The Secret of Advancement


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 65, Vol 1, 2020

An increasingly popular practice in ISKCON today is leaders and followers jumping over Srila Prabhupada and studying the works of the previous acaryas directly. This is considered authorised since it is argued that it is good to respect our parampara and the acaryas have a wealth of knowledge. Thus, a "core member" of the GBC's Sastric Advisory Council, Hari Parsada Dasa, argues:

"you need to go to the previous acaryas, and they have so many realizations and they didn't write their books so those books could be kept in a museum. [...] the treasure of our Gaudiya-Vaisnava-sampradaya."
(Hari Parsada Dasa, podcast published 20/4/19)

Hence, the belief is that restricting and limiting knowledge is bad, because the more knowledge one has, regardless of the source, the more knowledgeable one becomes. All emphases below added.

Actual devotion

However, Srila Prabhupada has taught that limiting oneself to only his direct teachings is what he wants:

"You say that you would read only one book if that was all that I had written, so you teach others to do like that. You have a very good determination."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 14/11/73)

"Just read Srimad-Bhagavatam, our three volumes regularly and repeatedly. It is no use reading many books, it is better to assimilate one book and that is sufficient."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 10/6/68)

"Regarding reading Mahabharata, why divert your attention in this way? Bhagavatam is also Mahabharata. There are so many books I have presented already, so whatever you have got, just become expert in that."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 29/4/73)

And, following the previous acaryas means to submit to the current link:

"There are many such Mahatmas, or great souls, in the past, and if we follow in their footsteps carefully, that is the perfection of fulfillment of our human form of life. To follow in the footsteps of the Mahatmas means to give submissive aural reception to the words and instructions of the bona fide Spiritual Master in the line of disciplic succession from the Lord Himself."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 21/10/69)

That current link in the disciplic succession is Srila Prabhupada, and satisfying him is the only qualification for attaining Krsna:

"If a student tries to satisfy his immediate Acarya or the Spiritual Master, that is the only qualification for advancing in Krsna consciousness."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 17/6/70)

The IRM is the proof

Indeed, the Bhagavad-gita teaches that this satisfying of the spiritual master is the "secret of advancement in spiritual life". This satisfaction of the spiritual master is what allows us to gain knowledge, which comes directly from the spiritual master:

"Satisfaction of the self-realized spiritual master is the secret of advancement in spiritual life [...] when he sees the genuine desire of the disciple, he automatically blesses the disciple with genuine spiritual understanding."
(Bg., 4.34, purport)

The above can be proven by the following fact. In every BTP issue, we show that, despite immersing themselves in all sorts of books not directly given and explained by Srila Prabhupada, even the seniormost leaders of ISKCON still end up talking deviant nonsense, having not understood even the basics on a variety of subjects, including everything from the four regulative principles to guru-tattva. And we are able to do this because we stick to only following POP or the Prabhupada-Only Paradigm system. Thus, fidelity to Srila Prabhupada, by restricting oneself to only his teachings as he asked, will lead to being blessed by Srila Prabhupada to understand all that is required in spiritual life.

Leads to deviation

It is actually this issue of desiring "more knowledge" from non-Prabhupada sources that had led many former ISKCON members to defect to Gaudiya Matha gurus like Narayana Maharaja. For, his selling point was that he gave people access to all the scriptures, supposedly above and beyond what Srila Prabhupada gave.

"He (Srila Prabhupada) wanted to preach all of these things in the western countries also – that which Rupa Goswami has given in the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu and the Ujjvala-nilamani, and that which has been written by acaryas like Raghunatha dasa Goswami and Krsnadasa Kaviraja Goswami. He wanted to give all these things in western countries, but he could not do it."
(Narayana Maharaja, Lecture, 10/11/92)

Thus, the danger in thinking that one is "missing out" on knowledge is that one will not care from where one will acquire this knowledge, and thus not remain faithful to Srila Prabhupada as the only authorised source of knowledge. Getting the 11th and 12th cantos of the Srimad-Bhagavatam from guru hoaxer HH Hridayananda Dasa Goswami is also motivated by a similar thinking. But, the receiving of spiritual knowledge is a transcendental process, not something one can achieve without accepting the current-link spiritual master:

"If you want to learn that science, the transcendental science, then you have to approach a bona fide spiritual master. [...] he's coming in disciplic succession by hearing process. This is very important."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 15/3/67)

And that person is Srila Prabhupada. We can only learn the transcendental science directly from him, because that is the spiritual process. It is not mechanical, whereby one can just read anything from anywhere and one will become realised in spiritual knowledge.


We therefore have:

1) A mechanistic worldview whereby only the quantity of what you read, regardless of the source, is all that matters.

2) A spiritual worldview in which satisfying the guru by following his order to only accept his direct words, is all that matters. For this is the "secret" of advancement, and thus will lead to one being blessed by the guru. Hence, it is this fidelity to Srila Prabhupada which will automatically lead to the correct spiritual understanding, rather than just reading many books not given by Srila Prabhupada.


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Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama, Rama, Hare, Hare.
And be Happy!