I would like to explain a few of the reasons I have decided
to leave ISKCON. I will first explain the social, cultural,
and personal reasons, and then lastly I will explain the
The first reason is a philosophical reason. As many of
you are aware, last year in 2008, the GBC tried to pass
a resolution (GBC Resolution 311) to add footnotes or
annotations into Srila Prabhupada’s books, effectively
changing the meaning behind many of Srila Prabhupada’s
purports. Most devotees felt that the GBC was minimizing
or rejecting Srila Prabhupada’s authority by doing
this, and it was met with such a large public outcry that
the GBC very quickly rescinded the 311 Resolution to change
Srila Prabhupada’s books. I was the creator of a
petition to rescind the resolution, and the response was
petition received over 800 signatures within
only two weeks.
Please read some of the comments written by devotees
on the petition. Many devotees were very, very angry and
upset by the GBC’s decision to change Srila Prabhupada’s
books, and many of them threatened to leave ISKCON if
the GBC dared to change Srila Prabhupada’s divine
The next reason is a cultural one. About two months ago,
Hrdayananda Maharaja gave his public
blessings and support to a homosexual male
devotee couple to get married. I found this to be so completely
absurd that I could not believe it at first. That Hrdayananda
Maharaja could even think something like this calls into
question his very qualification to act as a spiritual
master. Srila Prabhupada never, ever supported anything
like this, and he never encouraged homosexuality or gay
marriage. Hrdayananda Maharaja has been publicly supporting
the idea of gay marriage/monogamy for the past few years.
The GBC has of yet made no public condemnation of Hrdayananda
Maharaja for this (Hrdayananda Maharaja is also a GBC,
in case you didn’t know), and thus I come to the
conclusion that the GBC supports such ideas as gay marriage.
Silence means consent.
The next reason is a philosophical/organizational reason.
Many devotees have a problem with the current authority
structure in ISKCON. In short, we believe that ISKCON’s
culture of absolute control and blind following is not
conducive to spiritual advancement. I will give an explicit
personal example of this.
One of my first bhakta leaders was a follower of this
tyrannical policy of “just surrender”, absolute
control, and blind following. We were simply supposed
to follow his every order, no matter how absurd, and if
we didn’t, we would get severely chastised for being
an “independent demon”, “anti-authority”,
etc. On a few occasions, he even threatened to inflict
physical violence on me if I didn’t “surrender
to his authority”.
Even though at that point, any sane or rational person
would have called the police, being a blind, na´ve, and
“surrendered” bhakta, I continued to blindly
accept and follow his authority. Sometimes though, I would
become so frustrated that I would become almost suicidal,
telling myself “I would rather die than remain a
part of this ISKCON”. I feel that one of the reasons
that ISKCON cannot attract normal and intelligent people
to join this movement is due to this culture of blindly
following authority, no matter how wrong or abusive the
authority happens to be.
The next reason is a social/cultural reason. I see the
degrading influence of feminism (aka “women’s
liberation” or “equal rights”) to be
increasing within ISKCON. The “ISKCON Women’s
Ministry” has been promoting feminist policies for
over a decade now. Aside from being a very socially destructive
policy, feminism is clearly against Srila Prabhupada’s
teachings. Simply search for “equal rights”
in the Vedabase and you can see for yourself how strongly
Srila Prabhupada was against the idea of “equal
rights”. Those devotees who are promoting feminism
are actually rejecting Srila Prabhupada’s teachings.
It is also an interesting observation to note that most
of the people promoting and supporting feminism are western
devotees — thus suggesting that the source of this
problem is their own western conditioning. Generally,
you never see Indian devotees promoting feminism.
The latest manifestation of feminism in ISKCON is the
GBC’s latest decision to acknowledge and even accept
the idea of “female diksa gurus”, something
which Srila Prabhupada himself never established (this
idea would also be unthinkable to anyone coming from a
traditional Vedic background). I will not get into a lengthy
discussion on this issue of feminism at present, because
that is not the intention of this letter to do so. I will
simply request you to read a few links that I feel strongly
prove that ISKCON is indeed being contaminated by feminism.
Feminists Want to Change Prabhupada’s Books
Feminists Openly Blasphemy Srila Prabhupada
Srila Prabhupada was Blasphemied, and the GBC Remained
Theories and their Effect on ISKCON
Feminists Violently Disrupt the Vrindavan Kartik Festival
A Philosophical Refutation of ISKCON GBC’s 2000
“Women in ISKCON” Resolution
Notes from a Think Tank (a very detailed exposition of
Madhusudani Radha (Maria Ekstrand), Editor and OWNER of
Chakra.org , blasphemies Lord Rama (Word)
Debate about feminism in ISKCON on Dandavats.com
Another reason that I have chosen to disassociate myself
from the ISKCON institution is because I, and many others,
feel that ISKCON has become compromised, or “watered
down” from following Srila Prabhupada’s teachings
purely and strictly. I will give one such example out
of the many “compromises” and deviations in
ISKCON. Remember the “Govinda’s
Movie Theater” in Sydney, Australia?
It is run by a couple of Prabhupada disciples. They were
showing a movie called “Sex in the City” at
the Govinda’s Movie Theater. It isn’t very
difficult to realize that it is probably NOT very pleasing
to Srila Prabhupada to show such pornography at an ISKCON
center (the Govinda’s Movie Theater address is listed
in the ISKCON.com
One particularly disturbing trend in ISKCON, which is
also supported and encouraged by the leadership, is the
acceptance of western education, especially secular university
education. A few prominent sannyasi leaders have gone
to secular universities, even though Srila Prabhupada
very strongly called the modern academic institutions
In many ways, ISKCON has become so watered down that
you can’t even quote a statement from Srila Prabhupada
without someone freaking out. As the previous examples
illustrate (feminism, GBC changing Srila Prabhupada’s
books, homosexuality and gay marriage), even the ISKCON
leadership, the GBC, encourage and support these deviations.
The mood of strictly following Srila Prabhupada “as
it is” has been lost to a great degree. Instead
of following Srila Prabhupada absolutely, “as it
is”, many devotees simply follow what they want
to follow, and they reject whatever they don’t want
to follow. What it actually comes down to is a lack of
faith in Srila Prabhupada’s absolute purity and
position. I find such an offensive and disrespectful attitude
towards Srila Prabhupada too hard to tolerate, and thus
I have no choice but to simply remove myself from an organization
that tolerates such an offensive attitude. If you love
somebody, it is very difficult to tolerate blasphemy of
Of course, there are some noble devotees within ISKCON
who are trying to defend Srila Prabhupada and his teachings
from this attitude of compromise, but after long consideration,
I feel that in the long run, they won’t be successful
maintaining Srila Prabhupada’s pure teachings and
standards within the ISKCON institution. After all, history
shows that once something degrades, it is extremely difficult
to bring it back up to it’s original pure position.
Finally, the real reason, the main reason that I am leaving
ISKCON is for spiritual reasons. This human lifetime is
simply too short to waste being absorbed in political
or institutional affairs, rather than in Krishna consciousness.
When I really think about it, I honestly do not feel that
I have made much real advancement in Krishna consciousness.
How much attraction have I actually developed for Krishna?
How much love or affection have I actually developed for
Krishna? Sometimes I feel that instead of developing Krishna
consciousness, I have been cultivating political or institutional
consciousness. And I simply cannot bear to waste any more
time in that direction. Krishna is so beautiful and sweet
that I am bewildered as to how I could have wasted even
a moment absorbed in mundane political/institutional affairs.
This human life is so short — I am only 24 years
old, and I could die in 40 years, or in 4 years, or in
4 days, or even in 4 minutes. And at the end of my life,
will I want to experience the great disappointment of
having missed attaining Krishna and His association simply
because I have wasted so much time being absorbed in political/institutional
consciousness instead of Krishna consciousness? The only
thing that matters at the time of death is how much Krishna
consciousness we have developed.
When I look at myself, I do not feel that I have developed
any real Vaisnava qualities. Instead of developing compassion,
I have developed bitterness and anger. Instead of developing
love, I have developed envy and hate. Instead of developing
humility, I have developed pride and intolerance. Narottama
dasa Thakura’s famous words of humility actually
apply to me:
Ki mora duhkhera katha, janama gonainu vrtha
Dhik dhik narottama dasa
“This is the sad story of my life. I have spent
my life uselessly absorbed in distressful topics. What
a shameless life I, Narottama dasa, have led.”
I do not want to waste my human form of life. I desperately
want to become a humble, sincere, and serious Vaisnava.
In my own case, I feel that remaining a member of ISKCON
will not be conducive towards that goal.
Many devotees both inside and outside of ISKCON feel
that ISKCON is seriously lacking in care and compassion
— towards it’s own members and towards the
society at large. There is such a great pressure put on
making new members, collecting money, building temples,
that if we are not careful, we may even miss the entire
point — which is to develop love for Krishna. Ultimately,
bhakti means love — love for others and love for
Basically, I do not feel that my spiritual desires are
going to be fulfilled in ISKCON. So it is because of this
main reason, as well as the other above stated reasons,
that I can no longer conscientiously consider myself to
be a member of the ISKCON institution.
I will be maintaining a small blog where I will share
my own personal realizations and how my spiritual life
is going: HareKrishnaDiary.Blogspot.com.
I will end with a prayer:
Krpa-sindhubhya eva ca
Vaisnavebhyo namo namah
Have you also rejected your guru, Bhakti
What is the current dynamic of that relationship?
Answer: This is a sensitive subject. Let me first
of all state that I still have full respect for HH Bhakti
Vikasa Swami. I admire many of his qualities, especially
his unflinching determination to never compromise Srila
Prabhupada's standards and teachings. I feel that he is
the most bonafide representative in ISKCON today in terms
of following Prabhupada strictly.
Unfortunately, I simply could no longer tolerate remaining
a member of ISKCON. And as Bhakti Vikasa Swami is associated
with the ISKCON institution, my decision has had the unfortunate
effect of indirectly rejecting him. You see, I have rejected
the institution, and thus that means that I automatically
indirectly reject those inside the institution.
I will say though that there are many devotees in ISKCON
who I respect. I am not against the ISKCON institution.
But I myself simply can no longer tolerate being a member
Although everything you say is generally philosophically
correct, if we analyze your personal life, we find many
inconsistencies. You speak such high philosophy, but you
are a householder living outside the temple, not chanting
16 rounds a day, working a karmi job for the US government,
going to a karmi university, and married to a materialistic
indian woman. Therefore who are you to criticize anybody?
When I was at your house, I saw you constantly screaming
and fighting with your indian wife. You talk so much about
culture and married life, but you can't even personally
maintain a peaceful family life.
If my comments are not good enough for your blog, please
also remove my letter called "Why I am leaving ISKCON"
which you posted to your blog. [ed. - sorry, you submitted
your letter to this site for publishing. It got published.
It's not coming down.]
Krishna-kirti, although I consider you to be the "cream
of the crop" of ISKCON, still, if one considers it,
that even you are involved in so many nonsense activities,
it is simply proof that everyone in ISKCON is nonsense
to a greater or lesser degree. Otherwise, how could they
tolerate being in ISKCON?
Dear Mr. Boyden,
The problem here is that you do not distinguish the process
of bhakti-yoga from that of relation to the ISKCON institution.
Are you saying that anybody outside of ISKCON is not following
bhakti-yoga? That would be quite an offensive statement
As for your advice to "stay and fight", I advise
you to read Krishna-kirti's blog regularly, and then you
will understand why "staying and fighting" may
not be worth the effort.
You say to stay protected is to stick to harinama. Yes,
I agree. But you make that statement in the sense of the
assumption "since I am leaving ISKCON, I must also
be leaving behind the chanting of the maha-mantra".
That is quite an incorrect assumption. I will never stop
chanting. After leaving ISKCON, I began chanting 32 rounds
a day. Have I left harinam behind?
The problem is, I feel, that you do not distinguish between
the process of bhakti-yoga and ISKCON. You feel that ISKCON
IS bhakti yoga, and that anything other than ISKCON is
NOT bhakti yoga. Try to understand the offensiveness of
Are all of the Gaudiya Matha devotees not following bhakti
yoga? Are all of the Madhva sampradaya devotees in Udupi
not following bhakti yoga? Are all of the Sri Vaisnava
sampradaya devotees in Sri Rangam not following bhakti
Please reconsider your statements before making a big
offense like this.
I am shocked as to how upset some devotees (especially
western devotees) can get by my "conservative" writings.
Have they never actually read Srila Prabhupada's books?
If they had, they would see that Srila Prabhupada was
far more "conservative" than I can ever be. Simply search
for "women", "homosex", or "modern society" in the Vedabase
and see for yourself. I am simply repeating Srila Prabhupada's
words and mood, so the fact that they criticize me shows
that actually they have no faith in Srila Prabhupada.
But rather than actually have the courage to admit to
themselves that they have no faith in Srila Prabhupada,
they simply kick and spit on Srila Prabhupada's loyal
Why don't they just get real with themselves? If you don't
want to accept Srila Prabhupada, then go find a different
movement to join!
A classic example of this kind of faithlessness that poses
as fidelity to Srila Prabhupada can be found in the following
statement which was written by Lalita Madhava dd to support
the 311 Annotations Resolution:
"All glories to the GBC for Resolution 311! While the
three quotes cited are among the most extremely damaging
(to Srila Prabhupada’s image, to our preaching and
even to the faith of our own members), there are, as the
Resolution states, many “other such statements”
that will also have to be addressed. But this is certainly
a monumental step in the right direction."
After reading that, if you don't find something seriously
wrong with it, then that is proof that you have no faith
in Srila Prabhupada. Such faithless atheists shold be
thrown into the street and spit on. Who the hell do they
think they are to criticize Srila Prabhupada?
And the majority of ISKCON's members have degenerated
into this kind of faithless so-called followers of Srila
Prabhupada, which is another reason why I refuse to have
anything to do with such a compromised institution as
ISKCON. Who is responsible for this degeneration? The
leadership, of course. Most of the so-called "gurus" have
no faith in Srila Prabhupada and are encouraging this
kind of compromise in the name of "being practical", so
how can you expect their followers to be any different?
For an example of this, read some of Hrdayananda Goswami's
The only reason the "gurus" put on a show of following
Srila Prabhupada is so that they don't lose their own
position and prestige. I have actually come to the conclusion
that they (the "gurus") are intentionally cheating people.
The only other explanation is that they are simply too
stupid to actually realize that they are cheating people
and are not qualified for their position. So either intentionally
or unintentionally, they are cheating their followers
by posing as a guru, especially when there are devotees
who are far more qualified than they are, both inside
and outside of ISKCON. But rather than send their followers
outside of ISKCON to a real bonafide guru, they simply
criticize and make propaganda against such uttama-adhikari
devotees. They will all surely burn in hell for such an
offensive and demoniac action.