The Law of Disciplic Convenience - 2


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 46, Winter 2014/15

In the previous article, we exposed how the GBC has continually flip-flopped over the use of the "law" at will. Here we will look at the philosophical issues that are relevant to the GBC's actions.

What "law" actually says

In regards to succession, the "law states:

"[...] 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)

Thus, the "law" only states when a succession can take place. It is not an order stating:

a) That a succession will definitely take place on departure (or any other time).
b) That, even in the absence of such a succession, Srila Prabhupada must stop initiating on departure or at any other time.

Hence, the existence of the "law" itself does not order Srila Prabhupada's disciples to succeed him as ISKCON's diksa guru. The "law" only authorised when such a succession, if it occurred, could take place. And such a succession did not take place since Srila Prabhupada had not authorised any diksa guru successors.

No one ordered

"[...] someone is really dedicated, devoted to one's own spiritual master and takes up the role of guru because it's an order, not because it's...and it's a desire of Krishna...not because it's something that they want to do. (Govinda) Maharaja pointed out how Prabhupada's disciples entered into that service, 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.' And he repeated that a few times that in the physical presence of your guru you bring all prospective initiates to him and when he leaves then you can accept disciples, but not until then."

SRS states here that, as his GBC guru colleague Govinda Maharaja correctly points out, one must first be ordered by one's own diksa guru to become guru. But no such diksa guru order from Srila Prabhupada to his disciples has ever been produced. Nor, as was demonstrated in the last section, does the "law of disciplic succession" itself constitute such a diksa guru order. It only stated that one at least had to wait until Srila Prabhupada's departure before one could theoretically succeed him. But since Srila Prabhu-pada --

1) Never stated that he would stop initiating in ISKCON on his departure, or at any other time;
2) Set up a rtvik system of initiation for ISKCON that would enable him to continue initiating even after his departure;
3) Never ordered any individual or individuals to succeed him as diksa guru --

the question of Srila Prabhupada being succeeded does not even arise.

Self-made gurus

Contrary to SRS's claims, SRS admits that he became a successor diksa guru not because he believed Srila Prabhu-pada had ordered him to, but because a wannabe disciple of his had asked him to do so:

"At this time I also was asked to take up the role of initiating spiritual master. I didn't consider that this would be very conducive to my personal spiritual life and I was satisfied for others to do that service and that I would stay in the role of sannyasi, a preacher, siksa guru, GBC, and probably it was at Gaurangi's* repeated prompting that ultimately I began to think seriously of that service and took it up."
(SRS Podcast, 4/10/06)

*at the time a young female devotee, and now an SRS disciple

And the history of the other GBC gurus is similar, showing that they became diksa gurus via their own initiative and authorisation by the GBC, and not because there was some order from Srila Prabhupada authorising them to become successor diksa gurus.

No justification for disobedience

"So of course there's always exceptions to the rule, but the exceptions should really be just that. And when Srila Prabhupada has repeated this issue on numerous occasions, directly addressed it when asked, that even though there are many other examples of Jaiva Dharma Bhaktivinode Thakura gives the example of three generations of disciples, spiritual masters all concurrently giving diksa, accepting disciples. But our business is not to jump over to what Bhaktivinode Thakura wrote, but rather accept that when Srila Prabhupada tells us this is the law, at least certainly for us, his followers and members of ISKCON, this is the law of disciplic succession, is that in the presence of the diksa guru devotees should not accept disciples but should bring them to their own spiritual master."

SRS states that he and the rest of ISKCON broke the law as an "exception". But, as he then admits, Srila Prabhupada never taught any exceptions to this law, stating that in ISKCON it must be strictly adhered to, thereby contradicting SRS's claim that there are "always exceptions to the rule". Indeed, anyone can verify that Srila Prabhupada never gave any "exceptions" to this law, by simply reading the text of the law and the rest of Srila Prabhupada's instructions. Rather, SRS states that even though he believes the previous acaryas may have taught that this law does not need to be adhered to, one cannot "jump over" Srila Prabhupada and take instruction from the previous acaryas.


The previous article showed that after Srila Prabhu-pada's physical departure, ISKCON's leadership:

1) First followed no "law";
2) Then claimed to follow the "law";
3) Then did not follow the "law";
4) Now claims to follow the "law" again;
5) In future may not follow the "law" again!

And this article has shown that the law has never been correctly applied anyway, since Srila Prabhupada remains ISKCON's diksa guru with no successors authorised, and thus the issue of succession does not even arise. Rather, the "law" has simply been misused as nothing more than a "law of convenience", freely broken and misapplied to justify and regulate the number of gurus the leaders feel the movement should have at any one time. Hence, this is clear evidence that ISKCON's leadership have no concern for Srila Prabhupada's orders, but rather will do anything in their naked pursuit of power.

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