Srila Prabhupada's Position as ISKCON's Acarya


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 39, Spring 2013

As we document in virtually every BTP issue, the fact that Srila Prabhupada is ISKCON's diksa (initiating) guru is so irrefutable that even those opposed to this fact are forced to admit it. Below we present an example of an ISKCON guru hoaxer who, while actually attempting to deny this fact, gets trapped by his own double-talk and rhetoric into admitting it! All quotes below in the shaded boxes are from a lecture given by ISKCON guru and GBC, HH Hridayananda Dasa Goswami, published on 29/5/2012.

Same relationship

"And whatever generation you are, wherever you are on the ISKCON totem pole, if you are faithful to Prabhupada, you have the same opportunity as anyone else in any generation to know Prabhupada, to receive his mercy and to receive his empowerment. [...] That, number one, every one of us has the same equal access to an intimate, powerful relationship with Prabhupada. [...] So everyone has the same opportunity, exactly the same opportunity, to know Prabhupada, to love him, to receive his empowerment, if you do your duty. Our duties are different, but the results are the same for everyone."

There are two aspects to this relationship; how Srila Prabhupada relates to us, and how we relate to Srila Prabhupada. Hridayananda Dasa Goswami confirms that both these aspects are identical for all members of ISKCON. Every member of ISKCON has exactly the same access and opportunity to have an intimate relationship with Srila Prabhupada. And, in turn, every member of ISKCON will receive the same mercy and empowerment from Srila Prabhupada. In this relationship, "the results are the same for everyone". Clearly, if the relationship is the same, and the results of this relationship are the same, for all members of ISKCON, then it is not possible for the relationship and the results to be different. Hence, if Srila Prabhupada gives diksa and is the diksa guru for some members of ISKCON, then this must be the case for all members of ISKCON.

No distinction - 1

"And as we know from Chapter 6 of The Nectar of Devotion, [...] Prabhupada translating Rupa Goswami says that the duty of a devotee is to follow the path of the great acaryas under the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master. So Prabhupada there in The Nectar of Devotion makes a distinction between a bona fide guru and the great acaryas, and Prabhupada identified first and foremost with his role as the Founder-acarya."

The statement which Hridayananda Dasa Goswami references from The Nectar of Devotion is the following:

"4) following in the footsteps of great acaryas (teachers) under the direction of the spiritual master".
(The Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 6)

It is the 4th item on a list of 10 items, which begins with "accepting the shelter of the lotus feet of a bona spiritual master" and ends with "worshipping sacred trees like the banyan tree". In the next chapter, Srila Prabhupada expands on the same 10 items, and the step above is explained as follows:

"In the Skanda Purana it is advised that a devotee follow the past acaryas and saintly persons because by such following one can achieve the desired results, with no chance of lamenting or being baffled in his progress."
(The Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 7)

So the reference to the "great acaryas" refers specifically to past acaryas. For ISKCON, Srila Prabhupada is clearly its current acarya and not a past acarya, since Hridayananda Dasa Goswami himself admits that Srila Prabhupada is still ISKCON's Founder-acarya. Clearly, if Srila Prabhupada is ISKCON's acarya, he is not ISKCON's "past acarya". Thus, this statement from The Nectar of Devotion is not evidence that Srila Prabhupada's position as Founder-acarya means he is not ISKCON's diksa guru.

No distinction - 2

"So Prabhupada is my personal diksa-guru. But I think you'd be very hard pressed to find a letter from Prabhupada presenting himself to important people saying, 'Allow me to introduce myself, I am the diksa-guru of ISKCON.' Rather he said, 'I'm the Founder-acarya.'"

Yes, Srila Prabhupada did introduce himself as the Founder-acarya of ISKCON. But he also stated that he is the diksa-guru of ISKCON (emphases added):

"Yes, I am the spiritual master of this institution, and all the members of the society, they're supposed to be my disciples. They follow the rules and regulations which I ask them to follow, and they are initiated by me spiritually."
(Srila Prabhupada, Interview, 12/3/1968)

"The GBC should all be the instructor gurus. I am the initiator guru, and you should be the instructor guru by teaching what I am teaching and doing what I am doing. This is not a title, but you must actually come to this platform. This I want."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 4/8/1975)

Thus, the fact that Srila Prabhupada is the Founder-acarya of ISKCON does not change the fact that he is also ISKCON's diksa guru. After all, Hridayananda Dasa Goswami admits that Srila Prabhupada is his diksa guru while also being ISKCON's Founder-acarya. Therefore, Srila Prabhupada's status as Founder-acarya does not prevent him from being the diksa guru for all ISKCON members.

Honouring senior devotees

"What you have to do is simply to observe the etiquette. For example, if you are a wife, you try to honour your husband. If you are a husband, you try to honour your wife. If you're children, you honour your parents. Parents try to take care of their children. One tries to respect those who have taught you Krsna consciousness. If someone as Prabhupada's representative has helped you, you honour those people."

To counterbalance his effusive declaration of everyone's identical relationship with Srila Prabhupada, Hridayananda Dasa Goswami states that we should honour others who may have taught us Krsna consciousness. However, this has always been the case from the day ISKCON was founded, since many disciples of Srila Prabhupada never even met him, and may have been helped in their Krsna consciousness by others. But this need to honour senior Godbrothers did not mean that Srila Prabhupada's position as ISKCON's diksa guru for all ISKCON members needed to change, nor does it need to change now.


1. Hridayananda Dasa Goswami has freely admitted that Srila Prabhupada has the same relationship with all ISKCON members. But since Srila Prabhupada's relationship to many ISKCON members, such as Hridayananda Dasa Goswami himself, is as diksa guru, then he must also be diksa guru for all ISKCON members.

2. Hridayananda Dasa Goswami tries to imply that Srila Prabhupada's status as ISKCON's "Founder-acarya" somehow detracts from, or prevents, Srila Prabhupada also acting as ISKCON's diksa guru. But he fails.

3. Hridayananda Dasa Goswami has therefore been trapped by his own statements into simply confirming that Srila Prabhupada is ISKCON's Founder-Acarya and diksa guru.


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