An Exploited Fool – USA: I joined Iskcon when Prabhupada was no longer present, as most of us did. The average life expectancy of a temple devotee is 3 years now, compared to many more when Prabhupada was guru. Even 3 years after Srila Prabhupada left over half his disciples still lived at the temples or associated often, despite the changes made by some men claiming to be his spiritual successors and uttama adhikaris.
During these 3 years as a temple devotee, on average, there are 3 stages the devotee goes through:
Stage 1 – The neophyte stage.
At this stage one is a newcomer to Krishna Consciousness. He is relieved from all sinful reactions as he or she starts chanting Hare Krishna, taking prasadam and attending morning programs. He or she is told who their guru is most likely to be and they accept them into their hearts. They have full faith in their spiritual master because all the rest of the devotees who have joined ahead of them and their godbrothers and sisters tell them what a great guru he is. They take first initiation.
Stage two – The second year (Middle stage)
By now they have heard rumors their guru is bogus many times. But they are told those who criticize are “envious demons” and such who have “fallen down” while the guru will never fall. He is too pure. There are those who try to explain what is wrong with the movement or certain gurus but they are driven out and rightfully so for their sinful blasphemy of the devotees. Second initiation is offered and accepted, since someone needs to worship the Deities.
Stage 3 – The Advanced devotee stage.
You go online and start to realize not all the devotees who left can be wrong? You learn all about so many other gurus who have fallen and start to lose faith in your own, especially when he is caught with a prostitute, underage homosexual activity, sex with other people’s wives, bramacaris, etc.
You start to dress the Deities up like Santa Claus because it doesn’t really matter anyway, it is what Krishna really wants, and you can tell that by now because you are so advanced, and who are the gurus, temple presidents and gbc to tell you otherwise? They are all in maya themselves, or so one might think. So finally one day when your guru kicks you in the butt for being two seconds late for an offering instead of helping you, when he yelled at you and could have made the offering on time, you decide to leave.
You want to tell the new devotee who just joined how hellish it is in Iskcon and how this should not be but you run for your life on the way out. They make sure of that. With subtle and gross threats of retaliation for speaking out. You have given all you had to your guru, who just took off in your donated car on a vacation to give his foot a rest after kicking you and he is using the last of your laxmi on hotels for his girlfriend and himself so where to go? After months of struggling you finally decide you must get a job because we have to keep the body and soul together somehow.
Then the embarrassment comes in. You go online and seek some solace in the association of like minded devotees but instead find many devotees have left Iskcon altogether and gone over to the Gaudiya Math? Others have found shelter with LION GURUS or are following ex guru-ex child molesters both within and without the movement or any number of other philosophies. It seems the people in charge are winning in their own minds for the time being.
You are afraid to tell anyone even online you believe in Iskcon because the Iskcon you believe in is the one by Srila Prabhupada, not the current day one where if a guru can hold on to even one disciple he is considered a success, because that one disciple can serve him for the rest of his life, and he can die a happy man, never having had to lift a finger to support himself for the past half a century. You are a laughed at person considered a fool and subjected to the scorn of most people throughout the Western world.
But we don’t worry. We know we are following Prabhupada and Prabhupada is pure and Krishna will take us back to home back to Godhead at the end of this lifetime. Srila Prabhupada said so. Stay in Iskcon, follow the 4 regulative principles, chant 16 rounds, and you will see Lord Krishna face to face at the end of this life. It is just unfortunate that the ones in charge think they are the ones who are staying in Iskcon while driving all the rest of us away. As Srila Prabhupada also said, “A GBC who misuses his position will end up as a shudra in his next birth.”.