Srila Prabhupada, His Movement & You


Acharya Creates the Tradition

If Srila Prabhupada is shaktavesha avatar (which we do recognize that he factually is), he can do anything, and it becomes LAW. Because the fully liberated soul is always in touch with Krishna, whatever he does or says is shastra, law, absolute, non-different from Krishna. Because we do not understand does not mean it is incorrect.

“Except for God, no one can establish the principles of religion. Either He or a suitable person empowered by Him can dictate the codes of religion.” (purport, Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.3.43)

Many things were never done before. Ramanujacharya engaged dacoits for collection, then had them killed. Madhvacharya pummeled his opponents. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu sang and danced in public—never done before by sannyasis. Buddha rejected the Vedas. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada created a GBC to manage his preaching mission, leaving no successor acharya, as was traditionally done. Srila Prabhupada made the same arrangement. In both instances, the order was disobeyed, and in both instances the result was the same—chaos, confusion and disintegration of the Acharya’s mission. Great acharyas like Srila Prabhupada do establish the principles of religion according to time, place and circumstances.

In Ravindra Svarupa’s “Cleaning House and Cleaning Hearts, Reform and Renewal in ISKCON,” he admits that both Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur and Srila Prabhupada broke the Vedic tradition of appointing a successor acharya to take charge of their missions after their disappearance in favour of a modern institution of management known as the GBC (Governing Body Commission), a term and concept borrowed directly from the British management of the Indian railway system. Ravindra writes, “With its corporate form of organization, ISKCON thus represents a modernization of a religious tradition.” Ravindra then writes:

Upon the demise of his predecessor, the successor acharya would take the seat at the head of the institute. That successor acharya would be ritually elevated over all other disciples of his guru (his god-brothers), and all of them would bring new members to him for initiation.

ISKCON, however, represents a departure from this archaic form of organization. Srila Prabhupada repeatedly stressed his intention that ISKCON would not, after his departure, be managed by a single acharya, but rather by the board of directors, the Governing Body Commission that he formed and began to train in 1970. Srila Prabhupada’s intention and his departure from the tradition of the
institutional acharya is shown in a striking way in his will. Traditionally, it was in the first article of his will that an acharyanamed his successor, passing on his institution to his heir, as if it were his personal property. The first article of Srila Prabhupada’s will reads: “The Governing Body Commission (GBC) will be the ultimate managing authority for the entire International Society for Krishna Consciousness.”

Ravindra next writes the various suggestions and proposals for “Guru Reform” made in 1986. By that time it had become abundantly clear that the guru-acharyas and GBCs simply could not resolve the two conflicting concepts of absolute authority to which each felt they were entitled. The GBC, as ultimate managing authority of ISKCON, felt they should be the authority, and the guru-acharyas felt they were the absolute, divine authorities over not only their own disciples, but even over the god-brothers, including the GBC. The institution was disintegrating over the clash of absolute power each group claimed as its right.

Ravindra writes:

It was my conviction that we could retain in ISKCON the full-fledged position of guru as delineated by the scriptures, a position that did not essentially involve being the autonomous, autocratic head of an institution, did not essentially disallow discussion, consultation, revision and adjustment and did not forbid collegial decision-making as a kind of lese majeste.

Does anyone know what lese majeste means? My guess is it means “to have your cake and eat it too.” I’m open for reader response.

The zonal acharyaposition had asserted it was intrinsic to the position of guru to be absolute, and it professed that the gurus would voluntarily sacrifice that position for the sake of the movement. This implied that by working with a GBC the gurus were doing something unnatural or artificial, and of course their “voluntary sacrifice” seemed increasingly pro forma. To counter this conception of the guru I argued that there was a significant way in which it was essential for the bona fide guru to be relative. After all, that there was a significant way in which it was the essential qualifying characteristic of a guru is that he strictly follow the order of Srila Prabhupada, who had decreed that all of us must serve co-operatively under the authority of the GBC. Accepting the authority of the GBC board was not a voluntary option. Because it was Srila Prabhupada’s order, it was necessary to guru-hood itself.

What is guru-hood? Is it something like Robin Hood? Steal from the rich and give to the poor? Reader response requested. Help!

If Srila Prabhupada broke the traditional arrangement of appointing a successor acharya (as Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu has so clearly pointed out) by establishing a board of management (GBC) as the ultimate management authority of ISKCON, then it just stands to reason and is plain common sense that Srila Prabhupada would not create a competitive authority to clash with his ultimate managerial authority, the GBC, by appointing eleven guru-acharyas. If he did not want a single acharya, why would he appoint eleven acharyas? Rather, he again broke with tradition and appointed eleven rittvik representatives of the Acharya, who would continue initiating new disciples after his departure under the authority of the GBC (ultimate managing authority of ISKCON), just as they did for years in the presence of Srila Prabhupada and the GBC. Instead of accepting this completely self-evident, logical and authorized arrangement, Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu and other ambitious devotees continue to juggle words like “reform” and “renewal” in an attempt to maintain their mistakenly assumed postures and prestigious titles of “guru-hood”.

In other words, the fact that Srila Prabhupada so strongly stressed the GBC as the ultimate managing authority of ISKCON proves that Srila Prabhupada intended his rittvik arrangement to continue functioning after his departure exactly as it functioned so successfully under himself and the GBC while he was present.

This formula—Srila Prabhupada as the Sampradaya Acharya, the GBC as the ultimate managing authority of ISKCON and the rittvik representatives as initiators on behalf of Srila Prabhupada (Sampradaya Acharya)—is clear and perfect. It can be confusing only to those who have mistakenly assumed that after Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance ISKCON leaders must automatically become guru-acharyas in imitation of Srila Prabhupada (which is exactly what happened). Seventeen years later, everyone admits that this assumption was a colossal mistake. Instead of seeing the simple truth in Srila Prabhupada’s personal letter of July 9th, 1977, wherein he appoints eleven rittviks to initiate on his behalf, Ravindra Svarupa et al are still trying to find a way to “have their cake and eat it too”.

Ravindra Svarupa plainly admits Srila Prabhupada departed from the Vedic tradition. Why not simply surrender to the order of the spiritual master and stop all this wrangling, speculation, reform and renewal, which aims at nothing more than maintaining the mistakenly assumed posture of guru-acharya by men whom Srila Prabhupada authorized to act as rittvik acharyas? The Vedic tradition is created by the acharyas, and therefore Srila Prabhupada’s (the Sampradaya Acharya’s) arrangement for the GBC to act as head of the institution and consequently rittvik representatives of the Acharya for continuing the disciplic succession is perfectly in keeping with Vedic tradition. It is the acharyas who set the precedents which become the tradition, or it is the acharya who creates the Sampradaya; not the Sampradaya which creates the acharya. Just as the king creates the kingdom; not the kingdom creates the king. And the king can do no wrong.

The conclusion is if we accept Srila Prabhupada as the Sampradaya Acharya, pure devotee, shakti-avesha avatar and his writings as the law books for the next 10,000 years, then we should have no difficulty in accepting his arrangement of rittvik representatives, initiating on behalf of the Acharya, Srila Prabhupada.

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22 Responses to Srila Prabhupada, His Movement & You

  1. I shall be including sections of this very intelligent, but flawed, commentary in an upcoming article that will be posted on one of our websites. As I told you in 1988, I would read the book that you gave me. I have read, more than once, both of your books, as well as this article. You are close. The quote from Vaikunthanatha, as potent as it appears to be, is still evidence not conclusive proof. Indeed, and somewhat ironically, you have prominently posted in another section of your website, that famous letter you received from His Divine Grace wherein he said that his movement may have gurus given the title of Bhaktivedanta (for their advanced learning and realization in the supreme science) by 1975. This was not realized, however, as we all know. Instead, eleven men–yourself one of them–went, in your own words to me back in the Eighties “way too far.” Nevertheless, misuse of a great science does not render it useless. The rittvik process (and I spell this word exactly as you do, so we have something in common there) in relation to Srila Prabhupada ended on November 15, 1977; the last genuinely initiated disciple of Prabhupada was Mahapurana das, an African-American devotee, at (again, somewhat ironically, although Nityananda prabhu was already in Mississippi by that time) the New Orleans yatra just hours before Prabhupada departed us in manifest form. The real issue here is not rittvik; the real issue is “regular guru, that’s all.” What did that mean? I ask this rhetorically, as I am confident that I know what it means. Similarly, as was revealed in your presence at Topanga Canyon in early December of 1980, the eleven men named on July 9-10, 1977 where not to create any kind of exclusive monopoly based upon their having been given the renewal of the service of rittvik, which had been suspended for a period of time before that summer. I think that you would agree that close is not good enough here. We may put together the pieces of the puzzle in a different chronological order–and that is to be expected–but, when it is finished, all the pieces fit together in one way and one way only. There is one perfect way, and we both agree that the vitiated GBC has not established, nor does it represent, that way. Yet, there arguments have some power to them, especially in terms of pragmatic considerations–Western pragmatism, that is. Indeed, I pick up no dearth of pragmatism in your presentations both in your books and on your website. The issue is not pragmatism itself, as Prabhupada was very results oriented. The issue is the difference between Western pragmatism and Vedic or Vaishnava pragmatism. There is one essential difference between them, and a hint of what that is can be found in Nityananda prabhu’s favorite slogan: Satyam eva jayate.
    One other thing to keep in mind. Kindly do not misread anything personal into this, because it is not intended for any specific initiated devotee (1966-1977) of Prabhupada. We both agree that the GBCs of Prabhupada and his guru deviated in egregious ways. What was the ultimate result thirty years after the first such deviation? Or, rather, how did Lord Chaitanya choose to rectify that situation? It wasn’t via any kind of rittvik arrangement, was it.
    So, I am being stimulated to some extent by what I am reading on your website and in reviewing your books (I have both of them) once again. In due course, it should produce an article that goes into detail on all of these spiritual raw nerve topics. Obviously, I had very little association with His Divine Grace in comparison to your good self; I was only alone with him once for about four minutes. So, you are very blessed, and I admire your spiritual good fortune. It empowers you to carry on, no doubt. Still, you and I have another thing in common that is certainly rare amongst Prabhupada’s actually initiated disciples, viz., neither of us was preached to before coming to the temple and deciding to surrender. I have read your historical account, it was impressive, and I could relate to it. Mine was different, obviously, but the principle was the same. As such, we each stand for something and push something independent of mass opinion and negativity of the enforced conformity. Your version of rittvik–and there are quite a number of them–is different from the others, and that is to be expected, also.
    Once I produce the above-mentioned article (for the first time, I am seriously considering employing the A & A format in doing so), would you like me to notify you of its posting along with a hyperlink? I shall not be offended if you answer this specific query in the negative nor shall I be offended if I do not hear from you at all. We are all meant to reach the stage of sthita-prajna, in which it is certain that His Divine Grace would order us to become diksa-guru, not rittvik. Until then, we are meant to preach to newcomers, stress Prabhupada as their siksa-guru, and keep them in the process at the level of sadhu-sanga. It is an impetus to get very sincere and serious and reach the stage of mahimni sve mahiyate, i.e., drsta evatmanisvare. If we could not or cannot reach even this stage, which is prior to bhava, then what was the meaning of Srila Prabhupada coming here in the first place and training us to become gurus? And he certainly wanted this, as you well know, and as evidenced, if not indeed proved, by his letter to you in 1975.
    Hoping that this meets you and your good wife in good health and cheerful mood, I beg to remain . . .
    Your eternal servant,
    KAILASA CANDRA DASA

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  3. Suvarna says:

    Thank you for this book Hansadutta Prabhu. Very wonderful writing. I am very grateful. Thank you. Your servant Suvarna

  4. Suvarna says:

    is this book available to purchase?

  5. I have no motre copies for saler, you can download the whole text from Nama Hatta, or write to daschan@streamyx.com…… perhaps they have a copy,
    Thank you nfor appriociating my realizations. I do not write for money, or noteriety. I have written according to my experience and heart felt love for Prabhupada

    Your humble servant,
    I shaould have done better,
    But I fell. failed and am very repentant about that, and still working to get up and do the right thing.

    • tarunkrishna das says:

      Haribol ji, may i say Hansdutta ji at least you have said you made mistakes , been open about what went wrong for you, not many from that time have or ever will,..so bless you ji ,..haribol

    • Nilesh Dalal says:

      Hare Krishna prabhuji,
      Please consider to reprint your book not for fame or for glory but to help other innocent jivas from following the bogus gurus. I just discovered your website. But there are others where this message has to be reached. Please help to redirect Prabhupada’s vision in it’s true direction. Senior true devotees like yourself is our only link to the truth.
      Hari Bol.

    • dhaval moradiya says:

      hare krishna
      i want to purchasse of this book …

  6. Martin says:

    Hare Krishna. Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

    For many years I have been searching for the audio of the so-called appointment tape of May 28, 1977. Do you have the audio file, and if so, could you please email it to me or post it to YouTube? I have read the transcript and understand that Srila Prabhupada appointed ritviks, but I would like to hear the audio for myself.

  7. William Regular says:

    Hare Krishna!!
    Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!!

    Thank you very much for your profound realizations. i really felt indebted.. it gives me more light since you personally advice me to read first before i come to visit any ISKCON temple. i will write you someday in regards of this book.
    Again, thank you very much Hansadutta Prabhu

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  9. Lou says:

    Dear Hansadutta Das,
    I remember you in Berkely in 1976 or so. I used to frequent the temple there often. I have not been to an ISKCON temple since then although I occasionally try to keep up on ISKCON news. I am a devotee of Avatar Meher Baba. I have no qualifications to judge but the letter you’ve shared seems to clearly spell out Srila Prabhupada’s wishes. It makes it very clear: “The newly initiated devotees are disciples of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada …” It is truly a shame that ISKCON has been divided all these years and I pray your efforts are helpful. Congratulations on your honesty and sincere work.

  10. Probir saha says:

    Jay radha!! I love “krishna” but i love you too.,’prabhupada’

  11. Vishnujana says:

    Hansadutta please accept my humble obeisances as a older Godbrother. I would like to talk to you about the ritvik system and where do you stand with post 1977 ISKCON. I would also like to know if you yourself know about the poisoning of our Spiritual Master A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada by your Godbrothers (perhaps you were aware but did not do anything) as well as your Godbrothers and the heinous acts they have done such as kirtananda and bhakti thirtha and many others. Please write back to me as soon as possible. If you truly following Srila Prabhupada you would allow for us to start a conversation to help this poor lost soul find some happiness. You are one of the last Ritvik Representative of Srila Prabhupada who was chosen by HIM. do not let this go to waste. Rise up Hansadutta and fight for Srila Prabhupada if you are sincere. Do not become clouded by illusion like arjuna at the battle of kurusetra with his family members. Just because they are your Godbrothers does not make it right to let them destroy Prabhupada ISKCON and take so many to hell with them. there are many scattered sects of the ritvik camp around the world with some truly devoted to Prabhupada and others for some materialistic purposes. Are we to let our faith become like the christian faith which is scattered from protestant to catholic to coptic orthodox to Pentecostal? Why do you sit and do nothing? Become a true ritvik and defend Prabhupada order and stop this second poisoning which is being done to Prabhupada Books. They are new devotees that are coming in this movement and many are lost because of the so many ritvik camps as well that they do not want to associate with ISKCON example my self and few friends. All I ask of you from my self is to write back to me so we may talk with my friends on your place and what we can do. Hare Krsna Jai Prabhupada.

    • Vishnujana says:

      Srila Prabhupada: Keu bole je keu poison kore diyeche. Hoy to tai.
      Translation: Someone says that I’ve been poisoned. It’s possible.

      Balaram Mishra (?): Hmm?

      Kaviraja: Kya farma rahe hain?
      Translation: What is he saying?

      Srila Prabhupada: Koi bolta hai je koi mujhko poison kiya gaya hai.
      Translation: Someone says that someone has given poison.

      Kaviraja: Kisko?
      Translation: To whom?

      Srila Prabhupada: Mujhko.
      Translation: To me.

      Kaviraja: Kaun bolta hai?
      Translation: Who said?

      Srila Prabhupada: Ye sab friends.
      Translation: These all friends.

      Bhakticharu: Ke boleche, Srila Prabhupada?
      Translation: Who said, Srila Prabhupada?

      Srila Prabhupada: Ke boleche.
      Translation: They all say.

      Tamal Krishna: Krishna das?

      Kaviraja: Ao ko kaun poison dega? Kis liye dega?
      Translation: Who would give you poison? Why would anyone do that?

      Tamal Krishna: Who said that, Srila Prabhupada?

      Srila Prabhupada: I do not know, but it is said.

      Exchange 1 – Mixture of English, Hindi and Bengali (9/11/77)

      Jagadisha: Srila Prabhupada, can you tell us why you want to go on the parikrama? (travelling to visiting holy places)
      Prabhupada: …good paddy.
      Tamala Krsna: This seems like suicide, Srila Prabhupada, this program. It seems to some of us like it’s suicidal.
      Prabhupada: And this is also suicidal.
      Tamala Krsna: Hm. Prabhupada said, “And this is also suicide.” Now you have to choose which suicide.
      Prabhupada: The Ravana (A great demon) will kill and Rama (God) will kill. Better to be killed by Rama. Eh? That Marica–if he does not go to mislead Sita, he’ll be killed by Ravana; and if he goes to be killed by Rama, then it is better.
      [Room Con. Nov. 10, 1977, Vrndavana, India]

      Prabhupada: All right. You take Babaji Maharaja. That will be my going. (“devotees” laugh)
      Krsna dasa Babaji: Jaya. (laughter)
      Tamala Krsna: Yes, the bullock cart will go tomorrow
      Prabhupada: Yes.
      Tamala Krsna: To Govardhana.
      Prabhupada: Yes, other devotees can go. I cannot go.
      Tamala Krsna: No, they’ll go on your behalf, but you will go one day. That we promise you. (“devotees” laugh)
      “Devotee ?”: (under breath) Sati (other “devotees” laugh)
      Prabhupada: All right.
      Tamala Krsna: Our greatest pleasure will be to take you on tirtha-yatra, Srila Prabhupada. We wanted so much to go with you on that.
      Prabhupada: Thank you very much.

      (Vrindavana, India – 10th November 1977)
      http://www.prabhupada.org.uk/paul/08.mp3

      here is the conversation of his final days. You were there werent you? therefore if you knew of this publicly repent and work to fight against your “Godbrothers” and if you sincerely and honestly did not know then research and hear what they did to our Guru Maharaj and understand what you must do.
      http://www.prabhupada.org.uk/paul/prabhupada_poisoned.htm

  12. Krishna Tungal says:

    All Glories to Srila Prabhupada,
    Hare Krishna to all the devotees.

    What Vishnujana Prabhu said is 100000% true. Hansadutta Prabhu, you can do it, we all here to support you..

    HariBol….

    Your servant
    Krishna Tungal

    • Aaca says:

      Dear Jagaddharta Prabhu Thank you for your comments. I beelive that you are correct in your appraisal that we have underestimated world affairs as a causative influence. Srila Prabhupada has given us all the knowledge and perspective to understand the complexities of modern life and how we are entangled in the modes and more importantly how to get disentangled. Srila Prabhupada gives us the tools it is up to us how or when or if we employ them. He nor Krsna will do this as this is our duty to free ourselves. The Demon Kali has his agents both outside and inside of FISKCON. To have them inside ISKCON is impossible for inside ISKCON is where Srila Prabhupada’s vision lies illuminating the absolute truth. FISKCON adherents do not have this vision and so they will cheat us. It is only when we can understand this difference, that is between ISKCON and FISKCON that we can begin to free ourselves. Yes no one comes close to Srila Prabhupada! Nor are they meant to. He is the Acharya of ISKCON no one else. We have to all come together by aligning our visions to his and in order to do this we must understand our predicament within the Geopolitical sphere and to know where the Krsna Consciousness Movement is being compromised, where our own vision has been affected and obscured. Yours in the service of Srila PrabhupadaAdmin

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  16. Hansadutta Prabhu, you are in an excellent position to understand the ritvik issue because you were an ISKCON temple president, a member of the GBC body, a BBT trustee, an “appointed guru,” and a “zonal acharya.” Your booklet is what convinced me, even before “The Final Order” was published.

    Also, no ISKCON leader dares to debate with you. All that they ever do is resort to low-class name-calling!

  17. hansadutta das says:
    September 12, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    I have no motre copies for saler

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