Vitiated G.B.C. Not Prabhupada’s Successor
By Ernest Dras and Michael Garner
Following in the footsteps of our previous äcäryas, this article, along with its authors, stands in complete opposition to, and in uncompromising defiance of, the vitiated GBC and the fabricated so-called “ISKCON” it controls. Çréla Prabhupäda came to the West to spread Kåñëa consciousness on the order of his guru mahäräja; he did not come here with the approval of, or being monitored by, any commission of conditioned souls. He was Çréla Bhaktisiddhänta’s authorized successor. All spiritual masters are individuals, not governing bodies.
“We simply follow the predecessor’s instruction. That’s all. Our movement is very easy, because we haven’t got to manufacture something. We simply repeat the words and the instruction given by the predecessor. . . Very simple thing. We are receiving the transcendental knowledge through guru-paramparä succession.”
– Arrival address of June 20, 1975
Is there anyone who can, with çästric authority, explain where and how the GBC is directly integral to this line of disciplic succession? According to a recent Wikipedia entry (for his Divine Grace), it allegedly is. Wikipedia is considered by many researchers to be a (relatively) reliable source of information. Let us see what is now found there, when searching, by typing in Çréla Prabhupäda’s name:
Title: Founder-acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
Period in office: 1966 – 1977
Predecessor: Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura
Successor: The Governing Body Commission
Outrageous! Çréla Prabhupäda never affirmed this. He wanted one (or more) of his disciples to become the next qualified successor: “I shall say who is guru: ‘Now, you become Äcärya. You become authorized.’ I am waiting for that.”
Receiving transcendental knowledge through the self-serving concoctions of a commission of conditioned souls–in this case, the vitiated GBC–not only sounds ridiculous, it is also directly at odds with how the guru-paramparä actually functions:
“One should become submissive, jnane pryasam udapasya eva . . . very submissive to hear from the right person. Therefore, all of our Vedic literature is called sruti, the subject matter which is beyond our sense perception–avan manasa gocara, that cannot be understood by using our imperfect senses. Now the question is: From whom to hear? So, in the çästra, it is said, san-mukharitam: ‘You have to hear from realized saintly person.’ It is said in the Bhagavad-gétä: tad viddhi pranipatena sevaya upadeksyanti tad jnaninas tattva-darsinah. You have to hear from a person who has seen or who has understood the Absolute Truth . . .” — Lecture, S.B. 6.1.15 on January 8, 1976 (emphasis added)
“The Lord therefore advises us to approach a bona fide spiritual master in the line of disciplic succession from the Lord Himself. No one can be a bona fide spiritual master without following this principle of disciplic succession. The Lord is the original spiritual master, and a person in the disciplic succession can convey the message of the Lord as it is to his disciple. No one can be spiritually realized by manufacturing his own process, as is the fashion of the foolish pretenders.”
– Bhagavad-gétä, 4.34 purport (emphasis added)
Furthermore, in relation to the GBC (linked to the above-mentioned Wikipedia entry), it is also asserted:
“The GBC is entrusted with both spiritual and secular leadership of the ISKCON communities, as well as the power to appoint new gurus. According to a GBC confidence survey, ‘those holding critical views of the GBC were far less committed to ISKCON.’”
His Divine Grace has never instructed us that we must subjugate ourselves to the “absolute authority” of the GBC in order to receive transcendental knowledge, make spiritual advancement, or to be committed to his movement. The above-cited statement contends that the GBC has absolute status over ISKCON, over its members and assets, and, most shockingly, can appoint spiritual masters. This is completely erroneous:
“GBC does not mean to control a center. GBC means to see that the activities of a center go on nicely. I do not know why Tamal is exercising his ‘absolute authority.’ That is not the business of GBC. The president, treasurer, and secretary are responsible for managing the center. GBC is to see that things are going nicely but not to exert absolute authority. That is not in the power of GBC. Tamal should not do like that. The GBC men cannot impose anything on the men of a center without consulting all of the GBC members first. A GBC member cannot go beyond the jurisdiction of his power.”
– Letter to Giriräj, 8-12-71 (emphasis added)
This concoction of the GBC appointing gurus is another “fashion of the foolish pretenders,” quoted previously. Recently, we were asked about our view in relation to a document on a new GBC website presented by the entity with the acronym SAC, Sastric Advisory Council. They are approved by the GBC to submit new reform ideas, etc. However, they just seem to be a part of the odious policy of showcasing a better public profile and presenting (falsely) the GBC as more democratic. They do this rather than enable or broadcast the bona fide viewpoints of other devotees. In other words, SAC seems to be nothing more than an extension of the fix-it-as-you-go process in which “ISKCON” continuously indulges. It also seems that this new SAC document is but a reform knocking on the door, one that will simply lead to another disillusionment, in due course of time.
SAC sees, however, faults in the current GBC guru-appointment system. It even gives a hint that this system may be condemnable, and it cites the purport to Caitanya-caritämåta, Adi 1.35:
“Jéva Gosvämé advises that one not accept a spiritual master in terms of hereditary or customary social and ecclesiastical conventions. One should simply try to find a genuinely qualified spiritual master for actual advancement in spiritual understanding.”
SAC says, “. . . the above condemnation of the acceptance of a spiritual master in terms of ecclesiastical convention casts a negative light on our present system.” Despite this, the vitiated GBC still has no problem misleading people on Wikipedia: “The GBC is entrusted with . . . the power to appoint new gurus.”
It is painful to realize how so many foolish people simply swallow whatever comes easily in order to justify the “ISKCON” modus operandi. Let us give an example. Often, while lecturing or in conversations, Çréla Prabhupäda would state how easy the process of Krishna Consciousness is, e.g., “Just try to elevate to the spiritual world, back to home, back to Godhead. That is the mission of your human life. Don’t lose this opportunity. Chant Hare Kåñëa. It is easy thing, Hare Kåñëa, only sixteen names. Anyone can chant. Even the child can chant.” — Room Conversation, May 3, 1969 in Boston
One could extract and interpret this quote and then come to the conclusion that all Çréla Prabhupäda wanted from his disciples is a little chanting, nothing more. However, we all know that there is much more. Everything starts with chanting and the four regulative principles, but then the devotee needs to get free from the anarthas, etc. If somebody says that all of that is not required, pointing to the above-mentioned quote or one like it, then it should be obvious that such a person is nonsense; he may eventually degrade into a sahajiyä, one who takes the process of spiritual life cheaply. A little chanting and, simultaneously, engagement in all kinds of nonsense, is not the path to spiritual realization; it will not do.
From this perspective, let us reflect on the guru issue. On their website, as part of their mission statement apparently, SAC presents some generic quotes by Çréla Prabhupäda wherein he supposedly authorizes his initiated disciples to begin accepting disciples (to give dékñä) whenever they decide so. Accordingly, “ISKCON” fanatics take these quotes and interpret them as they like. For example:
“Lord Caitanya says that, ‘Everyone of you become the spiritual master, every one of you. Why one, two? Everyone of you.’ ‘Oh, spiritual master is very difficult job.’ No. Not difficult job. Amara ajnaya: ‘Just try to carry out My order. That’s all. Then you become spiritual master.’”
– Lecture, May 9, 1969 in Columbus, Ohio
Ironically, SAC also presents quotes that clearly prove the opposite. These quotes have also been presented by devotees outside “ISKCON,” but SAC explains them as if they actually support contrary interpretations. Let us look at some of these. The SAC people write:
“The actual order or empowerment to initiate disciples comes from the order of one’s spiritual master:
Leading Secretary: [The professor asked me] how do you know that guru is qualified, spiritual master is qualified? Then I said [answered] everything is written in the çästras, so we have to follow according to the injunctions written in the çästras. So all the qualifications of a pure devotee, of a bona fide guru, is written there. Just like you are a professor of physics in the university. Before you came, you had some qualification, degree of doctors.
And then there is a committee to decide whether you are qualified for the post. So it is selected by a committee of members and then they interview and then they find out your qualifications. If they find that you are qualified for the post, so you are selected as a professor. It’s like that in the spiritual field also. There are revealed scriptures, and there everything is written what will be the qualification of a guru and then how to choose a bona fide one. So, everything is written, you should follow the injunctions of the revealed scriptures accordingly.
Prabhupäda: Committee is his spiritual master; he orders that you do this.”
– Morning Walk, October, 1972 in Los Angeles (emphasis added)
Notice what the leading secretary says, viz., that there is a committee that decides if one is qualified to become a professor. Prabhupäda agrees with this part of it, but, much more importantly, he goes on to say that, in spiritual life, the committee is one’s spiritual master: He orders that you do this (that you become spiritual master). So where is the generic order to become spiritual master?
If a father, as a recognized professor himself, gives a generic order to his sons, “You become professors,” does that instantly make them professors? Or are they automatically professors after merely reading some books? Of course not. They must still go to the university, pass so many exams, and eventually earn the approval and certification from the university. Some may pass the final exam, some will not.
Similarly, there is generic order from Caitanya Mahäprabhu that everybody should become guru. Does this mean that—according to my will–I can decide to begin initiating? First deserve, then desire. Trying for something is different from achieving it. Prabhupäda says, “Committee is his spiritual master, he orders that you do this.” The generic order is that one should try to qualify himself for becoming a guru.
A little later in the document, the SAC people write:
”The following are just a few of the numerous instances wherein Çréla Prabhupäda ordered his disciples to take up the duty of becoming spiritual masters:
So our request is that every one of you become a guru. That is Caitanya Mahapräbhu’s order. He wants that everyone must become a guru. How? That He says: yare dekha tare kaha ‘krsna’-upadesa amara ajnaya guru hana tara’ ei desa.”
– Bg. 7.1 Lecture, Dec. 20, 1975 in Bombay
First, they present the quote wherein Çréla Prabhupäda clearly confirms that one’s spiritual master is the committee, that he examines the disciple and, if the disciple is qualified, the spiritual master (not a committee) orders the disciple to become spiritual master. A little later, SAC contends that Çréla Prabhupäda gave a generic order and that is all one needs to become initiating spiritual master. How much intelligence and logic is really needed here to see the contradiction?
Here is another relevant quote:
I shall produce some gurus. I shall say who is guru: ‘Now, you become Äcärya. You become authorized.’ I am waiting for that. You become–all–äcärya. I retire completely, but the training must be complete.”
– Room Conversation in Bombay on April 22, 1977 (emphasis added)
When Prabhupada says, “I shall say who is guru: ‘Now, you become Äcärya,‘” that is not a generic order. He is not saying everyone of his disciples is automatically guru, if he merely chants, follows four regulative principles—and, of course, now secures a No Objection Certificate from the vitiated GBC. However, SAC contends just that: “Since the order to become spiritual master has been amply given by Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu and Çréla Prabhupäda, strict disciples of Çréla Prabhupäda are already authorized to accept disciples.” This is nonsense, Prabhupäda says that “the training must be complete,” and then he may give the order.
Or he may not give it.
Here is another example that the guru’s order to his disciple (to become dékñä-guru) is not merely a generic one:
Leading Secretary: He’s asking when did you become the spiritual leader of Krsna consciousness?
Prabhupäda: When my guru mahäräja ordered me. This is the guru-paramparä.
Indian: Did it . . . ?
Prabhupäda: Try to understand. Don’t go very speedily. A guru can become guru when he’s ordered by his guru. That’s all. Otherwise nobody can become guru. . . Sadhi mam prapannam. “I am surrendered to You. Whatever You say, I shall carry out.” That’s all.
Indian man: When did he tell you to . . . ?
Prabhupäda: What is the business, when did he tell me? And why shall I disclose to you? It is so very insignificant thing that I have to explain to you?
Indian man: No, I am just curious when . . .
Prabhupäda: You should be curious within your limit. You should know that one can become guru when he is ordered by his guru, this much.
– Q & A, Bhagavad-gétä 7.2 in Nairobi on October 28, 1975 (Emphasis added)
This exchange does not give any credence to a generic order being integral to the formula. If so, Prabhupäda could easily say that his guru gave a generic order to all of his disciples to become initiating guru—and, as such, he was a bona fide initiating spiritual master. All these examples show that the SAC and GBC are nothing more than either sahajiyäs themselves or representing the sahajiyä mentality. The vitiated GBC is not Çréla Prabhupäda’s successor, despite what is claimed in Wikipedia. The GBC is also not absolute, as affirmed below:
“Under these circumstances, I AUTHORIZE YOU TO DISREGARD FOR THE TIME BEING ANY DECISION FROM THE G.B.C. MEN UNTIL MY FURTHER INSTRUCTION. . . Finally, I beg to repeat that ALL G.B.C. ORDERS ARE SUSPENDED HEREWITH BY ME UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.”
– Memo to All Temple Presidents, April 8, 1972 (emphasis added)
If the GBC were absolute, then it could never have been suspended. Nine years later, in 1981, it was discovered that the “appointment tape” of May 28, 1977 was no such thing. Word of that spread amongst the devotees, and very soon the idea that Prabhupäda appointed eleven gurus was rejected en masse. The GBC then disavowed the concoction but claimed that he appointed the GBC (as absolute), i.e., they appointed the eleven. This also was quickly rejected, and the vitiated GBC had to backtrack.
As such, the idea of guru being appointed was shot down, and almost nobody believed in it by the mid-Eighties (just as almost everyone no longer believed that any of the “ISKCON” gurus had attained anywhere near uttama status). The “ISKCON” misleaders’ method is fix-it-as-you-go, i.e., whatever works and buys time, use it. That also includes returning to a past nescience, if and/or when it appears that it can be re-employed in the service of the deviant cult. This started in a big way when the GBC allowed and endorsed the ridiculous zonal äcärya scam in the spring of 1978. Then, failing to deal with those repercussions in an honest and straightforward manner, it was forced to play fix-it-as-you-go. Now the appointment concoction has re-emerged in Wikipedia. Madness.
OM TAT SAT