A Guru like Srila Prabhupada


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 49, Autumn 2015

Many devotees want a perfect guru who is just like Srila Prabhu­pada. However, this poses
a problem for the GBC gurus in ISKCON, who are nothing like Srila Prabhu­pada but rather just very imperfect substitutes. In a lecture titled "A Guru like Srila Prabhu­pada", which was posted on his website on 2/9/15, ISKCON guru HH Kadamba Kanana Swami ("KKS") acknowledges this situation by specifically addressing the following:

"What happens to an aspiring devotee who may have read Srila Prabhupada's books, read his lectures and loves serving and associating with the devotees but cannot find a spiritual master on the level of Srila Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada has said that the disciple should accept the spiritual master ‘as good as God' and be ready to sacrifice their life to him. If such an aspiring devotee feels this way towards Srila Prabhupada but cannot find anyone who satisfies ‘as good as God', is he then forced to take initiation from someone who he does not have full respect for?"

The quotes in the shaded boxes are taken from this lecture.

No one like Srila Prabhupada

"Srila Prabhu­pada was such a wonderful, pure devotee of the Lord that such a spiritual master may not always be here [...] You have heard that guru means heavy so you are weighing and each one is not heavy enough because Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura said that a guru is heavy! [...] he is heavy because he never changes his position. So every time you may find that no one compares to Srila Prabhu­pada".

KKS accepts that ISKCON's GBC gurus are not like Srila Prabhu­pada with reasoning that vindicates BTP's position. He states that they are not "heavy" and thus unable to never change their position. And we demonstrate this continual changing of positions and self-contradiction by ISKCON's gurus in BTP and our other literatures. A good example is KKS's own guru HH Jayadvaita Swami ("JAS"). For example, JAS first claimed:

"That a spiritual master initiates until his departure and then his disciples initiate next is the normal system. On this we are all in agreement. This is what Srila Prabhupada taught the entire time he was with us."
(JAS, Where the Rtvik People Are Wrong, 1996)

Then a few years later he rejected this position regarding "what Srila Prabhu­pada taught the entire time he was with us" by making KKS a guru:

"HH Jayadvaita Swami requested his disciple to become an initiating spiritual master, although generally by etiquette one will not initiate in the physical presence of his own spiritual master."
(KKS website biography, archived ‘07 – extract subsequently removed)

Need someone

"while we looking at the qualification of the spiritual master and we may wonder if he is powerful enough, we should also look at our own qualification as a disciple! We should also look at our own situation and we are probably worse off than all these spiritual masters that we are looking at. We may look at the spiritual master and find something that may not be up to the highest level, but where are we in our progress!? We are in a position where we need all the help we can get".

KKS then claims that even though the GBC "successor" diksa gurus may be substandard, it does not matter because we still need help from someone who is more advanced than us. However, Srila Prabhu­pada forbids such substandard gurus, stating we should be "careful to accept an uttama-adhikari as a spiritual master" (The Nectar of Instruction, Chapter 5). More importantly, such substandard diksa gurus are not necessary, since Srila Prabhu­pada already provided gurus who, though not on his level, are able to help, called instructing or siksa gurus:

"The GBC should all be the instructor gurus. I am in the initiator guru, and you should be the instructor guru by teaching what I am teaching and doing what I am doing. This is not a title, but you must actually come to this platform. This I want."
(Srila Prabhu­pada Letter, 4/8/75)

However, such helpers were never authorised to replace Srila Prabhupada as the initiating or diksa guru, and he therefore remains as ISKCON's diksa guru.


Must be living

"if we can find only Srila Prabhu­pada suitable to give us guidance, the problem is that we cannot directly ask him a question nor can he directly turn to us and correct us as we need it."

KKS then offers another justification for why we need to accept the substandard GBC gurus as diksa successors to Srila Prabhupada. He states that Srila Prabhupada cannot be asked a question or correct us. However:

a) Even when Srila Prabhupada was physically present, the majority of his disciples never had any contact with him, and therefore it was not necessary to be able to ask Srila Prabhupada a question or be corrected by him through physical interaction. Rather, as we just saw, Srila Prabhupada had an army of disciples trained to do just this, such as GBCs, temple presidents, etc. They were instructing, or siksa, gurus and not authorised to replace Srila Prabhupada as the initiating guru for ISKCON.

b) The ISKCON GBC gurus also do not have Srila Prabhupada to answer their questions or correct them. And yet, they claim to have made great spiritual advancement without such "physical guidance". For example, from 1978-1986, JAS was without this "physical" guidance from Srila Prabhupada. And yet, the result of not having this supposedly "essential" physical guidance from Srila Prabhupada is that he still became a supposedly "good as God" diksa guru in 1986! Thus, if such "physical guidance" is not "essential" for them, it is not essential for anyone else.


Srila Prabhupada already authorised a system of "helpers" to assist others in spiritual life. They are instructing gurus who simply guide people to read and follow Srila Prabhupada's teachings. However, he did not authorise such persons to replace him as ISKCON's initiating or diksa guru, and therefore Srila Prabhupada remains everyone's diksa guru in ISKCON. Unfortunately, as we are continually documenting in BTP, ISKCON's leaders appear to not even be qualified to act as such "helpers", as they are usually helping themselves rather than helping others to strictly follow Srila Prabhupada!

Hence, there is no need to accept a poor substitute for Srila Prabhupada as our spiritual master, since a guru just like Srila Prabhupada already exists. His name is... Srila Prabhupada!

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