ISKCON Authority: Where Did It Originally Come From?
(And Where Does “ISKCON” Power Come From?)
By Kailāsa Candra dāsa
HARIḤ OM NAMAḤ
We find the following excerpt from an important room conversation between His Divine Grace Śrila Prabhupāda and members of his Governing Body Commission at the Krishna-Balaram temple on May 28, 1977 in Vṛndāvan, India:
Leading Secretary (1): The people who they give dīkṣā to, whose disciple are they?
Prabhupāda: They’re his disciple.
Leading Secretary (1): They’re his disciple.
Prabhupāda: Who is initiating. He is grand disciple.
Leading Secretary (2): Yes.
Leading Secretary (1): That’s clear.
Leading Secretary (2): Then, we have a question . . .
Prabhupāda (interrupting): When I order, “You become guru,” he becomes regular guru. That’s all. He becomes disciple of my disciple. That’s it.
A genuine dīkṣā-guru gives initiation. He takes on the sañchita-karma of his disciple when he initiates him or her. The rittvik does not give initiation. The rittvik conducts an initiation ceremony on behalf of the dīkṣā-guru, who must have first authorized him to conduct the fire sacrifice. The rittvik does not take on the sañchita-karma of the candidate for initiation. The guru who authorized the rittvik to conduct the fire sacrifice takes on that future karma.
The dīkṣā-guru (who authorized the rittvik) is the one who is initiating. Either conducting the ceremony himself, or present from his vyāsasān, or not being physically present at all during the initiation ceremony, the people who Prabhupāda gave initiation to were and are his disciples. They were never any of the rittvik’s disciples, because the rittvik is not making disciples when conducting the ceremony.
Prabhupāda never ordered—at least, not officially and indisputably—any of his disciples to become a regular guru. There is no official record of it anywhere. That order was and remains required in order to be an initiating spiritual master in the Gauḍīya branch established by Prabhupāda. He only appointed rittviks in the second week of July, 1977.
Anyone, in any group or on his own, who preaches differently about the rittvik and the regular guru—or who calls the regular guru a rittvik—possesses no authority whatsoever in promoting the process of bhakti-yoga as espoused by any Vaiṣṇava disciplic succession. Such false propaganda should be rejected immediately. The regular guru is a dīkṣā-guru in his particular school of Vaiṣṇavism. The rittvik is no such thing and has never been such a thing.
True authority in devotional life comes from a Vaiṣṇava sampradāya or theistic Viṣṇu or Kṛṣṇa school. It consists of Absolute teachings and processes. It is validated by God-realized Ācāryas in an unbroken chain of disciplic succession. All gurus, representing and giving initiation into it as spiritual masters in that line, must be perfect men.
The guru, even if he is a madhyam-adhikārī or regular guru, must perfectly represent that line.Any functioning institution, one which actually initiates newcomers, is representing the previous Ācārya (capital “Ā”). That previous Ācārya is His Divine Grace Prabhupāda. The institution must consist of regular gurus, all of whom must perfectly represent the disciplic succession. Be assured, that perfect representation is not happening in “ISKCON.”
For the purposes in this presentation, the line of disciplic succession we are discussing is the Brahma-Madhva-Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava sampradāya. A. C. Bhaktivedānta Swāmi Prabhupāda, a mahā-bhāgavat and śaktyāveśa-avatār, established a branch of that line; it became incorporated as ISKCON in the mid-Sixties. He is now a departed spiritual master, the last uttama-adhikārī of his branch of disciplic succession originally represented by ISKCON.
Prabhupāda used the term “regular guru” at his headquarters in India, the Krishna-Balaram temple, on May 28, 1977. The term regular guru will be used repeatedly in this presentation, because he authorized it. Any dīkṣā-guru of his branch—and representing it as a regular guru via his authorization–must be directly and specifically recognized as an initiating spiritual master by him.
In order to perfectly represent Prabhupāda as a dīkṣā-guru, such a regular guru must, of course, have been himself initiated by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedānta Swāmi, while he was physically manifest. The Gauḍīya line is also known as the Caitanya sampradāya. In order to initiate new candidates into a connection with the disciplic succession of the Caitanya sampradāya, being initiated by Prabhupāda was nothing more than the first step in his branch.
The genuine guru, at bare minimum, must be fixed in the mode of goodness as a devotee of the Supreme Lord. In Prabhupāda’s branch, according to the injunction of His Divine Grace, such a regular guru must have received specific authorization from Prabhupāda in order to initiate. Having received the order, which also is a recognition, that disciple then—and then only–is a genuine dīkṣā-guru.
He can initiate, and the newcomer becomes the disciple of that advanced disciple. Such a regular guru would require any sincere and serious candidate to have passed various tests before receiving initiation from him in order to secure connection to the sampradāya and the Holy Name.
Any and all other connections—in other words, any and all “connections” that do not meet this basic criteria–are actually no connections at all. There are a preponderance of those at this time (e.g. “ISKCON,” Neo-Mutt, and Rittvik), and some of that will be detailed as the presentation proceeds.
Can a neophyte initiate a disciple into a connection with the guru-paramparā? It is a ridiculous idea, as verified by the following quote from Prabhupāda. During a platform lecture in New York City on March 2, 1966, Prabhupāda stated:
“In every step of his life the spiritual master guides him. . .he guides him so that he will–his life, his progress of life–may be systematic. Now, to take such guidance means the spiritual master should also be a very perfect man.”
He made it clear very early in his movement that the neophyte cannot be guru, because the kaniṣṭhā-adhikārī is anything but a very perfect man. He is a third-class devotee.
On the other hand, the devotee known as a madhyam-adhikārī is elevated in advanced consciousness and is liberated from the susceptibility of being pierced by the lower modes of material nature. He is fixed in the mode of goodness, and, from that standpoint, he is a regular guru—a guru from nature’s study, one who must, however, still follow the rules and regulations of sādhana-bhakti.
He can fall down. We find the following verification of the guru from nature’s study in an excerpt from a letter to one of Prabhupāda’s first temple presidents, dated April 26, 1968:
“The statements of Thakura Bhaktivinode are as good as scriptures, because he is liberated person. Generally, the spiritual master comes from the group of such eternal associates of the Lord, but anyone who follows the principles of such ever-liberated persons is as good as one in the above- mentioned group. The gurus from nature’s study are accepted as such on the principle that an elevated person in Krishna consciousness does not accept anyone as disciple, but he accepts everyone as expansion of his guru.”
That the madhyam-adhikārī can be an initiating spiritual master is verified in a purport to the Bhāgavatam, 2.3.21:
“The second-class devotees are therefore meant for preaching work, and . . . The second-class devotee accepts disciples from the section of third-class devotees or non-devotees.”
The uttama-adhikārī is the first-class devotee. The madhyam-adhikārī, the regular guru, is a second-class devotee who can initiate disciples. This spiritual law is validated. Any other abstruse philosophy is nothing more than a deviation, and should be fully rejected as soon as you hear it.
It is spiritual etiquette that a disciple, when qualified to initiate his own disciples, does not do so in the physical presence of his own spiritual master. This etiquette, however, is not in the category of spiritual law. If the spiritual master decides to recognize any of his disciples—or even all of them—to be regular guru (while he is still physically manifest), he can empower them as madhyams to initiate new people into a connection with the guru-paramparā.
Prabhupāda was prepared to do just that, and he explicitly made it known in excerpts from letters to two of his leading secretaries. In 1969, Prabhupāda wrote that he wanted not only his leading men but all of his disciples to assimilate the chief Vaiṣṇava sacred texts that he had translated (or was planning to translate). In that connection, he wanted examinations to be conducted—written and scored tests—on these sacred texts, (previously including Bhagavad-gita).
As has been quoted, he had referred to gurus from nature’s study being elevated persons in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. At that stage, they would be learned in the standard Vaiṣṇava scriptures. He was expecting them to initiate new disciples in his physical presence, with his official sanction. Here is verification of this hoped for program:
In a letter to Hansadutta, dated 1-3-69: “Maybe by 1975, all of my disciples will be allowed to initiate and increase the numbers of the generations. That is my program.”
In a letter to Kīrtanānanda, dated 1-12-69: “By 1975, all of those who have passed all of the above examinations will be specifically empowered to initiate and increase the number of the Krishna consciousness population.”
Please note: Prabhupāda was still with us in 1975. In reference to that final examination, Prabhupāda was referring to Teachings of Lord Chaitanya, Vedānta-sūtra, and Nectar of Devotion. He had not yet translated Vedānta-sūtra, but he was obviously planning to do so.
The principle to glean from these excerpts is that His Divine Grace did not want a monopoly on initiation even during his physical presence. He instead wanted as many disciples as possible to become qualified enough to become regular gurus, recognized as dīkṣā-gurus by him.
He was hoping for that; indeed, it was his program. It was integral to his plan. Can Prabhupāda’s plan be succinctly summed up? In point of fact, it most certainly can, and His Divine Grace did so himself early on the movement.
Note the following principle of organization that he concisely gave—in effect, which he ordered—in this excerpt from a letter to Kīrtanānanda, dated 2-11-67:
“I wish that each and every branch shall keep their independent identity and cooperate, keeping the Ācārya in the center. On this principle, we can open any number of branches all over the world. The Ramakrishna Mission works on this principle, and, thus as organization, they have done wonderfully.”
Remember, just two years later, Prabhupāda had sent letters to two of his leading men–letters which clearly stated that he wanted his disciples (hopefully, by as soon as 1975)–to become initiating spiritual masters themselves after passing a final exam. That means that he expected them to soon become qualified initiating spiritual masters.
However, what kind of gurus? None of them were to become The Ācārya, because, as this excerpt from 1967 clearly demonstrates, all the centers were supposed to keep the Ācārya—meaning, of course, His Divine Grace Prabhupāda himself—in the center.
That he wanted his disciples to become gurus in his presence means that they were to become regular gurus, madhyam-adhikārīs. They were to transcend the neophyte stage and become learned, second-class devotees. That is not the greatest achievement in bhakti-yoga, of course. After having passed that final study exam (with those particular scriptures, just listed), they were to be awarded an elevated title indicating theistic achievement. Do not allow such a title to bewilder you—it was a form of encouragement.
In that excerpt from 1967, he gives an example of what he wanted when he points out, as a model, the Ramakrishna Mission. It has kept, and still keeps, Ramakrishna at the center of its worship program, even though he has been deceased for a rather lengthy period of time.
If Prabhupāda’s disciples—one or some of them—became a regular guru, he (or they) would remain acting under his charge. The various centers would worship Śrila Prabhupāda, keeping him in the center. The regular guru would initiate followers who came to him, and he would be their dīkṣā-guru. They would become disciples of his disciple (re: May, 1977 room conversation in Vṛndāvan).
Simultaneously, the ISKCON Mission would keep Prabhupāda, the śaktyāveśa-avatār and Sampradāya-Ācārya, at the center of all congregational programs. Prabhupāda wanted this arrangement to be developed while he was still with us on the physical platform.
He indicated that he wanted other gurus in another place, in one of his earliest books, namely Easy Journey to Other Planets. This book was published in the Sixties. We find the following entry listed in Easy Journey to Other Planets as Point Thirteen of a twenty point series:
“He must not take on unlimited disciples. This means that a candidate who has successfully followed the first twelve items can also become a spiritual master himself, just as a student becomes a monitor in class with a limited number of disciples.”
The Ācārya (in the true sense of the term) takes on unlimited disciples, in the thousands. Prabhupāda did that, and he was fully qualified and able to do it. However, the monitor guru is not supposed to do that; he takes limited disciples.
In Easy Journey, there are twelve stages that must first be secured and realized before the above-mentioned Thirteenth Stage is achieved. Those previous stages are not at all indicative of a devotee who is approaching the status of a mahā-bhāgavat at Stage Thirteen.
Indeed, the later Stages Fifteen and Sixteen of the series given in Easy Journey clearly prove this. They are as follows:
15. A regular and successful practice of the above fourteen items will enable the candidate to maintain mental equilibrium even amidst great trials of material loss and gain. 16. In the next stage, the candidate does not become afflicted by lamentation and illusion.
First: Being eligible to become a guru—a guru like a monitor in class with limited disciples—that regular guru has not yet even become completely free from lamentation and illusion. Certainly, Stage Thirteen is not describing the attainment of the exalted uttama-adhikārī level of realization.
Aside from this, if a guru is a mahā-bhāgavat, he is not under any injunction (read, regulation) to only accept a limited numbers of disciples. Stage Thirteen requires that. Please note, as the aforementioned later Stage Fifteen attests, the term “regular practice” is used. How can that possibly refer to an uttama-adhikārī? It is referring to sādhana-bhakti, and it cannot even be referring to rāga-bhakti.
In sādhana-bhakti, the practitioner is under the injunctions of rules and regulations, because he is susceptible to fall down. Yet, he can become a dīkṣā-guru. This status also has sometimes been called a monitor guru, and it has, undeniably and definitively, been termed a regular guru in May of 1977 by His Divine Grace.
Some consider monitor guru by likening him to a professor who teaches a large class, giving full respect to Einstein as the superior source from whom he is teaching science. This is a faulty analogy, very prone to be misleading.
The much better analogy is that the uttama-adhikārī can be compared to the professor, who gives a lecture from the stage once per week to all the students in his course. He does so in a superior position, and the auditorium is usually full. After that, the students separately learn more.
They learn more by attending scheduled class with T.A.s or teaching assistants, advanced students of the professor from previous semesters. These classes have a limited number of students. The teaching assistant can be compared to the madhyam-adhikārī, as he is a monitor in the class representing the professor, who is superior to him in both knowledge and realization.
One final point about this sequence from Easy Journey: It lists twenty stages total. The attainment of monitor guru is Stage Thirteen. How can a lesser stage like that be the description of an uttama-adhikārī situated in bhāva or ecstasy?
Easy Journey is bona fide source proving that the status of a spiritual master in Kṛṣṇa consciousness—both dīkṣā and śikṣā—can be attained previous to the rare and advanced stage of a great Ācārya in the true sense of the term, the mahā-bhāgavat, the uttama-adhikārī, The Successor.
As was verified at the beginning of this presentation, following the disappearance of The Ācārya, his dedicated disciple must receive the order to initiate disciples from Prabhupāda before that man is empowered to legitimately initiate. This was stated in May of 1977:
“When I order, ‘You become guru,’ he becomes regular guru. That’s all.”
This conclusion should be crystal clear to anyone and everyone, i.e. all who are without prejudice or bias. There is also supplemental evidence to further establish this siddhānta. A challenge was issued thirty years ago in this connection, and we shall reproduce part of it subsequently.
One such evidence is directly from His Divine Grace in a conversation with an Indian man. This conversation is not available to access within the Folio, which is most unfortunate. His Divine Grace was in Nairobi, Kenya from October 28th through November 2nd of 1975. This exchange would have taken place on one of those dates.
Your author considers what is being reproduced here to be bona fide. The gist of this conversation was already known by me decades ago. It is from page fifteen of the booklet entitled “Śrila Prabhupāda, His Movement, and You,” published (second edition) in 1993 by Hansadutta. Your author attained a copy of this booklet in 1988 from Hansadutta himself:
Indian Man: When did you become the spiritual leader of Krishna consciousness?
Prabhupāda: When my guru-mahārāj ordered me. This is the guru-paramparā. Try to understand. Don’t go very speedily. A guru can become guru when he’s ordered by his guru. That’s all. Otherwise, nobody can become guru.
Indian Man: When did he tell you to . . .?
Prabhupāda (interrupts) : What is this business, “when did he tell me?” And why shall I disclose to you? It is so very insignificant thing that I have to explain to you?
Indian Man: No, I am just curious . . .
Prabhupāda (interrupts): You should be curious within your limit. You should know that one can become guru when he is ordered by his guru. This much.
There are a number of important points to be gleaned from this stark exchange. First, it is verification that none of Prabhupāda’s disciples can be authorized to become an initiating spiritual master unless so ordered, directly and specifically, by His Divine Grace, The Ācārya.
Secondly, such an order would not be generic or casual or run of the mill or easily attainable by anyone and everyone. Such an order, as stated in the exchange, is personal and specific. This is indicated when Prabhupāda, through a rhetorical question, chastises the impudent Hindu by saying “It is so very insignificant thing that I have to explain to you?”
The next point is (somewhat) indirect: Don’t go very speedily. That order is what the eleven pretenders defied in the Spring of 1978. They almost immediately jumped on the opportunity to divide the world. They were each worshiped as mahā-bhāgavats by not only their own disciples, but by many (if not most) of their godbrothers and godsisters. They did it, because they knew that they had the power to do it.
Prabhupāda, on the other hand, did not move at all quickly to initiate new people into a connection with the guru-paramparā. If you interpret the order to have come from his spiritual master, Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvātī Gosvāmī, upon one of their precious few meetings on the physical platform, Prabhupāda did not carry it out until decades later.
You may consider that the order came to Prabhupāda when Siddhānta Sarasvātī ordered him, in a dream, to take sannyāsa in the late Forties. If so, he only initiated one disciple in 1951 in India and, after that, did not initiate other disciples until the middle of 1966 in New York City.
In other words, any way you cut it, he proceeded cautiously and deliberately. As such, we have the most important verification: In order to become an initiating spiritual master, a direct disciple of Prabhupāda (1966-1977) must receive the order. In that verification, we realize that no one should have jumped the gun to initiate disciples in 1978 . . . and then, out of envy, imitate Prabhupāda in the process.
Concerning those who then did jump the gun: Where was that order? Where did any of the eleven receive that order? Where is there indisputable proof of it? Nowhere! And, even if you foolishly claim that they did receive it—such a claim being entirely speculative—did any of them act as regular gurus? Remember, that’s all he authorized.
GENERICALLY, that’s all he authorized, but you need more than that! No disciple of Prabhupāda received anything that can be interpreted as an order to be guru. The generic order needs to be followed up by specific recognition, and no disciple received such official recognition.
Three years after the zonal scam and unauthorized uttama worship had been implemented, this fact was even admitted by The Machiavellian Manipulator himself. In the first week of December, 1980, T.K.G. (with Hansadutta in attendance) stated this fact at The Pyramid House in Topanga Canyon:
“Actually, Prabhupāda never appointed any gurus. He did not appoint eleven gurus. He appointed eleven rittviks. He never appointed them as gurus. Myself and the other G.B.C. have done the greatest disservice to this movement for the last three years, because we interpreted the appointment of rittviks as the appointment of gurus. . . If it had been more than that, you can bet your bottom dollar that Prabhupāda would have spoken for days and hours and weeks on and about how to set up this thing with the gurus . . . but he did not, because he already said it a million times. He said, ‘My guru-mahārāj did not appoint anyone. It is by qualification.’. . . You cannot show me anything on tape or in writing where Prabhupāda says, ‘I appoint these eleven as gurus.’ It does not exist, because he never appointed any gurus. This is a myth.”
As mentioned previously, in 1993 a challenge was made to any devotee to show proof positive that Prabhupāda recognized or appointed or ordered any of his disciples to be initiating spiritual masters. The poster read as follows:
“$108,000.00 cash reward money for any ISKCON guru who can show . . . from Śrila Prabhupāda’s hand, naming any person or persons specifically appointed to the position of full guru-acharya, authorized to initiate disciples as his own after the disappearance of Śrila Prabhupāda. . . Produce the written document, signed by Śrila Prabhupāda, ordering any devotee to act as guru-acharya of ISKCON.”
That Prabhupāda wanted some of his disciples to become regular gurus while he was present and afterwards—and that none of them appeared to him to be ready by qualification—was summed up near the end of his time with us. The exact date and place that this summary statement was made is not specified in the Folio, but it was reproduced in the first “Back to Godhead” issue of 1978, entitled: “Śrila Prabhupāda Speaks Out: His Final Instructions.”
He was asked, in either a room conversation or an interview, who would succeed him as leader of his branch of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, and he replied as follows:
“All of my disciples will take the legacy. If you want, you can also take it. Sacrifice everything. I—one—may soon pass away, but they are hundreds, and this movement will increase. It’s not that I’ll give an order: ‘Here is the next leader.’ Anyone who follows the previous leadership is a leader. . . If you want to follow, then you can also lead, but you don’t want to follow. ‘Leader’ means one who is a first-class disciple. Evaṁ paramparā-prāptam. One who is perfectly following. . .To become a leader is not very difficult, provided one is prepared to follow the instructions of the bona fide guru.”
There are definitive conclusions to be gleaned from this powerful summary statement. First, Prabhupāda did not name his Successor. Virtually no one disputes that. Secondly, he is referring to a regular guru, because the repeated context is one who is following, which logically entails the following rules and regulations, or, if you will, instructions.
Following the instructions of The Ācārya means you are engaged in sādhana-bhakti. Following rules and regulations is not applicable to an uttama-adhikārī. Only a great devotee on that rare and extremely advanced platform could possibly become the next Ācārya, the next Successor.
Disciple means discipline. Uttamas are beyond such discipline. When Prabhupāda says “perfectly following” and “first-class disciple,” he is not referring to the perfection of the mahā-bhāgavata. He is also not referring to a first-class devotee, who is the uttama-adhikārī. Instead, he is referring to a first-class disciple—one who is perfectly following his instructions, a major difference.
Third, this conclusion is further validated when he says that it is not very difficult to perfectly follow. It is very difficult to become that rare, empowered uttama-adhikārī. From his perspective, it is not very difficult to become a madhyam-adhikārī, a regular guru. However, from the platform of a conditioned soul, such is not the case, as even attaining the status of regular guru requires great effort.
Transcending kaniṣṭha is not at all easy!
Fourth, he clearly states: “but you don’t want to follow.” Herein, he indicates that nobody was qualified to become a spiritual master from the stock of his disciples at the time he made this statement. He had (a bit earlier) verified the same fact in April, 1977 in Bombay when talking to T.K.G. Near the very end of his time with us, nobody was qualified to be recognized by him to be an initiating spiritual master.
With these realizations assimilated, you are now to consider something which requires more careful analysis. Nobody can, with sane mind and intelligence, deny that Prabhupāda only appointed rittviks in 1977.
Yet there is another idea, a conversion theory, that is believed by some. It appears to have teeth superficially, but your author is never interested in such analyses. If you actually want to take advantage of this presentation, neither should you be interested in any such superficiality.
The theory is that Prabhupāda removed the rittvik status for his eleven men just before he departed and, indirectly, converted them into gurus. Taking place in his room at the Krishna-Balaram temple on October 18th, less than a month before he would depart, here is the conversation’s transcription which is used to push this idea:
Prabhupāda: So, I have deputed some of you to initiate.
Leading Secretary (1): Yes, Śrīla Prabhupāda.
Prabhupāda: So, I think Jayapatākā can do that if he likes. I have already deputed. Tell him.
Leading Secretary (1): Yes.
Prabhupāda: So, deputies, Jayapatākā’s name was there?
Leading Secretary (2): It is already on there, Śrīla Prabhupāda. His name was on that list.
Prabhupāda: So, I depute him to do this at Māyāpura, and you may go with him. I stop for the time being. Is that all right?
Leading Secretary (1): Stopped doing what, Śrīla Prabhupāda?
Prabhupāda: This initiation. I have deputed my disciples. Is it clear or not?
Bombay Temple President: It’s clear.
Prabhupāda: You have got the list of the names?
Leading Secretary (1): Yes, Śrīla Prabhupāda.
Prabhupāda: And if, by Kṛṣṇa’s grace, I recover from this condition, then I shall begin again, or I may not be pressed in this condition to initiate. It is not good.
At the very least, a sincere (read, honest) follower or disciple of Prabhupāda readily admits that any interpretation of rittvik being dropped and converted into dīkṣā-guru in this exchange is far from solid . . . and very short of proof positive.
The conversation is undeniably equivocal. It does not clearly establish that he converted the rittviks into gurus at that time, although one theory postulates that. It can be misinterpreted like that, granted, but such an interpretation is not conclusive, and it is far, far from proved.
“The condition to initiate.” What does it mean? Does it mean accepting new disciples as of this date—that he no longer wished to accept them as his disciples? That is one interpretation, but that is not the only one.
If that interpretation was actually right, then he did convert the status of his rittviks to that of regular guru. However, if that was his intent, why did not he just come right out and say so and order it? It could have been stated unequivocally in one sentence, but nowhere in this transcript is it.
He says that he deputed his disciples. This, of course, is in reference to the July list of eleven deputies, rittviks. However, please note that the conversation began with the following statement: “So, I have deputed some of you to initiate.”
In the July document (sent to all the leaders of his movement), it was made clear that those deputies were conducting initiation ceremonies as rittviks on behalf of Prabhupāda. In October, Prabhupāda uses the phrase “to initiate,” in reference to the list of eleven from the previous July, substantiated by the first line of the conversation.
He was referring to rittviks! They remained nothing more than that. As such, in the context of how this conversation began, the phrase “to initiate” cannot mean to initiate new people for themselves, because the phrase is used to refer to eleven deputies, all of whom were still rittviks!
As such, when Prabhupāda says, “I may not be pressed in this condition to initiate,” logically, it must be referring to something else. What could be that something else? Could it not be that he is referring to conducting the initiation ceremony himself . . . or witnessing it? That is not at all illogical, although it is a bit awkward.
Do you take it to mean that Jaya Pataka was converted into a regular guru? There is no clear indication in the conversation. In point of fact, the Bombay President states that he clearly understood the meaning, and T.K.G., at the afore-mentioned Pyramid House talks in early December of 1980, revealed how he came to understand that October, 1977 conversation:
“Now I understand that what he did was very clear. He was physically incapable of performing the function of initiating. Therefore, he appointed officiating priests to initiate on his behalf. He appointed eleven, and he said very clearly, ‘Whoever is nearest, he can initiate.’ This is a very important point, because, when it comes to initiating, it is not whoever is nearest. It is wherever your heart goes—to whom you can repose you faith. But, when it is officiating, it’s ‘whoever is nearest,’ . . . ‘Whoever is nearest will check you out. Then, on my behalf, they will initiate . . .’”
We see in this statement from T.K.G. (and his analysis of that 1977 room conversation, which took place late in Prabhupāda’s lifetime) that T.K.G. did not interpret Prabhupāda as having then converted any rittvik from July to the much, much higher and more powerful status of dīkṣā-guru.
The conclusion is that there are arguments to be made from either angle of vision, but a man who was there, less than three years later, confirmed that Prabhupāda had no such intention to elevate anyone on the rittvik list to dīkṣā-guru. The reason TKG gives for his realization is quite cogent, and that should also be taken into account.
However, there is another consideration far more important than that one. We find the following statement in a purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam, 8.9.28:
“The demons or atheists have faith in their own endeavors, but, although they work very hard day and night, they cannot get any more than their destiny. The devotees, however, can surpass the reactions of karma and achieve wonderful results, even without effort. It is also said, phalena-paricīyate: One’s success or defeat in any activity is understood by its result.”
If you conclude, wrongly, that Prabhupāda converted his eleven rittviks into dīkṣā-gurus in that equivocal room conversation with three of his leaders, what was the result of such a so-called conversion? Answer: The devastation of his branch of the Hare Kṛṣṇa movement of Kṛṣṇa consciousness less than a half year later.
If you come to such a mal-interpretation (that the rittviks were converted into gurus), then Prabhupāda would be responsible for what he (through the back door, so to speak) allegedly ordered in the third week of October, 1977. However, he did not authorize such a conversion, and you cannot pin the zonal ācārya debacle on him.
Time changes things. When the movement is transformed, such an event always is based upon deviation through the agency of time. Prabhupāda’s leading secretaries deviated from his orders concerning guru, initiation, and how the movement was to be run after he departed. None of the eleven rittviks was appointed as an initiating spiritual master (or a regular guru or a monitor guru), what to speak of those eleven being appointed as Successors.
The colossal hoax known as the fabricated, so-called “ISKCON” confederation is a pseudo-spiritual scam. Prabhupāda’s actual movement achieved its authority and power from the guru-paramparā; it achieved its authority from guru, sādhu, and śāstra, with Prabhupāda as its great Founder and spiritual master.
On the other hand, its perverted reflection, “ISKCON,” received—and still receives–its power through bureaucratic manipulation, the deception that Prabhupāda actually appointed dīkṣā-gurus in advance (when he only appointed rittviks), and the failure of his Governing Body Commission to prevent the hijacking and degradation of his movement by eleven of the G.B.C.’s most narcissistic commissioners.
SAD EVA SAUMYA
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