Govinda Dasa – USA: The letter ‘My Impression and Depression of Chowpatty Temple’ by RAGURAM  DASA brings to  attention some very important matters. How is that Radhanath Swami is being held in high esteem in ISKCON? Is it that we need someone to admire? Someone to act as a replacement Archarya or ‘The next Messiah’ to follow after Srila Prabhupada left?

How is it that we are so easily influenced by devotees who are soft spoken, sing sweetly, stand before the Deities with misted over eyes, head ever so slightly tilted to the side with soft cheek resting on hands that are held together in devotional supplication?

I have never ever seen Srila Prabhupada acting in this way yet we are melted by it. Given it is hard to maintain that poise over the years and credit must be given for that but they are not signs of advancement? Maybe I am wrong but it seems slightly disconcerting that we are impressed by such.

Then there is the question of his past. To think that there is smoke without fire is foolish. Radhanatha Swami was not a wallflower, standing in the corner, crooning sweet nothings while remembering the Sweet Smiling Faces of Sri Sri Radha-Vrindavan Candra when all the nonsense went on.

There is enough evidence that is public record for anyone who is willing to make the effort to know who he really is. If you want to blindly accept that he is a pure devotee then you will have to learn the hard way. Probably the same way he learnt when he blindly accepted Kirtananda.

Having said that…  When Kiritananda and the New Vrindavan ship began to sink Radhanatha Swami scampered off to secure himself a sound financial asset. So that was how Chowpatty began… Plenty of nice rich subservient Indians that Kirtananda had trained to be obedient donors. Radhanath Swami never one to miss a golden opportunity latched onto the most profitable financial asset of Kirtananda’s estate.

Now he dances his ecstatic arm swaying way to the ISKCON beat. Milking Prabhupadas cash cow as well. We welcome him with open arms and never stop to question who he is and what does he want?

Last time I checked the Chowpatty Temple was not officially ISKCON. If this is true then it is a private Temple and one that is run under the old defunct Zonal Archarya system at that. Yet Radhanath Swami seems to be accepted as an ISKCON GBC and spiritual leader and his disciples are accepted as members of ISKCON.

Now when we come to the model that he uses to train devotees, it opens up a ‘Pandora’s box’ of issues. Foremost being why are his disciples so sweet? Then I remembered visiting Disneyland as a child. Say no more.

When you think about the system that he uses it looks like a very well organized business like MacDonald’s. I don’t like even driving past those places. I know that they are fake and their smiles are well practiced. It may not be that his disciples are practicing their smiles but are they really that advanced?

Many of the methods that he uses are not what we are used to in ISKCON.Although it may be a small thing but he has introduced a new way of serving the Vaisnava’s. Vaisnava’s have a different way of serving prasadam than he uses. We have the system where the more advanced devotees serves the guest, who is seated on the ground or in a chair (Well now in ISKCON the most advanced devotee gets waited on). But Radhanath Swami has the ‘factory cafeteria’ method where the Vaisnava stands in nice orderly lines and by small steps moves with empty plate towards a smiling Vasinava who scopes the Prasad out of a bucket.

I have heard that you also have to be a ‘bhakta’ for five years before he will initiate you and you must also be the possessor of at least a degree or come from a rich family. Small stuff okay but it all adds up to being nothing like the ISKCON we know.

Then there is the attraction for the opposite sex thing. The list goes on…

Back again to who is he? What does he want? Why are we letting him get it in ISKCON?

Now he has allowed some card carrying ISKCON men onto the Chowpatty board but it is still not quite ISKCON is it? Why is he afraid of giving it over to ISKCON fully? Okay he knows we will screw it up as we usually do but he is a Sannyasi and is by definition not attached…

He can just walk away and leave it to us. Go and preach. Go and distribute Srila Prabhupada’s books. No other ISKCON Sannyasi has his own temple… Or do they? Hmmm… Let me see…

Well there are a few… Okay let him have it.

Govinda das
(revised by author)