Rādhā Govinda Swami – USA: Hare Krsna. All glories to Srila Prabhupada. Please accept my fallen obeisances.
Many years before leaving India to transport Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s mercy throughout the world, Srila Prabhupada envisioned and wrote His indepth treatise called Gita Nagari, of an ideal Vedic community which He wanted implemented within ISKCON, two copies given to ISKCON’s Gita Nagari farm community in the 1970s.
After residing for many years in a bus, bestowing Their mercy on we jiva baddhas in whichever North American city They traveled to, giving Their darshan, Hari Nam Sankirtan and remnants of foodstuffs to everyone who would come, Sri Sri Radha-Damodar situated Themselves as the presiding Deities in Gita Nagari.
Started in 1974, Gita Nagari was the ISKCON NYC temple’s farm, His Divine Grace, Srila Prabhupada’s making a visit there in July 1976, where under the presidency of Paramananda prabhu, the oxen were tilling the land, vegetables were being grown, wheat was being milled, and there was an abundance of milk. (The NYC, West 55th St. temple received all of its milk from the cows at Gita Nagari.)
While Srila Prabhupada was present on the planet, whenever the name of any ISKCON temple or farm community was mentioned, devotees would immediately think of the presiding Deities there (and Their names): Gita Nagari, Sri Sri Radha-Damodar; Vrndavan, Sri Sri Radha-Syamasundara and Sri Sri Krsna-Balaram; NYC, Sri Sri Radha-Govinda; Mayapur, Sri Sri Radha-Madhava; Dallas, Sri Sri Radha-Kalacandji; LA, Sri Sri Rukmini-Dvarakadish; Delhi, Sri Sri Radha-Parthasarathi, etc.
Starting with the zonal “acarya” system, things in present-day ITSGON have become so convoluted that when one mentions the name of a temple or ISKCON community, most devotees do not first think of the presiding Radha-Krsna Deities there (or Their names), but rather, the name of the presiding GBC and/or guru (as if it’s “their” domain), including in some cases, when a particular GBC and/or guru has left the planet; e.g. – Dallas, Tamal Krsna; N. Vrndavan, Malati (and Radhanath, even though he supposedly isn’t there, but in actuality is still “all-pervading” in NV); NYC, Romapada; Gita Nagari, Bhaktitirtha; Mayapur, Jayapataka; Delhi, Gopal Krsna; etc. In fact it’s quite rare that when a particular temple’s name is said, devotees think of the presiding Deities there, but rather the presiding GBC or guru.
Under illusion, many of us consider certain jivas baddhas to be pure devotees despite their having broken regulative principles, and for some, doing worse things; putting in an order for devotees to be beaten and/or murdered, abusing, even molesting children. When an ISKCON sannyasi leaves his body, even if/when he has deviated from the regulative principles, or the worse above mentioned, if he’s still recognized as an ISKCON sannyasi, a samadhi is built to him in ISKCON Mayapur (and sometimes elsewhere).
On Gita Nagari property, a samadhi was built to Bhaktitirtha Swami, (though no samadhi was given to Srila Prabhupada there. And down the road, is BT’s house, originally bought from Samik Rsi prabhu, used by BT when he would stay at Gita Nagari, now turned into a BT memorabilia museum).
For right now, let’s put to the side (the proper reasons) why it is a samadhi is offered to a particular personality, and address the following based on nitti and a few other factors:
Despite the GBC’s knowing there was no samadhi given to ISKCON’s Founder-Acarya, His Divine Grace, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, Srila Prabhupada, in Gita Nagari, under Whom the Gita Nagari farm community and temple was founded during His manifested presence, and despite the GBC body’s knowing that Bhaktitirtha Swami had been deviating from his sannyas vows regarding illicit sex and drug taking, and preaching some “off stuff,” and some murders arranged by BT, of which the GBC was informed), it was still allowed that a samadhi be built to Bhaktitirtha in Gita Nagari.
BT did not start the Gita Nagari project, nor did he render any noteworthy service in Gita Nagari, (and in fact, things in Gita Nagari deteriorated while he was GBC there), nor was BT following his sannyas vows during those years. So why was a samadhi built to him in Gita Nagari, especially when there was NO samadhi offered to ISKCON’s and Gita Nagari’s Founder-Acarya, His Divine Grace, Srila Prabhupada? (Even if nothing else other than nitti was to be taken into consideration, there should never have been any samadhi made to BT in Gita Nagari. By dint of heart, what bona fide disciple, (disciple meaning one who is following the discipline given by bona fide Guru) would ever want a samadhi built to himself in a temple or community his Guru Maharaj had founded, especially when there was no samadhi given to his Guru Maharaj? What (real) disciple would ever want a samadhi to be built/offered to himself in any of Srila Prabhupada’s temples/communities without at least there being a samadhi for Srila Prabhupada?)
Now let’s get to what is a samadhi, (the structure):
The structure samadhi is offered/given – i.e. “He was given samadhi” – to a person who during their lifetime was in a state of samadhi by dint of their consciousness. When such a person departs from the realm of our vision, their material body is placed into final samadhi (a structure built to that consciousness possessed by such a self-realized person) it’s being understood that the person left the body in their final exhibition of (the consciousness in) samadhi.
Samadhi is the (spiritually realized) state, when one’s consciousness is fully immersed in love of Krsna as explained by Srila Prabhupada (BG 4.24 purport): ”When the mind is fully absorbed in Krsna consciousness, it is said to be in samadhi, or trance.”
Even amongst those who are not Krsna Bhaktas, samadhi denotes a state of complete spiritually realized consciousness in which one’s senses/mind are fully focused (again, in realized, total absorption, focused in genuine spiritual trance) on the Supreme. (Krsna explains that He is the Supreme; the goal of all the Vedas (BG 15.15), the source of all spiritual and material worlds from Whom everything emanates, (BG 10.8)*** and Brahma agrees Krsna is sarva karana karanam, the cause of all causes, and (Govindam) adi purusam, the original Person. Lord Siva, (vaisnavanam yatha sambhuh, SB 12.13.16), glorifies Krsna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead (e.g. Gita Mahatmya 7, eko devo devaki putra eva, “There is one God, the Son of Devaki”).
Samadhi is the final stage in the Astanga Yoga system, whose steps are listed by Srila Prabhupada in His BG 5.27 purport: “…known as astanga-yoga which is divisible into an eightfold procedure called yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi.”
Krsna explains the highest process of yoga is Bhakti Yoga (BG 6.47), where Srila Prabhupada writes in His purport,
The culmination of all kinds of yoga practices lies in bhakti-yoga. All other yogas are but means to come to the point of bhakti in bhakti-yoga. Yoga actually means bhakti-yoga; all other yogas are progressions toward the destination of bhakti-yoga,” so in regards to the Krsna Bhakta, samadhi comes back again, to total absorption of the senses in Krsna. Srila Prabhupada writes in His SB 1.13.54 purport: “The preliminary activities of the way of yoga are asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dhyana, dharana, etc. …This process of turning the senses from material attachment to the loving transcendental service of the Lord is called pratyahara, and the very process is called pranayama, ultimately ending in samadhi or absorption in pleasing the Supreme Lord Hari by all means,”
SB 3.21.12 purport, Srila Prabhupada writes, ”After practicing the sitting postures and other regulative principles of the system, one finally reaches the stage of samadhi - absorption in the Supreme. In the samadhi stage one can see the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His partial form as Paramatma, or as He is.”
So (the building) samadhi, is offered/given to one who is understood to have attained this topmost level of realized Krsna consciousness (being in samadhi – mind fully absorbed in Krsna), who has left their body in the (final exhibition of the) consciousness of samadhi; the samadhi structure built to the last samadhi (consciousness) exhibited by that individual who, possessed of such Krsna consciousness during their lifetime, was possessed of such Krsna consciousness in giving up the body. It’s understood that they have left this material realm in such (realized) Krsna consciousness, and generally return to their nitya-lila, unless Krsna has some specific service for Them in this material realm, at times the individual serving in both spiritual and material world simultaneously.
Thus, taking all of the above into factor, the question comes regarding the legitimacy of memorials (what to speak of samadhis) built to sannyasis in ISKCON temples or communities especially those started by Srila Prabhupada, where such a sannyasi has not done or contributed anything of great magnitude, where things may have even (in the case of Gita Nagari, when BT was GBC there) deteriorated under that sannyasi’s management, and what to speak of the added factor that the particular sannyasi (in this case, BT) was not adhering to all of the regulative principles, and doing worse things.
Some devotees may say “She’s writing this because she doesn’t like BT”: No, this is not the reason. (I see BT as my Godbrother who rendered the services he did, but due to getting caught up through his own weaknesses and narcissism, ended up making the horrific blunders he did, and with such a deviant GBC body, there was no one to properly (lovingly, compassionately) address, and help him regarding his errors, which then led to his committing increasing atrocities.) My questioning the samadhi made for Bhaktitirtha Swami in Gita Nagari is based on taking all factors on all levels into consideration, especially in consideration of what the samadhi structure itself means.
A samadhi is one thing; a memorial to someone, another, and even in regards to a memorial being built to an ISKCON devotee in one of the properties founded by Srila Prabhupada, it would only be logical that a proper consideration be given regarding criteria involved. (Do we build a memorial to someone if they’ve been deviating from the philosophy?; deviating from following all of the regulative principles?; have not done something of major importance in the place where the memorial is to be built?; a combination of all of the above?, and especially at a place where there has been no samadhi or memorial offered to that Personality, Srila Prabhupada, Who was ISKCON’s (and that particular temple or farm community’s) Founder-Acarya, Who we know for sure was indeed!!! in!!! samadhi!!!! (by dint of consciousness).
There are proper (philosophical, Sastrically (Krsna) based) reasons why things are or are not done; not that we do something based on sentimentality: As Srila Prabhupada wrote in His BG 3.3 purport, “Religion without philosophy is sentiment, or sometimes fanaticism, while philosophy without religion is mental speculation.” I might state here that present-day ISKCON has become a society of collective personality cults based on sentiment for this or that personality, in which people (who are not qualified, by dint of explanation in Sastra) are being worshipped as pure devotees when they are not, even being “given samadhi” when they have never attained samadhi (consciousness).
As no samadhi was given to Srila Prabhupada in Gita Nagari despite Srila Prabhupada’s truly being in samadhi (by dint of consciousness), as well as Srila Prabhupada’s being ISKCON’s Founder-Acarya and founding Gita Nagari while present on the planet, Gita Nagari’s flourishing at that time, while under BT’s years as GBC of Gita Nagari, his doing nothing special for Gita Nagari, and, in fact, Gita Nagari’s deteriorating under BT’s GBC jurisdiction, it’s only legitimate for anyone to question why it is a samadhi was built to BT in Gita Nagari.
I would question the placing of a samadhi in any of Srila Prabhupada’s ISKCON properties for any ISKCON sannyasi taking all of these above factors into account, especially when no samadhi has been offered to Srila Prabhupada -Who we know was truly in samadhi, being always immersed in Krsna consciousness - at a community or temple which was founded by Srila Prabhupada while He was present.
Even in regards to some form of external memorial (plaque or whatever) being made, unless the sannyasi has started or done something outstanding regarding that temple or community, gave upliftment to it, etc., what would be a legitimate reason for constructing a memorial for a (bona fide) sannyasi in one of the ISKCON temples founded by Srila Prabhupada? And why would consideration ever be given in regards to placing into samadhi the body of a sannyasi when it is known by the GBC that he
- was not in samadhi by dint of (lacking of such) consciousness
- was breaking one or more of the regulative principles
- has done worse things than breaking the principles), and
- has not made any notable contribution (as a GBC or in any other capacity) for the development of that temple or community (and in fact, have added to its deterioration)?
So although Srila Prabhupada is ISKCON’s Founder-Acarya, and it was during Srila Prabhupada’s physically manifested presence Gita Nagari was first established and was very productively being run according to the instructions Srila Prabhupada gave, (under Paramananda prabhu’s presidency), Srila Prabhupada’s also going to Gita Nagari in 1976, no samadhi being offered to Srila Prabhupada in Gita Nagari, our knowing Srila Prabhupada was in samadhi consciousness, amazingly, (or rather not amazingly – who can be amazed anymore by what these people in charge of ISKCON do, directly or allow to be done by others?), a SHAM or SHAME-adhi was constructed in Gita Nagari for Bhaktitirtha Swami, though, there is no samadhifor His Divine Grace, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, ISKCON’s Founder-Acarya, and the founder of Gita Nagari, (nor even any memorial structure built to honor Srila Prabhupada there).
First and foremost it’s a sham or shame(adhi) for the fact that Bhaktitirtha Swami was not possessed of self realized or Krsna realized (samadhi) consciousness to be given final samadhi.
As far as a structure built in memorial to him there, what would be a legitimate reason?
BT did not start Gita Nagari: He had nothing to do with its founding. In becoming Gita Nagari’s GBC more than 20 years after its founding, and although GN’s GBC for ten years, BT did nothing for Gita Nagari’s upliftment. There was no upgrade for GN under BT’s GBC jurisdiction, and in fact, things deteriorated in Gita Nagari under his GBC authority. (Under the GBC of Satsvarupa Maharaj, things were going better at Gita Nagari.) Thus, there is no legitimate reason for even a memorial to be built there for him.
There are these other considerations (of which the GBC was fully aware, but took no action due to the political situation within their own GBC body).
- BT’s philosophical deviations
- BT’s breaking two of the four regulative principles
- BT’s arranged murders of devotees
Thus, (in review), Bhaktitirtha Swami did not start the Gita Nagari farm and temple, nor did he make any notable contribution to it. (It became further deteriorated under his GBC jurisdiction.) The general GBC body was fully aware that Bhaktitirtha Swami was faulty in deviating from his sannyas vows, breaking two of the regulative principles, (and worse…) and his philosophical deviations were also known by the GBC. Between this and other reasons, they wanted to kick him out of ISKCON, but due to political considerations, did not (could not) do so.
There is no samadhi in Gita Nagari for Srila Prabhupada, ISKCON and Gita Nagari’s Founder-Acarya, Who truly was in samadhi. (Again the question, What bona fide disciple of Srila Prabhupada would want to be given samadhi in a temple or community their Guru Maharaj, Srila Prabhupada, has founded, where there is no samadhi for Srila Prabhupada there?, especially when they know have done nothing tangible in regards to that particular temple/community? – what to speak of knowing they have not attained samadhi.)
Amazingly (or not), no one within ISKCON questions this; a samadhi given in Gita Nagari to Srila Prabhupada’s disciple (though he was not possessed of samadhi consciousness, and he’s done nothing special with regards to Gita Nagari – other than allowed for its further deterioration), yet there’s NO samadhi offered to the founder of Gita Nagari, Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Who is also ISKCON’s Founder-Acarya.
Because I went to Gita Nagari, saw this directly, know the facts and the character of the person to whom this building was built, I’m writing this article. Rather than samadhi, it’s a sham or shame-adhi that is there in Gita Nagari due to the various reasons given above, and the craziest thing is the fact that no samadhi has been given in Gita Nagari to Srila Prabhupada, ISKCON’s and Gita Nagari’s Founder-Acarya, Who we know was the topmost pure devotee, Srila Prabhupada’s having started Gita Nagari when He was personally present on the planet, Gita Nagari’s flourishing in these earlier days.
The building of such a sham and a shame-adhi gives proof to the lack of understanding we are possessed of and gives a perfect example of what is the off-kilter mentality of present-day ISKCON.
Srila Rupa Goswami (BRS 1.2.101) quoting from the Padma Purana states:
sruti smrti puranadi pancaratra vidhim vina aikantiki harer bhaktir utpatayaiva kalpate
“Devotional service that ignores the authorized Vedic literatures, like the Upanasads, Puranas and Pancaratras, causes unnecessary disturbance in society,”
And this is what has happened within present-day ITS GON: It has caused disturbance to many serious practicing devotees and other people who have had connection with ISKCON through its distortions of the Gaudiya philosophy, and its misrepresentation of Srila Prabhupada.
I’m choosing to add the following story which on first hearing I was totally floored, (but did accept the possibility that there could be truth to it). Over the years I was told the same story again by other devotees at different points in time. In my questioning, I found that these devotees had received the information from different GBC members. All of these devotees were initiated prior to 1975, are still connected with ISKCON, and have direct ties with devotees in GBC (and/or guru, and sannyasi) positions. The exact same story was told. It was also explained that the sannyasi who had told this to his sannyasi, guru and or GBC friends was not joking either. I’m including this story into this submission to show the extent to which our consciousness can be overcome by material ambition thrown at us through Maya Devi’s delusions, and reasoning behind certain devotees desires for these positions:
One (NA) sannyasi who hadn’t as yet “become guru” explained to some of his GBC friends that he was aspiring for such position. When asked “Why do you want to become a guru?,” his reason given was, “So after I leave my body, they will definitely make a samadhi for me.”
Although the ABCs of Krsna consciousness are that we are not these bodies, we can see how attached we are to the body itself, and to the glorification of the (concocted) name and fame that we think ”goes along” with that body, both in life, and for some, even in terms of thinking about after leaving the body; wanting the name of that body we’ve passed out of to be continued to be glorified through a samadhi, the continued words of others, or by other means. This shows the insanity through which we are overcome, (and sadly, such is possessed by so many of those in ISKCON leadership position.)
*** See BG verses 7.6,7; 9.23,24; 10.2,39; 14.4