"Our Mission Part Four-The Heart of Reform."
"I agree with all your points, and appreciate that you are doing serious sociological thinking about the welfare of Prabhupada's society. . ."
Hrydayananda dasa Goswami
The Back Cover reads:
I very much agree with you on the need to establish proper procedures in ISKCON to deal with all kinds of issues, grievances, etc. In fact, I couldn't agree with you more. There is a growing awareness on the part of the GBC of the need for this and I will try to push it as far as I can. As they say nowadays, "We are on the same page on this one."This volume of Our Mission responds to the question: WHAT CAN AN INDIVIDUAL DO TO IMPROVE THE DYNAMICS IN A SOCIAL SYSTEM OR ORGANIZATION, EVEN IF HE OR SHE HAS NO POWER, POSITION OR AUTHORITY?
Hoping you are well,
Hrydayananda das Goswami.
To change a system, the first measure is a thorough-going analysis of the current functioning of the system:a study of the cause for the dysfunctioning and an appreciation of the resources available for introducing systematic changes.
(Eric Fromm on how to reform social systems)
With reference to this "first measure," having spent years thinking about the problems in ISKCON, having reflected a great deal and prayed to Krsna for guidance in this matter having read many volumes on the subject of group behavior from various disciiplines, having been both an observer and a participant inthe dynamics of our society, having discussed the issues wiht many concerned devotees, I find that we have several symptoms of unhealthy religiosity, witha subsequent loss ofintegrity, conscience, and ethical conduct.
Yet all these symptoms are rooted in one common soil:alienation from self. Therefore, the heart of reform is to take the steps that reduce alienation. Several of these steps are discussed herein.
The book completes a cycle of four "Our Mission" series and is must reading for anyone connected to ISKCON, past or present, who is concerned about issues of rational thought, truth, integrity, and the efficacy and spiritual reform of Srila Prabhupada's institution.
Anyone interested in obtaining a copy can contact me via email at The book sells retail for $10.00 plus $3.20 Priority mail envelope for domestic mailings. I will let the author continue to speak for himself, as he so adequately and effectively does on every page. Here is the preface of Our Mission-Part Four by Kundali Das:
The point has been raised that these Our Mission books make some readers angry. Actually, this is a desirable rection. If one cares for the legacy of Srila Prabhupada, and for his name, which is affiliated with ISKCON inseperably, it would be difficult not to be deeply disturbed by the utter irrationality we have enacted since l977 in the name of carrying on his mission. A headless chicken is the only metaphor that comes to mind. The analysis in the Our Mission series, which I assure you is but a fraction of the total pictue, substantiates my point. How can one love Srila Prabhupada and not be disturbed by the course of ISKCON?
Contrary to the social virtue practiced in ISKCON that all anger, except that of a guru or an advanced devotee, is catergoriaclly bad, we find that under cirticial scruity this does not hold up. Anger is an important emotion, no less important than any other emotions. Anger has an important role to play in our self preservation. As Aristotle said, to be angry is easy but to be angry at the right time, at the right person and for the right reason that is difficult. It takes self-disciline. It is said that Krsna spoke to incite Arjuna's anger.
Why? The Lord did it to check the dysfunctinal behavior of the Kauravas.
Rationally speaking, anger is neither god nor bad unless we know why the person is angry. Perhaps Krsan wasnt us to become angry again to check the dysfunctionality of ISKCON.
To be angry at the mess we have made of the Krsna consciousness movement, either because we were corrupted by power or corrupted by weakness, is a fitting response. Rather than empower people, Lord Caitanya's sublime teachings have been used to emasculate them. Many upper level devotees are in denial abou this, but we do not need their approval to look around and look within and reach our own conclusion.
Anger at being snookered, swindled, or taken for a ride is not unwarranted, especially when it is being done in the name of Krsna and Prabhupada. It is justified anger--provided it is accompanied by the resolve to do something about it.
Anger that is about blaming, lamenting, avenging, or denying the problem is misuse of anger. It is indulging in the mode of ignorance. In the same category is anger that causes us to quit bhakti-marga and go looking for something else to do. Equally useless is anger directed at those who try to open our eyes to the reality of the situation and the fact that ISKCON became, unwittingly, a destructive cult-like organization, which was never the intention of Srila Prabhupada.
The only healthy repsonse, which is to say the rightly directed use of anger, is to resolve to become part of the solution. We should resolve to become a voice that counts, to have a say in the kind of society we want to live in. If anger results in such a positive direction then we have what Aristotle would consider the right use of anger. Srila Prabhupada would agree. He was never remiss to display anger for Krsna conscious reasons. He would be quite angry if he faced the same situation we have. He would have addressed it in a decisive way. As proof I sugest a scrutiny of his Vyasapuja offerings to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta in the l950's wherein he addressed the dysfuntion in the institution of his Guru Maharaj. Not surprisingly some of the problems he saw then are not so different from the ones we face.
Srila Prabhupada cannot be pleased to see his teachings misused. He wanted his followers to beome independently thoughtful, to question assumptions, to discriminate between rational and irrational bheavior, and to see, think, and speak clearly, to accept nothing blindly but with care and caution. To ensure this clarity of thinking, this baffle proof capability, he wrote numerous books, so we would read them carefully and become not just more absorbed in Krsna consciousness but more competent human beings.
Yet look at how many people are bewildered about so many things, guru succession being just one of the items. In less than one generation people have concocted ritvik philosophy. In the institution guru has become a rubberstamp functoin and a business enterprise. Some gurus now endorse the ritvik understanding. Thus gurus themselves are bewildered about the qualification and function of guru. Love and trust has become a romantic notion and might is right is the default way of dealings.
Considering how Prabhupada worked diligently to teach us to see with eyes of knowledge, it is to be understood he must be disapointed and angry ast our persistent assocation with rajas and tamas. We should do all in our power to reform ISKOC. Several aspects of reform are discussed in this volume.
(Written by the author of Our Mission Part Four --- Kundali das)
I heartily recommend this volume, along with the predecessor Parts one, two and three. I would only add one additional quote from Our Mission Four's Introduction:
"On the subject of independent thinkging we should consier these inspiring words of Srila Bhaktivinioda Thakura inn The Bhagavata:Its Philosophy , Its Ethics and Its Theology:
In fact most readers are mere repositories of facts and statements made by other people. But this is not study.
The student is to read the facts with a view to create, and not with the object of fruitless retention. Students like satellites, whould reflect whatever light they receive from authors and not imprison the facts and thoughts just as Magistrates imprison the convicts in jail" (OM4 IX)
Emil Zola said: "Truth is on the March, and no one can stop her."
Puru Das Adhikari
Curator --- The Bhaktivedanta Memorial Library
[Originally published 04/14/99 on VNN]