The failure of success

I was inititated by Bhaktivedanta Swami in San Francisco, February, 1967. His movement was very small then, a temple in NY and one in SF, both in storefronts. I consider Bhaktivedanta to be very pure at that time. He went to the West at an old age following the order of his guru with little hope of success in creating disciples. He was humble, spiritual, had a presence that could fill the room and spoke teachings that made sense even to a hippie with authority. He totally won me over. I knew him intimately and lived with him as his personal assistant for a couple of months in 1968.

During that time, in LA, a reporter from Life magazine came, did an interview and took some pictures. An article was published profiling leading gurus of the day such as Bhaktivedanta, Maharishi, Guru Maharaj Ji, etc.. I think that’s when Bhaktivedanta got the idea that he wanted to be the greatest guru in the world and to do that he had to be the greatest guru in India. He showed off his Western disciples in India and called us his “dancing dogs” or “dancing white elephants.”

By 1974, his success surpassed his wildest dreams. I believe he suffered from meglomania. He certainly seemed like a different person than when I first met him. The corruption of the movement surpassed my greatest fears. I thought, “It took the church hundreds of years to get so big and corrupt. We did it in just eight. How wonderful.” I left in disgust along with others to begin a new life.

Question authority,

Steve (Subal)


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