The Acarya Does Not Change


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 54, Winter 2016/17


The Final Order, the IRM's foundational document released over 20 years ago, provided the documentary and scriptural evidence which established Srila Prabhupada's position as the diksa guru for ISKCON. A companion paper, The No Change in ISKCON Paradigm ("NCIP"), explained that this evidence merely reflected a general underlying principle regarding ISKCON -- that there should be "no change" to whatever Srila Prabhupada established in ISKCON:

"Whatever I have introduced should remain. [...] Carefully manage things what I have established."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 4/9/74)

Hence, this "no change" policy also applied to Srila Prabhupada having established his position as the diksa guru for ISKCON, along with the July 9th, 1977 representative "rtvik" initiation system which would allow him to remain in this position.

It was a presentation made to the GBC in 1999 based on this NCIP paper (available to read here) which caused the GBC to immediately issue a resolution in which they again rejected Srila Prabhupada's position as ISKCON's diksa guru, which they said was being proposed: "under the name of "tradition" and "no change."" (GBC Resolution, 303, 1999)

Acarya and guru

However, GBC member and GBC-elected diksa guru HH Bhakti Charu Swami ("BCS"), has stated the following:

"In this society Srila Prabhupada is the Founder-Acharya. This position of Srila Prabhupada will always be there. Not only will he always remain the founder of ISKCON, but as the acharya of ISKCON, he is the guru of all the devotees of ISKCON, for all time."
(BCS, European Retreat, 2/6/16)

BCS states that:

a) Srila Prabhupada's position is that of Founder-Acarya.

b) This position means being both the Founder and Acarya of ISKCON, and it will not change.

c) Being the Acarya of ISKCON means that he is also the guru for everyone in ISKCON, and this position as the guru will also not change, but remain for all time.

It is a historical fact that Srila Prabhupada established himself as ISKCON's Founder-Acarya after its founding in 1966. Thus, by BCS's statement b) above, Srila Prabhupada's position in ISKCON as the Acarya of ISKCON while he was physically present, will remain unchanged throughout ISKCON's lifetime. This position included him being the diksa and siksa guru of all the devotees. Which corresponds with BCS's statement c), that as the Acarya he will also be everyone's guru.

Only one Acarya

Thus, combining BCS's statements with historical fact:

a) Srila Prabhupada's position as the Acarya never changes – BCS;

b) His position as the Acarya included being ISKCON's diksa guru from 1966 – historical fact;

c) His position as the Acarya means his position as the guru never changes – BCS;

Hence, Srila Prabhupada's position as the diksa guru also does not change.

However, in practice, BCS (like his GBC colleagues) does not follow his own teachings. This is because doing so would deprive him of the opportunity for usurping Srila Prabhupada's position as ISKCON's diksa guru via becoming a diksa guru himself.

On the contrary, it is claimed by the GBC that Srila Prabhupada being the Acarya means he can only be the siksa guru. But this means positing that there are two Acaryas in ISKCON. First, there is the original Acarya, the position Srila Prabhupada possessed as soon as ISKCON was founded, and which BCS (and Srila Prabhupada) states can never change. This included acting as the diksa and siksa guru. Then, this position changed, and a new Acarya was created. This second Acarya would now have a different, reduced position, invented entirely by the GBC, in which Srila Prabhupada can only be the siksa guru. Thus, this is effectively a "Dual Acarya Theory" ("DAT"). But this DAT directly contradicts BCS's correct statement that Srila Prabhupada's position as the Acarya does not change. Please see diagram above.

Which Acarya?

Therefore, simply stating one accepts "Srila Prabhupada is the Acarya", although technically accurate, in today's ISKCON invites ambiguity. Because, as seen, even ISKCON's leadership accepts Srila Prabhupada is the "Acarya". Thus, both those who accept Srila Prabhupada is ISKCON's diksa guru, and those who do not, claim that they are accepting Srila Prabhupada as the Acarya. However, the GBC have simply re-defined the word Acarya to enable themselves to "slip in" as diksa guru usurpers, while trying to distract everyone by still allowing Srila Prabhupada to have the "big title" of the "Acarya". One needs to always add that one is accepting Srila Prabhupada as ISKCON's diksa guru to make it clear one is following Srila Prabhupada in his position as the Acarya which he established, and not the one that the GBC has concocted.


BCS has accepted the IRM's "No Change in ISKCON Paradigm" in relation to Srila Prabhupada's position in ISKCON. He accepts that Srila Prabhupada's position in ISKCON as its Acarya and guru never changes. However, Srila Prabhupada's position as ISKCON's Acarya and guru began in 1966, not 1978, and therefore, it means that Srila Prabhupada's position as ISKCON's diksa guru also does not change -- even though BCS does not practise this!

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