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The ISKCON Reform Page
With the opening of the ISKCON Reform Page, CHAKRA will be printing letters from devotees around the world with their suggestions for solving the problems within ISKCON, including the problems involving gurus and their disciples. The views expressed in these letters do not necessarily reflect the views of CHAKRA or its editors.


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How Can I Trust ISKCON Anymore?
By Bhakta Marici (Sweden) 

By regularly reading all kinds of Internet reports on the activities of ISKCON - from ISKCON itself, from "branches," from resistance and reform movements, etc. - and by being an “outside” ISKCON devotee, I am always left with one essential question: How can I trust ISKCON anymore? Similarly, I ask myself, how do I trust any branch or reform version of ISKCON?

© CHAKRA 3-January-2000


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It's Been 14 Years Since I Removed Myself
By Bhagavan dasa

Gaura Purnima, 2000: To the wonderful devotees of Radha and Krsna who were disciples and students of mine, and to my guru godbrothers and sisters who I served with to accomplish many good things for God and Guru, and to the international family of Krsna bhaktas, I offer my greetings and respects. It has been fourteen Gaura Purnimas since I removed myself from you. I am writing this address specifically because I do recognize that I have displayed such a lack of love and dedication to my sisters and brothers by not bringing to closure that pain which I am responsible for. At the same time I do not and will not take the responsibility that my service to God, Guru and devotees after Srila Prabhupada’s departure is the principal reason why there is so much alienation amongst devotees today and was done out of a lust to usurp Prabhupada’s position. .. Conclusions and beginnings.
>Full Story

© CHAKRA 22-June-20000


Prabhupada said: Elect the Temple President
By Aravinda das

According to Jayapataka Swami, Srila Prabhupada wanted the temple president to be selected by the GBC man, not elected by the temple devotees. But if that is true, what did Srila Prabhupada mean when he wrote the following?

(These examples are all taken from the letters quoted in other articles in this debate.)
>Full Story

© CHAKRA 29-May-2000


Temple President Election Thoughts - Response to Jayapataka Swami
By Niscala devi dasi

I found the debate on CHAKRA about temple president elections very interesting. However, there are some apparently contradictory statements in the article by Jayapataka Swami, "Removal and Appointment of a Temple President." He wrote: "I am surprised that Chaitanya Chandra das is saying that his admitted interpretation of Srila Prabhupada's words is actually ‘Srila Prabhupada's expressed wish.’" I would like to point out this is not a fact: Chaitanya Chandra's 'admitted interpretation' was only in relation to the Direction of Management.
>Full Story

© CHAKRA 29-May-2000


Elected by Members of the Center
By Svarupa dasa

When Srila Prabhupada says, "The president, secretary and treasurer elected by the members of the center" then it seems to me to indicate that Srila Prabhupada had the idea that the president, secretary and treasurer should be elected by the members of the center.
>Full Story


Florida Devotees Want Their Own GBC

Florida devotees in Alachua, near Gainesville, want their own GBC, not someone from outside. They will elect someone to represent them on the GBC Body, and they hope their candidate will be accepted by the GBC Body in Mayapur. CHAKRA has received the following article, stating their position.
>Full Story

© CHAKRA 28-May-2000


Spiritual Leadership is a Privilege, Not a Right: The Case of Dhanurdhara Swami
By Krsna Avatara das

If you think Dhanurdhara is getting a bad deal, look at the decisions rendered  against the small potato, or the "has -been".   Some of the people that are  small devotees were kicked out for 5 years.  Some of the people whom have  left ISKCON were given harsh penalties-this is not a hard thing to do.   Dhanurdhara, on the other hand, is allowed to initiate.  In addition, Dhanudara is the only  ex-gurukula teacher I know of who wants to have a high profile  job in ISKCON.  If he did not want to be a guru so badly, I think that there  would be less antagonism towards him.  Perhaps if he were humble, did some  pots, and cleaned the bathroom, instead of causing so much trouble trying to  be something he is not capable of being in this lifetime, his ex-students would show him some compassion, instead of beating him with sticks.
>Full Story

© CHAKRA 26-May-2000


Prabhupada Favored Self-Sufficiency
By Ranchor das

Regarding voting for temple presidents, I believe Prabhupada was not dogmatic about practical matters. When he spoke or wrote letters on such affairs he often did so in such a way as to offer his advice, and leave it to his followers to decide. He wanted to foster self-sufficiency and independent thoughtfulness in his disciples, which explains why he sometimes favored democratic processes.
>Full Story

© CHAKRA 21-May-2000


Further Thoughts on the Reform Discussion
By Isvara dasa

Krishna Dharma Prabhu has touched upon serious points. Generally, after a new devotee joins the temple, he undergoes some training under the bhakta leader, sankirtana leader and temple president. After a year or more, a guru recognized by ISKCON initiates the bhakta. Yet, even though the day to day affairs of spiritual life is actually in the hands of the temple authorities, the disciple may start to see his temple authorities as a hindrance to his relationship with his guru. I have personal experience that the guru may even tell his disciples that the temple authorities are envious of the guru, undermining the temple authorities. Since, as Prabhupada says, “familiarity breeds contempt,” the disciple may then start to see the temple authorities more as material facilitators for his temple life and the guru as the only means of spiritual advancement.  
>Full Story

© CHAKRA 17-May-2000


Comments on the Year 2000 GBC Resolution 601
By Dhira Govinda dasa

In 1999 the GBC resolutions contained apologetic statements such as “Whereas in their overemphasis on diksa gurus, Srila Prabhupada's disciples and followers failed in various ways to properly establish and sustain Srila Prabhupada's unique role and personal relationship with all ISKCON devotees as the Founder-Acarya and preeminent siksa guru in ISKCON.” These statements are in the past tense, as if it is not currently happening that overemphasis on diksa-gurus is clouding Srila Prabhupada’s unique role. 

I suggest that it would substantially enhance the flagging integrity of the GBC if, instead of continuing to express regret for what others did 15 and 20 years ago, they instead acknowledge how they are presently obscuring Srila Prabhupada’s natural position for ISKCON devotees.
>Full Story

© CHAKRA 16-May-2000


Setting Reform Priorities
By Krsnacandra dasa

We should train and place devotees in positions (and careers) that are in accordance with their natural propensities. We should relate with each other in a more open, sharing and caring manner. And we should have structured systems of feedback to exchange information and resources from a more grass roots level. Then we would have a very good chance to look at reform that will be both effective and relevant to Srila Prabhupada's desires.
>Full Story

© CHAKRA 16-May-2000


Reform Proposal Thoughts
By Vijaya-venugopala

While some features of Drutakarma Prabhu’s proposal are ok, an important drawback, in my humble opinion, is that there is far too much power given to temple presidents. It is they who have the greatest impact on the day-to-day life of the devotees in their area. By keeping them for life, and putting all ministries under them, they are being given full license to do as they please. 
>Full Story

© CHAKRA 13-May-2000


A Comment on Drutakarma's Reform Proposal
By Krishna Dharma das

What I understand this to be saying is that devotees serving in ISKCON should be connected to the parampara by a guru, but the guru should not, as far as possible, hold a post within ISKCON. Thus the business of training devotees and engaging them in Krishna’s service, i.e. the role of guru, should not in general be performed by ISKCON post holders such as GBC, temple president, etc. The post holders are to act as managers of ISKCON, but devotees should see their spiritual lives as being under the care of their guru. The managerial structure of ISKCON is merely a material facility to enable its operation, and the parampara is separate from that structure, being continued through guru disciple relationships that may or may not be coincidental with the structure (although preferably not).
>Full Story

© CHAKRA 12-May-2000


Reform Proposal Thoughts
By Vijaya-venugopala dasa

While some features of Drutakarma Prabhu's proposal are ok, an important drawback, in my humble opinion, is that there is far too much power given to temple presidents. It is they who have the greatest impact on the day-to-day life of the devotees in their area.

By keeping them for life, and putting all ministries under them, they are being given full license to do as they please. It is easy even for a sincere devotee to get allured by Maya into thinking that, as temple president, he is omnipotent and omniscient. The procedures to remove him would be so difficult, that ordinary devotees would prefer to just stay away from the temple where the temple president has become tyrannical or is just uninspiring or inefficient. As we know, this is quite common today.
>Full Story

© CHAKRA 9-May-2000


Reform: The Role of Congregational Devotees
By Drutakarma dasa and Madhusudani Radha dasi

If the reforms I talk about are instituted, that will change a lot of things. There is a lot that will be happening outside the guidelines I have put forward, just like in the United States, there are a lot of things that happen outside the things explicitly stated in the Constitution. As I mentioned, there are four sources of authority in ISKCON, and I think a congregational member will probably have relationships with all of them: temple presidents, sannyasis, gurus, and GBCs. There would be much more focus on systematic development of Krishna consciousness in a particular zone, or region. 
>Full Story

© CHAKRA 9-May-2000


ISKCON Reform?
By Krsnacandra dasa

As my letter "Round pegs in square holes" attempted to point out, we can make so many plans that will affect the superstructure and processes of our movement. These plans on the whole are mainly changes in duty statements and areas of responsibilities. They are not, however, in the most vital area of selection criteria. The correct person for the position is of the utmost importance and must not be neglected. It is not simply that the devotee is chanting their rounds and following the morning program (although I am not denigrating this). They must be of suitable character, qualities and skills befitting the position that they are responsible for.
>Full Story

© CHAKRA 7-May-2000


Reform Proposal for ISKCON
By Drutakarma Dasa

There are four major leadership groups in ISKCON: 1. GBC, 2. Gurus, 3. Temple Presidents, 4. Sannyasis. At the present moment, the primary leadership responsibility of each group is not clearly defined.

I propose the following definitions of primary leadership responsibility.

  1. GBC is the ultimate managing authority.
  2. Temple Presidents are the actual managers.
  3. Gurus are meant to connect their disciples with the disciplic succession.
  4. Sannyasis are mean to preserve the siddhanta, preach it widely, and are practical examples of renunciation and austerity.

>Full Story

© CHAKRA 1-May-2000


Did Srila Prabhupada want temple presidents to be elected?
By Chaitanya Chandra das

According to many letters of Srila Prabhupada, it appears that he wished the Temple President to be elected by the temple devotees. This is contrary to the current practice in ISKCON, and ISKCON law. Both in practice and in ISKCON law, the GBC man selects the Temple President. So, that's interesting, isn't it?
>Full Story

© CHAKRA 23-Mar-2000


No Reform Without Varnasrama
from Janesvara dasa


I found the recent article entitled "Message from the GBC to the Devotees of ISKCON" as a small step in the right direction towards correcting some of the past mistakes made by the "leaders" of ISKCON and the GBC. The apologetic attitude expressed therein actually seemed genuine regarding the Zonal Acarya System. Such apologies are always welcome and help soothe many deep-rooted feelings of betrayal and abandonment by some of our Godbrothers.
>Click Here

© CHAKRA 15-Mar-99

"The Humble Guru": What Proof?
from Prabhupadacharya dasa


Dear Dhira Govinda Prabhu,

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

Here is my reply to the letter you sent me dated 11/20/98 and to your paper, the Humble Guru.
. . .
In the introduction to your paper you establish the basis for your questioning the parampara system by indirectly indicating that there are unqualified persons acting as diksha gurus in ISKCON.
A so-called diksha guru that does not "transfer" the disciples' worship to Srila Prabhupada (as required by sastra), who is "impure" (as forbidden in sastra), who is not a "transparent" via medium (as required in sastra), who has "personal ambition" (as forbidden in sastra), who is overcome by "all forms of material desires" (as forbidden in sastra), and who "misues disciples' worshipful propensities", is not qualified to act as a diksha guru.
>Click Here

© CHAKRA 28-Nov-98


 The Dumbing Down of ISKCON
From Pancha Tattva dasa


You may have read accounts of schoolchildren being intimidated by rebellious classmates whose own academic performance is abysmal. The phenomenon is called "dumbing down." Students that attempt to excel are abused by their peers, who want to keep the overall achievement level of the class at an absolute minimum. In this way, a status quo of mediocrity is established and guarded jealously by its enforcers, who feel threatened by anyone trying to apply himself to the real business of school, which is to get a good education and be successful in life.

I submit that "dumbing down" can be found more and more in present-day ISKCON.

To pursue my analogy, I liken ISKCON to an institution for lifelong learning. The principal subject, Krishna consciousness, is a science that incorporates a number of fields of study, some of the major categories being the nature of the material and spiritual worlds, the conditioned and liberated living entities, and the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His innumerable manifestations. The role of each devotee as student and/or teacher is determined by his level of spiritual advancement as understood by his proven expertise in presenting Krishna consciousness and the "student record" or "teacher record" of his own personal behavior in applying the science.
>Click Here

© CHAKRA 24-Nov-98


More about "The Humble Guru"
From Dhira Govinda dasa


Dear Maharajas and Prabhus,

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

Regarding suggestions in the paper entitled "
The Humble Guru" concerning elements of guru worship such as pranam mantras, Vyasa-puja celebrations, pictures of diksa gurus, and tapes of diksa gurus, the paper does not attempt to assess the sastric validity of such suggestions. Rather, the paper recommends that practices in the current institution of the ISKCON diksa guru be open for discussion, with a view to strengthening the relationship between Srila Prabhupada and all members of ISKCON. If current practices are determined, after philosophical and historical analysis, to be the best, or perhaps the only, options available to diksa gurus, then by all means they should be supported.
>Click Here

© CHAKRA 24-Nov-98


The Humble Guru
by Dhira Govinda dasa

Note: CHAKRA first received "The Humble Guru" on October 14 with a request not to print the article until December, after it would have appeared in the ISKCON Communications Journal. In the meantime, the article has been read at a conference and posted on VNN. CHAKRA has also printed a comment on it by Danavir Maharaja. Recently, the author sent the latest version of the article to CHAKRA with a request to print it immediately. "I've heard that 'The Humble Guru' has been posted on VNN," he wrote. "I don't want devotees to think that it's some sort of anti-ISKCON piece, so therefore please post the paper on CHAKRA."

Abstract

Gurus who choose to instruct their disciples to concentrate on Srila Prabhupada in ways such as reciting Srila Prabhupada's pranam mantras and offering bhoga and arati to Srila Prabhupada, are presented as a model for the ISKCON diksa guru. Stress is given to the self-determination of the guru, as opposed to legislative force, as a foundation for this system, and to counter arguments that this approach inherently diminishes the position of diksa guru. Predominance of diksa gurus on the GBC is discussed in relation to the goals of the reform movement of the 1980s, including the dismantling of the zonal acarya system, increased GBC authority over diksa gurus, and a more responsive and accountable GBC body. The author concludes that these goals remain largely unmet, and points to continued misunderstanding of the proper position of the diksa guru as a significant factor in the dissatisfaction of ISKCON membership and in impeding ISKCON from progressing as a unified entity.
>Click Here

© CHAKRA 24-Nov-98


Response to Jayapataka Swami's Letter
from Krsna Avatara dasa


Dear Jayapataka Maharaja,

Please accept my humble obeisances. I wanted to thank you for your nice response to "The Humble Guru." However I wanted to clarify one statement that you made, namely:

"I don't see how one could compare spreading a deviant philosophy like Ritvik vada, or child abuse with forgetting to remove the Guru's photo after arotik."

Perhaps I am being over sensitive, but I don't think it is fair to compare believing in the ritivik philosophy with child abuse, especially given our history of child abuse in the movement. Child abuse is in a league of it's own. I hope all is well.

Humbly yours,

Krsna Avatara dasa

(Note: Jayapataka Swami was responding not to "The Humble Guru" but to "Equal Application of ISKCON Law," also by Dhira Govinda Prabhu.

© CHAKRA 24-Nov-98


Dhira Govinda Prabhu's Letter
from Jayapataka Swami


Camp: Mathura-desa Nama Hattas,
Arabian Gulf Area,
Middle East,
Arabian Sea.

In regard to
Dhira Govinda Prabhu's nice letter on Guru Reform in which it was pointed out that ISKCON Law prohibits the public use of Guru Names as well as the keeping of Guru's photo's on the altar after worship is completed. It was compared that while the GBC is heavy on Ritvik Vada it is being lenient with these infractions. This was expressed as follows:

My concern is why some laws, apparently, are rigidly enforced, while others are openly flouted. This gives the appearance of hypocrisy, especially when disregarding the particular rules that are neglected might be perceived as an attempt at self-aggrandizement on the part of the guru. Whether this perception of attempted self-aggrandizement is valid or not, it tends to incite polarization in our communities, particularly because many devotees experience that there is no rational means of discourse on such issues. For instance, a devotee might be hesitant to point out an infraction as described above, due to apprehension at being labeled an envious blasphemer.

As a spiritual master it is certainly my desire that my disciples and all ISKCON devotees strictly adhere to the codes provided for in ISKCON Law. The training of disciples on a day to day basis is, however, being done by local leaders who are the "representatives" of the Guru. Actually in ISKCON this network of vartma-pradarshaka gurus, siksa gurus and representatives of the Gurus are quite often the active trainers on such details of devotional service. However since you have pointed it out I will post it on my disciples conference to be very careful about what seem as minor infractions, but disturb many devotees.

I don't see how one could compare spreading a deviant philosophy like Ritvik vada, or child abuse with forgetting to remove the Guru's photo after arotik. Both are infractions, but the gravity is quite a bit different. In fact it seems the GBC is being also very tolerant in regard to Ritvik vada since even some Temple Presidents are openly propagating this dangerous deviation from Srila Prabhupada's teachings, but as yet no affirmative action is being taken. So some clear idea about how much of a police state ISKCON should be, what degree the GBC is supposed to exercise over ISKCON members, who is responsible for enforcing ISKCON Law and many other aspects need to be worked out. Isn't it more realistic for local Temple Presidents to enforce the Law? They are the hand's on Managers of ISKCON. GBC's and Zonal Secretaries are brahminical advisors and quality control advisors who make guidelines and ecclesiastical Laws for ISKCON. Who should actually enforce these Laws?
>Click Here

© CHAKRA 18-Nov-98


Reforms for Temple
Presidents and Managers
from Pandava Sakha (das)

To protect all temple presidents spiritual well being & save them from maya's attack & bring down our names, there is a need to:

1. There is a need to strip the Temple Presidents of their potential absolute authority so that they don't remain / become mini-zonal acaryas for their temples.

2. The Temple Presidents need to work with temple community (temple-residents & congregation) as their humble servant as taught by Srila Prabhupada. They should command respect not demand respect as their boss. They need to demonstrate humility to the temple community.

3. The Temple Presidents need to value their subordinates as individuals & not simply means to their (temple presidents) ends.

4. The Temple Presidents should not be barriers for communication between Gurus & disciples. They need to have a working arrangement so that Gurus & disciples can have a happy relationship.

5. The Temple Presidents should not impose an absolute shiksha relation with the temple-residents & congregation.
>Click Here

© CHAKRA 10-Nov-98


Sealing the Relationship
By Padyavali Devi Dasi


Further to my posting "ISKCON is our Home"

He lives forever in the hearts of his followers / Sealing the Relationship

This paper will focus on Srila Prabhupada as the Founder Acarya and Siksa Guru Acarya for everyone in ISKCON. The diksha initiations are already going on in ISKCON since Srila Prabhupada's departure and are accepted as the correct parampara system for ISKCON. This reform paper focuses on Srila Prabhupada's position as the recognized Siksa Guru Acarya of his ISKCON in the line of disciplic succession .

The position taken here is that Srila Prabhupada's books would be the law books for ISKCON for the next ten thousand years and that Srila Prabhupada has stated that "I live forever in my purports."

Srila Prabhupada's qualification was that he changed nothing but presented everything "as it is" and he establishes that through his books he would act as the SIKSA GURU ACARYA for ISKCON down through time.

This paper will address the need to formalize this Siksa Guru Acarya initiation.
>Click Here

CHAKRA 27-Oct-98


A Plan for Democratic
ISKCON Governance

from Ananda das


Dear devotees:

I offer my humble obeisances at the lotus feet of all the Vaisnavas. I'd like to share with my godbrothers and godsisters some thoughts regarding the future development of ISKCON. I hope that you will all give these ideas due consideration. I am also interested in your opinions and any ideas of your own respecting ISKCON governance.

Recently, Pratyatosa das wrote in an article posted to alt.religion.vaisnava as follows:

"For a time, some of the original 11 "gurus" seemed actually to believe that they had been appointed by Srila Prabhupada, and some of them actually seemed to have some genuine spiritual potency."

Obviously at least some of the "original 11" did have potency at the time that they gave diksa, else how can we account for the fact that many people they initiated have remained fixed in their sadhana despite the falldown of their diksa-guru? This is because, although diksa is certainly required to connect a person to the guru-parampara, if good siksa is there, it can override any subsequent loss of the ongoing diksa relationship, whether by death or falldown of the guru. Once should not overlook the fact that at least a few of them still possess, and will continue to possess, that genuine spiritual potency.
>Click Here

CHAKRA 29-Sep-98


A More Personal Guru-Disciple Relationship
from Dhyana-kunda dasi


Dear Chakra Organizers,

Thank you so much for creating this forum where we can brainstorm regarding the changes needed in ISKCON. Please allow me to express how I feel about the issue. It is just an intuition, it may be wrong, but I am offering it in the hope that at least it is not offensive and that it may contain something useful.

I believe the institution in itself can never guarantee spiritual experience to its members. Faith, or bhakti, is an attribute of the person. Institutions whose purpose is promoting spirituality usually grow around a saint, a person in direct contact with God. They are an attempt at capturing, preserving the spiritual influence of a pure devotee, as experienced by those in personal contact with him. In that sense, institutions are vessels for spirituality. They can fulfill this function as long as they provide an opportunity for the members to cultivate personal relationships with spiritually advanced individuals.

However, as soon as we begin creating institutions out of people who are any less than paramahamsas (as we have to, considering that we preach and that we are not pure ourselves), the material energy comes in. Do you remember how Srila Prabhupada explained the concept of "separated energy"? He said that "Milk is the separated energy of the cow." I see religious institutions as the separated energy of the saints who founded them.
>Click Here

CHAKRA 13-Sep-98


Equal Application of ISKCON Law
from Dhira Govinda dasa


In the ISKCON Law Book, 6.4.8.2 (page 67), there are strictures regarding honorific titles applied to ISKCON gurus. It seems that, in my experience, this law is routinely defied.

In the ISKCON Law Book, 6.4.8.3 (page 67), there are strictures regarding the photos of gurus on the altars of ISKCON temples. The law states "...After the arati, the picture should be removed from the altar." It may be only my experience, which certainly is not representative of anything other than my experience, but in my visits to various temples (not New Raman-reti), I regularly see the pictures of ISKCON gurus displayed on temple altars, when no arati is being performed, or has been performed for at least an hour, and won’t be performed for at least an hour. Often the photos are there during public programs, when no arati is being performed. Again, such transgressions may happen only a small fraction of a percent of the time, and it may be that by a quirk of chance I just always visit temples when the pujari forgets to remove the picture. If this is the case, then to point out such infringements of the rule would certainly be nitpicky.

However, it may be that the two policies mentioned above are regularly violated. Personally, I have no objection to photos of these great personalities appearing on ISKCON altars, or titles of reverence being applied to these great souls. The problem has to do with integrity.
>Click Here

CHAKRA 11-Sep-98


Suggestions for Reform in ISKCON
a summary
by Vyswambhara dasa

This summary is of a project begun as a proposal for reform of the International Society for Krsna Consciousness (ISKCON). The project was initiated at the request of vaisnavas concerned with how the Governing Body Commission (GBC) of the society has interpreted and transmitted the legacy left in its care by mandate of the founder-acarya, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami. A written proposal for reform seemed a natural outgrowth of a research conducted over a period of months. Originally, the research was an attempt to understand whether there was a problem with ISKCON, twenty years after Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance; whether said problem could be defined and a solution possible.

Over time the idea to publish the results for consideration by the assembled vaisnavas was proposed. It became a writing project with eight chapters or installments, one for each verse of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s famous Sri Sri Siksastaka.

The whole being voluminous by internet standards, this summary is an attempt to focus on the main proposal. It is being published ahead of the other installments, although it is in fact a conclusion to them. There are three reasons for this:

1. A sense of urgency felt by many of the vaisnavas who were consulted on the matter.

2. The need to secure vaisnava imprimatur, benedictions from proper vaisnava authorities as recommended in the Caitanya-caritamrta.

3. A desire to ascertain whether the premises of the proposal will strike an echo in the hearts and minds of the senior devotees of the Krsna consciousness movement and be deemed worthy of public consideration.
>Click Here

CHAKRA 9-Sep-98


Keeping Srila Prabhupada in the Center
from Dhira Govinda dasa

I propose that ISKCON adopts policies that ensure, to the extent possible, and within the bounds of Vaisnava philosophy and Srila Prabhupada's instructions, that Srila Prabhupada will be the center of the activities of all ISKCON members and of all functions of the society. This proposal is meant to give practical meaning to the understanding that Srila Prabhupada is meant to be the primary siksa guru for all members of ISKCON, and entails determining philosophically what we can do in order to intensify our focus on Srila Prabhupada, and then institutionalizing those procedures and activities.

For instance, if it is determined that diksa disciples of Srila Prabhupada's diksa disciples can, in theory, recite Srila Prabhupada's pranam mantras when offering obeisances, then let's make it ISKCON policy that granddisciples should routinely recite Srila Prabhupada's pranam mantras when offering obeisances. This is just an example. It may be that Srila Prabhupada has made clear statements that his granddisciples must chant only the pranam mantras of their direct diksa guru, in which case ISKCON would have no scope to legislate otherwise. If it is theologically permissible for granddisciples to recite Srila Prabhupada's pranam mantras when offering obeisances, then for the few seconds that this act requires, the individual and the ISKCON society will be more centered on Srila Prabhupada. These few seconds, multiplied by thousands of devotees offering obeisances every day, would translate into tens of thousands of hours of increased consciousness of Srila Prabhupada. Further, if such an action is permissible, and we have not incorporated it into the ISKCON culture, then perhaps we should ask "Why not?"
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CHAKRA 6-Sep-98


Good Problems
from Sthita-dhi-muni dasa

I can't help but seeing so many of our current challenges as 'good' problems as they will help serve to drive the movement towards a deeper appreciation of the many critical issues that are essential to our future development. I think it is simplistic to say that our movement has degraded substantially since the '70's when everyone was in their idealist twenty somethings and felt Srila Prabhupada was there to personally patch up life's little difficulties. (I mean, aren't problems so much easier to deal with when you can either expect someone else to fix them, or find someone to blame if you can't?)
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CHAKRA 2-Sep-98


The Need for Reform
from Krsna Avatara dasa


Dear Vipramukhya Swami,

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

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the good work that you are doing with CHAKRA. The dissemination of information is a necessity in any civilized society, especially ours.

In your latest editorial "Is Reform the Solution?" you opined that "The falldown of an advanced devotee does not mean that deep reform in a spiritual movement is necessary." While I agree that as a general principle your statement holds true, I believe in our case, the very fact that one person changing his ashram could cause so much worldwide devastation proves that reform is needed. We are feeling the aftershocks even here in Alachua.
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CHAKRA 2-Sep-98


Is Reform the Solution?
a CHAKRA editorial by Vipramukhya Swami

The falldown of an advanced devotee does not mean that deep reform in a spiritual movement is necessary. Even devotees who are advanced in knowledge and know the world is perishable, sometimes fall down, according to the speaker of Srimad-Bhagavatam, Sukadeva Goswami. Such an event does not mean that there is something seriously wrong, but only that the illusory energy of the Lord is very wonderful.

"O unborn one, learned Vedic scholars who are advanced in spiritual knowledge certainly know that this material world is perishable, as do other logicians and philosophers. In trance they realize the factual position of this world, and they preach the truth as well. Yet even they are sometimes bewildered by Your illusory energy. This is Your own wonderful pastime. Therefore, I can understand that Your illusory energy is very wonderful, and I offer my respectful obeisances unto You." (Srimad-Bhagavatam, Canto 5, Chapter 18, text 4)
...
That is not an excuse for repeated falldown, however. "The Lord is always prepared to excuse His devotee, but if a devotee takes advantage of the Lord’s leniency and purposefully commits mistakes again and again, the Lord will certainly punish him by letting him fall down into the clutches of the illusory energy. In other words, theoretical knowledge acquired by studying the Vedas is insufficient to protect one from the clutches of maya. One must strongly adhere to the lotus feet of the Lord in devotional service. Then one’s position is secure."
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CHAKRA 29-Aug-98


Reforming the Current
ISKCON Structure
by Krishna dasa

To solve the problems that ISKCON is facing at the present moment, we should analytically diagnose ISKCON as a body to discover the cause that has made us dysfunctional. To proceed in this train of thought, we have to have an example of a functional Vedic society to compare with, thus through comparison, the cause will become obvious.

The symptoms of the problem

1) A lack of competent managers. (ksatriyas)

2) A systematic drain of managers since Srila Prabhupada's disappearance. 3) Absence of enthusiasm amongst second generation older devotees.

4) Reluctance of householders to participation in ISKCON activities since Prabhupada's disappearance.

5) Brahmacaris are uninspired and diverted from the pioneering mood that Prabhupada installed in his disciples.

6) Sannyasis not following their vows—too involved in acquiring money, disciples, and managerial power, and less engaged in preaching, training, writing books and practicing vairagya.

7) Due to feelings of insecurity, and because of their lack of faith in the men, the ladies are trying to grab the reins of leadership by imposing a guilty conscience to sway the weak and surrogate leaders of the day.

8) Intense envy, frustration and even hatred of gurus and GBCs from godbrothers who have been made obsolete in the present ISKCON structure. Many of the above points can be elaborated upon, but for this overview we will not do that.
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CHAKRA 27-Aug-98


Do We Need to Reboot ISKCON?
from Priyavrata dasa, ISKCON Goteborg


Today, it is obvious to everyone that ISKCON is facing serious problems. We may try to uphold an image of a high standard Vaishnava movement, but the stark reality is that most devotees cannot live up to those standards. We may become disappointed by the fact that many of our expectations are now broken. But the question is what to do? Shall we just go on maintaining an artificial situation because we have to, or shall we now face the facts and do the needful so that each and every devotee can become situated in a way that feels most beneficial to him or her?

On the one hand, we should remain faithful to the scriptural injunctions and the codes of Vaishnava culture. On the other hand, we have to face the facts. ISKCON was created under extraordinary circumstances. Srila Prabhupada accomplished the miraculous feat of building a global Vaishnava movement—with the youth born during the most degraded era in human history!

This is truly wonderful, yet given these circumstances, nobody should be surprised that there are problems. In fact, Prabhupada himself said that it was not surprising that so many left the movement but it was surprising that so many stayed....

Young men took sannyasa in their twenties and accepted the responsibility of guru, trying to follow Srila Prabhupada. New devotees made lifelong initiation vows after half a year in the movement. Marriages were arranged between couples who didn't even know each other, and so on. Much of this was done in good faith, and sometimes even by social pressure. And they were grave commitments.

Maybe it is now time for us as a movement to stop for a while, step out of our roles, and to re-evaluate — reboot ISKCON. For instance, it was more than ten years ago that we admitted the faults of the zonal guru system. Now what about those disciples who, because of that system, still today feel they did not get initiated by the guru they actually had accepted in their heart? Shouldn't they be allowed to re-evaluate that relationship, without feeling guilt about that?
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CHAKRA 27-Aug-98


Gurus and Female Disciples
a question from CHAKRA's Madhusudani Radha (dd
)

In the article "Reflections on the Guru Issue" from the devotees at Radhadesh, it is suggested that " Sannyasi Diksha Gurus have no direct contact with female disciples and devotees."

How it can be considered fair to limit contact between male gurus and female disciples in the absence of female diksa gurus? You're cutting off all females from direct contact with their gurus.

CHAKRA 27-Aug-98


Who Reforms What?
by Vipramukhya Swami


CHAKRA (Vancouver, Canada)—ISKCON, the GBC, and the guru system are all in need of reform according to accounts given by devotees around the world. However, they disagree on which reforms are needed.

Ramabhadra, temple president of ISKCON New York, thinks change is needed to restore order, and to restore credibility, faith, and respect toward the top level of ISKCON's leadership. "I am not recommending Ritvik," he says, "but I am recommending change; otherwise, if the leaders with the controlling influence continue to sweep things under the rug, they will have to answer to Srila Prabhupada if this movement fails."

A committee of ISKCON devotees from Radhadesh, Belgium, have also expressed their concern. They feel that although initiation is an important aspect of a devotee's spiritual life, it has been and is presently overemphasized. "A diksa-guru may be an important siksa-guru for his disciple," they say, "but he should always be second to Srila Prabhupada and not superior or equal to him."

The Radhadesh devotees also feel there should be no daily Guru Puja for Diksa-gurus in ISKCON centers and that a limit to how many disciples a Diksa-guru can have must be established.

Isvara dasa, from Vrindavan, India, has another point of view. He feels that many who oppose the ritvik philosophy are actually practicing it in their own way.

"Certainly, everybody agrees that we don't want apasiddhanta in ISKCON," he says. "Definitely, ritvik-vada is apasiddhanta. However, what I have observed in ISKCON among those who are opponents of ritvik-vada is a covered ritvikism."

Isvara says that most gurus in ISKCON say they are initiating disciples and accepting their services on behalf of Srila Prabhupada. "That still leaves out the responsibility from an individual guru who believes that Srila Prabhupada is the actual maha-bhagavat, and he is simply an assistant. To me this is covered ritvik-vada."

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CHAKRA 27-Aug-98


Reflections on the Guru Issue
from Some Senior Devotees In Radhadesh


Dear Maharaja's and Prabhus,

Please accept our humble obeisance, All Glories to Srila Prabhupada!

We are very concerned by the overall condition of our movement for which we have all dedicated the most important years of our lives. Our movement, which is meant to offer a substantial alternative to material life by giving people the gift of Love of Godhead that Srila Prabhupada so mercifully distributed, is riddled with many inconsistencies and discrepancies. So in order to express ourselves and call upon our society to engage itself in genuine reform that puts us all on the right path, we write to you this letter in an attempt to communicate our thoughts.

We feel strongly that this and other issues should be thoroughly discussed by all senior devotees in our movement. We would like to start by saying that in no way do we feel that the letter you are about to read is either conclusive or complete. Yet, we feel the need to communicate to the senior devotees our viewpoint, which might help somewhat in the discussions that are going on.

Some of the reflections we came up with are:

1) That though Srila Prabhupada as ISKCON's Founder Acharya is officially and theoretically recognised as being the main Siksha Guru for all the devotees, in practice the understanding of his unique position needs to be given utmost priority.

2) That though we believe in the system of initiations in ISKCON, recent events have shown a need to review our present application of Srila Prabhupada's instructions regarding the position of diksha gurus in our society.
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CHAKRA 27-Aug-98


The Brahminical Order
from Pradeep Goel


Dear Vaishnavas:

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

Sadhusangananda das's recent posting on this topic was really a frank analysis of our Society's current situation and a practical call for action! The big question is: what incentives are there for people to bring their lives in conformity with the sastras and Srila Prabhupada's instruction? Laity like us could certainly pray to Lord Krishna for His loving action in this urgent matter and that we will learn to pay utmost importance to the duty of managing Krishna's resources (including this life) properly and with transparent accountability.

Hari bol

your servant

Pradeep


CHAKRA 24-Aug-98


A Call for Unity
from Dina Sharana Dasa


What a beautiful, plain and simple letter from Padma Nabha Gosvami. I also wrote a letter to many GBC in the Fall of 1997 citing the verse from S.B. 1.1 "Who is there desiring deliverance from the vices of the age of Kali who will not hear the pastimes of the Lord," reiterating Srila Prabhupada's own admonition to us that purity is the force, and better a sincere sweeper in the street than a charlatan meditator.

Srila Prabhupada while walking on the Mayapur Candrodaya roof said "Why this dirt is here, the devotees are not chanting?," someone said, "They are chanting," Srila Prabhupada said, "No they are not chanting," again the sannyasi tried to refute, and quite forcefully His Divine Grace said, "If they were chanting, this dirt wouldn't be here...." This is precisely one point Padma Nabha Gosvami, Sukadeva Gosvami, and Lord Chaitanya Himself make to us.

I suggested in my letter of 1997, as have others, maybe we should really pay more attention to our inner development, to the purity of our members, and strive to be who we are supposed to be, so we can do that which we are supposed to do...."
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CHAKRA 24-Aug-98


Glorification of
Brahminical Dharma
An Optimistic Vision for a Better Future of ISKCON
from Sadhusangananda das

Dear Vaishnavas,

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

The following is a plea to those who are interested in an effective solution to the present dilemma facing our Society: the disintegration of ISKCON's leadership. It is written at the request of concerned friends and senior devotees. Since it is based on guru-sadhu-sastra as well as common (spiritual) sense I hope that it can be instrumental in changing the course of our present drift into a questionable future.

As all of you know, this Age of Kali started with the decline of the brahmana class. An unqualified brahmana, Srngi, misused his position and foolishly cursed a qualified ksatriya and devotee of the Lord, Maharaja Pariksit. Due to his lack of culture he lost his tejiyas. As the brahmanas lost their authority the whole Varnasrama system became vitiated. Similarly, the cause or root of the main problems in our movement is that our brahmana-class has lost its authority and our institution is falling apart. One cause is that many of our brahmanas who are potentially qualified to command that authority are not properly situated.

Who are the leading brahmanas in our society? Our sannyasis and gurus. Since they are naturally in a leading role, any deviation from their dharma effects the entire society. In the name of 'doing the needful', our brahmanas have become implicated in activities which fundamentally oppose their dharma. Instead of guiding everyone by setting the topmost example of brahminical culture we find them often involved in political, social, managerial etc. activities which decrease their brahminical strength, character and credibility.

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CHAKRA 20-Aug-98


A Call for Unity in ISKCON
from Padma Nabh Goswami,
Radha Raman Temple, Vrindabana

Sri Radha RamanJayati

Jay Gaur

Dear GBC members, Acaryas and Devotees,

All Glories to Sri Sri Guru and Gauranga.
...
Srila Prabhupada's benign aura of grace and compassion blended with the grace of his guru Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada enabled him to attract all to the lotus feet of Mahaprabhu. He sowed himself as small seed, which grew up into the magnificent banyan tree of ISKCON, with its branches covering all aspects of Vaisnavism.

After Srila Prabhupada, the weighty responsibility to continue has fallen on his disciples. However, in time, a succession of incidents has occurred causing storms that have battered this great tree. Some of the great leaders of the movement have faltered causing so many shocks and blows to the organization.

This sad series of events has produced adverse effects in devotees. With their hearts full of spiritual hope they had left their material connections and spent many years in devotional service but amidst these troubles they found themselves in spiritual confusion and disappointment with the 'gurus' to which they had dedicated their lives. Some have broken away and found shelter elsewhere. Some holding differing views have been driven out. And many of Srila Prabhupada's early stalwart disciples find themselves unwelcome and unattended by the ISKCON which they had helped to build with love for their guru.

Dear devotees you are all learned and well informed, so you should now realize this point.

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CHAKRA 20-Aug-98


Diplomacy That Listens
Instead of Talking
from Srila dasa


I appreciated Badrinarayan Prabhu's frank and sober response to what must be a most difficult and trying situation, as he tries to navigate the chasms that increasingly threaten to divide ISKCON over the present crisis regarding the position of Harikesa Maharaja. As any writer knows, you can't appeal to anyone and everyone in one shot; you have to tailor your message to a targeted audience. Given the circumstances, Badrinarayan's balance and moderation is the best anyone could do. He has spoken "truthfully," all things considered.

I would like to point out, however, (there is always a "but," isn't there?) that the GBC may have painted themselves into a corner on this one. The most important principle of organizational management (ie, diplomacy) is to "make friends" or "form alliances." After years of simply accumulating assets and consolidating power (organizational strategies, GBC rules, laws, resolutions ad nauseum), they now find themselves surrounded by powerful enemies, if not at the brink of disaster.

I would humbly suggest it is due time to reconsider their present policies and modus operandi. Perhaps they should even schedule congregational meetings (ista-gosthi) and invite input from disenfranchised members. (A novel, if not a preposterous, proposition indeed!)

Canakya states, "Kings (rulers) without counselors, trees on a river bank, and.... go to swift destruction." Or in more current terms, what can be the fate of an organization where, for two decades, the managers 1) abuse or ignore their employees, 2) remain oblivious to changing times and 3) lose touch with their market base?

I respectfully submit the GBC start taking feedback from its founding members and greater congregation seriously (ie, Prabhupada disciples, senior devotees, etc.) or suffer a fate similar to the GMC (General Motors Corp) and the American car industry in general — potential bankruptcy in the face of superior competition.

Respectfully,

Srila dasa

CHAKRA 17-Aug-98


Fratricidal Follies
A letter from Locanananda dasa

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupad.
. . .
Empowered by the Supreme Lord, Srila Prabhupad introduced this movement to spread the chanting of the Holy Name, the teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and the worship of the Deities of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna. As the Supreme Personality of Servitor Godhead, his mission was to channel the Lord's compassion toward the fallen conditioned souls of this world and lift them out of the dark well of ignorance.

How unfortunate it is, therefore, that the so-called followers of His Divine Grace have nearly reduced to rubble the movement that he gave his entire life's energy to create. To give you an idea of how outsiders view these developments, I quote from the Harper Collins Dictionary of Religion, published in 1995:

"Abhay Charan De (1896-1977) arrived in New York in 1965 to teach devotion to Krishna and founded ISKCON, popularly known as the Hare Krishna movement. He attracted young Americans to Krishna devotion, established urban temples, vegetarian restaurants, and several rural communes. The most prominent is New Vrindaban in West Virginia (recently expelled from the movement).

"After his death, a group of gurus from among his American followers assumed leadership, each with responsibility for a geographical area. Division, litigation, expulsions, and scandal have reduced the core membership to below two thousand and stifled new initiations. ISKCON attracts some Asian-Indian Hindus to their temples and festivals, with the result that American converts of the late 1960's and 1970's now serve as religious specialists for a predominantly Asian-Indian clientele."

For every problem there is a Krishna conscious solution. The pure intelligence and inspiration we require to resolve the issues that continue to plague ISKCON will come from the Lord collectively enlightening us from within.
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CHAKRA - 09 Jun 98


Cleaning House and Cleaning Hearts
by Ravindra Svarupa
In 1971 I underwent the profoundly wrenching change of becoming a member of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, leaving one life and embarking on another. I abandoned old associations to immerse myself totally in the life of a tight-knit temple commune; I radically restyled my exterior to complement my utterly changed interior. I became a stranger in my own land.
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