The TOVP kerfuffle involving Bhavananda Das and Radha Jivan

Yesterday, someone who knows my past asked me about events related to my "guru." He was referring to Bhavananda Maharaj, from whom I did indeed take sannyas in 1979. Prior to that I had worked under Bhavananda for nearly four years as the headmaster of the Mayapur Gurukula, so I had a fairly good experience of his way of being and managing.

Management is a difficult task, but it is attractive to some who have the requisite personality. It is no small wonder that CEOs and other successful managers, including politicians, have a tendency to the sociopathic personality: extraverted, narcissistic, authoritarian, non-empathetic, ambitious, ruthless in competition.

This describes Bhavananda rather well.

It was no surprise that many people were exhilarated by the news that he had to run to save himself when resentment against his and his cronies' behavior bubbled over. Like old times in Mayapur, he surrounds himself with others who share his style of management.

I read Radha Jivan's account of what happened. I have followed him a little since he worked with Ramesh Baba on the Yamuna action. He seems a sincere man who is genuinely motivated by a desire to serve. He is neither power mad, nor does he take sadistic pleasure in lording it over others the way Bhavananda does.

I had previously thought perhaps Bhavananda might have changed his spots, but it looks like he got his hooks in and the GBC was enchanted by his "managerial capability."

And it is true in a way. Iskcon is full of sheep and so a heavy sheep dog is sometimes needed. But that is a recipe for institutional disaster. Like making Donald Trump president: they are cut from the same cloth. Human typology and Religious Institutions

And you can be sure that those who love power love sex also, but they sometimes have to be careful about it. Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac said Henry Kissinger.

Institutional craziness. More money, more power, more politics. And as long as they can maintain a front to the sheep, keep on producing a "product" they can sell, they keep at it. Sometimes with remarkable success.

The Bhagavata says that Kali can be found where there is gold. All the other evils of Kali follow behind. This is why the Bhagavatam (7.13.8) and Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu (1.2.113) advise -- as an anga of bhakti! -- that a devotee should not get involved in great endeavors. Jiva Goswami says that although the instruction applies to sannyasis in Bhagavata, it is in fact meant for all devotees.

na śiṣyān anubadhnīta granthān naivābhyased bahūn |
na vyākhyām upayuñjīta nārambhān ārabhet kvacit ||

One should not take many disciples; nor should one study many books. One should not make a living from commenting on the scriptures, nor undertake many ambitious projects.

Expanded translation: Although these verses are spoken specifically as instructions meant for sannyasis, they are to be applied by all Vaishnavas who are cultivating detachment. Not taking too many disciples refers specifically to making unqualified disciples, for it has been seen that Narada and others did take many disciples. Should no one do so, then the tradition would die out. Furthermore, if one does not take any students, this is a kind of miserliness with one’s learning. Therefore this injunction means that one should not make many unqualified disciples simply to increase the numbers of one’s sectarian group. If these disciples are not truly attracted to devotional service, then what is the point? The same argument applies to ambitious projects, etc. (Jiva Goswami)
I am hesitant to call this desire to recreate a kind of Catholic Church a huge mistake. I guess that preaching means to make a lot of noise, and so there is a positive aspect to it. This is what Prabhupada saw: all publicity is good publicity. "How many times did Krishna's name appear in the article?"

I don't think Prabhupada was in the slightest bit unaware of exactly where each one of his disciples was spiritually. I personally saw him welcome Bhakti Chaitanya Swami (the Punjabi) who had been acting unsannyasi-like. He just kept trying to squeeze service out of these defective devotees. The only thing important was that externally they pushed the movement forward. Prabhupada wanted to get as much done as possible in the limited time he knew was allotted to him.

His reticence about allowing the devotees to go to other spiritual leaders like Shrila B.R. Shridhar Maharaj was to maintain institutional discipline. Prabhupada was no fool. He knew that there would be problems. Shridhar Maharaj also was smart enough to say, I will just advise from a diistance on a personal level as best I can. He was thus able to save the devotional life of many individuals.

Prabhupada's idea to keep his own institution as free as possible of any other Vaishnava influence and the fact that he promoted sociopaths to positions of authority (this is natural by the way, sociopaths smell power and come running, like hyenas to carrion) because sociopaths often do get things done.

This is because they have no fear of hurting others. They do not have empathy, or at least they don't allow themselves to be influenced by empathy. They will steamroller over anyone who stands in their way.

In this latest incident, it seems that Radha Jivan was extremely hurt by the crude and asinine things Bhavananda said. On the surface, one could say, Be humble. Accept the insult and go on with your service, etc. But if you look at the overall dynamic he describes, it seems clear that Bhavananda was smelling competition in Radha Jivan. Money is power and he was now bringing in most of it. So he treated him like an inferior, let him know who is the boss.

He doesn't have to do diplomacy. His way of dealing is like Trump's: Screw everyone as long as I get to play king.


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