Becoming Guru in ISKCON


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 68, Vol 1, 2021

GBC member and ISKCON Minister of Communications Anuttama Dasa ("AD") gave an interview in which he explained the GBC's system for "creating" GBC gurus. All quotes in shaded boxes are taken from this interview published on 28/7/20. Emphases added.

Everyone become guru

Srila Prabhupada stated:

"Therefore Caitanya Mahaprabhu...Yare dekha, tare kaha 'krsna'-upadesa: "You become guru. No qualification required. [...] Anyone can do it, even a child. [...] Three words: Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead; surrender unto Him; and chant Hare Krsna. Your life will be successful. [...] Everyone can become guru by simply teaching these three words."
(Room Conversation, 26/1/77)

Srila Prabhupada makes it clear that Lord Caitanya's order for everyone to "become guru" requires one to have no qualification and thus even a child can do it, because it only requires one to simply state 3 things: Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, surrender unto Him, and chant Hare Krsna. These are the same basic preacher gurus, or simple siksa gurus, mentioned in the article on pages 4-5. Thus, since to become guru requires no qualification, such that even a child can do it very easily, one does not require special training to become such a guru. However, to be a GBC guru requires a special training program:

"we've instituted training for people before they can become a guru [...] we create systems to lift up those people and help them in their service and help them perform that service for their guru. [...] when they [the public] hear that they go ‘Wow. Actually I've never heard of an organization with gurus that has training for gurus.'"

Thus, the GBC is not creating the gurus Srila Prabhupada actually ordered, which require no qualification, never mind a special guru training program.

Not bona fide diksa gurus

Rather, this training program is supposedly for creating diksa gurus – or those who initiate disciples and take responsibility for delivering them back to Godhead – as successors to take Srila Prabhupada's position as ISKCON's diksa guru. However, Srila Prabhupada never gave any orders for such a guru.

Under the GBC's guru system, "technically" someone who could be an "idiot" can become a guru, and the gurus can make mistakes because they have "flaws":

"technically I could become a diksa guru [...] people might come up and say ‘he's an idiot, don't let him do it', but technically there's no barrier [...] that doesn't mean because I start being a guru tomorrow I'm perfect in the sense I'm never going to do anything wrong. You know, I'm a human being, I've got flaws [...]"

However, Srila Prabhupada teaches that a bona fide diksa guru must be liberated and does not commit mistakes:

"Because the bound cannot help the bound, the rescuer must be liberated. Therefore, only Lord Krsna, or His bona fide representative the spiritual master, can re-lease the conditioned soul."
(Bg., 7.14, purport)

"Srimad-Bhagavatam, which is without trace of mistake, illusion, cheating and imperfection, which are the four flaws of all conditioned souls. The liberated souls are above these flaws [...]"
(SB, 1.3.24, purport)

Need to protect GBC gurus

"We say well, yeah, because guru is meant to be as good as God [...] And at the same time we need to have checks and balances and we need to have systems in place to protect our leaders. Like brahmacari [...] That doesn't mean we don't have systems in place to make sure the brahmacaris go to mangala-arati [...]"

Echoing the points just made, AD accepts that the diksa guru is meant to be "as good as God". However, AD then goes on to justify the GBC's guru training program by comparing the GBC gurus to regular brahmacaris, who need systems in place to make sure they "go to mangala-arati", and thus the GBC gurus also need "checks and balances" and "systems" to "protect" them. But brahmacaris are not meant to be "as good as God", whilst real diksa gurus, because they are "as good as God", do not require to be supervised to be protected:

"An authorized spiritual master is as good as Hari, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If Hari is free to act as He likes, the empowered spiritual master is also free. As Hari is not subject to the criticism of mundane rules and regulations, the spiritual master empowered by Him is also not subjected."
(Cc., Madhya-lila, 10.136)

Need to protect disciple

Therefore, due to these flawed GBC gurus, there is a corresponding training program for the would-be disciples of the GBC gurus, and one part of the training program deals with what to do if the guru "has a difficulty":

"we even talk about what to do if your guru has a difficulty. We're open about these things"

The interviewer asks how there can even be a need to "train" a guru when the guru is supposed to be an "enlightened person". AD explains that the training program is required to try to rein in potential false gurus because:

"disciples and followers have just had their hearts broken and their spiritual life crushed, and they go away faithless. So, you know, it's Kali-yuga, we have to protect people, protect their faith."

Thus, AD is stating that the GBC is supporting a situation whereby fallible gurus are allowed to run rampant at the risk of crushing people's spiritual lives, and this "guru training" is an attempt to try to protect people from these wobbly "Kali-yuga" gurus.


The GBC's "guru training" program to create diksa guru successors to Srila Prabhupada is not authorised. Nor is it even based on the concept of a bona fide diksa guru. Rather, it is based on the idea that ISKCON's GBC guru system enables one to pretend to be "as good as God" without actually needing to be on this level, and therefore training and supervision is required to help pull off this fraud.

One could of course instead just accept Srila Prabhupada as one's diksa guru, since he actually is "as good as God", and it was what he ordered should happen in ISKCON.

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