Thursday, 11 Feb 2021
I think a lot of my posts after I walked out of ISKCON may make it seem like I hate devotees because of what's going on within the organization.
I don't hate the devotees. I think a lot of devotees are really nice and kind people in general. But like every other human being, devotees have their flaws too and these can be recognized when you associate with them. The problem arises when these devotees come to power and become part of the leadership in the organization. This sets a terrible precedent for the rest of the organization – “If so and so is a jackass, I can be a jackass too.” And I think this is the root cause of all the incidents of abuse, fraud, corruption and immoral behavior within the organization. It's not that the people who engage in such behavior aren't aware that what they're doing is wrong. It's the fact that the leaders – the GBC and sannyasis have done similar things and gotten away with it. There's a quote in the Bhagavad Gita As It Is regarding this – whatever the leader does, the common man will follow.
Now a lot of devotees have told me in the past to take association of devotees – sadhu sanga. But what kind of association will I get when these people aren't using their big brains? Associating with devotees feels like a trick to subdue the critics. I'll explain why. When most of the devotees within the organization are oblivious to all the wrong-doings, then anyone who thinks different sticks out like a sore thumb. It's the herd mentality. Flock all the sheep together so no one strays away. ISKCON has managed to take advantage of that to control everyone.
So when someone does use his big brains, sees something wrong, and tries to point it out, the leaders have a quick answer – If no one else has a problem with this, why do you? If no one else has pointed out such a problem, why have you? The problem doesn't exist for anyone else, therefore, YOU must be the problem.
This is why so many devotees hesitate to speak out against the wrong-doings. They don't want to be singled out and painted as traitors. ISKCON in general follows the philosophy of “don't criticize”. If you speak against other “devotees”, it is “vaisnava aparadha”. You will fall down! This is the kind of philosophy that the evil leaders use to take advantage of every situation. They know even if they do something wrong, people will hesitate to speak out because it's an “offense” to “their lotus feet.”
This philosophy of “if you criticize pure devotees, you will fall down” isn't applicable in the Kali Yuga. We are all fallen conditioned souls and these kinds of statements are exploited by the crooked leaders to carry out their nefarious activities. The truth in ISKCON is, people don't “fall down” as a result of their criticism as much as they are kicked out of the organization. When someone voluntarily walks away from the organization because of all the crap happening inside, they've not “fallen down” and Maya has not “taken them away”.
ISKCON leaders like to preach that anyone who leaves the organization or gets booted has “fallen into the clutches of Maya”. But this is not always the case, and anyone with a little intelligence would know that.
I walked out of ISKCON not because “Maya has taken me away” and not because I've “fallen down” but because I wasn't willing to be a participant in an organization where the leaders take advantage of people and treat 'em like shit. I left because I saw clear evidence of “groupism” where each devotee was treated differently according to who their spiritual master was. I left because the devotees weren't treated equally. Each leader in the management had their own favorite chumps. I left because if this is how they were treating people right now, how would they treat 'em when they were old and frail and no longer “useful”? I left because I wasn't going to be just another cog in the wheel. I wasn't going to contribute to the motion of the wheel when it was clearly steering towards the wrong direction. It would have been wrong. I've got my own ethics and moral standards. I wasn't going to break 'em for anyone.
The truth is, this religious organization doesn't value it's devotees. They don't care how many people leave the organization. They're only concerned with their cash inflow and will dupe anyone to keep it flowing.
They don't value their manpower. They value the crooked corrupt leaders at the top, who control everything. And because each one has got so much dirt on the other, no one's willing to take any action. That's basically how the GBC runs.
Instead of micromanaging the junior devotees, I think the senior leaders need to be put under a microscope. They are the source of all the major problems.
I remember when I started my services in the pujari room, the cameras were either broken or turned away. From the conversations I had, I picked up that some of the devotees were notorious thieves who stole prasadam and other things. So this is my question – why would a devotee have to steal prasadam? Why can't the temple just give it to them so they don't have to steal it? If the temple has enough money to go out and distribute huge drums full of prasadam to the public, I think they should be able to feed a few devotees who are doing service in the temple just fine. Or am I wrong?
Here's the bigger question – why would a devotee steal from the temple? What kind of person does that? I think even a retard would know that stealing from the temple is bad. So the next question would be – why hasn't the management identified the thieves and kicked 'em out? What kind of possible situation would justify letting a bunch of thieves serve in the temple with cameras on 'em?
If I was a leader, it's the first thing I'd have noticed; that the cameras were either broken or turned away. And I would have gotten to the bottom of the issue straight away – play back the footage of several months or years until the day that one crook turned away or broke the camera. And a good leader wouldn't let the broken cameras sit for several months before noticing. That's the first thing. A good leader is observant and can detect when something's wrong. An IDIOT, on the other hand, wouldn't know the cameras were broken until someone reported it to 'em because they were never around to observe things personally. Instead, they were busy conning some rich bastard for some donation or taking tours of the holy dhams.
A leader's priority should be that everyone serving in the temple should have a good conduct. And if something goes wrong or amiss, then everyone in charge or involved should immediately be dismissed. There should be no room for poor ethics and morals in ISKCON. Everyone from the top down to the bottom should face the same punishment.
Another quality of a good leader is that there should be no ass-kissing. A good leader shouldn't be surrounded by manipulative crooks or minions. A good leader should walk free, and roam free, like a lion, without some ass-kissing crooked minion playing politics and diplomacy in the background. A good leader doesn't play politics or diplomacy. A good leader doesn't command respect. Respect will automatically be given. A good leader is neither humble nor arrogant. A good leader is one of the people.
Leadership isn't easy. And it should never be handed down to morally corrupt individuals. I believe, that if the focus was given to devotional service and good moral values, before everything else, then the problem would be solved. But when management is regarded as devotional service, then everything is ruined. There's a bunch of people at the top, sitting on arm-chairs, barking orders and mistreating people. They're not managing anyone. They're acting like assholes.
If ISKCON spent their resources in maintaining their active devotees, instead of going out there and hunting for new members, then a lot of problems would be solved. Currently, the focus is on getting new members, while the old ones are neglected. And why are we worrying about making new members? Isn't the organization big enough? This huge influx of new people in addition to the neglect of old devotees has created a wishy-washy environment.
If an organization was good enough, people would volunteer to join. There's no need to go out on the streets and chase after people. When you spend all your time looking for new members, there's something wrong. Where are the old members? Are they all brahmacaris? What happened to the grhasthas and their children and grandchildren? Did they leave? Why did they leave? What is it that you're doing that's making old devotees leave?
It takes a long time to make someone fully Krsna Conscious. And there's always the chance that if you neglect them and torment them, they'll leave. And all the effort and energy and time and resources that you spent trying to change one person's life will go to waste. So the focus is very important. If you've got hundreds of people walking in and out of the organization every year, you'll lose the quality of the devotees. You need to stop worrying about the numbers. If the whole world was a member of ISKCON, but everyone was a jackass, what good would it do? Focus on the few. Let them be happy and content in the organization. You can rest assured that their children and grandchildren will continue the lineage and ensure the future of the organization.
If you're all about the numbers, and aren't able to retain any of them, then the organization will be crippled and bleed out, as it is currently happening. And let's not forcefully preach about brahmacaris and celibacy. Let the brahmacaris be brahmacaris and grhasthas be grhasthas. Those who wish to remain single, will do so, out of their own will. They're more likely to stick to the path than those you “preach” to. And those who are grhasthas will continue to expand the organization if you treat 'em right.
What happened to all the grhasthas that were initiated by Srila Prabhupada? How many of them are still in ISKCON? How many of their kids are still in the organization? How many of their grandkids are in the organization? This is where the organization is lacking any development. Instead, they're focusing on new people. Well, most of these new folks aren't sticking around for very long, are they? I've seen dozens of new devotees come, get initiated and disappear.
At some point in time, ISKCON didn't know when to stop expanding and start maintaining. They kept expanding and building new temples and opening new centers, but their strong core of pure dedicated devotees was shrinking exponentially, and were replaced by new shallow masses. This is why temples are empty every day of the week except Sundays and festivals. Had they focused on their core devotees and maintained a good relationship with 'em, the temples would still be flourishing with the good old vibes from Srila Prabhupada's era. And it's not hard to do that. When I joined ISKCON, there were several families that visited the temple daily. It was a family-like atmosphere. And there were a lot of senior devotees, most of them initiated. But a decade later, I was the only one from that era, from that group of families, who was still stuck to the same old schedule. What happened to the rest? Go figure.
I believe these issues need to be discussed within the organization. When something's wrong, the leaders shouldn't rush in to cover everything up. They're doing a terrible job at it anyway.
If everyone keeps quiet and nobody voices any concern, then the organization is doomed, as it already is. All the flaky talk about “vaisnava offenses” is useless. This kind of mentality is what deteriorated the organization in the first place. This is what led Kirtanananda to launch his deteriorations in ISKCON. Kirtanananda established a vyasasan for Jesus Christ in the temple room next to Prabhupada's Vyasasan. So you had three vyasasans in each temple room next to each other. One for Kirtanananda, next one for Prabhupada and third one for Jesus Christ. And then, Kirtanananda decided that Srila Prabhupada should be dressed up as a king, complete with a crown and jewellery. And he built a giant statue of Srila Prabhupada as a buddhist. Then he decided that he would dress up in robes like a good Christian and had all the gurukula boys dress up similarly. Then he decided to initiate a woman into the Sannyasa ashrama. And for the love of God, I still can't find her name or information anywhere. ISKCON did a really good job at burying everything under the rugs.
What's the current state of ISKCON New Vrndavana? It's not any better than what Kirtanananda started. Matter of fact, I'm going to post a separate article on that.