“Moving Forward”
Section “ONE”
The “Guru” Controversy & Deception Issues
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Segment 9.3
ISKCON’s Current Guru System
Text Part 3

ISKCON’s Guru selection system violates the advice given by Srila Prabhupada and Sri Jiva Gosvami when they say that one should not accept a spiritual master in terms of hereditary or customary social and ecclesiastical conventions.  ISKCON’s Guru selection system that is offered to its members is absolutely a “customary social, and ecclesiastical convention”; or in simpler terms, it is “Rubberstamping”, par- excellence[1].  

Let us look at the meaning of the words used by Srila Jiva Goswami:

  • Customary: According to or depending on custom; usual; habitual. Of or established by custom rather than law. Defined by long-continued practices.
  • Social: Relating to, devoted to, or characterized by friendly companionship or relations. Living or disposed to live in companionship with others or in a community, rather than in isolation.
  • Ecclesiastical: Of or relating to the church or the clergy; churchly; clerical; not secular.
  • Convention: A meeting or formal assembly, as of representatives or delegates, for discussion of and action on particular matters of common concern.  A representative Party assembly to nominate candidates and adopt platforms and assembly protocols.

ISKCON’s guru system was established by custom and not by sastra.  It certainly requires a society that is disposed to living in companionship with others or in a community, and is clerical, and not secular.  This guru system was established with meetings, and formal assembly; with discussions regarding actions to be taken, that were of common interest and concern, to the power, and financial vested interests of GBCs, Gurus, Sannaysis, and Temple Presidents.

After Srila Prabhupada’s departure, there was much confusion amongst his disciples; you cannot imagine how stunned we were.  One could surmise that in general we were weak and extreamly vulnerable. The following is a brief History of ISKCON GBC Resolutions: so, you can see what has been previously written it true.

The GBC, in 1978, in consultation with other leaders in ISKCON, compiled a paper by the title “Future Initiations”; for the purpose of delineating, what they wanted you to believe were Srila Prabhupada’s desires. This paper had a few references to sastra, and gives a general outline of the way in which the process of initiation would go on in ISKCON. It is more a summary of GBC policies than it is a scholarly paper. Some aspects of it, such as saying that disciples have a choice as to whom they take as guru, were not instituted. It explains that new gurus will be chosen by the group of existing gurus, in order for the process to have “spiritual characteristics.”

Pradyumna dasa, Prabhupada’s Sanskrit editor and constant companion and servant, writes a letter to the GBC explaining how there were many discrepancies in ISKCON’s guru system in relation to sastra and tradition, (he did not reference very much sastra—mostly tradition and sadhus).

Result: Pradyumna dasa was removed from translating the Bhagavatam, and his letter ignored.  He was ostracized from ISKCON.

On March 19th, a resolution was passed stating that starting in 1979, gurus would need a 3/4 vote of GBC.

On March 21st, an amendment to this resolution stated that a GBC committee of existing gurus would select new gurus once a year.

Zonal acharya system resolutions were passed.  For each zone, guru would be like Srila Prabhupada was to the world.   Srila Prabhupada disciples should treat the eleven gurus almost like their own spiritual master.  Gurus who fall or leave ISKCON lose their post and can come back as regular devotees.

The GBC then passed the resolution that appointed 11 Srila Prabhupada disciples as Gurus:

  1. Hansadutta Swami.
  2. Harikesa Swami.
  3. Jayapataka Swami.
  4. Kirtanananda Swami.
  5. Hridayananda Das Goswami.
  6. Satsvarupa Das Goswami.
  7. Tamala Krishna Goswami
  8. Ramesvara Dasa Bramachari.
  9. Bhavananda Dasa
  10. Bhagavan Dasa.
  11. Jayatirtha Dasa.

Note:  The corruption, wicket, evil, and unscrupulous acts by these men, are extensive and well documented on the Internet, and personal experience by Srila Prabhupada disciples who knew these men.  It is not the intention of the Treatise to present or prosecute this activity.

Other resolutions were passed that stated that disciples had to take initiation from the guru of his or her zone; those who wanted a different guru had to relocate. Each guru had his own seat in temples in his zone, and there was another seat for visiting gurus, and another for Bhagavatam speakers (sometimes a fourth seat was used for Bhagavatam speakers who were Prabhupada’s grand-disciples).

The local guru’s picture was permanently on the altar, and his pranam mantra was chanted in every kirtana (in the temple, on harinama, etc.) before Prabhupada’s pramana mantra, the name of the local guru was added to the premadvani prayers, each guru was given an honorific title which had to be used by everyone when addressing him, and all temple residents had to attend a simultaneous guru-puja daily to Prabhupada and the local guru.

At GBC meetings, the gurus sat on seats higher than that of the other GBC members.

Twenty-one devotees worldwide joined to write a thirty-six-page paper similar to Pradyumna’s, which they gave to the GBC.

[1]  Par-excellence: better or more than all others of the same kind.

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