Published on November 27th, 2013 | by Harmonist staff16
A Look at the “Golden Age”
The Golden Age in Iskcon
There are several views within and around the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (Iskcon) regarding when the Golden Age will begin. Most hold that it began with the birth of Lord Caitanya (1486-1533), but it is also common to think that it began with the birth of Srila Prabhupada, especially since he is purported to having stated that his books will be the “law books for the next ten thousand years.”
Another opinion is that it began in 1986, a year in which Iskcon went through a major administrative reform. At any rate, it has begun already, and while the beneficial effects of the new age may seem small at present, they will slowly but surely increase. The beginning will be characterized by a polarization between the forces of light and the forces of darkness1, but, at the apex of the Golden Age, there will be a “heaven on earth”:
[There] will be regular rainfall all over the planet, the climate will become very pleasant, the earth will produce abundant quantities of food grains, the cows will produce unlimited quantities of milk, the oceans and rivers will produce minerals, jewels and natural fertilizers and the forests will provide honey, fruits, flowers and medicinal drugs. Conflict and anxiety will disappear as Krishna becomes the central point of everyone’s activities.2
However, this is not an automatic process: it hinges on the successful missionary activities of Prabhupada’s followers3. Such an idea is well-known from Christian post-millennialism4, wherein the millennium or future “Golden Age” is expected to precede the coming savior, and it will come about gradually, not as the result of some single, cataclysmic event. Though for Iskcon members, the savior has already come (Caitanya/Prabhupada), the appearance of the millennium is similarly expected to be gradual.
Srila Prabhupada on the Golden Age
Curiously enough, looking through the Vedabase, one does not find very much about this Golden Age. The first occurrence of this idea is in a conversation with a disciple in September of 19685, but since the disciple there refers back to having heard about a prophecy of the “Golden Age of Kali”, Prabhupada must have spoken about it before. While disciples would later endeavor to record Prabhupada’s every word, casual conversations were generally not taped during the first years.
Srila Prabhupada would continue to mention the idea a few more times over the years, usually only in passing. It is interesting to note that on two of the four recorded occasions that he himself broached the topic, it was in conversations with “important” persons6. This may have been done to impress upon these people the upcoming importance of the movement, in those years still very much in a fledgling condition.
Almost all the times the idea of the Golden Age is mentioned, the occurrence is prompted by disciples wishing to know more about this encouraging prophecy7. Since the idea of a future millennium is such a popular Judaeo-Christian theme, perhaps especially so in the United States, it is easy to understand that many of Prabhupada’s American disciples were fascinated with it. After all, who wouldn’t like to imagine a glorious future, especially if faced with trouble and disappointments in the present?
Still, at least in the recorded material, Srila Prabhupada gives very few details about this Golden Age. The duration, ten thousand years, is mentioned8, that Krishna consciousness during this time is “like a wave, first increasing, then decreasing”9, or just generally that it will increase10. Moreover, Prabhupada often seemed to downplay the mythical side of the prophecy, tending to a more pragmatic view of it. For example:
Madhudvisa: Prabhupada, what was exactly predicted by Lord Caitanya when He predicted the Golden Age of Kali, the age in the Age of Kali when people would be chanting the Hare Krishna mantra?
Prabhupada: Yes. People… Just like we are now preaching Hare Krishna. In your country there was no such preaching. […] If you have taken up this formula very nicely, then you will go on preaching, and it will be spread all over the world. Very simple thing.11
Several years later, he stressed the same point to another, similarly enthusiastic disciple: “You work sincerely; it will increase, it will increase.”12 This is, as noted above, a common, post-millenarian idea. Similarly, when asked whether Iskcon would ever “take over the world,” he always answered in a very pragmatic way, saying that such a possibility would be there if the members of Iskcon were serious and sincere13. However, when the same enthusiastic disciple took up the subject of the Golden Age a few days later14, Prabhupada again replied in a similar way (“provided you keep it uncontaminated”), but this time also added some incentive:
Ramesvara: So after ten years we have gotten so many devotees and so many houses, so I can’t imagine how big this movement will be after ten thousand years.
Prabhupada: Yes. You’ll get the government.
Ramesvara: The whole world will be delivered?
Prabhupada: Yad yad acarati sresthah. America will be the best; people will follow. They are already following-skyscraper building, that’s all. Any nation in the world, they are all aspiring to have skyscraper buildings. India has done? In Bombay?
In other words, if America is converted, the rest of the world will follow. Just from reading a transcription, it is impossible to know whether or not Prabhupada’s comment about the devotees gaining world government was seriously meant, but many of his followers certainly took it in that way.
However, the thing that Prabhupada most often stresses (e.g. in 760621cr.tor) about the Golden Age is that it is the last chance for humanity to become Krishna conscious, before the evil effect of the age of Kali begins in earnest. This is also his emphasis the two times he writes about this golden age, in his purports to Srimad-bhagavatam 8.5.23 and to Caitanya-caritamrita 3.3.50.
Looking for a Scriptural Source
Now, what is the source of the whole idea of the ten thousand golden years? Allen Ginsberg asked that very question of Srila Prabhupada:
Allen Ginsberg: Where is all this?
Prabhupada: Vedic literature.
Allen Ginsberg: What…?
Prabhupada: Padma Purana, Puranas.
Allen Ginsberg: Bhagavata Purana.
Prabhupada: Bhagavata Purana. ((690513rc.col))
In other words, he seemed to not know the exact source, as is confirmed by his answer to the same question by a disciple several years later: “I have heard it, maybe in the Bhagavata”15. The alternatives Prabhupada gives are all different scriptures regarded as canonical. Since Gaudiya Vaishnavas take great pride in being a scripturally based movement, and since the Bhagavata Purana is considered the highest authority, it should come as no surprise that Prabhupada referred to it.
Within the Bhagavata, one author identified verses 11.5.38-40 as foretelling the Golden Age. However, while the verses in question do speak about how even the gods desire to take birth on earth in the age of Kali, the context shows that the verses seek to extol the greatness of nama-sankirtana, congregational praise of Krishna, as the most efficacious form of worship in Kali, or indeed any age. There is nothing in these verses, or in the Bhagavata as a whole, about a Golden Age of ten thousand years.
The Padma Purana, the other text Prabhupada mentions, is the most voluminous of all the six Vaishnava Puranas. It is divided into six parts, and contains over 56,000 verses. Searching the whole text would thus be a formidable task! I contented myself with looking for the ten thousand years in the verse index. It indeed lists no less than 11 verses beginning with dasa-varsa-sahasrani, “ten thousand years,” and two with dasa-varsa-sahasram, a period of ten thousand years. While these verses talk about subjects such as the time different sages spent in meditation, the amount of years a sudra that steals milk from a brahmana’s cow has to suffer as a worm in stool, the years of heavenly enjoyment for one who only eats what he has cooked himself during four months or only sleeps on the ground, they say nothing about a special time within the age of Kali. I have thus not been able to locate the prophecy within the Padma Purana, and neither does anyone else seem to have done so.
The Prophecy of the Brahma-vaivarta Purana
Instead, some of Prabhupada’s followers have found a passage in the Brahma-vaivarta Purana16, that seems to contain the scriptural source of the Golden Age. I am not aware of this passage having been used in any official Iskcon publications, but it is discussed by Iskcon devotee Stephen Knapp in his book on “Vedic Prophecies” and found on several web pages connected with the movement. It is referred to as stating that “there will be a 10 000-year golden age in Kali yuga” at the website of the Bhaktivedanta Archives, an official Iskcon project. And it is addressed similarly on other similar sites. Since the passage thus seems to be widely regarded as the source of the golden age prophecy, it deserves to be looked at more closely. Below, I will present the Sanskrit for the most important verses, the translation by the unnamed original translator, followed by my own comments.
50. kaleh pancasahasrani varsani tistha bhutale
papani papino yani tubhyam dasyanti snanatah
The blessed Lord said: On the earth 5,000 years of kali will be sinful and sinners will deposit their sins in you by bathing.
This translation contains a major inaccuracy, on which most of the rest hinges. What the Lord here says is not that 5,000 years of Kali will be sinful; rather, he addresses the Ganga river, ordering her to remain (tistha, second person imperative of the verb stha) on earth for 5,000 years. A better translation would thus be: “The blessed Lord said: Remain on earth for five thousand years of Kali. The sinners will give their sins to you by bathing.”
51. man-mantropasaka-sparsad bhasmibhutani tat-ksanatt
bhavisyanti darsanac ca snanad eva hi jahnavi
Thereafter by the sight and touch of those who worship me by my mantra, all those sins will be burnt.
Now, with “thereafter,” the text seems to begin talking about something else, an age beginning after the five thousand years of the Ganga mentioned above. However, looking closer, one notices that there is no such “thereafter” in the text. Instead, it says: “By the touch of those who practice my mantra, by seeing them, or indeed by their bathing, O Jahnavi [Ganga], [those sins] will immediately be burnt into ashes.”
Stephen Knapp takes the word man-mantropasaka (practitioner of my name) here to be in the singular, and thus to foretell Srila Prabhupada17. While that is grammatically possible here, later verses (e.g. 4.129.55-57) explicitly use the plural number, even for the same word.
The text then goes on to describe more of the glories of such Vaishnavas in verses 4.129.52-58. After that, we arrive at the explicit mention of the ten thousand years, the statement that probably drew the attention of the translator in the first place:
59. kaler dasa-sahasrani mad-bhaktah santi bhu-tale
ekavarna bhavisyanti mad-bhaktesu gatesu ca
For 10,000 years of Kali such devotees of mine will fill the whole planet. After the departure of my devotees there will only be one varna [outcaste].
Again, the translator takes liberties with the text to make it fit his agenda. What is it that in this verse particularly describes Prabhupada’s Golden Age? That the devotees will “fill the whole planet.” Unfortunately, that is not what it says: it merely says that there “are” (santi) devotees on earth during ten thousand years.
Now, if the anonymous translator were to step forward, he might present the following objection: “It is true that I made some small additions to the text, but that was only to make the chronology clearer: first we have 5,000 years of Kali when the Ganga purifies the sinners, and then 10,000 years of the devotees, or what Prabhupada called the Golden Age. This is the inner meaning of the above verses.”
It is not. First of all, it is not reasonable. Were there no devotees before 1897 CE, when the first 5,000 years of Kali had passed? The date may be conveniently close to Prabhupada’s birth year (1896), but he himself always said that the Golden Age was begun by Lord Caitanya (e.g. in his purport to SB 8.5.23). Secondly, such an interpretation completely neglects the context of the verses given above. They occur at the very end of the Brahma-vaivarta Purana, where the evils of the Kali age are being described. The description given is for the most part similar to those in other Puranas: people will have no regard for their elders, they will not offer any sacrifices to the forefathers, they will be addicted to all kinds of evils, and so on. However, the Purana, as is also common, does present some consolation. A passage in the previous chapter has this to say:
kaler dasa-sahasrsai mad-arca bhuvi tisthati
tad-ardhani ca varsanam ganga bhuvana-pavani
During ten thousand years of Kali, my image will stay on earth, and during half of those years, Ganga, the purifier of mankind.18
But what will happen to Ganga at the end of those five thousand years, or rather, what happened to her in 1896? That has been explained earlier on:
10. kaleh panca-sahasram ca varsham sthitva ca bharate
jagmus tas ca saridrupam vihaya sri-hareh padam
11. yani sarvani tirthani kasim vrindavanam vina
yasyanti sardham tabhis ca harer vaikuntham ajnaya
12. salagramo harer murtir jagannathas ca bharatam
kaler dasa-sahasrante yayau tyaktva hareh padam
And having stayed for five thousand years of Kali in India, they [the holy rivers] will give up their forms as rivers and return to the abode of Sri Hari. Being ordered, all the holy places – except Kasi and Vrindavana – will also go together with them to Hari’s Vaikuntha. At the end of ten thousand years of Kali, the Salagrama, Hari’s image and Jagannatha will give up India and go to the abode of Hari.19
The chronology is therefore not 5,000 + 10,000, as in the prophecy mentioned by Prabhupada, but 10,000 years of devotees and image worship, out of which the first half has the added benefit of the presence of the Ganga. What we have here is thus clearly not a presentation of a Golden Age, but a standard Puranic dystrophy, with the added calamity of all the holy places and people gradually leaving India. In other words, the text is exhorting the readers to take these things seriously. Time is short! In addition to that, the Purana is offering a mahatmya or description of the greatness of the devotees of Vishnu. This is particularly evident in 2.6.84-123, where a similar passage about the Ganga as the first one (4.129.49-60) launches into a very lengthy description of the glorious devotees of the Lord.
Now, as seen above, Prabhupada’s main point concerning the Golden Age was that it is the last chance for humanity to attain spiritual perfection before the full force of Kali sets in. If we consider everything else—the timely rains, Vaishnavism taking over the world, and so on – as added by somewhat fanciful disciples, we could consider this passage of the Brahma-vaivarta Purana as being the origin of Prabhupada’s idea of the Golden Age. Still, one major problem remains: the passage of the Brahma-vaivarta Purana says nothing about this age beginning with Caitanya, but has it start from the beginning of the age of Kali.
In general, the Brahma-vaivarta Purana is of dubious authority for Gaudiya Vaishnavas. While the Goswamis occasionally quote it, I have not been able to locate a single one of the verses quoted in the Hari-bhakti-vilasa, a text that I have worked on, in the present edition of the text. Scholars are of the opinion that the text has been completely revamped after the time of the Goswamis. This is particularly evident in the general emphasis of the Brahma-vaivarta Purana. While classical sources characterize this Purana as being rajasic (e.g. Padma Purana 5.236.18-21), in its present form, it is a clearly Vaishnava text that presents Krishna as the Supreme, though its doctrines do not always conform to Gaudiya Vaishnavism. For example, Lord Caitanya makes no mention of the upcoming disappearance of the Ganga when he teaches Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya that in the age of Kali, Krishna is present especially in Jagannatha and the Ganga river20. As far as I know, Prabhupada also never taught that the Ganga river present today would be illusory, the real Ganga having returned to Vaikuntha, or that Varanasi and Vrindavana would be the only sacred places left on earth.
Looking for the source elsewhere
Having thus rejected these scriptures as the direct source for Prabhupada’s idea, we have to return to his own statement. “I have heard it” – if not from where, from whom? One natural source would be his own guru, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati (1874-1937), but I have not been able to find the idea in his writings. Neither did Prabhupada’s godbrothers seem to subscribe to the idea. B.R. Sridhara Maharaja (1895-1988), never spoke about any Golden Age and was not interested in the prophecy when it was brought up. In his article “Origin and Eschatology of Hindu Religion,” B.H. Bon Maharaja (1901-1982) does not say anything about a Golden Age, even though it would have been the perfect opportunity21.
However, B.V. Narayana Maharaja, a disciple of a close godbrother of Prabhupada’s, B.P. Kesava Maharaja (1898-1968), teaches about a millennium, but a different one. His idea is that since Caitanya appeared in this age of Kali, it has been changed into a “fortunate Kali.” Rather than decline spiritually, humanity will gradually become more and more spiritually advanced as Lord Caitanya’s sankirtana movement spreads everywhere. Finally, when Kali reaches its end, Kalki will not have to descend, or if he does, he will simply join the sankirtana ((Broo 2003b: 212-213))! Thus, instead of lasting the ten thousand years Prabhupada always mentioned, the Golden Age here lasts almost 427,000. Narayana Maharaja may have received the idea of a “fortunate Kali” from another Gaudiya Vaishnava teacher, Kanupriya Goswami, who presented it already in 1929 in an article called “Dawn of The Age of Love”22. There are also other millenarian ideas within the larger scope of Gaudiya Vaishnavism, such as in the group following Prabhu Jagadbandhu, but they differ significantly from the one presented by Prabhupada.
One source to be investigated is B.S. Goswami Maharaja (1895-1958), another godbrother of Prabhupada’s, one that he had some co-operation with before going to the West23. Until any further findings come to light, we simply have to stick to Prabhupada’s vague “I have heard it.”
Contrary to popular belief within Iskcon, we have seen that Prabhupada’s prophecy regarding the Golden Age does not seem to have a scriptural source. While the Puranas paint a gloomy future for humanity in the age of Kali, they do give some hope, such as when the Bhagavata extols the supremely liberating power of nama-sankirtana. Nonetheless, the texts explicitly mentioned by Prabhupada do not contain any descriptions of a ten thousand-year Golden Age, neither does the passage of the Brahma-vaivarta Purana that some of his followers have brought forward. Will this finding prove a problem for members of Iskcon? Hardly. Prabhupada’s authority within the movement is unassailable. After all, the reason some of his followers brought forward the passage of the Brahma-vaivarta Purana was not to proclaim the glories of that particular text, but to shed more light on Prabhupada’s glorious words. Prabhupada is the authority that the Purana is made to support, not the other way around. If that source is found faulty in this regard, the search for a scriptural source will no doubt continue.
Does this then mean that Prabhupada imagined the whole prophecy or just made it up? No. Gaudiya Vaishnava theology believes in the possibility of further revelation, and since Prabhupada is widely respected as an empowered spiritual master within the Gaudiya Vaishnava world, to think that he would have received such a revelation should be perfectly acceptable.
- Knapp 2001: 65 [↩]
- http://krishna.org/sudarsana/goldage.html [↩]
- e.g. Knapp 2001: 80-81 [↩]
- see for example Shepperson 1962: 44-45 [↩]
- 680927le.sea [↩]
- the poet Allen Ginsberg and the historian Arnold Toynbee, 690513rc.col and 730722rc.lon [↩]
- e.g.760605mw.la, 760611mw.la [↩]
- e.g. 760621cr.tor [↩]
- 690513rc.col [↩]
- 730722rc.lon [↩]
- 680927le.sea [↩]
- 760605mw.la [↩]
- 750311mw.lo and 760706r3.wdc [↩]
- 760611mw.la [↩]
- 770405r2.bom [↩]
- 4.129.49-60 [↩]
- Knapp 2001: 67, 72-73 [↩]
- BVP 4.128.28 [↩]
- BVP 2.7.10-12 [↩]
- CC 2.15.134-136 [↩]
- Bon Maharaj 1984: 132-147 [↩]
- Goswami 1999: 25-27 [↩]
- Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami 1994: 172-178 [↩]
Great analysis, prabhu. All in all it is a nice and inspiring story, no doubt meant to increase our Krishna consciousness. Reminds me of the ‘fall from Vaikuntha’ story, and the story of the soon to happen world war three (some hardcore devotees are still working on their bunkers).
Coming to think of that, we could also add here the story of SP books being the law books of mankind for the next 10,000 years, and the story of SP making ISCKON the house where the whole world could live.
Nice analysis. Thank you. I was surprised, though, that you gave short shrift to Kanupriya Gosvami, who was likely the source of the 10,000 years quote. If he was not its originator, he was surely the one who popularized it.
A well-known Bengali scholar and practitioner from the early 20th century, he fell out of favor with the Gaudiya Math and was belittled by its leaders in the usual way (the unfortunate fate of the persona non grata, eh?). Perhaps this is why Prabhupada didn’t cite him as a source. In any case, Kanupriyaji spoke of “Prema-yuga,” and elaborated on it much in the same way that Prabhupada did. Where he got it from is anyone’s guess.
Here is what Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja has said on the subject:
Yes. Kanupriya Gosvami has said that after 500 years of Mahaprabhu’s appearance we observed a festival, the 500th year the fifth centennial of Mahaprabhu’s appearance. He has said it will spread more, particularly in the west. That has happened now. In Russia, you find it is banned, but there are so many Russians and they are coming to India in great numbers. That is the symptom. In the west it spreads more than in India. That is because they cannot get peace, going from the top of material enjoyment, you see, the highest level, no peace. So now it is catching up. It is spreading there.
In India it is not spreading so much. India is like the wet well [the grass is very green around it] and the west is like a dry well [the grass is very dry around it]. The west is like a dry well; the fire catches easily; but India is a wet well. Kanupriya Gosvami said this. It is because in India there are so many organizations and they all say, “O, I know”, “We know, we know”. So it is not spreading so much. But in the west it is spreading.
After the 500th anniversary of Mahaprabhu it will spread. He has said that, and it is taking place. He said that from 1986, (Mahaprabhu’s 500th anniversary, 1486 to 1986, 500 years) Mahaprabhu’s movement will spread. Devotees will come up, then Kali will become weaker, so Kali became weaker from that day in 1986. Then he said, “Still Kali will stay in the movement; he has some strength and it will last for 10 years.” That will be from 1986 to 1996. For ten years it will remain but it will become weaker and weaker. But in 1996, no more! Prema, prema – love will come. “The Prema-yuga will come”, he said. Kanupriya Gosvami also said this. He was from Navadvipa and he comes in the line of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Nuff said. 🙂
Srila Prabhupada’s caveat “provided you keep it uncontaminated”, mentioned in the article, speaks volumes.
From what I understand, sahajiyaism contaminated much of Gaudiya-Vaishnavism after the disappearance of the last of the Six Goswamis. The pure devotional path was still there, but greatly reduced in number. To quote the a page from the website gaudiyahistory.com: “Educated upper class Bengali society was shocked and disgusted by the practices of these heretical sects and came to identify Mahaprabhu’s religion with the lower classes, the uneducated and immoral. People of the gentle classes thus had no understanding or faith in Mahaprabhu’s true religion.” But the Seventh Goswami, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, was able to bring everything back on track.
And now, almost 40 years after Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance, it is happening again. Contamination not by sahajiyaism, but by humanism (e.g., opening of hospitals and clinics), new-ageism (hatha yoga classes in temples) and mayavadism (consorting with professional mayavada kirtaniyas, demigod worship in temples) and ethnic Hinduism.
Kali yuga is like a river. Just as you have waves in the river, where things go up, the general trend is down, down, down. One upward wave was from the time of Mahaprabhu to the last of the Goswamis, the second wave was from Srila Bhaktivinoda to Srila Bhaktivedanta.
Unless a strong personality like Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur appears to set things straight again, I am not hopeful.
The real problem today is religious fundamentalism in the name of Guadiya Vaisnavism.
Regarding your lack of hope:
“This line of guru-parampara is existing up to today without any break and it will continue to exist like this in the future also. To say, ‘There is no sad-guru living in the world at present and neither will there be any in the future,’ is an atheistic opinion.”
-Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada
I suggest that you be the opposite so that all those who don’t like what you call “religious fundamentalism” can join you instead.
This would be a win-win situation. In the case of ISKCON instead of fighting among themselves could again focus fighting against maya. In your case you will swell your ranks with fellow travelers.
Seriously, canvas the ISKCON liberals to join you. Make Urmila dd a diksha guru, etc and all the liberals will jump ship over to your side.
Then both parties can go out and preach without fighting each other and may the best win.
Do you think that there is something called religious fundamentalism that applies to any religious tradition?
I don’t make people gurus and I don’t advocate affirmative action with regard to recognizing gurus.
Iskcon is fighting with itself and its shadow in the form of its ritvik sector.
Its not about increasing membership its about increasing understanding so that devotees can make further advancement.
Your equating my lack of hope with the non-existence of an existing sad-guru is a stretch. Of course, there is always a sad-guru; but it takes an especially powerful one to put things back on track (or to keep things on track), as we have seen with Bhaktivinoda Thakur, Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati and Bhaktivedanta Swami.
There were certainly sad-gurus before Bhaktivinoda Thakur (e.g., Jagannatha dasa Babaji, Baladeva Vidyabhusana), but still sahajiyism flourished, contaminating the public’s perception of the true followers of Mahaprabhu. This is an historical fact; who can deny it?
And as for the “real problem today is religious fundamentalism in the name of Guadiya [sic] Vaisnavism”, the real problem is deviance from the fundamentals. That is the problem, that is what leads things off track, that is the gist of Srila Prabhupada’s warning (“provided you keep it iuncontaminated”).
To be fair, all kinds of heterodoxy flourished even while those you consider “especially powerful” were present. All one really needs is an acarya powerful enough to deliver oneself. And saving oneself is the first step in saving others.
The real problem today is a lack of understanding what the fundamental principles of the tradition are by way of misconstruing them with details that often need to be adjusted as times change. And that is characteristic of religious fundamentalism.
Thanks for the further link to Kanupriya Goswami, Satyaraja. I haven’t seen anything else on this topic from him than the booklet I mentioned, but that doesn’t speak about the 10 000 years so prominent in Srila Prabhupada’s version. That is why I rather linked it to the “dhanya kali” idea. Another source worth examining is Sri Aurobindo, who was very influential in mid-1900 India and whom Srila Prabhupada read.
Actually, this article was republished here from the Sampradaya Sun without my knowledge, leaving out the intro and (unfortunately) the bibliography. The intro also included something important: that this is an abbreviated and slightly modified version of an article which appeared in Journal of Vaishnava Studies 13:2 (Spring 2003).
Given that there is not a specific reference for the golden age of 10,000 years maybe it could be understood that B.V. Swami Prabhupada was taking license and preaching to encourage his disciples.
I find the idea of the golden age referring specifically to ISKCON and Srila Prabhbupada’s appearance problematic. ISKCON is full of such prophecies which all support the “Jesus-fication” of Prabhupada. It appears very similar to how Christians have found so many things from the old testament predicting the appearance of Jesus. If these type of ideas are taken too far they could very well result in ISKCON being a new religion unto itself
I am curious as to why you are so concerned about what ISKCON does when you are not part of ISKCON.
You also want to change ISKCON and criticize its policies. Why should you care?
It seems that you define yourself in terms of your opposition to ISKCON as opposed to your own ideals. It seems that without ISKCON to criticize and attack you would be nothing.
Iskcon has been the largest Gaudiya Vaisnava mission in the world. It was founded by my guru. As it morphs into something other than what it was meant to be, that is a concern to me. Misrepresentation of the tradition and its spiritual/scriptural conclusions is of concern to anyone who is properly representing them, especially if it is widespread. But if you take the time to acquaint yourself with Sri Caitanya Sangha, you will find that it defines itself by its own contemporary presentation of Gaudiya Vedanta chaste to the tradition’s spiritual and scriptural conclusions.
It is a sannyasi’s duty to speak the truth, which often means challenging misconception. Failure to do so is as bad as the misconception itself. As Martin Luther King said: “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.”
Talking about Gaudiya Vaisnavism means talking about what it is and also what it is not. That is siddhanta, what it is and what it is not. Throughout history Gaudiya Vaisnava acaryas have spoken strongly about what it is not. That is necessary and appropriate. Wherever apasiddhanta appears, be it in ISKCON or in Sri Caitanya Sanga that can and should be pointed out. It is really not about what group one is associated with.
As far as being nothing, yasyāprasādān na gatiḥ kuto ‘pi, that is what it really means to be nothing.
Dasa concludes that ‘Prabhupada’s prophecy regarding the Golden Age does not seem to have a scriptural source’. Interestingly however, my own reading reveals that this idea of a ‘golden age’ is by no means peculiar to ISKCON or GV generally. One of Nammalvar’s decad’s in the Tiruvaymoli (5.2) appears to point to a similar prophecy. The decad reads as follows: ‘Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice! The persisting curse of life is gone, the agony of hell is destroyed, death has no place here. The [force of] Kali is destroyed. look for yourself! The followers of the sea-coloured Lord swell over this earth, singing with melody, dancing and whirling [with joy]. We see them.’ In his commentary on that decad, Pillan writes: ‘The age of Kali is stopped for all time and only the golden age exists’. None of this, of course, is intended to countenance the suggestion that Prabhupada’s prophecy is itself foretold in the scriptures; it does however indicate that this idea of a golden age is an enduring one! (For those interested, all such references are to Carman and Narayanan’s ‘The Tamil Veda’)