The Future for Devotee Health Care
If the senior disciples of His Divine Grace simply inspired devotees in the medical profession to collaborate together to manifest these facilities among themselves, then no harm, no foul. It is the duty of the grhastha community to populate the Vaisya varna and manage all the various resources required to keep society functioning properly. We need competent mechanics, computer technicians, farmers, bankers, lawyers, and doctors and those who are expert in these fields are also the ones most qualified to align their respective industries with Krishna Conscious principles.
We have already seen a practical application of how this occurs with devotees who opened restaurants. The contemporaneity model has been that virtually ALL public eating places in America serve some type of meat products but devotees completely broke that paradigm by refusing to do so. Now vegetarian restaurants are becoming more popular and even Vegan restaurants are starting to pop up.
In the same way shamelessly sleazy lawyers use their knowledge of the law to harass the innocent by filing frivolous lawsuits to legally extort funds from others for no better reason than the soul-less pursuit of self-enrichment! As more attorneys become properly trained in Krishna Conscious we can expect to see less of these types of unsavory disturbances once those lawyers begin to grasp who Lord Yamaraja is and the terrible karma they will get by engaging in any form of vile dishonest behavior.
ISKCON was His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada’s gift to the world and those who accepted initiation from him are duty bound to help fulfill the vision he had for it. This operative does not impede those skilled in other fields from offering their talents in the service of Srila Prabhupada’s mission. Those trained in the medical profession are the ones who should be orchestrating the development of new hospitals for Krishna’s devotees. Individuals trained in the management of money should lead Vaishnavas in developing higher bookkeeping standards. Srila Prabhupada approved of this type of growth and wanted ISKCON to grow by applying professional standards, without getting entangled in promoting any profession!
“I’m so glad to learn that a scientific book keeping system is being introduced in our different centers. If possible, some instruction may be sent here in Bombay for this scientific book keeping system. Here in India, although they are trying their best, still it is not satisfactory. Perfect accounts means every information regarding financial and stock situation must be ready for immediate reference and not a single farthing should be wasted.” (SPL to Rupanuga, February 19th, 1971)
This quote is so powerful it deserved to be looked at a bit closer. There are actually several other quotes conveying the same imperatives. Srila Prabhupada was vigilant about expressing his desire that all funds collected for the betterment of ISKCON be properly recorded, and administered. So with this in mind we should look to see if even today, 46 years after Srila Prabhpada sent this letter to Rupanuga; Are we any closer to implementing what he told us to do back then?
“… don’t spend extravagantly because we have got very heavy responsibility. Everything should be done very cautiously. And because we are a registered society, accounts must be submitted with proper regulative principles. Otherwise it may not be accepted.” – Letter to: Jayapataka — Nairobi 5 October, 1971
Are the charitable funds collected by ISKCON properly managed? If so then why are they not fully transparent for public scrutiny? If that was done then it would be very clear where the funds came from to build these hospitals and how much was spent on them. How was the laxmi collected and who delegated it to these controversial projects? Was the GBC consulted and did they give their approval for these hospitals to be built? Or were they conceived of and executed completely independent from those who are responsible for orcastrating projects based on the Seven Purposes? Is there an acceptable system in place to make sure that charitable funds entrusted to the agents of ISKCON are properly recorded, reported, accounted for and then delegated according to the published ISKCON mission statement?
If not, then have untold huge amounts of laxmi been surreptitiously collected and then misappropriated towards perhaps several different mission drift projects? If “Perfect Accounts” are not in place so these questions can be answered based on the recorded “information regarding financial and stock situation(s)” then what is going on? Who is in charge… or is there a fiduciary free-for-all going on under the name of ISKCON? What efforts are being made to get appropriate policies in place to prevent this type of chaos from occurring? Does the Governing Body of ISKCON have the respect and acceptance of all those that live under the corporate ISKCON banner to enforce any of the policies they annually legislate? If not, then how can the reader of this paper not conclude that the GBC is only there to act like an institutional figurehead while in fact it has no real power? If they are unable to hold all members accountable for the properties that get purchased, and the funds that get collected in the name of ISKCON, then who does?
“When a poor man commits criminal misappropriation, we can understand the poverty driven propensity of the poor man but when we see that a millionaire merchant or high administrator or a holy Sannyasi(?) is committing such criminal offenses, we can understand the strong directive of sense-gratification attitude caused by godless civilization. – Back To Godhead Prior Years 13a: Volume 3, Part 9, Oct 5, 1956 -“Hope Against Hope”
The Dovetailing Principal
At the heart of the whole Krishna Consciousess movement is the brilliant concept that everyone can serve Krishna simply by dovetailing those skills in the service of the Supreme Lord. That is what makes our philosophy, our movement, and our process so unique, powerful and pragmatic. Nearly every skill can be dovetailed in the service of Krishna with the few exceptions being perhaps things like the brew master, the butcher, the pole dancer and the bookie.
When seen from this perspective the application of professional book keeping within ISKCON is perfectly valid even though it is not specifically mentioned as one of the goals in our mission statement. Neither is there any philosophical conflict if a congregational devotee gets trained up in a particular field that suits his occupational nature. The skills he hones can then be nicely offered back as a service to those fully surrendered to Lord Caitanya’s mission.
However it is a different situation with someone who makes the significant decision to surrender everything directly to the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna and join the temple. That person then gets trained up to eat, breath, think, chant, and teach Krishna Consciousness like a pukka brahmin at all moments. He should be literally living, chanting and serving Krishna all day long. That individual is very rare because they have agreed to give their life to the ISKCON devotee lifestyle and get trained up in the science of Krishna Consciousness. That is the very reason why they deserve our respect. However, it is a travesty if that lifestyle gets eclipsed by the pursuit of mundane achievements, recognized as such by the very fact that they lie outside the boundaries of Srila Prabhupada’s mission statement.
If the GBC were somehow persuaded to sponsor a hypothetical project like the “Bhaktivedanta School for Professional Accounting,” would anyone hesitate to recognize that as a clear example of mission drift? The same line of reasoning applies to those who collect funds under the ISKCON corporate umbrella and then spends those institutional revenues on any form of bodily maintenance or preservation.
The important distinction to notice is that it is the occupational dharma for accountants to become meticulous about managing Krishna’s money just as it is the responsibility for those with a proclivity for medicine to also master their skills. This is how everyone can progress collectively. Whatever trade or profession one mastered can then be offered back to the Vaishnava community the best way they can arrange to do so among themselves. However the pursuit of these things by any social order other then the Vaishya varna is the very thing Krishna says will be inauspicious.
“It is better to engage in one’s own occupation, even though one may perform it imperfectly, than to accept another’s occupation and perform it perfectly. Duties prescribed according to one’s nature are never affected by sinful reactions.” Bg. 18.47
ISKCON was founded to train up brahmins. Therefore every member of ISKCON is in either greater or lesser degrees living a life of renunciation.
“All our men living in the temple are basically Brahmins. Otherwise, why they are offered sacred thread? We should live on the paltry income, whatever we receive” (SPL to Hamsaduta, August 17th, 1971)
It simply isn’t proper for the renounced order of life to be so involved in the duties of a Vaisya. In fact it is condemned.
“One who accepts the sannyasa order gives up the three principles of materialistic activities in which one indulges in the field of household life — namely religion, economic development and sense gratification. One who first accepts sannyasa but then returns to such materialistic activities is to be called a vantasi, or one who eats his own vomit. He is indeed a shameless person. – Srimad Bhagavat Purana Chapter 7 “The Science of God,” Chapter 15”Instructions for Civilized Human Beings,” Text 36.
The same point is made even more emphatically by Rupa Goswami in the second verse of the Nectar of Instruction. There we find that the greed for mundane achievements is one of the things that spoils one’s devotional creeper. What all this means is that the more serious one is about the Krishna Consciousness purification process, the more incumbent it is for them to steer clear of any activity that might even slightly appear to be a mundane achievement. Bhaktisiddhanta take this concept even further and in his usual no nonsense way he simply bluntly points out:
“We should always remember that the desire for honor and prestige is like pig stool.” – Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Vaibhava by Bhakti Vikasa Maharaja, Canto 1. p343
Bhakti, Not Business
The good news is that there is no bar against those individuals who have the propensity to be accountants from developing those skills. Neither is there any restriction for those who are trained in the medical arts from offering those services to the Vaishnava community. In fact, who could better do so? Every service, be it professional, trade, labor, or defense, can be offered as tangential assistance towards propelling forward the grand mission His Divine Grace asked us to focus on. It is the duty of every member to help educate the world about the science of Krishna Consciousness but as one assumes greater responsibility in leading that mission their duties increase respectively. Building and running a hospital is a business and ISKCON was not incorporated to develop business or train people how to do business. Srila Prabhupada created ISKCON to find, train, and introduce back into society fit and knowledgeable Brahmins, which for the most part have become extinct and the world so desperately needs.
“As far as possible we shall not deal in business. That will not be very good for our spiritual progress. But if somebody contributes for our good cause, that is different.” (SPL to Giriraja, May 15th, 1972)
The whole purpose for incorporating ISKCON was to further the ten point agenda Srila Prabhupada’s spiritual master laid out for him. It is these ten core focal points along with the ISKCONS seven purposes that distinguish us from every other mundane organization or task competing for our attention. How many times did Srila Prabhuada remind us that spiritual life is like a razor’s edge? One moment of inattentiveness and we can get seriously hurt. We have a collective duty to remain vigilant about our focus because we have been entrusted by an extraordinary line of acharyas with the spectacular task of helping the rest of the world realize:
- The statements of amnaya (Scripture via Paramparah) are the chief evidence or proof of all tattvas (Truths).
By these statements the following topics are taught.
- Krsna is the supreme absolute truth.
- Krsna is naturally replete with all energies.
- Krsna is the ocean of rasa. (Relationships)
- The jivas are separated parts of the Lord
- Jivas in the bound stare are under the influence of matter.
- Jivas in the librated state are free from the influence of mater.
- Everything is different from and identical to the lord.
- The jivas means of elevation is to practice the precepts of pure devotion as ordained by amnaya-vani. (Hearing from scripture via Paramparah)
- Pure love of Krishna is the ultimate goal. – Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Vaibhava by BVikasa, Canto 1. p287
Our mission is to engage in endless brainstorming on how to effectively convey these ten golden truths into the hearts of the fallen conditioned souls all over the world. This is our real service and we must remain vigilant about doing it without confusing the path of devotional service Srila Prabhupada gave us with the materially motivated ubiquitous pursuit of karma-kanda pious activities. We were so fortunate to have been blessed with the extraordinary gift of Bhakti Yoga from Srila Prabhupada and we owe it to him, ourselves, and the rest of humanity to get our priorities right and stay focused on that process alone.
“Pious activities bring about material opulence, but one cannot acquire devotional service by any amount of material pious activity — not by giving charity, opening big hospitals and schools or working philanthropically. Devotional service can be attained only by the mercy of a pure devotee. Without a pure devotee’s mercy, one cannot even escape the bondage of material existence.” -CC Madhya 22.51