This newsletter has been named the Vedic Advocate, but the foremost of all Vedic advocates

---
Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

This newsletter has been named the Vedic Advocate, but the foremost of all Vedic advocates was His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada-- the personification of all Vedic knowledge. The International Society for Krishna Consciousness had just celebrated the tenth year anniversary of Prabhupada's disappearance day. He left this world in November 1977, yet there is no question of Prabhupada's being absent or unavailable. He lives with his faithful disciples through his instructions. Since Prabhupada left, there has been a great controversy within his ISKCON about the succession of spiritual authority. It has been the position of the Vedic Advocate Newsletter that His Divine Grace had never selected anyone to personally succeed him as bona fide acharya. However, it has been a controversy that has remained to this day about how to fill the vacuum of spiritual authority left by Prabhupada's absence. Conflicting accounts of how Prabhupada wanted his society to continue after his death still abound. Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami--author of Prabhupada Lilamrita, editor for Back to Godhead Magazine and ISKCON spiritual master--has supported and propagated the most commonly held view that Prabhupada had personally selected eleven men to succeed him as bona fide gurus and accept disciples after his death. Evidence from other sources allow all researchers into the matter the basis to set aside confidently Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami's conclusion which are: 1) In only one known conversation, Prabhupada named Tamala Krishna, Kirtanananda, Satsvarupa, Jayatirtha, Bhagavan, Harikesha, Jayapataka, Hridayananda and Rameshvara to act as officiating (ritvik) gurus for those who wanted to accept spiritual initiation. In that same conversation, Prabhupada made it clear that such newly initiated disciples were to become his disciples only. Otherwise, there is no other known context where Prabhupada even hints that these above-mentioned devotees would go on to act as successor gurus. Even the tape where this conversation appears has been reported as unavailable from the Bhaktivedanta Tape Ministry. 2) Prabhupada personally denied any plan for succession. The same month Prabhupada left this world, he said, "It's not that I'll give an order: 'Here is the next leader.' Anyone who follows the previous leadership is a leader (BTG Vol. 13--#1-2)." 3) According to the philosphy of Krishna consciousness, the spritual master can only provide the bona fide method whereby the disciple can attain perfection. However, it is impossible for even the Supreme Personality of Godhead to empower anyone to act as a guru unless he is completely pure in heart. Supporters of the successor-guru theory have posited that the divine order of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (yare dekha, tare kaha 'krishna'- upadesha...) empowers the neophyte devotee to act as a guru. The order of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is a mandate for everyone to become first completely pure, and then go and teach others and not visa versa. Even Prabhupada's personal secretary Tamal Krishna Goswami and former GBC chariman has flatly denied that Prabhupada had selected anyone as successor gurus in 1980: "Actually, Prabhupada never appointed any gurus. He didn't appoint eleven gurus. He appointed eleven ritviks. He never appointed them as gurus. Myself and the other GBC have done the greatest disservice to this movement the last three years because we interpreted the appointment of ritviks as the appointment of gurus. If it had been any more than that, you can bet your bottom dollar that Prabhupada would have spoken for days and hours and weeks on end about how to set up this thing with the gurus, but he did not, because he already said it a million times. He said, 'My Guru Maharaja did not appoint anyone. It is by qualification.' We made a great mistake...." The spiritual master must assume responsibility for the activities of his disciples. That is because the spiritual master has strictly guided the activities of the disciple. But the guru cannot be held responsible for the independent actions of his disciples. The GBC, therefore, must be held accountable for the appointment of the eleven successor spiritual masters and not credit Prabhupada for this action. The fact that Prabhupada must suffer for the actions of his disciples becomes apparent in light of the sometimes controversial or even nasty reputation his disciples acquire through unauthorized behavior. Such ill- repute naturally reflects back to damage the good name of Prabhupada and undo the mission of Krishna consciousness. In order to honor properly the memory of Shrila Prabhupada as well as to set the ISKCON back into proper order, first it must be admitted that Prabhupada did not have anything to do with the selection of successor gurus that had been done after his departure. The proper method of becoming guru in line with the eternal disciplic succession is a science and should not be wrongly "authorized" through a GBC filibuster by the mention that Prabhupada had anything to do with such an appointment. Unauthorized activity in the name of any bona fide acharya cannot be ultimately successful although it may even yield some temporary material profit. But no sincere disciple can accept any material arrangement in the name of spiritual life. In Tamal Krishna Goswami's words: "The point I want to state on that is this realization, and I feel that the GBC body, if they do not adopt this point very quickly, if they do not realize this truth; you cannot show me anything on tape or in writing where Prabhupada says, 'I appoint these eleven as gurus.' This is a myth."

---

E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank