Atishaya Bazaar
Site Search
Site Map

[Previous entry: "Preaching in North America"] [Main Index] [Next entry: "Krsna Blog Archive"]

"History... As It Is"

In his recent Chakra article entitled, ”Prabhupada’s instructions on godbrothers 'misunderstood'”, Bhagavat das proposes that I “misunderstood” Srila Prabhupada’s intentions as they pertain to seeking spiritual guidance from his esteemed Godbrothers.

The crux of this disagreement is that Bhagavat das accepts a different historical account than I. I focus on Srila Prabhupada’s archived version of the Gaudiya Matha’s history, whereas Bhagavat focuses on un-archived, anecdotal evidence. To avoid repetition, I refer readers to my Sampradaya Acarya paper and the contents of previous Blog discussions on this subject, which provide full context. [Note: previous Blogs are now archived in Vada, Schools of Thought.]

The leaders of the fractionalized Gaudiya Matha were horrified when it came to their attention that Srila Prabhupada was broadcasting an embarrassing, hitherto buried chronicle of their maha-mistakes. Srila Prabhupada didn’t leave much up to the imagination, clearly putting the full responsibility and blame squarely on his Godbrothers, without exception. In this way, Srila Prabhupada laid out for all time the destructive results which come from the age-old obsession of disciples wanting to become the successive acarya. Unequivocally, both successive Sampradaya Acaryas forbade their senior disciples from succumbing to this temptation, but in both instances they collectively chose to ignore the directive. The self same Godbrothers Srila Prabhupada admonished, Bhagavat das now defends.

ISKCON’s Zonal Acaryas adopted a similar mindset to various original Gaudiya Matha personalities (Kesava Maharaja, Sridhar Maharaja, Madhava Maharaja, B.P. Puri Maharaja, B.V. Narayana Maharaja, etc.). The diksa guru/acaryas in both parties dishonestly applied the principle of protecting their tender, faithful disciples as a pretext for re-writing the “guru friendly” version of ISKCON and Gaudiya Matha history. Srila Prabhupada, on the other hand, concluded that it was better that we all confront and learn from the truth. The following purport captures Srila Prabhupada’s honest, straightforward mood:

    “One must judge every action by its result. The members of the self-appointed Acarya’s party who occupied the property of the Gaudiya Matha are satisfied, but they could make no progress in preaching. Therefore by the result of their actions one should know that they are asara, or useless.”

    Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi lila 12.8

Bhagavat das is the self-appointed apologist for the above-mentioned parties. His arguments aim to convince us that these exalted personalities are exceptions, and are not the asaras Srila Prabhupada was referring to. Most importantly, he wishes to shield Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Maharaja, the spiritual master of his own siksa guru, BV Narayana Maharaja. Tripurari Swami’s siksa guru, Srila Sridhara Swami, is also supposedly exempt according to these history writers. Yet in a widely distributed letter to Rupanuga prabhu (04-28-74) Srila Prabhupada made his thoughts on this matter abundantly clear:

    “In the latter days of my Guru Maharaja he was very disgusted. Actually, he left this world earlier; otherwise he would have continued to live for more years. Still he requested his disciples to form a strong Governing body for preaching the cult of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He never recommended anyone to be acarya of the Gaudiya Math. But Sridhara Maharaja is responsible for disobeying this order of Guru Maharaja, and he and others who are already dead unnecessarily thought that there must be one acarya. If Guru Maharaja could have seen someone who was qualified at that time to be acarya he would have mentioned. Because on the night before he passed away he talked of so many things, but never mentioned an acarya.”

Srila Prabhupada’s Godbrothers have long since departed this planet. I am therefore addressing their successors, most notably BV Narayana Maharaja. In 2001-02, I engaged in a long debate with Brahma dasa, the spokesman for Tripurari Swami, the most prominent western representative of Sridhara Swami’s matha. These two Gaudiya Matha camps continue to influence ISKCON’s history. Both like to highlight Srila Prabhupada’s pre-ISKCON pastimes so as to convince us that he was an enthusiastic Gaudiya Matha supporter prior to ISKCON. Srila Prabhupada gave us the opposite impression, however:

    “Despite the spiritual master's order to form a governing body and execute the missionary activities of the Gaudiya Matha, the two unauthorized factions began litigation that is still going on after forty years with no decision. Therefore, we do not belong to any faction. But because the two parties, busy dividing the material assets of the Gaudiya Matha institution, stopped the preaching work, we took up the mission of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura and Bhaktivinoda Thakura to preach the cult of Caitanya Mahaprabhu all over the world, under the protection of all the predecessor acaryas, and we find that our humble attempt has been successful.”

    Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi lila 12.8

Srila Prabhupada managed to keep his Godbrother’s influence at bay for a short period, but as soon as he departed the dike broke with the onset of the Zonal Acarya era (the dark ages), which lasted nearly ten years (1978-1988).

Sridhara Swami played a primary role in helping to blueprint the Zonal Acarya System. He was repeatedly consulted by the soon-to-be ISKCON Zonal Acaryas. Many prominent ISKCON leaders permanently stationed in India blatantly ignored Srila Prabhupada’s ban on fraternization with his Godbrothers. Sridhara Maharaja’s matha happened to be very close to ISKCON Mayapura, and he received frequent visitors from the ISKCON side.

I vividly remember my 1973 Mayapura pilgrimage. Jayapataka Swami headed up the parikama party, taking us to Sridhar’s matha. I resided in Mayapura for a few months after this festival, and witnessed the coziness between Sridhara Maharaja and the senior ISKCON men. There was an air of clubby exclusivity when it came to visiting the matha across the river. While we were all approximately the same age and our experience in Krsna Consciousness differed by only a few months, we “small-timers” were not included in the intimate sessions with the sagacious BR Sridhara Swami. The subtle message was that these high-level satsanga darshans with Sridhara Swami could only be fully appreciated by the advanced big-timers. Back then the charade seemed ludicrous but in hindsight, I now thank Srila Prabhupada for saving me.

The time I spent in Mayapur in 1973 gave me insight into the events surrounding the 1978 GBC meetings, which gave the birth to the Zonal Acarya System. The illicit seed of the ZAS had been impregnated long before, during the many private darshans ISKCON leaders took with BR Sridhara Swami.

As the Temple President of Seattle in 1978, I attended the annual Mayapura international Temple President meetings. Many of us in attendance had the opportunity of witnessing the GBC sending daily delegations cross the river to solicit Sridhara Maharaja’s opinions, buy-in, and approval for their Zonal Acarya scheme. The big plan was unveiled without the customary consultation from the Temple Presidents. The first GBC-Zonal Acarya position papers released thereafter unabashedly quoted Sridhara Swami as their sanctioning higher authority.

Shortly after the historic 1978 ZAS event, the beyond-bizarre behaviors manifested by the newly minted, instant “kripa-siddhas” created an exodus of epic proportions. The disappointed, the disenfranchised, and the opportunists streamed across the Ganges to BR Sridhar’s Navadipa Matha for shelter. Even though the Zonals had set this wave into motion by their own example, they now had to stem the tide. Inventing bogus accusations leveled at their previous confidant and consultant, BR Sridhara Swami, they quickly passed GBC resolutions banning ISKCON members from his association. They quoted all the previous warnings issued by Srila Prabhupada, which they themselves had consistently ignored.

Bhagavat das is trying to convince us that I have “misunderstood” Srila Prabhupada’s intentions and therefore ISKCON history. Consequently, I’m providing here a few highlights of the nightmarish history of the ZAS period. My aim is to bring to the reader’s attention just how ISKCON’s disregard for Srila Prabhupada’s ban on association with his Godbrothers has significantly shaped ISKCON.

Following this period of history, most ISKCON middle managers organized themselves and saw to it that the ZAS was abandoned. ISKCON then entered into an era which can be dubbed the Ultimate Absolute GBC Collective Acarya era (1988-2005). Shortly after this inventive managerial concept took effect, the “Gopi Bhava Club” phenomenon suspiciously took root and grew. Following many closed meetings and secret correspondences with BV Narayana Maharaja, the GBC Gopi-Bhava members finally drew-up a proposal for their fellow GBC to consider. In short, they proposed to have BV Narayana recognized as the siksa guru for all of ISKCON. Thankfully, clear thinking GBC members quickly took corrective action. If they had not been successful, who knows what ISKCON would be like today?

The Gopi Bhava Club landmark was successfully hushed up by the GBC. No public philosophical explanations were forthcoming from the ex-members, and no GBC admonishments were made, thus no lessons learned. Both the ZAS and the Gopi Bhava Club were led by senior GBC members (Tamal Krishna Goswami, Satsvarupa das Goswami, et al.) who felt they were above Srila Prabhupada’s warnings about his ambitious Godbrothers. The BV Narayana Maharaja phenomenon is simply a continuation of the Gopi Bhava mentality. We can only assume that the momentum BV Narayana’s movement gained during the Gopi Bhava Club era has directly contributed to the success his movement enjoys today, at ISKCON’s great expense.

One of the serious problems we now face is that historical re-writes are being made of Gaudiya Matha and ISKCON history in an attempt to redirect the spotlight from their past failings. The rosy “edited” picture does no one any good, particularly when the re-write minimizes the degree of Gaudiya Matha involvement in ISKCON over the years. White-washing over these mistakes requires the suppression of the individual’s freedom of speech and brahminical expression. It also encourages the unfair use of the guru/ disciple relationship, which is manipulated and used as a sanitizing tool. Members of the international Vaisnava community are at risk of experiencing historical re-runs of these mistakes due to not having the historical facts revealed so they can consider and discuss with a view to avoiding their recurrence.

It is important to note that Bhagavat das’ debate points are historical, not philosophical. The root of the supposed “misunderstanding” is Srila Prabhupada’s having publicly enshrined in sastra the previously unspoken Gaudiya Matha history. This act so agitated his Godbrothers during the ISKCON lila days that even now, the disciples of the Godbrothers continue to recruit and deputize Srila Prabhupada’s disciples to defend their own historic vision.

My Godbrothers, some of whom now form the elite of ISKCON, strongly disapprove with my bringing to light these dark secrets of historical record. Why aren’t ISKCON’s leaders following in the footsteps of their Founder Acarya, who was straightforward about disclosing the darker periods of his Spiritual Master’s movement? Srila Prabhupada’s truth-telling was instructional not only to his disciples, but also to converts long into the future.

The GBC are making a half-hearted effort to marginalize BV Narayana, but their efforts don’t have real teeth because they fail to provide a philosophically founded characterization of the profound differences between Srila Prabhupada, the nitya siddha Sampradaya Acarya, and his Godbrothers. Consequently, they leave their congregation vulnerable.

The committed followers of Srila Prabhupada must educate themselves, painful as it may be, on ISKCON history. This is required in order to realize the degree to which the Gaudiya Matha has been the unseen hand behind many detrimental programs and asiddhantic philosophies that took root in ISKCON. The GBC won’t provide anyone with this insight due to the embarrassing implications for many present leaders/gurus. Independent research on the Net will provide the reader with many indisputable facts. Most importantly, please do not naively accept an invitation from the BV Narayana camp. Various postings here in the Krsna Blog provide a wealth of information on the subject.

Srila Prabhupada withheld his internal thoughts pertaining to his long-standing ban on association with his Godbrothers. His final ‘forgiveness statement’ does not specifically mention that he regretted taking such a hard and fast position on the matter of Godbrother association, although Bhagavat das asserts that as the primary theme of his final departure statement, Srila Prabhupada rescinded his emphatic avoidance instruction.

The overriding sastric principle is that a disciple of a bonafide Spiritual Master is obliged to obey a direct order without speculation. None of Bhagavat das’ newly minted evidence can definitively counteract the original order. Instead, the readers are expected to embrace, as the gospel truth, Bhagavat das’ speculations.

BV Narayana, the polished professional preacher, is an extremely charming, charismatic personality -- all the more reason to resist the temptation of having his association. Bhagavat das and others of his ilk have “fallen in love” with a “living” divine Grace, and as such their objectivity is compromised. Starry-eyed converts of BV Narayana see him as “all-attractive” and the maha-siksa guru alternative to worshipping Srila Prabhupada exclusively. In truth, falling for the “live link” methodology so as to facilitate fast advancement is simply succumbing to the cheating propensity.

I suggest taking the positive, tried and true path. Take advantage of Srila Prabhupada’s books and archival materials as the one and only way to rejuvenate and maintain one’s Krsna Consciousness. Applying Srila Prabhupada’s formula requires a mature and dedicated mood surcharged with the understanding that Srila Prabhupada is a bonafide Sampradaya Acarya.

Replies: 8 Comments

Posted by Damodara @ 01/24/2006 04:26 AM PST

Rocana, you are a great fool and a major ofender of Mahabhagavatas.
Thank God you are a nobody who cannot contaminate people with your envy of eternally liberated souls.
Stop the ofenses before you are sick in some hospital being consumed with regret and ignorance.
Lord Krishna does not tolerate ofenses to his dear and intinate devotees.
Just a warning. Maybe too late now...

Posted by PALLABHA DAS @ 01/23/2006 08:42 PM PST


Posted by agrahayana @ 12/03/2005 05:44 PM PST

Success is measured more by one's inner growth than one's abilty to amass followers. Hard hitting? What a joke.

Posted by Paul @ 12/02/2005 09:02 PM PST

I fear I may offend some "devotee" and get bumped from this sight,but for too many years I have stood by and watched these psuedo devotees slander truth.They exclude spirtiual figures while unaware of their true significance,saying that Shiva and Brahma are ignorant of The Father.
Little do they know that The Trinity is The Trimurti.And that The Fulness of Godhead includes The Holy Trinity with Krsna as its'Crown.Even the crown Brahma did promise through Christi.Hear;the'nam'of the Son is The Father.The 'Nam' Is Chrisna. Brahma was incarnated as Christi to lead a remnant in the final age to The Supreme Lord.The Destroyer of False Knowledge is come.Them that feel convicted by this are trying to close the gates on the humble.They take a portion of knowledge and isolate it completely unaware that Krsna owns all spirituality and can be pleased with whatever servant he wishes. Eli.
Them who have the spirit of Eli are one with Him. Shiva,The Spirit will prevail over "gainsayers".

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

Good to show how when S. Prabhupada's warning's are ignored that trouble will follow. However, best is to get down to abideya and go back home to Godhead, leaving all the fools and rascals to fight over the material assets and positions, etc.

Posted by Raghupati Upadyaya @ 08/10/2005 03:29 AM PST

Sridhara Maharaja did not authorize Tripurari Swami as his representative or successor. Swami Bhakti Sundara Govinda Maharaja is the appointed successor of Sridhara Maharaja.

There is a list of centres here on this page

They have 67 temples worldwide with temples in Russia, China and most European countries.

Posted by Rocana dasa @ 07/07/2005 07:59 AM PST

Dear Kedar,

Thank you for your compliments and for providing the readers with more information in regards to the fact that there are different groups besides Tripurari Swami who identify Sridhar Maharaja as their principle guru. I admit that I’m not well traveled these days, and am not familiar with a lot that’s going on. I’m residing on the West Coast, which is quite close to Tripurari, and that’s my principle exposure to the Sridhar phenomenon.

I was actively involved in ISKCON at the time when Tripurari and other sanyasis migrated over to Sridhar’s camp, and I witnessed all the commotion over that circumstance. Some years after that, many of the recruits who went over to that side opened up a lot of different centers worldwide, but as I understand it, a lot of them later folded.

If you’d like to provide us with more detail on who these individuals and groups are, where they’re located, etc., that would be interesting to know. As for Tripurari, it appears to me that he’s going nowhere fast, and his preaching has plateaued. Time will tell what these people will accomplish in their preaching missions. In the end, you have to judge by the results, and the results are how many people are surrendering to Krsna, and chanting Hare Krsna, and becoming enlivened in the Sankirtana movement.

Rocana dasa

Posted by Kedar @ 06/28/2005 03:12 PM PST

Correction: In 'History - As It Is' you make the following statement, "Tripurari Swami, the most prominent western representative of Sridhara Swami’s matha." I don't think anyone besides Tripurari Swami would agree with that statement. He's benefited from clever use of the internet in recent years but in fact his actual presence is miniscule. Most followers of Sridhara Maharaja view Tripurari with a great deal of suspicion.

There are two prominent groups following Sridhara Maharaja in the West and both of them are far more successful and influencial than Tripurari Swami's little group. Thanks for the hard-hitting, uncompromising writing.

Add A New Comment


E-Mail (optional)

Homepage (optional)