Going loud

Hopefully inspired by my post from yesterday, Jai das decided to write an email to Anuttama das, ISKCON’s public relations officer. It’s a nice letter, and we need more of such letters. This is how you mount pressure. This is how you become relevant.

This letter is not offensive and it was written according to proper etiquette.

The letter

From: Makhana Cora <makhana.das.cora@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 15 Feb 2018 18:08:41 -0800
Message-ID: <CAJpa2yWmp9OOm9zhzsdi_gObJu0WXthoygHFBLp_6LWcGdzfyw@mail.gmail.com>
Subject: Advice requested on treating Sanyassis in ISKCON accused of breaking vows
To: anuttama.acbsp@pamho.net
Cc: Hanuman das <hanuman.das@gmail.com>

Dear Sriman Anuttama Prabhu,

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

It has been years since we corresponded, Anutamma Prabhu, but I’ve viewed you as my Siksha Guru of sorts since we met in New Vrindavan in 2006. The associations I had with you and Venkatta Bhatta Das that summer were among my most priceless and rewarding in Krishna Consciousness. Since then, I started and completed graduate studies in Albany and have moved to UK working at a publishing firm. My parents are doing well, and my father even stopped eating meat and chants 5 rounds a day (your guidance on encouraging Krishna Conscious to him proved to be spot on).

I have always been very impressed with how you’ve been continuously serving ISKCON Communications with optimism and full sense of ownership for safeguarding the image of Srila Prabhupada’s body. Yours is a thankless service because you are in a highly public position so your service will always evoke the ire of at least one person, regardless of your genuine intentions. I pray to Krishna and Srila Prabhupada that perhaps one day I can achieve even 10% of the composure, patience, and sense of duty you have consistently demonstrated over the last two decades.

I am emailing you today motivated by one website (lastingimpression.info) run by a devotee living in Croatia called Hrvoje Martonovic (Hanuman Das) with whom I understand you have interacted at some level with in the past. On his site, Sriman Hrvoje makes blog posts publicizing actions taken by Sanyassis that he deems as inconsistent with their vows. His posts raise a conundrum that I would like your advice on how to deal with.

On the surface level, Sriman Hrvoje appears to engage in fault-finding of senior Sanyassis and Vaishnavas, that is inappropriate for junior devotees such as myself to partake in. Indeed, he has even criticized you for relatively trivial actions (like supporting the ban of one book from ISKCON temples). At the same time, he is bringing into open discussion topics that need to be addressed if ISKCON is to move forward. Open discussion within our movement is something that I’ve always seen you as promote (and sometimes receive unfair criticism for promoting).

Hence, the case of Sriman Hrvoje raises a dilemma that I hope you can provide guidance for in the following ways:

  1. There is a fine line between engaging in Vaishnava Aparadha and being aware of genuine warnings about unscrupulous teachers. How do we know when we have crossed that line? Mainly, I don’t see how we can automatically treat all “GBC-approved” gurus as pure devotees when there is a track record of many such ISKCON leaders as being poor examples for devotees. So, it seems hearing about genuine warnings is important for earnest devotees seeking to follow only good examples.

  2. Sriman Hrvoje has many posts criticizing actions of three specific GBC-approved Gurus, who are also Sanyassis, all for different reasons. The respective reasons he cites are:
    A) keeping a female secretary
    B) excessive levels of association with mayavadis and engagement in mundane welfare work
    C) abandoning Srila Prabhupada’s emphasis on Vedic culture in favor of a preaching style that they unilaterally deem more suitable for Western audiences.

I am sure you know who these three Gurus I am referring to are. And two these Gurus are, certainly, highly regarded by a plurality of devotees in our society for their Bhakti and humility. Now, Sriman Hrvoje may be factually wrong in targeting the specific Gurus. But what are your thoughts on the validity of the reasons for Sriman Hrvoje’s criticisms more generally? That is, I am not asking you to comment on Sriman Hrvoje’s accusations towards the specific Gurus. Rather, does he have valid rationale for being wary of any given ISCKON leader engaging in the type of behaviour as described above? For example, is it appropriate for a Sanyassi to keep a female secretary?

I hope this message and request for guidance does not give you distress. But without guidance from a senior Vaishnava with as high credibility as yourself, I am afraid navigating through the waters of devotional life will be treacherous.

I am very appreciative of your time, care, and guidance.

Always your servant,

Jai Das

Conclusion

The reason why ISKCON become such a deviant place is because people don’t care, or they don’t have courage to speak up. Or they think that sannyasis with girlfriends are some kind of lila and that they should not challenge such behaviour. As long as this is the case, deviant sannyasis will use this opportunity to continue their deviant practices. And as long as ISKCON members don’t complain, we can say that they actually deserved to live under such deviant leaders.

So, don’t be lazy, sit down and write a polite letter to your local GBC or guru, asking him to explain the situation.

P.S. – If you gonna write email to Radhanath baba, please ask him why is he smiling all the time.

Hanuman das (sometimes also called Sriman Hrvoje)


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