February 22, 1999 VNN3131
ISKCON Miami Not For Gringos
BY M. S. DASA
USA, Feb 22 (VNN) It is the same old song in ISKCON Miami, as older devotees flee from the temple that now professes itself to be a totally "Hispanic" temple quoting the President of the Temple: "We do not want any Gringos in our Temple! They are thieves and troublemakers".
The president in a flurry of foul language repudiated a disciple of Hridayananda Maharaja of ten years, who had sponsored several thousand dollars to the Deitie's new altar and who had just come to the temple from work to pick up Hanumat Prasaka Swami, by telling him he was not wanted any more as he was a "gringo" and that he and the other "gringos" should not visit the temple anymore, and to get his car out of the parking lot or he will have it towed!"
Hanumat Prasaka Swami was aghast at his outburst and body consciousness and left the Temple the next day not wanting to stay any longer.
The rest of the devotees residing at the temple were also being thrown out or being requested to leave. The "partner" of Siddhavidya dasa, (Bhakta Paul) who has for years accompanied Siddhavidya in his famous daily "Hari Nama" parties all over Miami, was asked to leave because "Hari Nama is just chanting it's 'not real' preaching and the temple felt gringos must go!"
Dharma dasa, the senior most devotee of Miami, was also tossed out, despite being the head pujari for the deities! Despite the good work that Kesava Maharaja has done to place the deities on the altar, he has brought with him as his leadership team devotees from South America who do not have a very good understanding of devotional principles or etiquette.
This correspondent asked South Florida senior devotee Mahabuddhi dasa regarding his feelings about the Miami Temple events:
"It's times like this that you are glad that you live a good distance from the ISKCON temple. The devotee who was accosted by the Temple president, called me at my home to explain what took place. I must say that the leadership of Miami Iskcon needs to learn our philosophy! When you have devotees who measure the merits of their congregation by how much donations they give or 'what have you done for me lately' mentalities, coupled with body consciousness (Latino vs. Gringo) you have a real less than 'kanistha adhikari' leadership. The Miami temple suffers from this mentality and they promote this ignorance. I like Kesava Maharaja, but his Temple President and other 'imported' leaders do not have the necessary qualifications and understanding needed to deal with the multiethnic background of devotees and visitors that attend that Temple. One of the devotees I had helped preach to and get initiated is a physician and an Indian, he gave over $25,000 to the Temple Altar fund. He has been treated so poorly, that he never wants to visit that temple again.
Many of the long time older devotees do not visit or regularly attend any programs at the Temple because of the "gringo" mentality that is being propagated by the Temple leadership. This is another tragedy in a long list of tragedies that the Miami Temple has been affiliated with. Let us hope that Kesava Maharaja can fix this problem, meet with the outside devotee congregation and root out this ignorance. The present situation is not a favorable presentation of Krsna Consciousness for any ethnic community member."
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