Trying to Become More Than One's Guru


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 42, Winter 2013/14

The IRM represents those devotees who unconditionally accept Srila Prabhupada's statements that declare his teachings to be transcendental as authoritative. Thus, we are continually fighting attempts to portray Srila Prabhupada's teachings as being deficient, limited, and in need of further development. Such an attempt was made by a recent academic paper, which was wholeheartedly endorsed and promoted by ISKCON guru and leader Hridayananda Dasa Goswami ("HD"). The paper is titled "Howard Resnick Rationalizing the Theology of Bhaktivedanta Swami" (HD's civil name is Howard Resnick). Below, we contrast the actual nature of Srila Prabhupada's teachings with the claims made by the paper (authored by ISKCON devotee Isvara Krsna Dasa), excerpts from which are presented in the shaded boxes.

Universal, non-sectarian

"The guru, or acaryadeva, as we learn from the bona fide scriptures, delivers the message of the absolute world, the transcendental abode of the Absolute Personality, where everything nondifferentially serves the Absolute Truth."
(The Science of Self-Realization, "Choosing a Spiritual Master")

"There is a misconception that the Krsna consciousness movement represents the Hindu religion. [...] Rather, it is an essential cultural movement for the entire human society and does not consider any particular sectarian faith."
(The Science of Self-Realization, "Krsna Consciousness: Hindu Cult or Divine Culture?")

Srila Prabhupada's teachings are transcendental and universal, presenting the message of the transcendental abode without any sectarian basis. However, the paper claims that Srila Prabhupada's teachings are restricted to being of an "Indian" nature, and thus HD was required to "universalize" them:

"Resnick articulates his ideas with a certain passion, [...] he seems to transcend the dichotomy of East and West, being free from both Indian or Hindu Nationalism as well as Western Orientalism. [...] he has taken A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami's ideas from their Indian or Hindu context and has universalized them".

Intellectual, rational

"One should understand the principles of religion with philosophy and logic. We are claiming college students, university students, because we are presenting religion on the basis of philosophy and logic. We are not blindly following."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 20/7/68)

"The Visnudutas, like all genuine servants of God, understood everything according to logic and reason. [...] Religion often gives rise to dogmatism, but the author of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja, urges us to try to understand Lord Caitanya and the philosophy of Krsna consciousness according to logic."
(A Second Chance, Ch. 14)

Srila Prabhupada's teachings are already suitable for intellectuals and combine spirituality with reason. Therefore, they do not require intellectualising, and the use of reason does not constitute a new intellectual path. The paper, however, claims the opposite:

"Bhaktivedanta Swami came to the West and had disseminated his teaching in English; perhaps more than by anyone else, his teachings were intellectualized by Dr. Howard J. Resnick [...] a new intellectual path, which will combine Indian spirituality and ethics with a Western commitment to reason and rationality."

Personalist theology

Srila Prabhupada has presented a very detailed theology of the Supreme as a person possessing unlimited spiritual qualities, including rationality:

"Srila Rupa Gosvami, after consulting various scriptures, has enumerated the transcendental qualities of the Lord as follows: [...] (11) highly learned; (12) highly intelligent; (13) a genius; [...] The Supreme Personality of Godhead has all these fifty transcendental qualities in fullness as deep as the ocean. In other words, the extent of His qualities is inconceivable."
(The Nectar of Devotion, Ch. 21, "Qualities of Sri Krsna")

However, the paper claims that HD's simply putting forward these exact same ideas is evidence of HD having himself developed this theology with "unique" characteristics:

"This call for a personal theism is no doubt a central and major component in Resnick's theology, and he elaborates on this profusely, and emphasizes the Supreme to possess unlimited spiritual qualities: [...] Perhaps this is a unique characteristic of Howard Resnicks theology, i.e implied in the idea of the Supreme possessing qualities is the idea that rationality is also one among these his qualities".

Envy of Srila Prabhupada

Thus, since this paper clearly seeks to diminish the true value of Srila Prabhupada's teachings, only if one is envious of Srila Prabhupada's actual contributions, would one agree with the claims made in this paper. HD was directly asked if the paper represented a "valid representation of your scholarly qualities" and hence, could be distributed. Not only did HD agree, but he has also posted the paper for dissemination on his own website, and authorised it being disseminated on his "Istagosthi" forum which exists for his disciples.


The support of this paper by HD is part of a consistent pattern of behaviour by HD which seeks to undermine and surpass Srila Prabhupada:

1) In BTP 22, we showed HD putting forward the theory that Srila Prabhupada is only speaking the absolute truth some of the time, thus challenging Srila Prabhupada's authority.
2) In BTP 37, we showed HD attempting to correct Srila Prabhupada's use of a policeman analogy.
3) In BTP 40, we showed HD actually rejecting Srila Prabhupada's teachings in the Srimad Bhagavatam.
4) Also, in BTP 40, we showed HD agreeing with a viewpoint that Srila Prabhupada is conditioned by his ethnic background.

Thus, through such behaviour, and by the GBC supporting the behaviour of HD by endorsing him as one of their authorised gurus, HD and the GBC are supporting the idea that one should try to become more than Srila Prabhupada. However, such an attitude will lead to one's spiritual life being finished:

"If somebody thinks that "I have become more than my guru, more than Krsna," then he is finished."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 10/2/76)

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