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Dandavats! All Glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga!

Holy Places?

Thursday, 24 December 2009 / Published in Articles, Kavicandra Swami / 6,284 views

By Kavicandra Swami

This should be us, representing the Most Merciful Avatar, SRI CAITANYA MAHAPRABHU

tirtha pavitra karite kare tirtha-bhramana
sei chale nistaraye samsarika jana
“Great saints go to holy places of pilgrimage in order to purify them. For that reason Caitanya Mahaprabhu is visiting many tirthas and delivering many, many conditioned souls.
Caitanya Caritamrta. Madhya 10.12

Srila Prabhupada did so much of this, and left the legacy to us.

Surely is it blisssful to see the massive crowds at the KRSNA BALARAMA mandira, with thousands focused on offering their lamp to Lord Damodara. Although the crowds are too much for me, I know the Srila Prabhupada is happy to see it. Also the constant kirtans and book distribution is wonderful.
But, for the last few years I have been disturbed when visiting Vrndavana. I get upset to see too much of the covering of Maya. We almost never see a bullock working in the fields, tractors are rushing everywhere. In the villages we see few cows. Most families are keeping buffalos, thinking their milk is superior. If we see a goshalla, it is rare to see a bull or an ox. They are sold and shipped out.
Many locals have become very rich, yet we see more extremely poor families. The rich are building guesthouses to make more profit from the international pilgrims. I was wondering what is wrong with me that I cannot relish the spiritual holy dham. The parikrama path means dodging all kinds of speeding vehicles, from motorbikes to lorries and tractors with oversized trailers. And many large families crammed into small cars, speeding through the Holy Dhama. Sightseeing but not hearing.

I was happy to see Rupa Raghunath Prabhu’s Sandipani Muni school. He is taking the most poor children and providing medical care, good food and education, both spiritual and material Many could not say “Hare Krsna” when they first came. We have all encountered the children who just chant “rupee, rupee” or at Govardhan “pencil, pencil”. Now they chant all the time. He also provides fresh water wells in remote villages, and medical help there. He is restoring some of the sacred spots and has crews going around cleaning up the carelessly thrown trash of the common folk. Kind devotees from all over the world are happy to sponsor these magnanimous programs.

Sandipani Muni School also has bullock powered school buses. At least someone is engaging the Oxen and Bulls.

Another bright spot is Kurma Rupa Prabhu’s “Care for Cows”. Many locals not only neglect cows, but abuse them. Kurma Rupa Prabhu takes in the victims and nurses to health. He now has over 300 bovine residents. Again inter devotees donate nicely to support this merciful project.

Recently, after many years, I visited Jaganath Puri. There I had similar problems. Walking down the road from our temple, which is opposite of Hari Das Thakura’s Samadhi, there are many restaurants. All feature, “egg thali”, “fish thali”, and many specific kinds of fish. Some have Veg thali. It is very hard to find a pure vegetarian restaurant there. Whoever is in power will not allow us into the temple, but they allow so much non veg food to be sold everywhere. I guess the is mercy for the the numerous fishermen who reside there. Surely there are many great devotees there and we should see everyone as four armed. I was also feeling that something must be wrong with me that I am bewildered by the maya.
I guess they are taking advantage of the following from Sri CAITANYA BHAGAVAT.

“The demigods glorify this place as the most auspicious of all places of pilgrimage. The act of sleeping here is equivalent to deep meditation, samadhi. Similarly, simply taking a lying posture here accrues the same pious result as offering obeisances to the Deity. Simply walking about here is the same as circumambulation, pradaksina, and all speeches here are the equivalent to glorification of the Supreme. These glories are all enumerated in the Vedas. Such is the potency of this ksetra that even if one eats fish here it is the same as eating sacrificial vegetarian food, havisya.”

>>> Ref. VedaBase => CB 2: Sri Caitanya Arrives in Jagannatha Puri

So should I just ignore all the current events, find some comfortable guesthouse and read?

Then, while looking for something in the VEDABASE, found the following:

Abhay stayed in Puri for three or four days, wandering around the holy places and visiting the famous Puri seaside, with its sparkling beach and strongly pounding surf. Several times he recognized some of the priests from the Jagannatha temple as they smoked cigarettes, and he heard of other unsavory activities of the sadhus connected with the temple. What kind of sadhus were these who ate fish with their Jagannatha prasadam and smoked? In this respect, he found Jagannatha Puri disappointing.
On the overnight train ride to Calcutta, Prabhupada could not rest because of two drunken men in the next compartment. Throughout the night they were howling and addressing each other, “Oh, Dr. Mukerjee!” “Oh, Mr. Chatterjee!” Prabhupada remarked with disgust that these were the names of Bengali brahmana families, but that now they had become drunkards.

Jagannatha Puri, he said, had been a holy place for thousands of years, but within a few years it would be so no longer. People were using Puri as a seaside resort for recreation-people like Dr. Mukerjee and Mr. Chatterjee, who had no understanding of spiritual life.

>>> Ref. VedaBase => SPL 51: Chant Hare Krsna and Fight

So this is all a message for us as to the urgent need for preaching Srila Prabhupada message and distributing his books profusely. Years ago, when I was in Puri, locals asked, “nitai gaur radhe syama?”. I would say “Hare Krsna” and no was was familiar with it.


Then I heard this message from Srila Prabhupada:

A rascal civilization. So let us try our best. What can be done? You also helping in this movement. So don’t spoil the movement by manufacturing ideas. Don’t do that. Go on in the standard way, keep yourself pure; then movement is sure to be successful. But if you want to spoil it by whimsical, then what can be done? It will be spoiled. If you manufacture whims and disagree and fight amongst yourself, then it will be another edition of these so-called movements. It will lose the spiritual strength. Always remember it. You cannot…. Now, actually, people are surprised: “What this Hare Krsna mantra has got power that it is changing so quickly?” And on the other hand, it is to be admitted, unless it has got power, how it is changing? So we have to keep that power. Don’t make it an ordinary musical vibration. It is a different thing, spiritual. Although it seems like musical vibration, but it is spiritual, completely. Mantrausadhi-vasa. Even, by mantra, the snakes can be charmed. So mantra is not ordinary sound vibration. So we have to keep the mantra in potency, potent, by offenseless chanting, by remaining pure. If you pollute the mantra, then it will lose its effect. (devotees discuss some money matters in background)

>>> Ref. VedaBase => Room Conversation — April 27, 1976, Auckland, New Zealand

vaisnavera ei haya eka svabhava niscala
tenho jiva nahena, hana svatantra isvara

“A Vaisnava travels to places of pilgrimage to purify them and reclaim fallen conditioned souls. This is one of the duties of a Vaisnava. Actually, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is not a living entity but the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself. Consequently, He is a fully independent controller, yet in His position as a devotee, He carries out the activities of a devotee.”
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura points out that because there are many permanent residents in holy places who do not precisely follow the rules and regulations governing living in a sacred place, exalted devotees have to go to these places to reclaim such persons. This is the business of a Vaisnava. A Vaisnava is unhappy to see others materially enmeshed. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu taught these activities of a Vaisnava although He is the worshipable Deity of all Vaisnavas, the complete and independent Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is purnah suddho nitya-muktah — complete, completely uncontaminated and eternally liberated. He is sanatana, for He has no beginning or end.

500th anniversary of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu's sannyasa, January 14th-19th 2010
Trials in the service of the Lord

19 Responses to “Holy Places?”

  1. Suresh das says :

    You are fortunate, Maharaj, to be able to regularly visit the holy places of India, innumerable times, spanning over many decades. But for many other devotees in the West, including many of your godbrothers and godsisters – not so fortunate. I remember working in ISKCON, as a brahmacari, for six years, from 1970, when I joined ISKCON, to 1976, without going to the holy places of Vrndavan or Mayapur even once. In spite of distributing thousands of books, and tons of temple service (24/7/365), it was never enough, even to pay for one visit. I had to leave the brahmacari ashram, get a job, and make my own money. Then I could visit the holy places, by paying my own way. By then, however, my attitude had changed, due to overwork, stress, and exhaustion. I wasn’t as favorable anymore, as I once had been to your movement. Srila Prabhupada had disappeared and times had changed. What was once familiar to me, in ISKCON, had changed as well. I felt personally irrelevant to your movement.

    It was difficult for me to appreciate the holy places. After much soul searching I came to realize that people, no matter how messed up they seemed to be in my eyes, as you are describing in your article, in spite of their living in holy places, and not understanding those places, or even believing in their own religion and upbringing, are ultimately doing the best they can with what God has given them in their hard struggle for existence.

    The Indians are only copying what they see in the Western countries. Great work has been done to spread Krishna Consciousness almost exclusively in India now, while practically ignoring the West, including America, where ISKCON had its roots. In many ways I feel resentment too. I worked my butt off for years to help build huge temples thousands of miles away, that I never personally experienced the benefit of. It seemed like most of the money that was collected in America was sent off to India, and all the money that was collected in India, stayed in India as well.

    It seems to me, if you want the Indians to appreciate their spiritual heritage more, then a revival of Krishna Consciousness is needed again in the West, especially in America.

  2. dhimana_krishna says :

    Very wonderful article Maharaja. And as Lord Shiva himself says to Shri Markendaya Rishi:

    “Mere bodies of water do not constitute holy places, nor are lifeless statues of the demigods actual worshipable deities. Because external vision fails to appreciate the higher essence of the holy rivers and the demigods, these purify only after a considerable time. But devotees like you purify immediately, just by being seen.” (SB 12.10.23 BBT translation)


    “Even the worst sinners and social outcastes are purified just by hearing about or seeing personalities like you. Imagine, then, how purified they become by directly speaking with you.” (SB 12.10.25)

    All glories to the person Bhagavat, purifier of the world Shrila Prabhupada!

    Servant of Vaishnavas,
    Patita Pavana das Adhikary

  3. Suresh das says :

    Perhaps the many problems you are describing regarding the degradation of the holy places, is occurring due to lack of proper zoning laws, and proper enforcement of existing laws. In many ways today’s India parallels America in the 1950-1960’s, a time of great expansion and prosperity in the United States. India has come into its own, in terms of material advancement and industrialization of the country. India, along with China, is considered the two most important emerging market industrialized nations of the world today. What that potentially means is total destruction of the environment, just as it occurred in the United States and other Western developed nations in their industrial revolutions.

    Rivers, streams, and other waterways became so polluted with industrial waste and sewage that they could no longer relied upon for bathing and drinking, which is India’s current dilemma. India enjoys the presence of holy rivers and dhams that are being ruined by reckless and unbridled business enterprise. Western developed nations have only too gladly dumped their most polluting industries on India and China, knowing that the governments of those places will look the other way, for the sake of money, and not enforce existing laws designed to protect their environment.

    The leaders and the people of developed Western nations have finally come to their senses, and have begun the process of cleaning up the environment, preserving historical heritage sites, and protecting it as well from future development. India it seems has not evolved to this point yet.

    What is needed is common sense, at least from a business point of view, to preserve holy places, at the very least to attract international spiritual pilgrims as well as tourists. The holy places have the potential to be considered great places of learning as well. People all over the world are attracted to the philosophies of the East, especially Vedic and Vaishnava philosophy. They won’t come to a place that is wretched and degraded. They want a place that is clean, pure, uplifting, and spiritual. Proper zoning laws, that are actually enforced, have the potential to protect the environment of the holy places and preserve a peaceful atmosphere as well. Strong, spiritually advanced government is also needed to enforce scriptural injunctions, and protect the integrity of the holy places.

  4. Akruranatha says :

    One who goes to a holy place just to take a sacred bath and not to hear from the enlightened people who frequent such places is compared to a dull farm animal.

    Suresh, regarding money being sent to India from America, if Srila Prabhupada wanted the BBT to help establish major temples in India we followers were happy to oblige him, and it has proven successful.

    However, you should know that the successful Indian temples have now been sending money to subsidize some of the economic troubles of ISKCON in America. I think India has contributed or pledged to contribute some $3 million or more (I do not know the details) to the bankruptcy reorganization plan in America, while American temples have been struggling to meet their commitments.

    As for your own resentment of having not been allowed visit India while you felt inspired as a brahmacari to do so, and your current feeling of irrelevance and disillusion, my heart goes out to you. I hope you can soon be inspired to travel to the holy places associated with the Lord’s pastimes and find inspiration from the confidential talks about Krishna that are taking place there.

    You are not irrelevant to ISKCON. Whatever sacrifices you made and mantras you recited are to your eternal benefit, and will never be forgotten by Srila Prabhupada and other well wishers of ISKCON. Even if they were done without completely pure motivation, they will carry you on to further sacrifices and meditations until some day you will be performing such activities perfectly in the direct association of Krishna and His pure devotees.

    In the mean time, we should never give up on ISKCON. This great project inaugurated by Srila Prabhupada to fulfill the desires of Lord Caitanya, the six Goswamis, and the entire disciplic succession, is doing great good for the world, and will continue to do more and more in the future.

    Sure, we have challenges and practical difficulties. Sure there has been imperfect management (even in Srila Prabhupada’s presence as in your case from 1970-1976) and will be in the future. But in the big picture, ISKCON is like a great moon that has some spots.

    We should all pull together to do what we can to organize intelligently and clear up any blemishes. We need to listen to each other patiently and communicate well so that ISKCON can continue to grow in membership, purity and benedicting power.

    But please, all devotees, don’t give up on ISKCON, which so wonderfully spreads the rays of the benediction moon.

  5. Jaya Madhava Das says :

    I am compelled to reply to this Holy places article
    First-I want to thank HH Kavicandra Swami for bringing up the subject at all !
    My Question is WHY isnt the GBC addressing this grave issue ? Are they ?
    Have devotees become Tourists and Temples markets like Loi Bazzar ?
    I also understand my Godbrothers Suresh Prabhus utter dissapointment
    and frustration with ISKCON,,,Prabhu You are NOT the only one as we say is TOAST !
    I also served so hard in Iskcon and was maye $100 shy of a plane ticket on the
    Christmas Marthon of 1976-to be rejected my airs fare -I was shattered -But I kept my
    mouth shut and continued to serve ,like you for so many years ! I care about iskcon
    It really concerns me HOW devotees behave in the Holy Dhams (these days)
    Question-Are women and teenagers protected and behaving properly in the Dhams ?
    This Holy Place issue bring’s up an GRAVE-Important QUESTIONS
    How is -or What is-Iskcon Vrindaban and Maypur doing to preserve the Dhams ?
    Are they giving the BEST examples,,,Including devotees behaviors at Festivals times ?
    After coming back to India in 2006—It was quite an shock for me to see things crass and commericialized,Traffic- all day and night and the Noise from the cars-SO Hellish
    paved roads everywhere and gone was Vrindabans sands ! Apartments everywhere !
    What to speak of the dangers as you walk from place to place by speeding cars
    with drivers who Dont respect Pilgrims ! So what to do ?
    Suresh Das Prabhu is 100 per cent correct
    How IRONIC—India is distributing book’s more and making Hari Nams MORE then the West ! Something very wrong about this and how it got to this in -Iskcon USA
    Srila Prabhupada said- The whole world copies America
    Now we see the Holy dhams becoming Commerical and spoiled
    Iskcon Temples are also- so Commecical and I ask the Valid Question
    When Is it TOO much Commericalism in an Iskcon Indian Temple ?
    Is not Iskcon suppossed to give Example ‘s to the public ?
    Can or will the GBCs addrees this critical issue to preserve and protect the Dhams ?
    To protect the teenagers and women who go to the dhams ?
    I suggest our Iskcon leaders re educate their disciples about proper Holy Dham Behaviors
    Also If America Iskcon Revives Book Distribution,Hari-Nams and Bhakta Programs
    This will not only save America but India and the Dhams
    Thank You for your time
    Your servant,
    Jaya Madhava Das (ACBSP) Moscow Russia at -jayamadhava

  6. dhimana_krishna says :


    Life is too short to complain. We have all been abundantly blessed by Shrila Prabhupada, and this should be our focus, not finding every chance we can to complain about our lot in a public forum. There are so many examples here on Dandavats. Even now there are cheerful devotees who could be whining about the bad cards ISKCON –or somebody–dealt them. No, they chose to set an example for you and me by remaining focused in bhakti yoga, thereby reaping the highest result as per Shrila Prabhupadaa’s promise.

    Look at the article by Shri Radhanath Swami about Kuvera who recently exchanged his broken down body for (we pray) a spiritual body. Kuvera had Lou Gehrig’s disease and when somebody pushed him off the bus and pedestrians stepped over him because they thought he was a drunk, he struggled to get to the temple to see his friends, the devotees. Look at Radha Vallabha das in the article by Devamrita Swami Prabhuji. He was the first Bulgarian street preacher; run over by the KGB, now one of ISKCON’s true martyrs. Where did he go with his bright and cheerful atttitude? It is Prabhupada’s promise he went back to Godhead, as he was preaching and thinking of Krishna. Look at the article by our sisterl Rasajna deviji who in her final breath is asking only for our prayers. Have you read her message to us? If we have so much time to cry about our situations, to hang out our own dirty laundry as the cliche goes, then why can”t we find a few moments to become inspired by the examples of Radhavallabha, Kuvera and Rasajna devi which are right before us?

    Suresh, it is a privelege for us to undergo austerity, pain, trouble, suffering or wahtever on behalf of the spiritual master and we should do so cheerfully. It is the disciple’s duty to serve unflinchingly. This human form of life is a rare gift, and we are fortunate to have met a pure devotee after millions and billions of births and universal cycles. Take shelter in the holy name. It is distressing that you, an old Prabhu, now call Shrila Prabhupada’s family as “your” (“not our”) familyin the above message to Kavichandra. Why are you excluding yourself? Do you wish to exclude yourself from the spiritual results that are just around the corner for you? We are old now; we will soon be gone . Let us follow Kuvera and Radha Valllabha and the other great examples who have left footprints in the sands of bhakti yoga before our own hour glass sands run out.
    Hari, Hari
    Patit Pavana

  7. Jaya Madhava Das says :

    DEAR Prabhus,
    I want to comment on Akruranath das ,Prabhus
    Comment-on Holy Dham ? Suresh Prsbhus comment
    I know how Suresh Prabhu,you” gave it all for Iskcon”
    There was you and thousands of Our Godbrothers and Sisters
    who also gave great their youthful lives for Srila Prabhupada .
    In 1974-1975-76 in the Philadelphia Temple
    I was there to see you on Book Distribution as a matter
    of fact I was as you know a book distributor too !
    In this respect I cant top Akruranatha Das ,Prabhu’s Heart Felt-
    Comments and Genuine appreciation for Iskcon and its devotees
    I Fully agree with his comments and Patita Pavana Das Prabhus comments
    That WE SHOULD NOT BECOME SO BITTER and Abandon Iskcon
    ISKCON is OUR Spiritual Family ! Not matter what Srila Prabhupada wanted
    HIS disciples to be part of and loyal to ISKCON,,Good Times,Bad Times through Thick and Thin…Thats our duty as We have an ETERNAL – debt to Srial Prabhupada
    There are many GREAT souls who have served and are serving in ISKCON !
    I mentioned my experience with the airfare thing but there
    were so many other unfair incidents,,,BUT I saw it as KRSNA’s Mercy on me
    and I still feel that way,that a rascal like me was allowed to
    Join Prabhupada’s Iskcon,,,We should be careful not to become imbittered !
    Let’s re-commit to ISKCON and preach for Srila Prabhupada
    KRSNA will help us…Hasn’t HE always helped us !
    Lets do the needful to preserve Prabhupads ISKCON as HE wanted it
    without CHANGE or Compromise and Revive Hari Nams and Book distribution
    and Bhakta Programs in the WEST and India and the world will Follow !
    All Glories to HDG Srila Prabhupada
    All Glories to Sri Vrindaban Dham and Sri Mayapur Dham
    Your Servant,
    Jaya madhava Das (acbsp) Moscow Russia

  8. pustakrishna says :

    Hare Krishna. My comments are mostly addressed to His Grace Suresh das Prabhu. When I first went to Vrindaban in 1971, there were only two of us, ISKCON men. We performed sankirtan in the streets of the village with a potato sack, mridanga and kartals. We collected wheat and okra, and made a very tasteless (or worse) concoction as that was all we had to offer and take for prasadam. We had, at one time, only 5 rupees. We slept on the ground with a dhoti beneath. Cows would walk by us, nearly trampling us in search for food. Monkeys were abundant and would place their hands upon your leaf plate while taking prasadam. No one knew about ISKCON. But, there was a Mahaprabhu temple in Brahma Ghat area whose long arms were at His side in the morning, and raised up above His head in the evening. Once, while walking in that area past the 4 or 5 elderly women with leprosy and their small begging bowls, one elderly such woman took her paws (she had lost her fingers, and placed several coins from her begging into my hand. I was astonished! The visitation to the temples was sweet as we imagined the early days of the Six Goswamis, and we walked along the Yamuna to bath and read some of Srila Prabhupad’s early books.

    When I visited Vrindaban again in 1995-6 after so many years away, it was a very different environment, one of opportunism was prominent. Every one seemed to want a “piece” of the Dham. Things changed. What can one say. This transformation was the result of Srila Prabhupad’s developments and his attraction of many thousands of newcomers to Vrindaban. Mayapur, likewise, was a very quiet place with a few temples and so much history, in those early days. But, things have changed. Certainly, many, many more westerners and Indians have taken advantage of the Sankirtan Movement since those days.

    Now, how does one fit in??? It is very important to recall the reasons for your attraction to Krishna consciousness in the first place. You wanted personal spiritual development and love for Krishna. You were not looking for “Institutional Consciousness”. It is important that you do not abandon your ideals because Krishna is each and everyone’s Dearmost Friend. Do not lose faith, please. Dive deeper into Krishna consciousness, through your chanting and reading. Try to find compassionate and kind-hearted devotees with which to associate. Do not let the contemporary world, even the contemporary holy places, alter your ideals. Pusta Krishnadas

  9. Suresh das says :

    Fortunately there is Youtube. I have been enjoying and participating in the many festivals in Vrndavan and Mayapur through the videos of our ISKCON devotees chanting. I like to sing along with the devotees, such as Aindra, Lokanath Swami, and Vyasaki Prabhus. I have played the Youtube of the Aindra bhajan in Srila Prabhupada’s room in Vrndavan over and over, hundreds of times. Even though it only lasts about 1 minute, the chanting always makes my hairs stand on end. At my work, I daily play Hare Krishna kirtan CD’s throughout the day, and sing along. I have been doing this for many years. I also like to play Srila Prabhupada’s bhajans and chant along with him and the other devotees. I possess weak physical and mental health. I can barely make enough to break even in my work, and having been gliding down in loses in recent years, along with my health. I don’t foresee actually physically visiting the holy places any time soon, but I am there in spirit.

  10. Jaya Madhava Das says :

    Dear Prabhus-
    Pamho Agtsp HARE KRSNA
    RE:–my last reply to ‘Holy Places ?’ (The Holy Dhams)
    TO – Correct any typo errors I made (sorry)-I meant–“”-No matter What happens,to us
    we should remain in Iskcon. PERIOD ! Prabhupada wants that,So should we,Thats a fact !
    In Iskcon is not only living in the Temple but being part of Prabhupads Family -ISKCON
    Helping ISKON,,,Preaching in Iskcon,Serving the devotees in Iskcon with humility
    We should protect the HOLY Dhams and Iskcon. What Prabhupada gave us.
    Have we not all been though good and hard times in Iskcon ? Why be Bitter ? Not good !
    Be it KRSNAS TESTS,,,Hardship,,dishonor from others…There are .Tests from KRSNA
    We should be loyal to Srila Prabhupadas desire that we remain
    loyal and part of HIS ISKCON,and not give it up to go elsewhere as so many have done.
    By the way…My glasses were ripped off here in Moscow,,,Its time for me to get new ones
    The print is so tiny- on the Dandavats reply page -IM Sorry for any spelling errors
    I will be more careful from now on.
    I didn’t hear any ‘COMMENTS from-,HH Kavicandra Swami yet ? Maharaj Any comments
    More Comments from other Prabhus ? GBCs ,Temple Presidents in India ? Vrindaban,-Mayapur ISKCON Dhams..Lets talk about it, Then…
    Lets Save the Holy Dhams ! Lets try to do something before its worse and -TOO Late !
    Bring about preserving the Dhams as much as is possible.
    FIGHT for KRSNAs Lands. (at least try and no be complacent)
    Thank you again for your concern and time.
    Your servant,
    Jaya Madhava das(acbsp) Moscow Russia at

  11. Akruranatha says :

    The discussion about “Institutional Consciousness” is an important one and can be seen from many angles.

    Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur Prabhupada’s essay “Organized Religion” is difficult to understand, but I do not take him to mean that he is against the idea of a well-organized preaching institution. It just seems he is saying that the demoniac mentality is so strong, and so apt to latch on to any other object or idol of worship but Krishna, that people tend to put “church” above God over and over again in human history.

    Intelligent management of a church or preaching organization is important. Without organization how will we effectively preach? How will we effectively come together for sanga and share the six loving exchanges, to facilitate which ISKCON was created? We need to manage the ISKCON “church” or “institution” effectively, and we need to support the idea of successful, effective ISKCON management. This is a sacred service Srila Prabhupada left for us.

    Of course, ISKCON does not exist for service to a “church” or “institution”. It exists for serving Krishna and Vaisnavas, to spread Lord Gauranga’s message to the general population, and to engage those who are willing to dedicate their energies in Krishna’s service. It bestows favor on everyone (even animals and trees), but it is especially meant for picking up those serious persons who will follow the principles of bhakti yoga and proceed gradually through anartha-nivrti and the other stages up to uttama bhakti (anyabhilasita sunyam…) Sometimes Srila Prabhupada said he would consider himself successful to make a single pure devotee.

    To perform this work, we can employ lots of money for printing books, acquiring buildings, maintaining cows, putting on public festivals, mass media exposure, advertising, etc. But we have to remember the money, buildings, etc. are for encouraging devotional service, and not the other way around.

    It is perhaps easy for a manager to fall into the trap of getting so committed to some expensive preaching scheme that he or she starts seeing devotees as means to an end (to pay the bills, get the pots washed, or whatever). But in reality, inspiring and spiritually nourishing devotees is the goal of all the preaching enterprises.

    We have buildings, festivals and books to get the message out to the public, but that section of the public that is attracted enough to read the books and worship in the temples deserves our greatest attention.

  12. Akruranatha says :

    Regarding “Institutional Consciousness”, I recently read where Sanatan Goswami Das quoted a letter Srila Prabhupada wrote in 1968 to the Governor-General of Canada, which in part stated:

    “We are a non-sectarian society, and our members include people from Christian, Jewish and Moslem as well as Hindu faiths. The aim of ISKCON is not to found a new religious sect, but to invoke the living entity’s dormant love of God, and thus provide the human society of all faiths with a common platform of clear theistic knowledge and practice. Members of ISKCON may retain their own respective religious faiths, as ISKCON is meant to establish a clear, practical common formulation of the common ideal of all theists, and to defeat the unnecessary dogmatic wranglings that now divide and invalidate the theistic camp.”

    In other words, ISKCON should work toward uniting all theists, even those from outside the Hindu tradition. This was a cherished aim of Bhaktivinod Thakur and of SBSSTP. SBSSTP employed innovations such as adoption of tridandi sannyas within Gaudiya Vaisnavism and creation of “Mathas” in order to achieve greater preaching force. In his temple in Mayapur, and I believe also in his temple in Calcutta, he established shrines honoring the four Vaisnava sampradayas. It was his wish that all Vaisnavas (from different sampradayas) join together to help enlighten the world to the sublime truths disclosed in Bhakti literature like Bhagavad-Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam. ISKCON is meant for carrying out such wishes, and is the world’s best hope.

    One thing is, sometimes I hear devotee criticize the “Institutional Consciousness” of ISKCON in an effort to recommend devotees to take association of senior devotees from outside of ISKCON, usually from one or another Gaudiya Math branch or leader.

    While I mean no disrespect to any senior devotees anywhere, it seems the Gaudiya Maths all have their own versions of “Institutional Consciousness” and tend to be competing rather than cooperating with each other, making them less effective international preaching forces.

    I don’t think Srila Prabhupada meant for us to get involved with them and their history of internecine competition and politics (he sometimes asked us to avoid them).

    I do think that by establishing a GBC (as per SBSSTP’s intention) for management of ISKCON, he wanted us to cooperate within ISKCON and remain effective and unified and “above the fray”, to defeat “unnecessary dogmatic wranglings…”

  13. pustakrishna says :

    Jaya Madhava das in chest-thumping manner proclaims that “he” knows what Srila Prabhupad wants for his disciples. In every case, when devotees would ask Srila Prabhupad what would most please him, he would humbly answer, ” that you love Krishna.” The message is simple. Even in Christianity we see the example that the shepherd will sometimes leave the flock to search for one sheep that has strayed from the flock.

    Secondly, and more importantly, Srila Prabhupad would place the institution in second place in order to save his disciples. I have witnessed this directly. Make no mistake, Srila Prabhupad was not a chest-thumping politician. He did want to protect his disciples from some of the Gaudiya vaishnavas who were envious of his successful preaching mission. But, not all were envious, and without going into detail, even our project in Mayapur required the help of some Godbrothers in order to acquire land and begin the project. You cannot clump all these bhaktas together without commiting vaishnava aparadha. It is best to remain humble rather than take a militant mentality at preserving ISKCON. In fact, I truly think that this mentality has pushed some or many away from ISKCON, rather than preserve ISKCON.

    I take the advice of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur in his Jaiva Dharma when he declares through his characters that people get what they rightly deserve. But, we are not academic heartless people. We want to shower affectionate guidance upon our associates, encourage their dedication which is voluntary, with caring and compassion. The way to Krishna is with bhakti (bhaktya mam abhijanati). Political maneuvering will not help us. And, I think that if the world of vaishnavism emphasizes sectarianism (like sunni and shiite muslims), then outsiders will see ours as just another flawed religious movement. Afterall, ISKCON is a branch, currently a large branch, of the serving tree of Sriman Mahaprabhu. Our branch was not manifest before Srila Prabhupad’s preaching, and we want to see that we are proper ambassadors of His Divine Grace to perpetuate his teachings established in his books and by his example.

    Humbly submitted, Pusta Krishna das

  14. dhimana_krishna says :

    As usual you have triggered quite a landslide of responses. Sorry to hear that you are not doing well in body, mind and wallet. I again repeat my invitation for you to write to me if you think Krishna conscious astrology can help. Of course, we know that death is certain and it always seems to come sooner than later. We know we should be prepared for Lord Yama’s knock on the door, or hopefully the Vishnuduttas will come instead. But aside from that,perhaps your problems can be seen as temporary afflictions that you will ride over soon. It sounds to me likeyou are calling out for help, so if I can do anything with my llimited abilities, give me a try. Anyway, of course there is no question of charging for this service,because if I can serve a Prabhu, it is my privelege. You have distributed Prabhupada’s books and therefore you have won the grace of the pure devotee, so it is an honor to serve you. Therefore if you think I can help, drop me a line. My pleasure.
    Your servant,
    Patit Pavana das Adhikary,

  15. Jaya Madhava Das says :

    RE—Holy Places ? To-My Godbrother Pusta KRSNA Das Prabhu,
    Im not chest Thumping SORRY you think that Prabhu.
    I agree with you COMPLETELY and Im NOT into POLITICS !
    Just tired of seeing the Dhams Ruined,Like the massive bridge
    thats supposed to be built at Kesi Ghat ! Im horrified at this development !
    I respect the Gaudia Maths and I visit them in India (Mayapur)Etc….But
    I also stay away from envious people who claim to be
    well wishers of Iskcon…whoever they are in what ever Math
    If they use Iskcon for their own stepping stones and criticize- Prabhupada.
    For example to discredit Prabhupads books and Instructions (on various Issues)
    This is Offensive ! On one hand to praise Iskcon and on the other hand Criticize it.
    I dont claim anything at all Prabhu ! My realization is mine alone ! Im no expert.
    Iskcon has no Monopoly on love of GOD or KRSNA Consiousness
    Thats my realization too,,,But I joined Iskcon and my sentiments are genuine
    Im sharing it with you ! Iskcon is MY spiritual family
    Iskcon is our spiritual Family—RIGHT ? There is a broader spiritual family too !
    Prabhupads Mercy was to us in Iskcon Right ?
    SO why not help Iskcon or If not in Iskcon,do and follow Prabhupads Instructions ?
    Inside or outside the institution of Iskcon but we should follow Prabhupada
    I mean no crticism of the Gaudia Maths or Other devotees real sentiments of those
    who left Iskcon,,My point is what is what Prabhupada wanted of us ? I agree with you-
    To develop love of GOD (KRSNA) YET- He gave us Iskcon for that purpose.
    Do you seriously think HE wanted His disciples to abandon Iskcon , Lock,stock and barrel ?
    You misunderstood me,,I mean no to offence to you and Im no expert on Srila Prabhupada ,You are more qualified in this regard.
    Im just a fallen soul He accepted as His disciple and Im eternally grateful for that Mercy
    and Im happy to be a part of -Iskcon,Good times or Hard times,,even when dysfunctional
    Im willing to hear all your opinions and realizations
    If I offended any devotee’s at all -I am so sorry !
    PRABHU-NOW-THERE is an URGENT need to SAVE Vrindaban Dham from more Changes+Harm to UNITE !
    Lets ALL AGREE on that point ! All Glories to HDG Srila Prabhupada !
    Thank you for your time
    Your servant,
    Jaya Madhava das(acbsp) Moscow Russia

  16. Suresh das says :

    I like the saying by Ted Turner “lead, follow, or get out of the way”. It is often easier to get attention for myself here at this site and other places by complaining or expressing negative viewpoints that I have, releasing all the poison I accumulated and am holding on to. In the larger picture, I am realizing that I might be better off if I stay out of the way, as quietly as possible. I have to keep reminding myself to listen to the devotees here, and talk less, as well as search for alternative methods of healing myself. For some reason, a series of events and experiences, threw me out of the service of the Sankirtan Movement, and left me with many deep emotional and physiological wounds that are difficult to resolve, except by talking about them with the devotees. There aren’t many places to go to find relief, I have found, except in public forums.

    I come to Dandavats because I want to remain as an ISKCON devotee. I want the process of Krishna Consciousness to work for me. I am open to new ways of approaching the Krishna Consciousness process that Srila Prabhupada introduced, and hearing from devotees who have become successful in their application of bhakti-yoga. There are many other forums I can visit for devotees wishing to extinguish their Krishna Consciousness, and who sometimes openly decry Srila Prabhupada and the devotees. That’s why I like coming here instead, because that is not my intent.

  17. Jaya Madhava Das says :

    Dear Prabhus,
    Urgent Appeal ! RE:Bridge over the Yamuna
    I was recently told Its Not our (iskcons)
    affair to deal with or engage Iskcon/Indian community
    devottees with the Bridge over the Yamuna
    Problem ? In all fairness to the GBC and Iskcon…Is this a fact ?
    Im not convinced at all ! Should we just stand by and DO NOTHING ?
    Your comments on What would Srila Prabhupada do ?
    From Srila Prabhupadas- Own words
    Thank You
    Your servant,
    Jaya Madhava Das (acbsp) Moscow Russia

  18. Jaya Madhava Das says :

    Any NEWS from devotees in Vrindaban
    about that proposed bridge ?
    Your servant,
    Jaya Madhava Das (acbsp) Moscow

  19. Padmapani_das says :

    “World Prayer and Kirtan Day: Sacred Sites, Sacred Waters, Sacred Sounds.” 24 hours of kirtan around the world to help save and protect the holy Yamuna River and Kesi-ghata to coincide with the Vrindavan Kumbha-mela, January 30th. Please visit:

    An historic opportunity is available for you and your loved ones to register online and show support by hosting a kirtan anywhere in the world for this most important occasion. Mother Yamuna has served humanity for thousands of years and now She could use our service and help. Please kindly participate and show your love and appreciation, however small and humble. Even one sincere kirtaniya at home can contribute towards changing the course of history.

    Further information can be found on The Prabhupada Connection website, January 4th and onward in the “What’s New” section, including addresses where to sign petitions, write letters, etc. Thank you very much for your kind attention and service in this regard. Yamuna Mayi ki jaya! Kesi Ghat ki jaya. Sri Vrindavan Dhama ki jaya!