Trying to Become More Than One's Guru – 2


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 42, Winter 2013/14

In the preceding article we highlighted the example of Hridayananda Dasa Goswami ("HD"), one of ISKCON's unauthorised "successor" gurus to Srila Prabhupada, trying to become more than his guru, Srila Prabhupada. A disturbing manifestation of this mentality in action is his claim that his own version of the Bhagavad-gita, contains some 100 pages with a "systematic theology of the Gita explaining things that have probably never been explained in a western language" (HD Istagosthi, 28/12/13). Thus, not only does HD feel the need to compete with Srila Prabhupada in releasing his own version of a book which Srila Prabhupada has already supplied, but HD also believes that such a book will most likely go beyond Srila Prabhupada's teachings by providing a "systematic theology of the Gita" which Srila Prabhupada's teachings lack. Below, we contrast this behaviour of HD with Srila Prabhupada's instructions. Emphases have been added.

Not authorised

"But according to Bhagavad-gita, all these six hundred editions in different, studied from different angle of vision, they are all absurd and nonsense. It is very difficult. People have been misled by the so-called commentaries. There is no need of unnecessarily commenting on certain things. There is no necessity. Commentary or interpretation required when things are not very clear. Then you can suggest, "The meaning may be like this." But when the things are clear, why should you comment? There is no necessity of comment."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 14/4/72)

"If my students cannot even read my own books thoroughly, why they should read others? I have given you TLC, what need is there to read Caitanya Caritamrta translated by someone else. You are right to stop such reading."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 20/1/72)

"There is no need by any of my disciples to read any books besides my books -- in fact, such reading may be detrimental to their advancement in Krishna Consciousness."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 20/1/72)

Srila Prabhupada criticised the 600-odd editions of the Gita which existed as being unauthorised, and he therefore gave the world his authoritative Bhagavad-gita As It Is. He never stated that his edition was itself "not very clear", requiring to be superseded by yet another edition which explains the Gita. On the contrary, he condemned the need to read other editions of books which he had already supplied.

Not needed

"In the same way, at the present moment also there are so many editions of the Gita (especially in English), but almost all of them are not according to authorized disciplic succession. [...] Since there is a great need of an edition of the Gita in English, as it is received by the parampara (disciplic succession) system, an attempt is made herewith to fulfill this great want."
(Bg., 4.2)

"The MacMillan Company wanted to shorten. [...] They wanted to make it only four hundred. Therefore half of the slokas was not nicely explained. But next time we are going to publish in large and revised edition of Bhagavad-gita As It Is. We must explain everything. So the Bhagavad-gita is very, very high-class philosophy and theology."
(Srila Prabhupada Room Conversation, 11/9/69)

"We are also finding very good sales with our Bhagavad-gita As It Is. This is because the commodity is pure gold. There are many editions of the Bhagavad-gita, but they are not pure. Ours is selling more because we are presenting the Bhagavad-gita as it is."
(The Science of Self-Realization, Ch. 1)

The reason Srila Prabhupada never authorised another edition of the Bhagavad-gita is that, as we see above, his version was already complete and perfect -- rather than deficient and requiring HD to explain the "systematic theology of the Gita", which Srila Prabhupada had somehow "missed" in his Gita.

Not qualified

"Unless one is empowered by the higher authorities, or advanced devotees, one cannot write transcendental literature, for all such literature must be above suspicion, or, in other words, it must have none of the defects of conditioned souls, namely, mistakes, illusions, cheating and imperfect sense perceptions."
(Cc. Adi-lila, 8.72)

In the previous article, we gave the history of HD's attempts to surpass his guru, Srila Prabhupada, demonstrating that he is not even qualified as a disciple of Srila Prabhupada. Yet, to claim to offer the type of transcendental literature HD is claiming to offer, he needs to be self-realised, rather than an unqualified disciple. Indeed, if one is authoring a book which is an unauthorised, unnecessary and unqualified competitor book to Srila Prabhupada's, then one is merely trying to fulfil a material desire to be an author:

"One should not ambitiously think, "I shall become a great author. I shall be celebrated as a writer." These are material desires."
(Cc. Adi-lila, 9.5)


It is ironic that the GBC is allowing its "guru" HD to claim to offer teachings which may go beyond what Srila Prabhupada offered. Ironic, because when other Gaudiya Vaisnava groups, such as those of Narayana Maharaja, claimed they were required because they were also able to offer teachings which went beyond Srila Prabhupada's teachings, the GBC did not support such outside attempts to undermine Srila Prabhupada's teachings. However, we now have evidence that such opposition to others making such claims was merely because the GBC believed that such undermining of Srila Prabhupada should be done by ISKCON itself!

Thus, we are faced with two competing visions:

1) That offered by Srila Prabhupada, promoted and defended by the IRM, which is based only on Srila Prabhupada's recorded teachings -- the POP (Prabhupada-Only Paradigm). This vision is based on faith that Srila Prabhupada's teachings are perfect and complete, and thus we do not need to consult any other outside sources.

2) And that offered by others, where Srila Prabhupada's words alone are not seen as sufficient.

We urge everyone to choose Srila Prabhupada.

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