A Movement with No Philosophy


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 72, Vol 1, 2022

The GBC's latest Resolutions stunningly highlight how, instead of following any philosophy, the GBC simply makes stuff up as it goes along. (All emphases added).

1990: It's a law we need!

In 1990, the GBC stated the following:

"the posthumous ritvik theory essentially conflicts with the law of disciplic succession"
(GBC Resolutions 1990, 73)

Thus, the GBC claimed that Srila Prabhupada remaining ISKCON's diksa guru (which the GBC calls above "the posthumous rtvik theory") must be wrong because it breaks the "law of disciplic succession". This law was stated by Srila Prabhupada in a letter:

"But as a matter of etiquette it is the custom that during the lifetime of your spiritual master you bring the prospective disciples to him, and 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, there are two parts to this law:

a) The etiquette for what must be done in the spiritual master's physical presence.
b) What can be done in the spiritual master's physical absence.

Both these two things together constitute the "law of disciplic succession". It gives the time period for when succession is possible.

1995: Impossible to violate

The 1995 GBC paper "Gurus and Initiation in ISKCON" (GII), included a paper which stated that this law was one that:

"we would transgress at our peril."
("Devotees Initiating Before Their Guru's Physical Departure: An Official GBC Paper")

Thus, the GBC made it clear that this law can never be violated, period.

2002: We can violate!

Having used the law to "deal" with the threat of Srila Prabhupada being ISKCON's diksa guru, the GBC decided it no longer needed to be an inviolable law. First, via GBC Resolution 303, 2002, the GBC made HH Maha Visnu Goswami a diksa guru, despite his guru, HH Sivarama Swami, being very much physically present. Then, over the years, this was expanded with other "grand-disciple" diksa gurus also being created, even though their diksa gurus were also still physically present.

2015: Maybe it is a law?!

The GBC then decided to temporarily suspend "grand-disciple" gurus because it still needed to do "comprehensive research" to figure out the issue!:

"the existing resolutions and proposals concerning [...] disciples initiating in the physical presence of their initiating guru, are held in abeyance until these roles are defined within the above-mentioned comprehensive research."
(GBC Resolution 310, 2015)

2019: Still not a law

Then, 4 years later, the GBC decided that "grand-disciples" were allowed to become diksa gurus again, but with various "mandatory conditions" that first needed to be fulfilled (GBC Resolution 700, 2019).

2022: No conditions at all

Grand-disciples becoming diksa gurus in the physical presence of their guru is now accepted as being standard, and indeed the GBC is actively calling for it urgently on a large scale, with the various "mandatory conditions" introduced in 2019 repealed:

"a new generation of diksa-gurus urgently needs to be established [...] which will necessarily include: [...] 2) requesting present diksa-gurus to identify, train, and empower qualified disciples to accept the service of offering diksa initiation, even while they are still present. [...] The 2019 amendment being repealed"
(GBC 2021 Resolutions 701.02 and 702.02, [issued 2022])

We were talking rubbish

To justify this free-for-all for "grand-disciples" to become diksa gurus in the physical presence of their spiritual masters, whereby the "law" of disciplic succession is now effectively ditched, the recently issued 2021 GBC Resolutions have put forward a number of arguments which accept that the detailed justification for this law that they presented in GII in 1995 was a load of rubbish:

1995: Precedents are irrelevant:

"Even though in the past spiritual masters have given disciples permission to initiate in their presence, Srila Prabhupada emphatically forbids it"

2021: Precedents are relevant:

"it [the new free-for-all] should be accepted as applying a precedent from our parampara according to time, place, and circumstances."

1995: Law applies for all time:

"he (Srila Prabhupada) is restricting all disciples of all gurus in ISKCON from initiating in the presence of their spiritual masters."

2021: Law only applied pre-1978:

"Whereas Srila Prabhupada was present with us for only a brief period of twelve years. It was natural that in such a short span of twelve years he was insistent about the etiquette [...] the current situation is vastly different"


1995: "Law" is law:

"Srila Prabhupada had the vision to set down a law [...] we would transgress at our peril."

2021: Only optional etiquette:

"the phrase β€˜law of disciplic succession' [...] should be seen in the same context of etiquette rather than something distinct."
(GBC Resolution 701.02, 2021)

No new instructions from Srila Prabhupada have come to light since 1995. Thus, the only thing that has changed is the GBC's priorities from needing to keep Srila Prabhupada at bay to now further expanding the guru franchise.

Disciplic succession deviation x2

Thus, "grand-disciple" diksa gurus:

1) Violate Srila Prabhupada's law of disciplic succession that only after the guru's physical disappearance is it even possible for a disciple to initiate.

2) Have resulted in both these "grand-disciples" and their gurus continuing to initiate at the same time, and thus theoretically competing with each other for disciples! Hence, there was no "succession" because, as both guru and disciple are initiating at the same time, the disciple never succeeded his guru!

Therefore, it is the GBC's guru system which does not adhere to their concept of disciplic succession (parampara), where the guru is supposedly succeeded on his physical departure. In addition, there are cases where a GBC diksa guru actually has physically departed, but there is still no "successor" who has become a diksa guru to supposedly "continue the disciplic succession".

Practical Rtviks

Those who accepted Srila Prabhupada as their diksa guru after his physical departure are derisively referred to by the GBC as "rtviks". Their spiritual position is that they do not accept a "living" GBC guru, and instead take shelter only of Srila Prabhupada. However, there is a whole class of devotees actively serving in ISKCON who are in the same spiritual position. These are devotees who also have no GBC guru and who take shelter of Srila Prabhupada. That is, these are persons who have not gotten "re-initiated" after their previous GBC guru (they may have had more than one) was removed as a guru due to having been caught falling down into some gross illicit activity.

These persons can be called "Practical Rtviks" ("PR") because, although in public they may give lip service to the GBC guru program, in practice, spiritually, they follow the "rtviks", by taking shelter of Srila Prabhupada rather than a GBC guru, even though, like the "rtviks", they did not take initiation from Srila Prabhupada when he was physically present. In some cases, these PR have been following such a path for many decades, which will be longer than many of those who are officially designated as being "rtviks"!

Guruless gurus

The further and full expansion of the guru franchise to "grand-disciples" mentioned earlier, was also extended to another group. However, this expansion is hidden away in 4 words enclosed in brackets in the GBC Resolutions, and thus may not even have been noticed. The GBC Resolution states:

"training qualified second generation devotees whose diksa-gurus are no longer physically with us (or in good standing), to take up the service of diksa-guru immediately"
(GBC Resolution 701.02, 2021)

The phrase tucked away in brackets "or in good standing", refers to ISKCON members who have no guru, that is, the PR mentioned in the previous section.

Thus, in order to increase the number of diksa gurus, the GBC has resolved that even if one has no diksa guru, this is no bar to oneself becoming a diksa guru. Hence, the GBC is now claiming that one is able to supposedly connect others to the parampara, even though one's own supposed link to the parampara is no longer part of the parampara!

Disciplic deviation

The disciplic succession is defined as being a "chain":

"All transcendental messages are received properly in the chain of disciplic succession."
(SB, 1.3.42, purport)

One who is a disciple of Srila Prabhupada is connected to the disciplic succession, since there exists this unbroken "chain of disciplic succession" which one belongs to, and which begins for oneself with Srila Prabhupada and then stretches unbroken all the way back to Lord Krsna. And thus, Srila Prabhupada states that the "proper" spiritual master one must take initiation from must be part of such a chain:

"After being initiated by the proper spiritual master in that chain of succession..."
(SB, 2.9.7, purport)

This would mean that one who got initiated by one of these PR would not be part of such a chain of disciplic succession, as one's guru (the PR) would himself not have a guru who is in the parampara, and thus there is no chain! If a chain is not unbroken and not connected via links all the way through, then of course it is not a chain!

Earlier we documented two ways that the GBC's guru system is deviating from its concept of the disciplic succession. Now, with the GBC's authorisation of the PR as diksa gurus, we can add a third way! And this is with the assumption that the GBC guru program is even authorised to make diksa gurus at all. Thus, even accepting that false assumption, the program is still defeated by itself.

PR has a rtvik initiation

The GBC claims a PR is "connected" to Srila Prabhupada and the parampara by virtue of having had an initiation ceremony from someone who at the time was an authorised GBC guru, and thus this guru's later removal from the parampara is irrelevant. The GBC further adds that this authorised GBC guru can even have been deviating at the time of the ceremony. Thus, for example, in the case of fallen GBC guru, Umapati Dasa, the GBC stated that –

"Devotees initiated prior to this date (February 2010) are accepted as duly initiated members of ISKCON"
(GBC Resolution 307, 2011)

– even though these initiations occurred whilst he was deviating:

"Umapati prabhu had misused his status as a guru to behave inappropriately with several male disciples over a number of years and that this behavior was of a sexual nature."
(GBC Statement, GBC meetings, 2010)

Thus, for a PR, his "initiation" was effectively nothing other than supposedly a "connecting ceremony" to Srila Prabhupada, because later the "initiator" does not act as a diksa guru. But this is exactly how a rtvik initiation is defined! This further confirms the PR's spiritual status as being similar, rather than different, to that of the derided "rtviks".

We were talking rubbish

However, earlier, the GBC claimed the exact opposite, stating that if one's guru has fallen, reinitiation from another bona fide guru is essential:

1) "If the spiritual master is fallen, how can that fallen person represent the disciplic succession of pure devotees? [...] So now we should link with a qualified spiritual master so that our connection will be strong, complete, and proper."
(GBC Paper included in GII, 1995)

They even quoted from Srila Jiva Gosvami and Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura to make this point.

2) Thus, in 2005, a GBC Resolution included the following statement from fallen GBC guru Suhotra Dasa, reflecting this stance:

"If you so desire, do not hesitate to take re-initiation."
(GBC Resolution 402, 2005)

3) Yet, as just seen, when Umapati Dasa fell down in 2010, the GBC waved a magic wand and declared the exact opposite – initiations from a fallen guru connect one to the parampara and no reinitiation is necessary. So, supposedly now, with no new information having come to light, all of a sudden Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Srila Jiva Gosvami, and the GBC until that point, had all been wrong!

Thus, the PR have now gone from not even being connected to the parampara themselves, to being diksa gurus who can connect others to the parampara, all via a deviant initiation they took from a deviant many years ago who is himself not part of the parampara! The "rtviks" are derided, but the PR, who have the same spiritual status, are now considered to be possible diksa gurus... who are "as good as God".


Even if one has the wrong philosophy, at least one can sincerely believe it and consistently apply it. However, the GBC has no philosophy, but instead just claims different things in different years depending on what agenda it wishes to push, including ditching the principle of the disciplic succession!


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