by Krishnakant

16th Jan. 1998

There are two newly transcribed tapes posted on the GBC-backed CHAKRA website which are being used to support ISKCON'S current 'multiple acarya successor system' (M.A.S.S.). We shall herein show that these new weapons, whilst obviously directed at supporters of the final order (July 9th 1977), merely support the ritvik conclusion, and are thus self-defeating.

Just to re-cap. For the last twenty years the GBC have relied on just one astra to support their disbanding of the ritvik system, and the subsequent transformation of the original eleven ritviks into fully fledged diksa gurus (modifications A and B from 'The Final Order'). That astra was the famous May 28th conversation. Even as recently as last year a GBC paper (disciple of my disciple) relied totally on this conversation to support it's position. 'The Final Order' discussion paper pointed out that aside from the fact that four different transcripts of this conversation had been offered, and that the GBC had given four different 'official' interpretations of this very same evidence. The conversation itself only factually supported the idea that the ritvik system was meant to be continued.

This May 28th astra has now been completely disabled. Under the auspices of the GBC, the tape from which the conversation was extracted was given a preliminary analysis. This analysis showed the recording exhibited 'strong signs suggestive of falsification'. Some GBC members tried to argue that although parts of the tape may have been edited, the section in question seemed to be all right. When this was put to the forensic examiner himself his response was clear and unequivocal:

"If the copy contains SIGNS SUGGESTIVE OF FALSIFICATION, that copy could not be relied upon as a faithful and accurate rendition of the original."

"If the preliminary analysis discovers any area that is significantly suggestive of falsification, then the ENTIRE recording is in question and a Forensic Analysis should be done".

(N.Perle, 13/10/97 & 14/10/97.
In response to query as to whether ANY portion of the May 28th tape can be taken as authentic and 'intact', after a preliminary analysis had discovered irregularities).

Thus the May 28th conversation, already highly dubious evidence to start with, is now completely inadmissible. The only way this conversation could even be considered, as any type of evidence at all is if a full forensic analysis is done on the ORIGINAL tape. For some reason the GBC seem reluctant or incapable of doing this.

Rather than accept defeat and re-instate the ritvik system, the GBC are now desperately rummaging around the archives for new evidence. And hence the excitement when they discovered the following:


"Conversation with the GBC," May 25, 1972 in Los Angeles.

Srila Prabhupada: (...) Ah, no problem. G.B.C. means now they should travel very extensive. That is the first principle. Not sit down in one place and pass resolution. No, they must be active. They must act like me. As I'm old man travelling all over the world. Now to give me relief the G.B.C. members... I shall expand into twelve more so that they can exactly work like me. GRADUALLY THEY WILL BE INITIATORS. At least first initiation. You must make advance. That is my motive. So, in that way I want to divide it in twelve zones (...).

On the strength of the above passage the GBC seem to now be saying they were perfectly justified in stopping the ritvik system, and have the ritviks change into diksa gurus. (For the sake of argument we will for the time being assume these tapes have not also been tampered with). In reality the above quote can only support the ritvik position for the following reasons:

  1. Leaving aside content for a moment, if this brief snippet of conversation were really so pivotal to the future of ISKCON for possibly the next ten thousand years, it seems unbelievable that Srila Prabhupada would have just blithely left this statement to be unearthed some 26 years later.
  1. Looking now at the content of the above quote. It is clear Srila Prabhupada can only be referring to a proxy initiation role for these GBC disciples since:
    1. As early on as 1968 Srila Prabhupada hinted at his future plans to set up an officiating or proxy initiation system. In letters to Hansadutta and Kirtanananda (12/1/69) he predicted that by 1975 he will have devotees performing initiations. We know he must have been referring to some type of proxy system since he was still on the planet in 1975. To have disciples initiate their own disciples whilst he was physically present would have violated 'the law of disciplic succession' which the GBC is so fond of repeating.
    2. In the above mentioned letter to Kirtanananda Srila Prabhupada said that devotees who passed the Bhaktivedanta examinations would be 'empowered to initiate'. In 1972 he said it would be the GBC's; and in 1977 on July 7th he said that 'senior sanyasis' would be suitable candidates.

History shows that Srila Prabhupada did actually put in action these plans. He did set up senior men to 'gradually be initiators'. Firstly he had devotees such as Gaurasundara and Kirtanananda chant on new initiates beads. Then more devotees such as Brahmananda and Achyutananda got involved, often performing the fire yajna too. Eventually, as the Movement became large and greater numbers of new disciples were requiring initiation, all these ceremonial functions were performed by Srila Prabhupada's more senior disciples. This is what the word 'gradually' must be referring to. 'Gradually' they were given more and more of the ceremony to perform until on July 9th 1977 Srila Prabhupada delegated FULL responsibility for accepting and initiating new disciples to 11 ritviks. At no stage was there ever any question as to whom the disciples belonged. They were all Srila Prabhupada's disciples. The ritviks WERE initiators. They were initiators on Srila Prabhupada's behalf. We want to know how they themselves became diksa gurus. The quote in question sheds no light on this matter whatsoever.

  1. In the quoted conversation Srila Prabhupada is referring to how he wanted the GBC's to act imminently. Although the word 'gradually' is used, there is no mention of Srila Prabhupada's departure needing to occur before they could act as initiators. Thus he could only be talking about them acting in a representational manner.
    1. The very term 'gradually' rules out the possibility that Srila Prabhupada could have been talking about what was to happen IMMEDIATELY after his departure.
    2. The very second Srila Prabhupada left the planet the ritviks believed themselves authorised diksa gurus. One second is not 'gradual', it is immediate. It makes no sense to say you gradually immediately become a diksa guru. However, the fact that the ritvik system was 'gradually' developed over a number of years is just historical fact. Thus Srila Prabhupada must have been speaking of GBC's who would gradually act as initiators on his behalf.
    3. It should also be pointed out that there is a vast difference between the qualification necessary to act as a diksa guru, and that needed to become a GBC member.
      A GBC member is voted into office.

A diksa guru must be a maha-bhagavat, and must NOT be appointed or approved by some ecclesiastical convention or mundane voting procedure. (for supporting evidence see 'The Final Order').

To link diksa guru status to any practising devotee who happens to have some managerial acumen is unsupported by Srila Prabhupada's teachings, though one could argue he might make a good ritvik.

In this conversation Srila Prabhupada says:

'Gradually they will be initiators. AT LEAST FIRST INITIATION'.

Remember as fully-fledged Diksa Gurus, they would now be 'the sum total of all the demi-gods', and it is nonsensical to even think that they should be restricted from giving brahmin initiation.

We wonder if these questions have even occurred to the mighty army of CHAKRA. Certainly this statement can only be made sense of in a pre-departure context, namely the gradual delegation of ceremonial function to representatives who may eventually perform all procedures on Srila Prabhupada's behalf.

To summarise our points for quote 1:

  1. The term 'initiator' can be readily applied to a ritvik, since he initiates on Srila Prabhupada's behalf, and indeed Srila Prabhupada had previously spoken in this way.
  2. History supports our interpretation of the term 'gradually' and can relate only to the setting up of a proxy, representational, officiating or ritvik system.
  3. The conversation is not restricted to GBC duties post-departure, and therefore their 'initiating' duty can only be representational, since otherwise it would violate 'the law of disciplic succession' which the GBC accept as a very important principle.
  4. The term 'gradually' rules out 'immediately after departure' which is what the GBC have always claimed; namely that the 11 ritviks were authorised to initiate one split second after Srila Prabhupada's departure.
  5. The qualification of a diksa guru is way beyond that required of a GBC member (with all due respect), therefore Srila Prabhupada must only have been expecting them to act as humble representatives.
  6. The fact that Srila Prabhupada would even consider limiting these 'initiators' to first initiation only, proves they were never intended to be fully fledged diksa gurus.

Now for the second quote which appeared on CHAKRA:

August 22, 1973 in London on Prabhupada's Vyasa Puja day:

Therefore, a so-called philosopher, scientist's knowledge is always imperfect. The perfect knowledge can be received through this parampara system. From Krishna, Krishna to Brahma, Brahma to Narada, Narada to Vyasa, Vyasa to Madhvacarya. In this way, from Caitanya Mahaprabhu, six Gosvames, then our Guru Maharaja, in this way. And our business is just to present whatever we have heard. This is very important point.

[ ... rest of quote is quite long, and can be seen on Chakra's website ... ]

.... Then you become spiritual master. That's all."

So I hope that all of you, men, women, boys and girls, become spiritual master, and follow this principle. Spiritual master, simply, sincerely, follow the principles and speak to the general public. Then Krishna immediately becomes your favourite. Krishna does not become your favourite; you become Krishna's favourite. Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita,

na ca tasmad manunyenu kaccin me priya-kattamau:
"One who is doing this humble service of preaching work, Krishna consciousness, nobody is dearer than him to Me."

So if you want to become recognized by Krishna very quickly, you take up this process of becoming spiritual master, present the Bhagavad-gita as it is. Your life is perfect. Thank you very much. (end)

Of course no-one is complaining that all this wonderful new material is coming to light. We are very grateful to the archives for all their painstaking work. However does this quote revoke the ritvik system and set up the M.A.S.S. We think not for the following reasons.

Again this quote was not available prior to Srila Prabhupada's departure, but rather some 26 years later, and can thus only be used as SUPPORTIVE evidence.

The May 28th tape is currently inadmissible, and it was the dubious interpretation of this tape which formed the very foundation of the GBC's position on gurus within ISKCON for the last twenty years.
Nowhere in the above lecture does Srila Prabhupada ever mention the term 'diksa', or the term 'initiate' or 'initiation'. This is a vital pre-requisite to any evidence meant to supplant or modify the final order on initiation. Everyone already accepts that Srila Prabhupada wanted all his disciples to become gurus or teachers. That is not what is at issue here.

Srila Prabhupada repeats the 'amara' verse when describing the type of gurus he is authorising:

"He says, amara ajnaya. "Whatever I say, amara ajnaya, by My order, you become a spiritual master."

As is explained in the paper 'Best not to accept disciples' this can only refer to siksa or instructing guru.
Srila Prabhupada is encouraging devotees there and then to act as guru. There is no mention of them only acting in this capacity after his departure. Therefore he must have been ordering siksa or vartma pradasaka gurus since to do otherwise would violate the 'law of disciplic succession' the GBC are so fond of.

There is no mention of the necessity of first attaining maha-bhagavata status before acting as guru, a vital pre-requisite for diksa (C.c. Madhya, 24.330, purport). Therefore Srila Prabhupada can only have been ordering teachers or instructing gurus.

Throughout the passage Srila Prabhupada constantly stresses how easy it is to be the type of guru he is ordering; how anyone can do it- even a rascal:

"That is the bona fide spiritual master. And that is very easy. To become spiritual master is not very difficult thing. You'll have to become spiritual master. You, all my disciples, everyone should become spiritual master. It is not difficult."

There is no mention that one must first attain the topmost platform of devotional service, or receive a majority vote from a committee in Mayapur. Thus we fail to see how this can be authorising bona fide diksa gurus, what to speak of the concocted M.A.S.S., currently in operation within ISKCON.

"So I hope that all of you, men, women, boys and girls, become spiritual master, and follow this principle. Spiritual master, simply, sincerely, follow the principles and speak to the general public".

In conclusion, the GBC will need to equip their army with more effective weaponry than this if they have any hope of defeating the ritvik position.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.