Chapter 10 - A Crazy Man - Kirtanananda 'Swami'

Kirtanananda Swami - A Crazy Man

Kirtanananda "Swami" -- A Crazy Man



This chapter is an expose on one of the new "gurus" in ISKCON. It is the first, but it most likely will not be the only one we will have to compile. Kirtanananda "Swami" deserves first recognition. He was among the first initiated devotees. He was the first to be given "sannyasa." A week later, he was the first to attack Srila Prabhupada trying to usurp the ISKCON movement for himself. Shortly thereafter he was the first to sit on a throne and accept worship of himself even during Srila Prabhupada's physical presence and of course he was the first to jump on a throne right after Srila Prabhupada's departure. He was the first to begin a drug dealing operation (the KSS: Krsna's Secret Service) and later to set up a counterfeiting operation. He was the first to organize a women's sexploitation party and encourage the leader of that party, Dharmatma, to keep the women satisfied as their gigolo. To our knowledge, he is the first "guru" to authorize an abortion of the gigolo's child in an underage girl. He was the first to be utterly condemned by Srila Prabhupada. To this day, there are more letters of condemnation written about him than all the other bogus gurus combined. He was the first (and hopefully the last) to put a crown on Srila Prabhupada's murti (marble statue) denoting him as a mere monarch, although Srila Prabhupada was not sent by the Lord for that service. He was the first, and maybe only, "disciple," to be so envious as to directly challenge his guru's authority by calling him "a tyrant." He was the first "disciple" to be incarcerated in a mental institution (Bellevue). He was the first to treat Krsna's cows in such a way that dozens of them died of starvation, disease, and exposure (the local courts could not even bear these atrocities of Kirtanananda and prosecuted him for cruelty to animals.) These are just a few of his "firsts." He is number one in many other ways. Besides being the oldest "devotee" physically, he was/is the first full-blown homosexual in the movement and he even bragged of this to Acyutananda Swami in Mayapur, 1971, when he said, "I was sucking (word for male genital) before you were born." Therefore, in observing his stressed seniority, we believe that he should be given the first chance to try and clear himself of the charges we level against him, and the other bogus gurus as well, which clearly state one thing: absolute power corrupts absolutely.


"Kirtanananda is now a completely Krsna conscious person as he has accepted sannyasa on the birthday of Lord Krsna with great success. He is the first sannyasa in my spiritual family, and I hope he will return back soon to begin preaching work with great vigor and success." (Woomapati, 9/5/67)

Note: This is the letter cited most often at New Vmdavana. This is where they myth that Kirtanananda is a pure devotee came from. For those who have not understood Prabhupada's way of encouragement or who do not know about the incident that follows, it appears convincing evidence to back up the myth.

"Kirtanananda has decided to return back for preaching work in the States, as he has accepted the sannyasa order of life. Acyutananda is here, but he is not eating well, so I am put into anxiety. In the beginning Kirtanananda was also sick, and he also at the present moment is feeling some pain in his leg. On the whole, the American boys who come here become first depressed..." (Hamsadutta, 9/10/67)

"Kirtanananda is returning to the states very soon. You are all very much anxious to get him back home and your desire will be fulfilled very soon. Perhaps you know that Acyutananda is now with us and since he has come, Kirtanananda has retired from all sorts of activities, and Acyutananda is helping me. Anyway, he is leaving behind a good representative, so I'll not be in trouble." (Janaki, 9/16/67)

"I am definitely improving in health but if I work a little hard or I walk a little more, I feel tired. Unfortunately, there is no good typewriter here and this letter I am typing myself. Acyutananda is not fast typewriting and Kirtanananda is going back to London tomorrow. I have advised him to start a center in London positively and after a month Rayarama will join him from Boston. Kirtanananda has experience to start a new center and therefore I have entrusted him with this great task I hope he will be successful there and I have given him one important letter of introduction for London. Please pray to the Lord that he may be successful." (Dayananda, 9/20/67)

"Kirtanananda has already gone back this morning. I have given him an introductory letter to London. In this connection much money has been spent from the building fund. If he gets a favorable response, then Rayarama may join him there and when he goes then I shall go." (Brahmananda, 9/2/67)

"Kirtanananda Swami prearranged with you to reach on the 24th instant, but he arranged with me that he would stop in London and I gave him one important introduction letter. Although he had in his mind not to stop in London and yet promised before me that he would go, for which I gave him extra $20. I cannot understand why he played with me like this. If he had no desire to go to London he would have plainly told me like hat. It has certainly given me a great shock. He is one of my very faithful disciples and if he does like that how can I prosecute my programs. I have received one postcard from him from London airport in which he writes he is going directly to NY. I understand also from Woomapati's letter that he has already reached N. Y. although I have not heard anything from him from N. Y... It is all my misfortune." (Hayagriva, 9/27/67)

"If you have collected the contribution from different centers you can pay Acyutananda's mother $88. This amount was taken from her on account of Kirtanananda's ticket. Kirtanananda should return to you the $20 dollars that he took from me on the plea of stopping in London. I am feeling too much for his disobedience." (Brahmananda, no date)

"Where is Rayarama? He may take back from Kirtanananda the letter of introduction to Miss Bowtell and may go to London as it was previously arranged. I entrusted this matter to Kirtanananda but he has disobeyed which has given me a shock. Once he disobeyed my order and we lost $1,200 in connection with Mr. Payne. This time he has again disobeyed me. If he sets such example in the Society it will be a great impediment. Obedience is the first law of discipline. We are thinking of a great world-wide organization which is not possible to be executed if there is disobedience." (Gargamuni, 9/28/67)

Note: Kirtanananda never paid back these debts to Srila Prabhupada. In fact he tried to steal men and money from Prabhupada again and again. He even tried to convince Guru Krpa once to "stop wasting your money giving it to Prabhupada." Kirtanananda wanted Guru Krpa to give money to New Vmdavana, arguing that, "these Indian temples you're building are going to be taken over by the communists one day anyway." Guru Krpa told him, "I'd watch Prabhupada flush it down the toilet before I'd give it to you."

"...Rayarama may go to London in Nov.... This function was intended for Kirtanananda while returning to NY. He was to stop there and see her (Miss Bowtell) but he was so much frenzied to see & meet his old friends that he forgot the order of Krishna and indulged in a sort of sense gratification. It is certainly a shocking incident which I never expected from a disciple like Kirtanananda." (Satsvarupa, 10/3/67)

"Kirtanananda may be eager to address in the Harvard university but recently he has lost his link on account of disobedience. You sing every day morning that by the mercy of the Sridhar Maharaja one can please the Lord and one who has not pleased the Sridhar Maharaja cannot have any access in the realm of Krsna consciousness. Very recently Kirtanananda has developed a different consciousness of Maya which is called misuse of one's minute independence offered by Krishna. By misuse on one's independence one at once becomes a victim of Maya and thus he loses all importance in Krsna consciousness. So it is my definite opinion that his lecture anywhere now will bear no spiritual sequence. He must rectify his mistake before he can play in our society any important role. By lips he says that he is a surrendered soul but by action he is thinking differently." (Satsvarupa, 10/6/67)

Note: By lips Kirtanananda Swami still says that he is a surrendered soul but by his actions it is clear that he is still thinking differently. His worshipers often say, "But what about the Palace? Doesn't that prove that he is an advanced devotee?" As mentioned in the earlier chapters, making a "show of the Deity" or "amassing some neophyte disciples" are not the real qualifications. It is the sincerity of purpose that makes the pure devotee and not the external show. The arguments that he changed because he put up buildings, and engaged sudras, is totally illogical. Prabhupada accused Bon Maharaja of offending his guru and that had been forty years earlier. From practical experience we can easily perceive that one's nature or deep-rooted conditioning may not change so drastically in nine years. Kirtanananda Swami himself admits this in a lecture he gave in Bombay shortly after Jayatirtha's departure. There he said, "He (Jayatirtha) diverted from the instructions of Prabhupada, and now when we can trace it back, we can see that even some time way back, he had this tendency. For instance, around 1975, Jayatirtha was very much attached to this umbrella corporation... Of course, he did not leave, but that tendency, or that difficulty in accepting Prabhupada's vision, was there." Jayatirtha's "tendency" is child's play compared to Kirtanananda's.

"I was very glad to receive your letter dated Oct. 1st. I congratulate you for your successful dealing with your good brother, Sriman Brahmananda, against his falling back a prey to Kirtanananda's recent propaganda. To save a man from impersonal calamity is the greatest service to humanity. I also thank Rupanuga and Rayarama for helping you in your very laudable action. Brahmananda is very pure at heart. He might have been misled by Kirtanananda for the time being but Krishna did not allow him to fall back. According to Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the Lord is full in six opulences and the rascal impersonalist says that the Lord has no form and the most dangerous accusation for the Lord that He assumes a material form when He descends. This accusation of the Lord is the greatest offense of the nonsense impersonalist. I do not believe that Kirtanananda has gone to such an extent of ailing situation but if he does not rectify himself immediately his future is very dark. If he is sincere in his concept of impersonal absolute he should enter into correspondence with me and I shall refute all his arguments. But I understand that he could not answer you even when you hit him with some questions. I shall request that you save this poor creature from impersonal calamity." (Gargamuni, 10/9/67)

"In your previous letter in which I saw a little tendency of being turned by foolish Kirtanananda. But I was confident that Kirtanananda was not so strong as he would be able to defeat you. I was completely confident of your sincerity of service and my choice of your being president of the society is right. I may disclose herewith that I never took Kirtanananda into complete confidence but I was trying to improve his position because he has also rendered much personal service to me. I am very much obliged to him for the service as I am to my other disciples and I am very sorry that Maya has taken advantage of his disobedience and he has fallen to Maya's illusion, but he should not continue for a very long time as I will always pray to Krsna for his recovery. For the time being he should simply chant Hare Krishna without any attempt at lecturing. The impersonalists cannot render any service to Krsna because he is a great offender. Under the circumstances, Krsna will not accept food prepared by Kirtanananda in his present diseased condition. If he at all wants to render service to Krishna he may be engaged at washing dishes and this will improve his condition... It is not in his power to mislead a sincere soul such as yourself but I must congratulate Gargamuni, the simple boy who never believed in impersonalism. He is your younger brother as important as Lord Laksmana was younger brother to Lord Rama. I am very glad that this simple and honest boy has saved you from calamity." (Brahmananda, 10/9/67)

Note: This sentence, "I never took Kirtanananda into confidence" is very significant. Needless to say, Prabhupada knew Kirtanananda's mentality all along. Nevertheless, Prabhupada sees the spark of good in someone and tries to fan that. Only the very realized mahabhagavata can so perfectly see and act on that platform. We must come to the realization that all of Prabhupada's "leading" disciples were similarly being encouraged by Prabhupada. Prabhupada continued to encourage Kirtanananda all along, but that doesn't mean that "foolish Kirtanananda" was a pure devotee, any more than he was when Prabhupada called him "a completely Krsna conscious person" in the earlier letter.

Another significant point in this letter is how he is comparing these two brothers, Brahmananda and Gargamuni, to Lord Rama and Laksmana. This is not the only place where Prabhupada indirectly implies that men like Kirtanananda are Ravanas.

"Do not try to follow the unauthorized advice of Kirtanananda. Nobody cares for the dress; every sane man follows the philosophy and practical talks. Let Kirtanananda Swami do something practically. Let him do whatever he likes and let us see that thousands of Americans are following him.

"Kirtanananda is the first man in our society who cleanly shaved and kept the sikha on the top of the head, and now he has begun to keep beard again. This is not good. Whatever he is doing nowadays has no sanction from me. And he has deliberately disobeyed me by not going to London." (Brahmananda, 10/11/67)

Note: Contrary to popular belief, Kirtanananda is actually the one behind the corruption at New Vrindaban. He cleverly has Kuladri do all of the dirty work for him and therefore Kuladri's name is "Crueladri." Actually he is also just another victim of "Kirtanananda's devices."

Kirtanananda is claiming 500 residents at New Vmdavana and some persons consider this an impressive figure. On close analysis however we see differently. That figure includes the 100 hired outside workers on the payroll and the 100 fringe devotees who have little to no sadhana and receive a salary under minimum wage. At least two-thirds of the remaining members are women and children mostly from broken families. There are always at least 30-50 floaters who will stay a few months to a year at most. Most of the steady men who remain there have never studied the philosophy seriously and are there primarily because they get room and board and some work they like doing. Only half a dozen men devotees in the entire community know enough philosophy to give a lecture. Out of 80 men Prabhupada disciples reported for the 1984 Vyasa Puja book, eleven left before the book went to print. Most of the remaining "Prabhupada disciples" were worshipping Kirtanananda even before Prabhupada left the planet. So we can safely say that he does not have "thousands of Americans following him." But those who do follow, we must admit, see him as "king." In this connection Prabhupada says, "There is a Bengali saying that a jackal is king in a small forest. The story is that a jackal became king in the forest by fooling the other animals for some time, but he remained always a jackal and his ruse was at last exposed." (Rupanuga, 11/13/70)

"I am very sorry to hear that Kirtanananda is advising you to give up the robes and the flags on the head. Please stop this nescience as I never instructed Kirtanananda to act like that. I am not at all satisfied with this action of Kirtanananda. Kirtanananda has no right to instruct you in that way, without consulting me. People are being attracted to the chanting of Hare Krsna and not to Kirtanananda's devices." (Damodara, 10/13/67)

Note: What Kirtanananda was actually trying to do is not fully revealed in these letters. But from interviewing the devotees who were around at that time it is evident that he was directly attacking Prabhupada and trying to take over the movement. He stole the original manuscript of Prabhupada's Bhagavad-gita and wouldn't return it. Prabhupada had to return prematurely just to keep Kirtanananda from doing too much damage. During this time, Kirtanananda formed his own society. The name of this society was rather long. He put this name of letterhead stationary. He also included the acronym for the society on his letterhead. The name of the society was: "First Universal Church of Krsna-the Yoga Organization University." Check out this acronym, prabhus.

"I am in due receipt of your letter dated Oct. 10th and I've also received Kirtanananda's letter. From different centers of our society the news of the activities of Kirtanananda is giving me too much pain. From Rayarama's letter it is clear that Kirtanananda has not rightly understood Krsna consciousness philosophy and it appears that he does not know the difference between impersonal and personal features of Krishna. The best thing will be to prohibit him to speak in any of our functions or meetings. It is clear that he has become crazy and he should once more be sent to Bellevue. He was in Bellevue before and with great difficulty and with the help of Mr. Ginsburg we got him out." (Brahmananda, 10/16/67)

Note: Bellevue is a well-known mental hospital in the Eastern US.

This is too much disturbing to me and caused me much pain. Please therefore stop Kirtanananda from making his mental concoctions. Do not be misled by him. I have never advised him to act like that... I have already written you to inform you that somehow or other he has become crazy; otherwise he would not have disobeyed me to go directly to NY. For the time being he has cut all like with me. Therefore any instruction given by him is unauthorized and should at once be rejected. He has no right to dictate as he has without my sanction. Whatever is to be done will be executed on my return. He is too much puffed-up nonsensically therefore you should copy this letter and forward to all centers that Kirtanananda has no right to dictate anything to the society in this way. I am very sorry that he is exploiting his present position as a sannyasi in this way..." (Brahmananda, 10114167)

Note: He is still exploiting his position, only now he is doing so as a "pure devotee." So we are following Prabhupada's instructions by copying all these letters and circulating them around to all centers.

"I have already requested Brahmananda to stop Kirtanananda's speaking at any of our functions till my arrival. If he wants to preach anything he can do it on his own at a different place... If Kirtanananda believes in one-self, why does he stress the vibration and not the words? Why does he find difference in vibration and words? And why shouldn't one be attached to the chanting? All this means that he has no clear idea and he is talking nonsense. If Kirtanananda does not understand this philosophy then better he should stop speaking nonsense. I can understand his designs but I cannot help because I am far away from the place." (Rayarama, 10/16/67)

"My dear Kirtanananda, Please accept my blessings. I've received your note along with Brahmananda's for first time since you left to NY. You had no desire to stop in London. This is clear to me from Hayagriva's letter which indicated that you had already planned to go there even before you left India. Since you have returned to NY you have falsely dictated that I do not want the robes or flags. Why are you disturbing the whole situation in my absence? I never ordered you to speak like that. They must continue to have robes and telok and flags and they must distinguish themselves from the hippies. I never objected to any of my students dressing like nice American gentlemen, clean shaved; but those who are my disciples must have flag, telok and beads on neck without fail. Anyway, I never advised you to dictate on my behalf.

"Please therefore do not misrepresent me. You have been given sannyasa to follow my principles and not to disturb me. If you do not agree with my philosophy you can work independent and not within the walls of ISKCON. You have not understood Krishna properly. The best thing will be to stop your talks in any meeting but chant in solitary place, anywhere you like. Hope you are well." (10/16/67)

Note: Kirtanananda was attempting to steal the movement in Prabhupada's absence. By a similar strategy, Ravana stole Sitadevi in the absence of Lord Ramachandra. Lord Rama thus said to the ten-headed demon: "You are like a dog who steals food from the master's kitchen when he is away from home." Many men lost their wives to Kirtanananda while they were away from New Vrindaban. (See Appendix 25)

"This last attack is very serious and fatal. Kirtanananda has very recently developed the 4th stage malady on account of his negligence and disobedience to his spiritual master. Sometimes a foolish patient when he is out of feverish attack by the grace of the physician, thinks that he is cured and does not take precaution against relapse. Kirtanananda's position is like that. Because he helped the society in starting the Montreal center I thought he is now able to start other branches and when he asked me to give him Sannyasa I agreed taking the opportunity of his presence in Vrindavana. Simply by his Sannyasa dress he thought himself as cured of all material diseases and all mistakes, but under the influence of Maya, he thought himself a liberated patient, just as the foolish patient thinks himself cured of the disease. Under the spell of Maya, he disobeyed me by not going to London and consequently his disease has relapsed. Now in NY he has begun to dictate nonsense in my name such as giving up flags, etc. Instead of opening new centers he has begun to deliver his sermons amongst his God-brothers which are all against our principles. For the present he should simply chant Hare Krishna and cease to deliver lectures since he has not understood the whole philosophy very nicely." (Pradyumna, 10/17/67)

"I am very glad to receive your letter and yes I am feeling stronger. I always think of you because you are so nice in Krsna consciousness... You have written to say that I am as hard as a thunderbolt and softer than a rose' is quite right in the line of Krsna consciousness. I am very sorry to inform you that Kirtanananda is playing the part of a foolish man after his return to NY and it is necessary for me to play the part of a thunderbolt for his nonsense activities... Please inform this to all centers." (Jadurani, 10/13/67)

Note: Actually all of Prabhupada's letters to Jadurani were very personal and friendly. Her devotion to Prabhupada is undeniable. But on the other hand Prabhupada never wrote very personal letters to Kirtanananda except for ones like the above. This brings us to a very important incident that happened to Jadurani in 1980. [THE JADURANI INCIDENT]