Understanding Srila Prabhupada - 1


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 45, Autumn 2014

The system we use to understand Srila Prabhupada's teachings is crucial to our practice of Krsna consciousness. If we use the wrong system, we will misunderstand Srila Prabhupada's teachings. Below we analyse the system for understanding Srila Prabhupada's teachings promoted by ISKCON guru hoaxer HH Bhakti Vikasa Swami ("BVKS") and compare it to what Srila Prabhupada actually taught. All emphases added.

Previous acaryas

"Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, as any guru will do, will present himself as a servant of his guru. The...uh...so-called rtvik movement, they want to present Srila Prabhupada as if in isolation from his gurus. They say that, well, Prabhupada said this, taking some things out of context, and this means that there should be no more initiating guru after Srila Prabhupada, and they'll take Srila Prabhupada's writings and not...uh...they seem to think that it is wrong to try to understand Srila Prabhupada's writings in relation to the writings of the previous acaryas, whereas they are only to be understood in relation to the writings of the previous acaryas".
(BVKS Lecture, 5/18/14*)

BVKS states that the IRM (whom he calls "rtviks") misunderstands Srila Prabhupada's direct statements, such as those that prevent BVKS from taking Srila Prabhupada's position as ISKCON's diksa (initiating) guru, because we are taking them "out of context". Thus, he proposes that instead of simply accepting directly at face value what Srila Prabhupada states, we should instead try to understand Srila Prabhupada's statements through the "writings of the previous acaryas". In this, BVKS presents the exact opposite of Srila Prabhupada's teachings:

"Suppose I have heard something from my spiritual master, so I speak to you the same thing. So this is parampara system. You cannot imagine what my spiritual master said. Or even if you read some books, you cannot understand unless you understand it from me. This is called parampara system. You cannot jump over to the superior guru, neglecting the next acarya, immediate next acarya."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 8/12/73)

Thus, rather than understanding his teachings through the previous acaryas (as BVKS claims), Srila Prabhupada actually states that we should understand the teachings of the previous acaryas through him!

No jumping over

Therefore, it is both forbidden and not required to "jump over" Srila Prabhupada to understand his teachings through the writings of the previous acaryas, because in any case Srila Prabhupada presents all the teachings of the previous acaryas:

"You cannot jump over. You must go through the parampara system. You have to approach through your spiritual master to the Gosvamis, and through the Gosvamis you will have to approach Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and through Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu you have to approach Krsna. This is the way."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 28/3/75)

Paramahamsa: "Practically speaking, Srila Prabhupada, you are giving us the essence of all the previous acaryas' books in your books."
Srila Prabhupada: "Yes. Yes."
(Morning Walk, 13/5/75)

And we cannot jump over Srila Prabhupada even today, because he will always be ISKCON's current link in the parampara (see BTP 44, "The Current Link: Definition").

Thus, BVKS's cheating system for dealing with a statement that he does not like from Srila Prabhupada is as follows:

1) Srila Prabhupada states some-thing that BVKS does not like (such as that Srila Prabhupada will remain the diksa guru of ISKCON).
2) BVKS claims that it is taken "out of context".
3) BVKS then "jumps over" Srila Prabhupada to consult the previous acaryas to understand what Srila Prabhupada "really meant".

4) BVKS now concludes that, based on his understanding of the previous acaryas' writings, Srila Prabhupada did not actually mean what he said, and hence, he, BVKS, can be a successor diksa guru to Srila Prabhupada after all!

Fabricated arguments

To buttress his cheating method to try to get around the orders of Srila Prabhupada that he does not like, BVKS presents fabricated arguments regarding what the IRM states, by continuing:

"So in this way they want to convert Srila Prabhupada into a figure like Sai Baba who has no antecedents, and who is just a figure who pops up out of nowhere. But this is not at all the way to understand a guru, a guru must be understood in relation to the parampara in which he appears. It's an insult to the parampara and an absurdity to try to relegate the previous acaryas to just some kind of, just some names in a book."
(BVKS Lecture, 5/18/14)

1) We never state that Srila Prabhupada is a figure without an-tecedents. On the contrary, we glorify him as the current link of the parampara.

2) We do not relegate the previous acaryas to some names in a book. Rather, we fully accept, glorify and follow their teachings. However, as per Srila Prabhupada's instructions, we follow their teachings through Srila Prabhupada's teachings who, as the current link, is presenting all their teachings for us.


The instructions we have presented here regarding how to understand Srila Prabhupada's teachings are already fully understood by ISKCON's leadership, and thus are in no way controversial or disputed. For example, the GBC state that Srila Prabhupada:

"has realized and presented the teachings of the previous acaryas of the Brahma Madhva Gaudiya sampradaya appropriately for the modern age."
(GBC Resolution 35, 1994)

And an official GBC publication states:

"...we must see the previous acaryas through Prabhupada. We cannot jump over Prabhupada and then look back at him through the eyes of previous acaryas."
(Our Original Position, GBC Press, p. 163)

It's just that ISKCON's leaders are more than happy to discard their own teachings and turn them on their head in order to fulfil their PAD (Profit, Adoration and Distinction) desires via usurping Srila Prabhupada's position as ISKCON's Acarya and diksa guru.

Thus, Srila Prabhupada is to be understood directly. One should not try to "re-understand" or "interpret" Srila Prabhupada's teachings by "jumping over" Srila Prabhupada and consulting the previous acaryas directly.

*Hat tip to Bhakta Riccardo, Italy, who sent us this lecture for analysis.

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