Oct 22, 2014 BROOKLYN, NEW YORK (SUN) This article is partially in response to Satya Govinda Prabhu's article entitled "Lord Krishna and the Bodily Conception", published recently. I praise his efforts to address this growing apasiddhantic problem in the New York ISKCON sanga, however he has merely scratched the surface. What is going on is actually much more serious and the local temple authorities seem to either be ignorant of what is going on or just don't deem it a threat.
Basically what's happening is that we have some devotees of African American descent who are preaching a very distorted Afrocentric brand of Krishna Consciousness. The preaching is going on in the temples, on Facebook and YouTube by a local devotee who attends the temples in Queens and in Brooklyn, named Bhakta Caprise. Another devotee also involved in the preaching is Sudarshan Chakra das, a disciple of Bhakti Tirtha Swami, and he also has a cable access show called Krishna 24-7 on Time Warner Cable here in NYC.
So what exactly is going on and what is being preached? First off, Caprise through his Facebook and YouTube preaching gets devotees to come to the temple. Sounds great right? What's wrong with that? Well here's the problem. The people he is bringing are African Americans that he lured in with Afrocentric apasiddhantic preaching. So right off the bat they are mislead and are being told Krishna is a black man, the Vedic culture originates in Africa. He also preaches that Lord Jagannath is a pre-Vedic deity which was worshiped by the Africans before Hinduism came to India.
In preparation for this article I have interviewed some devotees who have also directly dealt with Caprise and Sudarshan's preaching. First we'll start off with Sudarshan Chakra das who has been around ISKCON New York for some time. He has often told many people visiting the Brooklyn temple and Queens temple that Krishna is a black man. He has also emphatically stated many times that man originated in Africa and that the black man is the original man. How can a devotee, an initiated devotee for that matter, espouse Darwin's theory of evolution? The question must be asked, why is this person allowed to preach to new people attending programs at local ISKCON temples? Surely it is temple policy that when devotees come from other sangas within the Gaudiya Math and from the Ritvik camp they are watched like hawks to make sure they don't preach to ISKCON devotees.
Srila Prabhupada built a house that the whole world could live in. The greatest thing I noticed when I joined the Hare Krishna Movement was the racial diversity. Devotees didn't care what race you were, we were all devotees and that is all that counted, one family. Now often one can observe Caprise and Sudarshan sitting at the table for prasad with new black devotees being indoctrinated.
Now let's examine the background of Bhakta Caprise. What was he into before getting into Krishna Consciousness? He was a part of a wacky black supremacist UFO cult called the Nuwaupians led by Dwight York, who is now in prison for child molestation. He has obviously carried his black supremacist views with him, albeit in a more concealed way. The emphasis is always on Krishna being black, not in color only but actually looking African. There were hot debates on Facebook in relation to a couple of pictures being circulated in which Krishna is depicted with distinctly African features. The argument being presented by the Afrocentric devotees is that Krishna can be depicted that way because he was black. There is just one problem there. Krishna is Shyam, he is black not brown. Krishna is known as Shyamasundar, beautiful blackish boy, not syavaha-sundar, beautiful brown boy.
Bhakta Caprise has a You Tube channel called Sunmanpatoo. He has over 11,000 subscribers, and a good portion of them are from the former Nuwaupians black supremacist cult he was a part of. If one wants to see this preaching watch the following video. The video is in response to all of the negative feedback he has gotten over the Afrocentric preaching and the Africanized depictions of Krishna.
This preaching can become a real problem and eventually lead to a breakaway sect of Afrocentric Krishna Consciousness. It may seem far-fetched but this is Kali Yuga after all, anything is possible. It should be nipped in the bud before it gets out of control. This preaching has been going on under the noses of local temple authorities and they probably don't have a clue as to what's going on. Hopefully this article will serve to alert them to this fact.
Another group that influences both Sudarshan Chakra das and Bhakta Caprise's preaching is a movement called Kemetic Sciences. They believe that the ancient Kemetians (Egyptians) were black Africans descended from Space aliens. There is a group called Ausar Auset Society founded in Brooklyn by Ra Un Nefer Amen. The Kemetic beliefs are a large part of the preaching of Sudarshan Chakra das. Of course he is careful not to preach these things publicly on his cable access show, Krishna 24-7, but he will preach it to new black devotees. Many have told me that he often states that Vedic religion comes from Egyptian, Kemetic culture who were of course African. However this is not what Srila Prabhupada said in his Bhagavatam purport.
"Those going against the prescribed rules and regulations of conditional life are called brahmojjhita-pathas, or persons going against the path of the Absolute Truth, and they are liable to be punished. Lord Parasurama, the incarnation of the Personality of Godhead, appeared in such a state of worldly affairs and killed all the miscreant kings twenty-one times. Many ksatriya kings fled from India to other parts of the world at that time, and according to the authority of the Mahabharata, the kings of Egypt originally migrated from India because of Parasurama's program of chastisement. The kings or administrators are similarly chastised in all circumstances whenever they become godless and plan a godless civilization. That is the order of the Almighty."
So how could Vedic religion come from the Egyptians if they themselves fled persecution from Lord Parusaram from an already established Vedic culture observing varnashram dharma? These so-called preachers actually have no faith in the Vedic scriptures. They simply concoct nonsense ideas based on their own bodily conception. After all, why did Sudarshan Chakra choose Bhakti Tirtha Swami as his guru? Coincidence? I think not. Many people in the New York area have seen his show, Krishna 24-7. It is an example of him misusing his influence, because when new black devotees start coming that saw his show and became curious, they will immediately come under his influence and be indoctrinated. Their preaching is also contradictory because on one hand they'll say we are not these bodies, but then do nothing but speak about Africa and how it is the source of everything and Krishna was most likely African.
Srila Prabhupada founded the International Society For Krishna Consciousness, not African Krishna Consciousness. Just like in mundane karmi society, if non black devotees speak out against Obama and his failed policies they are labeled racist. In the same way, when white or Indian or any non-black devotees speak out against their preaching they are labeled envious or racist or lacking love and compassion. This is all pure nonsense.
Krishna must be depicted according to sastra, otherwise it is idol worship. When we start speculating, saying well, Krishna may have looked like this, maybe He looked like that, or maybe He looked like me, then we have truly become mental speculators and idol worshipers. These Afrocentric preachers fail to realize that art for ISKCON publications were done under the guidance of Srila Prabhupada, who has actually SEEN Krishna! Prabhupada is a nitya-siddha, he is an eternal associate of the Lord. He was with Krishna in the spiritual world before coming to this world to preach. These mental speculators doubt him, His Divine Grace who actually had darshan of Krishna many times even while physically present on this earth.
As for Lord Jagannath being a pre-Vedic deity, where are these people getting their information from? They are surely getting their information from non-devotee speculators who are not in the parampara and are thus subject to the four defects. I place emphasis on the defect of the tendency to come under illusion, because they are surely under the influence of maya.
"From the Skanda Purana we get information that the original construction of the first Jagannatha temple was in Satya-yuga, millions of years ago. It is related that Lord Jagannatha told Maharaja Indradyumna that He first appeared in the Svayambhuva manvantara of the first part of Satya-yuga, on the full moon day, after being pleased by devotion. This is about 153 million years ago. Then Brahma installed the Deities in the temple. This appearance is celebrated by the Snana Purnima, or Snana-Yatra, which is the public bathing of Lord Jagannatha, His brother Balarama, and His sister Subhadra. The celebrated Ratha-Yatra festival is said to have started in the time of Svarochisha Manu, or the second manvantara period, and is predicted to continue until the end of the second half of Lord Brahma's lifetime. Even in the Ramayana by Valmiki Muni (Uttara Khanda 108.30) it is related that when Lord Rama was getting ready to leave this world he told Vibhishan, Ravana's younger brother, that in His absence he should worship Lord Jagannatha, the Lord of the Iksvaku dynasty."
(From an article by Stephen Knapp, 'The Ratha Yatra Festival at Jagannath Puri')
So the first Jagannath deities were installed by Lord Brahma, how is that pre-Vedic? If we do not have faith in the version of sastra which is beyond the four defects there is no hope for us. But ignorant and faithless persons who doubt the revealed scriptures do not attain God consciousness; they fall down. For the doubting soul there is happiness neither in this world nor in the next. (Bg. 4.40)
This situation is a symptom of modern day ISKCON in which most people have never lived in the temple nor ever will live in the temple. Devotees nowadays do not receive adequate training and take initiation and begin their career preaching, and often hold on to their own ideas and interlace it with their preaching. For some, they may still have some New Age mayavadic beliefs; for others it may be liberalism or some other influence. All are equally hazardous for the practitioner/preacher and those who may be influenced by their preaching.
This Afrocentric preaching is most heinous because it is deeply in the bodily conception and it clearly contradicts the teachings of scripture and our holy acaryas. It is important that newer black devotees are warned of this apasiddhantic preaching, otherwise their spiritual advancement will be checked. If one watches the video above, "Double Standard", Bhakta Caprise refers to devotees who oppose his preaching as "so-called devotees". These so-called devotees he refers to are actually devotees who have dedicated years of their life to serving ISKCON, distributing books, doing Harinam, chanting their prescribed 16 rounds and following the four regulative principles. Many are completely surrendered souls. If one actually has the patience to sift through the videos on his YouTube channel, it can be seen many times that he will advertise himself as available to come preach at people's homes. Of course, he is asking for a donation regardless of the fact that by his own admission he only chants four rounds and is not initiated, nor is he aspiring for anyone. It should also be noted he thinks Srila Prabhupada is his guru, so there may be some Ritvik influence there.
We should all vehemently oppose this bodily conception preaching, all of us devotees, of all racial backgrounds, and let's continue to help finalize construction on the house Prabhupada wanted the whole world to live in as a fully Krishna Conscious family.