Srila Prabhupada's Orders v. “Tradition”


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 39, Spring 2013

The GBC accept that Srila Prabhupada did not authorise any individual or individuals to become diksa guru in ISKCON. This is the case both for those who became the first 11 gurus in ISKCON ("The Great Guru Hoax - Part 1") —

"Actually Prabhupada never appointed any gurus. He appointed eleven rtviks. He never appointed them gurus."
(Tamala Krsna Goswami, 3/12/1980, quoted by ISKCON Journal 1990, GBC Executive Committee)

— as well as all subsequent ISKCON gurus ("The Great Guru Hoax - Part 2") —

"Is this an outright fabrication or not? That Srila Prabhupada ‘personally detailed the procedure for increasing the number of initiating guru[s]' is something we can only wish. Or falsely tell the Society he did."
(Jayadvaita Swami email to, and accepted by, the GBC, 13/12/2003)

Hence, given this ground reality, "fixes" have been proposed to "make" diksa guru succession authorised, and thus keep the guru succession "dream" alive.

The Gaudiya Matha system

One attempt to circumvent the fact that no diksa guru authorisation exists, is to claim that historical precedence proves that no authorisation for diksa guru successors is required. Thus, it is claimed:

‘Srila Prabhupada's own spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, did not order any guru successors, thereby allowing anyone who deemed themselves qualified to become diksa guru successors. Thus, in not ordering any guru successors, Srila Prabhupada followed his own Guru Maharaja and instituted the same "anyone who thinks they are qualified" guru successor system.'

However, it is not a fact that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati gave no order for how succession should take place. Rather, he gave a very specific succession order:

"So his idea was amongst the members of GBC who would come out successful and self effulgent acarya would be automatically selected."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 28/4/1974)

"His idea was "Let them manage; then whoever will be actual qualified for becoming acarya, they will elect.""
(Room conversation, 21/9/1973)

Thus Srila Bhaktisiddhanta's specific order for a successor was: That one self-effulgent person was to be elected by the GBC.

Srila Prabhupada gave no such order

Having established what Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura's succession order actually was, we can also establish that Srila Prabhupada did not give the same order for ISKCON's GBC to elect a self-effulgent successor. No such order exists. Srila Prabhupada stated just 5 weeks before his departure that he had given "everything in writing", so there would be no misunderstanding (emphases added):

"I have given in writing everything, whatever you wanted — my will, my executive (?) power, everything. Disaster will happen if you cannot manage it. Hm?"
(Room Conversation, 2/10/1977)

"I have already given everything in writing."
(Room Conversation, 3/10/1977)

"They misunderstand me. Unless it is there from me in writing, there are so many things that "Prabhupada said.""
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 2/9/1975)

"just like in our ISKCON there are so many false things: "Prabhupada said this, Prabhupada said that."'
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 7/11/1972)

And there is no mention anywhere of Srila Prabhupada asking the GBC to elect a self-effulgent successor. Indeed, at the outset (quote from Jayadvaita Swami) we presented the GBC accepting that Srila Prabhupada did not order the GBC to authorise any diksa gurus, whether self-effulgent or not. Hence, we cannot circumvent the lack of an order for guru successors by proposing we follow a historical system for which there is also no order!

Thus, we have no order for any guru successors via any system. Instead, as Srila Prabhupada warned, we only have so many "false things" claiming that "Prabhupada said this, Prabhupada said that."

Srila Prabhupada's order

Not only did Srila Prabhupada not give the same order for a GBC- elected successor as that given by his Guru Maharaja, he specifically rejected it, stating that his "successors" would be the GBC managers themselves, rather than a guru successor elected from the GBC, as in the case of the Gaudiya Matha:

Interviewer: "What happens when that inevitable time comes when a successor is needed?"
Ramesvara: "He is asking about the future, who will guide the Movement in the future."
Srila Prabhupada: "They will guide. I am training them."
Interviewer: "Will there be one spiritual leader, though?"
Srila Prabhupada: "No, I am training GBC, 18 all over the world."
(Interview, 10/6/1976)

Thus, we have to follow the orders Srila Prabhupada did give and not those he did not give. He did not order guru successors, nor did he order the successor system his Guru Maharaja ordered. He did order a representational "rtvik" system whereby all those joining ISKCON would continue to become his initiated disciples — via the July 9th, 1977 directive. And he did order a GBC to simply manage this and the other systems he ordered. Unfortunately, instead of simply implementing and managing the orders Srila Prabhupada did give, most of the GBC became successor diksa gurus themselves!

Acaryas differ

Srila Prabhupada was not obligated to order the same system for ISKCON that his Guru Maharaja gave for the Gaudiya Matha because every acarya may have a different method (emphases added):

"Every acarya has a specific means of propagating his spiritual movement with the aim of bringing men to Krsna consciousness. Therefore, the method of one acarya may be different from that of another, but the ultimate goal is never neglected."
(Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila, 7.37)

"An acarya who comes for the service of the Lord cannot be expected to conform to a stereotype, for he must find the ways and means by which Krsna consciousness may be spread."
(Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila, 7.31-32)

"But the directions should be taken from scriptures. But there are many scriptures. So acarya means, just like Gosvamis, they would read all the scriptures and take the essence of it and give it to his disciples that, "You act like this." Because he knows what to give, how to manipulate, so that his ekantatah sreyas will be achieved. Ultimate goal. Therefore the acarya knows how to adjust things, at the same time keep pace with the spiritual interest. That is acarya. It is not that the same thing to be applied everywhere."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 20/2/1973)

This is why our authority cannot be historical precedent, or tradition, or the orders of previous acaryas, but only the recorded orders of our acarya, Srila Prabhupada — and thereby remain in the "Prabhupada-Only Paradigm" (POP).

Return to "Tradition" Index

Return to IRM Homepage


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