Innocence Is No Excuse


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 55, Spring 2017

In previous BTP issues we have covered the consequences of following the guru hoax – whether those followers be disciples of the guru hoaxers, or disciples of Srila Prabhupada who participated in and supported the guru hoax. Such persons who followed the guru hoax, even if they have now rejected it, may claim that they made spiritual "progress" or rendered "sincere service" whilst doing so. After all, such persons do not wish to believe they have wasted a large portion of their lives and, instead of engaging in Krishna consciousness, were deviating. However, we demonstrated through Srila Prabhupada's teachings that such self-serving claims are not true, and whoever supported or followed the guru hoax was actually deviating rather than making spiritual progress and rendering sincere service (please see BTP 52: "The Danger of Following the PFP", and in BTP 54: "PFP Case Study Continued", and "Another Stunning PFP Case Study" – where "PFP" refers to the "Prabhupada-Free Paradigm").

In response, a general objection has been made that such devotees served in "good faith" and their intention was that they did want to correctly serve Srila Prabhupada. Thus, they were acting innocently with good intentions and were simply misled due to ignorance of the actual facts, and hence, as soon as they found out the actual facts they corrected themselves. Therefore, such persons can be excused. However, let us see what Srila Prabhupada teaches. Emphases added.

Action not intention

"[...] innocence is no excuse of law. If you say that "Somebody misled me to go to the left side" in the court, oh, that does not mean that you will be saved from the fine. So you have to become such intelligent person that you may not be misled by others. [...] You have to take the opportunity of education so that you may not be misled. Why do you agree to be misled? Then you must agree to take the punishment also. If you, by innocence, put your hand on the fire, so fire will not excuse you. So innocence is no excuse. You have to be learned. Therefore we are here to give proper education to the people."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 23/6/68)

"Generally, one commits sinful activities due to ignorance. But ignorance is no excuse for evading the reaction – sinful activities."
(The Nectar of Devotion, Ch. 1)

"If in the law court you say, "My lord, I did not know that by stealing, one is punished," that, the magistrate or the judge, will not excuse you. The law, even this material law, is so strict, and you can imagine how much strict are stringent laws of the nature."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 2/3/75)

Thus, Srila Prabhupada makes it clear that the right intention and genuine innocence are not relevant. One may have genuinely intended to follow the law, but if one breaks it, one will still get the same reaction. Only the action one takes, even if it is a result of innocently being "misled", will matter, and one will get the appropriate reaction for that action.

Knowledge required

Umapati: "In perfect knowledge, would the first step be faith that it is offered to Krsna? One may, may make an offering without being..."
Srila Prabhupada: "Well, he must learn under superior direction. Otherwise, how he can offer? [...] Then whom he's offering? If he doesn't know Krsna..."
Umapati: "That is his ignorance. If he is seeking."
Srila Prabhupada: "Then, if he's in ignorance, what is the value of his offering? [...] You cannot do anything in ignorance."
Umapati: "But then the spiritual master gives him knowledge..."
Srila Prabhupada: "Yes."
(Morning Walk, 5/12/73)

Srila Prabhupada here emphasises that being in knowledge, rather than ignorance, is essential. During the guru hoax, one will have taken action in ignorance. Ignorance of Srila Prabhupada's true position in ISKCON. And ignorance that the guru "successors" one chose to take initiation from (whether 1st or 2nd initiation), and offer one's service via (as one's guru, GBC or some other leader), were not bona fide.

Everyone is guilty

The points made above by Srila Prabhupada are logical and obvious. Because if innocence, ignorance and good intentions were relevant factors of mitigation, then it would also be possible to excuse the guru hoaxers themselves. For, they could also plead ignorance, and still claim they were making spiritual progress and rendering sincere service. Which would mean one could do *anything* deviant and it would not matter.

All those who participated in the guru hoax will have unknowingly and unwittingly disrespected Srila Prabhupada by assuming he was no longer the diksa guru of ISKCON. And if one does this, Srila Prabhupada states:

"And one who has no knowledge how to respect guru, how he can become Vaisnava?"
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 4/10/76)

"When one serves a Vaisnava unknowingly, one still gets the good result, and if one unknowingly insults a Vaisnava, one suffers the bad result."
(SB, 4.9.23)

Srila Prabhupada also states the principle that "supporting" an action leads to the same result as executing the action:

"I request all the pure-hearted demigods, forefathers and saintly persons to support my proposal, for after death the result of an action is equally shared by its doer, its director and its supporter."
(SB, 4.21.26)

Therefore, one cannot take the position that only the guru hoaxers did something wrong, and everyone else is excused. Rather, everyone who participated, supported or followed, whether knowingly or unknowingly, whether in good faith and with good intentions or not, shares the results equally.


One's good intentions and desire to follow Srila Prabhupada cannot substitute for actually acting correctly. Srila Prabhupada teaches that only the correct actions matter, otherwise one will get the reaction for having deviated. This will be the case even if one simply supported wrong actions, rather than having actually executed them. Thus, any participation in the guru hoax cannot be excused for any reason whatsoever. This is why the work the IRM is doing is so essential, as it prevents devotees from being misled, and their efforts going to waste.

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