Spring 2006

Please consider the following hypothetical scenario:

Bhakta A and Bhakta B are very good friends and after having come across Srila Prabhupada’s books they both vow to join an ISKCON temple in Brazil, the country in which they live. Both bhaktas join the same ISKCON temple in April 1977. 6 months later in October 1977, by the initiation procedure given just months earlier on July 9th, 1977 by Srila Prabhupada, the Temple President recommends Bhakta A for initiation. And therefore by this same authorised procedure, the ritvik who is nearest to Brazil grants Bhakta A a spiritual name and accepts him as Srila Prabhupada’s disciple. Just a month later, Bhakta B is also ready for initiation, and the Temple President recommends him for initiation, and via exactly the same process by which his good friend Bhakta A got initiation, Bhakta B is also accepted by the same ritvik priest as a duly initiated disciple of Srila Prabhupada, in late November.

So far so good. Both Bhakta A and Bhakta B have undergone exactly the same spiritual experience, and relationship with Srila Prabhupada. Neither of them have ever met Srila Prabhupada (Srila Prabhupada never visited Brazil), and both got initiated in exactly the same manner via the same ritvik procedure authorised by Srila Prabhupada.
And after this they will never see Srila Prabhupada either, for Srila Prabhupada physically departed on November 14th, 1977. One would therefore be justified in assuming that their spiritual status as disciples of Srila Prabhupada is identical. Unfortunately, no.

According to our current GBC, though one of these devotees is indeed a bona fide disciple Srila Prabhupada, the other however is participating in a most dangerous and deviant spiritual heresy worse than paedophilia. For Bhakta B received his spiritual name days after Srila Prabhupada had physically departed from the planet. Therefore, today’s ISKCON argues, Srila Prabhupada’s directive to the society issued just months earlier, regarding how initiations in ISKCON would be conducted, becomes null and void.

Now Bhakta B definitely does not feel or think himself worse than a paedophile. He has simply followed his good friend Bhakta A, and undergone initiation via a system authorised by Srila Prabhupada himself. He is unable to understand any rhyme or reason behind this “spiritual apartheid”, a new mutation of the caste system. He has done everything the same as his friend Bhakta A, but still this is not deemed good enough.

And as we have seen there is only one: the physical location of Srila Prabhupada at the time the ritvik priest mailed his letter accepting each of these devotees as disciples of Srila Prabhupada.
In one case, Srila Prabhupada was still residing on the planet; in the other, he was somewhere else in the material universe:

“You have asked if it is true that the Spiritual Master remains in the material universe until all of His disciples are transferred to the Spiritual Sky. The answer is yes, this is the rule. Therefore, every student should be very much careful not to commit any offense which will be detrimental to this promotion to the Spiritual Kingdom, and thereby the Spiritual Master has to incarnate again to deliver him.”
(Srila Prabhupada Letter , 11/7/69)

Yet in both cases, Srila Prabhupada has no physical involvement in what is happening.

It cannot be for performing the ceremony, nor to accept the disciple, nor to personally examine the disciple, nor to instruct the disciple.

What is most ironic is that since in both cases Srila Prabhupada is physically absent from the life of the disciple, we are actually discussing not the relevance of Srila Prabhupada’s presence, but the degree of his physical absence! In one case, at the moment of initiation, Srila Prabhupada’s physical absence is thousands of miles (Bhakta A). In the other case (Bhakta B), the physical absence is millions of miles, for as the quote above shows, Srila Prabhupada is still in the material universe.

The argument maybe used that at least in the case of Bhakta A Srila Prabhupada could have met Bhakta A.

And solely on this irrelevant difference in Srila Prabhupada’s physical absence, we have inaugurated the mass deviation of kicking Srila Prabhupada out of his own society, and replacing him with any of his disciples (please see the latest GBC resolution calling for any and all of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples to become initiating gurus).

It could be argued that regardless of relevance, Srila Prabhupada gave the July 9th directive to only be used while he was still on the planet, and therefore we must follow this.
But we saw previously  that there is not even a hint that the July 9th directive was meant to terminate the very second Srila Prabhupada left the planet. And neither in 30 years have the GBC produced any order from Srila Prabhupada authorising any disciple or disciples to succeed him and take his place. Hence with no order either stopping Srila Prabhupada from initiating, nor authorising his disciples to begin initiating, the GBC by their own admission have said that these points are simply assumed and “understood”, and also offered many contradictory explanations to justify this bizarre assumption.

“The spiritual master can be present wherever the disciple wants. A spiritual master is the principle, not the body. Just like a television can be seen in thousands of place by the principle of relay monitoring.”
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 28 May 1968)


To answer the question “What’s the difference?”, though there is none philosophically and spiritually, there is one BIG difference in practice:

The GBC-elected gurus get to be worshipped as good-as-God, and this difference alone is more than sufficient and relevant for the entire machinery of present-day ISKCON to be used to ruthlessly silence any dissent, with dissenters being considered worse than convicted paedophiles.