From The Archive: Religious Integration of ISKCON by Academia

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Gopinath Dasa: The question on how we educate our children is a very important one. At present, the main thrust of the ISKCON Institution is to adopt the western secular urban based educational curriculum and syllabus in their schools. Of course they claim to have an open policy on education in ISKCON but the fact is they are mainly supporting the secular educative process and directing our children to get qualified in the secular academic process and to gain employment in the non devotee workforce.

It is now evident that the ISKCON leaders have no faith in the Vedic system and are instead pushing our devotional community into the secular system making the development of a rural based society impossible.

The introduction of modernism and liberalistic thought into Srila Prabhupada’s Krsna Conscious movement afforded our leadership to divide our purpose and has led to a loss of faith in the spiritual process as given by Srila Prabhupada and the previous acharyas. It has created not only a dependence on the secular system, but also diverted manpower, finances and resources to aid in the further integration of ISKCON into secular society.

This is a huge risk given the geopolitical situation we now face, with the threat of not only catastrophic environmental changes, but also an unstable global economic situation.

Are we prepared, as members of a devotional community, to take such a risk with our children and our spiritual life?

These are the questions that must be asked and properly answered.

 

Religious Integration of ISKCON by Academia

Dear respected devotees at the Oxford centre

After recently reading letter exposing the questionable essay written by Tamal Krishna Goswami and Krishna Kshetra prabhu that was published by the prestigious Ivy League Columbia University (in the book form), I feel that certain questions have to be asked in the attempt to clarify your intent and ability to appropriately represent our Acharya Srila Prabhupada to the Academia.

There is no doubt that Srila Prabhupada wanted devotees preaching to scientists and scholars in order to establish ISKCON(Gaudiya
Vaisnavism) as a bona fide religious movement in their circles, and making them into devotees. However it appears that in these days this dynamic is reversed and the academics and scholars are the ones who ended up preaching to our devotees, who in turn are disseminating these speculative mundane academic systems within our movement.

Instead of giving association our academic devotees (devotees who enrolled to college in order to receive degrees) are taking association from them. They reversed the roles and became the disciples of academic gurus.

This is clearly evident when we see how our leading academic devotees are attempting to pollute our movement while undermining and belittling the teachings that Srila Prabupada established, with the humanistic sciences given to them by these New Gurus.

They are quietly and incrementally introducing these academically acquired impersonal humanistic ideologies and methodologies in a form of so called pluralism, egalitarianism, liberalism, corporatism etc, into ISKCON, that are taught to them by Academic gurus.

The relationship between Braja Bihari das and his Corporate/Academic Guru Arnold Zack and his ADR program that Braja Bihari das effectively imbedded into our society, (in the name of KC) is a well documented fact. We clearly see who the Guru is and who is the student.

The article by ISKCON Communication Journal makes nice introduction to Arnold Zack and his ADR program, which acted as a spring board that lead Arnold Zack to facilitations of GBC meetings etc. http://www.iskcon.org/icj/10/01-zack.html

Ananda Dasi in her Sampradaya Sun article titled: ISKCON Dissolve, gives nice synopsis on Braja Bihari`s introduction of ADR program into ISKCON.

Hridayanada ‘Swami’ is another stark example of a person who became polluted by inappropriate association with Academia. We all witnessed when he started to preach liberalistic acceptance of homosexuality in ISKCON, which clearly transgresses SP teachings.

His conduct as a sannyasi these days is questionable at best. At his recent visit to India, he was flamboyantly parading around Mayapur dham with two female devotees, one on each side while laughing and joking with them. Just like Visnu who is Enjoying the company of Sree and Bhu (female energies of the Lord)

He was not wearing neck beads, brahman tread or, uttaria, sannyasi upper cloth, ‘because he does not want to be external.’ The question being; is his behavior something that Srila Prabhupada would approve of? I don’t think so.

Srila Prabhupada did try to warn Hridayananda….

… But, if you disturb me, then my mind will be disturbed. I want that what I have established may go on nicely, but I see that some of the devotees are reviving their old ‘good’ qualities. That is the difficulty. If the old habits come back, then everything is finished. If my mind becomes disturbed in this way, then how can I concentrate on book writing. It is not possible. Better not to inform me anything,
and let me sit in Vrindavana.” (Hrdayananda, 11/13/75)

I’m wondering if the “old habits” and qualities SP is referring include the JBD qualities as well.

Hridayananda ‘Swami’ is the person who wrote a commentary on the unfinished part of Srimad Bhagavatam! Scary!

In the above mentioned essay, Krishna Ksetra prabhu and Tamal Krishna Goswami are proposing the solution to solve ISKCON`s ‘academically identified sectarianism,’ by presenting the conclusion that we should see and accept the mayavada doctrine, as another valid form of realization of God–equating it with five primary rasas we can have with Krsna. Insinuating, that this is a ‘mature and advanced understanding’ of a person who is on the Raganuga sadhana platform.

Certainly, as an aspiring Vaisnava we offer respect to every living entity, including the imperonalists and atheists, etc. Whilst in their
association we do follow the formal social code of gentleman (naimittika-dharma). However we are careful not to intimately mix/associate with them and under no circumstances we take association from such individuals.

Raganuga sadhana bhakti-does not connote the idea that you stop discriminating who is who and what is what (its all love). This cheap ‘spontaneous’ devotional service that is proposed by the writers is classified as cheating and termed Sahajism.

It appears that if we want to be seen as advanced souls by them and other authorities within academia, we need to accept this academically proposed ‘advanced’ religious pluralism or in other words Spiritual Integration in a form of the academically contrived consortium called Interfaith.

It is important to understand the role ISKCON Communications Journal is having in the implementation of this academically contrived religious pluralism into ISKCON. If you visit their official web site, the reader can access numerous articles (dating back to the early nineties) advocating the necessity for ISKCON to embrace this religious pluralism in order to ensure its acceptance and survival in the world  Satyaraja dasa (Steven Rosen), is in charge of ICJ program.

Tamal Krishna Goswami and Krishna Ksetra prabhu are acknowledging the crucial role ICJ is playing in the religious integration of ISKCON. In their essay, Krishna Ksetra prabhu and Tamal Krishna Goswami writes: “ISKCON Communications Journal, now in tenth year of publication, forecasts an increasingly healthy intellectual muscularity.” The intellectual muscularity, as they are referring to, is evident when you do a search on the new SP folio. All the pluralistic articles (and many others) are available; this proves the success they are having in imbedding the idea of religious pluralism into ISKCON and its leadership as a necessity.

One small aspect of this proposed Religious Pluralistic Integration of ISKCON by Tamal Krishna Goswami and Krishna Ksetra prabhu in the essay is Hinduization. The writers suggested in their paper that we need to ‘tone down’ SP teachings in order to appease Hindu Diaspora sensibilities. We see that this ‘toning down’ is already taking place.

Especially in England were the writers wrote this essay. Over the past couple of years we read numerous articles on the Sun written by stalwart Mahavidya prabhu, where he is expressing his concerns regarding systematic Hiduization of ISKCON.

He provided ample amount of documented evidence, exposing the Management of Manor and Soho temple, while asking them to provide an explanations four these pluralistic integrations, which are completely, against SP teachings. To this day he did not receive appropriate answers, besides getting BANNED, for asking all these questions. (He became an example of the new form of “monkey on the stick,” if you bother us with questions that we don’t like, this is the punishment)

May I suggest to Mahavidya prabhu that instead of asking local myopic managers (arms of the body), for the explanation, (there is a good chance that they don’t know the real answers), to refer these questions at the Oxford Academia who is the (head or brain of the
body) as they are the ones advising and guiding ISKCON with this brilliant idea of Religious Pluralism. Start with Krishna Kshetra
prabhu, since TKG is not around anymore to provide such answers.

In their essay Krishna Ksetra prabhu and Tamal Krishna Gowami are advocating that a judgment on the above academically proposed
pluralistic solution can only be made with your own sense perception, (pratyaksa), whereas the uneducated ISKCON members and Gaudia Vaisnava preceptors minimized this form of obtaining knowledge as they considered it inaccurate due to the ‘alleged’ four defects of the living entity.

After acquiring an Academic degree, you become properly trained and accepted in the Academia’s circle. This Academic circle believes that they are of such high intellect that they are above the four defects of the living entity and it is only through their guidance, which comes from their gigantic collective knowledge base, that we can properly comprehend the Vedas and the previous Acharyas (this includes ‘simplistic’ teachings of Srila Prabhupada) and see the fundamental flaws which exist, and therefore make the necessary changes to make their purport have rational and relevant meaning according to time, place, and circumstance within the modern context.

Tamal Krishna goswami confirms the need for such rational/relevant reinterpretation, in his writings at Hare Krishna at Southern
Methodist University :“But when the guru departs, sadhu and sastra can take on a new import, as those who succeed him become the new interpreters of past precedents, scriptural law and the new set of circumstances.”

Achyuta prabhu in his letter titled: Krishnabhishek and Basu Ghosh: Apologists or Brahma-bhuta Souls?…posits some very interesting questions regarding ‘unknown reasons’ for not publishing Tamal Krishna Goswami`s final dissertation. The argument that the thesis was not completed hence is not ready (but it will be soon) is ridiculous. Tamal Krishna Goswami`s personal mentor contradicts this statement with his own words from seven years ago in TKGs abituary.

Profesor Julius Lipner (Tamal Krishna Goswami`s mentor) in Tamal Krishna Goswami`s obituary writes: “When Goswami’s life was tragically cut short, his thesis was almost finished. He placed the last chapter of his dissertation on my desk before he left for India. We were due to discuss it the week after his return. It is my intention to seek to publish the thesis in his name after due formalities have been seen to.”

It is clear from Prof Lipner statement that the thesis was already completed and he wanted it to be published. Why this was not done? Why such an unwillingness to make it public?

The tardiness of his followers to publish his completed final dissertation to the devotee community, suggests they have something to
hide. The only way to prove that they have nothing to hide and they are simply too lazy is by immediately publishing his final copy that was presented to his mentor Professor Julius J Lipner along with their new, possibly sanitized version.

Mukunda prabhu in his letter titled The ‘Jewish Background Devotees’ Demographic in ISKCON Leadership writes:“We know that these JBD’s are being very secretive in publishing their views and opinions. If you logged onto the ISKCON administered Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies website, you will find Dr. Kenneth Valpey’s (Krishna Kshetra prabhu’s) papers are presented in a list of many other lecturers. The only problem is that his papers are not downloadable nor are Madhavi Nevader’s A Jewish understanding of monotheism in the Hebrew bible: In conversation with Hindu perspectives. Both Dr. Kenneth Valpey’s and Madhavi Nevader’s are not, but the other lecturer’s lectures are freely available and easily downloadable.”

Mukunda prabhu in his letter has provided us with an important website of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, (this centre is operated by ISKCON academic devotees) where he points out that ISKCON guru, Krishna Ksetra prabhu`s and other devotee’s lectures are conveniently not available for download, whilst all the lectures of others guests speakers are.

This begs the questions; Why such a secrecy? What are these academic devotees hiding? What are they teaching/preaching?  Why don’t they want the devotional community to be able to access their works?

I acknowledge there may be Academic devotees who are teaching/preaching pure KC to the Academia as per SP instruction but
unfortunately we never hear about their preaching activities. For as an Institution believes that only the devotees with big positions and titles are the real preachers and the real representative of ISKCON.

OM TAT SAT

Note: If you notice the ethnic background of the academic individuals in question that are mentioned in this letter, there is one apparent commonality they share. All the above mentioned individuals are coming from a similar ethnic background. Perhaps these individuals care to share an explanation with us as to why, being a minority, there are a statistically disproportionate number of them in academia? What is their rationale for such an obvious anomaly?

Hridayanada Goswami -Howard Resnick

Tamal Krishna Goswami -Thomas G Herzig

Krishna Ksetra das -Kenneth Valpey

Satyaraja dasa – Steven Rosen

Braja Bihari das – Brian Bloch

Julius J. Lipner – mentor of Tamal Krishna Goswami

Arnold Zack – mentor of Braja Bihari das

 

Gopinath Das

Originally published: November 2010