Challenging the Zonal Acarya System, Part 12

BY: SUN EDITORS - 22.5 2023

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In a similar way, there is also a lot of ambiguity in regard to other topics which concern the relationship which Srila Prabhupada's initiated disciples should have with the new gurus. It is admitted by us that we are emphasizing one side of that relationship. Still, our presentation is nonetheless quite objective because it is based on sruti, smrti, and nyaya (sastra and logic). It need not be criticized for presenting one side of the story, considering how much the other side has been overemphasized in the past year. Our presentation does not do any injustice in the matter of tipping the scales. It was constantly stressed in every temple of this movement, "Always think about the new bhaktas. Set an example for them. Compromise, if you have to, in order to not disturb the new bhaktas."

Recently, one guru was informed by an elder sannyasi, "Have you ever thought that maybe we should think, 'Don't disturb the Godbrothers also?" The guru conceded that this was a new avenue of thought which has not been developed. He said he thought that it held some potential for good results.

One guru criticized his elder sannyasa Godbrother: "You don't preach about me when you are making life members. You're preaching about Prabhupada." The sannyasi asked, in a submissive manner, "How do you want? 20%, 30%, 50%, 80%,… 100%?" The guru showed displeasure with this response. He further criticized this sannyasi for lacking spontaneity in his surrender to this guru. "External, official worship is not good." he said. "You should instead be like my disciple." This sannyasi later approached this respectable guru and politely begged forgiveness upon which he was told, "I cannot forgive you. You have not committed vaisnava aparadha. You have committed guru aparadha." This guru further urged all of Prabhupada's initiated disciples to worship him as they did Srila Prabhupada. The reasons given were to enliven the new disciples

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and to show the required respect to the living representatives of the guru parampara. The aforementioned sannyasi was further told to chant this guru's name before Srila Prabhupada's name. This guru also advocated the concept that many, if not most, of Srila Prabhupada's disciples have no developed intimate, personal association with their spiritual master, due to the fact that they seldom had intimate, personal association with him. Therefore, the new guru was to be worshipped like Prabhupada in order to fill this vacuum for them.

We do not conclude that this kind of mentality is all that sporadic within the ISKCON movement. Most gurus are simply not so blunt, or open, if you wish to use the term.

Yet, on the surface, ambiguity.

"You write that the gurus are taking an undue position of worship from their Godbrothers. This, of course, is a sensitive point. But the answer is clear. I recently met with Ramesvara Maharaj and Hansadutta Maharaj in Berkeley, and I wrote up a statement to be made at ishtaghoshti, making it clear that the new gurus should not in any way convey to their Godbrothers that they must approach Srila Prabhupada through him… If any initiating guru is doing that, then it should be corrected."

Satsvarupa Maharaj to Pradyumna Prabhu

Yes, we agree that it should be corrected also. Our only question is, that who will correct it?

Nowhere in the sastra, and nowhere in Prabhupada's words, is it stated that one Godbrother can have absolute authority over another. Yet this is nevertheless being projected, at least by some of the new gurus. The inference is made that the disciple has no active link with Srila Prabhupada unless his services are authorized by some intermediary. There are nine processes of bonafide devotional service. Does chanting have to go through some intermediary? Does worshipping the Lord's lotus feet? Does remembering Lord Krsna? Even one of these processes is sufficient for reaching perfection. The only intermediary is one's personal spiritual master. For the Godbrothers of the new gurus, that is Srila Prabhupada only. No attempt should be made to usurp that central status of his. Each and every Godbrother has an exclusive personal, and primary relationship with Srila Prabhupada. Nobody before that. Nobody equal to that. Nobody even near to that.

Yet, there is so much emphasis (pressure) that we have to think of the gurus as the only real servants of Srila Prabhupada and that we have to think that Srila Prabhupada's desire for accepting actually means to fully surrender to all the philosophy and the ideas of these new gurus. And that we have also to think that Srila Prabhupada's primary sta_? (indecipherable word) is through the appointment of these eleven rttvik acaryas.