Kṛṣṇacandra Dāsa – Śrī Vṛndāvan: A devotee who is exposing a problem in ISKCON is met with the defensive attitude, either spoken or unspoken, that they are being critical and that to expose a problem or to call a thief a thief is being critical and therefore wrong or more importantly ‘offensive.’
Calling a thief a thief or exposing a crime or some form of moral turpitude within the ISKCON institution is met with silence and usually some form of damage control measures. The institution abhors being exposed for any wrongdoing and so actively seeks to staunch any leaks of information or to vilify the whistleblower and cover-up an incident that may threaten to destabilize or expose their wickedness.
The institution perceives whistleblowers as traitors or troublemakers who need to be neutralized or ignored, however, should they continue to expose or blow whistles then the institution labels them as being a ‘critical devotee’ for they are well aware that once a devotee is tied up in the neat little bundle of a ‘label’ they are easily identified and isolated.
It is to this end that they have acculturated into our society the idea that once a devotee is labeled as being critical then they will be systematically ignored and vilified by the rank and file FISKCON devotee so there is no requirement to examine the information or report it, for the label is sufficient to deter the general naïve devotee from enquiring further.
This idea has been deeply embedded into the psyche of the average devotee who has been acculturated to not see any problem with any ISKCON devotee holding an official position within the ISKCON corporate structure. The ISKCON corporate structure, as indicative of any corporate structure, thrives on the greed and ambition of the corporate ladder climbers who are desperately seeking security of tenure and promotion. Many devotees failing to understand the spiritual purpose of our society seek permanent tenure and corporate appointment advancement as a poor substitute for spiritual advancement and so are eager to please and conform to the institution which creates the breeding ground for acculturation of corporate indoctrination techniques such as are being described.
The institution is designed to staunch the flow of information that can disrupt its destructive process by vilifying and labeling any trouble makers or independent intelligence of its members and seeking absolute conformity to its rules and regulations by its membership. In this corrupted system, hard evidence is almost impossible to obtain as the system seeks to cover up all irregularities by the establishment of whitewashing departments, committees and investigative bodies etc specifically designed to protect the institution and engage in damage control.
The institution remains silent to avoid incriminations or attention, and actively seeks to obscure all hard evidence and intimidate the witnesses, while supporters and apologists attempt to downplay or show support for the guilty party at the behest of the institution or out of false loyalty.
The usual cry is “prove it!” or, “where is the evidence Prabhu?” when they know full well that the guilty party is guilty and yet they lie and withhold evidence falsely believing that to support the institution will mean karmic indemnity.
Duality exists in the mind of an immature devotee of FISKCON that a karmi is a sinful person or a criminal if they commit moral or criminal offences yet if the same activity is manifest in an ISKCON leader, this is to be seen as something unfathomable and so to view it as improper is an offence. They are trained to react that if in doubt, they are to assume that the leader is innocent and so all doubt must be eliminated by denying any validity to the evidence. This establishes a double standard within their mind and corrupts their intellect which is the breeding ground for being more easily indoctrinated rather than freeing of the intelligence to be able to discriminate on the grounds of śāstra and Śrīla Prabhupāda’s instructions.
Thus the institution has institutionalized and/or acculturated into our society that to report an incident is wrong and that to turn a blind eye is right.
The FISKCON society and the ISKCON society do not share the same ethic. The FISKCON devotee is indoctrinated to close off their discriminatory power while the ISKCON devotee is taught to develop their ability to discriminate. Both are mutually exclusive within any society. Therefore as long as FISKCON is the dominant aspect of this Jekyll and Hyde society of ours, we will never be at peace and we will never be able to create a society for true spiritual growth and development.
ONCE UPON A TIME…
The bus stop loomed ahead as he made his way through the crowds in the busy city streets. The sign on the stand read “Route 108” The ISKCON Goloka Vṛndāvan Express. There were a handful of people waiting at the stop and a few of them clutched the same book that he was carrying… the Bhagavad Gītā by His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Śrīla Prabhupāda. They all seemed to be waiting to catch the ISKCON Goloka Vṛndāvan Express.
Through the steady stream of inner city traffic many buses went on their way to many destinations but he had read the book and now he was sure of his destination, well as sure and one could be at the beginning of a journey.
There was a bus pulling into the station and across the top was a banner “108 – The ISKCON Goloka Vṛndāvan Express.” One quick check on the ticket confirmed he had the right one and he joined the queue. He glanced up into the bus and saw that many seats were filled and alighting the stairs he jostled down the aisle to find a vacant seat of which there were many to choose from. Finally he found a seat that suited him and sat down.
He took one final look out the window at the city he knew and loved. He thought about his family and friends and he knew in his heart that he had made the right decision to leave. Looking ahead he saw the driver had closed the door and off they went. Even though he had never taken this route before he knew some of the way and the rest was found in the pages of the book he clutched to his heart. In his mind’s eye he pictured the old Indian Holyman or guru who had given the message that had made up his mind to begin to follow him as he had never been so thoroughly satisfied with reading anyone else’s explanations of God. He had grown up thinking that to know God is to love God and to love God is to know God but nowhere he enquired was he able to know God until now.
The bus picked up speed and he looked out the window again to see the familiar streets and shops he was leaving behind but with eyes full of hope for a better future he got comfortable on the bus.
After some time he looked again to the front of the bus and saw that he could not see the bus driver for he was in a compartment which had black tinted windows. But outside on very comfortable seats sat the conductor and some Transport officials who had ISKCON badges on their uniforms and felt comforted that he was in the right place. Very soon the conductor came down the aisle asking for tickets and talking with his fellow travelers. He noticed everyone was very polite and happy with this conductor who was himself an amiable fellow.
When it was his turn he showed his ticket and explained to the conductor the reason why he had purchased the ticket and the conductor smiled at him and spoke kind words and explained to him the destination and made him feel at ease and secure in the fact that he was on the right bus and that he had made the right decision to come on this journey. The conductor’s name tag said he was GBC and he supposed those were his initials…
He leaned back in his seat and looked out the windshield to see the bus moving steadily towards its destination, a destination that he so desperately wanted to experience. A sign appeared in the distance and he was assured that they had taken the Goloka Vṛndāvan Expressway and so he sat back and closed his eyes.
After some time he was awoken by some whispered speaking in the seats behind him. He strained to hear what they were saying but he could not make it out. Whatever it was, it sounded urgent and compelling and soon the conductor made his way past him to the people who were thus engaged. As the conductor passed by him he saw a slight change in his expression and knew that he was not happy with the discussion. There was some slight interchange between the conductor and the people and it seemed all was resolved.
He began reading from his book and it reassured him and soon the incident had receded into the back of his mind but there still remained an impression that perhaps all was not well in paradise…
Again he heard talking, this time from his right side. Some were asking the question whether we had taken the right turnoff but their fellow travelers assured them that the driver knew where he was going.
After some time someone to his right said in a clear but quiet voice that the conductor was doing something with a passenger that was wrong and it suggested some sexual impropriety. He looked but saw nothing of the sort. He heard others enquire about what the witness saw and as he could not confirm it they turned their attention away from him, shaking their heads in distaste.
He pushed those incidents away from his mind for they did not suit what he had understood from the propaganda that the bus company who ran this route had publicized. Besides there were many others on the bus who were not complaining at all and he thought that he had chosen the wrong area of the bus to sit.
After some time he happened upon another street sign up ahead which they passed by very fast. He saw it was another Goloka Vṛndāvan sign but he was not sure if it had been misspelled for he thought it had said ‘Gehenna Vṛndāvan’ whatever that meant… He soon forgot that and chalked it up to his lack of understanding of the book that lay before him. He trusted the Bus Company ‘The ISKCON Goloka Vṛndāvan Express’ for they boldly advertised they were what they said they were and he believed them.
Very soon a man to his left asked him if he had chosen a guide yet. He enquired what a guide was and how he could recognize them and was promptly told that the Bus Company had guides in saffron uniforms which had the badge saying ISKCON Panda and they were the official guides to be used.
His new friend pointed out one of the ISKCON Pandas who sat up front near the drivers compartment, being his special Panda who was perfect in every way. He looked around and saw that there were other Pandas moving around the bus some with followers, some talking with groups. He felt safe in his choice and knew that there were so many Pandas who would help him on his journey.
Sometime later he awoke from a nap to hear one man complaining that he had been cheated and that the destination in his book was not the one to which they were headed. All around him people were shaking their heads in disapproval and he found himself shaking his head too. He checked his ticket again and looked up at the digital screen above the driver which confirmed that the two matched so he was again reassured he was on the right bus.
After all how was it possible that he had made the wrong choice seeing that all he saw and experienced around him confirmed he was on the right bus and the name was also correct so he could not understand why that man was complaining?
The Pandas and their assistants went around calming everyone down and they even came to him and told him that the man was very critical and he was not sincere and maybe he will get off at the next stop as he will realize that he had not wanted to go to where they were going. An assistant of the Panda who his new friend had pointed out previously as his personal Panda, spoke to him with firm conviction explaining how this man didn’t accept the Bus Company Pandas and was never satisfied with the Bus Company who were doing their best to please their passengers and so he was pacified for it made sense that not everyone can be pleased.
The bus stopped and more people came onto the bus, they all looked happy as they seated themselves and made friends. He was disturbed by what he had heard and what had gone on but he did not understand what it portended so he busied himself reading and making new friends. By listening to his new friend who sat beside him he began to take interest in his Panda as well. His friend had met his Panda several bus stops ago and had become his client.
He wanted to know more before he would make any decision and it was apparently a long way to go before they reached their destination and he did not want to rush this and make a decision too soon.
The more he stayed on the bus the more he began to see that there were two distinct groups. There were those like his friend beside him who were in the majority and were using the services that the Bus Company offered and then there were those who were saying that the original Driver, the one that wrote the book and started the company had left and that he left specific instructions on how he wanted the company to be run, but ‘GBC’ the new conductor immediately took control of the Company and gave all his friends positions as Pandas which was an innovative idea which was apparently different from what the original driver instructed.
The new management, it was claimed, kept all the advertising material and paraphernalia of the original Bus Company but slowly started taking different turns in the road that were so small at first but ultimately lead in an entirely different direction than they were advertising.
He did not completely understand both sides but all he knew was that the Bus Company people seemed nice and were doing all things that he was reading about. He had no real evidence contrary to this and so he remained where he was on the side of the Bus Company.
Sometime later the man who was exclaiming that we had gone the wrong way began to complain again and say how the Bus Company employees were cheating everyone and taking their money and in some cases there was some sexual impropriety which of course was against the idea of why someone would want to take the bus in the first place. He was saying that the Bus Company knew about it but they were covering it up and would not admit that any of their employees were wrong for it would mean that if they employed bad people then they all would be suspect.
He tried to ignore what he was hearing and it disturbed him very much but he was determined to stay on the bus. He decided to ignore the other group who wanted to make the Bus Company accountable and admit that they are intentionally cheating their passengers.
Even though he tried to ignore the situation around him, more and more people began to speak up challenging the Bus Company employees. They on the other hand began to kick people off the bus if they could which was disturbing but they had every right to do so as they were representing the Bus Company. Rumors were all around the bus of the apparent wrongdoings of the Bus Company employees which included talk about how some of the Pandas had murdered some of the passengers who spoke against them.
But during his time here he saw no police officers and there was no police investigation so he assumed they were all lies.
As time wore on he began to see that all was not well on the bus and he found out that even some of the Pandas were being kicked off the bus and some of them were stopped from taking any more clients for disciplinary reasons and so he began to have some doubt and realized that things were not was nice as he thought they were.
He revealed his mind to his new friend who was shocked to hear that he had doubts or that he had allowed the thoughts of the ones who were complaining to stay in his mind. He strongly advised him to take shelter of his very own Panda explaining that unless you had a Panda you cannot understand what is going on in the bus. This of course made sense but when he went to ask the Panda to become his own Panda he was told that the Panda was very tired and needed some rest so he was not taking on any more clients at the moment.
He was disappointed but understood that it would be a very great responsibility and they were hard working so of course they would need to take rest every now and then.
However, sometime later he heard from one of the complaining devotees that the reason why he could not take on any more clients is that he had been caught making sexual advances to a minor. After hearing that from some more devotees and then hearing that the Bus Company had made him stopping adding to his client list as a kind of a punishment for that particular case, he became disheartened.
He approached his friend who exploded with anger saying that he should never listen to the ones who are criticizing the Pandas and other Bus Company employees and that he should place his trust in them completely for they knew what they were doing. He saw the reason in that logic and was somewhat appeased but still there was the nagging doubt in his mind that perhaps there was some truth to what the others were saying.
He thought back on his journey so far and he was confused, how could there be such doubt in the Bus Company to go as far as saying that we are going in the wrong direction? How could that be possible when the signs were clear and the pamphlets also restated that this was in fact the 108 ISKCON Goloka Vṛndāvan Express.
He was sure he did not want to leave but now there was this duality in his mind… It disturbed him that when he originally got on the bus he was so sure he had made the right decision and he was sure now but he wondered if he was in fact on the right bus?
That night he had a terrible dream and in the dream he looked up from his seat and saw through the front windshield that there was fire and when he looked to the neon sign above the driver’s cabin it read Route 666 FISKCON Gehenna Express! The name had changed and so had the route! He awoke with a start and his body was bathed in sweat. What did this mean? What did the sign say? Route 666? Gehenna Express?
Not sure what his dream portended he kept it to himself but he was now more convinced that something was wrong. He began to read some of the literature about the history of the Bus Company and found that from the start there were problems with the new company owners and the passengers who doubted their ability to run the company. The company sacked many of their employees and began to recruit new ones who did not know the company’s past.
He began to be more and more convinced that something was desperately wrong and that perhaps the bus was in fact going in the wrong direction. Even outside where he expected to see rolling countryside he saw factories and tall buildings. It was as if they had never left the city? How could that be possible? The pamphlets said that Goloka Vṛndāvan was in the country, simple living and high thinking? Now they were passing streets filled with people, shops and housing.
It began to seem like the Bus Company was taking more than they were giving and still they had not left the city for the country. He turned to his friend who ignored him with hostile coldness that he could not fathom. He tried to explain himself, explain his doubts but his friend was now his enemy it seemed.
Another Panda was seen in the back seat taking photos of little girls and still his followers were singing his praises. He began to see that the Pandas were going around and not only talking but were also taking money from their clients and he wondered what were the hidden fees he would have to pay? All of this was getting too much for him and he wondered whether or not he had made the right decision to get on the bus in the first place.
All his new friends who had their own Pandas were now not talking with him and shunned him for some reason. He wanted to explain himself but now they would not let him and treated him with indifference and hostility. He wondered why in the beginning they had open discussions with him. but now when he wanted to talk about any of the problems with any of the Bus Company employees they turned against him and shut him out.
That night he had another dream that was so vivid that he could not tell if it was real or not. In this dream he saw the driver who, although still in his cabin, was now visible to him. However in this dream, this terrible dream… he saw not his face but his name tag. It did not say Śrīla Prabhupāda as he thought it would. It said D. Kali. Although he was not familiar with any of the characters from Vedic history he just knew this name for some reason. The D stood for demon… Who was this demon Kali who was driving the bus instead of Śrīla Prabhupāda?
In his dream he tore his eyes away from the name tag, his mouth dry with fear for some reason. The driver turned around and faced the road, his shoulders hunched over and shook as if chuckling. The Panda’s name tags had changed as well as he looked at each and every one of them he could see the same names on each and every one of them had changed – Kali Chela…
He awoke from this dream in a silent scream and looked around to see if anyone had seen him. He was relieved to see that the driver was no longer hunched over in his cabin and the Pandas had not changed, but what was he to make of this dream?
He was determined to seek answers to his dilemma and he was not going to accept the new owners of the company for the book that he clutched in his hand was from the real owner and he would never forget that and he would do whatever he could to speak out to make sure that he and his fellow passengers would not be cheated and do whatever was in his power to make the Bus Company change their present direction.
He knew also knew that the driver must be changed and the bus be put on auto drive which was given by the original driver Śrīla Prabhupāda and in order to do this the conductor would have to be changed and the unnecessary burden of the Pandas be removed to free up the passengers from their greedy money making schemes that promised them everything but lead them to hell.
Now he knew the meaning of Gehenna, HELL, which was precisely the destination that the new driver was taking them all to…