The Myth of the Subordinate Diksa Guru


'Back to Prabhupada, Issue 24, Summer 2009'

By Krishnakant

When you take what Srila Prabhupada has given us, and try to superimpose on it our own desires, a fiasco emerges, ultimately rendering our attempts to serve Srila Prabhupada deviant and useless. We have already given some examples of this in previous BTP issues:

a) First it was fabricated that Srila Prabhupada wanted 11 gurus instead of 11 ritviks (officiating priests), and mass degradation and deviation followed.

b) Then it was fabricated that everyone can become guru due to the “law of disciplic succession”, only then the law had to be reversed so literally everyone could become guru, including ‘grand-disciples.’

c) Srila Prabhupada continuing to remain the diksa (initiating) Guru of ISKCON is opposed on the basis of historical precedence, and yet at the same time to justify how ISKCON is run it is said tradition is irrelevant because ISKCON itself is unprecedented.

d) To allow for ISKCON gurus falling down as being no big deal, it is stated they are not absolute. But at the same time they must be worshipped as if they are absolute, “as good-as- God”.

e) To fend off rival “living” gurus from the Gaudiya Matha it is stated that Srila Prabhupada is enough for one’s spiritual life, but to promote “living” gurus from ISKCON, it is stated Srila Prabhupada is not enough.

And so on.
This comedy of errors comes full circle when we look at the acrobatic somersaults the GBC en­gage in to justify how ISKCON diksa gurus are naturally subordinate within a GBC structure.
Unless otherwise indicated, all quotes in the panels below are from current GBC member, and ex-GBC chairman, Praghosa Das (“PD”), excerpted from an article he wrote discussing the role of ISKCON gurus being subordinate to the GBC, posted on the GBC- funded website Dandavats. com on June 1st, 2009.

Somersault 1

“In the case of both Srila Prabhupada and also Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura, their wish was that all members of their institutions would subordinate themselves to the authority of an administrative, managerial body. […] So diksa is a service but it should not automatically mean that one doing that service gains independent authority, no, rather they remain a servant under the authority structure of the institution.”

On the back page of this issue we will see that in practice this means that diksa gurus are sub­ject to disciplinary action by the GBC. Yet Srila Prabhupada has taught the opposite, that no diksa guru can ever be treated like this, and to do so is a great offense:

“It is also an offense to consider an empowered Vaisnava an object of disciplinary action. It is offensive to try to give him advice or to correct him.”
(Nectar of Instruction, Text 6, purport)

Hence immediately it can be proven that it is not possible for a diksa guru to be under the authority of a management body.

Somersault 2

“The other issue it raises is the issue of authority, devotees serving as guru in ISKCON are not the ultimate authority as would be the case in the traditional vedic setting. This of course is something that not only the gurus have to embrace but also something the disciples have to understand as well.”

This state of affairs, whereby
the diksa guru is subordinate to the authority of the GBC, is rendered even more absurd when one considers that the disciples of these diksa gurus may themselves well be members of the GBC, as is currently the case, with PD himself being one such example. Yet the whole raison d’être of the guru-disicple relationship is to have disciples subordinate to the guru, not gurus possibly subordinate to their GBC disciples!

Somersault 3

“Sometimes in our society an authority like a temple president may request a devotee serving in their temple to do a particular service and often the devotee will respond with “Oh I need to check with my guru first”. This type of understanding can severely inhibit the mission of ISKCON and if allowed to flourish could lead to its break up.”

So the whole basis of the need for a “living guru”, as argued by the GBC, that he is required to give guidance to his disciple, would now actually lead to ISKCON being severely inhibited and breaking up, if the disciple actually sought this guidance!

Somersault 4

“The question could be raised; “If diksa gives the guru some kind of extraordinary position or authority within the institution, and that diksa is based on siksa, that means that anyone who is giving guidance and instruction to others (siksa), would have some type of independent authority by dint of the fact that they’re also giving siksa. If that was the case we would really have anarchy and chaos on a large scale.”

We already had such a system whereby the diksa guru had an
extraordinary position or authority, and it worked perfectly, and was the system Srila Prabhupada gave us in ISKCON when he was present, with siksa gurus able to work perfectly in harmony with this all-powerful diksa guru, Srila Prabhupada:

“The GBC should all be the instructor gurus. I am the initiator guru, and you should be the instructor guru by teaching what I am teaching and doing what I am doing.” (Srila Prabhupada Letter, 4/8/1975)

So the only anarchy here is PD suggesting that a system Srila Prabhupada gave could possibly result in anarchy. Only the system has to have Srila Prabhupada as the all-powerful diksa Guru, and the GBC subordinate to him. Not dozens of unauthorized gurus somehow artificially squeezed into being subordinate to the GBC.

Somersault 5

“In essence that instruction is that ISKCON’s gurus are not invested with the prerogative of being the ultimate authori­ty within the institution, rather they are also a servant like all other members of ISKCON. Their service is to give diksa, everyone else can, and are, to one degree or another, giving siksa as a service and they also should be giving siksa as generally diksa is based on siksa.”

What PD is proposing entails that we need an order from Srila Prahupada “investing” individuals with the service of:

a) Acting as successor diksa gurus.

b) But also being diksa gurus who will not have the standard ultimate authority that a diksa guru by definition possesses, an entity never spoken of by Srila Prabhupada.

So PD has just gone and raised the bar even much further, since in the last 32 years the GBC have not even been able to produce a); so it’s going to be even harder to produce an order from Srila Prabhupada, combining both a) and b)!

Somersault 6

“However as we know that is not the model given to us by Srila Prabhupada and as ISKCON is the institution of Srila Prabhupada, in essence the devotees serving as gurus within ISKCON are first and foremost initiating devotees into the institution of their spiritual master. This is a subtle but significant difference from the traditional guru disciple relationship.”

The somersaults now become even more bizarre in PD’s attempt to justify this clearly unnatural state of affairs. He now proposes a never before heard of concept, akin to “semi-ritvik”. The ISKCON diksa gurus neither primarily initiate disciples into being their disciples, as is the standard; nor as disciples of Srila Prabhupada, as in the ritvik system Srila Prabhupada set up for ISKCON. Rather, they go for a half-way house, whereby the disciples are initiated not as the disciples of any guru, but rather into an impersonal institution. This PD tells us is a “significant difference from the traditional guru disciple relationship.” Alas, this was not something taught or practised by Srila Prabhupada.

Somersault 7

“It is interesting to note the voluminous instructions from Srila Prabhupada on many many subjects, including how ISKCON should function, mirrored against some of his thoughts on initiation;”

It is interesting to note the voluminous instructions from Srila Prabhupada on many subjects do not include even a whisper at all about successor diksa gurus who will have none of the standard powers of diksa gurus and be subordinate to the GBC.

Somersault 8

“As ISKCON moves forward it is vital that all devotees associated with it understand clearly its authority structure.”

This will be difficult since after 32 years, such a structure still has not been clearly defined, with various committees still trying to figure out how exactly these “parallel lines of authority” can work in practice. This is only to be expected, since Srila Prabhupada never gave such a system or stated how it could even work in theory. Rather, as shown above, it is like trying to force a square peg into a round hole. Hence after 32 years the committees still can’t figure out how to do it, since it can’t be done, nor was it meant to be done.

The reality

The points made above prove that a diksa guru is not supposed to be subordinate to the GBC.

We know that Srila Prabhupada left the GBC as the “ultimate managing authority” for ISKCON as given in the first line of his Last Will and Testament.

The very next line of the Will states “The system of management will continue as it is now and there is no need of any change.” And that system had been in place since 1970, with the GBC subordinate to the diksa Guru, Srila Prabhupada.

2) means that if the GBC do want to create successor diksa gurus in ISKCON, they are forced to try and make them subordinate to themselves. 1) however means this cannot be done.

HDG Srila Prabhupada:
No amount of gymnastics can remove him as diksa Guru.
Praghosa das
GBC Member Praghosa Das:
Acrobat Extaordinaire
This is therefore yet another proof that successor diksa gurus were not ordered for ISKCON by Srila Prabhupada, because they cannot be subordinate, and yet by 2) they would have to be.
3) independently also proves that Srila Prabhupada did not order successor diksa gurus.
The GBC in turn, of course, derive their authority as merely being an executive body subordinate to the diksa Guru of ISKCON, Srila Prabhupada:

“Resolved: The GBC (Governing Body Commission) has been established by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada to represent Him in carrying out the responsibility of managing the International Society for Krishna Consciousness of which He is the Founder-Acarya and supreme authority. The GBC accepts as its life and soul His divine instructions and recognises that it is completely dependent on His mercy in all respects. The GBC has no other function or purpose other than to

execute the instructions so kindly given by His Divine Grace and preserve and spread His Teachings to the world in their pure form.”
(GBC Resolutions, 1975, personally approved by Srila Prabhupada, emphasis added)

The GBC exists solely as a vehicle to execute the orders of the
diksa guru, and not to create diksa gurus who will be subordinate to it.


1) What Srila Prabhupada actually gave as the management structure of ISKCON – a GBC subordinate to the all-powerful diksa guru (Srila Prabhupada), the system given by Srila Prabhupada for ISKCON since 1970 – is based on the role of the diksa guru as described by Srila Prabhupada, and it is what Srila Prabhupada ordered should remain as the permanent management system for ISKCON.

What the current GBC propose – having diksa gurus subordinate to them – was not ordered by Srila Prabhupada, but also is so full of so many inherent contradictions that it collapses upon itself.
Therefore the very existence of a GBC set up by Srila Prabhupada to manage ISKCON on his behalf is itself evidence that no successor diksa gurus were ordered by Srila Prabhupada. This conclusion is proven in much further detail in an academically reviewed paper called The False Dawn of Guru Reform, which can be found here: False_Dawn.htm

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