Reply to Sivarama Swami's Podcast of
9th August, 2010


By Krishnakant

The following is a response to the above Podcast from His Holiness Sivarama Swami (SRS), and as usual statements from SRS shall be enclosed in tinted panels, with our comments following underneath: 

“So the whole idea of accepting a spiritual master in Vedic culture is to be able to receive transcendental knowledge, engage in spiritual activities by the association, spiritual strength of superior authorities, that will allow us then to control our mind, control our senses, practice spiritual life so that we can purify our hearts and attain ultimately the transcendental platform by his grace.” 

In order for the spiritual master to give his grace to the disciple so that he may attain the transcendental platform, the spiritual master must himself first be on the transcendental platform, because one cannot give that which he himself does not possess:

“Another meaning of guna is rope; it is to be understood that the conditioned soul is tightly tied by the ropes of illusion. A man bound by the hands and feet cannot free himself- he must be helped by a person who is unbound. Because the bound cannot help the bound, the rescuer must be liberated. Therefore, only Lord Krsna, or His bona fide representative the spiritual master, can release the conditioned soul. Without such superior help, one cannot be freed from the bondage of material nature.”
(BG 7:14

But SRS also claims (in response to a question about accepting a diksa guru) that one can accept spiritual masters who may not be liberated: 

“Then there is the conditioned soul, spiritual master who is not situated in the same platform, but because he's representing Krishna, because he's following the principle of the guruparampara, therefore he also acts in the capacity of spiritual master. And he may be a madhyama-adhikari, a kanistha-adhikari, a uttama adhikari.”
(SRS Podcast 15/12/10)

So these two statements of SRS are not only contradictory, but the latter statement also demonstrates that SRS does not have even a basic grasp of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings.

“Devotees who accept a spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada says in Chaitanya-caritamrta, generally, it's the person who gives the most siksa who becomes the diksa guru, because his siksa is relevant, relevant in a practical sense in terms of solving, helping overcome the general obstacles that we face in life, as Arjuna faced obstacles on the battle of Kuruksetra.”

1) The GBC have already admitted that its Srila Prabhupada who “gives the most siksa”:

“ISKCON’s founder-acarya, Srila Prabhupada, is the pre-eminent and compulsory siksa-guru for all vaisnavas (gurus and disciples) in the Society, who may directly receive empowerment from him through allegiance to his teachings.”
(No. 409, GBC Resolutions 1999) 

2) In recognition of this fact, the GBC also insist that Srila Prabhupada is everyone’s siksa guru for at least the first 6 months of one’s spiritual life: 

“New members shall choose when and from whom they wish to request initiation, however for a minimum of six months of strict sadhana, they must focus their attention on Srila Prabhupada as the Founder-Acarya and their siksa guru.”
(GBC Resolution 316, 2009)

3) So logically, Srila Prabhupada should go on to become the Diksa guru. However, the GBC have decided that in this case, what should happen “generally”, should not happen, and instead one must choose another guru like SRS, to become the Diksa guru. Yet, no reason from Srila Prabhupada teachings is offered for why this “general” rule must be turned on its head. 

“So spiritual master is someone that you should know and they should know you. Not that, he's just a charismatic stranger and that's why I've accepted him as a spiritual master. […] However, yes, the answer is that one should spend enough time with one's spiritual master.  […] Because the spiritual master and disciple associate together, the disciple renders service, they speak together and so on, he gets to see them. Then on that basis they have a relationship. That's what a relationship is, that you know each other.” 

It is understandable that SRS presents this picture of the guru-disciple relationship. By insisting that the guru and disciple must associate together personally, he attempts to create some justification for why the Diksa Guru must be physically present. But, SRS himself never associated with his guru: 

 “For almost five years I had seen and known Prabhupada visually from photos [...] But I had never seen Prabhupada in person […] Then I understood that the spiritual master is non different than his picture. […] Srila Prabhupada was a transparent media. He transmitted complete and perfect knowledge with no personal slant. I accepted the information I was receiving from the book as perfect and yet could not recognise its author as my eternal spiritual guide. […] That was the first personal contact with his Divine Grace, although I had been an initiated devotee for two years.”
(HH Sivarama Swami, Meeting Srila Prabhupada) 

So if such a guru-disciple relationship was good enough for SRS, why does he not recommend the same relationship for everyone else with Srila Prabhupada, instead of directing them to himself?

“The spiritual master will know everything about you on the basis of seeing, seeing you, hearing you, interacting with you, meeting with you, speaking with you. That's how he'll know about you and if he doesn't have the opportunity to do that, then he's very much dependent on, well, if he's very advanced, on what Krishna tells him about you, but more practically and generally of what other senior devotees tell him about you, and therefore I said, "guru”,” vande gurun isa-bhaktan." Senior devotees who are associating with you on a regular basis. And of course, not only is it that the spiritual master then hears from them, but actually the reality is that they’re the ones who are daily giving, day-to-day advice, or guidance.”

Undercutting what he has just said, SRS accepts that its permissible for the Diksa Guru to not have much physical contact with his disciple, but that instead, the day to day advice, guidance and training will be provided by other senior devotees. This was actually the system practiced by Srila Prabhupada when he was on the planet, since he never met most of his disciples. And it’s the same system he wanted continued after his departure, setting up ritviks to conduct the initiations on his behalf, thus rendering his physical absence irrelevant:

“Recently when all of the GBC members were with His Divine Grace in Vrndavana, Srila Prabhupada indicated that soon He would appoint some of His senior disciples to act as "rittik"-representative of the acarya, for the purpose of performing initiations, both first initiation and second initiation.”(Directive sent to all GBCs and Temple Presidents on July 9th, 1977, just 120 days before Srila Prabhupada’s departure)

This is an order which SRS bitterly opposes, resulting as it would in the elimination of SRS from his position as Diksa Guru.


As with all his podcasts and anytime he attempts to offer guidance, SRS is unable to speak on the subject of guru-tattva without contradicting Srila Prabhupada and himself. This alone makes him unfit to act as any sort of spiritual guide, without even needing to consider the fact that he was not authorized to take up the position of successor diksa guru by Srila Prabhupada.


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