Challenging the Zonal Acarya System, Part 6

BY: SUN EDITORS - 10.5 2023

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In his declaration of will, dated June, 1977, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada stated that, "The Governing Body Commission (GBC) will be the ultimate managing authority of the entire International Society for Krishna Consciousness." He also declared, just before leaving this planet, "Now it is up to the GBC."

That Srila Prabhupada used the term "managing" authority is significant. The managers are the ksatriyas, the leaders of human civilization. The best system of organization of human society is, according to Vedic philosophy as well as Plato, the system ruled by the benevolent king. For all practical purposes, half of the GBC body is made up of commissioners who are also gurus. All the gurus are also GBCs. Currently, there is the conclusion, held within high regard in this movement, that the authority which regulates how we are to think and act is the GBC only, the essence of them being new gurus, and that there is no authority to consult outside of them. This is a misconception. That Srila Prabhupada has given the GBCs great power and authority, there is no question. But there are other points which must not be lost sight of. What is the authority which governs the GBC? If we conclude that it is simply the GBC, we have moved ourselves into limited circular logic. [..>]

In our Vedic system, the ksatriyas are governed and authorized by higher principles – and the representatives of such higher principles have no reservations to come under the authority of these ksatriyas when they see these principles adhered to. Aside from this consideration, there is always the element of misuse of authority. And that is judged also according to the higher principle. Whenever authority is misused, a hellish situation is created. Philosophical misconceptions run rampant, leading to all kinds of maladies in human society. Even if such misconceptions are discovered, it is not at all easy to reverse whatever trends are established. This is the grave responsibility which falls into the hands of those who are granted any spiritual authority and/or managing authority. And that is what Srila Prabhupada is refering to when he said "Now it's up to the GBCs." Because absolute authority cannot only provide absolute benediction, it can also corrupt absolutely. So we must always be diligently searching to understand and incorporate the higher principles, to find realizations which help us function better and better in society and which allow us more and more


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freedom from the four defects of conditional existence. And nowhere has Srila Prabhupada ever indicated that either the GBCs or the new gurus are beyond the higher principle of authority. That higher principle of authority is known as "guru, sastra, and sadhu."

"Srila Narottama das Thakur advises, 'sadhu-sastra-guru-vakya hrdaye kariya aikya.' The meaning of this instruction is that one must consider the instructions of the sadhu, the revealed scriptures, and the spiritual master in order to understand the real purpose of spiritual life. Neither the sadhu nor the spiritual master says anything beyond the scope of the revealed scriptures. One must act with reference to these three important sources of understanding."

Cc. Madhya 22.153

"One should understand only through the evidence presented by the sastras and mahajans."

Cc. Madhya 6.82

"In the parampara system, the instructions taken from the bonafide spiritual master must also be based on revealed Vedic sastra. One who is in the line of disciplic succession cannot manufacture his own way of behavior."

Cc. Adi 7.48

Of these three (guru, sastra, sadhu), the principle of the sastra is in the superior position. This can be recognized from some study of the just quoted passages. This is further affirmed by Narada Muni in his talks with the Haryasvas:

sastrasya pitur adesam
yo na veda nivartakam

"One takes his second birth by dint of having received instructions in the sastra. Therefore sastra is the real father."

S.B. 6.5.20

And in his books, Srila Prabhupada, our father and also our father's representatives, has affirmed that the sastra we are to accept is not limited to only what he has personally been able to translate for us.

"A teacher must follow the principles of sastra to reach the common man. The teacher cannot manufacture rules against the principles of the revealed scriptures. The revealed sastras, like Manu-samhita and similar others, are considered the standard books to be followed by human society."


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"In the present age, we unnecessarily engage the mind in so many different ways for sense gratification, and so there is no possibility of the mind's becoming satisfied. The best course is to divert the mind to the Vedic literature, which is full of satisfying stories, as in the Puranas and Mahabharata. One can take advantage of this knowledge and thus become purified."

Bg. 17.16

"If one believes in the Vedic literatures, one must accept all the Vedic literatures… But these Mayavadi philosophers accept only nyaya-prasthana and sruti-prasthana, rejecting the Smrti-prasthana… No one can avoid the Personality of Godhead's statements in Bhagavad-Gita and other Vedic literatures such as Mahabharata and the Puranas."

Cc 7.117 Adi

A human may make mistakes, be he an appointed authority, guru, or paramahamsa. Even a paramahamsa can fall down. But there is no such defect in sastra. And one who substantiates and expands his knowledge (and, therefore authority) via sastra can safeguard against error entering his heart, which Bhismadeva, on his deathbed, said is the first malady to enter into society.

"The material defects of mistakes, illusion, cheating, and sensory inefficiency do not exist in the words of sastra."

Cc. Adi 7.107

"The Vedic knowledge is not a compilation of human knowledge. Vedic knowledge comes from the spiritual world, from Lord Krsna."

Isopanisad, Introduction

bhrama pramada vipralipsa karanapatava
isvarera vakye nahi dosa el saba

Anyone who has been given the opportunity by Srila Prabhupada to command authority in ISKCON, must be able to show that all of his decisions are based in the higher principles of sastric knowledge.

"In other words, the spiritual master must also be well-versed and learned so that he may be able to answer all these inquiries from the devotees. Thus one who is not well-versed in the authorized scriptures and not able to answer all such relevant inquiries should not pose as a spiritual master for the matter of material gain."

S.B. 2.8.8