Wouldn’t Krishna West have bigger impact outside of ISKCON?

Hridayananda das Goswami ISKCON Europe

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Hridayananda Das Goswami: So, before I get myself in more trouble, are there any questions on these points?

Alexander Shenkar: Hare Krishna! Thank you for the nice lecture. So one of the things you were talking about is that when the Gaudia Math collapsed, Prabhupada worked within the Gaudia Math but after a while seeing that it was broken, he left and started his own institution, the ISKCON movement. Prabhupada didn’t try to be the reformer within Gaudia Math. He decided to do his own thing within his own institution. So with Krishna West, a lot of the preaching that I see you do is actually preaching to the ISKCON devotees, trying to convince them to think more rationally and to follow Prabhupada. But instead of trying to reform ISKCON, wouldn’t Krishna West have bigger impact on spreading Krishna consciousness if it institutionally separated itself from ISKCON and focused on preaching to outsiders, to the non-devotees, instead of preaching to ISKCON and trying to reform ISKCON?

Hridayananda Das Goswami: Ok, thank you for the question. First of all, I think that my situation is not at all analogous to Prabhupada’s situation. When Prabhupada made his decision, there was no Gaudia Math to be in, because the Gaudia Math had disintegrated. ISKCON still exists as a united institution, and it’s still Prabhupada’s mission. That’s a very key point. Another point is that Prabhupada is the only person I see who actually has the purity and the potency to create an International Society for Krishna Consciousness. It’s like that old song by Bob Dylan, “No, no, no, it ain’t me babe.” I mean, I don’t have Prabhupada’s purity. I don’t have Prabhupada’s potency. Because ISKCON still exists as a united institution and it’s still Prabhupada’s mission, it’s clear to me that my duty is to do all I can to serve ISKCON and try to persuade devotees. And actually, based on my travels I find that most of ISKCON devotees I speak to, most of them, really understand this [Krishna West]. So I know from listening and watching Prabhupada that it’s very important to him to keep his movement together. And also as a student of world religions, I’m aware that it’s better to have a united movement. For example, everyone in the world knows who is the pope, but no one in the world knows who is the head of the Methodist church. I don’t think even the Methodists know this. You know, the Lutheran church, or that church, and so it’s better for the world to have a united movement. And I don’t see anyone including myself that really has the purity or the spiritual ability to do that. Let’s say that if I start something like that, when I die people will make a bigger mess.

Alexander Shenkar: You were saying that you don’t feel that you’re qualified and pure enough, and that odds are not in your favor…

Hridayananda Das Goswami: Well, not odds, but I’m very clear at this point in time that it’s not Krishna’s desire or Prabhupada’s desire to do something like that. And so I’m giving it the old college try.

Alexander Shenkar: But Prabhupada desired for Krishna consciousness to be spread to the West. He did whatever it took to spread Krishna consciousness to the West, even if it meant to leave his spiritual master’s institution.

Hridayananda Das Goswami: However, I am at present time right here in ISKCON’s most important North American center talking to everybody. I understand that some people will agree and some people may prefer to do things a different way but there are hundreds and thousands of ISKCON devotees who agree with me. And so it’s not that I’m in a hostile movement because I’m actually very encouraged. I just returned from Europe and I was very very encouraged by the very positive, extremely positive reception. The last country I was in, the temple president said this was the most important visit by an ISKCON leader in many years. I got letters like that from many, many European temples saying that this is so important. So, yeah, I’m very encouraged. Thank you all very much!