Published on September 25th, 2000 | by


ISKCON: Salaries for Sadhus?

Some ISKCON temples have developed methods for collecting huge amounts of money from Hindus. But what happens to the money?

“THEY SHOULD NOT BE GIVEN ANY SALARY. THAT IS VERY BAD. THIS IS AGAINST PRINCIPLE.” Srila Prabhupada wanted a BRAHMANICAL system in ISKCON but the so-called Srila Prabhupada disciples have made it a SUDRA institution by paying hugh salaries to key men such as Temple presidents. Another hidden agenda is —-they have opened up charities under different names— the sole purpose being to EXPLOIT the society —TAX FREE. Many so called devotees OWN a few houses, BIG bank balances, nice cars.

Conversation: Vairagya, Salaries, and Political Etiquette April 28, 1977, Bombay

Prabhupada: Niskincanasya. One who has decided that “This world is useless. I have to take birth repeatedly and accept different types of bodies and suffer.” Body means… Those who have understood this fact and disgusted, so bhakti line is for them. One who has the tendency to enjoy this material world, and they are taking advantage of God, “Give me good wife, give me good work, good meal, good enjoyment,” they are not in the bhakti line. They are in the very nascent stage.

Tamala Krsna: Nescient stage?

Prabhupada: Lower stage. Vairagya-vidya-nija-bhakti-yogam. That… There is one verse written by Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya. What page I don’t… Siksartham. The bhakti-yoga, nija-bhakti-yoga… Bhakti-yoga means devotion to Krsna. And that is vairagya-vidya, how to learn, renounce this world. Otherwise why Caitanya Mahaprabhu gave up His grhastha life? He’s the same person. Why Rupa Gosvami gave up their ministership?

By their personal behavior they are showing this is not required. This is vairagya-vidya. So under the circumstances, those who have no vairagya, they cannot live in the temple. They are taking advantage of the temple facilities for their sense enjoyment. Do you understand?

Tamala Krsna: Yes, I do.

Prabhupada: So that should be stopped. So to live with wife, together as a grhastha, and enjoy grhastha life, at the same time to live in temple, this should be discouraged. Temple is meant for brahmacari and sannyasi, our, mainly, not for grhastha, because they have got inclination to enjoy. To live with wife means enjoyment. They’ll have sex. This should be discouraged. But one who is absolutely required, they also cannot be allowed to live together. It is badly done(?). Suppose if one is grhastha, he is in devotional service, but he has no money to look after his wife. In that case the wife can live in the temple but separately with women, not together. Together living is very disturbing. It is not at all recommended. Give this point. At least, this should not be encouraged.

Tamala Krsna: Generally in our temples, within the temple building no grhasthas live together, but in the temple compound, that is to say, around the temple, there may be other buildings. There they live together. But it’s…

Prabhupada: No, I am speaking, within the temple.

Tamala Krsna: I think practically all over the society that has been stopped, the grhastha living together with wife. I don’t think there’s any case like that. But in the adjoining buildings they might be…

Prabhupada: Adjoining buildings… But the temple should not provide them with salary to enjoy their life. That is same thing.

Tamala Krsna: Generally the temples are providing them with apartments, like that.

Prabhupada: But that is temple.

Tamala Krsna: Yeah.

Prabhupada: Just like we have got so many tenants. They are living in their own. But they have no connection with the temple, neither the temple is paying them or… No, they are earning their own way.

Tamala Krsna: In other words, if the temple provides an apartment, it’s the same as paying a salary.

Prabhupada: Hm?

Tamala Krsna: In other words, giving an apartment is the same thing as providing a salary.

Prabhupada: All right, apartment can be… But what is this? They are given high salary. Because his service is essential–“All right, you take apartment.”

Tamala Krsna: But not…


Tamala Krsna: Actually, even if you don’t give a salary, if you give an apartment and you give food and you give all these other things for someone to maintain his household life…

Prabhupada: Because his service is essential.

Tamala Krsna: But that has to be determined very strictly.

Prabhupada: Yes. Yes. Whether his service is absolutely required? So you give him.

Tamala Krsna: That is the factor. That point must be clearly acknowledged.

Prabhupada: Hm hm. So he’s trying to practice… Because sevonmukhe, if he gives service, then gradually he’ll renounce. Sevonmukhe hi jihvadau svayam eva sphuraty adah. God realization means service. The more you give service to the Lord, the more you become advanced in devotional… So one who is giving service, dedicated life, so maybe… But no salary. They may live in the temple, woman separate, man separate.

Tamala Krsna: They’re… But the actual thing is that they’re being, living together in an apartment, and the temple is paying for that apartment. They’re not living separately in the temple. They’re being…

Prabhupada: That is to be discouraged. What do you think?

Giriraja: I agree.

Prabhupada: In Los Angeles it is very freely going on. In the name of Vaisnavism they are drawing salary, living comfortably, having sense enjoyment. This is not good, not at all. So you all high officers, you think over it and do the needful.

Tamala Krsna: Vairagya should be cultivated.

Prabhupada: Vairagya… Caitanya Mahaprabhu says clearly that niskincanasya bhagavad-bhajanonmukhasya. The bhagavad-bhajana, to become devotee of the Lord, means he’s disgusted with this material world. For him, bhagavad-bhajana. Just like if I become disgusted with something, I require some change, similarly, bhagavad-bhajana is for him who is absolutely disgusted with this material world. And anyone who has got little interest in material enjoyment, he’s not fit for bhagavad-bhajana. He’ll have to accept again this material body, either he becomes Brahma or becomes an ant in the stool, according to his karma. Karmana daiva-netrena jantur deha-upapattaye. He’ll have to develop certain type of body according to his desire of enjoyment. This is nature’s law. Then where is the question of going back to home, back to Godhead? Why so many varieties of life? There is Brahma, and there is ant in the stool. So vairagya-vidya-nija… Vasudeve bhagavati bhakti-yogah prayojitah, janayaty asu vairagyam. And vairagyam means jnanam ca. When one is in full knowledge that “To remain in this material world is useless for me”–jnanam–“I am simply wasting my time by repetition of birth and death,” then he can have vairagya. “Stop this!” If this sense is not awakened, there is no bhakti. It is not so easy. Brahma-bhutah prasannatma na socati na kanksati. That is vairagya. So vairagya-vidya… Otherwise why big, big persons, they renounced everything? Bharata Maharaja, young man, the emperor of the whole world, gave up everything. Caitanya Mahaprabhu personally teaches, young man, good, beautiful wife, young wife, so affectionate mother, so much honor in the society, Nimai Pandita, so beautiful body… Tyaktva sudustyaja-surepsita-rajya-laksmim. Surepsita. Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s position was, even the demigods, they desired such family life. But He still gave up. That is teaching. Therefore Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya says, vairagya-vidya-nija-bhak…, siksartham: “to teach others.” He understood that in order to teach others vairagya-vidya… He is the Supreme Person. Vairagya-vidya-nija-bhakti-yoga-siksartham ekah purana-purusah: “That He was, Supreme Lord. Now He has appeared as Sri Krsna Caitanya.

Sarira-dhari: “He has accepted one body as Sri Krsna Caitanya.” So these things should be stopped, that they should live comfortably with husband and wife, children, and take salary from the… You decide. This is not to our… Besides that, in our BBT it is clearly written that “Fifty percent for printing book, and fifty percent for…” SO YOU CANNOT VIOLATE THIS. THOSE WHO CAN GIVE VOLUNTARY SERVICE, “WELCOME.” OTHERWISE WE DON’T REQUIRE. AT LEAST THEY SHOULD NOT BE GIVEN ANY SALARY. THAT IS VERY BAD. THIS IS AGAINST PRINCIPLE.

Tamala Krsna: I was reading the life sketch of Bhaktivinoda Thakura. He always maintained a government service job, and still…

Prabhupada: He gave so much service to Krsna. From his family maintenance… He could have renounced, but he said that the family has to be maintained. So he… Markata-vairagya. Bhaktivinoda Thakura was against giving sannyasa. He didn’t like these babajis. They were markata-vairagya, superficially… Markata-vairagya means monkey. They live naked, eat fruits, live in the jungle. That is vairagya. But three dozen wives. Markata-vairagya. Markata means monkey. Superficially vairagya, naga-baba. They eat vegetables, fruits, live in the jungle, no house, or, all, everything like vairagya. But sex. We have… I have seen in Vrndavana. They have got a party, each monkey, women’s party, and the male will come to any female, “Now ready,” “Enter.” You can see it. Markata-vairagya nahi paraloka dasaya. So this should not be encouraged. Then gradually it will deteriorate into…

Tamala Krsna: The Christians had that happen to them.

Prabhupada: Hm?

Tamala Krsna: The Christian religion had that deterioration. Everything deteriorated more and more into sense gratification.

Prabhupada: Because they have no valid philosophy. It is simply official. They have nothing, no knowledge, no nothing, simply that dress and cloth. That’s all.

Tamala Krsna: Just like the original… When Jesus was there and he had twelve disciples, they simply gave up everything and traveled with him and tried to preach. So they were renunciates, living simply whatever they could take, nothing more, and devoting their lives to God. But the followers later on, more and more they added the degree of sense gratification, till now you can’t see any renunciation at all within their order.

Prabhupada: No, they are drinking. They are having homosex. They are encouraging homosex, giving man-to-man marriage. You know that? This is going on. Doing everything nonsense.

Giriraja: Actually their leader…

Prabhupada: And they are concluding that they cannot stop committing sins and Jesus Christ will take account for them. Therefore it is very good religion, that “We can do whatever nonsense we like, and if we keep our faith in Jesus Christ, then we are saved.” Papa-buddhih, namno balad papa-buddhih. Great offenders. So what news?

Giriraja: Well, the reason I came up is I’m going to try to phone Mr. Rajda now.

Prabhupada: Hm?

Giriraja: Going to try to phone Mr. Rajda. And considering that the Prime Minister may not have that much time… We had discussed that he should come here to meet you, but suppose if we fix up, say, a minimum time if he can’t come here, say at least a half hour undisturbed, something like that, is it possible to fix in the city or we should just insist that…

Prabhupada: Hm?

Tamala Krsna: He’s suggesting that if the Prime Minister can’t give that much time, whether you would go to see him? Actually, if you give the idea that Prabhupada wants to see him in the morning hours…

Giriraja: Yeah, I’m going to.

Tamala Krsna: I mean, if he says that that’s not possible…

Prabhupada: That is not respectful.

Giriraja: No.

Tamala Krsna: Not at all respectful.

Prabhupada: Then he does not know how to honor a saintly person. It is useless to meet him. If he has no respect for saintly person, if he thinks greater than saintly person, then he’s useless.

Tamala Krsna: Then nothing will come of it, anyway. And if we give this opportunity, that he come in the morning, if he…

Prabhupada: No, no, apart from that, if he has got that sense, that “I am very big man, so everyone should come here,” he’s useless. We cannot do anything with him.

Giriraja: That’s what I thought.

Prabhupada: Very beginning is…

Giriraja: On the wrong foot.

Tamala Krsna: No, he has to come to see you, Srila Prabhupada. Oh, there’s so many examples in the sastra of great personalities.

Prabhupada: Even Caitanya Mahaprabhu refused to see, what to speak of going there.

Giriraja: I agree with you.

Prabhupada: Even big, big kings, Akbar, Mansingh, they used to, used to come to Rupa Gosvami.

Giriraja: No, I agree with you completely.

Prabhupada: Did… He demanded like that?

Giriraja: No. When I spoke to Mr. Rajda I said that the Prime Minister should come here, and Mr. Rajda agreed. But just now, when I… I just spoke to Gopala. I was on my way to make the call. So he said that I should just ask you about this.

Prabhupada: Hm?

Giriraja: I was just going to phone, and I mentioned to Gopala Krsna Prabhu that I was going to make this call. So I said that, you know, the Prime Minister was going to be coming here, so he… And I said that I also, in the call I wanted to make that very clear so there was no mistake. And he said that, well, he might be too busy to come here and that he…

Prabhupada: Gopala said.

Giriraja: Yeah. So I thought it would be better just to…

Prabhupada: No, there is no question of.

Giriraja: Yeah. No, I agree completely. I mean, you’re millions and billions of times greater than anyone, so there’s no question…

Prabhupada: No, apart from that, if one has no proper respect for a saintly person, he’s useless man. You cannot have any benefit. Or neither he can derive any benefit.

Giriraja: Yeah.

Tamala Krsna: From all sides.

Giriraja: Because he’ll think he has nothing to learn, that he is already in the best position.

Prabhupada: And we don’t require any from, anything from them, but for the whole human society’s welfare we can suggest him, “Do like this.” That is our… But we don’t require anything from them.

Giriraja: I know that. This is your…

Prabhupada: Of course, sometimes we are in difficulty. We ask them something.

Tamala Krsna: But that’s their duty, anyway. Ksatriyas should provide protection for the saintly person.

Giriraja: Anyway, our real protector is Krsna.

Prabhupada: Yes.

Giriraja: He has… Because we’ve seen so many difficulties. Nobody could see any solution, but…

Prabhupada: That one Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s devotee was ordered to be hanged.

Giriraja: I didn’t know that.

Prabhupada: Gopinatha Pattanayaka.

Tamala Krsna: Yeah.

Prabhupada: All the devotees approached Caitanya Mahaprabhu, thinking that “He must… The king will excuse him.” He never agreed. “Oh, I cannot do that. If he has done something wrong, then let him…” Of course, he was saved and protected by Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s good wish, but He never agreed. These are some of the examples that… Simply depend on Krsna. But if they are actually respectful, we can ask them. There is… But if it is difficult job… Visayinam sandarsanam atha yosit… We cannot keep so strictly, but these are the principles taught by Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

Giriraja: So that principle about living together and salary…

Prabhupada: That is…

Giriraja: That is meant to apply everywhere in the society.

Prabhupada: Oh, yes. This is exploitation of the society.

Giriraja: I know. Since I’ve been preaching more, I’ve been able to see how much labor and endeavor is going in just to maintain so many idle people. I know you’ve been saying this for a long time, and now, you know, I feel the strength to actually change that, that only those who are really sincere workers can stay.


740803SB.VRN Lectures
But they do not know. They want that “I shall go at ten o’clock in the office, and I shall do nothing. Simply I shall take the pen and make like this and take my salary.” That’s all. Cheating. This is going on. Therefore the whole system is polluted. Nobody’s doing his duty. Catur-varnyam maya srstam guna-karma… According to one’s quality, one must work. But nobody wants to work. So therefore they are sudras. They are working, but at the care of somebody else. Not independently. Now the school, college, the teacher is also depending on salary. So they are sudras. So what teaching they will give? TEACHING IS THE BUSINESS OF THE BRAHMANA. NO SALARY.

720622SB.LA Lectures
Your American embassy is also there. So he was a great politician. But still, he was living in a cottage. He was not accepting any salary because he was brahmana. BRAHMANA CANNOT ACCEPT ANY SALARY. Just like you have accepted me as your acarya, but you do not pay me any salary. This is forbidden. The teacher will not accept salary. Then he comes down to the sudra platform. The sudra accepts salary. “I serve you, you pay me.” And the brahmana will distribute knowledge freely, and the ksatriya will give protection to the brahmana. This is the system of Vedic system.

75-07-16.Par Letter: Paramahamsa:
Regarding the restaurant, why they should get salary? THERE SHOULD BE NO SALARY. You are working without salary, so why they should take. They are not very important men. So after this month arrange for no one to get any salary there. That will be nice.

10622rc.mos Conversations
Prabhupada: So this Canakya Pandita was a great politician and brahmana. And as brahmana, he was vastly learned. He has got some moral instruction. They’re very valuable, still going on. In India school children are taught. So this Canakya Pandita, although he was prime minister, he maintained his brahminical spirit. HE WAS NOT ACCEPTING ANY SALARY, YES, BECAUSE FOR BRAHMANAS TO ACCEPT SALARY, IT IS UNDERSTOOD THAT HE BECOMES A DOG.

760803r3.par Conversations
Bhagavan: Yes. No one is getting any salary here, they are just working and taking…


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12 Responses to ISKCON: Salaries for Sadhus?

  1. Melanie says:

    Hare Krishna Prabhu

    Do Gurus pay themselves a salary and if so do you know how much? Is it necessary for them to fly round the world several times? Do they drive modest cars or prestigious cars?

  2. Lariste Kaplan says:


    With regards to money collected from services and sales to local Hare Krishna temples, how much money is kept locally and how much is sent back to the GBC, more directly what are your thoughts about using the sale of marked goods and foodstuffs to help in litigation disputes over ISKCON’s entrenched child sexual abuse and neglect in associated boarding schools throughout the 1970’s and 80’s?

    • Hare Krishna Lariste

      The child abuse was already resolved by ISKCON going into bankruptcy and negotiating a settlement with the ex-students. So there is no more litigation in this regard so no costs for it.

      ISKCON is a collection of independent self-supporting temples. So ISKCON temples do not send any money to the GBC. GBC does not need any money. They have two meetings a year only and only have the very small expenses in regard to holding those meetings.

  3. Dwayne says:

    PS: Let me add, i am not a saffron clad devotee or ghrihsta. I was interviewed for the job at hand. Is it okay to salary from the temple?

    • NO. Temples are for devotees to render voluntary service to Krishna. If you want to earn money then get a job and honestly earn money in that way. Then in your spare time you can render some voluntary service at the temple. Of course nowadays the temples are not temples actually but just mundane businesses showing the deity and extracting money from the temple guests. So I guess it is now just working for any other business.

      • Dwayne Zoel says:

        Hare Krishna Prabhu,

        Thank you. 🙂

        So, If i am just ‘working’ there to receive a salary, that is wrong. But however, if i am working and receiving monthly salary and also trying to become a devotee by taking up the regulative principles and chanting, that is okay in the long run.

        Have i understood this correct? One more question, Were accountants working in the temple During Srila Prabhupada’s time also devotees/Grihistas or ordinary outside men like myself.

        Please clarify.


        • It doesn’t matter where you are working, it matters who you are working for. If you are working to make money for yourself and your family then that is material and that will cause you to be implicated in so many karmic reactions and keep you bound in the material world. If you are working for Krishna then that will liberate you.

          So your work, wherever you work, can be spiritualized if you use the money that you get from the work in the service of Krishna. That is the thing, what you do with the fruits of your work. If you use them for serving Krishna then this is karma-yoga and your work becomes spiritualized. It does not matter where you are working, temple or factory, if you are working for Krishna and use the fruits of your work, the money you earn, in the service of Krishna, then that work is spiritual.

          • Dwayne Zoel says:

            Hare Krishna Prabhu,

            This question has been very important to me and still is. Thank you for helping me. I get it now. But some say, that even if i work in the temple for money, i still get benefited much more spiritually than elsewhere. Since my work is helping in the most minuscule way for the temple and the SANKIRTAN MISSION, i receive ‘agyaat sukriti’ (unknown/indirect good karma) even though my work may be in mundane/material nature for a salary. . The agyaat sukriti of this kind is absent in the outside world, if i work for an organisation headed by a private individual.

            I have heard more than once that since Krishna’s temple is centered around the lord, I will receive His Mercy indirectly for each effort, even though i am being paid for for work and i really do not think of Him while working.

            Prabhu, Is this true/the correct understanding?

            Please kindly answer prabhu,


          • Hare Krishna Dwayne

            For sure Prabhu. In Krishna’s temple there are a lot of opportunities for making spiritual advancement. But you may also know that in Krishna’s temples there are a lot of opportunists who actually have no interest in making spiritual advancement but are only there in Krishna’s temple for making money or for collecting worship from ignorant disciples. So for the opportunists who are in Krishna’s temple for exploiting the devotees and the temple for their own benefit this is a very, very sinful and offensive activity and they are not going to get any benefit from this but rather they will suffer for a long time because of this.

            So it really depends on the attitude of the person. If you are a sincere devotee and you are working in the temple and your motivation for being in the temple is to serve Krishna and the devotees and to take advantage of the spiritual atmosphere and the prasadam and in this way to make spiritual advancement then you will of course make spiritual advancement and that is very good for you.

            But if someone is a completely materialistic person full of desires to become famous and popular and powerful, a person who wants lots of followers and disciples and he has taken to living in the temple with the motive of collecting disciples and becoming a famous guru then this is the most sinful activity that one can perform and that is described in Sri Isopanisad somewhere around verse 6. Isopanisad is a very small book so if you want to understand these things please read it. There it is described that the these sinful persons who are engaged in the “guru business” are the greatest demons and Krishna has reserved the worst hellish planet for them.

            There is nothing more sinful or more offensive or more dangerous for the devotees than materially interested persons posing as gurus and using the position of guru to exploit the innocent devotees for their own personal benefit. And it is Kali-yuga and unfortunately in this time most of the people in the temples now are in one way or another trying to exploit the temples and the devotees in the temples for their own personal benefit. So they will all go to this worst hellish planet that Krishna has prepared for them.

            We have to be careful not to use even a cent of the collection of the temple for anything other than the service of Krishna. Otherwise we will go to hell. So if you are being paid out of the temple collection you have to be very careful that you use every cent that you get very strictly only in the service of Krishna.

            And that is possible. That is what Srila Prabhupada is teaching us. How to live our life in such a way that we do everything for Krishna and nothing for ourselves. So if you live like this, simply for the service of Krishna, then that is very good…

            Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

            Madhudvisa dasa

          • Dwayne says:

            Hare Krishna Prabhu,

            My query is answered. I will continuing working for the temple and be diligent in using Krishna’s money received as salary. If the Lord so wishes and i am not working in the temple, then wherever i am , i would offer the fruits of that work for Krishna’s service. That should be my endeavor.

            Thank you for your patience and help prabhu.

            Many thanks and regards,

  4. Dwayne says:

    Dear Prabhu,

    I work in one of the ISKCON temples as an employee in the accounts department. I do get monthly salary and pay my taxes too. Would you say, i shouldn’t be taking a salary from the temple. If not, how would you think i could support myself and family?
    In that case are temple devotees to be trained for such works?

    Please throw some light. This question has been haunting me for some while now. Please kindly reply.


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