GBC Member Accepts De Facto Rtvik System


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 37, Autumn 2012

The preceding article refers to how ISKCON has effectively adopted a rtvik system of initiation with one key difference. This key difference is the perpetration of a "label hoax". This hoax operates as follows: those who effectively act in practice as no more than rtviks are mislabelled as being diksa gurus; whilst Srila Prabhupada, the actual diksa guru, is labelled as only being a siksa (instructing) guru. This simple label hoax then affords these de facto rtviks a platform by which they can take power. Now, an ISKCON GBC and guru, HH Jayapataka Swami, directly concedes this label hoax. Within the shaded boxes below are excerpts from a letter written by Jayapataka Swami on 25/8/2012 to ISKCON Bangalore members.

ISKCON guru = Rtvik

"I remember that you were very concerned that you wanted a direct relationship with Srila Prabhupada and if somehow that can be obtained by maximizing your shelter of Srila Prabhupada as your primary spiritual authority and minimizing the role of the diksa guru, that could be something that could be worked with immediately. A physically living person that doesn't really have a role more than the fact that he is imparting the initiation or mantra as diksa guru or mantra guru but you really take shelter in Srila Prabhupada as your primary spiritual authority and as ISKCON's Founder-acarya."

Jayapataka Swami here is responding to the demand to allow Srila Prabhupada to be one's diksa guru, with the GBC gurus acting only as rtviks on Srila Prabhupada's behalf. Jayapataka Swami's reply is to accept that the ISKCON GBC "guru" can be seen as a person who is nothing more than a functionary who conducts the initiation, with no spiritual input into the life of the initiate - which was the same function that a rtvik performed during Srila Prabhupada's physical presence. Jayapataka Swami has, therefore, defined the actual position of an ISKCON GBC guru as being that of a rtvik.

Srila Prabhupada gives diksa

"At this point, the possibility of Srila Prabhupada giving initiations after his departure may not be something that the GBC is considering but as I said this is not at all an obstacle for you to have a direct relationship with Srila Prabhupada as your primary spiritual authority, as ISKCON's Founder-acarya. […] You could worship Prabhupada, and follow Srila Prabhupada, and that would be very inspiring to have somebody completely sold out to Srila Prabhupada. [...] To say that someone wants to take maximum shelter of Srila Prabhupada as their primary spiritual authority, as ISKCON's Founder-acarya or as the pre-eminent Siksa Guru and they want to minimize the role of the Diksa guru as monitor guru or the like, that is also not wrong. […] you could be one type of Prabhupadanugas in ISKCON who take more shelter of Srila Prabhupada than anyone else."

Having accepted that the ISKCON GBC guru can merely be a functionary who conducts the initiation, it is also accepted that all the spiritual content and shelter of one's life comes directly from Srila Prabhupada. Clearly, therefore, it must be Srila Prabhupada, and not the ISKCON GBC guru, who is providing all the spiritual knowledge and progress, which is diksa:

"Diksa is the process by which one can awaken his transcendental knowledge and vanquish all reactions caused by sinful activity. A person expert in the study of the revealed scriptures knows this process as diksa."
(Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, 15. 108)

Bogus cover

"But if you say that Srila Prabhupada is your diksa guru although he is not physically present then this is a big obstacle in finding a solution. […] The ISKCON GBC obviously has to stay with the tradition of the Guru Parampara, Sastra and Sadhu."

Jayapataka Swami claims that the label hoax is necessary because the "tradition of the Guru Parampara, Sastra and Sadhu" demands that Srila Prabhupada cannot be called the diksa guru due to not being physically present. However, please note:

1) Jayapataka Swami's explanation is false, because Srila Prabhupada has not taught that unless the diksa guru is physically present, it would violate "guru, sadhu and sastra" as Jayapataka Swami claims.

2) In any case, Jayapataka Swami himself states that ISKCON's guru system does not follow guru and sastra:

"Actually the scriptures mention that the guru can be called by such names as Visnupada, Prabhupada, acaryadeva. Nonetheless the GBC felt that being attached to this particular scriptural instruction has been counter-productive as many devotees felt that it was artificial to accept such names. [...] At first I was quite upset because this was not according to Srila Prabhupada's instructions given in his books. [...] Although in sastra using such names for a guru are authorized, but in a society like ISKCON there should be some approved procedure or etiquette for doing so. [...] Considering the time, place and circumstances we are in there is some merit in this decision although it apparently contravenes a direct instruction of Srila Prabhupada given in his books."
(HH Jayapataka Swami, Letter to all disciples, 24/3/1999)

This bar on the traditional titles given to real diksa gurus is consistent with ISKCON's initiators' true de facto rtvik status.

3) The GBC's official "brain", the Sastric Advisory Council, also concedes that the current ISKCON guru system does not adhere to guru, sadhu and sastra:

"Our present system has institutionalized a process of senior devotees voting or offering no-objection to prospective gurus. But we do not find that this institutionalized blessing seeking process is mentioned by guru, sadhu or sastra as the way that one is authorized to become a guru."
(Balancing the Roles of the GBC and the Disciple in Guru Selection, Sastric Advisory Council)

Thus, the need to follow guru, sadhu and sastra is simply a cover invented to justify the label hoax.


The GBC's guru system is a perfect example of how ISKCON operates, being guided by personal desires rather than philosophy:

a) It is accepted that the system relies on applying labels that have no bearing on the functions that are actually performed.

b) This label hoax is rationalised by invoking "guru, sadhu and sastra". But it is admitted that the GBC'S own guru system does not follow "guru, sadhu and sastra". Whereas Srila Prabhupada's acting as the diksa guru of ISKCON does not in any case violate "guru, sadhu and sastra."

c) Rather, mislabelling oneself as a diksa guru allows one to garner profit, adoration and distinction (PAD) from one's newly created "disciples". The label hoax, therefore, manifests as a symptom of the desire for PAD (which can also be achieved by misusing even correct labels - see "The Great Guru Hoax, Part 3", Editorial, BTP 19). Thus, as long as the desire for PAD remains, so will deviation, rather than philosophical understanding and strict following.

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