Gurus Without A Cause


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 62, Vol 2, 2019

With no explicit order from Srila Prabhupada authorising successor diksa gurus, ISKCON's leaders have tried to use the "functional" argument. This argues that the personal contact that comes from "living" successor gurus is an absolute necessity, and hence the question of whether or not they should exist does not even arise. But, if such successor gurus served no function, existing just for the sake of existing, their existence would be unnecessary and arbitrary, rather than an ordered arrangement by Srila Prabhupada. Below, these "living successor" GBC gurus themselves demolish their need to exist. All emphases added.

Taking us back to Godhead

"directs you back to Godhead, who takes responsibility for your spiritual life by guiding you through his writings, lectures, and possibly in person."
(GBC-elected guru, Mahatma Dasa ("MAD"), 3/5/19)

MAD explains that these are the qualifications of an initiating guru, in an article wherein he explains the expectations of a disciple for his guru. MAD states that the guru will direct a disciple back to Godhead through guiding via his writings and lectures, and personal contact is only something that may "possibly" happen, i.e., it is not necessary. And, in ISKCON, this guidance is given – as admitted by the GBC – by Srila Prabhupada:

"Srila Prabhupada's instructions are the essential teachings for every ISKCON devotee."
(GBC Resolution 35, 1994)

These teachings are both "pre-eminent and compulsory" (GBC Resolution 409, 1999). Pre-eminent means "surpassing all others", and thus, in practice, this guidance which will take us back to Godhead is coming from Srila Prabhupada. After all, MAD and all other disciples of Srila Prabhupada are themselves directed back to Godhead by Srila Prabhupada in this way, and hence all others in ISKCON are also being guided in exactly the same way. Thus, the essential guru function of taking responsibility for the disciple's spiritual life and guiding them back to Godhead is fulfilled in ISKCON by Srila Prabhupada, with personal contact not being necessary.

Srila Prabhupada explains

"Another thing is that it's not just by reading the books that they understand. They will need a teacher to reveal those scriptures. We are so fortunate that we came across Srila Prabhupada's teachings. That is how we get to know what the scriptures are and what they are saying."
(GBC-elected guru, Bhakti Charu Swami ("BCS"), 3/2/19)

The guru's function is to explain sastra:

"Narottama dasa Thakura states that one has to ascertain the right path for his activities by following in the footsteps of great saintly persons and books of knowledge under the guidance of a spiritual master (sadhu-sastra-guru-vakya)."
(SB, 4.21.28-29)

This refers to guru, sadhu and sastra, and the "guru" referred to here is the diksa guru*. BCS explains that this function of the guru is fulfilled specifically by Srila Prabhupada. Thus, we require a guru to explain sastra, and as BCS accepts that this is already being done by Srila Prabhupada, we do not need successor living diksa gurus such as BCS to fulfil this function.

* "sadhu-sastra-guru. [...] sa gurum evabhigacchet: "One must approach a guru.""
(Srila Prabhupada, Room Conversation, 18/7/73)

"sa gurum evabhigacchet: [...] approach a spiritual master in order to take diksa."
(Nectar of Instruction, Verse 5)

No personal instruction

"So Prabhupada would often say, ‘I've given everything in my books. If you want to know me read my books'. [...] Well, you have to bear in mind that most of Prabhupada's disciples did not get personal instruction. He put us in the care of his elder disciples. So, it's not mandatory that one has to have personal instruction from a guru in order to succeed and to progress in spiritual life."
(GBC-elected guru, Kalakantha Dasa, 25/2/19)

It is admitted that:

a) One does not require a "personal instruction" from one's guru in order to succeed and progress in one's spiritual life.

b) Most of Srila Prabhupada's disciples did not receive such personal instructions.

Consequently, most of Srila Prabhupada's disciples exclusively received instructions from Srila Prabhupada's books and teachings, since personal instructions are not necessary. Thus, this still enables them to "succeed and to progress in spiritual life". Hence, if they can, so can anyone else, and thus "living" successor gurus to Srila Prabhupada are not required.

The ISKCON system

These statements by these GBC gurus reflect the specific features of ISKCON as established by its Founder-Acarya Srila Prabhupada. He will always be its sole Acarya, and the Society will always be based solely on his teachings and instructions:

"The GBC accepts as its life and soul His divine instructions and recognizes that it is completely dependent on His mercy in all respects. The GBC has no other function or purpose other than to execute the instructions so kindly given by His Divine Grace and preserve and spread his Teachings to the world in their pure form."
(GBC Resolution 1, 1975)

The GBC is a permanent organisation, established to manage ISKCON for its lifetime, and this means that ISKCON will always be managed in exactly the same way. Thus, there will be no change to the way ISKCON was managed when Srila Prabhupada was physically present. Consequently, the function of his disciples will also be the same as when Srila Prabhupada was physically present. This was to preach by pointing persons to Srila Prabhupada's books and assisting newer devotees on their spiritual journey – rather than acting as successor diksa gurus.


Those who are functioning as GBC "living successor" diksa gurus to Srila Prabhupada are themselves admitting that there is no need for or purpose to their existence – that Srila Prabhupada is already fulfilling all diksa guru functions. Consequently, it should come as no surprise that Srila Prabhupada never ordered such completely unnecessary entities to replace him as ISKCON's diksa guru!

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