GBC’s Ritvik Philosophy


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 35, Spring 2012

The IRM's success is evidenced by BTP now regularly presenting documentation of ISKCON adopting the IRM's position. Thus, the debate is no longer about who is correct, but only over how long it will take ISKCON to start implementing in practice what they are already agreeing with verbally. Below, we detail a lecture given by GBC member Hari Vilasa Das in Mayapur at the start of the GBC meetings on 21/2/2012. All quotes in the shaded panels are from the said lecture, and from start to finish Hari Vilasa Das presents the same position as that of the IRM.

Srila Prabhupada: The diksa guru of ISKCON

"For us the most significant acarya in our lives is His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. So by glorifying Prabhupada all auspiciousness comes into our lives. Actually it is said, saksad-dharitvena samasta-sastraih - […] Therefore we should remember the spiritual master and at least three times a day we should offer our humble obeisances to our spiritual master."

The Sri Sri Gurv-asataka prayers are meant to be sung in glorification of one's spiritual master, and all Prabhupada disciples sing them to Srila Prabhupada every morning. Hari Vilasa Das speaks of them being used by everyone in ISKCON to glorify Srila Prabhupada as the spiritual master in the same manner. One significant point, which is repeated throughout his lecture, is that Hari Vilasa Das makes no distinction between himself and anyone else in ISKCON ("we/us") whenever he refers to the bona fide "spiritual master" and Srila Prabhupada. Thus, he does not distinguish between Srila Prabhupada's relationship with himself as his spiritual master, which is as his diksa guru, and Srila Prabhupada's relationship with everyone else in ISKCON.

Srila Prabhupada: The bona fide spiritual master

"First of all it is very difficult to find a bona fide spiritual master. […] Only to one who has unflinching faith in guru and Krishna are the imports of the Vedas revealed. Therefore it is said you follow this and you will attain perfection in this life. This is what we are doing. We have chosen Prabhupada. We have chosen ISKCON, we have chosen Prabhupada's books and we have chosen Prabhupada's standards."

The scriptures tell us that we must find and have faith in the bona fide spiritual master. Hari Vilasa Das states here that this personality is Srila Prabhupada.

Srila Prabhupada: The spiritual master we must please

"So this is essential in spiritual life - pleasing the spiritual master and following the order of the spiritual master […] The highest threshold of authority in our movement is sadhu-sastra-guru-vakya. In other words understanding the sadhu and the sastras through the words of the spiritual master or pure devotee. We are very fortunate. Imagine if there was one tape of Jesus Christ or Mohamed speaking. That would be worth millions and millions of dollars. Everyone will be very anxious to hear it. But we have thousands and thousands of tapes of Srila Prabhupada speaking. And he is a genuine pure devotee and we have his books, we have his letters, we have his conversations therefore nityam bhagavata-sevaya [SB 1.2.18] We can go on."

Hari Vilasa Das names Srila Prabhupada as the bona fide spiritual master whom one has to please in order to advance in spiritual life. Interestingly, Hari Vilasa Das also compares Srila Prabhupada's position to Jesus and Muhammed, and also he states that Srila Prabhupada is the "person bhagavata" who can be served by us - "nityam bhagavata-sevaya". This latter point is significant since it is argued by guru hoax proponents that the need to serve the person bhagavata must refer to a physically present "living" guru.

Srila Prabhupada: The spiritual master who liberates us

"Then he said anyone who is the servant of the Lord is even better. That is why we are trying to serve Prabhupada every day. […] only by serving the lotus feet of the spiritual master can we make spiritual advancement. Unless one serves the spiritual master and the acaryas he cannot be liberated."

Hari Vilasa Das states that one must serve the spiritual master to be liberated, and mentions that this is Srila Prabhupada.

Devotional service is hearing and serving Srila Prabhupada

"By hearing these transcendental messages given to us by Srila Prabhupada and he has distilled the conclusions of all the great Vaisnava acaryas we become purified within. And by engaging in his service and regularly hearing and chanting all inauspicious things in our hearts are destroyed almost to nil. […] This is the process of devotional service."

Hari Vilasa Das bases the whole process of devotional service only around the need to hear and serve Srila Prabhupada - not anyone else.

Srila Prabhupada trains us

"Prabhupada is trying to train us to become panditah sama-darsinah - have equal vision so when we look at the person we don't see the body we see the soul, more than that we see the soul's connection to Krishna."

Although it is claimed that we require a "living" ISKCON GBC guru because the guru needs to "train" us, Hari Vilasa Das states that Srila Prabhupada fulfils this function.


"And he gave us so many books. It would take us many lifetimes to read them and understand them. So we don't have to read any other books. These books contain all knowledge."

Hari Vilasa Das here agrees with the POP (Prabhupada-Only Paradigm) model put forward by the IRM, which means we should accept as our authority only the directly recorded words of Srila Prabhupada.

ISKCON "guru" defined as any senior devotee

"That appreciation leads to a taste for sadhu sanga, and in the taste for sadhu sanga we develop strong desire to get initiated and strictly follow Prabhupada's instructions and through that association, especially accepting mentors, all unfavourable things in our lives are purified one by one."

Hari Vilasa Das clarifies that the ISKCON entity who conducts initiations is no more than a "mentor", which is the same relationship that pre-'77 Prabhupada disciples - many of whom never even met Srila Prabhupada - had with other god-brothers who helped them in Krishna consciousness.


Hari Vilasa Das, through detailing the role and function of Srila Prabhupada in the life of every ISKCON devotee, makes it clear that only accepting, glorifying, serving, pleasing, following, and hearing Srila Prabhupada as the bona fide spiritual master of ISKCON is required to practise devotional service and be liberated. No mention is made of the need for the ISKCON GBC "guru", other than at most as merely a type of teacher. Thus Hari Vilasa Das agrees with the IRM that Srila Prabhupada, and not the ISKCON GBC guru, is giving diksa.

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