Iskcon Guru Tattva Siddhanta

Iskcon Guru Tattva Siddhanta
By Madhavananda Das
December 27, 1998 (VNN) 2746

(The following is a series of quotes from Srila Prabhupada relevant to the ISKCON guru issue. The quotes are presented in a logical order which addresses the entire issue point by point. Let us hear the perfected words of our beloved spiritual master.)

There are two kinds of instructing spiritual masters. One is the liberated person fully absorbed in meditation in devotional service, and the other is he who invokes the disciple’s spiritual consciousness by means of relevant instructions. (Adi 1.47)

“…in order to receive the real message of Srimad Bhagavatam one should approach the current link, or spiritual master in the chain of disciplic succession.” (S.B. 2.9.7)

“…disciplic succession does not always mean that one has to be initiated officially. Disciplic succession means to accept the disciplic conclusion. (Letter Dinesh 10/31/69)

In other words, the spiritual master awakens the sleeping living entity to his original consciousness so that he can worship Lord Visnu. This is the purpose of diksa, or initiation. Initiation means receiving the pure knowledge of spiritual consciousness. (Madhya 9.61)

Diksa actually means initiating a disciple with transcendental knowledge by which he becomes freed from all material contamination. (Madhya 4.110)

Initiation or no initiation, first thing is knowledge. (break) …knowledge. Initiation is formality. Just like you go to a school for knowledge, and admission is formality. That is not very important thing. (Conv. 10/16/76)

In my books the philosophy of Krishna Consciousness is explained fully, so if there is anything which you do not understand, then you simply have to read again and again. By reading daily the knowledge will be revealed to you and by this process your spiritual life will develop.(Letter Baharupa 11/22/74)

Everyone of you must regularly read our books at least twice, in the morning and evening, and automatically all questions will be answered. (Letter Ranadhir 1/24/70)

“I shall remain your personal guidance, physically present or not physically, as I am getting personal guidance from my Guru Maharaja.” (Conv. 7/14/77)

Generally a spiritual master who constantly instructs a disciple in spiritual science becomes his initiating spiritual master later on.” (Adi 1.35)

Sometimes a diksa-guru is not present always. Therefore one can take learning, instruction, from an advanced devotee. That is called the siksa-guru. (Lec 7/4/77 Honolulu)

You simply say, “Krsna said four things: man-mana bhava mad-bhakto mad-yaji mam namaskuru. ‘Just always think of Me.’ Krsna said. ‘And just become My devotee. Just worship Me and offer obeisances.’ Kindly do these things.” So if you can induce one person to do these four things, you become guru. Is there any difficulty? (Conv. 2/8/76 Paris)

It is not that to be a representative of Krsna or to be a spiritual master one has to have any extraordinary qualification. He simply has to carry the message from the authority as it is without any personal interpretation. (EK6 pg. 80)

In our Krsna Consciousness Movement the requirement is that one must be prepared to give up the four pillars of sinful life- illicit sex, meat eating, intoxication and gambling. In Western countries especially, we first observe whether a potential disciple is prepared to follow the regulative principles. Then he is given the name of a Vaisnava servant and initiated to chant the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, at least sixteen rounds daily. In this way the disciple renders devotional service under the guidance of the spiritual master or his representative for at least six months to a year. (Madhya 24.330 Purport)

Narottama dasa Thakura says, chadiya vaisnava-seva nistara payeche keba: without serving a pure devotee, one cannot advance in spiritual life.” (S.B. 4.22.22)

“Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service to him. The self realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.” (Bhagavad Gita verse 4.34)

The service of the spiritual master is essential. If there is no chance to serve the spiritual master directly, a devotee should serve him by remembering his instructions. There is no difference between the spiritual master’s instructions and the spiritual master himself. In his absence, therefore, his words of direction should be the pride of the disciple. (Adi 1.35)

Devotee: Srila Prabhupada, when you’re not present with us, how is it possible to receive instructions ? For example in questions that may arise… Srila Prabhupada: Well the questions are answ…answers are there in my books. (Conv. 5/13/73)

So utilize whatever time you find to make a thorough study of my books. Then all your questions will be answered. (Letter Upendra 1/7/76)

These are not ordinary books. It is recorded chanting. Anyone who reads, he is hearing. (Letter Rupanuga 10/19/74)

Narayana: So those disciples who don’t have the opportunity to see you or speak with you… Srila Prabhupada: That he was speaking, vani and vapu. Even if you don’t see his body, you take his words, vani. Narayana: But how do they know they’re pleasing you ? Srila Prabhupada: If you actually follow the words of Guru, that means he is pleased. And if you do not follow, how can he be pleased ? Sudama: Not only that, but your mercy is spread everywhere, and if we take advantage, you told us once, then we will feel the result. Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Jayadvaita: And if we have faith in what the Guru says, then automatically we’ll do that. Srila Prabhupada: Yes. My Guru Maharaja passed away in 1936, and I started this Movement in 1965, thirty years after. Then ? I am getting the mercy of Guru. This vani. Even if Guru is not physically present, if you follow the vani, then you are getting help. Sudama: So there is no question of ever separation as long as the disciple follows the instructions of Guru.

“Whether I am present or not present, it doesn’t matter. As Krsna is living eternally, similarly, living being also lives eternally. But kirtir yasya sa jivati: “One who has done service to the Lord lives forever.” So you have been taught to serve Krsna, and with Krsna we’ll live eternally. Our life is eternal. Na hanyate hanyamane sarire. A temporary disappearance of this body, it doesn’t matter. Body is meant for disappearance. Tatha dehantara-praptih. So live forever by serving Krsna. (Conv. 5/17/77 Vrndavana)

Sometimes a diksa-guru is not present always. Therefore one can take learning, instruction, from an advanced devotee. That is called the siksa-guru. (Lec 7/4/77 Honolulu)

Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s, this Krsna consciousness movement propagana, what is this propaganda? He says that “Every one of you become guru.” He wants not rascal imitation guru but real guru. That He wants. Because people are in darkness, we require many millions of gurus to enlighten them. Therefore Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s mission is, He said, that “Every one of you become guru.” Amara ajnaya guru haya tara ei desa. You haven’t got to go foreign countries. Wherever you are, you teach; become guru. It doesn’t matter. Ei desa. He says, ei desa. If you have got power, you can go other country, but it doesn’t require. In whichever village, whichever country or town you are, you become a guru. This is Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s mission. Amara ajnaya guru haya tara ei desa. “This country, this place.” So, “But I have no qualification. How can I become guru?” There is no need of qualification. “Still I can become guru?” Yes. “How?” Yare dekha tare kaha krsna-upadesa: “Whomever you meet, you simply instruct what Krsna has said. That’s all. You become guru.” (Lec. 5/21/76)

There are two kinds of instructing spiritual masters. One is the liberated person fully absorbed in meditation in devotional service, and the other is he who invokes the disciple’s spiritual consciousness by means of relevant instructions. (Adi 1.47)

Generally a spiritual master who constantly instructs a disciple in spiritual science becomes his initiating spiritual master later on.” (Adi 1.35)

“A devotee must have only one initiating spiritual master because in the scriptures acceptance of more than one is always forbidden. There is no limit, however, to the number of instructing spiritual masters one may accept.

“The guru must be situated on the topmost platform of devotional service. There are three classes of devotees, and the guru must be accepted from the topmost class…” (Madhya 24.330) “When one has attained the topmost position of maha-bhagavata (perfected devotee), he is to be accepted as a guru and worshiped exactky like Hari, the Personality of Godhead. Only such a person is eligible to occupy the post of guru.” (Madhya 24.330)

“Srila Rupa Goswami advises the devotee to be intelligent to distinguish between the kanistha-adhikari (neophyte), madhyama-adhikari (intermediate), and uttama-adhikari (fully self-realized)…Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has given some hints to the effect that an uttama-adhikari vaishnava can be recognized by his ability to convert many fallen souls to Vaishnavism.One should not become a spiritual master unless he has attained the platform of uttama adhikari. A neophyte vaishnava or a vaishnava situated on the intermediate platform can also accept disciples, but such disciples must be on the same platform, and it should be understood that they cannot advance very well toward the ultimate goal of life under his insufficient guidance. Therefore a disciple should be careful to accept an uttama adhikari as a spiritual master.” (Nectar of Instruction txt 5)

Unless one is a resident of Krishna Loka, one cannot be a Spiritual Master. That is the first proposition. A layman cannot be a Spiritual Master, and if he becomes so then he will simply create disturbance. (Letter Mukunda 6/10/69)

…sometimes, if a spiritual master is not properly authorized and only on his own initiative becomes a spiritual master, he may be carried away by an accumulation of wealth and large numbers of disciples.” (NOD 14 p.116)

As soon as a foolish disciple tries to overtake his spiritual master and becomes ambitious to occupy his post he immediately falls down. (S.B. 5/12/14 P)

The so called spiritual master without sense control is certainly the cheater, and the disciple of such a so called spiritual master is the cheated.” (S.B. 2.9.43)

Such cheating gurus should not be accepted. Anyone can see how the bona fide spiritual master accepts disciples from all over the world. The guru is a qualified brahmana; therefore he knows Brahman and Parabrahman. He thus devotes his life … teaches his disciples to follow in his footsteps. Thus he is an acarya or jagad-guru. (Madhya 24.330)

Srila Rupa Gosvami, however, has explained that jagad-guru properly refers to one who is the controller of his tongue, mind, words, belly, genitals and anger. Prthivim sa sisyat: such a jagad-guru is completely fit to make disciples all over the world. (Adi. 7.64)

23. If everyone just initiates then there will only be a contradictory result. As long as it goes on there will be only failure. 29. O shame! My dear brothers, aren’t you embarrassed? In the manner of businessmen you increase your disciples. 40. The one who renounces the guru’s order (guru tyagi) and the one who tries to enjoy the assets of his spiritual master (guru-bhogi) are two kinds of useless persons. First become a servant of your spiritual master (guru-sevi) and then you will understand things clearly. (Phalguna Krishna Pancami)

Why this Gaudiya Matha failed? Because they tried to become more than guru. He, before passing away, he gave all direction and never said that “This man should … began to fight, who shall be acarya. That is the failure. They never thought, “Why Guru Maharaja gave us instruction so many things, why he did not say that this man … somebody acarya and everything failed. They did not consider even with common sense that if Guru Maharaja wanted to appoint somebody as acarya, why did he not say? He said so … missed? The real point? And they insist upon it. They declared some unfit person to become acarya. Then another man came, then another, acarya, another acarya. So better remain a foolish person perpetually to be directed by Guru Maharaja. That is perfection. And as soon as he learns the Guru Maharaja is dead, “Now I am so advanced that I can kill my guru and I become guru.” Then he’s finished. (Lec. Aug 16, 1976 Bom.)

“In the latter days of my Guru Maharaja he was very disgusted. Actually, he left this world earlier, otherwise he would have continued to live for more years. Still he requested his disciples to form a strong Governing body for preaching the cult of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He never recommended anyone to be acarya of the Gaudiya Math. But Sridhara Maharaja is responsible for disobeying this order of Guru Maharaja, and he and others who are already dead unnecessarily thought that there must be one acarya. If Guru Maharaja could have seen someone who was qualified at that time to be acarya he would have mentioned. Because on the night before he passed away he talked of so many things, but never mentioned an acarya. His idea was acarya was not to be nominated amongst the governing body. He said openly you make a GBC and conduct the mission. So his idea was amongst the members of GBC who would come out successful and self effulgent acarya would be automatically selected. So Sridhara Maharaja and his two associate gentlemen unauthorizedly selected one acarya and later it proved a failure. The result is now everyone is claiming to be acarya even though they may be kanistha adhikari with no ability to preach. In some of the camps the acarya is being changed three times a year.THEREFORE WE MAY NOT COMMIT THE SAME MISTAKE IN OUR ISKCON CAMP. Actually amongst my Godbrothers no one is qualified to become acarya. So it is better not to mix with my Godbrothers very intimately because instead of inspiring our students and disciples they may sometimes pollute them.” (Letter Rup. 4/28/74)

The GBC should all be the instructor gurus. I am in the initiator guru, and you should be the instructor guru by teaching what I am teaching and doing what I am doing. This is not a title, but you must actually come to this platform. This I want. (Letter Madhudvisa 8/4/75)

…the difficulty is that our GBC men are falling victim to maya. Today I trust this GBC and tomorrow he will fall down. That is the difficulty. If the GBC men are so flickering then what to speak of the others. Unless this problem is solved whatever we may resolve it will not be very useful. (Letter Jayatirtha 12/16/74)

I think it is best thing if the GBC members always travel on Sankirtana Party in their zone and go from one village to another and visit the temples to see how the students are learning and do my work. In this way, they will avoid the propensity to sit down and plot and scheme how to eat and sleep. So you can advise them all to travel extensively on Sankirtana all over their zone. (Letter Karanandhara 5/4/72)

“Now has the GBC become more than Guru Maharaja? As if simply GBC is meant for looking after pounds, shilling, pence. The GBC does not look after spiritual life. That is a defect. All of our students will have to become guru, but they are not qualified. This is the difficulty.” (Letter Alanatha 11/10/75)

“Unfortunately in this Age of Kali there are many mundane persons in the dress of Vaisnavas, and Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has described them as disciples of Kali. He says, kali-cela. He indicates that there is another Vaisnava, a pseudoVaisnava with tilaka on his nose and kanthi beads around his neck. Such a pseudo Vaisnava associates with money and women and is jealous of successful Vaisnavas. Although passing for a Vaisnava, his only business is earning money in the dress of a Vaisnava. Bhaktivinoda Thakura therefore says that such a pseudoVaisnava is not a Vaisnava at all but a disciple of Kali-yuga. A disciple of Kali cannot become an acarya by the decision of some high court. Mundane votes have no jurisdiction to elect a Vaisnava acarya. A Vaisnava acarya is self-effulgent, and there is no need for any court judgment. A false acarya may try to override a Vaisnava by a high-court decision, but Bhaktivinoda Thakura says that he is nothing but a disciple of Kali-yuga.” (Madhya 1.220)

” Instead, to mislead the people in general they themselves become so-called acaryas, but they do not even follow the principles of the acaryas. These rogues are the most dangerous elements in human society. Because there is no religious government, they escape punishment by the law of the state. They cannot, however, escape the law of the Supreme, who has clearly declared in the Bhagavad-gita that envious demons in the garb of religious propagandists shall be thrown into the darkest regions of hell (Bg. 16.19-20). Sri Isopanisad confirms that these pseudo religionists are heading toward the most obnoxious place in the universe after the completion of their spiritual master business, which they conduct simply for sense gratification. (ISO 12)

“Unfortunately, when the acharya disappears, rogues and non-devotees take advantage and immediatly begin to introduce unauthorized principles in the name of so-called svamis, yogis, philanthropists, welfare workers and so on. […] The acarya, the authorized representative of the Supreme Lord, establishes these principles, but when he disappears things once again become disordered. The perfect disciples of the acarya try to relieve the situation by sincerely following the instructions of the spiritual master. (SB 4.28.48)

…twelve men are authorized to preach Krsna consciousness. So we have to follow. Mahajano yena gatah sa panthah. Therefore we have created these GBC. So they should be very responsible men. Otherwise, they will be punished. They will be punished to become a sudra. Although Yamaraja is a GBC, but he made a little mistake. He was punished to become a sudra. So those who are GBC’s, they should be very, very careful to administer the business of ISKCON. Otherwise they will be punished. As the post is very great, similarly, the punishment is also very great. (Lec. Gen. 6/4/74)

What will happen when I am not here, shall everything be spoiled by GBC ? (Letter Hansadhutta 4/11/72)

The standards I have already given you, now try to maintain them at all times under standard procedure. Do not try to innovate or create anything or manufacture anything, that will ruin everything. (Letter Bali Mardana 9/18/72)

Mundane votes have no jurisdiction to elect a Vaisnava acarya. A Vaisnava acarya is self-effulgent, and there is no need for any court judgment. (Madhya 1.220)

Sri Jiva Gosvami advises that one not accept a spiritual master in terms of hereditary or customary social and ecclesiastical conventions. (Adi. 1.35 P)

Prabhupada: Try to understand. Don’t go very speedily. A guru can become guru when he’s ordered by his guru. That’s all. Otherwise nobody can become guru. (Lec. 10/28/75)

Tamal Krsna: The process of purification must be there. Prabhupada: Oh, yes, must be there. Caitanya Mahaprabhu wants that. Amara ajnaya guru hana. “You become guru.” (laughs) But be qualified. Little thing, strictly follower… Tamala Krsna: Not rubber stamp. Prabhupada: Then you’ll not be effective. You can cheat, but it will not be effective. Just see our Gaudiya Matha. Everyone wanted to become guru, and a small temple and “guru.” What kind of guru? (Conv. 4/22/77)

“When one has attained the topmost position of maha-bhagavata (perfected devotee), he is to be accepted as a guru and worshiped exactky like Hari, the Personality of Godhead. Only such a person is eligible to occupy the post of guru.” (Madhya 24.330)

” So although a physical body is not present, the vibration should be accepted as the presence of the spiritual master, vibration. What we have heard from the spiritual master, that is living.” (Lec 1/13/69 L.A.)

“So far as personal association with Guru is concerned, I was only with my Guru Maharaja four or five times, but I have never left his association, not even for a moment. Because I am following his instruction, I have never felt any separation. There are some of my Godbrothers here in India, who had constant personal association with Guru Maharaja, but who are neglecting his orders. This is just like the bug who is sitting on the lap of the king. He may be very puffed up by his position but all he can succeed in doing is biting the king. Personal association is not so important as association through service.” (Letter Satyadhana 2/20/72)

“…the Spiritual Master also can be present wherever the disciple wants. A Spiritual Master is the principle, not the body. Just like a television can be seen in thousands of places by the principle of relay monitoring.” (Letter Malati 5/28/68)

I also do not feel separation from my Guru Maharaja. When I am engaged in His service His pictures give me sufficient strength. To serve the Spiritual Master’s word is more important than to serve him physically. (Letter Syamasundara 7/19/70)

Never think that I am absent from you. Physical presence is not essential; presence by message (or hearing) is the real touch. (Letter to students 8/2/67)

The potency of transcendental sound is never minimized because the vibrator is apparently absent. (S.B. 2.9.8 purport)

There is no difference between the spiritual master’s instructions and the spiritual master himself. In his absence, therefore, his words of direction should be the pride of the disciple. (Adi 1.35)

“After 80 years, no one can be expected to live long. My life is almost ended. So you have to carry on, and these books will do everything.” (Conv. 2/18/76)

“So there is nothing new to be said. Whatever I have to speak, I have spoken in my books. Now you try to understand it and continue in your endeavor. Whether I am present or not present it doesn’t matter.” (Arrival Conv. 5/17/77 Vrn.)

Madhudvisa: Is there any way for a Christian to, without the help of a spiritual master, to reach the spiritual sky through believing in the words of Jesus Christ and trying to follow his teachings? Prabhupada: I don’t follow. Tamala Krsna: Can a Christian in this age, without a spiritual master, but by reading the Bible and following Jesus’s words, reach the… Prabhupada: When you read Bible, you follow spiritual master. How can you say without? As soon as you read Bible, that means you are following the instruction of Lord Jesus Christ, that means you are following spiritual master. So where is the opportunity of being without spiritual master? Madhudvisa: I was referring to a living spiritual master. Prabhupada: Spiritual master is not the question of… Spiritual master is eternal. Spiritual master is eternal. So your question is without spiritual master. Without spiritual master you cannot be, at any stage of your life. You may accept this spiritual master or that spiritual master. That is a different thing. But you have to accept. As you say that “by reading Bible,” when you read Bible that means you are following the spiritual master represented by some priest or some clergyman in the line of Lord Jesus Christ. So any case, you have to follow a spiritual master. There cannot be the question without spiritual master. Is that clear? Madhudvisa: I mean like we couldn’t understand the teachings of the Bhagavad-gita without your help, without your presentation. Prabhupada: Similarly, you have to understand Bible with the help of the priest in the church. (Lec. 10/2/68 Sea.)

Physical presence is sometimes appreciable and sometimes not, but vani continues to exist eternally. Therefore we must take advantage of the vani, not the physical presence.

Regarding parampara system: there is nothing to wonder for big gaps.[…] we find in the Bhagavad-gita that the Gita was taught to the sungod, some millions of years ago, but Krishna has mentioned only three names in this parampara system–namely, Vivasvan, Manu, and Iksvaku; and so these gaps do not hamper from understanding the parampara system. We have to pick up the prominent acaryas, and follow from him.[…] We have to pick up from the authority of the acharya in whatever sampradaya we belong to. (Letter Dayananda 4/12/68)

Narottama dasa Thakura, who accepted Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti as his servitor.(Adi 1) Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura. He accepted his guru, Narottama dasa Thakura. (Lec 4/17/76) (*Note: 100 years between Narottama dasa Thakura and Srila Visvanatha Cakravati)

“if you want to make your life successful, then you must keep the tradition of brahmana-vaisnava. So our, we are Vaisnava. Our only tradition is how to satisfy Visnu.(Lec. 7/30/73)

“Therefore, when the self-realized devotees ordain any new arrangements they should be agreed with as a religious code, even if such new arrangements are not found in the scriptural dictums of the previous sages” (Bhaktivinode’ Thakuras Sri Tattva-Sutra)

Srimad Viraraghava Acarya, an acarya in the disciplic succession of the Ramanuja-sampradaya, has remarked in his commentary that candalas, or conditioned souls who are born in lower than sudra families, can also be initiated according to circumstances. The formalities may be slightly changed here and there to make them Vaisnavas. (S.B. 4.8.5 P)

Vaisnava who is preaching, it may be in a different way, according to time and place and the party–they have to change something, desa-kala-patra–but we have to see the essence. (S.B.Lec. 10/18/74)

Interviewer: What happens when that inevitable time comes when a successor is needed? Ramesvara: He is asking about the future, who will guide the movement in the future. Prabhupada: They will guide. I am training them. Interviewer: Will there be one spiritual leader, though? Prabhupada: No, I am training GBC, eighteen all over the world. (Conv. 6/10/76 L.A.)

Reporter: Do you expect to name one person as your successor or have you already? Prabhupada: That I am not contemplating now. But there is no need of one person. (Int. 6/4/76)

Interviewer: I was wondering if he had a successor to do… Do you have a successor to take your place when you die? Prabhupada: Not yet settled up. Not yet settled up. Interviewer: So what process would the Hare Krsnas…? Prabhupada: We have got secretaries. They are managing. (Conv. 7/14/76 N.Y.)

“Only Lord Caitanya can take my place. He will take care of the movement.” (Conv. 11/2/77)

“The GBC does not look after spiritual life. That is a defect. All of our students will have to become guru, but they are not qualified. This is the difficulty.” (Letter Alanatha 11/10/75)

Satsvarupa: Then our next question concerns initiation in the future, particularly at the time when you are no longer with us. We want to know how first and second initiations would be conducted. Srila Prabhupada: Yes. I shall recommend some of you. After this settled up I shall recommend some of you to act as officiating acarya. Tamal Krsna: Is that called ritvik acarya ? Srila Prabhupada: Ritvik. Yes. (Conv. May 28 1977)

Prabhupada: So without waiting for me, wherever you consider it is right… That will depend on discretion. Tamala Krsna: On discretion. Prabhupada: Yes. (Room conv. 7/7/77 Vrn.)

“Continue to be a ritvik and act on my charge.” (Conversation July 19, 1977)

The executive directors who have herein been designated are appointed for life. In the event of death or failure to act for any reason of any of the said directors, a successor director or directors may be appointed by the remaining directors, provided the new director is my initiated disciple following strictly all the rules and regulations of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness as detailed in my books. (Srila Prabhupada’s Will)

( Note: In order that this particular clause be fulfilled, it is necessary that there are initiated disciples of Srila Prabhupada for many generations to come. As devotees may consider themselves disciples of other gurus, likewise those gurus may consider themselves founders of other branches of Vaisnavism distinct from ISKCON, as is the Gaudiya Vaisnava Institution. Certainly other gurus may exist, however Srila Prabhupada shall always be the founder and current acharya of ISKCON. “)

“The one who renounces the guru’s order (guru tyagi) and the one who tries to enjoy the assets of his spiritual master (guru-bhogi) are two kinds of useless persons.” (Phalguna Krsna Panchami)

AN APOLOGY (article reprinted from BTG Jan./Feb. 1991; written by a supporter of the current ISKCON multiple initiating guru program.)
In the difficult times after Srila Prabhupada departed from this world, misunderstandings arose on a crucial issue: Who would be the next spiritual master ? Srila Prahupada had clearly taught that he wanted all his disciples to follow his teachings, teach them to others, and thus become spiritual masters.
But by the influence of maya, illusion, a different idea soon evolved – that Srila Prabhupada had appointed eleven pure devotees to serve as the gurus after him. These eleven , the idea went, should each serve as the spiritual master for a specific geographical “zone” of the world.
This zonal guru system as it came to be called, prevailed in ISKCON for about ten years, until it’s falseness became clear and an ever-growing reform movement overthrew it and reasserted Srila Prabhupada’s original instructions. In 1986, ISKCON’s Governing Body Commission formally dismantled the system. In the years till then Back to Godhead sometimes reflected and supported the erroneous zonal guru system.

Here, therefore, we wish to admit this mistake. I was the managing editor for some of those years. And Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami was editor in chief. He joins me in apologizing to our readers for BTG’s conformity to the “zonal guru” error. In particular, we express our heartfelt apologies for contributing to the hurts and wrongs devotees endured when ISKCON diverged from Srila Prabhupada’s instructions.May Lord Krsna henceforward keep us straight on the path of Krsna Consciousness, as Srila Prabhupada taught it. Hare Krsna. Jayadvaita Swami,
Editor in Chief.

QUESTION: If it is very clear to ISKCON leaders precisely how Srila Prabhupada wanted everyone to become diksha gurus within ISKCON, then why did the GBC set up the zonal acharya system, where diksha guruship was strictly limited, and allow it to run for almost an entire decade ? The above mentioned movement referred to as a “reform movement” went on to position now more than 100 initiating gurus in ISKCON by a GBC voting commission which has nominated 90% of it’s own members as gurus. This alternative system has introduced a new philosophy that the initiating spiritual master can be less than 100% pure and places more emphasis on a spiritual master having a physical body than on having actually the qualification of Absolute realization and purity.

Prabhupada: Anything change means it is the domain of rascals, pandemonium. Just like in Manu-samhita it is said that, nasyam svatantratam arhati, women should not be given independence. Once said, that is fact. If you want to change, you suffer. That’s all. (Conv. 12/14/75 Del.)

Where the Ritvik People are Right: By Jayadvaita Swami:

The following statements were made years later after the above mentioned “reform movement” also known as the “guru reform”. The commentator remains a supporter of the current ISKCON multiple guru program despite the following admissions.

FACT: ISKCON gurus in good standing have fallen. FACT: The ISKCON GBC has supported even fallen gurus and tried to paper over their falldowns. FACT: ISKCON gurus have opposed , oppressed and driven out many sincere godbrothers and godsisters. FACT: ISKCON gurus have usurped and misused money, and diverted other ISKCON resources for their own personal prestige and sense gratification. FACT: ISKCON gurus have had ILLICIT SEXUAL intercourse with both WOMEN and MEN, and possibly CHILDREN as well. FACT: Some ISKCON gurus still in good standing have had such serious personal difficulties that the GBC has been obliged to suspend them from initiating. FACT: Other ISKCON gurus have snapped back into line only after “narrow misses”. FACT: ISKCON gurus recently lead a movement advocating a premature and inappropriate emphasis on rasika-bhakti. FACT: Some ISKCON devotees have felt obliged to accept a new guru twice or even three times over.


“In every town and village My name will be heard.” (Lord Caitanya Madhya 25.264)

“I offer my respectful obeisances unto the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna Caitanya, who is more magnanimous than any other avatara, even Krsna Himself, because He is bestowing freely what no one else has ever given–pure love of Krsna.” (Adi Intro.)

Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has freely given this love of Krsna everywhere and anywhere, even to the most fallen, such as Jagai and Madhai. What then to speak of those who are already pious and elevated? (Adi 8.20)

So this Krsna consciousness movement is very rare thing, but, by the grace of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, it is being distributed all over the world freely. It is Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s grace. (Lec. 1/6/73 Bombay)

The true acarya presents Krsna to everyone by preaching the holy name of the Lord throughout the world. (Antya 5.85)

When one is completely fit to chant the holy name in this way, he is eligible to make disciples all over the world, and he actually becomes jagad-guru. Then the entire world, under his influence, begins to chant the holy names of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra. Thus all the disciples of such a spiritual master increase in attachment for Krsna, and therefore he sometimes cries, sometimes laughs, sometimes dances and sometimes chants. These symptoms are very prominently manifest in the body of a pure devotee. (Adi.7.83)

The Acaryadeva for whom we have assembled tonight to offer our humble homage is not the guru of a sectarian institution or one out of many differing exponents of the truth. On the contrary, he is the Jagad-guru, or the guru of all of us. (SSR 2)

Srila Prabhupada’s July 9th Order
(drafted by Srila Prabhupada’s secretary with Srila Prabhupada’s approval and signature of authorization)

To All G.B.C., and Temple Presidents

Dear Maharajas and Prabhus,

Please accept my humble obeisances at your feet. Recently when all of the GBC members were with His Divine Grace in Vrndavana, Srila Prabhupada indicated that soon he would appoint some of His senior disciples to act as “rittik”- representative of the acarya, for the purpose of performing initiations, both first initiation and second initiation. His Divine Grace has so far given a list of eleven disciples who will act in that capacity.

His Holiness Kirtanananda Swami
His Holiness Satsvarupa das Gosvami
His Holiness Jayapataka Swami
His Holiness Tamal Krsna Gosvami
His Holiness Hrydananda Gosvami
His Holiness Bhavananda Gosvami
His Holiness Hamsadhutta Swami
His Holiness Ramesvara Swami
His Holiness Harikesa Swami
His Holiness Bhagavan das Adhikari
His Grace Jayatirtha das Adhikari

In the past Temple Presidents have written to Srila Prabhupada recommending a particular devotee’s initiation. Now that Srila Prabhupada has named these representatives, temple Presidents may henceforward send recommendations for first and second initiation to whichever of these eleven representatives are nearest their temple. After considering the recommendation, these representatives may accept the devotee as an initiated disciple of Srila Prabhupada by giving a spiritual name, or in the case of second initiation, by chanting on the gayatri thread, just as Srila Prabhupada has done. The newly initiated devotees are disciples of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad, the above eleven senior devotees acting as His representatives. After the temple president receives a letter from these represenatatives giving the spiritual name or the thread, he can perform the fire yajna in the temple as was being done before. The name of the newly initiated disciple should be sent by the representative who has accepted him or her to Srila Prabhupad, to be included in His Divine Grace’s “Initiated Disciples” book.
Hoping this finds you all well.

Your servant,

(Signed Tamal Krishna Goswami)
Tamal Krsna Gosvami
(Signed A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami)
Secretary to Srila Prabhupad


For many years during Srila Prabhupada’s physical presence there was already an initiation system in effect where Srila Prabhupada authorized his own disciples to conduct initiations on his behalf. The system was implemented specifically for the purpose of accepting new disciples without the necessity of Srila Prabhupada’s physical presence. Prospective candidates for initiation were accepted on the discretion of authorized disciples such as temple presidents. The devotee received a spiritual name and was accepted as a direct disciple of Srila Prabhupada. It is estimated that over one third of Srila Prabhupada’s initiated disciples received initiation in this manner. Many of them never once physically met Srila Prabhupada.

On may 28th 1977 members of the GBC consulted Srila Prabhupada specifically on the issue of initiations when he would no longer be physically present. To this he replied “I shall recommend some of you to act as officiating acharya.” Only weeks later on July 9th Srila Prabhupada issued a signed document regarding initiations to all temple presidents and GBC. Currently, opposers of the officiating or ritvik system are proposing that Srila Prabhupada issued this document to the entire society without making any reference at all to the GBC’s recent inquiry, the most important issue, namely initiations after his physical departure.

The July 9th letter remains to this day the only signed instruction on the future of initiation Srila Prabhupada ever issued to the whole Society. It clearly states that the system described was to operate ‘henceforward’ .There is no statement made in the letter or at any time after indicating that this system was to terminate after his physical departure. Furthermore, the letter states three times that newly initiated devotees are to be disciples of Srila Prahupada. The necessity of stressing ownership three times is a clear indication that the instruction was intended to operate during a time period when ownership would even be an issue, after his departure. “So as soon as one thing is three times stressed, that means final.” (Lec. 11/27/68)

While considering the fact that this letter uses the word ‘henceforward’ rather than explicitly stating ‘after my departure’, it appears that the direction is apparently open to interpretation. However, after carefully examining the situation in it’s entirety, one can clearly see what was Srila Prabhupada’s intention for the future of ISKCON. We may understand this as a transcendental arrangement by the Lord and His pure devotee for testing the sincerity of everyone in following the orders of the spiritual master.

In addition to this, it has become well known that during the last days of Srila Prabhpada’s physical presence in Vrndavana, the congregation of devotees were witheld from seeing him despite his request to have everyone before him. Evidently there was something to be concealed from the mass of devotees. In all likelihood, if the July 9th letter which was drawn only months before Srila Prabhupada left his body, had indeed stated specifically ‘after my departure’, it’s ditribution also would have been witheld from the congregation. One devotee has testified that while at the New York temple only days before Srila Prabhupada passed, a devotee returning from Vrndavana after having just spoken with him openly announced to everyone, “Srila Prabhupada says to us, do not trust anyone but himself”. Many devotees who somehow or other were able to see Prabhupada during that time also testify to having heard directly from him speaking of ritvik and future initiations on his behalf. Unfortunately, most of the tapes made at that time have been concealed or eliminated. However, a few of these tapes have now leaked out and begun to reveal the shocking facts surrounding Srila Prabhupada’s apparent disappearance.

*The reader is herein given to decide upon whom to repose their faith in and accept as their initiating spiritual master. That person is the devotees primary recipient of devotion as the direct via medium to the Supreme Godhead. The preceding quotes have established the necessary qualification of that initiating spiritual master and the means by which the spiritual master initiates the disciple with transcendental knowledge. It has been proven that the vani, or recorded words and instructions of Srila Prabhupada are completely sufficient for initiating one with full knowledge and complete realization of the Absolute Truth. Presently, Jagad Guru Srila Prabhupada continues instructing persons throughout the entire world by his books which are available in more languages than any one person knows. It remains a fact that direct instruction and guidance is unlimitedly more available from Srila Prabhupada than from any other person on this planet or elsewhere. Truly his mercy is available to all. Such a guru is Jagad Guru, Guru of the entire world, and should be recognized as our foremost recipient of devotion. He is the true initiating spiritual master, the diksa guru for ISKCON now and for many generations to come. Jaya Jagad Guru Srila Prabhupada, may your glories continue to shine more than the rays of a million suns, Hare Krishna !!!

“These great souls (members of the disciplic succession) were not mere luminaries like the comets appearing in the firmament for a while and disappearing as soon as their mission is done. They are like so many suns shining all along to give light and heat to succeeding generations. Long time yet to roll on when they will be succeeded by others of sublime mind, beauty and calibre.” (Bhaktivinoda Thakura)

Hare Krishna, All Glories to Srila Prabhupada!

This story URL:

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ramananada
    Aug 09, 2011 @ 09:43:26

    Jaya Srila Prabhupada.
    Jaya Sri Panca tattva.
    Jaya Sri Sri Radha Gopinath.

    Hari nama sankirtan ki jaya!


  2. Mohini Murti dd
    Sep 16, 2011 @ 05:13:17

    Hare Krishna! Dandavats!
    Please where I can found this quote from Srila Prabhupada “: anyone who reads my books is initiated by my”?


    • The Hare Krishna Movement
      Sep 16, 2011 @ 17:03:50

      Hari bol Mohini Murti dd

      I ran across this quote in a number of places but most notalbly on our page in an article written by Sriman Hansadutta Prabhu. In the article he writes…

      “Vaikuntanath das, a good friend of mine from NY City in early 1968, was alone with Srila Prabhupada at the Radha Damodar temple in Vrindaban, India. He wanted to ask a question of Prabhupada that had haunted him for a long time. Finally he felt, “This is my chance.” He asked, “Srila Prabhupada, we are distributing millions of books, but in the future when you are not here, how will these people who read your books be INITIATED?” Srila Prabhupada looked at him approvingly and answered, “One who reads my books, he is initiated automatically.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

108 Imporant Slokas from the 1972 Bhagavad-gita As It Is

Click on image to go to Post

Click on image to go to Post

The Hare Krishna Cookbook

Songs of the Vaisnava Acaryas

Bhagavad-gita As It Is 1972 Edition “Online”

click on image

click on image to visit site

Srimad Bhagavatam Online

click on image

Raja-Vidya the King of Knowledge

click on image

click on image

Blog Stats

  • 3,086,831 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 3,850 other followers

Important Slokas from the Brahma-samhita

click on image

click on image

Slokas from the Sri Isopanisad

click on image

click on image

Prayers By Queen Kunti (Slokas)

click on image

Gajendra’s Prayers of Surrender (Slokas)

click on image

A Short Statement of the Philosophy of Krishna Consciousness

click on image

click on image

July 9th Letter

click on image

click on image

The Hare Krishna Explosion

Reference Material/Study Guide

click on image

click on image

%d bloggers like this: