Krishna consciousness and radical transparencyHanuman das
In this article, we discuss transparency, loyalty, and the quest for the absolute truth.
There are two types of organizations, the murky ones, and the honest ones. Today, we will discuss some indicators on how to recognize if your local church/charity/NGO is murky or honest.
Honest organizations don’t have anything to hide and therefore, it is very easy for them to discuss issues/problems. They are also very eager to honestly respond to criticism. This is especially true for financial dealings.
Srila Prabhupada’s ISKCON was one such organization while he was leading it. Srila Prabhupada often invited journalists, professors, social workers, lawyers and government officials to discuss Krishna consciousness with him. Many questions that were asked to Srila Prabhupada were connected not only with philosophy but also with the practical management of his society.
Srila Prabhupada was always straightforward, he replied to all questions in an ingenious way, he never tried to divert the topic, he never rejected to discuss any topic which might be considered controversial. Srila Prabhupada rejected to answer the question claiming that the journalist who asked it was “envious”.
As far as financial transparency is concerned, there is a number of quotes showing that Srila Prabhupada never wanted to hide anything:
Bookkeeping is the most important item. As you are growing in stature, our accounting system should become very perfect. We have to publish now a short statement of accounts. As we increase our life membership number, we must submit our audited accounts and that will convince the public of our stability. (Letter to Karandhara — Bombay 18 March, 1971)
Yes, the accounts must be kept very clearly. Then everyone will be pleased with us. Not a single farthing should be wasted. That will be our credit. (Letter to Vicitravirya — Hyderabad 10 December, 1976)
The dark transformation
However, right after Srila Prabhupada’s demise, GBC mafia immediately changed the whole mood of the movement. Eleven pretender maha-bhagavatas prevent ed their Godbrothers from initiating disciples, claiming that they are the only ones selected by Srila Prabhupada. Which was a lie of course.
Disagreeing with or questioning any of the fake Mahabhagavatas was a mortal sin, which is to be punished by expulsion from the movement.
After the fiasco of the Eleven Pretender Mahabhavatas, ISKCON instituted corporate spineless guru ideology which continued to this very day. If you want to be a member of ISKCON, you can’t question ANY of the “approved” corporate gurus. Everything they do is divine, and if you question them, you are an “offender” and “fault-finder” and you will be kicked out of the movement very soon.
Even if a guru who took sannyasi order travels on three continents with his girlfriend, you are still not allowed to criticize him. Neither he is interested to address your criticism. They will completely ignore even the valid criticism and they will never try to justify their behavior. This is because they consider themselves pure by default. They think their every action is divine, and if you see something wrong in the divine movement, that automatically means you are envious. And pure devotees will not waste time to justify themselves in front of envious people.
This kind of puffed-up elitist approach that ignores all reason and evidence is present not only in ISKCON but in its offshoots also, specifically in the Rtvik movement.
Where is the money?
In the recent newspaper article, we can read about an ongoing scandal in the Akshaya Patra foundation (rtvik movement):
At least half of Akshaya Patra Foundation’s (APF’s) more than 52 kitchens across 21 states have indulged in foodgrain and fund diversion, two people aware of the matter said, as allegations of impropriety continue to mount against the Bengaluru-headquartered non-profit organization.
Other allegations include the thwarting of requests for a fair and independent probe into the charges as recommended by the erstwhile audit committee.
APF recently reconstituted its board after the exit of four high-profile independent trustees—Mohandas Pai, chairman of Manipal Global Education, former Infosys chief financial officer V. Balakrishnan, co-founder of ChrysCapital Raj Kondur, and adviser to Manipal Education and Medical Group, Abhay Jain.
“The discrepancies have been happening for eight to 10 years and only an independent probe will reveal the quantum of diversion,” said the first person cited, requesting not to be named. “It could be Rs10 crore, Rs50 crore or Rs70 crore. We won’t know until an independent probe is done.”
70 crore RS is around ten million USD. That is how much money has been allegedly stolen from the foundation.
And there is also a pushback against the independent probe.
Another newspaper articles says:
The resignation of four independent trustees of the Akshaya Patra Foundation (APF) has raised questions over the future of a programme that distributes over 18 lakh meals every day in 12 states across the country. The four trustees – former Infosys CEO Mohandas Pai; advisor to Manipal education and medical group Abhay Jain; former Infosys CFO V Balakrishnan; and co-founder of ChrysCapital Raj Kondur – have alleged that an audit committee formed to look into allegations of misuse of funds in the foundation, was targeted by the Chairman, Madhu Pandit Dasa, and his supporters on the board in order to resist transparency.
Mohandas Pai and Abhay Jain have served on the board for 20 years, and said that as the programme expanded to other parts of the country beyond Karnataka, they started urging for more efficient procedures to ensure checks and balances. In the last few years, the cost per meal provided by APF has gone up by at least Rs 5 compared to other NGOs, and this had to be investigated.
APF was started in the year 2000 as a public-private partnership by International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) to provide mid-day meals to schools within a 10-km radius of ISKCON temples across the country. The foundation has some trustees who are ISKCON missionaries, and others who are independent – it was expanded to include several independent trustees with corporate experience in the year 2000. It receives donations from individuals as well as CSR (corporate social responsibility) wings of private companies. The board is currently headed by Madhu Pandit Dasa who is the President of ISKCON Bangalore, with Chanchalapathi Dasa who is a Senior Vice President of ISKCON Bangalore as the vice-chairman. Both of them are missionaries of ISKCON.
You see, those materialists in the board were thinking that they can ask for transparency from the pure mafia devotees. But Madhu Pandit and his mafia explained nicely to them that you can not find faults in the pure devotees. 🤣🤣🤣 Even when they steal millions, pure devotees are still better that the most honest materialist. 🤣🤣🤣 Newspaper article continues:
Speaking to TNM, Mohandas Pai said, “The volunteers who were involved in raising funds and donations were not employees, so this used to not bring them under the disciplinary proceedings of the CEO and CFO. The same set of people would collect funds for APF and other activities. There were a few complaints by whistleblowers that funds from APF were used for another trust. We insisted on improved governance, and they have been resisting. This created friction between independent trustees and the chairman, vice chairman.”
What were the issues between the independent and missionary trustees?
Sources privy to what transpired before the slew of resignations told TNM that the strife started after an independent audit committee member was brought in by the missionaries of ISKCON. For the first one year, nobody had an issue with him; but when the independent trustees raised issues over the escalating cost of meals and the audit committee started investigating this in detail, the missionary members of the board started questioning the credibility of the audit committee. They used the said member’s past association with a company – whose parent company, way after his resignation, had run into financial trouble – as the reason to halt the audit committee’s investigation. The idea, the source added, was to conceal information that was uncomfortable to some of the missionary members of the board.
Whistleblowers and insiders also alleged that there is a possibility of a leakage by way of grains, construction costs and diversion of donations in the APF program. Funds were allegedly gathered for temples and other activities by using APF’s name and credibility.
Initially, there were five independent trustees and three missionaries attached with ISKCON board. Gradually this ratio changed to four independents and six missionaries on the board of trustees, skewing the balance. The independent trustees say they repeatedly called for a reconstitution of the board, because with the missionaries in majority now, there was an issue of the board being insider-heavy which the independents felt would hamper accountability. But their demands were not met.
Meanwhile, the independent trustees alleged, several efforts were made to thwart the audit committee.
Abhay Jain, who resigned earlier this year, corroborated issues flagged by Mohandas Pai and told TNM that he, too, was anguished about the lack of transparency in the functioning. “I resigned in February due to governance issues. I hoped that some pressure might be put on them and that the core issues will be rectified. All our concerns and red flags were put on record before we resigned. We urge even now that the new board should be independent-heavy and the new trustees should go through all our emails before joining.” The Board currently constitutes four missionaries and three independents.
Meanwhile, activists and concerned citizens are expressing apprehension over the fate of the mid-day meal programme that has reportedly served over 3.3 billion meals over the last 20 years. Students from over 19,000 schools across the country receive food from APF that is considered to be of hygienic quality, and the programme is one of the largest in the world. The programme has been controversial too, as it serves vegetarian satvik food (without onions and garlic) and has been questioned by many for its nutritional value and the attempt at pushing a particular diet.
TNM reached out to APF for a comment on the allegations made and has received no response at the time this story was published.
Of course, the TNM newspaper reached out to Akshaya Patra for a comment. But little do they know how ISKCON and its offshoots handle whistleblowers. They should speak with Radhanath baba. Sulocana was also asking too many questions and he ended up dead. Because the first rule of business is: You don’t question pure mafia devotees. It is not good for your health. 🤣🤣🤣
So, why Madhu Pandit is so much against the increase in transparency? After all, he claims to be a follower of Srila Prabhupada. Why doesn’t he follow Srila Prabhupada’s instructions on transparency? Because he is stealing money. What other reason could he possibly have to resist calls for transparency? When a Chinese communist party official is stealing money, I am not surprised, because that whole CCP organization has zero transparency, and the whole country completely lacks free journalism. But if you claim to be a follower of Srila Prabhupada and at the same time you fight against transparency that means you are a hypocrite par excellence.
It is easy to recognize the indicators for a murky society. No transparency, aversion to replying to any kind of criticism or suggestion for an improvement.