What now, after Srila Prabhupada's departure? A 1978 answer.
Posted on November 8, 2013
(From Back to Godhead Magazine #13-01/02, Feb 1978, Srila Prabhupada Disappearance Edition)
Only by Srila Prabhupada's compassion, intelligence, and complete surrender to the will of Krsna were Westerners able to receive the rare gift of Krsna consciousness. Thus Srila Prabhupada's contribution, proves that he was empowered by God to spread love of God all over the world. Such a unique world-teacher is not to be replaced.
Nonetheless, speculations abound. Shortly before Srila Prabhupada's passing, one scholarly "expert" on the Hare Krsna movement, an anthropologist, conjectured that Srila Prabhupada was keeping his choice of successor a secret, but that he would reveal it before his departure. This is simply not a fact: he picked no such single person to succeed him as leader. How then will ISKCON -- the International Society for Krishna Consciousness -- go on? The answer is that our spiritual master has given us a complete arrangement for pushing forward the worldwide Krsna consciousness movement. As early as 1970, Srila Prabhupada created a Governing Body Commission (GBC), which now consists of twenty-four senior devotees, all personally selected by His Divine Grace to supervise ISKCON's missionary activities in various zones around the world. These GBC devotees have been trained (some of them for ten or eleven years) under Srila Prabhupada's direct guidance. For years now they have been conducting all the spiritual management of this mission within their assigned zones, and now they will continue to do so. The GBC meets yearly in India, and together its members plan how to execute the will of His Divine Grace.
Also, during his last months in this world, Srila Prabhupada selected eleven senior disciples to act as initiating gurus who could accept disciples after his disappearance. In this way he insured the continuation of the parampara. As for spiritual leadership in general, Srila Prabhupada has often quoted to us from the scripture,
kiba vipra, kiba nyasi, sudra kene naya
yei krsna-tattva-vetta, sei 'guru' haya
"Whoever you are, regardless of your birth or social position, if you know the science of Krsna you can become a guru." Srila Prabhupada, then, expects all his disciples to become pure devotees, or instructing gurus, capable of bringing pure spiritual life to the conditioned souls of this material world. Thus, now that His Divine Grace has left us and gone to the eternal, spiritual world of Krsna, there shall be not just one leader but numerous gurus to carry on this tradition.