The Guardian of Devotion

Date Unknown - Article

Disappearance and Rejection of the Spiritual Master in ISKCON after 1977

[This article is published in The Hare Krishna Movement: The Postcharismatic Fate of a Religious Transplant, Edited by Edwin F. Bryant & Maria l. Ekstrand, 2004, Columbia University Press, ISBN - 0-321-12256-X. In essence it is a highly edited and shortened version of Our Affectionate Guardians, adapted for this university publication.]

The author* is a practitioner, not a scholar, of religion; as such, we have an obvious 'insider' perspective on the topic under consideration. In our post-modern academic environment, it goes without saying that "[a]ccurate, objective accounts of […] religious traditions simply do not exist in their own right. All accounts of religion are accounts by people who approach their study from a particular starting-point."[1] Thus, since objective accounts are impossible—whether authored by practitioners or scholars—disclosure of bias is perhaps the most appropriate and honest course of action.

Our readers are therefore invited to allow for our standpoint as first-generation members of the disciplic succession of A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Where we differ from other disciples of Bhaktivedanta Swami that have chosen to remain in iskcon, and of particular relevance to this article is in the claim that our disciplic line prominently includes Sridhara Goswami. This claim is based on Sridhara Goswami's formal role as Bhaktivedanta Swami's initiating grandmaster (sannyas diksa param-guru) into the renounced order[2], the long-term intimate relationship of Bhaktivedanta Swami and Sridhara Goswami,[3] and Bhaktivedanta Swami's direct instruction to his disciples to approach Sridhara Goswami with their crucial philosophical inquiries after his disappearance.[4]

The initiating spiritual master (diksa-guru) of both Bhaktivedanta Swami and Sridhara Goswami was Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami, who founded the Gaudiya Matha. During their spiritual master's lifetime, Sridhara Goswami was a highly respected senior disciple in the renounced order, while Bhaktivedanta Swami (then known as Abhay Charanaravinda-dasa) was a junior householder adherent who worked outside the mission. Sridhara Goswami ordained Bhaktiprajna Kesava Goswami into the renounced order of tridandi sannyasis and bestowed the title "Bhaktivedanta" upon Abhay Charanaravinda-dasa. Kesava Goswami in turn added the title "Swami" at the time of awarding the monastic order to Abhay Charanaravinda-dasa.

After the disappearance of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami, the close relationship of Sridhara Goswami with Bhaktivedanta Swami was akin to that of siksa-guru, instructing spiritual master, and disciple. In the Gaudiya Vaisnava tradition " …the spiritual master who initiates according to the regulations of the sastras [scriptures] is called the diksa-guru, and the spiritual master who gives instructions for elevation is called the siksa-guru." [5] The initiating and instructing spiritual masters are considered 'non-different' —that is, one is not to make distinctions between them, even though they manifest in different bodies.[6]

I took his [Sridhara Maharaja] advises [sic], instructions, very seriously because from the very beginning I know he is a pure Vaishnava, a pure devotee, and I wanted to associate with him and I tried to help him also. Our relationship is very intimate. After the breakdown of the Gaudiya Matha, I wanted to organize another organization, making Sridhara Maharaja the head.[7]


The authors have chosen a methodological approach for this discussion that has implied assumptions, as all methodologies do. Being practitioners, we are as uncomfortable with approaches that go "no further than contorted taxonomies and thick descriptions," as we are with those with "an irrelevant preoccupation with the derogation of the truth content of religious beliefs." [8] Although we have scant formal training in anthropological, phenomenological, philosophical, sociological, and theological approaches to the study of religion, we have tried to adopt a simplified regulative approach, derived from Lindbeck. [9]

In Lindbeck's regulative approach "emphasis is placed on those respects in which religions resemble languages together with their correlative forms of life and are thus similar to cultures (insofar as these are understood semiotically as reality and value systems —that is, as idioms for the constructing of reality and the living of life). The function of […] doctrines that becomes most prominent in this perspective is their use, not as expressive symbols or as truth claims, but as communally authoritative rules of discourse, attitude, and action."[10]

Our objective is to establish that certain "communally authoritative rules" regarding the nature and role of the spiritual master are applicable to our discussion, and that such rules constitute an important element in considering the history of iskcon after 1977. They include (1) the indispensability of the spiritual master; (2) the fundamental identity of the initiating and instructing spiritual masters; (3) the grave repercussions that ensue from rejecting the spiritual master or his instructions; (4) the dire consequences that result from vilifying a Vaishnava. We will proceed to establish these four rules before considering the history of the institution.

Rule 1: The most cursory study of the Gaudiya Vaisnava tradition suffices to establish the indispensability of the spiritual master. In this respect, the Svetasvatara Upanishad (6.23) states: "Only unto those great souls who have implicit faith in both the Lord and the spiritual master, who is His manifestation and non-different from Him, are all the imports of Vedic knowledge automatically revealed."[11] (Although there are various renditions of this verse into English, we have chosen to present here one from within the Gaudiya Vaisnava tradition, for it is this particular understanding that constitutes a "communally authoritative rule" among Gaudiyas.)

Furthermore, the Bhagavad-Gita, perhaps the best-known Indian scripture, recommends: "Learn the truth through surrender, submissive inquiry, and service. The self-realized soul, who has seen the truth, will enlighten you." (Gita 4.34)[12] Finally, the Prema-bhakti-candrika, a specifically Gaudiya Vaisnava text by Narottama-dasa, unambiguously declares: "Fix your mind on the words emanating from the lotus mouth of the spiritual master. Place your hopes in nothing else. Affection for the guru's lotus feet is the ultimate goal, for by his mercy all of one's aspirations are realized."[13]

Rule 2: The fundamental identity of the initiating and instructing spiritual masters is amply established in the introduction to Chapter 1 of Caitanya Caritamrita, by Bhaktivedanta Swami: "[…] the spiritual master, […] appears in two plenary parts called the initiating spiritual master and instructing spiritual master. They are identical because both of them are phenomenal manifestations of the Supreme Truth."[14] He expounds: "There is no difference between the shelter-giving Supreme Lord and the initiating and instructing spiritual masters. If one foolishly discriminates between them, he commits an offense in the discharge of devotional service."[15]

Rule 3: The grave repercussions that ensue from rejecting the spiritual master or his instructions after approaching and accepting his authority are made clear in Srimad Bhagavatam (11.17.27): "A disciple should consider the teacher to be My very self and never disrespect him in any way."[16] Furthermore, Gaudiya Vaisnavas repeat the following verse by Visvanatha Cakravarti every morning: "By the mercy of the spiritual master one receives the benediction of Krsna. Without the grace of the spiritual master, one cannot make any advancement."[17]

Rule 4: The dire consequences that result from vilifying a devotee (vaisnava aparadha) are stated in numerous passages in the Vaishnava literature. Vilifying a devotee is considered 'the mad elephant offense,'[18] for it is said to destroy the creeper of devotion. This subject is of such importance that Bhakti Pramoda Puri Goswami has dedicated an entire book to the subject.[19] Vaisnava aparadha is listed in the Padma Purana (BK 25.15) as the first and foremost of ten offenses to avoid in the chanting of the holy name, the central devotional practice for Gaudiya Vaisnavas.

One can deliver himself from all offenses at the feet of the Lord by taking shelter of His holy name. But one cannot protect himself if one commits an offense at the feet of the holy name of the Lord. Such offenses are mentioned in the Padma Purana as being ten in number. The first offense is to vilify the great devotees who have preached about the glories of the Lord.[20]

There is no doctrinal dispute on these "communally authoritative rules." In this article we will attempt to demonstrate, through historical and textual evidence, two essential points: (1) That Bhaktivedanta Swami (the original initiating guru in iskcon) instructed his disciples to approach Sridhara Goswami for clarification of Gaudiya Vaisnava philosophy and its application; and (2) that the eventual rejection and vilification of Sridhara Goswami by the iskcon leadership has resulted in the institutional chaos that continues to this day.

Mission and Disappearance of the Initiating Spiritual Master

Given the centrality of the spiritual master in Gaudiya Vaishnavism, it should come as no surprise that disturbances do occur in the period after the disappearance[21] of the spiritual master. These disturbances negatively affect the understanding and transmission of his spiritual teachings as well as his institutional arrangements. In this regard, Bhaktivedanta Swami wrote:

[…] when the acharya (guru) disappears, rogues and non-devotees take advantage and immediately begin to introduce unauthorized principles… The acharya, the authorized representative of the Supreme Lord, establishes these principles, but when he disappears, things once again become disordered.”[22]

The spiritual master comes to enlighten his disciples, but in his absence ignorance may once again prevail. This relapse may in part be attributed to the very nature of the material world, but according to Gaudiya understanding, it also may be due to neglect or rejection of the instructions of the spiritual master.

Bhaktivedanta Swami traveled from India to the West in 1965, and in the short period before his disappearance in 1977, he translated and published more than 60 volumes of Vaisnava literatures, circled the world 12 times, established more than 100 temples, and initiated thousands of disciples into a tradition, Gaudiya Vaishnavism,[23] generally unknown in the West until that time. His initiated disciples were mostly young men and women with little or no previous conception of the multifarious spiritual traditions of India, their sophisticated and intricate philosophies, or their arcane practices. If they had any knowledge of yoga and Indian religion, it was limited for the most part to a cursory acquaintance with the physical (external) procedures of hatha yoga, impersonal meditational practices, or the monistic philosophy of Shankaracharya. These had been popularized by a number of swamis and gurus, beginning with Vivekananda in 1893[24] and Yogananda in 1920. [25]

Later on, a veritable flood of gurus traveled west to promote their particular approaches to yogic practice. From Visnudevananda[26] and the Divine Life Society to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi[27] and Transcendental Meditation —to mention two of the most popular— all advocated variant forms of advaita vedanta (impersonal monism). However, no one had attempted to convey the teachings of the exclusive theistic school of Gaudiya Vedanta. In fact, indologists and religious scholars in the western world were scarcely aware of Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy and practices before Bhaktivedanta Swami’s presentation and exemplification of the tradition.

Gaudiya doctrine, technically known as acintya bhedabheda tattva-vada (inconceivable and simultaneous difference and oneness), is a presentation of Absolute Reality that attempts to eschew the extremes of monism and dualism by interpreting material and spiritual realities as energies (saktis) that are simultaneously one with, but also different from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. A lifetime of disciplined study is often insufficient to understand and put into practice this doctrine, which incorporates and integrates aspects of Ramanuja’s visistadavaita vada (qualified monism), Madhva’s dvaita vada (dualism), Nimbarka’s dvaita-advaita vada (monistic dualism), and Visnuswami’s suddhadvaita vada (pure non-dualism).[28]

It was improbable, if not altogether impossible, for the young western disciples of Bhaktivedanta Swami to imbibe and assimilate "the extremely subtle and rarified theology"[29] of Gaudiya Vedanta properly in a scant ten years. This was especially difficult during a period of great organizational growth, in which the rapid recruitment of new adepts required the constant repetition of the most basic instructions, rather than giving scope for delving into the finer points of doctrine. In this regard, Tamala Krsna Goswami, a prominent iskcon leader and former secretary to Bhaktivedanta Swami, remarked: "Perhaps the most formidable, and certainly the first, obstacle to overcome was his Western audience's relative unfamiliarity with Chaitanya's teachings. He would have to unpack the densely encoded Sanskrit texts for his Western readers. […] But Prabhupada quickly discovered that while his young American converts could easily modify their hippie habits to conform to the monastic discipline, it was far more difficult for them to leave behind their intellectual baggage."[30]

The literary canon of Gaudiya Vaishnavism includes the Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas, Itihasas, countless commentaries, and innumerable other devotional compositions. The Six Goswamis alone, who codified Gaudiya Vaishnava doctrine, produced over 219 different works in Sanskrit.[31] Even Bhaktivedanta Swami’s prolific pen could not make them all available—much less intelligible—to his western disciples in the brevity of one decade. The Bhagavad-Gita and the Caitanya Caritamrta, translated into English by Bhaktivedanta Swami, are part of a much larger body of religious literatures in Sanskrit and Bengali to which his disciples had virtually no access. His magnum opus, the multi-volume translation and commentary on the Srimad Bhagavatam, started in 1962, remained incomplete upon his disappearance in 1977. Equally unfinished was his emergent effort to inculcate Krsna consciousness in the hearts and minds of western youth who were ill-equipped by reason of birth, culture, language, and upbringing to embrace the breadth and fathom the depths of the Gaudiya tradition.

In an essay entitled “Ending the Fratricidal War” (1985), Ravindra Swarupa-dasa, a member of iskcon’s Governing Body Commission (GBC), appointed guru, and current GBC Chairman, expressed the idea that iskcon is a society of spiritual neophytes(kanistha-adhikari):

[...] the leaders, due to spiritual immaturity identify spiritual advancement with organizational advancement. Although they know and intend better, the leaders of iskcon repeatedly find themselves, to their dismay, involved in highly immature patterns of relationships with others. This anomalous situation can only be attributed to an inheritance from the past.[32]

A decade later (February 1995), after countless upheavals, reforms, and contentious debates, Ravindra Swarupa-dasa reiterated that iskcon remains a kanistha-adhikari society.[33] And still later, in 2000, he wrote:

Spiritual immaturity often leads a kanistha-adhikari to identify spiritual advancement with organisational advancement. He thinks that attaining prestige, power and the perquisites of office is evidence of spiritual advancement. Lacking the assets for real spiritual achievement, he substitutes organisational elevation, which he can attain through his cunning or political prowess. He therefore competes intensely with others for high office, and he comes to believe implicitly that one achieves a spiritually elevated state only by becoming victorious over others. In this way material competition becomes institutionalised in kanistha-adhikari societies.[34]

The Instruction to Seek Instruction

In an attempt to insure that his teachings will remain intact after he is no longer physically present in this world, the guru may write books (extensively documenting his teachings), exemplifies his teachings personally, gives intimate instruction to his leading disciples, and sometimes organizes an institution or movement to support the disciples in their daily practice and for the distribution of his teachings to future generations. Although books, personal example, intimate instructions, and institutions are all very valuable in preserving the teachings, all these things are themselves the products of an enlightened individual, the tattva-darshi of the Gita—one who has seen the truth. Without such enlightened guidance, neophyte disciples once again may become submerged in ignorance. Bhaktivedanta Swami had the foresight to understand this important point, and therefore he instructed his disciples shortly before his disappearance:

In my absence, if you have any question regarding philosophy you may consult my Godbrother, Swami B.R. Sridhara Maharaja at Navadwipa.[35]

Sridhara Goswami joined the Gaudiya Math in 1926 after graduating from Baharampur College; four years later he was awarded the order of tridandi sannyas by Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami. Sridhara Goswami was recognized amongst his godbrothers as a profound thinker and was widely respected as a learned representative of the theistic conception of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. In this regard, Bhakti Pramoda Puri Goswami observes:

From the very beginning of Pujyapada Sridhara Maharaja's life, his adherence to the devotional services of his own guru, Srila Prabhupada [Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami], was super-resplendent. […] He would so superbly explain each and every word of Sri Gurudeva [Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati] in such an intensely devotional, melodious way that we would be charmed.

[…] He was never known to give trouble to anyone in any way and never felt himself to be the loser when taking troubles from others. He was completely free from any tinge of malicious anger, which is opposed to pure devotional service. He would always heartily try, with great patience, to resolve any problems arising from the conflicts or disputes between his godbrothers. A natural, simple, and most cordial behavior was always seen on the part of this spotless personality setting an exemplary standard for the brahmacaris [celibate students] and sannyasis [renounced monastics] of our mission.

In light of his divine knowledge, qualities, devotional services, [and] realization in the field of pure devotional siddhantas […], he is always most worshipable to this insignificant jiva soul as one of my siksa gurus.[36]

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami greatly appreciated Sridhara Maharaja's writings and stated publicly, regarding his presentation of Gaudiya philosophy: "I am satisfied that after me what I came to say, that will stay, that will remain."[37] Moreover, Sridhara Goswami's commentary on the Gayatri mantra, Sri Gayatri Nigudartha, was prized by the members of the Gaudiya family as an unprecedented and significant contribution to Gaudiya Vaishnavism.[38]

Bhaktivedanta Swami and Sridhara Goswami lived together in the same quarters for many years during and after the well-known disintegration in the 1940's of the Gaudiya Matha, the formal institution of their spiritual master, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami. During this period of intimate exchange, Bhaktivedanta Swami planned to start another institution with Sridhara Goswami as its spiritual leader.[39] Bhaktivedanta Swami held Sridhara Goswami in the highest regard, as the record of their long and intimate relationship through almost five decades demonstrates:

So, we are very fortunate to hear His Divine Grace, Om Vishnupada Paramahamsa Parivrajakacharya Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Maharaja. By age and by experience, in both ways, he is senior to me. I was fortunate to have his association since a very long time, perhaps in 1930.[40]

So, by guru and Vaishnava, whatever position I have got it is by guru's mercy and the blessings of the Vaishnava. Otherwise, how I may have? So, I wish that Sridhara Maharaja may bestow his blessings as he was doing always, and may Guru Maharaja help me so I can do some service. By his grace it has become successful. I have no credit. I do not know how things are happening, because I am not at all qualified: chadiya vaisnava seva, nistara payeche keba. [Without serving an ideal Vaishnava, who can be delivered from the clutches of maya?][41]

What Sripada Sridhara Maharaja has directed, I take it on my head. He is my always well-wisher. After the departure of Prabhupada (Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura) it is appropriate that I should accept his direction. [...] [42]

So, if you are actually sincere to take instructions from a siksa-guru, I can refer you to the one who is most highly competent of all my Godbrothers. This is B.R. Sridhara Maharaja, whom I consider to be even my siksa-guru, so what to speak of the benefit that you can have by his association. So, if you are serious about the advancement of your spiritual life, I will advise you to go to Sridhara Maharaja. It will be very good for your spiritual benefit, and I will feel that you are safe. When I was in India with the others, we lived with Sridhara Maharaja. You can also make arrangements for your other Godbrothers to go there in the future.[43]

In the first quotation of this series, Bhaktivedanta Swami refers to Sridhara Goswami in the formal address and with the full appellation reserved for the most revered spiritual masters in the Gaudiya tradition (His Divine Grace, Om Vishnupada Paramahamsa Parivrajakacharya). In the second one, he expressly asks "that Sridhara Maharaja may bestow his blessings as he was doing always." And in the third and fourth, he explicitly defines their relationship as one in which Sridhara Goswami assumes the role of his siksa guru, instructing spiritual master. Furthermore, as early as 1969[44] up until his disappearance in 1977[45], Bhaktivedanta Swami encouraged his closest disciples to accept the instruction of Sridhara Goswami.

He has given explicit desires, but he told us that, on other technical points and other matters of philosophy, if there was question we should approach you.[46]

According to Sridhara Swami, who Srila Prabhupada said we should consult about philosophy and practical points…[47]

iskcon leaders were manifestly impressed with Sridhara Goswami, as is evident from the following recorded expressions:

Our Guru Maharaja was kind upon us, so you are kind upon us. I find no difference at all in how you are blessing us. When I used to come every year to Mayapur, my whole purpose in coming was fulfilled when I would be in his association. So similarly, now I am feeling that as I have come here, that my purpose is being fulfilled, whenever I am in your association.[48]

I take it that Prabhupada is speaking to us through you (Sridhara Goswami).[49]

Sridhara Maharaja’s instructions are nondifferent than Prabhupada’s.[50]

Following the instruction of Bhaktivedanta Swami, iskcon's Governing Body Commission (GBC) approached Sridhara Goswami in March of 1978 (five months after the disappearance of Bhaktivedanta Swami) for clarification on particular points regarding the position of the new initiating gurus.[51] For over two continuous years the leaders and members of iskcon regularly took guidance and instruction from Sridhara Goswami in philosophical matters. On several occasions, when fighting and confusion broke out between the new gurus, Sridhara Goswami guided the institution through troubled times:

I think its very encouraging for everyone to hear how our spiritual uncle Srila Sridhar Maharaja ... [is helping us]... I thought the issues they discussed were very significant for my disciples, especially because of the answers given by Srila Sridhara Maharaja, and the way the GBC members responded to him, bringing about a resolution under Srila Sridhara Maharaja's guidance. Just before his disappearance, His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada, our beloved spiritual master and the Founder-Acarya of ISKCON, said that we should go to his Godbrother Sridhara Maharaja for guidance on philosophy, after the disappearance of Srila Prabhupada. So, this talk of October certainly showed the GBC doing this, and Srila Sridhara Maharaja fulfilling this role, as Prabhupada requested he do for the disciples of Srila Prabhupada.[52]

Some iskcon leaders belatedly suggest that Sridhara Goswami should be held responsible for the internal problems that developed in iskcon after the disappearance of the institution's founder. In particular, certain uninformed individuals try to blame Sridhara Goswami for the zonal-guru system established in iskcon in 1978. In that system, new devotees were directed to accept initiation from whatever guru had administrative responsibility over a particular geographic zone.

In the controversy over the zonal-guru system, Sridhara Goswami gave explicit direction from the very beginning that a zonal-guru system of initiations in iskcon would not be a good idea.[53] Sridhara Goswami suggested to the leadership that newcomers in Krishna consciousness should be given time to hear from different persons and then choose to whom they would submit according to their faith (sraddha). To this effect, Sridhara Goswami stated in March of 1978:

According to his sraddha [faith] a newcomer should be given some time. Who will come to be initiated, he should be given some time for a fair period of time to hear from different persons and then the sraddha, the faith, will be awakened. Will be considered (by faith) to whom he will submit. Do you follow?[54]

Ignoring this advice, iskcon leaders implemented the zonal-guru system, which has left the society reeling and in a state of disorder for the past twenty-four years.

Letter of Pradyumna to Satsvarupa Goswami

Shortly after the eleven initiating gurus assumed their position in 1978, Pradyumna Dasa, a senior disciple of Bhaktivedanta Swami perceived anomalies in their conduct.

Concerned that the new gurus were transgressing proper Vaishnava etiquette by their assumption of an elevated status and in their behaviour towards their non-guru godbrothers,[55] he consulted with Sridhara Goswami about the standard understanding of guru-tattva in the Gaudiya sampradaya. Encouraged by Sridhara Goswami's comprehensive explanations, Pradyumna, paraphrasing what he had heard from Sridhara Goswami,[56] wrote a letter to Satsvarupa Goswami,[57] a GBC member and one of the eleven new gurus, wherein he comprehensively expressed his fears for ISKCON's future, gave a detailed explanation of Gaudiya Vaisnava sadacara (etiquette) in regards to the guru, and proposed steps for rectification.

The GBC's immediate response to this letter was to expel him from ISKCON. Some gurus defended their opulent standard of worship by stating that they were following the standard set by the Founder Acarya, Bhaktivedanta Swami.[58] However, Ravindra Svarupa writes, "The force of this position is somewhat weakened when it is seen how its proponents tend to be selective in its [guru sadacara] application.[59]

Many years later, after many protests by godbrothers,[60] it was openly acknowledged by the GBC that the statements in Pradyumna's letter were entirely accurate.[61] However it wasn't until 1999 that the GBC issued an official apology to Pradyumna Dasa for neglecting his sagacious advice.[62]

Despite having personally received Pradyumna's prophetic letter in 1978, and personally hearing such instructions innumerable times from Sridhara Goswami, Satsvarupa Goswami in his "Revised Guru Worship" paper of 1985 pleaded ignorance, that "we did not know what to do [in regard to excessive guru worship] because there was no precedent or scriptural rule that told us specifically what to do."

Rather than admit their faults and their neglect of Sridhara Goswami's pertinent advice for the well-being of the ISKCON society, leaders such as Jayapataka Swami[63] and Tamal Krsna Goswami[64] to this day attempt to use Sridhara Goswami as an excuse for their past deviations.

A careful study of Sridhara Goswami's instructions and the policies implemented by the GBC over the years, shows that the GBC was also very devious in their application of Sridhara Goswami's advice. Sridhara Goswami was treated simply as an information bank and his advice for reform was repeatedly ignored and misconstrued.[65]

It was only after repeated requests by non-guru godbrothers, that the ISKCON gurus were forced to implement the very reforms which Sridhara Goswami has advised right from the beginning.

Rejection of the Instructing Spiritual Master

In August 1980, the relationship between iskcon leaders and Sridhara Goswami was on the verge of a serious breakdown. Bhakti Caru Swami (a member of iskcon’s Governing Body Commission) related the following to Sridhara Goswami:

Prabhupada gave an instruction that if we have any difficulty then we should come to you, but they (GBC) are deliberately neglecting that instruction of Srila Prabhupada.[66]

Again in 1982 we find Bhakti Caru Swami stating:

Maharaja, time will prove that they [iskcon leaders] are wrong, and you are right.[67]

The leaders of iskcon were in the beginning very satisfied and encouraged by the guidance they received from Sridhara Goswami[68], although it appears that they did not follow it closely. None of iskcon’s leaders or members felt that Sridhara Goswami posed any danger whatsoever to Bhaktivedanta Swami’s movement. On the contrary, they felt very fortunate to have the guidance and blessing of the seniormost Gaudiya Vaishnava and ISKCON's elite GBC gurus regularly attended his talks. Sridhara Goswami was known by his followers as the venerated Guardian of Devotion, and iskcon considered itself privileged to have his guidance. Sridhara Goswami was a conciliator, not an aggressor. His affectionate guidance was always welcome whenever the disciples of Bhaktivedanta Swami faced any difficulties.[69]

But all was not well. iskcon experienced repeated problems, mostly concerning the new gurus. It was said that the new gurus were pure devotees of Krsna (infallible souls) and that they could never fall down to material ignorance. There were heated debates over the infallibility of gurus, and ultimately anyone who did not accept that the new gurus were infallible was ejected from the movement and branded as envious.

Many disciples of Bhaktivedanta Swami were forced to leave the movement in 1979-1980, but the concerns surrounding the new gurus did not diminish. Eventually it became known to the general membership of iskcon that several of the new gurus (purportedly abstemious and celibate monks) were indulging in sex and intoxication. Sridhara Goswami tried his best to make peace amongst the fighting groups of iskcon members by repeatedly suggesting that they “Call for a meeting.”[70] The leaders of iskcon (particularly the new gurus) did not care for the advice of Sridhara Goswami and in 1982 they rejected him and declared him the enemy of Bhaktivedanta Swami, ostensibly because his "presentation of Krishna consciousness often differs from that of Srila Prabhupada."

In many cases intimidation, threats of violence, and even actual physical assault were employed by iskcon leaders to deter members from hearing from or associating with Sridhara Goswami. Jayadvaita Swami, an iskcon guru and long-time leader, has stated:

The GBC [iskcon's Governing Body Commission] displayed naiveté, incompetence, crudeness, offensiveness, and gross self-interest in dealings with B.R. Sridhara Maharaja.[71]

Increasing self interest produced such insensitivity that the ISKCON leaders even abused Sridhara Goswami directly and personally.

I am an old man. I am tired, exhausted. I am very, very sorry, (crying). Really I say with folded palms that you are ill-treating me. I am very sorry. Swami Maharaja [Bhaktivedanta Swami] was so affectionate, I also treated with such affection to him. And rudely you are behaving towards me. I am very much mortified for that, but what can I do? I am a small man…[72]

The tears of Sridhara Goswami broke the hearts of many sincere followers and disciples of Bhaktivedanta Swami who perceived that Sridhara Goswami was iskcon's affectionate well-wisher[73].

A more candid explanation for ostracizing the Guardian of Devotion is perhaps that many members of the society began to follow Sridhara Goswami instead of accepting the dictates of the new iskcon gurus. iskcon Law # 12.5.9 1 exemplifies the type of formal rejection instituted against Sridhara Goswami:

A: In obedience to the instruction of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the GBC directs that the members of iskcon should respect all senior Gaudiya Vaishnavas outside iskcon, but should not intimately associate with them, personally or through printed or recorded media, for guidance, teaching, instruction, or initiation as their presentation of Krishna consciousness often differs from that of Srila Prabhupada in emphasis, balance and other aspects of both teaching and practice.

B: This resolution is intended to apply categorically to all iskcon members. iskcon leaders' first responsibility is to give considerate direction, guidance, and counseling to any iskcon devotees personally affected by this resolution so as to bring them back to the path set by Srila Prabhupada.

In any case, those who continue to act in violation of this resolution are subject to sanctions by temple presidents and GBC zonal secretaries, who may exercise their discretion to prohibit any such devotees from living on ISKCON properties or participating in ISKCON functions.

Those who persist in violating this resolution are cautioned they may be reported to the GBC Executive Committee for immediate action or action at the following year's annual GBC meeting. The Executive Committee is hereby given authority to suspend any violator from ISKCON.[74]

Although the GBC rejected Sridhara Goswami’s advice in 1982 and launched a rancorous propaganda campaign[75] against him in order to discourage its members from taking further association and instruction from him[76], not all of the members complied. This reversal in iskcon policy toward Sridhara Goswami led to the first major schism after the disappearance of its founder. Those members who felt enlightened by Sridhara Goswami and who understood his instructions as being in complete harmony with the teachings of Bhaktivedanta Swami were eventually forced out of the institution.

Jayadvaita Swami states:

The GBC and its members have allowed, have failed to halt, have defended, have encouraged, and have deliberately brought about mistreatment and persecution of innocent persons [who followed Sridhara Goswami].[77]

Reminiscent of the tone and tenor of earlier threats against the followers of Sridhara Goswami is Tamala Krsna Goswami's 1996 Dallas lecture, in which he stated: "A blasphemer must apologize. With the same tongue that he blasphemed he must beg forgiveness from the person he offended. If he doesn’t, his tongue should be cut out, and the person should be put to death. […] Now who is going to do any of that? Nobody can do any of these things."[78] The final two statements, which we have quoted conscientiously, can and have been interpreted both as a legal disclaimer and an invitation to act on the exhortation to "put to death" the blasphemer. Given iskcon's well-documented history of intra-group violence, and Tamala Krsna Goswami's prominent role in most of the society's crises[79], it is not unreasonable to accept either meaning as the one intended.

The hard line approach served no real purpose, save and except to alienate more members. Discarding Bhaktivedanta Swami’s instruction to take advice from Sridhara Goswami, iskcon leaders rejected him and hurled a barrage of personal insults against the Guardian of Devotion, thus outraging the loyal followers of Sridhara Goswami both in and outside iskcon.[80]

According to several sources, iskcon had approximately 5,000 full-time members in the United States at the time of the schism.[81] The immediate result of the schism was that in 1981-82 more than five hundred devotees left iskcon worldwide. The devotees who have since left over the past eighteen years are now counted in the thousands. There are an estimated 3,000 core members in iskcon in the United States today.[82] One can conclude that the rapid growth of iskcon was reversed after the expulsion of the followers of Sridhara Goswami.

The Guardian of Devotion

ISKCON is no longer the only organized representative of the Gaudiya tree in the West. In addition to the many devotees who have left ISKCON and are pursuing and propagating Gaudiya Vaishnavism independently, the followers of Sridhara Goswami established a printing press in 1982, and the systematic publication and distribution of his teachings began in the western world on a large scale. The highest concentrations of devotees to initially leave iskcon and follow Sridhara Goswami resided in Central and South America, where a dozen temples with all their residents gave up all formal connection with iskcon and formed their own Krishna conscious societies.

Since then, followers of Sridhara Goswami have established and manage temples and other centers in Murwillumbah (Australia); Vienna (Austria); Buenos Aires, Mendoza, and Tucumán (Argentina); La Paz (Bolivia); Sao Paulo, Rio De Janeiro, Resende, Porto Alegre, Florianapolis, Sao Paulo, and Parana (Brazil); Sofía (Bulgaria); Antofagasta, Arica, Calama, Catemu, Concepción, Copiapó, Cuarnilahue, Iquique, La Serena, Linares, Santiago, Temuco, Tocopilla, and Valparaíso (Chile); Arbelaez, Armenia, Barranquilla, Belalcazar (Caldas), Bogotá, Bucaramanga, Cali, Cartagena, Cúcuta, Florida, Granada (Cund.), Ibagué, Manizales, Medellín, Neiva, Pasto, Pereira, Popayán, Santa Marta, Tuluá, Ubaté, and Villavicencio (Colombia); San José (Costa Rica); Baños, Puyo, Guayaquil, Quito, and Rio Bamba (Ecuador); El Salvador; Saru Lautoka (Fiji); Berlin and Freiburg (Germany); Guatemala; Tegucigalpa (Honduras); Budapest, Nandafalva, Szeged, Eger, Gyor, Debrecen, and Pécs (Hungary); Navadvipa, Calcutta, Chiriamore, Hapaniya, Bamunpara, Jagannatha Puri, Orissa, Mathura, Vrindavan, Mayapura, Sri Rangapatna, Mysore, and Bangalore (India); County Kildare (Ireland); Usmate-Velate (Italy); Perak, Kuala Lumpur, and Sitiawan (Malaysia); Yucatan, Guadalajara, Nuevo León, Colonia del Valle, Tijuana, Veracruz, Orizaba, México, D.F, and Michoacán (Mexico); Buiten and Amsterdam (Netherlands); Auckland (New Zealand); Arequipa, Callao, Cuzco, Huancayo, Chiclayo, Ilo, and Lima (Peru); Manila (Philippines); Coimbra (Portugal); Moscow and St. Petersburg (Russia); Singapore; KwaZulu Natal, Johannesburg, and Pietermaritzburg (South Africa); Thun (Switzerland); Ankara (Turkey); London (U.K.); Soquel and San Jose CA, Boston MA, Oaklyn NJ, Maui and Honokaa HI, West Pawlet VT, Miami FL (USA); and Caracas and Isla de Margarita (Venezuela). There are also numerous devotees in Belgium, Croatia, Mauritius, Puerto Rico, Serbia, and various cities in the United States.[83]

ISKCON is not only losing members, but is also confronting enormous challenges that threaten its survival.

As the GBC concluded at its 1996 special meeting in Abentheur, “ISKCON’s house is on fire.” The movement faces serious social problems. Devotees are dissatisfied, confused about their responsibilities and hampered in achieving their full potentials. Everyone is suffering, leaders as well as rank-and-file. Women, children and cows are unprotected and abused. Many who for years dedicated themselves to preaching and devotional service are now outsiders. Others are “hanging on” with diminishing hope of finding a secure, decent life in ISKCON. Others who should be free to be models of renunciation and spiritual leadership are perceived to be entangled with money and power.[84]

Admittedly, newspaper reports do not enjoy great currency in academic circles; however, they do reflect popular perceptions of institutions better than most scholarly publications. Therefore, we present here a brief sentence from the Hindustan Times, India's largest English-language newspaper:

Times haven't been exactly smooth for the Hare Krishna cult these past few years, the iskcon boat being rocked off and on by controversies ranging from child abuse, rape, suicide and bitter factional fights in India and other parts of the world.[85]

Warring iskcon factions have now dragged each other into the American and Indian court systems, where they seek to settle their differences. It is ironic that after rejecting the help of Sridhara Goswami, iskcon has now submitted to a mundane judicial system for clarification of philosophical disputes. It is important to note that although the iskcon leaders rejected Sridhara Goswami's repeated advice regarding the zonal acarya system (1978 GBC session[86] & numerous later sessions[87]), proper treatment of non-guru godbrothers (1978 and later sessions[88]), and excessive guru worship (Aug 18, 1980)[89], all of Sridhara Goswami's instructions proved to be correct[90] and were officially implemented by the GBC without giving Sridhara Goswami credit.

It is the assessment of the author that the difficulties that developed in iskcon after Bhaktivedanta Swami’s disappearance have been caused by disobedience to the instruction of the spiritual master and vilification of his highly respected and intimate godbrother, Sridhara Goswami. They are predictable outcomes of the rejection of thespiritual master, according to the "communally authoritative rules" which Gaudiya Vaishnavas accept universally. Bhaktivedanta Swami’s instruction to accept the guidance of Sridhara Goswami as instructing spiritual master was iskcon’s singular prospect for continued spiritual growth and healthy development after the disappearance of the Founder-Acharya.[91] Failing to do so, iskcon can no longer claim to represent the Gaudiya tradition faithfully.


* Swami Bhakti Bhavana Visnu is a direct disciple of Bhaktivedanta Swami and a member of the renounced order of Tridandi Sannyasis.

[1] Connolly P, ed., Approaches to the Study of Religion, Cassell, London and New York, 1999, p.1

[2] Bhaktivedanta Swami was ordained into the sannyas order by Bhaktiprajnana Kesava Goswami, a sannyas disciple of Sridhara Goswami.

[3] Bhaktivedanta Swami & BR Sridhara Goswami, Room conversation, March 17, 1973 (BBT Archives 730317RC.MAY), 1st two paragraphs missing from BBT translation. Available online as an MP3 audiofile:

[4] Bhaktivedanta Swami, Room conversation with disciples (Tamala Krsna Goswami, Hansadutta Dasa, Swami B. V. Tripurari & others), recording not available, Vrndavana, India, October 1977. Corroborating statements of leading disciples presented later.

[5] Bhaktivedanta Swami, Cc. Madhya 8.128, purport, Bhaktivedanta VedaBase 4.11

[6] "The initiating and instructing spiritual masters are equal and identical manifestations of Krsna, although they have different dealings. Their function is to guide the conditioned souls back home, back to Godhead." Bhaktivedanta Swami, SMD (new98) 2.5, Other Important Instructions Concerning the Spiritual Master, Bhaktivedanta VedaBase 4.11

[7] Bhaktivedanta Swami & BR Sridhara Goswami, Room conversation, March 17, 1973 (BBT Archives 730317RC.MAY)

[8] Lawson ET and McCauley, Rethinking Religion: Connecting Cognition and Culture, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1990, p. 1

[9] Lindbeck GA, The Nature of Doctrine: Religion and Theology in a Postliberal Age, Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1984, pp.32-45

[10] Ibid, pp. 17-18

[11] Quoted in Swami BP Puri Maharaja, The Art of Sadhana, Mandala Publishing Group, San Francisco, 1999, p.111

[12] Swami BP Puri Maharaja, The Art of Sadhana, op.cit., p. 98

[13] Ibid, p.110

[14] Bhaktivedanta Swami, Caitanya-caritamrita, Adi 1: the Spiritual Masters, Bhaktivedanta VedaBase 4.11

[15] Ibid, Adi 1.47

[16] BP Puri Maharaja, Op. Cit., p. 106

[17] Visvanatha Cakravarti, Eight Prayers to the Guru, in Bhaktivedanta Swami, Bhaktivedanta VedaBase 4.11

[18] Cc. Madhya 19.156

[19] BP Puri Maharaja, The Heart of Krsna, Mandala Publishing Group, San Francisco, 1995

[20] SB 2.1.11, purport, Bhaktivedanta Swami, Bhaktivedanta VedaBase 4.11

[21] In the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition, the spiritual master is said to appear and disappear, rather than be born and die. This usage reflects the ontological position of the guru as the representative of God.

[22] Srimad-Bhagavatam, 4.28.48, purport by Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1975.

[23] Vaishnavism, the worship of Visnu, is represented in India by four main schools, or sampradayas. Gaudiya Vaishnavas are members of the Brahma-Madhva sampradaya, which was reformed by Sri Krsna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu 500 years ago.

[24] Swami Vivekananda represented Hinduism at the first World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893. Subsequently he was invited to speak all over America and Europe.

[25] In 1920 Yogananda was a delegate to an international congress of religious leaders in Boston. He established the Self-Realization Fellowship in 1925.

[26] Swami Visnudevananda founded and directed the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers in the USA and Canada.

[27] Maharishi founded Transcendental Meditation and the Spiritual Regeneration Movement in 1957.

[28] For a succinct, if somewhat heterodox summary of Gaudiya Vaishnavism, see De SK, Early History of the Vaisnava Faith and Movement in Bengal. 2d ed. Calcutta, KL Mukhopadhyata, 1961

[29] Dimock Jr. EC, The Place of the Hidden Moon: Erotic Mysticism in the Vaisnava-sahajiya Cult of Bengal, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1989, p. xviii

[30] Tamal Krishna Goswami, The Perils of Succession: Heresies of Authority and Continuity In the Hare Krishna Movement,

[31] Dimock Jr. EC, The Place of the Hidden Moon, op. cit., p.77

[32] Ravindra Swarupa, "Ending the Fratricidal War," Essay, 1985.

[33] Ravindra Swarupa Dasa, Public Statement to iskcon society members, Mayapur, India, 1995

[34] Ravindra Swarupa Dasa, Pillars of Success: The Principles and Practices of Reform in ISKCON, 2000

[35] Bhaktivedanta Swami, Room conversation with disciples (Tamala Krsna Goswami, Hansadutta Dasa, Swami B. V. Tripurari & others), Vrndavana, India, October 1977. Corroborating statements of leading disciples presented later.

[36] B. P. Puri Goswami, "Exalted Glorification of Parama-Pujyapada Srila Sridhara Dev," Gopinatha Gaudiya Math, Mayapur, Bengal, 1993.

[37] Remarks to his sannyasa disciple, Srauti Goswami, and to Sriyukta Aprakrta, in Swami B. A. Sagar, "Srila Guru Maharaja, His Divine Pastimes & Precepts in Brief," Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, Nabadwip, 1994, P. 48.

[38] Sridhar Goswami, Subjective Evolution of Consciousness, Guardian of Devotion Press, San Jose, CA. 1989, Chapter 12, The Gayatri Mantra. Available online:

[39] Bhaktivedanta Swami & BR Sridhara Goswami, Room conversation, March 17, 1973 (BBT Archives 730317RC.MAY, Available online:

[40] Ibid.

[41] Ibid.

[42] Bhaktivedanta Swami, Letter to Govinda Maharaja, Jan. 29, 1969.

[43] Bhaktivedanta Swami, Letter to Hrsikesa Dasa, Jan. 31, 1969.

[44] Ibid.

[45] Bhaktivedanta Swami & BR Sridhara Goswami, Room conversation, March, 1977 (SSM Archives 770300RC.SM).

[46] Room conversation of GBC body with BR Sridhara Goswami, Navadvipa, India, March 1978, (SSM Archives 780300SM.GBC).

[47] Giriraja Swami, Letter to GBC, September 16, 1978.

[48] Tamal Krsna Goswami, Bhaktivedanta Swami's secretary, GBC member and new guru, Room conversation with BR Sridhara Goswami, Navadvipa, India, February 26, 1981 (SSM Archives 810226SM.ST)

[49] Ramesvara Swami, GBC member and new guru, Room conversation with BR Sridhara Goswami, Navadvipa, India, March 5, 1981. (SSM Archives 810305SM.ST)

[50] Acyutananda Dasa, “Autobiography of A Jewish Yogi," unpublished manuscript.

[51] Room conversation of GBC body with BR Sridhara Goswami, Navadvipa, India, March 1978, (SSM Archives 780300SM.GBC) Available online:

[52] Tape Recording, October 21, 1980, Swami Satsvarupa

[53] Room conversation of GBC body with BR Sridhara Goswami, Navadvipa, India, March 1978, (SSM Archives 780300SM.GBC).

[54] Ibid.

[55] Somehow or other, large numbers of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples feel strongly disturbed, discouraged, bitter, offended, confused, angry, or unhappy because of their relationship with their godbrothers who have ‘accepted the mantle’ as initiating gurus." Jayadvaita Swami, 1982 letter to GBC.

[56] Series of 1978 Room Conversations of Pradyumna Dasa with Sridhara Goswami (SSM Archives)

[57] Pradyumna Dasa, Letter to Satsvarupa Goswami, 7 August, 1978. Available online:

[58] "Specifically regarding the guru-puja, we took the precedent of Prabhupada himself, who accepted a daily guru-puja and considered it an important function." Guru Worship Reform, Satsvarupa Goswami, September 21, 1985.

[59] Serving Srila Prabhupada's Will, Ravindra Svarupa, Sept 14, 1985

[60] "Is the GBC going to recognize that in the letter that Pradyumna Prabhu wrote to Satsvarupa Maharaja in '78 he pointed out all the defects that in '87 due to so many fall downs they had to admit?" Somaka Maharaja, "In Search of Harmony," 1994.

[61] Pradyumna's lucid statement of the misunderstanding [acarya implementation in ISKCON] would be difficult to improve on. Reading this letter seven years after it was written, one is astonished by the perspicuous way Pradyumna spells out the issue and by the accuracy with which he foresees the evil consequences of this misunderstanding. Under My Order…, Reflections on the Guru in ISKCON, Aug 17, 1985 Ravindra Svarupa, p. 4.

[62] "The GBC Body extends its heartfelt apologies to Sriman Pradyumna dasa Adhikari for any offences caused in its dealings with him in 1978-9. During this period Pradyumna Prabhu wrote to the GBC via Satsvarupa dasa Goswami warning them of serious repercussions with the Zonal Acharya system in his letter dated 7th August 1978. Unfortunately Pradyumna prabhu's good advice was not taken seriously. In retrospect the GBC Body and ISKCON could have benefited greatly by heeding his well-meant and pertinent observations. Although it is now many years hence, we nevertheless wish to state publicly that we sincerely regret the actions and words of the GBC Body that contributed to his leaving his active service in ISKCON. We unreservedly and humbly beg the forgiveness of Pradyumna Prabhu for any offences caused to him by our dealings." 403 Action Order, B. APOLOGY TO PRADYUMNA PRABHU FROM GBC BODY, 1999 GBC Resolutions,

[63] 1998 Vyasa Puja Offering to Swami Bhaktivedanta, Jayapataka Swami:

[64] See Tamala Krsna Goswami's own "The Perils of Succession: Heresies of Authority and Continuity In the Hare Krishna Movement", undated,

[65] Ibid. Tamal Krsna Goswami quotes Sridhara Goswami's advice (SSM Archives 780300SM.GBC) that the guru must be autonomous, but fails to mention that Sridhara Goswami states in the same session that such advice is not possible practically to apply in such a large society as ISKCON, thus erroneously drawing his conclusion that Sridhara Goswami's advice is wrong. Tamal Krsna Goswami also fails to mention that countless question and answer sessions in 1978, 1980, 1981 and 1982 were attended by himself where all such guru reform instructions (zonal acarya, guru opulence and guru expansion) were carefully re-iterated time and again in painstaking detail by Sridhara Goswami. Time and the GBC's own admission has shown such advice to be correct.

[66] Bhakti Caru Swami, Room Conversation with BR Sridhara Goswami, August 19, 1980. (SSM Archives 810819SM.ST)

[67] Bhakti Caru Swami, Room Conversation with BR Sridhara Goswami, February 5, 1982. (SSM Archives 810205SM.ST)

[68] Sridhara Goswami counseled ISKCON's GBC to expand the number of new gurus (1978 GBC session); reduce excessive guru worship (Aug 18, 1980); establish a non-zonal acarya system based on the faith of initiates (1978 session); re-establish proper treatment of non-guru godbrothers (1978 GBC session); and to adopt a proper vision of first-initiated disciples of Bhaktivedanta Swami who took mantra diksa (second initiation) from a godbrother guru (1978 GBC session).

[69] Tape Recording, October 21, 1980, Swami Satsvarupa (see #48, above); Tape Recording, Feb. 1982, Bhakti Caru Swami: "And I have been seeing that for the last four years Maharaja, you have been giving them a chance. You are always taking their side. You are always trying to support them..."

[70] BR Sridhara Goswami, Room Conversation, Navadvipa, India, August 18, 1980, (SSM Archives 800818SM.ST)

[71] Jayadvaita Swami, Several Grievances Against The Members Of The GBC, 1987,

[72] BR Sridhara Goswami, Room Conversation, Navadvipa, India, March 5, 1982, SSM Archives 820305SM.C

[73] "Please accept my humble obeisances and apologies for my remarks in a letter written some time ago... In this state of confusion and concern for the welfare of the society so loved by my spiritual master, I allowed myself to be coerced into writing a letter that was meant to minimize your exalted position and question your credibility in the matter of management." Apology letter to Sridhara Goswami, Acyutananda Dasa, November 22, 1982.

[74] Iskcon Law Book (updated 1996)

[75] Purity Is the Force, Official GBC Publication, 1982. Original points & refutation available online: Also, numerous smaller iskcon publications, such as the translation & purport of Vaishnava Ke, 1st edition, 1982.

[76] "[…] all kind (sic) of offenses against H. H. B. R. Sridhar Maharaja were broadcasted, but the apologies to Sridhar Maharaja were not at all publicized..." Somaka Swami, In Search of Harmony, 1994.

[77] Jayadvaita Swami, Several Grievances Against The Members Of The GBC, 1987,

[78] Tamala Krishna Gosvami, "Cut Out Their Tongues" Dallas, 1996:

[79] See Tamala Krsna Goswami's own "The Perils of Succession: Heresies of Authority and Continuity In the Hare Krishna Movement", undated,

[80] Our Affectionate Guardians, Swami B. B. Visnu, Gosai Publishers, Delhi, 1996 available online:

[81] Melton, J. Gordon & Robert L. Moore. The Cult Experience: Responding to the New Religious Pluralism. New York: The Pilgrim Press (1984 [3rd printing; 1st printing 1982]).

[82] New Religious Movements (University of Virginia) (1998)

[83] Personal communication and internet research on the missions of BS Govinda Maharaja, BA Paramadvaiti Maharaja, and BG Narasingha Maharaja.

[84] Social Development Report, ISKCON Commission for Social Development, February 1998. Quoted in Rochford Jr EB, Prabhupada Centennial Survey: A Summary of the Final Report. Available online:

[85] Hindustan Times, Calcutta, September 24

[86] "These eleven, they will extend themselves. From this point, it will be — the area of the acaryaship will be extended. Then gradually twenty-four or more, but it will spread from this point, extend-bigger, bigger, bigger. That you may do, to keep the spiritual characteristic of the extension of the acarya board.

[87] Bhakti Caru Swami: But these acaryas, they are not teaching their disciples to show respect to their godbrothers. Sometimes the oppposite.

Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Then my suggestions to keep the unity are that a person of one zone may accept a guru of another zone. Free choice by sraddha. He who has preference for one acarya but is compelled to accept one whom he considers to be lower, that is an anomaly. That zonal arrangement is against free choice. Also, new appointments of acaryas from amongst the brothers who are considered fit, that sort of position should also be there. Room Conversation, February 1, 1982.

[88] Ibid.

[89] According to my consideration, as I hear it, the grandeur of the acarya, the puja of the present acaryas, it is undesirable and too much and that will create some difficulty. It should be modified. The way in which the acarya puja has been established, that should be modified to suit the circumstances and some adjustment with the godbrothers should be made. A protocol, a spiritual protocol should be evolved which may not be very harmful to the body, to the association, the ISKCON organization."

[90] "A near unanimous decision has been reached by the senior devotees, that the present system of zonal acaryas should be changed." Guru Reform letter, Satsvarupa Goswami, September 21, 1985. "It has become more apparent that daily guru-puja [for the present Iskcon gurus] is questionable." Terms and Policies for Revised Guru Worship, Satsvarupa Maharaja, 1985. "Somehow or other, large numbers of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples feel strongly disturbed, discouraged, bitter, offended, confused, angry, or unhappy because of their relationship with their godbrothers who have ‘accepted the mantle’ as initiating gurus."

Jayadvaita Swami, 1982 letter to GBC.

[91] The instruction of Swami B.R. BR Sridhara Goswami to his spiritual nephews was very extensive and delved into all the essential aspects of Krsna consciousness. A detail of those instructions and exchanges with ISKCON leaders through good and bad times has been thoroughly documented in the book entitled, Our Affectionate Guardians. Entire book available online Our Affectionate Guardians

Topic: Parampara