Thieves Fall Out Over Sharing The Spoils!


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 38, Winter 2012/13

Ever since Srila Prabhupada’s physical departure in 1977, ISKCON’s leaders have been united in agreeing that they should collectively usurp Srila Prabhupada’s position as ISKCON’s diksa guru. Over the years, this has resulted in almost 130 individuals being authorised to become successor gurus — with anyone and everyone who gets the required number of votes from the GBC being eligible to join the “guru club”. Even “granddisciples”, or those whose own ISKCON gurus are still present on the planet, have been invited to join the “guru franchise”. However, during all this frenzy to unauthorisedly occupy Srila Prabhupada’s position, one group — females — have hitherto been excluded, with not one female having ever been authorised to become a successor diksa guru. The GBC acted to change this situation by passing a resolution recently (Resolution 305, 2009), which cleared the way for female diksa gurus (“FDG”). This has led to a fight amongst ISKCON leaders, with one group led by ISKCON gurus such as HH Sivarama Swami and HH Bhakti Vikasa Swami opposing this resolution, and another group led by ISKCON gurus such as HH Hridayananda Dasa Goswami supporting it. A debate between these two factions took place on the GBC Conference (an internet forum for the GBC) and elsewhere. Below, we analyse arguments presented by the two factions in this debate.

FDG Contradiction - 1

Arguing that no change to scriptural principle would be caused by allowing female diksa gurus, Hridayananda Dasa Goswami states:

“Since Rupa Goswami does not list ‘no Vaisnavi guru’ as a basic principle, it is obviously a detail.”
(Hridayananda Dasa Goswami, 9/10/2012)

However, neither has “no physically absent guru” been listed as a basic principle, and therefore Hridayananda Dasa Goswami has to agree that this is also “obviously a detail”. This would mean that Srila Prabhupada’s physical absence cannot be a reason to prevent Srila Prabhupada continuing to remain ISKCON’s diksa guru. So in trying to accommodate female diksa gurus, Hridayananda Dasa Goswami has made an argument that makes the whole debate over FDG redundant. Because with no reason as to why Srila Prabhupada should have been stopped from acting as ISKCON’s diksa guru, the question of having successor diksa gurus — be they female or male — does not even arise.

FDG Contradiction - 2

One devotee named Kaunteya Dasa argued that since females are eligible to be siksa gurus, they must also be eligible to be diksa gurus:

“‘nobody can plausibly deny the same Vaisnavis the possibility of being siksa-gurus. This artificial dychotomy appears unjustified, the product of willfully and selectively neglecting fundamental instructions by Srila Prabhupada such as: The initiating and instructing spiritual masters are equal and identical manifestations of Krsna.’
(CC Adi 1.34p) [...]
‘Generally a spiritual master who constantly instructs a disciple in spiritual science becomes his initiating spiritual master later on.’
(CC Adi 1.35p)
Once this artificial dychotomy is exposed, I suspect that (for open-minded people) the idea that women can’t initiate until they demonstrate an extraordinary level of advancement would collapse like a house of cards.”

(Kaunteya Dasa, 8/10/2012)

Agreeing wholeheartedly with this argument above, Hridayananda Dasa Goswami states:

“You raise a valid point, despite all attempts to obfuscate the truth of it.”
(Hridayananda Dasa Goswami, 9/10/2012)

Yet, since the GBC have declared that Srila Prabhupada will always be the the pre-eminent, compulsory siksa guru for everyone in ISKCON —

“ISKCON’s founder-acarya, Srila Prabhupada, is the preeminent and compulsory siksa-guru for all vaiñëavas (gurus and disciples) in the Society”.
(GBC Resolution 409, 1999)

— the argument above applies equally to Srila Prabhupada. Therefore, again, in trying to accommodate female diksa gurus, Hridayananda Dasa Goswami has supported an argument that makes the whole debate over FDG redundant. Because, since by virtue of being everyone’s siksa guru Srila Prabhupada continues to be eligible to act as ISKCON’s diksa guru, the question of successor diksa gurus, be they female or male, does not even arise.

FDG Contradiction - 3

Turning now to the other side — those who oppose the GBC resolution promoting FDGs — they had the challenge of responding to the statements made by Srila Prabhupada, such as:

“You, all my disciples, everyone should become spiritual master.”
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 22/8/1973)

These types of statements are usually trotted out by both factions when trying to prove that Srila Prabhupada authorised all his disciples to become successor diksa gurus. However, as these statements do not exclude females, if one accepts that they authorise successor diksa gurus, then one must also accept that they equally authorise female diksa gurus. To counter this, the anti-FDG group has simply changed its stance to that of the IRM, and accepted that these types of statements are only authorising everyone to preach, i.e. to become supplementary siksa gurus who assist the main siksa guru and diksa guru, Srila Prabhupada:

“What if the two statements ‘in play’, i.e. the one below and the other that was introduced earlier (the famous ‘I want all of my disciples to become spiritual master’), were meant to generally encourage all of SP’s disciples to feel that by spreading his teachings they could guide the world — in general terms? But to specifically become diksa gurus — as we have at present within ISKCON — is a different concept. […] So such quotations from Prabhupada have to be viewed as ‘statements of encouragement’, and not ‘statements of ideology’.”

However, if one accepts that whenever Srila Prabhupada said “become guru” or “become spiritual master”, he was not issuing an order for successor diksa gurus, whether male or female, then Srila Prabhupada continues to remain the diksa guru, as he has not authorised any diksa guru successors!

(Interestingly, the leader of the FDG group, Hridayananda Dasa Goswami, had already long ago accepted this argument above, that whenever Srila Prabhupada was urging his disciples in general to “become guru”, these statements “would not apply to a primary guru-disciple relationship, on the level of siksa or diksa”. (Hridayananda Dasa Goswami, 13/8/1997 — the full exchange can be viewed at:


Thus, in attempting to argue for their particular version of the guru successor program, both factions actually end up showing that the debate is unnecessary since Srila Prabhupada remains ISKCON’s diksa guru, and successors, be they male or female, are neither authorised nor required!

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