|“ISKCON” Gurus, Initiations, and Party Men Part 1
“. . . do not try to initiate. You
are not in a proper position now to initiate anyone. . . Don't be allured by
such maya. . . Don't be allured by cheap disciples. Go on steadfastly to render
service first. If you immediately become guru, then the service activities will
be stopped; and as there are many cheap gurus and cheap disciples,
without any substantial knowledge, and manufacturing new sampradayas, and with
service activities stopped, and all spiritual progress choked up.”
Secretary: What about the so-called gurus that take a little bit
here, a little bit there?
vidyam cavidyam ca yas
“Only one who can learn the
process of nescience and that of transcendental knowledge side by side can transcend the
influence of repeated birth and death and enjoy the full blessings of
During the final years of the preaching activities of His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaj Prabhupada Thakura, who was both shaktyavesh-avatar and Sampradaya-Acarya, one of his favorite initiated disciples was Professor Sanyal, a learned intellectual and an accomplished writer. Even during his manifest lila, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Gosvami Prabhupada--who was and remains a direct associate of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu (along with his illustrious father, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura)--approved of Professor Sanyal’s book. This book, entitled Krishna Chaitanya, was entirely bona fide according to the Sampradaya Acarya. I once possessed it, but the mahant of the Radha-Raman temple, Visvambhara Gosvami, asked me in Vrindavan to give it to him in 1984. I acquiesced to the request. His Divine Grace Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the most recent Sampradaya-Acarya and our initiating spiritual master, allowed that this book be consulted and read by his disciples, along with Bon Maharaj's Bhaktirasamritasindhu.
I had the actual quote (referenced below) by Prabhupada about Professor Sanyal, and it was used in my preaching in 1980, specifically at the beginning of a manuscript I co-authored back then entitled In The Measure of Our Conviction. The quote is not to be found in any later edition of the Bhaktivedanta Vedabase; perhaps, it has never been included in any ISKCON databases. If so, that is a shame. The quote is very important and should not be lost in the oblivion of time.
Now, I am going to share with you this quote from Srila Prabhupada as per my personal memory; what is written in bold italics is exact. The gist of the entire quote, as per its follow-up paragraph, is accurate and in context. Srila Prabhupada did not at all approve of this Professor Sanyal after the final day of 1936 (the disappearance of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta), neither did Srila Prabhupada approve of any of Professor Sanyal's writings after that time.
"Professor Sanyal, he was a very nice man. But he was a Party Man . . ."
That statement has been attributed to Srila Prabhupada. I do not exactly remember the wording of the rest of the quote, but I do remember what it meant and indicated. It indicated that, due to his having become a Party Man, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati arranged to have Professor Sanyal leave the scene very quickly. A recent posting on the Internet, by someone who apparently has researched Professor Sanyal, states that he died a natural death. If you have access to the exact quote, send it our way; we shall recognize it immediately and post it.
Apparently, Professor Sanyal joined the Party of Ananta Vasudeva (later called Puri Maharaj), as opposed to the Bagh Bazaar Party of Tirtha Maharaj. As such, his writings, after the disappearance of his Guru Maharaj, backed that (Vasudeva’s) party line. In the “ISKCON” movement a different course was followed, although there were parallels. Instead of declaring one maha-bhagavat, it was declared by the “GBC” (just as falsely) that there were eleven of them. Of course, Ananta Vasudeva was a very learned scholar in the Vaishnava siddhanta, unlike the eleven Zonal Acaryas of the post-modern era. Still, despite his erudition and previous approval from the Acarya, Srila Prabhupada did not condone the writings of this Professor Sanyal after the disappearance of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura.
The most important thing to consider is that Srila Prabhupada did not approve of Party Men. He in effect condemned this kind of functionary. Currently, the original ISKCON movement is covered by the "ISKCON" sheath, just as our original mind, intelligence, and ego is covered by the material ego (ahankara), material intelligence, and material mind. The "ISKCON" movement is dominated by Party Men, and this has been the case since the late Seventies. The Party Men cooperated with the Zonals (of course, the Zonals themselves were all Party Men) and helped to empower them. The Party Man faction is a multi-faceted dynamic, composed of fanatics, sycophants, henchmen, and temple officers. It always has been.
There is Krishna Consciousness, and then there is a perverted reflection of Krishna Consciousness. The Party Men of “ISKCON” represent, at best, only a reflection of Krishna Consciousness. The dynamic of the Party Man is found in what he thinks constitutes the recognition, approval, and blessings of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Party Men measure these ideals in terms of their position in the corporate structure of their institution. As long as they remain a somebody like a Temple President or a “GBC”--and as long as there is adequate revenue flow to continue in their status and with their project--then whatever they are doing or saying is considered spiritual by them. Krishna Consciousness means to see as Lord Krishna sees, to see as the Chaitya-guru or Paramatma sees. To become Krishna Conscious means to see the Party Men for what they really are.
The Party Men shift with the ever-changing winds of corporate doctrine. They are "GBC" loyalists. The "ISKCON" movement is completely under the control of the "GBC." Unlike ISKCON, however, the real GBC no longer exists--and, as far as that goes, it never did function in a bona fide way for a great deal of time, even while Srila Prabhupada was still with us. The devolution of this governing body has been long in duration, the offenses have been very great, and the GBC has been ruined, permanently warped and perverted into the "GBC. "
The Party Man is a particularly nasty piece of work. He sometimes comes in the form of a sannyasi. He is often completely without genuine Conscience. His intelligence always works to ponder the Party Line and the current momentum; he always wants to make sure that he will be on the side that is winning. His shibboleth is: "'ISKCON'--with all thy faults--I still love thee!" He backs the current transformation, and we are now in the Second Transformation.
On Understanding the First Transformation
The First Transformation, or change, started to take place even before Srila Prabhupada left us. When any kind of organization is running powerfully, it is able to do so because one man embodies and exemplifies it. When there is no such man, the organization muddles on in a divided and often semi-disorganized manner. As such, a really powerful corporation is but the shadow of one man. When transformation devolves, it usually does so under one man’s influence.
Two men were vying for this power in the late Seventies: They were Kirtanananda Swami and Tamal Krishna Gosvami (TKG). The latter emerged finally victorious, because he was the best corporate manipulator. He did so in no small measure because he was able to secure the post of "taking care of" Srila Prabhupada in his last days. Something very nefarious took place during those final months (“Someone has poisoned me”). Srila Prabhupada’s wishes were not honored. We shall not go into the poison issue, but suffice it to say that there is plenty of evidence--and that evidence is not weak. Exactly how it all transpired is almost impossible to know without a smoking gun, i.e., without someone who was implicated spilling his guts.
But we do know that Prabhupada ordered that he be taken on parikrama during the last month, and that order was disobeyed. We do know that Prabhupada ordered that all of his disciples be told to come to Vrindavan to see him one last time during the last days, but that order was never relayed. Instead, it was amended to mean that one senior devotee from each temple or zone should go to Vrindavan (the Thanksgiving and Christmas pick could not be jeopardized!).
The actual Krishna consciousness movement had nothing whatsoever to do with change. It was a movement of spiritual rejuvenation, which is a completely different process from change or transformation. Srila Prabhupada was relegated to the position of a figurehead in the last months (or even years), and then eleven powerful men--under the ultimate influence of TKG--created the First Transformation. TKG was very instrumental in the coup of the spring of 1978, and an “Acarya Board" was created as an independent subset of the “GBC.” Yes, Swami B.R. Sridhar was also instrumental; he served as the soil for those eleven seeds of personal glory (“The poison is personal ambition”). There would have been no Zonal Acaryas, however, without the directed influence of TKG. The eleven Zonals constituted just short of half of the votes of the “GBC” during the spring of 1978, but they wielded far, far more than half of the influence on that governing body. The other Commissioners failed us, and they did not stop the eleven pretender maha-bhagavats from their takeover of the movement. This was the First Transformation.
But Kirtanananda Swami set the tone in the run-up to that apocalyptic spring meeting in Mayapur, 1978. The actual big change started just days after Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance, and it began at New Vrindavan. Kirtanananda Swami, without any consultation and on his own authority, began accepting uttama-adhikari worship from everyone there, especially his godbrothers and godsisters. The “GBC,” already in the process of becoming corrupt, did nothing to check him. So, when that governing body convened in Mayapur in the spring of 1978, it had to confront the fact that one of the eleven men named as rittviks in the last days (during July of 1977) was accepting worship as a guru on the highest level of purity and realization. But Prabhupada had said, in late May of 1977, “Regular guru, that’s all.” Kirtanananda Swami was accepting far, far more than the accolades accorded a regular guru according to parampara and other Vaishnava traditions.
TKG backed the conclusion that the eleven men named as rittviks during the last five months while Prabhupada was with us were to automatically become gurus after his disappearance. He never got this clarified by Srila Prabhupada, of course. That the other ten newly-appointed “gurus” would back this line of thought was not improbable; it was in their obvious self interest to do so. However, if one of these eleven men was already accepting exalted worship, then what about the other ten?
"I am in due receipt of your
letter, dated September
3 1975, with the
enclosed statement about Bon Maharaja. So I have now issued orders that all my
disciples should avoid all of my godbrothers. They should not have any dealings
with them nor even correspondence, nor should they give them any of my books
nor should they purchase any of their books, neither should you visit any of
their temples. Please avoid them."
According to some devotee scuttlebutt--and there is no direct or tangible proof of it--Srila Prabhupada was supposed to have said that Swami B.R. Sridhar, a prominent Gaudiya Math leader, could be consulted for his philosophical views in connection with spiritual master. He was consulted, and his advice proved disastrous. He repeated the Bengali cliche mat guru si jagat guru, indicating that anyone who performs the formalities of the initiation ceremony should be accepted by his initiated disciple as a jagat guru (a far cry from what Prabhupada called “regular guru,” i.e., a guru under the regulation of vaidhi sadhana bhakti).
Similarly, Swami B. R. Sridhar in effect said: “Just put on the uniform, and you will become the soldier.” The implication of this bad directive was that just putting on the external pretense of guru would automatically grow you into actually being a guru. This may be New Age philosophy, but it is not the Vedic or Vaishnava process. Swami B. R. Sridhar asked what was the basis of these eleven men being guru. Were they recognized or appointed as such by Prabhupada? Swami B. R. Sridhar was informed that the basis of their claim was that these eleven men had been appointed as rittvik acaryas during the last months of Prabhupada’s manifestation.
Swami B. R. Sridhar then opined: “Rittvik-acarya, then it becomes as good as acarya.” It was his worst advice. This is exactly what TKG was thinking, so “after consultation with higher authorities” (penned by the chief scribe of the Zonals at the beginning of his position paper summing up this new dispensation), it was accepted that the new diksa gurus would only come from the eleven rittviks most recently appointed. This was cent-per-cent bogus, but it was accepted by all but one of the Commissioners. The others, who did not receive an appointment to become guru and a zone in which to initiate, went along to get along.
Swami B. R. Sridhar was also instrumental in setting up and approving the plan to have the eleven pretender maha-bhagavats possess their own zones, and thus we had the First Transformation, which can be called the Era of the Zonal Acaryas. It was a complete disaster!
Now, the question may be raised: “Why do you personally criticize Swami B. R. Sridhar? He was Srila Prabhupada’s older godbrother. You should not criticize the godbrother of your Guru Maharaj.” Our answer to this doubt is as follows: It has been thirty years since the bad advice from Swami B. R. Sridhar was received and applied by the “GBC.” Srila Prabhupada waited for thirty years after the disappearance of his Guru Maharaj before he began to initiate disciples in the West. He was deputed by Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Goswami Maharaj to do just that, but he did not immediately even begin to take up that assignment for three decades. It has been two decades since Swami B. R. Sridhar left his body. We have refrained all of these decades from specifically mentioning him by name in any of our articles. So, we have observed the etiquette with particular restraint for a considerable time.
However, no individual did more damage to Srila Prabhupada’s Krishna Consciousness movement from the Gaudiya Math side than did Swami B. R. Sridhar. His negative influence on Srila Prabhupada’s movement is practically incalculable. All the senior men in the “ISKCON” movement know this to a lesser or greater extent. Most of the older devotees “outside the walls” know it as well. It is not often written about in any official documents, but it has been discussed amongst virtually every one of Prabhupada’s elder initiated disciples to a very substantial degree. It is now agreed by almost everyone that the misconception of the Zonal Acarya scheme was a devastation, and that arrangement has been officially rejected for decades.
Similarly, many of the rittviks--who rarely are inclined toward the Gaudiya Math--know of the damage done by Swami B. R. Sridhar. Some have written about it without any constraint and with considerable vitriol. We remain restrained concerning that style of writing, but we can no longer remain silent about his terrible advice and influence during the late Seventies and early Eighties.
You are reading this article because you have a profound desire to understand. You have earned the right to receive this information. Swami B. R. Sridhar did terrible damage in the form of his malefic advice and directions. The eleven pretender maha-bhagavats ate up that bad advice, applied it, and transformed Srila Prabhupada’s Krishna Consciousness movement in the process. The eleven seeds needed the soil, and Swami B. R. Sridhar supplied the fertilizer.
The movement meant for the rejuvenation of pure spiritual life and realization amongst all of those who joined it--all of whom received genuine initiation from the real bona fide spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada--was transformed into something else in the spring of 1978. It was disconnected from the sampradaya (parampara) at that time, and Swami B. R. Sridhar, along with the eleven pretender maha-bhagavats--and especially the Party Men who helped to implement the scheme at the pragmatic level--were key players in this initial transformation or change.
This imposition of eleven powerful men as “maha-bhagavats”--all of whom were loaded with personal and institutional anarthas--was a scheme that appeared unbeatable at first. They all had their own zones of influence. Had they stayed in their turfs and not criticized one another--if they had also not attempted so many outrages--then the concoction might have lasted longer than the eight or nine years it dominated everything and everyone. However, when conditioned souls, loaded with anarthas, imitate guru--and particularly when they imitate the actual self-realized soul--their destruction is arranged for by the demigods. This is, in part, because they are imitating the demigods. The immeasurable pride and audacity of the eleven pretender maha-bhagavats was not merely the megalomania of some powerful leader of a nation-state. No. All eleven of these men were absorbed in the delusion of self-apotheosis.
They were all absorbed in the material mind. They were absorbed in their lusts and desires (kama-sankalpa), thinking these desires to be absolute. They were all absorbed in anger and hatred against anyone who criticized or thwarted them in any way. They were all very insane, but, due to having performed some buddhi-yoga in years past, they were still (generally) shrewd in their insanity. They were completely intoxicated by their great power over others, by the women who danced for them in front of their so-called vyasasans, and by the buzz they received on a daily and hourly basis as objects of worship by hundreds of dedicated fools and fanatics. They were regularly subjected to the fear of their scheme being exposed, especially by knowledgeable godbrothers who could see the fault-lines in this unauthorized arrangement. They were very greedy for more and more disciples, more and more power, more and more money (“laxmi”), more and more fame and influence, and more and more “knowledge” of ways to better pull the whole thing off.
In short, all eleven of these men were full-blown sahajiyas.
The very best thing is the Sampradaya Acarya, the maha-bhagavat absorbed in love of Godhead. When the very best thing is perverted and imitated, it quickly degenerates into the very worst thing; this is a universal principle. Each of the eleven pretender maha-bhagavats warped into a terrible caricature of siddha-purusa. They were all pseudo gurus, and, in this monstrosity, their anarthas were supposed to be absolute and praiseworthy. So, instead of eleven somewhat advanced and learned devotees keeping their original initiated names, almost all of them adopted other names, usually ending in “pada.” This was a blatant and ultimately laughable imitation of Prabhu-pada.
Rather than go over their “pada” names--and how ludicrous each of those titles were--it is more efficacious to understand what each of these men became as a caricature, as they attempted to carve out an absolute identity as de facto popes within their zones. So, the fragmenting movement now had to contend with The Vanity Fair Despot, the Scholar, the Teflon Pundit, the Sun King, the Libertine, the Pusher, the Machiavellian Manipulator, the Fanatic Flag-Waiver, the Psychotropic Sahajiya, Das Fuhrer Comet, and the Post-Modern Magician.
They were the great cheaters, and everyone who followed them and actually believed that they were God-realized lovers of Truth constituted the cheated. The “ISKCON” movement devolved into the newest Society of the Cheaters and the Cheated, and, appropriately, they were all called “new gurus.” The Party Men cooperated; at this time, it was not in the personal interest of the Party Men to do anything to expose the arrangement if they did not believe in it. The more powerful became henchmen and enforcers, some became temple officers, some became intimate associates and sycophants, and some of them remained fanatics and true believers.
It was a Fool’s Paradise, and eleven men situated in such an unreliable state of being would not be able to maintain the artificial arrangement for long. They went into each other’s zones to collect, and this led to various reversals and confrontations. They criticized one another, and this led fanatics in various zones to question whether or not such “lila” was really indicative of persons supposedly situated in nikunjayuno ratikeli siddhaye. Remember, however, that Tamal was the man. When he went too far, then the whole edifice of this scheme started to crater.
The Initial Revolt in India
Before that, however, there was a mini-revolt. Actually, individual disgruntlement about the Zonal worship began to take place from different directions just days after the Mayapur fiasco. The now deceased Svarupa Damodar Swami began letting it be known that he considered the diksa guru arrangement to be artificial. On the whole, this disgruntlement was expressed on the basis of three considerations: 1) national, 2) racial, and 3) managerial.
All eleven of these pretender maha-bhagavats were American. Hmmmmm. How was it that Prabhupada only appointed American maha-bhagavats to continue his line of disciplic succession? After all, didn’t he himself come from India and wasn’t he of Indian birth? Didn’t both Lord Krishna and Lord Chaitanya perform Their Divine Pastimes in India, and didn’t They both take birth as (apparently) Indians? Why none of Prabhupada’s successors were Indian nationals? Over and above this, there was a racial consideration. In America, Jews account for less than three percent of the population. But six of these eleven pretender maha-bhagavats, so-called Zonal Acaryas, were of Jewish descent. That’s well over fifty percent of the so-called successors. Why so many Jews? TKG, himself of Jewish decent, was the man exemplifying the whole scheme. Was it some kind of Jewish cabal?
And what about the other GBCs? True, the most prominent eleven GBC men captured the gadi, but there were one or two or three or four other managers of considerable distinction who were almost as powerful and prominent as each of these eleven sahajiyas. Why those other GBCs should not be able to sit on a vyasasana, give initiations, and become Zonal Acaryas?
So, these dissatisfactions and disillusionments--based upon envy, of course--led to some back-biting and bickering. It also led to politics. It was well known that Pradyumna prabhu was the most accomplished devotee in the movement in Sanskrit, and he served for a very long time as Srila Prabhupada’s secretary in that capacity. He was not a Party Man, however, and neither was he a GBC at any time. It was also well known that Pradyumna had received the assignment of completing the Srimad Bhagavatam if Prabhupada did not do so. Most thought that Srila Prabhupada would do so--he also had indicated that he would produce a commentary of the Padma Purana--but His Divine Grace (who left in disgust) only completed formal commentary on the first nine cantos of the Bhagavatam. So Pradyumna had this important seva, but he became dismayed about the Zonal Acarya pompous worship that was taking place, especially in America and Europe.
Some of the GBCs, particularly two Indians who were left out, wanted to be brought into the diksa-guru club. Other devotees began to think that the whole “maha-bhagavata” scheme was a bogus arrangement. This, both directly and indirectly, led to a mini-confrontation in February of 1979 in Vrindavan. A Position Paper was proffered by one of the prominent leaders of that temple, and it received thirty-six signatures by the devotees who resided there, or in the area, at the time. This paper argued that the eleven men had no right to accept uttama-adhikari worship, but, in its ignorance, it conceded that they were appointed to be the diksa gurus of ISKCON.
Some brief background of this mini-revolt is required here. One of the original protestors was the Temple President of another temple in India. Previous to winding up in Vrindavan for his last days, Prabhupada stayed at this center. During that time, this T.P. had some intimate association with His Divine Grace, and he was shocked to hear from Prabhupada the following quote:
“I am trying to liberate my disciples, but the GBC is trying to keep them in bondage.”
This Temple President shared that quote with the aforementioned prominent leader in the Vrindavan center, and he directly shared it with me. Pradyumna did not sign the aforementioned Position Paper, but he was consulted about it and was mostly favorable to its points. Instead, just prior to it, he wrote a letter of protest regarding the Zonal Acarya worship arrangement, and mailed that to the chief scribe of the “GBC” in America. The ad hoc protest movement in Vrindavan did not comprehensively understand the Truth, facts, or the actual history of the deviation, because nobody could have at that time. Nevertheless, it was on a better track; it wanted to speak Truth to power. It was, however imperfectly, trying to free the Krishna Consciousness movement from the developing corruption that was quickly becoming institutionalized.
As could have only been expected, TKG--who was expert in understanding and implementing political tactics--traveled to the other aforementioned southwestern temple and snapped that member of the protest movement back into the party line. There was heavy intrigue, treachery, and even betrayal just before the actual debate in Vrindavan. The “new gurus” did not come to participate in this confrontation for the purpose of Truth. As Pradyumna prabhu would later say, after he refused, the day of the debate, to return for its second session:
“These men are not honest.”
The mini-revolt in Vrindavan in 1979 was crushed. Pradyumna presented his solid arguments and shastric points, but the Zonal Acarya who was assigned by the others to contend with him emoted a little over ten minutes into the debate. At that point there was no longer a debate, and for pretty much the rest of the day the opposition was smashed. It was not difficult, as insidious methods (all centering around fear, guilt, deception, and bewilderment) were employed by the triumphant eleven “maha-bhagavats.” All but four of the signatories to the document recanted and apologized to the ever-victorious Zonal Acaryas, instilling in them even more pride and overconfidence. Pradyumna prabhu had his service taken away from him; he was replaced by a Zonal Acarya as the person now authorized to produce commentaries on the Bhagavatam. The Vrindavan mahant who oversaw the Position Paper was replaced as the leader of Gurukula.
The mini-revolt, despite its defeat, led to some progressive developments. It was a battle lost in a war that is not over and has not yet been decided. Did Prabhupada actually appoint these men? The revolt had now brought the appointment itself into question.
Instability/Self-Apotheosis: A Bad Combo
Two Zonal Acaryas, who ruled over contiguous zones in California, were very severely criticizing one another as the decade came to a close. The leading collectors in Los Angeles became disturbed in their minds about it, and they were unable to rationalize this mutual condemnation being made between two “uttama-adhikaris”; they could not figure out how it was “lila.” One of the collectors, a senior female devotee, demanded proof of their claim to appointment, and her Zonal provided this devotee with the May 28, 1977 tape. She quickly realized that the tape did not even constitute strong evidence of any so-called appointment, what to speak of conclusive proof. She had a private meeting with him atop the L.A. temple and verbally dressed him down. He removed the vyasasan in the temple and agreed with her that the whole pretense of taking maha-bhagavat worship was bogus. This breath of fresh air did not last long, however, as three of the other Zonals quickly flew to the Los Angeles yatra and turned the situation back around.
Due to the developing controversy, spawned by the confrontation in Vrindavan, a most important “adjustment” by the Zonal Acaryas and their Party Men eventually transpired. There was no strong proof that Prabhupada appointed eleven initiated disciples of his to even become diksa gurus, what to speak of maha-bhagavats. So, the leaders simply slipped their claim to authorization down one notch, i.e., they admitted that Prabhupada did not actually make the appointment, BUT THEY SAID HE APPOINTED THE G.B.C. TO BE ABSOLUTE AUTHORITY. In other words, Prabhupada assigned the position of successor authority to the group, to the GBC.
This was but another major deviation from how a Vaishnava parampara continues. A group is never the collective guru, neither can it decide who is guru or Acarya. The genuine guru personally orders his disciple to become guru, when that disciple reaches the level required by his guru and when the guru deems that his disciple should begin initiating new people into the line. Obviously, the genuine guru will never personally give such an order to any disciple who still possesses even one anartha. A guru cannot have anarthas; that is not possible. There is no such thing as a bad guru. There is such a thing as a pseudo-guru or a sahajiya; these kinds of “devotees” are loaded with anarthas. And they pass their anarthas on to their initiated disciples.
But the GBC was eventually considered a kind of New Leviathan, a Collective Guru. Supposedly possessing this absolute authority, it was now claimed that, when it officially recognized eleven of its own to be worshipped as maha-bhagavats, that decision was absolute. It authorized the carving up of the world into eleven zones and claimed the inherent power to do so. This was a fix-it-as-you-go rationalization, after the basis of the so-called appointment of eleven diksa gurus by Prabhupada was seen to have no standing. Each of these so-called uttama-adhikaris would now be known as Zonal Acaryas, according to the “GBC.” In terms of “ISKCON” dogma, any rebellion against this arrangement was said to be a kind of defiance (guror-avajna) of the Founder-Acarya, Srila Prabhupada--in the form of direct defiance against his so-called successor, the “GBC.”
That Prabhupada had said “Regular guru, that’s all,” and, much more importantly, that he had not given the order (to become guru) to any of his disciples formally during the time he was still manifest, became relegated to ancient history and ultimately considered irrelevant. The “GBC” had supposedly received the full mantle of Srila Prabhupada’s purity and transcendental authority. After all, didn’t Prabhupada in his Will call it the “ultimate managerial authority?” The “GBC” could now decide how to continue the sampradaya. The hubris here was immeasurable, and this audacity of the “GBC” translated into the self-apotheosis of its Zonals.
The “GBC” did decide how to supposedly continue the sampradaya--in a most unauthorized way. Nevertheless, this argument appeared to be just as impenetrable as the appointment imposition was previously; all the Party Men bought into it, of course. TKG was still the embodiment of the “GBC”, and the “GBC” was now the ultimate authority for the Krishna Consciousness movement. The power guys made a great power play. Case closed!
But the seeds of dissent had been sown, and word got around. Over and above this, the bad old days of the Zonal Acaryas were blossoming in full, in no small part due to their mood of triumphalism. Pride cometh before the fall; this heady era of the Zonals soon led to some big problems--as self-apotheosis is always prone to produce. TKG was the man, and he soon decided to put the pedal to the metal. He declared that, in his zone, only his books should be read by his disciples. Since he was the spiritual master, the maha-bhagavat, his disciples should simply inculcate his realizations and directions. He demanded absolute control in his zone, and all “godbrothers” were admonished to follow his lead in all respects.
This imposition of absolute control led to a revolt in his zone by some senior men. These prominent Party Men initially considered (rightly) that TKG was the vanguard of the new arrangement and was their best bet for moving up (and maybe capturing the gadi themselves). Now they were disillusioned, because TKG’s heavy-handedness and complete control let them all know that they were going nowhere--except to remain under him. Only certain Zonal Acaryas--and there was no need to expand the number according to the vested interest of the Acarya Board--were authorized by the “GBC” to spread the so-called Krishna Consciousness movement in the fertile field of anarchistic America. TKG had decided to turn the screws even further then the “GBC” had directed, so, in his zone and under his command, any kind of future disgruntlement would be extinguished before it could even get started.
And here’s the important point to learn from his going a bridge too far: The “GBC” is the ultimate controlling vortex of the fabricated so-called “ISKCON” confederation. Even its personified representative can be dragged down if he strays from its astral pleasure. The “GBC” is not linked to the Madhva-Gaudiya Vaishnava Sampradaya; it is not linked to any devotional parampara powerhouse. It is linked to another source of power, and this will be explained later in the article. Since all material powers in the universe come under the specific portfolio of one of the nine planets, it is linked to one such planet in particular--and it gets its power on the gross plane from that source, also. It does not at all discourage the manifestation of flamboyant, charismatic, or sahajiya tendencies in its prominent members (“gurus”)--as long as it is for the purpose of expanding its material body or congregation, as long as the ultimate controlling force of the “GBC” is not undermined in the process.
As soon as that is threatened, it will tear down any personality that has the temerity to make such an attempt. And no individual can remain within the “ISKCON” it controls if he, in any way, undermines the authority of this egregor. The “GBC” is more powerful than any individual personalities constituting its power nodes or body on the gross plane, and it is more powerful than even a group of such so-called devotees.
The “GBC” tore down its apparent chief representative in the person of TKG. He got his zone taken away from him, and his sanction to initiate was restricted. The disgruntlement produced by his self-apotheosis led the other flamboyant enjoyers and Party Men--and, yes, envy was certainly involved--to bring him down, temporarily. This created a vacuum, as there was no longer one leader who exemplified the corporation on the gross plane.
Others quickly got into trouble as well. One of the European Zonal Acaryas was engaged in LSD ecstacies, and, although this was covered up for years, that bluff could not last long. A West Coast Zonal got implicated in criminal activities, some of them violent, and he was relegated to the same bad boy status as TKG (eventually culminating in excommunication a few years later). Another European Zonal in due course became exposed for lavish expenditures and gold bathroom fixtures. Two of the “new gurus” became either rumored to be involved in, or directly implicated in, separate homosexual activities. Worst of all, the Zonal who was the chief scribe produced a very offensive and misleading biography of Srila Prabhupada. It was sweet rice combined with sand and drops of virile poison. On the whole, none of the other ten maha-bhagavat pretenders could replace TKG, so the Zonal Acarya Era of the First Transformation was jeopardized. The aforementioned rebellions by the Party Men grew in intensity and started to become a bit organized.
Triumphalism and self-apotheosis on the part of imitation maha-bhagavats produced extreme swings in behavior and confidence, and this reverberated throughout the movement. There are universal laws and principles to make sure such combustible instability does not last long. These men were initiating new people, all of whom had little or no knowledge of the Vedic or Vaishnava teachings, all of whom had little or no detachment from material enjoyment, and all of who were prime candidates to be misled by powerful, charismatic pretenders:
“The ignorant pseudo religionists and the manufacturers of so-called incarnations who directly violate the Vedic injunctions are liable to enter into the darkest region of the universe because they mislead those who follow them. . . If such foolish men have any knowledge at all, it is more dangerous in their hands than ignorance itself. . . The pseudo religionists have neither knowledge nor detachment from material affairs, for most of them want to live in the golden shackles of material bondage under the shadow of philanthropic activities disguised as religious principles. By a false display of religious sentiments, they present a show of devotional service while indulging in all sorts of immoral activities. In this way, they pass as spiritual masters and devotees of God. Such violators of religious principles have no respect for the authoritative acaryas, the holy teachers in the strict disciplic succession. . . Instead, to mislead the people in general, they themselves become so-called acaryas, but they do not even follow the principles of the acaryas. . . These rogues are the most dangerous elements in human society. Because there is no religious government, they escape punishment by the law of the state. They cannot, however, escape the law of the Supreme, who has clearly declared in the Bhagavad-gita that envious demons in the garb of religious propagandists shall be thrown into the darkest regions of hell (Bg. 16.19-20). Sri Isopanisad confirms that these pseudo religionists are heading toward the most obnoxious place in the universe after the completion of their spiritual master business, which they conduct simply for sense gratification.” Sri Isopanisad, Verse 12, purport
End of Part One
Quotes from the books of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada are copyright by the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust