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Dandavats! All Glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga!

OPEN LETTER TO Bhakti Vikasa Swami

Wednesday, 12 October 2011 / Published in Articles / 24,136 views

By Priyavrata das

(ref: )

Dear Bhakti Vikasa Swami, 

Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada. 

With all due respect, I feel that your recent lecture about Food for Life and the Midday Meals project is completely misleading, and offensive to devotees that have dedicated their lives to prasadam distribution. Using selective quotes and straw man arguments you have unfairly aligned Midday meals and Food for Life with mundane welfare. 

The fact is both projects distribute prasadam and prasadam distribution is ALWAYS a transcendental activity. Neither Food for Life Global, ISKCON Communications, or any devotee in their right mind would ever entertain the idea of disregarding the preaching mission to focus on some mundane charity. You have completely missed the point of these projects. That being: 

1) to expand prasadam distribution as much as possible 

2) give faith in ISKCON 

3) get the cooperation of the state administrators 

Carefully read this statement:

“The Krishna consciousness movement is based on this principle: Chant the Hare Krishna maha mantra at every moment, as much as possible, both inside and outside of the temples, and, as far as possible, distribute prasada. This process can be accelerated with the cooperation of state administrators and those who are producing the country’s wealth. Simply by liberal distribution of prasada and sankirtana, the whole world can become peaceful and prosperous.” (SB 4.12.10).

Please note Prabhupada suggestion that we should get the cooperation of state administrators. In the following letter Prabhupada specifically points out HOW ISKCON can get the help of the leaders of society.

“…If such leaders of society can be influenced to preach on

our behalf, help us to spread Krishna consciousness in some

practical way, that is the best service. But simply supporting,

that will not help us. Support of mass of people will help us.

But mass of people take direction form their leaders, so if the

leaders of present day society can be persuaded of our beneficial working for the human welfare, and if they help us somehow to spread what they have learned from us to the people in general, that is the point to be considered…” (SP letter to Damodara January 9, 1973).

Because these programs are focused on one aspect of ISKCON’s mission, does not mean they are not perfect and complete. These projects may take on many forms and be presented in certain ways in order to facilitate the expansion of prasadam distribution. The END RESULT however is fulfilling Prabhupada’s direct order, as explained in this statement:

“The Krishna consciousness movement vigorously approves

this practice of preparing food, offering it to the deity, and distributing it to the general population. This activity should be

extended universally to stop sinful eating habits as well as

other behavior befitting only demons. . . . Since eating is the

first necessity in human society, those involved in solving the

problems of preparing and distributing food should take lessons

from Madhavendra Puri and execute the Annakuta ceremony.

When people take to eating only prasada offered to the deity, all the demons will be turned into vaisnavas. When the people are Krishna conscious, naturally the government will be also. A Krishna conscious man is always a liberal well-wisher of everyone. When such men head the government, the people will certainly be sinless. They will no longer be disturbing demons. It is then and then only that a peaceful condition can prevail in society.” (CC Madhya lila 4.93)

Finally, the Food for Life and Midday Meal programs are one of the many ways in which devotees can give their association to the non-devotees, especially those whom would ordinarily be difficult to approach through other methods. In this regard there is a very nice instruction from Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura about the power of sadhu sanga:

Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura explains this point. Is this bhāgya (fortune) the result of an accident or something else? In the scriptures, devotional service and pious activity are considered fortunate. Pious activities can be divided into three categories: pious activities that awaken one’s dormant Kṛṣṇaconsciousness are called bhakty-unmukhī sukṛti, pious activities that bestow material opulence are called bhogonmukhī sukṛti, and pious activities that enable the living entity to merge into the existence of the Supreme are called mokṣonmukhī sukṛti. These last two awards of pious activity are not actually fortunate. Pious activities are fortunate when they help one become Kṛṣṇa conscious. The good fortune of bhakty-unmukhī is attainable only when one comes in contact with a devotee. By associating with a devotee willingly or unwillingly, one advances in devotional service, and thus one’s dormant Kṛṣṇaconsciousness is awakened. (CC Madhya lila 22.45)

The above quotes are directly from Shastra. This is the HIGHEST evidence. Prabhupada wanted prasadam distributed “as far as possible.” and he wanted this activity “extended universally.”  Period. 

Rather than nitpicking these program we should be encouraging them so that “Everyone should be given a chance to take prasada and thus be induced to chant the holy names of Hare Krishna and also dance in ecstasy. By these three processes, although performed without knowledge or education, even even a dog went back to Godhead.” (CC Antya lila 1.32).

Now try and explain to me how Food for Life (in all it’s forms) and the ISKCON Midday Meal projects are not carrying out a DIRECT order from our Founder Acharya!

Your servant, 

Priyavrata das

(dasanudas Prasada Das)

Food for Life Global

Bhaktivedanta Manor Janmastami festival 2011
Hari Das Prabhu with Srila Prabhupada

80 Responses to “OPEN LETTER TO Bhakti Vikasa Swami”

  1. SriGopaldas says :

    Hare Krishna. Jai Srila Prabhupada.

    Let us be practical, Srila Prabhupada says that the tongue has two activities. To chant the Mahamantra and to eat Mahaprasada. These two combination have Presiding Personalities and They are Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Sri Jagannatha Mahaprabhu of Puri. A common man may not be inclined to chant however, he/she will be inclined to taste Mahaprasada. Especially if we want to make children devotee from young age, they are the one who benefits most from this Mahaprasada distribution. Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna appeared in the form of Lord Jagannatha and as Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to deliver the fallen conditioned souls. Out of these two forms of Divine Mercy, One is more merciful than other. Mahaprasad is definitely lot easier to give out to everyone compared to requesting everyone to chant. Unless, of course the chanter is a very pure devotee of Krishna like Srila Prabhupada. Of course, while Mahaprasada distribution is going on it should be accompanied by Harinama Sankirtan. A person eating Mahaprasada will automatically start feeling the transcendental vibration of the Hare Krishna Mahamantra as the Mahaprasada purifies his/her body, mind and tongue (kaya, mana, vakya) and as a result that person will appreciate the Holy Name better while eating. There are devotees in ISKCON who can vouch for the effect of eating Mahaprasada because that’s what attracted them to Krishna Consciousness in the first place. A Sannyasi may not be able to appreciate this Mahaprasada distribution because he has already taken sannyasa from eating but that doesn’t mean the general populace has taken sannyasa from eating. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came to Sri Jagannatha Puri for a reason, to glorify Sri Krishna’s Holy Name and His Mahaprasada. Sri Krishna through Sri Jagannatha introduced His Mahaprasada and through Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu His Transcendental Name and this we can see in the activities of our Srila Prabhupada, He also introduced this Sankirtan Yajna and celebration of Sri Jagannatha Ratha Yatra where tons of Mahaprasada is distributed all over the world. I don’t think there exist a movement which is like ISKCON who has both. Srila Prabhupada followed Sriman Mahaprabhu’s mood of Sri Jagannatha Puri as it is and that is why He has been very successful.

  2. Sri Giridhari Dasa says :

    I request Sri Gopal prabhu and others whoever maybe reading this open letter to first hear the lecture before commenting. Bhakti Vikasa Swami makes the point clear that Prasada should be distributed widely as directed by Srila Prabhupada along with Sankirtana. There is no second thought on that. But he has raised his concerns over popularizing our movement on the grounds of welfare work.

  3. Murari Das says :

    The argument in the lecture in question is not to stop prasadam distribution but to combine it with preaching, Harinam, book distribution etc. Also Prasadam can be distributed everywhere not necessarily to disaster areas, poor and needy. It shouldn’t be seen to be like a charity, philanthropy, feeding the poor or feeding the hungry kind of thing because this is a Transcendental actitvity meant to alleviate spiritual poverty of which everyone is a victim in the material world.

    The goal of ISKCON is to spread Krishna Consciousness. Distributing Prasadam helps and is very beneficial, but we have to preach to come to the stage of making people chant Hare Krishna or to hear the mantra, take books, hear the philosophy etc. If we just continue to feed prasadam without doing the other above activities then we didn’t really do as much as we could have to elevate them. If we study the seven aims of ISKCON we can see that actually all the money and effort should go primarily to book distribution. Of course Prasadam distribution has a very important role to play. I personally want to get the benediction of being able to distribute Krishna Prasadam widely my whole life, but not as an independent activity separated from Harinam kirtan, Book distribution, philosophical discourses (the activity would depend on the level of the attendees).

    Some quotes:

    If we open a branch in Madras, actually there are so many poor children there. Spiritual education and food, that is proper. Simply supplying food is nonsense. Spiritual education means just to inject in their ears about our philosophy, externally they chant beads, wear tilak, without any discrimination of Hindu or Muslim or anything.
    >>> Ref. VedaBase => Letter to: Gurudasa — Honolulu 13 May, 1972

    In Vrindaban we can begin this prasadam distribution program also. Of course, there are many chatras for distributing, but we shall give them also Krishna Consciousness, that will be unique.
    >>> Ref. VedaBase => Letter to: Gurudasa, Yamuna — Tokyo 25 April, 1972

    Kirtana and prasada distribution. So our men can perform very nice kirtana, and if they come to take little prasadam, that is preaching. You have to maintain this standard, that kirtana must go on and prasadam should be distributed.
    >>> Ref. VedaBase => Room Conversation — January 29, 1977, Bhuvanesvara

    I recommend a seminar by H.H. Jayadvaita Swami titled “Food for Death”

    Your servant,
    Murari Das

  4. ramdas_108 says :

    Agree with Sri Giridhar Dasa. I request the author of this article and other who wish to comment to this to listen to HH Bhakti Vikasa swami appreciation of distributing prasada (like australia etc). It is unnecessary and unacceptable that some of our preachers try to popularize our movement using welfare work and mayawad appreciation which is what todays people are looking for under names of “isms”.

  5. krishna-kirti says :

    Only people who believe themselves so elevated as to be incapable of falling into maya could make statements like this:

    Neither Food for Life Global, ISKCON Communications, or any devotee in their right mind would ever entertain the idea of disregarding the preaching mission to focus on some mundane charity.

    Why wouldn’t devotees entertain the idea of disregarding the preaching mission? It has happened often–in the name of preaching no less–for devotees to not be in their right minds all the while believing themselves to be free from delusion. Even big devotees who are managers of very important global projects are not exceptions. Certainly, Prabhu Priyavrata hasn’t given us a reason to believe otherwise.

    As regards to Shastra and the acharyas, I would have thought that, by now, with all the accumulated negative experience of all the things that have gone wrong when devotees selectively lift a quote here and a quote there in order to justify some new idea, that we would start to see this kind of thing fade away. But that practice is apparently alive and well, and the open letter is guilty of indulging in it.

    For example, Bhakti Vikasa Maharaja in his lecture quoted at length a letter from Srila Prabhupada to the top ministers in the State of Andhra Pradhesh. And in that letter, Srila Prabhupada turned down their request to spearhead a massive food relief effort during a famine going on in the region at the time. Bhakti Vikasa Maharaja also read the request of the ministers, verbatim. In their request, they even promised Srila Prabhupada unqualified support for establishing ISKCON in their state. Yet Srila Prabhupada refused. That kind of counter-evidence doesn’t make it into the open letter. If it had, the open letter would have had to concede that Bhakti Vikasa Maharaja did indeed have some important points worthy of consideration.

    Of course, Maharaja is here accused of being selective in his own quotes, but what Maharaja quotes is not the kind of thing you hear from the Food for Life people. It is certainly not a part of their propaganda, or a part of their hermeneutic for that matter. They are no less selective. So Maharaja is performing a valuable service in reminding us of the pitfalls that all too often turn out to be real.

    As to the members of the cited organizations here being incapable of going off in a wrong direction, show me the Vedic injunction that says so and I’ll believe it.

  6. Puskaraksa das says :

    Hare Krishna

    Pranams to Maharaja and to all the devotees.
    All glories to Srila Prabhupada. All glories to Sri Guru & Sri Gauranga.

    In the first place, I would like to offer my humble obeissances to all the devotees who take part in Prasada distribution, in our Food for Life program all over the world and in our mid-day meal program in India.

    Secondly, I would like to kindly orientate our concerns, not over what makes ISKCON and ISKCON devotees popular, but rather around what has made ISKCON and may still make ISKCON either unpopular or not as popular as Srila Prabhupada’s divine mission (on behalf of our Guru Parampara, coming through Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu) should be !

    Hence, rather than being finicky about what works, all the more when it is on the absolute platform, is a pillar of the Sankirtan Movement and contributes greatly to its global success, such as prasadam distribution, if we have to search for ways to improve the functioning of our current ISKCON Movement and would like to express some concerns, don’t you all think that we should rather focus on our current mistakes and find ways to improve the present situation, as there are enough openings for improvements, despite some obvious and visible general progress.

    However, we may understand that one may see things from different angles and Bhakti Vikasa Maharaja is a scholar. So, from his angle of vision, he may wish to convince people on the basis of our philosophy, which is also a laudable wish.

    Nevertheless, one should understand that the Sankirtan Movement is anandam buddhi vardanam, it is an ever expanding ocean of spiritual bliss… So, our concern is not to substract or replace one aspect by another, but rather to keep adding up all the positive aspects of the preaching mission and build up on success.

    Hence, whatever positive result we may get in one corner of the world, becomes everyone’s success and is for everyone to rejoice about. And whatever set back we may get, be it an isolated example, either individual or collective, may become everyone’s concern.

    In conclusion, I would hence humbly submit that one should not become somewhat of a party pooper and start picking on others’ success as it is also our collective success. In that regard, we have to watch within us what may remain of the envious mentality and hold tightly the leash of that still conditioned mind with our higher intelligence.

    And we should rather all bathe in the joy of our successes and go for more…

  7. PriyavrataFFL says :

    Glad to see there is some discussion on this.

    My initial concern with the lecture is that in my opinion Bhakti Vikasha Swami was indirectly criticising his senior Godbrother, Mukunda Goswami by totally misrepresenting the story regarding the Salvation Army. Mukunda Goswami was not suggesting that ISKCON become like the Salvation Army, he was just making a point that through positive social contributions they were able to change public opinion. Unfortunately for them, is that they forgot their missionary activities for the sake of mundane charity.

    Fortunately for us is that prasadam distribution is ALWAYS transcendental, no matter who it is directed at. And, ISKCON has never stopped chanting Hare Krishna.

    The first reference I gave from the Bhagavatam explains it all, Chanting as much as possible and distributing prasadam as far as possible. We should encourage any program that is realising these ideals.

    Just because a prasadam distribution program is focused on an underpriviledged sector of society, does not mean that the program is mundane or somehow less pure. Prasadam is for everyone, including the poor. Furthermore, you can be sure that all these children are developing great faith in Krishna and the devotees. Seeds of bhakti are being planted.

    Moreover, consistent with Srila Prabhupada’s desire that we engage the state administrators in this mission, the Midday meal program has done a tremendous job in inspiring and gaining the support of so many leaders of society, all of whom in their own way can influence the masses to accept ISKCON and have faith in Krishna.

    Maharaja may have encouraged the mass distribution of prasadam, however, to suggest that these projects are impure or leading ISKCON down a path of mundanity is absurd and quite frankly very offensive to a lot of very pure devotees.

    Please understand that I write these words, not in defence of myself, but the thousands of great souls who work hard every day to share Krishna’s mercy. I am pray to remain their servant.

    As to Krishna Kirti’s comments, I stand my ground that ISKCON is too large an organization that it will ever lose sight of the goal of spreading Krishna consciousness. I know of no prasadam distribution program in the world that does not have this as their ULTIMATE agenda. The only difference is that prasadam distributors have a different way of doing that to the book distributors. Unity in diversity. In this regard, I second the words of Puskaraksa prabhu.

  8. aspiringsadhaka says :

    Hare Krishna.

    I think HH Bhakti Vikas Swami makes some good points. And honestly I feel these issues are worth debating; they will help Srila Prabhupada’a movement in the long run.

    However, I feel that HH Bhakti Vikas Swami should take up these issues directly with the GBC and specifically with some of the sponsors of the mid day meal programs (e.g. HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj and HH Radhanath Swami Maharaj).

    My feeling is that giving a series of lectures to the public and posting them on the internet to air ‘Concerns about ISKCON’ will polarize the devotees and not really help the movement. If HH BVKS has concerns about HH RNS’s books or preaching style then they should talk it out amongst themselves. They are god-brothers and exemplary vaishnavas so I am sure they will be able to amicably sort out the matter.

    I understand that HH BVKS is frustrated because the GBC are unable to see is viewpoint. But Srila Prabhupada’s desire for all of his disciples to co-operate with one and another despite different viewpoints.

    I would also like to acknowledge the etiquette of the Chowpatty devotees; despite being criticized they have not reacted with harsh words. Whats more, they have even posted HH BVKS lecture on the iskcondesiretree website.

    HH BVKS and the entire GBC have the best intentions regarding ISKCON. It is only the methodology they adopt to serve that can polarize and break this movement.

  9. nrsingha8 says :

    Unfortunately, it happens that someone who is not fit to become a spiritual master may approach wealthy persons to contribute for temple constructions. If such money is utilized by unqualified spiritual masters to live comfortably in costly temples without actually doing any preaching work, this is not acceptable. In other words, a spiritual master needn’t be very enthusiastic for constructing temple buildings simply in the name of so-called spiritual advancement. Rather, his first and foremost activity should be to preach. In this connection, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Mahārāj recommended that a spiritual master print books. If one has money, instead of constructing costly temples, one should spend his money for the publication of authorized books in different languages for propagating the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. The Nectar of Devotion – Evidence Regarding Devotional Principles

  10. sarvopama dasa says :

    Krishna Kirti Prabhu makes some really excellent points. I would only add that being popular may not always be the best thing. Over the long haul your success may prove to be less than spiritual. Bhakti Vikasa Maharaja is offering some very solid real info there. I was in Chicago when we switched from books to record albums back in the 80’s. It was easier but everyone fell away in so many different directions. I’d really like to think we can somehow or another get back to the days when everything was a labor of love and no one required a salary. Some people say that’s not possible. They think they are telling the truth but I’m convinced you can’t prove the truth by a show of hands. There’s even resistance built up against going out on Hari Nama Sankirtan every day. It’s what Srila Prabhupada asked us to do and it’s simple, straight forward and it works. Somehow no one seems to believe that anymore. There’s been a real move towards big and mechanized. Why is that?

  11. nrsingha8 says :

    Prabhupada: Just like our Mr. George Harrison, he raised how many millions dollars for…[Concert for Bangladesh].

    Karandhara: Nine million.

    Prabhupada: Nine million dollars, and, to the… This is going on. In the Bhagavad-gītā we don’t find anywhere a single line that “You raise funds for,” I mean to say, “giving relief to the poor” or “to the suffering.” Is there any instruction in Bhagavad-gītā? You have read? Can you find out? But these people, they have become more learned than Krsna. In our country, Vivekananda: daridra-nārāyaṇa-sevā. The whole Ramakrishna Mission is collecting funds only on this rascal plea. One Swami Nikhilananda, he told me “Now the Americans are questioning that you are raising fund for feeding the poor, but when we go to India we see simply poor men. What you are doing with this money?” Actually they are doing nothing. They are collecting money in the name of feeding the poor, and they are living just like royal style, you see, eating all, everything.


  12. Hari Biphale Janama says :

    Hare Krsna Dandavat Pranam,
    Jai Srila Prabhupada

    Bhakti Vikasa Swami Maharaj’s words are Misunderstood.
    He didn’t discouraged Prasadam Distribution.

    I would also request those who Find Bhakti Vikasa Swami Maharaj’s Audio lecture improper, to listen it carefuly.

    Mid Day Meal is Very nice initiative, which feeds Poor School going childrens.But then why we need Bollywood Actress and Actors to Promote Mid Day Meal !! ??
    Isin’t Lord Krsna and Radha enough to Promote Mid Day Meal ?? Isin’t Srila Prabhupada enough to Promote Mid Day Meal? Isin’t Devotees who help in Mid Meal enough to promote Mid Day meal.

    Why are they(Film Actors and Actress for whom Maharaj calls Prostitute in a right way)asked to promote and speaks…and this Mundane people speaks on Mundane topic and Our Main Motive which is Giving Krsna Consciousness along with Krsna Prasadam is left side.

    In the News paper the other day,Mid Meal comes along with Photos of Actors and Actress.

    Here are the Photos of those Actors invited at the Mid Day Meal program.These photos are uploaded on Mid Day Meal webssite.Where as His Holiness Radhanath Swami Maharaj was also inivted but in the Newspaper the Focused just came on The Bollywood Actor and Actress.

  13. gaurakeshavadas says :

    This is simply a difference between moderate views and application of Krsna consciousness and extreme views and application of Krsna consciousness. Srila Prabhupada at different times, places and circumstances applied the principles of Krsna consciousness pragmatically. Thus sometimes he was seen to be moderate in his views and application of the principles of Krsna consciousness and at other times strict in his views and application of the principles of Krsna consciousness. Ultimately the basis of all rules and regulations is to always remember Lord Krsna and never forget him. We should accept whatever is favorable for Krsna consciousness and reject whatever is unfavorable. So there can be genuine disagreements on what is favorable for Krsna consciousness and what is unfavorable for Krsna consciousness at different times, places and circumstances. In this instance some suggest that it is favorable to Krsna consciousness to distribute Krsna prasadam even if one is not able to accompany it with any preaching of Krsna conscious philosophy or chanting of the Hare Krsna mahamantra. Others would suggest that only when Krsna prasadam is distributed accompanied by the preaching of Krsna conscious philosophy and the chanting of the Hare Krsna mahamantra is it actually beneficial. If given the choice they would put their efforts elsewhere if unable to accompany the distribution of Krsna prasadam with preaching of Krsna conscious philosophy and chanting of the Hare Krsna mahamantra. HH Bhakti Vikasa Swami, like all other Vaisnavas is a preacher and he is calling for a higher or better standard. There is nothing wrong with that and he should show us all by his own personal example how he is able to better perform the distribution of Krsna prasadam along with preaching of Krsna conscious philosophy and chanting of the Hare Krsna mahamantra. Then he will inspire others to try to do things in a better way. Of course we should always be looking to do things in a better way. However in some circumstances we may be doing things to the limit of what can be achieved at that time, place and circumstance. Should we give up Krsna prasadam distribution just because in certain circumstances we can’t preach Krsna conscious philosophy and/or chant the Hare Krsna mahamantra along with it? I do not think so. Let us endeavor to do things better but at the same time let us not “throw the baby out with the bath water” in the name of so-called “purity”.

  14. Radhananda Dasa says :

    Prasadam is the remnants of bhoga prepared and offered to the Lord with love and devotion by initiated devotees sincerely following the prescribed standards. However, many of us have come across instances wherein one or more of the above standards are not followed and in all likelihood the bhoga wasn’t accepted by Krishna and hence doesn’t constitute prasadam. I will quote some here. Please note that in many of these cases the leaders are sincerely interested in rectifying the situation, but are unable to do so due to operational challenges and personnel issues. So please don’t consider this as an accusation for intentional disregard to follow proper standards.
    There have been instances where hired karmis are preparing pakoras at festival booths serving them to the gullible masses as prasadam. It is a valid argument that it is difficult to arrange for an initiated devotee during a busy festival who will cook bhoga with love and devotion and then offer it properly so that it is accepted by Krishna. Nevertheless, since a hired karmi is cooking in substandard conditions, the preparations can’t be considered as prasadam.
    There are other instances where it is difficult to find pujaris even to ensure that the daily Deity worship continues. In such scenarios the authorities have settled with pujaris who do not chant 16 rounds, who watch karmi videos during their spare time, do Deity worship and offer bhoga mechanically, etc. In many of these instances the authorities have tried hard to rectify the pujari under consideration but with limited success. So I am not questioning the lack of sincerity of the authorities. Nevertheless the preparations served during Sunday feast and otherwise are in all likelihood not prasadam as Krishna most likely didn’t accept it.
    Distributing karmi food is inauspicious and sinful, but distributing karmi food in name of prasadam (which is meant to be the ultimate medicine of material conditioning) is much worse. It is akin to selling counterfeit medicines. Contrary to the wishful thinking of accruing benefits of distributing prasadam one might be committing grave offenses.
    Karmi food sold in market clearly lists its ingredients, nutritional value and conditions in which it was prepared. Similarly, the masses should also be apprised of with all information needed to know if the preparations distributed are indeed prasadam.
    People will appreciate the sincerity in acknowledging the shortcomings which they are observing anyways.

  15. Basu Ghosh Das says :

    In this regard, I had written a letter to Sri Nathji Prabhu, the Chairman of the ISKCON India mid-day meal program, this past July. Here is the letter – it appears in two parts – part one appears, below:

    From: Basu Ghosh (das) ACBSP (Baroda – IN) Date: 29-Jul-11
    To: “Dr.N D Desai”
    Subject: ISKCON and social welfare work

    Dear Sri Nathji Prabhu,

    Namonamaha. Jaya Srila Prabhupada!

    Received both of your messages, written in response to my comments on Bhima Prabhu’s posting on the ISKCON India Continental Committee (ICC) conference on

    Kindly accept my personal and unconditional apology if you in anyway feel personally insulted by what I wrote on the ICC conference regarding the “mid-day meals” program.

    My intention was not to attack you personally or slander your integrity. As you well know I hold you in high esteem, and respect with high regard the many wonderful services you have rendered to the ISKCON institution. I’ve always dealt with you with the utmost respect and regard.

    However, I do feel that I have right to express my personal opinion regarding what I consider here to be both an ideological as well as a practical issue. Is that “in and of itself”, wrong?

    It would have been nobler, that instead of launching a “frontal attack” on my personality and integrity – which seems to be political in nature – that you would have simply stuck to the issue of “mid-day meals” and “social welfare work”, and not decided to tread on the right that Bhima Prabhu and I have to express our opinions regarding the direction and functioning of the ISKCON institution.

    Imagine if the crores of rupees that have been collected (as well as the time and effort put into making those collections) for the mid-day meals program had been channeled into book distribution, “scientific preaching” (BI/Drutakarma Prabhu), and youth preaching (as Radhe Shyam Prabhu is so successfully undertaking at Pune and all over India)?

  16. Basu Ghosh Das says :

    Part 2 of my letter (see above)

    Ten years ago at “Radhadesh”, ISKCON’s center in Belgium, HH Jayadvaita Swami gave a series of lectures entitled “Food for Death”, wherein he staunchly opposed “social welfare oriented” activities, based on his understanding of Prabhupada’s instructions.

    Those lectures appear on Jayadvaita Maharaj’s website at the following URL (link):

    That Prabhupada wanted prasad from Mayapur temple to be sent to needy villagers in the area (the “10 kilometer radius” quote you mentioned, but overgeneralized) was a “specific time and circumstance instruction” by Prabhupada and not one of his “key teachings”.

    The point, Prabhu, is simple. There is an urgent need in the world for spreading the teachings of the vedic literatures, which the governments of the world are totally neglecting. Mid-day meals is a diversion from this mission – in my and many other devotees opinions.

    To be frank, charity, in the view of the “mleccha and yavana West”, is hospitals, schools, poor feeding, emergency medical assistance, etc., etc.

    Prabhupada did not outline such activities for ISKCON, and hence the Bhaktivedanta Hospital was not allowed by the GBC – and not by Bhima Das or Basu Ghosh Das – to be a part of ISKCON. Why blame us here? Why become angry when we humbly point out that these activities were not what
    Prabhupada (nor our previous acharyas, specifically Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur) envisioned to be part of his (their) preaching mission?

    In conclusion, I humbly request that you have a “rethink” here. Kindly consider – after all you a very highly learned, intelligent, and devotional individual – that spending our time and money on social welfare activities is a deviation from the vision for spreading Krishna bhakti and vedic sanatan dharma as taught by Prabhupada.

    So while I agree that we should show mercy to the distressed – whatever their personal physical and mental distress happen to be – we as Gaudiya Vaishnavas should aim to propagate the ideology propagated by Prabhupada and Srila Saraswati Thakur, menionted herein above, for the “shreyas” – the
    liberation of the atma from the “samsara chakram” – of mankind.

    Thank you, Sri Nathji Prabhu, for your kind consideration of these theological and philosophical points. Whatever you may think, I will continue hold you personally in high regard.

    Hoping this meets you well.

    daso’smi (I am your servant),

    Basu Ghosh Das

  17. Basu Ghosh Das says :

    Footnote: Sri Nathji Das recently announced a donation of US $1,000,000.00 (One Million US dollars) to the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium at Mayapur. For that kind contribution, ISKCON will remain grateful, and I very much appreciate his kindness and generosity – not only for this outstanding donation, but for the many, many services that he has rendered to ISKCON for the past 35 years! Again, I want to stress that those of us who are not in favor of ISKCON engaging in “social welfare activities” have no personal animosity or “axe to grind” with anyone. It’s a “principled stand” – nothing more, nothing less.

  18. krishna-kirti says :

    When I first saw the Grand Canyon, I, like so many others, were awestruck by the sheer power of nature. Just now, I experienced a similar moment of awestruck grandeur in witnessing Maya’s sheer power on display in Priyavrata’s sincerely expressed belief that “ISKCON is too large an organization that it will ever lose sight of the goal of spreading Krishna consciousness.” All but the willfully obtuse will recognize in this belief in one’s own infallibility, whether of an individual or of a community, the sign of pride before the fall. Those who think ISKCON too grand a project to fail should remember the destruction of the Yadu dynasty and, for that matter, the demise of the Gaudy Math. Krishna is no more obliged to maintain ISKCON than He was the Yadu Dynasty or Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura’s historic institution.

  19. PriyavrataFFL says :

    Dear Gaurakeshava prabhu. Excellent comments.

    Bashu Gosh, also good point, however, I think it is unfair to label any kind of prasadam distribution as “social welfare activities.” Doing so, in my opinion, lessons to service of those involved. If the food is prepared and offered with love, then it is prasadam, and prasadam distribution is transcendental.

    Krishna Kirti prabhu, I am a very optimistic person and I know that Prabhupada will not fail. Since ISKCON is Prabhupada’s body, it won’t fail. I pray that you will one day have such faith.


    Priyavrata das

  20. damodara_bvks says :

    Dear Prabhu,

    My comment Part-1:
    Very happy to see some sparks coming out of this and that the matter is under discussion as this will help ISKCON, if required, to improve.

    What I can strictly see in this open letter is that the author and the similar devotees have felt offended by the lecture of HH Bhakti Vikasa Swami. But, as pointed out in many comments above, HH Bhaktivikasa Swami is not against prasadam distribution per se, but is certainly against: 1) prasadam distribution without the accompanying activity of Harinam. 2) Popularizing ISKCON on the basis of prasadam distribution as the welfare activity (although not mentioned it as mundane but not emphasizing its spiritual effects while collecting for it passes the message of it being mundane).
    I would like to draw the attention of H G Priyavrata Prabhu that 3 out of the 4 quotes he has mentioned in the open letter mentions having other two activities along with prasadam distribution. Now H G Murari Prabhu has mentioned very nice and relevant quotes where Srila Prabhupada specifically addresses this issue of distributing prasadam without harinam and other activities together.

    The basic mistake being done here is to take the 3 aspects of preaching viz. Harinam, prasadam distribution and philosphical discourse, to be separate from each other. It is mistakenly thought that one can lead one aspect and the other can lead the other aspect and the mission will flourish. It is to be noted from the quotes in Murari Prabhu’s comment that Srila Prabhupada was not in favor of it.

    Now coming to the point of HH Bhakti Vikasa Swami using SP quotes selectively, I am not able to make out what does that actually mean? I think no intelligent person will be able to appreciate this statement, because this can be used against anyone who quotes SP. The point is that the person accusing this should prove that HH Bhakti Vikasa Swami has selectively used the quotes without proper context.

    So I would like to invite the author of this open letter to please substantiate and prove the words he has said. Then it will help all the members of ISKCON to understand the matter more properly and at least the intelligent class to appreciate the open letter.
    Of course the author tried to prove his point by stating about 4 quotes directly related to Prasadam distribution, but, as I pointed out, they support HH Bhaktivikasa Swami more than the author.

    Hari Guru Vaisnava Das
    Damodara Das.

  21. damodara_bvks says :

    Damodara Das
    My comment Part 2:

    Also respected Priyavrata Prabhu,
    Please properly read and quote the full letter that Srila Prabhupada wrote (jan 9, 1973 to Damodara) and that you have quoted in this open letter. Actual fact is completely screened by your selective quoting from this letter of Srila Prabhupada.

    Hope the facts as they are, will become more clear and the audience can understand them.

    Hari Guru Vaisnava Das,
    Damodara Das.

  22. Radhananda Dasa says :

    In regard to the comment on Salvation Army, it might be prudent to consider that our missionary activities are prone to the same dangers that Salvation Army succumbed to. It is a well known fact that history repeats itself. When Salvation Army desired to change public opinion by positive social contributions, they didn’t want to drift away from their missionary objectives. Now they are deviated to the extent that they have gone above and beyond feeding the poor and needy. Now they help people pay for their water and electric services ( The other day I saw a Salvation Army truck offering towing/pickup services for broken cars!

    How did Salvation Army deviate to such a great extent? When a missionary establishment engages in social contributions even if it is at a small extent, people and governments expect more. And the more one engages is social welfare the expectations keep on increasing. Thats how a missionary church ends up where Salvation Army is today.

    Now that we have established a good reputation for feeding the school children all over India, next time the government is looking for collaboration with some organization for some other charitable work they will come to ISKCON or its affiliates and we won’t have any solid grounds to say no even if wanted to deny. So to keep the authorities happy we might have to venture into charities which wouldn’t have otherwise.

    There might be genuine need for these charities, but the point is that there are other institutions dedicated for such work. For instance the Indian Military doesn’t take up the role of Judiciary just because there several hundreds of thousands of court cases pending in Indian courts for several decades and there are not enough personnel to administer them. If they do, they will be dragged into this further and won’t be able to administer their actual duties. Indian borders will then be infiltrated by the Chinese and Pakistanis. It will be disaster. Even if people didn’t have a favorable opinion about the Military and even if they accused them of sitting on the borders and consuming tax-payers money, they are better of doing that. It is bad idea for the Military to be engaged to Judiciary to get a favorable opinion of the people.

    Let the charitable organizations to do the charity and let the spiritual organizations focus on their core business without venturing into gray areas.

  23. pustakrishna says :

    I would simply like to highlight several important yet obvious points. There is a difference between discussing something in person, where differences of opinion have a rather finite existence. Once the discussion is over, it is over…unless one wishes to dwell upon it personally. On the other hand, once something is placed into “print” as it were, on the internet or otherwise, it is out there for good. The message: watch what you want to write about on the internet or in books.
    The distribution of prasadam on a mass scale in ISKCON, apart from the festivals like Rathayatra and the like, started to the best of my recollection in Mayapur. After the Bangladesh war or floods, ISKCON Mayapur developed large covered shelters in which to feed large numbers of people. This was blessed by Srila Prabhupad. It is more than simply “public relations”, as might be promoted. It is part of a vaishnava’s compassion. Someone cannot survive to revive their Krishna consciousness without eating! And, that mercy mission evolved further into the Food for Life Program which in come cases may be serving prasadam to very poor people and in some cases helping to educate people that prasadam is nourishing both to the body and the spirit. Who could object to that? It is part of the educational mission of ISKCON.
    Money that is collected for Krishna’s service need not only be used for “printing books”. Obviously, Srila Prabhupad expanded ISKCON with Temples, farm communities, etc. which give places for Krishna katha to take place. When Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur Prabhupad said to our Gurudeva that “if you have some money, print books”, it was both for the future needs of humanity to learn about Krishna in the English (and other) languages, but also to avoid the squabbles about properties that so many lesser vaishnavas may take part in. You must not hang every argument about the use of money for Krishna’s service on the argument that it is all meant for printing books. I would suggest that you would not be able to collect very much if you only promoted that ‘all donations will be used to print books.’ Seriously, these are simple minded arguments within only a small space. Encourage open-mindedness. The activities of the bhaktas who act with faith are all glorious…and that is my personal take on this. Pusta Krishna das

  24. Puskaraksa das says :


    na tyajyam karyam eva tat
    yajno danam tapas caiva
    pavanani manisinam

    yajna–sacrifice; dana–charity; tapah–penance; karma–activities; na–never; tyajyam–to be given up; karyam–must be done; eva–certainly; tat–that; yajnah–sacrifice; danam–charity; tapah–penance; ca–also; eva–certainly; pavanani–purifying; manisinam–even of the great souls.

    Acts of sacrifice, charity and penance are not to be given up but should be performed. Indeed, sacrifice, charity and penance purify even the great souls.

    The yogis should perform acts for the advancement of human society. There are many purificatory processes for advancing a human being to spiritual life. The marriage ceremony, for example, is considered to be one of these sacrifices. It is called vivaha-yajna. Should a sannyasi, who is in the renounced order of life and who has given up his family relations, encourage the marriage ceremony? The Lord says here that any sacrifice which is meant for human welfare should never be given up. Vivaha-yajna, the marriage ceremony, is meant to regulate the human mind to become peaceful for spiritual advancement. For most men, this vivaha-yajna should be encouraged even by persons in the renounced order of life. Sannyasis should never associate with women, but that does not mean that one who is in the lower stages of life, a young man, should not accept a wife in the marriage ceremony. All prescribed sacrifices are meant for achieving the Supreme Lord. Therefore, in the lower stages, they should not be given up. Similarly, charity is for the purification of the heart. If charity is given to suitable persons, as described previously, it leads one to advanced spiritual life.

  25. Puskaraksa das says :

    Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 3.29.27

    atha māḿ sarva-bhūteṣu
    bhūtātmānaḿ kṛtālayam
    arhayed dāna-mānābhyāḿ
    maitryābhinnena cakṣuṣā

    atha — therefore; mām — Me; sarva-bhūteṣu — in all creatures; bhūta-ātmānam — the Self in all beings; kṛta-ālayam — abiding; arhayet — one should propitiate; dāna-mānābhyām — through charity and respect; maitryā — through friendship; abhinnena — equal; cakṣuṣā — by viewing.

    Therefore, through charitable gifts and attention, as well as through friendly behavior and by viewing all to be alike, one should propitiate Me, who abide in all creatures as their very Self.

    It should not be misunderstood that because the Supersoul is dwelling within the heart of a living entity, the individual soul has become equal to Him. The equality of the Supersoul and the individual soul is misconceived by the impersonalist. Here it is distinctly mentioned that the individual soul should be recognized in relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The method of worshiping the individual soul is described here as either giving charitable gifts or behaving in a friendly manner, free from any separatist outlook…

  26. Puskaraksa das says :

    Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 1.9.27

    dāna-dharmān rāja-dharmān
    mokṣa-dharmān vibhāgaśaḥ
    strī-dharmān bhagavad-dharmān

    dāna-dharmān — the acts of charity; rāja-dharmān — pragmatic activities of the kings; mokṣa-dharmān — the acts for salvation; vibhāgaśaḥ — by divisions; strī-dharmān — duties of women; bhagavat-dharmān — the acts of the devotees; samāsa — generally; vyāsa — explicitly; yogataḥ — by means of.

    He then explained, by divisions, acts of charity, the pragmatic activities of a king and activities for salvation. Then he described the duties of women and devotees, both briefly and extensively.

    To give charity is one of the householder’s main functions, and he should be prepared to give in charity at least fifty percent of his hard-earned money. A brahmacārī, or student, should perform sacrifices, a householder should give charity, and a person in the retired life or in the renounced order should practice penances and austerities. Those are the general functions of all the āśramas, or orders of life on the path of self-realization. In the brahmacārī life the training is sufficiently imparted so that one may understand that the world as property belongs to the Supreme Lord, the Personality of Godhead. No one, therefore, can claim to be the proprietor of anything in the world. Therefore, in the life of a householder, which is a sort of license for sex enjoyment, one must give in charity for the service of the Lord. Everyone’s energy is generated or borrowed from the reservoir of energy of the Lord; therefore, the resultant actions of such energy must be given to the Lord in the shape of transcendental loving service for Him. As the rivers draw water from the sea through the clouds and again go down to the sea, similarly our energy is borrowed from the supreme source, the Lord’s energy, and it must return to the Lord. That is the perfection of our energy. The Lord, therefore, in the Bhagavad-gītā (9.27) says that whatever we do, whatever we undergo as penance, whatever we sacrifice, whatever we eat or whatever we give in charity must be offered to Him (the Lord). That is the way of utilizing our borrowed energy. When our energy is utilized in that way, our energy is purified from the contamination of material inebrieties, and thus we become fit for our original natural life of service to the Lord…

  27. gokula candra das says :

    Dear Priyavrata Prabhu,
    Please accept my humble obeisances.
    All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

    I just heard HH Bhakti Vikasa Maharaja’s concern lecture.
    It is obvious that you misunderstood him. Maharaj clearly glorifies prasadam distribution and gives examples of such projects in the ISKCON’s world, where prasadam distribution is done in proper spirit, namely accompanied with chanting the holy name and preaching KC. (the very same thing is expressed in “Food for death” by HH Jayadvaita maharaj.) Then he expresses his concern about the prasadam distribution projects which are presented as “feed the poor”, which are not accompanied by chanting the holy name and are obviously meant for easy funds collection. The worst of all is that such a presentation of our movement in public would put us down on mundane welfare platform, which is obviously something that Srila Prabhupada did not want, as quoted in SSR chapter. Altruism: Temporary and Eternal. Obviously that Srila Prabhupada new the “opportunity” to get good name for the society, support from “many important men”, but he flatly refuse. Why? It is clear that he did not want to present his movement as another mundane welfare society. Technically called “karma”. He did not want to mix karma into pure bhakti, for this is the ideal jïäna-karmädy-anävåtam. So Maharaja’s concern is reasonable, supported by Srila Prabhupada’s quotes and highly encouraging suddha-bhakti way of prasadam distribution.
    I found that all the quotes you provided fit very nicely in what HH Bhakti Vikasa Maharaj have said, but from your letter I could not understand how you are going to fit this Srila Prabhupada’s quote mentioned above.
    Holding such a important post in our movement, please kindly explain how do you fit this Srila Prabhupada’s quote in your concept?
    Is there any other explanation than “mundane altruism vs. pure devotion”, humbly I would like to know.
    If not, the please consider apologizing to HH Bhakti Vikasa Swami who is your well-wisher and is kindly warning us about deviation from Srila Prabhupada’s path – the path of pure bhakti.

    Waiting for your reply.
    Your servant
    Gokula Candra das

  28. bhakta_dasa says :

    Sri Sri Guru Gaurangau Jayatah!

    I listened attentively to Swami Bhakti Vikash’s long class and have read many comments on it here and elsewhere.

    My first point is that the Swami has not fabricated anything, nor has he spoken with malicious intent, or envy. He has supported his realizations, conclusions with reference to Shastra, Guru, and Sadhu.

    I feel to attack him for his having the courage to speak his realization is in itself offensive.

    He has deeper concern that the food for life programs, which are the subtle influence of mayavadi / impersonal philosophy creeping into the society of devotees.

    One may consider how much effort His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada made in writing chapter after chapter, and hundreds and thousands of purports to explain the subtleties of Mayavada. Who did he write his books for? He wrote them for us, his followers, who are the readers of his books! Who are the mayavadis? It is us, we all are born here envious of Krishna, trying to imitate Krishna, we all want to be the center of attention, and we are all diseased. Unless and until we are situated in our swarup, as long as the modes of material nature are affecting us we are still diseased.

    Today, we see a lot of intermingling of devotees with other religious groups, interfaith so-called conferences, etc. His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada never mixed with these. He always made it clear that we are here to teach “ananya bhilasita sunyam, jnana karmadi anavrtam” pure unalloyed devotional service untouched by jnana, karma, yoga, etc.

    I find that Swami Bhakti Vikash’s point it this and it behooves us to remain fixated on this EKANATA BHAKTI, and not become again enamoured by karma, jnana, yoga, etc.

  29. gaurakeshavadas says :

    While I do appreciate the encouragement and suggestions by HH BVK and HH Jayadvaita Swamis (echoing similar instructions by Srila Prabhupada) that prasadam distribution WITH harinam and WITH philosophical explanation is the best policy, still it cannot be shown that prasadam distribution WITHOUT harinam and WITHOUT philosophical explanation is simply mundane. Neither can it be shown practically that ISKCON has never, even during the time and under the directions of Srila Prabhupada engaged in prasadam distribution WITHOUT harinam and WITHOUT philosophical explanation. The fact is that the sastras are full of stories of the glories of Krsna prasadam even WITHOUT harinam and WITHOUT philosophical explanation. For example we are supposed to follow Narada Pancaratra. In Narada Pancaratra a poor hungry brahmin finds some old stale mahaprasadam by the side of the road takes it home and after washing it, honors it by eating it along with his wife and son. This is WITHOUT any harinam and WITHOUT any philosophical explanation. Later that same poor brahmin travels away from home again in order to be fed at the sacrifices of wealthy persons. On his way to the place where he was to be fed by the wealthy patrons of that sacrifice he is attacked and eaten by a tiger in the jungle. The story ends by mentioning that his wife and son went back to Godhead due only to eating that old stale mahaprasadam. It then says that the brahmin himself went back to Godhead due only to his eating of that old stale mahaprasadam. Finally the chapter ends stating that EVEN THE TIGER went back to Godhead due to eating the brahmin who had eaten the old stale mahaprasadam. Indeed so great are the glories of the Lord’s prasadam that even that tiger went back to Godhead even by such indirect contact with mahaprasadam. Let us of course try for the highest standard, and let us not despise anyone who encourages us to strive for that highest standard. Yet at the same time let us also unequivocally understand the glories of mahaprasadam even WITHOUT harinam or philosophical explanation. Let us not, due to over zealousness, give up the distribution en masse of mahaprasadam simply because we cannot always accompany it with harinam or philosophical explanation. Let us not let the good and great, be the enemy of the perfect. Lord Rama accepted even the meagre efforts of the spiders and squirrels in building his bridge to Lanka and did not disregard them because they were imperfect in their service.

  30. Basu Ghosh Das says :

    Here are a couple of interesting letters that Prabhupada wrote about “mundane social welfare work”.

    Notice in the second letter the sentence: “and actually, OUR TEMPLE should be the via media for feeding the poor with food and spiritual knowledge.” [Caps added for emphasis herein above. Note that the letter from SSR, below, extends to a second, “separate” comment, that will appear, below].

    From: The Science of Self Realization, Chapter 6 “Altruism: Temporary and Eternal”

    In 1972, the South Indian state of Andhra Pradesh was stricken by a severe drought that affected millions. Hoping that the International Society for Krishna Consciousness would provide assistance, T. L. Kapadia, Secretary of the Andhra Pradesh Relief Fund Committee, wrote to Srila Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada responded with this surprising and edifying letter.

    Revered Swamiji,

    The residents of the twin cities are happy to have this opportunity to meet you and your esteemed followers. You may be aware that due to inadequate rainfall during the last two years and its complete failure this year, more than half of our state [Andhra Pradesh, a state in southern India] is in the grip of a serious drought. With a view to supplement governmental efforts to combat this evil, a Central Voluntary Organization of citizens drawn from various walks of life has been set up. The members of this organization surveyed the areas affected by drought. The situation is pathetic. There are villages where drinking water is not available for miles. Due to scarcity of fodder, the cattle owners are parting with their cattle for a nominal price. Many of the stray cattle are dying away due to unavailability of fodder and water. The food problem is also very serious. Due to high prices of food grains on the open market, purchase of grains at market prices is beyond the reach of poor villagers, with the result that at least five to six million people are hardly having one meal a day. There are many who are on the verge of starvation. The entire situation is most pathetic and heartrending.
    We therefore appeal to your revered self to consider how your Society could best come to the rescue of these millions of souls who are in unimaginable distress. The Committee would like to suggest that members of your Society appeal to the bhaktas [devotees] attending your discourses to contribute their mite to the Andhra Pradesh Relief Fund.

  31. Basu Ghosh Das says :

    [Note: Prabhupada’s reply to Sri Kapadia will appear in a third comment, to follow this one, a continuation of the first comment in this “chain”].

    The Committee is prepared to send some of its representatives along with members of your Society wherever you wish to distribute prasada to the
    hungry millions in the state.

    As manava-seva is madhava-seva [“Service to man is service to God”], the Committee is confident that even a little effort by your gracious Society will go a long way in mitigating the sufferings of hundreds and thousands of people.

    Yours ever in the service of the Lord,

    T. L. Kapadia, Secretary

    Andhra Pradesh Relief fund Committee
    Hyderabad, India

  32. Basu Ghosh Das says :

    [Due to space limitations, the rest of Srila Prabhupada’s letter appears in the fourth comment in this “chain”].

    My dear Mr. Kapadia,

    Please accept my greetings.

    With reference to your letter and your personal interview, I beg to inform you that without pleasing the Supreme Personality of Godhead, no one can become happy. Unfortunately people do not know who God is and how to make Him happy. Our Krishna consciousness movement is therefore meant to present the Supreme Personality of Godhead directly to the people. As stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, Seventh Canto, Sixth Chapter: tussle ca tatra kim alabhyam anent adye/ kim tair guna-vyatikarad iha ye sva-siddhah.

    The idea stated in this verse is that by pleasing the Supreme Personality of Godhead, we please everyone, and there is no question of scarcity. Because people do not know this secret of success, they are making their own independent plans to be happy. However, it is not possible to achieve happiness in this way. On your letterhead I find many important men in this country who are interested in relieving the sufferings of the people, but they should know for certain that without pleasing the Supreme Personality of Godhead all their attempts will be futile. A diseased man cannot live simply on the strength of the help of an expert physician and medicine. If this were so, then no rich man would ever die. One must be favored by Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

    Therefore if you want to perform relief work simply by collecting funds, I think that it will not be successful.

    You have to please the supreme authority, and that is the way to success. For example, due to the performance of sankirtana here, the rain has begun to fall after a drought of two years. The last time we performed a Hare Krishna Festival in Delhi, there was imminent danger of Pakistan’s declaring war, and when a newspaper man approached me for my opinion, I said there must be fighting because the other party was aggressive. However, because of our sankirtana movement, India emerged victorious. Similarly, when we held a festival in Calcutta, the Naxalite [Communist] movement stopped. These are facts. Through the sankirtana movement we can not only get all facilities for living, but also at the end can go back home, back to Godhead. Those who are of a demoniac nature cannot understand this, but it is a fact.

  33. Basu Ghosh Das says :

    [Prabhupada’s reply to Sri Kapadia, continued]:

    I therefore request you, as leading members of society, to join this movement. There is no loss on anyone’s part for chanting the Hare Krishna mantra, but the gain is great. According to Bhagavad-gita (3.21), what is accepted by leading men is also accepted by common men:

    yad yad acarati shreshthas
    tat tad evetaro janah
    sa yat pramanam kurute
    lokas tad anuvartate

    “Whatever action a great man performs, common men follow in his footsteps. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues.”

    The sankirtana movement of Krishna consciousness is very important. Therefore, through you I wish to appeal to all the leading men of India to accept this movement very seriously and give us all facility to spread this movement throughout the world. Then there will be a very happy condition, not only in India but all over the world.

    Hoping this will meet you in good health,
    Your ever well-wisher,
    A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

    = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

    Here’s a separate letter to Giriraj (now swami)

    Note the following sentence from the letter – “and actually, OUR TEMPLE should be the via media for feeding the poor with food and spiritual knowledge.” [Caps added to emphasize the statement]

    Letter to: Giriraja

    23 April, 1972


    My dear Giriraja,

    Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your letter dated April 15, 1972 and I have noted the contents. This food distribution program is to be done very, very nicely as I have already written in my last letter. Generally people make a plea that why are there so many hungry and naked. So we invite all hungry and naked people to come to us and we will give them food and clothing and Krishna consciousness as well. This will attract the general public and there will never be any shortage of food-stuffs, so continue regularly. In Bombay there are many generous persons who like food distribution programs, and actually, our temple should be the via media for feeding the poor with food and spiritual knowledge. Our Bombay program should be based on giving Krishna consciousness through the English medium and distribution of prasadam without any discrimination. This will enhance our prestige and will accelerate our spiritual life as well. The temple program of arati, kirtana, bhoga offerings, discourses, etc. should continue. There should be no neglect of that program.

  34. Radhananda Dasa says :

    Dear Puskaraksa Prabhu,
    Please accept my humble obeisances
    All glories to Srila Prabhupada

    You quoted BG 18.5: “Therefore, in the lower stages, they should not be given up. Similarly, charity is for the purification of the heart. If charity is given to suitable persons, as described previously, it leads one to advanced spiritual life.”

    Response: By quoting this do you imply that ISKCON is in lower stages? Also the key point here is “suitable persons”, which refers to a ‘brahmana’ or a ‘devotee’ as explained in purport to BG 17.20 below:

    “In the Vedic literature, charity given to a person engaged in spiritual activities is recommended. There is no recommendation for giving charity indiscriminately. Spiritual perfection is always a consideration. Therefore charity is recommended to be given at a place of pilgrimage and at lunar or solar eclipses or at the end of the month or to a qualified brāhmaṇa or a Vaiṣṇava (devotee) or in temples. Such charities should be given without any consideration of return. Charity to the poor is sometimes given out of compassion, but if a poor man is not worth giving charity to, then there is no spiritual advancement. In other words, indiscriminate charity is not recommended in the Vedic literature.” (Purport BG 17.20)

    Hare Krishna

    Your Servant,
    Radhananda Dasa

  35. Radhananda Dasa says :

    Dear Puskaraksa Prabhu,
    Please accept my humble obeisances
    All glories to Srila Prabhupada

    You quoted SB 1.9.27: “To give charity is one of the householder’s main functions, and he should be prepared to give in charity at least fifty percent of his hard-earned money.”

    Response: The key point is that it is householder’s main function and not that of a spiritual organization. Please read the below purport.

    “The next item is charity. Charity is meant for the householders. The householders should earn a livelihood by an honorable means and spend fifty percent of their income to propagate Krsna consciousness all over the world. Thus a householder should give in charity to institutional societies that are engaged in that way. Charity should be given to the right receiver. There are different kinds of charity, as will be explained later on—charity in the modes of goodness, passion and ignorance. Charity in the mode of goodness is recommended by the scriptures, but charity in the modes of passion and ignorance is not recommended, because it is simply a waste of money. Charity should be given only to propagate Krsna consciousness all over the world. That is charity in the mode of goodness.” Purport, BG 16.1-3

    Hare Krishna

    Your Servant,
    Radhananda Dasa

  36. Radhananda Dasa says :

    Dear Puskaraksa Prabhu,
    Please accept my humble obeisances
    All glories to Srila Prabhupada

    You quoted SB 3.29.27: “The method of worshiping the individual soul is described here as either giving charitable gifts or behaving in a friendly manner, free from any separatist outlook…”

    Response: These are instructions by Lord Kapila-deva to individuals aspiring to advance in devotional service (BG 16.1-3 states that charity is meant for the householders). A spiritual organization on the other hand by its very establishment in society is taking up a higher role and is meant to elevate others and that can’t happen by worshipping them. Theoretically we can even go around offering dandavats to every living entity we encounter and in this way worship them but it won’t benefit these jivas in any way.

    Hare Krishna

    Your Servant,
    Radhananda Dasa

  37. Payonidhi Das says :

    Srila Prabhupada did not have two opinions about prasadam distribution, we can do away with the salary system and increase prasadam distribution.

    and I humbly suggest all salary be used instead to increase prasadam distribution.
    Any objections to this proposal?
    your servant
    Payonidhi das

  38. Puskaraksa das says :

    From the above selected quotes, amongst many others, devotees may understand that there is nothing wrong in performing charity or charitable acts – dana – or being charitable… Rather, this should be seen in a positive way as a quality…

    In the Mahabharata, it is stated:

    dharmas ca satyam ca damas tapas ca
    amatsaryam hris titiksanasuya
    yajnas ca danam ca dhrtih srutam ca
    vratani vai dvadasa brahmanasya

    “A brahmana must be perfectly religious. He must be truthful, and he must be able to control his senses. He must execute severe austerities, and he must be detached, humble and tolerant. He must not envy anyone, and he must be expert in performing sacrifices and giving whatever he has in charity. He must be fixed in devotional service and expert in the knowledge of the Vedas. These are the twelve qualifications for a brahmana.”

    Elsewhere in the Mahabharata (Vana Parva Chapter 180) Yudhisthira explains —

    satyam danam ksama-silam
    anrsyamsam tapo ghrna
    drsyante yatra nagendra
    sa brahmana iti smrtah

    “A person who possesses truthfulness, charity, forgiveness, sobriety, gentleness, austerity and lack of hatred is called a brahmana.”

    You will find that practically everywhere, charity is listed amongst pious activities which will elevate and purify, even the realized souls…

    As a matter of fact, it is as natural for a devotee to be para-dukha-dukhi, to feel compassion for the suffering of others, as it is for a good tree to give fruits through its bramches…

    Similarly, ISKCON being the main branch of the tree of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and gathering devotees who perform some service – seva – and express their compassion in different ways, according to their individual nature, thankfully does distribute lavishly nowadays prasadam to millions of people daily, through some of its branches and sub-branches…

    Who would complain about that ?

    Besides, since the duty of the grihasta is to distribute prasada, it gives many grihastas around the world an opportunity to perform their prescribed duty, by contributing somehow or other to the transcendental prasadam distribution performed through various channels…

    As Priyavrata Prabhu is expressing, it is a win-win situation, where not only contributors and receivers are being purified, but it does also create a foundation for a Krishna conscious society, acting around the principle of daivi varnashrama…

  39. Puskaraksa das says :

    In this regard, while thanking Bhakti-Vikasa Maharaja for having the frankness and openness to express his concerns, we should neither be too shortsighted, nor oblivious to some aspects of the life of our previous acaryas…

    For instance, while Maharaja questions having a Bhaktivedanta hospital, he may forget that as a grihasta Srila Prabhupada made a living and supported both his family and his preaching, via some pharmaceutical business, which was meant to cure some physical diseases or aleviate bodily pains. Besides, as we all have been or will be patients at some stage in our life, wouldn’t it be nicer to go to an hospital where doctors and nurses are devotees, where you can be served not only vegetarian food, but Krishna prasad and where they may be able to assist you spiritually till your last breath…?

    This being said, we have to also put things in the perspective of varnashrama… Bhakti Vikasa Maharaja is obviously strict and this is to be appreciated from the side of a sannyasi, training brahmacaris…

    But, the whole world is not made only of brahmacaris and sannyasis… The majority of people will associate with the opposite sex at some stage in their life, after the brahmacari ashrama and/or before the sannyasa ashrama… Thus, they will have to live within society and will hopefully turn the whole society into a Krishna conscious society, thanks to their being devotees…

    In that line our previous acaryas have set an example, while taking interest or performing various activities: Srila Bhaktisiddantha, for instance, besides being a great spiritual teacher, was also a great astrologer; Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur besides being a prolific spiritual writer was also a judge; Sri Rupa and Sanatana were ministers with the Muslim government of the time, before joining Mahaprabhu; Ramananda Raya was the Governor of Madras, etc.

    So, we cannot or should not be too fanatical and deny anyone the right to do anything else besides performing Harinam and distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books (or Maharaja’s books, as he honestly comments on that).

    Moreover, despite whatever opinion one may have, we should not forget one of Srila Prabhupada’s main instructions: “if you love me, cooperate with each other”. Therefore, rather than waisting our time criticizing others for what they may say, write or do and run the risk of committing vaishnava aparadha, shouldn’t we rather focus on our seva as an offering of love to Guru, Krishna and the Vaishnavas…?

  40. Radhananda Dasa says :

    Dear Pustakrishna Prabhu,

    You quoted: “The distribution of prasadam on a mass scale in ISKCON, apart from the festivals like Rathayatra and the like, started to the best of my recollection in Mayapur. After the Bangladesh war or floods, ISKCON Mayapur developed large covered shelters in which to feed large numbers of people. This was blessed by Srila Prabhupad.”

    Yes, Srila Prabhupada was very much in favor of ISKCON Food Relief and it should go on. But ISKCON Food Relief was strictly restricted to people (refugees or otherwise) coming to our centers, festivals. I didn’t find a single instance in any conversation or letter where ISKCON Food Relief was operating beyond the 10 mile radius limit that Srila Prabhupada clearly delineated. In a room conversation About Mayapura Construction, Aug 19, 1976, at Hyderabad, H.H. Jayapataka swami stated that price of rice had gone up significantly and weekend attendance in Mayapura went up from twelve hundred to two thousand and ISKCON Food Relief was feeding them nicely at the center (not beyond 10 mile radius). Srila Prabhupada appreciated it very much. But when chief minister of Andhra Pradesh requested Srila Prabhupada to support food relief programs by GOING OUT, he simply rejected the idea. Current programs have transgressed the boundaries set by Srila Prabhupada.

    Here is one more example of violating Srila Prabhupada’s instruction. Srila Prabhupada was very clear that even the restrictive 10 mile radius Food Relief Program shouldn’t be advertised and promoted even in ‘Back to Godhead’.

    “BTG is not meant for advertising ISKCON Food Relief.”
    >>> Ref. VedaBase => Letter to: Rupanuga — Honolulu 2 February, 1975

    I didn’t find a single reference to ISKCON Food Relief in BTG prior to 1978. The highest number of references to ‘ISKCON Food Relief’ in the BTG can be found in the year 1978, immediately after his departure.

    Also, the very state of Andhra Pradesh whose chief minister was personally denied by Srila Prabhupada of any help on relief work became one of the first recipients of mundane relief work after his departure and this was advertised in the BTG.

    From BTG, 13-06, 1978:
    “And not long ago, when a cyclone killed tens of thousands in southern India’s Andhra Pradesh province, ISKCON Food Relief came through for the survivors with emergency food distribution.”

    Hare Krishna

    Your Servant,
    Radhananda Dasa

  41. nityanandadas says :

    This instruction of Srila Prabhupada to Giriraj Swami is also relevant to the discussion:

    “So far prasada distribution, it is not a question of rich or poor. That will be Karma Kanda. Our program therefore is that we offer prasada to everyone. Make our temple so nice that everyone who comes is offered some prasada. Not that we are after poor men. It is nice that we are feeding 200 daily, but gradually try to increase. But do not advertise, we shall be self-advertising. And do not go to poor areas, this is not our philosophy. Our philosophy is prasada distribution, without discrimination rich or poor.”
    (Letter to Giriraja, Honolulu, 15 May 1972)

    your servant, Nityananda dasa

  42. sarvopama dasa says :

    Every devotee needs to do a personal inventory and examine his own consciousness. Am I motivated by love of God or love of money? Do I want Laxmi without Narayana? Am I trading away love of God for personal power?

    I think these are simple, up front, basic questions that some devotees may be neglecting. What’s my motive? Are there ways I can simplify my life and in that way make it easier to engage in activity that will more directly promote God consciousness? Whatever else I feel I need to do every day, is there any chance I can also engage in some direct preaching activity or has the very word “preach” become an anathema?

    Can I go out every day and chant the Holy Name in public or would that be too embarrassing for me and am I afraid that someone might not think I’m cool or they might even think I’m crazy? How much does the idea of a “comfortable arrangement” matter to my mindset?

    Am I unwilling to surrender to Krishna and tolerate the austerities that might go along with that decision? If I go back and carefully examine the nature of Srila Prabhupada’s mood and mission, how much will it justify my present lifestyle?

  43. gokula candra das says :

    2 Points for Priyavrata Prabhu.

    1. Dear Priyavrata Prabhu you have said

    “Maharaja may have encouraged the mass distribution of prasadam, however, to suggest that these projects are impure or leading ISKCON down a path of mundanity is absurd and quite frankly very offensive to a lot of very pure devotees.”

    After reading “ISKCON’s Midday meals statement” (see below) I found HH Bhakti Vikasa Maharaja’s concern appropriate and justifiable.

    Please read the below mentioned statement and kindly answer my questions:

    Is this our philosophy or is it path of mundanity?
    Do we believe in this? Is this the teaching of Srila Prabhupada?
    Will Srila Prabhupada be pleased with us?

    Midday meals – ISKCON Food Relief Foundation – from

    Who we are
    • ISKCON Food Relief Foundation is a NON-RELIGIOUS, Non-Sectarian, and Not-for Profit Charitable Trust
    • ISKCON Food Relief Foundation is not only feeding children, but it is also allowing the children to attend school and to be educated.

    ISKCON Food Relief Foundation believes that food is a fundamental right. Inadequate nutrition not only affects physical, mental, and emotional health of children adversely but also restricts their learning ability, development opportunities and effective participation in the community.

    We believe that a simple way of breaking the vicious cycle of hunger and poverty is by providing them regular and nutritious food AND THIS FULFILS ISKCON MISSION.

    1. To promote the provision of distribution of sanctified meals all over the India; and
    2. To promote food system education;

    Removing hunger and upscaling learning opportunities for underprivileged children

    2. Dear Priyavrata Prabhu, you did not answer my question yet, so I am repeating it:

    -If prasadam distribution is “always transcendental” then why did Srila Prabhupada flatly refuse it in the case mentioned in SSR; Altruism – Temporary and Eternal?

    Your servant
    Gokula Candra Das

  44. Payonidhi Das says :

    Srila Prabhupada had no doubts about increasing prasadam distribution among the poor as well:

    “Just like feeding the poor. It is also yajna. But the same thing, if it is dovetailed in consciousness, that becomes perfect. People are very much inclined to feed the poor with sumptuous food, but it can be done in a little different way, that the foodstuff offered to Visnu, prasada, that distribution foodstuff is better than ordinary distribution of foodstuff. Ordinarily, that is punya, pious activities, but when it is connection with Krsna, this is called yajna. Dravya-yajna. To distribute food and cloth, that is called dravya-yajna, but yajna can be said when it is done, dovetailing the activities with Krsna consciousness. That is yajna.” — Lecture Bhagavad-gita 4.28 – Bombay, April 17, 1974

  45. Akruranatha says :

    I just want to congratulate aspiringsadhaka for Comment #8.

    In his podcast, Bhakti Vikas Swami spoke of trying to bring up his concerns to the GBC, but he did not talk about going directly to Mukunda Maharaja or Bhakti Tirtha Swami or Radhanatha Swami and speaking privately and respectfully with them. I imagine these would be fruitful and enlivening discussions between advanced devotees.

    I have been slowly reading Maharaja’s biography of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur Prabhupada, “Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Vaibhava”, which is an amazing, important book — a masterpiece, actually. For that book alone, Bhakti Vikas Maharaja should be recognized as one of our heroes.

    However, in spite of the many good points he made about mundane welfare work, etc., the spirit and the tone of the podcast, particularly the direct public criticism of leading preachers who are great devotees, was unfortunately calculated to drive wedges and disrupt our unity. Even in private it would be a mistake.

    One of the many vocabulary words I learned from “Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Vaibhava” was “triumphalism.” It is true that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Prabhupada and Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada often displayed a “triumphalist” style of preaching. These lion-gurus were out conquering the world on behalf of Lord Caitanya’s movement.

    It does not bother me, however, that others have different styles of preaching. I found it refreshing that Radhanatha Swami did not feel compelled to denounce all the various teachers he met along his journey to Srila Prabhupada’s lotus feet, or to explicitly argue how Gaudiya Vaisnava siddhanta is superior to theirs. For one thing, people who admire the saintly qualities of other teachers and yogis will never get a chance to taste the delicious nectar of Sri Caitanya Caritamrta if all the devotees they ever meet turn them off by criticizing their heroes. It is not mundane compassion but genuine concern for bringing people to the Lord’s lotus feet that motivates our less confrontational and more accommodating preachers. They are really good preachers as evidenced by the many good devotees they have attracted.

    Not every act of kindness is motivated by false ego, and most often book distributors are successful by being ready to offer all respect to their customers. You usually have to say “he sadhavah” (and mean it) before you can say “sakalam eva vihaya durad caitanya-candra-carane kurutanuragam.” ;-)

  46. Sita Rama 108 says :

    Bhakti Vikasa Maharaja, on his website, explains to those considering becoming aspiring disciples that they should understand that some devotees in ISKCON consider him quite conservative. It seems to me, no matter who you are you will always find someone preaching a standard you do not feel inclined to surrender to. If I were involved in mid day meals I do not think I would be disturbed by Maharaja’s perspective. I would consider continuing with my activities enough of a statement.
    It would be tragic if Maharaja’s message was not available for those who have ears to hear him. He and the mid day meals are gaining exposure from this so it is all auspicious!

  47. madhukantha dasa says :

    Hare Krishna,

    All Glories to Sri Guru and Gouranga. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

    It is written in the website of the ISKCON midday meal program that, “A Strategic program to address two of the most pressing problems of India: Hunger & Education.” Hunger obstructs education as children are forced to leave schools and take up menial jobs. Lack of education curtails opportunities for development and leads to the vicious cycle of poverty and hunger. Education empowers a child to explore his potentials and earn a decent living and live a respectable life in our society”.

    So my question is, is it not better to give them the REAL EDUCATION of Krsna consciousness and the education about the MOST PRESSING PROBLEMS of not only India, but the whole world, i.e., how to overcome the VICIOUS CYCLE of birth, death, old age and disease? But we are feeding them so that they will get “education” of how to live a RESPECTABLE life in the society by respectfully engaged in eating, sleeping, mating and defending.

    We don’t have anything to do with helping the poors for getting a “respectable” life and position in society, but our goal is to make each and everyone Krsna conscious.


    madhukantha dasa

  48. madhukantha dasa says :

    Hare Krishna,

    All Glories to Sri Guru and Gouranga. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

    For the last one year, I’ve been travelling with Bhakti Vikasa Maharaj, nonstop, to so many places in India as well. So many programs were conducted not only in cities but in so many remote villages of India which are unknown to most of us. In all these programs, the main attractions were tremendous Harinam, Heavy kirtan, awesome lectures, more kirtan, large book distribution and then sumptuous prasadam feast for all (thosands of people). Maharaj emphasizes on prasadam so much that He Himself announces after the class that, “there is a rule that no one should go without prasadam”. In this way so many people have become devotees, no matter “rich” or “poor”. Maharaj keeps on travelling vigorously, don’t stay in a place for more than 3-4 days and conducts so many programs every year where huge quantity of prasadam is distributed to all the people along with all the other Krsna conscious activities. And the result is more and more people are taking to Krsna consciousness.

    Also, for some temple projects in South India, Maharaj has given the instructions to the Authorities that the main activity of the temple should be whole day Kirtan and whole day prasadam distribution. In this way as more and more people visits the temple and see the vast efforts of the devotees in the temple to feed each and everyone with Krishna Prasada, they will feel inspired to donate and there will be no need to collect donation in the name of feeding the poor (as so many mundane NGO’s are doing for name, fame and money).

    So Priyavrata Prabhu, does this suggests that Maharaj is against prasadam distribution?

    The difference is in outlook. Some people think that just by feeding poor they are doing service to Srila Prabhupada, while Maharaj is serving Srila Prabhupada by making more and more people Krishna conscious. No matter, “rich” or “poor”.


    madhukantha dasa

  49. Puskaraksa das says :

    The biggest hindrance to our spiritual progress is Vaishnava aparadha. It’s actually a very dangerous offense. We must be very careful about commiting Vaishnava aparadha.

    “Even though some of them do not strictly follow the rules and regulations of devotional service, on the whole they are devotees of Krishna and chant His name directly or indirectly.” Cc Adi-lila 5.232, Purport

    A Vaishnava is ADOSHA DARSHI. A Vaishnava never sees other’s faults. Of course, every human being has good qualities and faults. Therefore, it is said sadhyana guna mitsanti. A Vaishnava accepts only a man’s glories and not his faults. ADOSHA DARSHI means ONE WHO DOES NOT FIND FAULTS IN OTHERS. He simply sees the other’s good qualities and he finds faults with himself. He is very strict with himself and he is always watching himself very scrutinizingly, detecting all of the defects he has in himself.

    Sanatana Goswami followed the instructions of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and wrote a book on Vaishnava Etiquette. This book is the guidebook that directs a Vaishnava’s activities. The Hari-bhakti-vilasa describes Vaishnava etiquette as the behavior of a pure Vaishnava. Everybody should follow that standard. Here is how the Hari-bhakti-vilasa defines Vaishnava etiquette, its philosophy, and some basic Vaishnava principles.

    “Since nothing can be successful without sadacara or etiquette, every action should be performed with proper etiquette.” We must act according to proper etiquette. The heart of a saintly person is free from contamination. The way a saintly person acts is known as proper etiquette. A way a saintly person acts is know as sadacara.

    “If a person reads the six branches of the Vedas without practicing proper etiquette, he does not get purified, just as a bird flies away from the nest as soon as it grows wings, the Vedas leave him at the time of his death.

    “Although one may have acquired the knowledge of all of the Vedas, but if one is not practicing the proper etiquette or if he did not become a Vaishnava, then all of this knowledge which he has acquired, will be lost at the time of death.

    “Proper etiquette increases fame, opulence, longevity and destroys all inauspiciousness.

    “O king, proper etiquette gives the results of dharma, artha and kama. Therefore a wise man very carefully performs the proper etiquette described in the scriptures.

    “Thus one can understand that Vaishnava etiquette purifies the heart and the consciousness.”

  50. Puskaraksa das says :

    Now here are some basic principles and points, amongst many others, compiled from Hari-bhakti-vilasa and The Nectar of Devotion about the proper activities of one who is a Vaishnava. A Vaishnava:
    – Never uses unpleasant words.
    – Never tells a lie, even if it is pleasant.
    – Never speaks ill of others.
    – Does not become inimical to others.
    – Does not insult women.
    – Does not become envious of women.
    – Never causes any harm to anyone; instead, always tries to do good to others.
    – Does not mock people who are foolish, insane, distressed, ugly, cunning, lame, or fallen.
    – Does not chastise anyone except sons and disciples to educate them.
    – If someone insults him, leave the place silently.
    – Never praises himself.

    Just by listening to what has unfortunately become public while being available online, one may reflect and question on how much what was spoken is in line with the above mentioned principles of Vaishnava behaviour and code of conduct…

  51. Payonidhi Das says :

    “At the present moment, however, almost all forms of sacrifice are not at all possible; therefore, it is recommended in the sastras that people should perform sankirtana-yajna. Any householder, regardless of his position, can perform this sankirtana-yajna without expenditure. All the family members can sit down together and simply clap their hands and chant the Hare Krsna maha-mantra. Somehow or other, everyone can manage to perform such a yajna and distribute prasada to the people in general. That is quite sufficient for this age of Kali. The Krsna consciousness movement is based on this principle: chant the Hare Krsna mantra at every moment, as much as possible, both inside and outside of the temples, and, as far as possible, distribute prasada. This process can be accelerated with the cooperation of state administrators and those who are producing the country’s wealth. Simply by liberal distribution of prasada and sankirtana, the whole world can become peaceful and prosperous.”
    – SB 4.12.10 purport

    this is a very important quote…

  52. nrsingha8 says :

    Santäù means the persons who are sädhu, who are pious. They can cut off by their words our attachment with this material world. They can cut off. Just like Krishna is speaking to Arjuna. What is the idea of speaking so many things? Just to cut off his attachment from the so-called material affection. He is affected with something which is stumbling his progress in his own duty. So He is, Krishna is presenting His Bhagavad-gita just to cut off. Santä eva hi chindanti uktibhiù. Uktibhiù. Chindanti means cut. Now, for cutting something we require some sharpened instrument. But here, to cut off the mind from attachment, it requires sharpened ukti. Ukti means words. Sharpened topics. There should not be… Just like when a person cuts something, there is no mercy, similarly when a sädhu or a person saint, speaks to his student, he does not make, show any mercy. He speaks the truth so that his mind may be cut off from the unreal attachment.
    Just like Krishna is saying. Krishna… Arjuna first addressed to Arjuna. He said, açocyän anvaçocas tvaà prajïä-vädäàç ca bhäñase [Bg. 2.11]. “Oh, you are talking like a very learned man, but you are fool number one.” You see. How strong word He has used. So so far, if we want detachment from this material world, then we should be prepared to accept such cutting words from the master. Santäù pasya(?) chindanti uktibhiù. Uktibhiù. We should not make compromise: “Oh, don’t speak such strong words.” Required, it is required. So bandhur ätmä. Anätmanas tu çatrutve vartetätmaiva çatruvat. Anätmanaù.
    (Bg 6.4-12 New York September 4 1966)


  53. Dhira Nitai das says :

    Hare Krishna! Namo namah! There are obviously good points from both sides and both sides should be heard. I am just wondering, which normal organization would tolerate that a prominent member is attacking other prominent members and their projects in public, without proper personal communication in first place? And especially that a prominent member is calling the other non-members names, non-members actively involved in campaigns of the institution and by that ruining good reputation of the whole institution? These public attacks and criticism are in my opinion great disgrace for the whole institution! But for many years now it is obvious that we have more than one ISKCON and it is a sad fact and that some prominent members don’t see others as belonging to the same society, with the same interests. In many ways we are very disfunctional society with leaders not appreciating each others and by this giving very bad example to other members. There is a lack of proper communication between these different ISKCON societies and this is coming down to the mass of their followers, which are taking sides, where no sides should be taken. It is similar like in wars. Instead that two leaders fight themselves in person and decide who is stronger (or to check who is more advanced devotee in this case and then surrender to him), they are agitating their followers by feeding them political stuff. Normal people shouldn’t take sides in such cases because it is very displeasing for Srila Prabhupada that his disciples are fighting against each other, making big circles and continuing now for many years. I am writing in general, so I hope I didn’t offend anyone by putting them where they don’t want to see themselves.

  54. Basu Ghosh Das says :

    The following letter I’m posting here in response to Priyavrata Prabhu’s comments to me earlier in this thread, about ‘prasad distribution’. It was written to a “godbrother” who basically accepts Priyavrata Prabhu’s ideas, in response to a private letter to me. Hence I’m anonymizing his name herein below. Kindly note that the letter appears in two parts herein below:


    Dear Godbrother Prabhu,

    Namonamaha. Jaya Srila Prabhupada!

    Received your message.

    Prabhupada established the system that only brahmanas – brahmin initiated
    devotees – could worship and COOK for the Deities.

    Prasadam is the remants of foodstuffs offered to the Deities.

    You might know the story of Vadaraja, a Madhva sannyasi, who came to the
    famous “annakshetra” – the famous “food distribution center” at
    Dharmasthala, some 40 kilometres from Udupi, some 500 years ago, around the
    same time as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

    Read about it:

    The story goes that Vadiraja was invited for “bhiksha” – “bhojan” – by the
    Jain “Dharmadhikaari” of Dharmasthala. He refused to eat unless the food
    was offered to a “vedic Deity”. The Dharmadhikaari agreed to install any
    vedic Deity as per the instructions of the Sannyasi (Vaadiraajaa).
    Vaadiraajaa instructed his disciples to go out of the then tiny village and
    find a vedic Deity and he would install it and they would offer foodstuffs
    to the Deity. They found a Deity of Lord Shiva, now famous as “Manjunath”,
    and “the rest is history”.

    The mid-day meals in question here are NOT cooked by brahmanas and offered
    to “vedic Deities”.

    Hence, how can it be prasad.

    Another evidence is the “prasad” that was brought to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu by
    the Buddhists. It was contaminated. As per the story in CC Madhya 9.53

    So, you may claim that anything cooked by anyone is “prasad”, but this is
    neither the vedic/vaishnav tradition, nor what Prabhupada taught during his

    Therefore I say you are under a misconception – with all due respect – and
    that borders on “sahajiyaism”.

    You wrote: phalena parichiyate. How many children who take the mid-day
    meals are becoming Krishna bhaktas? Personally, I haven’t seen such a “mass
    movement” towards bhakti from those children that would be expected by those
    who praise the mid-day meals program.

  55. Basu Ghosh Das says :

    Part two of my letter – below:

    Therefore the IRGB [ISKCON India Regional Governing Body – of which I am Secretary] had approved the program, provided it was “accompanied by kirtan and lectures”.

    On the ISKCON Food Relief Foundation website we find statement of objectives:

    > A Strategic program to address two of the most pressing problems of India
    > : Hunger & Education. The Government of India has made education for
    > children in the age group of 6 to 14 years compulsory, but poverty
    > prevents the underprivileged from getting full value of their educational
    > experience.
    > Hunger obstructs education as children are forced to leave schools and
    > take up menial jobs. Lack of education curtails opportunities for
    > development and leads to the vicious cycle of poverty and hunger.
    > Education empowers a child to explore his potentials and earn a decent
    > living and live a respectable life in our society.
    > ISKCON FOOD RELIEF FOUNDATION, has resolved to liberate the
    > underprivileged from this vicious cycle by feeding the poor with
    > sanctified and nutritious food.

    Sounds 100% social welfare oriented without Krishna bhakti and vedic/
    vaishnava culture. Sad state of affairs. Again, this is “just my humble
    opinion”, what I understand from Prabhupada’s condemnation of social welfare
    work, and as above, trying to pass off unofferable foodstuffs as “prasadam”.

    Hope this meets you well.


    Basu Ghosh Das

    P.S. Priyavrata Prabhu wrote in his comment, number 19, above:

    “Bashu Gosh, also good point, however, I think it is unfair to label any kind of prasadam distribution as “social welfare activities.” Doing so, in my opinion, lessons to service of those involved. If the food is prepared and offered with love, then it is prasadam, and prasadam distribution is transcendental.”

    P.P.S. My question stands: how is “the food prepared and offered with love” is the reason the hired help is there to cook, simply for their salary? It’s love of the money/salary, no?

    Admittedly, we hire cooks for our Govinda’s Restaurants. The logic of doing so is that Govinda’s restaurants bring members of the public to ISKCON temples, as well as the income from Govinda’s supports ISKCON temples and projects.

    Mid-day meals does NOT do so. It neither brings the children to the temples (they may be some exceptions where the meals are served in the temple – usually they are NOT), nor does it help the temple: it’s non profit!

  56. Radhananda Dasa says :

    Dear Gaura Kesava Prabhu,

    The story that you quoted from Narada Pancaratra is meant to enable develop faith in prasadam for those who don’t have any faith and/or are envious.

    What about quotes like one below which state that by considering prasadam as ordinary food, one commits a great offence and goes to hell.

    “Nityananda Prabhu replied, “These are the remnants of food left by Lord Krsna. If You take them to be ordinary remnants, You have committed an offense.”


    In the Brhad-visnu Purana it is stated that one who considers maha-prasadam to be equal to ordinary rice and dhal certainly commits a great offense. Ordinary edibles are touchable and untouchable, but there are no such dualistic considerations where prasadam is concerned. Prasadam is transcendental, and there are no transformations or contaminations, just as there are no contaminations or transformations in the body of Lord Visnu Himself. Thus even if one is a brahmana he is certain to be attacked by leprosy and bereft of all family members if he makes such dualistic considerations. Such an offender goes to hell, never to return. This is the injunction of the Brhad-visnu Purana.”
    >>> Ref. VedaBase => Madhya 3.99

    As explained by Vaisvata Prabhu in his reponse ( to this open letter, the MDM program lists all the material benefits and identifies itself as “non-religous” entity and thus presents prasadam as an ordinary food. The promoters of the program as well as the recipients of prasadam also consider it as an ordinary food. How can they be saved from from this great offense. Any ideas?

    Hare Krishna

    Your Servant,
    Radhananda Dasa

  57. Radhananda Dasa says :

    Dear Sita Rama Prabhu,

    This is in regard to your comment that if one is not ready to surrender to the proper standard, then they should just continue with a lower standard that they are comfortable with. First of all one should acknowledge that one is not following the proper standard. Without such acknowledgement and desire to come up to the proper standard, how will one improve?

    Also, someone not following the proper standard in their personal sadhana is one thing, but to not follow the proper standard while performing institutional role or duties is a completely different ballgame with serious implications. In the former case one is just responsible for his own self, in the later case one is responsible for lot of individuals and this can have serious implications.

    So the callous attitude of ‘just keep doing what you are doing’ regardless of anything else isn’t right. Please give it a thought.

    Hare Krishna

    Your Servant,
    Radhananda Dasa

  58. Mohana Mohini dd says :

    I also took the time to listen very closely to BVKS’s talk and I agree with what Bhakta Dasa wrote in comment #28

    We need to distinguish between actual Bhakti and sentimentality.


    “So Bhagavata begins with this word of Vedanta-sutra, janmady asya yatah anvayad itaratas ca arthesu abhijnah svarat. So it is the, in the beginning, Srimad-Bhagavatam is the explanation of the Vedanta-sutra. Srila Jiva Gosvami has recommended, therefore, one should learn Bhagavatam from a person who knows Vedanta-sutra. Sruti-grhitaya, bhaktya sruti-grhitaya. Bhakti should be generated, sruti-grhitaya, by studying Vedanta-sutra. Bhakti is not sentiment. Bhakti is the transcendental science.” Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.10.1 – Mayapura, June 16, 1973

    “Seva mean there is a sevaka and there is a master, sevya, one who is worshiped and one who serves. Then the process is called bhakti. Here it is also said, bhaktya. What kind of bhakti? Bhaktya sruta-grhitaya. Sruta, by hearing sruti, or Vedas. Completely on the basis of Vedic knowledge, that bhakti, not sentimental. Sentimental bhakti is also there, because the acceptance of Krsna is there. Therefore there is some value. But real bhakti, Sri Jiva Gosvami has commented that bhakti based on understanding of Vedanta-sutra is perfect, on the basis of jnana, knowledge, and vairagya. That is… And Krsna has also said, brahma-sutra-padais caiva hetumadbhir viniscitaih [Bg. 13.5]. Brahma-sutra means Vedanta-sutra.” Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.12 – Delhi, November 18, 1973

  59. Vrindavanchandra says :

    Following is the reply from His Holiness Bhakti Vikasa Maharaj on Priyavrata Prabhu’s statement:

    Fortunately for us is that prasadam distribution is ALWAYS transcendental, no matter who it is directed at.

    Priyavrata Prabhu has stated that prasada distribution is always transcendental. This appears to be an axiomatic fact, but actually it is a statement that needs to be qualified, which I will do by offering some examples of how “prasada” or its distribution can be non-transcendental.

    The following is from a conversation on farm management, on December 10, 1976, in Hyderabad:

    Mahamsa: “Some people I know, they said that yesterday the prasada was not nice, and there was…

    Prabhupada: Not nice, it is not eatable even by the dogs. But you are less than the dogs if you (prepare) such thing. I was surprised. You allowed a sweeper to cook. I was surprised. We have distribution prasada, not dog’s food. Such rascals as here. You do not know. I do not wish to discuss anymore on this point. You have murdered the whole thing in two days. Now if possible, bring them, bring them first class prasada, very palatable.

    Similarly, when in Nairobi Srila Prabhupada was served unspiced boiled vegetables, he called it “dog food.” (Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta ch. 38)

    Gaur Kishor Das Babaji Maharaja would reject his so-called followers for taking food at certain Vaisnava festivals. Babaji Maharaja considered food offered or cooked by people who were not properly following the Vaisnava principles to be the cause of falldown, even if such food was given at a Vaisnava festival and considered by all present to be prasada.

    Sometimes devotees purchase food from a store (e.g. bread or sweets made from grains), then offer it and distribute it to others as prasada—even though offering food cooked by nondevotees is against the Vaisnava principles. In India, it is quite common that for big festivals, cooks are hired who are not chanting sixteen rounds, probably not following the regulative principles, almost certainly watching TV, and engaging in other activities which pollute the consciousness. We can go through the formality of offering what they cook, and then distribute it as prasada. But is that really what it is?


  60. Vrindavanchandra says :


    I have seen at some Govinda’s restaraunts that, even though the cook is an initiated devotee, he is not chanting sixteen rounds. In such cases, what is offered to Krishna may not be accepted by Him and thus what is distributed is not prasada (and therefore not transcendental).

    Similarly, I have seen some cooks hired for the Midday Meals program who are clearly quite mercantile—they are there only because they are paid. I am not saying that all Midday Meals staff are unqualified, but if someone is cooking as a job and they don’t have any proper spiritual practices, we may go through the formality of offering what they cook, but we have to consider whether that is actually prasada.

    Another case in which the result of prasada distribution is not transcendental is described by Srila Prabhupada in his purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.26.13:

    Sometimes it is found that an initiated person, in the name of prasada, eats very luxurious foodstuffs. Due to his past sinful life he becomes attracted by Cupid and eats good food voraciously. It is clearly visible that when a neophyte in Krsna consciousness eats too much, he falls down. Instead of being elevated to pure Krsna consciousness, he becomes attracted by Cupid. The so-called brahmacari becomes agitated by women, and the vanaprastha may again become captivated into having sex with his wife. Or he may begin to search out another wife.

    Srila Prabhupada states that under certain circumstances the effect of taking prasada is not purifying, but actually causes falldown. The fault is not in the prasada but in the attitude toward the prasada. We can link this with Srila Prabhupada’s stating in a letter (of 13 May 1972) that simply distributing food is nonsense (even though the food was presumably meant to be prasada). Srila Prabhupada said that there must also be spiritual education. From this we can understand that if prasada is presented as ordinary food or if people believe it to be ordinary food, the purifying effect is going to be significantly diminished.

    I question advertising (as is done for Midday Meals) that aims to induce people to give money so that children can go to school and in this way the nation will develop. Midday Meals advertisements hardly ever mention Srila Prabhupada or Krsna. (continues…)

  61. Vrindavanchandra says :


    Devotees who have joined this movement for the sake of propagating transcendental knowledge are sent to meet businessmen and tell them that we are feeding poor children to help develop the nation. The consciousness that is cultivated through such activity is mundane. If we regularly talk about food, money, poor people, and “developing the nation,” and show people photos of Bollywood stars who have endorsed our program, then how Krsna conscious are we going to be?

    Even though Srila Prabhupada definitely wanted widespread prasada distribution and he did give some indications that we can distribute to poor people under certain circumstances, there are also strong warnings from Srila Prabhupada against making our profile one of mundane welfare workers, which is what is presently being promoted by some of our devotees.


  62. DamanaKrishna9 says :

    Interesting points in comments.
    – But Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu clearly showed his non acceptance of mayavadis, he rejected Damodara Pandit associating with mayavadis. Different is to preach to mayavadis or bring them to higher platform by giving them direct KC service. This engagement needs really careful and pure attempt. That may be the intention of Maharaja. I feel the minimum requirement would be to show superiority of monotheism over impersonalism and some more clear stamements especially as Maharaja is so great that he is influencing so many souls. Its great to read and I really liked that book but maybe philosophically little unclear. Many people who read his book may become inspired also to join a group of impersonalists he is mentioning. Or they may think SP just another of all this teachers.
    – To the point of Priyavrata Pr. that ISKCON would not fail it is only because of concern and sincere desire to keep ISKCON in proper path. If we see ISKCON had many times been on the border of diviation and has been saved by pure attempt. So we should be always grateful for any attempt to keep it pure and on proper path. I appreaciate Bhakti Vikas Maharaja’s attempt but it could be also more privat.
    – Its really sad that you almost can not eat at so many Govindas or temples in ISKCON because of simply the cooks are not qualified. Its just collection of money by cheap labor.
    – The Midday prasadam distribution should take to heart and try to implement more and more direct preaching to its activities instead of all excuses.
    Your servant
    Damana Krishna das

  63. Kulapavana says :

    Srila Prabhupada often used the proverb: Example is better than precept. It would be very inspiring to see all of those strict followers of Srila Prabhupada engage in proper prasadam distribution on a massive scale to show the rest of us how it is to be done. Lord Krishna says in Bhagavad Gita (18.48):”Every endeavor is covered by some fault, just as fire is covered by smoke. Therefore one should not give up the work born of his nature, O son of Kuntī, even if such work is full of fault.” The FFL program has some faults as BVS points out, but such criticism is faulty as well if it is not supported by an actual practical example of proper prasadam distribution program. Complaining is easy. Showing others how something is to be done right takes a lot of effort.

  64. Puskaraksa das says :

    Dear Maharaja(s), dear devotees

    Please, accept my obeissances.
    All glories to Srila Prabhupada. All glories to Sri Guru & Sri Gauranga.

    I hope you are all doing well and are happily performing your devotional service.

    As it is, it is important to concentrate on one’s service, before one may start analyzing and commenting about someone else’s service. One should understand that our service is granted by the spiritual master and spiritual authorities, by the arrangement of Krishna. In this line, Sri Krishna Himself states in Bhagavad-gita, that it is better to perform one’s duty, even imperfectly, rather than try to perform other’s duty, even perfectly !

    This requires some humility, based on the awareness we may (or should) have of our own conditioning and limitations… This means that due to our experience in this birth (as well as from our karma inherited from previous births), we may have certain capacities and may lack others and have, as well, a certain approach and angle, by which we do, see and say things ! This means that unless one becomes a pure devotee who is known to be on the absolute platform, everyone is on a relative and somewhat subjective platform… Hence, we may argue endlessly with one another, due to various relative standpoints ! Therefore, one who is dhira, sober, refrains from endless and counterproductive arguments.

    Besides, one has to also try and analyze one’s motivations: when we criticize, do we mean the welfare of others and of our Society or do we simply, directly or indirectly, try to promote ourselves…? This is also crucial, as placing one’s vanity forward, above and beyond higher interests, may not only lack elegance, but does also soon turn sour and transforms into what Srila Prabhupada called a disservice !

    So, please, let us remember Srila Prabhupada’s instruction: “If you love me, cooperate with each other…”.

    This being said, I would like to pick one positive point out of our dear Bhakti Vikasa Maharaja’s contribution, which should legitimately and collectively lead us to question how we can improve the quality of our offerings, in the course of preparing and distributing these midday meals…

    In that regard, it is understood that despite the fact that a secular government may not allow open preaching and spiritual propaganda, still ISKCON is known to be the force behind the midday meal program and does get the credit for that.

  65. Puskaraksa das says :

    Some may argue that it is mundane, and that alike the Salvation Army, we may end up towing cars away in the future, etc., but, if I may and if you don’t mind, I would like to kindly invite you to leave the quarrel here and stop using mundane comparisons…

    We are a Society and one, or a few, of our prominent members (along with some of their followers) have questioned whether it is “prasadam” that we really distributed, and not just vegetarian meals…

    I personally, and unfortunately, have not been graced (yet) with the opportunity to visit these kitchen and part-take in this great endeavor to distribute prasad everyday to thousands or even millions of children who have taken a pious birth in Bharat-varsa…

    However, we understand, this is a large scale endeavor which requires the involvement of many donors and sponsors, as well as the support of officials, who will all be benefited for their punya and will gain sukriti…
    Hence, we should respect everyone of them and thank them for their contribution to the welfare of others.

    In this regard, let us open a parenthesis: Please, let us and our Founder-Acarya not sound like hard-hearted persons, or misers, i.e. kripanas… A vaishnava is merciful and compassionate. So, let us not sound as if we were only interested in “ringing bells and eating rice”, while others are starving and undergoing all kinds of miseries…

    So, despite the fact that our primary concern is to develop pure love of God, Krishna prema, and distribute it to others, still the devotee considers positive, anything which will bring people closer to ISKCON and thereby, to devotional service.

    In this line, there is the famous story of a vaishnava sannyasi who was begging alms door to door, and was once answered by a grihamedi: “O you, beggar, you have come to my door; hold on, I have something for you!”. Then, the man returned with some ashes and poured them in the cloth that the sannyasi was handing over. Surprisingly enough, the vaishnva sannyasi, rather than feeling offended, accepted the alm and thanked the man, telling him: “Thank you Sir, you have started your devotional service”. So, despite the fact that a movie star may say this thing or that thing, and be somewhat imperfect in his or her expression, we should still forgivingly appreciate their sincere contribution and respect the fact that they are trying to promote and engage in the service of the Vraja-bhasis, as per the example given of the Sandipani Muni School…

  66. Puskaraksa das says :

    We also understand that cooking meals for thousands of children at a time, requires the involvement of some modern equipment and amenities, in order to make it possible. So, we cannot really object to that, as it would, otherwise, not be possible to happen at all…

    Similarly, numerous cooks, drivers and helpers are required, while some of them may not be of the highest spiritual standard… What to do…? It is a large endeavor and in any case, whatever be their level of spiritual advancement and their position in society, be they brahmacaris, vanaprasthas or sannyasis people have to maintain themselves, as well as their families, when they are grihastas…

    So, despite so many objections which may arise from the side of the purists who may be able to achieve quality, but no quantity, we should still, both individually and collectively, try to see how we can improve the state of things and in this way dovetail any, intently or not, negative criticism, into a positive contribution meant for us to progress further, both individually and collectively…

    Therefore, if we all accept the premises that we need the involvement of some modern equipment and amenities, as well as of some extra labor force, both financially supported by outside contributions and sponsoring, thanks to the concern of both the State and generous donators, remains the question of how to (better) offer this bhoga, in order to have it accepted and transformed into Krishna prasad, by the merciful Supreme Personality of Godhead, Who may already glance favorably upon the devotees’ endeavor and good intentions…

    In this regard, in my humble opinion, as I hereby submit it at your feet, we may have two options and based on their knowledge and observations, devotees will have to decide which one to choose or even choose both…

    The first option, is to at least try and have one brahmana devotee from ISKCON, supervise the cooking and, if possible, have everyone stop for a few minutes, when everything is cooked, before being transferred into containers for further distribution, in order to make either a sampling or a giant offering to Krishna, by the grace of Sri Guru… This could be done to a picture of the Deities… But preferably, one should have to be able to pause for a few minutes, in order to be able to make a nice offering…

  67. Puskaraksa das says :

    The second option would be to have brahmin devotees daily cook the same preparations meant to be distributed during the midday meal program and offer them in a timely and synchronized manner, to the local Deities or even to a special Deity Who could become the Ishta Dev of Prasadam distribution, either locally, for every midday meal program of even for the whole of India (since the whole of India is on the same time zone).

    Then, this or these brahmanas would simultaneously offer mentally all the food cooked in the local industrial kitchen or all these kitchens nationwide, so that everyone be rest assured to be distributing and further on, honoring Krishna prasad…

    This is both based on manasi seva, which can be performed by some advanced devotees and on the fact that Krishna may most likely be favorably inclined to mercifully satisfy the sincere desire of His devotees to purify the mass of people by granting them the opportunity to honor Krishna prasad and thereby receive His mercy which will, in due course of time, enable them to become devotees themselves and go back home, back to Godhead…

    Besides, installing a special Deity Who could become the Ishta Dev of Prasadam distribution, in more or less the same way as Sri Hari Dev is the presiding Deity of Govardhana Hill and Govardhana parikrama, may be the means to unify and pacify everyone, while simultaneously being the federating Sri Natha Ji who will enable so many more souls to faster cross over this ocean of material nescience…

    If I may, I will end up with a smile and a personal recollection… Being born in 1956, I remember that going to school at an early age, the concern for children to be given proper nutrition was still there ten years after the end of the second world war. So, we were then given either some concentrated milk which the teacher would pour into our open mouth, or even better, a little bottle of chocolate milk…

    What if at the time, this foodstuff had been offered to Krishna, what if at the canteen we had been served not only vegetarian food (which was not the case), but Krishna prasad…?

    And what if, at some point, some “well-intentioned” persons had brought the whole process to a stop, due to their stating that we were not within a 15 miles radius of a temple (by the way, did Srila Prabhupada ever state that beyond it was OK if everyone would starve ?), that this was a mundane welfare activity, and their raising so many other objections ?

  68. Puskaraksa das says :

    As Srila Prabhupada used to say: “A blind uncle, is better than no uncle at all”. and “Utility is the Principle”.

    So please, dear brothers and sisters, dear spiritual uncles and aunties, let us be merciful… Let us extand Srila Prabupada’s family, for he built a house which is meant to host the whole world.

    If we intend to do so, we have to become, as Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur, depicted a Vaishnava to be, tolerant and broad-minded… We cannot afford to be nitpickers. We have to be become mahatmas… seeing good in others and seeing with equal vision…

    brahmane gavi hastini
    suni caiva sva-pake ca
    panditah sama-darsinah

    The humble sages, by virtue of true knowledge, see with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [outcaste]. Bg 5.18

    “A Krishna conscious person does not make any distinction between species or castes. The brahmana and the outcaste may be different from the social point of view, or a dog, a cow, and an elephant may be different from the point of view of species, but these differences of body are meaningless from the viewpoint of a learned transcendentalist. This is due to their relationship to the Supreme, for the Supreme Lord, by His plenary portion as Paramatma, is present in everyone’s heart. Such an understanding of the Supreme is real knowledge. As far as the bodies are concerned in different castes or different species of life, the Lord is equally kind to everyone because He treats every living being as a friend yet maintains Himself as Paramatma regardless of the circumstances of the living entities. The Lord as Paramatma is present both in the outcaste and in the brahmana, although the body of a brahmana and that of an outcaste are not the same. The bodies are material productions of different modes of material nature, but the soul and the Supersoul within the body are of the same spiritual quality. The similarity in the quality of the soul and the Supersoul, however, does not make them equal in quantity, for the individual soul is present only in that particular body whereas the Paramatma is present in each and every body. A Krishna conscious person has full knowledge of this, and therefore he is truly learned and has equal vision.” S.P.

    Hoping this finds you all well and blissfully engaged in seva

    Sri Krishna Prasad Ishta Dev ki Jaya
    Transcendental Prasadam distribution ki Jaya

    Your servant in the service of Srila Prabhupada
    Puskaraksa das – GGS

  69. Sita Rama 108 says :

    So the callous attitude of ‘just keep doing what you are doing’ regardless of anything else isn’t right. Please give it a thought.
    Dear Radhananda Prabhu,
    Please accept my humble obeisances.
    All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
    To say ” keep doing what you are doing regardless of anything else” is certainly a callous attitude. But that is not what I said. I said keep performing devotional service regardless of the fact that some devotees think other projects are more important and evince more surrender. I did not advice anyone to continue with anything “improper. I also said that it would be a tragedy if BVS message was not available.
    I made a very general statement, if you find certain devotees or certain practices which you can show are” improper” you can address your concerns to devotees who have authority over the situation. But prasadam distribution in general is proper and a highly surrendered devotee may choose this service. I hope this clarifies my attitude on this topic.
    Sita Rama das

  70. Radhananda Dasa says :

    Dear Puskaraksa Prabhu,

    Your are suggesting that we should be sama-darsinah – see everyone with equal vision and overlook all shortcomings. By your logic ISKCON should stop operating. If we see with a vision of uttama adhikari, that everyone is liberated, there shouldn’t be a need to preach, to distribute books. right? We shouldn’t be making a distinction between ordinary food and prasadam either. But this is all maya-vada. Srila Prabhupada’s attitude wasn’t like that. Please read the below quote:

    Prabhupada: Sama-darsinah means you have no distinction what is sin and what is…
    Guest (1): Sama-darsinah means to treat everyone as equal.
    Prabhupada: No, no, no. Sama darsinah means there is no distinction between sin and virtue. That is sama-darsinah. As soon as you see, “This is virtue, and this is sin,” it is not sama-darsinah.
    Guest (1): Virtue and sin become the same in sama-darsinah.
    Prabhupada: Yes. That is sama-darsinah.
    Guest (2): In other words, the sin does not remain sin any longer.
    Prabhupada: That is another thing. But he has no vision that “This is sin, and this is virtue.” That is sama-darsinah. As soon as you make distinction, you are not sama-darsinah.
    Guest (2): In another interpretation, in…
    Prabhupada: You may interpret in a different. Sama-darsi, this is plain word. Sama-darsi means there is no difference, that’s all.
    Guest (2): But sama-darsi equals sama-darsi. The sin and virtue are the same.
    Prabhupada: No, here… Yes, that is sama-darsinah because here it is said clearly, vidya-vinaya-sampanne brahmana [Bg. 5.18]. A brahmana, learned brahmana, and vinaya, very humble… That is the sign of goodness. Vidya-vinaya-sampanne gavi hastini sunica. Sunica means dog. Now he is seeing a dog and a learned brahmana-same. Now, dog is supposed to be sinful, and this learned brahmana is supposed to be virtuous. Therefore his vision, the virtuous and the sinful, the same. That is sama-darsi.
    Guest (1): I think that they have made a many mistakes in writing of the slokas.
    Prabhupada: That’s all right. Now you are finding mistake with Vyasa, so who can talk with you?
    Guest (2): No, but, but…
    Prabhupada: Please excuse me. Please go out. Please go out. Don’t trouble. You are finding faults with Vyasa.
    Guest (4): We only want you to be understood here.
    Prabhupada: (shouting) I am not sama-darsi! I don’t say I’m sama-darsi! I don’t say, sama-darsi. So you say sama-darsi. Sama-darsi.
    Guest (2): You should be sama-darsi.
    (contd. on next comment)

  71. Radhananda Dasa says :

    (contd. from previous comment)

    Prabhupada: But I am not in that stage. I say because you don’t surrender to Krsna, you are sinful. That is my darsana.
    Guest (4): So then you should be also seeing as sama-darsinah.
    Prabhupada: No, why shall I? I am not in that position. I am not within that… I am simply repeating the words of Krsna.
    Guest (4): Then that… You came to… Even your… (?)
    Prabhupada: I am simply teaching the teachings of Krsna. That is my point. I may be sama-darsi, I may be not sama-darsi.
    Guest (4): Not be, but you teach that we should worship the sama-darsi.
    Prabhupada: Krsna says. I don’t say.
    Guest (4): Ah! You say, Krsna says that…
    Prabhupada: But that does not mean that one has become sama-darsinah. That is… That is his…
    Guest (4): Then he is not following the guru.
    Prabhupada: No. My position is simply repeating. That’s all. My position is.

    >>> Ref. VedaBase => Discussion with Indians — January 18, 1971, Allahabad

    So your proposition that everyone should be sama-darsinah and overlook the faults doesn’t work well for a missionary institution.

    The whole thing with prasadam distribution is that it should be accompanied by philosophical presentation of Krishna katha. Please see the below quote:

    Therefore the best humanitarian work is to give knowledge to the humanity, not that one is suffering for want of food and… If I give some food, that is good work, but that is not sufficient. I may give food; that’s all right. You give. We also give prasadam free. But that does not mean simply by giving prasadam, we are silent. We give knowledge also. This is Krsna consciousness movement. Food, automatically you have to give. That is… There is no prohibition. But at the same time: knowledge. Without knowledge-giving, if he remains ignorant… Just like the same example. If you have got some children, if you don’t give them education, simply feed them, that is not your proper duty. You must give knowledge.
    >>> Ref. VedaBase => Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.2.5-6 — Vrndavana, September 9,

    Prasadam destroys all sins, but that should be followed by an endeavor to advance spiritually. Just like when Ajamila chanted “Narayana” indirectly, his sins were destroyed, but we wasn’t transferred to Vaikuntha directly. He got a second chance, he went to hari-dvara, where he fully applied his mind in service of the Lord and then he got liberated. So the recipients of prasadam, also have to be encouraged to make spiritual advancement.

  72. Radhananda Dasa says :

    If we are distributing ordinary food instead of prasadam, it has a negative effect and simply increases sex desire. Please see the quote below:

    Prabhupada: Why not? But prasadam, not ordinary food. From all our centers you can distribute food, prasadam, because that prasadam means they will gradually become Krsna conscious. Otherwise if you give them ordinary food, they will get strength, and they will increase their sex desire, that’s all, problems. [break]

    >>> Ref. VedaBase => Morning Walk — February 21, 1975, Caracas

    So, we shouldn’t be thinking whats the bare minimum standard we can follow so that the food distributed is indeed prasadam. If we follow bare minimum standards, then it is likely that there will be shortcomings and food is not prasadam. If we instead strive to follow the highest standard, then even if there are shortcomings, it is possible that we are above the bare minimum standards. But if we set the bar low, we are likely to miss it.

  73. scooty.ram says :

    To not share food with hungry people or animals amounts to theft.

    If ISKCON has the capacity to feed poor people, they should do it. A vaishnava should have minimal qualification of feeling others pain and helping them.We should remember the isavasyam idam sarvam verse. It applies to all resources viz spiritual and material.Vaishnavas do not accumulate objects or save food and money more than necessary.We should give away the wealth that is in excess. Only persons in sattvic nature will get the mindset that what they have is enough. Normal humans will think any amount of wealth acquired is insufficient or that it can be used for future.If an iskcon center thinks that it has enough resource/wealth, it should extend arms to the society around itself. To accumulate more and more wealth is no better than investing in shares or life insurance firms. One should imbibe the basic lesson that God gives food and shelter to all living beings. Animals do not accumulate.We should accumulate only that much which is necessary.Its individual call to determine if one has enough funds to distribute to needy part of the society. Afterall the nature produces enough food. It is humans who accumulate and this results into hunger and poor part of the society.

    Iskcon often quotes Steve Jobs speech about his exposure to hare krishnas. Afterall he seem to have had free food.It turned out that he became a big icon and iskcon likes to use this for its preaching. Nothing wrong!

    Why not take the positive attitude and expect that there will be more big icons benefited by the food relief program in the future.?

  74. Abibai d, says :

    Dear Devotees,

    Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

    Maharaj is expressing a concern in the lecture which a lot of devotees share along with him. There is a general perception in the world today that we at ISKCON has become commercial/ mundane non-profit charity. Srila Prabhupada wanted Pubic Kirtan and Mass distribution of Prasadam to be done at large scale so that more and more people get the mercy of Krishna. The mood behind this was his compassion. We as his followers are supposed to imbibe the same mood and continue the programs for his pleasure. However, in some quarters the MDM and FFL is perceived as whole & soul of ISKCON activities for eg. at Bangalore. Maharaj was expressing the concern which is today spreading across the temples as this is an easy funding effort compared to book distribution etc. Srila Prabhupada wanted us to develop pure love of Godhead. Prasadam and Holy name connect us to Krishna. However if in MDM and FFL we become so engrossed that we forget the primary goal it will be not appreciating what Srila Prabhupada gave us. Lets see these things in a dispassionate manner for they have the key to take us further in our Krishna Consciousness.

    Thanking you, your servant

  75. Puskaraksa das says :

    So, this does not mean that one should not aspire to become an uttama-adhikari, which is only possible by serving and receiving the mercy of such a pure devotee…

    To the contrary, ” one should associate with and faithfully serve that Pure devotee who is advanced in undeviated devotional service and whose heart is completely devoid of the propensity to criticize others. ”

    Furthermore, Srila Prabhupada comments in his purport:

    The kanishtha-adhikari is a neophyte who has received the hari-nama initiation from the spiritual master and is trying to chant the holy name of Krishna. One should respect such a person within his mind as a kanishtha-vaishnava.

    A madhyama-adhikari has received spiritual initiation from the spiritual master and has been fully engaged by him in the transcendental loving service of the Lord. The madhyama-adhikari should be considered to be situated midway in devotional service.

    The uttama-adhikari, or highest devotee, is one who is very advanced in devotional service. An uttama-adhikari is not interested in blaspheming others, his heart is completely clean, and he has attained the realized state of unalloyed Krishna consciousness.

    According to Srila Rupa Gosvami, the association and service of such a maha-bhagavata, or perfect Vaishnava, are most desirable.

    One should not remain a kanishtha-adhikari, one who is situated on the lowest platform of devotional service and is interested only in worshiping the Deity in the temple. Such a devotee is described in the Eleventh Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.2.47):

    arcayam eva haraye
    pujam yah sraddhayehate
    na tad-bhakteshu canyeshu
    sa bhaktah prakritah smritah

    “A person who is very faithfully engaged in the worship of the Deity in the temple, but who does not know how to behave toward devotees or people in general is called a prakrita-bhakta, or kanishtha-adhikari.”

    One therefore has to raise himself from the position of kanishtha-adhikari to the platform of madhyama-adhikari. The madhyama-adhikari is described in Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.2.46) in this way:

    isvare tad-adhineshu
    baliseshu dvishatsu ca
    yah karoti sa madhyamah

    “The madhyama-adhikari is a devotee who worships the Supreme Personality of Godhead as the highest object of love, makes friends with the Lord’s devotees, is merciful to the ignorant and avoids those who are envious by nature.”

  76. Puskaraksa das says :

    Srila Prabhupada further states:

    ” Because we are trying to serve the Supreme Lord with all seriousness and without duplicity, we can expect the mercy of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is famous as patita-pavana, the deliverer of the fallen.

    When Srila Satyaraja Khan, a great devotee of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, asked the Lord how a Vaishnava could be recognized, the Lord replied:

    prabhu kahe, “yanra mukhe suni eka-bara
    krishna-nama, sei pujya, sreshtha sabakara”

    “If one hears a person say even once the word ‘Krishna,’ that person should be accepted as the best man out of the common group.”
    (Cc. Madhya 15.106)

    Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu continued:

    “ataeva yanra mukhe eka krishna-nama
    sei ta ‘vaishnava, kariha tanhara sammana”

    “One who is interested in chanting the holy name of Krishna or who by practice likes to chant Krishna’s names should be accepted as a Vaishnava and offered respects as such, at least within one’s mind.”
    (Cc. Madhya 15.111)

    ” One of our friends, a famous English musician, has become attracted to chanting the holy names of Krishna, and even in his records he has several times mentioned the holy name of Krishna. At his home he offers respect to pictures of Krishna and also to the preachers of Krishna consciousness. In all regards, he has a very high estimation for Krishna’s name and Krishna’s activities; therefore we offer respects to him without reservation, for we are actually seeing that this gentleman is advancing gradually in Krishna consciousness. Such a person should always be shown respect. ”

    So, in this line, while quoting the vision of the humble sage endowed with true knowledge, depicted by Krishna in Bhagavad-gita, I was trying to appeal, so that one may not act in the way of this first category of devotee:

    “A person who is very faithfully engaged in the worship of the Deity in the temple, but who does not know how to behave toward devotees or people in general is called a prakrita-bhakta, or kanishtha-adhikari.”

    and, for instance, insult women, regardless of their position in society, even if they are faithful wives and duty-full mothers, which is a disgrace both for the author of these words, as well as for our Movement…

    but rather cultivate the mood of the pure devotee:

    ” one should associate with and faithfully serve that Pure devotee who is advanced in undeviated devotional service and whose heart is completely devoid of the propensity to criticize others. “

  77. Puskaraksa das says :

    Srila Prabhupada concludes his purport to the Nectar of Instrauctions – Upadesamrita, Verse 5, by these words:

    ” In this verse Srila Rupa Gosvami advises the devotee to be intelligent enough to distinguish between the kanishtha-adhikari, madhyama-adhikari and uttama-adhikari. The devotee should also know his own position and should not try to imitate a devotee situated on a higher platform.

    Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has given some practical hints to the effect that an uttama-adhikari Vaishnava can be recognized by his ability to convert many fallen souls to Vaishnavism.

    One should not become a spiritual master unless he has attained the platform of uttama-adhikari. A neophyte Vaishnava or a Vaishnava situated on the intermediate platform can also accept disciples, but such disciples must be on the same platform, and it should be understood that they cannot advance very well toward the ultimate goal of life under his insufficient guidance. Therefore a disciple should be careful to accept an uttama-adhikari as a spiritual master. ”

    Hoping this finds you all well and happily engaged in service, in a cooperative spirit within ISKCON, the house Srila Prabhupada created to host the whole world,

    I remain
    Your servant in the service of Srila Prabhupada

    Das dasanudasa
    Puskaraksa das – GGS

  78. sarvopama dasa says :

    How can we determine whether our motive for distribution is directed by a desire for either material or spiritual benefit? Do we trust the power of the Holy Name or do we feel we have to do something to make it possible to chant the maha mantra? I’ve been asking a lot of the devotees here in Vrindavan questions like this during Kartik and nearly without exception they are all predicting a grand and glorious revival of the public chanting of the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra all around the world. In this way we can dissolve all the apparent conflicts and see our faith manifest more and more even as our efforts to reduce suffering also increase on a grand scale.

    By going out *every day* and chanting Hare Krishna in public we can turn the tide both within ISKCON and in the society at large. Srila Prabhupada did it. Why can’t we do it?

  79. Basu Ghosh Das says :

    Letter to: Gurudasa
13 May, 1972

    My dear Gurudasa,

    Please accept my blessings. I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated May 5, 1972, and I have noted the contents. You can accept Suri’s plan, it is very nice, so you execute it perfectly. That will be the grandest temple in Vrindaban. May be a little costly, but if you can collect Rs. 25,000 per month and also Gargamuni can collect Rs. 25,000 per month, then it can be done nicely.

    In the Hindi BTG there are so many mistakes, spelling, grammar, and some places the philosophy is faulty with some other ideas mixed in; the printing is shabby, the second page is almost invisible. So this has to be improved somehow or other. Dr. Kapoor has remarked exactly. So you may inform Ksirodakasayi, and you try to help him for improving Hindi BTG.

    You must construct something wonderful. Otherwise, it will be a discredit to you American boys. That will exalt the position of America in India. And in every temple food distribution must go on profusely with American food supplies. Have the Americans given us the food supplies, is there any tangible donation? Or is it simply promises? If we can supply some proof they have given us such and such amount of foodstuffs, some document, that will help us in all parts of the world as propaganda and for approaching your country’s government in other places for supplying us. So if you have got such document, kindly send me one copy.

    If we open a branch in Madras, actually there are so many poor children there. Spiritual education and food, that is proper. Simply supplying food is nonsense. Spiritual education means just to inject in their ears about our philosophy, externally they chant beads, wear tilak, without any discrimination of Hindu or Muslim or anything.

    So I am very much encouraged by your letters, and I am confident I have entrusted this Vrindaban project, which is one of the most important of our this ISKCON, to the right persons, namely, yourself, your good wife, Yamuna devi, and Ksirodakasayi Prabhu. So kindly offer the others my blessings.

    Hoping this meets you all in good health.

    Your ever well-wisher,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

  80. Nama Prabhu das says :

    Hare Krishna Sarvopama prabhu,

    Obeisances. Jaya Prabhupada!

    There is a new book out (co-published from Torchlight and the BBT) called “Chanting Hare Krishna.” It is a compilation of quotes from Srila Prabhupada about chanting. There is one chapter especially about Hari Nama sankirtana. It is so inspiring. I think this book will encourage everyone to “get off of their seats and out on the streets!” Hare Krishna!

    daso ‘smi,

    nama prabhu das