GBC Explains Its Guru System Is Unauthorised


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 55, Spring 2017

In previous BTP issues, we have quoted ISKCON's own leaders confessing that ISKCON's successor diksa guru system is not authorised. For example, the GBC's own "Sastric Advisory Council" ("SAC") states 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, SAC)

Now, after many decades of running such an unauthorised guru system, the GBC has finally decided to issue a resolution which addresses this glaring deficiency in its guru system. GBC Resolution 312, 2017, presents a document titled "Principles for Creating a Diksa-Guru System for ISKCON" as an "official ISKCON position paper". This resolution:

a) Admits the GBC's guru system is not supported by sastra;
b) Attempts to offer evidence for why it is still authorised.

However, as we shall see, although it does do a), it fails to offer b), thereby rendering its "explanation" nothing but a de facto admission that its guru system is indeed unauthorised! All quotes in the shaded boxes below will be from this GBC resolution.

The admission

"[...] in the Vedic scriptures we will not find directions for Vaisnava institutions to endorse or authorize spiritual positions like sannyasa or diksa-guru."

The resolution admits that sastra does not direct an institution like ISKCON to "authorise" spiritual positions like sannyasa or diksa guru. It then states that such sastric evidence is not required if one has evidence in the form of:

"Srila Prabhupada's instructions and activities".

Thus, it argues that the GBC can authorise sannyasis because it is able to present the following order from Srila Prabhupada, wherein he expressly instructs the GBC to authorise sannyasis:

" "I request that you make something concrete and distribute it to all the other GBC members and amongst yourselves you may decide who will take sannyasa." [Letter to Satsvarupa, 10 February 1973]"

Thus, the GBC itself has established that the only way the lack of scriptural authority for the GBC to authorise spiritual positions can be countered, is by an order from Srila Prabhupada directly authorising the GBC to in turn authorise the spiritual position. Hence, they produced an order from
Srila Prabhupada specifically stating that the GBC "amongst themselves" can "decide who will take sannyasa." Consequently, by their own logic, their admission that there is a lack of scriptural authority for the GBC-authorised diksa gurus, could only be countered by a specific order from Srila Prabhupada similarly ordering the GBC to authorise diksa gurus.

No authority

However, no such order is presented by the resolution, and indeed no such order exists. Thus, their explanation for how the GBC was empowered to make sannyasis merely highlights that they do not have a similar authority to make diksa gurus. Rather, the resolution tries to hide the lack of a similar order for the GBC to authorise diksa gurus, by changing the subject to the qualifications of a diksa guru:

"Just as Srila Prabhupada established that the qualifications of prospective sannyasis should be assessed, he similarly indicated that diksa gurus should have certain qualifications."

But the issue is not the qualifications of a diksa guru. The issue is – was the GBC ordered by Srila
Prabhupada to authorise such diksa gurus? And we just saw that although Srila Prabhupada expressly authorised the GBC to make sannyasis, he did not issue a similar command in respect of diksa gurus. Hence, this sleight of hand, whereby the resolution starts by asking correctly for authorisation but then switches to talking about qualification is just plain cheating to hide the lack of such authorisation.

"I shall choose"

On the contrary, the resolution itself then goes on to present evidence that actually only Srila Prabhupada himself will authorise such diksa gurus:

" Tamala Krsna: "Well, I have studied myself and all of your disciples, and it's a clear fact that we are all conditioned souls, so we cannot be guru. Maybe one day it may be possible..."
Prabhupada: "Hmm."
Tamala Krsna: "...but not now."
Prabhupada: "Yes. I shall choose some guru. I shall say, "Now you become acarya. You become authorized."
[Room Conversation, 22 April 1977, Bombay]"

Thus, having not given an order for the GBC to authorise diksa gurus, Srila Prabhupada states instead that he will "choose some guru" by stating, "Now you become acarya. You become authorised". But history records that no such diksa guru "choice" of "some guru" was ever made by Srila Prabhupada issuing such a proclamation. And since Srila Prabhupada did not give an order to the GBC for them to make diksa gurus either – then it means that Srila Prabhupada must remain the diksa guru of ISKCON.


The resolution also claims the following quote is evidence that Srila Prabhupada was speaking about "initiating spiritual masters":

" "Maybe by 1975, all of my disciples will be allowed to initiate and increase the numbers of the generations. That is my program." [Letter to: Hansadutta – Los Angeles 3 January, 1969]"

However, just a few lines earlier, it presents a quote from 1975 itself, which states that it is a "law" that no one can become a guru in their spiritual master's presence:

" "during the lifetime of your spiritual master you bring the prospective disciples to him, and in his absence or disappearance you can accept disciples without any limitation. This is the law of disciplic succession." [Letter to Tusta Krsna Swami, 2 December 1975]" (Please see previous article for discussion of this quote - Ed.)

Therefore, the resolution itself presents evidence that Srila Prabhupada was not referring to authorising "initiating spiritual masters" in his physical presence "by 1975", thus defeating itself!


The GBC has established by its own hand, with an official position paper and resolution, the evidence for why its diksa guru system is not authorised!

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