Bodily Conscious Gurus


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 68, Vol 1, 2021

Welcome to Issue 68 of Back To Prabhupada (BTP).

1) ISKCON's official news agency, ISKCON News, has reported on a new initiative taken by ISKCON South Africa to enrol its leaders, including a 'good as God' GBC voted-in diksa guru HH Bhakti Caitanya Swami, in an "Inclusion and Belonging Program":

"The twenty-six attendees in this first installment of the program include the co-GBCs (Bhakti Caitanya Swami and Govardhana Das), National and Regional Secretaries, Temple Presidents, [...] other leaders and influential devotees." (Emphasis added)

The reason for this program is:

"Due to our conditioned nature and influenced by our different racial, cultural, socio-economic backgrounds and genders, we sometimes fall short in our expression of Krishna consciousness, especially in our dealings with and acceptance of others."

This a long-winded way of saying that ISKCON leaders need to learn that "we are not this body", because their conditioned nature makes them express racist and other discriminatory attitudes.

2) Reading this immediately rang a bell. Don't we learn something similar in ISKCON? Yes, on consulting Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavad-gita As It Is, which Srila Prabhupada calls a book "for the beginners: A-B-C-D of spiritual knowledge" (Lecture, 11/1/69), there it is right in the very beginning: We are not these bodies but spirit souls. Therefore, it is also stated in the Bhagavad-gita that one is able to not discriminate on the basis of the body:

"The humble sage, by virtue of true knowledge, sees with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [outcaste]."
(Bg., 5.18)

3) So, obviously I must have read the ISKCON announcement the wrong way round. Surely it was ISKCON's leaders who were teaching this program to those poor non-devotees who had yet to learn even the basics of Krsna consciousness from the Bhagavad-gita? Indeed, we are informed that the course is: "congruent with the teachings of Bhagavad-gita".

But no, I had read it correctly the first time, and the course is actually being taught to ISKCON's leaders by non-devotees:

"the program is led by an adjunct faculty of the prestigious Henley Business School. Both facilitators, Sharon Shakung and Louise Claassen [...]"

It would appear that despite their lofty studies of "sastra" and the books of the previous acaryas, and their supposedly deep philosophical insight, ISKCON's leaders have somehow failed to grasp this most basic teaching of the Bhagavad-gita.

4) Hence, we have leaders who are supposedly amongst the most advanced devotees in ISKCON – including a ‘good as God' guru – learning how one should see beyond one's body, from non-devotees! Whereas it is ISKCON that is supposed to be teaching the world about this! Yet these same leaders insist that we accept their authority and so-called learning when it comes to "Guru-tattva" and many other more advanced subjects.

5) The program is promoted as helping to create:

"an ISKCON culture and leadership that celebrates and protects diversity and inclusion"; "Openness to Difference"; "Dignity and Respect [...] open, transparent communication"; "Engaging in behaviors of inclusion".

One may note the stark hypocrisy of ISKCON claiming to value such things, when its leadership has engaged in a concerted campaign for three decades of banning, threats and violence against those who simply want to accept Srila Prabhupada as their diksa guru.

ISKCON's leaders appear to now be open to accepting that they have not fully grasped even the basics of Krsna consciousness, such that they have to even take learning regarding it from non-devotees. Hence, maybe now they can be open to accepting that they may have also not grasped another very basic teaching given in the Bhagavad-gita: that the diksa guru is self-realised (Bg. 4.34), not a conditioned soul. And that for ISKCON, the diksa guru is Srila Prabhupada.

Thank you and Hare Krsna.
In Srila Prabhupada's service,


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