Chakra Discussions

Hindu Takeover of Phoenix Temple

by Dasarath das

Posted April 23, 2009

Sadly, I write of the second hindu takeover of the Phoenix ISKCON temple. While the North American GBC watches in approval, Deity standards are lowered (only bhoga cooked in oil, not ghee), the three temple devotees left, who have been faithfully serving their Lordships Sri Sri Radha Madhava Hari, are just waiting to make their exits being dissatisfied with the karmis that are now running the temple. Besides the person calling all the shots in the temple under the non-suspecting supervision of the new "shotgun" GBC, Hari Vilas, an Indian lady who owns a liquor lounge, is telling devotees who can go on the altar. She has just put another man, who owns a chain of Subway restaurants (that's "beef") in charge of signing all the temple checks. Maybe that's with the local GBC approval, I don't know.

Some time ago, this Indian lady illegally removed the temple vice-president's name from State corporation documents. The VP is a good, very capable, for many years initiated, Indian body devotee, who has been with the project since the beginning in 1996. And, to top everything off, the new (once a year) GBC has ordered it, and it has been executed. The "only" temple car has been sold to some outsider, and at a good deal. Interestingly, the person who bought the car is a friend of Nepali born Laxman, who two previous temple presidents have kept from being involved in temple affairs due to his political nature (to put it politely).

Although the new GBC, Hari Vilas, has stated that Laxman will not be allowed to stay at the temple, the lady in charge has allowed him the special VIP quarters for he and his friends, she has taken away keys from the vice-president and other initiated devotees, and handed over the temple president's office key to Laxman (while the cat's away the mice will play). When Laxman was previously not allowed service opportunities in the Phoenix temple, he moved to Denver where he was a hired priest at a "hindu" temple. What does this sound like?

Other devotees who had caused political rifts before and had been kept out of the temple services for two management terms, are now being asked back by the Indian lady. And, Hari Vilas, the emblem of centralization of Iskcon North America (he's TP and GBC simultaneously of four temples now in the USA, including Phoenix), is priding himself in being the remote "in charge", while he gives the hindus the power. After all, he personally told me recently, that there isn't a godbrother he trusts in the entire Iskcon Movement!

Now, I humbly appeal to your, the devotees, good sense. Does this sound like the operation of an Iskcon temple, Prabhupada's temple? Thanks to Hari Vilas, there isn't even a temple car to go out and do preaching or congregational development. Thanks to the hindus who favor cooking oil over ghee, the Deities have to stomach cheap oil for cooking Their prasadam in. Don't be surprised if the Prabhupada Deity who sits magnificently on his Vyas asana, is next carried off and out of the temple and disposed of. The hindus did it before, to the Fullerton, California temple. The GBC allowed the hindus (actually they were even better at following the principles) too much power and they stole an Iskcon temple and removed Prabhupada from his seat. What an outrage! Unfortunately, unlike India, we don't have a strong temple presidents body, like their RGB, who can act and react when the NA GBC does such strange things.

Why do I have to write all this, so that the devotees worldwide can see the threat of persons who are allowed to mismanage Prabhupada's society in North America (at least in this case), namely the North American GBC? Number one, the NA GBC are not responding in any positive way to my complaints. Number two, because it's wrong, against Iskcon law, for un-initiated persons who are not even following the "no meat" and "no intoxication" principles, to run (into the ground) one of Srila Prabhupada's dear temples. Number three, because such actions on behalf of the GBC causes more good devotees to loose their faith in the ability and integrity of the GBC and Prabhupada's Iskcon Movement, and that's very wrong. And number four, any good devotee who cares about Prabhupada's movement should not just sit by idlely while things such as these go on. I do think we should be both proud and super grateful of what Srila Prabhupada has given us and the world, AND SPEAK UP, and not let those things be taken away. We all know Srila Prabhupada wanted a GBC, who represent the principles of the founder-acarya of Iskcon, and who are supposed to help protect the pure vaishnava culture as he taught it. But what's wrong with this picture???

There are two good devotees in Arizona, who are initiated Prabhupada disciples, who started the temple in Phoenix, namely myself and my wife Sandamini, who know what the standards are and could easily put the temple in great running order again. The Tucson temple which we oversee and manage is doing fantastic - no politics, no problems like in Phoenix, and no karmis in charge! Because this Indian lady in Phoenix(Pratibha is her name) feeds the GBC and Romapada Swami her politics that the congregation (meaning her other Indian friends) don't want either of us involved in the temple, she is setting the temple up for a complete hindu takeover while we watch helplessly on. We hear the good Phoenix devotee's, inside and out of the temple, despairing remarks and lack of faith in the GBC.

I was fortunate enough to personally stop a group of Indians from a coup that was an attempt to steal our temple more than six years ago. It was at that time, that the hindus chiefly responsible for the coup, approached Romapada Swami, and asked him to bar me from participating in the temple or giving a lecture. Duh? And, Romapada Swami said it to me, "they don't want you involved", although he refused to tell me the names of who the persons were when I asked him. He said they represented the entire Indian congregation. We later found out from another source who they were.

History repeats itself. The GBC goes amuck in Phoenix bringing down our Movement and the image of pure vaishnava culture, and no one wants to hold them accountable. Or do they?

I am asking devotees around the world to please write these North American GBC's with your words of alarm, protests, blessings, or whatever else you would like to tell them. Their emails and names are as follows: (Badrinarayan das), (Tamohara das, NA GBC chairman), (Sesa das), (Malati devi dasi), (Hridayananda Goswami), (Anuttama das, Iskcon minister of communications), (Hari Vilas das), (Romapada Swami).

I am hoping that temple presidents will write these NA GBC (wo)men, regular devotees (living in the temple or working outside) should write, and of course, other international GBC members are more than invited to write, protest, and try and give some proper guidance. They should be the first to write.

Hoping this meets you all wanting to keep a spiritually strong and "politically" correct Iskcon society where Srila Prabhupada shines through.