The International Society for Krishna Consciousness on Tuesday punished a monk after his comments on spiritual leaders Swami Vivekananda and Ramakrishna Paramahansa sparked outrage on social media.

Amogh Lila Das, who has been associated with ISKCON for 12 years, criticised Swami Vivekananda for eating fish, saying that a virtuous person can never harm a living being.

“Would a divine man eat fish?” he asked. “Don’t fish have feelings? If Vivekananda ate fish, is he really a divine man?”

The 43-year-old said that while he respects Vivekananda and “would prostrate in front of him if he were here right now”, people should not blindly follow the 19th-century spiritual leader from West Bengal.

Das, who currently serves as the vice president of the Dwarka chapter of ISKCON, also sardonically commented on Paramahamsa’s teachings.

Paramahamsa’s maxim of “Jato mat, tato path [There are as many paths to as many opinions]” does not make sense logically as not every path leads to the same destination, the monk said.

After videos of his remarks went viral on social media and many users sought action against him, ISKCON on Tuesday said it has banned him for one month and asked him to seclude himself from public life.

In a statement, ISKCON said the monk’s comments about the “highly revered saintly figures” were “totally inappropriate and unacceptable”.

The views expressed by Das are not representative of ISKCON’s values and teachings, the statement said.

“Amogh Lila Das’ derogatory remarks towards these esteemed figures aimed primarily at their dietary preferences are not only disrespectful but also showcase the lack of awareness about the diversity of spiritual paths and personal choices,” it added. “These actions undermine the fundamental principles of mutual respect, religious tolerance and harmony which are vital for the creation of a peaceful society.”

ISKCON stated that that the monk regrets his remarks and has taken a “vow to go on prayaschit [atonement] to the hills of Govardhan for a month”.