Princes of the Zonal Acarya Kings – Part Three

BY: ROCANA DASA - 6.11 2018

On the Zonal Acarya king, Bhagavan

In previous articles, we've presented commentary on the lineages of Zonal Acaryas, Kirtanananda and Tamal Krishna Goswami, and today I'd like to present Bhagavan das. Many readers have responded to this series, suggesting that we've forgotten to mention the names of several princes, but our aim here is to focus primarily on the surviving princes, and those who were on the highest levels of the Zonal kings' hierarchy.

Prior to the Zonal Acarya concept being implemented, right after Srila Prabhupada's departure, Bhagavan was a householder, and the GBC for France, Italy, Spain and Portugal. After becoming the GBC, he promptly brought many of his American friends over to Europe because in the countries where he was GBC, most people didn't speak English. This was especially true in France, where there was great resistance to the concept of speaking English. So for Bhagavan to have friends and associates that he could relate to, he had to bring in Americans, and he would then put the Americans in charge of the different countries. In this way, he managed his zone.

Because of his Zonal Acarya position, Bhagavan soon found it necessary to take sannyasa, abandoning his wife and children. His princes soon followed suit, also taking sannyasa. One of Bhagavan's principle princes was Indradyumna Swami, who is now a larger than life personality within ISKCON. Indradyumna was a very close friend of Bhagavan das.

Another of Bhagavan's princes was Kesava Bharati, who was in Spain. He couldn't maintain his sannyasa status and fell down, and it took him many years to regain that status. Just recently he's become a sannyasi again, after doing his penance according to the GBC, but as of today, he's not among the surviving princes of King Bhagavan. Most of his princes followed him into iniquity by falling down with women. Indradyumna seems to have resisted this temptation, although based on the photos circulating on the Net of his close association with young women, it clearly seems that he is at risk.

In many respects, Indradyumna Swami still reflects a lot of Bhagavan's style of management from the Zonal Acarya period. Of course, Indradyumna has not manifested the same tendency or propensity to be a direct manager, e.g., he's not on the GBC, but the lifestyle that he leads, and the way that he thrives on and requires a great deal of attention and a sort of rock star status is very reminiscent of Bhagavan.

Bhagavan used to take his court, all of his princes, off on vacation together. They would go to resorts to sun bathe, to places where they could swim and relax, to health retreats and spas where they could take all the programs for being healthy and vibrant, and attractive. Bhagavan understood the principle of looking like a king, and acting like a king, keeping everyone in a mood of awe and reverence due to his being physically externally attractive.

Bhagavan changed a great deal after becoming a Zonal Acarya, making drastic adjustments to his personal and preaching style. He adopted the heavy preaching style that Guru Kripa had adopted, with great success. Guru Kripa, along with Yasodanandana dasa, were running a successful money gathering program, and Bhagavan also adopted many of their techniques for collecting money. He began doing the marathon sankirtana, pushing everyone far beyond their limits in a very unbalanced program which caused the devotees to neglect their spiritual lives, instead emphasizing the collection of money. And with this money, Bhagavan lived a very nice lifestyle. He bought palaces, gave himself lavish accommodations and lifestyle, and bestowed a slightly less lavish facility on his princes. This is all part of the history. But what we're mainly concerned with today is that these personalities, the princes of the Zonal Acaryas, are now controlling and running ISKCON.

I mentioned in a previous article Sivarama Swami, who is presently a Zonal Acarya in Hungary. He was first under the Zonal Acarya, Tamal Krishna Goswami, but later he went over to England, just before Jayatirtha's first major falldown. After Jayatirtha's final falldown, Sivarama took charge in England, when Bhagavan became the Zonal Acarya of England. At that time, Sivarama became very enamored with Bhagavan. I was an old associate of Sivarama's from Canada. In fact, he initially took over a position I left, just after Jayatirtha began exhibiting his ridiculous symptoms and was forced to take sannyasa. I chose to get away from all that insanity, and went to East Africa. Sivarama Swami, who had taken sannyasa from Tamal Krishna, then took over my position as head of the Sankirtana program under Jayatirtha in England, and he became a prince of Bhagavan.

I can recall having the association of Sivarama Swami during those days. At one point we went to India together, and I was just astounded by his complete supplication to Bhagavan. He had totally fallen in love with him. He loved Bhagavan's style of management and his methodologies. And to this very day, Sivarama is very Bhagavan-like in the way he does things, and in the lifestyle he's adopted. Bhagavan was known for his Louie XIV image. He loved the high life and lived in a very opulent fashion, even though he was a sannyasi. And you still see this propensity today in Sivarama Swami and Indradyumna Swami. Both of them are making a big negative impact on ISKCON, as far as I'm concerned, and many of my godbrothers agree. They're setting the style and carrying on the tradition of the Zonal Acaryas. Even though they don't carry the title openly, the same philosophy is there, underlying their activities.

Sivarama Swami eventually left England and took over the country of his ancestors. He was a Hungarian Canadian when he joined, and I guess he learned the language as a child. He has obviously convinced himself that having the power, position and lifestyle of a Zonal Acarya is what's best for himself, and for ISKCON. These Zonal Acarya princes who still live the lifestyle and carry on this same philosophy are today members of the GBC. They hold a lot of power in ISKCON. The GBC is simply a means by which they keep their power in place. Sivarama Swami was recently heard promoting the idea of the GBC being the Ultimate Managing Authority, at the Annual Meeting in Mayapur. Of course, he's flaunting the GBC regulations, in the same way that Radhanath and many of the other Zonal Acaryas on the GBC are. They use the GBC and their position to protect their own Zonal Acarya positions. This seems to be OK with the GBC, even though they've passed laws against this attitude, and supposedly reformed. But they haven't reformed.

We still have these princes, who have now become older and more set in their ways, convinced that what they're doing is right. They produce the same kind of results the Zonal Acarya's originally got. They have men, manpower, things are happening.

Externally they look successful, because that formula does work in the material world. Material history will show how certain personalities who adopt the same kind of psychology and politics get fantastic results, because people want to follow them. They want to believe that these leaders are what they depict themselves to be.

I don't know what goes on in the hearts and minds of these leaders… whether they themselves are so convinced due to false ego that they're great sannyasis and preachers and so on? Time will tell. Many of them may survive, in the sense that they won't fall down like so many of their fellow brothers, the previous princes have done. But ISKCON has nonetheless taken a great deal of risk in promoting this whole concept, and supporting it. All the original Zonal Acaryas have fallen down, and many of their princes have fallen, causing great harm to Srila Prabhupada's movement and great pain to many, many converts to Krsna consciousness. And yet, the GBC just continues to look the other way, condoning and justifying it.

The Zonal Acarya king Bhagavan had a big impact in his time. Today, he's whatever he is – a successful businessman and yet another fallen leader currently trying to negotiate a comeback. But let it not be forgotten that he caused a great deal of damage, and that damage is still impacting ISKCON through his princes.