Chakra Discussions

'Never Leave ISKCON', They Say

by Bhaktin Sara

Posted June 19, 2006

Srila Prabhupada had to leave the Gaudiya Matha in order to accomplish his spiritual master's mission. Gaudiya Math was the society started by his spiritual master, but they were not following his instruction to cooperate and preach purely. Similarly, ISKCON leaders may preach to us, "Never leave ISKCON," but does this refer to the ISKCON of today — a society that gives power to a child abuser and to those who support him?

We may make a show of chanting Jaya Prabhupada every morning in guru puja, but if not following the teachings of Srila Prabhupada — even a most basic commonsense thing like "don't let a child abuser be a guru" — then what is the point of this Jaya Prabhupada chanting?

There must be some practical way we can have a voice in taking down from leadership an unqualified leader. The Mormons have a voting system (similar to Garuda das Prabhu's supersoul voting article idea posted on Chakra) that is meant to keep abuse of leadership in check. Every six months the active, following church members vote whether the head leader of the organization can stay in his position or not. Also, every single leader from "big" to "small" must be agreed upon by vote by all church members. Most leadership positions are held for a limited number of years; this way one does not view his/her position as a lifelong position of power but as a temporary opportunity to serve others. In ISKCON there should also be a way for the mass of people to have a voice in who our leaders are.

So long as people use a temple for power, position, and sense gratification, there is little chance of spreading this movement in its purity. In one purport Srila Prabhupada even writes that there will be karmis in the dress of devotees living in temples. We need to stop thinking that karmis are "out there"; we need to look at ourselves and see what we are. A karmi works for selfish profit and a devotee works for the satisfaction of the Lord. What are we?

By following the instructions of Srila Prabhupada we are always in his association and safe spiritually.The tricky part is that he instructed us to cooperate with each other and to always associate with devotees.So we are in a bind: if we leave ISKCON we are breaking his instructions, but if we stay in a society that is not purely representing him we are not really pleasing him either, are we?Or do we have to stick together no matter what, out of love for him?

I know I cannot invite people to join ISKCON if things like this are happening, but there has to be somewhere to invite them to teach them about Krishna. It seems we have no choice but to create new places free from hypocrisy where people can come to learn about Krishna.Preaching cannot stop, but we cannot bring in new, intelligent people to a society that worships a former child abuser as a pure representative of God; that is the biggest joke I ever heard of, and people will either send us to a psychiatrist or run away in fear.

I know it is an offense to judge a devotee on his past activities. Forgiveness is important, but in terms of being in a position of guru, things like this cannot be ignored. On one hand it is tragic that sincere souls keep leaving ISKCON, and it would be ideal to all work together, but is it best to work together under the current ISKCON that exists, or do we have to go off on our own in order to create a safe place for others to learn about Krishna?

I would be curious to hear from others.