Mission Drift ISKCON and social welfare

Mission Shift
Artwork by Nataraja Dasa

In 2001, Sripad Jayadavaita Swami gave a lecture series titled “Food for Death”, which is still available on his website at http://www.jswami.info/seminars#food and which examined how prasadam distribution seen by the public as ordinary welfare work affects ISKCON’s core values. Sripad Bhakti Vikasa Swami in his 2011 lectures titled “Some Concerns About ISKCON” and “Further Discussion on Concerns About ISKCON” addresses the same issue Jayadvaita Swami addressed but in a more generalized context that includes other welfare initiatives.[1] Bhakti Vikasa Maharaja in his lectures also addresses what he identifies as fundamental, philosophical differences that have emerged within our society.

As far as social welfare is concerned, the lectures of both Swamis make a common point: the time and resources devotees increasingly give to indirect preaching in the form of welfare work, at the expense of direct preaching, reflects ISKCON’s growing acceptance of karma-kanda as a part of its core mission and, hence, core values.

Mission drift and Vyasa’s dissatisfaction

That as grand a spiritual institution as ISKCON could itself become mundane is not a new idea. In the Bhagavad-gita at the beginning of the 4th chapter, Krishna describes the system of the guru-parampara and how, in the course of time, the succession had been broken and the knowledge of the science of yoga was lost. On some occasions, Srila Prabhupada himself said that ISKCON could be destroyed not by outsiders but by insiders. Such changes are the result of a gradual drift of the disciplic succession away from its original message and mission. read more

Shotgun Weddings: Indian-style The Editors

In 19th and early 20th century America, the term “shotgun wedding” connoted a man being forced at gun point (usually by a shotgun) to marry a young woman. What typically occasioned the marriage was that the man got the girl pregnant and had no intention of marrying her, and consequently her father or other family members stepped in to persuade him at gunpoint. At least that happened in the days when it was socially unacceptable for women to bear children out of wedlock.

So, with this bit of Americana by way of introduction, we present here an Indian version of it.* Because Indian society, especially rural society, is still for the most part deeply conservative, young men and women have far fewer opportunities to intermingle and for the unmarried girl to become pregnant. That means other incentives to bear the risk of coercing a groom into marriage come to the forefront. read more

The Poison Conspiracy Antidote – Chapter 9 – Experts or Vaudeville?

Reliability

We would like to believe that professional people are always reliable, competent and honest, but as we have just illustrated, neither the Genova Labs nor those behind the claim that Prabhupada was maliciously poisoned appear to be.  We have already identified numerous examples illustrating how the only thing holding up the Who Poisoned Prabhupadaconspiracy is a chain full of so many weakest links it’s astonishing anyone takes this propaganda seriously.   This type of cheating isn’t limited to a bunch of bad detectives with a malicious agenda.    The high-tech world of forensic hair analysis doesn’t have a very good reputation either.   In 2015 it was discovered that FBI testimony on microscopic hair analysis contained errors in at least 90% of cases in ongoing review!

“The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000… Of 28 examiners with the FBI Laboratory’s microscopic hair comparison unit, 26 overstated forensic matches in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95 percent of the 268 trials reviewed so far, according to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Innocence Project, which are assisting the government with the country’s largest post-conviction review of questioned forensic evidence.”

LINK: FBI admits flaws in hair analysis over decades read more

Horrible, unclean works meant to destroy the world

This is a short film sponsored by Elon Musk, founder of the SpaceX and Tesla companies. It is a fictional depiction of what technology is likely to produce in the not so distant future. The point is valid that all the technologies for such a thing to come about exist. All someone has to do is integrate them.

Hence, Lord Kṛṣṇa’s declaration that the demons “engage in unbeneficial, horrible works meant to destroy the world.” This is a consequence of their belief that “this world is unreal, with no foundation, no God in control,” says Kṛṣṇa. “They say it is produced of sex desire and has no cause other than lust.” (BG 16.8). Thus, secularism and the idea that religion should not guide society gives rise to these awful things. read more

Avoiding Scandal: The Case for Gender Segregation in Society

There is a wave of incrimination in the United States against powerful men in politics and the entertainment industry and who are being publicly accused in very large numbers of being raped and molested.

But then something that no one could have predicted happened. It was a pre-Twitter, pre-internet, highly analog version of #MeToo. To the surprise of millions of men, the nation turned out to be full of women—of all political stripes and socioeconomic backgrounds—who’d had to put up with Hell at work. Mothers, sisters, aunts, girlfriends, wives—millions of women shared the experience of having to wait tables, draw blood, argue cases, make sales, all while fending off the groping, the joking, the sexual pressuring, and the threatening of male bosses. They were liberal and conservative; white collar and pink collar; black and white and Hispanic and Asian. Their common experience was not political, economic, or racial. Their common experience was female.

Caitlin Flanagan, “Bill Clinton: A Reckoning”, 13 Nov. 2017, The Atlantic, 14 Nov. 2017 <https://www.theatlantic.com/. . .> read more

Vāṇī vs. Vapuḥ

As followers of Śrīla Prabhupāda, we have been taught that service to the instructions of the guru (vāṇī) are given more importance than service to the form of the guru (vapuḥ). All of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s followers know this. However, sometimes according to personal taste or circumstance, we may focus more on one or the other.

This year in Vṛndāvana on Śrīla Prabhupāda’s disappearance day, there was an occasion to see this. In the morning during the ceremony in honor of His Divine Grace, various disciples of his were called upon to glorify their eternal spiritual master and share some remembrance of him with the rest of us. Many told personal stories of some pastime of his they personally witnessed or had the great fortune to be a part of.

It was noted that some devotees tended to give special emphasis to his instructions or tried to explain their experience with him with reference to śāstra. These were classified as vāṇī presentations. Others tended to focus on some interaction he had with him, how he dealt with them, how they were encouraged by him, and so forth. These were classified as vapuḥ presentations. read more

The Poison Conspiracy Antidote – Chapter 8 – Forensic Hair Analysis

Ya Got A Milligram?

The old-boys club on the Goof Team object to not having been given a fair opportunity to present their case:

“The false theories and objections about Srila Prabhupada’s proven poisoning are attempts to discredit the evidence without looking at it sincerely” -KGBG p.747

Despite all the caveats mentioned in the above section, it’s quite evident that some feel the cadmium readings allegedly found in Srila Prabhupada’s hair is their biggest star witness to a crime they are absolutely certain occurred.  So in this section, we will give a close look at what they feel hasn’t been adequately considered. read more