Curse of the ISKCON Brahmanas
By Rocana dasa - 19.8 2015
I would like to offer my opinion regarding the recent focus on Srila Prabhupada's original writings being edited by the head of the BBTI, Jayadvaita Swami and his main associate, Dravida dasa. I'd also like to draw the reader's attention to the fact that in the past, I have written a series of articles addressing the Lilamrta, and I hope to be able to continue that series in the near future.
It has occurred to me that the Age of Kali, as we understand through sastra -- the Srimad Bhagavatam and Srila Prabhupada's own comments -- was ushered in or allowed to enter into the pure varnasrama culture by means of the brahmanas. The brahmanas are, I'm sure, familiar with the pastime wherein the brahmana's son, Śṛṅgi, cursed Pariksit Maharaja to die as a result of a snakebite, which of course brought on the dictation of the Srimad Bhagavatam itself:
"Thus the downfall of the brahminical powers began as they gave importance to birthright without culture. The downfall of the brāhmaṇa caste began in the age of Kali. And since brāhmaṇas are the heads of the social order, all other orders of society also began to deteriorate. This beginning of brahminical deterioration was highly deplored by the father of Śṛṅgi, as we will find."
(Srimad Bhagavatam 1.18.33 Purport)
Throughout the ages since then, 5,000 years, which is just the beginning of Kali Yuga, we can also observe how the brahmanas have disrupted or helped to cause the deterioration of Krsna consciousness. And Krsna has had to come in order to correct these anomalies. It was the brahmanas who introduced the practice of eating meat, and justifying it through the Vedas. Krsna had to appear as Lord Buddha in order to correct this anomaly. As such, we had the eclipsing of the whole Vedic culture, and then Shankaracarya had to appear to reintroduce the Vedic conclusions.
Even in recent Indian history we can see the results of the brahmanas strictly enforcing the caste system, in their favor, of course. Everyone placed them on the topmost rung, and they took advantage of the fact that they were born in brahmana families. This resulted in many sectors of society leaving Vedic culture, leaving the Vedas and going over to the Muslims, or Guru Nanak's Sikh religion, or the Jains, etc. This was primarily due to the fact that they wanted to escape the dictatorial and condescending influence of the brahmanas.
Now, we could write volumes on this subject, but the reason I'm reflecting on this history today is that I see the same thing happening within ISKCON. And we could even reflect back to the era of Srila Prabhupada's manifest lila, his pastimes prior to arriving in America and establishing ISKCON, and his brahminical godbrothers in the Gaudiya Matha. They would not accept Srila Prabhupada as being a Sampradaya Acarya, partially due to the fact that they considered themselves to be advanced brahmanas and sannyasis, and Srila Prabhupada was, to them, a lowly vaisya householder.
With Srila Prabhupada's appearance in America, all sorts of individuals of different propensities came to join his ISKCON, and we all know who they are by the multitude of stories and biographies, and by the Lilamrta itself. Two personalities stood out who have evolved from that era, who the members of ISKCON have recognized as being brahminically inclined, and who have introduced into ISKCON so many anomalies, which I personally consider to be the worst influences -- far more than the non- brahminically inclined leaders who have led us astray. I am referring to Jayadvaita Swami and Satsvarupa ex-Swami Emeritus. Both are considered to be scholars and writers.
As I've mentioned in my Lilamrta articles, Satsvarupa, being one of the members of the now notorious Zonal Acaryas, was deputed by the Zonal Acaryas to write the Lilamrta. The victors always write history the way they want people to remember it. That's what I contend was the main motivation behind the Zonal Acarya/GBC's giving Satsvarupa full facility in order to write the Lilamrta the way that he did. I believe this book to be a terrible injustice to the Sampradaya. It does not at all depict Srila Prabhupada on the spiritual status that he's actually on and should be viewed as. And despite the fact that Satsvarupa has deteriorated to an embarrassing degree, the GBC have seen fit to protect his position as much as they can, and to continue printing and distributing the Lilamrta, which is the official ISKCON depiction of Srila Prabhupada's pastimes, even prior to his arrival, and his establishment of ISKCON.
But the most ongoing controversial problem within ISKCON is the editing of Srila Prabhupada's books. I encourage the reader to try and educate themselves by studying the most recent depictions of the position taken by the editors. Bhakta Torben, Ajit Krishna dasa and associates are now compiling en e-book of the many segments that have been published here in the Sun, exposing the editing that has actually done.
Of course, Jayadvaita Swami cuts the profile of a brahmana, as does Dravida. They go out of their way to project this image, and as far as their sadhana practices are concerned, no one has ever criticized them for being slack in that area. But one should carefully study and understand the history of Jayadvaita Swami's involvement with the BBT and with Srila Prabhupada's editing. Of course, he likes to highlight himself as the Chief Editor, and trumpets the fact that he had close association with Srila Prabhupada, and all sorts of approval from Srila Prabhupada to do the editing. That, in my opinion, is simply a myth that he has carefully crafted over many years.
As has been mentioned not only by myself but by many others, Hayagriva dasa was in fact the original chief editor selected by Srila Prabhupada. In order to illustrate the main point I am bringing forward in this article, I ask the reader to take note that Jayadvaita Swami, at that time, was a strict brahmachari. In other words, in those days, his neophyte mindset was that to become advanced in Krsna consciousness, both practice and philosophy, one should very strictly follow Srila Prabhupada's sadhana program. This "straight and narrow" attitude was diametrically opposed to that of his senior godbrother, Sriman Hayagriva dasa. Hayagriva dasa was older, and a college professor in English. He was known to be flamboyant and somewhat eccentric in behaviour, especially in comparison to the strict brahmachari disciples. I am sure it was to the amazement and disappointment of Jayadvaita dasa that Srila Prabhupada chose Hayagriva over himself to edit his books. This meant a great deal of direct association with the Founder-Acarya, which was very much sought after.
Srila Prabhupada's absolute opinion – knowing full well that Professor "Hayagriva" did not strictly follow the rules and regulations – was that he was the most spiritually qualified of all his disciples to undertake this very important assignment. This scenario was somewhat bewildering to many disciples, but the overall mood was one of absolute unquestioning obedience to Srila Prabhupada's will. But to someone like Jayadvaita dasa, who fancied himself far more spiritually advanced on account of his perfect adherence to the sadhana process, this situation was hard to tolerate and comprehend.
As time has confirmed, Jayadvaita's bewilderment evolved into enviousness of Hayagriva. This enviousness naturally expanded into the finished product, namely the approved and printed books. It is not hard to imagine that Jayadvaita re-edited the books in his mind while reading them.
In due course, as history reveals, Hayagriva eventually departed from ISKCON and also left his body. As Hayagriva's presence and influence waned, Srila Prabhupada called upon other disciples to do the editing work, including Jayadvaita.
In the recently released BBTI draft directive on future editing practices, Jayadvaita Swami is reinforcing his carefully honed myth insomuch as just how involved he personally was in the original editing. Srila Prabhupada was very much hands on in the very beginning, overseeing the editing work with Hayagriva. Later on, when the movement dramatically grew he could devote less personal attention. This the period in which Jayadvaita was directly involved in editing.
Jayadvaita would like us all to think that due to Srila Prabhupada's inability to directly oversee the editing in the manner he did in the beginning, that this circumstance meant he trusted Jayadvaita's editing far more than he did Hayagriva's. I, among many, do not believe that this depiction of historical facts is accurate. In fact, many of the glaring errors were to be found in the books that came after Srila Prabhupada had less personal time for overseeing this work. In the latter part of Srila Prabhupada's manifest ISKCON lila, the Acarya was pushing his disciples in the BBT to "keep up" with dictations. There prevailed a sense of urgency in Srila Prabhupada's mood to achieve his ambitious publishing goals.
Following is an excerpt from the recent BBTI draft policy, subtitled 'Guidance for Future BBT Editors':
"And on one notable occasion (in Vṛndāvana on June 22, 1977) Śrīla Prabhupāda expressed strong disapproval of changes that "rascal editors" had made to his books, and he directed that these changes be reversed."
Jayadvaita Swami admitted that he was never authorized by Srila Prabhupada to re-edit his books after his departure. And in the above-mentioned draft policy, he does not clarify whether he was one of the "rascal editors" Srila Prabhupada was referring to in 1977.
It appears that Jayadvaita has come to realize that he has set an irreversible precedent by his extensive editing over many years. The BBTI trustees and the GBC have presumably approved of this ongoing constant editing project. Jayadvaita Swami in his recent policy draft states that he/they have considered in principle "sealing the books", but according to him, the BBTI editors continue to discover errors which he feel demands editing. So in practice, Jayadvaita and his unmentioned team will continue their obsessive "fixing" behavior.
This proposed Guide for Future Editors concedes to the inevitable need for endless editing. The question of who, when and where these future authorized BBTI editors will manifest is anyone's guess. Jayadvaita and company have chosen to leave future editors with only a few words of advice. They are not proposing any oversight system or review mechanism in order to approve their editing. Of course, if he suggests such "checks and balances" for future editors, then the question arises: why is there no such oversight in place now for Jayadvaita's and Dravida's ongoing editorial work? An oversight policy is obviously something they would be adverse to putting in place. Why such a program was not implemented in the early 1980's by Ramesvara is another important question. And in fact, Ramesvara ex-Swami recently communicated to Rupanuga dasa, ex-GBC, that he regrets not overseeing and approving the copious edits by Jayadvaita. The excuse given was that he was too busy with other GBC/BBT matters at the time.
Ramesvara's Zone included the BBT, which was headquartered in Los Angeles. Naturally Jayadvaita was his close friend, also being stationed in the BBT in LA. As a matter of historical record, most of the brahminical types, including Dravida and Jayadvaita, chose to remain silent and therefore complicit during the Zonal Acarya takeover and throughout their ten year reign, thus adding legitimacy to the unbonafide system. Those actual brahmanas who spoke out were ex-communicated, most notably, Pradyumna and Yasodananda prabhus.
This brings me back to my original theme of the "citizens" having a natural tendency to accept the actions and words of the trusted brahmanas. We are forewarned in the Srimad Bhagavatam to be wary of the ill effects of the so-called brahmanas in this Age of Kali.
To this very day, Jayadvaita Swami has not publicly expressed, to my knowledge, any brahminical opinions about ISKCON's problems in terms of his analysis of the direction the GBC is taking ISKCON. Many devotees like myself who lived through the Zonal Acarya era have deep-seated negative perspectives on the GBC's. Most of the dissenters focus on the more kshatriya-like Zonals and the disturbance they created. Granted, they caused a lot of grief for a lot of people due to their Machiavellian mentality. However, the so-called brahminical types among the Zonal Acaryas, such as Satsvarupa and Jayadvaita, and even Jagadisa dasa, tended to be looked upon more favorably. In reality, the long-term damage the brahmanas created was more on the siddhantic level, therefore it was much more spiritually devastating. This includes the writing of the Lilamrta, the editing the Founder-Acarya's literature, and lack of proper oversight of the Gurukula system.
Many bewildered disciples in the early days of the Zonal Acarya system felt reassured on account of Satsvarupa being part of the scam. In the same mentality, the fact that Jayadvaita Swami wasn't speaking out also caused devotees to think things must be OK. Many had their doubts concerning other participants of the Zonal/GBC, experiencing them to be far more ambitiously aggressive. But the so-called brahminical types were doing long-term damage to Srila Prabhupada's mission, on the siddhantic level.
This has long been my perspective, therefore I'll continue to write and criticize what they're doing. Satsvarupa has simply transformed into a ghost, but his offensive concoction, theLilamrta continues being printed and sold by the BBT. Jayadvaita Swami and Dravida das will continue editing. I consider these to be the worst atrocities since Srila Prabhupada disappeared.