nama oṁ viṣṇu-pādāya kṛṣṇa-preṣṭhāya bhū-tale
śrīmate bhaktivedānta-svāmin iti nāmine
namah–obeisances; oṁ–address; viṣṇu-pādāya–unto him who is at the feet of Lord Visnu; kṛṣṇa-preṣṭhāya–who is very dear to Lord Krsna; bhū-tale–on the earth; śrīmate–all beautiful; bhaktivedānta-svāmin–A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami; iti–thus; nāmine–who is named
I offer my respectful obeisances unto His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, who is very dear to Lord Kṛṣṇa, on this earth, having taken shelter at His lotus feet.
namas te sārasvate deve gaura-vāṇī-pracāriṇe
namah–obeisances; te–unto you; sārasvate deve–servant of Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī; gaura-vāṇī–the message of Lord Caitanyadev; pracāriṇe–who are preaching; nirviśeṣa– impersonalism; śūnyavādi–voidism; pāścātya–Western; deśa– countries; tāriṇe–who are delivering
Our respectful obeisances are unto you, O spiritual master, servant of Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī. You are kindly preaching the message of Lord Caitanyadeva and delivering the Western countries, which are filled with impersonalism and voidism.
by Yasoda nandana dasa
October 7, 2017
In a recent series of articles and commentaries (the “Articles”) published in the Sampradaya Sun, on September 27 and 28, 2017, the loquacious self-styled independent brahminical commentator and editor (the “Independent Brahminical Commentator”) of the Sampradaya Sun, has attempted to misrepresent various statements, and written letters which I authored in 1978 and 1979, and my role in the submission of a paper presented to the GBC, while I was serving in my assigned service by Srila Prabhupada, in the Bhaktivedanta Swami Gurukula, in Vrindavana, India.
The following initial accounts and descriptions(s) are my direct personal experiences of the factual background and history of the so-called debate, previous correspondence, and some of the meetings with members of the GBC (Governing Body Commission) of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness), which occurred in late 1977, 1978 and 1979, primarily at the ISKCON Krishna Balarama Mandira and Mayapura, Kindly note that for the time being, due to my frail health and as time permits, this is only a partial rendition of my personal experiences on the issues prevailing at that time, and still prevailing as of the writing of this article, namely how should initiations should be conducted in the aftermath of Srila Prabhupada’s departure for His society and movement.
These accounts are based upon my personal notes in my archives and records, and my realizations on the basis of available information at different points in time.
Before we proceed, we should point out that I and many other devotees, have appreciated the stand which the Independent Brahminical Commentator has taken on several controversial and polemical issues such as the assassination of Sulocana dasa, exposing various neo-matha posers, the unauthorized adulteration of Srila Prabhupada’s books, exposing child molesters, abusers and exploiters and various other issues of interest to various devotees.
However, in one of his recent articles titled, Challenging the Zonal Acaryas …and the Ritvik-Vadis,” on September 27, 2017, the Independent Brahminical Commentator, in his on-going efforts to support the GBC/ Iskcon Corp. acarya appointment logic and his laborious attempts to prop up the Iskcon Corp. GBC LGEP myth and arguments, has offered his various personal opinions and inaccurate aspersions on my early role in 1979 with regards to the controversy.
Independent Brahminical Commentator: Today we completed our presentation of the 1979 Vrindavan challenge paper delivered to the Zonal Acaryas. In the previous segment, Part 18, it was confirmed that Yasodanandana then-Swami and Pradyumna das were two of the key leaders responsible for writing this paper, as evidenced by the fact that they were to be its primary defenders in a debate with the GBC, should one have taken place.
Ynd: Confirmed by whom? Incorrect, the paper was compiled by Kailsa candra dasa. It was not compiled by Pradyumna dasa. He did not sign it. I was a signer on the paper, along with several other sannyasis, and over 30 devotees serving at the Krishna Balarama temple and Bhaktivedanta Swami Gurukula. Pradyumna did not sign it for personal reasons. Pradyumna (Pandita ji)’s role in the discussion, was to challenge the then GBC position and policy of accepting worship in front of Srila Prabhupada, the use of various self-bestowed honorific titles and vyasa-asanas in front of Srila Prabhupada, pictures on the altars, claims of being acaryas for specific zones, etc. He had written a letter to Satsvarupa Swami dated August 7, 1978, expressing his concerns regarding those various issues.
It must be pointed out that none of us had access to the original tapes and accurate transcripts of those conversations, which occurred between Srila Prabhupada and some members of the GBC in the last few months of His manifested presence, particularly for the period of April 1977 to November 14, 1977.
These important conversations were under the control and jurisdiction of the GBC, and primarily under the direct possession of Tamal Krishna Goswami, (the “Secretary” also known as“Tkg.”) My primary intent and role in submitting the paper to the GBC was to have a full threadbare discussion on the issue(s) related to the exact statements, recordings and all conversations with took place with Srila Prabhupada concerning initiation, and related topics, in His society and movement. I hinted at that in my letter to Satsvarupa Swami dated January 1, 1979, Page Two (2), “Other Topics for Discussion,” Items Numbers 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. I wanted that various items be fully and thoroughly discussed, specifically the issue of Srila Prabhupada’s exact unedited original statements during the last few months of His manifested presence, as opposed to the paraphrasing and official party line propaganda of the GBC and the SAAS.
In the aftermath of Sriman Pradyumna’s letter of August of 1978, I was had been informed from reliable sources that there had been threats uttered by some irate GBC members and some of their fanatical followers, due to their displeasure of Pradyumna’s letter to the GBC, and the on-going discussions which were taking place in Vrindavana among several sannyasis, temple devotees, visiting devotees from various temples in ISKCON, and many of the Gurukula teachers and devotees at that time.
Independent Brahminical Commentator: As we mentioned in previous commentaries, this paper makes it very clear that among this group of senior devotees in 1979, there is no indication that the July 9th Letter was understood to represent an instruction for the post-samadhi diksa ritvik initiation of Srila Prabhupada disciples. Just the opposite.
Ynd: More misrepresentation from the Independent Brahminical Commentator. The following is a brief summary of my various attempts to discuss and seek clarifications from members and former members of the GBC and SAAS about this issue from 1977 to 1979.
May 29, 1977, Vrindavana, Krishna Balarama temple courtyard, May 29, 1978
This is a conversation which occurred on May 29th 1977 in the courtyard of the Krishna Balarama temple in Vrindavan, India, a conversation between Bhava Ananda (then) Goswami (“Bag’) and Yashodanandan. It happened just prior to the initiation of Bhakti Charu Swami, Bhakti Prem Swami, and Bhakti Chaitanya Swami. They were the last three sannyasis who were personally given sannyasa by Srila Prabhupada. This took place in the courtyard of the Krishna Balarama temple, on or about 9.30 in the morning. . We were facing east, getting ready for the fire sacrifice because there were several gurukula children who were also getting initiated that day. Srila Prabhupada was in his room. The following is [are] my notes from the conversation with Bhava Ananda, then Goswami (“Bag.”)
Ynd: So how is Srila Prabhupada’s health?
Bag: Improving. It fluctuates.
Ynd: What about this rtvik acharya thing? What does that actually mean?
Bag: On behalf of Prabhupada. Will initiate while he is in this condition.
Ynd: What about after?
Bag: I guess we don’t know yet.
Ynd: (changing the topic) So it should be a nice fire sacrifice.
Bag: You take care of this. You put on a good show.
(The fire sacrifice was ready to start and Bhava Ananda all of sudden)
Bag: I can’t wait till we start to do this. I can’t wait!
Ynd to Bag: What did you say?
Bag: We’re already late for this fire sacrifice.
Note: What did Bhavananda Goswami actually mean when he said, “We don’t know yet”? What did he mean when he said, “I can’t wait till we start to do this”? Who is “we”? What is “this”? Was it a hint of what was to come? Or a Freudian slip?
Note: The above-referenced conversation took place the next day after the May 28, 1977 alleged appointment tape conversation. It is obvious that Bhavananda was aware of the conversation which had taken place with Srila Prabhupada and some of the GBC members the day before. I had heard from Smara Hari dasa, my brahmacari assistant at the time, that there had been some discussions with Srila Prabhupada and some GBCs members concerning future initiations and the issue of ritvik-acaryas. I did not have access to the full transcripts of this May 28, 1977 conversation and other important conversations, until many years later. It is interesting to note that none of the full transcripts of the so-called “appointment tape” and other crucial conversations were released by the GBC until several years later. The first partial transcript came from the Jadurani papers in 1980-1981, not from the GBC. It was obtained with the help of some sympathetic devotees serving in Los Angeles, California at the time.
In late July 1977, Outside of Srila Prabhupada’s quarters, Krishna Balarama temple, Vrindavana, India, an attempt was made to obtain further clarification from Srila Prabhupada.
The following is a conversation which took place in late July 1977, between Gurukripa (then Swami), Bhagavan Dasa and Yasodanandan (then Swami). This took place just outside Srila Prabhupada’s room near the Krishna Balarama temple courtyard, regarding a request for clarification pertaining the role of rtvik representatives, which had been discussed by Srila Prabhupada in July 1977.
Gurukrpa (then) Swami to Bhagavan: Why don’t we go and ask Prabhupada what he means by this rtvik acharya thing? How is it supposed to work? Can anyone else do this besides the eleven named in the letter? What is the GBC’s role in all of this? Let’s go and ask him.
Bhagavan to Tamal Krishna: Let’s go and see Prabhupada and clarify this rtvik-acharya thing.
Tamal Krishna to Gurukrpa Swami: Prabhupada is not well. Besides, I think he’s busy. Let’s not disturb him with this. It’s all clear anyway.
(And he [Tkg] changed the subject to talk about some other things and avoided to seek the clarification.)
Note: I tried to obtain some clarification, but there was considerable resistance from the Secretary.
It seems that I was not the only one attempting to obtain clarification from Srila Prabhupada around that time. In Vrindavana, in October 1977, Satsvarupa Swami, attempted to obtain clarification from Srila Prabhupada and Tamal Krishna refused.
The following is from a Memories essay penned by Satsvarupa Swami and distributed by Jayadvaita Swami in San Diego, California on January 14, 1990, prior to the so-called ritvik debate. Another attempt to obtain clarification from Srila Prabhupada was again denied by the Secretary.
Satsvarupa Swami: “…Then in October , Srila Prabhupada again became very critical in his health, and many of us went again to him for the last time. In this connection, I have another relevant memory of something that occurred in the very last days of Prabhupada’s stay. I was talking with Jayadvaita Maharaja in a room in the guest house at Krishna Balarama Mandira. I expressed to him my understanding that the list of persons who Prabhupada had picked to initiate on his behalf was also the list of persons Prabhupada had promised he would pick in May [the word June is crossed off] when he said he would appoint some of his disciples who would [words “who would” are hand written and three words are crossed off] initiate their own disciples after Prabhupada’s disappearance.
I don’t think that Jayadvaita Maharaja disagreed with me. But he did say strongly that I had better get this in writing from Srila Prabhupada. He said this was very important and that it was not clear. He said that unless it was in writing it would be contested by devotees later. I was surprised to hear that because it [word crossed off] seemed quite clear to me. But Jayadvaita Maharaja insisted that I should get it in writing from Prabhupada.
So, on his advice I thought that he must be right that it was very serious. I went down to Tamala Krishna Maharaja and asked him about it. In retrospect, it seemed like it certainly would have saved a lot of trouble if we had gotten Prabhupada to put everything in writing. And yet, by the arrangement of Providence, it was not done that way. Anyway, I asked Tamal Krishna Maharaja to please get this in writing. He asked. Why? I said because people will not understand that Prabhupada picked the regular gurus when he named the person who would initiate while he was still with us. Tamal Krishna Maharaja replied that he himself knew very well what Prabhupada intended and that good enough for him. I tried again to ask him to see Prabhupada to sign something. But Tamal Krishna Maharaja was not willing. I could see he was distraught by the intense situation he was going through. And for myself, I was in my own paralyzed mental state because of grief and inability to love Prabhupada. And so Prabhupada never signed a paper. It was something that might have happened, but never did.
And if I may be permitted a bit of speculation, we might also say that Srila Prabhuapda was fully aware of what he was doing, and what would happen after his disappearance, and he did the very best he could in these circumstances….”
Note: The above-referenced text and rendition of the May 28th, July 7th conversation, and July 9, 1977 letter authorized by Srila Prabhupada represents the typical party line of the SAAS and LGEP.
October 3, 1977
In Hari Sauri dasa’s unpublished black binder diary, typed by Smara Hari’s brother in Vrindavana, on Page 11, October 3, 1977, Hari Sauri discusses Srila Prabhupada’s express desire to bring all of his disciples to Vrindavana.
“…In Delhi I purchased some items for Srila Prabhupada-a water heater, a mosquito net and some powders for his dry bath. Also, I informed Adi Keshava that only the GBCs should come to see Srila Prabhupada at present. Tamal Krsna had previously informed the USA men that Srila Prabhupada’s health was very bad that whoever wanted to come should come. Then later we decided that if so many men came then there would be no programme. Then they may stay around for weeks and they may not even be able to see Srila Prabhupada either. I phoned to tell him that only GBCs and sannyasis should come. The call was just in time. Hundreds of men were preparing to come….”
Questions: (i) Who is the we referred to in these notes? (ii) Why were Srila Prabhupada’s disciples not informed of the actual desires of His Divine Grace to see all of his disciples in Vrindavana before his departure? (iii) Giriraja sent a telegram to Ramesvara dasa, who did not inform the devotees to come to Vrindavan.
Note: Again, who is the “we” referred to by Hari Sauri in the above entry in his private diary, Is this the same “we” that is referred to by Bhavananda in his May 29, 1977 Freudian slip conversation with myself, just before the fire sacrifice ceremony for the sannyasa initiation of Bhakti Caru Swami, Bhakti Prema Swami and Bhakti Caitanya Swami.
Is this the same “we” also referred to in an upcoming conversation between Bhavananda and a Gurukula assistant teacher, as will be discussed later, in August of 1978?
In December of 1977, in Vrindavana, India, at the Bhaktivedanta Swami Gurukula building, upon our return from Japan in December 1977, where Srila Prabhupada had sent us to collect funds to settle an on-going lawsuit with the building contractor for the Bhaktivedanta Gurukula building, there was a meeting between Gurukrpa, myself and the late Secretary, regarding future initiations in ISKCON.
Gurukrpa: So, what is going to happen with this initiation issue? How is this going to work?
Tkg: (Very surprised at the boldness of the questioning by Gurukrpa) A long silence. Tamal appeared stunned. `”Well, we will have to see, nobody really knows, but we will have to discuss this in Mayapura. We don’t know yet but we will all discuss at Mayapura.”
Ynd: In March of 1978, at the Vrindavana Bhaktivedanta Swami Gurukula building, on the 2nd floor balcony facing the courtyard, a former member of the GBC from France, Bhagavan dasa, visited Vrindavan. In a conversation with the said Prabhu, I asked him the following question:
Ynd: So many devotees are asking questions about how the process of initiations is supposed to work?
Bhagavan dasa: What do you mean?! People are talking! Only the GBC should talk about this. Why are they talking about this? Who are they? They have nothing to say.
Ynd: Come on. The devotees are curious. They want to know what is going to happen.
Bhagavan dasa: Nobody, you hear, should talk about this. Only the GBC.
Note: It was becoming clearer that several GBCs besides Tamal Krishna were reluctant to discuss the issue with other regular devotees. But there were many private discussions.
On March 27, 1978, in Mayapura, West Bengal, India, at the long building rooftop room near the Mayapura Chandrodaya mandira, I was living in a room with Gurukrpa Swami, Tamal Krishna Goswami and Bhagavan dasa. I had a conversation with the late Secretary and former SAAS founder, Tamal Krishna Goswami. On one occasion, I was alone with Tkg.
Ynd: I am getting a lot of inquiries from parents, devotees from various zones about how this new initiation process is going to work. Nobody seems to have any clear answers. Why don’t you arrange to have all the main conversations which took placed in the last few months with Srila Prabhupada transcribed, and this should be discussed openly among all the temple presidents, senior devotees, and sannyasis. We can gather 50 or 60 brahmanas and secretaries and get this done in a few days.
He appeared stunned by the question. After a brief silence he stated.
Tkg: Prabhupada said that if we have philosophical questions, we can go to see Sridhara Maharaja. Why don’t you go there and ask him questions?
Ynd: Really Srila Prabhupada said that. [I was a little surprised.]
Tkg: Just go and record what he says.
Note: I had no way of verifying what Tkg said about Sridhar Maharaja. Again, the ominous conversation of April 22, 1977 in Bombay, between Srila Prabhupada and Tkg, where Srila Prabhupada discussed the breakdown of the Gaudiya Matha and the various parties involved was not available, but Tkg knew about it. In that conversation, Srila Prabhupada noted that both parties were “severe offenders.” While it is an undeniable fact that Srila Prabhupada maintained cordial and friendly relationship with Sridhar Maharaja, He clearly expressed reservations and His warnings about his role in the unauthorized appointment of one acarya in 1937, and the subsequent breakdown, chaos and disunity which resulted.
Why would Srila Prabhupada send us to a person whom he had characterized as responsible for the breakdown of the Gaudiya Matha for philosophical questions. Srila Prabhupad famous letter to Rupanuga dasa, dated April 28, 1974, surfaced a few years later
Srila Prabhupada; “…He never recommended anyone to be acarya of the Gaudiya Matha, but Sridhara Maharaja is responsible for disobeying this order of Guru Maharaja, and he and others who are already dead unnecessarily thought that there must be one acharya…… So Sridhara Maharaja and his two associate gentlemen unauthorizedly selected one acarya and later it proved a failure….”
This above-referenced letter from Srila Prabhupada to Rupanuga dasa, was also not available at that time. It was not until several years later that this revealing letter surfaced.
In August 1978, in the gurukula courtyard, of the Krishna Balarama temple, Vrindavan, India, there was conversation between Bhavananda Goswami and a gurukula teacher, Niragadeva dasa. I was standing on the second floor of the gurukula building, witnessing an animated conversation between Bhavananda and Niragadev. Bhavananda seemed agitated, and occasionally throwing his hands in the air, as if dismissing something. I could no hear the details of the conversation because I was too far. When Niragadev came back to the second floor of the gurukula building, I asked him:
Ynd: So, what did you discuss?
Niragadeva: I mentioned Pradyumna’s letter to Satsvarupa and I said that many devotees had concerns how this new guru system was being implemented in ISKCON.
Ynd: So, what did Bhavananda say?
Niragadeva: He spoke loudly and said, “There is nothing to discuss. It has already all been discussed. We’ve already decided everything.”
Ynd: So what else did you say?
Niragadeva: I raised the issue that many devotees and Prabhupada disciples were upset with the introduction of Vyasa Pujas, pictures on the altar, Vyasasanas in front of Srila Prabhupada. Bhavananda said, “So what? Let them all leave. We’ve got our own disciples now!” I was shocked and left.
Note: Again, who is the “we” referred to again by Bhavananda? Is it the same “we” that he referred to in May 1977 when he said, “I can’t wait till we start to do this”?
End of August 1978 at the Krishna-Balarama temple in Vrindavana, Mathura District, Uttara Pradesh, India – summary of events and significant stages.
1) Pradyumna Dasa had just written a letter to Satsvarupa. With several points, several notes, many important points. One misconception in this letter was about the nature of the devotees which were chosen by Srila Prabhupada to initiate on his behalf.
2) It should be noted that Pradyumna and the others never had the actual transcripts of the May 27-28 conversations and the July conversation with Srila Prabhupada.
3) Various points raised about the Gaudiya Math are irrelevant to the situation in ISKCON.
4) Bhavananda specially delivered Pradyumna’s response to Satsvarupa. The reply by Satsvarup was the basic denial of the points raised by Pradyumna. Towards the end of August 1978 for the Janmashtami festival Tamal Krishna and Bhagavan came to Vrindavan. They arrived by taxi at the front gate at the Krishna Balarama temple. The devotees and all the gurukula children greeted them with a nice kirtana and flower garlands. They came to the temple room, took darshana of the Deities. No special foot bath or pada puja and no Vyasasanas were provided. Both Tamal and Bhagavan were visibly upset and disappointed that they had not gotten their own Vyasasanas and neither pada puja (foot bath). Both of them went to Gurukripa’s room in the Krishna Balarama temple on the second floor of the Guest House. Pradyumna and Yashodanandan came in. Present at the meeting was Tamal Krishna Goswami, Bhagavan Dasa, Yasodanandan (then Swami,) Gurukripa (then Swami) and Pradyumna Dasa. There was a discussion regarding the letter that Pradyumna Dasa had just written to Satsvarupa. Major points of discussion:
Gurukrpa Swami” We have a few questions about the guru situation.
It seems that there has been a few changes from what was agreed at Mayapura.
Tkg: What is that?
Gurukrpa: Pradyumna knows and he would like to explain a few things. Pradyumna comes in the room.
Tkg: Pradyumna knows and he would like to explain a few things.
Pradyumna comes in the room, offers pranams and starts talking.
Pradyumna: On point is about the Vyasa-asana, why there should be a vyasa-asana in the There is reason why. According to Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition is improper to take worship in front of one ‘s own Godbrother and also the temple does not belong to the initiating gurus. It belongs to the society. Why should one Godbrother, by putting his seat there, claim the place. Once you put the seat, no one can remove it. It becomes permanent. There is no reason why the Vyasa-asanas should be there, it should be separate.
Tkg: Well, in Bombay, what I’ve done is my Vyasa-asana is there and the top portion of it is removable so that after me someone else can sit there
(obvious attempt to step out of the argument)
Bhagavan: You Godnrothers should simply accept us without envy, just like the five Pandavas put their elder brother, Maharaja Yudhisthira, on the throne and thus worshipped him, so you should do like that.
Gurukrpa: Well, at Mayapur festival it was not clarified that you would erect these Vyasa-Asanas. Why all of a sudden have you done this?
Pradyumna: Why have they made these geographical divisions. This should not have been done.
Tkg: In every temple, there must be a representative of the Sampradaya.
Pradyumna: Prabhupada never nominated any acharyas. Prabhupada never mentioned Vyasasanas, Vyasa Pujas, special pranam mantras, pictures on the altar, and special titles like Vishnupada, Gurupada, none of this. That is why Prabhupada appointed the temple presidents so that he may represent the sampradaya.
Tkg: The temple president is only for material management, only, in every temple there must be a representative of the sampradaya.
Pradyumna: but the temple president is..
Tkg interrupting you mean to say that in Bombay for example, Giriraja, the temple president, is the representative of the sampradaya. No, I am the representative.
Bhagavan:[Interrupting seeing the difficulty in Tkg’s position] Listen, listen. We are just trying to follow what Sridhara Swami [Navadipa Gaudiya Matha] said. He is the one who said to put up Vyasa asanas.
Pradyumna: The fact remains that Prabhupada has not given any instruction for what is being done in ISKCON now. Well, he should be consulted again. This point should be clarified.
Tkg: You should not go by yourself.
[then the conversation turns to other topics, the everyone pays obeisances]
Note: This conversation occurred the day before Krishna Janma Astami on August 25, 1978. After this, the meeting disbanded and Tamal Krishna and Bhagavan went to the next floor upstairs to speak privately with Gurukripa. This occurred midafternoon ,Tamal Krishna protested to Gurukripa that Pradyumna and Yasoda nandan are making waves and causing trouble for everyone. “If you bring them under control, we will make you a guru next year at Mayapur.” Gurukripa replied, “This is all nonsense.”
Late August 1978, Krishna Balarama Guest House, Conversation between Tkg and Bhagavan dasa. after leaving Gurukrpa’s room.
Bhagavan dasa to Tkg in the stairwell of the guest house after the meeting in Gurukrpa’s room]
Discussing what to do with devotees who questioned the “new guru system”
Bhagavan dasa: “In my zone, it is my way or the highway”
Tkg: Agreeing with aloud laugh. loud laugh!.
One GBC and SAAS member from Southern California mentioned to a devotee from the Southeastern zone, in October of 1978: This was directly related to me when the devotee visited Vrindavan in the fall of 1978.
One of the former SAAS member and ex-GBC from California [Ramesvara dasa, then Swami] told a visiting devotee from the Southeastern USA zone:” There is no place in our movement for smarta brahmanas like Pradyumna and Yasoda nandan. and if Kailash chandra and Yasodanandan don’t stop talking about this guru issue, (the then prevailing issue), then I’ll have my disciples kill them.”
The former SAAS member further elaborated, “You’re going to see how the GBC will get rid of them in Vrindavan when we go there.”
Again the “we”, was there a secret elitist cabal within the GBC, privately discussing policies for everything and everybody else?
From the letter sent from Yasoda nandana (then Swami) to Satsvarupa Swami January 1, 1979
Page 2. Other Topics for Discussion.
“A hand-written cover note from Yasodanandana identifies the document as “Proposed Topics of Discussion for 1979 Mayapura Meeting”.
Discussion of the meaning of the term rtvik acarya
3. Reason for appointment and mood of appointment of the eleven diksa-gurus at the time of Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance
a. the conversation of Srila Prabhupada and Tamala Krsna Goswami regarding the appointment of these 11 diksa gurus
b. see letter by Tamala Krsna Goswami
Ynd: For the record, from my perspective, the February 1979 paper, submitted to the GBC was a proposal for discussion based upon the information of Srila Prabhupada’s statements and recordings available at the time.
Ynd: The GBC meeting was not a true debate. Satsvarupa Swami stated right at the beginning of the meeting that this was not a thread-bare debate, but just to discuss the points in the paper submitted. It was not long before I (and others), quickly figured out that it was as a rigged set-up, not an honest brahminical open thread-bare debate. As disclosed by various statements by several GBCs and SAAS members at the time, the GBC had no interest to really fully discuss the issue, they had reached their own secret decision and schemes.
But ominous warnings had been articulated since the late August 1978 private meeting between the late secretary and SAAS member from Dallas, Texas [Tkg], the SAAS member and GBC from France and Gurukrpa (then Swami), the GBC of Vrindavana, India and another SAAS member [!] from France.
Independent Brahminical Commentator: Obviously, had the GBC deigned to give the Vrindavan devotees a floor for debating guru-tattva, Yasodanandana himself would have stood before them to assert the exact same understandings and arguments found in this paper. He would not have argued that the July 9th Letter was an instruction for post-samadhi ritvik diksa initiations, but rather, that it was understood that some of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples would now serve as diksa gurus, and the disciples would be their own. And of course, that as diksa gurus, they were to be humble servants, not self-declared pure devotee Zonal Acaryas.
Ynd: Total speculation. I knew beforehand the outcome of the rigged-up so-called debate which had been planned by some members of the GBC. I knew they had no serious interest whatsoever in debating. Regardless of any of the terminology in the paper submitted to the GBC, I never had the understanding and conviction that they were successor and appointed diksa gurus by Srila Prabhupada. Whatever terminology was used in that paper and correspondence was the prevailing terminology used by devotees at the time, based upon the available information provided by the GBC. The submitted paper was simply an attempt, from my observation, to facilitate a full discussion in order to obtain the exact statements of Srila Prabhupada, which were not available from the GBC at that time. The GBC suppressed the information and any real discussions.
Independent Brahminical Commentato: This 1979 paper is historically important for many reasons, one of which is that it documents the period prior to the start of the Ritvik-vada movement, and tells the story through one of the Ritvik-vadi’s own founders, Yasodanandana dasa. After co-authorizing the 1979 challenge paper, he and a few associates went on to create – basically out of thin air – a Ritvik movement that relied upon the July 9th Letter as its key piece of evidence.
Ynd: Another outlandish falsehood, I am not the founder of a ritvik-vada movement or any movement. Srila Prabhupada is the founder of the movement and my only intent and function was to ascertain and follow the orde(s) of the acarya Srila Prabhupada. The final order for initiations was decreed and mandated by Srila Prabhupada himself, in His July 9th, 1977 directive to the whole society, not me. The Independent Brahminical Commentator letter is ascribing way too much significant and importance to my insignificant and humble self in this matter. And the Independent Brahminical Commentator, a current apologist and defender of SAAS relies on word jugglery and misinterpretations to try to establish their legitimacy as appointed diksha-gurus.
“They’ll concoct, manufacture some blasphemy against you.”
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 4/9/73)
Independent Brahminical Commentator: How is it that Yasodanandana came to adopt such a striking new realization years later, in the mid- to late-1980’s, as he began to heavily politic for the newly launched Ritvik-vada philosophy? What convinced him to adopt a completely contrary understanding of the July 9th Letter, despite the fact that he and his close associates commonly shared an opposing understanding?
In the weeks ahead, we will answer that question, using Yasodanandana’s own written words. We’ll begin next time with a document he wrote that enumerates many elements of guru-tattva as he understood it, circa 1979.
Ynd: There was no “striking new realizations.” The GBC suppressed open discussion and debate, they suppressed the publication of Srila Prabhupada’s letters. They did not want the truth of Srila Prabhupada’s actual instruction on the issue of initiations and the actual conversations with Srila Prabhupada in 1977 to come out. And I did not engage in “heavily politic for the newly launched Ritvik-vada philosophy?” This is simply another example of prevarication from the fertile speculative mind of the Independent Brahminical Commentator
From the above-referenced statement of the self-styled Independent Brahminical Commentator, one can seriously wonder if he having a serious case of indigestion as a result of eating too much parampara pablum from the dogma propaganda coming from the SAAS and the GBC.
First of all, there was a legitimate question to raise as to why the Secretary and the GBC did not openly bring out all of the tape recordings and full transcripts of the crucial conversations which the said Secretary and the GBC members had with Srila Prabhupada. There were plenty of devotees available at the Mayapura festival who could have transcribed these conversations. And then to discuss these issues openly among the devotees, the temple presidents, senior devotees, and sannyasis at the March 1978 Mayapur festival. The question has to be raised to the GBC, why did they not come out with all of the original tape recordings?
Iskcon Mythology -December 3, 1980 Topanga Canyon, California. Meeting with Hamsadutta Swami, Tamal Krishna Swami, Dhira Krsna Swami, Jayadvaita Swami, Kirtiraja dasa and others.
Tamal Krsna Goswami: Actually, Prabhupada never appointed any gurus. He didn’t appoint eleven gurus. He appointed eleven ritviks. He never appointed them gurus. Myself and the other GBC have done the greatest disservice to this movement the last three years (28 now) because we interpreted the appointment of ritviks as the appointment of gurus.
“What actually happened, I’ll explain. I explained it, but the interpretation is wrong. What actually happened was that Prabhupada mentioned that he might be appointing some ritviks, so the GBC met for various reasons and they went to Prabhupada – five or six of us. We asked him, “Srila Prabhupada, after your departure, if we accept disciples, whose disciples will they be, your disciples or mine?” Later on, there was a piled-up list for people to get initiated, and it was jammed-up. I said, “Srila Prabhupada, you once mentioned about ritviks. I don’t know what to do. We don’t want to approach you, but there’s hundreds of devotees named, and I’m just holding all the letters. I don’t know what you want to do.” …
Tamal Krishna: “The point I want to state on that is this realization, and I feel that the GBC body, if they don’t adopt this point very quickly, if they don’t realize this truth: You can’t show me anything on tape or in writing where Prabhupada says, “I appoint these 11 as gurus.” It doesn’t exist because he never appointed any gurus. This is a myth. Everyone is qualified to right now give initiation and you’ll see no blood and pus will fall out of the sky, no thunderbolt will strike you dead. “
Note: It is interesting to note that Tamal Krishna refers to “What actually happened was that Prabhupada mentioned that he might be appointing some ritviks,” so the GBC met for various reasons and they went to Prabhupada – five or six of us. We asked him”
Ynd note: As of the date of this compilation, no record has ever surfaced of this above-referenced conversation with Srila Prabhupada which occurred prior to the May 28, 1977, so-called “appointment tape” meeting, where Srila Prabhupada had been talking that “e might be appointing some ritviks.” Where did that or these conversations go? If it was recorded, then where did the recording(s) go? If it was not recorded, then why not?
GBC withheld key question about initiations in their letter distributed to all temples and temple presidents claiming to represent the actual contents of the topics discussed with Srila Prabhupada, which had occurred on May 27, 28 and 29, 1977.
December 13, 1999 VNN5073 Comment on this story
GBC Suppressed the Truth
BY LOCANANANDA DAS
[Underline and bold are mine. Ynd]
EDITORIAL, Dec 13 (VNN) — New evidence has just been discovered that suggests a GBC conspiracy to suppress instructions given by Srila Prabhupada concerning how he wanted initiations to be performed after his departure.
In May of 1977, the members of the GBC were summoned to Vrindavana, India to meet with Srila Prabhupada when His Divine Grace thought his departure from this world was imminent. His Divine Grace revealed to a committee of GBC members that he was going to recommend some of his disciples to act as officiating acharyas to perform first and second initiations when he would no longer be with us. As evidenced by the following document, the GBC decided at the time that devotees throughout the world should not be informed of this most important revelation made by their beloved spiritual master.
The repercussions of the decision to suppress the truth and the subsequent deviation from Srila Prabhupada’s instructions have left devoted followers of His Divine Grace deadlocked over the issue of guru succession and initiations in ISKCON for more than two decades.
The document in question is a summary report of the GBC meetings held during the three days from May 27-29, 1977. The report was sent out to all ISKCON temple presidents and begins with a list of names of the GBC members in attendance. The first point mentioned in the report is that a list of trustees of all ISKCON properties was submitted to Srila Prabhupada. The second point states that committees were formed to improve the original charter and expand the Bureau of Management in India. Point number three deals with the questions posed by the GBC committee concerning how Srila Prabhupada’s mission was to be continued under the direction of the GBC after his departure. It is this third item that is of great significance.
A review of the document shows quite clearly that the GBC deliberately omitted from the report Srila Prabhupada’s answer to the question concerning initiations. This intentional omission was apparently made to conceal Srila Prabhupada’s wishes from his disciples worldwide concerning the initiation procedures he wanted followed after his departure. Had this been an honest presentation of the facts, the report would have stated:
“When asked how first and second initiations would be performed after he was no longer with us, Srila Prabhupada said that he was going to recommend some of his disciples to act as officiating acharyas.”
The text of Srila Prabhupada’s conversation with the GBC committee was not disclosed for many years, which has created a credibility gap between the leaders of ISKCON and ISKCON’s general membership.
Six weeks later, a letter issued on July 9th, 1977 bearing Srila Prabhupada’s signature was sent to all temple presidents to explain changes that were being made in initiation procedures. It was the outcome of a discussion that had taken place two days earlier between Srila Prabhupada and his secretary. In that conversation, to resolve the problem of an initiation backlog, Srila Prabhupada first recommended that senior sannyasis could again perform initiation ceremonies as had been done before his illness. However, when the secretary reminded Srila Prabhupada of the May 28th meeting with the GBC, this historic conversation evolved into the naming of the officiating acharyas, referred to in the letter as “ritvik representatives”.
Srila Prabhupada had said he was going to recommend some of his disciples to perform initiations on his behalf after his disappearance, and the July 9th letter was the fulfillment of that promise. According to the May 28th announcement to the GBC, those initiated during his physical presence by representatives of the acharya would be considered his direct disciples, while those initiated after his disappearance by officiating acharyas would be considered his second generation of disciples, or granddisciples. The difference was considered to be one of formalities, since all members of ISKCON throughout the course of its history would perpetually serve, worship and follow the teachings of their great preceptor acharya, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. That is the principle that unifies the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.
The document presented below was transcribed exactly from the original which accounts for any spelling or grammatical errors. Because the only remaining copy may be the one in my possession, I recommend that devotees save copies in their files for future reference.
Beginning of Document
GBC MEETINGS Vrindavana (Krsna Balarama Mandir) May 27-29, 1977
Signatures of Attendance
Adi Kesava Swami (acting GBC)
Atreya Rishi dasa
Bali Mardan dasa
Bhavananda Goswami (non GBC member)
Giriraj das (non GBC member)
Gopal Krsna das
Swarupa Damodara das
Guru Kripa Swami
Tamal Krsna Goswami
1. A list of trustees for all ISKCON properties worldwide was submitted to Srila Prabhupada at his request. Properties in India can never be sold, mortgaged, etc. Properties outside India in principle should never be sold, but in the event it is necessary, they can be mortgaged, etc. only with the signed approval of all the appointed trustees. The list of trustees (and instructions for setting up this “trustee-system” legally) will be circulated by the GBC Property Committee to all GBC members and temple presidents for immediate implementation.
2. For ISKCON India, committees were formed to protect the Society by making improvements in the original “charter”, expanding the Bureau of Management (for India), and seriously researching permanent residency visas as our top priority.
3. A list of questions was presented to Prabhupada, some of which he said he would tell us later. Two significant questions His Divine Grace did reply to are:
a. GBC members shall remain permanently. If a member leaves, the GBC can appoint new GBC members.
b. New translations of Vedic works can be published in the future, even after Srila Prabhupada’s departure, by the BBT but they can only be done by one who is very expert and advanced in his realization. At present, Prabhupada acknowledged, there is no one yet qualified.
4. In order to help the India Yatras, a co-GBC was appointed for liasion purposes, especially to assist with manpower and financial requirements- for each of the major India projects as follows:
a. Bombay: Ramesvara Swami and the Western USA Zone
b. Mayapura: Tamal Krsna Goswami, Adi Kesava Swami and the Northeast USA Zone
c. Vrindavana: Bhagavan dasa and the Southern Europe Zone
d. Hyderabad Farm: Harikesa Swami and the North Europe Zone
e. Hyderabad temple: Hrdayananda Goswami, Pancadravida Swami and the two Latin America Zones
(note: this does not mean that assisting these projects is the exclusive responsibility of these western zones- these still remain the whole Society’s projects, and we are all responsible)
5. The Australia GBC Zone and Hari Sauri dasa will be responsible for assisting Fiji.
6. As the date for the Bombay opening is fixed (October 21) funds are required immediately and a short-term solution adopted was that Nama Hatta would make one more substantial payment in June, and funds would be borrowed from Spiritual Sky Incense Co. in LA for a comparable payment in June. The main source of increased funds is recognized as increasing book distribution, and the US BBT must resume its monthly payments at the end of July.
7. Each temple must donate a fixed contribution each month to ISKCON Food Relief, on the following allocation:
small temple: $50.00 medium temple: $100.00 large temple: $150.00 maha-large temple $200.00
Each GBC man shall open one zonal account, and be responsible to collect money from all his temples, then send it in one sum to Adi Kesava Swami for forwarding to ISKCON Food Relief in India. The India centers distributing food must send the GBC regular reports of their prasad distribution, including photos.
8. The profit made by the US BBT by selling 100,000 records to temples will be set up as a travel fund for the 20 Argentina devotees going to India, and for repaying the Food Relief debt of Rs. 50,000 to Mayapur.
9. As each BBT division must allocate funds for temple construction, and as the Latin America zones are responsible for assisting the Hyderbad temple, the Spanish BBT construction money will be sent each month to Hyderbad to complete the temple construction there (estimated completion by January 1) and thereafter their monthly allotment sent to Srila Prabhupada to repay Hyderabad’s loan from His Divine Grace.
10) RESOLVED: Whereas Srila Prabhupada’s desires and goals for expanding ISKCON activities through special projects in India (construction, development, maintenance, food distribution, etc.) are known to all GBC members, it is resolved that the GBC body accepts the final responsibility for these.
End of Document
See 1990 ISKCON Journal re: publication of hand written notes and GKD GBC circular, and Locana Ananda dasa VNN article re: misrepresentation of actual GBC notes.
Re: GBC Summary Report of May 27-29, 1977 meetings distributed to temple presidents.
Interviewer: The issue of initiations in ISKCON has divided devotees for several decades and appears to have evolved into a schism. What is your personal perspective on this issue?
Locana ananda dasa: When I was president of the Amsterdam temple in 1977, I received a copy of the summary report of the GBC meetings held in Vrindavana that year from the 27th through the 29th of May . I received a copy of the GBC meeting held in Vrindavana that year from the 27th through the 29th of May. In that report, two of the three questions Srila Prabhupada answered on May 28th were included, but the answer to the question about future initiations was not. A few weeks later, I received a copy of the July 9thletter explaining the new initiation protocols. It didn’t seem as if much had changed. Initiations would resume despite Srila Prabhupada’s ongoing illness. The letter also addressed the selection to “ritvik” representatives of the acarya and referred to the May 28th meeting with Srila Prabhupada. Bu there was no detailed explanation as how the two were connected. We were really left in the dark for years as to what instructions Srila Prabhupada has actually given the GBC as a mandate for future initiations.
Interviewer: Would you say it was a cover-up and hijacking of the movement?
Locanananda dasa: There is no question that vital information was withheld from the devotees, information that was critical to the future of our society. But even after the transcript of the recorded conversation of May 28th, 1977 was released, Srila Prabhupada’s intentions were still not clearly understood, and therefore everything was subject to interpretation Rather than carefully analyze the actual words of the spiritual master spoke on May 28th, the devotees who sought reform in the mid-80’s did so on the basis of general instructions contained in Srila Prabhupada’s books. This may be a subtle point, but devotes should know that Prabhupada did not manage the Society through his books. He managed through written correspondence with the leaders and through conversations with them that addressed specific management issues. Also on occasion to ensure that certain standard management procedures were followed everywhere, Srila Prabhupada would have a letter sent out to all centers stating a policy that he wanted to introduce globally. The July 9th letter was one such document. It should be noted that His Divine Grace does not mention the Governing Body Commission (GBC) in any of his books, even though the GBC acts as the primary instrument for the execution of his will by overseeing the management of all ISKCON operations. The question of how initiations would be conducted when his Divine Grace would no longer be present, was basically a management issue, and the answer is not to be found in the books although his books can be sued to philosophically substantiate his managerial directive. In other words, what we are looking for are his ISKCON–specific instruction concerning future initiations, and they can be found in the May 28th conversation discussion with the GBC.
Interviewer: So let’s take a look at the May 28th conversation and see what Srila Prabhupada’s words reveal about his intentions?
Locanananda dasa: That day there were nineteen full GBC members present in Vrindavana. Also in attendance at the meetings were one acting GBC man and two non -GBC members. To ask the most delicate question, a six-man committee consisting of those GBC members who were on the original GBC formed in 1970 went before Srila Prabhupada. The first question asked was about GBC members: “How long should they remain in office?” Srila Prabhupada answer was immediate, direct and succinct: They should remain for good.” Then a few points of clarification were added and the next question was brought up.
“Then our next question concerning initiations in the future, particularly at that time when you are no longer with us. We want to know how first and second initiations would be conducted?”
Srila Prabhupada replied immediately, directly and succinctly: “Yes I shall recommend some of you. After this is settled up I shall recommend some of you to act as officiating acarya.”
In answering this question, Srila Prabhupada introduced a new term a term not found in any book or previous conversation he had ever had with his disciples. It was the designation he had chosen to fit the role of future initiations in ISKCON. I do not know why the GBC felt it necessary to hide this instruction Perhaps they themselves did not understand what it meant or how to explain it to others, or perhaps it just wasn’t what they wanted to hear.
The Summary report stated that some of the questions the GBC asked Srila Prabhupada would not be answered until alter. We now know that to be untrue. We know he answered all their questions that day, immediately and succinctly.
The only question that the GBC asked that were not included in the report had to do with initiations. Srila Prabhupada answer to that question was that when he would no longer be present, initiations would be performed by officiating acaryas selected from among his leading disciples. The leaders did not like the sound of that at the time, nor do they like the sound of it now. Otherwise somewhere along the way they would have asked, “So how does one act as officiating acarya?”
In his subsequent comments, Srila Prabhupada does not mention that any special worship would be offered to an officiating acarya. Nor did he say the officiating acarya would become the topmost spiritual authority for those who would receive diksa from them. The GBC’s future gurus did not like the sound of that either…”
Another separate meeting this time between Bhavananda, Bhagavan, Guurkrpa and Tamal meeting.
– Stop making waves and we will make you a guru.
– They all knew they were never appointed
– Just stop making trouble about this appointment of gurus and we’ll make you the 12th guru at the next Mayapur meeting
After Srila Prabhupada left, in November 1977, I stayed in Vrindaban till Gaura Purnima 1978, and there was no discussion of guru during these three or four months, because Srila Prabhupada’s last instruction, or as the Ritviks call it, “The final order”, was that “Now we have built a framework. There is no need to try and expand more. If we can just maintain our men and increase the chanting and hearing that is sufficient. We should sit down now and chant and hear.”
There was NO TALK about initiations that I heard either in Vrindaban or in Mumbai during these months. If Srila Prabhupada has appointed these eleven as spiritual masters, why did they not start initiating at once? Because they all knew very well they were never appointed! We knew the philosophy, what is tattva darshi and what is Saksad Hari… but behind closed doors there was a plot simmering. In the GBC meeting of 1978 the initiation issue was brought up and it appeared they had already concluded that they were going to go ahead and say that they were appointed. I asked Harikesh sitting next to me, ‘how are you going to let people call you a paramahansa? You are not a realized soul, you are a piece of shit. He turned to me with a smrik on his face, and said “What are you going to do about it?” That is basically what happened, none of us could do anything after that.
In 1978, Janmastami, TKG came to Vrindavan to give Sannyasa diksa to Bhagavan. I was the GBC at the time in Vrindavan. TKG called from Delhi and demanded flower garlands and a large reception greeting at the temple with vyasasanas for them to sit on. I told them this is Prabhupada’s temple and everybody can sit on the floor. When they came I gave them no such reception, and the next morning in Bhagavatam, Bhagavan brought his politics into the class. I went and told him, if you ever do this again, bringing politics into Bhagavatam class, you will never speak again in any temple I manage. That day, Bhavananda, TKG, and Bhagavan asked me to meet them in the guest house for a meeting. When I came, they said, why are you making waves? Just stop making trouble about this appointment of gurus and we’ll make you the 12th guru at the next Mayapur meeting. I told them, Prabhupada did not make anyone gurus, you have to be a realized soul. They said there was some talk about you in Japan doing some things, therefore Prabhupada did not name you. I told them you are now believing your own lies. They were silent. Bhavananda tried to speak. I told him to shut his mouth because he was a homosex and he had never done service and had been living off the money I collected and sent to Mayapur for construction. Written by Bhakta Dasa – Thursday, 02 October 2014 21:27
Note: It is significant to note that in many of Rocana’s verbose writings, he used “death language” terminology with terms such as “manifest lila”, “the departed Sampradaya Acarya”, “the most recent Sampradaya Acarya”, “during Srila Prabhupada’s ISKCON lila”, “list of 32 Sampradaya Acaryas”, “prominent Sampradaya Acarya”, ”preeminent Sampradaya Acarya”, “post-samadhi period”, “post-samadhi Rtvik priests”, “post-samadhi diksa initiation from the Sampradaya Acarya”, “pre-samadhi ISKCON”, “post-samadhi proxy diksa”, “post-samadhi era”, “entered into maha-samadhi”, and “post Srila Prabhupada’s maha-samadhi.” These various terms tend to relegate Srila Prabhupada dangerously close to a dim historical role, and it practically removes Srila Prabhupada out of the picture, supporting his “Sampradaya Acarya” idea. In Church of the Ritvik, Rocana dasa uses the word, “samadhi”, 18 times.