ISKCON’s Gurus – Pratistha or Service?


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 58, Vol 2, 2018

In the last issue, the many routes to PAD (Profit, Adoration and Distinction) were detailed (please see "The Many Routes to PAD"). One of these routes was taking Srila Prabhupada's position as ISKCON's diksa guru and becoming his "successor", or a GBC authorised ISKCON diksa guru. One such GBC-authorised diksa guru discusses whether he has taken up the position due to PAD or if he is actually doing a "service". The quotes in the shaded boxes below are from a talk given on 20/4/18 in Russia by GBC-elected guru, HH Indradyumna Swami ("IDS"). All emphases added.

Enjoying being guru

Referring to acting as a GBC-elected diksa guru, IDS states:

"So I enjoy this service. I pray it's not because of pratistha. Pratistha means that one enjoys the fame and the honour and the prestige. I'm praying it's not for that."

IDS refers to being a guru as "this service", which he states he "enjoys". He prays that this is not because he "enjoys" the honour and prestige (pratistha) of being a guru. The word pratistha refers to the "Distinction" part of PAD.

No order justification

"You'll have to become spiritual master. You, all my disciples, everyone should become spiritual master. It is not difficult."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 22/8/73)

IDS claims this statement is an order from Srila Prabhupada for him to act as a diksa guru. However, Srila Prabhupada goes on to explain in the same lecture why becoming the spiritual master he refers to "is not difficult":

"if you cannot do anything, simply come and offer your obeisances: "My dear Lord Krsna, I am so poor, so unfortunate, I cannot do all these things, but I offer my humble obeisances unto Your lotus feet." That much also. If you do this, you become spiritual master."

Srila Prabhupada states you do not need to do anything other than to just offer obeisances to Krishna and you become the spiritual master he is speaking of! Therefore, Srila Prabhupada is clearly not speaking of a diksa guru, which requires one to be a topmost maha-bhagavata (please see page 10 of this issue for evidence), but instead speaks of an instructing, or siksa, guru. IDS even realises this, stating:

"He said, "To become a spiritual master is not a difficult thing." We don't want to contradict his words but, that was his kindness upon us. In reality it's a challenge to become a good devotee."

He accepts that to try to claim that Srila Prabhupada here is actually speaking of a diksa guru, which does require one to be very qualified, would effectively be "to contradict his words".

Hence, IDS is not able to produce evidence that Srila Prabhupada asked him (or anyone else) to become a successor diksa guru.

No transfer justification

"being an initiating spiritual master [...] it's a service to one's own spiritual master [...] to transfer the knowledge to the next generation."

IDS claims that acting as an initiating spiritual master is a service because he is engaging in the "transfer of knowledge to the next generation." However, even the GBC accept that this transfer of knowledge is done primarily by Srila Prabhupada:

"Srila Prabhupada, is the pre-eminent and compulsory siksa-guru for all vaisnavas (gurus and disciples) in the Society, who may directly receive empowerment from him through allegiance to his teachings."
(GBC Resolutions, No. 409, 1999)

"Pre-eminent" means "above all others". And it is a fact that, in practice, every ISKCON member is getting their knowledge from Srila Prabhupada's books, tapes and letters, while they may rarely see their GBC guru. Hence:

a) In stating that the initiating spiritual master is the one who "transfers the knowledge to the next generation", IDS is actually unwittingly accepting that it is Srila Prabhupada, and not he, who should be the initiating spiritual master in ISKCON!

b) IDS's claim of "knowledge transfer" as the justification that he is doing a "service" by becoming a successor diksa guru is defeated by the GBC, on whose authority he is acting as a guru in the first place.

Glorification evidence

"this is one of my favourite days of the year, not because I'm glorified but because I get to see the progress of my disciples. [...] when I hear the offerings of various disciples I'm very impressed with your realizations in Krishna consciousness [...] you're all making spiritual advancement."

IDS refers here to his Vyasa-puja ceremony. He states that it is one of his "favourite days of the year", and that it involves him being "glorified". He claims this glorification is evidence that those glorifying him are making spiritual advancement. He thus equates how much honour someone gives him as evidence of their spiritual advancement! We can note:

a) In BTP 56 (please see "Overwhelmed by the Desire to Be Guru"), we reported IDS admitting that he deliberately disobeys the GBC resolution that a GBC guru's Vyasa-puja worship be restricted to once a year and therefore more focus be placed on Srila Prabhupada. Instead, IDS admits he had at least 11 such ceremonies last year, which he arranged by circumventing the GBC resolution with the cheating tactic of calling such worship celebrations "guru-disciple meetings". Hence, it is no surprise that IDS considers the Vyasa-puja ceremony where he is glorified as a "favourite" day of the year!

b) In the article on page 4 of this issue, "Following in the IRM's Footsteps", one of the criticisms made by GBC member Malati Dasi was that the ISKCON GBC gurus minimise their disciples having a relationship with Srila Prabhupada. And here we see IDS considering the sign of "spiritual advancement" as being not how much one may glorify or have a relationship with Srila Prabhupada, but instead specifically how much he is glorified.


The justifications IDS offers for his acting as a GBC-authorised diksa guru are shown to be false. The basic fact remains that Srila Prabhupada never asked IDS or anyone else to take his position as ISKCON's diksa guru. Therefore, by definition, IDS and his GBC guru colleagues acting as diksa gurus cannot be a "service" to Srila Prabhupada. Thus, since IDS has become a successor diksa guru due to his own desires rather than Srila Prabhupada's orders, his being glorified would then be because of pratistha rather than "service".

Return to Indradyumna Swami 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!