This is an older post that originally surfaced on the Sampradaya Sun some years ago, however, for those of you who have not seen this recorded interview, or those of you who like to hear and remember some of the truth that transpired after the departure of Srila Prabhupada in 1977, we again share this important recollection from a senior member of The Hare Krishna Movement.
Gurukrpa: What Really Happened in 1977-78
By Bhakta dasa
Feb 04, INDIA (SUN)
Dear Prabhus: Gurukrpa is here with me and on his behalf I am writing here.
Question: What happened the final months of Srila Prabhupada’s appearance in connection with the process of initiating new devotees?
Gurukrpa: Nothing happened. In the beginning Srila Prabhupada did the diksa, the yajna and the name giving. As the numbers increased, he authorized GBC, and senior sannyasis to pick names and chant on the beads, etc. In 1977 during the months of May, June, July 1977 I was in Vrindaban with Srila Prabhupada, giving him his massage in his bed between 1 AM and mangala aratik. During the day, many letters would arrive. Satsvarupa Swami was the secretary and we decided that only letters that would give joy to Srila Prabhupada would be read. Like numbers of books sold, etc. A maximum of five letters daily were read to Srila Prabhupada.
After some weeks like this, there were stacks and stacks of letters, all relating to initiation. Hundreds of people were panicking that Srila Prabhupada would leave the planet before they were given initiation. At this time, this situation was brought before Srila Prabhupada in his room by Satsvarupa, Tamal, myself, and maybe some others.
Up until this time it was a very simple matter that we were doing the initiations, but we first had to ask permission. Srila Prabhupada NEVER refused any recommendation from his senior men. And personally, I would sometimes argue with some GBC that they were giving it too easily.
At this meeting, Srila Prabhupada basically said, “From here on, if you feel they are ready, then you may give the initiation on my behalf.” I understood this for what it was, simply extending the authority a little further than it had been. Tamal Krsna Swami, began to say, “But who will do it?. Which devotees will do this?” Srila Prabhupada said, “The nearest one will do it. Whoever is closest.” Tamal said, “Can Bhavananda do? Can Jayapataka do?” Thus these eleven names came out.
Question: Why were you not on the list of eleven?
Gurukrpa: Because it did not matter. Srila Prabhupada said whoever was closest. I was already doing and Srila Prabhupada never told me or anyone else not on the list to stop. For myself, it was not very relevant because I was working in Japan and did not have any new devotees to initiate.
Tamal Krsna Swami made these list of names himself and Srila Prabhupada signed the letter. But they were only priests to act on behalf of Srila Prabhupada. Tamal asked about Bhavananda who was not a TP or a GBC at that time. And everyone knew well of his homosexual tendencies. But, Tamal pushed his name, because he was already planning how to take over when Srila Prabhupada was gone.
Question: How did Tamal Krsna Swami become so influential at this time?
Gurukrpa: Tamal’s original service was as GBC in India. He left that service without permission and arrived in America. Within one year the Temple Presidents made a huge complaint to Srila Prabhupada that he was disrupting the temples by taking important men. I was in the room when Srila Prabhupada told Tamal to go to China. Hari Sauri’s memory of this incident is not accurate. Either way, that is another story.
Tamal went to New York to prepare to go to China. And in May 1976, he showed up in a suit in Honolulu, a broken man. He could not get a visa to China, he had no service to do in India, and he could not go back to America, so he was quite depressed. Approximately a day or two later, Srila Prabhupada called for Tamal and me at about 12:30 AM. He said, “My feet are swelling, my teeth are getting loose, I am passing urine too frequently. These are the first signs that death is coming.” Then he sent us back to bed. The next day TKG volunteered to be Srila Prabhupada’s secretary, as the service was vacant at that time. From this position he could control and manipulate the environment around Srila Prabhupada. I can write many more stories that will shock people about TKG’s ambitious nature and his desire to take Srila Prabhupada’s seat.
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 build 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 Bhagavatwam, Bhagavan brought his politics into the class. I went and told him, if you ever do this again, bringing politics into Bhagavatwam 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 guru’s, 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.
Question: So how did everyone become gurus, if Prabhupada did not make them gurus?
Gurukrpa: Had Srila Prabhupada seen one of us as being capable, he would have named that person or persons, but he did not mention that anyone was fit. His Divine Grace B.V. Puri Maharaja, who Srila Prabhupada said “is the only godbrother who is not envious of me”, ask Srila Prabhupada, “Please stay another 8 or 10 years with these boys.” Srila Prabhupada’s answer was, “They are all hard headed, I have done all that I can do.”
Prabhupada said, “I can stay 100 years” many times, but he left after 81 plus a few months.
In the GBC meeting of 1978, they shouted me down and they had already decided the fix was in. This was how the future of ISKCON was going to go.
Question: Is the GBC absolute since they are named as the ultimate managing authority?
Gurukrpa: Prabhupada said the GBC would be the ultimate managing authority. But that does not mean they are perfect, and they have perfect vision. The process of the GBC meetings during the years, we would have the meeting and report the day’s minutes of the meeting nightly to Prabhupada. Usually it would take 5 days. Prabhupada said, if you people were competent, you people would be done in 30 minutes. In 1977, Prabhupada told us, just have your meetings and after 5 days give me all your resolutions. After 5 days of meetings, the GBC filed in his room, sat down and read the resolutions; and one after another. Srila Prabhupada said, ‘No I do not want that, no that is not what I wanted’. He vetoed almost all the resolutions. So to say the GBC is the ultimate authority is correct, but that does mean that it is absolute. As you can see by how many gurus have fallen down, and how many GBC’s have had difficulties.
Guru means one who has no other interest but to realize the absolute truth, Krishna. The guru must have first realized the Name is non-different than Krishna. When I first joined the movement, we spent 9 to 10 hours a day chanting in the street. These present GBC’s do not spend that in a year. Hari nama eva kevalam, in this age only the Holy Name, only the Holy Name. Your bureaucracy and your management is not the process. The elitism being shown by the GBCs putting themselves up on a platform, above all their godbrothers is absolute arrogance and the greatest sin of pride, the opposite of the humble blade of grass. Krishna is the one giving all directions for those who can hear Him.
Must of us are now hitting 60 or more. We’ve made successful businesses, won some, lost some, raised our families, and personally I have gone to 25 straight Kartiks in Vrindavan. We have been excluded from Srila Prabhupada’s movement, it started in the GBC meeting of 1978. Still today, the people who have appointed themselves for life have had very little result. Rabindra Svarupa, the GBC of Hawaii, has come once in 6 years, and he will not give up the position. Kavicandra in Japan has done nothing there in 25 years. Even one of these GBC gurus does not wear neck beads, tilak, sikah, or have any faith in the Name is still a member in good standing. In the west, most of the temples have more deities than devotees. Most of the devotees are being paid, pujaris being paid, cooks being paid Temple Presidents are being paid, and they have to bring Indian devotees just to keep the bare minimum going.
I have witnessed over all these years how the elitist mentality of the GBC’s and guru’s have excluded all their godbrothers. They have put themselves on a high pedestal. They have no taste for staying in the holy dhama’s of Mayapur and Vrindavna, and they run back to their comfort zones soon as they finish the meetings.
In 1977, during the rainy season, all the GBC’s showed up in Vrindavan.. Srila Prabhupada said, we should go in a room and make out his will for him, i.e., who would manage what properties and so forth… Kirtanananda and everyone was there, and they were going on saying someone will do this, and someone will do that… I noticed how they totally left me out. So I just went to the Yamuna and took my bath and came back to find them still dividing everything up. When they were finished, it was brought into Srila Prabhupada room and read to him as he laid on his bed. After they finished reading the will, the first question Srila Prabhupada asked was, ‘Where is Guru-krpa’s name’? I had already opened a dozen temples and collected the most money in ISKCON history, up to that point, and they totally left me out. But Srila Prabhupada noticed it right away. So now, although I am the first executor in his will, and he told me to develop Hawaii and other places, (you made read the will), they also have totally neglected that order. Giriraj even came and asked me if I would resign from the will. I told him, ‘How can I give up the order of the guru’? It is not as easy for me as you people.
There is no new blood in this organization, things have become stagnated and dry, not dynamic and the offense of neglecting all their godbrothers by excluding them from their spiritual birthright, they will have to answer to Srila Prabhupada for this aparadha.
Question: What is your idea of how the guru-disciple relationship should now be handled in ISKCON?
Gurukrpa: Love cannot be institutionalized. I fell in love with Srila Prabhupada the second I saw him. That is why I could surrender to the depth that I did, to get the insurmountable service I did at that time. Once in Mayapur, Kirtanananda came to me and said “Why are you giving all that money to Prabhupada. You should give it to me, in America we are protected. The communist one day will come and take these buildings away… Prabhupada is making a big mistake.” I was shocked by what I just heard. At that time, Kirtanananda was considered by Satsvarupa to be the greatest of the great, and the most divine of the divine. My answer was, I do not care what he does with the money. He can flush it down the toilet, for all I care, I just love to give it to him.
It’s a matter of the heart. According to one’s state of the heart, if one has many material desires, he may say he loves Bhagavan Sai Baba, the Pope, Charles Manson. It’s according to one’s sukriti. Krishna is sitting in one’s heart, He knows exactly what our intentions are. Before anyone has a right to ask a question, you must first enter the class. The price is surrender. Those who have not fully surrendered cannot understand those who have surrendered. Those who have surrendered can understand about everyone.
Srila Prabhupada initiated thousands, he told me once in his room in Vrindavan, he said “My guru ordered me to go to the west, and I did that. My main service was to translate these books and I did that. I have a personal desire to build these temples in India. That is my personal program. But they (his disciples) will not give me money and my head is getting hot. I have to translate these books, write many letters, and I am thinking how to raise the money to build these temples because my disciples have their own programs and will not give me money.” So, seeing Srila Prabhupada like this, I told him that from today forth, you just translate the books peacefully, and I will take the headache and go and get the money. When I walked out of the room, I could not believe what I just said. So to think all the GBC are 100% surrendered souls, and the gurus are 100% surrendered souls with no self-interest, and their only interest is to serve Srila Prabhupada mission, they did not even care during his time (Srila Prabhupada’s time). Srila Prabhupada said he would be happy, if he could get one moon. To get one disciple who would be perfect, out of many thousands. How rare is a personality of Srila Prabhupada’s character.
The GBC’s duty is to see that Srila Prabhupada’s standard is being maintained. That standard is based on chanting and hearing, also becoming a lover of Krishna. If Srila Prabhupada said I bless you, I give you a benediction, it will manifest. He has the right, the adhikari to do that. If someone else says I am your guru, I am giving you diksa, can he give you Krishna? Can he give you the Holy Name? Can he take you to Vaikuntha? Have you been there, has the guru been there? Srila Prabhupada told me in the car in New Zealand, he turned to me in the car and said, while you were building Krishna Balarama temple in Vrindavan, Krishna was building you a house in Goloka. I have seen it, it is very nice. That is why you can only surrender to the depths, to one who is from that place, and who can you give you that place, who wants that place, otherwise it is just a big show. Whistles and bells with no substance.
My view of seeing this organization, it is cronyism. Most of the leaders, their hearts are still, steel framed, they are self-interested. They are not self-less. They have stopped somewhere on this road back to Godhead; they are satisfied with their easy lifestyle, food, respect, honor, traveling all at the expense of the community and the younger devotees who go on the street. It’s a long way from chant, dance and be happy.
Question: Then how did it come about that immediately after Srila Prabhupada was not present physically, these eleven became worshipable as paramahamsas of the highest order?
Gurukrpa: Because it is the cheaters and the cheated. People are basically sudras who want a master tell them what to do. They do not have sufficient intelligence, or spiritual knowledge, therefore they accepted; and the more realized devotees left, after trying to correct things. They were told to leave because they were disturbing the faith of the new disciples.
Because they could not take it anymore anymore they left. Now it has become like the Pol Pot regime, “accept our way, or die.” Devotees never die, KRSNA is always in their hearts. They are the losers for losing the association of their brothers and sisters. The senior men can do something, otherwise the new men cannot do without the association of the older devotees.
Most of the older devotees now also do not have the missionary spirit. Srila Prabhupada said, as a group we can’t be broken, but alone we are all easily broken.
The leaders have never cared for the godbrothers/sisters. They are happy when they see their brother get victimized by Maya, and never come to try and rescue them. Do you think Srila Prabhupada is happy to see the present leader’s disciples at his temples and not his own disciples???? They talk of love of God, but they do not care one bit for their own family members, unless the family agrees to accept everything they say. They have no peers around them that may object to anything.
I AM A VERY FALLEN SOUL. I AM NOT BASICALLY A FAULT FINDER, WHICH IS WHY I DID NOT SPEAK UP FOR THE LAST 30 YEARS. SO MANY PEOPLE ASK ME TO WRITE A BOOK, BUT I HAVE NOT. I HAVE LIVED VERY NICELY BY SRILA PRABHUPADA’S GRACE. I WILL BE VERY HAPPY TO SEE THE GBC ACTUALLY BECOME REAL GBC AND GENUINE LOVING COMPASSIONATE VAISNAVAS.
OM TAT SAT PARAM VIJAYATE SRI KRSNA SAMKIRTANAM….