GBC Founder Acarya Paper Misrepresents Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura
BY: KRISHNA DASA
The GBC paper, Srila Prabhupada: The Founder Acarya of ISKCON, is misleading. It portrays Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura as being in favour of a permanent GBC management system and opposed to an autocratic acarya management system. Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu writes:
"Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami therefore called for an organization in which the ultimate authority would reside not in the person of a single autocratic acarya but rather in a board of directors, which he called the "Governing Body Commission." The Gaudiya Maṭha failed to realize this structure...."
[PADA: The Gaudiya Matha and Ravindra Swarupa's program have done the same identical thing, they both "appointed / voted in" false gurus. ISKCON has had no actual "Governing Body" since December 1977, rather they established "the acharya board" in January of 1978 and ISKCON is still ruled by these "gurus" and not by a GBC. Examples of their renegade gurus are all too common for us to make a list here. Simultaneously, the leaders forbade the worship of Srila Prabhupada as the acharya, and they began to claim to be diksha guru acharyas themselves, and they started a program to offer bhogha to conditioned souls and etc. -- which is still going on today.
A Governing Body also does not manage gurus?
The guru is supposed to be receiving dictation from Krishna, not from a managerial body? This would be like saying the Council of Churches has to advise Jesus, that is not how it works. In ISKCON quite often these "gurus" simply do not listen to other leaders anyway. Does Hrdayananda listen to the other leaders now? Nope. And so on and so forth!
These gurus often tell "the other leaders" to take a flying hike, while saying -- we are higher than the GBC because we are "gurus," and the guru is beyond the control of managers -- or a GBC. OK this is why we have a basic situation of anarchy, where there is no actual authority. Rather there is rampant mis-managing because no one can "manage" a pack of renegade self-made messiahs.]
This is only part of the story, however. In a room conversation Srila Prabhupada explained:
"None, none of them were advised by Guru Maharaja to become acarya. His idea was "Let them manage; then whoever will be actual qualified for becoming acarya, they will elect. Why I should enforce upon them?" That was his plan. "Let them manage by strong governing body, as it is going on. Then acarya will come by his qualifications." But they wanted that... Because at heart, they were, "After demise of Guru, I shall become acarya." "I shall become acarya." So all the acaryas began to fight. " (Room Conversation, 21st September, 1974)
[PADA: At heart they were envious of the acharya, and they wanted to take his seat. That sums up the whole problem quite nicely.]
Also, in a letter to Rupanuga, Srila Prabhupada wrote:
"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 GBC who would come out successful and self-effulgent acarya would be automatically selected. So Sridhara Maharaja and his two associate gentlemen unauthorizedly selected one acarya and later it proved a failure." (Letter to Rupanuga, 28th April, 1974)
In the letter, Srila Prabhupada is indicating that if there had been a qualified disciple then Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura would have chosen him as acarya. He therefore favoured the acarya system.
[PADA: Correct, the "acharya system" is, to continue the worship of the acharya even after he departs, until or unless another acharya emerges.]
Also, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura's idea was that after a GBC was formed a self-effulgent acarya would emerge automatically. It is therefore not the case that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura was against replacing a Gaudiya Matha GBC with a self-effulgent acarya. In the case of ISKCON, however, Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu IS against replacing the GBC with a self-effulgent acarya:
"It is interesting to note that two prominent anti-ISKCON movements — often claiming to be the "real ISKCON"—have formed by specific rejection of one or the other component of Prabhupada's whole: the "ritvik" position wishes to do away with actual gurus in favor of GBC institutional authority, while the followers of one prominent sannyasi or another wish to eliminate an actual GBC and rely on the charismatic, autocratic single acarya."
Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu wants us to believe that both Srila Prabhupada and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura desired to permanently do away with the acarya system of management. He believes that the GBC management system is stronger, and that self-effulgent acaryas should serve the GBC:
"Thus a governing board is more stable, stronger and far more resilient than a single acarya. But what if there are a number of exceptionally empowered—let's call them "self-effulgent"— acaryas on that board? Will they pull things apart? No: If they are indeed elevated in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, then they will be certain to exemplify the principle of cooperative service at the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupāda and make the governing board all the stronger."
To my knowledge, Srila Prabhupada did not discuss how the GBC should interact with a self-effulgent acarya. Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu claims the acarya should slot into the GBC system, but several senior Srila Prabhupada disciples have correctly said that the GBC should surrender to the acarya:
"It may be said that at times the GBC has made the wrong decision. I cannot see that Srila Prabhupada ever said the GBC system would always yield a perfect result. He simply said that the considered opinion of a number of senior persons is preferable to the decision of one appointed leader (unless the one person happens to be the "self-effulgent acarya" who might arise out of the collective leadership, freely recognized by all)." (Drutakarma Prabhu)
"If the GBC Body sees someone as a self-effulgent acarya who is completely aware of the Supersoul and Srila Prabhupada's desires and instructions they can and should follow his/her instructions. No one so far has been seen in that category." (Prahladananda Swami)
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, in contrast to Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu, was not pre-occupied with creating a permanent GBC management system. In fact, he considered organized religion to be the end of the living spiritual movement:
"The bona-fide teacher of religion is neither any product of, nor the favourer of, any mechanical system. In his hands no system has likewise the chance of denigrating into a lifeless arrangement. The mere pursuit of fixed doctrines and fixed liturgies cannot hold a person to the true spirit of doctrine or liturgy.
"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 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."
(Killing of Putana, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura).
Also, if Acyutananda Prabhu is a reliable source, Srila Prabhupada viewed ISKCON as an instrument that could be dissolved if necessary:
"Regarding sects - I was present (at 26 2nd Ave.) when Srila Prabhupada received the documents that certified ISKCON as a registered, tax-exempt society. 'We are not attached to any organization,' he said. 'It is an instrument we will use and if it becomes troublesome we will dissolve it and go on chanting Hare Krsna.'" (Acyutananda dasa, letter to Gaudiya 1994)
It is natural that the GBC should try to strengthen its position by claiming that self-effulgent acaryas must fit into the GBC management structure. The Ritviks have done the same thing. In "The Final Order" they say:
"Some have argued that acaryas have the power to change things, and thus a new one could alter the ṛtvik system within ISKCON. But would an authorised acarya ever contradict the direct orders left by a previous acarya to his followers? To do so would surely undermine the authority of the previous acarya. It would certainly cause confusion and bewilderment for those followers faced with the tortuous choice of whose order to follow."
The Ritviks don't want to accept the obvious fact that Srila Prabhupada has the freedom to give new orders at any time, and he has the power to dispel confusion. It is not that because Srila Prabhupada has entered samadhi he is no longer able to appoint a diksa guru. There is nothing final about Srila Prabhupada's written instructions about initiation.The Final Order should be re-named "The Final Pre-samadhi Order."
[PADA: Correction, only some ritviks do not think there cannot be another acharya in ISKCON, we think there could be if Krishna desires that. Anyway, what exactly should be done after the acharya departs? This is the main problem with some of these types of folks is, they condemn the GBC guru program, but then do not show us what alternate system should be in place now? All kinds of people attack PADA as well -- for all sorts of reasons, which is fine, but what else should have been done? And outside our alternate "ritvik" program, what else is being done?
The ritvik (priests) and Governing Body program means, we would have a system of managers and priests (like a church) and they would cooperatively operate the religion, just like "Church Councils," a committee of elders, and senior advisors manage the Christian's programs. We know many Christian churches that operate on this principle and things work out nicely. We also have some ritvik temples that are operating nicely. Simply stated, there is no order to manufacture a bunch of false messiahs after Srila Prabhupada departs. And apart, from our idea of making Srila Prabhupada the acharya by cooperation with his other followers, there is no other meaningful plan in operation.]
The GBC approved Founder-Acarya paper, like The Final Order, is institutionally motivated. Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu attempts to strengthen the GBC position by portraying the GBC as an entity that should exist permanently, and on a level beyond the interference of self-effulgent acaryas. This, he claims, is the fulfillment of the desire of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. He has, however, falsely portrayed Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, and contradicted several of his godbrothers.
[PADA: The "ISKCON Reform Movement" or IRM (aka Krishnakant Desai and Yaduraja das) made an error when they said that there cannot be any future pure devotees giving diksha in ISKCON, or giving diksha anywhere else. The IRM is not in charge of what pure devotees do -- or do not do. The IRM also opposed us on the poison issue, saying they are "going to war with PADA over the poison issue."
Except, they forgot, they went to war against Srila Prabhupada's statements, not mine. The IRM lost most of their senior members at that time, they defected over to help PADA. How did you guess, the IRM also told us not to work with Hansadutta to get the original books lawsuit settled, they did not even want original books!
The IRM also said that the suicides of ex-kuli children problem should not have been resolved by PADA. They actually thought that having an increase of victim's suicides was the best plan going forward, and they wrote that in public: "PADA is wrong" to save the ISKCON children from dying. OK wait a minute, if we have a continued increase in suicides, that story will also eventually explode in our faces, and it will be in all the public news medias anyway? Never mind that, its always good idea to save Srila Prabhupada's children's lives if we can -- in any case.
This merely exposed that the IRM has the exact same "head in the sand mentality" as the bogus GBC gurus, just allow the suicides to become worse, and worry about the inevitable bad media publicity explosion "later." This is called crisis managing, they wait for a crisis to explode in their faces, then start to react. OK, GBC management style Part 2.
Its worse than this of course, the IRM and their HKC Jaipur partners at the time in the 1990s were saying these children are useless and need to die, that is exactly how bullies get high school children to commit suicide nowadays. For example, a young woman here recently killed herself -- as it turns out -- and no surprise here -- because the people in her school were saying she was worthless and she does not deserve to live.
And that is EXACTLY what the IRM and their 1990s members of the HKC Jaipur clan were saying at the time about the ISKCON children, they were telling these children they are worthless offenders -- obviously, hoping they would all die. No wonder the karmis had to intervene, these guys would have never fixed this at all, rather they wanted Hitler's "final solution" for these children, let them all die. Then these people wonder why the ex-children are STILL alienated from ISKCON? They are alienated because of you and your anti-children agenda, you alienated them with your high school bully mentality. And these IRM / HKC Jaipur people are thinking they are qualified to select the next management regime for ISKCON? Lets hope not!
Of course our idea not only saved ISKCON from that news story, it saved people's lives. Why is saving people's lives not a good plan? The IRM is upset that a fireman used a hatchet to open the door on the burning house, and they are crying that process ruined the door, but opening the door saved the lives of people inside the house. That means the IRM are more worried about the door than the people inside? Of course the house and the door -- were going to burn down anyway?
So these folks think -- we should not address the poison issue, we should not address the ex-kulis dying issue, we should not make a lawsuit for original books, we should just allow everything to go on as it is? OK, and that is essentially the same as the GBC guru's plan. Or its a worse plan, because even the GBC does not write in public that suicides of children is the "better plan" like the IRM and HKC Jaipur folks are doing all day long. In short, if we are going to fix ISKCON, we need to have a BETTER program that is going to fix ALL the issues, not just the diksha guru issue.
So the IRM vociferously objected in public when we brought out the poison issue, vociferously objected to our original books plan, and then vociferously objected when we helped bring the suicides of ex-kulis problem down to almost nil. And they said simply said we should have let these victims die and "Krishna will sort it out." Where does Krishna say we should allow children to die so He can sort that out? Where does Krishna say we should not object when we find our guru has made a poison complaint?
So this is amazing, when children are dying, we should not help them. And these people think they are better than the GBC? How is this better than the bogus gurus? Even a motorcycle club Hell's Angel rider will try as hard as he can to save a dying child, because he has some sense of integrity, and compassion for other living beings. We need to be more compassionate than the GBC, not less. Of course these people argued, the children have a bad attitude towards Krishna, right, and your saying you want them to all die -- is why!
And now the HKC Jaipur folks have also signed onto this plan, citing the IRM argument that we needed to allow these children to die, they also are infuriated that these children lived -- at all. Some of these folks connected to HKC Jaipur even wrote in public posts that they wanted these children to die en masse in Dallas, and the HKC Jaipur has told us repeatedly they are with this writer's group. These people wrote public documents that they wanted to see a mass blood bath of ISKCON's children in Dallas, and yet they claim to be better than the GBC? So, this is another problem, before we replace the GBC, replace them with whom and with what?
First of all, we need to actually be better than the GBC if we want to replace them with something better. The IRM and HKC Jaipur people saying they want children victims to die is not even what the mundane karmis want, even though karmis eat animals, they do not want to see human children dying like these IRM and HKC people wanted to see ever since the mid 1990s. And this is why the karmis had to save the ISKCON children from these heartless jackals, those who take great delight in the suffering and death of others. More and more people are telling us, these folks are worse than the GBC. Much worse!
Of course how did you guess, the IRM and HKC Jaipur are against the Akshaya Patra program which feeds needy children. Again, children are being helped, and immediately they object. They want children to starve, they want children to die, this means, they are not better than the mess we have already. We need to actually have better compassion for others or else Krishna will not allow us to take over anything, why should Krishna replace Stalin with Pol Pot? Notice, these people claim that they want Hare Krishna to have a better name, but as soon as someone starts Akshaya Patra to give us a good name, they want that stopped. OK, that is the same thinking as the bogus GBC.
This is why many of these ex-kuli victims say to us since the 1990s, these "reform" guys are not much better, or even worse, than the GBC, at least the GBC did not write in public that they wanted us to die en masse? So there are a lot of issues the IRM has mis-understood, which is why they are not being taken very seriously these days, their process is not building programs and temples like others are doing. And since the IRM objected to us saving the kulis, the kulis are not much joining together with them either. A number of ex-children are actually infuriated that these people wanted them to suffer and die, and who can blame them? And now the HKC Jaipur has signed onto this child oppressing agenda, this is going backwards.
It is amazing to us, and to a lot of people including many victims, that a Texas lawyer with snakeskin boots and a bottle of Johnny Walker on his desk has had to save the lives of these children from the clutches of this anti-children agenda. Of course, we also have the same problem with the poison issue, in 1997 some ladies on bikinis took a poison leaflet from me and they were VERY concerned over the poison issue, and they had feelings for Srila Prabhupada and his poison complaint.
Yet the IRM and HKC Jaipur are saying the poison issue is all a pack of PADA lies, so what who cares, lets bury PADA so we can bury the poison issue, and save the deviants -- whom Srila Prabhupada complained were giving him poison. Even these women in bikinis showed more love, concern and compassion for Srila Prabhupada than this lot. So replace the GBC, good idea, replace them with what?, the people who are worse oppressors of children than the GBC, the people who wrote in public that they wanted the ISKCON children to suffer and -- die?
Anyway getting back to the future acharya issue, ISKCON is like a dying cancer patient, why would we not want a future pure devotee to revive it?
Unless a pure devotee comes to revive ISKCON, it might not revive at all. The Bangalore devotees are trying to legally recover the name of ISKCON, and revive the process of worship of the pure devotee and so on, and that is our best bet at the moment to recover the legal name and get back to the program of having Srila Prabhupada worshiped as the acharya of ISKCON. Of course as soon as someone wants to establish the worship of the pure devotee -- all sorts of devious people will come out of the wood work to attack these Bangalore devotees, because they would rather see deviants in the legal Vyasasana seat than having Srila Prabhupada there.
Anyway, since ISKCON is gradually splintering off into all sorts of shell corporations and legal entities that are not ISKCON, what difference does all this make anyway since, ISKCON is disintegrating into many smaller independent charities and shell corporations? Who will be the acharya if ISKCON, when its constantly being dismantled into smaller charities and legal entities, thus making it a sort of mute point? If the legal entity is being dismantled, as it is being done now, gradually there will not even be an ISKCON legal entity over time.
People like Radhanath, Devamrita, and temples in New York, Seattle, Utah, Texas and many others are operating their own charities that are not even ISKCON. So if a pure devotee comes he will operate wherever he can and wherever he wants to, we should not say he will not be welcome in ISKCON, this is foolish since ISKCON needs all the help it can get. And its speculation to say a pure devotee cannot operate in ISKCON, or anywhere else he wants to.
Anyway we have been working all along with a nice group of devotees who want to re-establish Srila Prabhupada as the acharya of ISKCON, and its having some good effect because we keep getting reports of people both inside and outside ISKCON who want to adopt our process of worship of the pure devotee, thus our idea is gaining traction daily, and that's all there is to it.
This writer is not even explaining what process he wants us to follow, no wonder they are not making much impact. Our idea all along is to keep Srila Prabhupada as the acharya of ISKCON, and also he should be the acharya for those outside the official ISKCON, and this idea is moving ahead all along since we started with this in the late 1970s. Why? Because, no one else seems to have a better idea, or better explanation, of what should be done instead of our idea. To sum, Srila Prabhupada will become the acharya of the Hare Krishna religion, whether that is official ISKCON or not, and if a pure devotee comes in the future, Krishna will handle that very expertly, He does not need our advice. ys pd