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"Christianity and the Pope"

by Rocana dasa
May 29, 2005

My recent meeting with Bir Krishna das Goswami took place just a few days after the death of Pope John Paul, and we talked briefly about how the devotees should relate to this event. I brought the subject up because I wanted to focus on what I had observed as un-bonafide preaching by none other than the ISKCON Portland Board member sitting in the room with us, Govardhana dasa. A few weeks prior to this meeting, I’d heard Govardhana dasa give what I consider one of the worst Sunday lectures in my entire career. For reasons obvious to readers of this ISKCON Portland thread, I hadn’t mentioned to anyone within the temple community just how asiddhantic I thought his comments were. Basically, Govardhan was stating without qualification that Krsna Consciousness was the same as Christianity. No better, no different. He stated that everything found in Bhagavad-Gita is also in the Bible. This is not the teaching of our Sampradaya. Why would anyone join our externally rag tag scene if it were not for the fact that we are offering a far superior level of spiritual knowledge and process for achieving pure love of God. In fact, the one and only true method available on the planet today is the Yuga Dharma, chanting the Holy Name, Hare Krsna.

When I pointed out that the Pope’s favorite meal was veal, Bir Krishna das Goswami defended ISKCON’s position on glorifying the Pope, saying that if we told the truth in regards to the Pope’s lack of genuine spirituality we would not only be in mortal danger, but our acceptance within the ecumenical community would be undermined. As I recall, Srila Prabhupada wasn’t at all compromising with the Christians or any other religious groups when it came to siddhanta. I tried to enter into a more in-depth discussion on comparative spiritual processes with Bir Krishna, but to no avail.

In my opinion, especially here in the western countries, we can’t compete on the material platform with mainstream religions or denominations. We have to push our unique, superior philosophical positions so as to attract genuine spiritual thinkers. This type of preaching worked well for Srila Prabhupada and all of us during the ISKCON lila period, and it wasn’t just because there were so many “hippy types” floating around compared to today, as Bir Krishna suggested was the case. We have to speak with complete conviction and faith, which shouldn’t be hard given that our philosophy is absolutely true. We should be proud of our intact Sampradaya lineage and feel privileged that we can represent and present them, and particularly Srila Prabhupada.

My experience, and that of other Godbrothers who attempt to re-enter ISKCON, is that we immediately observe all the changes that have taken place over the years. Those who have stayed in the institution give the impression that nothing has changed because they have adjusted step-by-step over a long period of time. What the ‘returnees’ see as monumental or radical changes are things the insiders can’t fathom we’d be so upset about. In the context of this discussion, we’re talking about the preaching strategy as it pertains to comparative religions, but there are many other areas that could be discussed in a similar fashion like initiation, book changes, GBC responsibilities and the like. All of these issues are of great import.

Replies: 1 Comment

Dear Rocana Prabhu,


Why don't you just go out somewhere fresh, new and make devotees, preach to your heart's content without be stifled by the flaming GBC?

You've got the umph, then just go for it , without wasting anymore time or energy with all those ISKCONites who refuse to maintain the integrity of the founder-acharya. PREACH!!!

Krsna das

Posted by Krsna das @ 05/31/2005 01:38 PM PST

Posted by Gordon Wieland @ 06/17/2005 10:29 AM PST

Could you please direct me to information about veal being Pope John Paul II's favorite meal? I have so far been unable to find anything about this on the Internet, other than in this posting. Thank you.

Posted by Rocana dasa @ 06/18/2005 05:26 PM PST

Haribol, Krsna dasa.

The comment about veal being the Pope's favourite meal was something I heard on a broadcast. Since NPR is the only radio I listen to, I'm pretty sure that's where I heard it. There was a lot of coverage of the big 25th anniversary banquet in the Pope's honour. Veal was the featured item on the menu, thus the comment.