Back to Basics


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 49, Autumn 2015

Welcome to Issue 49 of Back To Prabhupada (BTP).

Reactions to our regular challenging and exposing of the self-proclaimed ‘good as God' gurus in ISKCON vary – from considering it bold, radical and revolutionary, to just downright offensive and blasphemous (please see one example of this in a reader's letter on page 10). But the common theme is that such actions are considered in some way exceptional and out of the ordinary.

In addition to core scriptural works such as Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam and Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Srila Prabhupada also wrote a number of small books that would serve more as an introduction to these weighty tomes. One such small book was Elevation to Krsna Consciousness, and there we find the following basic instruction:

"Once Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, "You must at least have enough sense to test to find out who is a spiritual master and who is not." [...] If we want to purchase a mango from the market, we must at least know what type of food a mango is and what it looks like. Similarly, we must have some preliminary knowledge of the qualifications for a bona fide spiritual master. "

Thus, far from being either radical or offensive, BTP is engaging in the most basic of activities, as recommended by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Caitanya Himself: having the sense to test to find out who is a spiritual master and who is not.

Interestingly, the very GBC gurus in ISKCON whom we are "testing", themselves recommend that this be done. For example, GBC-elected guru HH Varsana Swami states:

"The scriptures and teachers of all true religions warn against false prophets outwardly cloaked as sheep, but inwardly possessing the consciousness of ravenous wolves. To detect the true identity of real sadhus (saintly persons), one must evaluate their words and actions for consistency and integrity."
(HH Varsana Swami, Foreword, Namacarya, 2010)

And in the same way that we produce papers and books to test whether or not the GBC-gurus' teachings differ from the teachings of Srila Prabhupada, the GBC itself does the same. For example, the GBC authorised a paper "ISKCON's Position on Narayana Maharaja", to compare and contrast how Narayana Maharaja's teachings differed from those of Srila Prabhupada.

However, ISKCON's gurus and the GBC certainly do not approve of such analysis and testing being applied to them. Rather, the principle of testing a supposed guru is encouraged by them only as a means to target other gurus who may pose a challenge to them. Hence, this is merely the usual self-serving hypocritical modus operandi that we have come to expect from ISKCON's leaders. Otherwise, if they were acting on a matter of principle rather than personal motivation, they would be the first to welcome BTP and the "guru testing" it provides. Yet, such a warm welcome has not exactly been forthcoming!

Nor is it the case that only those who claim to be gurus in ISKCON have some special exemption from this principle of needing to test the guru! Especially when we consider that everything BTP has written regarding the lack of authorisation and qualification of ISKCON's GBC gurus has been shown to be correct and remains unchallenged (please see article on page 15 for more on this).

That such a basic action of testing all gurus is essential, is emphasised by Srila Prabhupada when he explains how "practically everyone", "millions", have been cheated by fake gurus:

Reporter: "I wondered how many people you think might have been taken in by fake gurus."
Srila Prabhupada: "Practically everyone. [Laughter.] There is no question of counting. Everyone."
Reporter: "This would mean thousands of people, wouldn't it?"
Srila Prabhupada: "Millions. Millions have been cheated, because they want to be cheated."
(The Science of Self Realization)

Thank you and Hare Krsna.

In Srila Prabhupada's service,


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