ISKCON’s New Authority System


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 62, Vol 2, 2019

Originally, ISKCON's leaders always adopted the tack that their conclusions were completely based on direct orders from Srila Prabhupada. Thus, in 1978, the GBC claimed that the Great Guru Hoax, Part 1 was based on simply following the "fact" that Srila Prabhupada had directly appointed 11 successors (all emphases in article added):

"for 1978, no new Spiritual Masters shall be appointed other than the 11 selected by Srila Prabhupada."
(GBC Resolution No. 16, 19/3/78)

Although this claim is incorrect, at least by claiming that it was Srila Prabhupada's direct order, ISKCON's leadership still accepted that we should only and always execute Srila Prabhupada's direct orders. However, due to the IRM's vigorous preaching in multiple languages all over the world, and Srila Prabhupada's Vedabase becoming widely available, Srila Prabhupada's actual orders have become widely known. This has thus made the GBC's false claims about Srila Prabhupada's orders harder to sustain. Consequently, ISKCON's leaders, unable to justify their conclusions by quoting Srila Prabhupada, have simply decided to not quote Srila Prabhupada. Hence, directly disobeying Srila Prabhupada's orders, as shown in the previous two articles, is supplemented with not bothering to reference Srila Prabhupada's orders at all!

Srila Prabhupada's guru system

A prominent example of dispensing with Srila Prabhupada's authority altogether is in regards to the teachings about the bona fide spiritual master. Srila Prabhupada's teachings about the bona fide spiritual master are very clear – such a person is in complete knowledge and never deviates:

"the conclusion is that a spiritual master who is one hundred percent Krsna conscious is the bona fide spiritual master".
(Bg., 2.8)

"A bona fide spiritual master is in the disciplic succession from time eternal, and he does not deviate at all from the instructions of the Supreme Lord".
(Bg., 4.42)

Consequently, Srila Prabhupada never gave any orders regarding how to set up a guru system involving faulty gurus, whereby the guru may fall down, may need to be put on probation, suspended, removed, reinstated, rectified, etc., as currently happens in ISKCON.

Look elsewhere

The proof for this is ISKCON's leaders not even attempting to justify their GBC guru system by making reference to Srila Prabhupada's orders. Rather, they claim authority from elsewhere:

"For instance in the Govinda-Bhajanamrta by Narahari Sarakara Thakura [...] he says even in the case if the diksa guru becomes fallen the disciple should approach him and beg him to come back to Krsna consciousness [...] if the diksa guru doesn't have enough knowledge to help the disciple [...] when his disciple goes and gets some siksa he should bring that teaching back to the diksa guru and share it with him [...] Now they give, the sastras, very specific instances under which one can leave the guru [...] the person becomes inimical to Visnu. Or becomes hopelessly lost".
(HG Vaisesika Dasa Lecture, Okinawa, 4-5/4/19)

So, in contrast to Srila Prabhupada's perfect bona fide gurus, we are taught that the bona fide guru can become demoniac and may need his disciple to help instruct him! What is missing from this "explanation" by GBC-elected guru HG Vaisesika Dasa are the words "Srila Prabhupada", because Srila Prabhupada never teaches these things. On the contrary, as we have just seen, he teaches the opposite. So, to give a different teaching, the GBC gurus are forced to look elsewhere.

Now, we have explained previously that trying to consult previous acaryas is known as "jumping over" and is forbidden. However, even if we leave aside this point, the simple fact remains that if you need to consult anyone or anything other than Srila Prabhupada to make your case, it means you cannot make your case based on Srila Prabhupada's teachings. Otherwise you could just quote Srila Prabhupada. Hence, not adhering to the POP (Prabhupada-Only Paradigm, i.e. only quoting Srila Prabhupada's recorded orders), is itself evidence that the person is defeated. As one is admitting that one is following something that was not ordered by Srila Prabhupada. Thus, this is yet another feature of POP – its absence is immediate proof that the person is admitting defeat.

ISKCON's supreme authority

We must accept that Srila Prabhupada is ISKCON's supreme authority and Acarya:

"His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhu­pada [...] the International Society for Krishna Consciousness of which He is the Founder-Acarya and supreme authority."
(GBC Resolution 1, 1975)

Thus, the issue is not even whether teachings not given directly by Srila Prabhupada are "Vedic". The issue is that if Srila Prabhupada did not order something, then we do not do it in ISKCON, period. Otherwise, it makes the fact that Srila Prabhupada is the Acarya and supreme authority of ISKCON meaningless. For then we could have a ‘free-for-all' – we can do anything at all in ISKCON, despite Srila Prabhupada not having authorised it, as long as we can find some source or teacher within the "Vedic" tradition that we can interpret as supporting our proposition.


Combining this with the previous articles (here and here), we can see that ISKCON's leadership is continually working to develop a "parallel" system of authority to Srila Prabhupada's directly recorded orders. This parallel system, consisting of anything and everything, such as "memories", interpreting Srila Prabhupada's "mood", the "Vedic tradition", etc., is invoked whenever they come across the "inconvenience" of there being no recorded orders from Srila Prabhupada supporting what they want to do. However:

1) If one does not quote Srila Prabhupada directly – it means the activity cannot be done, because Srila Prabhupada is the "supreme authority", and thus, without his direct orders, we do not have his authority.

2) If one does not quote Srila Prabhupada directly – that in itself is an admission that one is engaging in unauthorised activity.

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