The following is an analysis of a Podcast made on 15/10/2008 by Sivarama Maharaja (SRS). As usual statements from SRS shall be enclosed in speech marks “ “ thus, with our comments following underneath:

"This meeting is technically called "Spiritual leadership seminar" but more commonly known as "Being a guru in ISKCON" or the guru training seminar. It is taught by Hanuman Prabhu and Annutama Prabhu and I will be doing these seminars for the next 4 days […]

Sometimes I have heard devotee's sort of raise there eyes or make some comments about what sort of thing is a guru's seminar or guru training? Because the implication is that a guru is supposed to know everything that they are automatically self realised souls."

Yes, we were some of the devotees who first raised such points over 1 year ago, when the idea of such a "guru training' course was first discussed. At the time we wrote:

"The bizarre and twisted world of the unauthorised guru system which has been foisted on Srila Prabhupada’s ISKCON movement continues to stumble on into greater depths of absurdity. The latest gem was announced on an ISKCON website […] So yes, actually I am your self-realised, bona-fide “as-good-as- God” guru, who will take you directly back to Krishna, by acting as a perfect transparent via medium. But before I do, can I please just first go on this training course, so I can remind myself what I am supposed to do, and how I should do it?! This reminds us of the mayavadi (impersonalist) philosophy where all of us are actually supposed to be Brahman, or God. And though, unfortunately, Brahman has currently fallen into illusion, he just needs to remind himself that actually he is God, and then everything will be fine again!"

(Back To Prabhupada, Issue 16)

And yes, according to the philosophy given to us by Srila Prabhupada, the guru is supposed to automatically be a self-realised soul. This is the most basic teaching given right in the beginning of the Bhagavada Gita:


" Therefore, the conclusion is that a spiritual master who is one hundred percent Krsna conscious is the bona fide spiritual master, for he can solve the problems of life."

(BG, 2:8)

Consequently, even if one is determined to have an unauthorised guru system, at the very least let people FIRST go to "Guru school" to learn how to become a guru, become self-realised, and THEN act as Guru. Currently they are doing it back to front - FIRST they are becoming gurus, taking disciples, and then going to "guru school" to learn how to become a guru. This is a characteristic of Kali-Yuga, the current age of hypocrisy and quarrel, that everything is automatically "topsy-turvy" or back to front:

"Therefore, by the influence of the age of Kali, everywhere, politically, socially or religiously, everything is topsy-turvy, and therefore for the sane man it is all regrettable."

(SB, 1:16:22)

Anutama Prabhu and Hanuman. […] They do the training and presentation, I am favourably impressed. […] My expectation though is that i see that we have a good seminar for training gurus. For qualifying them for giving them association for raising their consciousness and for having an interaction which our Krishna consciousness movement is all about. […] Here are the concise aims of the course.

1. the role and identity of the guru

4. the guru disciple relationship

7. life management and the demands of being a guru, life management means health and things like that as well as travel

8. spiritual health and avoiding fall down”

Having earlier quoted Srila Prabhupada stating that the spiritual master is the one who can solve the problems of life by being completely Krishna conscious, we now have the ludicrous situation of the spiritual master actually needing to have his own problems in life solved first by being instructed by non-gurus! Non-gurus need to tell the “self-realised” gurus what their “role” as a guru is, what the relationship with their disciples should be, how to manage their life, and how to have good spiritual health and avoid falling down! Everything we would expect the spiritual master to know perfectly if he is actually a bona fide spiritual master, and indeed instruct us about. Now HE must first himself go and learn it from non-gurus! Even to run an unauthorised guru system as ISKCON currently has – it makes sense learning all this FIRST, getting ”trained” as a guru FIRST, becoming “qualified” and having one’s “consciousness raised” FIRST, knowing the art of “avoiding fall down” FIRST - and THEN actually becoming a guru. The elderly Indian sannyasis of rival institutions to ISKCON are rubbing their hands in glee as they see the joke the ISKCON guru institution has become. They can proudly advertise – “our gurus do not need to go to guru school – they already know how to be guru!” – and the exodus from ISKCON to rival groups will continue. Even if one had deliberately set out to make ISKCON a joke it would be harder to do a better job that is currently being done by the GBC.

“these are some of the notes that I wrote down about what I envisaged would be the ideal situation of a guru,” […] all gurus are accountable to a leader within ISKCON's managerial hierarchy which means that they are under a leader they are subordinate. […] that gurus have no projects or services just because they are gurus. They have them because of the particular service that they have in the society which isn't established individually by them but which is assessed and authorised by ISKCON's leadership.[ …] they are regularly assessed for sadana, service and health. And maybe recommended to stop initiations temporarily, permanently and start initiating and so on. So siksa gurus and diksa gurus […] they should be learned that they should know the philosophy.”

SRS here claims that an ideal guru would be one:

a) who is subordinate to some other leader;
b) who can only have services that others have given them
c) who is regularly assessed on his sadhana and service
d) who can be recommended to stop and start and initiating as required
e) who should be learned and know the philosophy

SRS thus claims that gurus should actually be controlled like a ritvik – that is he is nothing more than a functionary under a management body.

This is not the definition of a diksa guru given by Srila Prabhupada, nor did Srila Prabhupada set this example for how a diksa guru should operate. Rather it is exactly how the ritviks that Srila Prabhupada appointed to conduct initiation formalities on his behalf were supposed to be managed. SRS justifies his guru position by claiming that whenever Srila Prabhupada said “become guru” he meant he and others should become gurus like Srila Prabhupada, and not just siksa gurus or ritviks. But in practise we see that due to the ISKCON guru system failing, SRS is trying to turn the gurus into ritviks without admitting it, whilst at the same time aggressively calling for the punishment for those who actually preach that in ISKCON the so-called ‘gurus’ are actually supposed to be ritviks!
Hypocrisy – another key characteristic of Kali-yuga, the age in which we live.

As we said at the end of the last point, it seems as if someone is determined to convince everyone that ISKCON and their gurus are just one big joke.

Negative experiences; the first one was of gurus within iskcon, diksa gurus particularly becoming almost a, not a, parallel independent institutions unto themselves. They were setting up their own projects on the basis of being guru and managing funds outside of the accounting of the society and mobilising devotee's and the manpower to the detriment of established yatras. The effect of that to me is to start worrying whether ISKCON is actually going to survive as 1 unified society as Shrila Prabhupada envisaged it. Or whether it just becomes a federation of many independent entities really just doing their own thing and obviously such a federation will sooner or later crack.”

SRS here has simply woken up to what the IRM has been saying for many years:

“So today we have over 70 different Guru cults all vying for a piece of the ISKCON pie. […] Most of these Gurus are satisfied simply with expanding their own Guru cults.”

(Back To Prabhupada Special Summary Issue, 2005)

SRS is finally seeing the reality of having 71 parallel authority structures which Srila Prabhupada never authorised – 70 gurus + a GBC. Such a system can never work, not being authorised by Srila Prabhupada and also by definition unnatural. You cannot on the one hand preach a philosophy which states that the Guru is absolute, and further that the disciple must see him as such, and at the same time also state that he is not absolute and a disciple’s allegiance should first be to the yatra rather than his absolute guru. Srila Prabhupada’s system was actually very simple – he alone is the absolute authority, with every one only his disciple, and the GBC only able to execute and manage his directives. Nothing more, and nothing less. This system is not only the authorised system, but it also worked from 1966 until 1977, and would also work now as long as we had GBCs interested in simply implementing Srila Prabhupada’s directives unchanged, rather than becoming unauthorised gurus themselves (virtually all of the GBCs are also diksa gurus).

“And the other one is guru fall down that is a negative experience and I know that by Prabhupadas disciples falling away from the process of Krishna consciousness it really made inspiring devotee's to lose faith who have lost their own guru's to live simply and austerely very, very difficult and to actually convince devotees that yes this Krishna consciousness does work and they can go back to Godhead instead of worrying that if my guru didn't make it then how can I make. Trying to convince them that in spite of these odds you can still make it, is not easy, but in any case.”

SRS here has also woken up to another reality which has been preached for years by the IRM – that having a false unauthorised guru system which does not work will simply bring the whole movement into disrepute, with the tragic result that devotees will actually doubt the process of Krishna consciousness itself. The solution is not to try and convince people that “in spite of these odds” they can still make it, but to give them the actual process authorised by Srila Prabhupada, and then they will definitely make it. And that process is not - a 71 parallel authority/gurus will fall-down/diksa gurus are like ritviks while still diksa gurus - make-shift concocted system. But the same process as when Srila Prabhupada was on the planet: a GBC carrying out Srila Prabhupada’s directives with everyone united around Srila Prabhupada as their Guru.