“Jackass” Guru-Tattva


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 72, Vol 1, 2022

GBC member and voted-in guru HH Bhakti Brnga Govinda Swami ("BBGS") recently preached "jackass" philosophy to his disciples (all emphases added):

"I was speaking to one mahatma in Vrndavana of how Krsna's mercy will come to us [...] he said, "Even if one's guru is a jackass, if he serves that jackass with absolute love and devotion, Krsna's mercy will flow through to him." It was like an extreme example, but it was something rather poignant [...] and again, Prabhupada always gave that example, you know, yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasadah yasya prasadad na gatih kuto ‘pi, so that's how this Krsna mercy will come to us."
(BBGS Address to Disciples, 12/1/22)

In the same Gurvastaka prayer that BBGS quotes Srila Prabhupada giving above ("yasya prasadad..."), it states that the qualification of the diksa guru through whom Krsna's mercy flows is actually that he has reached the highest level of spiritual advancement rather than being a "jackass":

"he is relishing the mellows of pure devotion within his mind [...] he is expert in assisting the gopis [...] he is the most confidential servitor of the Lord"
(Sri Sri Gurvastaka prayers)

Jackass rationalisation

This deviant "jackass" philosophy was preached by BBGS just weeks after he engaged in some highly inappropriate behaviour. The following is an apology that BBGS was forced to make after a video recording of him participating in a dance skit in December 2021 surfaced online:

"I can only say that I am terribly, terribly sorry to you all for having participated in this dance skit. It was really inappropriate [...] I deeply [sic] sorry that I engaged in the dance skit that has disturbed you all. I do realise that it was wrong to have done so, and I humbly beg your vaisnava grace to forgive me in the matter."
(BBGS Apology Email, 2/1/22)

The leaked video showed him dressed in non-devotee clothing and performing vulgar, sexually suggestive dance moves in front of a group containing females. Thus, this was indeed "really inappropriate" behaviour, not only because he holds the title of a "good as God" diksa guru in ISKCON, but also because he is supposedly a sannyasi. Therefore, after having admitted to and apologised for having behaved in a way that some could see as being like a "jackass", BBGS preaches that even if the guru is a jackass, he should still be served with "absolute love and devotion" to get Krsna's mercy. In this way, if his disciples were disturbed by his behaviour, there would be no diminution in their worship of him.

Continuing with such rationalisation, in the same address to his disciples, BBGS also stated about himself that:

"we experience pain, and we experience emotions [...] just like everybody else experiences."

However, this is simply an admission that BBGS is a regular conditioned soul. For, in the same way that bona fide diksa gurus cannot be jackasses, Srila Prabhupada teaches that a bona fide diksa guru is on the transcendental platform and does not experience material suffering "just like everybody else experiences":

"Narada Muni, Haridasa Thakura and similar acaryas especially empowered to broadcast the glories of the Lord cannot be brought down to the material platform."
(SB, 7.7.14, purport)

Equal to Srila Prabhupada

Despite such admissions of fallen conditioned soul behaviour, BBGS still claims his position is equivalent to that of Srila Prabhupada:

"For me, the words coming from the lips of my spiritual master are my very life and soul, and for my disciples that should be, you know, their understanding also"
(BBGS Vyasa-puja Talk, 5/2/22)

Thus, BBGS states his disciples must relate to him exactly how he relates to Srila Prabhupada, and hence his position as a GBC diksa guru is on a par with that of Srila Prabhupada.

More jackass contributions

A great preacher of this jackass philosophy is HH Bhakti Vikasa Swami ("BVKS"). While talking specifically about the GBC gurus such as himself, he states:

GBC guru is not qualified

"I may not be qualified. I am not qualified, but someone has to do it [act as diksa guru]."
(BVKS Talk, "Guru Issues" - 12, published 3/1/22)

"it has been prescribed that one must appropriately discipline a spiritual master [...] It may come upon the disciple to have the distasteful duty to try to rectify the guru himself."
(BVKS Talk, "Guru Issues" - 9, published 12/12/21)

Srila Prabhupada teaches the exact opposite, that a bona fide guru is never subject to discipline or rectification:

"It is also an offense to consider an empowered Vaisnava an object of disciplinary action. It is offensive to try to give him advice or to correct him."
(Nectar of Instruction, Text 6, purport)

GBC gurus can be corrupt

"So yeah, part of the role of gurus is they're supposed to uphold people's faith in the institution, for better or worse, [...] that might require almost what could be called hypocrisy, is that we keep on trying to bolster people's faith and try to make them, ‘yes, give yourself, give yourself'"
(BVKS Talk, "Guru Issues" - 7, published 1/12/21)

GBC gurus are envious

"It can be tough being lauded as a great spiritual personality  when you have your own internal struggles with lust, pride, envy [...] one guru may envy another [...] there may be within the heart some contamination, doubts which one is still struggling with."
(BVKS Talk, "Guru Issues" - 7, published 1/12/21)

However, Srila Prabhupada teaches that one who is envious is not even a human being, never mind a bona fide guru:

"Enviousness is immediately disqualification of Vaisnava, immediate. He is not a human being."
(Srila Prabhupada, Room Conversation, 17/10/75)


ISKCON gurus are eager to rationalise how useless they can be, so that no matter how errant their behaviour, they can still be worshipped "as good as God". However, in doing so, they are simply encouraging us to reject them for the non-useless, bona fide guru, Srila Prabhupada. One who preaches the false jackass philosophy that the diksa guru can be a jackass simply reveals that it is he who is a jackass rather than a bona fide, qualified, pure diksa guru.

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