The living guru hypocrisy


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 32, Summer 2011

As we shall show in this article, the “living guru” philosophy is nothing but a hypocritical “bait-and-switch” scam invented solely for the purpose of eliminating Srila Prabhupada and promoting a substitute.

Living guru bait

The first step is to emphasise the absolute necessity of a physically present guru, as a device by which to eliminate Srila Prabhupada from the picture, and instead promote oneself as a suitable “living” alternative. Below we see an example of this from GBC-elected guru hoaxer Sankarshan Das (“SAD”):

“If we are to obey Krishna’s instructions, we must be able to inquire from the spiritual (master) and hear the answers he gives us. To directly communicate in this way with a physically departed spiritual master is not possible for one is still under the influence of the material nature. […] The guru therefore needs to be physically present to directly answer the questions of his disciples.[…] One does not need to be spiritually disadvantaged by the physical disappearance of a great spiritual master, such as ISKCON Founder-Acharya His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, thinking that now there is no more opportunity for spiritual progress. All one has to do is find a sincere disciple of Srila Prabhupada and fully take shelter of him.”
(SAD, ‘Is a Living Guru Required?’, ‘Ultimate Self Realization’)

Living guru switch

Having used the living guru bait as a device by which to eliminate Srila Prabhupada and take his seat as guru, the guru will then propound the opposite philosophy in relation to himself:

“Especially Through His Vibra-tional Presence. The spiritual master is not only present in his written word. He is also present in the form of his instructions. This is known as his vibrational presence. This is more important than physical meeting. […] The most powerful presence of the spiritual master is his instructions. So, if one is seriously following the instructions received from his spiritual master, there is no question of his ever being separated from his spiritual master. Such a disciple is in the presence of his spiritual master at every minute. The spiritual master dwells in the heart of a such a disciple, and that disciple dwells within the heart of his spiritual master.”
(SAD, “Thought for the Day”, 17/12/2010)

Now the same “living guru” tells us that his physical presence is not at all essential in order to communicate with a disciple. One simply needs to follow the instructions given, and the spiritual master is in the heart of the disciple, and therefore the lack of physical interaction is not at all a disadvantage.

Recordings not sufficient

Another example of the same phenomenon at work involves the recently departed His Holiness Narayana Maharaja (“NM”) of the Gaudiya Matha. When he was physically present, his followers would enthusiastically promote the need to surrender to him because it was essential to hear directly from a “living” guru. For example, an article on their movement’s official website states:

“This hearing the recitation from a pure devotee means LIVE hearing. Sabda-brahma is only partially conveyed via the recorded medium. The recorded audio can impart meanings, concepts and might instil enthusiasm, but does not deliver that supremely magical transcendental sound vibration, sabda-brahma.” (, archived at

Sabda-brahma means the transcendental Vedic teachings:

“Sabda-brahma means Vedic literature.”
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 15/9/1976)

It is made clear that the power of the teaching is conveyed fully only through the physically moving lips of a physically present personality.

Recordings more than sufficient

Now that NM has departed, we are told that there is absolutely no lack whatsoever in the recorded sound vibration conveyed by NM, and that on the contrary, this recorded sound vibration of this “non-living” guru allows us to receive his “transcendental presence” in “an even more intense way”:

“There are many ways to experience Srila Gurudeva’s transcendental, all-merciful presence at this crucial time. In my opinion, one of the most powerful ways is to hear his sound-files and see his videos. As we received solace, nourishment, knowledge, and Srila Gurudeva’s presence from these sound files and videos before, now we have the opportunity to receive all this in an even more intense way. For me, in my life, these sound-files and videos – there are thousands of them – have been the difference between day and night, life and death.”
(Jadurani Dasi, promoting NM’s lectures and videos folllowing his departure, 5/1/2011)

A similar situation exists also with HH Gaura Govinda Swami (“GGS”). He stated one cannot rely on books or tapes, but instead one must hear directly only from a physically present person:

“You may say, “Oh I have read their books; I have their association.” That won’t help you. […] You cannot understand what they have said merely by reading their books. Your consciousness is very low, so you cannot understand their words.”
(GGS, The Process of Inquiry, ch. 6)

“Sabda-brahma will never descend through a tape. One must hear from a physically present Sri Guru.”
(GGS, ‘Q&A’, The Worship of Sri Guru, ch. 3)

Yet following his departure, his followers have been enthusiastically distributing his books and tapes!
So books and tapes are only insufficient if Srila Prabhupada happens to be in the picture. If it’s someone trying to take his place, then, magically, they suddenly become sufficient!


It is one thing to put forward a false philosophy. It is quite another to then also oppose that same philosophy due to convenience and personal consideration. When this is done one’s false philosophy can easily be defeated by simply using one’s own contradictory arguments against oneself. Thus, the “living guru” philosophy is shown to be so bogus that even its own promoters are unable to follow it! Clearly, it is nothing more than a cynical ploy invented solely for the purpose of trying to take Srila Prabhupada’s transcendental position.

Hence Srila Prabhupada’s phy-sical absence does not prevent him from transmitting transcendental knowledge to us, anymore than the physical absence of his would-be substitutes prevents them from doing so!

Please chant: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna, Krishna, Hare, Hare, 
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama, Rama, Hare, Hare.
 And be Happy!