent pressure by the victims who braved all the repercussions of bringing this to the public’s attention that something was done. Otherwise, it was swept under the rug.

    It is time for objective minded and brave people to confront the fact that Bhaktivedanta Swami’s inaction in this regard is partly at the root of this. His institution has as one of its components the institution of falsehood. The falsehood practiced in the institution was so involved that he and many of his own followers believed in their own woven tales. One of the woven tales is that Sri Krishna took birth within the womb of the ISKCON institution (Bhaktivedanta purport to the 10th canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam). If Krishna did, He must have got up and ran out of it as soon as he saw what was happening. The holy name ‘Hare Krishna’ brought down from Sri Goloka Vrndavan by Mahaprabhu is now synonymous to a cult of brainwashed apocalyptic fanatics in most parts of the world. Was this Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s intention? How did the holy name conjure within people of the western world a mindless cult? The rotten tomato award goes to ISKCON.

    Let us use some common spiritual sense. Does Lord Krishna actually need all those huge temples of high maintenance, the zoological park and pre-science era planetarium in Mayapur, boarding schools, and ‘spiritual’ literature poured down people’s throats for His glories to be known? What has been the result of 45 years of this? Has the world gotten any closer to its ‘golden age’ of where judges are wearing tilak and presidents of the nations are ISKCON members? Or does the teachings of Sri Caitanya as described and practiced by the Six Goswamis of Vrindavan and their followers over the generations is more akin to what spiritualism is fundamentally about, individual private bhajan and endeavor to attain love of God. Simple spiritual communities can exist, but without the megalomania pipe dreams of government and caste system replicas within them. Haridas Thakur chanted alone near a beach. The Goswamis worshiped under trees till people volunteered financing a mandir. This is far different from fleecing people unknowingly from their hard earned money as practiced in ISKCON. Krishna lives in the heart of devotees who have diksa and practice bhajan. No need for high cost projects and propaganda shows. If a person has the sukriti and impressions of a previous life to practice bhakti, Bhakti Devi will make arrangements for that soul to meet Guru, take diksa and practice bhajan. Do not fall into the Christian theological falsehood that without Jesus, no one is saved; and in this case, without Bhaktivedanta Swami and his ISKCON, no one is saved. You cannot force someone into bhakti, not by hook or crook. That includes children!

    Thoughtful and open-minded devotees need to separate the hyperbolic myths from actual reality and learn to put things in proper perspective. Does every Muslim believe in a Taliban style society or do some (quietly) acknowledge that some of the 6th century Arabic cultural practices were primitive in comparison to modern cultural values? Why do you all need to keep fooling yourselves into thinking that ISKCON will still save the world when it sorts out its problems? The problems are inherent as a building built with cheap materials and on land with no government agency permit. From a distant sight it looks impressive, but at inspection it is a failure. No sane person will live in it. The ‘house built for the whole world to live in’ has been vacating by smart individuals. New ones come in, stay for some time, see its conditions and leave. This will go on as long as the house stands. Don’t waste your time and move on.

  27. niscala1 permalink
    January 7, 2012 12:43 PM

    Agni Tattava, the problem is if you leave ISKCON you take it with you, because the trash is within- the tendency to blindly follow authority, or the herd or one’s assumptions. You take within you, all the misconceptions, the hatreds, the discrimination on externalities, which are condemned in the sastra. You take with you all the weaknesses, the tendency to scapegoat, envy and so on, and you just practice it somewhere else. (I don’t mean you personally) I’ve seen it happen- Tripurari Swami left ISKCON and is imposing an even worse dynamic on his own followers. He preaches to his disciples that they are his slaves. And he keeps a girlfriend, spends long hours in a secluded cabin with her, and gets rid of anyone who criticizes him for it. He exploits and he manipulates. And he is not in ISKCON. The point is not where you are, but what you are. Be kind, wherever you are. Be honest, even if it means criticizing a socially superior person. Be courageous that Krsna will protect you in all circumstances. iT is easy to blame SP for an experiment gone bad, but has it really? It changed my life for the better- I was suicidal before I came to ISKCON. My husband also and many other devotees I have known as well… But if it is at all a question that SP has done good to this world, think of how many people he has converted to vegetrarianism, through ISKCON. How many animals does one save by becoming a lifelong veggo oneself- multiply it by all the members of ISKCON, its branches, and the people it has inspired to give up meat. Put that on one scale, and the abuses on the other. Does it balance? I don’t know, but SP never condoned the abuse- he did insist on giving up meat, however. And he made it easy for us through delicious prasadam, given free. He said everyone should eat sumptuously. No one should go hungry. He inspired, and continues to inspire, the admirable Aksaya Patra program in India, feeding millions of India’s poorest families- at school, so they get and education at the same time. So, there are always two sides to any story- actually many sides- try to see it from the cows point of view.

  28. January 8, 2012 7:38 PM

    hi, i joined the movement in 1971 in boston at age 14 and stayed for one year, living in boston, nyc, atlanta and miami. i kept running away for various reasons: threats of being “married off”, unhelpful cruelty, even in the end murder. i watched my dear women friends beaten by their husbands as if it were a precept for a good marriage. i watched affairs and i watched corruption. the movement was where my feminism was born.

    i continued follwing yoga and hinduism for 20 yrs, and i think i’ve got a handle on what makes a cult now. iskcon is and was definitively a cult and prabhupada was its first purveyor. there are no perfect beings in this world. i’m still attracted to indian art and poetry, and i even love to sing bhajans, but that’s the extent of it. i’ve been so hurt by cult leaders and their devotees. nobody needs it and it must be left behind to be healthy.

    i was probably attracted due to those same “mixed” messages that you spoke of, which i got in my childhood. i was “genius”, i could do “anything”, i was god. i was nothing, i could abandoned, i could be abused. personally i think men are driven by their sex organs and if they have a strong libido, they will take whatever turns them on. biology, pure and simple. i’ve yet to meet a man without a pretty hefty libido.

    thank you for your blog, nandini. it’s brave of you. i wish you every success in your life! xoxooxox

  29. Agni-Tattva Das permalink
    January 28, 2012 5:44 AM

    Well, another ISKCON guru (Prabhavisnu Das Swami) retires and leaves heart and pocket broken disciples behind while he is laughing all the way to the bank. ISKCON has over the years these seismic activities wherein the tectonic plates of gurus falling results in pushing up the mountain of Bhaktivedanta Swami stature to celestial stardom, raising his mythological persona to newer and newer heights thus raising the bar on ISKCON members’ minds on the qualities of an infallible guru. The only problem with this is that Bhaktivedanta Swami himself created the standard of how a guru is viewed within his organization. He told one of his early disciples that he wanted to be the biggest guru in India. He said in Hawaii that the guru should have a car made of gold. He commanded absolute and unquestionable authority from his followers. He donned in gold watches, drove in Mercedes Benz, sat on silk cushioned and teak wood seats with carved lion faces as bolsters while disciples fanned him like the Murti on the altar and encouraged his followers to collect more and more money. He enjoyed parading in India his white disciples like captured monkeys to display to his Indian constituents while calling them ‘dancing white elephants’. He thought his every word was worth noting for generations to come, even his bit on ‘licking the leaking vagina’, his disparaging talk on how his married disciples enjoyed oral sex.

    Niscala, please! Wake up and smell the halava! It’s a fraud from top to bottom. Okay, we give credit to him for having brought Krishna’s teachings to the west. BUT HE WAS NOT THE FIRST! In 1902 Premananda Bharati came to New York City and started Hari nama kirtan with an organization he founded, the Krishna Samaja Where is the recognition from ISKCON to him? Did you ever even hear of him? Probably not. That is my point. You are being bamboozled into a history of Caitanya Vaisnavism that is mythological at best, and out right misleading and insulting on the other by disregarding the followers of the Caitanya lineages throughout history.

    You mentioned the feeding of millions of people of India by the Aksaya Patra program. Impressionable indeed. However, do you equate this with a high level of bhakti? Do you equate the big numbers—how temples, how many books, how much money collected and now, how many people are being fed—with a high level of bhakti, rati, bhava, or prema? What happened to the teachings of Sri Rupa Goswami, or Sri Visvanath Chakravarti regarding progression in bhakti? Although feeding people in India is admirable, it is far from having the ability to approach the kunjas of Sri Radha – Krishna in Vrndavan, serving them in a mentally conceived spiritual body, as practiced and preached by the Six Goswamis and their followers. That is because there is no channel, no parampara. At best, what they can do is at least feed people. That is why many people still go to ISKCON, to get fed on Sundays the rice, pacoras and halava! That is the bliss they get, a full belly.

    Stop going to ISKCON centers. Stay home and chant the holy name and by the power and mercy of the holy name, Krishna will inspire you to meet a real guru. The Lord is within your heart, in your home and within every atom in the universe. Do kirtan with friends home. Starve these ISKCON organizational leaders, gurus and GBC from your resources you give to them, including going to their centers to make them feel they have an organization and masses to preach to. This will make them go and get real jobs and know what it is like to be humble and responsible, live and appreciate other people (yes, that means the ‘karmis). Or if they are genuinely into renunciation, then they will have to beg for their sustenance. Save your money. You do not need them. They need you much more than you need them.

    • January 28, 2012 5:53 AM

      This is just another sad case of criminal fraud on the part of the ISKCON leaders. Just like they kept the fact that the gurukula children were being sexually molested a secret from the parents in order to keep the tuition money flowing, so they are now pretending to be renounced, celibate monks in order to keep the donation money flowing.

      Don’t they have laws against soliciting donations under false pretenses in Australia? The disciples of Prabhavishnu ex-swami should start a class-action lawsuit against these rascals. It’s the only thing that’s going to get these ISKCON leaders to change their criminally fraudulent cover-up policies!

      • niscala1 permalink
        January 30, 2012 4:59 AM

        So quick to jump to conclusions! Hasn’t it crossed your mind that possibly these sannyasis were genuine renunciants for some time, then found renunciation too hard- or too lonely? It seems devotees have two mindsets only- the fanatics who hear no evil, see no evil, and those who see all evil and hear all evil. Then there are some rare ones inbetween, who I come accross every now and then, like a sweetly fragranced cool breeze on a stilfling hot day. Here’s a thought to consider: Sannyasis are human, as are gurus, as are GBC’s. They are neither infallible, nor god-like, nor perfect in every respect, nor free from faults. I think the extremes on both sides, the see-no-evil, and the see-all-evil-and-hypocrisy, both think that gurus, sannyasis and GBC’s should be perfect in all respects. They are, should be, and will be, human beings, but that implies a sense of empathy, humanity, decency and respect, which is singularly and completely absent in anyone who abuses the innocent. Lacking that, they are not humans, what to speak of devotees, but animals, no matter if it is hands or paws holding their dandas, or whiskers or sikhas decorating their heads, or neck beads or dog tags decorating their necks. They may have the best dog coat on, or saffron sannyasa dhoti, but when they see someone helpless, they go for the jugular. Or if someone disagrees with the sacred territory of their point of view, they snarl threats of aparadha and heresy.

    • niscala1 permalink
      January 28, 2012 11:16 PM

      To Agni-Tattva, you give a very one-sided version of Srila Prabhupada, as many found him very caring and gentlemanly, as well as naturally humble. As for the comments about sex, which you find offensive, the sadhu tries to cut attachment, and in doing so, ignores conventional social pleasantries forbidding discussion of sexual practices. As for being worshipped, it is part of the disciple’s duty, and he explained that to his disciples. His own guru was disgusted at his own worship, calling himself a big animal on a big seat, but said it was his duty. The idea is that the disciple is not qualified to worship the Lord directly, he must go through the guru. You may disagree, but you cannot assume that gurus are doing it because they enjoy it. As for PVS, I am his disciple in asense, though I had a philosophical fall-out with him about 10 years ago and consequently alligned myself more with my siksa guru, but his change in ashrama does not disqualify him from being a guru.
      Something more about PVS, which contradicts your cute little theory: Everything about his body language indiacted he hated being worshipped. He was uncomfortable to the extreme, so much so, I felt guilty even being there.

      I don’t know where in hell you got the idea that SP demanded absolute obedience. There are many instances where he said “blind following is always condemned” or words to that effect. A typically bitter and unbalanced review of a person who is not perfect, never said or implied he was perfect, but nevertheless is what I said he is- someone who has saved more animals from slaughter, and more people from suicide, than anybody that I know of. Jaya Srila Prabhupada and good luck to PVS in his new ashrama!

      • anuradha dasi permalink
        January 29, 2012 11:54 AM

        I very much appreciate Nandini’s words. It’s good to bring these things into the open for discussing. It’s vital and it’s long overdue.
        I also very much appreciate your defending Srila Prabhupada’s character, Niscala, and your honesty.

  30. niscala1 permalink
    January 28, 2012 11:21 PM

    You wrote: Do you equate the big numbers—how temples, how many books, how much money collected and now, how many people are being fed—with a high level of bhakti, rati, bhava, or prema?

    A big heart means you are compassionate for everyone, and suffer when others suffer. Many people in India are suffering materially and spiritually. Feeding children prasadam at their schools ensures both material and spiritual upliftment. A devotee wants to see everyone happy, but it’s hard to be happy when you are starving or know that your children have no better future than picking over garbage dumps.

  31. Agni-Tattva Das permalink
    January 29, 2012 10:25 AM

    If a guru cannot qualify the disciple to worship Krishna directly, then he is NOT A REAL GURU. A real guru gives his disciple entrance to bhakti through diksa, secret mantras for worshipping Krishna and linking him to the channel, the disciplic line of the Caitanya sampradaya, and instructing him/her in bhajan practice. Lord Gauranga told Sanatan Goswami, described in Caitanya Caritamrta, that when one takes diksa the Lord accepts him as one of His own associates and he attains a spiritual form whereby he can worship the Lord. This statement by the Lord shows that one becomes qualified to worship Krishna through diksa.

    Bhakti has 3 main stages: sadhana, bhava and prema. Bhakti actually begins with sadhana (practice) and sadhana begins with acceptance of Guru, diksa and taking instructions. Chanting the holy name with mala and Sri Murti worship is not real bhakti before diksa. BHATKI IS NOT INHERENT in the jiva because bhakti is Krishna’s swarupa shakti. Bhakti rasa resides originally within the hearts of the parshadas, the Lords eternal associates in the spiritual kingdom. When Sri Krishna sees that there is acceptance of a real Guru and diksa in a pranali disciplic line then the devotee with be blessed with the flow of bhakti as described in the literature of the Vrindavan Goswamis. Then there will be the the gradual progress through the other stages towards prema.

    All the aberrations in ISKCON and Gaudiya Math all stem from the fact that there is no diksa line. Simple. In ISKCON and Gaudiya Math the so-called ‘diksa’ is useless because Nimal Prasad (aka Bhaktisiddhanta) never had a diksa from Gaura Kishor Das Baba. These organizations are hindu dharma at best; in its worst, a mindless cult where people are exploited, abused, and in some rare cases murdered. No traditional lineage Caitanya Vaisnava guru would daily sit on a big chair and get a full arotik while disciples hysterically dance and cheer his name everyday. I have never heard of a traditional lineage Vaisnava Guru tell their disciples that they have no qualification to worship Krishna and therefore must worship him and give everything to the guru. You approach a Guru to teach you the ways of bhakti and how to worship Bhagavan Krishna and he tells you, ‘you are not qualified to worship Krishna so worship me.’ What is that? You think that is right? Although Guru worship is a part of daily private bhajan, it is not a public showcase. No traditional Caitanya Vaisnava Guru has a public birthday party and calls it, ‘Vyasapuja’ celebration either. They all accept a public worship only once a year on Guru Purnima which is the appearance of Sri Vyasa Deva.

    What does this all tell you? ISKCON/GM is a personality cult of charismatic religious leaders.

    As far as my ‘very one-sided view’ is concerned. I was in ISKCON for many, many years since the days of Bhaktivedanta Swami when he was alive. I was a blind fanatic for a long time. I ate up everything that was told to me. In the course of time I was physically abused, threatened with violence and manipulated. After much inner denial for years, I saw all the cult dynamics others have experienced and the deviations in the Caitanya tradition. Thank God I found a spiritual practice which does not have any of the toxic relationships and sick ideologies I assimilated previously for years when in ISKCON. By now, I have a very clear 360 degree understanding of ISKCON/GM and I am here just sharing my insight. As Anderson Cooper would say, ‘ we’re keeping them honest’.

    I give Bhaktivedanta Swami a lot of credit for his preaching to the west. I just do not drool in awe and reverence like ISKCON members do and think he is as good as God. I objectively see that he did both a great deal of good and some bad too. For instance, he knew he had disciples and followers eating out of his hand and thus exploited them. He was a veteran Indian businessman, mind you. I think there where things he could have done a lot better if he had not gotten carried away with himself. I am merely presenting a bold and raw perspective on his legacy. Perhaps one you may find offensive. The truth is as a non-lineage Caitanya Vaisnava group, ISKCON is bound to failure as a bhakti movement, as it did with the Gaudiya Math. You can see the signs.

    Niscala, your intentions are noble. You are loyal to this organization and you are doing your best to keep the herd in, despite the great numbers of casualties suffered in the hands of this organization. It is a pity though you are stuck in it and trying to make sense out of the senseless for yourself and your readers. You are tying to put square pegs through circles that just won’t fit. Admirable is your faith, but I hope others can see what a waste of talent and effort your endeavors are, if you yourself don’t see them. I pray you find peace and love.

  32. niscala1 permalink
    January 29, 2012 12:55 PM

    Thanks very much prabhu, your argument is penetrating and I am in awe, even if I raise the following objections. I have long perceived the personality cult in ISKCON, but assumed it came from the false ego, and not the public worship of the guru. Interestingly, in ISKCON, the public worship of ISKCON gurus is in decline, limited to once a year, yet the personality cult continues. You seem to take objection to the disciple giving money to the guru, which has certainly been exploited at least by some. This guru dakshine, however, was used by Bhaktivedanta to spread krsna consciousness as well as massive prasadam distribution. PVS would canvas for funds from his disciples to fund the reconstruction of the temple in Bangladesh which was destroyed by floods. The guru dakshine concept can be used for tremendous good, if it is accepted by a person who has no selfish motives.
    You recommend the private bhajan of the guru by the disciple. How can the disiple be in a mood of internal worship of his guru, and externally give him the same facilities as everyone else? Bhaktivedanta never instructed his disciples to offer him a nice seat, but when they did it sponstaneously, he accepted it as a symptom that they were becoming devotional on the inside. From the internal mood, certain behaviors mainifest, spontaneously. .
    Nevertheless, I am in awe of your analysis, certainly not offended in any way. You seem to know the history of vaisnava tradition much better than me, and taking into account the failings in both the Gaudiya matha and in ISKCON it seems you are right. But it just doesn’t tally with facts. When ISKCON mandated that its gurus not receive public worship except once a year, which is closer to tradition- even if it is on the wrong day- I saw not even a shred of decline in the personality cult status of the gurus, in the eyes of their disciples. I think therefore, it is not a matter of which day or how many days the guru is worshipped, but that his position is not as the acceptor of worship, but as a spiritual teacher. The first concept receives service, the second gives service, by teaching, and reaffirms the guru’s position as a servant of the Lord. I stress, therefore, in my writings, that guru is simply a teacher, a teacher of devotion, but a teacher. One can disagree with a teacher, and it is not offensive. When one disagrees with God, one may call it heresy or whatever, but the guru is not God. He is a man. He may even be wrong on certain points relating to the temporal world of planetary distances and women’s brain sizes, but if he is a real guru, he should not be wrong on matters of eternality, as he presents the message of the sastra unchanged. Even in regard to the eternal message, one should not follow him blindly, as in a cult, but question, question, question, until one is convinced by logic and reason.
    You wrote:In ISKCON and Gaudiya Math the so-called ‘diksa’ is useless because Nimal Prasad (aka Bhaktisiddhanta) never took diksa from Gaura Kishor Das Baba.
    I am wondering where you got that idea, because I heard that Bhaktisiddhanta wanted to take inititation from his father but his father told him to take it from GKDB, which GKDB only agreed to only after Bhaktisiddhanta threatened to commit suicide. Is this story, then a lie, and if you think it is, what is your evidence?

  33. Agni-Tattva Das permalink
    January 29, 2012 5:02 PM

    Hello sister. You have many good points which I agree. Guru is a teacher. He is the manifestation of Hari for the disciple in that he gives Lord Hari’s mercy. What is that mercy? It is the loving devotional service to Hari by which one can attain the lotus feet of Hari. Therefore, the Guru is the only way by which to attain Krishna’s mercy.

    Guru is not a personality cult figure. Krishna works equally through all genuine Gurus to give bhakti bhajan to the disciple. The Guru aspect manifest within a Vaisnava who is accomplished in bhajan to a candidate for bhakti. The Guru may or may not be a scholar, or she/he may or may not be very scriptually learned. In other words, she can be a simple devotee who simply loves to chant the holy name and worship her Murtis and relishes hearing about and remembering Radha-Krishna. He/she may or may not be of a high family as in a brahman family. She/he may or may not be very charismatic. He/she may even have some faults, make mistakes in judgement concerning mundane things. Krishna acts through Guru to give the tools for bhakti bhajan to the disciple. The path towards prema is then left up to the disciple after he takes diksa and learns bhajan. He may consult his diksa guru or other Vaisnavas for direction. But the main work is up to the disciple.

    Guru does not take the karma of the disciple and therefore is not effected by taking a disciple. The Guru has his karma and the disciple has his own. At diksa, Sri Guru transfers to the disciple empowered secret mantras, gives him the ista devata in the form of Murtis, Tulasi neckbeads, holy names to chant on mala and the sacred tilak markings which distinguishes the particular lineage or parivar, be it Adwaita, Nityananda, Gadadhara, Srinivas, Lokanath Goswami, etc.

    Guru can take daksina and it is good for the disciple to give daksina. Exploitation will only result in the disciple loosing faith in the Guru.

    Regarding Bimal Prasad. His own brother, Lalit Prasad said he never took diksa. Bimal Prasad admitted to some of the leading Vaisnavas in Vrindavan in the 1920’s, Rama-Krishna Das Pandit Baba and Kishori-Kishor Das Baba that he only had a dream he took initiation. One very old Baba of Radha Kunda who was in the same lineage of Gaura Kishor Das Baba who was 114 year old when he passed away in 1999 said Gaura Kishor Das Baba never initiated him. In 1940’s Ananta Vasudeva, the hand appointed successor of the Gaudiya Math by Bimal Prasad himself after investigating the lineage issue disbanded the Gaudiya Math on the bases that there is no lineage and sannyas is not part of the Gaudiya Vaisnava tradition. Some of the former disciples of Bimal Prasad of the Gaudiya Math I have met in Vrindava and all say the same story. In short, it is common knowledge in Vrndavan, Radha Kunda and in Navadwip that ISKCON/Gaudiya Math is not part of the Gaudiya Sampradaya. Surprised? Ask around. And please don’t think, ‘they are envious’. Why is the whole world envious? Envious of what? Real Vaisnavas experience the wealth of bhajan. Why would they want all the thousands of orange robed monks and all the sari clad women disturbing their peaceful bhajan anyway? There is not enough food and no bathroom facilities big enough for all those people in their humble asramas! Think about it.

    There is no diksa connection and even physical meeting between the persons whose names are listed in the parampara given by Bimal Prasad beginning after Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Gaura Kishor Das Baba was in a different parivar than Bhaktivinod Thakur, and so was Jagannath Das Baba and Visvanath Chakravarti. To defend this, ISKCON and Gaudiya Math put forth the ‘siksa sampradaya’ or ‘bhagavat parampara’ theory. However, it adds up to a bunch of hot air and does not amount to one shred of evidence that there is a diksa in Bimal Prasad. So spare me with this one. I heard it a million times!

    The story was that Bhaktivinod wanted his son Bimal Prasad to take diksa from his own Guru, Bipin Bihari Goswami of the parivar of Vamsivadana Thakur of the lineage of Sri Jahnava Ma/Nityananda, but Bimal Prasad refused. Nor would he take diksa from his father. Bimal Prasad approached Gaura Kishor Das Baba several times but the Baba did not want to give him and never did. Bimal Prasad not having a diksa he eventually just did his own thing anyway which is not uncommon, given that many yogis in India want to be some sort of guru, start their own missions and it was true back then with Bimal Prasad. He must have been an impressive speaker with knowledge he learned from his father and the sastras and had a mission in mind. Perhaps It was his response to the times in Queen Victorian colonial India. But mind you, it was his distinct version of Vaisnavism, not the Gaudiya Vaisnava religion. Just as to get baptized is a fundamental function for one to accept Christianity and consider one to be a Christian, diksa is a fundamental function for one to become a Gaudiya Vaisnava devotee. All evidence points he never had it.

    What was Bhaktvedanta Swami’s father reaction to all this? You may remember in the Prabhupada Lilamrta, that Bhaktivedanta Swami’s father, Gour Mohan De did not want anything to do with the Gaudiya Math when they came to his house to preach. Nor did Bhaktivedanta Swami’s wife. Bhaktivedanta Swami was already initiated as a 12 year old boy by Gaur Mohan De’s family Guru. Gour Mohan De hid in his room and did not want to come out because they looked like Adwaitin sannyasis. Sannyas is one of the aberrations coming out of the Gaudiya Math and into ISKCON which is not part of the tradition and rejected by the Six Goswamis and their followers. Otherwise, they would have taken sannyas too so that everyone can follow.

  34. January 29, 2012 6:26 PM

    time to disconnect. all the best, nandini. thank you for story. xoxoxoxoox

  35. niscala1 permalink
    January 30, 2012 5:33 AM

    Very interesting. Thanks, Agni Tattva. I don’t think that everyone who believes this other version of the history is “envious”, but there is the effect of Chinese whispers, a rumour becoming a fact, or a doubt becoming set-in-stone undisputable history. It doesn’t really concern me either way, because both Bhativedanta and Bhaktisiddhanta made adjustments to tradition, so that people could more easily surrender. Neither did away with diksa, even if the question of Bhaktisiddhanta’s diksa is settled in the negative. They both offered diksa to their disciples. They also offered sannyasa to facilitate preaching, but curiously, after several falldowns, Bhaktivedanta ordered “no more sannyasa!” but his devotees turned a deaf ear, and to date, still give sannyasa, ignoring the shocking track record…

    I believe the original reason for giving sannyasa was the same as Sri Chaitanya’s- to have one’s preaching to be taken more seriously in India- but it was a failure, at least in ISKCON. An utter failure. Those who are not fallen from celibacy are fallen to luxury and respect/adoration, which is far worse, according to Bhaktivinode Thakura, but they rationalize it as “yukta vairagya”. There may be one or two exceptions…maybe even a few, but they are outnumbered, and the disgraces far outweigh any good coming from this ashrama. Better to be a devotee street sweeper than a charlatan sannyasi. I’m very happy for PVS. He has fallen upwards into what I think he always wanted- a state of honesty and personal integrity. To those who say that what he was before was a hypocrite, stop putting yourself on the level of God, Who alone sits in the heart and knows the inner desires of the living entity. He alone has the power to judge. Save your judgement for the real criminals, who are not devotees, not human beings, but animals dressed up as exalted devotees, who abuse the innocent in a lonely place. According to Pariksit, they should be beheaded, but when the same thing happened with Asvatthama, his life was spared, but all his power and respectability (represented by the jewel on his head) removed. Let us get rid of the real hypocrites, but so long as we see all as hypocrites, that will not be possible- like mistaking that swelling on ones face, called a nose, to be a boil- and losing a valuable faculty by removing it. PVS may not have been perfect- human beings aren’t, but he inspired a lot of people with his sweet and devotional bhajanas.

    But BVPS is in another category- is not even a human being, and neither are any that abuse innocent and helpless children etc under their care. They are vultures, tigers, jackals, feeding on the weaknesses of others.

  36. D.S.D permalink
    July 17, 2014 1:01 AM

    Thank you Nandini Maataji for your feeling in respect of the child version of your being, which is very touching and heart melting words from you. Personally I allow myself to make a statement, after reading your story as from the the day you were born in Iskcon on Nandotsava, where Shrila Prabhupada has lovingly given you the name NANDINI, while you were sitting on his lap. My statement is that you are really a fortunate soul for being born on that auspicious day and more fortunate for being named by the most Dear servant of Krishna, Shrila Prabhupada. If you say that there is nothing special about you for being born on that particular day, how then comes that your words have prove special for my painful childhood experiences in Iskcon. Which I must declare to be a source of inspiration for the Practice of my Krishna Consciousness which is a truth. For security purposes I am not mentioning my name and the country I joined the Iskcon movement. I am now 47 years old of male sex and divorced 10 years ago. I joined Iskcon at the age of 17 in 1984 and has been passing through innumerable tribulations since then, by some of the so-called senior devotees who have occupied important posts in the society. Let me also tell you about the pleasant service you have done to Shri Krishna, by writing your feeling, in which many like me will be inspired to continue with their heartfelt service to Shri Krishna. Certainly Krishna is very pleased with you and you are occupying a special place in his heart regardless of your being following the rules and regulations. At present I am having the deep feeling from the core of my heart that Krishna has sent you here in Iskcon to serve in that particular manner as the purpose of your existence. Thank you very much Nandini Maataji. Thank you for reading my words. Hare Krishna.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: