Scrap ISKCON Interfaith!
BY: RAVANARI DAS
Apr 25, 2011 — USA (SUN) — There is a pilgrim who was advised by a pandit to search for a cow to which to offer some grass as an act of piety. Along the way he encountered Kali whipping the cow and a bull. Charmed by Kali's seductive smile and silvery tongue, he immediately embraced the demon, joined his interfaith movement and became Kali's chela. Such is the present situation in ISKCON's interfaith outreach movement, as we see frequently touted on ISKCON News.
In the article that follows I do not regret words aimed at pulling the rug out from under the saffron socks of ISKCON's holier-than-thou interfaith advocates, because the way such touchy-feely programmes are run is an affront to everything the Paramhamsa Founder-Acarya stood for. Those of you who support the amoeba-like compromise of interfaith should wipe that concerned Salvation Army bell ringer expression off your mugs and listen to the voice of truth. We will show how His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada was against such hodge-podge inter-faith-ism from the very beginning.
Roots of ISKCON Interfaith can be traced to the earliest days and Kirtanananda.
Such sampradayic heresy remains alive and well in today's ISKCON
These programmes that have infected ISKCON like the E-bola virus are worse than the methods of Swami BH Bon's so-called Gaudiya preaching in London in the 1930's, wherein hard core divulgence of the Absolute Truth was practically prohibited in the face of jolly good concessions. The Gaudiya Math perpetrators of compromise were such a displeasure to our Sri Sri Param Guru Maharaja that he shut down the activities at the so-called "London Gaudiya Math" at 27 Cranhurst Rd. NW2, and ordered the swamis back to India. Shrila Prabhupada said that the only members that the useless preachers could make were "two dead ladies." Doubtless, ISKCON's interfaith programme has an even smaller success rate, because it is nothing more than a publicity stunt aimed at other pseudo-religionists who, for their own reasons, feel the need to reach out with a boneless handshake of compromise.
Prabhupada brought the milk, but interfaith brings the water
Religionists that engage in interfaith dialogue are usually motivated by feelings of guilt caused by the activities of other members of the religious cult they were born into. They are little more than an ineffective band-aid covering a gangrenous infection. And as far as ISKCON is concerned, truth be told, interfaith's pabulum of staged agreements are nothing more than a smokescreen that covers the extreme damage done to the Hare Krishna Movement by the likes of imposter acaryas Acharyadeva, Bhaktipada, two Vishnupadas, Gurupada, and other wholesale destroyers of the original message. Srila Prabhupada represented an extremely inflexible tradition as the world acharya for the entire Gaudiya Sampradaya. jivera swarupa hoy nityera krishna dasa, "The living entity is eternally the servant of only Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead." It is a line drawn on the battlefield, so where is the question of interfaith?
Interfaith preaching, by its very nature of philosophy-free agreeableness, is the antithesis of every basic precept of Krishna consciousness. The so-called temple "ministers" who have been hand-picked to fill the role of quasi-spiritual public relations ambassadors should know that they have sold their genuine value downstream in exchange for becoming lackeys and stooges for a system that does not represent any genuine religious tradition. Such interfaith actually means "faithlessness."
Kirtanananda, the son of a Baptist preacher, desired that such compromises be incorporated into ISKCON from the earliest days of the society. This can be verified by a simple investigation of early correspondences by Srila Prabhupada to Brahmananda and the devotees at 26 2nd Avenue from the year 1967, when Kirtanananda was ISKCON's most notorious persona non grata. Srila Prabhupada saw through Kirtanananda's desire to become a guru on par with the spiritual master, and was quick to nip in the bud the deviant's conciliatory approach to Krishna consciousness, which involved injecting Biblical elements. So like the other false acaryas, Kirtanananda laid patiently in wait for 1977 with one eye fixated upon the throne.
From the sad day that the pure devotee left our mortal vision, these false acaryas sprang forward like a pack of jackals, drooling lustfully. Soon Kirtanananda installed a deity of Jesus in New Vrindavana, he built a statue of Prabhupada in the role of a Buddha, and initiated over a dozen female sannyasis. Sannyasis were given names like True Peace, Truthful, Good Hope, Wonderful Love, and Peaceful Swami. Did you ever think, "It can't happen here?" Well, it did happen, and it is happening once again.
Srila Prabhupada as the Buddha. Declaring that this was not Prabhupada,
the GBC soon ordered the statue destroyed.
There is an episode from the days of the Gaudiya Math wherein two disciples of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati returned from a preaching engagement which had nearly turned violent. One brahmachary had caused a huge furor by referring to a popular pseudo-paramhamsa of the day as a "murkha pandit" (foolish priest). The other devotee had quieted the crowd down before it could turn into a melee. He apologized and said that the outspoken brahmachari was a "mere neophyte" who had not known any better. Returning to the ashram, the devotee who had calmed the situation complained to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur about the other disciple's blunt form of preaching. "So why did you not also say that [the so-called avatar] is a murkha pandit?" Srila Siddhanta Saraswati demanded.
"So why did you not say that (this so-called avatara) is a murkha pandit?"
Like it or not, this is the tradition that we as preachers of sankirtan yagna are meant to represent. In fact, those members who do not approve of such straight-forwardness should leave ISKCON and join one of the interfaith religions they adore because they will not succeed in turning Krishna consciousness into a mleccha religion like the syrupy sects they fraternize with. Our mood must align with the mood of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Who quoted the Brihan Naradiya Purana:
"The Holy Name! The Holy Name! The Holy Name! There is no other way! No other way! No other way to reach the goal!"
This does not mean devotees cannot attend such interfaith functions, but if they preach as per Srila Prabhupada's expectations, they are not likely to be invited back. But that will be their genuine victory! Through an uncompromising attitude, someone out of thousands will listen, and the congregation of ISKCON can once again be returned to a quality sanga of true believers instead of a hodge-podge of youth consciousness, fashion shows, rap performances, candle lighting ceremonies and vegan classes. As the interfaith programme presently stands, deputed ministers wearing kid-skin gloves and hand-picked for their ability to compromise are adding so much water to the milk that ISKCON is once again washing away its own essence.
In order to have inter-faith, or any faith at all, we should first know what the actual meaning of faith is. Faith is described in Bhagavad Gita As It Is as shraddha. There is an entire chapter dedicated to the subject -- Chapter 17, "The Divisions of Faith." Despite the fact that Lord Krsna described the matter to Arjuna while millions of soldiers waited for war, and despite the fact that Srila Prabhupada has painstaking explained the issue as Sri Krishna intended, still the interfaith faction in ISKCON hasn't understood the simple point of what faith actually is. If they had faith in the message of Sri Guru, then why is there the need to compromise?
The concept of "a faith", meaning this or that material religion, is a later distortion of the original word "faith", indicating a strong and abiding belief in the Absolute Truth. By recognizing cult-like so-called "religions" as "faiths," faithless ISKCON so-called devotees have obliquely designated the yuga dharma of the Gaudiyas as a faith akin to the others. This is a great offense to the entire tradition because the concocted "faiths" that ISKCON devotees are rubbing elbows with on a level playing field plowed by the GBC itself have almost no concept of regulative principles. Neither have they an understanding of sin as a violation of Nature's laws, and they have even less philosophy. Such faithless religions often support Darwinism, abortion, slaughterhouses, illicit sexual practices amongst their own children, homosexuality, intoxication on their holy days, gambling casinos, crooked politicians and other outrages.
Srila Prabhupada explains what faith is very succinctly:
"It should be understood, that if one's heart is in the mode of goodness, his faith is also in the mode of goodness. If his heart is in the mode of passion, his faith is also in the mode of passion. And if his heart is in the mode of darkness, illusion, his faith is also thus contaminated. Thus we find different types of faith in this world, and there are different types of religions due to different types of faith. The real principle of religious faith is situated in the mode of pure goodness, but because the heart is tainted, we find different types of religious principles."
(Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Bhaktivedanta Purport 17.3)
What ISKCON Interfaith has become is a group of self-appointed so-called "devotees" within ISKCON who are taking it upon themselves to intertwine the pure devotee's teaching with those whose faith is in the mode of ignorance. For example, limp-wrist interfaithers within ISKCON describe the talk given by a follower of Falun Dafa as "uplifting, informative and inspirational." Falun Dafa is an impersonal "religion" created less than twenty years ago in China, one which has no tradition or scripture behind it. Association with Mayavadis is not interfaith at all, but it is rather the inextricable intertwining of devotees with Atheists, or pseudo-religionists at best.
Giridhari das with "the Pope of Judaism" at an interfaith conference in Brazil
ISKCON members should realize that most of the participants of interfaith conferences are apologists for their "faiths" due to the torment that their religions have caused others. Look at all the harassment the Christians and Catholics have caused members of ISKCON, especially in the early days, when devotees were actually kidnapped and tortured by Bible thumpers, or put in Christian jails for selling Back to Godheads in the American South.
ISKCON interfaith should begin with faith in our own movement, and faith in the fellow members of our sanga who have faith in Prabhupada. Thousands of faithful devotees who joined ISKCON in the radical 70's have been turned away from the sanga by a conciliatory version of Krishna consciousness created by a faithless management. While the leadership of ISKCON has no faith in the integrity of its own members, where is there a question of pretended faith in religions that approve of eating cows and pigs? This proves that ISKCON's interfaith programme is motivated by the same weak adhesive that sticks the other mundane religionists together: it is a compensation for their collective guilt.
May I suggest that the next time Srila Prabhupada's faithful disciples have the occasion to address an interfaith gathering, they speak the words of the Sampradaya Acarya. A few quotes follow. I wish all of the faithful Prabhus good preaching, but if you have forgotten how to preach due to a lackadaisical attitude, then you can just read the following words and it will make a very effective lecture that will please Srila Prabhupada.
"There are many different religions throughout the world because they are not all on the absolute platform of devotional service. As confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita (18.66): sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja. The word ekam means "one," Krsna. On this platform, there are no different religious systems. According to Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.1.2), dharmah projjhita-kaitavo 'tra. On the material platform, religious systems are different. Srimad-Bhagavatam describes them from the very beginning as dharmah kaitavah, cheating religions. None of these religions is actually genuine. The genuine religious system is that which enables one to become a lover of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In the words of Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.2.6):
sa vai pumsam paro dharmo yato bhaktir adhoksaje
ahaituky apratihata yayatma suprasidati
"The supreme occupation [dharma] for all humanity is that by which men can attain to loving devotional service unto the transcendent Lord. Such devotional service must be unmotivated and uninterrupted in order to completely satisfy the self."
(Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya 17.184, Bhaktivedanta Purport)
"We are above all religious work. Krishna Consciousness is post-graduate to all these religions and any religion can take lesson from us. Therefore we are not on the mundane plane. Other religions are trying to understand God vaguely and we are on the platform where God is really understood and we are associating with Him directly also."
(Letter to Satswarupa, July 9, 1971, Los Angeles)
"We do not protest the Christians, or Mohammedans, or Jews, or any other religious sect, that there is no idea of God conception in their religions. More or less in every religion the God conception is there. But, nobody tries to love God. Just like in Christian religion, they go to church everyday and try to exact bread from God, but they never try how to please God. And because this love of God, and the process is not thoroughly instructed, therefore they have come to the stage of understanding that God is dead. At the present moment in many Christian churches, this philosophy is being taught, that God is dead. But so far as we are concerned, we cannot accept this philosophy, that God is dead. But we preach on the other hand, that God is not only not dead, but He can be approached finally face to face. And the method is very simple, chanting the Holy Name of God—Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. This process is standard, and tested."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter to Kirtanananda – June 30, 1968, Montreal)
"Yes. Religion is now misunderstood. Religion is described in the dictionary, ‘a faith.' So faith..., your faith may be something, my faith may be something, that is not religion. Religion is described in the Vedic literature as ‘the law given by God.' That is religion. Dharmam tu saksad bhagavat-pranitam [SB 6.3.19]. So, just like law means the order given by the state, similarly, religion means the order given by God. So if you do not know what is God, what is His order, then what is your religion? Do you believe it or not? If you do not know what is God, if you do not know what is His word or what is His order, then where is your religion? If you do not know what is the government and if you do not know what is the government's order, then where is the question of law-abiding? Religion means, according to Vedic description.... Just like Krsna said, mam ekam saranam vraja. This is religion. Sarva-dharman parityajya: [Bg. 18.66] ‘Give up all this nonsense. Surrender unto Me.' So what is the objection? Religion is one, surrender to God. So where is the objection? And God says that ‘You surrender to Me.' So where is the objection? Religion cannot be two. Religion is one, surrender to God. If I say, ‘You are Muslim, you surrender to God,' do you have any objection? If I say to Christian, ‘You surrender to God,' will he have any objection? Therefore religion is one; there cannot be two religions. Why you are bringing other religions? There is no question of other religions. Religion is one."
(Srila Prabhupada Evening Darshan, August 10, 1976, Tehran)
"God is great and we are all subordinate to God. In other words, God is the Supreme Master and we are all living entities, servants of God. Therefore, the path which teaches this fact, that a living entity is eternal servant of God, that is the only single path which leads one back to Home, back to Godhead."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter to Mr. Dhawan, April 2, 1976, Vrindavan)
"So our purpose...the Krsna consciousness movement is started with this summary idea, that nobody should think himself as belonging to certain family or sect or religion or country or nation. All these designations have created havoc in the world, these false designations."
( Srila Prabhupada Lecture on Nectar of Devotion, November 2, 1972, Vrindavana)
"Those who kill animals and give them unnecessary pain-as people do in slaughterhouses-will be killed in a similar way in the next life and in many lives to come. One can never be excused from such an offense. If one kills many thousands of animals in a professional way so that other people can purchase the meat to eat, one must be ready to be killed in a similar way in his next life and in life after life. There are many rascals who violate their own religious principles. According to Judeo-Christian scriptures, it is clearly said, ‘Thou shalt not kill.' Nonetheless, giving all kinds of excuses, even the heads of religions indulge in killing animals while trying to pass as saintly persons. This mockery and hypocrisy in human society bring about unlimited calamities; therefore occasionally there are great wars. Masses of such people go out onto battlefields and kill themselves. Presently they have discovered the atomic bomb, which is simply awaiting wholesale destruction. If people want to be saved from the killing business life after life, they must take to Krsna consciousness and cease sinful activity. The International Society for Krishna Consciousness recommends that everyone abandon meat-eating, illicit sex, intoxication and gambling. When one gives up these sinful activities, he can understand Krsna and take to this Krsna consciousness movement. We therefore request everyone to abandon sinful activity and chant the Hare Krsna mantra. In this way people can save themselves from repeated birth and death."
(Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya 24.251, Bhaktivedanta Purport)
"So religion, you cannot manufacture; I cannot manufacture. Just like there are so many religions now, manufactured by laymen. Oh, they are not religion. Dharmam tu saksad bhagavat-pranitam: [SB 6.3.19] ‘Dharma means, religion means, which is made by God.' Or His representative. Not by anyone. Not that you make a club or association, you manufacture some idea and it becomes religion. No."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture on Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya 20.154-57, December 7, 1966, New York)
Tarakanath, the self-appointed "spiritual director" for ISKCON Wales, lights the particular "peace candle" that stands for ISKCON. The other candles stand for other religions, including Zoroastrianism, Jainism, Earth Religions, Taoism, Yungdrun Bon, Baha'i and tribal religions.