Rtvik Sri Gurvastakam challenge

Few days ago, I received an email from a person who contracted contagious disease called “Zombie guru theory”. Proponents of zombie guru theory claim that Prabhupada is Jesus and that he is only guru for the next 10000 years, and that he should be the diksa guru of all members of the Hare Krishna movement. They draw this silly argument from the arragement that was made by Prabhupada while is was sick and not able to travel to initiate every disciple personally.

One of the arguments which zombie guru theory proponents use to justify their nonsense is perfectly exemplified in following email from above mentioned zombie:

But I ask this, when devotees are sing Samsara Davana in the mornings who are they singing about, Devamrita, Radhanath, Sachinandana etc? NO!! They are singing about pure devotee acharyas who can enact those activities mentioned in those verses, do you think any ISKCON ‘guru’ can arrange amerous pastimes between Radha and Krishna?

Well, he is right about the three guys he mentioned, but his claim that all ISKCON gurus are “bogus” is hilarious. This is not the first time I see this rtvik argument.

Answering this person is beyond my level of dignity, he is below level of where I can help him. I think he will require brain surgery. I am not brain surgeon, but I find this challenge interesting.

So, although ISKCON has many fake gurus, there are also some genuine ones, so, let’s try to give explanation of Sri Gurvastakam in the context of Prabhupada disciples:

Verse 1

tranaya karunya-ghanaghanatwam
praptasya kalyana-gunarnavasya
vande guroh sri-charanaravindam

The spiritual master is receiving benediction from the ocean of mercy. Just as a cloud pours water on a forest fire to extinguish it, so the spiritual master delivers the materially afflicted world by extinguishing the blazing fire of material existence. I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of such a spiritual master, who is an ocean of auspicious qualities.

Genuine disciples of Prabhupada who follow him 100% are definitely capable of obtaining Prabhupada’s mercy. And they definitely have access to the ocean of mercy. Prabhupada proves it himself, he says that his disciple who understood his philosophy correctly can deliver the whole world:

Prabhupāda: The whole world is spoiled for these Māyāvādīs. Therefore I am very much hard.

Dr. Patel: What… I don’t say hard. Hard and harsh…

Prabhupāda: No, we must be harder and harder.

Dr. Patel: Hard and harsh! Doesn’t matter…

Prabhupāda: I don’t make any compromise with these rascals. No words. No, no. I never made that. Even if I don’t get any disciples, I’ll be satisfied. But I can’t make any compromise like these rascals. I cannot make. Ekaś candras tamo hanti na ca tārā sahasrasaḥ. If I create one moon, that is sufficient. I don’t want many stars. That was my Guru Mahārāja’s principle, and that is my principle. What is the use of having number of fools and rascals? If one man understands rightly, he can deliver the whole world. (Morning Walk, March 23, 1974, Bombay)

Verse 2

mahapraboh kirtana-nritya-gita-
vaditra-madyan-manaso rasena
vande guroh sri-charanaravindam

Chanting the holy name, dancing in ecstasy, singing, and playing musical instruments, the spiritual master is always gladdened by the sankirtana movement of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Because he is relishing the mellows of pure devotion within his mind, sometimes his hair stands on end, he feels quivering in his body, and tears flow from his eyes like waves. I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of such a spiritual master.

Genuine disciple of Prabhupada definitely dances, sings and plays musical instruments, just as Prabhupada did. As far as ecstatic symptoms are concerted, Prabhupada almost never exhibit those. And his genuine disciples are following his example. But to travel around would for 40 years as a sannyasi without any girlfriends, female translators or other types of female assistants is definitely suggests that person is relishing higher mellows. Especially, if you are sannyasi without luxury apartment.

Verse 3

sri- vigraharadhana-nitya-nana
yuktasya bhaktamsh cha niyunjato pi
vande guroh sri-charanaravindam

The spiritual master is always engaged in the temple worship of Sri Sri Radha and Krsna. He also engages his disciples in such worship. They dress the Deities in beautiful clothes and ornaments, clean Their temple, and perform other similar worship of the Lord. I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of such a spiritual master.

Genuine ISKCON gurus are upholding Deity worship at a standard which was established by Prabhupada. Since they are following standard of perfect pure devotee Srila Prabhupada, it is philosophically correct to say that their worship is accept by Radha-Krishna, Gaura-Nitai or any other Deity. This is especially true if they don’t put on gay pujaris or transexuals on the altar.

Verse 4

swadv-anna-triptan hari-bhakta-sanghan
kritwaiva triptim bhajatah sadaiva
vande guroh sri-charanaravindam

The spiritual master is always offering Krsna four kinds of delicious food [analyzed as that which is licked, chewed, drunk, and sucked]. When the spiritual master sees that the devotees are satisfied by eating bhagavat-prasada, he is satisfied. I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of such a spiritual master.

Last time I checked, majority of ISKCON gurus are still eating only prasadam, except gurus who participate in “spiritual cruise” on which “vegetarian meals” are served.

Verse 5

sri-radhika-madhavayor apara-
vande guroh sri-charanaravindam

The spiritual master is always eager to hear and chant about the unlimited conjugal pastimes of Radhika and Madhava, and Their qualities, names, and forms. The spiritual master aspires to relish these at every moment. I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of such a spiritual master.

Genuine ISKCON gurus are always absorbed in Srila Prabhupada’s books, which were personally dictated by Krishna to Prabhupada and therefore represent the highest Krishna-katha for this age. Some fake ISKCON gurus are propagating PPB - Post Prabhupada book era, but who cares about them, you will be better off by taking initiation from Donald Duck.

Verse 6

nikunja-yuno rati-keli-siddhyai
ya yalibhir yuktir apekshaniya
tatrati-dakshyad ati-vallabhasya
vande guroh sri-charanaravindam

The spiritual master is very dear, because he is expert in assisting the gopis, who at different times make different tasteful arrangements for the perfection of Radha and Krsna’s conjugal loving affairs within the groves of Vrndavana. I offer my most humble obeisances unto the lotus feet of such a spiritual master.

Prabhupada is most confidential devotee of Krishna. Prabhupada is not ordinary devotee, he was not empowered as Bhima and Arjuna to kill daemons. He was empowered to perform almost impossible task, and that is to make devotees amongst the most unlikely candidates. This brings highest pleasure to Krishna, and therefore Srila Prabhupada belongs to the circle of gopis, Krishna most confidential servants.

People who are genuinely following Prabhupada and his legacy belong to “Prabhupada’s team” and are eligible to be called Krishna confidential servants. By strictly following empowered personalities, their disciples also become empowered.

Through the medium of they service, they will surely be recognized by Krishna. Prabhupada is so powerful, that whoever he recommends to Krishna, Krishna can’t turn him down.

In this way, this verse is quite befitting to Prabhupada’s genuine disciples who are spreading his message.

Verse 7

sakshad-dharitvena samasta-shastrair
uktas tatha bhavyata eva sadbhihi
kintu prabhor yah priya eva tasya
vande guroh sri-charanaravindam

The spiritual master is to be honored as much as the Supreme Lord, because he is the most confidential servitor of the Lord. This is acknowledged in all revealed scriptures and followed by all authorities. Therefore I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of such a spiritual master, who is a bonafide representative of Sri Hari [Krsna].

Exactly, and all disciples of Prabhupada should be honored in a similar fashion because they are continuing the parampara.

Verse 8

yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasado
yasyaprasadan na gatih kuto 'pi
dhyayan stuvams tasya yashas trisandhyam
vande guroh sri-charanaravindam

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. Therefore, I should always remember and praise the spiritual master. At least three times a day I should offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of my spiritual master.

By the mercy of Prabhupada, his genuine disciples got the benediction of Krishna. And since Prabhupada is satisfied by whoever follows him strictly, his disciples are blessed and protected by Prabhupada to continue carrying his message.


Sri Gurvastakam fits genuine Prabhupada’s disciples perfectly. Only problem is the GBC body, who imagined the “guru list strategy” although Prabhupada never mentioned such thing in any of his books and letters. They confused many people by creating such list, and by putting obviously unqualified people to this list. People such as sannyasis who play ping pong with women, sannyasis who sleep till 7 AM and travel around the world with a girlfriends, people who believe that we live in “post Prabhupada book” era and all other types of weird characters, they all ended up on the “guru list” and therefore are creating confusion for the sincere seekers of truth. And GBC body is accomplice in this cheating process.

Genuine disciple of Prabhupada is self effulgent, and doesn’t need a “guru list” to prop him up. Also, due to the “guru list”, ISKCON became something like North Korean regime, where you are not allowed to say anything against fake gurus on the “guru list” because you will be removed from society which mostly became society of cheaters and cheated.

Intelligent disciples have to carefully study Prabhupada’s books and find his genuine follower, which is not easy. But Prabhupada intended that all his disciples have right to initiate and he never mention any “guru list” anywhere, rather, he said:

Prabhupada: So far designation is concerned, the spiritual master authorizes every one of his disciples. But it is up to the disciple to carry out the order, able to carry out or not. It is not that spiritual master is partial, he designates one and rejects other. He may do that. If the other is not qualified, he can do that. But actually his intention is not like that. He wants that each and every one of his disciple become as powerful as he is or more than that. That is his desire. Just like father wants every son to be as qualified or more qualified than the father. But it is up to the student or the son to raise himself to that standard. Atreya Rishi: Yes, I understand. Prabhupada: If you are incapable of raising yourself to the standard of becoming spiritual master, that is not your spiritual master’s fault; that is your fault. He wants, just like Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, amara ajnaya guru hana [Cc. Madhya 7.128], By My order, every one of you become a guru. If one cannot carry out the order of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, then how he can become a guru? The first qualification is that he must be able to carry out the order of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Then he becomes guru. So that carrying out the order of Caitanya Mahaprabhu depends on one’s personal capacity. Amara ajnaya guru hana. (Room Conversation, 29 June 1972, San Diego)

Every student is expected to become Acarya. Acarya means one who knows the scriptural injunctions and follows them practically in life, and teaches them to his disciples. …Keep trained up very rigidly and then you are bona fide Guru, and you can accept disciples on the same principle. But as a matter of etiquette it is the custom that during the lifetime of your Spiritual Master you bring the prospective disciples to him, and in his absence or disappearance you can accept disciples without any limitation. This is the law of disciplic succession. I want to see my disciples become bona fide Spiritual Master and spread Krishna consciousness very widely, that will make me and Krishna very happy. (Letter to Tusta Krsna, 2 Dec. 1975)

When confronted with this crazy “guru list”, no wonder that some people go crazy and start believing in “zombie guru theory”.

This article originally appeared on Lasting Impression website

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