You can submit your article, report, announcement, ad etc. by mailing to editor@dandavats.com

What the Lord takes into account

Wednesday, 19 July 2006 / Published in Articles, Ongoing debates / 3,912 views

Moderator’s note: The author of this article, Praghosa das ACBSP, is not Dandavat’s editor, Praghosa dasa SDG.

Dear Devotees,

I would like to offer a statement by His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada from the Srimad Bhagavatam 7th Canto. In the normal course of events we may lose sight of the most important “essence” of Lord Chaitanya’s mission; which is no less than the ultimate liberation of all living entities in this universe by means of the Samkirtan Yajna – the reverent and affectionate recitation of the Holy Names of Hare Krsna Hare Rama!!! This single verse and purport fully illuminate the simplicity of the purpose and actions of the Lord and His devotees.

This “essence” was personified by Srila Prabhupada and all his actions. While many devotees have called for the resignation of HH Dhanudar Swami – I would like to highlight the importance of the Holy Name and point out what is obvious to those of us who had the blessed good fortune to serve Srila Prabhupada while he walked amongst us. There were many instances, during Srila Prabhupada’s lila, where different devotees were discovered to be deficient in some manner or had had some “lapse” in their service or committment to their rounds or their adherence to the regulative principles. But later – given the chance to renew their committment to Srila Prabhupada’s instructions and their own spiritual progress, he would demonstrate little or no regard for their lapse and immediately show keen enthusiasm to embrace and more importantly ENGAGE them in a practical and useful way – in his efforts to spread Krsna Consciousness and the Holy Names of Lord Krsna. This was a very important aspect to the exemplary lila of Srila Prabhupada. He always said “utility is the principle”. We must calculate the “utility” of anything and ANYONE, in respect to their ability to be of some use to His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada and Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Our desire to see this or that “happen” should by all means reflect the understanding that each devotee who comes to the shelter of Lord Chaitanya, has done so as a direct result of the life and teachings of Srila Prabhupada and his servants. We may offend or even hurt eachother at times in the process. But our discomfort with eachother – should not prevent our understanding that we all enjoy the “privilege” of Srila Prabhupada’s shelter; it is not a “right”. Privileges can be withdrawn. Rights are inalienable and God Given. It is Srila Prabhupada who granted the privilege of his guidance and service to each of us – and that includes HH Dhanudara Swami AND all those who he offended. So calling for continued attention of various degrees to be directed to HH Dhanudhara Swami and the history associated with Vrindanvana Gurukula must reflect the manner in which Srila Prabhupada customarily handled such matters.

Generally Srila Prabhupada handled such matters very privately so as not to risk the ambition of the various devotees in their pursuit of Krsna Consciousness. He was also always willing to forgive, and reposition a devotee in such a way as to capitalize upon that man or woman’s talents and impetus to assist him somehow. He had a mission and he was not about to permit sentiments of anger, resentment or the collective need for punishment or revenge to dictate what needed be done. He never played “Pontius Pilate” to a mob’s demand for Crucifixion. He never permitted the influence of a “demogague” any chance to influence the devotees. Srila Prabhupada well knew that a devotee poorly positioned could wreak havoc, both on his and other’s devtional service, yet their proper placement could allow them to serve a most delightful purpose in the sharing of Krsna Consciousness. There are countless examples of this!

Sannyasa is a vow – not unlike marriage. It cannot be casually renounced. It is itself a committment to the Spiritual Master in the fullest sense. At least that is its true purpose. Those calling for the resignation from sannyasa by Dhanudhar Swami simply do not understand that this cannot be casually done. It is as much an internal committment as one’s committment to one’s spouse or children. Or a soldier’s committment to his country and the chain of command that he serves! It is a man’s committment to Srila Prabhupada and to whimsically forsake it – because “The Crowd” is calling for that – would be an unpardonable sin. It would constitute a most vile form of renunciation. Those calling for it are doing so under the influence of ignorance. Srila Prabhupada would never desire this. He would simply ask – and I am certain he has – Maharja to recommit to preaching with greater vigor than ever, the glories of the Holy Name and the need to submit to mission of our Parampara.

What was done – was done and cannot be undone. But the world needs the Holy Name of Lord Krsna – much more than “The Crowd” needs vengance or satisfaction. Calls for Justice are futile. Justice is inherent in every single moment of each of our lives. There is not a single “reaction” to a single “action” in this world – that is not directly overseen and/or permitted by the Lord Himself. In fact – in the case of devotees – the “reactions” we endure are greatly reduced; down to a fraction. Whatever the chidren of that period were forced to endure – as unpleasant as that may be for some to consider – was a mere fraction of what they would have experienced – were they not devotees. This is the teachings of Lord Sri Krsna Himself. We need to accept it.

HH Dhanudar Swami did what he did – because he wanted to. It demonstrated a very serious character flaw. Very serious. He cannot escape that. But the solution is not to do other than what Srila Prabhupada would do. Srila Prabhupada would merely change his service and task him mightily in some way to more effectively UTILIZE his capacity in the service of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Most men and women who remember the ways of Srila Prabhupada know this to be a fact. I could list many such instances but won’t, simply because it would highlight the lapses or slip-ups of various men or women and this would neither please His Divine Grace or serve to spread the Glories of the Holy Name.

Please read the following verse and note the incredible mercy of Lord Krsna. Then ask yourself – “Would the Lord or Srila Prabhupada ask a sannyasi to step down from – or step up – their efforts to spread the glories of the Holy Name – merely because that sannyasi erred in his dealings with anyone?”

Srimad Bhagavatam 7:1:25 TEXT yan-nibaddho ‘bhimano ‘yam tad-vadhat praninam vadhah tatha na yasya kaivalyad abhimano ‘khilatmanah parasya dama-kartur hi himsa kenasya kalpyate

TRANSLATION Because of the bodily conception of life, the conditioned soul thinks that when the body is annihilated the living being is annihilated. Lord Visnu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the supreme controller, the Supersoul of all living entities. Because He has no material body, He has no false conception of “I and mine.” It is therefore incorrect to think that He feels pleasure or pain when blasphemed or offered prayers. This is impossible for Him. Thus He has no enemy and no friend. When He chastises the demons it is for their good, and when He accepts the prayers of the devotees it is for their good. He is affected neither by prayers nor by blasphemy.

PURPORT Because of being covered by material bodies, the conditioned souls, including even greatly learned scholars and falsely educated professors, all think that as soon as the body is finished, everything is finished. This is due to their bodily conception of life. Krsna has no such bodily conception, nor is His body different from His self. Therefore, since Krsna has no material conception of life, how can He be affected by material prayers and accusations? Krsna’s body is described herewith as kaivalya, nondifferent from Himself. Since everyone has a material bodily conception of life, if Krsna had such a conception what would be the difference between Krsna and the conditioned soul? Krsna’s instructions in Bhagavad-gita are accepted as final because He does not possess a material body. As soon as one has a material body he has four deficiencies, but since Krsna does not possess a material body, He has no deficiencies. He is always spiritually conscious and blissful. Isvarah paramah krsnah sac-cid-ananda-vigrahah: His form is eternal, blissful knowledge. Sac-cid-ananda-vigrahah, ananda-cinmaya-rasa and kaivalya are the same. Krsna can expand Himself as Paramatma in the core of everyone’s heart. In Bhagavad-gita (13.3) this is confirmed. Ksetrajnam capi mam viddhi sama-ksetresu bharata: the Lord is the Paramatma–the atma or Superself of all individual souls. Therefore it must naturally be concluded that He has no defective bodily conceptions. Although situated in everyone’s body, He has no bodily conception of life. He is always free from such conceptions, and thus He cannot be affected by anything in relation to the material body of the jiva.

Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita (16.19):

tan aham dvisatah kruran samsaresu naradhaman ksipamy ajasram asubhan asurisv eva yonisu

“Those who are envious and mischievous, who are the lowest among men, are cast by Me into the ocean of material existence, into various demoniac species of life.” Whenever the Lord punishes persons like demons, however, such punishment is meant for the good of the conditioned soul. The conditioned soul, being envious of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, may accuse Him, saying, “Krsna is bad, Krsna is a thief” and so on, but Krsna, being kind to all living entities, does not consider such accusations. Instead, He takes account of the conditioned soul’s chanting of “Krsna, Krsna” so many times. He sometimes punishes such demons for one life by putting them in a lower species, but then, when they have stopped accusing Him, they are liberated in the next life because of chanting Krsna’s name constantly. Blaspheming the Supreme Lord or His devotee is not at all good for the conditioned soul, but Krsna, being very kind, punishes the conditioned soul in one life for such sinful activities and then takes him back home, back to Godhead. The vivid example for this is Vrtrasura, who was formerly Citraketu Maharaja, a great devotee. Because he derided Lord Siva, the foremost of all devotees, he had to accept the body of a demon called Vrtra, but then he was taken back to Godhead. Thus when Krsna punishes a demon or conditioned soul, He stops that soul’s habit of blaspheming Him, and when the soul becomes completely pure, the Lord takes him back to Godhead.

I believe that the answer to this entire matter lies in the essential message contained within this verse and purport given us by Srila Prabhupada. HH Dhanudhara Swami is not OUR servant. He is a servant of Srila Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada was sent with a mission and that is to give everyone a chance to “open and account” with the Lord. As it is stated above “The Lord takes into account – how many times we all chant “Krsna Krsna” and in due course of time this chanting – executed either in praise or blame of the Lord – will allow us re-entrance into the Lord’s company!!! Srila Prabhupada needs as many of us as possible to offer this opportunity to the conditioned souls. We all need to analyse our motivation in all of this: is it to serve the purpose of Srila Prabhupada or is it a manifestation of the contaminations of desire – or hate.

With Respect Praghosa Das (ACBSP-NYC)

10 comments

  1. 0
    Gaura Keshava das ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Like it or not the system of being “awarded” sannyasa or being given permision to initiate in ISKCON is determined ultimately by the GBC. And what the GBC giveth the GBC can taketh away. So devotees should stop trying to equate these positions in ISKCON with their counterparts under the same names outside of ISKCON. They are different. If devotees want a system that is sastric concerning how people can take sannyasa or take disciples then the GBC must relinquish it’s control over these choices. I am not proposing anarchy, simply that the GBC manage and let others decide who is qualified for themselves. This is the natural sastric system. Those who are renounced become naturally sannyasins, not those who simply want some status. Those who are preaching and making people devotees become those very devotee’s gurus (both siksha and even diksha) by a process of mutual sastric testing. This is not the job of the GBC. Just as it is not the job of the GBC to marry off certain individuals to other individuals or legislate who can become a father or mother. The GBC can guide us all with sastric standards for being married, having children, taking sannyasa and being disciples and gurus. And these things are all given in Srila Prabhupada’s teachings. But their mistake (yes I say mistake) has been to over regulate these positions in an institutional way which is never approved of by the sastra.

    “It is imperative that a serious person accept a bona fide spiritual master in terms of the sastric injunctions. Sri Jiva Gosvami advises that one not accept a spiritual master in terms of hereditary or customary social and ecclesiastical conventions. One should simply try to find a genuinely qualified spiritual master for actual advancement in spiritual understanding.”

    There is no commitee that can sastically elect a guru, or a sannyasi, or any of these other positions in society. The qualities must be manifest according to sastra and the individuals will be self evident. Guna Karma Vibhagasah. People see by one’s activities and qualities if one is rightly situated. No one offers a bogus swami or bogus guru any respect. Yet people will naturally revere those who show advanced qualities even though they may not have high institutional status. When someone with high institutional status falls down the institution itself is weakened. How can we have faith in a system that cannot guarantee that the people that it chooses for leadership positions are advanced and qualified for those postitions. The answer is simple. The institution should NOT put itself in the postion of guaranteeing that such individuals are advanced.

    If there is no one telling me who I should revere as a sannyasin or guru then I am forced to investigate the actual character of that person rather than just accepting him as advanced because I am told that the GBC accepts him as such. What is even more fitting is that if I do not take the time and effort to really judge by sastra who is advanced and who is not, then I have no one to blame but myself if I am mislead. I cannot say that I was duped into revering a person who was pesented to me by the GBC as an advanced devotee. No, I must become educated in the qualities and symptoms of advancement by inbibing Srila Prabhupada’s teachings.

  2. 0
    Braja Sevaki ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Wrong, ykd108 — everything is pardonable, no matter what emotional appeals *you* want to throw out to the contrary. The Supreme Lord works through His agents, which in Kali-yuga are the devotees — and that means ISKCON. If the Lord sees fit that someone will stay, no amount of internet bashing by the uninformed will change that. You claim you will leave ISKCON, but I wonder if you’re in it if you fail to understand it’s purpose. Still, I’m glad we have people like you who are so pure, sinless, and free from any spot of fault — from this life or past lives — and so can teach us how things should be. Thank God we had Srila Prabhupada instead of this kind of “purity.”

  3. 0
    ykd108 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    We politely, but fundamentally, disagree with His Grace Praghosa Prabhu. We do not know the particular implications, or actions, of Dhanudara Swami in the child abuse debacle that ISKCON went through. But one thing is sure, sexually molesting children is unpardonable; no matter what emotional appeals you want to throw at it to forgive the perpetrators of such a heinous crime. The atonement of sexual predators of children is, at the very least, ostracism from ISKCON, besides legal prosecution. Forgiveness for such degenerates comes from the Supreme Lord, and Him alone; not from us. Let the perpetrators leave ISKCON and suffer whatever they have to suffer outside the walls of ISKCON. If our leaders ever decree of a pardon for such people, I would be the first to leave ISKCON.

  4. 0
    shiva says:

    Gaura Keshava prabhu you wrote:

    I am not proposing anarchy, simply that the GBC manage and let others decide who is qualified for themselves. This is the natural sastric system.

    What you propose is in fact anarchy when it comes to “letting others decide who is qualified for themselves”. If Iskcon were to totally deregulate the taking of sannyasa or guru as you propose how is that not anarchy? Anarchy means the absence of authority. If anyone can initiate or be a sannyasa at their whim then that is indeed anarchy when itc omes to those positions. You seem to think that Iskcon should be run in the same way that traditional vedic society is run. Why? Srila Prabhupada didn’t allow anyone to take sannyasa or initiate at their whim. Why do you think he didn’t follow the “sastric” method as you claim Iskcon should be doing? Traditional vedic society was not a religious organization set up for the purpose of distributing the sankirtan movement. Iskcon is not the same thing as traditional vedic society. The same rules do not automatically apply. When Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati told his disciples how to run the gaudiya math after his leaving did he instruct them to allow anyone to be acharya or anyone to be sannyasa at their whim? Both Iskcon and the Gaudiya Math were set up for the same purpose and in both cases the acharyas chose not to follow your recommendations on how these organizations should be run. In essence you are inferring that Srila Saraswati Thakura and Srila Prabhupada were both in the wrong when it comes to these topics. Neither of those acharyas allowed what you claim is sastrically correct nor did either of them inform their disciples to change the system they set up after their leaving.

    You quoted Srila Prabhupada when you wrote:

    It is imperative that a serious person accept a bona fide spiritual master in terms of the sastric injunctions. Sri Jiva Gosvami advises that one not accept a spiritual master in terms of hereditary or customary social and ecclesiastical conventions. One should simply try to find a genuinely qualified spiritual master for actual advancement in spiritual understanding.

    What Jiva Goswami is saying is that a guru shouldn’t be accepted on the basis of being a hereditary guru or an ecclesiastical guru. No in in Iskcon is being forced to accept initiation from anyone they don’t have faith in as a bona fide guru. Iskcon doesn’t promote the blind acceptance of ecclesiastical gurus. Iskcon allows certain individuals the opportunity to give diksa. The non initiated people are free to choose amongst them to take diksa. If none is to their liking then they can remain uninitated. They can take siksa from anyone. Nobody in Iskcon is being forced to accept anyone as their ecclesiastical or hereditary guru. Anyone can accept anyone as their siksa guru.

    From Srila Prabhupada

    There are two kinds of instructing spiritual masters. One is the liberated person fully absorbed in meditation in devotional service, and the other is he who invokes the disciple’s spiritual consciousness by means of relevant instructions.

    Thus the instructions in the science of devotion are differentiated in terms of the objective and subjective ways of understanding. The acarya in the true sense of the term, who is authorized to deliver Krsna, enriches the disciple with full spiritual knowledge and thus awakens him to the activities of devotional service.

    When by learning from the self-realized spiritual master one actually engages himself in the service of Lord Visnu, functional devotional service begins.

    The procedures of this devotional service are known as abhidheya, or actions one is dutybound to perform. Our only shelter is the Supreme Lord, and one who teaches how to approach Krsna is the functioning form of the Personality of Godhead.

    There is no difference between the shelter-giving Supreme Lord and the initiating and instructing spiritual masters. If one foolishly discriminates between them, he commits an offense in the discharge of devotional service.

    You then wrote:

    There is no commitee that can sastically elect a guru, or a sannyasi, or any of these other positions in society. The qualities must be manifest according to sastra and the individuals will be self evident.

    Iskcon is not “society”. Iskcon is a yoga ashrama/religious organization. It has a specific purpose which is to distribute the sankirtan movement of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabu. Vedic society was not set up for the sole purpose of distributing the sankirtan movement. The two are not the same thing. So your claim that the standard religious model of vedic society should be what Iskcon adopts is based on what? The acharyas who created Iskcon and the Gaudiya Math did not set up their orgainzations along the traditional vedic model, why should their vision be changed to accomodate your vision of how they should be run?

    You then wrote:

    People see by one’s activities and qualities if one is rightly situated. No one offers a bogus swami or bogus guru any respect

    I am surpised you would make such a claim. From my experience in this life I have seen or heard of millions of people accepting bogus swamis and bogus gurus as bona fide and giving them much respect, wealth, fame, etc. Most people are easily fooled into accepting bogus swamis and gurus if those swamis and gurus are proficient at acting the part. Even in Iskcon so many people believed various swamis and gurus to be on the very highest level of bhakti rasa only to later find out those people were simply good at pretending. How many of disciples of fallen guru/swamis in Iskcon truly believed, not due to ecclesiastical convention, but truly believed because of those guru/swami’s charisma and sastric fluency that they were vaisnavas on the higest level of self realization? Thousands upon thousands. So your claim is false. Not only in society at large are people easily fooled into accepting unqualified people by dint of charisma and scriptural fluency but also in religious organizations like Iskcon or any other.

    You then wrote:

    When someone with high institutional status falls down the institution itself is weakened. How can we have faith in a system that cannot guarantee that the people that it chooses for leadership positions are advanced and qualified for those postitions. The answer is simple. The institution should NOT put itself in the postion of guaranteeing that such individuals are advanced.

    Iskcon does not guarantee those individuals who are given sannyasa and who are allowed to give diksa are enlightened souls. Iskcon used to promote like that during the zonal acharya system, but not anymore. If certain people within Iskcon promote people like that then that is their business. Iskcon does not offically promote anyone as inffallible. What you propose would have the effect of making it more difficult to distinguish between advanced devotees and pretenders. You know as well as I do that for someone who has been educated in gaudiya siddhanta that it is not difficult to act like an advanced self realized soul when others are watching. How will novices be able to tell the advanced devotee from someone who is pretending? It is always difficult under the best of circumstances. If you make it so that there are thousands of people who can give diksa and act as a bona fide spiritual master at their whim, then that is going to make it more difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff.

    You wrote:

    If there is no one telling me who I should revere as a sannyasin or guru then I am forced to investigate the actual character of that person rather than just accepting him as advanced because I am told that the GBC accepts him as such.

    People can pretend to be advanced and fool novices quite easily. The GBC are not fooled as easily as the novice devotee who is new to gaudiya vaisnavism. The GBC perfroms a firewall function in that it attempts to protect novices from unscrupulous people who seek to exploit them in the name of being their spiritual mentor. It may not be perfect and in accordance with traditional vedic society, but it is the best way to preserve some level of safeguard and it also follows the wishes of the founder acharya of Iskcon.

  5. 0
    Braja Sevaki ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Very nice points, shiva, particularly in relation to the GBC’s role, Vedic society versus ISKCON as a preaching/sankirtan mission, and bogus gurus: hasn’t Gaura Keshava heard of Osho? Or Jonestown? The Rolling Stones :) ??

  6. 0
    Gaura Keshava das ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Mutual Testing is the only way.

    GKD: “The sastras enjoin that before we take a guru we study him carefully to find out whether we can surrender to him. We should not accept a guru suddenly, out of fanaticism. That is very dangerous. The guru should also study the person who wants to become a disciple to see if he is fit. That is the way a relationship is established between the guru and disciple.” SSR P59

    “Your book should describe the characteristics of the bona fide guru and the bona fide disciple. Then, before accepting a spiritual master, one can be assured of the spiritual master’s position. Similarly, the spiritual master can also be assured of the disciple’s position….”

    “As far as the mutual testing of the spiritual master and disciple is concerned, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura explains that a bona fide disciple must be very inquisitive to understand the transcendental subject matter. As stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.3.21):

    tasmad gurum prapadyeta
    jijnasuh sreya uttamam

    “One who is inquisitive to understand the highest goal and benefit of life must approach a bona fide spiritual master and surrender unto him.” A serious disciple must be alert when selecting a bona fide spiritual master. He must be sure that the spiritual master can deliver all the transcendental necessities. The spiritual master must observe how inquisitive the disciple is and how eager he is to understand the transcendental subject matter. The spiritual master should study the disciple’s inquisitiveness for no less than six months or a year.” CC Mad 24.330 Trans. & Purport

    Shiva wrote: What you propose is in fact anarchy when it comes to “letting others decide who is qualified for themselves”.

    GKD: Actually this is simply a recognition of what goes on anyway, and is the sastric system. The potential guru and potential disciple mutually test each other on the basis of sastra. It is not anarchy as each one test the other on the basis of the authority of sastra (Srila Prabhupada’s teachings).

    Shiva wrote: If Iskcon were to totally deregulate the taking of sannyasa or guru as you propose how is that not anarchy? Anarchy means the absence of authority. If anyone can initiate or be a sannyasa at their whim then that is indeed anarchy when it comes to those positions.

    GKD: Not at all. The GBC should certainly run ISKCON according to Srila Prabhupada‘s instructions, one of which was:

    “It is imperative that a serious person accept a bona fide spiritual master in terms of the sastric injunctions. Sri Jiva Gosvami advises that one not accept a spiritual master in terms of hereditary or customary social and ecclesiastical conventions. One should simply try to find a genuinely qualified spiritual master for actual advancement in spiritual understanding.”

    You seem to think that Srila Prabhupada Himself gave us the present GBC system of approval or non-disapproval of gurus and sannyasis. That is not true. He indicated that qualified persons would take up the position of diksha guru. The only question is who decides who is qualified? You say that the GBC should decide, but there is absolutely no evidence that the GBC were mandated by Srila Prabhupada to do that. We assume that because they are the ultimate management authority in ISKCON that they are also able to appoint and un-appoint gurus, sannyasis, etc. But where is the evidence for such a claim?

    In Srila Prabhupada‘s presence he would approve candidates for sannyasa just as he would approve candidates for first and second initiation. Based on the recommendation of Temple Presidents and other senior devotees. Your mistake is to think that these functions of the initiating guru (in this case Srila Prabhupada) giving approval, should now be taken on by the GBC. The system that Srila Prabhupada showed us was that he as sannyasa guru and as initiating guru approved of those whom he was giving either sannyasa diksha or vaisnava diksha.

    Similarly today those who give either sannyasa diksha or vaisnava diksha should also be the ones to approve who they give that diksha too, NOT the GBC as the GBC does not give either one of these dikshas (or any diksha). You cannot take initiation from the GBC so why should you think that the GBC would be able to approve or disapprove of who actually gives diksha.

    No doubt there should be standards for ISKCON membership which the GBC can and should enforce but as to who amongst those who actually follow those standards can initiate, that decision should be between the prospective gurus and prospective disciples, as Srila Prabhupada and sastra clearly state, and as Srila Prabhupada showed us by his own personal approval of candidates for initiation and sannyasa.

    ONLY the guru can approve a disciple and ONLY a disciple can approve a guru. Srila Prabhupada followed the sastric system which he also taught us to follow. Yet the GBC has misunderstood their role in that system. Their role is not to approve who takes sannyasa diksha or vaisnava diksha. That is to be approved by the sannyasa guru and initiating guru respectively.

    The GBC role is to manage the society (but not over-manage it). They should not interfere in the natural relationships between gurus and sishyas (or husbands and wives or parents and children). They should instead emphasize (and enforce if necessary) that all devotees in ISKCON (whether they be gurus or sishyas) follow Srila Prabhupada’s teachings.

    When Srila Prabhupada wanted to take sannyasa, the acarya of the Caitanya Math told him that he had to follow the system, join the Math and show him by years of his service, etc that he should award that order to him. Instead he choose to approach his old friend Bhakti Prajnana Keshava Maharaj who accepted him and awarded him sannyasa. He thus bypassed the institutional system which the Caitanya Math would have imposed upon him. This was based on his acceptance of Bhakti Prajnana Keshava Maharaj as a person who he felt qualified to give him sannyasa in the physical absence of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta. I am not saying that the Caitanya Math acarya would not have also done mutual testing with Srila Prabhupada before giving him sannyasa. Obviously in both institutions the acaryas made that decision not the GBC. Yes, contrary to popular belief the Gaudiya Math DID establish a GBC after Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. But no Gaudiya Math GBC has ever made a system for approving gurus.

    Did Srila Prabhupada ever set up a system of how the GBC would appoint gurus in ISKCON? If so please give me the proof of this. Srila Prabhupada stated ” When I order, “You become guru,” he becomes regular guru. That’s all. He becomes disciple of my disciple. That’s it.” Conv. 5/28/77 So did he ever tell the GBC to make a system whereby they can approve gurus?

    Shiva wrote: You seem to think that Iskcon should be run in the same way that traditional vedic society is run. Why?

    GKD: You seem to think that ISKCON should not adopt traditional spiritual methods of doing things which were actually taught to us by Srila Prabhupada and his example. Why?

    Don’t we also have Srila Prabhupada’s order to establish Varnashram? But besides this, as I stated above, by Srila Prabhupada’s teachings and example He was the one to approve people for sannyasa and initiation. Therefore your interpretation is that that now should be done by the GBC, but my understanding is that it should now be done by those actually offering sannyasa and diksha to disciples.

    My understanding not only conforms to the way Srila Prabhupada acted himself but also to his teachings. Your idea can be justified only if you can prove that Srila Prabhupada ordered the GBC to collectively take up this traditional responsibility of approving who should be allowed to take initiation from whom. If you can please show me exactly when he mandated the GBC to approve gurus, sannyasis and disciples and how, I’ll be interested, otherwise not.

    Shiva wrote: Srila Prabhupada didn’t allow anyone to take sannyasa or initiate at their whim.

    GKD: No, he as the initiating guru was the one to give the approval. You cannot legislate what people do anyway. Certain of his disciples did actually leave ISKCON and take babaji or get re-initiated by gurus outside of ISKCON. One disciple took harinam from Srila Prabhupada and then took diksha and sannyasa from Bon Maharaj. And if people want to do that today they certainly can, but obviously they are going to have to leave ISKCON to do it. So within ISKCON who is doing these things? No one. But if someone is actually following Srila Prabhupada’s teachings and is within ISKCON then why should he not be able to take sannyasa or initiate?

    You do not understand my point obviously. The GBC should certainly hold devotees in ISKCON responsible to follow Srila Prabhupada’s teachings. But if the are following, then what problems does it make if they take sannyasa or initiate? The problems come because the GBC do not enforce devotees following Srila Prabhupada’s instructions, not because they have many good devotees who want to be sannyasis or gurus.

    Shiva wrote: Why do you think he didn’t follow the “sastric” method as you claim Iskcon should be doing?

    GKD: See above, Srila Prabhupada did follow the sastric system. He also taught us that system. He did not take permission from his godbrothers before starting ISKCON or initiating. If you want to follow the example of Srila Prabhupada then his example was to start his own movement and give initiation.

    However he also wanted his disciples to work within ISKCON. Some have left and done exactly what he did, when he became frustrated with the bureaucracy of the Gaudiya Math. Others have remained and tried to work under the GBC.

    However the question still remains whether the GBC was mandated by Srila Prabhupada to decide who gives initiation or who takes sannyasa?

    Shiva wrote: Traditional vedic society was not a religious organization set up for the purpose of distributing the sankirtan movement. Iskcon is not the same thing as traditional vedic society. The same rules do not automatically apply.

    GKD: I agree. Management will be different. However guru is not a management position. It is a spiritual position. Sannyasa is also NOT supposed to be a management position. Temple President is, Secretary is, Treasurer is, GBC is. We do not see spiritual definitions of these positions. They are management positions and are useful in ISKCON. However Sannyasa is an ashram, it has certain spiritual responsibilities and is not a management position, neither is guru.

    Shiva wrote: When Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati told his disciples how to run the gaudiya math after his leaving did he instruct them to allow anyone to be acharya or anyone to be sannyasa at their whim?

    GKD: No, and that’s not what I am suggesting either. You have to carefully understand my point. People take sannyasa and become gurus in India all the time. Even in the west people become leaders of new religions all the time. The only people who follow them are the ones that don’t know any better. It is the GBC and other members of ISKCON whose responsibility is to educate people to see the real qualities of real sannyasis and real gurus. NOT to rubber stamp gurus and sannyasis.

    Rubber stamping even if the person is qualified for the spiritual post means that the GBC stand by their decision to allow some one to take sannyasa and/or take disciples. If later on that person falls down then who is to blame? Since the GBC approved the person they are now put in the position of un-approving them or asking them not to initiate (for 6 months or whatever).

    What a waste of time and energy, that could be better put to use dealing with their real purpose, management. This is why the sastra tells disciples to carefully test their prospective guru, this is why sastra also tells gurus to carefully test prospective disciples.

    Srila Prabhupada had a system for this, he would ask for a Temple President to recommend the person based on whether the person had been following for some time. In the case of testing Srila Prabhupada we were all convinced by his teachings that he was a bona-fide guru so no one told us that he was approved by the Gaudiya Math. However these days those that are approved gurus are put forward as “bona-fide”, yet this has not always been demonstrated as true, and those that are not approved are by implication “not bona-fide” so they are not even considered by prospective disciples.

    Disciples have to take responsibility for their choice of guru, people have to take their own responsibility for taking sannyasa, if and when there is a fall-down it is simply the individuals fault NOT the GBC’s. But when the GBC approves of these non-managerial spiritual positions then they leave themselves open to the fault of misleading the rest of us about the true status of such people.

    Shiva wrote: Both Iskcon and the Gaudiya Math were set up for the same purpose and in both cases the acharyas chose not to follow your recommendations on how these organizations should be run.

    GKD: Not true. In both cases the guru was and is the person who made the decision as to who he gives sannyasa and diksha to. There is no system of approval of guru or sannyasa in any other organization but post-Prabhupada ISKCON. The only person who approves the awarding of sannyasa and diksha in any other organization and during Srila Prabhupada’s presence was the guru himself. Never, Never, Never, Never has a GBC or any other form of management body mandated who can take sannyasa or become a guru in these organizations.

    Shiva wrote: In essence you are inferring that Srila Saraswati Thakura and Srila Prabhupada were both in the wrong when it comes to these topics.

    GKD: Not at all. I am not inferring anything of the sort. Please see how both Srila Bhaktisiddhanta and Srila Prabhupada approved of sannyasis and initiates. I am simply suggesting we follow their example. If you can point to the GBC system of approving sannyasis and initiates under Srila Bhaktisiddhanta and Srila Prabhupada please do. I have never heard of it.

    Shiva wrote: Neither of those acharyas allowed what you claim is sastrically correct nor did either of them inform their disciples to change the system they set up after their leaving.

    GKD: You are exactly 180 degrees wrong. Both of these acarya’s personally approved of people to take sannyasa and take initiation from them in their presence. As for approving of a system after their leaving for the GBC to approve of diskha gurus or sannyasis NEITHER of them set up such a system. Today in all Gaudiya Maths (and in all other Vaisnava organizations) it is only the sannyasa guru who tests and approves of a candidate for sannyasa diksha and also only a diksha guru who tests and approves a candidate for diksha. Please show me two things:

    1. Where anyone has ever mandated a system of GBC or other management approval for any type of diksha?

    2. Where this system came from in ISKCON?

    Shiva wrote: You (GKD) quoted Srila Prabhupada when you wrote:

    It is imperative that a serious person accept a bona fide spiritual master in terms of the sastric injunctions. Sri Jiva Gosvami advises that one not accept a spiritual master in terms of hereditary or customary social and ecclesiastical conventions. One should simply try to find a genuinely qualified spiritual master for actual advancement in spiritual understanding.

    Shiva wrote: What Jiva Goswami is saying is that a guru shouldn’t be accepted on the basis of being a hereditary guru or an ecclesiastical guru.

    GKD: Actually Srila Prabhupada says “in terms of hereditary or customary social and ecclesiastical conventions”. We are not concerned here with hereditary guru’s, so far this has not been a problem within ISKCON. However what does the phrase “customary social and ecclesiastical conventions” mean. “Ecclesiastical” means “relating to the church” and “conventions” means “rules and regulations or systems” so, one should NOT accept a guru according to ISKCON conventions. Is not ISKCON the church we are talking about here? If the organization of the church has some convention like “you must take initiation from your Zonal guru or you must take initiation only from these people on this list of GBC approved gurus” then is this not an ecclesiastical convention?

    Even if we differ on this negative point of who one should NOT take initiation from, then there is the positive: “One should simply try to find a genuinely qualified spiritual master for actual advancement in spiritual understanding.” Does the present system ENSURE that we will get a “genuinely qualified spiritual master”? If I take initiation from someone who is GBC approved, am I assured that he is a “genuinely qualified spiritual master”. If not then don’t I have to make my own investigation? And if I have to make my own investigation then why should I only limit that investigation to people on the GBC approved list? In fact from reading this quote I might even begin to think that I should look elsewhere than the GBC approved list. So what is the actual system, and what is the supposed system?

    Shiva wrote: No one in Iskcon is being forced to accept initiation from anyone they don’t have faith in as a bona fide guru.

    GKD: Correct, no one is forced to take initiation, period.

    Shiva wrote: Iskcon doesn’t promote the blind acceptance of ecclesiastical gurus.

    GKD: ISKCON promotes only GBC approved gurus. You are right that ISKCON does not promote blind acceptance, but neither does ISKCON promote “one not accept a spiritual master in terms of hereditary or customary social and ecclesiastical conventions. One should simply try to find a genuinely qualified spiritual master for actual advancement in spiritual understanding.”

    ISKCON promotes that devotees take diksha from only those in ISKCON who have been approved by the GBC. And I am not necessarily saying that those devotees are not worthy of being gurus. My point is that whether someone is worthy or not is determined by mutual testing between the prospective guru and disciple. The Society as a whole and the leadership (GBC) in particular has no right or mandate to promote one group of disciples as worthy over another group based on who is “approved” and who is “not approved”.

    No one was ever approved by Srila Prabhupada or Srila Bhaktisiddhanta so it is up to the individuals to make their own decisions. Naturally we can take some advise from those we respect as to who would be good to take initiation from but ultimately the choice of guru is up to the individual disciple. Similarly the choice of sannyasa guru is up to the individual sannyasa candidate and the choices who each of these gurus initiates with diksha or sannyasa diksha is similarly up to the guru.

    Shiva wrote: Iskcon allows certain individuals the opportunity to give diksa.

    GKD: Not ISKCON but the GBC. Where does the GBC get this right? And does this not also mean that the GBC denies the “opportunity” to give diksha, to those who it has not approved, or those who it has approved before but who have had problems. Some have to be told by “secret” resolutions to stop initiating till they get their act together again, others are outright banned from initiating, others are asked to voluntarily renounce initiating, others fall-down so badly that their disciples take so called re-initiation, (some devotees I know are on their 3rd GBC approved guru) and yet others leave and take their disciples with them, or send their disciples fleeing from ISKCON to the Gaudiya Math and beyond.

    Shiva wrote: The non initiated people are free to choose amongst them to take diksa.

    GKD: Freedom to choose amongst the GBC approved gurus only.

    Shiva wrote: If none is to their liking then they can remain uninitiated.

    GKD: Sounds like a good choice, considering the track record! Of course anyone can choose to remain uninitiated, but since diksha is emphasized as being necessary, is this really a choice?

    Shiva wrote: They can take siksa from anyone.

    GKD: OK, you say “They can take siksa from anyone.” Isn’t that also the same type of anarchy you are accusing me of? Siksha guru and Diksha guru are EQUAL according to Srila Prabhupada’s teachings and the sastra. So if anyone can be a siksha guru then why can’t anyone be a diksha guru? “The initiating and instructing spiritual masters are equal and identical manifestations of Krsna…” CC Adi 1.34 Purport

    Shiva wrote: Nobody in Iskcon is being forced to accept anyone as their ecclesiastical or hereditary guru.

    GKD: “Ecclesiastical” and “hereditary” have two different meanings. Please look them up if you don’t know what they mean. I agree 100% with you that no one is being forced to accept “hereditary” gurus. However the GBC approval system absolutely does limit the choice of guru in ISKCON to ONLY “ecclesiastical” gurus. An “ecclesiastical” guru is one that is ordained as such by the church or is approved of by the church. Any system of guru approval based on GBC resolutions or ISKCON institutional approval is ecclesiastical or related to the church.

    Shiva wrote: Anyone can accept anyone as their siksa guru.

    GKD: I have already answered that above. “The initiating and instructing spiritual masters are equal and identical manifestations of Krsna…” CC Adi 1.34 Purport

    Shiva wrote: From Srila Prabhupada

    There are two kinds of instructing spiritual masters… There is no difference between the shelter-giving Supreme Lord and the initiating and instructing spiritual masters. If one foolishly discriminates between them, he commits an offense in the discharge of devotional service.

    GKD: Thanks for that quote. So you agree with me that “There is no difference between the shelter-giving Supreme Lord and the initiating and instructing spiritual masters.” OK, then if as you say “Anyone can accept anyone as their siksa guru.” (Your words), then anyone can accept anyone as their diksha guru also, since these two types of gurus are equal.

    Shiva wrote: You (GKD) then wrote:

    There is no committee that can sastically elect a guru, or a sannyasi, or any of these other positions in society. The qualities must be manifest according to sastra and the individuals will be self evident.

    Shiva then wrote:

    Iskcon is not “society”. Iskcon is a yoga ashrama/religious organization. It has a specific purpose which is to distribute the sankirtan movement of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Vedic society was not set up for the sole purpose of distributing the sankirtan movement. The two are not the same thing. So your claim that the standard religious model of vedic society should be what Iskcon adopts is based on what? The acharyas who created Iskcon and the Gaudiya Math did not set up their organizations along the traditional vedic model, why should their vision be changed to accommodate your vision of how they should be run?

    GKD: Yes, ISKCON and Gaudiya Math are organizations. Yes, they are therefore different from a Vedic Social System. I agree with you and I have never said otherwise. That does not change the fact that NO MATTER what material managerial organizational structure you have, whether you are ruled by a King or a GBC or a President or whoever, NO ONE has the right to legislate, approve or disapprove of who IS and who IS NOT a guru, except the guru himself and his potential disciple. That relationship is clearly, sastrically between the guru and disciple. This was taught to us not only by Srila Prabhupada but also by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta and every other guru. There has never in the history of Vaisnavism been a committee approving of or disapproving of someone giving diksha or sannyasa or taking diksha or sannyasa. This is clearly a function of being guru. When you preach people will naturally be attracted to taking diksha, they should test the prospective guru, and the guru should test them (mutual testing based on sastra). No one else can legislate about it.

    Shiva wrote: You (GKD) then wrote: People see by one’s activities and qualities if one is rightly situated. No one offers a bogus swami or bogus guru any respect

    Shiva wrote: I am surprised you would make such a claim. From my experience in this life I have seen or heard of millions of people accepting bogus swamis and bogus gurus as bona fide and giving them much respect, wealth, fame, etc. Most people are easily fooled into accepting bogus swamis and gurus if those swamis and gurus are proficient at acting the part. Even in Iskcon so many people believed various swamis and gurus to be on the very highest level of bhakti rasa only to later find out those people were simply good at pretending. How many of disciples of fallen guru/swamis in Iskcon truly believed, not due to ecclesiastical convention, but truly believed because of those guru/swami’s charisma and sastric fluency that they were vaisnavas on the highest level of self realization? Thousands upon thousands. So your claim is false. Not only in society at large are people easily fooled into accepting unqualified people by dint of charisma and scriptural fluency but also in religious organizations like Iskcon or any other.

    GKD: When I said that no one offer respect to a bogus guru or sannyasi I meant “if they know that they are bogus”. I agree with you. Many people outside of ISKCON have been cheated. And even many people within ISKCON have been cheated. And the GBC themselves were also cheated by approving such people. That’s exactly my point. There will always be people who take sannyasa or become gurus who have problems. NO system will ensure 100% bona-fide guru approval. Therefore if the GBC continue to endorse gurus and sannyasins they will only loose more and more respect from the members of ISKCON.

    The onus is not on the GBC to endorse gurus and sannyasis. It is on the rest of us to judge people according to sastra and act accordingly, not blindly accepting a committee’s rubber stamp approval of advancement. When anyone can take sannyasa and when anyone can be a guru then everyone will need to very carefully scrutinize the actual qualities of those persons. No longer will I automatically assume that a man holding a danda is advanced.

    Shiva wrote: You (GKD) then wrote: When someone with high institutional status falls down the institution itself is weakened. How can we have faith in a system that cannot guarantee that the people that it chooses for leadership positions are advanced and qualified for those positions? The answer is simple. The institution should NOT put itself in the position of guaranteeing that such individuals are advanced.

    Shiva wrote: Iskcon does not guarantee those individuals who are given sannyasa and who are allowed to give diksa are enlightened souls.

    GKD: I have yet to see the GBC disclaimer. It should read as follows: Although the GBC currently has no objection to such and such prabhu/swami initiating disciples in ISKCON we reserve the right to withdraw our approval. This no objection certification in no way indicates any suggestion on the part of the GBC that such and such prabhu/swami is qualified as a bona-fide diksha guru and should not be construed as such. Both prospective guru and disciple are cautioned to do mutual sastric testing of each others qualification before entering into any binding spiritual relationship.

    Shiva wrote: Iskcon used to promote like that during the zonal acharya system, but not anymore.

    GKD: The zonal acarya system was based on the instructions by Srila Prabhupada in the “so-called” appointment letter and tapes where he said that devotees should approach certain individuals who were geographically closest. Of course some people deny the status of the appointed persons but there is no denying that system of people approaching a geographically closer person to become at that time Srila Prabhupada’s disciple by proxy.

    The mistake was to institutionalize the geographical area after Srila Prabhupada’s departure (some would also argue that another mistake was to assume the appointees and only those appointees were qualified to themselves continue giving diksha on their own behalf after Srila Prabhupada’s departure).

    Clearly those appointees, whatever they were appointed to do, even though personally chosen by Srila Prabhupada failed in most cases to come up to the standard of the qualifications of diksha guru. So this is another reason why any attempt to choose who is guru and who is not fails. Even Srila Prabhupada was not able to ensure that the devotees he chose were qualified. How then can the GBC guarantee that it’s approval process is any better?

    At least Srila Prabhupada as the previous acarya and guru of the appointees was sastrically justified in choosing successors (if that’s what you consider them to be). Where as the GBC is NOT the spiritual successor of Srila Prabhupada but a management team with ultimate authority in ISKCON on management issues. Does this mean that they can change doctrine? No, I cannot see where the authority for adjusting spiritual teachings is ceded to the GBC by Srila Prabhupada. They are to enforce Srila Prabhupada’s teachings in ISKCON. They cannot make up their own ideas (on the purely spiritual matter) of approving gurus without a directive from their guru. Is there such a directive for this approval system? Please provide it.

    Shiva wrote: If certain people within Iskcon promote people like that then that is their business.

    GKD: Don’t be naive. The next generation of ISKCON is going to be even more divisive than this one. Think of all the disputes that have arisen when all devotees were direct disciples of Srila Prabhupada. Even then there were people pushing their own “favored guru” agendas on new members. In the next generation grand-disciples will most certainly lead new comers to their own guru rather than allow the new comers to make their own assessments (and actually for a disciple this is natural and sastric).

    To a large extent the damage to the system is already done. Actually it would be good if the GBC made an apology and a disclaimer statement. First apologize for suggesting that only certain persons in the past have been considered as qualified to give diksha in ISKCON and secondly to state categorically that whoever knows and follows Srila Prabhupada’s instructions is fit to be not only a siksha guru but also a diksha guru as well. Thirdly make the disclaimer given above or something of that nature stating that the GBC neither endorses nor does not endorse any follower of Srila Prabhupada as a diksha and/or siksha guru. The choice is completely open to the investigation of the individual.

    Shiva wrote: Iskcon does not officially promote anyone as infallible.

    GKD: That’s nice to say in theory, however ISKCON promotes Srila Prabhupada’s teachings and those teachings do promote the guru as being infallible. (It’s another whole argument as to what the nature of that infallibility is, which I do not want to get into here). Naturally when new comers read Srila Prabhupada’s teachings they rightly assume that if the GBC has approved someone to be a guru that the person should match the qualifications presented in Srila Prabhupada’s teachings of what a guru should be. As I stated above it is very doubtful that any approval system can guarantee this, considering that even Srila Prabhupada’s personal choices of the best persons at the time was shown to be mostly wrong within only a few years. This is not Srila Prabhupada’s fault but the fault of the individuals who are themselves totally responsible for their own fall-down. Similarly any past or present fall-down of a GBC approved guru is not the fault of the GBC but the fault of only that individual. So why would the GBC perpetuate a system which:

    1. Was not given to them by Srila Prabhupada
    2. Is not sastric or follows Srila Prabhupada’s teachings
    3. Does not guarantee qualified gurus
    4. Only makes individuals loose more faith in ISKCON and the GBC

    Shiva wrote: What you propose would have the effect of making it more difficult to distinguish between advanced devotees and pretenders.

    GKD: No, actually it would be much easier. You would have to investigate everyone, you could not take for granted that anyone is advanced. This is far better than simply “blindly” accepting anyone with saffron cloth and a danda as advanced or anyone with a letter of “no objection” from the GBC as advanced. People may be investigating these people even today to see if they match up to the sastric qualifications, but if that is true in all cases then again there is absolutely no reason to have an institutional (ecclesiastical) approval process. So either way, if people are actually doing the mutual sastric testing or if they are not, there is no reason for an institutional (ecclesiastical) approval process.

    Shiva wrote: You know as well as I do that for someone who has been educated in gaudiya siddhanta that it is not difficult to act like an advanced self realized soul when others are watching. How will novices be able to tell the advanced devotee from someone who is pretending? It is always difficult under the best of circumstances. If you make it so that there are thousands of people who can give diksa and act as a bona fide spiritual master at their whim, then that is going to make it more difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff.

    GKD: Nothing worthwhile is achieved easily. I did not say that choosing a guru was not difficult. But the Lord says that he sends His representative to the sincere disciple. So if people are sincere and follow Srila Prabhupada’s teachings then they will be able to find a guru. And actually I do not believe that the choice of diksha guru is all that critical. One should receive the mantra in disciplic succession because that is the traditional sastric system, however there are many examples in history of Vaisnavas whose main guru was not their diksha guru.

    Shiva wrote: You (GKD) wrote: If there is no one telling me who I should revere as a sannyasin or guru then I am forced to investigate the actual character of that person rather than just accepting him as advanced because I am told that the GBC accepts him as such.

    Shiva wrote: People can pretend to be advanced and fool novices quite easily. The GBC are not fooled as easily as the novice devotee who is new to gaudiya vaisnavism. The GBC performs a firewall function in that it attempts to protect novices from unscrupulous people who seek to exploit them in the name of being their spiritual mentor. It may not be perfect and in accordance with traditional vedic society, but it is the best way to preserve some level of safeguard.

    GKD: Actually there are plenty of devotees in ISKCON who can advise newer devotees about who is more advanced and who is less advanced. It does not require the GBC for this function. Neither does this function need to be institutionalized.

    The system as it is today relies on 10 local devotees in good standing to recommend a person. The GBC then takes these 10 local devotee’s word for it that the person is qualified, and issues the no objection approval. Unless one or more GBC men question whether the person is qualified based on some other information or personal knowledge, in which case it is taken up at the annual Mayapur meeting for a vote. IMHO therefore many devotees with the help of 10 local devotees could pretty easily get approved. Therefore I ask again “What kind of system is this?” Since the GBC don’t actually take up the job of determining whether the person is qualified or not unless there is some doubt. They basically take the word of 10 local devotees. So once you get the clear from 10 local devotees, if no body else knows anything about you, enough to object, you get a pass by the GBC. IMHO if the GBC are going to go to the trouble of having a system of approval they should at least investigate the qualifications of the persons themselves. Since this is only done in the cases where someone has some doubt about something how can the GBC approve someone on this negative proof. In other words “Well, we haven’t heard anything bad about this guy so he must be qualified to be a guru.”

    Does this really sound like a better system than the natural sastric system of mutual testing which has to go on anyway? Does this sort of system really provide a better way, or is it just another level of useless bureaucracy, which Srila Prabhupada never authorized, never used, never supported, never mandated the GBC to do. There is no authorization for it and it is unnecessary and unsastric. It is not even a deterrent because it is completely based on “not hearing anything negative” which is only half the qualification. There is no investigation of any positive qualifications. Of course both negative and positive traits should and almost always are tested by both guru and disciple.

    Shiva wrote: and it also follows the wishes of the founder acharya of Iskcon.

    GKD: No, it does not. Please provide the proof of that statement. We should follow Srila Prabhupada’s example. In ISKCON just as he tested his disciples by having them follow his teaching and they tested him by observing him, learning his teachings and following them so present day gurus and disciples should do the same. The GBC’s job is to manage and keep the whole lot of them in line with Srila Prabhupada’s teachings. That’s all. And the GBC should not place themselves in the position of being blamed for the fall-down of unscrupulous sannyasins and gurus because they approved of them. Then they simply have to waste more time trying to undo what they should never have done in the first place.

  7. 0
    Krishna Dharma ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    It is true that Srila Prabhupada set up a system for regulating sannyasa, which he wanted the GBC to control. That I can understand, but neither Srila Prabhupada nor his own spiritual master established any system for approving or appointing gurus, as far as I know. That came after Prabhupada’s departure and, in my view, was an unnecessary addition to our administrative structure that causes more problems than it solves. I challenge anyone to name one single good reason why it is required. I would also question the sastric basis of such a system, i.e. a guru – which after all is a functional relationship one person has with another – being effectively appointed to an institutional post. I recognise that the GBC are not wanting to appoint gurus with the ‘no-objection’ system, but this is surely the effect, as I think anyone in ISKCON will testify.

    I have written a short paper on this issue which is available on my personal website. (Just google for ‘krishnadharma’.)

    yhs
    Krishna Dharma das

  8. 0
    shiva says:

    Gaura Keshava Prabhu you wrote:

    Shiva wrote: Traditional vedic society was not a religious organization set up for the purpose of distributing the sankirtan movement. Iskcon is not the same thing as traditional vedic society. The same rules do not automatically apply.

    GKD: I agree. Management will be different. However guru is not a management position. It is a spiritual position. Sannyasa is also NOT supposed to be a management position. Temple President is, Secretary is, Treasurer is, GBC is. We do not see spiritual definitions of these positions. They are management positions and are useful in ISKCON. However Sannyasa is an ashram, it has certain spiritual responsibilities and is not a management position, neither is guru.

    What you say is true but in vedic society the gurus and sannyasis did not represent an organization. Iskcon is an organization which is represented by it’s leaders, both managerial and spiritual. If anyone can take sannyasa or be a guru within Iskcon then Iskcon’s and Srila Prabhupada’s reputations will suffer and neophytes will suffer as well because it is a fact that unqualified people will focus on being gurus and sannyasis solely for the purpose of exploiting others. I can’t tell you how many people I have known who consider themselves either far more spiritually advanced then they are, or who preach to others for the sole purpose of trying to exploit them.

    You also wrote:

    Shiva wrote: Both Iskcon and the Gaudiya Math were set up for the same purpose and in both cases the acharyas chose not to follow your recommendations on how these organizations should be run.

    GKD: Not true. In both cases the guru was and is the person who made the decision as to who he gives sannyasa and diksha to. There is no system of approval of guru or sannyasa in any other organization but post-Prabhupada ISKCON. The only person who approves the awarding of sannyasa and diksha in any other organization and during Srila Prabhupada’s presence was the guru himself. Never, Never, Never, Never has a GBC or any other form of management body mandated who can take sannyasa or become a guru in these organizations.

    The other organizations are run by acharyas. Iskcon is run by the GBC. In those other organizations the acharya has the final say, his word is law. In Iskcon the GBC has the final say. When Srila Prabhupada ran Iskcon he had the final say, the same with the Gaudiya Math. Srila Prabhupada did not want Iskcon to continue on in the same way it was run when he was in charge i.e a single acharya being the final word. Just because other organizations are run differently then Iskcon that doesn’t make Iskcon beholden to their example.

    You then wrote:

    Shiva wrote: In essence you are inferring that Srila Saraswati Thakura and Srila Prabhupada were both in the wrong when it comes to these topics.

    GKD: Not at all. I am not inferring anything of the sort. Please see how both Srila Bhaktisiddhanta and Srila Prabhupada approved of sannyasis and initiates. I am simply suggesting we follow their example. If you can point to the GBC system of approving sannyasis and initiates under Srila Bhaktisiddhanta and Srila Prabhupada please do. I have never heard of it.

    Shiva wrote: Neither of those acharyas allowed what you claim is sastrically correct nor did either of them inform their disciples to change the system they set up after their leaving.

    GKD: You are exactly 180 degrees wrong. Both of these acarya’s personally approved of people to take sannyasa and take initiation from them in their presence. As for approving of a system after their leaving for the GBC to approve of diskha gurus or sannyasis NEITHER of them set up such a system. Today in all Gaudiya Maths (and in all other Vaisnava organizations) it is only the sannyasa guru who tests and approves of a candidate for sannyasa diksha and also only a diksha guru who tests and approves a candidate for diksha.

    Didn’t Srila Prabhupada initate devotees based on the approval of those devotees by others? I don’t know about Srila Saraswati Thakura, but Srila Prabhupada as we know was too busy to personally verify the qualifications of his potential disciples (except early on). Therefore it was the leaders of Iskcon who chose the people who were to be initiated. Srila Prabhupada relied on the judgement of senior disciples. There may have been ultimate approval by Srila Prabhupada but he did nothing to verify the qualifications of those who he was giving diksa to, he didn’t have the time to personally judge them as fit or unfit, he relied enitrely on the approval of others. How the other Gaudiya organizations are run today is that the acharya is the final word on all matters. Iskcon is not controlled by a single acharya. Iskcon is not beholden to how other organizations are run.

    Then you wrote:

    Please show me two things:

    1. Where anyone has ever mandated a system of GBC or other management approval for any type of diksha?

    2. Where this system came from in ISKCON?

    1. When Srila Prabhupada ran Iskcon he had the final word on matters. He wanted that to change so that the GBC would have the final word on matters. If the GBC wants to make sure that there is some kind of protection for neophytes from unqualified people taking advantage of them, then the GBC has that power regardless of how other organizations or “vedic society” is run.

    2. Where it comes from matters less then what is the best way to run Iskcon. If Iskcon was to allow anyone to initiate and anyone to take sannyasa then the potential for mass exploitation of neophytes will commence. Also the crumbling of Iskcon’s reputation and the reputation of Iskcon’s gurus and sannyasis will also begin. An example: Let’s say there is a sannyasi in Iskcon who isn’t happy with the way he is being treated by a handful of temple leaders. Because he is charismatic and fluent in sastra there are many neophytes in those temple communities who look up to him as a great spiritual leader. Seeking revenge on those temple leaders (or simply seeking wealth) he initiates all those people so he can gain control over those temple’s finances. He gives sannyasa to a bunch of grhasthas who are frustrated because of having problems in their marriage and a bunch of brahmacaris who are tired of washing dishes or whatever other service they were doing. We end up with a person who seeks to exploit others, and or get revenge on temple leaders, taking away the income and labor of a bunch of temples. We end up with families broken up, wives without husbands, children without fathers and financial support, and the temples also without the support of those now ex-grhastas. Because those new sannyasis were not really qualified to take sannyasa and were just having problems in their marriage Iskcon ends up with a bunch of unqualified sannyasis who represent Iskcon to the public, and to the Indian community, who could end up causing god knows how much havoc. They could decide they need money and so then spend their time trying to make disciples to support them. They could make all kinds of problems because sannyasis are respected as spiritual leaders in Iskcon.

    Then you wrote:

    Even if we differ on this negative point of who one should NOT take initiation from, then there is the positive: “One should simply try to find a genuinely qualified spiritual master for actual advancement in spiritual understanding.” Does the present system ENSURE that we will get a “genuinely qualified spiritual master”? If I take initiation from someone who is GBC approved, am I assured that he is a “genuinely qualified spiritual master”. If not then don’t I have to make my own investigation? And if I have to make my own investigation then why should I only limit that investigation to people on the GBC approved list? In fact from reading this quote I might even begin to think that I should look elsewhere than the GBC approved list. So what is the actual system, and what is the supposed system?

    How will you make “an investigation”? You seem to think that all non initiated people have the time and ability to “investigate” potential gurus. How do you expect them to accomplish this investigation? If I am some person who is doing service all day long or who has a job and supports a family how will I investigate anyone to a sufficient degree where I can be assured that the guru is bonafide? The GBC at the least provides a firewall service in this regard in that they do have the time and resources to investigate people. If I am working all day long, with or without a family to take care of, then my ability to investigate anyone will be very limited. I will only see what the potential guru wants me to see in the small amount of time I can associate with him.

    Then you wrote:

    Shiva wrote: Iskcon doesn’t promote the blind acceptance of ecclesiastical gurus.

    GKD: ISKCON promotes only GBC approved gurus. You are right that ISKCON does not promote blind acceptance, but neither does ISKCON promote “one not accept a spiritual master in terms of hereditary or customary social and ecclesiastical conventions. One should simply try to find a genuinely qualified spiritual master for actual advancement in spiritual understanding.”

    Iskcon does not promote gurus. Gurus promote themselves as do their disciples and people who see those gurus as being worthy of their support. You quote that verse from Jiva Goswami thinking it supports your position but in fact it is just as much against your position as you claim it is against Iskcon’s current position. If Iskcon allowed or “promoted” anyone to be guru then whomever is a guru in Iskcon is being ecclesiastically and customarily accepted as a guru in Iskcon. People who come to Iskcon are being told that by the ecclesiastical convention of Iskcon all the members of Iskcon are empowered to be their spiritual master. What that verse is really about is a warning not to accept a guru solely on basis of ecclesiatical or customary or social convention. It may well be that a bona fide guru is accepting disciples based on those conditions, your interpretation of that verse tells us that gurus cannot be bona fide if they are part of those systems.

    Then you wrote:

    ISKCON promotes that devotees take diksha from only those in ISKCON who have been approved by the GBC. And I am not necessarily saying that those devotees are not worthy of being gurus. My point is that whether someone is worthy or not is determined by mutual testing between the prospective guru and disciple. The Society as a whole and the leadership (GBC) in particular has no right or mandate to promote one group of disciples as worthy over another group based on who is “approved” and who is “not approved”.

    You said that determining whether someone is “worthy or not” is based on mutual testing. I disagree. People are worthy or not regardless of testing. This is not a marriage, this is about spiritual guidance. Neophytes by definition are not qualified to fully judge the spiritual qualifications of others. Nor do spiritual masters have the time nor resources to judge potential disciples. That being the case it is certainly the fact that most people who want to get initiated by an Iskcon guru, for them expediancy is a major concern. They simply want to be initated quickly so that they can be initiated, so that they can have have a spritual name, so they can be “part of the club”. While you are concerned that the “sastric integrity” of the process be strictly upheld, the realities of this modern world vis-a-vis Iskcon calls for some modification in order that innocent people and the society at large are not adversely affected. That is more important then mechanically following sastra as if their are not circumstances where some adjustment will be necessary. The sastric injunctions were written in a society where travel was difficult and people had a lot of time to associate with gurus and disciples. Where there was no worldwide organization with a reputation at stake.

    Then you wrote:

    Shiva wrote: Iskcon allows certain individuals the opportunity to give diksa.

    GKD: Not ISKCON but the GBC. Where does the GBC get this right? And does this not also mean that the GBC denies the “opportunity” to give diksha, to those who it has not approved, or those who it has approved before but who have had problems. Some have to be told by “secret” resolutions to stop initiating till they get their act together again, others are outright banned from initiating, others are asked to voluntarily renounce initiating, others fall-down so badly that their disciples take so called re-initiation, (some devotees I know are on their 3rd GBC approved guru) and yet others leave and take their disciples with them, or send their disciples fleeing from ISKCON to the Gaudiya Math and beyond.

    The GBC get’s the legal right by the fact of Iskcon being an organization which they have legal control over. Your solution to those problems is not that the GBC makes it more difficult to be a guru, but make it so anyone can be a guru at their whim? How does that solve those problems? Looks like your advocating throwing fuel on a fire in order to put it out.

    Then you wrote:

    Shiva wrote: They can take siksa from anyone.

    GKD: OK, you say “They can take siksa from anyone.” Isn’t that also the same type of anarchy you are accusing me of? Siksha guru and Diksha guru are EQUAL according to Srila Prabhupada’s teachings and the sastra. So if anyone can be a siksha guru then why can’t anyone be a diksha guru? “The initiating and instructing spiritual masters are equal and identical manifestations of Krsna…” CC Adi 1.34 Purport

    While it is true that there is no difference between the initiating or diksa guru, and the instructing or siksa guru, and that they are both considered to be manifestations of Krishna, we should not make the mistake in thinking that this means that all gurus are on the same level. There are siksa (instructing) gurus who are uttama vaisnavas, and there are siksa gurus who are madhyama or kanistha (neophyte) vaisnavas. There are diksa (initiating) gurus who are uttama vaisnavas, and there are diksa gurus who are madhyama or kanistha vaisnavas. The points Sri Krishna and Srila Prabhupada are making is that a first class vaisnava, a liberated soul, whether he is diksa or siksa guru, giving initiation or instruction, there is no difference between them. They are both representing directly the full potency of Sri Krishna. Srila Prabhupada wrote:

    There are two kinds of instructing (siksa) spiritual masters. One is the liberated person fully absorbed in meditation in devotional service, and the other is he who invokes the disciple’s spiritual consciousness by means of relevant instructions.

    In Iskcon anyone can give advice to anyone and in that way act as siska guru. That does not mean that they are all on the same level nor are they all “identical manifestations of Krsna”.

    Then you wrote:

    Shiva wrote: Nobody in Iskcon is being forced to accept anyone as their ecclesiastical or hereditary guru.

    GKD: “Ecclesiastical” and “hereditary” have two different meanings. Please look them up if you don’t know what they mean. I agree 100% with you that no one is being forced to accept “hereditary” gurus. However the GBC approval system absolutely does limit the choice of guru in ISKCON to ONLY “ecclesiastical” gurus. An “ecclesiastical” guru is one that is ordained as such by the church or is approved of by the church. Any system of guru approval based on GBC resolutions or ISKCON institutional approval is ecclesiastical or related to the church.

    As stated previously this interpretation of yours would also apply if just anyone was condoned by Iskcon as a guru. If Iskcon approves of just a few or anyone in either case it is an ecclesiatical or church related decision. Iskcon is not going to approve non-gaudiya vaisnavas as gurus, nor people who preach that Srila Prabhupada had mistaken views. So you can’t state that they would be following sastric rules by allowing anyone to initiate in Iskcon. Sastric rules on initiation do not tell us that only teachers of gaudiya siddhanta or only people who accept the teachings of a specific acharya are allowed to give diksa. So there would still be some ecclesiastical governance on who could give diksa in Iskcon if your assertion is accepted. So your point that that if there is any eccelesiastical control in Iskcon then that makes Iskcon a deviation from the authentic sastric or vedic rules; is without basis. Iskcon was setup to follow the teachings of Srila Prabhupada, therefore there is and always has been a a criteria for acceptance of spiritual authority in Iskcon. A line has always been drawn, but you say the line should be moved somewhat. Either way there will still be ecclesiastical control over who is allowed to give diksa in Iskcon.

    You then wrote:

    Yes, ISKCON and Gaudiya Math are organizations. Yes, they are therefore different from a Vedic Social System. I agree with you and I have never said otherwise. That does not change the fact that NO MATTER what material managerial organizational structure you have, whether you are ruled by a King or a GBC or a President or whoever, NO ONE has the right to legislate, approve or disapprove of who IS and who IS NOT a guru, except the guru himself and his potential disciple.

    Since Iskcon is a legal entity with an organizational structure of authority then that authority does have the right to legislate or approve or disapprove of what goes on in Iskcon within legal limits. Your claim is that they are deviating from sastric or vedic convention. Since Iskcon is a religious organization with a specific mission to reach out to the public at large, they are then justified in making adjustments which may be neccesary in order to protect their ability to be taken as a credible spiritual guide to the public. If the purpose of Iskcon is damaged by sastric rules or vedic convention then what is the point of following those rules and conventions? From a Caitanya Caritamrta purport by A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami:

    A Vaisnava is immediately purified, provided he follows the rules and regulations of his bona fide spiritual master. It is not necessary that the rules and regulations followed in India be exactly the same as those in Europe, America and other Western countries.Simply imitating without effect is called niyamagraha. Not following the regulative principles but instead living extravagantly is also called niyamagraha. The word niyama means “regulative principles,” and agraha means “eagerness.” The word agraha means “not to accept.” We should not follow regulative principles without an effect, nor should we fail to accept the regulative principles. What is required is a special technique according to country, time and candidate.

    The question I put to you is what would the effect of your ideas be on the ability of Iskcon to fulfill it’s purpose? Is Iskcon’s purpose to be a perfect example of vedic society or is it to be an effective missionary society? Iskcon’s ability to fulfill it’s mission will be damaged if it’s members are not seen as credbile examples of what Iskcon preaches. If anyone within Iskcon regardless of their qualification is presented to the public at large as gurus and swamis then what would happen? The teachings presented by Iskcon tell the public that a bona fide spiritual master and swamis are very highly qualified people. They then find that in Iskcon that gurus are just anyone who feels like being a guru, swamis are people who became swamis by hook or by crook without spiritual qualification, people who may have absolutely no qualification to be seen as a guru or a swami would be seen as being Iskcon approved. Who would protect them from being exploited by unscrupulous people because Iskcon allows just anyone to act as a guru or swami? Can the public at large be expected to investigate everyone in Iskcon who would make such a claim to be trustworthy to take command over a person’s spiritual guidance?

    Then you wrote:

    The onus is not on the GBC to endorse gurus and sannyasis. It is on the rest of us to judge people according to sastra and act accordingly, not blindly accepting a committee’s rubber stamp approval of advancement. When anyone can take sannyasa and when anyone can be a guru then everyone will need to very carefully scrutinize the actual qualities of those persons. No longer will I automatically assume that a man holding a danda is advanced.

    But Srila Prabhupadas books are telling the public at large that gurus and swamis should be respected as spiritual authority. If Iskcon allows just anyone to take those positions then there will be a cognitive dissonance for the public between what Iskcon preaches and what they perceive to be actually happening in Iskcon.

    Then you wrote:

    Shiva wrote: and it also follows the wishes of the founder acharya of Iskcon.

    GKD: No, it does not. Please provide the proof of that statement. We should follow Srila Prabhupada’s example. In ISKCON just as he tested his disciples by having them follow his teaching and they tested him by observing him, learning his teachings and following them so present day gurus and disciples should do the same. The GBC’s job is to manage and keep the whole lot of them in line with Srila Prabhupada’s teachings. That’s all. And the GBC should not place themselves in the position of being blamed for the fall-down of unscrupulous sannyasins and gurus because they approved of them. Then they simply have to waste more time trying to undo what they should never have done in the first place.

    Srila Prabhupada left instructions for a certain number of people to give diksa after he left. He did not give the instruction that just anyone could start giving diksa at their whim. And as Krishna Dharma Pprabhu points out there was also control of the GBC over sannyasa.

    Jai Radhe

    your friend

    Shiva das

  9. 0
    Gaura Keshava das ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Thanks Krishna Dharma ji, I read your article and agree with you 100%. You have definitely stated the case much better than I have and come to the same conclusions. I suggest to anyone interested please read his article on this subject.

  10. 0
    Gaura Keshava das ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Shiva obviously you have a lot of time on your hands to reply to my postings. If I get time I’ll try to cover all your points. In the meantime you stated:

    Srila Prabhupada left instructions for a certain number of people to give diksa after he left.

    Could you please prove the above statement. I think that there are a lot of people who would disagree with you on that one.

    And by the way if what you say is true, how’s it working out with these people that were appointed by Srila Prabhupada to give diksha after he left???

    De-institutionalization of the post of Guru in ISKCON is a sastric idea whose time has come, no matter what you think. I am sure that thoughtful people will realize that this is not only the way things ought to be but also the way they will have to be.

Leave a Reply

TOP