Hridayananda Goswami: “Krishna West has been systematically excluded from official ISKCON 50 events”

Krishna West ISKCON 50th Anniversary

Dear Devotees,

Jaya Prabhupada!

This year, ISKCON leaders and centers are celebrating ISKCON’s 50th anniversary. ISKCON news sites feature constant stories about this ongoing 50-themed celebration. A host of new films, and innumerable events around the world promote ISKCON 50. The unvarying mood of these announcements, stories, films, and events is festive, self-confident, and self-congratulatory.

Just a few days ago, the GBC hosted over a thousand leaders at the ISKCON Leadership Sanga. Here too, the theme was ISKCON 50, and the mood was uniformly celebratory and optimistic.

If all one’s knowledge of ISKCON came only from these sources, one would naturally conclude that ISKCON’s mission was a wonderful success all over the world. The flood of announcements, stories, films, and events, show hardly a hint of self-criticism, or even objective self-analysis.

My purpose here is not to criticize the ISKCON 50 celebrations. A birthday party is generally not the time to criticically analyze the person or institution whose birthday we are celebrating. Tough, critical analysis at a birthday celebration would seem inappropriate, or offensive.

It is not by accident or innocent oversight, that no one connected with the ISKCON 50 celebrations has interviewed me, asked me for a statement, or included me in any film or story about ISKCON 50. To my knowledge, not a single ISKCON 50 event, article, film, or story has spoken a word about Krishna West. Given the nature of the ISKCON 50 celebrations, and the nature of my preaching in the last several years, the reasons seem clear.

Prabhupada used to say at our annual Gaura Purnima festivals in Mayapura, that this was the time of year to make our plans for preaching and service in the upcoming Caitanya year. Tomorrow is Gaura Purnima, and even if Krishna West has been systematically excluded from official ISKCON 50 events, many of us hold a rational belief that Krishna West is ISKCON’s best chance to regain its relevance in the western world, presently the most influential region in the world. A few years ago, we began a Krishna West program in North America, and I am happy to report that this program has made extraordinary progress and is bringing many intelligent young people to Krishna. Similar programs are succeeding around the world. Throughout North America and Latin America, in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and other areas, thousands of devotees have found new inspiration and faith in Krishna consciousness through Krishna West. And many new people are attracted. Krishna West works!

I want to emphasize that the Krishna West mission is not to fight with other devotees, nor engage in endless debates with them, nor criticize ISKCON and its leaders, nor lend a sour note to the 50th anniversary celebrations. Our mission is to bring Krishna to the world in a powerful way. Krishna West focuses on bringing people to Krishna, especially in the Western and Westernized world. Therefore I sincerely request all of my many friends around the world to take advantage of this holy time of year and, as Prabhupada ordered us, make a beautiful plan to spread Krishna consciousness in the new Caitanya year.

Of course, we must not neglect our own spiritual advancement. This is also the time of year to meditate intensely on our personal relationship with Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Krishna Himself. Srila Prabhupada has mercifully made possible our relationship with the Lord. The Lord Himself explains that our devotion to Him is like a flowering creeper that grows in the garden of our heart. At this time, let us all joyfully enter our gardens, pull out some weeds, and lovingly water and nurture our bhakti.

Ultimately our external and internal purposes, preaching and personal progress, are two facets of the same Krishna consciousness. One feeds the other with perfect spiritual reciprocity.

Thank you for this opportunity to speak to you on this most auspicious occasion. May Lord Caitanya bless all of us!

With best wishes,
Hridayananda dasa Goswami

Chronology of Events:

Reactions from devotees:

Date: March 21, 2016

Cyril Wohrer: I heard through the grapevine that the GBC voted. A majority was in favor of forbiddng Hridayananda Maharaja from giving initiation in the future. Apparently, they will vote on it officially during the next October GBC meetings. Yesterday in Durban, I told Kadamba Kanana Swami, “It would be such an humiliating embarrassment to Hridayananda Maharaja if the GBCs’ did this.”
He nodded and said, “It would be such an embarrassment to themselves, and it would be such an embarrassment to the entire ISKCON society.”

Date: March 21, 2016

Amara Das Wilhelm: So many great personalities have been shunned…it’s almost becoming a credential!

Date: March 21, 2016

Rhiannon Dauster: 0Ridiculous! If that happens, it’s the last straw and I’m leaving ISKCON (whatever that means).

Date: March 21, 2016

Wesley Sena: I stopped taking the GBC seriously longtime ago. It made me a happier person. Now I just laugh every time I read something like this.

Date: March 22, 2016

Cyril Wohrer: Calling a spade a spade (and elaborating on my last post regarding the GBC planning to ban HDG from initiating), I want to remind everyone reading this that a year and a half ago, Romapada Swami and Badrinarayana Swami were in charge of organizing a five-day, North American ISKCON seminar (at ISKCON Chicago). The one and only theme of the convention was “Preaching to local people [in America].” They invited dozens upon dozens of devotees from all over North America. They completely ignored to invite HDG. Not only that, but just a few hundred miles south, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, was (and still is) operating a Krishna West center with regular weekly services with dozens of *local* students from the University of North Carolina regularly attending. Several devotees lived in that center, and many others gave large donations to start the center up and keep it running. Remember that most of the ISKCON centers in North America are real-estate properties that ISKCON acquired in the 1970s’ and 1980s’. And here, in Chapel Hill was a brand new project, with a new building, with regular services, catering to a local American student congregation. Meanwhile, the organizers of the “Preaching to local Americans” convention boycotted this project completely.
What is this?

Date: March 22, 2016

Jaime Ordonez Victoria: Warning: our sectarianism will destroy this “Science of Self Realization” into a fundamentalist religion like extreme Islamism.

Date: March 22, 2016

Jeremy Das They feel like the 60’s museum of their lives is slipping away.

Date: March 22, 2016

Sara Nicole: For the GBC to acknowledge HDG being correct about many aspects of KC would be basically admitting to themselves that they have been in some ways living incongruently with SP’s desire and mission for the past 30-40 yrs and that is too much for a human to handle such a high level of cognitive dissonance. To protect themselves from facing the possibility that going back to Godhead is not as simple as imitating SP’s dress, food choices etc would be too much. So they have to reject him from a psychological perspective. See here :https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance