Who We Are

The Bhaktivedanta Climate Change Collaboration Group might best be described as the product of the Vaishnava Foundation of a number of years ago, with emphasis on Srila Prabhupada as the real link with transcendence. Bhakta Eric Johanson manages the site and writes most of the articles. Others engaged in the distribution of Srila Prabhupada’s books edit them for pure Krishna consciousness. We see ourselves as part of what might be called “the greater Krishna consciousness movement.” This could be described as what Srila Prabhupada founded and everything that has undeviatingly acted under his instructions since. Being the last fully recognized guru in the line, as well as the last sampradaya acarya, these instructions are our only real shelter and what will define Krishna consciousness until the next pure devotee manifests.

“Make it a honey society. At least, give chance, those who are seeking after honey. Don’t cheat people.” Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Lecture on Srimad Bhagavatam 1.5.9-11, June 6, 1969, New Vrindavana

 
Bhakta Eric was a co-founder of the Vaishnava Foundation with Kailasa Candra dasa when it incorporated in 1987 and acted, more or less, as his personal secretary from 1986-2012. The initial idea of the Introductory Article took shape a few years ago in a Vaishnava Foundation reply to an intellectual by bhakta Eric. Kailasa Candra dasa liked the e-mail and later mentioned that an article should be written.

 
We also want to give special thanks to Dr. Edwin Bryant (Advaita dasa) who advised that we not quote P. N. Oak but rather pursue the Indo-European evidence found in the introductory article.

 

Bhakta Eric Johanson

Bhakta Eric Johanson was born in Brooklyn, NY and was raised on Long Island. He has a degree in civil engineering with a minor in math and works in that field. Raised by his Lutheran Sunday school teacher mother and subject to the draft during the Vietnam War, he was jarred in 1967 when he read someone’s assertion that Jesus would not support it. One night his prayers were answered by a bluish light he accepted to be Jesus with the words, “Do no harm to any living creature.” This also later led him to vegetarianism after he read a 1968 column by devotees from the 26 Second Avenue temple in an underground newspaper, the East Village Other. Although he considered visiting the temple, he thought it too culturally foreign and concluded, using second-class intelligence, that “if this really was the absolute truth, then at a certain point it would be all that is left.”

 
Bhakta Eric later refused induction in the US army after being repeatedly turned down for conscientious objector status because of his Lutheran upbringing. He was not arrested, probably due to the large numbers of others doing so at the time. In 1971 he began graduate school at Ohio State University in Geodetic Science (global surveying) with the aim of getting a PhD and teaching there. However he dropped out half a year later when he understood that virtually all of the applications of Geodetic Science in the US were military related, and that teaching military personnel was largely what the faculty there did.

 
While an undergraduate bhakta Eric read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and Thoreau and later attended one of the first US environmental protests at the Boston airport in 1970, a “die-in” to protest proposed trans-Atlantic supersonic transport flights. He also became an amateur naturalist during both long and short bicycle tours. Bhakta Eric later joined the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) in December 1977 at the Berkeley, California temple after having lived in that city for 5 years. Before joining he endeavored to be constantly engaged in prayer for direction and associated with other spiritually inclined people in the Berkeley area, casually following X Swami X, an older NY Jewish hippie poet-comedian who had lived in an Indian monastery for 14 years. Having been a draft resistor, bhakta Eric was no stranger to radical left politics.

 
Prior to joining the Hare Krishna movement, bhakta Eric was convinced that spiritual realization was individual and that organizations were counter-productive and often pretentious. However, the demise of his first marriage in late 1976 brought no small amount of distress. Spiritual life became “all that was left.”

 
Bhakta Eric was trained as a bhakta by Vatsala dasa. In May 1978 bhakta Eric was among the first batch to become so-called disciples of the zonal acarya that was posted in Berkeley, Hansadutta “swami.” Then called Vrindavana Candra dasa, bhakta Eric was trained in book distribution by Mahanidhi dasa, but wasn’t especially adept at fund raising in general. Having helped Vatsala dasa build new carts in 1978, bhakta Eric annually assembled the Ratha Yatra cart for the yearly festival in either San Francisco or Berkeley. A number of elements of the cart were a different form of prasadam, having been earlier handled or built by Jayananda prabhu.

 
Bhakta Eric later became involved in the management of the zone’s rural community in northern California, Mt. Kailasa Farm, and became one of the directors, the corporate secretary (under the able brahminical guidance of Berkeley’s Hanumat Presaka dasa) and later president. Because of this he was more familiar than most with Hansadutta “swami’s” ongoing spiritual difficulties. For apparently not much more than a show of defiance to ISKCON’s Governing Body Commission (GBC) in 1983, Hansadutta dasa decided to independently make nine sannyasis. Bhakta Eric was chosen, despite his feeling that he was completely unqualified. He just did what his so-called guru ordered. Another perhaps more appropriate question would have been if then Hansadutta “swami” was actually qualified to give sannyasa to anyone. Generally one receives genuine sannyasa from a sannyasi who is truly following the vows of the renounced order.

 
Sometime in early 1985 on a traveling fund raising mission, bhakta Eric finally came to the conclusion that it was impossible to have absolute faith in someone with the loose habits of Hansadutta dasa (then remarried) and realized that such faith could only be placed in Srila Prabhupada. He began personally chanting Srila Prabhupada’s pranam mantra instead of that of Hansadutta dasa. As confirmation, bhakta Eric received Srila Prabhupada’s guru puja garland the morning he returned to the temple. This was many months before many other so-called disciples more angrily gave up on Hansadutta dasa. Bhakta Eric is, however, quite grateful to Hansadutta dasa, a legendary cook, for personally training him in the farm’s outdoor kitchen.

 
In the summer of 1985 bhakta Eric read Sulocana dasa’s The Guru Business and realized that he had yet to achieve any genuine link with the disciplic succession. Shortly after, he met Kailasa Candra dasa and understood that it was he who had injected the philosophical knowledge and conviction into Sulocana prabhu’s writing. Bhakta Eric invited Kailasa Candra dasa to manage the farm in the summer of 1986. Although he was not requested to do so, Bay Area GBC Atreya Rsi dasa then ceased visiting the farm and also had his associates, such as Shivananda dasa and Vipra Mukya swami, leave.

 
Bhakta Eric served more or less as Kailasa Candra dasa’s personal secretary from 1986 to 2012. On the recommendation of Kailasa Candra dasa, and as part of the transfer of the Dieties at Mt. Kailasa Farm to Hansadutta dasa, bhakta Eric received Hansadutta dasa’s permission to be freed from any previous vows or “spiritual” connection with him.

 
Bhakta Eric co-founded the non-profit Vaishnava Foundation with Kailasa Candra dasa when it incorporated in 1987 and had a hand in most of the day-to-day functioning of the farm from 1985-88. However his dream for Mt. Kailasa farm did not go as planned. He had thought that bringing the right perspective and siddhanta there in the person of Kailasa Candra dasa would automatically attract many sincere devotees who would work to bring back Srila Prabhupada’s pre-zonal acarya movement. Although he got free from the personal burden of possibly misusing a huge asset, there were apparently other reasons why devotees would not stay or come.

 
During his stay at Mt. Kailasa Farm from 1986-88 Kailasa Candra dasa initially allowed a couple of would-be disciples to treat him as their prospective guru. Bhakta Eric also later got caught up in the fervor. Kailasa Candra dasa went so far as to write his own Sanskrit pranam mantra which was then used when the would-be disciples offered him or the Deities obeisances. At one time there were as many as four possible disciples, and they were all given Sanskrit names by him. Bhakta Eric’s was Riktaharsan dasa.

 
The names are what led Puranjana dasa, who had been sharing an apartment with Kailasa Candra dasa in 1986 when he moved to the farm, to tell others and later write on his PADA website that Kailasa Candra dasa had initiated bhakta Eric in secret. By the time the farm was sold in the summer of 1988, bhakta Eric was the only would-be disciple left. When the ordeal ended later that year, Kailasa Candra dasa told him that he never intended to initiate any of the would-be people, and that he had only done it to entertain their misplaced desires.

 
Another rumor circulated by Puranjana dasa was that Kailasa Candra dasa and bhakta Eric had allowed the farm’s cows to be sold for slaughter. As is often typical of Puranjana dasa, however, he gave practically no evidence for this. In 1988 bhakta Eric received an inheritance from his grandmother and used the money to buy a used Ryder moving van. The roof was temporarily removed from the rear and a hefty livestock gate installed. Seven or so cows and calves were taken by night to Paramesvari dasa’s land in Oregon. He also received $5,000 and promised never to allow them to be slaughtered.

 
The dangerous bull Bhima dasa was initially boarded at a veterinarian in Petaluma, Ca. and later taken in the truck to an animal sanctuary near Dallas, Texas. On the trip Bhima dasa was quite happy to recognize bhakta Eric, and that someone from the farm was seeing to his welfare. Although quite large for a brown Swiss, Bhima dasa was puny compare to the vet’s Guernsey studs, whose bellows could remind one of dinosaurs.

 
The other half of the farms cows were taken by Ken and Merrill Snell (Advaita Acarya dasa and Madana Mohan dasa), two other so-called disciples of Hansadutta dasa who retained directorship of the Mt. Kailasa Foundation, the original non-profit of the farm that Hansadutta dasa had taken over in 1978. When the farm was sold to settle its bankruptcy case in 1988, the Mt. Kailasa Foundation and The Vaishnava Foundation split the approximately $80,000 that remained after the creditors were paid.

 
In 1995 bhakta Eric understood that the internet would provide an alternative means for devotees to preach and communicate. Under the direction of Kailasa Candra dasa, he started the Vaishnava Foundation’s website in early 1996, managed it and replied to virtually all inquires. Previous to this the Foundation had been limited to posting classified ads in Yoga Journal. Besides posting many articles from 1996-2012 on the foundation’s website, many were simultaneously posted on the Vaishnava News Network (VNN) and the Sampradaya Sun.

 
Bhakta Eric aspires to become sincere enough to contact a devotee on the highest level of Krishna consciousness.