The great guru fraud

Fraud gurus and guru swindlers in ISKCON

By 1977, Śrīla Prabhupāda had developed ISKCON into a thriving society of many dozens of temples, farm communities and restaurants and had accepted 10,000 disciples. He also authored dozens of books on spiritual knowledge, over 150 million of which have been distributed in all the world’s major languages.

In a recorded conversation on May 28, 1977, Śrīla Prabhupāda was asked by disciples how future first and second initiations should be conducted when he was no longer with them.

42 days later, Śrīla Prabhupāda issued a directive to all ISKCON centers and his GBC Administrative Commission to implement with immediate effect.

This directive, known as the July 9, 1977 letter, established a system of initiation through which Śrīla Prabhupāda would proceed to initiate disciples without the need for his physical presence on this planet. In the written order, he named eleven of his disciples who were assigned to accept new aspirants into the movement as direct disciples of Śrīla Prabhupāda. The order clearly states:

“The newly initiated devotees are disciples of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, the senior disciples mentioned above are acting as His representatives.”

This letter was tactfully distributed to a select few and its straightforward meaning was concealed by the conspiratorial GBC leaders of the time. Śrīla Prabhupāda’s final instruction only became widely known about 20 years later. To this day, most ISKCON devotees have never seen this letter.

Not too long after Śrīla Prabhupāda’s bodily passing on November 11, 1977, however, the GBC brazenly announced that these eleven deputies had in fact been selected to become full-fledged gurus and spiritual masters (on the same level as Śrīla Prabhupāda), initiating their own disciples and thus replacing Śrīla Prabhupāda in that regard. This, of course, is in complete contradiction to Śrīla Prabhupāda’s written injunction, which clearly states that the eleven appointed deputies were chosen to accept new disciples FOR Śrīla Prabhupāda (in his name) in a representative capacity. An official GBC transcript from 1978, which hardly anyone has taken note of to this day, documents this fraud in black and white:

“…no new Spiritual Masters shall be appointed for 1978 other than the 11 selected by Śrīla Prabhupāda.” (GBC Resolution Nṛ. 16, March 19, 1978)

These eleven self-appointed “gurus” immediately divided the world into eleven zones and began to worship elaborately every day on huge ornate thrones (known as vyāsāsana). They referred to themselves as the “material and spiritual successors” of Śrīla Prabhupāda and with this deceptive maneuver acquired tens of thousands of disciples and huge sums of money. Those who did not cooperate were excommunicated. Soon, however, their lives were caught up in this blatant lie. Nearly all of these first disobedient deputies fell into an abyss of moral turpitude that one would not believe even an ordinary person could commit, let alone a guru.

An internal ISKCON memo regarding these escapades, written by a “guru” later elected by the GBC, states:

“Fact: ISKCON gurus have appropriated and misused funds and diverted other ISKCON resources for their own personal enrichment and sense gratification.

ISKCON gurus have engaged in illicit sexual intercourse with both men and women and, in some circumstances, children.” (Which the Riviks are right about, Jayādvaita Swami, 1996)

In view of this embarrassing situation caused by the abominable behavior of these first guru cheaters, one would have thought that most sensible people, let alone spiritual ones, would have owned up and confessed to the guru fraud they had committed. But instead of thinking that far and restoring the original representative system (ritvik-system) that Śrīla Prabhupāda had established, there was further misconduct and falsification.

Self-appointed cheating gurus

In 1986, when the GBC took a stand on the spiritual and moral decay of the many self-proclaimed impostor “gurus”, it tried to cover up the previous ruinous machinations that had led to this state of affairs by another fraud. To reassure members of the movement and divert attention from her own misdeeds, she suddenly announced that drastic and far-reaching changes were indeed urgently needed. However, the intended “changes” did not include admitting the original fraud, in which individuals had illegitimately usurped the status of guru, who had actually only been appointed by Śrīla Prabhupāda as deputy representatives. Instead, astonishingly, the GBC announced that not enough self-appointed gurus had been elevated to office in 1978. It therefore decided that from now on anyone could be made a guru by a majority vote of the GBC:

“…any GBC member may present a Dīkṣā guru candidate to the GBC Administrative Commission. […] and upon majority approval may then assume the duties of an initiating guru in ISKCON.” (GBC Resolution Nṛ.3,30. Man, 1986)

Was there a written authorization from Śrīla Prabhupāda for this new “guru by vote” scam? Just like before – NO. In this way, the unauthorized gurus in ISKCON have now multiplied to over 100 people, with the number varying yearly as some of them slide down into moral and spiritual abysses again and new ones are hastily added to replace the fallen ones.

Meanwhile, this whole “guru mess” has sidelined the real and only guru of ISKCON, Śrīla Prabhupāda. However, as we have seen, Śrīla Prabhupāda only authorized his representatives as his agents to accept disciples on his behalf – so through them he remains the sole initiating guru of ISKCON. Unfortunately, however, these representatives decided to abuse the movement for their own benefit, which has led to the chaos that prevails today. Amazingly, the whole scam was admitted by the senior guru imposters but not corrected. Even more astonishing is the fact that the following prophetic conversation from 1977 indicates how two of the future guru imposters had already thought that some of them would be willing to become gurus illegally:

Bhavānanda: There will be some, I know that. There will be some who will try to pose as gurus.

Tamāla Krishna: That was the case many years ago. Your godbrothers thought the same way. Mādhava Mahārāja….

Bhavānanda: Oh yes, they were already ready…

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Very strong guidance is required and careful observation.
(SP Discussion, May 27, 1977)

This conversation is not without a certain irony, as a few months later these two guru fraudsters were themselves “already ready” to pose as Diksa-Gurus.

History repeats itself

A Guru scam similar to the one that took/is taking place in ISKCON also took place in the institution that preceded ISKCON. This was, as is well known, the Gauḍīya Maṭha, the society of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Mahārāja, the spiritual master of Śrīla Prabhupāda. Here also, a society of numerically many so-called advanced devotees collectively deviated from the guidelines of their guru shortly after his passing away. And as has been extensively documented, these devotees of the Gauḍīya Maṭha had far better credentials than the current ISKCON gurus, as some of them were raised as devotees of Krishna from birth and chanted 64 rounds of the Hare Krishna Mahā-mantra daily.

Unlike Śrīla Prabhupāda, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Mahārāja had not ordered a permanent ritvik system, but rather had predicted that in the near future a self-illuminating Ācārya would emerge, who, as it turned out, was to be Śrīla Prabhupāda (who in turn ordered a permanent ritvik system, with only him as the guru for ISKCON).

As we shall see shortly, a similar mechanism of obfuscation was activated within the Gauḍīya Maṭha institution to deny the real guru – who in both corruption cases was Śrīla Prabhupāda!

Śrīla Prabhupāda on the task (function) of the GBC

Śrīla Prabhupāda: “This is the function of the GBC – to ensure that no one is carried away by māyā. All GBC members should be instructing gurus. I am the initiating guru, and you should be instructing gurus; by teaching what I teach – and doing what I do [and following my example closely in action and behavior. [Translator’s note]. This is not about titles, but you must actually get to that level. That is my wish.” (to Madhudvisa; August 4, 1975)

“The GBC (Governing Body Commission) was formed by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda to represent him in the practical application of the leadership responsibility in the International Society for Krishna Consciousness – of which he is the founder-Ācārya and the highest authority.

The members of the GBC accept His divine teachings as their heart and life. They affirm that the GBC is completely and in every way dependent on His grace. The GBC has no function except to carry out the instructions favorably given by His Divine Grace and to spread His teachings throughout the world in their pure form.” (GBC Resolution No.1, 1975)

Śrīla Prabhupāda warns against deviations of the GBC

As soon as Śrīla Prabhupāda left this world, however, the GBC went beyond their duties and powers (the above-mentioned GBC resolution). They belittled Śrīla Prabhupāda’s exalted position as guru and wanted to become guru themselves in an imitative manner. It is a fact that Śrīla Prabhupāda had foresightedly warned against these deviant tendencies – quote:

Śrīla Prabhupāda: “What will happen when I am no longer here – will everything be ruined by the GBC? So the GBC is hereby relieved of its duties until further notice – until I have thoroughly examined and revised the entire procedure.” (Letter from Śrīla Prabhupāda, April 11, 1972)

The GBC dictatorship is condemned

“The members of the GBC are only there to make sure that things run. Other centers have their president, secretary, etc. – and are run individually. That is the model. So how can it be that the GBC is a final authority? It is simply up to them to check that everything is working well, that’s all.” (Letter from Śrīla Prabhupāda, July 9, 1971)

“GBC does not mean directing a center. GBC means making sure that the centers are running smoothly. I don’t know why Tamal wants to exercise ‘his absolute authority’. That is not the job of the GBC. The president, treasurer and secretary are responsible for running the center. The GBC has to make sure everything runs well – not apply absolute authority. Tamal should not behave in this way. The GBC men have no authority to impose anything on the members of a center without first consulting with all GBC members. A member of the GBC must not exceed his authority.” (Letter to Girirāj, August 12, 1971)

“The men of the GBC should not decide so much, rather they should simply supervise and ensure that the level is maintained.” (Letter from Śrīla Prabhupāda, February 14, 1972)

The actual function of the GBC

“The GBC members should all be instructing (instructing) gurus. I am the initiating guru, and you should be instructing gurus; by teaching what I teach – and doing what I do [and closely following my example in action and behavior. [Translator’s note]. This is not about titles, but you must actually get to that level. That is my wish.” (Letter from Śrīla Prabhupāda, August 4, 1975)

The GBC’s urge to assert itself leads to falldown

“It is now obvious that some of our people at the top are very overzealous and many of them have fallen down.” (Letter from Śrīla Prabhupāda, January 27, 1975)

“The dilemma is that our GBC men are falling prey to māyā. Today I put my faith in this GBC [member], and tomorrow he will fall down. Therein lies the difficulty. If the GBC members are so flighty, what about the others. Without a solution to this problem, all our resolutions will be of little use.” (Letter from Śrīla Prabhupāda, December 16, 1974)

The GBC’s guru program is condemned

“Our mission is to serve bhakta-viseśa and live among devotees. Not to take the position of the guru. That is nonsense, very dangerous. It spoils everything. As soon as you are eager to take the guru’s place – gurusu nara-matiḥ. That is the material disease.” (Conversation with Śrīla Prabhupāda, April 20, 1977)

“Has the GBC now become something greater than Guru Mahārāja? As if the GBC is only meant to look after pounds, shillings and pennies. The GBC doesn’t care about spiritual life. That is the defect.” (Letter from Śrīla Prabhupāda, November 10, 1975)

Guru hoax part 1

As we have already mentioned, Śrīla Prabhupāda did not appoint anyone as his successor before his passing away. His leading disciples, however, who were appointed as ritviks, his deputy representatives, made plans to swindle the highest office for themselves as illegitimate successor-Ācāryas. This was the guru scam part 1.

The Gauḍīya Maṭha leadership did exactly the same thing, with one difference, they elevated a single Ācārya to office for the whole world, whereas ISKCON divided the world into 11 zones and appointed 11 Ācāryas.

“At the time of his passing away, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Mahārāja asked all his disciples to form a GBC and organize missionary activities together. He never named a specific person to become the next Ācārya. Immediately after his passing away, his leading disciples made plans to fill the position of Ācārya without any authorization and fell into two factions over the issue of who should become the next Ācārya. As a result of this behavior, both factions became asāra, that is, useless, since neither had the authority to disobey the spiritual master’s order.” (Śrī Caitanya Caritamrita, Ādi-līlā, 12.8, Explanation)

“My Guru Mahārāja was very disgusted in his last days. […] disgusted. […]

Nevertheless, he asked his disciples to form an administrative committee (GBC) to preach the teachings of Śrī Caitanya Mahabrabhu. He never recommended anyone as Ācārya for the Gauḍīya Maṭha. But Śrīdhar Mahārāja is responsible for having defied this instruction of our Guru Mahārāja, he and others who are already dead unnecessarily thought that there must be a Ācārya. If Guru Mahārāja had considered anyone qualified at that time, he would have said so immediately. He spoke about so many things the night before he passed away, but never once mentioned an Ācārya.

His view was not to have an Ācārya appointed by the GBC.

However, he directly said, you form a GBC and continue the movement. His thought was that in the course of time someone would become particularly successful among the GBC members and thus a Ācārya would emerge by himself. […] Śrīdhara Mahārāja and his two gentleman friends, without authority, chose an Ācārya who later turned out to be a failure.” (Śrīla Prabhupāda, letter to Rūpānuga, 28.4.74)

Guru hoax part 2

Now that the 11 so-called “Ācāryas” at the top of the movement have proved to be a failure, ISKCON has reacted in such a way that many others would now also get the opportunity to experiment as unauthorized gurus. Today we have over 100 different guru groups, all looking to get the biggest piece of the ISKCON pie. This was the great guru scam part 2.

Most of these gurus are simply content to expand their own domain. The Gauḍīya Maṭha, as we know, then also splintered into many Maṭhas, each with their own unauthorized guru at the top, and by clinging to the failures of their Ācārya program, all the many Maṭhas then put their own personal interests at the center, each making their own guru cult the top priority:

“Why did the Gauḍīya Maṭha fail? Because they tried to become more than guru. […] They appointed an unsuitable person as Ācārya. Then another person came, then another Ācārya, then another acaraya.” (Śrīla Prabhupāda, discussion, 16.8.76)

“The result is that everyone claims to be an Ācārya but has no qualification to preach. In some camps the Ācārya is changed three times a year.” (Letter to Rūpānuga, 28.4.74)

“They are all satisfied with having a roof over their heads in the name of a temple business – they employ disciples who procure food and eat and sleep by transcendental methods. They have no conception or sufficient understanding of how to effectively propagate the mission of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.” (Letter to Rūpānuga, 28.4.74)


The notion that a large number of devotees who appear outwardly “firm” and give the impression that they are “strictly following” are not mistaken and cannot deviate from the Guru’s instructions in this way is wrong. As we have seen, such incidents occurred both when Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Mahārāja and when Śrīla Prabhupāda left the planet. This means that in both cases, when the last acharya of our line of disciplic succession gave up the body, his instructions regarding the time after his passing away were violated. We should therefore be guided only by Śrīla Prabhupada’s actual instructions and not blindly follow the masses.

The fact that such guru cheating has happened before in the Gauḍīya Maṭha also shows that there is no guarantee of not being misguided if one takes shelter in that institution – which unfortunately many ISKCON devotees have done. Instead, one should only take shelter of Śrīla Prabhupada’s lotus feet, the true Acharya for the predicted Golden Age (which will last for another 9500 years). We can do this through the ritvik system he established.

Those who have not learned a lesson from the past are sure to repeat the same mistakes. We should therefore not again ignore the actual instructions of the Acharya just because the majority has a different opinion. We must be guided by the truth and not by the influence of the masses.

The great guru comedy

This rampant guru hoax has been proven to lead to disaster in the lives of thousands of his disciples. Now, instead of launching the obvious rescue operation to bring deeply troubled ISKCON back on track – by following the guidelines laid down in Śrīla Prabhupāda’s July 9, 1977 directive wherein he would be the only Dīkṣā guru in ISKCON – the GBC has instead resorted to a variety of patchwork and quack remedies that are nothing short of ridiculous.

The GBC meetings in recent times are no exception in this regard. The large-scale guru hoax has become a guru sequel comedy.

Here are some amazing statements that came out of the GBC secretariat.

“GBC meeting, day 10 (last day). It has been suggested that next year’s meetings will include a discussion on guru-tattva (truth about the guru).”

If the GBC were to follow the guru system that Śrīla Prabhupāda proposed, what reason would there be to discuss “guru-tattva”? Does the GBC know about guru-tattva or not? Wouldn’t it be a bit late to discuss guru-tattva after several decades?

Of course, there would be a compelling need to find out what is right when things go wrong.

Either the GBC knows exactly:

a) How Śrīla Prabhupāda appointed gurus.
b) Whom Śrīla Prabhupāda appointed as gurus.
c) What system Śrīla Prabhupāda prescribed for adding gurus.

Or they know nothing. If they did know, there would hardly be anything to discuss – they could just follow it. And if they have to discuss these points, it means that they do not know the exact answers to the questions posed above.

The following statements make this even clearer:

“Throughout ISKCON’s history, a number of gurus have deviated from the high standards expected of them, and this has caused great distress to their disciples and to ISKCON as a whole. It should therefore come as no surprise that this issue is one that the GBC continues to address.
What some may see as a radical step is that the GBC has given formal approval for women to serve as initiating gurus.”

Did Śrīla Prabhupāda appoint all his disciples as Dīkṣā-gurus or not?

Then why has it only now been decided that perhaps Śrīla Prabhupāda has also appointed his female disciples as Dīkṣā-gurus?

“According to a proposal by the SAC (ISKCON’s Śāstric advisory council), the abolition of the “no objection” system for appointing gurus was not approved. The “no objection” system, in summary, means that one is considered an initiating guru in ISKCON if no objections come from a GBC group.”

To summarize, they still haven’t figured out how Śrīla Prabhupāda appointed gurus and what system Śrīla Prabhupāda prescribed to make new appointments. Should we continue to choose them as before (“no qualms” system), or should we let the prospective disciples decide for themselves without restriction?

The reality is that Śrīla Prabhupāda has not decided who to appoint as gurus, nor how to appoint them, nor on what system to appoint them, and therefore the GBC feels compelled to speculate on these points year after year, which is a clear indication to a normal thinking rational person that Śrīla Prabhupāda has not authorized any gurus at all!

However, the GBC’s view is to proceed on the unproven assumption that Śrīla Prabhupāda somehow wanted them to initiate as Dīkṣā gurus, and therefore they feel they have to “discuss” and speculate every year as to how this can now be accomplished.

In fact, anything can be discussed regarding “guru-tattva” except the crucial question of whether they were initially appointed to be gurus in the first place!

This topic has never been discussed, not once, not even for a single day.

It’s like a bunch of criminals getting together every year to discuss the $50 million from a bank robbery they committed 25 years ago and how exactly the proceeds should be divided up.

They discuss everything but one thing – whether they are even entitled to the $50 million!

Has it ever occurred to you that the guru is a perfect being whose job is to make his disciples perfect too? Let us think again. Isn’t this the biggest guru joke, even for the GBC, when it says welcome to “guru school” where the would-be guru must first be trained:


“Another issue now being taken up after the “fall from grace” of so many ISKCON gurus is that of training. It has been suggested that all potential guru candidates should first undergo mandatory formal training in philosophy and in the practice of Krishna consciousness. The SAC (Śāstric advisory council) has argued against this, preferring that the ‘compulsory’ training should be changed to a ‘strongly advised’ one.”

Due to the “fall from grace” of some ISKCON “as-good-as-God-acaryas”, it would have to be “strongly recommended” that the solution would be to first put the would-be gurus on the school bench of a “guru school” so that the aspirants can first be “educated” and “trained” in the “philosophy and practice of Krishna consciousness”. Pardon us for pointing out the obvious here: if they are not already grounded in the philosophy and practice of Krishna consciousness, why are they lining up to become “potential gurus”?

And so the great guru scam goes on for another year!

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