The Logic of the POP


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 57, Vol. 1 2018

A large portion of BTP 31 was dedicated to detailing the "Prabhupada-Only Paradigm" (POP). The POP is essential in adhering strictly to Srila Prabhupada's orders, because it states a very obvious truth: We should *only* follow Srila Prabhupada's orders and we need to make certain they are actually Srila Prabhupada's orders! This may seem blindingly obvious, but the history of ISKCON shows that ISKCON's leadership has struggled to follow this blindingly obvious truth. There are two key elements to the POP:

a) Restrict ourselves only to Srila Prabhupada's words;

b) Make sure these words are recorded.

Below we will answer the objections that have been made to these elements of the POP.

Accessing the Acaryas

It has been claimed that restricting ourselves to Srila Prabhupada's words is offensive to the previous acaryas, whose teachings Srila Prabhupada wanted us to study. Therefore, the POP is disobeying Srila Prabhupada by not allowing their teachings to also be studied. But the POP does not restrict studying the teachings of the previous acaryas. The issue is how these teachings are accessed.

For example, the Srimad-Bhagavatam is the work of a previous acarya, Srila Vyasadeva. But it must be accessed through the authorised channel. The previous article about the unauthorised cantos of the Srimad-Bhagavatam should have helped illustrate this issue — it is not to be accessed through the self-admitted disobedient, unauthorised translation and commentary by HH Hridayananda Dasa Goswami, for example. Rather, it is only accessed via the translation and commentary given by the current Acarya, Srila Prabhupada.

Even the GBC agree that:

"he [Srila Prabhupada] has realized and presented the teachings of the previous acar-yas".
(GBC Resolutions, No. 35, 1994)

"Lessons from all others, even our exalted predecessor-acaryas, should be understood through his [Srila Prabhupada's] instructions."
(GBC Resolutions, No. 409,1999)

Hence, we are always studying the teachings of the previous acaryas, such as Sri Rupa Goswami's Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (The Nectar of Devotion), and so on. Only, it is always done via Srila Prabhupada's translations and commentaries.

Do not "jump over"

We must always access everything through Srila Prabhupada because he made it clear that we should not "jump over" him to try to understand the previous acaryas directly:

"You cannot imagine what my spiritual master said. Or even if you read some books, you cannot understand unless you understand it from me. This is called parampara system. You cannot jump over to the superior guru, neglecting the next acarya, immediate next acarya."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 8/12/73)

And even the GBC agree:

"...we must see the previous acaryas through Prabhupada. We cannot jump over Prabhupada and then look back at him through the eyes of previous acaryas."
(Our Original Position, GBC Press)

Further, as Srila Prabhupada is the Acarya, his teachings are not deficient. Therefore, if the conclusion one is seeking to present is bona fide, one should be able to make one's case by quoting Srila Prabhupada. One will not need to resort to trying to find quotes from elsewhere. And if one can make one's case by quoting Srila Prabhupada then there is no need to "jump over" and quote anyone else anyway! If Srila Prabhupada authorized a particular course of action then obviously he would have stated it, and therefore if one is unable to make one's case by quoting Srila Prabhupada directly, then it is not authorized by him and we should not be doing it.

Believing devotees

The other objection made against the POP is that the insistence on demanding only the recorded words of Srila Prabhupada, in writing or on tape directly from Srila Prabhupada, means that any "memories" or "diaries" from his disciples are all assumed to be false. However, we are not claiming that all testimony about Srila Prabhupada must always be false. The issue is that we cannot be certain that every testimony or memory will always be 100% accurate, since we are dealing with conditioned souls who are prone to making mistakes, and even in some cases cheating — these are 2 of the 4 defects of all conditioned souls. And we cannot know for sure which of the testimonies will be accurate, and which will be faulty. Hence, the only way to be 100% certain that we are actually dealing with Srila Prabhupada's orders is to get them directly from Srila Prabhupada himself. Especially as history has shown that deviation has occurred due to trusting testimonies based on what "Prabhupada said". Hence Srila Prabhupada stated:

"They misunderstand me. Unless it is there from me in writing, there are so many things that "Prabhupada said.''"
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 2/9/75)

Selective use

The GBC, however, do not accept the POP, and instead will promote the authority of testimonies as being "evidence", as seen by their use in GBC documents. But even then, this will only be done when it suits their agenda. For example, this statement was made by then sannyasi and GBC diksa guru, HH Vipramukhya Swami ("VPS"), in the 1986 Srila Prabhupada Vyasa-puja book:

"The question arose: When was Janmastami? Our calendar, put out by Pradyumna, said it was one day in the West and a different day in India. By astrological calculation [...] Seeing the confusion, you [Srila Prabhupada] said the calculation was "over-intelligent," and whatever day it was celebrated on in India, it should be celebrated the same day all over the world."

Yet, the GBC did not accept this testimony, even though they claim the testimony was given whilst VPS was a member of the holy parampara and a ‘good as God' diksa guru, and the GBC accept the testimony of others they consider to be of a much lower spiritual status when it fits their agenda. And thus, the GBC do not advise that all fast days should be based on the Indian calendar.

There is an interesting parallel here, in that the GBC will also "jump over" Srila Prabhupada and try to rely on the teachings of the previous acaryas when it suits their agenda, even though we quoted them earlier stating that this should not be done.


The POP is the only way to strictly follow Srila Prabhupada.

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