Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The man who expanded 11 to 70: Case study of Ravindra Svarupa Das

The guru system we have today in ISKCON is the result of a “guru reform” movement spearheaded in 1984 by His Grace Ravindra Svarupa Das (RSD). This “reform movement” sought to convince the world that, though ISKCON’s GBC (Governing Body Commission) had made a huge error in unauthorisedly appointing 11 “pure devotee guru successors” to the real Guru, Srila Prabhupada, they had now become “enlightened” with the actual truth; namely, that Srila Prabhupada had left an open field for any of his disciples to succeed him as a diksa (initiating) guru - so long as the GBC gave its voting approval, which has resulted today in some 70 unauthorised gurus. We will now analyse the words and wisdom of the founder of ISKCON’s current guru system, who expanded the hoax from “11 to 70”.

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati cause of ISKCON problems

“The real revolutionary, and the person who really has caused many of our problems today, is Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura.”
(Ravindra Svarupa Das, Issues in ISKCON Reform lecture, June 29th-July 3rd, 1999)
Here RSD tries to blame the mess which ISKCON is in, on the spiritual master of Srila Prabhupada, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur!
Srila Prabhupada like mafia manager

“This is the fact, this is the Mafia. The mafia style, it wasn’t criminal, this is inherited from an old Roman style of management, it is just pre-industrial that is all. This is an old fashioned pre-industrial style of social organisation. That somehow or other survived in Palermo and places like that. I will tell you something, just to show you how intuitively recognisable that style is. There was a period of time when Ramesvara (one of the original 11 ‘hoaxer gurus’ – Ed.) was having his assistants either read the book or see the movie ‘The Godfather’, so they could learn about management. It wasn’t because it was criminal, but it was the relationship of the interchange between the leaders and the followers that was actually the essence of that style of management. And this guru...
As the zonal acharya, that is how; Prabhupada was also a manager like that.”
(Ravindra Svarupa Das, Issues in ISKCON Reform lecture, June 29th-July 3rd, 1999)
Here RSD compares the management style of both Srila Prabhupada and the zonal acharya system (Great Guru Hoax part 1) to that of the Mafia.
Lord Krishna’s actions defective

“Krishna says in this world, any endeavour is covered with fault. Just as a fire is covered with smoke. So anything that you do in this world, it is always going to have its defects or its downside, even if it is done by Krishna himself. Lord Chaitanya released confidential information into the world about Krishna’s pastimes that were maybe not very well spread around so much. What was the result ? A sahajiya movement, and you can say well look what Lord Chaitanya did you know, He put this whole sahajiya movement here, He shouldn’t have done that, it was a big mistake.”
(Ravindra Svarupa Das, Issues in ISKCON Reform lecture, June 29th-July 3rd, 1999)
Here RSD extends Lord Krishna’s statement in the Bhagavad-gita that “every endeavour is covered by some sort of fault” (Bg. 18.48), to the activities of Lord Krishna Himself, even though in the purport to this verse, Srila Prabhupada clearly states such faulty activities only apply to conditioned souls:
“In conditioned life, all work is contaminated by the material modes of nature.”
(Bhagavad-gita As It Is, 18.48, purport)
Srila Prabhupada is ‘dead’

“I simply wish that these people (ritvik advocates) would settle this issue by writing Prabhupada a letter and letting us know what he says when he answers back.”
(Ravindra Svarupa Das, San Diego Ritvik Debate, 1990)
Here RSD offensively tries to demonstrate the alleged fallacy of the ritvik viewpoint by highlighting Srila Prabhupada’s physical absence.
Ritvik appoinment = Guru appointment

“Yes, Prabhupada accepted him (Kirtanananda) back and went and gave him a position of leadership. He was on the GBC, and New Vrindavan was a very important place of pilgrimage, and you know, he was one of the people whose name was on the list when Prabhupada appointed ritviks, and in the context, everybody understood that these were the people who would be the first initiating spiritual masters. Of course everyone’s big doubt about that is how that Prabhupada named these people expecting them to be spiritual masters when he knew all these things about them.”
(Ravindra Svarupa Das, Issues in ISKCON Reform lecture, June 29th-July 3rd, 1999)
RSD’s “guru reform” was predicated on arguing that the first 11 “gurus” were not “appointed” as such:
“There was no hand-picking of successors”
(Ravindra Svarupa Das, ISKCON Communications Journal, Vol. 2, No.1, January 1994)
Yet at the same time he claims that Srila Prabhupada hand-picking and appointing 11 ritviks was the equivalent to naming 11 diksa gurus, as we see above. As if such an ambivalent fudge was not bad enough, he simultaneously tries to fudge this fudge with other nonsensical claims:
Parampara (disciplic succession) to continue via “a nod”

“because he said I shall select some of you, this is the selection that never was. I shall select some of you, that’s what he did, was he both selected and didn’t select, very cleverly or obliquely, and at arm’s length. He appointed 11 ritvik gurus, and also said you cannot become guru, unless you are qualified, now this to me, this was a nod, these are my best people. This was a nod in their direction.”
(Ravindra Svarupa Das, San Diego Ritvik Debate, 1990)
So on the one hand 11 ritviks were appointed to go on to become gurus, and on the other they were simultaneously selected and not selected to be gurus.
Go figure!
RSD’s problem (October 1984)

“I was asked to be in charge of a committee to research matters and find out what went wrong. What went wrong in ISKCON and what to do about it. What was wrong with the guru position and what to do about it.”
(Ravindra Svarupa Das, Issues in ISKCON Reform lecture, June 29th-July 3rd, 1999)

RSD’s solution – Poacher turns gamekeeper (September 1985)

“So anyway that was this meeting, then people, that is when I started initiating and became an initiating guru by the way. Our little group of people we got together and the GBC said we need three signatures, we got to have some people, so they looked at me and this the first time I really thought about this. So I got three, few signatures as they wanted in fact, Satsvarupa, Tamal Krishna Goswami and Hridayananda Maharaja, those were the signatures. So I was then an officially approved initiating guru.”
(Ravindra Svarupa Das, Issues in ISKCON Reform lecture, June 29th-July 3rd, 1999)
Here we see how the so-called “guru reform” deal was “stitched-up”. The “guru reform” led by RSD from 1984 had to find the solution to what went wrong with the horrendous zonal acharya system in place at the time (Great Guru Hoax part 1). Very quickly, he finds the answer – to make sure he gets a share of the guru pie himself.
  • And WHO gives it to him?
  • Who signs his ‘guru papers’ for him?
3 of the 11 “zonal gurus” he was supposedly challenging and reforming. Therefore, following this supposed “guru reform”, all of the original 11 gurus (not yet fallen) who had perpetrated a monstrous hoax on the whole society for nearly 10 years that caused the “guru reform” movement in the first place, got to keep their guru positions and disciples intact, were not sanctioned in any way whatsoever, and in exchange, the guru field was opened up to the supposed “reformers” such as RSD.
And in this way the deal was cut, the “reformers” were bought-off by the zonal gurus, and everyone went home happy.
1992: RSD promotes occult astrologer

“Panditji, the astrologer and seer, had by his occult art pierced the veil of the future and seen a wonder arise, a marvel born from—of all things (I feel compelled to add)—the 1990 meeting of the Governing Body Commission of ISKCON […]
the Hare Krsna movement would manifest world-transforming power.
Panditji went so far as to specify an exact date, March 7, for the completion of the dharma-cakra. A marvel, a world-historical marvel, would be born.”
(Ravindra Svarupa Das, ‘ISKCON’s Dharma Cakra’, Back to Godhead, #26-02, 1992)

2000: RSD admits occult prophesy fails

“Therefore the question remains: What, then, will we do? How will we deal with our polarized and disintegrating society? […]
If we ask why ISKCON now finds itself in such an impossible position, we can only conclude that it must be due to the continuing reactions to our own sins and offenses. […]
So I have been baffled and in much distress […]
trying to pray continuously and earnestly for forgiveness for all our offenses to Srila Prabhupada, to Vaishnavas, and to dependents like women and children. Of course, now our offenses and sins against our children are foremost in mind, but these are just part of a larger pattern of offenses, ultimately to Prabhupada.”
(Ravindra Svarupa Das, then GBC Chairman, May 2000)

2005: RSD encourages worship of himself

“He (Bhakti Caru Swami) told us that he had recently attended the Vyasa Puja celebration of his dear friend Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu in Philadelphia. He recalled that as they were having lunch, Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu, speaking about his own Vyasa Puja celebration, said, “Actually, disciples NEED this.””
(Text PAMHO:10411392, “Vyasa Puja /Prabhupada festival”, 19 September 2005)

Ritvik is traditional

“Two deviations from Prabhupada’s order - the “zonal acarya” system and the “posthumous ritvik” system - rest on adherence to the traditional idea of leadership. […]
In the event, the Gaudiya Matha leaders disregarded this order, and instead they reverted to the traditional single-acarya rule to which they were, after all, culturally habituated.”
(Ravindra Svarupa Das, Allegiance to Guru, to ISKCON and to Prabhupada, 1998)

Current ISKCON guru system not traditional

”What we were trying to do now you have to understand had never been done. It had just never been done and to me it’s entirely natural that in this case when you’re doing something that had never been done; when you’re going to have a single institution with many different spiritual masters and there are many different disciples who are going to have to work together in a cooperative and unified way. Just hadn’t been done.”
(Ravindra Svarupa Das, Issues in ISKCON Reform lecture, June 29th-July 3rd, 1999)

Current ISKCON guru system based on trial and error

“How to do it? And to me the only the way you can do it is to try this and if that doesn’t work try this….. until you finally find what works out. So I think it was very difficult for anyone to foresee, so it seems that the only way to do this is by trying to do it. And see what works and what doesn’t work and Prabhupada himself said that he used the trial and error method, so I’d don’t think it is not bona-fide.”
(Ravindra Svarupa Das, Issues in ISKCON Reform lecture, June 29th-July 3rd, 1999)

GBC not traditional

“But he was trying to change something, and set up a GBC, but we learn that Bhaktisiddhanta had wanted the same thing to happen and it did not happen, because the idea of this GBC is not exactly traditional.”
(Ravindra Svarupa Das, Issues in ISKCON Reform lecture, June 29th-July 3rd, 1999)
Here RSD turns completely on its head the common argument used against the ritvik system set up by Srila Prabhupada, that it is unprecedented and untraditional.
Rather, RSD states that it is his guru system which ISKCON now follows which is unprecedented, created as it was through a system of “trial and error”, and further the whole system by which ISKCON is run via a GBC, is also not traditional. But the ritvik system which has a single acarya, Srila Prabhupada, is based on the traditional idea of leadership.
Clearly therefore, according to RSD, if “tradition” is to be any yard-stick, it is his guru system which runs today in ISKCON which should be ditched, rather than the ritvik system.

A shocker by  Ravindra Svarupa Das at Hare Krishna Detroit "Ratha Yatra" Festival 2006

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