When ISKCON’s diksha-guru is not absolute but is subordinate to GBC due to Prabhupada’s will, doesn’t that make Prabhupada ISKCON’s diksha-guru?

by Chaitanya Charan dasMay 12, 2014

From Stoka Krishna Prabhu

Answer Podcast

Transcription by- Keshav Gopal Das & Ambuj Gupta

Question- As per shastra, diksha guru is the principle then how come in ISKCON diksha guru is under GBC orders? If GBC authority is endorsed by Srila Prabhupada then does that not tacitly imply that he is the only diksha guru and rest everyone shiksha guru. Some can be senior and others junior, like we have lecturer, associate professor, and professor?

Answer- The guru is not the highest principle. Krishna is the highest principle and the guru represents Krishna and in that sense the guru is the highest authority for the disciple. So for the disciple it is very important. It is not that the guru is the highest authority for everyone and even in the Vedic times, in the Mahabharata, there is a verse which says that how if the guru deviates then the disciple should reject the guru. What does this point mean?

We see the example of Bali Maharaja and Shukracharya. Although Shukracharya might not have been guru in the exact Vaishnava sense but he was a guru in some sense. Bali Maharaja’s rejection of his guru is a glorious activity and not inglorious activity.

The point is we not talking about rejecting guru here. We are simply making a point that even the guru has to be evaluated by some standard that is higher than that. Higher than guru’s own behavior and that is the standard which is given in shastra. Guru, sadhu, shastra everyone represent Krishna and Krishna is the highest authority.

Even in Vedic times there were situations where if one great sage would do something wrong, other sages would correct him. There is the example of Brahmaji making some mistake and then others such as chatush kumaras they are there and then the sons of Maricha are there. They laugh at Brahmaji. They commit offence but others they counsel Brahamaji and Brahamaji remembers and comes back to proper understanding.

So the point is that there are mechanisms for coarse correction which are there even in the Vedic context. Now the specifics of the mechanisms may not be known to us but the point is that in this world anybody can go wrong and there are methods in place for ensuring that one doesn’t go wrong. Having such methods is not considered to be inappropriate or incorrect.

To say that the guru should not be under the authority of anyone that is not exactly proper. The guru is after all under the authority of his own guru. Off course his guru may have departed now. But still the point is that nobody is independent except Krishna.

All this I am saying not in the sense that the guru tattva we have fully resolve the answers to it, but the point is that just because the guru’s are under GBC doesn’t necessarily mean that the position of the guru is compromised or rejected. Even the Madhva sampradaya, they have multiple successor gurus and they have their authority for their disciples. But then there are others also who if one of the acharyas does something which is objectionable, there are others who can take some disciplinary action against that person if it is required. So some sort of correction system is essential. Prabhupada has made the GBC as the correction system for the guru whenever it is required.

First is that just because the guru under the GBC doesn’t compromise the guru’s position and secondly it doesn’t imply that Prabhupada is the only diksha guru and everyone is shiksha guru. That is quite a leap of logic because diksha is a particular action that is done and that has to be done with few standards of taking diksha from someone who is not there at all on the planet. To make a whole tradition based on that is simply unprecedented. I don’t see how the fact that the diksha guru is under GBC means that diksha guru is not the diksha guru and therefore Prabhupada is the only diksha guru. The logic seems to be quite suspect.

Certainly it may seem to some people that this guru system is having some flaw because of the problem of the guru being under GBC authority. But that is as I explained, nobody is completely independent anywhere. As I said, even Brahmaji, he can be corrected at times. There have to be people to correct him also. It is not necessary just because of the GBC is the top most authority that does not lead to the conclusion that guru is not the bonafide guru or diksha guru. Thank you.

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Chaitanya Charan das

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