Srila Prabhupada in spiritual world
Devotee Writings etc.

An Honest ISKCON Part 4 of 4

By bhakta Eric Johanson


Part 4 – “From Which Even the Worst of Non-Ecclesiastical Criminals are Found to Recoil”


Amplifying Nescience


The GBC’s overall pattern of allowing the most powerful leaders free reign thus only served to expand and propagate these people’s pretence, deviations and polluted intelligence. Their rubber-stamping the zonal acarya’s ambition and deception established a number of the zonal’s deviations as official ISKCON institution policy.


Polluted intelligence has been compared to a prostitute. One who has not purified his intelligence is said to be controlled by that prostitute. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (2.41), vyavasāyātmikā buddhir ekeha kuru-nandana: those who are actually serious are conducted by one kind of intelligence, namely, intelligence in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Bahu-śākhā hy anantāś ca buddhayo ‘vyavasāyinām: one who is not fixed in proper intelligence discovers many modes of life. Thus involved in material activities, he is exposed to the different modes of material nature and subjected to varieties of so-called happiness and distress. If a man becomes the husband of a prostitute, he cannot be happy, and similarly one who follows the dictations of material intelligence and material consciousness will never be happy.” Purport, Srimad Bhagavatam 6.5.15


We should not forget that when the GBC turns the deviations of powerful leaders into official policy it does so under the imprimatur of Srila Prabhupada’s Will declaring it the institution’s “ultimate managing authority.” It is important to remember that the real authority in Vaishnavism is guru, sadhu and sastra. It is not that “ultimate managing authority” means that the GBC are somehow equivalent to or above them. Thinking this is itself an example of polluted intelligence. Yet, making this equivalence is a common thing in the ISKCON institution, where any number of contradictions of guru, sadhu and sastra are rationalized under this crippled idea.


For instance, the GBC has what is called its Sastric Advisory Committee, but they sometimes refuse to accept its findings. Earlier we pointed out how both Srila Prabhupada and Srila Jiva Goswami condemn the institution’s ecclesiastical “guru” selection process wherein a prospective “guru” first requires the approval of the GBC. The Sastric Advisory Committee could apparently find no evidence in the sastras that disagrees with Srila Prabhupada and Srila Jiva Goswami. The result was that the GBC simply ignored its Committee. It thus puts itself above the real authorities in Krishna consciousness. This was described earlier as defyingthe authority or the supremacy of God,” in the quote characterizing all conditioned souls as some kind of demon. This is just one way “the ultimate managing authority” has become a conduit for materialistic (demoniac) polluted intelligence.


“Our present system has institutionalized a process of senior devotees voting or offering no-objection to prospective gurus. But we do not find that this institutionalized blessing seeking process is mentioned by guru, sadhu or sastra as the way that one is authorized to become a guru.” ISKCON Sastric Advisory Committee, Balancing the roles of the GBC and the disciple in Guru selection


“One should accept a thing as genuine by studying the words of saintly people, the spiritual master and sastra. The actual center is sastra, the revealed scripture. If a spiritual master does not speak according to revealed scripture, he is not to be accepted. Similarly, if a saintly person does not speak according to the sastra, he is not a saintly person. Sastra is the center for all.” Purport, Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya 20.352


In any case, allowing the most powerful institutionalists to do as they please and then endorsing those things as official ISKCON institution policy sometimes gets the GBC in trouble. We have already mentioned some of the zonal’s scandals. By 1985-7 a new group of dissenters arose, but this time it was a large group of temple presidents and other senior Srila Prabhupada disciples. Another difference was that the zonals had since been weakened and depleted by their embarrassments. However, rather than invoke the real authority of guru, sadhu and sastra and condemn and strip the remaining zonal dharmadhvajis of their positions, as advocated by many of the new dissenters, the GBC came up with a politically expedient compromise, again among the most powerful institutionalists, both zonal and dissenting.


The solution abjectly failed to acknowledge the truth that the zonals had essentially lied about being appointed gurus by Srila Prabhupada, and that they were dharmadhvajis who were imitating uttama adhikaris. As stated by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura above, such men deserved only thorough condemnation. If one wanted to be merciful to such reprobates, they could have been allowed to begin again as pot washers.


Another factor was that, by this time, the zonals had been obliged to provide “the appointment tape” transcript and audio. Previously this had been under the control of Tamal Krishna, Srila Prabhupada’s “caretaker” during his last months. However, the real truth was out by 1985. It turned out though that the remaining zonals, although wounded, were still in no mood to stop defyingthe authority or the supremacy of God,” and give up their pretense or admit their heinous audacity and offences.


The surviving zonals still had significant power in that, by then, with many Srila Prabhupada initiates gone, about half of the institution’s members were their so-called disciples. Thoroughly condemning them thus risked the significant possibility of a schism of several zonals leaving the institution. Anyway, it turned out the dissenting side also had members who had ambitions to become institutional “gurus,” and who would allow the remaining zonals to continue if they would only give up their imitation uttama titles, public worship and Vyasasanas. Even this was too much for Kirtanananda, however, and he and his thousand followers left the institution.


In this way, the remaining zonals only agreed to lower how much of a dharmadhvaji they would remain. The rationalization given was that they were now acting according to Srila Prabhupada’s orders to be “regular gurus,” madhyama adhikaris. The thing was they weren’t qualified for that either. A real madhyama adhikari has firm faith, denoting that they are on or above the devotional level of nistha, as described in the adau sraddha verse of Srila Rupa Goswami (Cc. Madhya 23.14-15). Such a devotee must already be at the previous stage of anartha nivritti, or “freedom from unwanted things.” However, all ISKCON institution “gurus” accept that the GBC, an ecclesiastical body, has the power to select “gurus,” something contrary to the sastras. This philosophical laziness disqualifies all of them from being truly anartha nivritti, much less nistha madhyama adhikaris.


siddhanta-alasa jana anartha to’ chade na
jade krsna bhrama kori’ krsna-seva kore na

“One who is lazy in properly understanding the Vaisnava philosophical conclusions can never become free from anarthas, the unwanted bad habits and philosophical misconceptions what impede devotional service. One who mistakes Krishna as belonging to the material plane can never render actual service to the Lord.” Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada, Prakrta-Rasa Sata-Dusini 28


Around this time of 1985-7 and in connection with the GBC compromise, Satsvarupa authored a booklet entitled Guru Reform Notebook. However, if the zonals truly wanted to reform their characters, they would have admitted their charade in shame and stepped down to wash pots again. Their “guru reform” was thus an oxymoron in that a real guru never does anything to necessitate reform (more polluted intelligence). The booklet title, therefore, is itself an admission that the zonals still pretending as gurus would remain dharmadhvajis. The better of the eleven, therefore, are those who, after their scandals, left the institution and gave up any idea of being a guru. Regarding those still recognized – Tamal Krishna, Jayapataka, Satsvarupa and Hridayananda – their association, memories and ongoing positions in the institution continue to contaminate the intelligence of anyone who accepts them as an advanced devotee.


Reporter: But the bad gurus…
Srila Prabhupada: And what is a “bad” guru?
Reporter: A bad guru just wants some money or some fame.
Srila Prabhupada: Well, if he is bad, how can he become a guru? [Laughter.] How can iron become gold? Actually, a guru cannot be bad, for if someone is bad, he cannot be a guru. – The Science of Self Realization, Chapter Two, Choosing a Spiritual Master – “Saints and Swindlers”


The zonals have claimed that they were young and not prepared for being guru, but that they innocently did their best based on Srila Prabhupada’s example. This has also been called the institution’s “growing pains.” A real guru is, however, never this ignorant. This excuse and plea for sympathy is then yet another admission that they were never qualified to be gurus.


Fraudulently Acquired Assets


The disciples and prestige amassed by the zonals has been compared to wealth taken under false pretences. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura above declared such men to be undesirable spiritual criminals. Yet, according to its utilitarian calculations, the GBC, also under substantial pressure from the remaining zonals, saw fit to ignore the obvious and allowed them to remain “gurus” and keep their ill-acquired disciples and most of their prestige. This means that, rather than act according to guru, sadhu and sastra, what to speak of basic honesty, the Body decided to enable and further endorse the spiritual crimes of the remaining zonal dharmadhvajis.


This then makes the GBC a type of dharmadhvaji accomplice, a fellow-expander of pretence, thus implicating the Body with the remaining zonals. This is how the GBC have spun themselves a deceptive web of their own making. Their association then includes the rotten dharmadhvaji association of the remaining zonals. This is how following the Body itself implicitly pollutes the intelligence of all the ordinary members, members who are obliged to honor the remaining zonals instead of seeing them according to guru, sadhu and sastra. How then can the services performed under the GBC be considered pure devotional service?


sisya gurudevake vaisnava nirdesa karite prarthana karile gurudeva sisyera u jagatera mangala-kamanara asadacaridigake avaisnava baliya sadhu-vaisnavera nirdesa kariya thakena. sadhu vaisnavera pada asraya karibara abhipraye asat dharmadhvaji lokake parityaga karate sadhu-ninda va vaisnavaparadha haya na.

“When the disciple prayerfully inquires from the spiritual master about the identity of true Vaisnavas, the guru may point out persons who are dressed as Vaisnavas but are not following the Vaisnava principles (sadacara), and name them as ‘avaisnavas’. This action on the part of the guru is for the benefit of the disciple (because if the disciple unknowingly associates with these pretenders then his spiritual life is ruined) and for the benefit of the whole world (when the pretenders are identified, the sanctity of the pure Vaisnava-dharma is protected in the world). The bonafide guru does not do so because of envy or malice towards any individual but he acts for the benefit of everyone. Thus it is not ‘sadhu-ninda’ (criticism of devotees) or ‘vaisnava-aparadha’ (offense to the devotees) to instruct others to reject the association of those pretenders (dharmadhvajis) who have taken shelter of the exalted position of Vaisnavas but are engaged in performing activities against the Vedic scriptures.” Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Vaisnava-ninda, Sajjana Tosani 5/5


Inverted “Gurus”


A consequence of the GBC policies we have described is the scandals and embarrassments that result from endorsing unqualified men as gurus. At first the zonals’ so-called appointment by Srila Prabhupada was considered as above, or at least equal to, their recognition as “gurus” by the GBC. However, with the release of the “appointment tape” and the widespread realization that there was scant evidence of same, the GBC and its so-called gurus have had to circle the wagons around endorsement by the GBC. And what with the regular scandals of the selections, both zonal and post-zonal, the long-term prestige of what is called guru in the institution has declined to a pretty low level. These factors have led the GBC, again under the same “ultimate managing authority” rubric, to declare itself as the superior authority over its so-called gurus. They have even gone so far as to declare the GBC Srila Prabhupada’s spiritual “successor.” These ideas were largely formalized in Ravindra Svarupa dasa’s foundational GBC document, Srila Prabhupada Founder-Acarya of ISKCON.


“The institution that would be able to act . . . over large spans of space and time needs a unique form. . . an organization in which the ultimate authority would reside in a board of directors . . .” Srila Prabhupada Founder-Acarya of ISKCON, Text (emphasis added)


“Stating that he wanted there to be ‘hundreds and thousands of spiritual masters’ within ISKCON, he implied that the normative guru-disciple relationship would be perpetuated within the unified institution under the direction of the G.B.C. In such an organization, many gurus would be able to act with concerted force, operating together with other leaders and managers in collegial accord.” Srila Prabhupada Founder-Acarya of ISKCON, Outcomes


“One central challenge is to integrate the guru-disciple relationship—which carries its own proper demand for deep loyalty and commitment to the person of the guru—within a larger society that demands, in a certain sense, a higher, all-encompassing, loyalty.” Srila Prabhupada Founder-Acarya of ISKCON, Outcomes


“By thus establishing the GBC and leaving it as his chosen successor at the head of ISKCON, Srila Prabhupada insured that the order of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Ṭhakura would continue to work efficaciously in the world and bear fruit.” Srila Prabhupada Founder-Acarya of ISKCON p. 82 (our emphasis)


Another official GBC document, Harmonizing ISKCON’s Lines of Authority, has as one of its section titles, “Spiritual Masters Are Not Independent.” This section includes the text, “Those serving as spiritual masters in ISKCON are meant to follow the instructions of Srila Prabhupada and work under the GBC Body.”


This idea of making an ecclesiastical managing body the superior authority over “gurus” is yet another blatant contradiction of guru, sadhu and sastra. This has never been done in the history of bona fide Vaishnavism. There a genuine guru is to be seen as good as the supreme Lord:


saksad-dharitvena samasta-sastrair

uktas tatha bhavyata eva sadbhih

kintu prabhor yah priya eva tasya

vande guroh sri-caranaravindam

“The spiritual master is to be honored as much as the Supreme Lord, because he is the most confidential servitor of the Lord. This is acknowledged in all revealed scriptures and followed by all authorities. Therefore I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of such a spiritual master, who is a bona fide representative of Sri Hari [Krishna].” Srila Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakura, Sri Sri Gurvastakam 7


ācāryaṁ māṁ vijānīyān

nāvamanyeta karhicit

na martya-buddhyāsūyeta

sarva-deva-mayo guruḥ

“One should know the ācārya as Myself and never disrespect him in any way. One should not envy him, thinking him an ordinary man, for he is the representative of all the demigods.” Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 11.17.27


yasya sākṣād bhagavati

jñāna-dīpa-prade gurau

martyāsad-dhīḥ śrutaṁ tasya

sarvaṁ kuñjara-śaucavat

“The spiritual master should be considered to be directly the Supreme Lord because he gives transcendental knowledge for enlightenment. Consequently, for one who maintains the material conception that the spiritual master is an ordinary human being, everything is frustrated. His enlightenment and his Vedic studies and knowledge are like the bathing of an elephant.” Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 7.15.26


The GBC thus sees its “gurus” as ordinary men who need management and ecclesiastical (collegial) discipline. Of course, ordinary men do usually require just this sort of supervision to keep them accountable, which again doesn’t say much for the qualifications of those the institution calls gurus. Rather it is further proof that they are all some kind of dharmadhvaji. In this way, due to the GBC’s pattern of acceding to the most powerful institutionalists, one contradiction of guru, sadhu and sastra has led to another. And this is all considered the prerogative of “the ultimate managing authority.”


Fate – Who’s Karma?


One could ask what sort of person is fated to accept such deviated philosophy as Krishna consciousness, and this would have to include the institution’s so-called spiritual masters. First, the GBC mandate that one accept unapologetic dharmadhvajis as bona fide devotees and so-called gurus, people who should be completely neglected and condemned. This immediately poisons the intelligence of anyone who follows such a mandate. No serious devotee interested in perfecting their discretion would consider such a thing.


“Devotees may be divided into three classes. The devotee in the first or uppermost class is described as follows: one is very expert in the study of relevant scriptures, and he is also expert in putting forward arguments in terms of those scriptures. He can very nicely present conclusions with perfect discretion and can consider the ways of devotional service in a decisive way. . . . . . The first-class devotee never deviates from the principles of higher authority, and he attains firm faith in the scriptures by understanding with all reason and arguments. When we speak of arguments and reason, it means arguments and reason on the basis of revealed scriptures.” Nectar of Devotion, Ch. 3, p28-29, Eligibility of the Candidate for Accepting Devotional Service (emphasis added)


Secondly, the GBC defends these dharmadhvajis as so-called gurus on the basis of the Body’s selection and approval of them, an ecclesiastical criterion that is condemned by both their own guru, Srila Prabhupada, and previous acarya Srila Jiva Goswami. Even the Body’s own Sastric Advisory Committee could not find any evidence to support the selection process.


Thirdly, and as a consequence of the scandals caused by the “gurus” selected due to these first two deviations, the GBC have assumed a superior supervisory role over these people, something that contradicts any bona fide Vaishnava tradition. This practice makes the so-called gurus a type of employee of the GBC, something confirmed by the loyalty oaths they are required to sign to the Body. This inferior position of the “gurus” inherently takes away their brahminical independence, something needed to always be dedicated to the truth and its telling. They certainly can’t preach these truths about the GBC in public. This role of servant/employee relative to the Body puts the so-called gurus in the position of sudras, or a dependent worker who has a master. This is action in the mode of ignorance that Srila Prabhupada compares to that of dogs:


“And servant, when one becomes servant, he has to execute anything which the masters order. Suppose one is serving some big man, he says that ‘You do this. I want.’ Now, to satisfy him one has to act according to his desire, which he may not like. Suppose one says that ‘You go and tell this lie. It is required by me.’ Now, because I am in service… Even great personalities like Bhīṣma, such a great personality, he could not join with the Pāṇḍava’s party, because he became a servant of the Kurus. So servitude is such a thing. A servant means a dog’s qualification. In the Bhāgavata it is stated that… Because the higher caste… The caste system, higher means the brāhmaṇas, the kṣatriyas and the vaiśyas, they will never become servant of anyone. Therefore they are higher. The śūdras, they accept service of others. So that was the stricture. And in the śāstra the brāhmaṇas and the kṣatriyas, the higher castes, and the vaiśyas, they would never serve. Now there is injunction in the Bhāgavata: if a brāhmaṇa is in trouble he can become…, he can take the profession of a vaiśya, but never take the profession of a dog. That never serve. Because as soon as one becomes servant, his independence is lost. So our independence… We can keep only our independence when we become servant of God, because there is no injustice.” Lecture on Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita Madhya 22.14-19; New York, January 10, 1967


“So a brahmana should be truthful in any circumstances. He will never speak lie. Truthful, satya. . . . A brahmana is not supposed to be crooked and duplicity. No. Simple. It is said even the enemy wants to know something from him, he will clearly say, ‘It is this.’ That is called simplicity.” Lecture, Melbourne, April 6, 1972


Anyone who is really guru must be a sincere advanced devotee, who must have all the qualifications of a genuine brahmana.


“So this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is trying to do that, trying everyone to become a bona fide brāhmaṇa. Without becoming a brāhmaṇa you cannot become Vaiṣṇava. So this reformatory process is recommended in the śāstras.” Answers to a Questionnaire from Bhavan’s Journal, New Vrindavan, July 1, 1976


Someone influenced by the mode of ignorance is not an advanced devotee. They certainly aren’t a bona fide spiritual master. This would mean that, simply by acceding to the GBC being over them, the “gurus” disqualify themselves as genuine. They aren’t any kind of qualified independent brahmana, much less a “regular guru.” So even though the “guru” selections after 1987 have not regularly imitated uttama adhikaris, their being influenced by the mode of ignorance means that these philosophically lazy people cannot be either real brahmanas or gurus. This means they are only a lesser type of pretender or demoniac dharmadhvaji. Therefore virtually all the so-called advanced association in the institution is dangerous to real spiritual life.


The idea of the GBC being Srila Prabhupada’s spiritual successor is another blatant contradiction of Vaishnava tradition or the standards of guru, sadhu and sastra. This is just another way the Body is replacing the pure substance of Srila Prabhupada’s spiritual mission with itself and its Kali yuga, world-of-men standards.


“Adjusting Spiritual Advancement to Material Ideas”


These three or four deviations, all enacted under the power of “the ultimate managing authority,” are outside the realm of the real Vaishnava authority of guru, sadhu and sastra. They have been brought about by the GBC being the tool of the most powerful and ambitious political actors in the institution. This is little more than mental speculation. It is made-up to look like Vaishnavism when it isn’t. Serious devotees don’t deviate from guru, sadhu and sastra like this.


“To make progress in devotional service, one cannot manufacture anything. The authoritative statements of ācāryas, that we’ll have to follow. Mahājana yena gataḥ sa panthāḥ. We should not manufacture, invent anything. As they are stated in the śāstras, confirmed by spiritual master and ācāryas, that will be accepted. Nobody can say, ‘I think devotional service should be like this.’ No. Therefore spiritual master is the guidance. He is the representative of the ācāryas. In this way, we should make progress, not by concoction.” Class on the Nectar of Devotion. Calcutta, 1-25-73


Deviations from guru, sadhu and sastra are called apa-siddhantas and groups that follow them are called apa-sampradayas.


“In the parampara system, the instructions taken from the bona fide spiritual master must also be based on revealed Vedic scriptures. One who is in the line of disciplic succession cannot manufacture his own way of behavior. There are many so-called followers of the Vaishnava cult in the line of Caitanya Mahaprabhu who do not scrupulously follow the conclusions of the sastras, and therefore they are considered to be apa-sampradaya, which means ‘outside of the sampradaya.’” Purport, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Adi 7.48


keha ta’ ācārya ājnāya, keha ta’ svatantra

sva-mata kalpanā kare daiva-paratantra
“Some of the disciples strictly accepted the orders of the acarya, and others deviated, independently concocting their own opinions under the spell of daivi-maya.” Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita, Adi 12.9
This verse describes the beginning of a schism. When disciples do not stick to the principle of accepting the order of their spiritual master, immediately there are two opinions. Any opinion different from the opinion of the spiritual master is useless. One cannot infiltrate materially concocted ideas into spiritual advancement. That is deviation. There is no scope for adjusting spiritual advancement to material ideas.


This article is little more than a description of how the GBC have been “adjusting spiritual advancement to material ideas” since the physical departure of Srila Prabhupada. These deviations from the Vedic process are actually a form of atheism.


“Āstikyam: they must believe in the Vedic injunctions, āstikya. That is called āstikya. The atheist and, and theist; the theist believe in the Vedic injunction. Vedaiś ca sarvair aham eva vedyaḥ [Bg. 15.15]. That is theist. Not that ‘I believe in God.’ They must believe in the injunction of the Vedas; what is said in the Vedas, one must believe. That is called theist. As we have given several times the example, the Vedas says that cow dung is pure. One who believes in that, he is theist. And one who does not believe in the words of the Vedas, they want to change, they want to misinterpret, interpolate, they are atheists. Bhagavad-gītā, anyone misinterpreting, giving wrong interpretation, or according to his concocted interpre…, they are atheists. Theist, he’ll believe all the words of Bhagavad-gītā as it is, as Arjuna believed, sarvam etad ṛtaṁ manye yad vadasi keśava [Bg. 10.14], ‘My dear Kṛṣṇa, whatever You are speaking, without any malinterpretation, without any change of word, I believe in it.’ This is theist understanding. Not like the so-called rascal scholars, ‘It is not like this. It is not like that. I think it is like this.’ These are all rascaldom.” Class on Srimad Bhagavatam 1.2.24, Vrindavana, Nov. 4, 1972


The Bed They Lie In


So Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has already answered the question of what type of person submits to the authority of leaders like the GBC or their so-called gurus.


“There are two types of dharmadvajis—the hypocrites and the fools, or the cheaters and the cheated. . . . . The deceitful dharmadvajis accept the signs of dharma with a desire to cheat the world, and to fulfill their crooked desires they cheat the foolish by helping them in their rascaldom.” Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Sri Bhaktyaloka, Six Faults that Destroy Bhakti, Jana Sanga


So here the Thakura says that the followers of pretender gurus are also a type of dharmadhvaji pretender. They foolishly believe and conduct themselves as if they are genuinely initiated Vaishnavas. They may be submissive and humble and avoid the position of authority, but the polluted intelligence they have cultivated by accepting the pretender guru means that they are also pretending to be something they are not. One does not get the bhakti-lata-bija (seed of pure devotional service) from a pretender. They get the seed of his pretence and God knows what other worldly things. This is one reason why the previous acaryas advise that one accept an uttama adhikari as spiritual master.


“Bhakti-lata-bija means ‘the seed of devotional service.’ Everything has an original cause, or seed. For any idea, program, plan or device, there is first of all the contemplation of the plan, and that is called bija, or the seed. The methods, rules and regulations by which one is perfectly trained in devotional service constitute the bhakti-lata-bija , or seed of devotional service. This bhakti-lata-bija is received from the spiritual master by the grace of Krishna. Other seeds are called anyabhilasa-bija, karma-bija and jnana-bija. If one is not fortunate enough to receive the bhakti-lata-bija from the spiritual master, he instead cultivates the seeds of karma-bija, jnana-bija, or political and social or philanthropic bija. However, bhakti-lata-bija is different from these other bijas. Bhakti-lata-bija can be received only through the mercy of the spiritual master. Therefore one has to satisfy the spiritual master to get bhakti-lata-bija (yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasadau). Bhakti-lata-bija is the origin of devotional service. Unless one satisfies the spiritual master, he gets the bija, or root cause, of karma, jnana and yoga without the benefit of devotional service. However, one who is faithful to his spiritual master gets the bhakti-lata-bija. This bhakti-lata-bija is received when one is initiated by the bona fide spiritual master.”  Purport, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya Lila 19.152


“Nowhere in authentic scriptures is it said that one will ultimately reach the same goal by doing anything or worshiping anyone. Such foolish theories are offered by self-made ‘spiritual masters’ who have no connection with the parampara, the bona fide system of disciplic succession.” Purport, Sri Isopanisad, Mantra 13


Srila Prabhupada cautioned devotees about following the sort of adulterated so-called Krishna consciousness offered by the GBC.


Srila Prabhupada: …So therefore the conclusion is guru is necessary and guru is he who is representative of Krishna. Otherwise he’s bogus.
Pushta-Krishna: What about the so-called gurus that take a little bit here and a little bit there?
Srila Prabhupada: So-called gurus, they are so-called gurus. They are not gurus. That is already explained. If one does not speak what Krishna speaks, he is not guru. If you accept so-called guru, that is your misfortune. What can be done?
Some of them will say some things that Krishna says, but they’ll take from other places also. What is the position of such persons?
Srila Prabhupada: He’s most dangerous. He’s most dangerous. He is opportunist. He’s finding out customer, something here… According to the customer he is giving something, as the customers will be pleased. So he is not guru. – Answers to a Questionnaire from Bhavan’s Journal, June 28, 1976, Vrindavana


The mixed or concocted philosophy that the GBC employs to manage the movement may get them any number of “customers,” but here it is seen in a pretty dim light by their own Founder-Acarya. Those loyal to the institution may defend it by saying that they strictly repeat the same things Srila Prabhupada preached about Krishna being God and that the living entity is not their material body. They also continue his morning program of worship in their temples. The problem is, as stated above, that they “take from other places also” in the manner of the three or four major deviations that we have described. Srila Prabhupada regularly cautioned his followers about adding or subtracting from that given by the spiritual authorities:


“But as a preacher we should simply speak the real truth. There is no question of corresponding with your ideas and another idea, no. We… Whatever we know, whatever we have heard from our authorities we’ll speak. That’s all. It may be somebody may know better than me. That is another thing. But I have to present what I have learned from the authority. That’s all. And our authority is Kṛṣṇa, mainly. Yāre dekha tāre kaha ‘kṛṣṇa’-upa… That is the spiritual master. Who does not add or subtract from the talks of Kṛṣṇa, he is spiritual master. One who adds and subtracts according to his whims, he is not spiritual master. He is not bona fide spiritual master. ‘I, my opinion…’ ‘I give this interpretation…’ He is not authorized.” Lecture on Srimad Bhagavatam  6.1.14, Bombay, November 10, 1970


“Preach only what you have heard from Kṛṣṇa and guru, that’s all. Don’t add and subtract. Then you are secure. And if you add some concoction just like somebody says that ‘I may do whatever I like independently. If I chant, then everything is all right,’ this is nonsense addition. It is not the fact. That is the danger. Some inexperienced man, he introduces some concoction. Sometimes they say, ‘Prabhupāda said it.’ More misleading. Yes.“ Morning Walk, February 3, 1975, Hawaii (emphasis added)


So this paper concentrates almost exclusively on the GBC’s deviations from guru, sadhu and sastra. Others make much of the wanton changes to Srila Prabhupada’s books, the poisoning of Srila Prabhupada, the offences to the many rank-and-file devotees or the scandals, such as the Turley class-action child abuse lawsuit. We would argue that these other deviations in conduct and ideas are the result of following something other than guru, sadhu and sastra.


Of course, as discussed previously in regard to the api cet verse, even in the bona fide process there will be some accidental falldowns. However, these will be minimal and gradually diminish because the process of genuine devotional service will cleanse the followers of their bad habits. This won’t happen if the process is conducted by dharmadhvajis. Therein one is constantly buffeted by the chaos of their “pride, duplicity, and extraneous motives,” as mentioned previously by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada.


This paper began with a description of what Srila Prabhupada said he wanted after his physical departure, along with a discussion of the biggest threats. The GBC was the leadership Body that was entrusted to protect his desires and see to the continued purity of what he had established. The main threat was philosophy and a program different from his, something that would mislead others. Unfortunately, by allowing the most powerful leaders freedom to do what pleases them and then giving these deviations GBC approval, the Body has entangled itself in apa-siddhantas and become itself the biggest threat to Srila Prabhupada’s program, philosophy and purity. They are trying to replace Srila Prabhupada, as well as sadhu and sastra, with their own concocted atheistic mental speculations.


Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada did not have a very high opinion of institutional religions that do these things in the name of spirituality:


“The church that has the best chance of survival in this damned world is that of atheism under the convenient guise of theism. The churches have always proved the staunchest upholders of the grossest form of worldliness, from which even the worst of non-ecclesiastical criminals are found to recoil. . . . The idea of an organized church, in an intelligible form, indeed marks the close of the living spiritual movement. The great ecclesiastical establishments are the dikes and the dams to retain the current that cannot be held by any such contrivances. They, indeed, indicate a desire on the part of the masses to exploit a spiritual movement for their own purpose. They also unmistakably indicate the end of the absolute and unconventional guidance of the bona fide spiritual teacher. . . . Those are, therefore, greatly mistaken who are disposed to look forward to the amelioration of the worldly state–in any worldly sense–from the worldly success of any really spiritual movement. It is these worldly expectants who become the patrons of the mischievous race of the pseudo-teachers of religion, the Putanas, whose congenial function is to stifle the theistic disposition at the very moment of its suspected appearance. But the real theistic disposition can never be stifled by the efforts of those Putanas. The Putanas have power only over the atheist. It is a thankless, but salutary, task which they perform for the benefit of their unwilling victims.” Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami Prabhupada, Putana (Organized Religion), The Harmonist, January 1932 edition (emphasis added)


Sharing qualities with Putana, a demoness from Krishna lila, is not indicative of anything divine or pure. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has made clear that the leaders and followers of institutional religions like the ISKCON institution are one of two types of dharmadhvajis, otherwise known as the cheaters and the cheated. This is the unfortunate fate of most spiritual seekers in this Iron Age of quarrel, Kali Yuga. It is doubly unfortunate that this has transpired in the institution founded by Srila Prabhupada, and that his good name is being defiled in these ways. All glories to his real mission!


prāyeṇālpāyuṣaḥ sabhya

kalāv asmin yuge janāḥ
mandāḥ sumanda-matayo
manda-bhāgyā hy upadrutāḥ
”O learned one, in this iron age of Kali men have but short lives. They are quarrelsome, lazy, misguided, unlucky and, above all, always disturbed.” Srimad Bhagavatam 1.1.10
. . . The people of this age are also very lazy, not only materially but in the matter of self-realization. The human life is especially meant for self-realization. That is to say, man should come to know what he is, what the world is, and what the supreme truth is. Human life is a means by which the living entity can end all the miseries of the hard struggle for life in material existence and by which he can return to Godhead, his eternal home. But, due to a bad system of education, men have no desire for self-realization. Even if they come to know about it, they unfortunately become victims of misguided teachers. . .


“Unfortunately, in present day society, in the name of suddha-bhakti, various types of mixed devotion–such as karma-misra, jnana-misra, and yoga-misra, as well as various polluted and imaginary conceptions, are spreading like germs of plague. People in general consider these polluted and mixed conceptions to be bhakti. They respect them as such and thus are deprived of suddha-bhakti. These polluted and mixed conceptions are our greatest enemies.
“Some people say that there is no value in bhakti, that God is only imaginary sentiment, that man has merely created the image of God through imagination, and that bhakti is a diseased state, unable to benefit us in any way. These types of opponents cannot harm us much, because we easily recognize them and avoid them. However, those who propagate bhagavad-bhakti as the highest dharma–yet behave against the principles of suddha-bhakti–can be especially harmful to us. In the name of bhakti, they instruct us against the actual principles of bhakti. This ultimately leads us to a path that is diametrically opposed to bhagavad-bhakti. Therefore, with great endeavor, our previous äcäryas have defined the svarupa or intrinsic nature of bhakti, repeatedly cautioning us to keep away from polluted and mixed concepts.” Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura, Bhakti Viveka Tattva


“We chant Hare Kṛṣṇa and eat kṛṣṇa-prasāda and study Bhagavad-gītā philosophy, hear nice musical sounds. Is it very difficult? Is it very difficult? Not at all. So by this process you’ll be asammūḍhaḥ. Nobody can cheat you. But if you want to be cheated there are so many cheaters. So don’t make a cheater and cheated society. Just follow the paramparā system as it is prescribed in the Vedic literature, as it is recommended by Kṛṣṇa. Try to understand it from the authoritative source and try to apply it in your life.” Lecture on Bhagavad-gītā 10.2-3, New York, January 1, 1967


Om Tat Sat


The deception that the zonal acaryas were appointed gurus by Srila Prabhupada has developed a life of its own. Recent academic documents continue to repeat this claim.


“Before Srila Prabhupada passed away in 1977, he confirmed in a discussion with GBC members that he wanted his disciples to initiate after his departure, and that the initiates would be their disciples. A few months later, he named eleven of his disciples in top leadership positions to initiate on his behalf while he was still present, as he was unwell. They were Tamal Krishna Goswami, Jayapataka Swami, Hridayananda Dasa Goswami, Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami, Harikesa, Bhagavan, Ramesvara, Bhavananda, Kirtanananda, Hansadutta, and Jayatirtha.” Angela Burt PhD., AKA Arya devi dasi, ISKCON News, PhD Thesis Tackles “Zonal Acharya System”


“In November of 1977, not too long before Swami Prabhupada passed away, he asked Hridayananda Das Goswami to be one of eleven men to take disciples of his own and lead the movement after his death.” Branding Bhakti p177, Nicole Karapanagiotis PhD. , Indiana University Press, attributed to ISKCONLeaders.COM, “ISKCON Leaders”


Special thanks to Henry Doktorski for details on the Zonal Acaryas from his book, Eleven Naked Emperors and Sriman Kailasa Candra’s interpretation of the May 28, 1977 GBC Room Conversation entitled The Proof of One Tooth.


An Honest ISKCON Part 1


An Honest ISKCON Part 2


An Honest ISKCON Part 3

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