Founder-Acarya Position Remains Undefeated


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 50, Winter 2015/16

We saw in the previous article how the GBC has been unable to defeat Srila Prabhupada's position as the Founder, Acarya and diksa guru of ISKCON (Founder-Acarya), but rather has been forced, unwittingly, to embrace it. Desperate to avoid this conclusion, one GBC member and a supposed GBC ‘good-as-God' diksa guru has been forced to concoct a bizarre theory that "Founder-Acarya" does not actually just mean "Founder" and "Acarya"! All emphases below added.

Not a combination

In response to questions regarding the meaning of Srila Prabhupada's "Founder-Acarya" title, HH Bhakti Vijnana Goswami ("BVG"), a GBC and GBC-elected guru for Russia, stated:

"HH Bhakti Vijnana Goswami Maharaj replies:

"Of course, founder-acarya is not just a combination of two words, founder & acarya. It is a special title, and there is a whole book on that by Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu and there is a whole seminar that has been held by Sureshvara." "
(Vijitatma Dasa, 26/11/14, posting reply from BVG on official ISKCON Russia website, translated from Russian, archived 18/12/15)

Thus, it is claimed that "Founder-Acarya" does not simply denote the combination of two titles, Founder and Acarya; and we are pointed to a book (as well as a seminar) that supposedly makes this clear.

It's a combination

However, when we actually examine the book that BVG refers us to, we find that there is no dispute that the Founder-Acarya title does just refer to a combination of Srila Prabhupada's positions as both Founder and Acarya:

"As Founder-Acarya Srila Prabhupada holds a unique position in ISKCON. We need to understand it deeply. As acarya, his exemplary personal behavior is the model and norm for all ISKCON devotees. As founder, his personal standards and principles of action, his particular spirit or ‘mood,' take on a societal shape and form in the organization he created."
(Srila Prabhupada – The Founder-Acarya of ISKCON, A GBC Foundational Document ("SPFAI"), Ravindra Svarupa Dasa, p. 30)

Hence, the book only contradicts, and does not support, BVG's claim. The book then goes on to explain that, as Acarya, Srila Prabhupada also acts as a diksa guru:

"An Acarya, [...] takes charge of the disciples and after initiating them into their sacred studies..."
(SPFAI, p. 30, 32)

The seminar also mentioned by BVG was covered by us in the last issue -- see "GBC Founder-Acarya Seminar Defeats Itself".

Basic English

That there should even be a dispute over the basic fact that in the English language a hyphen is used to combine two titles, as a means to denote the simultaneous possession of two titles, is amazing. Just a little research will confirm that the use of a hyphen to combine titles in this manner is standard usage in the English language. For example, a Founder and Director of a Music Institute is denoted as being both its Founder and Director, as follows:

"The Founder-Director
Lucinda E. Ali-Landing, (formerly Lucinda Holland) violinist..."


There are many other examples.

In addition to using a hyphen, one can also use other alternatives to combine two pre-existing titles, to denote that these two titles are held simultaneously. For example, one can simply use the word "and" as in "Founder and Director", or simply leave a space, as in "Founder Director".

Hence, in line with standard English usage, two separate titles held by Srila Prabhupada, Founder and Acarya, were denoted by combining them both through the use of a simple hyphen: Founder-Acarya.


Srila Prabhupada's proof

A definitive proof for what has just been stated is Srila Prabhupada's use of the two titles he had for the institution he founded in India in 1953 before he founded ISKCON, "The League of Devotees" ("LoD"). In his prospectus for this society, issued on 16/5/53, Srila Prabhupada states he is its "Founder & Secretary", using "& (and)" to combine the two titles. In his Introduction to the 3rd Volume of the 1st Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, published in Delhi, India, in 1965, Srila Prabhupada writes that he is the "Founder Secretary" of LoD, using a space to combine the two titles. And in 1969, after he arrived in the USA, he writes to the Bank of Baroda holding an account for the LoD in Delhi, India, that he wishes to close this account, and that he is the "Founder-Secretary" for the LoD, using a hyphen. Therefore:

a) Srila Prabhupada was simultaneously holding two titles or positions in the LoD -- Founder and Secretary.

b) He denoted that he held these two titles at the same time by using "& (and)", a space and also a hyphen.

Thus, there was nothing more in the use of a hyphen in the title "Founder-Secretary", other than the fact that it was simply a combination of two titles, "Founder and Secretary".

Similarly, Srila Prabhupada used "and" to refer to his position as the "Founder and Acarya" of ISKCON (for example, in his letter to Jayapataka Swami, 27/11/70); he used a space to state that he is the "Founder Acarya" (for example, his letter to Acyutananda, 15/3/70); and he used a hyphen to state that he is the "Founder-Acarya" (the most common and standard version); with all 3 versions meaning the same.


Thus, there was nothing mysterious or unusual about Srila Prabhupada introducing the "Founder-Acarya" title. It certainly did not require a GBC book which took "over 6 years to prepare" (from the Introduction to SPFAI), to "explain" this title. Srila Prabhupada stated that he is the "Founder and Acarya" of ISKCON, with Acarya including acting as diksa guru, and for convenience, as per standard English usage, a hyphen was used to replace the need to use the word "and" every time.

The fact that such a basic, simple fact is denied, highlights just how comprehensively Srila Prabhupada's Founder-Acarya position defeats any attempts to take his position as ISKCON's diksa guru. Hence, an ISKCON diksa guru, being so desperate to avoid this conclusion, not only refuses to accept the simple and actual meaning of Srila Prabhupada's "Founder-Acarya" title, but even points us to a book that actually contradicts what he claims!

Return to Bhakti Vijnana Goswami Index

Return to GBC Index

Return to IRM Homepage

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