Is ISKCON an American institute run by Americans who take donations given by Indians to America?
Transcribed by: Shalini Ahluwalia
Question: Is ISKCON an American institution run by Americans who have built temples in India just to siphon money given by Indians as donations to the temples and take that money all back to America? I have heard about this on a YouTube video.
Answer: Not at all. First of all ISKCON is not an American institution. As the name suggests it is an international institution and it doesn’t have leaders from any one particular country or leaders who are situated in one particular country, the membership and the leadership is from all over the world and as far as finances is concerned Srila Prabhupada made ISKCON in such a way that every centre is managerially as well as financially largely independent. Financially actually almost all centres are self-sustaining. So every centre raises its own funds locally and uses those funds locally. What to speak of money being transferred from India to America, money is not transferred even from say the Juhu temple to the Chowpatty temple. Occasionally one temple needs some laxmi desperately for some urgent resources or whatever then money may be given as a loan but Srila Prabhupada wanted that eveyr community should actively and self-enterprisingly raise funds locally and spread Krishna consciousness locally with those funds. He did not want any temple to become dependent on other temples because that would promote lethargy and complacency. So that’s why every temples raises its own funds locally and uses them locally. So for example, if Poona has built a big temple, almost all the funds were raised by the local devotees, most of them from the local people and they were used locally for building the temple in Pune. And the same applies to all ISKCON centres. So all of ISKCON’s accounts are audited and the bank accounts as well as the audits are there for those who have doubts and who want to see. And as far as sending money from here to there, if at all there is any money transfer from one centre to another it is from the rest of the world to India because within India are ISKCON’s most prominent temples in Vrindavan and in Mayapur. Especially Mayapur is the international headquarters of ISKCON and Srila Prabhupada a magnificent temple, the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium over there and for that purpose he wanted devotees from all over the world to contribute to that temple. And that’s why funds do come from everywhere else to India for that particular temple project. And additionally the whole idea that ISKCON is an American institution staffed by Americans is based on an anachronistic perception. Anachronistic means something which is out of pace with the times. So in the first decade of ISKCON in India, 1970s more or less, ISKCON was largely staffed by Srila Prabhupada’s western disciples because at that time Indians had not taken active roles but from the 1980s onwards and especially from the late 1980s, ISKCON India has largely been staffed by Indian devotees both of ISKCON India members as well as ISKCON India leaders are Indians. Most of them. And these leaders and these members they raise funds and they utilise the funds to share India’s own spiritual culture with other Indians. So by building big temples, by distributing books, by celebrating rathyatras and by other cultural programs, India’s own spiritual culture that is getting lost, that is now becoming increasingly resurgent due to the cultural and spiritual activities started by ISKCON. Now there are of course some western bodied devotees who are within ISKCON India and some of them are prominent leaders also. Because western bodied people wearing dhoti-kurtas or sarees catches attention so some people may get the perception that these are the most influential or these are the most popular members of ISKCON. But not at all. ISKCON India has largely Indian members and mostly Indian leaders and it is actually using Indian resources to revive and spread Indian culture among fellow Indians.
Thank you, Hare Krishna!