How Is Authorisation Given?


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 76, Vol. 1, 2023, Interactive

"Hare Krsna, Prabhu! We say that a guru is the one who is authorised by his guru in the parampara system. But how do we come to know if he is authorised by his guru as we do not have access to all the conversation between him and his guru?"
– Sunny Kumar, Gaya, India

Editor replies:

We will restrict our answer to the issue of Srila Prabhupada and ISKCON as that is what is relevant to us. As far as the question of Srila Prabhupada's authorisation to be a guru, we answered this in detail in BTP 70 Interactive. This answer can be read here.

Then, if we consider the issue of alleged guru successors to Srila Prabhupada:

1) It was claimed that Srila Prabhupada had only ever authorised 11 persons to be guru:

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

And this authorisation was supposedly given on the record via the written July 9th, 1977, directive, which is where the "11 selected by Srila Prabhupada" are mentioned. But, as we have documented many times, the directive clearly states that "the 11" were only selected to be rtviks rather than successor diksa gurus.

Subsequently, more gurus have been authorised by the GBC via a voting system, but it is claimed that this is due to the GBC's supposed authority to make gurus, rather than these gurus having been authorised by Srila Prabhupada via some private "conversation". Hence, leaving aside the issue of whether or not these gurus – whether the first 11 or the subsequent ones voted in by the GBC – were authorised at all to become diksa guru successors, the question of their authorisation coming about due to alleged unknown "conversations" between Srila Prabhupada and themselves does not in any case even arise.

2) However, for completeness, let us now address the issue of such a claim being made, wherein it is claimed that Srila Prabhupada did personally ask someone to become his successor diksa guru via some private conversation, the contents of which were not known to the rest of ISKCON.

a) Srila Prabhupada did not authorise a non-recorded method of authorisation for ISKCON:

"...just like in our ISKCON there are so many false things: "Prabhupada said this, Prabhupada said that." "
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 7/11/72)

"They misunderstand me. Unless it is there from me in writing, there are so many things that "Prabhupada said.''"
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 2/9/75)

Thus, raising the question of such a private, unrecorded authorisation is not relevant, as Srila Prabhupada did not authorise such a method, but rather warned us against such claims.

b) Srila Prabhupada had authorised a directive in writing on July 9th, 1977, to be sent to all temples and GBCs giving the system of initiation to be implemented throughout ISKCON. This stated that the names of candidates for initiation were to be recommended by temple presidents to rtvik representatives, which would then lead to those candidates becoming "an initiated disciple of Srila Prabhupad" (July 9th, 1977, Directive). If such a system was to suddenly be upended, then the whole Society would need to similarly be informed in writing about the new system, whereby henceforward candidates were not to be recommended to the rtviks, nor indeed would there even be any more rtviks, nor would anyone become Srila Prabhupada's initiated disciple. Rather, the whole Society would now get candidates initiated by a guru or gurus that Srila Prabhupada had supposedly authorised in a private conversation. But no such upending instruction was ever issued to ISKCON, which means that Srila Prabhupada did not authorise such successor diksa gurus to operate in ISKCON. Without such a Society-wide written order, such a system could not even be implemented in ISKCON. Because the Society would first need to know that this was what they were supposed to do, and Srila Prabhupada had not empowered everyone in ISKCON with mind-reading capabilities, wherein they were automatically supposed to know the content of every private conversation Srila Prabhupada may have had with his disciples.

c) Thus, even if we leave aside the July 9th, 1977, directive, we have a wider issue, which is that Srila Prabhupada had already authorised the GBC to be responsible for managing all operations in ISKCON, which included how initiations were conducted. Indeed, the GBC had already issued resolutions in 1975 regarding the system for initiations in ISKCON (GBC Resolution no. 9, 1975). Hence, to then claim that Srila Prabhupada had issued instructions regarding initiations for ISKCON, but kept them secret from the GBC, would be a contradiction, as one would be claiming that:

i) Srila Prabhupada had authorised the GBC to manage initiations in ISKCON.
ii) Srila Prabhupada had ensured the GBC could not manage initiations in ISKCON by deliberately hiding from them the instructions for initiations in ISKCON.

Thus, in conclusion, the question of diksa guru successors being authorised in ISKCON via some unrecorded, secret conversation:
Is unauthorised;
Is contradictory;
Requires imaginary mind-reading abilities.

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