ISKCON and Hinduism

Posted by in Devotional Community, GBC, Gurus

Kṛṣṇacandra Dāsa – Śrī Vṛndāvan Dham: I happened to come across the official ISKCON website called ISKCON.org and decided to read what they said about His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda. I was not surprised to read that they took an impersonal academic view to His Divine Grace which I found rather offensive to say the least.

Also, as a side point… It was interesting to note that at the 2012 GBC meetings it was resolved under the “309. Founder-Acarya on ISKCON Guru Websitesthat Rubber Stamped Gurus are required to say something about Śrīla Prabhupāda yet on this so called ISKCON website’s Home Page there is nothing. Well except for a rather plain looking logo…

Back to the original issue… When most of us speak of Śrīla Prabhupāda we speak in terms of Śrīla Prabhupāda being sent by the Lord or on a mission for the Lord. We never really discuss him as if he was a part of some impersonal historic event.

An excerpt from “The Founder Ācārya” section which better describes their view / opinion of Śrīla Prabhupāda…

“Srila Prabhupada was born Abhay Charan De on September 1, 1896, to a pious Hindu family in Calcutta.”

Please correct me if I am wrong but I never ever thought that Śrīla Prabhupāda was born to a ‘pious Hindu family’ but a Vaiṣṇava family? It appears that our errant leaders are trying to deconstruct history and reconstruct it with a distinct “Hindu” flavor.

Prabhupāda: (Hindi) I was born a Vaiṣṇava family. My father was a great devotee.

[Room Conversation Nov, 1970 Bombay]

After reading this I decided to pursue what other ideas the Official ISKCON website is putting into people’s heads…

I came across one of the main headings termed “Hinduism” and under which I found that officially ISKCON has accepted the opinion of Dr Resnick [AKA – Hridayananda Goswami] as to how an ISKCON devotee and the general public should see our ISKCON society. Hridayananda Goswami is more inclined to see Kṛṣṇa consciousness through the eyes of modern day liberal secular academia rather than through the eyes of śāstra. His more than liberal approach to the Sannyāsa ashram also lends itself to breaking with the teachings of Vaiṣṇava Ācāryas and so is not considered a serious member of the renounced order of life.

So the fact that the ISKCON institution should use his work as reference material displays not only their contempt for Śrīla Prabhupāda’s teachings but a distinct break with the Vaiṣṇava tradition as given by our Vaiṣṇava Ācāryas  in particular His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda.

They titled this section “ISKCON vis a vis Hinduism” however they used an essay that Doctor Resnick wrote and submitted to the ISKCON Journal [Volume 7] as their official understanding of the term Hindu.

This section of their website did not once refer to His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda’s definition and usage of the term but prolifically referred to Academics in a language meant to impress academia rather than speak truthfully on what his alleged guru His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda had taught him.

When we are on the material platform, there are different types of religions—Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and so on. These are instituted for a particular time, a particular country or a particular person. Consequently there are differences. Christian principles are different from Hindu principles, and Hindu principles are different from Muslim and Buddhist principles. These may be considered on the material platform, but when we come to the platform of transcendental devotional service, there are no such considerations. The transcendental service of the Lord (sādhana-bhakti) is above these principles. The world is anxious for religious unity, and that common platform can be achieved in transcendental devotional service. This is the verdict of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. When one becomes a Vaiṣṇava, he becomes transcendental to all these limited considerations. This is confirmed by Lord Kṛṣṇa in the Bhagavad-gītā (14.26)

[CC: Madhya.25.121]

Resnick liberally quotes from Swami Vivekananda and fails to quote his own alleged guru His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda. Below is what Śrīla Prabhupāda thought about using quotes from this ‘Humanitarian’…

Regarding George’s foreword, you write to say that certainly there will be no more changes. Do you mean that the changes which you have already suggested in your letter dated 11th April with quotation from Swami Vivekananda are to be added? We cannot add any quotation from Swami Vivekananda. In your letter of April 11th you have asked me to insert “What right has a man to say he has a soul if he does not feel it, or that there is a God if he does not see Him?” Do you mean I have to put in my KṚṢṆA book all this nonsense quotation? This man (Vivekananda) has no understanding either of soul or of God and still he has posed himself as a Swami to mislead so many innocent persons.

[Letter to: Syamasundara LA 24 April, 1970]

To cut to the chase, although Resnick left it rather open ended, it was clear that the opinion of the GBC was that Vaisnavaism comes under the umbrella of Hinduism. Nowhere on this page does it explain the difference between sanatana dharma or nitya dharma or the dharma of the jīva as opposed to temporary dharma of the jīva embodied in material nature.

The exchange between God and the living entity is called sanātana-dharma or Vaiṣṇavism. So we are teaching that. We are not teaching Hinduism, Muslimism, Christianism. We are teaching how to love God. That’s all.

[Conversation June 28 1976 Vṛndāvan]

To limit Vaiṣṇava dharma to the term ‘Hindu’ is not in conjunction with the teachings of the Vaiṣṇava Ācāryas.

Resnick and ISKCON appear to want to walk the politically correct liberalist religious path, not wanting to upset the sensibilities of the Indian people who think of themselves as Hindus so they release this diluted religiously syncretic word jugglery which has nothing whatsoever to do with our Vaisava siddhānta as given by His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda and more to do with pleasing the Hindu dollar and Academic world.

There is nothing subtle in the GBC’s approach to remodeling our Vaiṣṇava society into a Hindu society. There are way up front with this and there is absolutely no objection from the FISKCONites who apparently are fine with it all.

I am sure that His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda would never condone such skullduggery which has to be viewed more as trying to secure the Hindu dollar / pound. It must also be seen as a blatant attempt to homogenize our Vaiṣṇava society in keeping with the Academic Religious syncretic agenda.