For years the GBC have been arguing that the IRM's position must be wrong because it supposedly breaks the 'law of disciplic succession', which was stated by Srila Prabhupada in a letter to Tusta Krishna Das, and which reads thus:


"But as a matter of etiquette it is the custom that 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."

(2nd December, 1975, Srila Prabhupada (photo left) Letter to Tusta Krishna Swami)

The GBC were also very happy to accept that the restriction on initiating in the presence of one's spiritual master was an integral part of this 'law of disciplic succession', and used this as their main argument as to why devotees could not initate whilst their Gurus were present on the planet. This was stated very forcefully by the GBC in their official paper on the subject of initiation, titled 'Gurus and Initiation in ISKCON' (GII) (1995, GBC). This paper, having analysed Srila Prabhupada's quotes including the one just provided above, states very categorically that:

"From these quotations it is clear that Srila Prabhupada did not want his disciples to initiate, no matter how qualified they may be, as long as their spiritual master was present. [...] It is prudent to assume that Srila Prabhupada was speaking as the Founder-acarya of ISKCON, and that he is restricting all disciples of all gurus in ISKCON from initiating in the presence of their spiritual masters. Even though in the past spiritual masters have given disciples permission to initiate in their presence, Srila Prabhupada emphatically forbids it as a manner of general etiquette. [...] ISKCON is a unique institution in the history of Vaisnavism. We must assume that as Founder-Acarya, Srila Prabhupada had the vision to set down a law--a law suitable for that unique institution, a law we would transgress at our peril. A disciple's only duty is to worship and serve his spiritual master. His mind should not be agitated over how he may become a guru. A devotee who sincerely wants to make spiritual advancement should try to become a disciple, not a spiritual master."

("Devotees Initiating Before Their Guru's Physical Departure: An Official GBC Paper"; Part of GII, GBC, 1995)

So its extremely clear what the GBC believes:

  1. That under no circumstances should anyone initiate in the presence of their spiritual master. This was Srila Prabhupada's emphatic teaching.
  2. Even if the devotees are very qualified, or if they have had permission from their own spiritual masters, Srila Prabhupada strictly forbids the practice for ISKCON for all time.
  3. That this restriction is part of a unique 'law' of disciplic succession given especially for ISKCON by Srila Prabhupada, and we would be trangressing this at our own 'peril'.
  4. That disciples should simply try and focus on serving their Gurus, instead of being agitated how to become Gurus themselves, whilst their Gurus are still on the planet.

Right? Wrong!

In an amazing U-turn, amazing even for the GBC, they have turned their own words on their head, and decided that it is alright for a disciple to become a Guru even whilst his own Guru is on the planet, after all! As the following sensational announcement by the GBC Chairman, Ramai Swami confirms:

---------- RESOLVED ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

That an *EXCEPTION* has been made in the case of HH Maha Visnu Goswami in
regards to the present ISKCON LAW 6.3.2 (which reads as)

"No devotee shall give initiation as long as his own spiritual master is
present on the planet. A devotee whose spiritual master is present must take
all who approach him for initiation to his own spiritual master (or other
approved initiating guru)."

Whereas HH Maha Visnu Goswami is doing dynamic preaching--attracting many to
ISKCON and keeping others in ISKCON;

Whereas there are several unique features to the history of HH Maha Visnu
Goswami that should be considered;

Whereas HH Maha Visnu Goswami is often asked for initiation by new devotees;

Whereas HH Maha Visnu Goswami is very elderly;

Whereas HH Maha Visnu Goswami has displayed allegiance to Srila Prabhupada's

Whereas the subject of disciple's initiating in the presence of their Guru
is an ongoing discussion amongst ISKCON's leaders;

"It is hereby resolved that an exception to the present ISKCON law regarding
disciples initiating in the presence of their guru has been made in the case
of HH Maha Visnu Goswami.

That HH Maha Visnu Goswami is hereby granted a "no objection" to give
initiation to prospective disciples.

That all such initiations should follow the standards set by ISKCON law".


Please note that whereas the GBC had previously stated quite emphatically that Srila Prabhupada had forbidden disciples to initiate whilst their Guru was on the planet under any circumstance, and that we would violate this LAW at our own PERIL, they have now said that amongst other things Maha-vishnu Swami (pictured right) is 'very elderly'. So that's all right then! Srila Prabhupada and the GBC both obviously forgot to mention this 'senior citizen' clause in the 'law' of disciplic succession that we would violate at our own peril!


This is more proof, if any were needed, how the GBC's philosophical position is a joke. They cannot even decide for themselves: 

a) what THEY believe in,

b) what Srila Prabhupada taught,

c) and whether or not the 'law of disciplic succession' is really a law that cannot be broken!