The elimination of the ISKCON diksha guru


Back to Prabhupada, Issue 27, Spring 2010

The philosophical onslaught by the IRM has led to the GBC’s continually shifting ground towards the IRM’s position, as highlighted by the various “climbdowns” we have featured. In addition, over the last decade or so, ISKCON has officially been working to downgrade the position of the ISKCON diksha (initiating) guru to that of being a ritvik (officiating priest) throughout the “disciple’s” life.

Before initiation

An ISKCON diksha guru cannot freely initiate whomever or wherever he wants. Rather, his sphere of influence is determined by the GBC and temple authorities, like that of a ritvik:

“There will be no more ‘cross-border’ initiations.”
(208/II-107 Initiation procedures, Euro GBC, 7/10/2008)

“Before a candidate can receive first initiation, his prospective guru must receive a formal written recommendation from the appropriate ISKCON spiritual authority, as determined by the candidate’s situation.”
(ISKCON Law Book,

After initiation: service

An ISKCON diksha guru also cannot freely engage his “disciple” in service. Here again the temple authorities have the supreme authority:

“Temple presidents and project leaders are fully responsible for engaging the devotees in their charge. Gurus must first consult with a temple president before talking to a disciple about changing their service.”
(Law 405 (G), GBC Resolutions, 1999)

After initiation: disciple donations

An ISKCON diksha guru cannot even freely ask for money from his own “disciple”:

“It is hereby resolved that in general ISKCON gurus may no longer make requests for funds from disciples or other devotees for projects or personal maintenance.”
(208/II-107 Initiation procedures, Euro GBC, 7/10/2008)

After initiation: teaching

An ISKCON diksha guru is not even required to teach his disciple anything, as this job has been primarily delegated to Srila Prabhupada:

“ISKCON leaders shall teach that Srila Prabhupada’s books and teachings are the foundation of the spiritual lives of all ISKCON members. Therefore, all ISKCON members shall consider it their compulsory duty to study Srila Prabhupada’s books. Hearing from other devotee’s books and teachings is secondary and supplemental and should not be done at the expense of hearing regularly from Srila Prabhupada. […] ISKCON members shall be trained to place their faith, trust and allegiance first and foremost in the Founder-Acarya who is the pre-eminent siksa guru for every member of ISKCON.”
(Law 405 (F), Law 406, (A) 7.1.1, GBC Resolutions, 1999)

After initiation: physical contact

Indeed an ISKCON diksha guru is not even required to meet his “disciple”:

“Indeed, most spiritual masters in ISKCON travel and preach all over the world and you may be lucky to spend little time in their physical presence” […] A “realistic expectation of a spiritual master” is that the disciple should be “prepared to be ‘blanked’".
(“Spiritual Master and Disciple” course notes, Bhaktivedanta Manor, ISKCON UK)

After initiation: inspiration

As well as not doing anything, an ISKCON diksha guru is not even required to act as a source of inspiration:

“A duly initiated disciple in ISKCON can accept Srila Prabhupada, the founder-acarya of ISKCON, as his principle siksa-guru. During his devotional life, he may experience that he derives more spiritual inspiration from Srila Prabhupada’s books and vani than from his own diksa-guru.”
(ISKCON Law 601, GBC Resolutions, 2000)

During initiation

Surely, if not needed for anything else, an ISKCON diksha guru is at least needed to act as a ritvik, and perform the initiation for his disciple? Even here, other “ritviks” can do this on his behalf, with a recent example being the “initiation given via the internet” by Jayapataka Swami, with the chosen ritvik acting as follows:

“HH Gauranga Prem Swami Maharaja touched the beads to Guru Maharaja’s picture and then read the name selected by Guru Maharaja and gave the beads on his behalf to the devotees.”

This practise in itself challenges the notion that Srila Prabhupada cannot be the initiating guru because he must be present on the planet in order to give initiation. Despite no evidence having ever been presented for this dogma, one cannot even offer a reason for this doctrine, since the guru is not required to have any physical contact with the disciple either before, during or after the initiation, as proven by the countless number of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples who never met him. And if you can conduct initiations by touching the beads to a picture, with the presence of the guru not actually required, one cannot claim this cannot also be done when the guru is not on the planet, because the guru is not present! We saw in BTP 9 that even the whole initiation ceremony can take place after the guru has left the planet, as in the case of disciples of HH Bhakti Tirtha Swami, as long as acceptance had already taken place (please see “The myth of the living guru”, BTP 9). And the process of selecting names and accepting disciples had already been delegated entirely to ritviks by Srila Prabhupada on July 9th, 1977, so Srila Prabhupada is not even required to do this personally.


So at every stage of the guru-disciple relationship, the ISKCON diksha guru has officially been relegated to ritvik-like duties, and basically is not even required, while Srila Prabhupada is the person who is actually needed in the disciple’s life. At most, the ISKCON diksha guru has been reduced to a mere functionary, to “rubber-stamp” a person into the “parampara”, just like a ritvik. Though this may be the only “input” required from the ISKCON diksha guru, they do make sure that in the matter of taking worship and benefits, they hypocritically will suddenly become real diksha gurus again! So a “Ritvik work – Guru benefits” system applies. The GBC therefore concede that there is no reason for their false “anyone-but-Srila Prabhupada living diksha guru” system.

Please chant: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna, Krishna, Hare, Hare,
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama, Rama, Hare, Hare.
And be Happy!