Philosophy, Rules, and Krishna West

Dear Devotees, please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada. A senior Krishna West preacher has written,

“The statistics paint a very different picture, on the contrary: the large majority of disciples of Hridayananda Maharaja have in fact not rejected their guru and instead continue to derive inspiration in their Krishna Consciousness from him. . . . . Aside from the above consideration, the question is how does one define the state of being “fallen.” How many times does Prabhupada claim that if one chants sixteen rounds and follows the four regulative principles, one is precisely *not* fallen?”1

In 1987, when Kirtanananda Swami was excommunicated from ISKCON, a majority of his disciples followed him. Yet no one at the time accused him of (or believed) that he was breaking the four regulative principles or not chanting his 16 rounds. Indeed, there is no mention of any of this in the 1987 resolution that expelled him from ISKCON: http://gbc.iskcon.org/2012/02/03/1987/ read more

My further response

As Maharaja has quoted me, I wrote, “But if Srila Prabhupada is fallible in his own books, how could anything else he says in them be trusted?” I did not make the claim that “all that Prabhupada says” is true. This distinction matters because on the one hand it acknowledges that a guru even of Srila Prabhupada’s stature is not omniscient and, for example, might be mistaken about how the latest iPhone works. And on the other hand, it asserts that there are some domains in which Srila Prabhupada’s opinion should be considered infallible.

For example, in his own statements in his own books, it is self-evident that he is self-consciously speaking as a representative of our parampara. If what Srila Prabhupada says in his own books does not always faithfully represent our parampara siddhantas, then apasiddhantas are sometimes to be found in his books. This is what Maharaja’s 2005 paper on moral theology implies about Srila Prabhupada’s purport to SB 3.20.26. If it is the case that in Srila Prabhupada’s own books there are some utterances of his that are apasiddhanta, then it follows that Srila Prabhupada has no standing as a spiritual authority.

In response to Maharaja’s second enumerated point, a) Gita 12.10 recommends a “gradual process” for those who cannot properly follow the regulative principles of bhakti-yoga, so b) there is no need to speculate in the face of Srila Prabhupada’s own repudiation of the approach that Maharaja has recommended. Furthermore, the artificial restriction of sense-gratification does not necessarily lead to its abandonment (see SB 7.11.34). read more

Dharma as a Consequentialism

In some recent public statements, Hridayananda Maharaja questions the authenticity of the well-known pastimes of Yudhisthira Maharaja having gambled away his wife Draupadi in a match rigged by Shakuni. He also questions the attempted disrobing of Draupadi in the assembly of the Kurus. Given that these pastimes have been accepted by Srila Prabhupada and by other acharyas in our line, Maharaja’s statements have caused considerable disturbance. This is not the first time Maharaja has made controversial public statements, nor is it likely to be his last. But what is not well known is what these recent statements have in common with other controversial acts and statements made by him over the years. They are products of a world view that places the moral philosophy of consequentialism above all other forms of Vedic authority. Maharaja’s radical application of consequentialism to Krishna consciousness is a form of adharma called abhasa, and it accounts for the deep differences between him and Srila Prabhupada on diverse subjects ranging from Vedic authority and culture to fundamental sexual ethics. Due to efforts over many years by Maharaja and others to propagate this, virtually without impediment, there are now many devotees whose understanding and practice of Krishna consciousness from the very beginning has been formed around adharmic principles.

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HH Hridayananda Goswami, Krishna West, and Consequentialism

Dear Devotees, please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Hridayananda Maharaja is a devotee who is widely revered and dear to many throughout ISKCON, but he has also said and done many controversial things over the years that have been cause for concern. Although the typical response to Maharaja’s controversial statements and actions has been to treat them as separate, one-off events without relation to each other, they are instead deeply connected by a moral philosophy called “consequentialism.” (In this regard, I have attached a paper that examines this issue in depth. One version is a PDF document, and the other is a Word document.)

As Maharaja explains in his 2005 paper titled “Vaisnava Moral Theology and Homosexuality,” consequentialism seeks “morality primarily in the consequences of acts” and “argues that moral behavior must produce good consequences.” Consequentialism is plainly operative in some of his more controversial statements: read more