Using Authorisation for Deviation


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 67, Vol 3, 2020

Below we present a case study on how we can begin with something that is authorised by Srila Prabhupada only to expand it into something that is actually deviant. Quotes in the shaded boxes are from an interview with GBC voted-in guru HH Krsna Ksetra Swami ("KRKS"), published 22/8/20. All emphases added.

Imagining Krsna's pastimes

"I was thinking about the story of Krsna's wedding with Rukmini and how Rukmini Devi sends this brahmana [...] So, I imagined, you know, what would one think in anticipation of going to Dwarka and seeing Krsna"

KRKS further describes how he imagined himself to be the brahmana in this pastime of the Lord and then encouraged devotees to write similar fiction. KRKS has edited three anthologies filled with such imaginations from dozens of devotees, one of them being titled: Krishna Smarana: Devotees' Creative Monologues Elaborating Krishna's Pastimes. The word "creative" here means fiction. It also includes gopi imaginations and imaginations involving Krsna's other close associates such as Nanda Maharaja and Mother Yasoda. KRKS is thus advocating the creation and publication of "elaborating Krishna's pastimes" through imagination, i.e. making it up. KRKS attempts to justify such fictional literature regarding Krsna's pastimes by quoting Srila Prabhupada:

"as far as imagination goes [...] Prabhupada said: "You can imagine that 'in my heart I have placed now a very diamond throne and Krsna is sitting'. [...] that is not false. That is a fact. So you create such situation within your heart. 'Now Krsna has seated. Let me wash His feet with the Ganges water, Yamuna water.'" "

Here KRKS cites a quote from a lecture given by Srila Prabhupada on 1/6/74, which KRKS also included in the Introduction to the Krishna Smarana book mentioned above, and then KRKS adds:

"Prabhupada is suggesting, he uses the word ‘imagine' and then he says ‘imagine what, imagine a diamond throne in your heart' and then he says ‘it is not false'."

Justifying deviation

However, KRKS himself admits that the imagination Srila Prabhupada refers to is actually an authorised part of worshipping Krsna:

"Prabhupada here is describing a very standard aspect of arcana called manasa-puja or manasika-puja, and it's a standard step in the full practice of arcana that you first meditate on offering the upacaras, the different items".

Thus, KRKS has extrapolated that Srila Prabhupada's specific authorisation to think of worshipping Krsna in one's heart means that one is also authorised to "elaborate" Krsna's actual pastimes with fictional writings based on imaginations. But nowhere in this quote, or elsewhere, has Srila Prabhupada authorised such fictional imagination writings. On the contrary, Srila Prabhupada has stated the opposite:

"We are not fiction writers."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 18/1/76)

"One who follows his imaginations about the Supreme Personality of Godhead is condemned."
(SB, 10.3.32, purport)

"The wonderful characteristics of the gopis are beyond imagination."
(Cc., Adi-lila, 4.187, purport)

Not only has Srila Prabhupada not authorised such fictional writing about Krsna's pastimes, but he specifically published KRSNA: The Supreme Personality of Godhead, where Krsna's real pastimes are given, to wean people away from anything fictional:

"People love to read various kinds of fiction to spend their time and energy. Now this tendency can be directed to Krsna. [...] We therefore request everyone to take advantage of this great transcendental literature."
(KRSNA, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Preface)

Expanding the deviation

Having claimed that we can "elaborate" on the authorised pastimes of Krsna, KRKS expands this deviant tendency further by claiming that even Srila Prabhupada's purports require elaboration:

"it's one of these ‘Prabhupada saids' that ‘eventually devotees will write purports to my purports', and one of the things that we're finding in this editorial review process is this becomes a necessity. There are things that Srila Prabhupada writes where we feel like we have to say ‘wait a minute, this needs some explanation. [...] this needs some elaboration' "

1) KRKS admits that there is no recorded instruction from Srila Prabhupada ordering that we "write purports to his purports", but rather it is just another "Prabhupada said". Therefore, his claim that Srila Prabhupada's teachings need to be explained with further purports by persons such as himself is not something he can substantiate with Srila Prabhupada's recorded teachings.

2) On the contrary, Srila Prabhupada simply asked us to "repeat" and "reproduce" his purports, rather than give our own purports to them:

"And you must all study very scrutinizingly all of the books so that when the need arises you can repeat in your own words their purport."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 6/1/72)

"You simply read our books and if you simply reproduce the purport of Srimad-Bhagavatam or Bhagavad-gita, people will take it very seriously."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 22/1/70)


1) It is much easier to con people in ISKCON if one starts with something that is authorised by Srila Prabhupada. Just offering one's own suggestions would more likely be dismissed as unauthorised.

2) KRKS has graphically demonstrated this common con in ISKCON: use that which is authorised to expand into that which is unauthorised, thus leading one to spiral into an endless pit of speculation and deviation. Two examples presented here were:

Imagine Lord Krsna in one's heart –> write fictional interpretations of Lord Krsna's pastimes;
Repeat purports –> write your own purports;

And of course there are many others, with the most famous being the guru hoax:

Act as rtvik –> act as diksa guru.

But all we need to do is only what Srila Prabhupada ordered. That's it.

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