Friday, June 2, 2017

Baseless Rubber Stamp of Guru System

Baseless Rubber-stamping System


The GBC rubber-stamping of gurus is problematic in many ways. The prospective disciple is supposed to take responsibility for choosing a guru, but the GBC has decided that devotees are not qualified to freely choose a guru. Instead they say that they are better qualified to decide who can be a guru. So the GBC creates a list and tells devotees that they can only take initiation from someone on the list.

The GBC then admits that it doesn't know who is genuinely qualified to initiate, instead it gives "no objection" approval. So they tell us they are not responsible for the gurus that THEY have chosen. In other words, WE have to take responsibility for choosing a guru from THEIR list, even though we may be inspired by someone not on the list.

What makes matters worse, the voting system for authorising diksa-gurus in ISKCON is open to abuse and political manipulation. Where is the justification for this voting system? The GBC attempts to justify the system in the 2017 GBC Resolutions. However, they do not provide a single instance of Srila Prabhupada approving of a guru voting system. Instead they provide a quote that suggests an exam-based system:

"Next January there will be an examination on this Bhagavad-gita. Papers will be sent by me to all centers, and those securing the minimum passing grade will be given the title as Bhakti-sastri. Similarly, another examination will be held on Lord Caitanya's Appearance Day in February, 1970 and it will be upon Srimad-Bhagavatam and Bhagavad-gita. Those passing will get the title of Bhakti-vaibhava. Another examination will be held sometimes in 1971 on the four books, Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, Teachings of Lord Caitanya, and Nectar of Devotion. One who will pass this examination will be awarded with the title of Bhaktivedanta.

I want that all of my spiritual sons and daughters will inherit this title of Bhaktivedanta, so that the family transcendental diploma will continue through the generations. Those possessing the title of Bhaktivedanta will be allowed to initiate disciples. Maybe by 1975, all of my disciples will be allowed to initiate and increase the numbers of the generations. That is my program. So we should not simply publish these books for reading by outsiders, but our students must be well versed in all of our books so that we can be prepared to defeat all opposing parties in the matter of self-realization."
(Letter to Hansadutta -- Los Angeles 3 January, 1969)

In the course of Srila Prabhupada's preaching mission he did not, to my knowledge, re-affirm this exam-based system. So there is little reason to think that this was Prabhupada's desire before his departure in 1977. But one may ask why it is that the GBC prefer a voting system to an exam-based system? The case for a voting system is even weaker that the case for an exam-based system.

It is not possible to accurately determine a devotee's level of self-realisation, but as far as observable qualities go, a diksa-guru should exhibit good character, have good sadhana, be a potent preacher and have good sastric knowledge. The problem is that based on those criteria there are devotees in ISKCON who surpass some of the existing gurus, and yet they are not authorised to initiate. There is no justification for blocking devotees that appear to be more qualified than many diksa-gurus.

The voting system supports the GBC oligarchy and ensures that the GBC remains in complete control. In contrast, an exam-based system is closer to a meritocracy and would lead to a redistribution of power. Perhaps that is why the GBC prefers a voting system.

The number of diksa-gurus has not increased over the years, many disciples receive insufficient guidance from their guru, and many gurus express their inability to properly take care of their disciples. Under those circumstances, one wonders for how long the GBC can continue to run this system?

[PADA: Right, a devotee who passes an exam might be a guru, but what kind of guru? He would only be a priest type guru since Prabhupada also says the neophytes cannot be diksha gurus and absorb sins. ys pd]

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.