Choosing a Guru


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 62, Vol 2, 2019

Welcome to Issue 62 of Back To Prabhupada (BTP).

In this issue, we report of an unprecedented action taken by the GBC. Although the GBC may always be deviating from Srila Prabhupada's orders in practice — as our BTP issues continually show — it has now actually declared that the orders Srila Prabhupada gave may be abandoned for a course of action Srila Prabhupada did not order. Thus, the GBC has established a precedent by which ISKCON may now begin officially deviating from Srila Prabhupada's orders.

1) Srila Prabhupada describes how false gurus may be chosen through blind following:

"Blind following means: "Oh, there is a svami. So many thousands of people are following. Let me become his disciple." This is called blind following. You do not know what is that svami, whether he is a svami or a rascal. You do not know. But because everyone is going, "Oh, let me become his disciple." This is blind following, without any knowledge, blind following."
(Lecture, 12/1/69)

We have shown repeatedly in BTP that this is the process occurring in ISKCON, whereby people accept the GBC gurus blindly. They do not check if the GBC gurus have been authorised by Srila Prabhupada, nor do they compare everything the guru says with what Srila Prabhupada says.

2) However, in discussions with disciples of the GBC gurus, they claim that they did not choose their guru blindly. Rather, they followed a 2-step process:

a) First they established philosophically the absolute need to accept and surrender to a guru.

b) Then they carefully examined the guru before choosing him, and found he displayed great "spiritual" qualities, such as singing nice bhajans, giving inspiring classes, etc. And, in this way, they selected between the 80-odd GBC gurus on offer.

But, the system in ISKCON is that before a person can proceed to step b), they must first surrender to Srila Prabhupada as their guru for at least 6 months. And, in this stage, they exclusively worship Srila Prabhupada, recite his pranam mantra and offer their prasadam to him (GBC Resolution 71, 1992). Thus, they first surrender to Srila Prabhupada, in a similar manner to how they would go on to surrender to their GBC guru. Therefore, step a) has already been fulfilled by Srila Prabhupada.

3) Hence, at this stage, a person has to choose to accept a GBC guru, and conclude that they cannot continue with Srila Prabhupada as their guru. A reason given for this is that a "living" or physically present guru is a spiritual requirement. After all, this is the only "quality" that a GBC guru could possibly "offer", which Srila Prabhupada "lacks". However, Srila Prabhupada has not stated that one must accept such a physically present guru. In addition, the guru that the prospective disciple will have chosen:

a) Will in most cases himself have had no "living guru" for over 40 years (Srila Prabhupada having physically departed in 1977);

b) And in some cases will have never met their guru, Srila Prabhupada.

Clearly, therefore, there cannot be a spiritual requirement for a physically present diksa guru, when Srila Prabhupada himself never physically presented himself to many of his disciples!

4) Thus, in reality, disciples of the GBC gurus may seek to fulfil a personal rather than spiritual need, when choosing a GBC guru over Srila Prabhupada. They may desire to have a guru that they can physically interact with. Or they choose a GBC guru because it allows them to instantly "belong" to a worldwide network of followers. Or because without getting initiated by one it is impossible to "advance" up the ISKCON hierarchy. And so on. But, whatever the reason, it requires being blind to a spiritual fact: that Srila Prabhupada stated he would continue to function as the Acarya, and therefore, diksa guru, of ISKCON for its lifetime. A fact which forms the very foundation of ISKCON, as unwittingly admitted by even the GBC in their "Founder-Acarya" booklet, which they labelled as a "Foundational Document".

Thank you and Hare Krishna.
In Srila Prabhupada's service,


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