Will ISKCON Gurus follow Congress or Srila Prabhupada?
Editorial note: The views expressed by the author in this article are personal. We would encourage readers to send in their considered opinions and set an healthy debate on the issues concerning integration of ISKCON, rtvik proposition etc.
It was December last year and Lok Pal bill was tabled in the Rajya Sabha and Congress was hopelessly short of majority, somehow to save its face the ruling party just prolonged the debate and adjourned the house sine die. Debates were prolonged commotions created with the intent of drag the issues and house was adjourned at the stroke of midnight without voting. The ruling coalition slyly covered up its embarrassing situation of not having majority in the upper house.
Readers may wonder why I am quoting this political drama in an online journal of ISKCON but it is apt to remember this political drama as some of the ISKCON gurus and their disciples in India seem to be following in the footsteps of Congress by adopting sly means to prejudice online community against ISKCON Bangalore and its mission to reestablish Srila Prabhupada as the diksha guru of his institution. Recently many posts were published in some malicious hate sites giving a negative spin to ISKCON Bangalore’s sincere attempt to resolving issues related to the dispute with ISKCON Mumbai arising out the system of initiation. The posts are full of venom and it is very difficult for someone with sane mind to even read them but for the readers information some relevant portions of the same are quoted below:
…(Look at the clause in the mediation where it is said that the Bandit will personally decide who will stay on the Hill or any of its business branches, thereby ensuring his total control over the lives of the devotees)…
(Sent via email and posted in a malicious site)
It is clear that the Bandit parivar is only in it for themselves and for retaining absolute control over the finances and wealth being generated by the Hare Krsna Hill group of enterprises (now straddling over many cities and many businesses). And, that the parivar is using the Ritvik philosophy only as a mask.
(Sent via email- on 10th July 2012 and posted in a malicious site)
But who or what is he really? He is a business walla and nothing more – he isn’t a Ritvik not even a Guru Reformer. That is the Final Order. He is not one of us...
So, the parivar is busy trying to hijack the mediation process and turn it into another self-preservation game. What is suffering in the mean time is the already ongoing reform movement within ISKCON. Is it wise to let this happen?
(Sent via email- on 14th July 2012 and posted in a malicious site)
Why are some of ISKCON Mumbai’s gurus’ hell bent on demonizing Madhu Pandit Prabhu and his team of devotees? Their only ‘crime’ is that they have vehemently fought for Srila Prabhupada to be enshrined as the only guru of ISKCON. Is there not something seriously wrong with the system which is so hateful to anyone who wants to institute within ISKCON a system where everyone can take directly shelter of Srila Prabhupada as one’s Guru.
If we read the content of the post it is obvious that some people in ISKCON Mumbai who are privy to the mediation sessions have leaked the related documents to these sites. It is further obvious that some( if not everyone) of the highly placed in ISKCON Mumbai are having very intimate connections with these sites which are instigating hate against ISKCON Bangalore and its leaders. The hunch that these anonymous sites are indeed being instigated by ISKCON Mumbai’s Gurus and their henchmen is proved to be true by these posts.
We all know that the dispute between the two ISKCON’s arose from the differences with regards to system of initiation to be followed in ISKCON which later precipitated into a property claim and a counter claim. Many devotees and even some of the Gurus in ISKCON Mumbai are sincere about the mediation it would be wrong to group all of them into one set and say all are Prabhupadanuga haters, but it is highly unfortunate that on one hand negotiations for peace are going on and on other hand someone else from the same group is bad mouthing the people with whom you are trying to build peace and trust with.
It is a standard procedure in any mediation that negotiating parties do not indulge in criticizing one another. It is also imperative that the parties in the interest of mediation do not reveal any of the proceedings of the mediation to any media. But unfortunately the information related to the mediation has been leaked and that too to some unscrupulous persons, whose only goal in life is to denigrate sincere service of devotees of Prabhupada under the leadership of Madhu Pandit Dasa and others in ISKCON Bangalore.
There are voices within ISKCON Mumbai who are fed up of the fight. They are also very much aware that the guru system as currently practiced in ISKCON needs a lot to be desired but who may not necessarily agree with the rtvik proposition but who want a peaceful resolution and give an elbow room for Prabhupadanugas to serve within ISKCON. As opposed to this chorus there is another group within ISKCON Mumbai which from time to time sings a note of discord to any proposal of co-operation with rtvik proponents. This group is currently outwardly showing that they are for peace but in the core of their hearts they want the peace proposal to fail. Not only do these hardliners want the peace proposal to fail but they also want the blame of the failure to fall squarely on the shoulders of ISKCON Bangalore devotees, especially on Madhu Pandit Dasa. It is very unfortunate that this mediation itself is being used to create politics and unleash misleading propaganda. Further the hardliner’s faction seems to be wielding more influence and power within ISKCON Mumbai than the faction who desire peace.
The hardliners are emulating Congress party in its orchestration of Rajya Sabha discussions late last year. In that instance outwardly the Congress party maintained that it was interested in voting on Jan Lok pal issue, but internally it had already concluded that voting would not happen and everything was orchestrated with that end in mind. Similarly these hardliners in ISKCON are outwardly putting on a show that they want peace but in the heart of hearts they want it to fail. With this end in mind they are pushing forward many clauses which will make the proposal a farce.
One has to watch as to whether the odd chorus of hardliners will somehow throw a monkey wrench in the works and disrupt the peace process. These hardliners see rtvik proponents as a threat to their existence within ISKCON and they think that any expansion of the rtvik programme can spell an imminent end to their voted in gurus regime.
Recently devotees of ISKCON Bangalore group of temples met and gave a clear concrete proposal to ISKCON Mumbai. ISKCON Bureau has met on 30th July and discussed the proposal in an emergency meeting called for this purpose. The last mediation meeting is slated to be held today. It will be held at the mediations center in Bangalore wherein representatives from either side will meet and discuss various issues related to peaceful settlement. The mediation sessions will be chaired by Hon Justice Raveendran a retired Supreme Court judge.
I hope and pray to Srila Prabhupada that sense prevails and hardliners fail in their attempt at derailing the peace process. Hope that the ISKCON gurus follow Srila Prabhupada’s instructions, and agree to the practice of rtvik initiations within Bangalore group of temples. Hope they hear the instruction of Srila Prabhupada that all his disciples should co-operate to expand the preaching and that we should not fight among ourselves. Hope they do not get carried away by duplicitous behavior and succumb to maya and be victimized by weed of kutinati. Hope that they will turn out to be sincere followers of Srila Prabhupada and not followers of politicians.
The misleading propaganda of these hardliners unleashed through hate sites has forced me to discuss this issue in an open forum. Ordinarily I would not have wanted to discuss this. But now there is a necessity to set the record straight hence this article has been penned.
I am writing this article on a personal note and it does not represent ISKCON Bangalore or Mumbai’s version. Based on facts available to me I have tried my best to give an unbiased update of the ongoing peace process. I will give a complete update on what the proposals from either side were and what was the final outcome after the conclusion of the mediation. Please await my next article.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.