Hridayananda Das Goswami attacks Srila Prabhupada’s position as Acharya of ISKCON


Back to Prabhupada, Issue 22, Winter 2008/9

In an unprecedented attack on Srila Prabhupada’s position as ISKCON’s Acharya, his disciple and leading ISKCON guru and GBC, His Holiness Hridayananda Das Goswami (“HD”), has put forward the theory that Srila Prabhupada is only speaking the absolute truth some of the time, whilst on other occasions we now need HD’s learned insight to make the necessary “adjustments” by presenting these “lapses” in his own language! We document these astonishing claims here, with all the statements in the panelled boxes taken from a lecture that HD gave, which can be found on the following video:

Not full-time guru

Question: “You said when we are young we should follow the teacher at the elementary school, but when you get older you think for yourself. So is it similar in ISKCON?”

HD: “Uh, in certain things. […] So on important spiritual matters, Prabhupada is my eternal spiritual master.”

HD claims that only in “important spiritual matters” does he consider Srila Prabhupada his “eternal spiritual master”, whereas on “certain things” he instead ‘thinks for himself’. Every morning, every devotee in ISKCON is supposed to worship Srila Prabhupada in the Guru-puja ceremony with the following words:

“My only wish is to have my consciousness purified by the words emanating from his lotus mouth.”

HD has instead invented a new system. He wishes to only accept words coming from the lotus mouth of Srila Prabhupada if they refer to what he considers “important spiritual matters”. And who will decide which words constitute “important spiritual matters”? Well, HD himself of course! Which means HD is basically deciding when Srila Prabhupada is speaking the truth and when he is not. Which means that HD has declared he is the Acharya, not Srila Prabhupada, since he will adjudicate on which of Srila Prabhupada’s statements he needs to accept.

Only correct some of the time

“So when there are statements which a) are about the material world, not spiritual things, and b) are not from scripture, are those statements infallible and absolute? Personally, I don’t think they are.”

HD has declared that only statements which he decides are “spiritual” are to be considered infallible. Up until now the false successor guru hoaxers in ISKCON had satisfied themselves only with usurping Srila Prabhupada’s position in ISKCON, but they had at least accepted that Srila Prabhupada was ISKCON’s supreme authority in all matters, and his words were absolute. Now HD has gone a step further, and decided to replace Srila Prabhupada with himself as ISKCON’s new supreme authority, who will decide which statements of Srila Prabhupada we should accept as true, and which ones we should reject as false or “fallible”.

Only “quoting scripture” ok

“And I believe Prabhupada is speaking absolutely and infallibly when, in fact, he is quoting scriptures.”

Above HD gives the standard by which he will decide if Srila Prabhupada is to be believed or not. Every statement from Srila Prabhupada would have to be a quote from scripture. Presumably, this would require that at the very least, one first becomes an expert in Sanskrit, so one is acquainted with the content of all the scriptures. This tendency to try and become superior to Srila Prabhupada by desiring to become expert in Sanskrit is, as it turns out, nothing new. Even whilst Srila Prabhupada was still physically present this very issue came up:

“I am also practically finding that if any of our students artificially try to become scholars by associating with unwanted persons they become victimized, for a little learning is dangerous, especially for the Westerners. I am practically seeing that as soon as they begin to learn a little Sanskrit immediately they feel that they have become more than their guru and then the policy is kill guru and be killed himself.”
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, September 18th, 1976)

There was one particular western disciple of Srila Prabhupada who had also wanted to become an expert in Sanskrit, and who received the following stern warning:

“You have studied the Sanskrit language for some years, that is sufficient of study, there is no more need. Now you read our books, not that lifelong you have to study Sanskrit. Simply read our Sanskrit wherever it appears in our books and teach these slokas to the devotees, do not waste time by studying Sanskrit independently of our books.”
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, August 6th,1972)

Many years later, after Srila Prabhupada had departed, this same disciple defied the above warning he had been given, went back to college, and “wasted his time” by “studying Sanskrit independently of Srila Prabhupada’s books.” This person was none other than our newly self-declared Acharya, Hridayananda Das Goswami! Presumably he now feels he has acquired sufficient mastery of Sanskrit to enable him, where necessary, to compare Srila Prabhupada’s words with scripture, and thus decide if these words should be considered truthful or not.

Srila Prabhupada
Srila Prabhupada:
The real Acharyadeva

Hridayananda Das Goswami:
His website is called “Acharyadeva”.
Srila Prabhupada defines the term as follows:
“The Acharyadeva [...] is the Jagatguru or the Guru of all of us. [...]That is, the
Acharya has been identified with Godhead Himself.”
(Srila Prabhupada
Lecture, 1936)

Do your thing

“Prabhupada wrote me a letter and said, “Read my books and present it in your own language.” And language means culture. Language means culture. Also, Prabhupada told me to do that [...] He said, “Yeah, I’m presenting Krsna consciousness this way and you read my books and go out and do your thing.”

HD reveals his Acharya tendency further by claiming he can re-present Srila Prabhupada’s teachings according to his own culture, since language is culture, which would mean he can adjust Srila Prabhupada’s teachings to make them culturally appropriate. HD claims Srila Prabhupada told him to do this, but this is what Srila Prabhupada actually told him to do:

“And you must all study very scrutinizingly all of the books so that when the need arises you can repeat in your own words their purport.”
(Srila Prabhupada Letter to Hridayananda, January 6th, 1972)

Note the word “repeat”. You can only “repeat” something if the meaning and message is completely unaltered. Presenting exactly the same thing in one’s own words is clearly, therefore, not the same as being authorised to “do your thing”. This is further confirmed by the following letter regarding academic preaching, the very field for which HD claims he needs to be able to present the teachings in his own culture (language) and do his “thing”:

“I am very pleased to learn that both you and your wife have been lecturing on Krishna Consciousness at the George Washington University and there was good response to your program. You simply read our books and if you simply reproduce the purport of Srimad-Bhagavatam or Bhagavad-gita, people will take it very seriously. So, of course, you must understand the purport and reproduce it in your own language. “
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, January 22nd, 1970)

Again please note, presenting something in one’s own language means to “simply reproduce”. So it could not be clearer. Presenting in one’s

own language means to “repeat” and “simply reproduce”, not to go out and “do your thing.” Only a successor Acharya has the right to make such adjustments. Disciples must simply repeat and reproduce.

Contradicts GBC

In addition, HD’s idea that only some of Srila Prabhupada’s statements can always be considered bona fide, based on whether it is a direct quotation from scripture, is rejected by his supposed authority, the GBC. They have given a blanket endorsement of everything Srila Prabhupada taught, not discriminating between when he is, and is not, “quoting scripture”; and further, consider his teachings to have actually been presented appropriately for the modern age, rather than requiring adjustment in any way due to the “language/culture” of the modern age:

“a. Srila Prabhupada is the foundational siksa guru for all ISKCON devotees because he has realized and presented the teachings of the previous acaryas of the Brahma Madhva Gaudiya sampradaya appropriately for the modern age.

b. Srila Prabhupada’s instructions are the essential teachings for every ISKCON devotee.”
(GBC Resolutions, 1994, ‘Founder-Acarya’ statement)

Not even a standard Acharya

“Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says there are certain illusory stories in the scripture and there are Vaisnava commentaries that say, for example, Rahu swallowing the sun and the moon, and there’s Acharyas that say, “That didn’t really happen. That’s just a story.”

Having already told us that we can only be sure Srila Prabhupada is speaking correctly when he directly quotes scripture, HD states that Acharyas actually tell us when these scriptures themselves may be in error.

1) So Srila Prabhupada can only definitely be right when he quotes scriptures.

2) Acharyas tell us when the scriptures may not be correct.

3) And HD sits above it all, telling us who and what is right and wrong.

So rather than Srila Prabhupada being an Acharya through whom we understand the scriptures, which is the function an Acharya normally performs, according to HD Srila Prabhupada’s statements must actually be understood by checking scripture (presumably by a Sanskrit expert like HD who specifically went to college to become such, in direct defiance of Srila Prabhupada’s orders).

Know more than Prabhupada

“Because if it turns out that it is not the case that Prabhupada is infallible when he is not quoting scripture, then Prabhupada is wrong. […] And of course I, I think that       um, obviously you can get yourself in a lot of trouble. You can very easily ruin your      spiritual life by thinking you know more than Prabhupada.”

Ironically, after having effectively claimed he knows more than Srila Prabhupada, he concludes that such an attitude can lead one to ruin one’s spiritual life!


HD then reveals his devastating agenda:

“People want to know what’s scientific. Frankly, I want to know what’s scientific. […] Prabhupada says generally it’s the woman’s fault if there’s divorce, I really would want to know what social science says about that. […] My motive is [...] to present Krsna consciousness to educated people. […] And I feel I have to be able to present Krsna consciousness in a reasonable way to other people.”

We have continuously documented how the original deviation of removing Srila Prabhupada as the Guru of his own society has led to further mass deviations via the introduction of secularisation, commercialisation, Hinduisation, demigod worship, the payment of salaries etc. Thus, the proof that this guru hoax was indeed a huge offence against Srila Prabhupada is seen by the fact that it has opened the floodgates to ever more deviations from Srila Prabhupada’s teachings.
Now we are at the final frontier – having already usurped Srila Prabhupada’s position as Guru and then deviated wholesale from his teachings, now Srila Prabhupada’s authority itself is being challenged openly and directly:

“He is not always
right, and I am needed to ‘do my own thing’ to correct him”.

Above, HD gives the reason for why he has taken this stance - to supposedly satisfy those who are “educated”, to make the teachings appear “reasonable”, and to be in accordance with the whims of ever changing “science” where necessary. If HD and all those who agree with him do not have faith in everything Srila Prabhupada taught, and feel unable to defend his words, they and his mute guru hoaxer and GBC pals who are supporting HD via their silence, are welcome to leave ISKCON. The IRM is more than capable of defending Srila Prabhupada’s teachings, and we have been singularly doing this all along against all manner of deviations and distortions perpetrated in his name.

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