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Hierarch, Hierarchy & You

A place for everyone in Srila Prabhupada’s mission

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur was the last Hierarch or Acharya, and those in his service were placed by him in a hierarchy called the Gaudiya Math. But failing to carry out his final order to form a GBC, they drifted out of their place in his hierarchy. Subsequently, Srila Prabhupada (His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada) picked up the essence of this order and acted alone to carry it out. Thus, the Hierarch Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur empowered him spiritually, and he became the next Hierarch, or the Acharya, re-establishing the hierarchy of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur under the name and style of ISKCON, which automatically includes Gaudiya Math, since “International” means all parts of the world, not only Gaudiya or India.

Unfortunately, the Gaudiyas failed to see their place in the expanded hierarchy of their spiritual master Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur under the Hierarch or Acharya Srila Prabhupada. They remain stuck up in their provincial designations, and to this day they think of ISKCON and the Gaudiya Math as separate institutions, when in spiritual reality they are one and the same, provided they can take their place in the hierarchy under the Hierarch Srila Prabhupada. All those avoiding this all-embracing, transcendental conception of Hierarch and hierarchy are living in an imaginary spiritual life. Therefore so much conflict, confusion and anarchy.

We do not need to say how great Srila Prabhupada was. We need to serve the great Srila Prabhupada; otherwise we become ingrates or ungrateful disciples. We should ask ourselves, Do we really want to serve Srila Prabhupada? Or do we want to serve ourselves by using Srila Prabhupada as a front? Now that Srila Prabhupada is dead and gone, everyone will say, “Yes, yes, Swami Maharaja did a great thing. I was his friend, he gave the basic ideas, the general impressions, and from me you can get the higher thing.” But where were these friends and well-wishers with the higher thing when Srila Prabhupada was alone—or rather, alive and well, struggling-asking for help and trying to establish his worldwide ISKCON mission?

Since Srila Prabhupada has left, many disciples have fallen away. Some of them have become ingrates and renegade disciples by running after another guru for re-initiation. They disobey their own guru, Srila Prabhupada, and then disobey their new guru, setting themselves up as guru, renegades, using Srila Prabhupada as a front. Others who remain entrenched in the ISKCON mission propound themselves as successor acharyas, although they are unable to maintain even the basic sadhana required of the neophyte devotee. Like fishermen, they use the books of Srila Prabhupada as bait for the innocent public. When hooked, they kill the prospective candidate for spiritual life by threatening him with eternal damnation if he does not surrender and accept one of their rubber-stamped ISKCON acharyas as guru-acharya and savior, although it is obvious to ordinary persons that none of these so-called guru-acharyas have even the common courtesy or modesty to allow a person freedom to discriminate and come to their own heart-felt spiritual conclusions.

Srila Prabhupada, the Founder-Acharya of ISKCON, the Hierarch, created a hierarchy, a structure of spiritual authority in which every devotee has a responsibility (able to respond) and authority to carry out this specific responsibility conferred upon him by a devotee in the line of hierarchy above him which originated (origin, author, authority) with Srila Prabhupada.

Srila Prabhupada created various offices of authority and designated individuals to take the responsibility to execute the duties of such offices. He first recruited a number of devotees by his personal preaching potency (“purity is the force”). In order to expand this preaching potency, Srila Prabhupada then created the GBC, the Governing Body Commission, to act as his geographical representatives in geographical zones around the world. Srila Prabhupada then created a BBT, Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, and appointed himself and two others as trustees, to see to the systematic publication and distribution of his books, along with collection of funds to finance the reprinting of books and the building of temples—50% for printing, 50% for temple construction. Srila Prabhupada created the office of rittvik-guru, naming certain devotees who were given the responsibility and authority to initiate new disciples into the hierarchy created by Srila Prabhupada on his behalf. Srila Prabhupada, the Hierarch, did not give any authority or responsibility for any disciple to assume the office of guru-acharya. But he wanted his leading rittvik appointees to initiate disciples on behalf of the Founder-Acharya, Srila Prabhupada, keeping himself as the central pivot or Hierarch, around which all the officers, GBC, BBT and rittviks—the hierarchy—would harmoniously carry out and expand the worldwide preaching, like the hub of a wheel, from which many spokes emanate, enabling the wheel to carry a heavy load. The Hierarch, Acharya Srila Prabhupada—concentric, not eccentric—must always remain the central hub or pivot from whom all authority, responsibility and spiritual power and purity emanates.

Now we have eccentric gurus instead of concentric gurus. That is the meaning of rittvik-guru: concentric. At the present moment we are experiencing anarchy—not hierarchy—on account of leading disciples mistakenly wanting to assume the position of the Hierarch, Srila Prabhupada, instead of acting in the concentric position—rittvik acharya—which was given to them to occupy in the hierarchy created by the Hierarch.

The solution to the present-day anarchy or chaos in the society of worldwide devotees is for the individual devotees to resume their place and restore themselves in the hierarchy created by Srila Prabhupada. The hierarchy, the divine structure of ISKCON created by Srila Prabhupada exists today for every devotee exactly as it did when Srila Prabhupada was physically here with us on the planet. And to restore the dynamic spirit of the Vaishnava community as a preaching institution, it is only necessary for the disciple or aspiring disciple to take his place in the master-disciple relationship and to accept the hierarchy and begin functioning in a post assigned by Srila Prabhupada’s hierarchy. No one can become a Hierarch or an Acharya. Every disciple is forever, first and foremost, a disciple (discipline), servant of the Hierarch Srila Prabhupada.

When this simple, perfect and divine arrangement of His Divine Grace is ignored or disregarded by any disciple, as is the case with all leading disciples at present, the result is anarchy, the opposite of hierarchy. In chaos, one’s spiritual potential cannot be realized. It is exactly like an intricate machine. Each part is valuable and functional only when it is positioned and acting harmoniously in the one and only place it was created for. A spark plug, for example, is only valuable when properly fixed in its place, connected to the plug wire, which is connected to the distributor, and so on. Likewise, the same plug lying in the street has no value. In exactly the same way, all devotees, before being picked up by Srila Prabhupada, were loitering in the street without any function or value. Srila Prabhupada plugged us into this hierarchy of ISKCON, and all together thousands of useless souls were brought into divine harmony or hierarchy and became spiritually awakened and enlivened as long as we remained in our designated place of Srila Prabhupada’s divine hierarchy, ISKCON. Whoever chooses to abandon his place in Srila Prabhupada’s hierarchy, he becomes as useless as a part of a machine tossed into the street.

Therefore, at any time, any person who wants to engage in the hierarchy of Srila Prabhupada’s ISKCON can immediately be restored to his original spiritual life by simply embracing the place he was originally assigned by Srila Prabhupada’s divine hierarchy in ISKCON. No one has any right or any authority to cast anyone out of the hierarchy created by Srila Prabhupada, the Hierarch. No one has any right to block any former devotee or aspiring devotee from pursuing or wanting to participate in the hierarchy of Srila Prabhupada. Our place in the hierarchy of Srila Prabhupada is eternal, and no one—NO ONE—has the authority to interfere with another’s place in the divine hierarchy of Srila Prabhupada. Just like a father who has many children … if some of the sons become disobedient or fallen away from their father’s house, they are nevertheless sons, and upon returning are restored to their rightful, natural place in the hierarchy of the family or their father. The oldest son always remains the oldest son. The number five son always remains number five, for all time. This is natural, and it cannot be dismissed.