Mass Expansion of ISKCON’s
Bait & Switch Scam


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 61, Vol 1, 2019

The BBT (Bhaktivedanta Book Trust) has published a new book titled In Essence ("IE"). This is a compilation of quotes from Srila Prabhupada on various subjects, tied together via brief commentary and different subject headings. It begins by addressing basic questions such as "Who Am I?", and progresses through to answering "Who Is Krsna?" and "How to Practise Bhakti-yoga" at the end of the book. It has thus been designed for mass distribution to the general public, to act as an introductory text to get new persons interested in Krishna consciousness, and was distributed widely during ISKCON's 2018 Christmas book marathon. Quotes from this book are presented below in shaded boxes. All emphases added.

The guru we need

On page 68 of IE, the subject of the guru is introduced, with the heading "Do I Need a Guru?". This section is illustrated with a colour picture of Srila Prabhupada, above a quotation from him stating the need to accept a guru. And, earlier in the Introduction of the book, it was stated that Srila Prabhupada is:

"founder-acarya and spiritual master of the Hare Krsna movement."

Thus, the answer to the question of "Do I Need a Guru?" is answered in the affirmative by quoting, and presenting a picture of, Srila Prabhupada, having already told the reader that Srila Prabhupada is the guru for the whole of ISKCON. Thus, at this point, the reader can only conclude that the guru Srila Prabhupada states we must accept is simply himself. Then, the next section, titled "Can't I Be My Own Guru?", quotes Srila Prabhupada stating that we must surrender to a guru who:

"is capable of giving instructions on the Bhagavad-gita and other texts discussing God realization." (p. 69)

And, in the Introduction, the reader was already told at the outset that Srila Prabhupada is such a person:

"So Srila Prabhupada answers the questions in this book from the viewpoint of a bhakti-yogi, speaking from texts such as the Bhagavad-gita, one of yoga's primary philosophical works, and the Srimad-Bhagavatam, the philosophical and literary exposition on bhakti philosophy."

Srila Prabhupada is then quoted (p. 70) stating that this knowledge can only be received from one who is not a conditioned soul. Thus, following on from the previous section, the reader is given further confirmation that Srila Prabhupada is the required guru.

The diksa guru

On page 123, in the chapter "How to Practise Bhakti-yoga", the book compilers state:

"Krsna states in the Bhagavad-gita that it's best to follow the teachings of a bona fide spiritual master. If you wish to practise bhakti seriously, you will at some point need a teacher realized in its teachings."

This refers to verse 4.34 from the Bhagavad-gita, since this is where Krishna speaks of following a self-realised, bona fide spiritual master. The compilers then immediately state that Srila Prabhupada is such a person:

"His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder-acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), is one such teacher."

This verse in the Bhagavad-gita referred to above, 4.34, states –

"tad viddhi pranipatena
pariprasnena sevaya
upadeksyanti te jnanam
jnaninas tattva-darsinah"

– and refers to the diksa guru, since in the word-for-word meanings, Srila Prabhupada translates "upadeksyanti" as "initiate". This is not disputed, with ISKCON GBC and guru HH Sivarama Swami ("SRS") explaining that this verse refers to accepting the diksa guru:

"The spiritual master is not just performing some kind of ritualistic function, namely giving diksa or initiation [...] He has a responsibility that Krsna Himself elaborates on in the Bhagavad-gita. [...] And "tad viddhi pranipatena, upadeksyanti", when you've taken diksa then you should inquire from him submissively".
(SRS, Q&A on "Guru-disciple relationship in ISKCON", 17/11/13)

And the BBT, ISKCON's official publisher, has stated in the passage from its book IE above, that Bg. 4.34 refers to "His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder-acarya of ISKCON" as this realised, bona fide diksa guru. Hence ISKCON is publicly accepting that Srila Prabhupada is the initiating (diksa) guru of ISKCON.

The guru required to serve Krishna

IE then further confirms that Srila Prabhupada is the only spiritual master needed for devotees to approach and serve Krishna:

"This first mantra is to the spiritual master [Srila Prabhupada's pranam mantra alone is given - Ed.]. [...] In humility, we ask to serve by offering our spiritual master what we have cooked and asking him to offer it to Krsna. [...] We begin meditation or worship by respecting the spiritual master. The spiritual master is Krsna's dear servant and representative, and we owe him an immense debt of gratitude for the knowledge he gives us about ourselves and our relationship with Krsna. Hare Krishna devotees place a picture of their guru, Srila Prabhupada, on their altars." (pp. 131-134)


The reader of this book is therefore deliberately presented the conclusion that Srila Prabhupada is the diksa guru, the only guru one needs to surrender to in order to serve Krishna. The book does not mention that any other guru will be required. However, once a person joins ISKCON, none of this holds. Indeed, the very person listed as a compiler of this book stated that after he was initiated, he "started realizing more and more that HH Kadamba Kanana Swami [a GBC-elected guru - Ed.] is indeed his guru." ("Vyasa-puja Report", 2015). Innocent people are therefore cheated twice. First, they are conned into getting attracted to ISKCON by being made to think that Srila Prabhupada alone is their guru, even though that is not allowed in ISKCON today. Then, after joining ISKCON, they will be conned again into believing that they must accept a GBC replacement guru – please see next article for more details. This is the "bait and switch" scam which we highlighted in the previous issue ("Srila Prabhupada – Our Eternal Spiritual Master"). Only, it has now been expanded into becoming the official recruiting tool for ISKCON through the mass distribution of this book.

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