The Hindufication of ISKCON
Posted March 31, 2005
I read with almost utter disbelief the announcement from the Spanish Fork temple in Utah regarding the "Holi/Gaura Purnima festival." Here's the quote, among many paragraphs about Holi, which contains the sole mention of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and his glorious appearance day.
"Elements of the festival will be observed with classical Indian dance, and a PowerPoint presentation and bathing ceremony for India's greatest incarnation, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, whose appearance day coincides with Holi. There will be musical interludes, the lighting of a bonfire, burning of an effigy, and the throwing of dry colors on friends and foe alike. The dry powders supplied by the temple are non-stain, but still guests are cautioned not to wear their 'Saturday Best'."
Notice, if you will, the Lord's appearance is third on the list and "coincides with Holi" (not the other way around). Further, about half of the article is dedicated to the résumé of the Indian dancer who will be featured. Last, but not least, Gaura Purnima is on Friday the 25th, not Saturday the 26th, at least in North America (fasting until moonrise, in case anyone has forgotten). So what gives?
I know I am not the first person who has commented on this trend, and the Spanish Fork temple has repeatedly held several similar festivals in the past, but where is the outrage?
Here in San Diego, a similar trend is noted. Millions of dollars have been raised for a new temple project (almost exclusively from the Indian community) complete with Siva and Ganesh, samskaras and pujas are performed with regularity for the Indian community, some of the devotees are making a trek to the peak of Mt. Whitney for Siva puja, etc., etc. Incidentally, Sivaratri was a two day affair because it fell on a weekday. So there was a follow up celebration on Saturday so the (Indian) community would not be inconvenienced.
Meanwhile, preaching to the public at large in the form of book distribution is going on only because two dedicated brahmacaris, Mahat-tattva das and Tota-Gopinath das, are bucking the trend. The bhakta program seems almost non-existent and the current temple facilities are badly in need of repair. What's going on?
The answer is obvious. The Indian community has a lot of money and is willing to fork it over for the projects that fit in with their notions of "Hindu dharma". But we are not Hindus. We are devotees of Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and we have dedicated our lives to spreading the Sanatana Dharma of service to Krishna. Kowtowing to the material conceptions of the Indian community, or any other materially designated group (vegans, PETA, etc.) will not advance us in spiritual life.
It's not about getting money; it's about serving Krishna. Better to keep the purity and remain poor, than deviate and get millions of dollars. Unless one is very advanced, he should be careful about accepting money from materialistic men. So many deviations have occurred in the name of preaching simply for acquiring money and good taste prevents mentioning them all here. But anyone familiar with the goings-on of the society for the last 30 years will know what I'm talking about.
I'm not suggesting that we discount the Indian community or fail to
encourage them to donate money for Krishna Consciousness. My concern
is that in the name of preaching and yukta-vairagya, Srila
Prabhupada's movement is morphing into a western sect of Hinduism.
This is certainly not what Srila Prabhupada envisioned for his
society. I welcome comments and opposing viewpoints.