Determining the truth - 2:
Faith in senior devotees?


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 34, Winter 2011/12

We have just seen how emotional, rather than evidentiary reasons, based on bodily considerations, have been offered to determine who must be wrong. A corollary is the argument that those who are "advanced senior devotees" must necessarily be right. Devotees find such emotional considerations difficult to overcome, even if contrary evidence is staring them in the face, due to the following reasoning:

On the need for a "living guru" all the senior-most devotees agree, even if they may disagree on other points. Hence, how can so many advanced Vaisnavas on the planet be wrong? How is it possible for such Krishna conscious persons, who have been strictly chanting Hare Krishna, to be hopelessly deluded as the IRM claim?

We will examine this reasoning here.

Case Study 1: Gaudiya Matha

The Gaudiya Matha was founded by Srila Prabhupada's spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Maharaja. By all accounts, many of the leading members of this institution appeared to have been practising Krishna consciousness from very young ages, chanting 64 rounds a day, without any record of gross sensual deviations, and were learned in the sastras. Yet, after the disappearance of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Maharaja, the leading members of this institution all deviated and misunderstood the order of the guru:

"Why this Gaudiya Matha failed? Because they tried to become more than guru. [...] But these people, just after his passing away they began to fight, who shall be acarya. That is the failure. They never thought, ‘Why Guru Maharaja gave us instruction so many things, why he did not say that this man should be acarya?' They wanted to create artificially somebody acarya and everything failed. [...] And as soon as he learns the Guru Maharaja is dead, ‘Now I am so advanced that I can kill my guru and I become guru.' Then he's finished."
(Srila Prabhupada Conversation, 16/8/1976)

So this is clear evidence that, regardless of how long one appears to have been practising Krishna consciousness, when the desire to take the position of guru enters - "Then he's finished". And this was not just one or two individuals, but the entire leadership, the senior-most men.

Case Study 2: ISKCON

Following Srila Prabhupada's physical departure, the entire leadership of ISKCON repeated the same mistake made by the Gaudiya Matha, and became overcome by the desire to occupy the position of guru and thus were also "finished". By their own admission they were hopelessly deluded in operating an unauthorised guru system for at least 10 years:

"by the influence of maya, illusion, a different idea soon evolved that Srila Prabhupada had appointed eleven "pure devotees" to serve as the only gurus after him [...] This zonal guru system, as it came to be called, prevailed in ISKCON for about ten years, until its falseness became clear"
(‘An Apology', Back To Godhead, #25-01, 1991)

It should not be surprising that exactly the same "senior" devotees who authorised and supported this false system are making similar arguments to support the guru system in place in ISKCON today. And it should also not be surprising that they are just as wrong again!

Can't advance in chanting

We have seen that one cannot determine the truth based on following the majority opinion of those who may appear to be the most senior leaders. Srila Prabhupada explains how it is possible for such persons to not become advanced in understanding Krishna consciousness. Firstly, he explains that simply chanting does not even guarantee that one is a brahmana:

Satsvarupa: "In our ISKCON, one becomes a brahmana after a year. It's not very hard. Everyone becomes a brahmana."
Prabhupada: "That is due to chanting. That lift very easily."
Hari-sauri: "Where will we introduce the varnasrama system, then?"
Prabhupada: "In our society, amongst our members."
Hari-sauri: "But then if everybody's being raised to the brahminical platform..."
Prabhupada: "Not everybody. Why you are misunderstanding? Varnasrama, not everybody brahmana."
Hari-sauri: "No, but in our society practically everyone is being raised to that platform. So then one might ask what is..."
Prabhupada: "That is... Everybody is being raised, but they're falling down."
(Srila Prabhupada Conversation, 14/2/1977)

And secondly, having just seen the admission that ISKCON's leadership completely deviated as soon as Srila Prabhupada departed (and this deviation has continued to the present day), Srila Prabhupada states here that such disobedience will finish one's spiritual life in the beginning itself:

"First offense is guror avajna, defying the authority of guru. This is the first offense. So one who is offensive, how he can make advance in chanting? He cannot make. Then everything is finished in the beginning. Guror avajna. Everything is there. If one is disobeying the spiritual master, he cannot remain in the pure status of life. He cannot be siksa-guru or anything else. He is finished, immediately. [...] The first offense is to disobey the orders of guru. That is first offense. So if you are offensive, how you can become advanced by chanting? That is also not possible."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 4/7/1974)


The only method to determine what Srila Prabhupada ordered is to ... examine Srila Prabhupada's orders – the "POP" (Prabhupada-Only Paradigm) model. Yet, ISKCON's leadership attempts to use every other method to determine what Srila Prabhupada ordered, such as:

a) Consulting tradition, previous acaryas or the "testimony" of devotees.
b) Examining the bodily status of the person presenting the truth.
c) Examining the "seniority" of the person presenting the truth and so on.

And when we do examine Srila Prabhupada's orders, ISKCON is seen to be hopelessly deviating in every major area, as documented in "ISKCON's new mission", BTP 30, and even agreed on by ISKCON guru HH Bhakti Vikash Swami, as documented in the last issue. It is no wonder, therefore, that ISKCON's leadership undertakes so many methods to determine Srila Prabhupada's orders other than actually examining Srila Prabhupada's orders!


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