Kṛṣṇacandra Dāsa – Śrī Vṛndāvan Dharma: The move for the GBC to provide ‘guidelines’ for their ‘Guru’s’ websites is at least a step in the right direction. However ‘guideline’ is just that ‘a guide’ and there is probably ‘no hope in hell’ that these ‘gurus’ are going to adhere to guidelines, for they are all under the impression that since Śrīla Prabhupāda is dead and gone – they are the gurus of ISKCON and so there is no necessity to refer to him at all.
If the GBC are sincere or capable managers they would enforce this as a law not a guideline.
How effective is this going to be is dependent on many things. For example most of them are advertising programs and projects which have no legal obligation to Śrīla Prabhupāda. For example Siva Rama Swami’s “Hungarian Society For Kṛṣṇa Consciousness” is not in ISKCON’s name as their title suggests. Indradyumna Swami’s programs are in private names and Radhanatha’s Temples, programs and projects are also not in ISKCON’s name. One would have to wonder whose names are the other ‘gurus’ projects and programs??
So these guidelines mean about as much to these people as Śrīla Prabhupāda’s instructions and role in ISKCON.
Evidenced by the fact that the GBC had to write such guidelines in the first place means that these Gurus were already thinking independently!
Whereas the proliferation of official and unofficial websites of ISKCON gurus currently do not, in large part, prominently feature the personality and teachings of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada as the Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness on the introduction page as well as on many other pages;
Proliferation is a very good term to use to describe the activities of these gurus. Look at Radhanath Swami for one, how many websites has he flooded the internet with? We ended up giving up researching how many at 100. However after much exposure of his self centric or egocentric advertizing campaigning where he failed to glorify or even mention Śrīla Prabhupāda he has ended up taking down a considerable number of his numerous websites and as you can see below he now has a photo of Śrīla Prabhupāda.
The use of a photo of Śrīla Prabhupāda is another trend amongst the Gurus, Departments, Ministries or affiliate entities which is actually a low profile ‘lip service’ attempt to glorify His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda but is really a way to show that they are ‘connected’ or ‘affiliated’ with a bona fide Vaiṣṇava Ācārya.
Radhantha Swami also has a web sevā’ damage control program fully operational amongst his disciples and followers to make sure that any truthful exposure on this man is kept way back on the google search pages. But why should Radhanath listen to the GBC anyway? He lists Śrīla Prabhupāda as just one of his mentors and he attributes his spiritual life beginning when he was initiated into the Maha Mantra from Ganga Devī when he was a hippie before he met Śrīla Prabhupāda.
Submerged under water, on the verge of death, a beautiful song awakened in his heart: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.
Just as the Ganges first revealed this mantra to Radhanath Swami, she was revealing it again at the hour of his greatest need. Silently reciting this mantra, Radhanath Swami resigned himself to die in a holy place. The mantra brought Radhanath Swami into a state of peace beyond fear. [Radhanatha Swami – Lessons from the Ganges]
So guidelines for such a person to ‘prominently feature’ Śrīla Prabhupāda, is perhaps not such a high priority on their list of ‘to do’s’ one would imagine. It is also reasonable to assume that perhaps some of these people should NOT be allowed to use Śrīla Prabhupāda in their self promotional advertising…
And whereas it is necessary to establish guidelines for such websites so that as far as possible visitors are made aware that whatever inspiration the devotees are receiving from the guru is due to the great mercy of Srila Prabhupada:
ISKCON gurus shall be responsible for ensuring that their own official websites adhere to the following guidelines:
1. They prominently feature a picture of Srila Prabhupada on the introductory page
2. They credit him as the “Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness”
3. They contain a brief summary of his accomplishments and provide authorized website links to his teachings
The Guru Services Committee will compile a suggested comprehensive template for use in guru websites.
This is still however a very good beginning. But only a beginning…
There are many projects, programs, departments, educational facilities, Not For Profit Organizations and Charities that are either official ISKCON entities [being owned or operated by a guru or a senior ISKCON devotees] who officially use ISKCON as their bona fides, who don’t necessarily promote Śrīla Prabhupāda as these guidelines suggest; that would need to meet such guidelines.
For example what about Temples or Projects that promote ISKCON as being a Hindu organization should they be allowed to trade off on Śrīla Prabhupāda’s name and the ISKCON Institution he established without also meeting these guidelines?
Well this certainly does open up a can of worms!
Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive…