Bhakta Vanya Dasa – Russia: While traveling through Vrindavan on the way to Mayapur, the following letter was found on the hard drive of a computer in an Internet café there. It was apparently left on the computer by mistake, or by Krsna’s arrangement. It seems that this information is important for the community of devotees to be aware of. Some of the very long quotes from Srila Prabhupada have been deleted, as have the names of the authors.
Bhakta Vanya Das
HG Devamrta Prabhu, Temple President
HG Janardana Prabhu, Vice Temple President
HG Vaisnava Prabhu, Vice Temple President
Krsna Balarama Mandir, ISKCON Vrndavana
Dear Prabhus, PAMHO AGT Srila Prabhupada. Prabhus it is important that you carefully consider what we are presenting in this letter. With the position of Temple President and Vice Presidents comes great responsibility of which we are sure that you already know. In reference to this we would like to highlight that this responsibility is also for past actions and managerial mistakes as well. So it is in this light that we are speaking now. The issue that we are presenting is foremostly regarding the Gurukula and its right of proprietorship of the Gurukula Building and therefore the allocation and use of rooms and facilities.
The Gurkula building was given by Srila Prabhupada to be used as an educational institute for both children and adults. Srila Prabhupada wanted that classes, lectures and discussion be conducted there 24 hours day on Krsna Consciousness and the Vedic Sciences. He wanted that the Gurukula building have an office for the Bhaktivedanta Institute and to invite Ph.D’s and other members of the Scientific community to attend lectures and discussions. The hall he wanted to be used as a multipurpose meeting hall and not simply for the Gurukula. He also wanted seven rooms set aside for classes on the Bhagavad Gita and so on.
To allow the Gurukula to have proprietorship of the building is not what Srila Prabhupada intended. Nor did he intend for the Gurukula to be turned into a private business teaching mundane academics. Thus not only is the determination of its use in question but also the right of the present management to be in charge of the education of our children.
Many devotees both local and international are strongly against the present management of the Gurukula and its curriculum, its access to funds / institutional ISKCON’s support in the form of manpower and resources.
We believe that the Gurukula and the VEB are not maintaining Srila Prabhupada’s wishes and instructions with regards to this school and the use of the building, specifically in relationship to the schools philosophical orientation and their qualification to appropriately care for children.
It is absolutely clear what Srila Prabhupada’s opinion is with regard to educating children and specifically children in ISKCON Vrndavana’s – Krsna-Balarama Mandir. When we compare how we are educating our children here with Srila Prabhupada’s most lucid instructions we can see how much we have allowed the management of this school to deviate. There are no grey areas in what he says in the quotes provided at the end of this document.
Srila Prabhupada was very clear that we must not adopt the government accreditation process and therefore curriculum and syllabus, yet this school is doing just that.
Letter to: Aniruddha Calcutta March, 1972
“Simply follow the program of the elders, let the children associate as much as possible with the routine KC program, and when the others go out for working and business matters, the children can be given classes as you describe. They can learn our method of Krishna Consciousness by rising early, cleansing, plus knowledge of Sanskrit, English, a little Mathematics, history, geography, that’s all. We haven’t got to take any help from the government by getting so-called accreditation. If outsiders want to send their children to us, it will not be for their accreditation, but because they will get the best education for relieving them of all anxieties of material life and for this education the government has no idea.”
The most offensive argument that the educators in ISCKON use is – We tried it the way Srila Prabhupada wanted and it did not work so now we are doing this. Here the implication is that Srila Prabhupada was wrong… That the instructions of the pure devotee do not produce pure fruits. However, they don’t say that maybe we did not understand or implement Srila Prabhupada’s instructions properly and so produced bad fruit, so now we must look more carefully at what Srila Prabhupada said and make sure that we use devotees who are mature in their Krsna Consciousness and appropriately qualified to teach and administer. Further they claim that Srila Prabhupada would have done like this if he was present. Srila Prabhupada or any other acharya would never deviate philosophically to cater for materialists.
Another argument that they use is that Srila Prabhupada wanted that we get government affiliation for our schools. This is another entirely spurious argument. They twist Srila Prabhupada’s words in a simplistic attempt to support their stand. What Srila Prabhupada wanted is clear in this letter.
Letter to: Nitai Mayapur 24 January, Vrindaban
“In the syllabus of Nrsimha Vallabha Goswami, the Sankhya-karika must be by Kapiladeva, Devahuti putra. The other is atheistic. There are two sankhyas–theistic and atheistic. The Sanskrit in the Visnu Purana is even easier than in Raghu-vamsa. Yes, Bhagavad-gita As It Is should be studied from the beginning. There must be study from my books also. Whatever the syllabus you make up, the point is to somehow or other get recognition. The syllabus can always be changed later on. If we can get equivalency for our degrees that will be even better than affiliation. But whichever is possible that you should get. It is very important because as soon as we are recognized then our students will be able to come very easily. A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami – ACBS/tkg”
The final argument that the present educators use to support the adoption of the government curriculum and syllabus is-“Srila Prabhupada gave us the principles and he left the details up to us.” They proffer this statement as justification for using Government Accreditation and therefore curriculum and syllabus. However, they ignore the fact that the details that they are using are details of ‘post industrial educational ethos’ and not details of what Srila Prabhupada has instructed and therefore not even remotely connected to the principles of Vedic education and Vaisnavism. They are in fact diametrically opposed.
When pressed they say that it is what parents, children and teachers want. So here we are seeing vox populi (Maya) at work. Where an arbitrary number of devotees can ‘subvert’ our “Acarya’s” instruction and replace it with precisely what he instructed us ‘NOT’ to do. Thus foolishly thinking themselves to be superior to Srila Prabhupada. Basically proffering that Srila Prabhupada was wrong and they know better how to deal with ‘modern’ ISKCON.
The ‘vox populi’ argument is spurious, as the percentage of children attending the school who are our second generation is so small so as to be considered negligible. The main children coming from Indian backgrounds and not from ISKCON parents, makes this at best, a private business of the devotees involved.
All of these arguments are simply specious statements that have been turned into clichés that the proponents of this philosophical deviation utilize in order to defeat devotees who have not made a study of Srila Prabhupada’s books. It is not that a devotee who challenges this philosophical deviation is ‘independent’ or a ‘trouble maker’ it is in fact the devotees who are propagating this direct contradiction of Srila Prabhupada’s explicit instructions on educating our children that are in fact independent and creating trouble.
As we are a philosophically (Brahminical) based movement we are asking that you address this as a philosophical issue and therefore it must not be moved into the personal and/or political arena.
The living entity’s nature is to change something, in order to attain an advantage in ‘eating / sleeping / mating / defending / fame / recognition / money / followers etc. This is part of animal nature. Human nature as described by Srila Prabhupada is to give up this hankering for change for selfish benefit and accept the authority of Sastra and the Acharya’s and therefore change to please the Supreme Lord. In all religious or political movements there are the proponents of change and the reformists.
ISKCON is no different. Devotees are constantly seeking ways to change in order to improve the movement. However, as in many countless movements, some adherents, through close association with contemporary culture, loose faith in the original purpose as they attempt to conform with modern trends and ideologies.
In ISKCON we are seeing this mood and trend evolving to become a very strong force for ‘Modernistic’ change and the formation of a Corporate Bureaucracy.
Education in ISKCON is one of the strongest proponents of this change both on the adult and child educational level.
Here we are seeing devotees believing in the ‘illusionary’ material advantage of a future based on mundane academic qualifications, as opposed to developing policies and programs aimed at developing our devotional community and hence giving our children a future within ISKCON.
Our children become adherents of the ‘Protestant Work Ethic’ as opposed to ‘Devotional Life Ethic’ as desired by Srila Prabhupada.
One simple test on how effective this school is in training devotees or even mundane gentlemen is:
1. How many Gurukula Graduates are you willing to take on as a Brahmacari in your temple?’
2. What is your opinion of the past Gurukula Graduates?
3. Are they the Preachers and Brahminically minded devotees that Srila Prabhupada desired?
This is the tragedy of the lack of faith in Srila Prabhupada by many of our leaders. Prabhus you are facing this issue at this very moment. The question is where do you stand in this issue? You are the ‘appointed’ leaders of this community and it is important that we know where you stand. Are you for reform or Modernistic change? Then there is the question of what exactly did Srila Prabhupada intend the Gurukula Building be used for? Here it is also clear that Srila Prabhupada wanted it as an educational institution of both adults and children under the jurisdiction of the Temple President.
The ‘ownership’, therefore the present and future use of the building needs to be questioned and reassessed and if need be brought back into line with Srila Prabhupada’s instructions.
We have been informed from reliable sources that the Gurukula is not under the ‘Umbrella’ of ISKCON and an independent trust and is therefore not legally responsible to ISKCON. If this is true then how can this be in the best interest of ISKCON and Srila Prabhupada? We are definitely sure that Srila Prabhupada would never have agreed to this. Especially gifting ISKCON land or buildings to an independent rebellious project.
This was all done in secrecy and therefore both the local and international communities did not know that this decision was made. We understand that there may be many arguments put forward by the Gurukula Management (i.e. Law Suit) to keep this secret but the main reason is that Srila Prabhupada and the general body of ISKCON would never have allowed this.
The ‘Law Suit’ aside, how could the GBC allow, a small group managing this school, who are blatantly disobeying Srila Prabhupada’s instructions and wishes, to take possession of such a valuable asset such as the Gulukula Building, then to add to the offence by thinking of transferring another very valuable asset as the Goshala land to the very same individuals?
We are sure that no one in Corporate ISKCON would do the same for any other group of devotees offering a similar project now. Can you imagine the VEB allowing some grhastha’s who wanted to open a similar school being allowed to use ISKCON manpower, facilities and donations, what to speak of having access to ISKCON Life Members? If this is in fact true then all measures should be taken in order to bring this valuable asset of Srila Prabhupada’s back under his shelter and out of the clutches of these individuals managing Srila Prabhupada’s Gurukula.
We are requesting that WRITTEN (Sastrically supported where appropriate) ANSWERS be supplied to the following:
1) Is the Gurukula School in fact a department of the Krsna Balarama Mandir and therefore directly under the supervision of the Temple President and ISKCON? Or does it possess an independent trust or management system that has no legal responsibility to ISKCON.
(It is understood that the members of the trust maybe ISKCON devotees but we are addressing the issue that these devotees are not representing Srila Prabhupada as they are philosophically deviant)
2) Is it possible for members of this community to be informed and view the legal documents pertaining to the proprietorship of the Gurukula and building.
3) Do you believe that the present management of the Gurukula is offering an education system that is congruent with Srila Prabhupada’s direct instructions in this matter? If so please provide Shastric support.
4) Do you know what percentage of the subjects taught for the day school children (who happen to be children of ISKCON devotees belonging to our community) are Spiritual subjects?
5) If the present educational system is not in keeping with Srila Prabhupada’s instructions, then what right does the Gurukula management have to claim proprietorship of the gurukula building?
6) As with the previous question what right does the gurukula have to force the remaining Temple devotees out of their rightful accommodation? This is especially relevant to the 24 hour kirtan program? How can you allow them to disturb a program that has the full blessings of our Spiritual Master Srila Prabhupada as well as the blessings of devotees both local and international?
7) If the VEB is directing or supporting the position and philosophical orientation of the Gurukula then they must ‘show cause’ proving where their directives are based on Shastra (Including Srila Prabhupada’s instructions).
8) Further what ‘specific’ criteria did the VEB and/or GBC use in order to agree to the handover of the proprietorship of the Gurukula Building to the School?
9) What rationale does the Gurukula Management possess that can prove that they are able to maintain a new building complex when they have unashamedly not maintained the present one?
10) If the present management of the gurukula due to philosophical deviation and poor managerial aptitude have turned Srila Prabhupada’s Gurukula into an independent preaching program / business then what right does it have to use Srila Prabhupada’s good name, money, devotees and facilities?
11) If the present management sincerely believe that this ‘contemporary boarding school’ model is such a good concept then why don’t they start (with their own money) their own private school outside ISCKON, as would anybody else who came along with a similar project be advised?
In this way Srila Prabhupada’s desire in regard to this Gurukula, instruction, funds, facilities and manpower may be appropriately utilized by devotees who are spiritually qualified and sincere.
These questions must be answered thoroughly before any move can be made. What is happening here is a very serious philosophical deviation and must not be allowed to go unchecked. Prabhus, please take the time to (re)read the quotes from Srila Prabhupada at the end of this document.
This temple does not belong to you, us, the VEB or the GBC, nor any disciple of Srila Prabhupada, it belongs to Srila Prabhupada and Sri Sri Radha Syamasundar. However, the onus is on you Prabhus, as you are now ‘presiding’ over this community and duly informed, to diligently look into this matter and take appropriate responsibility (respond) to make sure that Srila Prabhupada is the rightful leader of this community.
We must also not forget that this is Sri Vrndavana Dham the holiest of holy abodes and the home of our Spiritual Master Srila Prabhupada.
We are strongly of the opinion that if certain individuals have changed things to suit their own plans after Srila Prabhupada went into Samadhi then strong moves must be made to bring things back under Srila Prabhupada’s shelter.
We strongly urge that the moves begin with:
1. An immediate moratorium of any further expansion of the school within the Gurkula building.
2. The VEB must begin to discuss with qualifed devotees and inform themselves in regard to what Srila Prabhupada wanted for both the Gurukula and the use of the Gurukula Building.
3. If the management is found to be incorrect in their philosophical orientation then appropriate action must be taken in order to close down the present school and look at ways to start a school that is more in keeping with Srila Prabhupada’s instructions, run and staffed by new and appropriately qualified devotees.
Prabhus as the Temple President and Vice Presidents only infamy and bad karmic reaction will be yours if you allow this to go on unchecked in your ‘term’. So please see where Srila Prabhupada’s instructions and wishes are being subverted and do the needful.
Journey of Self-Discovery
Satyam grhyat priyam grhyan ma priyah satyam apriyam. It is a social convention that if you want to speak the truth you should speak it very palatably. But we are not meant for social convention. We are preachers, servants of God, and we must speak the real truth, whether you like it or not.
Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada and Srimati Radharani,
1st May 2006