Defeating the Big Lie - 1


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 41, Autumn 2013

An infamous propaganda technique, called "the big lie" aims to work on the principle that if you repeat a lie often enough, people will eventually accept it as the truth. For example, GBC-elected ISKCON guru HH Bhakti Vikasa Swami ("BVKS"), repeatedly claims:

"It's not that by reading Prabhupada's books anyone ever became a rtvikvadi, because you never get any idea about this by reading Prabhupada's books."
(BVKS Lecture, 2/2/2009)

"in fact if you read Prabhupada's books all the way through from beginning to end, you'd never, ever get the idea of rtvikism, because there's nothing like that in there whatsoever."
(BVKS Lecture, 31/8/2012)

"this rtvik theory [...] So it's a theory that's been concocted, ascribed to Srila Prabhupada, although if you read all of Prabhupada's books you never get the idea".
(BVKS Lecture, 4/2/2013)

BVKS continually claims that one can read all of Srila Prabhupada's books and never even get the idea that Srila Prabhupada is ISKCON's diksa guru. (BVKS uses various "rtvik" terms to refer to the IRM's position that Srila Prabhupada established himself as ISKCON's diksa guru, with rtvik priests initiating on his behalf). Here we test BVKS's claim and demonstrate that it can be debunked by reading just one of Srila Prabhupada's books, Bhagavad-gita As It Is ("Bg."), thus exposing BVKS's bluff for the lie that it is. All the quotes below in the shaded boxes are from the Bhagavad-gita As It Is, 1972 Macmillan edition.

1) The current link

The Bg. states at the outset:

"This Bhagavad-gita As It Is is received through this disciplic succession: 1) Krsna, 2) Brahma, 3) Narada; 4) Vyasa, 5) Madhva, [...] 31) Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, 32) His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada."

This states that the disciplic succession's current link is Srila Prabhupada, with no names listed after Srila Prabhupada.

If Srila Prabhupada ceased to be the current link, either due to his physical departure or succession by his disciples, he would have ordered that the above declaration be amended. But he did not, and thus he remains listed as the current link in all future editions of the book. Thus, anyone reading this book would conclude that Srila Prabhupada is still the current link in the disciplic succession.

2) The initiator

The main verse in Bg. referring to the spiritual master is 4.34:

"Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth."

This states that the spiritual master is the person who will impart knowledge unto us. When all members of ISKCON read Srila Prabhupada's books, they are having knowledge imparted to them by Srila Prabhupada. And Srila Prabhupada's books are the primary source through which all ISKCON members have knowledge imparted to them. It is not that when one reads Bg., it is BVKS who is imparting to one this knowledge! Thus, the above verse is describing Srila Prabhupada as the self-realised spiritual master we should accept. And the phrase "impart knowledge unto you" is a translation of "upadeksyanti te jnanam", which is the third line of verse 4.34, with the word-for-word translation of upadeksyanti being "initiate". Thus, the spiritual master everyone in ISKCON is directed to have knowledge imparted from, and who initiates us through imparting this knowledge, is Srila Prabhupada.

3) No physical limit

Verse 4.34 just mentioned states that the spiritual master is accepted through submission, service and inquiries. Srila Prabhupada explains in the purport that this process is carried out by the disciple:

"Unless there is submission and service, inquiries from the learned spiritual master will not be effective. One must be able to pass the test of the spiritual master, and when he sees the genuine desire of the disciple, he automatically blesses the disciple with genuine spiritual understanding."

Yet, many disciples never met Srila Prabhupada, nor did they need to seek out another spiritual master to "submit to, serve and inquire from" after Srila Prabhupada's departure. Thus, this process cannot be dependent on, or require, Srila Prabhupada's physical presence.

4) No GBC guru

In the purport to verse 4.42, Srila Prabhupada comments on the process of accepting a spiritual master, mentioned in 4.34, as follows:

"One is therefore advised to study Bhagavad-gita, or any other scripture, under a bona fide spiritual master, with service and surrender. A bona fide spiritual master is in the disciplic succession from time eternal, and he does not deviate at all from the instructions of the Supreme Lord".

This describes that we must accept a spiritual master who "does not deviate at all from the instructions of the Supreme Lord". This clearly describes Srila Prabhupada. However, it specifically rules out the GBC gurus who claim to have replaced Srila Prabhupada as the current link in the disciplic succession, since, as we saw in the preceding article, the GBC states that it is possible for any of them to deviate at any time:

"Yet it should be clearly understood that if such diksa or siksa gurus deviate from strictly following, they may fall down from their position."


a) Points 1) and 2) show that Bg. supports that Srila Prabhupada is ISKCON's diksa guru. And points 3) and 4) show Bg. does not support that Srila Prabhupada's diksa guru position should have been terminated by the GBC's succession program following his physical departure.

b) Indeed, the only event which could cause Srila Prabhupada to cease being the current link in the disciplic succession -- his authorising his disciples like BVKS to succeed him as the next current link -- is actually the one idea in Bg. for which, to use BVKS's language:

"there's nothing like that in there whatsoever."

c) Therefore, contrary to BVKS's big bluff, Srila Prabhupada's books only support that he, and not self-proclaimed "successors" such as BVKS, should be ISKCON's diksa guru; a fact which does not change, regardless of how many times BVKS claims the opposite.

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