Challenging the Zonal Acarya System, Part 8

BY: SUN EDITORS - 12.5 2023

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The post of GBC is designed to manage only. Prabhupada has specifically said that preaching is mutually exclusive from it. The post is a service, it is not a spiritual designation. This also applies to the new guru position. The leaders of this movement will certainly be misusing their authority if they neglect to keep everything, all philosophy and all of it's applications, on the sastric standard. The personal representative authority can be rejected, and there are many examples of this in our literatures, such as King Vena and Romaharsana Suta. And even very great souls may be rejected if they neglect to follow the higher principle.

"According to scriptural codes, a teacher who engages in abominable actions and has lost his sense of discrimination is fit to be abandoned. Bhisma and Drona took the side of Duryodhana because of his financial assistance, although they should not have accepted such a position simply on financial considerations. Under the circumstances, they have lost their respectability as teachers."

Bg. 2.5


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The "positive" statements which Srila Prabhupada made concerning the authority of the GBC have been amply cited many times throughout this movement. But there is a flip-side to this authorization issue, and we feel now that there is some need to remind ISKCON about it. In 1971, Srila Prabhupada disbanded the GBC due to their abortive attempt to illegally consolidate authority. Only one year earlier, Prabhupada had thwarted, for similar reasons, certain senior officers, in the process telling them, "You may take ISKCON if that is what you want." We are reminded that Duryodhana became enamored in a similar situation 5,000 years ago, when he chose Krsna's army instead of the real source of power Himself. [..>]

If the GBC is ever-absolute, what about the numerous GBCs who have re-entered the material world since their appointment? Prabhupada wrote in one well-known letter, "GBC, ABC, XYZ, we are all devotees of Krsna." And in another not-so-well-known letter to a former sannyasi of this movement, Srila Prabhupada commented that demons would enter this movement in the future and take advantage of positions of leadership for sense gratification. These statements are in black and white. Prabhupada also once said, "The trouble with the GBC is that they are thinking themselves to be self-realized." [..>]

These rather distasteful examples are not written impishly. They are stated so as to solidify our point – that the personalities who have been assigned positions of authority in the ISKCON movement must always be very careful to see that everything is not only run, but motivated, from the higher principle of authority, the sastra. Over-emphasizing certain statements of Prabhupada which make way for convenient interpretation or disregard for the sastras will lead us not on the path of real progress. And overemphasizing personal instructions or intimate exchanges with Srila Prabhupada as one's personal basis of authority is simply an easy and rather cheap way to afford authority. That all, or at least most, of these intimate authorizations are unverifiable, and can easily be exaggerated or twisted to suit the situation, cannot be denied. It is a fact that the means may justify the end. So ISKCON authorities are particularly obligated to see to it that they are sure of the transcendentally beneficial product in the end when they decide to shift or compromise sastric authority in their means. And this should be rare in occurrence. It should not be applied to this system of the new guru position. We were all attracted to Srila Prabhupada because he never compromised that sastric authority. And he remains forever the authority of this great movement because of it.



Recent statements by the new gurus clearly indicate a consensus on their part that the papers issued by the GBC concerning the new guru process and it's application are final.

"I am not happy to see the same questions being brought up again which I thought were fully established by the GBC paper and by the subsequent months of steady preaching. In fact, I think all of your questions were already adequately answered by the GBC paper."

Satsvarupa Maharaj to Giriraj Swami


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"The matter was already clarified at the GBC meeting and a paper was released on the basis of the discussion with Sridhar Swami. Everything has been clearly defined by Srila Prabhupada and the GBC at the Mayapur meeting."

Hansadutta Swami to Giriraj Swami

This indicates a consciousness that there is no evolution toward perfection to be reached. The implication is that the perfect system has been already designed and incorporated. This is totally in conflict with the mood of Sridhar Swami during its formulation.

"We cannot reach any particular solution as all complete and perfect. It is not given by Him in that way. We have to march on and on without thinking any finish, any limit, any final solution. That is impossible. Still we must go on and on. Hare Krsna. So go with fair feeling. Go with fair feeling. This at most I can suggest to you."

Last year's paper on the new guru process is, at best, an evolving authority. It has actually caused some confusion, as it inverted the statements of Sridhar Swami in regard to absolute and relative understanding of the new gurus. This created some mixup when Giriraj Swami apparently contradicted, but did not actually contradict, Sridhar Swami's statements.