Challenging the Zonal Acarya System, Part 3

BY: SUN EDITORS - 8.5 2023

Page seven


We have just previously quoted certain statements made by either initiating gurus or other leaders of the movement, the gist of them being that everything in regard to this new guru process is being very enthusiastically received. We cannot completely concur with such a "peaches and cream" outlook. We quote the following statements by the gurus to show that something is not tallying in regard to this view.

"You've certainly got everyone thinking about the gurus. You've raised doubts about them and have given reasons and scriptural quotes to substantiate such doubt… Please be cautious about sending so many copies of letters all over the world which tend to incite controversy."

Satsvarupa Maharaj to Giriraj Swami

"(You are) disrupting the entire movement in the middle of the year, when it has been going on peacefully and happily without your opinions. What is the use of this… creating so many doubts? The paper which you issued is causing so much discord and confusion in ISKCON. You have issued a public notice and caused havoc in ISKCON. Now everyone will discuss and give opinions. It has become the topic of parlor conversation for everyone. This statement (has produced) havoc, chaos, and confusion throughout the entire movement. Why is everyone becoming an upstart and issuing his own opinion and disrupting the peace and harmony of Prabhupada's movement? This essay is causing havoc in the society."

Hansadutta Swami to Giriraj Swami

So either everyone of Prabhupada's initiates is not so enthusiastic and pleased with this new guru process and its philosophy or the members of this movement are extremely weak in their understanding of things, so much so that a very humbly-written, inoffensive paper can have the potency to effect the whole movement in such a dramatic way. In either case, it does not speak so well of the new gurus' potency to hold everything together, as Prabhupada with his great spiritual realization of the revealed scriptures did. If the new gurus can really present all the answers, as they indicate, why has such a disruption taken place? Certainly Prabhupada's disciples are not all simply envious rascals who are hungrily waiting for someone to start a controversy. We maintain that this reaction on their part stems from the very valid feelings and thinking processes of the devotees, which were not recognized properly by the gurus when they incorporated this new system.


Page eight


Envy is not the root cause of everyone's dissatisfaction in this matter, although it may certainly be there for some. Instead, many of Prabhupada's disciples are dissatisfied because they are seeing a certain mentality taking hold which they find astounding and unbelievable. They are seeing that Srila Prabhupada is being put into the background instead of remaining as the central focus and pivot. As one sannyasi carelessly quipped, "Let's face it, Prabhupada is dwindling. Prabhupada is getting further and further away." And in another circumstance, one guru blatantly voiced his objectives and mentality when he declared, "When Prabhupada was here, he had his own movement. Now he's gone, and I'm here, and I want my own movement also."

If it has built up to the point that it's even verbalized, we can safely surmise that this way of thought is not just sporadic, but is there, more or less, all throughout the movement. At least it is not being discouraged. In one temple, a particular guru sat on his vyasasana and was totally surrounded in kirtan by all the devotees there. The majority consisted of Prabhupada's disciples. Although the aroti tray for Srila Prabhupada's vyasasana was prepared, everyone became so enamored with the kirtan to the new guru, that nobody remembered to even perform the pujari service for Prabhupada. Instead, due to the angle that the new vyasasana was placed in, a number of Prabhupada's disciples had their backs turned toward their own spiritual master. Actually, this mentality is seeping in everywhere. It isn't even very gradual or subtle. The gurus may say they are not encouraging this. But Srila Prabhupada condemned Guru Maharaji for not stopping his followers in their false claims about his status. [..>]

Those temples are Prabhupada's temples. They are not temples for the new gurus. They are meant for the worship of the installed Deity and Srila Prabhupada. As such, their legacy should be to all of Srila Prabhupada's initiated disciples. The GBC's who have been left with these temples by Srila Prabhupada in his final will should be seeing to this. If the new guru wants exclusive worship, if he wants to be in the center, then why doesn't he elevate his disciples to a platform whereby these disciples may procur a temple for their personal guru? After all, that is what Prabhupada did. Or, at the very least, a separate room within Prabhupada's temple should be arranged. Srila Prabhupada's disciples may be willing to help the disciples develop in initial going, with some awkward compromises, but many of Prabhupada's disciples are not at all inclined to "surrender" to such a situation on any long-term basis. Yet, that is just what was so quickly arranged and is being established. [..>]

Many of the GBCs who now own these temples are also gurus. In any legal or moral system of the world, the question of self-interests would certainly be raised, given the elements of this situation. The train of love and trust does not run on only one track. We will put forward specific ways in which the new gurus may magnanimously display the required spirit of renunciation, so as to properly diffuse this sticky issue.