Appointmentism v. Rtvikism: A Punch and Judy Show
BY: BALAVIDYA DASA
Dec 1, USA (SUN) Since the departure of Srila Prabhupada, a long-running Punch & Judy show has arisen before the Vaisnava audience. Yet, is it amusing?
Punch, fighting on behalf of the GBC's insistence of 'diksa-guru-by-GBC-appointment/no objection', bashes the head of Judy, fighting on behalf of the 'rtvik-guru' proponents. Battering away at Judy, Punch says you 'rtviks' have no support from guru, sadhu and sastra. You have only your exotic interpretation of one word, "henceforward", in a letter composed by Tamal Krsna M. And if we accept your weird interpretation, then we must put aside everything Srila Prabhupada taught us, as well as billions of years of paramapara practice. So here is your reward: On your head, a good Bash, Bang, Bash, Bang!
Judy, fighting on behalf of the rtviks, is not one to be logical, especially as she can't come up with any sadhu or sastra to support her bizarre re-interpretation of Srila Prabhupada's vast body of teachings. So, what's her response? She simply covers her club with mud and swings about, hysterically shouting: Your GBC rubber-stamped gurus are all falling down like London Bridge. You have rubber-stamped zonal gurus, murderous gurus, philandering gurus, egomaniac gurus, homosexual gurus, druggy gurus, and nonsense gurus. So here is your reward: On your head, a good Bash, Bang, Bash, Bang!
Now this sideshow might be comical if it were about something inconsequential. But it isn't. The conflict is on a core principle of Krsna-consciousness: Who is the bona fide guru? Both Punch and Judy presume themselves to be the true representatives of Srila Prabhupada. And both hope that by destroying the other they will win the cheers of the crowd. But it's time for a reality check. Punch and Judy have become so senseless that they can't see that the Vaisnavas went away disgusted a long time ago. Judy can't seduce anyone with her ridiculous Rtvikism, and Punch has proved to be impotent, whatever new way the GBC try to doctor their absurd Appointmentism.
Judy is a conniving prostitute and Punch is an impotent imitation of a male. Both present a sorry sight. Yet, in their lonely unhappiness, it is clear that they depend upon each other. Judy hopes to appear beautiful and attractive by pointing out the impotence of Punch. And Punch hopes to appear powerful and fertile by pointing out the infidelity of Judy. However, as they strip each other naked, it is clear that they are both hideous and yet bear a strong resemblance. Time, as is His wont, has revealed them both for what they actually are: ugly brother and sister twins. Time has made it clear that this is a family dispute. The father of Punch and Judy is Concoction, and their mother is Deviation; this is the family lineage of Punch and Judy. However, Concoction and Deviation are also brother and sister, and from their unholy incestuous union has been born Double Disturbance in the form of Punch and Judy.
Punch and Judy are only a Double Disturbance to the Krsna-conscious Society. They both pretend to be faithful to guru, sadhu and sastra, but only practice a twisted lip service. They both posture and argue acrimoniously, pretending that they are the best and only way to carry on the Gaudiya-parampara, but it is plain to see that they are both born from perversion. In their twin manipulative, envious hearts, we do not find surrender and service to Srila Prabhupada but only a desire to control and enjoy. They are both the Devil, quoting sastra.
Judy, fighting on behalf of the rtviks, schemes to turn guru into a silent icon, far distant from the disciple and thus unable to propagate the inconvenience of surrender. With garbled illogical nonsense, she madly screams, saying: Follow me and I will give you "posthumous diksa-guru initiation for the next ten-thousand years". This idea is so outlandish that it is almost impossible to believe that any sane person could seriously suggest it. She can only attract the fools and rascals.
However, the GBC is very thankful to the ritvik proponents of Judy for she makes 'guru-reform' look so ridiculous that it distracts the members of ISKCON from the constant stream of guru-by-appointment concoctions the GBC have imposed on the society since 1977. Furthermore, when anyone dares to suggest that the rubber-stamped gurus are not qualified compared to Srila Prabhupada, or that we are primarily a siksa-sampradaya, or that we should take shelter of Srila Prabhupada, or the like, then the GBC can throw the ultimate condemnation of "this is another form of rtvikism". Thus rtvikism actually helps to maintain the GBC position.
Punch, fighting on behalf of the GBC, sees 'guru' as a powerful and lucrative position and seeks to turn it into a business franchise to be enjoyed by the chosen few - chosen by the GBC. A GBC rubber-stamp gives an appearance of qualification and nicely puts those not rubber-stamped out on the sidelines. Too many gurus would be bad for business and centralised GBC control would slip away. All this invention can be justified by postulating the need to protect the 'new devotees' from the unqualified false guru. After a thirty-year parade of grossly fallen GBC-rubber-stamped 'gurus', such a justification is simply a farce; the GBC rubber-stamp has simply created the problem it pretends to solve. Like Judy, Punch can only impress the fools and rascals.
However, Judy is very thankful for the guru-rubberstamping of the GBC; it is very easy for her to point out that rubber-stamping of gurus is directly against the instruction of the sastra and Srila Prabhupada. Moreover, this weakening of the GBC's authority is very convenient for those who want to snatch away the material assets of ISKCON; they can call their diksa-guru bogus, take shelter of rtvikism, and in the name of Srila Prabhupada take possession of the local temple. We have seen this game plan in Calcutta and Bangalore. Thus the guru-rubber-stamping of the GBC actually supports the rtvik position.
Once one strays from the razor's edge of true chastity to the words and spirit of Srila Prabhupada's directions in the light of sadhu and sastra, there is no end to the variance in material motivation in Maya's illusory queendom. Neither Punch or Judy will ever pass the test of guru, sadhu and sastra. In fact, they are not neutral but actively subvert and pervert the eternal principles of guru-parampara as presented by Srila Prabhupada. Therefore those who comply with these deviations will inevitably lack any true spiritual potency and tend to fall back into material life as a result of their offence. Philosophically this has been pointed out by thousands of Vaisnavas since the departure of Srila Prabhupada, but thirty years later, Punch and Judy are both proven practical failures, naked in their ugliness.
The response of the GBC has been to revamp their guru-by-appointment system and rename it as 'guru-by-no-objection'. Such Orwellian word-speak cannot hide the hypocrisy involved. By renaming the guru-rubberstamping as a "no-objection" system, the GBC are tacitly admitting that they should not "appoint" gurus - only because by now everyone in ISKCON knows the clear condemnation of guru-rubberstamping by Srila Prabhupada. However, by actually maintaining their guru-appointment system under the word-jugglery of "no-objection", they are openly seen to be insisting on "guru-by-rubber-stamp". This hypocritical contradiction is apparently lost to the GBC and bears witness to the fact that they are only an assemblage of neophytes who prefer mental speculation and word-jugglery to actually following the instructions of Srila Prabhupada and the sastra.
"Where did Srila Prabhupada say to do like that?" When this question is applied to the various forms of GBC guru-by-rubber-stamp, the answer can only be, "Srila Prabhupada never told us to do anything like this. In fact, he strongly criticised the guru-rubber stamping of his godbrothers. We have concocted all these ideas ourselves."
The next questions are, "Why then, dear GBC, have you concocted all these ideas? Are Srila Prabhupada's books, lectures, letters and conversations devoid of instruction on how to continue the disciplic succession? Did Srila Prabhupada teach us everything, except how to continue the disciplic succession? Did he forget this point in his books and preaching and therefore the GBC has had to fill the gap with ever-new concoctions since 1977?"
No answers come on these questions from the GBC. They pretend compliance with guru, sadhu and sastra, but never provide such evidence to justify their policies. Instead they act like these questions don't exist. Never a word we hear.
One may ask at this point: What makes Punch and Judy twins? They seem very different. Punch purports to carry on the parampara in the normal chain-like way with the absolute caveat of GBC appointment/approval, and Judy proposes that Srila Prabhupada is the final link in the chain. Yes, an apparent dichotomy, but the difference is only superficial. What makes them twins is their mindset. In their heart and soul the same blood flows.
Both wish to declare to the world who is 'guru'. Through institutional rubber-stamping or philosophical tomfoolery, Punch and Judy seek to declare to the world who is the guru, and who is the diksa-guru in particular. At the same time, they co-opt the right to declare who is not the diksa-guru. They are very strident on these points, asserting that only those who have satisfied their particular system are bona fide. To justify their stance, they both assert that they know what's best for all those naïve neophytes coming to Krsna-consciousness and must take a stand to protect them from bogus imposter gurus.
This propensity to designate the position of guru is not restricted to the GBC and rtvik camps. Within ISKCON there have been cartels that have lobbied for the official acceptance of various Gaudiya Math sannyasis as the official 'head-guru' for ISKCON (H.H. Sridhara M. and presently H.H. Narayana M.). Also, we have seen the tendency of various disciples within ISKCON to push their own guru as the only real inheritor and successor to Srila Prabhupada. This echoes the original proposal of the GBC that the original eleven 'zonal-gurus' were to be the sole successors to Srila Prabhupada. Indeed, when looking outside ISKCON we find that this propensity is also practically all-pervasive. Little or big spiritual societies are all engaged in ritually appointing the next guru or mahanta. Even the Catholic Church does it, designating the next Pope to shepherd his flock of sheep. This is the procedure of Kali-yuga: the little donkeys all want to vote into power the big donkey of their choice. Does anybody actually believe that the Catholic Pope is God's representative because he got the vote? Only the little donkeys. Does anyone really believe that the vote of the GBC makes a bona fide guru, a true representative of Krsna? Only the little donkeys.
When we look, as we should, to the sastra to guide us, we do not find any appointment process, certainly not in the Srimad-Bhagavatam or the Caitanya-caritamrta; scriptures which are specifically meant to guide devotees in Kali-yuga. In fact, in the purports of the Caitanya-caritamrta, we find detailed descriptions by Srila Prabhupada of how his godbrothers became "useless" by deviating from the order of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta and without authorisation designated the next acarya, which split the Gaudiya Math, and then pursued the policy of diksa-guru-by-appointment in the resultant factions. In this context, Srila Prabhupada quoted Srila Bhaktisiddnanta, stating that "guru is self-efflugent" and thus needs no appointment. And who should judge? None other than the disciple, for it is he who is to surrender his life to the instructions and guidance of the self-evidently qualified guru. The responsibility must be placed on his shoulders, and if we had a healthy society, that is what we would be telling the newcomers. "Examine very carefully. Learn the sastric qualifications of a guru. Associate closely. Be careful." This is the check and balance given in the sastra. This is the system of the Supreme Lord. However, the GBC think they know better than the Supreme Lord, hence they are no better than a bunch of little donkeys, presenting their latest favored rubber-stamped big donkeys.
On May 28th 1977, Vrndavana, Srila Prabhupada instructed the GBC:
"And Caitanya Mahaprabhu says, amara ajnaya guru hana. One can understand the order of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, he can become guru. Or one who understands his guru's order, the same parampara, he can become guru."
In 1977, certain GBC members were eagerly awaiting the designation of the 'next' guru or gurus, preferably themselves. However, in this quote we find that Srila Prabhupada indicates that guruship is the natural function of all qualified disciples, the qualification being the understanding of the order of Sri Caitanya descending through the parampara and specifically through Srila Prabhupada.
On November 2nd 1977, just twelve days before his disappearance lila, Srila Prabhupada was asked privately by some Indian guests who would succeed him as acarya. He described his answer moments later to his disciples:
Prabhupada: "[They asked] ...after you, who will take the leadership?" And [I replied] "Everyone will take, all my disciples. If you want, you can take also. (laughter) But if you follow. They are prepared to sacrifice everything, so they'll take the leadership. I may, one, go away, but there will be hundreds, and they'll preach. If you want, you can also become a leader. We have no such thing as "here is leader". Anyone who follows the previous leadership, he's a leader."
Again what did Srila Prabhupada say, when asked by a little donkey who would be the next guru? Srila Prabhupada said, "We have no such thing as 'here is leader'."
Could there be a clearer condemnation of institutional rubber-stamping of spiritual status, the status of diksa-guruship? A clear condemnation of everything the GBC have done since Nov 1977?
Let us be frank, the very last thing that many members of the GBC wanted to hear on the subject of guru in Nov 1977 was "All my disciples…" We have no such thing as 'here is leader'. Anyone who follows the previous leadership, he's a leader." History and eyewitness accounts attest to the fact that as Srila Prabhupada lay in his Vrndavana home preparing for his Samadhi, there was a great eagerness and rivalry in the air: Who will be the next leader? Who will be the guru? Who will it be? Many GBC wanted a clear appointment of the next guru. It could not be any other way - there must be an appointment! In this atmosphere of fevered material ambition, Srila Prabhupada's statements, as above, fell on deaf ears and instead there was a great search amongst Srila Prabhupada's statements to find something that could be twisted into a "statement of appointment" by Srila Prabhupada.
Eventually Srila Prabhupada's designation of eleven "officiating acaryas" to initiate on his behalf in his presence was twisted and converted into a list of eleven successor paramahamsa-parivacacaryas. Two weeks after the Samadhi of Srila Prabhupada this policy was announced by the GBC; it had been worked out well in advance without the authorization of Srila Prabhupada. In fact in the very moments when Srila Prabhupada was leaving his body in Vrndavana, the GBC left the room to discuss how to manipulate events.
The policy they decided had four implicit elements: (1) the eleven successors had been chosen by Srila Prabhupada, excluding all other disciples from the role of "diksa-guru"; (2) the eleven had been especially empowered by Srila Prabhupada and were therefore pramahamsa-parivrajakacaryas and Visnupadas, etc; (3) the eleven were the exclusive and only bona fide medium of service to Srila Prabhupada, even for the disciples of Srila Prabhupada; (4) all disciples of Srila Prabhupada that did not accept policy points 1-3 were disobedient to Srila Prabhupada and should therefore leave ISKCON, generally designated as "envious". An 'Acarya Board' of the eleven was convened apart from the GBC and worked out a uniform policy to be imposed on ISKCON.
During these 'Acarya Board' meetings, all manner of questions and objections to the above policy were considered; discussions were then held and standard answers and stratagems were decided. By presenting a uniform and united front, the eleven hoped to quell the gathering political storm. In the late 1970s, many papers became to circulate throughout ISKCON, pointing out the philosophical anomalies and basic disobedience to Srila Prabhupada that composed this GBC policy. There then began a mass exodus from ISKCON of the protesting disciples of Srila Prabhupada, many ejected even under physical threat. One was murdered for his protests by the New Vrndavana 'guru'. The eleven started initiating anyone that they could get their hands on to enhance their political power base. At the very beginning, these were the devotees that were waiting to be initiated by Srila Prabhupada. The actual order of Srila Prabhupada was that these eleven should initiate these devotees "on his behalf" to be "his disciples". There is no record that any initiations were actually performed under this direction of Srila Prabhupada in late 1977. It seems that these devotees were not initiated, held back to be the new power base for the eleven usurpers. At this point we should consider that Srila Prabhupada's order transcends the evil machinations and misbehavior of this eleven and that therefore, these devotees that were waiting for initiation in late 1977 should consider themselves the full disciples of Srila Prabhupada as per the expressed desire of Srila Prabhupada.
Such were the events post-1977, all without the authorization of Srila Prabhupada and indeed in direct contravention of his instructions. Of the original eleven, practically all have completely fallen away from even the most basic spiritual practice, and there has been a common manifestation of deep mental illness, particularly megalomania. Interestingly, head injuries are a shared event amongst the eleven: throat slashing, insanity, psychosis, death dealing blows, chronic debilitating headaches, even decapitation by an unappreciative disciple.
Lord Caitanya, the Caitanya-caritamrta tells us, is "as soft as a rose, but can be as hard as a thunderbolt." Thunderbolts come down from the heavens; our heads are uppermost to the heavens.
Actually, from the very beginning of his mission, Srila Prabhupada gave vast and detailed directions on how the disciplic succession might be continued successfully. But those instructions empower the devotees and are based on the individual integrity and initiative of his followers in direct compliance with the sastra. However the GBC do not search for the instructions of Srila Prabhupada, they search for some non-existent "guru-by-institutional-rubber-stamp" system. Inevitably they fail, but that they will not admit, and the latest idiocy of the GBC is to call their appointment system a "no-objection".
So dear GBCs, let it be known that the only people you are fooling is yourselves. You have quite deservedly become a laughing stock, and history will write many a passage condemning your foolishness. You have lost all authority, quite rightly, by your deviation. You have created 'Posthumous Rtvikism' with your ridiculous machinations and suppression of thousands of disciples of Srila Prabhupada. You have only rubber-stamped a disciplic succession of Putana's in ISKCON.
For your mad-elephant offence, you have lost all spiritual potency and guidance from the Supreme Lord, hence you spend your time in endless meetings instead of instructing your disciples, and you fly round the world endlessly like a bunch of chickens with your heads cut off. You are not seen in the prasadam hall with the average devotee, but live apart in special quarters surrounded by fawning sycophants who hope to get the crumbs that fall from the poisoned cake on your silverware. Undoubtedly you collectively are the greatest wastage of cash in ISKCON. If you had cut your travel and lifestyle by just a quarter, we could have built the giant Mayapur Temple by now.
You have become exactly the opposite of what Srila Prabhupada wanted of the GBC. You are a corrupt, arrogant hierarchy of back-slapping politicians who preach surrender but do not practise it. You prefer your mental speculation to compliance with sastra. You are not austere but are known as the biggest sense enjoyers in ISKCON. After your meetings, recently one in Italy, we are always being told how good the prasadam was that you had. Apparently, you think you are kings that are throwing scraps to the peasants, impressing us with the wonders of your opulence and power.
Ultimately, you are a failure; ISKCON is continuing not because of you, but despite you and your nonsense.
Your latest nonsense is to subordinate all the functions of acaryaship to your committee and thus disempower all devotees. Well, the path of bhakti will never change by your nonsense votes. Bhakti is found by surrender and service to the dust of the lotus feet of an uttama-adhikari devotee of Sri Sri Radha Krsna, not compliance with a committee-bunch of deviant mental speculators who long ago in 1977 forgot what Srila Prabhupada wanted in a fevered lustful search for profit, adoration and distinction.
From the devotee crowd there has been a call for many years now, but you are so stupefied you cannot hear it: "The kings have no clothes, they have no clothes, they have no clothes!"
It is not a pretty sight. Now is the time to cut your cloth from the plain instructions of Srila Prabhupada. Put some clothes on quick before everyone turns away. Right now you are simply an embarrassment.
Jai Sri Krsna, your friend, Balavidya dasa
PS: "One who criticises me, he is my friend. One who praises me, he is my enemy."