The Divinity Delusion: Case study of His Grace Sankarsana Das


Back to Prabhupada, Issue 23, Spring 2009

In the last issue we exposed how self-appointed ISKCON guru His Holiness Hridayananada Das Goswami had effectively set himself up as a superior authority to Srila Prabhupada (please see BTP 22, pp. 14-15). Below we expose another false ISKCON guru, Sankarsana Das (“SAD”), who has similarly become afflicted with what we may term “The Divinity Delusion” – charlatans making grandiose claims to usurp the position of the real Guru, Srila Prabhupada. Quotes in the tinted panels are all taken from an article written by SAD on January 21st, 2009. In the article, SAD attempts to answer the challenge to provide evidence for his claim to be a bona fide successor Guru to Srila Prabhupada.

I don’t need to tell you

"I do not require to give you any proof (for being guru). […] I was personally trained by Srila Prabhupada. But someone who was not personally trained by him may not be able to always properly understand what Srila Prabhupada meant by a particular instruction because of his not having had that personal training from Srila Prabhupada."

A similar line of reasoning was previously employed to institute the “zonal acharya” Guru system from 1978 to 1986 (“The Great Guru Hoax, Part 1”). Here 11 senior disciples of Srila Prabhupada also traded on their close association with Srila Prabhupada to persuade the movement to accept their claims to be “zonal acharyas”. This system was later admitted by all in ISKCON to have been a monstrous hoax:

"By the influence of maya, illusion, a different idea soon evolved that Srila Prabhupada had appointed eleven "pure devotees" to serve as the only gurus after him… This zonal guru system, as it came to be called, prevailed in ISKCON for about ten years, until its falseness became clear.”
(HH Jayadvaita Swami, ISKCON GBC voted-in guru and Editor-in-Chief, 'An Apology',
Back to Godhead #25-01, 1991)

SAD was an enthusiastic follower of this false zonal guru system, and it is therefore no surprise that he is using similar reasoning to justify the new monstrous guru hoax which he is pushing now, wherein he claims that he was also ordered by Srila Prabhupada to be his successor guru:

‘I do not need to prove why I am a guru – you just need to take my word for it because I was 'personally trained' by Srila Prabhupada, and you weren't.’

I am a liar!

However, even this reasoning regarding “personal training” which SAD has borrowed from his “zonal acharya” guru mentors is also false for another reason, since SAD has forgotten that he had already admitted that he was not “personally trained” by Srila Prabhupada, having barely met him:

"Physically I had scant association with my spiritual master."

(SAD, August 5th, 2008)

The “order” was in 1973

“For example on 17 December 1973 in Los Angeles he instructed us, ‘Just become
perfect in the understanding of this science and become guru and deliver the whole world’."

This particular instruction from Srila Prabhupada is clearly not asking SAD or anyone else
to displace Srila Prabhupada as ISKCON's diksa Guru, since it was delivered in 1973, many years before Srila Prabhupada departed the planet, and he never stated that the instruction he is giving could only be acted on after he departed, which would have to be the case if he was ordering successor diksa gurus. Indeed, SAD himself never believed that this instruction was ordering him to become a successor diksa guru since he waited over a quarter of a century before he decided to be an ISKCON successor diksa guru (2000), even though he claimed he was always qualified to be guru right from when he joined ISKCON:

"For the last 37 years since I surrendered at the lotus feet of my eternal spiritual master, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, I have engaged
my mind, words, anger, tongue, belly, and genitals only in the Lord's service. Thus according to his divine instructions I am qualified to act as an acharya and am duty bound to do so."
(SAD, May 26th, 2008)

So SAD’s own actions belie his claim to have received an authorisation in 1973 to succeed Srila Prabhupada as ISKCON’s diksa guru.

The “order” was in May 1977

“In 1977 he made it clear to us that the new devotees after his departure would be the
disciples of his disciples. He made it even more emphatic by telling us that they would be his grand disciples.”

SAD here refers to the conversation of May 28th, 1977, in which Srila Prabhupada stated that only when he gave an order for diksa gurus, would "disciples of his disciples" and grand-disciples arise:

"His grand disciple…when I order you become guru, he becomes regular guru. That's all. He becomes disciple of my disciple".
(Room Conversation, May 28th, 1977)

But no such order for diksa gurus has ever been produced by SAD or anyone else.
Rather, in the same conversation above, Srila Prabhupada merely confirms the ritvik system authorised on July 9th, 1977 as the system of initiation for the duration of ISKCON, whereby Srila Prabhupada would remain as the diksa Guru for ISKCON:

Satsvarupa: “Then our next question concerns initiations in the future, particularly at that time when you are no longer with us. We want to know how first and second initiations would be conducted.”
Srila Prabhupada: “Yes. I shall recommend some of you. After this is settled up. I shall recommend some of you to act as officiating acarya.
Tamal Krsna: “Is that called ritvik acarya?”
Srila Prabhupada: “Ritvik. Yes.”
Satsvarupa: “So they may be considered your disciples?”
Srila Prabhupada: “Yes, they are disciples…why consider who…”
(Room conversation, May 28th, 1977)

The “order” was in October 1977

"The actual history which you are not aware of is that on 18 October 1977 Srila Prabhupada said that he would no longer accept disciples and he turned the duty of initiating disciples completely over to his disciples.”

We have just quoted SAD claiming that it was supposedly “after his (Srila Prabhupada’s)
departure" that one could take disciples. How then could Srila Prabhupada have stopped initiating and handed over initiations completely to his disciples before his departure (which was not until a month later in November)?
We have just quoted SAD referring to the May 28th, 1977 “granddisciples” conversation, and indeed in this conversation Srila Prabhupada states:

"Because in my presence one should not become guru, so on my behalf."
(Room conversation, May 28th, 1977)

So again, how could Srila Prabhupada have stopped initiating and handed over initiating
disciples completely to his disciples before his departure, if in his presence no one should become guru?

SAD therefore cannot even agree with himself about how the guru hoax occurred, never mind
trying to convince others!

I am divine!

"I will definitely take my disciples back to Godhead by the divine potency invested in me by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada."

As we have already seen, SAD has not presented any evidence that he has been "invested with divine potency". Again, the example of the false "zonal acharya" guru hoax, of which SAD was an enthusiastic follower, is instructive. During this time, the 11 "successor pure devotees" also similarly claimed that they had been divinely sanctioned by Srila Prabhupada to be his successors:

“Srila Prabhupada chose them because they merited his confidence. [...] Thus he considered them to be uttama-adhikari*, all highly advanced devotees worthy to be accepted as spiritual masters.”
(Servant of the Servant, Tamala Krishna Goswami, Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1984,
pages 361-365)

*(Persons on the highest platform of God realisation)

And like SAD they also did not present any evidence for the same. And like SAD, they were also lying, as history has documented. So clearly, even after 30 years, ISKCON still has not learned its lesson regarding its “Divinity Delusion”.

The uttama-adhikari delusion

"Srila Prabhupada says that even if one is not an uttama adhikari (the highest level devotee) he can still be a spiritual master if he strictly follows his guru's orders.”

More delusion from SAD. Srila Prabhupada actually says the opposite (please also refer to p. 10):

"One should not become a Spiritual Master unless he has attained the platform of uttama-adhikari."

(Nectar of Instruction, Text 5, Purport)

"On the whole, you may know that he is not a liberated person, and therefore, he cannot initiate any person to Krsna Consciousness."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, April 26th, 1968)

Who’s actually doubting?

“And still another point is: do you think that Srila Prabhupada was such an impotent spiritual master that he could not create at least one pure devotee, uttama adhikari, out of his many thousands and thousand of devotees?”

The IRM has never claimed that Srila Prabhupada could not create pure devotees (we simply
ask for evidence that successor diksa gurus were ordered. There is no bar on all of us becoming pure devotees and assisting ISKCON’s diksa Guru, Srila Prabhupada).
Rather, it is SAD who is claiming one does not even need to be an uttama-adhikari to be a spiritual master. So if SAD believes Srila Prabhupada was potent enough to make many uttama-adhikaris, then why is he going out of his way to emphasise that one does not need to be an uttama-adhikari to be a spiritual master?

The actual divine Guru:
Srila Prabhupada

Chronic misunderstanding

"The quote from the letter you have cited, which by the way was written by my Godbrother and close associate Tamal Krishna Maharaja on 9 July 1977, describes the system for Srila Prabhupada's initiating disciples during his last year when he was physically present on this planet and was indisposed due to chronic illness but still accepting disciples."

a) The system of initiation set up on the 9th July, 1977, now allowed representatives to take over accepting disciples on Srila Prabhupada’s behalf by giving a spiritual name -

"After considering the recommendation, these representatives may accept the devotee as an initiated disciple of Srila Prabhupada by giving a spiritual name, or in the case of second initiation, by chanting on the Gayatri thread, just as Srila Prabhupada has done.”
(July 9th, 1977 directive)

- with the actual initiation ceremonies themselves having already been delegated to Temple Presidents to perform:

Sankarsana Das:
Claiming divinity

"After the Temple President receives a letter from these representatives giving the spiritual name or the thread, he can perform the fire yajna in the temple as was being done before."
(July 9th, 1977 directive, emphasis added)

b) Hence the ritvik system could not have been set up because Srila Prabhupada was “indisposed due to chronic illness”, since Srila Prabhupada had not lost the use of his vocal chords or his hearing, and so he could have continued to accept disciples by issuing spiritual names in the same way the ritviks were going to. Rather, the system was set up to allow Srila Prabhupada to continue initiating without the need for his physical presence.


1) SAD has not presented the order Srila Prabhupada gave him, by which he has been “invested with divine potency” and authorised to replace Srila Prabhupada as ISKCON’s diksa Guru.

2) Rather, SAD has simply offered statements which contradict himself and Srila Prabhupada’s teachings.

Hence, despite SAD’s grandiose boasts about being invested with divinity, we have demonstrated that he is only invested with the Kali-yuga propensity to lie, cheat and contradict himself.

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