The Proof of PAD


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 42, Winter 2013/14

There is a simple technique which can be used to help determine the motivation underlying the existence of any particular system. One can audit the different reasons which those who have created the system have themselves rejected as being responsible for the system. This process of elimination will then lead to the actual reason for why the system exists. Below, we apply this method of analysis to ISKCON's GBC guru system.

No functional need

The existence of a guru system which arose specifically due to Srila Prabhupada's physical departure, would by definition be based on the need for gurus who are "physically present", rather than physically absent. Indeed, the GBC paper Prabhupada's Order (1998) aims to refute the IRM's foundational paper, The Final Order (1996), by claiming that such "living" gurus are essential in order for one to get a "proper understanding of Vedic knowledge":

"This is not surprising since his [Prabhupada's] books and conversations are absolutely full of references to the parampara system and how this system, of surrendering to a living bona-fide spiritual master, is imperative to the proper understanding of Vedic knowledge."
(GBC, Prabhupada's Order, 1998)

However, the justification for the necessity of "living gurus" in order to understand Vedic knowledge has now been turned on its head by one such "living guru" himself, HH Kadamba Kanana Swami ("KKS"), who states that not answering a disciple's inquiry is actually a "very good" thing for a guru to do:

"I always say: "If I don't answer your email then that's very good. Because then there is the good chance that I'm actually chanting my rounds and reading Srimad Bhagavatam"
When I answer all my emails very faithfully then you should doubt about my chanting because it is not humanly possible to answer to all those emails."

(HH Kadamba Kanana Swami's blog)

Additionally, on page 3, we have already presented ISKCON UK admitting that ISKCON's GBC gurus cannot in any case provide such personal guidance for their disciples.

No institutional need

It may be argued that for an institution to remain dynamic and vital, it needs to project "living personalities" as figureheads that followers can relate to. However, in this connection we may note that, for example, when ISKCON UK presented its "Vision document" for the future (please see BTP 41 "GBC Adopts the IRM's Position!") it did not even mention the existence of the GBC's "gurus"! Rather, it only projected Srila Prabhupada as the main, significant, unifying personality for ISKCON. This is understandable, since ISKCON's "gurus" have been a public relations disaster, with around 50% of them either having been censured or defrocked completely (please see BTP Special Issue 1, page 10). And, therefore, there is little faith that the current ones may also not deviate in the future. Hence, in addition to not serving any practical functional need, the GBC "gurus" do not fulfil any institutional need for figurehead personalities either.

No traditional need

Nor is ISKCON claiming it needs its gurus due to a need to fulfil any requirements for tradition and historical precedent, for it admits that its guru system is completely without precedent and tradition:

"[...] the idea of this GBC is not exactly traditional [...] What we were trying to do now you have to understand had never been done [...] when you're going to have a single institution with many different spiritual masters and there are many different disciples who are going to have to work together in a cooperative and unified way. Just hadn't been done."
(HG Ravindra Svarupa Dasa, ex-GBC Chairman, Lecture, 29/6/99 - 3/7/99)

"the traditional guru disciple relationship [...] that is not the model given to us by Srila Prabhupada [...] devotees serving as guru in ISKCON are not the ultimate authority as would be the case in the traditional vedic setting [...] This is a subtle but significant difference from the traditional guru disciple relationship."
(Praghosa Dasa, GBC member, article, 1/6/09)

No sastric need

Nor is ISKCON claiming that its guru system is driven by a desire to follow sastra (scripture), with its own "sastric Advisory Committee" admitting that ISKCON's guru system has no basis in guru, sadhu or 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, GBC sastric Advisory Committee)

No need to follow orders

Nor was ISKCON's guru system created due to any order from Srila Prabhupada. It is admitted that the guru system arose purely due to the personal "desire" of those who had actually been appointed to serve only as rtviks:

"Actually, Prabhupada never appointed any gurus. He didn't appoint eleven gurus. He appointed eleven rtviks. [...] We made a great mistake. After Prabhupada's departure, what is the position of these eleven people? Obviously, Srila Prabhupada felt that of all the people, these people are particularly qualified. So it stands to reason that after Prabhupada's departure, they would go on, if they so desired, to initiate."
(HH Tamala Krsna Goswami, 3/12/80, quoted in ISKCON Journal (1990), GBC Executive Committee, emphasis added)

It is also admitted that the system was then expanded without any authorisation from Srila Prabhupada:

"Is this an outright fabrication or not? That Srila Prabhupada 'personally detailed the procedure for increasing the number of initiating guru[s]' is something we can only wish. Or falsely tell the Society he did."
(Jayadvaita Swami, 13/12/03)

Indeed, the ISKCON gurus themselves attest to this. For example, HH Sivarama Swami states that he became a guru only due to the prompting of a wouldbe disciple (Podcast, 4/10/06); and HH Bhakti Charu Swami states he became a guru because other gurus "fell down" (PAMHO Text 5992588, 16/2/02). Thus, they saw an opportunity and took it.


Hence, by their own admission, ISKCON's guru system does not exist for any spiritual reason. Rather, the donations, disciples and service meant for Srila Prabhupada have been appropriated by ISKCON's gurus due to them acting unauthorisedly out of personal desire. Therefore, the system is motivated by the need for PAD (Profit, Adoration and Distinction), rather than a spiritual order.

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