ISKCON’s Parallel World: Double Standards


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 36, Summer 2012

In BTP 35 we established how ISKCON has constructed a parallel world for its followers, wherein an alternate false reality has been created, oblivious to the actual reality being experienced by the rest of the world outside ISKCON. This parallel world relies on various devices for its maintenance. One technique that is fundamental is the creation of double standards. Here, what is considered reality in the parallel world, can simultaneously be considered false, and vice versa. Below are some examples. All emphases below have been added.

Krishna’s sanction sanctioned

In response to a question regarding how one can definitively recognise who our diksa guru is, HH Sivarama Swami answers as follows:

“how do we know who Krishna sends us as spiritual master? It should… He’ll confirm it, we should feel that Krishna’s confirming it within our hearts.”
(Sivarama Swami, Podcast 28/4/2012)

Sivarama Swami claims that selecting the diksa guru is purely a matter of the heart, and that Krishna will sanction the diksa guru by making us feel it within our hearts. This means that, according to Sivarama Swami’s reasoning, if anyone “feels” within their heart that Krishna is confirming that Srila Prabhupada is their diksa guru, then this decision is sanctioned by Krishna. Yet, Sivarama Swami also states that if Krishna dare issue such a “ritvik” sanction, then His decision itself must be subject to sanctions!:

“This same instruction is reflected in the direction of the GBC Body, the ultimate authority for ISKCON, in their 1990 law regarding ritviks and their doctrine: […] The tone of the above law makes it quite clear that persons who are in breach of it can expect to be the object of serious sanctions.”
(Sivarama Swami Letter to all devotees, 17/7/2008)

Therefore, in ISKCON’s parallel world, the methodology for selecting a diksa guru is only valid if it fulfils ISKCON leaders’ desire to take Srila Prabhupada’s position. And where this desire is impeded, the same methodology must be subject to “serious sanctions”.

Never said it clearly

HH Jayadvaita Swami’s paper Where the Ritvik People are Wrong is routinely promoted by other ISKCON leaders as an authoritative “rebuttal” against the IRM’s position, and has been translated into various languages. The paper’s underlying reasoning is given in its introduction and conclusion, in the form of the following “rule of thumb”:

“If Srila Prabhupada didn’t clearly and definitely say it, and if it first came up after 1977, whatever it is, don’t trust it.”

Yet, the GBC’s current position on the initiation system for ISKCON is based on Jayadvaita Swami violating his own rule!

1) Jayadvaita Swami sent an e-mail to the GBC on 13/12/2003 which stated that Srila Prabhupada’s authorising those who were appointed as ritviks to become diksa gurus was at best only “implicit”:

“Srila Prabhupada never quite comes out and says: “select some of you to take up the service of initiating new disciples,” does he? Yes, I agree it’s implicit. […] Now, I agree that what His Divine Grace intended by this was that these rtviks, after his departure, would initiate disciples on their own and that this is implicit in the conversation.”

2) The definition of “implicit”, according to the Oxford dictionary, is “suggested though not directly expressed”, which means exactly the same as “not clearly and definitely”. And the idea that 11 ritviks should become guru successors was also first announced to the society at the 1978 GBC meetings.

3) The GBC agreed with this analysis given by Jayadvaita Swami , and used it to generate the following GBC resolution:

“RESOLVED: “On My Order-Understood” is replaced as official GBC policy by the following statement: The GBC officially accepts the following conclusions about continuing the disciplic succession: […] the GBC concludes that Srila Prabhupada intended his disciples to become “regular gurus” after he physically departed."
(GBC Resolution 409, 2004)

Therefore, the GBC’s current position on how the disciplic succession should continue is based on Jayadvaita Swami violating his own “rule of thumb” that anything implicit and first given after 1977 should be rejected. Although this “rule” was invoked (without success - see reply to Jayadvaita Swami ’s paper on the IRM website: in an attempt to remove the impediment to ISKCON leaders’ desire to take Srila Prabhupada’s position, it was discarded in order to allow the same desire to be fulfilled!

Living guru initiation

In order to foster the idea that ISKCON members must take initiation from a person who is physically present - and, therefore, one of the ISKCON guru hoaxers, rather than Srila Prabhupada - Sivarama Swami claims:

“Well, the issue’s accepting a spiritual master, the qualification for initiation is based upon having a proper relationship. When there actually a real live relationship is there between spiritual master and disciple, and particularly when one is equipped and mature enough to follow vows of initiation. […] So spiritual master is someone that you should know and they should know you. […] However, yes, the answer is that one should spend enough time with one’s spiritual master. […] Because the spiritual master and disciple associate together, the disciple renders service, they speak together and so on, he gets to see them. Then on that basis they have a relationship. That’s what a relationship is, that you know each other.”
(Sivarama Swami Podcasts, 7/8/2009 & 9/8/2010)

Yet, Sivarama Swami admits that such a “rule” for pre-initiation physical interaction between guru and disciple was not required in his own case, and that he had been initiated for 2 years before even meeting Srila Prabhupada:

“That was the first personal contact with his Divine Grace, although I had been an initiated devotee for two years.”
(Sivarama Swami, “Meeting Srila Prabhupada”)

So, again, this “rule” only exists in order to fulfil ISKCON leaders’ desire to take Srila Prabhupada’s position. Otherwise it does not apply.


ISKCON’s parallel world exists due to enabling a false reality to exist side by side with the actual reality. In this false reality, one illusion is that Srila Prabhupada must be replaced with GBC-authorised successors. Essential to achieving such a feat is the invention of “rules” specifically designed to simultaneously be applied or rejected - depending on how they help to keep this parallel world and its illusions, such as the guru hoax, alive.

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