“At first I couldn’t believe it,” said Rijidatma Dasa. “The books, yes. But who would ever think the BBT would start monkeying with the Vaishnava Calendar?”
The Vaishnava Calendar has been the guide for ISKCON’s holy days and festivals since the early 1970s, when Srila Prabhupada first asked for it to be published. And for nearly two decades the BBT has published an annual BBT Art Calendar with a beautiful picture of Krishna-lila for each month.
But ISKCON has now been plunged into turmoil by the discovery that the BBT, unannounced, has made changes in the dates. The changes were first brought to light by Sadhudvesa Dasa. “I was looking at the dates for January, and all of a sudden it hit me,” he said. “Last year August 2 was on a Tuesday, and this year? Their calendar says it’s a Saturday!”
At first he didn’t know what to think. He just sat there, stunned. Then, he says, he checked September. “And it was the same thing! Last year September 10 was on a Monday. And this year–they’ve changed it to Wednesday!”
Using a downloaded computer program, Sadhudvesa compared last year’s calendar with this year’s and was shocked by what he found: The BBT editors had changed the dates for literally every month in the year.
The BBT office in Los Angeles says it knows nothing about any changes. “We just leave it to our editors,” said Svavasa Dasa, head of the BBT in LA.
Dravida Dasa, chief editor for the North American BBT, insists the changes are completely authorized. Besides, he told the Sun, “The self-realized soul is not bewildered by any change.”
Jayadvaita Swami refused to comment. But his secretary emphasized that Jayadvaita Swami is strict in his vows. “He won’t even go out for a movie,” his secretary said, “what to speak of unauthorized dates.”
Meanwhile, Rijidatma has taken the matter up with ISKCON’s GBC and says that if they refuse to act he’s considering a lawsuit.
Last week a spokesperson for the GBC body confirmed that Rijidatma had brought the matter to the GBC’s attention. “The concerns of the devotees are our concerns,” the spokesperson said. “So we have assured him we will look into this matter very seriously. We feel responsible.”
Since then, Sadhudvesa has alleged that some BBT devotees have lately been traveling through the Middle East, and this, he says, deserves further investigation. “Dates, Middle East. . . See? See the connection?” he said. “Dates, Middle East, terrorism. . . Can we just stand by while BBT editors under the sway of radical Islam make changes in the Vaishnava Calendar?”
Responding to this new allegation, the GBC Executive Committee has called a special emergency meeting. “The EC will meet about this within the next few days,” an EC spokesman said. “Either Tuesday or Thursday, whichever comes first.”