Challenging the Zonal Acarya System, Part 11

BY: SUN EDITORS - 19.5 2023

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The qualifications of the uttama adhikari are mentioned in the Nectar of Devotion. The new gurus seem to concede that they are not on this platform of realization.

"Yes, the guru has to prove himself by his actions. But even if we perfectly behave, we still cannot live up to everything immediately which you may find in the books."

Satsvarupa Maharaj to Giriraj Swami

"We have not great qualifications, but we are sincerely trying to follow Srila Prabhupada's instructions."

Satsvarupa Maharaj to Pradyumna Prabhu

"Who claims to be uttama adhikari? He may be anything. We are concerned with preaching. Preaching means madhyama adhikari, second-class devotees. We are not concerned with uttama adhikari at this point."

Hansadutta Swami to Giriraj Swami


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Appointment to the post of guru is always bonafide, but it does not automatically mean that the appointed person is a paramahamsa or an uttama adhikari. Still, one sannyasi has openly voiced his opinion in the matter, "Other GBCs will fall away. The gurus will never fall. They are paramahamsas." In Sanskrit, there are the terms anukarana (imitation) and anusarana (following). The new gurus are dutybound to act on their own platform of realization only, and not imitate. We can see no advantage for one of Prabhupada's initiated disciples to be artificially encouraged into thinking that these new gurus are on a platform which they are not, unless all of the symptoms are clearly displayed. A Vaisnava situated on the intermediate platform can accept disciples. Yet Prabhupada comments in this regard, "It should be understood that they cannot advance very well toward the ultimate goal of life under his insufficient guidance." [-->]

Sastra informs us that a guru is not automatically liberated; the madhyama-guru can fall down. Why should anyone be encouraged to indulge in any imposition consciousness? For the disciples of these new gurus, that is one thing. In Hari NamaCintamani, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura describes how unfortunate it is for a disciple if his madhyama guru becomes victimized by the material energy. Prabhupada has said, "The trouble with the Gaudiya Math is that they tried to make a perfect man." One does not become jagat-guru in this way. The status of the guru is based on his spiritual prowess, his knowledge and realization. Sridhar Swami has emphasized the main qualification as his sincerity.

"I have felt I have got relief. With good will, I shall offer it to another person. You just do it. From there it may begin. And then it will go on. We are also doing in our own way; what little service we do for the society. And Swami Maharaj (His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada) has also done. But he has done like an ocean. And we are like so many ponds. But still we must go on."

Sridhar Swami has also said recently that any ulterior motive on the part of the madhyama-guru cuts his connection with the spiritual authority. Srila Prabhupada is judging our sincerity, our honesty. He told his Godbrothers that imitation produces failure only.

The Catholics believe in the dogma of papal infallibility. They accept that a man who eats slaughtered animals only utters truth when he speaks on the basis of his appointment. We are not implying that any of the new gurus are doing that. But our point is that the concept of papal infallibility cannot be applied in the Vedic system to one's Godbrother. Godbrothers are in a position to consider the new guru's standard. "Because the madhyama-guru has some upadhi (designation) is he acting according to the restrictions of his post? Is he manifesting his inner feeling of renunciating for the post?" A real madhyama-guru desires to increase his realization via his appointment opportunity. He welcomes constructive, authoritative criticism from his Godbrothers. On one hand, the new gurus seem to be up front about their status of realization. But, then again, there is also ambiguity.


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"In ISKCON in the West we are emphasizing more the absolute position of the guru, rather than his equalization with all the Godbrothers."

Satsvarupa Maharaj to Pradyumna Prabhu

"(Srila Prabhupada) considered above all, if he could create one pure devotee to carry on the mission, he would feel successful. Now Srila Prabhupada has personally created and appointed eleven men whom he feels are fit to represent the guru parampara, whom he feels are pure devotees of the Lord… Be quiet and follow those who have been recognized by the authority Srila Prabhupada. There is no question of challenging whether they are good or better than Prabhupada. Whether these gurus are more or less perfect is not our business."

Hansadutta Swami to Giriraj Swami