As all our articles in this section, the one below has also been first published in the IRM’s official magazine Back To Prabhupada. BTP is being distributed for free to ISKCON devotees and people interested in Srila Prabhupada’s teachings worldwide. If you would like to receive BTP at your home, simply send us your full name and street address via the following email address: irm@iskconirm. com.
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It’s all about the power!
Recently, the European GBC (Governing Body Commission) passed the following resolution:
“There will be no more ‘cross-border’ initiations […] It is hereby resolved that in general ISKCON gurus may no longer make requests for funds from disciples or other devotees for projects or personal maintenance.” (208/II-107 Initiation procedures, Euro GBC, 7/10/2008)This is, on the one hand, bringing back elements of the previously discarded “Zonal Acarya” system (“The Great Guru Hoax, Part 1”), by insisting that one can only accept a guru who resides in that person’s “zone”. And on the other, it is continuing the trend highlighted earlier of turning the ISKCON gurus into glorified ritviks (“The Great Guru Hoax, Part 3”).
For having already stated that gurus cannot directly engage their disciples in service (Law 405 (G), GBC Resolutions, 1999), now they cannot even ask them for any money! Poor gurus! And yet to combat the IRM, the GBC claim that we must implement the “traditional guru-disciple model”. But “initiators” who basically have no authority over their “disciples” is a ritvik model, not a guru-disciple model!
Though on the surface this would appear to be a welcome development, what it actually illustrates is that The Great Guru Hoax is merely a symptom of, and a tool and mechanism to satisfy, the underlying desire to take and use Srila Prabhupada’s teachings and movement to garner profit, honour and distinction for oneself. The reasoning for the above resolution admits as much:
“Whereas, in the past, power, money and followers has been instrumental in the downfall of many of our gurus; and because we now have to struggle to rescue our reputation in the face of considerable criticism; [...] Whereas there is now a lot more competition from other spiritual organisations [...]” (208/II-107 Initiation procedures, Euro GBC, 7/10/2008)So this is a pretty clear admission that simply ‘due to our guru hoax program of taking power having had problems, and the subsequent heat coming from the IRM and other organisations, changes were required to help keep the show on the road.’ Hence the program of using Srila Prabhupada’s teachings and assets to take control and power continues.
Indeed, The Great Guru Hoax, Part 2 was itself motivated purely by the desire of temple presidents and other ISKCON managers to get a bigger share of the ISKCON power pie, forcing the original 11 Great Guru Hoaxers to share the spoils of the guru program by expanding it to others. (And in The Great Guru Hoax, Part 3, the same power grab has continued with some temple presidents now using “ritvik” and the claim to put “Srila Prabhupada in the centre” to take greater control and power over their temples). Now only because this expansion of the guru hoax has been a huge failure, the GBC has been forced to make an adjustment.
Basically, whatever mechanism best serves the goal to grab power and control the money is simply adopted. WHO does it – the “big” original 11 zonal gurus, the “smaller” dozens of gurus who later followed, or temple presidents and ritviks; and HOW it is done – via a guru hoax or ritvik hoax – does not matter. The result is the same: power, properties, men, name, fame and money are garnered.
The acronym we came up with for this phenomenon is “TUCE” – which stands for: “Take, Use, Cut Out and Enjoy” – and it is the modus operandi of the living entity in the material world. At the very basic level, we take all the resources Krishna has provided via His energies in the material world, use them, cut Krishna out of the picture and enjoy.
In ISKCON we do the same to everything Srila Prabhupada has provided, with merely lip service being paid to Krishna and Srila Prabhupada to enable the activity to occur in the first place. Some more basic examples of this are: ecology, philanthropy, personal development, inter-faith and business.
In each case, Srila Prabhupada’s teachings are taken and used to allow one to make a movement/program/course on these things alone, that one can then use to garner fame and money for oneself, whilst the original purpose of getting people to surrender to Srila Prabhupada is itself cut out of the picture.
So it’s not a question of guru v. ritvik, for both can be used as a tool to take power. It’s a question of TUCE v. serving and surrendering to Srila Prabhupada. One can do a “spiritual audit” and check what the results of one’s activities have been. Have people been engaged in directly serving and glorifying Srila Prabhupada? Or have money, buildings, followers, fame, etc. increased, with Srila Prabhupada’s teachings merely used to allow this to happen?
The simplest way to guard against the TUCE tendency is to not get deviated into any activities which do not result in persons directly engaging in serving Srila Prabhupada, which is the program followed by the IRM.