ISKCON's Founder-Acarya and Guru


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 60, Vol 4, 2018, Interactive

The following letter was sent to us by Dina Sharana Dasa (ACBSP) from Florida, USA, and our response is interspersed between his statements below:

"Hare Krishna! All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga. Does IRM accept in theory, or in principle, that it may be ok for someone other than Srila Prabhupada to give Vaisnava diksa, given all needed "i"s are dotted, and "t"s crossed? Or does IRM believe, in no way whatsoever can someone other than Srila Prabhupada accept diksa disciples?"

Our position is the same as that stated by Srila Prabhupada, and also, unwittingly, by the GBC in their "Foundational Document": Srila Prabhupada – The Founder-Acarya of ISKCON. This position is that Srila Prabhupada alone shall remain the Acarya of ISKCON, and this includes him acting as the diksa guru. The evidence for this is presented by the GBC in the aforementioned document, and has been extracted and presented in the IRM book, Srila Prabhupada: The Founder-Acarya of ISKCON – Presenting the Conclusions of the GBC Foundational Document.

"If IRM holds true the latter, does IRM hold this true just for ISKCON, or for all of the Four Vaisnava Sampradayas that no Vaisnava anywhere should be giving diksa and accepting disciples of their own, that only the Foundational Acaryas of each of the Four Vaisnava Sampradayas should be diksa guru and all initiates be his diksa disciples?"

ISKCON is an institution founded by Srila Prabhupada – an Acarya who is a bona fide member of one of the four Vaisnava sampradayas. But he is not the Founding Acarya of this Vaisnava sampradaya. Thus, if Srila Prabhupada is acting as the diksa guru, then clearly this already precludes the argument that only the foundational Acarya of his Vaisnava sampradaya can act as the diksa guru. Your question therefore effectively becomes:

If Srila Prabhupada is the diksa guru of ISKCON, could this also mean that he is not the diksa guru of ISKCON, since only the founding Acarya of his sampradaya can act as the diksa guru?

Which is a contradictory question.

Additionally, we accept whatever Srila Prabhupada teaches, period. Thus, whatever Srila Prabhupada has stated about the founding Acaryas of the four Vaisnava sampradayas we accept. And since you have identified yourself when stating your name as "(ACBSP)", i.e. a disciple of Srila Prabhupada, then you should already be aware of Srila Prabhupada's teachings. Hence, there is never any need to ask us what "our" position is, as it will always be whatever Srila Prabhupada states, which you should already be aware of.

"If IRM holds that only ISKCON as a branch of the Madhva Gaudiya Sampradaya should not allow anyone to give diksa and accept disciples of their own, what then is the sastric reference and logic behind this, that an eternal Vaisnava tradition carried forth, and approved by IRM within the other 3 Vaisnava Sampradayas should be categorically stopped, both as a principle and in fact within the ISKCON branch of the M. Gaudiya Sampradaya?"

We explained above that Srila Prabhupada acting as the Acarya means he also acts as the diksa guru. And Srila Prabhupada states that ISKCON will only exist for a maximum of a few thousand years:

Allen Ginsberg: "400,000 years. Will people still be chanting Hare Krishna in 400,000..."
Srila Prabhupada: "No. Hare Krishna will be finished within ten thousand years. There will be no more Hare Krishna."
Allen Ginsberg: "Ah. So what will be left?"
Srila Prabhupada: "Nothing."
(Conversation, 13/5/69)

You are therefore claiming that there exists "an eternal Vaisnava tradition" which is being "stopped" if an Acarya acts as the only Acarya for a temporary institution he has founded – in this case Srila Prabhupada acting as the sole Acarya of ISKCON. You would therefore need to quote Srila Prabhupada teaching:

a) that there exists an "eternal Vaisnava tradition" which is compulsory for an Acarya to follow;
b) and which in turn dictates that an Acarya is forbidden from acting as the only Acarya for the temporary institution he has founded.

Otherwise, without such a teaching from Srila Prabhupada, there is no logic or sastric reference needed to explain the non-following of something he has not even taught must be followed! One can check for oneself and verify that such a teaching, as stated by points a) and b) above, has not been given by Srila Prabhupada.

"What makes ISKCON so unique that this should be so?"

This question is irrelevant since there exists no "eternal Vaisnava tradition" that forbids an Acarya from acting as the only Acarya of the temporary institution he has founded.

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