Autumn 2003

How can Srila Prabhupada be the Guru when:

1) The Guru needs to be ‘living’.

a) According to the Bhagavad-Gita the soul is eternal. This being the case, Srila Prabhupada must still be living.

b) But does the spiritual master have to physically meet disciples in order to initiate them into spiritual life? The answer must be ‘NO’, since Srila Prabhupada never physically met the vast majority of his own disciples.

c) So there cannot be any reason requiring the physical presence of the Guru by the disciple, be it for receiving initiation, chastisement, teaching etc., otherwise we have to conclude that most of Srila Prabhupada’s current disciples are not really his disciples, having never met him.

d) Neither did Srila Prabhupada ever teach that he must be physically present in order to initiate disciples.

Thus both by Srila Prabhupada’s example and precept, it can be concluded that the need for a ‘physically present’ ‘living’ guru is a myth.

2) Historically the Guru has always been ‘living’.

a) If we were meant to reject things purely on the grounds that they had not occurred historically, then we would certainly need to reject the current ISKCON guru system, since it allows people born outside India to be initiating Gurus. This has never happened before in the known history of the world. Here the GBC will correctly argue that scripture does not give any restriction based on race.

b) But scripture also does not give any restriction to the activities of a Guru based on time and place. Thus since we are supposed to be following scripture and not historical examples, there is similarly no bar on Srila Prabhupada continuing to act as diksa (initiating) Guru.

c) So we cannot have a hypocritical double standard – allowing ISKCON’s GBC to override historical tradition so as to suit their own desires to allow their mostly non-Indian-bodied Gurus to operate, but imposing it just to stop Srila Prabhupada.

3) Without new Gurus, the ‘disciplic succession’ will be stopped.

a) Srila Prabhupada set up the ritvik system to allow himself to be the Guru in ISKCON only. ISKCON alone does not occupy the whole planet, nor will it last forever – it will last up until the end of the predicted golden age – 9500 years from now. Thus it is not even being proposed that only Srila Prabhupada will be the Guru in all places for all time. So nothing is being stopped.

b) Rather, Srila Prabhupada will initiate for a period of time,within ISKCON only, just as he was doing from 1966 to 1977. The disciplic succession did not stop then, and it will not stop now if Srila Prabhupada continues as the Guru.

c) Srila Prabhupada never defined the disciplic succession in terms of physical bodies. He has defined the disciplic succession (parampara) as follows:

Parampara means to hear the truth from the spiritual master.”
(Srila Prabhupada Room conversation, 20/12/76)

So clearly this ‘hearing the truth from the spiritual master’ is continuing even today with Srila Prabhupada, in the same manner as it did from 1966 to 1977.

4) Srila Prabhupada asked his disciples to “become Gurus”?

Yes he did, many, many times. But we should “become guru” in the way he asked us to, not in the way we want. When asking us to “become Guru”, Srila Prabhupada would invariably invoke Lord Caitanya’s instruction from the Caitanya–caritamrta“amara ajnaya guru hana”.
Explaining this most famous verse, Srila Prabhupada instructs: “It is best not to accept any disciples.” (Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, 7.130, purport). So clearly he was not ordering his disciples to accept their own disciples, but merely to preach, act as siksa or instructing gurus and initiate on his behalf.

5) "The July 9th 1977 Directive appointing representatives was applicable only during Srila Prabhupada's physical presence."

a) But the directive itself does NOT state this - that it was meant to apply only for a limited time or that it should terminate at a certain time.

b) Indeed, the very absence of any specific time-period for the directive's operation is itself proof that the directive was meant to apply permanently. One only stipulates a specific time-period to indicate something's temporary nature, i.e. that there is a limited period in which it must apply.

c) Hence the fact that the directive does not specifically say it will continue after Srila Prabhupada's departure is no reason to stop it, since it does not say it will continue after ANY time period - i.e. it does not even say that it should apply after July 9th, 1977 (the date on which it was issued), or that it should apply even when Srila Prabhupada was still physically present.
So if the mention of a certain time-period is required for the directive to apply within that same time-period, then the directive could never have applied at any time at all. Yet Srila Prabhupada obviously wanted it to apply, otherwise why did he bother sending over one hundred copies of the directive to his entire worldwide movement, just shortly before he physically departed?

d) Rather, the directive is not time-dependent in any way, but is issued to an institution and all its managing officers (Temple Presidents and Governing Body Commissioners), to be implemented within that institution. Thus the July 9th directive, and with it the ritvik system it established, must be applied within the institution of ISKCON for as long as that institution exists.

6) "The phrase 'my initiated disciple' in Srila Prabhupada's Will should not be taken literally."

a) The statement in Srila Prabhupada's Last Will and Testament that all executive directors for ISKCON's properties in India must always be Srila Prabhupada's initiated disciples, was certainly no mistake. Indeed, in the original reading of the Will on June 2nd, 1977, the phrase was first read out as "an initiated disciple".
But by the time the Will was prepared, the phrase had been deliberately changed by Srila Prabhupada to "MY initiated disciple", thus avoiding any ambiguity.

b) Neither can the phrase mean "someone else's initiated disciple" or a "non-initiated disciple of Srila Prabhupada", unless we completely ignore the dictionary meanings of the words "my" and "initiated". The phrase "my initiated disciple" was used many times previously by Srila Prabhupada to exclusively, and perhaps unsurprisingly, refer to disciples who were initiated by him. No points for guessing why the current 80 unauthorised Gurus would have you believe that on just this one, crucial occasion, Srila Prabhupada would use this same, identical phrase, but mean something completely different by it!

7) "There is no reference from Guru, Sadhu (saintly persons) and Sastra (scripture) for the Ritvik System."

a) Whatever the GURU states is ALREADY in line with Sadhu and Sastra

"Sadhu, sastra and guru. Guru means who follows the sastra and sadhu. So there are three, the same."
(SP Lecture 30/11/76,Vrindavana)

b) So an order from the Guru Srila Prabhupada does not need to be independently verified with Sastra and Sadhu. As long as we accept he is a bona fide Guru, as everyone in ISKCON must, then Srila Prabhupada's words alone are enough. And as seen above, his orders in the July 9th directive and his Last Will and Testament authorise that he remain the sole initiating Guru for ISKCON. These orders are therefore automatically in line with Guru, Sadhu and Sastra.

8) "One cannot understand Srila Prabhupada's books unless they are explained by a 'living' Guru."

a) Srila Prabhupada never states this. On the contrary he wrote:

"In my books the philosophy of Krsna Consciousness is explained fully so if there is anything you do not understand, then you simply have to read again and again. By reading daily the knowledge will be revealed to you and by this process your spiritual life will develop."
(Letter to Brahmarupa Dasa, 22/11/74)

Indeed, even to someone who was new to the movement he wrote:

"In conjunction with this you should always read my books daily and all your questions will be answered and you will have a firm basis of Krishna Consciousness. In this way your life will be perfect."
(Letter to Hugo Salemon, 22/11/74)

b) In any case, if this myth was true then no one could have understood Srila Prabhupada's books since none of his disciples, including the 80 unauthorised Gurus, ever sat down with Srila Prabhupada to have all his books explained to them personally, line by line. And since they never had the books completely explained to them then obviously they would be in no position to explain them to us either!

Clearly it is a myth that we need a so-called "living" Guru as an intermediary just to read and understand Srila Prabhupada's words. They are crystal clear to any sincere soul who wishes to understand them. As can be seen below, this materialistic, mundane understanding of the bona fide Spiritual Master completely contradicts Srila Prabhupada's teachings.

ISKCON leaders contradict ISKCON Founder-Acarya!

ISKCON Gurus: Srila Prabhupada:
Krsna Ksetra Das, ISKCON- elected Guru:

"Unfortunately for all of us, Srila Prabhupada is not physically present and so is no longer giving diksha to anyone."

(Co-author, GBC Sastric Advisory Council paper, 2003)
"The potency of transcendental sound is never minimised because the vibrator is apparently absent."
(S.B. 2.9.8. purport)

"Reception of spiritual knowledge is never checked by any material condition."
(S.B. 7.7.1, purport)
HH Sivarama Swami, ISKCON-elected Guru:

"The law of disciplic succession is that one approaches a living spiritual master - living in the sense of being physically present.

(ISKCON Journal, Gaura Purnima 1990, p.31)
"So although a physical body is not present, the vibration should be accepted as the presence of the Spiritual Master, vibration. What we have heard from the Spiritual Master, that is living."
(SP General lectures, 69/01/13)
HH Hridayananda das Goswami, self-authorised ISKCON Guru:

"Srila Prabhupada did also consider his physical presence to have some significant relevance in the issue of disciplic succession "

(Co-author of GBC paper 'Prabhupada's Order')
"Such association with Krsna and the Spiritual Master should be association by vibration, not physical presence."
(Elevation to Krsna Consciousness, BBT 1973, p. 57.)

"Although physically we are not together, we are not separated spiritually. So we should be concerned only with this spiritual connection."
(Letter to Gaurasundara, 13/11/69)