Challenging the Zonal Acarya System, Part 4

BY: SUN EDITORS - 8.5 2023

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The new gurus maintain vehemently that they are keeping Srila Prabhupada in the center. But we have presented some reasons for our not being able to fully accept this assertion. It would be to our advantage not to egotistically reject modern-day examples of how to preserve a sampradaya on a long-term basis. Both the Madhva Sampradaya as well as the Ramanuja Sampradaya are still existing today, after thousands of years, due to their always keeping their founder-acarya exclusively in the center. Even the Catholic Church, as well as the Rama Krishna Mission (which we maintain philosophical differences with), have preserved themselves due mostly to rigid adherence of this principle. [..>]

In none of these sampradayas, religions, or movements will you ever find some representative of the acarya sitting on an elevated seat with regalia. The "Madhvas" sit on a hard wooden board, which is only one inch in height above the floor. The representative of the line is the only person allowed to sit on it. The tapasya required to accomplish the feat (as it is not only hard, but barely leaves enough room to position atop it) alone merits their being called the representative, some say. At any rate, a very similar system is practiced in the Ramanuja line. These lines have preserved even the proper meter in the chanting of the incredibly complicated Sama Veda. They have preserved exactly all of their acarya's teachings. They are the most powerful debators of philosophy in the world. The philosophical expansions of Lord Caitanya's division of the Madhva sampradaya are certainly superior. But it would do well for any of our present gurus to become very well-versed and realized in the philosophy of the Gaudiya sampradaya before entertaining any idea of criticism of these sampradayas and the method they use to preserve their line.

Is not our Srila Prabhupada on an equal level with Madhvacarya and Ramanuja? It has been truthfully stated that he has accomplished more than Jesus Christ in spreading the message of devotion to the Supreme Lord. It is not a fact that his seat is in a noticeably superior position to the asanas of the new gurus. In London, the height is the same. In Bombay, some feel the opulence of the new seat is even greater than Prabhupada's – certainly it vies with it. Other centers have their seats placed away from Srila Prabhupada's so his presence on the vyasasana (remember, dear Godbrothers, that Prabhupada is personally sitting and noticing everything that is going on there) is not as readily discernable. No. Prabhupada is not nearly as much in the center as he was when he was here. One devotee noted his strange experience in this regard, when he visited a large, well-known international center. "I was at the temple and near the front, during the samsara prayers. (The guru for that temple) was leading the Mangala aroti prayers from his vyasasana. I looked back, and a very strange feeling went all throughout my body. Not one person was looking at the Deities. They were all turned toward (this guru) and totally absorbed with his chanting."


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Bhaktivinode Thakur has said that the adi-guru is to always be given the preference. If any of the new gurus want to receive the same, or comparable, respect that Srila Prabhupada received, then they should write a commentary, or at least, a summary, on Vedanta Sutra, as Srila Prabhupada did. Even one non-initiating GBC was told by a disciple of one new guru to chant his (the new guru's) name first in front of the Deities. The present trend shows warning signs that these new gurus are being accepted as comparable to Srila Prabhupada, although none of them dares to claim anywhere near the same philosophical understanding. This may turn our whole movement into a personality cult. There may be some temporary advantage by arranging this movement to run in this manner. It is not such a difficult arrangement to make, considering that a number of these elements had already entered virtually all the devotees' consciousnesses even before Prabhupada disappeared. [..>]

Now is the time to not become victimized by the short-term trap. Prabhupada must be put even more in the center than he was when his vapuh was with us. That Sridhara Swami said the vyasasanas may be a little lower does not mean they must be high. This movement is meant to go for 10,000 years. Prabhupada has said, "My books are more important than me. My movement may even end, but Lord Caitanya's prediction must come true; His movement will sweep across every town and village of the world." It is to our advantage not to endanger the opportunity of being original cogs (under Srila Prabhupada) in Lord Caitanya's machine. Prabhupada must always remain in the center – and it must be always very obvious.

There are many incidents and expressions which clearly indicate to us that Srila Prabhupada is no longer the central pivot of consideration, surrender, and worship in the Hare Krsna Movement. We have detailed some of them. But, of them all, perhaps the most disturbing is the fact that, although it has been fully eighteen months since His Divine Grace left us here in Vrindavana, nothing has been done for the construction of his maha-samadhi. It is being tied up due to financial considerations only. The leaders of this movement control literally millions of dollars, a samadhi fund was created immediately after Srila Prabhupada's disappearance and many devotees immediately sent funds to it, this movement has a number of excellent architects and designers (who also have numerous contacts in this field), yet nothing has been done. There is political quibbling going on about the funding of this glorification to our eternal jagat guru. Money is being kept back. No. We cannot agree with everyone's claims that Srila Prabhupada is remaining in the center. It is talk only.