Rtviks Reveal How They Became Gurus


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 70, Vol 3, 2021

ISKCON's guru hoax, ironically, was born from the rtvik system. Srila Prabhupada appointed 11 rtviks on July 9th, 1977, but after Srila Prabhupada physically departed, these same 11 rtviks were suddenly declared as actually being diksa guru successors to Srila Prabhupada. These rtvik-cum-diksa gurus were then expanded wholesale via the GBC guru system we currently have in ISKCON.

1) However, if these 11 rtviks had not been authorised by Srila Prabhupada to turn into diksa gurus, then it means the rtviks should have remained as rtviks, having not been ordered to give up this position by turning into diksa gurus. Which in turn means we would only have had rtviks and Srila Prabhupada would have remained ISKCON's diksa guru.

2) Thus, then there would have been no basis to expand from the unauthorised 11 rtvik-cum-diksa gurus into the current GBC guru system. Hence, if the original rtvik-cum-diksa guru system is unauthorised, then so is the current GBC guru system by extension.

Therefore, without the much maligned rtvik system acting as the unauthorised springboard, we would never have even had the current guru system in ISKCON!

Out of these 11 rtviks who turned into diksa gurus, only 2 remain today as active diksa gurus taking disciples in ISKCON – HH Hridayananda Dasa Goswami ("HD") and HH Jayapataka Swami ("JPS"). 8 of the others later stopped initiating disciples in ISKCON due to various illicit activities: Jayatirtha, Ramesvara, Hansadutta, Bhagavan, Bhavananda, Kirtanananda, Harikesa and Satsvarupa; whilst HH Tamala Krsna Goswami died in 2002. Now, in a series of ground-breaking interviews conducted by the GBC Strategic Planning Team on "GBC History", these 2 remaining founders of ISKCON's diksa guru program were asked to reveal the circumstances under which their rtvik transmogrification into diksa gurus suddenly came about. All quotes in shaded boxes are taken from interviews with these 2 original rtviks, held on 12/6/21, 17/7/21 and 7/8/21. Emphases added.

GBC, not Prabhupada

HD: "When I came back from Mayapur in 1978, right after the meeting, and I'm now, you know, officially, I didn't declare myself to be a guru, the GBC using their ultimate managing authority, authorized me to do that. [...] So, whatever you think Prabhupada said, the GBC had the authority given by Prabhupada to continue normal Vedic culture."

1) HD does not even claim that Srila Prabhupada authorised the rtviks he appointed to turn into diksa gurus. On the contrary, HD states that the issue of what "Prabhupada said" is not even relevant, because the authority for these rtviks to turn into diksa gurus came from the GBC.

2) HD further claims that the GBC was authorised by Srila Prabhupada as the "ultimate managing authority" to "continue normal Vedic culture". However, in the very first GBC resolution ever passed, it was stated that the GBC's managing power was restricted so that:

"The GBC accepts as its life and soul His [Srila Prabhupada's] divine instructions"
"The GBC has no other function or purpose other than to execute the instructions so kindly given by His Divine Grace and preserve and spread his Teachings to the world in their pure form."

(GBC Resolution 1, 1975)

Thus, unless "instructions" from Srila Prabhupada exist which state –

a) the GBC are ordered to "continue normal Vedic culture";
b) and that "normal Vedic culture" means that "rtviks" automatically transmogrify into diksa gurus as soon as the spiritual master physically departs

– then the GBC had no authority from Srila Prabhupada to turn the rtviks into diksa gurus. And a search of Srila Prabhupada's instructions shows that the above instructions were never issued by Srila Prabhupada.

In conclusion, the account of one of the rtviks of how he became a diksa guru confirms that he was not authorised by Srila Prabhupada to change from a rtvik into a diksa guru, and thus should have remained a rtvik.

Emergency, not Prabhupada

HD: "you're the guru for all of Latin America [...] there's a term in sastra which is apa dharma, that means emergency dharma, crisis dharma [...] Meaning if it is an emergency, then you can do it, so when Prabhupada left it was an emergency, and so therefore I had to step into a position"

HD claims that Srila Prabhupada physically departing resulted in an "emergency" and, therefore, he had to act as a guru due to this "emergency" situation.

However, Srila Prabhupada never ordered that: "After I physically depart, if you think there is any kind of emergency, then you may stop acting as rtviks and instead transmogrify into diksa gurus to deal with the emergency".

Thus, this "emergency" reasoning has no relevance to being any sort of authority from Srila Prabhupada to transmogrify from a rtvik into a diksa guru.

Gaudiya Matha, not Prabhupada

HD: "the leaders in Venezuela went to the Gaudiya Matha and stole a whole country [...] there was this whole Gaudiya Matha liberation movement in Latin America and every Latin American leader told me the whole thing, the same thing, same thing: if you don't start initiating immediately we're going to lose our movement here, that, you know, they're going to steal all our devotees"

HD explains that after Srila Prabhupada's physical departure, ISKCON was under attack by the Gaudiya Matha, who were trying to take over the movement in Latin America (HD's zone for which HD was the GBC at the time). And that in order to defend against this attack, for him to become diksa guru and start "initiating immediately" was necessary. One can argue that this was a "noble" motive for HD to act as a diksa guru, but it still underscores the fact that HD turning from rtvik into diksa guru was dictated by what he saw as an unavoidable external pressure – and not a prior rtvik-into-diksa-guru transmogrification order from Srila Prabhupada.

Self-created problem

HD: "The Gaudiya Matha very quickly took advantage of Prabhupada's passing [...] the main argument of the Gaudiya Matha in trying to destroy ISKCON or steal ISKCON was that ‘we have these senior people who have Indian bodies that have been in the movement so much longer, you've got a bunch of neophyte gurus'"

HD explains the basis of the Gaudiya Matha attack that he mentioned in the last section. However, by HD's own words, if the most senior and also most genuine guru possible, Srila Prabhupada, had been kept as everyone's diksa guru, this Gaudiya Matha attack would have been countered. Because, it was only due to the act of the rtviks deciding to replace Srila Prabhupada as the diksa guru of ISKCON with "neophyte gurus", that the Gaudiya Matha was able to launch an attack against such "neophyte gurus" in the first place!

Ignorance, not Prabhupada

HD: "And people who weren't there at the time [...] who didn't have to struggle through this confusion of not knowing what to do, [...] back then it was very difficult to be wise when you have no experience and no information and you're just trying to keep ISKCON going [...] I had hundreds and hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands, of very needy devotees who were almost demanding that I play a certain role [...] it was my Godbrothers [...] who absolutely demanded that I start initiating immediately"

HD explains how he became a guru under the dual circumstances of:

a) Not knowing what to do and having no information;
b) Playing a role demanded by others.

But, again, this just emphasises that the process of turning from a rtvik into a diksa guru was not based on an order from Srila Prabhupada asking HD to change his status from rtvik to diksa guru, but rather based on ignorance and force of circumstance.

Confusion, not Prabhupada

JPS: "So, we had the situation where we had nearly 30 zones and only 11 gurus, so we became the zonal gurus. [...] because of a genuine confusion what we should do, we were all in unchartered waters [...] I thought this idea that the gurus are special and should appoint other gurus, and that would not be what Prabhupada wanted, so like that there were different confusions."

JPS admits that, rather than arising from Srila Prabhupada's orders, the guru system arose in confusion regarding what should be done as they tried to themselves construct a "zonal guru system".

Personal desire, not Prabhupada

Another one of the 11 rtviks, HH Tamala Krsna Goswami ("TKG"), also confirmed that the rtviks became diksa gurus not because Srila Prabhupada ordered them to turn from rtviks into diksa gurus, but because it was just something they decided to do due to their own personal desire:

"Myself and the other GBC have done the greatest disservice to this movement the last three years because we interpreted the appointment of rtviks as the appointment of gurus [...] Obviously, Srila Prabhupada felt that of all the people, these people are particularly qualified. So it stands to reason that after Prabhupada's departure, they would go on, if they so desired, to initiate."
(TKG, 3/12/80)

And HD also stated regarding changing from a rtvik into a diksa guru, that:

"you're 29 years old and you're suddenly thrown into a position like that"

Thus, this is clear proof that these were unauthorised self-made gurus, because one cannot suddenly become a diksa guru just due to one's own desire to become one:

"So Sanatana Gosvami is guru. Caitanya Mahaprabhu is authorizing him to become guru. This is parampara system. Nobody can become guru all of a sudden. Self-made guru, that is not guru."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 11/7/76)

Unauthorised guru system

HD: "no one in his right mind would ever have taken a 29-year-old guy like me, eight years in the movement, and said [...] you're the guru for all of Latin America. Obviously, you wouldn't do that [...] nowadays, if you've only been in the movement eight years, you can hardly get a job as a bottle washer [...] everyone's worshipping and, you know, bowing down and treating you like a big guru, [...] of course it affects the mind. [...] Did I make mistakes? Of course, I was a young man with no experience"

Thus, HD admits that this "rtvik-cum-diksa guru" system led to a guru system whereby unqualified neophytes, who were unable to handle being gurus and who made mistakes, became diksa gurus. Indeed, HD states that he thought this guru system:

"is going to destroy Prabhupada's movement."

However, Srila Prabhupada never taught that a bona fide guru system is a:

Neophyte, unqualified, unable-to-handle-being-guru, mistake-ridden, system.

Srila Prabhupada has never authorised such an unqualified guru system. Rather, Srila Prabhupada only ever authorised a qualified bona fide guru system:

"One should approach a bona fide guru to inquire about the highest benefit of life. Such a guru [...] is freed from all material contamination"
(SB, 5.14.13, purport)

Thus, the rtvik-cum-unqualified-diksa-guru system that arose in ISKCON was never authorised by Srila Prabhupada.


a) The rtviks have explained that they turned into diksa gurus due to a combination of reasons:

1) GBC appointment;
2) Emergency;
3) Gaudiya Matha attack;
4) Ignorance;
5) Confusion;
6) Personal desire.

Therefore, since it was these reasons that caused the change, the reason was not due to having previously been ordered to do so by Srila Prabhupada.

b) It has always been a fact that Srila Prabhupada never ordered the rtviks to turn into diksa gurus. And now these same rtviks have 'unwittingly' confirmed that this was indeed the case!

c) Therefore, without such a rtvik to diksa guru transmogrification order from Srila Prabhupada, the rtviks would have had to remain as rtviks, and thus Srila Prabhupada would have remained as the diksa guru of ISKCON – just as he ordered. Which means no guru successor system could or would have ever been born in ISKCON.

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