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Why I am Leaving ISKCON
by Caitanya dasa - 2009 March 13

Caitanya dasa, March 12 2009, India:

Dear devotees, please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada. As you may have guessed from the title, I have finally come to that point that I always felt I would eventually come to — leaving the ISKCON institution. In case you are wondering, I am the same “Caitanya dasa” that used to maintain a blog titled “Hare Krishna Diary, Sankirtan Diary”, which unintentionally created a large controversy last year in May 2008, due to some of my writings which appeared on that blog.

I would like to explain a few of the reasons I have decided to leave ISKCON. I will first explain the social, cultural, and personal reasons, and then lastly I will explain the spiritual reasons.

The first reason is a philosophical reason. As many of you are aware, last year in 2008, the GBC tried to pass a resolution (GBC Resolution 311) to add footnotes or annotations into Srila Prabhupada’s books, effectively changing the meaning behind many of Srila Prabhupada’s purports. Most devotees felt that the GBC was minimizing or rejecting Srila Prabhupada’s authority by doing this, and it was met with such a large public outcry that the GBC very quickly rescinded the 311 Resolution to change Srila Prabhupada’s books. I was the creator of a petition to rescind the resolution, and the response was enormous. The petition received over 800 signatures within only two weeks.

Please read some of the comments written by devotees on the petition. Many devotees were very, very angry and upset by the GBC’s decision to change Srila Prabhupada’s books, and many of them threatened to leave ISKCON if the GBC dared to change Srila Prabhupada’s divine books.

The next reason is a cultural one. About two months ago, Hrdayananda Maharaja gave his public blessings and support to a homosexual male devotee couple to get married. I found this to be so completely absurd that I could not believe it at first. That Hrdayananda Maharaja could even think something like this calls into question his very qualification to act as a spiritual master. Srila Prabhupada never, ever supported anything like this, and he never encouraged homosexuality or gay marriage. Hrdayananda Maharaja has been publicly supporting the idea of gay marriage/monogamy for the past few years. The GBC has of yet made no public condemnation of Hrdayananda Maharaja for this (Hrdayananda Maharaja is also a GBC, in case you didn’t know), and thus I come to the conclusion that the GBC supports such ideas as gay marriage. Silence means consent.

The next reason is a philosophical/organizational reason. Many devotees have a problem with the current authority structure in ISKCON. In short, we believe that ISKCON’s culture of absolute control and blind following is not conducive to spiritual advancement. I will give an explicit personal example of this.

One of my first bhakta leaders was a follower of this tyrannical policy of “just surrender”, absolute control, and blind following. We were simply supposed to follow his every order, no matter how absurd, and if we didn’t, we would get severely chastised for being an “independent demon”, “anti-authority”, etc. On a few occasions, he even threatened to inflict physical violence on me if I didn’t “surrender to his authority”.

Even though at that point, any sane or rational person would have called the police, being a blind, na´ve, and “surrendered” bhakta, I continued to blindly accept and follow his authority. Sometimes though, I would become so frustrated that I would become almost suicidal, telling myself “I would rather die than remain a part of this ISKCON”. I feel that one of the reasons that ISKCON cannot attract normal and intelligent people to join this movement is due to this culture of blindly following authority, no matter how wrong or abusive the authority happens to be.

The next reason is a social/cultural reason. I see the degrading influence of feminism (aka “women’s liberation” or “equal rights”) to be increasing within ISKCON. The “ISKCON Women’s Ministry” has been promoting feminist policies for over a decade now. Aside from being a very socially destructive policy, feminism is clearly against Srila Prabhupada’s teachings. Simply search for “equal rights” in the Vedabase and you can see for yourself how strongly Srila Prabhupada was against the idea of “equal rights”. Those devotees who are promoting feminism are actually rejecting Srila Prabhupada’s teachings. It is also an interesting observation to note that most of the people promoting and supporting feminism are western devotees — thus suggesting that the source of this problem is their own western conditioning. Generally, you never see Indian devotees promoting feminism.

The latest manifestation of feminism in ISKCON is the GBC’s latest decision to acknowledge and even accept the idea of “female diksa gurus”, something which Srila Prabhupada himself never established (this idea would also be unthinkable to anyone coming from a traditional Vedic background). I will not get into a lengthy discussion on this issue of feminism at present, because that is not the intention of this letter to do so. I will simply request you to read a few links that I feel strongly prove that ISKCON is indeed being contaminated by feminism.

Feminists Want to Change Prabhupada’s Books

Feminists Openly Blasphemy Srila Prabhupada

Srila Prabhupada was Blasphemied, and the GBC Remained Silent

Feminist Theories and their Effect on ISKCON

Feminists Violently Disrupt the Vrindavan Kartik Festival

A Philosophical Refutation of ISKCON GBC’s 2000 “Women in ISKCON” Resolution

Notes from a Think Tank (a very detailed exposition of feminism) (Word)

Madhusudani Radha (Maria Ekstrand), Editor and OWNER of , blasphemies Lord Rama (Word)

Debate about feminism in ISKCON on 

Another reason that I have chosen to disassociate myself from the ISKCON institution is because I, and many others, feel that ISKCON has become compromised, or “watered down” from following Srila Prabhupada’s teachings purely and strictly. I will give one such example out of the many “compromises” and deviations in ISKCON. Remember the “Govinda’s Movie Theater” in Sydney, Australia? It is run by a couple of Prabhupada disciples. They were showing a movie called “Sex in the City” at the Govinda’s Movie Theater. It isn’t very difficult to realize that it is probably NOT very pleasing to Srila Prabhupada to show such pornography at an ISKCON center (the Govinda’s Movie Theater address is listed in the website directory.

One particularly disturbing trend in ISKCON, which is also supported and encouraged by the leadership, is the acceptance of western education, especially secular university education. A few prominent sannyasi leaders have gone to secular universities, even though Srila Prabhupada very strongly called the modern academic institutions “slaughterhouses”.

In many ways, ISKCON has become so watered down that you can’t even quote a statement from Srila Prabhupada without someone freaking out. As the previous examples illustrate (feminism, GBC changing Srila Prabhupada’s books, homosexuality and gay marriage), even the ISKCON leadership, the GBC, encourage and support these deviations. The mood of strictly following Srila Prabhupada “as it is” has been lost to a great degree. Instead of following Srila Prabhupada absolutely, “as it is”, many devotees simply follow what they want to follow, and they reject whatever they don’t want to follow. What it actually comes down to is a lack of faith in Srila Prabhupada’s absolute purity and position. I find such an offensive and disrespectful attitude towards Srila Prabhupada too hard to tolerate, and thus I have no choice but to simply remove myself from an organization that tolerates such an offensive attitude. If you love somebody, it is very difficult to tolerate blasphemy of them.

Of course, there are some noble devotees within ISKCON who are trying to defend Srila Prabhupada and his teachings from this attitude of compromise, but after long consideration, I feel that in the long run, they won’t be successful maintaining Srila Prabhupada’s pure teachings and standards within the ISKCON institution. After all, history shows that once something degrades, it is extremely difficult to bring it back up to it’s original pure position.

Finally, the real reason, the main reason that I am leaving ISKCON is for spiritual reasons. This human lifetime is simply too short to waste being absorbed in political or institutional affairs, rather than in Krishna consciousness. When I really think about it, I honestly do not feel that I have made much real advancement in Krishna consciousness. How much attraction have I actually developed for Krishna? How much love or affection have I actually developed for Krishna? Sometimes I feel that instead of developing Krishna consciousness, I have been cultivating political or institutional consciousness. And I simply cannot bear to waste any more time in that direction. Krishna is so beautiful and sweet that I am bewildered as to how I could have wasted even a moment absorbed in mundane political/institutional affairs.

This human life is so short — I am only 24 years old, and I could die in 40 years, or in 4 years, or in 4 days, or even in 4 minutes. And at the end of my life, will I want to experience the great disappointment of having missed attaining Krishna and His association simply because I have wasted so much time being absorbed in political/institutional consciousness instead of Krishna consciousness? The only thing that matters at the time of death is how much Krishna consciousness we have developed.

When I look at myself, I do not feel that I have developed any real Vaisnava qualities. Instead of developing compassion, I have developed bitterness and anger. Instead of developing love, I have developed envy and hate. Instead of developing humility, I have developed pride and intolerance. Narottama dasa Thakura’s famous words of humility actually apply to me:

Ki mora duhkhera katha, janama gonainu vrtha
Dhik dhik narottama dasa

“This is the sad story of my life. I have spent my life uselessly absorbed in distressful topics. What a shameless life I, Narottama dasa, have led.”

I do not want to waste my human form of life. I desperately want to become a humble, sincere, and serious Vaisnava. In my own case, I feel that remaining a member of ISKCON will not be conducive towards that goal.

Many devotees both inside and outside of ISKCON feel that ISKCON is seriously lacking in care and compassion — towards it’s own members and towards the society at large. There is such a great pressure put on making new members, collecting money, building temples, that if we are not careful, we may even miss the entire point — which is to develop love for Krishna. Ultimately, bhakti means love — love for others and love for Krishna.

Basically, I do not feel that my spiritual desires are going to be fulfilled in ISKCON. So it is because of this main reason, as well as the other above stated reasons, that I can no longer conscientiously consider myself to be a member of the ISKCON institution.

I will be maintaining a small blog where I will share my own personal realizations and how my spiritual life is going:

I will end with a prayer:

Vancha-kalpatarubhyas ca
Krpa-sindhubhya eva ca
Patitanam pavanebhyo
Vaisnavebhyo namo namah

Caitanya dasa

Have you also rejected your guru, Bhakti Vikas Swami?
What is the current dynamic of that relationship?

Answer: This is a sensitive subject. Let me first of all state that I still have full respect for HH Bhakti Vikasa Swami. I admire many of his qualities, especially his unflinching determination to never compromise Srila Prabhupada's standards and teachings. I feel that he is the most bonafide representative in ISKCON today in terms of following Prabhupada strictly.

Unfortunately, I simply could no longer tolerate remaining a member of ISKCON. And as Bhakti Vikasa Swami is associated with the ISKCON institution, my decision has had the unfortunate effect of indirectly rejecting him. You see, I have rejected the institution, and thus that means that I automatically indirectly reject those inside the institution.

I will say though that there are many devotees in ISKCON who I respect. I am not against the ISKCON institution. But I myself simply can no longer tolerate being a member of it.

Caitanya dasa

Dear Krishna-kirti,

Although everything you say is generally philosophically correct, if we analyze your personal life, we find many inconsistencies. You speak such high philosophy, but you are a householder living outside the temple, not chanting 16 rounds a day, working a karmi job for the US government, going to a karmi university, and married to a materialistic indian woman. Therefore who are you to criticize anybody?

When I was at your house, I saw you constantly screaming and fighting with your indian wife. You talk so much about culture and married life, but you can't even personally maintain a peaceful family life.

If my comments are not good enough for your blog, please also remove my letter called "Why I am leaving ISKCON" which you posted to your blog. [ed. - sorry, you submitted your letter to this site for publishing. It got published. It's not coming down.]

Krishna-kirti, although I consider you to be the "cream of the crop" of ISKCON, still, if one considers it, that even you are involved in so many nonsense activities, it is simply proof that everyone in ISKCON is nonsense to a greater or lesser degree. Otherwise, how could they tolerate being in ISKCON?

Caitanya dasa

Dear Mr. Boyden,

The problem here is that you do not distinguish the process of bhakti-yoga from that of relation to the ISKCON institution. Are you saying that anybody outside of ISKCON is not following bhakti-yoga? That would be quite an offensive statement to make.

As for your advice to "stay and fight", I advise you to read Krishna-kirti's blog regularly, and then you will understand why "staying and fighting" may not be worth the effort.

You say to stay protected is to stick to harinama. Yes, I agree. But you make that statement in the sense of the assumption "since I am leaving ISKCON, I must also be leaving behind the chanting of the maha-mantra". That is quite an incorrect assumption. I will never stop chanting. After leaving ISKCON, I began chanting 32 rounds a day. Have I left harinam behind?

The problem is, I feel, that you do not distinguish between the process of bhakti-yoga and ISKCON. You feel that ISKCON IS bhakti yoga, and that anything other than ISKCON is NOT bhakti yoga. Try to understand the offensiveness of your assumption.

Are all of the Gaudiya Matha devotees not following bhakti yoga? Are all of the Madhva sampradaya devotees in Udupi not following bhakti yoga? Are all of the Sri Vaisnava sampradaya devotees in Sri Rangam not following bhakti yoga?

Please reconsider your statements before making a big offense like this.

Caitanya dasa


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Faithless Atheists and Cheating "Gurus"

I am shocked as to how upset some devotees (especially western devotees) can get by my "conservative" writings. Have they never actually read Srila Prabhupada's books? If they had, they would see that Srila Prabhupada was far more "conservative" than I can ever be. Simply search for "women", "homosex", or "modern society" in the Vedabase and see for yourself. I am simply repeating Srila Prabhupada's words and mood, so the fact that they criticize me shows that actually they have no faith in Srila Prabhupada. But rather than actually have the courage to admit to themselves that they have no faith in Srila Prabhupada, they simply kick and spit on Srila Prabhupada's loyal messengers.

Why don't they just get real with themselves? If you don't want to accept Srila Prabhupada, then go find a different movement to join!

A classic example of this kind of faithlessness that poses as fidelity to Srila Prabhupada can be found in the following statement which was written by Lalita Madhava dd to support the 311 Annotations Resolution:

"All glories to the GBC for Resolution 311! While the three quotes cited are among the most extremely damaging (to Srila Prabhupada’s image, to our preaching and even to the faith of our own members), there are, as the Resolution states, many “other such statements” that will also have to be addressed. But this is certainly a monumental step in the right direction."

After reading that, if you don't find something seriously wrong with it, then that is proof that you have no faith in Srila Prabhupada. Such faithless atheists shold be thrown into the street and spit on. Who the hell do they think they are to criticize Srila Prabhupada?

And the majority of ISKCON's members have degenerated into this kind of faithless so-called followers of Srila Prabhupada, which is another reason why I refuse to have anything to do with such a compromised institution as ISKCON. Who is responsible for this degeneration? The leadership, of course. Most of the so-called "gurus" have no faith in Srila Prabhupada and are encouraging this kind of compromise in the name of "being practical", so how can you expect their followers to be any different? For an example of this, read some of Hrdayananda Goswami's latest writings.

The only reason the "gurus" put on a show of following Srila Prabhupada is so that they don't lose their own position and prestige. I have actually come to the conclusion that they (the "gurus") are intentionally cheating people. The only other explanation is that they are simply too stupid to actually realize that they are cheating people and are not qualified for their position. So either intentionally or unintentionally, they are cheating their followers by posing as a guru, especially when there are devotees who are far more qualified than they are, both inside and outside of ISKCON. But rather than send their followers outside of ISKCON to a real bonafide guru, they simply criticize and make propaganda against such uttama-adhikari devotees. They will all surely burn in hell for such an offensive and demoniac action.

Caitanya dasa