Eleven Naked Emperors
The Crisis of Charismatic Succession in the Hare Krishna Movement (1977-1987)
a book by
Henry Doktorski
© 2020 by Henry Doktorski

Publication Date: January 31, 2020

The eleven ISKCON zonal acharyas

Cover image: The eleven ISKCON zonal acharyas with a painting of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the Founder/Acharya of ISKCON (Mayapur, India, c. August 1978). From left to right: Harikesh Swami Vishnupada, Jayatirtha dasa Tirthapada, Hamsadutta Swami Krishna Kirtan Thakur, Hrdayananda Goswami Acharyapada, Ramesvara Swami, Bhagavan Maharaja Gurudeva, Kirtanananda Swami Bhaktipada, Tamal-Krishna Goswami Gurudeva, Satsvarupa dasa Goswami Gurupada, Bhavananda Goswami Vishnupada, Jayapataka Swami Acharyapada.


Eleven Naked Emperors: The Crisis of Charismatic Succession in the Hare Krishna Movement (1977-1987), by Henry Doktorski (2020). 480 pages. 6 x 9 inches.

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Acclamations

Eleven Naked Emperors is quite masterful, and extremely important. The story is a long and complicated one, but Doktorski has done an outstanding job putting the entire drama into a very well documented and highly readable account. His tone is remarkably non-partisan, non-polemical and he has tried sincerely to be fair and impartial. I might add, for those who feel that dirty laundry should not be displayed in public, that there is nothing in Doktorski’s work that seeks to undermine the faith of the devotees in Krishna or, for that matter, in the institution of ISKCON. Those assuming the role of gurus, most especially, should read this book carefully. And this is also a book for the tens of thousands of devotees driven away from ISKCON with their spiritual ideals in tatters; this is their story too. The author has risen to the dharma of the historian in documenting a defining period in the history of the Hare Krishna movement.

Edwin Bryant
Professor of Hindu Philosophy and Religion
Rutgers University


Thanks to Henry for writing his second book about the Hare Krishnas, Eleven Naked Emperors! This book helps fill in some chapters not only in the history of ISKCON, but the rise of “Hinduism” in America and and larger cultural trends that resonate with many contemporary issues.

The process of Bhakti-Yoga is the hidden theme all throughout the book, though Henry takes a scientific “just-the-facts” approach, allowing the reader to interpret the facts for themselves. The narrative of the people involved clearly shows the Bhakti-Yoga process of how these men who surrendered to Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada changed their lives based on the teachings of Bhagavad-gita, despite various bad decisions or even criminal activity committed and documented.

Henry’s approach also allows the lesson learned from this “social experiment” to be useful not only for ISKCON or people affiliated with the Hare Krishna movement, but also for students of psychology, Hinduism, spirituality, law, sociology, music, religion, interfaith, American culture, even fields like management and many others can gain insights from a objective history of Kirtanananda Swami, ISKCON and New Vrindaben, and appreciate Henry’s efforts to bring this historical narrative to fruition.

I look forward to reading Henry’s forthcoming grand project of a detailed biography of Kirtanananda Swami and the history of New Vrindaban. And hopefully the third book will allow people under the full scope of the evidence to see how deeply flawed people were still able to come together and accomplish great things that are a chapter in American history.

Continued blessings & success, and hopes that Henry can complete his third book soon!

David A. Calton
Host of the Doooovid Internet Streaming Show
Detroit, Michigan

Summary

DURING A DISPUTATIOUS DECADE, after they had buried the saintly Founder of the institution, the Governing Body Commission of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)—more commonly known as the Hare Krishna movement—appointed eleven senior men as successors to the Founder in a political move which one disciple called “a bloodless coup.” Each of the eleven ruled their own geographic regions (zones), where they were erroneously regarded as pure and perfect beings (acharyas). They were considered beyond criticism and worshiped “as good as God.”

The eleven, however, pretended to be something they were not (like the main character in Hans Christian Andersen’s 1837 tale: The Emperor’s New Clothes), and within a few short years insurmountable problems afflicted some of the ISKCON “gurus,” such as falling down into prohibited activities, like illicit sex and intoxication. Unfortunately, the astute and dedicated disciples who criticized the zonal “acharyas” were shunned, expelled, beaten, or (in one extreme case) assassinated. Hundreds, if not thousands of formerly-loyal members defected, were blacklisted, or (in two cases) committed suicide.

This reign of self-aggrandizement and political intrigue by the leaders appointed by the GBC, periodically characterized by strong-armed tactics, tainted the Society which had been painstakingly cultivated for more than a decade by the ISKCON Founder and spiritual preceptor, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (1896-1977). Fortunately, the system of succession that the GBC established eventually collapsed like a house built upon sand. This book chronicles the ISKCON era of the zonal “acharyas” from their first appearance in 1978, through their meteoric rise to power, their ten-year reign, their fall in 1987, and beyond.

For fifteen years (1978-1993), the author served as a faithful disciple of one of the zonal “acharyas,” and he lived through many of the events described in this book. Recently, he has interviewed major players in this drama, who have contributed important inside information to help everyone interested more fully understand this controversial and little-documented chapter in the history of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.

Table of Contents

Dedication
Preface
Foreword
Chapter 1: Gaudiya Vaishnavism Comes West
Chapter 2: Krishna Gave Me Only Second- and Third-Class Men
Chapter 3: Senior Disciples Question Their Master
Chapter 4: Eleven Ritvik Priests
Chapter 5: A Take-Over Conspiracy
Chapter 6: The Rise of the Zonal Acharyas
Chapter 7: Two Architects of Evil
Chapter 8: Crushing the Opposition
Chapter 9: ISKCON Gurus Begin to Deviate
Chapter 10: Exposed by a Woman
Chapter 11: The Guru Reform Movement
Chapter 12: Preparing for Battle
Chapter 13: The Fall of the Zonal Acharyas
Chapter 14: The Neo-Gaudiya Math
Chapter 15: The Ritvik Question
Chapter 16: The Buck Stops Here
Aftermath
About the Author
References
Endnotes

Excerpts from Eleven Naked Emperors

Foreword by Professor Edwin Bryant
Preface by the Author

Reviews of Eleven Naked Emperors

May 11, 2020

Today I would like to give some comment on the book by my friend Henry Doktorski called Eleven Naked Emperors. If you would like to know about the conspiracies that did happen at the time that Swami Bhaktivedanta left his body in 1977, you have to read this book.

Henri Jolicoeur (formerly Hanuman Swami, ACBSP)
Montreal, Canada

From a video titled Jayatirtha das, aka James Immel (My Testimonial) at YouTube.


April 5, 2020: One Great Book!

Hare Krishna, devotees! I am [recording this video in my car] at Los Angeles International Airport. I’m [an Uber driver] waiting to take a customer to their destination. While I take breaks, or when I wait between people, I read. I read Prabhupada’s books, and I read books in relationship to Prabhupada and the [Hare Krishna] Movement. Eleven Naked Emperors is an excellent book by Hrishikesh Prabhu, or Henry Doktorski. I’ve been reading it. . . .

Excellent book! Very nicely done. This is a professional endeavor. It says here [in the Preface that] it’s a controversial book. But devotees delight in addressing controversial topics. It enlightens their minds and it brings their hearts closer to Krishna. We’re not afraid of controversy.

The Foreword is very, very good, by a professor: Edwin Bryant, Professor of Hindu Philosophy and Religion at Rutgers University. I don’t agree with everything he said. [However], most everything [he said] I [do] agree with. [Only] a few things I don’t agree with. In the same way, I don’t agree with some of the things that Hrishikesh writes, but the important thing is that this is giving an opportunity for dialogue, an opportunity to learn, an opportunity to share ideas on controversial topics. It has a strong foundational basis, so that is very, very good. Very, very good service.

Here we have Chapter One: “Gaudiya Vaishnavism Comes West.” [In this chapter] we have the foundational basis on how all this [the Zonal-Acharya Era of ISKCON and the formation of the two splinter groups: the Neo-Gaudiya Math and the Ritvik-In-Absentia Advocates] started. Very, very nice book. I highly recommend it. Any devotee who doesn’t read a book like this will not have a strong foundational basis in philosophy, in history, and who is who in this movement. I highly recommend it, even though I’m sure all of us will not agree with some parts of it.

Hare Krishna! [Now], let me continue reading [more of Eleven Naked Emperors] myself! All glories to Srila Prabhupada! Haribol!

Mario Pineda (Mahatma dasa)
Los Angeles, California

From a video review on Facebook.


April 2, 2020: We [ISKCON devotees] were told a lot of things [by our ISKCON authorities] (laughter). Some of them were not the same story; we were told a lot of things, and we had no way of really knowing [what was fact and what was fiction]. There was a book [Monkey on a Stick] that came out [in 1988] after Sulochan [Steven Bryant] was murdered in Los Angeles, but it was really a pulp fiction book, so it wasn’t helpful. Henry, [on the other hand], has written books that provide solid information with an overwhelming number of notes and quotations to back up what he’s saying. I believe he is definitely working on the right side.

Wade Ryan (Damodar dasa, ACBSP)
initiated 1967 in San Francisco
from a radio talk show: Expedition Truth radio.


April 2, 2020: I lived through what is in these [Henry’s] books, and they are truthful.

Joseph Pollock, Jr. (Jyotirdhama dasa, ACBSP)
Richland, Washington
from a radio talk show: Expedition Truth radio.


April 2, 2020: I know Henry well, I really admire what he’s doing, and I agree he has really helped a lot of people straighten out the history. There’s an acharya, he’s a guru in our line, his name is Madhva, and he says, “Anyone who understands history correctly is eligible for liberation.” We needed to sort out the history.

Tim Lee (Purajana dasa, ACBSP)
from a radio talk show: Expedition Truth radio.


April 2, 2020: I’m very appreciative of the therapeutic element that he [Henry] wants to connect with others and help them understand the history [of ISKCON]

Mark Goodwin (Kailasa-Chandra dasa, ACBSP)
Jasper, Arkansas
from a radio talk show: Expedition Truth radio.


April 2, 2020: Listen to an interview with Henry about his books Eleven Naked Emperors and Killing For Krishna with Rev. Jack Davila-Ashcraft from a two-hour broadcast on Expedition Truth radio.


March 30, 2020: 5.0 out of 5 stars. Devastation Row

The author, a former ISKCON devotee during at least part of the time involved, proves to be an excellent historian. Don’t expect a story written in “pulp fiction” style, filled with suppositions, concocted conversations and dramatizations—as was told in Monkey on a Stick.

While this book is filled with an overwhelming amount of facts—nearly all of which are documented in the plethora of easily accessed Notes—it is written in a personable style, so that it isn’t a “dry” read. The research is a success of documentation, most of which are had by-way of interviews conducted by the author over a number of years.

For all the devotees and friends affected—this isn’t just a little thing. It became a terrible experience over ten horrible years, that devastated the spiritual and mundane lives of thousands of people totally dedicated to changing the world. Reading this book has cleared up my own questions and lingering confusion over the false guru scam, as a former follower of ISKCON.

Wade Ryan (Damodar dasa, ACBSP)
Inititated in San Francisco, 1967

From a review at Amazon.


March 24, 2020:

Today I would like to give a brief review of the book Eleven Naked Emperors by my friend Henry Doktorski. First, I want to say that I really like Henry. Henry has made a very positive life for himself [after leaving the Hare Krishna movement]. He’s a great writer, he’s an organist, he is a chessmaster, a master accordionist. He’s a real nice guy. He has made a lot of research to do this book. . . .

Eleven Naked Emperors deals with the period from 1977 and on, the period after Swami Bhaktivedanta, [the founder of the Hare Krishna movement], died. Those eleven decided that they were now “spiritual masters,” they were now “gurus,” and they were now worthy of praise, worthy of worship, worthy of taking hundreds, some thousands of disciples, to love them and serve them. Many built themselves little thrones so that people could worship them.

One thing that they did, all the eleven of them, is what is called “Washing of the Feet” [pada-puja] once a year [on the birthday of the spiritual master], with milk, yogurt, honey. Then they would let their disciples drink this mixture because it was “holy,” it had touched their feet. And every day, they [the eleven] would let people eat from their plate [after they had finished eating]. That would be called “Maha-Prasadam.” It was “holy” because the spit of these eleven people had suddenly, in 1977, become “holy.” Anyone who would eat something that had touched their spit would benefit spiritually.

Henry’s Eleven Naked Emperors is a very interesting book, [especially] if you want to learn the history of the Hare Krishna movement and how it is functioning now. It’s not about self realization, it’s about being elected by a board: “Okay, now you’re a guru.” It’s very far away from the ideal of the Bhagavad-gita, which says that the self-realized soul can show you the truth because he has seen, he has experienced the truth. . . .

There’s a lot to learn in the book by Henry Doktorski, a lot to learn about the sinister brainwashing that can happen when a guru is not real. You can learn about money scams, manipulation of women for sexual pleasure, manipulation of men [and boys] by some of those gurus who were homosexual pedophiles. Like Kirtanananda and Bhavananda, who were complete perverts. But for a little while many people believed that they were enlightened saints, when in reality they were scabs.

Henri Jolicoeur, M. A. (formerly Hanuman Swami, ACBSP)
Hypnotherapist
Montreal, Quebec

From a review on YouTube.


March 21, 2020: 5.0 out of 5 stars. An Unmatched Insider View

Doktorski has provided perhaps the best insider view of the internal power struggles of ISKCON from the late 70s up to the present. His honest “warts and all” approach to ISKCON history, coupled with the clear respect he has for its members both past and present, as well as its founder, clearly indicate a desire to tell the truth with a heart for healing. As an Anglican priest I highly recommend this and all of Doktorski’s works to my fellow theologians, apologists, clergy, and students of world religion.

Father Joseph “Jack” Gingrich
Dayton, Ohio
From a review at Amazon.


March 10, 2020: 5.0 out of 5 stars. A Healing Tool and Valuable Reference Guide

My first wish in reviewing this book is to recognize the tremendous work that the author dedicated to this project—both from an academic as well as a personal perspective. It is evident from the first chapter that there were no shortcuts taken to achieve the massive undertaking that is tackling this sensitive, yet important subject. While it may difficult for anyone outside of ISKCON to understand most of the subject matter and references to its history, I sense this work may contribute immediate and tremendous value to all interested in the subject matter—a reference for the zonal-acharya era of ISKCON and (in a broader sense) the issues surrounding succession upon the physical departure of a religious leader.

I very much appreciate how the author took the time to preface the work with how subjective the content may turn out to be. Even with this disclaimer there was plenty of opportunity for a lot of the sides of the issue to be included (even when some refused, such as Hans Kary—your loss dude!) Ultimately, providing different perspectives served the book well as it portrays the facts and a crucial part of what happened before and after Prabhupada’s passing in 1977.

We may not agree with everything the author presents (it’s healthy to disagree respectfully), but the value here is historical as this book opens so many doors and ideas that have been difficult to discuss in the past. For example, I feel the author is extremely generous in his view of the eleven “naked emperors” and shows a compassion I cannot find within me to portray them as fallible human beings. While I do appreciate the obvious consequences on placing the tremendous pressure and responsibilities that were upon the “emperors,” there was too much writing on the wall. Especially with Keith Ham—his manipulative nature, power hunger, and sexual deviance was known from the days at 26 Second Avenue.

Why he was given sannyasi within a year of knowing Prabhupada in Manhattan is a mystery as baffling as why or how the pyramids were built. It’s like sending a surgeon to the operating table after less than one year of undergraduate studies...there is simply not enough preparation. In any case, this book is a healthy approach to discuss and present what I used to think was the unthinkable—touching on issues that represent a dark period in ISKCON history—and then going (to my favorite chapter—the last one) and addressing the human aspect of being a religious leader.

I cannot praise the author enough for assembling such a complete work that serves as a document that presents the dangers of absolutism. Much like the previous book, Killing for Krishna, there is an important and underlying premise where there is a noble intention to help heal. We have learned from Buddhism (now supported by neuroscience) that the only way to properly heal from pain and trauma is to go through the eye of the storm; to bring a caring attention towards that which hurts the most. I realize that one has to be emotionally ready for this process and clearly not all are.

However, we may ignore this truth at our own risk if there is any hope for true healing. This book is a necessary step in the direction towards a collective healing that is still very much needed and perhaps long overdue. This is perhaps the most relevant contribution.

Pedro Ramos
Atlanta, Georgia
From a review at Amazon.


February 10, 2020: A Remarkable Book

One reviewer below described Eleven Naked Emperors as “a detailed, accurate and unapologetic history of the zonal acharya era of ISKCON” and he was not bluffing. I had always hoped that there would be a book written about this period in ISKCON history, and I was delighted to discover that the gentleman who wrote the gripping and well researched Killing For Krishna would be stepping up to the plate.

Despite the provocative title, the author, Henry Doktorski, avoids the sensational route. You don’t get long character studies of the various zonal acharyas and you don’t get a litany of their salacious and scandalous past times (though you get some). Monkey On A Stick, this is not. What you do get are facts and witness accounts that construct a historical narrative of the period. It’s evident that Doktorski is sincere, as he thoughtfully explores many of the complicated facets of post 1977 ISKCON—the relationship between the institution and the Gaudiya Math, and the development of splinter groups that arose after Srila Prabhupada’s passing. There’s a lot to unpack and Doktorski does a great job of breaking everything down and presenting it in a way that’s both readable and easy to follow.

It would have been interesting to have gotten a deeper dive into the “poisoning conspiracy,” though it was mentioned briefly in a few chapters. I presume Doktorski intentionally avoided subjects that were deemed “too speculative” as there was interest from an Academic Press to publish this book. Perhaps he thought the evidence was not strong enough to warrant a more detailed look. I don’t know. He certainly left no stone unturned in his previous book Killing For Krishna. I would have also liked to have seen the scope of damage the zonal system caused to the greater ISKCON society and to the rank and file explored a bit deeper. (If you’re looking to delve into the human interest side, I recommend you read Nori Muster’s fantastic Betrayal Of The Spirit). Of course, it would have been fascinating to hear from more of the zonal acharyas themselves, but I knew securing interviews would be unlikely. Nevertheless, Doktorski should be lauded for his mostly successful attempts at getting perspectives from all sides.

I figured I’d write something because I expect to see some negative reviews, mostly due to the fact that the author dares to question aloud Srila Prabhupada’s responsibility in these matters—His reluctance to discipline his more ambitious and disruptive leaders, and his seeming inability to clearly articulate his instructions for initiation before his passing. To even entertain the notion that Prabhupada was fallible is still a big no-no for a lot of devotees.

A compelling read, I must say, but I don’t see this book garnering much interest outside the world of Hare Krishnas and the scholars who study them. It’s unfortunate because Eleven Naked Emperors is brilliant and Henry Doktorski and the others involved in the making of this book deserve recognition for this stunning accomplishment. Well done!

TriangleArmbar, review atAmazon.


February 10, 2020: Yet another important book that reveals the history of the ISKCON Gestapo movement.

Notice to ISKCON members aka retards: You should never read this book. This book is very “offensive.” And you should stop reading this article right away if you want to keep your stupidity lata-bija.

I was very happy to buy Henry Doktorski’s new book Eleven Naked Emperors. I was thinking that if this book as half as good as Killing for Krishna, it would be worth the money.

To be honest, I am at chapter 7, so that means I read 25% of the book, but I already feel the true value of this book.

Rare members of the Hare Krishna movement are able to rise above the ISKCON’s mental jail. The majority of people who join ISKCON are retarded and they never question the society they live in. Some rare people start “seeing things” only after being in the movement of many years. For example, in ISKCON, you can not discuss proper behavior and deviant behavior, you can not discuss what is truth, and what is a fallacy. As soon as you start asking questions and express a desire to discuss things, you will be immediately marked as “offender.” And all discussion stops here. However, Srila Prabhupada never exhibited such behavior, so if you are wondering how this heinous mentality developed within ISKCON, you will find answers in this book. For example, Tanumadhya dasa asked a question about eleven pretender “Maha bhagavatas,” and look at the reply from the management:

I was initiated by Shrila Prabhupada in 1973. I was fortunate to have some association with Shrila Prabhupada and some personal service. [After] Shrila Prabhupada departed . . . I was the only one [at Bhaktivedanta Manor] who questioned the declaration of these demons when (immediately after the 1978 Mayapur GBC meetings) Vipramukhya dasa (the Bhakta Leader) announced to the assembled disciples of Shrila Prabhupada [that the eleven had become acharyas]. He said that Shrila Prabhupada had recognized these eleven as his eternal associates, and had appointed them as the new acharyas of ISKCON. He said that we all had to give our full support to them so that the new devotees would have faith in them. I knew this was bogus as I had been privy to what had transpired in Shrila Prabhupada’s room during the selection of these as representatives of the acharya and given authority to initiate on Shrila Prabhupada’s behalf. . . . I was acutely aware of the fact that none of these eleven were qualified, despite the claims of Vipramukhya that they were uttama-adhikaris and pure devotees, and so I asked him, “What if one of them falls down?” He immediately started screaming that I was an offender and had no faith in Shrila Prabhupada. No one else, no matter what doubts they had, said anything, and that was the beginning of the end. (Chapter 6)

This conversation took place in 1978, more than 40 years ago, and even to this very day, ISKCON corporate elite has kept the same mentality. I find this amazing. Cruel, arrogant corporately licensed “gurus” with their blind, retarded followers are always looking for a way to give trouble to intelligent people who are questioning them. Nothing really changed in the last 40 years, except 11 zonal “acaryas” were replaced with a greater number of spineless puppy gurus whose main teaching is that you should not be “offensive.” You should believe in mushroom eating gurus, sannyasis with young, unmarried female secretaries, gurus who play ping pong in shorts, sahajiyas who parade girls throughout cities to make them chaste and shy, all these acts are acts of pure devotional service, and if you don’t believe that, or you desire to discuss these deviations, you are an “offender.” How stupid you have to be to live in such a movement?

Another important feature of this book is that it provides many details on the ISKCON corrupt guru approval process. Right after Srila Prabhupada left, ISKCON started corporate oversight over gurus, who were falling down left and right, and at the same time requiring big worship on the equal level with Srila Prabhupada.

In this way, the real truth remains to be forever forgotten, suppressed by ISKCON’s corporate bureaucrats, aka “rubber-stamped gurus.”

And real truth is that every Srila Prabhupada’s disciple has the natural born right to initiate disciples, and he doesn’t need anybody’s “approval.” The relationship between guru and disciple is a private relationship and involved parties are exclusively responsible for entering into this relationship. Any disciple of Srila Prabhupada who initiates disciples naturally falls under public scrutiny, and if he is doing nonsense, Gestapo methods of silencing his opposition are actually against society’s interest. The only way for a society to purge itself of fake gurus in open journalism, honesty, and public discussion. There will be no success as long as ISKCON is doing exactly the opposite, “rubberstamping” corporate gurus who have good connections with corrupt elites, punishing journalists and anybody who says one word against the “chosen ones.” Retarded followers are disciples who are trained to reject any discussion about deviations and mark it as “offensive” and thus their discrimination remains on the level of four-year-old.

And this book reveals the history of the ISKCON Gestapo guru scam in great detail opening the doors for a brighter future.

Until ISKCON removes all Gestapo mentality from its teachings and Lawbooks, until it stops persecuting individuals who are exposing deviants, until it stops “approving gurus” and suppressing the discriminatory power of its members by turning them into retards, brighter future will not come.

Hanuman dasa (Hrvoje Marjanovic)
Zagreb, Croatia

To see the original review, go to: My Review of Book Eleven Naked Emperors.


February 6, 2020: This book is an excellently researched piece of work, and includes a wide variety of sources (both eye witnesses and documents) hardly accessible to other researchers or the interested public. If one reviewer (Hari) claims that this a biased account ... uhm no, because the sources are all there, with references, and now that they’ve been gathered, it will be difficult to deny them.

Zinnober, from a review at Amazon Germany.


February 4, 2020: I must admit I’ve had great interest and anticipation regarding Mr. Henry Doktorski’s new book Eleven Naked Emperors for several years now. A detailed, accurate and unapologetic history of the zonal acharya era of ISKCON is long, long overdue.

I’m not a stranger to the Hare Krishnas. My family became involved with ISKCON in 1976 and continued until 1988. We were one of the first, if not the first, Life-Members in Dallas, Texas. During that period, we contributed tens of thousands of dollars, in one form or another, to the Dallas temple. We were fervent supporters, but when we heard of child abuse, we discontinued any and all participation.

Eleven Naked Emperors describes in detail the events preceding and following the death of the Founder/Acharya of ISKCON and the GBC’s appointment of eleven high-ranking GBC members who Prabhupada had earlier appointed as Ritvik priests. Unfortunately, the eleven pretended to be self-realized, uttama-adhikari successor acharyas, something like the naked emperor in Hans Christian Anderson’s The Emperor’s New Clothes who pretended to wear clothes which were invisible to the stupid. Henry’s writing is well documented and includes dozens and dozens of quotations from the zonal acharyas and those few brave souls who recognized that something was wrong and who tried to stop the zonal acharyas. The battles Henry describes between the zonal acharyas (bad guys) and the reformers (good guys) clearly show how ISKCON had degraded into a political cult, not a spiritual cult based on guru, sadhu and shastra.

I recall at one point towards the end of the book, ISKCON offered a one-liner apology—several decades after the damage done during the zonal-acharya era of ISKCON—to all those hurt by the horribly mismanaged organization. And, that sums up the effort ISKCON has put into apology to the thousands of lives they negatively affected during this horrendous period of ISKCON history.

In conclusion, if you want to better understand what went wrong in ISKCON after the death of the Founder/Acharya, read Henry’s book. That is my humble opinion, from a person who lived through those terrible times.

Most Sincerely,

Mark Middaugh M.L.I.S.
New Mexico, from a review at Amazon.

Letters from Eleven Naked Emperors Readers

August 26, 2020

Greetings and Namaste. First of all a VERY BIG thank you for your second masterpiece, Eleven Naked Emperors, which recently arrived at my doorstep. It was great that I’ve received your book upon returning from a magnificent trekking holidays in Nepal. I was and still am very much inspired by being Blessed to witness Mother Nature’s splendid and glorious manifestation in form of mighty Himalayas. Coming back to your book, it’s obvious that you've written your name in a history of the Hare Krishna movement as a marvelous historian and Truth investigator. It goes without saying that your natural honesty and transparency in seeing things/facts as they are is your weapon and absolutely captivating quality in your writing, my dear friend. As an ex-Hare Krishna devotee myself, please allow me to use a vocabulary associated with our past: “I bow upon your lotus feet and take a dust from your lotus feet on my head.” Kindly continue writing and sharing with others the Truth as only Truth will set as all Free. Om shanti. Om tat sat.

Ralfal Kotowski
Hamburg, Germany


April 23, 2020
Henry Doktorski III, Hare Krishna!

Thanks for your hard work to make THE TRUTH visible for all those who haven’t chanced to see her (THE TRUTH) without taking ANY side: ISKCON—GBC vs. ISKCON—IRM. Thanks for your objective pointing THE TRUTH in both of your books, Killing For Krishna and Eleven Naked Emperors. Looking forward on your third book, Gold, Guns and God, because you are bee and you are blessed by HDG Srila Prabhupada and Lord Krishna to open eyes of many aspirating devotees who are confused by rumor (prajalpa) and contaminated with hearing/reading offences (Vaisnava aparadha) even to the devotees who don’t deserve to be offended.

Dinanatha dasa (Dragan Buskoski)
Kičevo, Republic of Macedonia


April 20, 2020
Dear Henry Prabhuji.

I purchased Eleven Naked Emperors through Amazon. I plan on getting a print copy of Killing for Krishna before the May 2020 Sulochan Memorial in Los Angeles as well, but I especially love that both your ebooks are free for Amazon Prime members. I have recommended, and got many people to read Killing For Krishna on their Kindle app because it’s free if you have Amazon Prime. A LOT of people who wouldn’t have purchased a copy, quite a few younger devotees who don’t have much money, read Killing For Krishna through their Kindle readers.

I recommended Eleven Naked Emperors and Killing For Krishna to all my friends on the Facebook group I manage, which has about 30 people on there, and I read at the end of Eleven Naked Emperors in the “Aftermath” chapter where you talk about where each of the eleven zonal acharyas are now, so they could get more info on that. Your book had stuff in it that even I didn’t know! Amazing work! I’ll do a short recommendation video soon.

I can’t wait to meet you and Yashodanandan Prabhu at the Sulochan Memorial. Hare Krsna. Please accept my humble obeisances as well Prabhuji. Thank you for giving such great work! All Glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Balanarasimhadeva dasa
San Francisco, California


April 4, 2020
Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand

Dear Hrishikesh Prabhu,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All Glories to Srila Prabhupada!

I received your latest book, Eleven Naked Emperors, a while ago, and I am very slowing digesting it. Almost done now. Riveting. The manner in which you examine issues and controversies is engaging and refreshing, unlike the typical throwing of selected quotes and the absolute interpretations thereof. I am inspired to research further and write myself. Even myself, as one of the Radical Reformers, did not know so much that was covered in the book. So I assume these historical books will be of great help to many devotees.

As an aside, I am quite sure Chittesvara dasa, the ghost buster (he toured ISKCON widely doing ghost-busting rituals at temples and homes) was a Jayapataka disciple, who prescribed the purple vibhuti to Harikesh, with rumors that Jayapataka knew Harikesh would go nuts from it, and then he could move in on his zone and men, and, sure enough, Jayapataka was the first GBC/guru to tour and “save” the Eastern Europe zone as soon as Harikesh fell down. Within days he was there, giving shelter and eventual reinitiation to many of Harikesh’s followers.

Nityananda dasa (Nico Kuyt)
Former New Orleans ISKCON Temple President, former member of the ISKCON Guru Reform Movement, and author of Kill Guru, Become Guru: The Poison Is Personal Ambition


March 31, 2020: Hi Henry,

I want to thank you for your time, talent and hard work in authoring this book, Eleven Naked Emperors. You have cleared up so many of my own personal questions and confusions over the ten+ terrible years that has ruined so many lives of sincere devotees. And—though you’ve examined excellently documented so many details, you've been able to tell the story with a “calm voice” that has helped me come to terms with it all in a less soul-rocking manner.

I also purchased Killing for Krishna, which led me to the Eleven Naked Emperors book. You may even have the rather vicious letter I sent to Keith Ham when I sent his book to him, after reading Monkey On A Stick. I happened to visit New Dwarka the day after Sulochan Prabhu was murdered, and the place was suffused with horror and fear. It was heartbreaking. As for that book, Monkey On A Stick, the authors really set themselves up especially for the “conjecture” rebuttals that followed. But having even just a short, little with Keith Ham early on in San Francisco in 1967, I had no doubt about his pathological egoism.

When the poisoning issue first came out—hearing the “Whispers Recording”—I wasn’t just angry, I wept for three days straight. So I suspect your book will also have a healing effect.

The story about my 1967 initation in San Francisco was incorrectly portrayed in Satsvarupa dasa Goswami’s Srila Prabhupada Lilamrita. Either the devotees in the Haight-Ashbury Temple neglected to document Srila Prabhupada’s spontaneous Nama initiation (I boldly insisted on it one night), or my name was either not included or removed from the Devotee listing website. It doesn’t matter—I remember when it happened, and someone else must have because a somewhat inaccurate version was included in the Lilamrta. I was the “hippy” kid who, in my youth was probably a little too bold in demanding Swamiji initiate me. Thankfully, Swamiji had a very good sense of humor!

I’ve posted a 5-Star review on Amazon in appreciation for your good efforts. . . . Again, Henry, I am so grateful for this book, that has well-informed me, and “settled the unsettled” in my own heart and mind.

Wade Ryan (Damodar dasa, ACBSP), initiated in San Francisco in 1967


March 17, 2020: Hrishi,

I have now finished reading your book, Eleven Naked Emperors. Another amazing effort to uncover the truth, just like your first book, Killing For Krishna. l feel you remained balanced and tried to give as comprehensive a look as possible, honoring all perspectives.

It is an opportunity for your readers to carefully analyze past mistakes and then learn from. For those who were not thrust into such a demanding role as guru, it is an opportunity for them to appreciate the good work these eleven gentlemen did despite the pressure of having to always appear perfect. The last chapter is thought provoking. There is surely much more l could say as l am very impressed by your colossal effort to document so much information and compile it in such a readable manner.

If you approve of my comment you may certainly use it as you see fit, such as on your Eleven Naked Emperors Facebook page. And yes, as l fade quietly into the twilight of my career l would prefer to remain anonymous.

By the way, you may have noticed that l left the word “them” off the first sentence of the 2nd paragraph. I am surely looking forward to your next publication.

Anonymous godbrother, former disciple of Kirtanananda Swami and New Vrindaban resident


March 5, 2020: In his latest literary offering, Eleven Naked Emperors, the author, H. Doktorski, has accurately answered a once-frequently-asked question: “Whatever happened to the Hare Krishnas?” Of late, the question has fallen out of use as no one any longer remembers the kirtans that were once commonplace on major city streets.

An individual’s experience with ISKCON, not unlike blind men groping and describing an elephant, may vary widely. In describing those events of ISKCON 1977-1987, HRISHIKESH has invited the wrath of the “Sentimentalist Sahajiyas,” but he willingly takes that risk. HRISHIKESH successfully walks the tightrope between fault-finding and fact-finding without a fall down.

Many legends and lore of ISKCON are examined, and all this is done in CARLOS CASTANEDA style. In describing “a YAQUI way of knowledge,” Castaneda describes his first hand experiences with his spiritual path and his teacher. His analysis is in stark contrast to the enthusiasm noviciate. Similarly, with HRISHIKESH and his in-detail analysis of ISKCON.

Janmastami dasa (John Sinkowski), former disciple of Kirtanananda Swami and New Vrindaban resident


March 4, 2020: I’m about one-third through your book. Your expertise in documentation is astounding. Prabhuji, even a professional movie script writer couldn’t generate a story this crazy. Amazing, that you can maintain your sanity sifting through all of it.

Here’s my analogy regarding the GBC: Driving in a rural area without GPS or even a road map, taking alternate left and right turns at each successive intersection. Clueless.

Right now I’m reading in your book about the BBC documentary film on Bhagavan. I haven’t gotten past William Bhagavan. He was so arrogant. My godbrother Puskara dasa (Matthew Goldman) told me personally that he and other brahmins were outside the temple door during Bhagavan’s extravagant guru-pujas and they were cursing him to fall down.

David Sherk (Gadai dasa, ACBSP)
Angelica, New York


February 27, 2020: I just read the Dedication. Excellent! Hard to imagine it being any more perfect. Your humility is palpable. Thank you very much. You are healing my heart.

David Sherk (Gadai dasa, ACBSP)
Angelica, New York


February 21, 2020: I am about 75% done reading your book Eleven Naked Emperors. I have read thousands of books in my life (I am a cerified speed reader). You are very talented, my friend. I have learned a lot more about people I knew personally in ISKCON. I am working on a video on . . . ISKCON and I will plug your book. I have much admiration for your talents and dedication. BRAVO! Many ex-Hare Krishnas have taken negative paths, but you shine with positivity.

Henri Jolicoeur (formerly Hanuman Swami, ACBSP)
Montreal, Quebec


February 19, 2020: Hare Krsna, Dear Henry,

I have just finished reading your new book Eleven Naked Emperors, and I feel obliged to write you a few words describing my impressions of the book.

You have presented all the different perspectives held by the different groups of devotees on the continuation of the preaching mission of Srila Prabhupada with an unbiased, non-hateful and neutral manner, which is very valuable. It gives devotees of all camps an opportunity to educate themselves about the various viewpoints and especially about the circumstances and history in which these viewpoints have developed over the years. Your intention to be a mere historian comes handy when the devotees need sober minds to decide how to push forward the wonderful mission Srila Prabhupada started at the time of confusion and mistrust.

I also see you have quite a genuine appreciation for Srila Prabhupada and regard him to be a genuine saint and spiritual master. The non-devotee audience would also benefit from reading your book as it very nicely distinguishes Srila Prabhupada as the real guru who follows the orders of the previous acharya as opposed to unauthorized gurus. You have very humbly stated in your book that you also take blame for being cheated by the false gurus yourself, which is not a weakness but quite the opposite: a great asset.

Unfortunately, many devotees are not so gentlemanly and therefore they rather point their finger at the faults of others to justify their own fault of insincerity. Thus they get stuck in unending cycle of arguments and counterarguments just to prove themselves to be innocent, which is not the case. We always follow some sort of authority. If not a guru, then at least our imperfect senses and imperfect biases we have developed in our conditional existence and naturally making mistakes is part of the process. We should not lament, but admit our mistake and move on. Everything is simply a purification of motive. Therefore humility and submissiveness are always encouraged by great teachers. If one is sincere, one cannot be cheated, or he will not be cheated for a long time. And even if he’s cheated for a long time, if he at one point matures and realizes his delusion, he benefits from such experience, since due to his humility and surrender he is able to carefully study the cheater and gain perspective rarely available to those who are distant. Thus being cheated becomes an asset. I believe your next book is the result of such undertaking.

In regards to the doubt that was expressed in the last portion of the book, namely whether Srila Prabhupada was not to blame for the fiasco of his disciples after his departure, I think every genuine disciple must encounter doubts of such calibre. We must know the knowledge side by side with the nescience. If one is to shy away from such discussion, it does not speak well of his faith in Srila Prabhupada either. It does not help if we ignore such doubts, surpress them, or demonize those who genuinely discover them. Quite the opposite, all doubts should be discussed and if they are ignored, they devour us.

Ultimately this one single doubt, whether Srila Prabhupada is absolutely perfect or not is the core of the problem, the reason why the Hare Krsna movement became stagnant and why devotees, instead of making the world a better place, have become overly engaged in mundane arguments about political and managerial posts within the spiritual master’s institution (as though they had to help the so-called imperfect master). So it is good to raise these doubts and speak honestly rather than hide behind the fascade of a ‘guru,’ ‘Prabhupada man,’ ‘ritvik’ or any such meaningless designations.

We must always consider, what is actually the mission of the genuine master in this world? To satisfy our mundane ideas of bodily so-called friendship, love and society or to take us from all these, liberate us and engage in pure devotional service that cannot be checked by any material circumstances (corruption in the guru’s institution is one)? Indeed, if we want to transcend this bodily plane of existence, it is necessary to develop genuine disgust for lording it over propensity (false guru mentality). What better lesson could be found for this than in the post 1977 ISKCON zonal acharya period? So in one sense Srila Prabhupada’s teaching continues and shows who is attached to what. Everyone is being tested. God is not cheap. The guru shows the way, we have to walk it.

I would highly recommend the book to devotees who are genuinely interested in knowing the history of ISKCON. You have done a great research, maintained devotional undertone without degrading to tabloid, exploitative, gossip type of writing style as one would expect from such a publication. Well done.

All the best

Your servant Purujit dasa
La Linea, Spain

P. S. The book has lots of valuable historical information. I particularly became interested to read that the originator of the ‘book changes’ controversy was Kirtanananda Swami. I enjoyed little snippets of valuable information like this.


February 19, 2020: “I am nearly through Chapter 9 in your book, Eleven Naked Emperors, about Tamal, Hansadutta, and Jayatirtha, titled ‘ISKCON Gurus Begin to Deviate.’ Around that same time, or perhaps very soon after, Bhavananda was also severely chastised by my ‘spiritual master,’ Satsvarupa dasa Goswami. One of my closest friends was SDG’s servant, while they were in India, and SDG was sent to chastise Bhavananda for his sex life with men. My friend told me that SDG yelled and yelled: ‘We know what you did!’ and was using expletives too.

“Senior devotees at Gita-Nagari (where I lived at the time), told me that the whole thing that happened at Mayapur in the mid-1970s—when the whole town came and attacked the ISKCON Mayapur temple—was because Bhavananda was having sex with one of the local boys. Did you ever hear about the raid by a local Bengali mob attacking Mayapur ISKCON and Bhavananda shooting someone and going to jail? They were after him for molesting local boys.

“I was made the butt of jokes when Bhavananda, Harikesh, Jayatirtha and Satsvarupa dasa Goswami came to Gita-Nagari early after just becoming Zoned Outs in 78. I was 19 and I guess cute because Bhavananda was really interested in me, asking many questions while I had prasad with the other young brahmacharis, then he asked me to go with him on his mission. When I made some comment that I would not go, he left and all the other brahmacaris were laughing at me that he ‘liked’ me.

“Why didn't we just then know that this guy was bogus pretender? Young and stupid I guess.”

Christopher Colm (Sri-Krsna dasa)
former disciple of Satsvarupa dasa Goswami
Belmont, Vermont


February 18, 2020: “By the way your book stunk. I couldn't even read to the end because of how toxic it was.”

Mark Gearhart, Comment on a post on the author’s Facebook page

Author’s reply: “Eleven Naked Emperors is just a history book. I’m not surprised at Gearhart’s reaction, however. The entire zonal acharya era of ISKCON was toxic!”


February 17, 2020: “Reading some of the footnotes I am quite amazed and impressed at your erudite scholarly detective work you have done for this book.”

Christopher Colm (Sri-Krsna dasa)
former disciple of Satsvarupa dasa Goswami
Belmont, Vermont


February 14, 2020: “Thank you Henry for writing the book Eleven Naked Emperors. I began reading it in interest as soon as I picked it up from my post box, and had to pull myself away to drive my car home from the post office.”

Christopher Colm (Sri-Krsna dasa)
former disciple of Satsvarupa dasa Goswami
Belmont, Vermont


February 14, 2020: “This book is awesome Henry, I’m up to page 312 and I can’t believe the work you put in. This is incredibly important for the history of ISKCON. I’m impressed! It’s turned out way more in depth that I could have imagined.”

Pedro Ramos
Atlanta, Georgia


February 11, 2020: “Hi Henry, The book was delivered several days ago. Please forgive my delayed confirmation email as I’ve been very busy with parish work. I’m digging in just as I did with Killing for Krishna. I can’t put it down. Your copious endnotes combined with writing skills are of great service to posterity and make for easy and informative reading. May our Lord reward your efforts! Thank you for having the courage and fortitude to see this through. I greatly anticipate the final work in your historical trilogy on ISKCON.

God Bless,”

Fr. Joseph Gingrich
Dayton, Ohio


February 9, 2020: “The book arrived yesterday Henry prabhu. I am already on the 100th page. I especially appreciate how lovingly you are portraying Srila Prabhupada. Very appreciated. Also I like your neutral tone. Thank you for this nice service to Srila Prabhupada. Rest assured Srila Prabhupada appreciates your sincerity and your dedication.”

Purujit dasa
La Linea, Spain


February 3, 2020: “If the succession is contaminated then there is no purity. Prabhupada says purity is the force that penetrates, so Henry’s flashing lights will help thousands to reconnect by the arrangement and mercy of God. Let all thank Henry for this great masterpiece.”

Kanta dasa


February 1, 2020: “I bought the Kindle version and just read the Introduction and Foreword. You have done a good job. It is sober, sane, factual, and you have tried to let views from all angles be heard. Sad to see that for the most part the ‘emperors’ and their associates/supporters for the most part have refused to take part.”

William Benedict (Bhakta dasa, ACBSP)

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