The Law of Disciplic Convenience - 1


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 46, Winter 2014/15

We have consistently demonstrated that those claiming to be the most spiritually advanced persons on the planet -- the 'good as God' ISKCON gurus -- actually display qualities that are found in those who are amongst the lowest members of materialistic society: those politicians who lie, cheat and frequently change and flip-flop over policies in the naked pursuit of power. In a podcast dated 11/1/15, ISKCON guru and GBC member HH Sivarama Swami ("SRS") reveals the same political machinations in regards to the "law of disciplic succession". All quotes in the shaded boxes over the next 2 articles are from this podcast.

The "law"

This article and the following refer to the GBC's actions in regards to a "law of disciplic succession". This law was mentioned by Srila Prabhupada in the following letter:

"But as a matter of etiquette it is the custom that during the lifetime of your Spiritual master you bring the prospective disciples to him, and in his absence or disappearance you can accept disciples without any limitation. This is the law of disciplic succession."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 2/12/75)

Successors named, no general "law"

"[...] listening to the tapes, the 1977 tapes, [...] the most powerful one is when it becomes a question from the GBC members specifically as to what should happen. And, of course, Srila Prabhupada says that they will become spiritual masters, he named some. But he says while he's physically present they cannot. They can just act as officiating acaryas. And that's where this word rtvik came up, and when Srila Prabhupada passes away then they can actually initiate."

SRS explains the basis for the guru succession that occurred in ISKCON in 1978 immediately after Srila Prabhu-pada's departure (correctly known as the Great Guru Hoax Part 1, and thoroughly debunked by us on numerous occasions -- such as in the BTP Special Summary Issue, as well as in this very issue's Editorial): that Srila Prabhupada supposedly specifically named certain individuals to succeed him on his departure as successor diksa gurus by actually naming them to act as rtviks (officiating acaryas).

To allow these 11 named individuals to hold on to power as the only gurus in the movement, it became the official policy of guru succession from 1978 onwards that only those who were directly named by Srila Prabhupada could become his diksa guru successors -- the so-called "zonal acarya" system of only 11 diksa gurus. Consequently, there was no acceptance of a general "law of disciplic succession", whereby anyone and everyone could become guru (as is currently claimed -- see next section).

"Law" discovered, floodgates open

From the mid-1980s onwards, a number of persons, such as temple presidents (e.g. Ravindra Svarupa Dasa), non-guru sannyasis (e.g. SRS, Jayadvaita Swami, Bhakti Charu Swami) and others were able to get a piece of the guru pie by becoming diksa guru successors to Srila Prabhupada. This was achieved by a new system that would enable them and anyone else to also become diksa guru successors to Srila Prabhupada, simply via receiving the requisite number of GBC votes. This new system was subsequently justified by the "law of disciplic succession". It is claimed that the law enables all of Srila Prabhupada's disciples to succeed him as diksa guru, because Srila Prabhu-pada has physically departed, as SRS explains:

"Prabhupada's disciples entered into that service (becoming diksa guru) not specifically because they wanted to do it but because it was Srila Prabhupada's order, and Srila Prabhupada left this world. And therefore Prabhupada said, 'Yes, this is the law of disciplic succession.'"

This is analysed in more detail in the section entitled "No one ordered" on the next page.

Movement to break law 'founded by SRS'

"[...] we started off with allowing disciples to initiate in the physical presence of their spiritual master as an exception to the rule that Srila Prabhupada called 'the law of disciplic succession'. And that exception started with my disciple, an Indian disciple, Mahavisnu Goswami Maharaja. He was Indian-bodied but he was from UK, London, and who's deceased since then. And then that exception started to be repeated once, twice with others, and now the GBC feels that this exception is becoming a rule."

Here SRS claims that he was the first person to break the "law of disciplic succession" given by Srila Prabhupada, which does not permit a disciple to become a diksa guru while his own diksa guru is still physically present. He also admits that, as a result of his breaking the law, a trend was initiated that led to many others also breaking the law. Thus, by his own words, he could be deemed the "founder" of the movement to break Srila Prabhupada's law.

Too may gurus - law re-instated again

"[...] the phenomena of Vaisnavas initiating other devotees in the physical presence of their own diksa guru. [...] Something that has been discussed online over the last few months to the extent that devotees, GBC, put a moratorium on the phenomena until it's discussed further. [...] GBC feels that this exception is becoming a rule [...] therefore we put a moratorium for the time being on that".

Now SRS states that because the law has been broken too much, with more and more disciples of the GBC gurus becoming diksa gurus in the physical presence of their own gurus, it has once again been re-instated by the GBC. And hence, all disciples of the physically present GBC gurus will be banned from becoming diksa gurus.

We will break law again if necessary

"There should not be, unless there's some very, very exceptional circumstances, should define what that exceptional circumstance actually is, that disciples of a spiritual master should not initiate in the presence of their diksa guru".

SRS admits that in the future, if they feel there are some "exceptional circumstances", they should break the law again! Remember, it was SRS agreeing that his own disciple, Mahavisnu Goswami Maharaja, constituted such an "exceptional circumstance" which SRS claims led to the law being broken in the first place. Thus, the GBC saw "exceptional circumstances" before to disobey Srila Prabhupada, and SRS wants that the GBC does so again.

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