Challenging the Zonal Acarya System, Part 7

BY: SUN EDITORS - 10.5 2023

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Is sastric authority losing ground in ISKCON? Has the authority of ISKCON now become limited to a particular group of devotees as the all-in-all, with no sastric check and balance system? Even has it come to the point that ISKCON itself is considered to be a group of eleven or twenty-three men only, and not an international body of diverse, devoted individuals, each following the principles of Krsna consciousness to the best of his or her capacity? We ask you to judge the trend by considering the following:

"So for authority on this matter… for us the main thing is the GBC authority. Therefore, we cannot accept everything exactly from the Gaudiya Math, but, rather, whatever is accepted by the GBC."

Satsvarupa Maharaj to Pradyumna Prabhu

"Yes, we gave as many references to the sastra as possible, but ultimately the most convincing consideration was that the gurus were appointed by Srila Prabhupada… Of course, you are making the point that the Godbrothers can view the new guru according to impartial judgement based on the scripture… however, I want to point out that the guru's appointment by Srila Prabhupada is absolute; it is not a matter of rank. No. He is actually guru by virtue of his appointment… Prabhupada's selection is not printed in his books, but it is a demonstration of his personal instruction, and is absolute. This appointment is all-crucial. If you seek to undermine it from the books, you are undermining Srila Prabhupada. If they (the devotees) see senior men turning to the scriptures to doubt whether the guru is bonafide… then the demons will find room to enter."

Satsvarupa Maharaj to Giriraj Swami

Why not approach the proper authority, which is the GBC body… therefore you are proposing to judge everyone. What is your intention? We are concerned with pushing on the principles of Krsna Consciousness. Why are you introducing all of these things (reference to quotes on the stages of qualifications in bhakti directly from Nectar of Devotion). The gurus who have been appointed by Srila Prabhupada are ISKCON (emphasis added). If they are not, who is? If they do not represent ISKCON who will represent ISKCON? Srila Prabhupada's leaves, flowers, and fruits are his appointed men in the position of initiating gurus. You can't separate Srila Prabhupada and his initiating gurus, that is not possible. Impartial judgement means the guru because he's accepted as authority. Now Srila Prabhupada has personally created and appointed eleven men whom he feels are pure devotees of the Lord. Eleven of them (pure devotees) have been left behind to carry on Srila Prabhupada's mission. Isn't this the most glorious achievement of Srila Prabhupada? How can you jump over them? How can you deny them? How can you slight them? The chief actors (of the ISKCON melodrama) are the eleven initiating gurus and GBC. He (Giriraj Swami) has no basis… He's quoting from sastras. It is all nonsense.


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If he is quoting from sastra, that means he is setting himself up as guru. I think (emphasis added) that Giriraj is simply on the mental platform without any proper realization. So my reply to his question (another devotee not Giriraj) was that if this is going to become a society of legal proofs, then the entire basis of ISKCON's activities, namely love and trust, is destroyed. It shows a lack of faith in Srila Prabhupada. ISKCON is supposed to be a society based on love and trust… if you start demanding evidences and proofs, then there is no use in having ISKCON. Go home and forget ISKCON. Srila Prabhupada said, "Never mind my books. Now I am present." That was in London, he said, "Now I am here and giving instructions. Why are you quoting my books?" So Giriraj repeating Prabhupada in this way is not at all proper (Giriraj said that Prabhupada's most important function to his disciples was through Prabhupada's books.) You make many references, but there are no facts to support your statements. Where are the facts?"

Hansadutta Swami to Giriraj Swami

It is particularly disturbing in this connection for us to actually hear that the books are no longer considered the basis of authority. Simply these appointments are becoming the only consideration. One new guru has asserted, "For my service, I do not require to study all of the books." And one sannyasi has stunned everyone with his frank analysis, "You may find so many meanings of a paramahamsa in the books, but ultimately no one knows what it means. So in this issue (the new gurus process), I don't think there is any need to consult sastra." A number of initiated disciples of Srila Prabhupada have heard more than once from leaders the reason why they must simply accept: "You cannot understand Prabhupada's books."