by Yasodanandana dasa
A Swamiji (Guru and GBC) from England has recently penned a paper titled Continuing the Parampara, a philosophical overview of the ritvik issue. He has attempted to establish various philosophical points in defense of the various philosophical positions of the Governing Body Commission (GBC) of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (Iskcon) with regard to the controversial guru appointment, which allegedly took place in the spring of 1977 in Vrindavana.
This paper is not meant to be a point-for-point refutation of the contentions and assumptions of the Swamiji. This will be done in a systematic, thorough and comprehensive manner in a separate publication. Various papers have dealt with the arguments and history of the Swamiji's contentions and logic. The purpose of this paper is to point out and establish the proper methodology, both Vedic and scriptural, which is necessary to arrive at a proper conclusion regarding His Divine Grace's statements and his intentions on important topics of guru qualifications, initiations, his society and the proper implementation of those instructions. It is also meant to show that the methodology employed by the Swamiji is defective and contrary to the proper method of guru, sastra, sadhu and bona fide methods of direct interpretation, and that the conclusion reached by the Swamiji, although containing some elements of truth, did not fully and correctly present Srila Prabhupada's full instructions on the matter, especially the last direct instructions (March-November of 1977) of His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada in the last few months of his manifested presence. Full and complete analysis of the historical development of this controversy is beyond the scope of this paper.
Various papers, newsletters and essays have circulated amongst the society of devotees (both inside the official Iskcon and outside) presenting historical accounts of various events and incidents which have taken place within the leadership of the Iskcon corporate organization since 1977. These papers have dealt with various statements of His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada with regard to specific instructions which His Divine Grace gave to some of his leaders in the last few months of his manifested presence in India in 1977 (March 1977 to 14th November 1977). These various statements were made to various members of the GBC, some to devotees in general, and some to individual GBC or individual devotees.
Having read various papers on both sides of the controversy and having closely followed the development of this controversy since its early days in 1977, I was curious to see what this latest revelation from the Swamiji entailed. The introduction contained some interesting comments by an associate of the Swamiji.
The proper way is open discussion...
Note: When did these open discussions take place in the early days? Why was it not discussed openly and thoroughly in front of all the devotees in 1978? And why is there still considerable reluctance from the gurus and GBC to discuss their history and the whole story behind the so-called appointment?
Propaganda encourages party spirit...
Note: Then why do you make propaganda? Why did the GBC encourage zonal party spirit and still encourages such party spirit?
Sort these things out together without acrimony...
Note: Then why so many threats of violence, beatings, threats of assassinations, contrived excommunications etc., even in the recent past from official GBC and their representatives? Is that pleasing to Srila Prabhupada?
The respected author starts his paper on page 4 (page 4 1.2): ...It is very obvious that there are questions to be answered by the leadership of our society. What happened after Prabhupada's disappearance? What was the misunderstanding of the GBC that led to the zonal acarya system and the acarya board? How was that rectified and was it?
The Swamiji then proceeds with a stunning statement: ...to be honest I must point out that some years back the GBC did commission the writing of a book on exactly these points. Unfortunately the slow development of the book has been superseded by the implications of its absence and thus our leadership has now to deal with a misunderstanding regarding these issues...
What has taken so long to deal with these issues?
How does the Swamiji explain the backlash or character assassination, ostracization, threats of violence, excommunications, even some murders against devotees who have questioned the GBC and the gurus?
The numerous horror stories of abuse of power by the ecclesiastical authorities of the GBC is too much to ignore.
Who will now believe the rationalizations and explanations from the same individuals and their fanatical supports, who have engaged in these questionable activities?
Why has it taken to long to write this book explaining the GBC's activities?
Back to the point. The author presents his purpose and then on page 8 proceeds to quote from a conversation with Srila Prabhupada. He does not specify the date of the conversation or its origin. The actual conversation with His Divine Grace is on April 22, 1977, in Bombay, India.
He quotes part of the conversation on pages 8 and 9 and then states, ...the following three arguments will show a lack of integrity and honesty in both the evidence and approach of ritviks... (page 9)
Srila Prabhupada's conversations.
What the undiscerning reader may not know is that the Swamiji engages in the exact same technique of lack of integrity which he is accusing the proponents of the original system of ritvik acarya established by Srila Prabhupada in 1977.
1) He quotes a conversation which took place in Bombay in April of 1977, but he does not give the full text of the conversation. He accuses the ritvik devotees of partially quoting, and right from the start he omits most of the conversation.
2) Why is he now quoting this conversation in defense of the GBC theories and contentions? Why is it that the GBC and its gurus did not bring this conversation and all other relevant conversations to the entire body of Srila Prabhupada's disciples in Mayapura in March of 1978? The tape recordings of these conversations were under the control of at least some members of the Governing Body Commission. Why were this and numerous other important conversations kept hidden from the devotees? Was there something too tender for our delicate ears?
3) It is significant to note that the author is trying to establish and prove his acarya appointment theory in 1994 by citing conversations with His Divine Grace in April and May of 1977. But it has already been admitted by many Iskcon GBCs and gurus that these conversations do not establish any appointments of gurus. The first March 1978 meeting by the GBC and gurus carefully excluded open public discussion and full revelation of these original tapes and transcripts. Why did the GBC not bring these so-called appointment tapes and conversations in the open in front of all the devotees in 1977 and in 1978?
4) The Swamiji only quotes whichever parts he picks and chooses, whereas the authors of Become Srila Prabhupada's Disciple quote the entire conversation. Who is presenting partial, incomplete evidence?
As will be seen later in this presentation, there is a very good reason why the Swamiji and his predecessor in the appointed acarya succession may not have wanted to bring out in the open and thoroughly discuss these important conversations which took place in 1977 with His Divine Grace. Also, there is a very good reason why all of the conversations from March 1977 to November 1977 were carefully shielded from the rest of the devotees. As succinctly described by one GBC guru in October of 1978 in Vrindavana, This has already been decided, there is nothing to be discussed. They should just accept... Would a full-fledged open discussion and analysis of all these discussions and the written documentation left by His Divine Grace (the 6th of June Will and the 9th of July 1977 letter to all temple presidents) have revealed an appointment or selection of acaryas or diksa gurus?
Srila Prabhupada's books.
The Swamiji then proceeds in his attempt to revive the acarya appointment theory by quoting from Srila Prabhupada's books. These books are revered by all of Srila Prabhupada's disciples and followers. They are cited by both sides in the controversy. The purports and commentaries of Srila Prabhupada are considered sastras or scriptural texts because they are accepted as coming from a fully realized pure devotee, uttama-adhikari, paramahamsa, a full self-realized soul who is receiving direct dictation from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna. This is the basic understanding of the authoritative position of the Acarya, Srila Prabhupada, and his books, also called sastras. Srila Prabhupada explains why this is so.
But one thing I may inform you, that the three books which I have already prepared namely, the Bhagavad Gita as it is, Teachings of Lord Caitanya, and Srimad-Bhagavatam, all these books are the ultimate source of knowledge. If you simply reproduce what I have tried to explain in those books, surely you will come out victorious, even in the midst of so many great mundane scholars. The description given in these books, are not mundane speculations, but they are authorized versions of liberated souls, presented by our humble self. So the strength is not in us, but the strength is in the Supreme Lord. And we have simply to present them without any adulteration, in humble service spirit. That is the secret of success...
(Srila Prabhupada letter to Devananda, September 1968)
But what the respected Swamiji seems to forget is that some of the comments and statements of the architects of the appointed acarya theory on the 17th of July 1980, in their attempt to explain how pure devotee acaryas fell down and exhibited questionable behaviors, are not in line with the sastras and Srila Prabhupada's teachings. In section two of the above GBC paper under the title Illogical and misleading philosophy, subtitled Improper criticism by illogical techniques, the GBC apologists try to substantiate their appointed guru position by explaining Srila Prabhupada's position and how the sastras are to be understood in the light of Srila Prabhupada's position. The entire quote from the appointed guru theorists is as follows.
GBC report: ...Certainly all Iskcon standards are based on sastra, but sastra has to be understood as Iskcon's Founder-Acarya, Srila Prabhupada taught and demonstrated...
Note: All parties in this controversy agree with this statement. It is reasonable and sound. However, it is debatable and doubtful whether the standards of puja and methods of dealing with many devotees which were exhibited and are still occasionally exhibited by some GBCs and gurus, and/or some of their ultra-fanatical supporters, are fully in accordance with guru, sastra, and sadhu and Srila Prabhupada's teachers.
The GBC report continues:
...This is the meaning of mahajano yena gatah sa panthah. In that verse, even the sastras are declared to be inconclusive in themselves; the truth must be learned from the Mahajan. Srila Prabhupada is Iskcon's greatest authority, and from the Vedic literatures he has selected and established those principles that we must follow...
(page 2, last paragraph - GBC report 17th August 1980 - Dallas, TX, USA)
The above statement does contain some truths. However, there is a major contradiction and flaw. On the one hand, the GBC and appointed guru theorists claim that they believe that Prabhupada is Iskcon's greatest authority and a great mahajana. Fine, we all accept that. On the other hand, they proceed to simultaneously insult Srila Prabhupada:
1) by blaspheming him by alleging that Srila Prabhupada has stated in his teachings, specifically in the Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, that the verse mahajano yena gatah sa panthah states that the sastras are inconclusive in themselves. Srila Prabhupada has never made that statement.
2) by distorting and misquoting the above verse in a dishonest and unauthorized manner. The above verse, mahajano yena gatah sa panthah, is taken from the Sri Caitanya-caritamrta and the authorized translation by Srila Prabhupada Himself does not contain such a statement.
The actual text cited is given in two places in the Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, one in Madhya-Lila 17.186, the other in Madhya-Lila 25.57. The GBC appointment theorists misquote His Divine Grace. The actual statement is that dry arguments are inconclusive. Nowhere does it say that the sastras are inconclusive in themselves.
If, according to the appointment theorists, the sastras are declared to be inclusive in themselves, then why do the Swamiji and his ideological colleagues work so hard to quote the sastras? What kind of conclusion will the Swamiji reach by referring to the inconclusive sastras? If, after so much study and research, the appointment theorists have reached a conclusion that the sastras are declared inconclusive by themselves and then allege that such a statement is found in Srila Prabhupada's translations of the above verse (which do not indicate that the sastras are inconclusive), then regardless of what conclusion the Swamiji reaches, ultimately it will all be inconclusive. At least, if the Swamiji's associates do not properly understand the meaning of the sastras, they should not insult Srila Prabhupada by alleging that Srila Prabhupada has ever made such an irresponsible statement. He never did and he never will. The Swamiji and his associates should not quote the sastras if they maintain that the sastras are inconclusive.
Suppressing Srila Prabhupada's letters.
The Swamiji, in his efforts to revive the guru appointment myth, quotes liberally from Srila Prabhupada's letters. However, there is a major problem for the Swamiji and his ideological masters. The GBC has already rejected the authority of Srila Prabhupada's letters.
In a paper to the entire GBC dated March 5, 1987, Jadadvaita Swami states in item 25:
...25. The GBC, in concert with the BBT trustees and against the expressed will of the Iskcon temple presidents, deliberately suppressed publication of Srila Prabhupada's letters even in edited form.
Why is the Swamiji quoting Srila Prabhupada's letters to evidence his appointment theory? As stated above, members of the GBC (and members of the appointed guru theorists) have rejected the authority and sanctity of Srila Prabhupada's letters by working to deliberately suppress the letters of His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada. How can he claim to now quote the same letters which his colleagues and associates have worked so hard to suppress? One of the Swamiji's former associates, an ex-GBC and former guru from Southern California, stated to one devotee, Sulocana dasa, in 1985, You had better return these letters [Srila Prabhupada's letters], otherwise you are dead meat on the hook.
What is the authority of the Swamiji to quote Srila Prabhupada's letters to defend the position of the GBC or some of the GBC if the GBC has previously worked overtime to deliberately suppress Srila Prabhupada's letters? How can they reject the sanctity and evidence of Srila Prabhupada's letters one year and then claim to quote the same letters as their authority several years later?
The 9th of July 1977 letter.
The Swamiji fails to publish and openly discuss the 9th of July 1977 letter, where His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada gives clear, direct written evidence as to his intentions for the matter of initiations after his departure.
The Swamiji has made much of some of Srila Prabhupada's statements in April and May of 1977, where His Divine Grace indicated that he would choose some acaryas, he would select. But what the Swamiji refuses to acknowledge is in which specific capacity these acaryas were told to function for the aftermath of Srila Prabhupada's departure: only in the capacity of Ritvik Acaryas.
Thus, the Swamiji deliberately misinterprets Srila Prabhupada's statements and letters and he simultaneously avoids the most important of Srila Prabhupada's letters, the 9th of July 1977 letter. The Swamiji gives only a brief cursory reference to the above letter and interprets it as only being applicable during Srila Prabhupada's manifested presence.
However, where does Srila Prabhupada state that? He does not. The letter itself clearly indicates that the capacity of ritvik acarya, or assistant representative of the acarya, was meant to continue after Srila Prabhupada's departure by the use of the word henceforward. Why is it that the Swamiji avoids this letter?
What the Swamiji does not tell his unsuspecting readers are the conversations which took place after the 9th of July 1977 letter. The Swamiji is curiously silent on this point. Both publications referred to by the Swamiji, Become Srila Prabhupada's Disciple and The Betrayal, have given a much more accurate account of the various letters and statements and conversations which took place in the last few months of 1977. The Swamiji has culled a few statements out of context and then attempts to revive the appointment myth.
The Swamiji, and others of his ideological inclination, repeatedly argue that the letter (9th of July 1977 letter) was only meant to apply during Srila Prabhupada's presence. However, there are a few major problems with this interpretation.
1) The 9th of July 1977 letter does not say that this arrangement will stop or finish as soon as Srila Prabhupada physically departs. On the contrary, it says henceforward, thus indicating intended continuity after the eventual departure of the Acarya, Srila Prabhupada.
2) If Srila Prabhupada did, in fact, according to the Swamiji's theory, appoint diksa gurus, then why is it that Srila Prabhupada himself did not announce this so-called guru appointment during the last few months of his manifested physical presence?
3) Why did Srila Prabhupada not specifically indicate in his 9th of July 1977 letter that the eleven would automatically become diksa gurus upon his disappearance? He did not, because he intended them to function as ritvik acaryas in the aftermath of his departure.
4) Another major problem with the Swamiji's appointment theory is that Srila Prabhupada did clearly indicate that he wanted the officiating acarya system to continue for the aftermath of his physical departure. On the 19th of July 1977, Srila Prabhupada clearly stated, continue to become a ritvik and act on my charge (Srila Prabhupada conversation, 19th July 1977). When did Srila Prabhupada discontinue this instruction? Why does the Swamiji avoid discussing this statement?
5) Further, why is it that the GBC and the soon-to-be gurus did not bring ALL OF THESE CONVERSATIONS OUT IN THE OPEN AND HAVE PUBLIC OPEN THOROUGH DISCUSSIONS ON THE ACTUAL MEANING OF SRILA PRABHUPADA'S STATEMENTS IN MARCH OF 1978? Would an open and straightforward discussion of all of Srila Prabhupada's statements have revealed a so-called appointment of gurus?
He has reached a premature conclusion on the basis of a few disjointed statements in various conversations with His Divine Grace. It is unfortunate that the Swamiji and his ideological associates pick and choose what they want from Srila prabhupada's statements and conversations and carefully eliminate what does not support their appointment theory.
...We quote Vedic evidence to support our statements, but if we interpret it according to our judgement, the authority of the Vedic literature is rendered imperfect or useless. In other words, by interpreting the Vedic version one minimizes the value of Vedic evidence. When one quotes the Vedic literature, it is understood that the quotations are authoritative. How can one bring the authority under his own control? That is a case of principiis obsta. (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Adi-lila 7.132)
Changing the Acaryas's words?
In addition, it has now been established that the Swamiji's associates have deliberately changed the purports and verses of the Acarya, Srila Prabhupada, in their reprint of Bhagavad-gita (1983 revised edition). Who has given them the authority to change the words of the Acarya, Srila Prabhupada? When did Srila Prabhupada ever say that his direct bhasya (purport) should be changed? On the contrary, there are so many evidences from Srila Prabhupada's books to show that His Divine Grace DID NOT WANT ADDITIONS AND ALTERATIONS TO HIS BOOKS.
...therefore there is a great need to present the original, easily understood natural import of the Vedic literature. We have therefore begun by presenting Bhagavad-gita As It Is, and we propose to present all the Vedic literature in terms of the direct meaning of its words. (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Adi-lila 7.133)
...it is not our business to amend the words of the Supreme Personality of Godhead or make additions or alterations, as it has become a custom for many so-called scholars and swamis who comment on the words of Bhagavad-gita... (Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.20.17)
...One cannot change the words of the authority. If you believe in Lord Jesus Christ [or in Srila Prabhupada], YOU CANNOT MAKE ANY CHANGE TO YOUR CONVENIENCE... (Srila Prabhupada lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.46, 8th May 1973)
So why are the apologists of the appointed acarya party so eager to quote from Srila Prabhupada's letters, his Bhagavad-gita, his conversations, etc. when they were the ones who deliberately suppressed this crucial evidence in the first place?
Why are they now quoting from Srila Prabhupada's sastras when they have already declared that the sastras are inconclusive in themselves?
Why are they now changing the words of the Acarya?
When did Srila Prabhupada, the Acarya, ever give a verifiable statement that he wanted his Bhagavad-gita re-edited and amended?
No evidence from any acarya in any disciplic succession.
No previous bona fide acarya or bona fide disciple in the line of the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya-Sampradaya, or any Vaishnava sampradaya for that matter, has ever dared to change one word of their predecessor acaryas, what to speak of hundreds of changes. Yet within a few years of the departure of Srila Prabhupada, the GBC and the Swamiji have now introduced hundreds of changes to the sacred words of the Acarya.
Why are the Swamiji and the apologists of the appointed acarya party claiming to be following the footsteps of Srila Prabhupada and representing Srila Prabhupada when in fact they have insulted and are still insulting His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada by having deliberately suppressed his letters, by changing his books, by having purposely withheld the availability of crucial statements by His Divine Grace in the last few months of his manifested presence, etc., and by stating that the sastras are inconclusive in themselves? How can he claim to quote the authority when they have systematically disregarded the authority of Srila Prabhupada's books and his statements?
...if you concoct, 'I am more intelligent than my guru, I can make additions and alterations,' then you are finished. (Srila Prabhupada lecture, Philadelphia, 12th July 1975)
Srila Prabhupada: ...therefore we present Bhagavad-gita As It Is, no addition, alteration, the same thing. AS SOON AS THERE IS ADDITION, ALTERATION, IT IS GONE, FINISHED...
(Srila Prabhupada room conversation, 2nd July 1974, Melbourne, Australia)
Examples of unprecedented activities.
The Swamiji and his other ideological supporters are very fond of impudently challenging Srila Prabhupada's original arrangement by arguing, When did anyone else in any sampradaya ever do that? However, before the Swamiji and his associates can even dare ask such a question, first he must establish the basis for his authority. Where is the evidence from any bona fide acarya in any bona fide Vaishnava sampradaya that one disciple has ever changed the sacred words or texts of an acarya or suppressed the publication of his letters? This is absolutely unheard of in any bona fide Vedic literature or in any bona fide sampradaya.
Besides, Srila Prabhupada was perfectly authorized to make whatever arrangements he chose to make for his movement, for his society. Srila Prabhupada did introduce many seeming unprecedented procedures during his manifested presence:
Sannyasi taking part in arranging marriages for disciples.
Sannyasi acarya initiating disciples by mail without first personally seeing and living with the prospective disciple.
Sannyasi acarya giving second initiation by tape recorder, etc. Does it mean that all the marriages directly performed by Srila Prabhupada were non-bona fide because no previous sannyasi acarya ever did that? That was unprecedented. Does it mean that all the first initiations (Hari Nama diksa) which Prabhupada did not personally directly perform because he approved the candidate by mail and had some of his senior students conduct the actual initiation ceremony on his behalf were non-bona fide because no previous acarya did that? And how about the Gayatri initiations which Srila Prabhupada did not personally perform? A large number of second initiates were given their mantras by a tape recording of Srila Prabhupada, he did not perform it directly, physically, and the actual yajna was performed by some senior students. Did any previous acarya do that? That was unprecedented. Following his own line of argumentation, will the Swamiji reject all of these unprecedented procedures introduced by Srila Prabhupada because no other acarya ever did that?
Desa, kala, patra. Time, place, and circumstance.
The empowered acarya can and does adjust procedures according to time, place, and circumstances.
...Vaishnava who is preaching, it may be in a different way, according to time, place and the party. They have to change something, but we have to see the essence... (Srila Prabhupada Bhagavatam lecture, 8th October 1974)
...And Caitanya Mahaprabhu presented the same philosophy, that acintya-bheda-abheda-tattva. That is acarya. Acarya gives some way for simple understanding. The same conclusion, but according to the time, place, circumstances, they give a very easy method to understand. That is acarya. Acarya is following strictly the previous acarya, but according to the circumstances, he may make little changes. That is... That change is not change from the original idea, no... (Srila Prabhupada Bhagavatam lecture, Mayapura, 19th February 1976)
Srila Prabhupada did not depart from the injunctions of the sastras, he adjusted according to time, place, and circumstance. It should also be mentioned that the unprecedented argument is a double-edged sword. Srila Prabhupada was confronted with an unprecedented situation which no other acarya in the history of Gaudiya Vaishnavism ever had to confront: thousands of disciples in various countries all over the globe, over a hundred temples, numerous gurukulas in different parts of the world, a large Vaishnava society which no other acarya had ever assembled on such a scale. As such, Srila Prabhupada's arrangement of ritvik acaryas for the aftermath of his departure reflects his empowered transcendental intelligence in arranging for a practical plan that was meant to keep his society united. The result of disobedience of the order of Srila Prabhupada has been the emergence of various camps and independent factions each competing for the Acarya position, resulting in chaos, factionalism, and dissension.
Rejecting previous acaryas' statements.
In late February of 1979, the entire GBC assembled in Vrindavana to explain their new guru status to the assembled devotees. Various senior devotees had protested the heavy-handedness of the new guru program and the unauthorized introduction of large Vyasa asanas in front of His Divine Grace and the acceptance of lavish worship directly in front of the Deities and the Acarya, Srila Prabhupada. Many devotees felt that this had not been intended or desired by His Divine Grace, Srila Prabhupada, and was highly offensive.
Direct scriptural evidence was provided that such worship was offensive, unauthorized, and should be stopped. The GBC and the appointment theorists rejected the evidence submitted from the books of the Goswamis (Hari Bhakti Vilasa and other quotations). One of the GBC members stated, This is not from Srila Prabhupada's books; therefore, we cannot accept this. Prabhupada took worship so we also take worship. (GBC representative from the East Coast-America, 27th February 1979, Vrindavan, India)
So one year the GBC rejects scriptural quotations from the authoritative books of the six Goswamis when it does not fit their theories, and now the next year or following years the Swamiji and the GBC (and their apologists) are busy trying to quote the same books of the Goswamis to support another pet theory of their experimental project of re-initiation or in some cases triple or quadruple re-initiations. Why are they so busy trying to quote the Goswamis when they rejected the same Goswamis' evidence in 1979?
The Swamiji might wish to enlighten his readers on these various points.
arddha-kukkuti-nyaya -- the logic of accepting half of a hen. (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Adi-lila 5.176, synonyms)
...this is a devotee, that 'I accept everything, whatever you say.' This is devotee, not that I make some amendment and then I accept. And this is nonsense. You cannot... This is called arddha-kukkuti-nyaya. Arddha-kukkuti-nyaya means one man was keeping a hen, and it was delivering every day a golden egg. So the man thought, 'It is very profitable, but it is expensive to feed this hen. Better cut the head so I shall save the expenditure of feeding her, and I'll get the eggs without charge.' So these rascals, they take, accept sastras like that. 'Oh, this is not...that is very expensive. Cut this portion.' And when Krishna says that 'anyone who sees Me in everyone,' 'Oh, that is very palatable.' And when Krishna says, 'You give up everything, you surrender...' 'Oh, that is not palatable.' And this is arddha-kukkuti-nyaya. I accept things which are very favorable to my understanding, and other things I reject. This is called arddha-kukkuti-nyaya. So people accept sastras in that way, the mayavadis... (Srila Prabhupada lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.1.22, Indore, India, 13th December 1970)
The Swamiji tries to establish his theory by accusing the ritvik philosophers, as he calls them, of distorting evidence and incomplete presentation of evidence. However, every Vaishnava and various acaryas have partially quoted various scriptural texts to establish their points. There is nothing wrong with that. It is the established norm of Vedic tradition. Srila Prabhupada quotes and cites from various Vedic literatures without giving the entire chapter or every single other verse associated with the specific verse quoted.
For example, Srila Prabhupada often quotes brief aphorisms (sutras) from the Brahma-sutras or Vedanta-sutras to establish certain philosophical points. However, according to the logic employed by the Swamiji, was Srila Prabhupada using incomplete presentation of the evidence because he did not directly give every single Sanskrit quote and the long Sanskrit prose explanations that the previous acaryas like Sri Ramanuja Acarya, Madhvacarya, and Baladeva Vidyabhusana have given on the commentaries on these specific aphorisms? How would Prabhupada have ever been able to produce any purports or commentaries if he had followed the Swamiji's illogical premise?
The various authors of the papers mentioned have not avoided the entire conversations, but they have pointed out and cited the most essential features of the talks with His Divine Grace in a systematic chronological fashion. However, as shown earlier, the Swamiji and his colleagues have systematically avoided a large portion of the conversations with Srila Prabhupada, after suppressing them for so many years. And they, the Swamiji and his predecessors, have carefully and systematically avoided any discussion of the 9th of July letter and the related arguments as well as any post June 1977 discussion. And when they finally attempt to quote, they follow a pattern:
1) of distortion,
2) incomplete and partial citation and quotations whenever it suits them,
3) and complete avoidance of any post June 1977 statements by His Divine Grace, since they categorically contradict the GBC guru appointment myth.
Let us show one example of such a blatant distortion. On page 2 of his booklet, the Swamiji discusses the topic of maha-bhagavata guru. He states that ritvik proponents argue that a guru must be an uttama-adhikari, maha-bhagavata, or pure devotee in order to deliver transcendental knowledge and thus be an initiator. The intricacies of the argument go beyond the scope of this paper...
Why do the arguments go beyond the scope of this paper? Why is it that the Swamiji cannot deal with the argument(s)?
Prabhupada said that one should accept an uttama-adhikari spiritual master (Nectar of Instruction text 5, CCML 24.330), not us. There are numerous quotes in Srila Prabhupada's teachings and books indicating that a person initiating should be an uttama-adhikari and a maha-bhagavata. The ritvik philosophers did not invent that. Srila Prabhupada himself made those statements.
Minimum qualification and maximum puja (often accompanied with maximum money grab) is not the essence of Srila Prabhupada's teachings.
It is not that it is desirable to accept an uttama-adhikari, maha-bhagavata spiritual master; one must, according to Srila Prabhupada.
There is a clear difference in the scriptures between what one MUST DO and what one may do as a second-best alternative.
What one must do is accept an uttama-adhikari, fully liberated, completely perfect pure devotee.
The emergency argument is always brought up to justify the appointment myth and the concoction; however, Srila Prabhupada himself did not bring up this argument of emergency in his last days in 1977.
There is another crucial point which the Swamiji deliberately avoids: who claimed to have been appointed as an uttama-adhikari guru pure devotee in the first place? The GBC and its appointed gurus!
Results of too much lying propaganda.
...And by too much lying propaganda, truthfulness is destroyed. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.17)
...If a brahmana is not truthful, all his claims as a brahmana at once become null and void... (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.17.41)
Another example of the Swamiji's pattern of misrepresentation is found on page 22 of his essay.
Swamiji's misleading statements: ...'Become' concludes with the following words. If there is some Mahabhagavata, self-realized, self-effulgent, pure devotee, then let him or his disciples indicate his existence for the benefit of future generations.
Become's actual statement: ...if there is some other Mahabhagavata, self-realized, self-effulgent, pure devotee who has perfectly followed the order of the spiritual master (in keeping with the standard needed to continue the parampara), then let him or his disciples indicate his existence for the benefit of future generations...
Any discerning reader will notice the omission of the words who has perfectly followed the order of the spiritual master (in keeping with the standard needed to continue the parampara). Why is the Swamiji omitting this section of the conversation? Is it too embarrassing for him to deal with the statement who has perfectly followed the order of the spiritual master? Is there anything in the Swamiji's line of thinking and argumentation as well as the history of behaviors of many members of the guru appointment myth supporters which, when closely examined, would reveal something less than perfectly following the order of the spiritual master? I wonder why the Swamiji has not come up with one credible, consistent explanation of the long list of less-than- perfect behaviors (many still ongoing) and activities of many of the past and current members and supporters of the appointed guru theorist party? How can the speculators of the appointment myth equate deviating from the order of the Acarya, Srila Prabhupada, and the numerous deviant and questionable behaviors from the GBCs and gurus, with strictly following the orders of the Acarya?
But who ever came up with the idea of declaring themselves as pure devotees, self-realized souls, and liberated souls in the first place (appointed liberated souls!) after the departure of Srila Prabhupada? Who came up with the idea of allowing themselves to be worshipped on the same level of Srila Prabhupada in front of His Divine Grace after he departed? Who declared themselves the liberated pure devotees, or allowed others to claim this on their behalf after Prabhupada departed? Who declared themselves to be liberated appointed pure devotees? Are these questions too embarrassing for the Swamiji and his guru appointment theorists to deal with? Certainly not for the authors of the papers mentioned above. They have openly and publicly discussed their convictions and realizations. Why are the Swamiji and his ideological colleagues avoiding the hundreds of valid points and arguments and legitimate questions which have been made in these and other literatures?
The Swamiji also criticized the idea that Srila Prabhupada wanted that the GBC should work together and who would be qualified to be actual acarya would come out gradually, i.e., self-effulgent acarya. In the meantime, initiations should have been carried out as Srila Prabhupada ordered, through the system of officiating acaryas or ritvik acaryas.
Where did this idea of a self-effulgent acarya come from? I mean, where is this spoken of? Did we invent this, or did Srila Prabhupada refer to this? Srila Prabhupada referred to this exact idea in his Caitanya-caritamrta purports. Srila Prabhupada states that a bona fide self-effulgent acarya is not subject to mundane votes.
...Bhaktivinoda Thakura therefore says that such a pseudo- Vaishnava is not a Vaishnava at all but a disciple of Kali-yuga. A disciple of Kali cannot become an acarya by the decision of some high court. Mundane votes have no jurisdiction to elect a Vaishnava acarya. A Vaishnava acarya is self-effulgent, and there is no need for any high court judgment... (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya-lila 1.220)
...Still he [HDG BSSTP] requested his disciples to form a strong governing body for preaching the cult of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He never recommended anyone to be acarya of the Gaudiya Matha. But ..... Maharaja is responsible for disobeying this order of Guru Maharaja, and he and others who are already dead unnecessarily thought that there must be one acarya. If Guru Maharaja could have seen someone who was qualified at that time to be acarya he would have mentioned. Because on the night before he passed away, he talked of so many things, but never mentioned an acarya. His idea was acarya was not to be nominated amongst the governing body. He said openly you make a GBC and conduct the mission. So his idea was amongst the members of the GBC who would come out successful and self-effulgent acarya would be automatically selected...We may not make the same mistake in our Iskcon camp... (Srila Prabhupada letter to Rupanuga, 28th April 1974)
Thus, the whole idea of a self-effulgent acarya (or acaryas) eventually manifesting by his or their purity and his or their preaching accomplishment(s) and working in cooperation with other Godbrothers is perfectly bona fide according to Srila Prabhupada.
What is very interesting about the Swamiji's quote about liberation, ...and as soon as he thinks that he is liberated, he is a rascal..., is the rest of the conversation. As previously stated, it is an historical fact that the various members of the GBC and the gurus themselves made society-wide propaganda after the departure of Srila Prabhupada to the effect that they were pure devotees, that they were uttama-adhikaris, that they were liberated souls, etc. So if any adjective such as rascal is to be applied, the Swamiji should use the utmost precaution in which direction he is shooting his arrows. He may not want any boomerang effect.
The actual section of the conversation with Srila Prabhupada (about only a rascal claims to be liberated) deals with the breakdown of the Gaudiya Matha institution. Why did the Swamiji avoid this part of the conversation?
...Why Caitanya Mahaprabhu says guru more murkha dekhi karila sasana? This is sahajiya vada. He is thinking, 'Oh, I have become liberated. I don't require any direction of my guru. I'm liberated.' Then he is a rascal. Why this Gaudiya Matha failed? Because they tried to become more than guru. He, [HDG BSSTP] before his passing away he gave all direction and he never said that 'this man should be the next acarya.' But these people, just after his passing away, they began to fight, who shall be acarya. That is the failure. They never thought, 'Why Guru Maharaja gave us instruction so many things, why he did not say that this man should be acarya?' They wanted to create artificially somebody acarya and everything failed. They did not consider even with common sense that if Guru Maharaja wanted to appoint somebody as acarya, why he did not say? He said so many things, and this point he missed? The real point? And they insisted upon it. Then declared some unfit person to become acarya. Then another man came, then another acarya, another acarya. So better to remain a foolish person perpetually to be directed by Guru Maharaja. That is perfection. And as soon as he learns that Guru Maharaja is dead, 'Now I am so advanced that I can kill my guru and I become guru.' Then he is finished... (Srila Prabhupada conversation, Bombay, August 16th 1976, Volume 26, page 59)
The similarities between the post-1937 self-appointed acarya party of the Gaudiya Matha referred to by Srila Prabhupada and the post-1977 GBC rubber stamp appointed paramahamsa assembly line program are too blatant to ignore. Srila Prabhupada sharply criticized the deviant mentality of artificially assuming the position of acarya without authority. He compares it to guru killing or killing the availability of the pure devotee acarya.
If the appointment was so clear, why was there so much confusion among the GBC even at Mayapura in March of 1978? Why did the GBC go to consult higher authorities to come up with their concoction of an acarya appointment? Did the highest authority in the movement, Srila Prabhupada himself, forget to tell his disciples that there were higher authorities than him to be consulted?
How did the entire GBC ever get the idea that Prabhupada appointed diksa gurus in July of 1977, since there is no mention whatsoever of any appointment of diksa gurus in any of these conversations. The only choice or selection that was there was one of ritvik acarya or representatives of the acarya.
Why does the Swamiji avoid the July 9th 1977 letter and any conversation after that point? If he is so confident of his appointment theory, why is it that the so-called appointment of diksa guru is not mentioned in this letter? There is no reference whatsoever of a guru appointment or any individual to automatically become independent full-fledged acarya in this letter.
Why do the Swamiji, the Iskcon Journal, and every single writer and supporter of the GBC appointment theory avoid dealing with this letter and the subsequent statements by Srila Prabhupada? Their version of the truth stops on the 28th of May 1977. None of them can deal with Srila Prabhupada's statements after that date. The reason is simple: because Srila Prabhupada had no interest in a Gaudiya Matha part 2 guru appointment program for his movement.
They accuse the proponents of the original ritvik acarya system recommended by Srila Prabhupada of distortion and partial citations, but he does this all over his essay!
He quotes the he is a rascal statement of the 16th of August 1976 to prove that no one should ask who is liberated but, almost in an amnestic state, he conveniently forgets to tell his readers who claimed to have been pure devotee uttama-adhikari liberated souls in the first place (the GBC and the original self-appointed guru theorists). This outlandish claim was summarized by one GBC appointed guru supporter, stated in a lecture in the Los Angeles temple in 1978, almost screaming at the top of his voice: ...Don't you ever think that these eleven appointed gurus are not pure devotees!!!
The Swamiji should go back to the drawing board and carefully examine the pramanas or evidences for his acarya appointment theory, as well as deal in detail with the numerous points and unanswered questions which have been raised in the various publications cited or referred to such as Our Living Guru, The Betrayal, Srila Prabhupada, His Movement and You, Become Srila Prabhupada's Disciple, etc. The behavior of a Vaishnava acarya cannot be separated from his speech or his words.
If the Swamiji is so convinced of the soundness and logic of his acarya appointment theory, why did he not show up and collect his $108,000.00 dollars [US] [35 lakhs of rupees] last year in Vrindavana on November 16th 1993 when he and the other GBCs were challenged to prove his theory in public, not just behind the confines of his computer? No, in public, prove when and where did Srila Prabhupada specifically, directly, in writing appoint these eleven as diksa gurus or as independent full-fledged acaryas. The Swamiji's essay is full of speculations and unproven assumptions and he, like others, cannot deal with the 9th of July 1977 letter and the subsequent statements by Srila Prabhupada confirming the intent of Srila Prabhupada's letter.
But a madhyama can do it!
The Swamiji never even quotes the second part of the famous madhyama quote: but...the disciples cannot advance very well towards the ultimate goal of life under his insufficient guidance... Why is it that every single defender of the guru (madhyama) physicality avoids this part of the quote? Do they really tell their followers and disciples about this part of the quote? If they do, why do they avoid this crucial portion in their writings? Do they really explain this important part of the purport to their followers? If the madhyama cannot provide sufficient guidance according to Srila prabhupada, then who will? We state that Srila Prabhupada does and still provides proper guidance even today, and he should be emphasized as the actual current Acarya that everyone should take shelter of.
Mythology part 2.
It is also noteworthy that one of the primary propagandists of the unauthorized acarya appointment theory summarized his recollections of the so-called appointment of 28th of May 1977.
Tkg: ...If it had been anything more than that [the selection of ritvik acaryas or officiating priests], you can bet your bottom dollar that Prabhupada would have spoken for days and hours and weeks on end about how to set up this thing with the gurus, but he did not, because he had already said it a million times, 'My Guru Maharaja did not appoint anyone...' We made a big mistake [claiming that they had been appointed as gurus!].
Actually Prabhupada NEVER APPOINTED ANY GURUS. He appointed eleven ritviks. He never appointed them gurus. Myself and the other GBC have done the GREATEST DISSERVICE TO THIS MOVEMENT THE LAST THREE YEARS [1977-1980] because we interpreted the appointment of ritviks as the appointment of gurus...
You cannot show me anything on tape or in writing where Prabhupada says: 'I appointment these eleven as gurus.' It does not exist because he never appointed any gurus. This is a MYTH... (Tkg: Topanga Canyon, California, December 1980)
The Swamiji and his ideological supporters would do well to explain their rejection of the above-mentioned pramanas before they proceed any further with any sort of argument to revive their appointment myth. If a spiritual master
1) rejects the authority of the sastras with the 'sastras are inconclusive in themselves philosophy
2) deliberately suppresses the letters of Srila Prabhupada
3) rejects the authority of the Goswamis' statements on the basis that it is not in Prabhupada's books, then subsequently tries to quote the same Goswami sastras to support his theory
4) changes the sacred Bhagavad-gita purports of the Acarya, Srila Prabhupada, then what kind of spiritual master is he? Does he truly represent the pure and original teachings of the Sampradaya Acarya, Srila Prabhupada? We suggest that such a guru does not represent the original acarya and any devotee should exercise utmost caution about hearing from such a person.
Personal realization does not mean that one should attempt to show the vanity of one's own learning trying to surpass the previous acarya...the original purpose of the text must be maintained. No interesting meaning shall be screwed out of it and yet it may be presented in an appreciable manner for the understanding of the audience. This is called realization. The leader of the assembly Saunaka could just estimate the value of the speaker Sri Suta Goswami simply by his uttering yatha dhitam and yathamatih and therefore he was very glad to congratulate him in ecstasy. NO LEARNED MAN MAY BE WILLING TO HEAR A PERSON WHO DOES NOT REPRESENT THE ORIGINAL ACARYA...
(Srila Prabhupada purports on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.4.1)
Srila Prabhupada has given clear warnings about the position of so-called spiritual masters who do not speak according to the revealed scriptures, what to speak of those who erroneously conclude that the sastras are inconclusive. Srila Narottama Dasa Thakura says, sadhu sastra guru vakya cittete kariya aikya. 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... (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 20.352)
Sastra has to be understood for its practical application according to the order of the Sampradaya Acarya, Srila Prabhupada. Thus, it is the duty of Srila Prabhupada's disciples to act as humble ritvik representatives of the actual Acarya, Srila Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada is the actual current link and actual authority for the true followers of the Krsna Consciousness movement.
All Glories to Srila Prabhupada, the real Acarya for the golden age.
Nama Om Vishnu Padaya Krsna presthaya bhutale
Srimate Bhaktivedanta Swamin iti namine
Namaste Sarasvate deve Gauravani pracarine
Nirvisesa sunyavadi pascatya Desatarine
Sri Krsna Caitanya Prabhu Nityananda
Sri Advaita Gadadhara Srivasa adi gaura Bhakta Vrnda
Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
Completed on the full moon of the month of Kartikka. Auspicious appearance day of Sri Nimbarkacarya - Purnima - Full Moon. Sri Krsna-Rasayatra. Marriage of Srimati Tulasi Devi and Sri Salagrama. (Thursday, 17th of November 1994)