by Krsna Dasa
A few days ago I attended a marriage in ISKCON Hare Krishna hill in Bangalore. This was the marriage of a close friend of mine. I have been practicing Krishna consciousness and regulative principles since more than 4 years. I thought that I would not face much problems attending this marriage as the environment would be devotional and I would be served prasadam also. Even though I was well aware of the Ritvik apasampradaya and how great offenders these people are, still I had faith that at least they would preserve the basic regulative principles. With this faith I attended the marriage. The first thing I saw right in the center in the hall was a deity of Ganesha. Although Lord Ganesha is a great vaishnava, Prabhupada forbid the worship of demigods. So, to obey the orders of His Divine Grace we must not worship demigods.
We were taken first to the hall where we were served snacks. There was good upma and sweet. Along with it we were served coffee. I asked the server hesitantly if it was herbal coffee. I hesitated because it is an ISKCON temple and of course it will be herbal vedic coffee only, but let me for the sake of formality confirm the same. [Editor's note: It is not an ISKCON temple yet, but it is only a matter of time.] He said “yes, yes, it is herbal”. Then with that faith I drank it. As we went to the marriage hall and were sitting there, we heard some music being played. On hearing with attention, I got to know that it was a film song that was being played. I came to know that it was a film song as I had watched those films before I came to Krishna consciousness and so memories of the past don’t go away so easily. But I was upset that in the organization that always claims that it is following Srila Prabhupada, film songs are played. We took dinner and went to sleep. The next day morning tea and coffee were kept on the table. I checked the tea there. It looked like ordinary tea. Just to confirm, I asked the person in charge who was senior to the person who served coffee the previous day. That person said it was ordinary tea that was served. I was relieved that I didn’t drink it. But my doubting mind started posing questions about the coffee that I drank the previous day. I asked, “what about the coffee?” He said that the coffee was also ordinary coffee. I started trembling in guilt at that point of time. The regulative principles that I followed for nearly 4 years and the promise I had given to my spiritual master before the fire at the time of initiation were all destroyed.
I felt like vomiting out the whole thing, but what all could I vomit. It had entered my consciousness and contaminated me, putting me back into the lap of maya. That was a wonderful gift I got at the Hare Krishna Hill. I had never ever in my dreams even imagined that tea and coffee will be served in an ISKCON temple. [Editor's note: this is not an ISKCON temple. To best of my knowledge no ISKCON temple does this.] I was utterly disappointed. Some time later a friend of mine visited the marriage. He is a saffron dressed devotee in the same temple. I mentioned to him that I have done this mistake the previous day. Then, after some time I asked him “Is this not a sinful activity and is it not wrong to promote the breaking of regulative principles in the temple premises?” My friend replied, “Prabhupada permitted those staying in ISKCON guest houses to smoke”. I am not sure about this as I don’t have a reference for the same. So I can’t comment on it. I can accept it only if proper reference is provided. [Editor’s note: this is bogus, it is clearly stated in every room in the ISKCON guest houses that while on our premises the guests must follow the 4 regulative principles including no smoking, so there is no way that Srila Prabhupada allowed smoking in our guest houses. Of course if a person did it anyway, that is another matter, but not that Srila Prabhupada sanctioned it.] Secondly, even if Prabhupada permitted it, Prabhupada would definitely not have supplied cigarettes to those staying in the Guesthouse. Here, on Hare Krsna Hillthe temple is cooking and supplying tea and coffee to those who attend the marriage. With this they are accumulating all the karma. Second thing my friend told me is that since the marriage is conducted in temple premises, they will remember in future that the marriage was conducted in temple. That will give them sukriti. But I questioned against this argument.
I said “by supplying tea and coffee and by playing film songs, the residents of the temple are getting the bad karma. You can argue that you can engage in devotional service and the bad karma will be washed off. But next time, you will give the same hall again to someone else’s marriage where tea and coffee will be served again, film songs will be played again. Again you will say that devotion will wash this sin also. Again you will engage in the same sinful activity, saying that devotion will save us this time also. This is “namno balad yasya hi papa-buddhir” or committing sinful activities on the strength of the Holy Name of the Lord. Also, the whole process of giving the hall to non-devotees is itself faulty. Because, these non-devotees marry to enjoy sense gratification. By using contraceptives or engaging in abortion etc, they commit countless sinful activities throughout their lives, all of which accumulate karma. My friend asked me “does this happen in other ISKCON centers?” I said “I am not sure if it happens elsewhere or no, but wherever it happens I will be opposing it.” [Editor’s note: To best of my knowledge Srila Prabhupada did sanction using temple premises for performing Vivaha Samskara, which is totally a Vedik samskara. But he didn’t sanction playing of cinema songs or serving tea and coffee, these are obviously not Vaidika.] I was really upset at the sinful activities going on in the temple premises. My japa had gone for a toss for disobeying the orders of my spiritual master and drinking coffee. I did it unknowingly. But I can’t escape giving this excuse. I could have been very cautious also, double checking regarding the same. Seeing the cinema music and the intoxicants that were being served, I felt like I was in a pub. The same is the situation in a pub where people will be indulging in intoxication, enjoying filmi songs etc. Of course after marriage they will enjoy illicit sex also, the same way people enjoy illicit sex in a pub.
Now, we cannot be fanatic saying that deviations occur only in Hare Krishna Hill. [Editor’s note: The thing is that on Hare Krsna Hill they say that they are the only ones who are following Srila Prabhupada and that everyone else has deviated. But I do not know of any temples in ISKCON where tea and coffee are served on the premises. So it looks pretty much like Madhu and his Bandits are a bunch of hypocrites.] We can also not be fanatic Rtviks saying that if deviations occur, we must reject the whole system in society and claim that I will directly approach Prabhupada only and he will save me. I need no one else’s help. Many sincere devotees are protesting against the deviations that are going on in ISKCON today. I request the devotees to please participate in those protests and save the movement of Prabhupada. The following are the contents of a letter written by Prabhupada in his initial days in the US when he was struggling alone:
“I came here with a great mission to execute my Spiritual Master’s order, but my heart is stabbing me. Of course, I’m not afraid of Maya. I know Maya cannot touch me, but still if I die in this condition, my mission will remain unfulfilled. Please therefore pray to Prabhu Lord Chaitanya and Vrindaban Bihari, to rescue me this time. My mission is still not finished.”
Letter to Sri Krishna Pandit, June 1, 1967
Prabhupada struggled really hard to establish ISKCON. By indulging in mundane philanthropic activities, sinful activities like supplying intoxication etc ISKCON is deviating from the mission established by Prabhupada. [Editor’s not: ISKCON is not supplying intoxication and filmi songs, it is Madhu Pandit and Hare Krsna Hill.] We are recognized today as a member of a charity institution, that’s all. People say that the greatest contribution ISKCON has done to the society is that they are feeding poor children. [Editor’s note: sadly there is some truth in this statement, this started because some leaders of ISKCON started to imitate Madhu Pandit’s "Akshaya Patra" scam because he was percieved as getting money from their donors so they followed suit not having faith that Krsna would provide funds from other sources.] Is this a contribution? ISKCON’s greatest contribution is the preaching of Krishna consciousness all over the world and saving millions of souls and bringing to truth the prophecy of Lord Chaitanya. It is really heart breaking to know that ISKCON is not recognized by its real achievement. Karmis are called to promote and their opinions are taken as something greatly valuable and published saying “so and so person has certified our program to be great”. And that person in his real life may be a meat eater or a womanizer or gambler. What is the value of the opinion of such a sinful person? Even the Rtvik approach of rejecting all the faithful disciples of Prabhupada and directly approaching Prabhupada to take initiation will not work. Because, who will be there to pull your ear and tell you that opening a pub in temple premises is wrong? One must surrender to the lotus feet of a spiritual master who is faithfully serving the mission of Prabhupada and receive instructions. Seeing these deviations I felt happy that I am safe at the feet of my spiritual master. But I have done a mistake, for which I must definitely suffer. I pray at the lotus feet of my spiritual master to please save me.
See the related text Madhu Pandit serves meat and liquor to Gundas
[Editor's note: we will be publishing more texts in the following days so please stay tuned in for the latest.]
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