Keeping Our Loyalty to Srila Prabhupada


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 58, Vol. 2 2018

In BTP 54, we reported on ISKCON gurus changing the basic "regulative principles" Srila Prabhupada gave us (please see "Changing the Regulative Principles 1 and 2"). Now, GBC member and GBC-elected diksa guru HH Bhanu Swami ("BS") discusses going even further. All quotes in shaded boxes are taken from a presentation given by BS on 28/2/18 – which was originally delivered to the ISKCON Leadership Sanga, which consists of the leaders in ISKCON: gurus, GBCs, Temple Presidents, etc. All emphases added.

The need for change

BS asks if we should simply follow Srila Prabhupada, or change:

"Should we preserve the exact method followed by Prabhupada or simplify procedures in line with previous traditions? [...] Do we have to follow exactly the same? [...] So we can ask why do you have to change anything? Just give what Prabhupada had."

He then goes on to claim that change is necessary:

"So Chaitanya Mahaprabhu changed things. [...] So in business they say that you have to innovate. [...] If you don't innovate you get lost. [...] Some people are real innovators. They are the ones that win. So we get like these big companies like Apple or whatever. Well how did they do that? Because they innovated."

Go beyond Acarya - 1

Having claimed that we must change and "innovate" in order to not "get lost", BS continues:

"Now, of course ISKCON is not, you know, a company or market in that sense, but as I said, even Lord Chaitanya was innovating and each Acarya innovates according to the time. So certain aspects we change, other things, principles we never change. So in ISKCON itself then, what are the innovations we should do?"

He tries to justify the need to change and innovate by stating that "each Acarya innovates according to the time". However, this offers an irrefutable reason as to why we actually cannot change anything Srila Prabhupada gave for ISKCON. Because, yes, the Acarya innovates, but neither BS nor any other ISKCON leader is the Acarya. Only Srila Prabhupada is the Acarya (and Founder) of ISKCON, and he will remain its Acarya for ISKCON's lifetime. This has even been accepted by the GBC in their "Foundational Document" titled Srila Prabhupada – The Founder-Acarya of ISKCON. Hence, by proposing we change what Srila Prabhupada has given, BS is trying to illegitimately surpass the Acarya, Srila Prabhupada.

Go beyond Acarya - 2

In the same vein, BS states:

"So, I think we have to go back to scripture to discover what is diksa [...] in a specific, very specific manner as practised in our sampradaya, and of course in India in general they follow this definition. So we have to find out what is the real siddhanta behind diksa."

Thus, he is claiming that he needs to "go back" and directly consult "scripture" in order to understand what diksa is and the "real siddhanta" behind it, since Srila Prabhupada's explanations do not suffice for him. But, again, in proposing this, BS is trying to illegitimately surpass the Acarya, Srila Prabhupada:

"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)

Cater to public

BS goes on to put forward a whole list of things that could be changed, driven by the desire to make things more ‘palatable' for the public:

"So what could we innovate, ah? [...] And we also have, in general the world is a little sceptical nowadays. They don't like religion. They don't like that we're using the word God because God is like an authority figure, like that. And even the idea of the guru who is an authoritative, an authority figure, an absolute figure, they more or less become repulsed by that also".

But Srila Prabhupada's policy was always to do the opposite – change the public, not change what he has given:

"I am not much fond of the idea of changing things to accommodate the public–better to change the public to accommodate us."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 28/12/71)

Big problem

Another reason why BS proposes that changes are necessary is to try to keep ISKCON united in the face of an ever-expanding guru system:

"So how do we ensure in the future that the devotees are made loyal to ISKCON and that loyalty is stronger than to their individual diksa guru [...] If we go a few generations [...] maybe we have 500 gurus, 1,000 gurus, 2,000 gurus. Very difficult. And if they all have their individual loyalty, their disciples are loyal to them not to ISKCON, then we get so many different societies technically. Nobody is listening to the rules and regulations of ISKCON. So big problem."

But this "big problem" will only arise because the GBC first changed the system Srila Prabhupada gave for ISKCON of only one Acarya, one diksa guru, one authority, i.e. himself, with the GBC simply implementing and managing Srila Prabhupada's instructions–not changing them. Thus, the solution to this change is not further change, but to simply change back to Srila Prabhupada's original orders for ISKCON!


The IRM's position is very clear – "No Change" (please see our position paper, The No Change in ISKCON Paradigm, here). We must maintain and spread only what Srila Prabhupada gave us, without change. Because this is also Srila Prabhupada's position:

"From now on unless I order you do something change or in addition, go on with the usual standard way. [...] I have given you everything already, there is no need for you to add anything or change anything."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 4/1/73)

"present this Krsna consciousness as it is without any change or speculation".
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 1/9/76)

Thus, we should not change anything: not Srila Prabhupada's teachings, his books, or him as ISKCON's Acarya and diksa guru.

But, as shown above, ISKCON's Leadership does not have this fidelity or loyalty to Srila Prabhupada and his teachings. Having already usurped Srila Prabhupada's position as ISKCON's diksa guru, it is only natural for them to also consider usurping his teachings in general by "innovating".

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