Reviving Srila Prabhupada's Authority


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 59, Vol 3, 2018

Accepting Srila Prabhupada's authority by quoting only his recorded statements – the Prabhupada-Only Paradigm (POP) – is the antithesis of the Prabhupada-Free Paradigm (PFP), where conclusions are reached without reference to Srila Prabhupada's authoritative, recorded statements. Here, we further delineate the need for the POP over the PFP.

There is no dispute

The POP itself is authorised as it is based on Srila Prabhupada's recorded statements:

"Unless it is there from me in writing, there are so many things that "Prabhupada said."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 2/9/75)

"just like in our ISKCON there are so many false things: "Prabhupada said this, Prabhupada said that."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 7/11/72)

"Some inexperienced man, he introduces some concoction. Sometimes they say, "Prabhupada said it." More misleading. Yes."
(Srila Prabhupada, Morning Walk, 3/2/75)

"Just like in our Society, sometimes they do something nonsense and they say, "Prabhupada said." (laughter) They are doing that. We know that. It is deteriorated like that."
(Srila Prabhupada, Room Conversation, 10/5/75)

Thus, though it seems like the POP is some "new" thing that the IRM has "introduced", it only seems like this because for so long devotees have lost the idea of depending exclusively on Srila Prabhupada's authority. Following Srila Prabhupada's physical disappearance, so many other "sources" of "evidence" have become commonplace in ISKCON:

a) Teachings from "learned sadhus" in the Gaudiya Matha and elsewhere.

b) "Jumping over" Srila Prabhupada by directly consulting the books of the previous acaryas not translated and commented on, or directly approved, by the "current link" and present Acarya, Srila Prabhupada.

c) Stories and "testimonies" from devotees of what they supposedly "heard", "learned", and "understood" from Srila Prabhupada.

Therefore, as the quotes above prove, the IRM is only reviving Srila Prabhupada's original teachings by insisting on the POP. It should not even be something that needs to be debated or mentioned, as Srila Prabhupada has himself stated the need to rely only on his recorded words. The very fact that we have to continually point out the need for the POP rather than the PFP, just shows the sorry state of affairs we are now faced with (for example, see the very next article!)

Why the PFP flourishes

Given that the POP should be undisputed in ISKCON since ISKCON is supposed to accept Srila Prabhupada as its authority and Acarya, why does the PFP, rather than only the POP, still exist? The answer is that the PFP exists to fulfil our desire. If Srila Prabhupada does not say what one wants him to say, then one is forced to rely on other means to support one's desire, such as some other authority, or simply claiming that Srila Prabhupada said it without any evidence – i.e, the PFP.

So, for example, after Srila Prabhupada's physical disappearance, many persons were and are today ambitious to take his place as successor diksa gurus. If they rely on the POP they are stuck, because although Srila Prabhupada did state in writing on July 9th, 1977 that he would continue in ISKCON as its diksa guru, he never gave any recorded statement calling for his replacement as ISKCON's diksa guru. One is then forced to rely on the PFP and just claim without evidence that Srila Prabhupada made arrangements for successor diksa gurus. Thus, for example, GBC-elected diksa guru HH Sivarama Swami ("SRS") claims that Srila Prabhupada appointed those who acted as diksa gurus:

"They were the people who first acted as spiritual masters. [...] They're trying to prove that they weren't appointed, but they were appointed."
(SRS, Rtvik istagosthi, Budapest, 17/7/08)

But instead of providing a recorded statement from Srila Prabhupada appointing such diksa gurus, SRS merely testifies that this is what Srila Prabhupada did, without evidence.

False statements

In BTP 57, "The Logic of the POP", it was explained that we do not know for sure that the testimony of a devotee is correct, even if they appear to be speaking in good faith, and therefore to be 100% certain we must rely only on Srila Prabhupada's recorded statements. But in addition to always being uncertain, it can also be shown that in many cases testimonies are definitely false. Thus, for example, although we have just quoted SRS testifying that Srila Prabhupada appointed successor diksa gurus, one of these supposedly appointed successor diksa gurus, HH Tamala Krishna Goswami ("TKG"), himself claimed the exact opposite:

"Actually, Prabhupada never appointed any gurus. He didn't appoint eleven gurus."
(TKG, Topanga Canyon tapes, 3/12/80)

Clearly, therefore, at least one of these persons is not speaking truthfully about what
Srila Prabhupada did.

Similarly, when referring to the history of the first 11 (unauthorised) successor diksa gurus, who appeared in ISKCON straight after Srila Prabhupada's physical disappearance, one of these 11 successor diksa gurus, HH Hridayananda Dasa Goswami ("HD"), claims:

"In fact, neither the GBC nor the first ISKCON gurus after Prabhupada ever thought that the number should be limited to 11."
(HD, 4/11/17, emphases added)

However, another one of these 11 successor diksa gurus and GBC member at the time, Satsvarupa Dasa ("SD"), claims:

"In 1978, the concept began that only eleven persons should be initiating acaryas.[...] I was not the one to see a defect in the procedures"
(SD, "ISKCON in the 1970s", emphasis added)

Thus, two gurus and GBC members offer opposite testimonies regarding whether or not it was thought by the gurus and GBC that there should only be 11 gurus. Again, one of these persons is not telling the truth. We have previously given many other examples of such contradictory claims, where at least one of the claims must be untrue.


Hence, in addition to the PFP always being inconclusive, many times the claims can be shown to be outright false. Thus, the only solution to this uncertainty and falsehood is the POP – or relying only on Srila Prabhupada's recorded words.

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