Srila Prabhupada - The Institutional Guru


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 52, Summer 2016

When one attempts to understand the role of the diksa guru without reference to Srila Prabhupada, and instead with reference to the unauthorised GBC guru system, one will naturally reach conclusions that are not taught by Srila Prabhupada. The quotes in the shaded boxes below are taken from an article by HG Kripamoya Dasa ("KMD"), entitled "Post-modern perspectives on the guru-disciple relationship" (6/4/16).

The GBC-guru system has had many problems and scandals over the years, with up to half of its gurus historically either "falling down" into gross sense gratification, or having to be censured. Consequently, people are wary about such a system. Hence, whilst speaking in the context of the guru system in ISKCON today, when KMD wrote that:

"after initiation the disciple is meant to honour the instructions of his guru above all others"

he was challenged by a reader of the article that:

"And thus the individual is trapped in the institutional hierarchy of ISKCON."

In response KMD claimed:

"The individual is only ‘trapped in the institutional hierarchy' of ISKCON if he or she mistakenly conceives of the guru as being an institutional position."

Thus, in order to defend ISKCON's GBC guru system, KMD is forced to claim that the guru in ISKCON is not an "institutional position". However, let us see what Srila Prabhupada teaches. After founding ISKCON, Srila Prabhupada established the diksa guru as being an institutional position:

"Yes, I am the spiritual master of this institution, and all the members of the Society, they're supposed to be my disciples. They follow the rules and regulations which I ask them to follow, and they are initiated by me spiritually."
(Srila Prabhupada, Radio Interview, 12/3/68, emphases added)

Thus, the only example we have for a diksa guru in ISKCON from Srila Prabhupada is that of an institutional guru. Therefore, when one joined ISKCON, it was not that one had a choice as to whom one should accept as a diksa guru. Rather, by making the choice to join ISKCON, one had automatically also made the choice to accept only Srila Prabhupada as one's diksa guru, because Srila Prabhupada was the institutional diksa guru for ISKCON. Srila Prabhupada never ordered that this system of himself as ISKCON's institutional diksa guru be changed by having himself replaced with other institutional or non-institutional gurus. Rather, history shows that ISKCON's leadership engaged in a double fabrication:

1) First, immediately after Srila Prabhupada's physical departure, they claimed that Srila Prabhupada wanted himself to be replaced by 11 institutional gurus, each having mutually-exclusive fiefdoms for which they would be the institutional guru, known as the zonal acarya system.

2) Then, due to the failure of this system, they claimed that actually Srila Prabhupada never wanted this system at all, and that they had been wrong for almost a decade. But, now they were correct and Srila Prabhupada actually wanted many dozens of non-institutional diksa gurus.

Then, this non-institutional system also proved to be deeply flawed, with many of these new gurus falling prey to scandal and falldowns into gross sense gratification. This, in turn, led KMD to claim regarding this guru system that:

"However, the facts of the matter are that repeatedly, and with disastrous consequences, the combination of the spiritual role of guru in the context of a temporally powerful organisation is proving to be incompatible."
(KMD, "Keeping Good Men Good", 21/9/07)

But although the GBC's concocted replacement guru system may be "incompatible" in the context of ISKCON, this was not the case with the guru system that Srila Prabhupada gave us. As ISKCON's institutional diksa guru, Srila Prabhupada's position was completely compatible with ISKCON, as he had no problem dealing with and directing the "power" of ISKCON.

Therefore, in conclusion, Srila Prabhupada gave us an institutional, compatible diksa guru system for ISKCON. The GBC has given us a non-institutional, incompatible guru system for ISKCON. One was authorised by Srila Prabhupada for ISKCON, and the other was not. One worked for ISKCON, and the other, it is admitted, is "incompatible". We need to follow the working, institutional guru system given by Srila Prabhupada and not the concocted, incompatible replacement guru system given by the GBC.

Return to Kripamoya Dasa Index

Return to IRM Homepage

Please chant: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna, Krishna, Hare, Hare,
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama, Rama, Hare, Hare.
And be Happy!