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"Preaching in North America"

During my recent meeting with Bir Krishna dasa Goswami, I mentioned that in my opinion the preaching, temples, and sankirtan movement in general are drying up in North America. This is partially due to the fact that most of the older sannyasis, GBC and preachers have gone overseas -- many to Eastern Europe -- to preach there rather than stay in their prabhu-datta-desa. He agreed, saying that he was asked to join his contemporaries in the previous Communist bloc countries, but he declined.

He then came out with what I consider to be the standard ‘lame excuse’. He said that back during the ISKCON lila period (the hippy era), there were plenty of intelligent, high quality recruits who were ready, willing and able to move into the temple. Today, this social phenomenon has dramatically changed. In other words, the good people today won’t give up everything and join the temples. They prefer to stay in their personal situations and gradually advance in Krsna Consciousness. Just prior to this segment of the conversation, Govardhana dasa had mentioned that over twenty devotees were “made” in Portland over the last few years. Of course, only two devotees are actually living in the temple. From my appraisal, these two brahmacaris were first class, particularly compared to the Board members I encountered.

There was no mention of the most significant fact, which is that Srila Prabhupada, the Sampradaya Acarya, had manifest to fulfill his lila in the sixties and seventies. Consequently, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, in the form of Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, orchestrated/empowered many young persons to join him. Of course, if we disciples had maintained the same sankirtan spirit and followed strictly in Srila Prabhupada’s footsteps. I’m certain Srila Prabhupada, Lord Caitanya, and all the associates and Sampradaya Acaryas would have assisted the sincere preachers by continuing to populate the temples with enthusiastic devotees.

There was also no mention from Bir Krishna dasa Goswami of the disastrous, wide ranging negative effects caused by the introduction and maintenance of the Zonal Acarya System over a ten-year period. Most notably, this resulted in driving out of the movement thousands of trained-up dedicated preachers, most of whom were established and attached to their own preaching areas. Personally, I can make a long list of all my old friends who were once Temple Presidents of North American temples. I know for a fact most would still be engaged had it not been for the programs and activities of the GBC, diksa gurus, and imitation Acaryas. Today, these same mobile swamis have gone off to greener pastures where the devotees treat them with the kind of respect they’ve grown accustomed and attached to receiving – a level of respect they find it difficult to enjoy in North America today.

I just can’t accept that the bhaktas from those “juicy” regions are qualitatively spiritually superior to Americans, Canadians, or Western Europeans. After all, it is these same Western older devotees who are in such high demand in Eastern Europe. Can it be partially due to the sociological and psychological fact that the bhaktas from these countries are accustomed and conditioned to being in a society where there’s totalitarian rule?

All in all, I don’t accept the notion that there are external, material reasons for the sharp decline in Krsna Consciousness activities here in North America. Granted, it has always been required in this fast changing society that we adapt and be in tune with the contemporary trends. If an empowered preacher with all the resources provided by Srila Prabhupada, the previous Acaryas, Vaisnava literature, manpower, money and years of experience – what to speak of the mercy and blessings of Lord Caitanya, Caitya Guru, and the entire disciplic succession -- can’t come up with innovative ways and means to spread Krsna Consciousness, what exactly is the problem? One might conclude that their philosophy is incorrect, but of course, we know that’s not the case.

I am disgusted by all the half-baked excuses coming from the mouths of those who sit on and protect their inherited power. If Bir Krishna dasa Goswami had the true sankirtan spirit required to push on this movement in a way and manner expected by his Spiritual Master, he would have been able to recognize and appreciate the potentially ideal circumstance I represented to him. I do have a verifiable track record stretching over many solid years of practical and successful service. My very accomplished, totally committed wife and a young, intelligent, enthusiastic professional Bhakta all showing up at the Portland temple was of little interest or import to Bir Krishna or to the Board. The Portland center is in distress on account of the falldown of a GBC diksa guru, therefore Bir Krishna dasa Goswami was assigned. Can this be Srila Prabhupada’s mercy? No! In his mind, we are immediately perceived as a potential threat that should be tested, discouraged and driven off for the flimsiest of reasons. If temple goers can’t become their disciples and be “absolutely” under their control, then these high powered leaders are not interested in accommodating or engaging them. That’s the only relationship dynamic they’re attached to or apparently capable of engaging in. It is the same reasoning which motivates so many of the opportunistic American Swamis migrating to Eastern Europe.

Rocana dasa

Replies: 5 Comments

Posted by i love prasadam @ 12/15/2005 07:12 PM PST

oh i love this site!
i miss Srila Prabhupada...but he is always here in his books.
He never stopped thinking of Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Remember how he smiled when he talked of Krsna's antics as a young cowherd boy?
having the talent to relate the love of Krsna to another human being...is so amazing. Srila Prabhupada, did that for me. So did the dieties and so did His wonderful devotees. Nothing will ever be as pure as Srila Prabhupada i want to say...and yet miracles can happen. Lets not forget Krsna as a boy stealing butter and Srila Prabhupadas eyes sparkling as he told us the story.
There are many people out there, young and old, weak and strong, greedy and giving, loving and hateful, happy and sad... these souls all need to know about bhakti yoga. they need to stop eating meat, it is hurting society so much...and the planet...please hurry! save them!heck, save me throw me a gulabjamin! i know that knowing about Krsna is what i have clung to a valuable treasure. public schools arent fun. i was lucky i got to go to gurukula for one yearand it was one of the best years of my life.
it was a wonderful experience. The dieties and i formed a strong bond and they are always in my heart. Thank You for taking care of them. The temple is a santuary i go to occaisionally to see the dieties and look around in awe. Remember how Prabhupada always said, "simply chant Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare! Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare!!!!!!!!!!
..people need to know love.

get fired up! watch farenheit 9/11 (yikes dont get me started on that subject "Dubya") take a look around at the world (yikes)...people need to chant.......there is nothing else we can do.(except eat wonderful prasadam)
it feels so good to talk about Krsna.
i agree with your letter, it shouldnt be about power..its about chanting Hare Krsna, that is where the real power is. please accept my most humble obeisances.

Posted by Balahari dasa @ 11/14/2005 08:47 AM PST

People are not joining in USA because there's nothing attractive about a proven bogus guru rubber-stamp system. So, the word is out: Follow Srila Prabhupada's books, but don't take initiation from these pretenders to pure devotion.
One may open a shop that rubber-stamps fools' gold as gold, but the word soon spreads. Similarly, rubber-stamping ordinary people as qualified gurus is a con that is now a well-known practice of the GBC.
The GBC have turned "ISKCON" into "IS-A-CON".
Guru is "self-effulgent" and as long as the GBC subverts this principle by fooling the naive with their guru rubber-stamp system, then the only future for ISACON is "show the deity and beg funds for eating and sleeping".

Posted by Sudama das @ 06/26/2005 03:49 AM PST

Rocana prabhu:

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

I have some information related to Bir Krishna swami that you might be interested in reading. Please contact me privately at sudama@harekrishnatemple.com and I'll be happy to send it to you.


Sudama das Adhikari

Posted by Nrsimhananda dasa @ 06/26/2005 03:49 AM PST

There will never be a time when you are not welcomed to speak and participate in my preaching center or activities. (In fact, I need some painting done, also.) The SP family of devotees (not just direct disciples) is perhaps less vocal than the official Iskcon spokespersons, but it is infinitely more compassionate and accepting in its aggregate. The funny thing is that, in private, most of the Iskcon leaders, not necessarily GBC men, but presidents, managers, etc., agree with you. I know that I do.

Posted by Jatayu das @ 06/26/2005 03:48 AM PST

The phenome of people being overly receptive for spiritual content in practically all
of ex-communists countries was already investigated by a group of behaviour-scientists some two or three years ago. Fact is, they concluded, that young people
not only easily join Iskcon but also join other esoteric groups as well who present a lifestyle by establishing communities who keep away from the hard working society. In other words, these behaviour-scientists found out that after this long, totally inhuman communistic terror
regime people primarily join all these different religious groups to escape from their conventional
working trauma - working all day for just a piece of bread, what communism is all about. They
got allergic over normal work and even subconsciously want to escape - no matter in what direction exactly. They interviewed some Polish devotees and soon it became clear they primarily enjoy living with
like-minded in communities away from the conventional working class of people.
What will happen is, since
the impetus is primarly to escape and not to consciously accept spiritual live deep within one's soul, that as soon they come to the level of really having to give up all material desires in order to further advance, they will be forced to go back, all the way back. Similiar
phenome what Srila Prabhupada said in the early 70th about Indians joining, he said they follow all of our principles in great detail, but not to become devotees but to attain a better material living in the west and then forget everything about going back to Godhead. Furthermore that Isckon's preaching elite really believes that people are more receptive in the Ukraine or Wladivostok makes one start to think - what is the cause of this obviously false estimation and mental conconction and how could it happen? The answer is probably that there is not a little adjustement required, the answer rather is that there must have been something going terribly wrong for too many years in the preaching mission of NA and European countries. In the NOD, Chapter 7, Srila Prabhupada says: "..So a bona fide spiritual master should not personally take any responsibility for constructing temples, but if someone has money and wants to spend it in the service of Krsna, an acarya like Rupa Gosvami may utilize the devotee's money to construct a nice, costly temple for the service of the Lord. Unfortunately, it happens that someone who is not fit to become a spiritual master may approach wealthy persons to contribute for temple constructions. If such money is utilized by unqualified spiritual masters for living comfortably in costly temples without actually doing any preaching work, this is not acceptable. In other words, a spiritual master needn't be very enthusiastic for constructing temple buildings simply in the name of so-called spiritual advancement. Rather, his first and foremost activity should be to preach. In this connection, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja recommended that a spiritual master print books. If one has money, instead of constructing costly temples, one should spend his money for the publication of authorized books in different languages for propagating the Krsna consciousness movement...." Iskcon's spiritual masters, sannyasis and preachers did not only approach wealthy persons to donate for costly temple buildings to live in, they send out their own disciples to get the money for maintenance instead of training them to become first class preachers. Devotees who live in the temple are meant to become preachers, powerful preachers, so powerful that they are able to create a powerful community of vaisyas who maintain a temple, like Prabhupada says, preachers dont personally take any responsibility for temple maintenance: "..We can see in the lives of various acaryas in the line of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu that they are not very enthusiastic about constructing temples..."

Because of mixing up everything we find no qualified preachers being able to join ISKCON, they are forced to go for money and finally become contaminated by all this money-collecting and overcome by lust and passion and finally leave in bitter frustration. Powerful preachers of bhagavat-dharma who daily experience how they are able to brake free conditioned souls from their material entanglements will never say, Americans, Europeans are not receptive any more - we have to go to ex-communist countries, where the grass is green. This is certainly a subtle but strong material contamination and surely not an easy task to get rid off the hearts of ISKCON's sannyasis and gurus within a short time. Instead they reflect their own consciousness to the outside, because we are primarily interested in people to join who help to maintain our material situation and temple buildings, they say Americans, Europeans dont join anymore because their interest is primarily to advance their material comforts (like we do). What a fatal error!

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