Their Puja Goes to Hell!


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 25, Autumn 2009

Even devotees who accept that there is a guru hoax and general mass deviation occurring within ISKCON temples, still consider that at least the temples have nice Deity worship going on to high standards, and hence this is one bona fide activity which can be supported in temples which otherwise may be supporting the deviant guru hoax.

We examine this proposition by reference to a room conversation held on July 17th, 1977, and all quotes below, unless otherwise indicated, will be from this conversation.

Not possible for temple to maintain

Prabhupada: No, if he marries, why he should not take responsibility of maintaining? Why he should marry if he has no power of maintaining?
Tamala Krsna: What does that mean, “power of maintaining,” Srila Prabhupada?
Prabhupada: He must maintain his wife, children nicely. Otherwise why he should marry?
Tamala Krsna: He shouldn’t expect the temple to maintain him.
Prabhupada: That is not possible.
Tamala Krsna: Of course, he might be thinking, “Well, I’m a pujari, so the temple should pay me money to maintain my family.”
Prabhupada: If we have got brahmacari pujari, why should we maintain a grhastha? He is not only one pujari. We have got sannyasi, brahmacari. Why should we maintain a grhastha? And where is the means? After all, these things are to be adjusted. I can give you the ideas.

So Srila Prabhupada is not in favour of temples being used as a source of income for personal maintenance. Because to do so has grave consequences, as Srila Prabhupada goes on to answer:

Their puja goes to hell!

Prabhupada: The pujaris were given in Vrndavana the temple, and they made it a source of income. Just like the gosais are doing. Their puja goes to hell.
Tamala Krsna: Who?
Prabhupada: Mean these grhastha pujari. Gradually the puja will go to hell. They’ll gradually glide down how to maintain family by showing the Deity. That is... The gosais are doing. People have sentiment to give something to the Deity, and they will depend on that income. Bas.

This is very clear. Temples operated for collecting money via Deity worship for persons to maintain themselves, leads to the puja (worship) going to hell!

The reality

Given all of the above – is this what is happening in ISKCON? If so, we can see no matter how “nice” the Deity worship – the puja will go to hell. So are temples just using the Deities as sources of income? One only needs to hear from one of ISKCON’s own leading authorities:

“ISKCON has gone from being beyond Hinduism to being – very much Hindu! Temples have become centres for making cultural and social events, priests earn a livelihood doing weddings and hair cutting ceremonies, congregational members are encouraged to send their donations and get the blessings of the Lord and their names on plaques. Temples once the exclusive hold of Gaura-Nitai & Radha-Krishna now are dominated by murtis of demigods. In some quarters ISKCON has undergone considerable Indianisation.”
(HH Jayadvaita Swami, ISKCON Studies Conference, July 28th, 2007)

The above actually describes the situation today in many temples, regardless of their philosophical affiliations and whether or not they are under GBC control – the temple is simply a commercial enterprise by which the residents can earn their livelihood – and this is severely condemned.

Actually required

Later on in the same conversation Srila Prabhupada states:

Prabhupada: Just like British Empire lost. They could not manage. So long they were managing well, it was going on.
Tamala Krsna: Too much expansion with not enough good management.
Prabhupada: No.
Tamala Krsna: Similarly, we should not expand too quickly...
Prabhupada: No.
Tamala Krsna: ...unless we have the proper management.
Prabhupada: I am stressing, therefore, book selling.
Tamala Krsna: Hm.
Prabhupada: Not opening temples.
Tamala Krsna: Oh. Yes. This is the reason, one of the reasons. Hm. I don’t think many devotees think in terms of that, but this is a very practical point, that selling books, once you make the sale, that’s it. The book will act.
Prabhupada: Yes. It will remain permanent.
Tamala Krsna: Hm. It establishes itself as a Deity within a person’s home.
Prabhupada: Yes.
Tamala Krsna: The book.
Prabhupada: Now I have given my program.

Hence the movement was meant to be continued based on literature distribution, not opening temples. And this was the “program” Srila Prabhupada says he has “given”, just 4 months before he departed.

Srila Prabhupada explains why he opened temples:

“Your desire for opening many temples is very laudable, but unless you prepare some temple worshippers then the temples will remain vacant. So in this age, it is more important to create devotees than to construct temples. My Guru Maharaja advised me to give more stress on literary work such as publishing books and magazines in Krishna Consciousness, and temple opening is a secondary consideration. I am just trying to open some temples in the Western countries because there is none.”
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, March 16th, 1969)


The common trend today, whatever the philosophical persuasion, seems to be: we can’t go wrong if we put up a temple, show the Deity, collect money from largely Hindu worshippers and in that way watch the money roll in, keep oneself nicely maintained and live happily ever after. But such a program is to be condemned and will result in nothing other than the “puja going to hell”!

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