Where I’m Coming From

Having been disillusioned by fundamentalist Christianity as a teenager, I became a beat and then a hippy seeker. This led me to A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami. I was living in a commune in Haight Ashbury on Ashbury Street with a young woman. As soon as I saw Swamiji, I intuitively knew he was my guru. My partner and I were initiated and married by him in February, 1967. We broke up in January, 1968, and I went to Los Angeles and lived with Swamiji for a couple of months. He tried to get us back together, but she wanted to stay with the guy she left me for.

Swamiji touted renounced life as best for spiritual realization. I was devastated, open, and receptive to Swamiji’s advice that I forget about women and live as a vanaprastha preparing for sannyas. In 1970, I got a phone call saying that Swamiji wanted me to go to L.A. to take sannyas along with several others. I was 23 years old, about the same age Chaitanya took sannyas or younger (Sarvabhauma told him he was too young).

I was the president and founder of the Philadelphia temple. I looked forward to sannyas as an opportunity to be freed from management and devote my time to preaching and spiritual practices. However, after a six month preaching tour of Europe, I was called to India to do the PR for major festivals in Bombay and Delhi, start a press in Vrindaban, build temples in Vrindaban and Hyderabad–when all I wanted was to be a babaji in Braj.

Lalita Prasad Thakur (1972)

Lalita Prasad Thakur (1972)

I did a preaching tour of Canada and the U.S. for nine months in 1973. I found I could no longer encourage people

Subaldas Goswami (1974 Mayapur)

Subaldas Goswami (1974 Mayapur)

to join ISKCON temples because they were exploitive. Sankirtan had become distribution, change-ups, wigs, get Lakshmi scams. I went back to India and received the mercy of Lalita Prasad Thakur. I went to Mayapur for Gaur-purnim and then to Vrindaban for a tour with Swamiji. There he told us we should convert people at gunpoint when we got powerful enough. I knew it was time to go.

Sudama Maharaj, GBC for the Pacific also from the Haight Ashbury temple, invited me to Honolulu where he kept things mellow like in the early days. I handily got a temple donated by Alfred Ford. Swamiji immediately ordered me to Fiji to start a temple. Thrown back into management, business, and politics, I lasted less than three months, returned to Honolulu, found my friends ready to resign because they were being taken over by mainland ISKCON, and resigned with them in December, 1974 giving up sannyas. Celibacy and the other rules of sannyas life were not a problem for me to follow. What was a problem was business and politics which make sannyas a farce.

I come in the line of Jahnava Thakurani, shakti of Nityanand Avadhut, who even as a renunciate lived outside the bounds of social convention. Then took two wives to show that renunciation was not required for devotion. Actually, Jahnava was not his wife, but part of her sister’s dowry.

So, when I get down on renunciates, I know what I’m talking about. The things some of them do are disgusting and criminal. Their teachings are life-denying. They often use their positions to exploit others at the cost of their spiritual progress.

While I am a universalist, some things are just plain wrong, must be labeled as such, and people warned about the dangers. I concluded in 1974 that ISKCON was no longer useful for spiritual growth or as a preaching platform. I don’t know how they’ve managed to go on attracting new people. However, it’s not just ISKCON that is the problem, but all fundamentalist, life-denying, exploitive systems whether they be Hindu, Muslim, Christian, or Jewish.

I offer Universalist Radha-Krishnaism as a positive, life-affirming, alternative way of spiritual life that is not another organized religion.


One Response to “Where I’m Coming From”

  1. Bhakta says:

    “I offer Universalist Radha-Krishnaism as a positive, life-affirming, alternative way of spiritual life that is not another organized religion.”

    looking forward to learning