Bhakti Vikasa Swami speaks about Henry’s book Eleven Naked Emperors

Bhakti Vikasa Swami

Bhakti Vikasa Swami

April 2022: ISKCON guru Bhakti Vikasa Swami spoke about Henry’s book Eleven Naked Emperors, and admitted he has read the book, in a YouTube video in which he talks about the zonal-acharya era of ISKCON. Bhakti Vikasa Swami explained:

In discussing guru issues within the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, we may wonder, “Why is there so much guru issues anyway? Why is there so much distrust of ISKCON gurus? Give the guys a break!” It has its roots in history, in the short history of ISKCON, particularly in what is known as the zonal-acharya era. There was a period in ISKCON’s history, shortly after the disappearance of Srila Prabhupada. . . . approximately one decade. . . . Really, things became unhinged. . . . Known as the zonal-acharya era.

Distrust of ISKCON gurus . . . most certainly would not have been to the same extent that it is, if the gurus, especially the original eleven, had lived up to what was expected of them. Distrust wasn’t the norm at the beginning. Great trust was placed in them. The mistrust was “earned” if you like. It was a very tough period. It started off with a lot of hope. (I’m speaking from my own personal experience from that period, and from [the experience of] thousands of others.) . . .

There is a book which has been written about that . . . by Henry Doktorski. The name of the book is Eleven Naked Emperors. I’ve read the book. Henry Doktorski was at one point known as Hrishikesh dasa, a disciple of Kirtanananda Swami. So he also lived through it. He’s written the book in a manner which is trying to be fair, but at the same time, it is influenced by his adherence to the ritvik doctrine which I obviously don’t believe in.

It’s not really necessary for everyone to know about it. It’s not really necessary for everyone in the movement today to even know of all the details of what went on in the zonal-acharya era. We can know that it was a very rough period in ISKCON’s history, just after the departure of Srila Prabhupada.

For the record, we do not understand how or why Bhakti Vikasa Swami concluded that Eleven Naked Emperors is “influenced by Henry’s adherence to the ritvik doctrine.” Henry claims that he advocates neither the ritvik doctrine nor the ISKCON guru system. Nonetheless Henry is pleased that an ISKCON guru has at least acknowledged and admitted he has read Eleven Naked Emperors.

A Prabhupada disciple who was initiated fifty years ago shared his thoughts in an email with Henry, “He is simply running you thru the grease by tarring you with the ritvik brush. He is unscrupulous as he is austere. He is the (arguably) chief right-wing representative of the ‘ISKCON’ bird of prey. You are now in the category of a developing threat due to your massive body of work. Hanuman of Croatia also attacked you in a somewhat similar way. This fellow recently backed Jayadvaita in a MAJOR CHANGE to one of Prabhupada’s translations in Bhagavad-gita, CHANGING AND REVERSING the clear implication intentionally. Do not allow him to disturb you in any way.”

Another Prabhupada disciple who was initiated fifty-one years ago (Puranjana/Tim Lee) shared his thoughts, “First of all, anyone who rejects the GBC guru system is handily branded as a ritvik deviant, their catch-all phrase for all doubting Thomas folks. Secondly, the zonal guru system has never been dismantled. Bhakti Vikasa Swami is the guru for Salem, India, Jayapataka is the guru of Mayapur, Gopal Krishna is the guru of Delhi, Bhakti Chaitanya Swami is the guru of Durban, etc. It seems like BVKS is spinning the truth on all levels. He also did not consult with you, which is the same thing they do with me: ‘Well, Puranjana says no more pure devotees will appear for the next 10,000 years.’ OK, but I never said that? A pure devotee might appear, might not appear, it is not my job to speculate on the future. They also know you got at least some help and encouragement from us, so that makes you an outcaste too. He is just trying to paint you as a deviant with a wide brush. Right now BVKS is himself in the hot seat because his best pal Basu Ghosh is promoting a known child molester (Lokanath) as a guru, and BVKS is being painted as a co-conspirator on this deviation—OK, because he is. They are really on the run. Jayadvaita Swami was in Los Angeles recently and he was rarely seen and no one knew where he was staying. Sneaking around basically. OK, he is hiding. Kavicandra says he cannot come to the USA to face the angry mobs. Ravindra Svarupa has not written any position papers in a long time. Satsvarupa seems to have lost his last marble rolling around his head, etc. They are on the run and they see all of us as an enemy and someone to brand as deviated. It is working fine for them, in Salem India, not many other places. Oddly, he is now saying that since they cemented in a known child molester as a main guru of India, things are getting better and it is all corrected now from the so-called zonal days. Ummm, making child molesters into gurus was the problem all along, zonal era, this era, and the present time? It has not been fixed, if anything they are doubling down on that deviation. Anyway, you are on their radar now, hah hah. Regarding your book, Eleven Naked Emperors: Read it and weep, should be required GBC reading!”

Puranjana also spoke about Bhakti Vikasa Swami and Eleven Naked Emperors on his website. See Bhakti Vikas Swami VS 11 Naked Emperors.

A third Prabhupada disciple, Kailasa Candra dasa (Mark Goodwin), also commented on this topic, “BVKS is not even a genuinely initiated sannyasi. His so-called guru to give him sannyasa was one of the great pretender mahabhagavats of 1978, and, as such, had no authority to give sannyasa initiation to anyone. As such, this man is an upstart, and he has proven that in many ways. His warped ‘understanding’ of the cataclysmic, zonal-acharya epoch is nothing more than historical revisionism. That he is an extremely austere man is obvious: All you have to do is look at him to realize that. However, in and of itself, that is not necessarily a spiritual commendation, e.g., Jayadvaita, who is also a light bulb but has done immeasurable damage to Prabhupada’s books by not correcting changing some obvious mistakes but, instead, BY CHANGING THE MEANINGS, which is horrific activity, to say the least. This is what ‘ISKCON’ has come to, and please take note, this so-called Bhakti Vikas has COMPLETELY BACKED Jayadvaita in the horrendous change to the translation of Bg. 2.44, in which the original wording is CENT-PER-CENT TRUE AND ACCURATE. This is an indepth discussion, and this man knows it; therefore, he knows he can get away with his VERY WRONG vitiated translation (backing Jayadvaita) and nobody will successfully be able to challenge and defeat him. These kind of guys are able to pull this horsecrap off due to the power of their austerities, just like the heavy-duty Mayavadis have been able to do the same damn thing in India for many centuries. They will all be held to account in due course of time, but, in the meantime, due not allow yourself to come under the seemingly pious external demeanor of this man, as he is propping up ‘ISKCON’ through mistaken knowledge, meta-deception, and historical revisionism.”

To listen to Bhakti Vikasa Swami’s 40-minute monologue, go to Guru Issues, Part 17, The Zonal Acarya Era.

According to his website, “His Holiness Bhakti Vikasa Swami appeared in this world in 1957 in England. He joined the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) in London in 1975 and was initiated in that year with the name Ilapati dasa by ISKCON’s founder-acharya, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. From 1977 to 1979 His Holiness was based in India, mostly traveling in West Bengal preaching Krsna consciousness and distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books. He then spent the following ten years helping to pioneer ISKCON’s preaching in Bangladesh, Burma, Thailand, and Malaysia. In 1989 he was granted the order of sannyasa, receiving the name Bhakti Vikasa Swami, and again made his base in India. He has since travelled widely throughout the subcontinent, lecturing in English, Hindi, and Bengali. His Holiness also travels to and preaches Krsna consciousness in other parts of the world. He continues to write books and magazine articles. His books have been translated into more than fifteen languages.”

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