ISKCON leader praises Back to Prabhupada

Spring 2007

ISKCON leader His Grace Kripamoya Das, whose manifold responsibilities include being ISKCON UK Congregational Director, Bhaktivedanta Manor Temple Council member and Chairman of ISKCON’s European Council, recently wrote an editorial piece about BTP on his website. Kripamoya prabhu’s article graciously acknowledges the sincerity behind the IRM’s mission to restore Srila Prabhupada to his position as the sole initiating (diksa) Guru of ISKCON. We herewith present extracts from Kripamoya prabhu’s article in the tinted boxes, with our comments underneath. All his quotes are taken from “Thoughts on ‘Back to Prabhupada’ magazine”, The Vaishnava Voice, February 8th, 2007.

BTP “well-researched”

“The magazine is very well produced on glossy paper with colour photographs and well-researched articles.”

This is a tacit acknowledgement that BTP contains accurate and truthful information, otherwise how can its articles be “well researched” ?

BTP read “several times”

“I have read them several times before because propounders of this particular idea distribute their magazines with great enthusiasm at our Rathayatra festivals around the country.”

It is refreshing to see an ISKCON leader who does not advocate attacking and beating up BTP distributors! We have noted in BTP issue 8, how one ISKCON Rathayatra Festival organiser advocated the concept of “violent love”, arguing that beating up BTP distributors is how ISKCON devotees should show their “love” for Srila Prabhupada (see “Violent Love”, BTP issue 8). In addition, we have noted the thug tactics displayed against a BTP distributor by a GBC member and others at the Detroit Rathayatra, as highlighted on page 5 of this issue.

BTP widely distributed

“They are also mailed in substantial numbers to almost anyone whose postal address is listed in any ISKCON publication.”

Indeed, “substantial numbers” of ISKCON supporters who receive BTP are also writing in substantial numbers in support of BTP, as evidenced from our Letters pages.

BTP “sincere” in intention

“The particular ideas put forward by those who espouse the ritvik doctrine are sincerely heart-felt and have developed out of concern for the well being of ISKCON’s members.
They gradually developed from 1978 onwards, just after Srila Prabhupada’s physical departure, and have been perpetuated by a vocal minority ever since.”

We are grateful to Kripamoya prabhu for publicly stating the truth about the IRM’s motivation in acting for the well-being of ISKCON and its members. This statement echoes that recently made by the GBC in their recent debate with the IRM (see BTP 13), viz:

“There is no doubt that both ISKCON’s leadership and the IRM have acted and are acting to establish what each considers the correct theological conclusion with regard to the affairs of gurus and disciples.”
(GBC submission, The Rival Positions in the IRM-GBC Controversy within ISKCON, Martin-Luther University, Germany, 2006).

Now we wait for ISKCON’s leadership to ACT on their words and lift the ban on IRM devotees worshiping in Srila Prabhupada’s temples, and allow each ISKCON devotee the opportunity to read BTP and The Final Order and make up their own minds.

BTP “beneficial”

“Now of course, this sort of passionate expression of thoughts and feelings is beneficial, even when accompanied by zealous table thumping and highly charged journalism.”

GBC, you may not listen to us, but at least listen to one of your own!

BTP “sign of intellectual vitality”

“The energetic discussion of ideas and political reform within a movement like ours is not only to be expected, but encouraged. Writing, debate, and campaigning should be regarded as a sign of intellectual vitality, particularly within a spiritual community that wishes to avoid the theological constipation that debilitates many religious organisations.”

If such discussion is to be encouraged, why then are IRM devotees BANNED from some ISKCON temples, most notably Bhaktivedanta Manor, of which HG Kripamoya prabhu is a temple council member, simply for engaging in this discussion? This can only mean that the temple authorities are afraid of “intellectual vitality” which, of course, is completely antithetical to Srila Prabhupada’s teachings:

“A sincere student should not neglect the discussion of such conclusions, considering them controversial, for such discussions strengthen the mind.”
(Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila, 2:117)

Accepts ISKCON gurus not liberated

“Our contemporary ISKCON Vaishnavas who have assumed the role of guru for their students would never claim to be liberated souls, and are certainly not the best devotees who have ever lived in history.
They regard themselves as upakarikas, or ‘helpers,’ in the mission of the acarya. They don’t claim to be perfect, and no one makes that claim for them.”

However, all ISKCON gurus are worshipped “as-good-as-God” by their disciples, as takes place in daily guru-puja and annual Vyasa Puja ceremonies, and in doing so they are making a huge statement of how they wish others to view their spiritual status; for only a liberated soul, or mahabhagavata, is authorised and qualified to receive such worship:

“When one has attained the topmost position of mahabhagavata, he is to be accepted as a guru and worshipped exactly like Hari, the Personality of Godhead. ONLY such a person is eligible to occupy the post of guru”.
(Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 24.330 purport, emphasis added)

Srila Prabhupada is the spiritual master of everyone in ISKCON

“Back to Prabhupada was sent to me by someone who espouses the ritvik doctrine, the conclusion that since Srila Prabhupada is the spiritual master of every ISKCON member, that consequently there should be no other initiations or gurus.”

This echoes Srila Prabhupada’s statements that he indeed will be the initiating spiritual master of everyone in ISKCON:

“Yes, I am the spiritual master of this institution, and all the members of the society, they’re supposed to be my disciples. They follow the rules and regulations which I ask them to follow, and they are initiated by me spiritually.”
(Srila Prabhupada Radio Interview, March 12th, 1968)

Srila Prabhupada still giving guidance

“Srila Prabhupada is the unquestionable source of all knowledge and guidance, direction and encouragement for all of his senior disciples who now have disciples of their own.”

This echoes Srila Prabhupada’s following statement, quoted in the IRM’s postion paper, The Final Order, which is advertised for free dispatch at the back of each BTP:

“I shall remain your personal guidance, physically present or not physically, as I am getting personal guidance from my Guru Maharaja.”
(Srila Prabhupada Room Conversation, July 14th, 1977)

And if Srila Prabhupada is guiding his disciples today, then he can of course also guide everyone else in the same way, since it is accepted that Srila Prabhupada is able to teach followers even though he is not physically present.

Disagrees with other ISKCON leaders

“ISKCON continues to grow despite those many mistakes, and wherever it is growing you will find healthy guru-disciple relationships.”

ISKCON gurus have made official statements that ISKCON is NOT growing, but rather is in meltdown:

“How will we deal with our polarized and disintegrating society?”
(Ravindra Svarupa Das, GBC Chairman, May 2000)

”The Society remains together more on the basis of a loose confederation of initiating gurus and independent local leaders, than as a unified movement of surrendered servants.”
(HH Prahladananda Swami, ISKCON GBC guru and Sannyasa Minister, presentation to the GBC, Duties of GBC and Guru in ISKCON, 2006)

Therefore Kripamoya prabhu may wish to correct his rosy assessment in consultation with his esteemed colleagues.

Incorrect understanding

“It is certainly true that there were those who took up this order (to be guru) prematurely, or who allowed the privileges and honour ensuing from the role to affect them, but that in itself – disappointing as it is – should not cancel thousands of years of tradition or the natural relationships which develop between teacher and student today.”

BTP does not state that because we have experienced problems with gurus in ISKCON, therefore only Srila Prabhupada should give initiation. Rather, we repeat Srila Prabhupada’s teaching that only if he has ordered his disciples to succeed him as initiating gurus, can they give initiation:

“One should take initiation from a bona fide spiritual master coming in the disciplic succession, who is authorised by his predecessor spiritual master. This is called diksa-vidhana.”
(Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.8.54, purport, emphasis added)

No record of such an authorisation being given to those who currently initiate in ISKCON exists.
Hence it is not that certain ISKCON gurus “took up this order prematurely”. Rather, there was no order, period.


Phantom orders, part 1

“It is not a fact that Srila Prabhupada did not want anyone to take disciples or to become the next in the parampara succession. Quite the opposite – and for obvious reasons. He told several of his disciples that this was the traditional process and that they must have even more disciples than he himself.”

Unfortunately, there is no record of Srila Prabhupada ordering his disciples to replace him as the initiating Guru in ISKCON, only hearsay. And via hearsay evidence one can prove anything.
Indeed, one of ISKCON’s biggest detractors and competitors, HH Narayana Maharaja, similarly claims his mission is authorized is by such a phantom hearsay order he received from Srila Prabhupada.

Phantom orders, part 2

“At the Bhaktivedanta Manor in 1973 he told every devotee sitting in the temple room that he was 12th in the succession coming from Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and that: ‘…all of you are the 13th.’"

There is no quote from Srila Prabhupada spoken at Bhaktivedanta Manor in 1973 which mentions that his disciples “are the 13th”. However, in the same charitable spirit Kripamoya prabhu has shown BTP, we have found for him a quote which most closely resembles what he is trying to quote here, and it is:

“My Guru Maharaja is tenth from Caitanya Mahaprabhu, I am eleventh, you are the twelfth.”
(Srila Prabhupada Arrival Lecture, Los Angeles, May 18th, 1972)

Srila Prabhupada simply states that since he is the eleventh, and since he has disciples, they automatically become the 12th generation coming from Caitanya Mahaprabhu. That Srila Prabhupada had disciples who have become the 12th generation is not disputed by anyone. What is non-existent is the order from Srila Prabhupada asking his disciples to initiate their own disciples, thus producing a 13th generation.

Call for recognition

“Surely those who want Srila Prabhupada to be exclusively honoured, and who want us all to go ‘Back to Prabhupada,’ should recognise the contribution of his senior disciples who, over the 30 years since his physical departure, have brought tens of thousands of souls to his feet?”

Unfortunately, as the facts show, such individuals have indeed brought tens of thousands of souls, not to Srila Prabhupada’s feet, but their own feet. For the whole ISKCON guru program is geared to capturing new recruits for the gurus themselves, to give them daksina (donations), to give them worship, and to look to them as the personality who is their eternal savior ‘life after life’, not Srila Prabhupada. And they have also driven away thousands of souls away from Srila Prabhupada’s movement:

“FACT:  ISKCON gurus have opposed, oppressed and driven out many sincere godbrothers and godsisters.
(ISKCON guru HH Jayadvaita Swami, Where the Ritvik People Are Right, 1996)

And then there are also the thousands of hapless disciples of the 34 ISKCON gurus themselves, who have fallen down and left these disciples in the lurch, causing many to abandon ISKCON.


So according to a senior ISKCON leader, BTP is:

a) Well-researched;
b) Beneficial;
c) To be encouraged, as it is a sign of intellectual vitality essential to spiritual movements;
d) Sincere in its intent;
e) Widely read by himself and others.

So it seems even ISKCON leaders are accepting that BTP is something with substance and merit which needs to be addressed. We urge Kripomaya prabhu to continue his studies of BTP and thus improve his understanding of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings.