ISKCON’s Open Challenge to Srila Prabhupada


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 78, 2023

To the rank and file of ISKCON, and the world at large, Srila Prabhupada is supposedly the Acarya and supreme authority of ISKCON. However, in recent issues, we have documented the trend of ISKCON's leadership openly challenging Srila Prabhupada's position as the supreme authority in ISKCON:

1) The GBC-approved Hermeneutics course states that Srila Prabhupada must be understood through the "Vaisnava tradition" and the "previous acaryas", instead of Srila Prabhupada being the authority through whom we understand everything else (see BTP 69, "The GBC and ISKCON India in Fight Over Course").

2) An ISKCON India leader promoted a paper which states that it is wrong to elevate Srila Prabhupada as the supreme authority who is above all other sources of evidence (see BTP 70, "A Challenge to the ICC – 2").

3) GBC voted-in guru HH Bhakti Vikasa Swami organised a talk which preached that it is "twisted" to accept that Srila Prabhupada is "obviously right" and in line with sadhu and sastra. And that we need "sadhu" and "sastra" to "protect" us from what Srila Prabhupada states, just as we need protection from a US President who can "say all sorts of things" (see BTP 76, Interactive, "Nonsense Corner").

4) Guru HH Hridayananda Dasa Goswami states one must "verify" Srila Prabhupada's teachings against "every Sanskrit word" to check they are correct (see BTP 76, "ISKCON's Attack on Srila Prabhupada Escalates").

All emphases added.

Supreme Authority

However, Srila Prabhupada did not order that his authority be questioned or challenged in the way described above. Rather, to ensure such challenges could never happen in ISKCON, he ordered the following to be enshrined in all official documents:

"He [Srila Prabhupada] is the supreme authority in all matters of the society."
(Amendments for Official Documents, "Topmost Urgency", 22/7/74)

Then, for the avoidance of any doubt, subsequently, just a year later when the GBC, the governing body of ISKCON, was first officially established, the very first resolution passed by the GBC repeated this order:

" ... the International Society for Krishna Consciousness of which He [Srila Prabhupada] is the Founder-Acarya and supreme authority."
(GBC Resolution 1, 1975)

Thus, by the definition of the words "supreme authority", all other sources of evidence will automatically be understood through Srila Prabhupada's teachings – thus rendering challenges 1 and 2 in the previous section as being invalid. And, as Srila Prabhupada is the supreme authority, he cannot be challenged, nor is there any need to do so, period – thus rendering challenges 3 and 4 in the previous section as also being invalid.

POP system in practice

One only needs to look at how ISKCON operated in practice during Srila Prabhupada's physical presence to see the utter obviousness of the points made above. When Srila Prabhupada issued any instruction, we do not find that before executing every such instruction, his disciples had to first stop and immediately conduct intensive investigations to "check" and "verify" such instructions with:

a) "Historical precedence" and "tradition";
b) "Sastra" and "sadhu";
c) The original Sanskrit text.

Rather, his disciples would "jump to it", and immediately take such instructions as their life and soul without hesitation. Thus, in practice, everyone followed the Prabhupada-Only Paradigm or POP, wherein one only accepts Srila Prabhupada's direct instructions, and never consults anything outside of them. Again, just a basic understanding of the guru-disciple relationship makes these points obvious:

"Disciple means there is no argument. Whatever the guru will say, you have to accept. That is disciple. That is final. There is no argument."
(Srila Prabhupada, Answers to a Questionnaire from Bhavan's Journal, 30/6/76)

Srila Prabhupada

Rascal challenges

Underscoring the points above, one can note how Srila Prabhupada reacted whenever someone dared to challenge whether or not his teachings were "in line" with sastra:

Hari-sauri: "That was one thing that Nitai put in his letter, that the teachings of ISKCON are completely opposite or contradictory to what is actually in the sastra."
Srila Prabhupada: "Now he has become tiger. He wants to kill that philosophy. When he did not know anything, he came to us. Now he has become learned, he wants to criticize. [...] The rascal. What can be done?"
(Room Conversation, 26/10/76)

This further proves the point we have made repeatedly, that the teachings of the bona fide spiritual master are already automatically in line with "guru, sadhu and sastra", and to even think differently, or that they need "checking", is rascaldom of the highest order.

New authority system

When we have exposed the deviations by ISKCON's leaders such as the guru hoax, it may be noted that at least ISKCON's leadership still claimed that they were supposedly directly following Srila Prabhupada's orders. But what we have now is a fundamentally different development, wherein even those orders themselves are being questioned as not necessarily being authoritative and supreme in their own right. Rather, they can be "understood" by consulting teachings outside of those provided directly by Srila Prabhupada. One can note that originally even the GBC realised that this was a deviant practice:

"we must see the previous acaryas through Prabhupada. We cannot jump over Prabhupada and then look back at him through the eyes of the previous acaryas."
(Our Original Position, 1996, GBC Press, p. 163)

Hence, even the GBC once accepted that following the POP was correct!


Having already removed Srila Prabhupada as ISKCON's diksa guru, and engaged in a series of shocking attacks on Srila Prabhupada as documented in BTP 76 article "ISKCON's Attack on Srila Prabhupada Escalates", it is no surprise that ISKCON's leaders are challenging Srila Prabhupada as being ISKCON's supreme authority. The solution to all this madness is to follow the POP, and thus stick only to Srila Prabhupada's actual, verified instructions and never go beyond them – and thus restore him to being ISKCON's supreme authority.

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