Chakra Discussions

Guru problems do not justify ritvik illogic

by Sridhar Raman

Posted March 23, 2005

I certainly agree with Mario Pineda's statement about the mismanagement of affairs by ISKCON GBCs and other leaders. I also agree that there are too many deviations in Guru tattva, but not in the Ritvik sense that he is implying. The biggest deviations, in my opinion, are that:

  1. Gurus are elected. That is a stupid procedure. Who the heck is the GBC to tell me whom I can select as Guru? The GBC should either administer or philosophize, but they want to do both -- talk about a conflict of interest.
  2. Gurus are hero figures in ISKCON. Some of them have thousands of devotees and live life king-size, when they should be epitomizing the renounced order of life. When Prabhupada initiated thousands of devotees, he was starting a brand-new movement and had to recruit people. By the mid-seventies, he said ISKCON had reached a critical mass and needed now to "boil the milk" -- that is, focus less on making new devotees, and more towards helping existing devotees grow upwards in the path of Bhakti.

What is the justification for the present-day Gurus to initiate thousands of devotees? Can they even remember their names? What kind of personal guidance can they provide? There is absolutely no justification for it, in my opinion, given the current situation. Of course, if a person is one of those seeking a "magic helper", he would flock towards such a "potent" Guru. This can easily become a classical case of the cheaters and the cheated.

While I appreciate the points Mario brings out about administration, his logic is, I think, rather twisted. Feeding children and distributing books are nice activities, but do not validate the philosophy being taught. To take an extreme example, if I were to extend his logic of money being equivalent to Krishna's mercy, then we would have to accept that Mr. Bin Laden is doing the greatest service. He is, after all, a multi-millionaire, much richer than ISKCON and the Ritviks put together.

Of course, I am not comparing Ritviks with this heinous terrorist, but twisted logic cannot stand its own ground well. People who want to posit philosophy should do it through the shastra, not merely through Prabhupada's direct quotes or his last letter, not by picking words randomly from different pages of Prabhupada's books and forming a sentence, and not by twisted logic and reasoning. The Vaishnava epistemology is Shastra supported by logic, reason and sadhu. It is not the other way round.