Dispute Between ISKCON Bangalore and ISKCON Mumbai/Letter by Sriman Madhu Pandit Prabhu

Letter from President, ISKCON Bangalore Society

Dear Patrons,

This communication is aimed at bringing into focus the core issue behind the current dispute between ISKCON Bangalore and ISKCON Mumbai. As a patron of ISKCON Bangalore Society, we believe you should be informed about the factual position of both disputing parties and be reassured about the safe guard of your interest in your relationship with ISKCON Bangalore.

From the time His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, reverentially addressed as Srila Prabhupada, founded ISKCON in New York in 1966, ISKCON grew into a large, transnational organization spanning many countries, having 108 centers and more than 10,000 members, in a matter of 10 years. This was due to the immense spiritual stature and vision of our Founder Acharya, Srila Prabhupada.

While the growth of the organization was impressive, in 1977, just prior to Srila Prabhupada’s leaving this world, it was still a young organization and most of the members and devotees, mainly westerners, had not developed the required spiritual stature, knowledge, realization, immense purity
and gravity that is required to occupy the post of his spiritual successor, as an “Acharya”.

Keeping this in mind, Srila Prabhupada appointed 11 disciples to act as Representatives of Acharya (and not as Acharyas) or ritviks. He issued an institutional directive that these ritviks would also officiate during the initiation ceremony of devotees who would join the movement. It was amply
clear that these individuals would be his representatives only, and would not replace him as the Spiritual Master or Acharya of ISKCON. In other words, Srila Prabhupada was to remain, for all time, the Founder and only Acharya or Diksha guru of ISKCON.

These 11 appointees, (all of them westerners) did not heed the instructions of Srila Prabhupada. They conspired and usurped his position, started accepting disciples for themselves and began to enjoy the worship, honour, power, adulation and guru-dakshina that are offered to an Acharya, using a
massive and well organized misinformation campaign, within the devotee community that they were actually appointed by Srila Prabhupada as 11 Acharyas. Any devotee who did not submit to the new system that they introduced was marginalized, stripped of services, humiliated and even expelled.
Historical records state that 95% of Srila Prabhupada’s original disciples left the institution in thenext few years. As the corruption set in, these 11 appointed ritviks, now self-proclaimed as Acharyas had multiplied in numbers, to a total of 100 by 2000. Most of these self-proclaimed Acharyas, could not maintain the spiritual vows and fell from grace deplorably, indulging in immoral acts of illicit sex, drugs, child abuse, etc. Nine out of eleven so-called Acharyas and 35 out of the 100 have visibly fallen into acts that are unmentionable for a gentleman what to speak of sannyasis. As many keptfalling from grace, more kept getting added. The story is sordid.

The ISKCON Bangalore devotees came across this treachery in 1998. From that time, ISKCON Bangalore has been peacefully contesting this rampant corruption that had set in across ISKCON worldwide. The self-appointed guru system now established in ISKCON worldwide, is using ISKCON Mumbai, as its front end to put down the protest of ISKCON Bangalore through various means such as litigations, maligning campaigns, usage of some politicians with vested interests as mouth pieces, presentation of false charges in the media as well as spreading of rumors and misinformation in the ISKCON Bangalore stakeholder community as well as the public in general.

However, the core and main guru issue has been sidelined and misrepresented to the media and in general the public, as a property issue. To clarify:

ISKCON Bangalore was registered under Karnataka Societies Registration Act as an independent society in the year May 1978. The current office bearers of ISKCON Bangalore, who joined after the registration of the ISKCON Bangalore society, as well as the members of the ISKCON Bangalore society have built the current grand temple, and have created from scratch, without any aid or help from ISKCON worldwide, an entire range of social service activities over a period of 10 years. These include Akshaya Patra – the world’s largest privately run mid day meal program that feeds about 13 lakh children every day with the help of the central and state governments; cultural education programs that touch over 1.5 lakh children every year.

ISKCON Bangalore is one of the landmarks of Bangalore receiving over 30 lakh visitors every year. It is also the largest centre distributing authentic books on Vedic literature, is the fountainhead of at least two projects that can qualify as national heritage sites in the times to come, and is actively engaged in spreading the sattvic way of life in the society. The ISKCON Bangalore society uses best practices and transparency in organization management, financial practices as well as operations management, and constantly goals itself on maximizing the value from the contributions made by its stakeholders.

Most of ISKCON Bangalore programs have been lauded at the national and international level by leaders of impeccable repute.

ISKCON Mumbai, through various means described above, intends to take over the assets, programs, operations and projects mentioned above, citing a maze of complex and hazy arguments, painting office bearers of ISKCON Bangalore as wrong doers and claiming ISKCON Bangalore Society, as a branch of ISKCON Mumbai. The aim is to take over the prestigious programs and position built by ISKCON Bangalore Society and more importantly to disperse and destroy the challenge raised by ISKCON Bangalore to the self-appointed gurus of ISKCON worldwide.

The matter was litigated in the trial court and a detailed and comprehensive judgment was awarded in favor of ISKCON Bangalore, acknowledging its existence as a separate society, independent of ISKCON Mumbai. However, the matter was appealed in the Honorable High court by ISKCON Mumbai and the High Court awarded the matter in favor of ISKCON Mumbai, recognizing ISKCON Bangalore society as a branch of Mumbai. On scrutiny of the Honorable High Court’s order, ISKCON Bangalore society, found considerable and significant reasons, to appeal to the Supreme Court, being confident of getting a favorable order from the Honorable Supreme Court.

Accordingly the matter was raised to the Supreme Court. The Honorable Supreme Court has advised both parties to settle the matter amicably (which ISKCON Bangalore Society has already offered to ISKCON Mumbai earlier) failing which it will consider granting leave to be appealed in early July 2011. Till such time, the Honorable Supreme Court has forbidden ISKCON Mumbai from interfering with day to day affairs of ISKCON Bangalore society and has asked both parties to maintain status quo.

We would like to assure you, that at ISKCON Bangalore, we have tried to maintain the highest standards in terms of uprightness and sense of accountability to you as a stakeholder and to society in general. We have endeavored to maintain the highest standards that behoove a spiritual organization such as ours. Not only that, we have tried to keep this dispute an internal matter, to avoid the bad taste such disputes generate for the public, as well as to keep up the august image of ISKCON.

However we were compelled to bring this matter to your door steps as ISKCON Mumbai began taking the matter to the media, to which we cannot keep silent but speak the truth.

We would like to assure you, that we are ever conscious of the confidence, interest and commitment you have in us, and we intend to reciprocate, execute and keep all commitments made to you, either explicit or implicit and further commit to strive and meet expectations that you would
have from an organization such as ours, in spite of the trials and tribulations being imposed upon us.

Thank you for standing by the Truth. Satyam eva jayate.

Madhu Pandit Dasa
President, ISKCON Bangalore Society


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