Overview Of 'Dual System' Reasoning
Jan 16 1999 -
There has been some talk recently that
ISKCON should adopt a 'dual initiation system'. The
that both the ritvik system and the 'guru' system
currently in place in
ISKCON should go on side by side. H.G. Mayesvara
been largely instrumental in pushing this idea, and the following
article draws on some of his and others suggestions.
we must be clear that devotees who opt for this 'dual system' approach
do so for a variety of underlying reasons which we shall expand on.
Thus to say someone supports a 'dual system'
can often be misleading if one presupposes their reasons for doing so
are identical. Through discussions with various DS
we have identified at least ten different reasons devotees have for
going down that route:
Best We Can Get - This is often proposed by ritvik
adherents who feel they
will never win outright, and so should be prepared to settle for at
least the shared option of ritvik initiations.
- It is
better than nothing -
This is similar to 1), except the DS is seen as a
BEGINNING to, not the END of the campaign- as 1) above. The option
always exists to advance further down the road to total ritvik
domination. The ritvik adherents would be happy to
accept it just to
'get something going'.
- Strategic -
This is an advance on 2)
in that the DS is now consciously seen and used as a necessary tool for
overthrowing the present guru system completely. Thus the DS becomes a
pro-active STRATEGIC move, rather than the more passive acceptance of
'some sort of progress'. These ritvik adherents
will accept the system
pretending that they are sincere about co-existence, but know deep down
that once it is up and running, and people see the benefits, it will
completely over-run the present guru system in ISKCON. Rather as a
cuckoo takes over another bird's nest.
This is the official stance proposed in 'The Final Order', and hence
adopted by the IRM. Quoting from page
of the Final Order:
may be considered necessary to ease in the ritvik
system gently, in
phases perhaps. Maybe it can even run concurrently with the M.A.S.S for
a short, pre-specified time period, in order not to create undue
tension and disturbance. Such points will need careful consideration
approaches 1, 2, 3 and 4 are
all fuelled by the same
underlying conviction - that the ritvik system is
what Srila Prabhupada
really wanted, and that the current guru system is bogus. Thus
approaches 1-4, though they have the guise of DS
in reality and spirit in favor of REPLACING the current system
altogether, not just INSERTING the ritvik system.
They merely differ in
their optimism regarding the chances of getting the ritvik
re-instituted within ISKCON. They increase in optimism from approach 1,
the least optimistic, to approach 4, the most
Approach 4 sees the DS as something to be used
transitionally, once the battle has been won. Indeed, approach 4
is so optimistic that it does not even favor the
need to use
approach 3, the 'foot in the door', as an
required to propel the ritvik system to final
are also at least 6 other reasons whereby the DS proponent genuinely
wants to INSERT the ritvik system into ISKCON with
intention, either stated or clandestine, to replace altogether the
current guru system:
Measure - Some
DS adherents consider it is
presently unclear what Srila Prabhupada really wanted, and therefore
whilst it is being made clear, both systems should run side by side.
(Please note that REPLACE adherents would also be happy with 5,
since in reality it is the same for them as approach 2,
than nothing'. 'If they want to give us a dual system while
carry on campaigning, then there is no loss to us, only gain'.)
Sadhus are divided
must be done according to Guru, Sadhu and Sastra. Since many 'Sadhus'
in ISKCON are divided on this issue, one cannot reach a resolution
until all the Sadhus are in consensus. Thus to
favour one system over the other cannot be done at this time.
- Best of
Both - It is
accepted that both systems
have innate value, and a DS would thus preserve these benefits. In due
course Krishna will reveal what he REALLY wants.
- Pragmatic -
there are many followers
from both sides, the dual system would keep everyone 'happy' and
working together in harmony distributing books etc. After all we must
accept the reality of many happy 'guru-disciple' relationships going in
attract more support - The
idea of ritvik is too much, too fast, for most
'sober' persons to
swallow. Instead we can get a more broad based reform achieved if we
allow the possibilities of both systems, since many more devotees will
be attracted to this more 'mature' approach.
Unless we institute the dual
system, ISKCON will ultimately be destroyed since both sides are
convinced they are right, and will wage all out war to achieve their
aims, resulting in huge casualties and possibly even ISKCON's
destruction- which nobody wants.
from the above ten agendas, the situation is further complicated by
adherents proposing DS in the guise of one reason, when ultimately
their aim is different. For instance one could propose any of the
INSERT reasons 5-10, simply as a ruse to get 'the
foot in the
door', the strategic stance, since in reality the person wants to
overthrow the current system. Also some DS adherents have more than one
of the above reasons in mind when proposing the dual system.
is further complicated by the fact, as noted above, that the REPLACE
adherents (ritviks) are more
than happy to accept DS as long as
it is not permanent, and that they are not obliged to give up their
ritvik campaigning. This is for the simple
reason that there is no loss
for them. Thus even the IRM would accept DS temporarily, though they
would never actively campaign for it.
the above analysis it can be seen that the recent campaign to push the
DS idea as a silver bullet, or magic solution, is quite simplistic. The
reasoning behind DS is much more complicated and variegated than has
thus far been presented. Prominent DS adherents have suggested that
supporters of IRM and 'The Final Order' are 'extremists' for not even
considering the merits of operating the two systems within ISKCON. As
we saw above under option 4, this criticism is
oversight since it was in 'The Final Order' (page 51) that a dual
system approach was first proposed way back in 1996.
in reference to Mayesvara prabhu's campaign of INSERTING the ritvik
system over REPLACING it, there are in reality 3 possibilities:
in favor of a Dual System
will now go through the arguments put forward in favour of a dual
system and judge their merits.
Best We Can Get
- The recent
successes have shown this to be totally untrue. Since the public launch
of 'The Final Order' in May 1997, we have seen constant unchecked
growth. Neither has the rate of this growth slowed down, or reached a
plateau. Rather the rate of growth has INCREASED since the launch of
the IRM after the Bangalore meetings in July1998. Please bear in mind
that the IRM has barely been up and running 6 months and yet we are
holding our 3rd successful conference, with
and Temple Presidents all getting involved. Ironically this view is
actually endorsed by Mayesvara prabhu, an avid DS proponent, since he
has stated that it is only a matter of time before the 'ritviks'
completely by force of attrition and through the extrapolation of what
is happening now!
than nothing - If the
GBC gave us the
dual system with no pre-conditions, we would be happy to take it. We
would then carry on as we are now until the current bogus guru system
was completely extinguished. We would have lost nothing; rather we
would just be one step closer to what we want. But as far as actively
CAMPAIGNING for a DS, that is something else - please see next item.
- Strategic -
Strategically the current IRM
campaign of REPLACE (with ritvik) is the best
stance; for if the
optimism of the 'REPLACE' advocates is unfounded, they can always drop
back to a strategy of 'INSERT in order to REPLACE'.
results of a REPLACE campaign maybe that the GBC will grant a DS as a
middle way. They are hardly going to give MORE than what is asked for,
nor will they necessarily be happy giving exactly what is asked for. On
past form the GBC are more likely to give LESS. Thus even strategically
the REPLACE path has to be the most sensible and potentially productive
Measure - As
mentioned earlier, in this
approach the DS is only recommended as a possible means of smoothing
the transition, and thus does not really favor a DS
The IRM would only favor this approach as an exercise in change
Measure - See 2
above. Further, it
is very clear what Srila Prabhupada wanted, as evinced by the failure
of anyone to provide evidence for modifications
A & B.
Also if one is
unclear about any course of action the logical thing is to DO NOTHING,
not DO EVERYTHING. Doing nothing would of course leave ISKCON with the
ritvik system anyway, since that was the
last system Srila Prabhupada
left in place before his departure. 'Doing nothing' means leaving the
ritvik system up and running.
Sadhus are Divided
- The fact that
there is disagreement does not imply that an issue is intractable. It
simply means someone is wrong. And how can one be a sadhu
and not be
following Srila Prabhupada's order. Disobeying the order of the
spiritual master is the greatest offence against the holy name. If two
groups are saying opposing things they can't both be following Srila
Prabhupada's order. One (or even both) parties are definitely not. Thus
the Sadhus are not divided. The genuine Sadhus are never divided, since
they are always in line with the order of guru. At the moment at least
one group is definitely not in line with the order of the guru, and are
thus not really Sadhus.
- Best of
Both - The
issue is not what the values
and benefits of either system are, but which system Srila Prabhupada
wanted. One thing that everyone is agreed on is that he definitely did
not want BOTH. To say that each system may have merit is merely begging
the question - how can anything have ANY merit if it has not been
directly sanctioned by Srila Prabhupada? Also Krishna may have already
revealed what he wanted, and it could be that some do not see it. Just
because there is not universal acceptance does not mean Krishna has not
revealed the truth. For many devotees the clear inability of the GBC to
answer even the basic arguments for the re-instatement of Srila
Prabhupada's final order is a sign that Krishna has already revealed
the truth, and that it will only be a matter of time before everyone
else sees this.
- Pragmatic -
biggest single contributing
factor to the decline of ISKCON has been the bogus and unauthorized
guru system, the M.A.S.S. How will perpetuating this disastrous
embarrassment aid in keeping ISKCON healthy? And what is the meaning of
preaching if we are not running ISKCON as Srila Prabhupada wanted it?
In terms of remaining sensitive to the feelings of 'grand-disciples' we
have allowed for a transitional period. But the aim has to be to
educate all people that as long as they want to be part of ISKCON we
must run things according to Srila Prabhupada's desires only. Otherwise
by the logic of the 'pragmatic' approach, we should also allow
H.H.Narayana Maharaja and many others to initiate in ISKCON. Why stop
only at one group of gurus. The Gaudiya Matha also has much support in
ISKCON. In some areas Narayana Maharaja followers heavily outnumber the
ritviks. Also what about Harikesa das? He
still has many followers in
Russia who now practice the '3 regulative principles'. If
are going to accommodate other gurus and disciples why not them also?
Ultimately we can see that the argument based on pragmatism alone, and
without reference to Srila Prabhupada's order leads to absurdity and
attract more support - In
our experience most devotees who advocate the dual
over and above a singular one, are those who are quite confused about
what Srila Prabhupada wanted. Sometimes this is down to simple
laziness, they have not read the relevant papers nor researched the
issue thoroughly themselves. To such persons the DS appears a good
compromise, and means they do not have to think things through too
strenuously. Once one is certain of Srila Prabhupada's instructions on
this matter one will naturally be inclined to campaign for that only.
In the case of a ritvik conviction such a devotee
will only support a
dual system for the utilitarian reasons 1-4 given
Furthermore, for every person whose support might be gained from a DS
approach, many would be repulsed. Many ritvik
supporters would be
aghast at the very notion of keeping a bogus guru system going on for
one second longer than necessary.
There is nothing extreme about
following the order of the Guru. Of course both sides may say that they
are the ones who are following, and each may be equally adamant, but we
cannot be afraid of implementing the truth simply because it may cause
temporary disruption. If we do not fix the problem, we will all be
jointly responsible for ISKCON's permanent disruption. It has already
been messed up for the last 21 years. Enough is enough. If ISKCON is
not rectified we will all be the losers. One cannot judge success or
winning and losing in terms of material assets alone. This judgement
can only be made in terms of how much adherence there is to the order
of Srila Prabhupada's order. There is no question of a war destroying
ISKCON. If Srila Prabhupada's order is not followed ISKCON will already
be destroyed. An ISKCON without Srila Prabhupada as the sole Diksa
Guru, as he wanted, cannot be ISKCON.
argument is made lets 'co-operate'. But co-operate around what, and on
what basis? Co-operate in continuing to bring living entities to
unauthorised gurus? Co-operation must be based on the truth ONLY. Yes
Srila Prabhupada told us to co-operate to push on his mission. But
integral to that mission is the fact that he is the sole Diksa Guru.
That IS the mission.
IRM's approach has, and will continue to be, calm and philosophical
anyway. There is nothing extreme about philosophical argument in
support and in pursuance of the truth. The IRM promotes a constructive
not destructive campaign. A campaign to reform from within, rather than
attack from outside. This can only be done however without compromising
the truth. Adherence to the truth is thus the only practical way
forward, which no amount of fudge and compromise will better.
humbly suggest that we must put all political considerations aside, and
be guided only by the will of Srila Prabhupada, for only then will we
get his mercy, and then anything is possible. To support anything that
is not in line with Srila Prabhupada's desires, simply for expediency,
will not lead to success since it is not rooted in the truth, and
therefore will not be empowered by Krishna. The one thing we can say
for certain is that regardless of how confused or divided we are over
the ritvik issue, we DEFINITELY know Srila
Prabhupada did NOT want
BOTH! Thus logically the INSERT stance is nonsensical. ISKCON must be
guided by Srila Prabhupada's orders. If one does not know what they are
then one should remain quiet. Preaching from a position of ignorance is
the height of hypocrisy and arrogance. Just because one may not be
clear of Srila Prabhupada's orders does not mean they ARE unclear, or
that they are unclear to everyone else. Disagreement is not evidence
that there is no clarity, or that there are no clear instructions. It
can just as easily be evidence that one party is wrong. Since the GBC
have been defeated over and over, and cannot stand behind any one of
their numerous contradictory position papers, it could just be that the
ritvik position is correct. Certainly that is
our strongly held
only rational approach is to take the following steps:
what Srila Prabhupada wanted.
it is unclear to you what Srila Prabhupada wanted then go back to step
1 until it is clear
should specify exactly what Srila Prabhupada did want, support ones
conclusion with explicit applicable evidence, and campaign for that
ALONE. Why campaign for two things - when it must be the case that at
least one of them is not what Srila Prabhupada wanted. It makes no
arrangement to continue or he did not.
- If he did not,
we should not INSERT it, since
we would be disobeying
the orders of the spiritual master.
- If he did want
it, we should REPLACE the current system, since the
system would be bogus, and by replacing it we would once more be
following the orders of the spiritual master.
- If we do not
know what Srila Prabhupada wanted, we should attempt to find out what
he did want, and implement that ALONE.
- We should not
implement a dual system simply because both have many followers and it may
keep some of them happy - (in itself highly unlikely).
is to keep Srila Prabhupada happy.
- The only
circumstance the IRM feels would justify a DS is as a temporary measure
to smooth the transition from the multiple acarya
system, to the re-institution of the ritvik
glories to Srila Prabhupada.