I was hoping to put the issue of disturbing divergences from Srila Prabhupada to rest but somehow I landed on a website that I never read and will not recommend to anybody, and I discovered they’ve been on this case for years already.
Most of their earlier criticism is not fit for an aspiring devotee’s ears but the latest entries, in the past couple of months, have been very factual and well supported. Of course their innate prejudice to all things ISKCON is still shining through but, increasingly, they speak in the language of quotes and links and not judgments and opinions.
Leaving personalities aside, the main group of neo-mayavadis penetrating our ranks are followers of Neem Karoli Baba. I’m sure no one in India has ever heard about him and he passed away very long time ago – in 1973, but his legacy still lives on.
Neem Karoli Baba was an exemplary post-Ramakrishna mayavadi, he never read and scriptures, he never propagated any philosophy, he never talked about his connection to any parampara, he never accepted sannyasa or any rules and regulations and he lived his life as he pleased. No serious follower of Shankaracharya would give him any credit and neither should any serious follower of Gaudiya vaishnavism.
The fact that he talked a lot about devotion means nothing – that’s what all mayavadis do nowadays. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur was pretty clear on this in his Jaiva Dharma:
Vijaya: Can Mayavadis also be called vaisnava-abhasa if they accept the symbols of a Vaisnava and chant sri-nama?
Babaji: No, they cannot even be called vaisnava-abhasa. They are simply offenders, so they are called vaisnava-aparadhi. In one sense, they might be called vaisnava-abhasa, because they have taken shelter of pratibimba-namabhasa and pratibimba-bhava-abhasa, but they are such great offenders that they are to be separated even from the name Vaisnava.
There’s also a story about Neem Karoli Baba sexual encounters with his female disciple that went on for two years. After his death his disciples organized a tantric sex club back in the US with hundreds of people attending their “functions” that were graphically described in their own books.
We should not judge them for what they did so many years ago but I think this needs to mentioned to dispel any notions that Neem Karoli Baba was a genuine guru teaching genuine devotional service.
Krishna Das, the famous kirtaniya getting traction in ISKCON circles, still does not believe in God and thinks that Holy Names are the names of his own true self, his own inner heart. That’s the apogee of impersonalism, can’t get any more offensive towards the Lord than that.
Once he said he was dismayed that “Hare Krishna” mantra was associated with ISKCON devotees, he probably doesn’t say such things now but he still says that he chants for his own pleasure, definitely not for Krishna’s enjoyment.
He’s been singing “kirtans” for decades now and there doesn’t seem to be any progress and, by all available evidence, he is not going to give up his impersonalist attitudes and become a devotee any time soon – preaching to him is useless.
Rather one should remember this verse from Padma Purana:
avaisnavo mukhod girnam putam hari-kathamitam
sravanam naiva kartavyam sapocchrista yatha payah
“If the nectarlike narration of the Supreme Lord is heard from the mouth of a nondevotee, the listener’s spiritual death becomes as sure as a person who dies after drinking milk contaminated by a poisonous snake.”
I don’t think this is an empty warning – if we listen to glorifications of Krishna by such people like Krishna Das or Jai Uttal our spiritual death is guaranteed.
Their spiritual mentor who introduced them to Neem Karoli Baba, Ram Dass, runs a number of charitable institutions and programs. Every time ISKCON devotees take part in them they are earning money for Ram Dass’ purposes. Mind boggles why our ISKCON gurus should help raise funds for cleaning the Gulf of Mexico, for example?
Ram Dass is not all about charity, however. There’s one curious anecdote where he was caught by a passersby while standing in line for a homosexual porn movie. The way Ram Dass tells it the joke was on a hippie who recognized him and no second thought is given to the first American “guru” watching porn.
The point is – we can’t seriously accept any of these guys as devotees of the Lord, they are offenders. One could say that we all are offenders of the Holy Name in one way or another but the difference between devotees and mayavadi “bhaktas” is that devotees sincerely repent and try to avoid committing any offenses whereas mayavadi commit themselves to committing more and more offenses every day and seek to derive pleasure from it.
I have a feeling that the killer argument against associating with mayavadis is still escaping me, I vaguely remember the spirit of the quote but don’t remember any actual words. If it comes to me I will sure continue in the same vein.