Reply to Sivarama Maharaja’s Podcast 2/12/09 


The following is a response to the above Podcast from His Holiness Sivarama Maharaja (SRS).

What is the question that this devotee was asking? Well he asked me to elaborate somewhat on the last verse of the Eleventh Canto, sloka, that begins, "bhayam dvitiyabhinivesatah syad" And that last line is "bhaktyaikayesam guru-devatatma" which translates as that, "A person should engage in devotional service under the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master whom he should accept as his worshipable Deity and his life and soul." Actually Prabhupada has talked so much about the relationship between diksa guru, spiritual master and disciple that you know elaborating on this is in one sense academic. Everyone knows what it's about.”

Having claimed here that Srila Prabhupada has talked “so much” about the spiritual master and disciple, SRS has also claimed that Srila Prabhupada’s instructions in terms of devotees being spiritual master is “so minimal”:

"Prabhupada's order about what he wanted in terms of devotees being spiritual master is so minimal that we've got so many arguments about it.”
(SRS Manor istagosthi, 8.1.09)

If what SRS says is true then you have a situation where:

a) Srila Prabhupada spoke virtually nothing about how devotees become Diksa Guru;

b) But he spoke a lot about how the Diksa Guru relates to his disciples;

This situation would only make sense if Srila Prabhupada was to be the Diksa Guru of ISKCON, and his disciples were not meant to take on this role.

“Now the devotee continues to say, this is the second question, he says, ‘Sadly for some reason or another I cannot make my spiritual master my worshipful Deity and source of my life.’ [...] However, I would start off that the principle has to be accepted and is important, and by investing faith in that principle that actually one can really go a long way to achieving what this verse describes one way or another. By that I mean a policeman may be not nice looking, gruff, not a nice person, but when he tells you to stop at the red light then you stop at the red light. He doesn’t have to be a good guy for you to do that. Why? Because he's representing a principle and it's a principle that you follow. […] The same thing with spiritual master.”

1) SRS tries to prop up the fallen ISKCON guru system by claiming that it does not matter if the Guru is not a “good guy”. But Srila Prabhupada preaches the opposite:

Reporter: But the bad gurus...
Srila Prabhupada: And what is a “bad” guru?
Reporter: A bad guru just wants some money or some fame.
Srila Prabhupada: Well, if he is bad, how can he become a guru? [Laughter.] How can iron become gold? Actually, a guru cannot be bad, for if someone is bad, he cannot be a guru. You cannot say “bad guru.” That is a contradiction. What you have to do is simply try to understand what a genuine guru is. [...] A guru cannot be bad. There is no question of a bad guru [...] Guru means “genuine guru.”
(Srila Prabhupada interview with The Times, London, The Science of Self-Realization)

Hence, the Guru must always be “good”.

2) Furthermore, someone is not a policeman simply by putting on a uniform that makes him look like a policeman. He must be authorized. Is SRS authorized? It is the burden of the policeman to show he is authorized. It is not the burden of the citizen, when ordered by someone, to prove that the person is not a policeman. SRS has not stated how he has been authorized by Srila Prabhupada. Rather he has admitted he was authorised via his own initiative of applying to get the necessary number of votes from the GBC, due to being asked to become a guru by a young girl:

"At this time I also was asked to take up the role of initiating spiritual master. I didn't consider that this would be very conducive to my personal spiritual life and I was satisfied for others to do that service and that I would stay in the role of sannyasi, a preacher, siksa guru, GBC, and probably it was at Gaurangi's* repeated prompting that ultimately I began to think seriously of that service and took it up."
(HH Sivarama Swami, Podcast, October 4th, 2006)

*at the time a young female devotee, and now a disciple.

““Now the devotee continues to say, this is the second question, he says, ‘Sadly for some reason or another I cannot make my spiritual master my worshipful Deity and source of my life.’ […] ‘Can one therefore look for a siksa guru who can be one's life and soul?’ Well, provided that everything is spiritually OK. "Guru Krsna prasade paya." If such a need is there and one prays to Krishna and Srila Prabhupada, then certainly. Of course, Srila Prabhupada is the Founder Acarya, his instructions, his personality is also there as the siksa guru of ISKCON. And if further guidance is required and that type of person is needed to invoke the type of dedication and surrender that this verse describes, then Krishna will make that type of arrangement.”

SRS agrees that if someone is not able to surrender to his ISKCON diksa guru as his life and soul as the Bhagavatam states we should surrender to a Diksa guru, he can instead accept a siksa guru to whom he can give the same surrender, and further that Srila Prabhupada can be this siksa guru. And that anything over and above this is needed only IF further guidance is required. SRS is therefore, in practise, effectively advocating the IRM’s position, that:

a) One can accept Srila Prabhupada as one’s life and soul, as an alternative to giving the same surrender to an uninspiring ISKCON diksa guru.

b) This is sufficient and one does not require anyone else if one has enough guidance from Srila Prabhupada and Srila Prabhupada instigates dedication and surrender within us.

SRS does not state that one whose ISKCON diksa guru does not inspire the necessary dedication and surrender to him must somehow reach this level with this person, or that he must seek another suitable ISKCON diksa guru.

So SRS once again demonstrates his hypocrisy and confusion by viciously banning and driving out anyone who preaches that Srila Prabhupada alone is enough as the IRM do, but at the same time effectively preaching a similar position!

“The final question he asks is “Would I” – me – “choose him an instructing spiritual master?” Of course the answer I would say is "No." I can't choose a spiritual master instructing or otherwise for someone I don't know.”

SRS’s confusion increases even further since now he cannot even remember what he himself just said. He just stated that:

“Of course, Srila Prabhupada is the Founder Acarya, his instructions, his personality is also there as the siksa guru of ISKCON.”

And the GBC, of which is a member have also recommended Srila Prabhupada as the Siksa guru for everyone:

”a. Srila Prabhupada is the foundational siksa guru for all ISKCON devotees […]
b. Srila Prabhupada's instructions are the essential teachings for every ISKCON devotee.”

(GBC Resolution 35, 1994)

So he can choose an instructing spiritual master for everyone, and that is Srila Prabhupada.

“And even if I know someone, even if I know them very well, it's not my business or anyone's business to select a spiritual master for someone else. Rather the responsibility is that an individual, " Tasmad gurum prapadyeta jijnasuh sreya uttamam", you should take the responsibility yourself of finding a qualified spiritual master. And a footnote there is that a devotee should therefore not just rush headlong into accepting someone as a spiritual master. I can help someone find a spiritual master but to just appoint someone? No. Because what happens if later on down the road if one doesn't feel this is again, “he's not my life and soul, he's not my worshipable Deity” then it will come back, "Why did you recommend someone who doesn't actually make it happen for me?"

It is well understandable that SRS would today not recommend or appoint a “spiritual master” for anyone, having had a history of promoting fallen ISKCON “spiritual masters” for more than 20 years. Firstly during the zonal acarya years of 1977 until 1986, he enthusiastically promoted both Jayatirtha and Bhagavan – two of the original fallen 11 “zonal acarya” hoaxers – and then recently Balabhadra / Bhakti Ballabh Puri Goswami, as he himself admits:

“Anyway I prefaced my talk at that meeting by apologising to the devotees as I had done to devotees in Scotland, that being GBC I was ultimately responsible for what happened, or at least the direction in which Balabhadra was going in, and it was something that I really wanted to avoid taking place in Hungary. I wanted to avoid devotees having to go through that painful situation of having to lose a spiritual master, but despite those intentions that is what ended up happening.”
(SRS podcast, September 29th, 2007)

It is also very clear from just this short Podcast (and the many other podcasts and statements of his we have analysed) that SRS has no grasp of either guru tattva or who a guru is, and he cannot therefore recommend gurus, by his own admission. The very least that a bona fide guru will be able to do is recognise if others are bona fide or bogus, just as Srila Prabhupada could. In failing just this basic test, it is clear that SRS is not himself, therefore, a bona fide guru.

Please chant: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna, Krishna, Hare, Hare,
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama, Rama, Hare, Hare.
And be Happy!