Srila Prabhupada The Brahma Sampradaya Acharya (1993)
by Hansadutta das – 1993
When a NON-LIBERATED person takes leadership (material or spiritual) without being under the guidance of a liberated soul, the end result is always destruction and failure. Initially there maybe fabulous success, like in the case of Hitler and Napoleon or as in our ISKCON, Bhagavan, Bhavananda, Rameswara, Jayatirtha, myself [Hansadutta] and most recently Kirtanananda, but ultimately everything will collapse and the FOLLOWERS aware of the leader’s imperfections ABANDON HIM. This is not a criticism, but an observation of the facts and realisation through personal experience.
We want and we need a perfect person to follow: the ACHARYA, then others acting under his charge can be accepted as guides in as much as they are submissive and experienced under the authority of the ACHARYA.
Therefore Prabhupada emphatically advised us: “I wish that each and every centre shall keep the ACHARYA (i.e. Srila Prabhupada) in the centre and keep their separate identity.” (Srila Prabhupada’s Letters, 1967)
In our sampradaya there MUST BE AN ACHARYA at all times (living or departed), like Brahma, Narada, Vyasa, Madhvacharya, Lord Chaitanya, the six Goswamis, Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura and Srila Prabhupada, whose commentaries on the standard Vaishnava texts the aspiring candidate can refer to as a YARDSTICK in order to ascertain the BONAFIDES of his chosen GURU (representative of the ACHARYA); otherwise the sampradaya becomes over-crowded with pretenders, and everything falls into chaos, as is the situation now—each a guru claiming to be bonafide. But the practical result is dozens of provincial camps with fanatic followers claiming allegiance to his particular leader as all in all. If the necessity of the sampradaya ACHARYA is understood, the neophyte followers in any or all camps would or will see Prabhupada as all in all and their PROVINCIAL GURU as a servant of Prabhupada, experienced to some degree and capable of helping the newcomer in the philosophical and practical application of the ACHARYA’S TEACHINGS. Just as in the UNIVERSITY the great ACHARYA EINSTEIN is understood under the guidance of an experienced professor, but the professor is never equated with such giants as Einstein, Newton, Gallileo, etc. Even if a person is a great, liberated soul, he should present himself as nothing more than representative of the acharya, if only for the sake of unity in the sampradaya.
It is actually a very simple concept to understand. The reason our leaders fail or find it so difficult to comprehend is because their minds and hearts are CLOUDED with the AMBITION to be the guru, to be Prabhupada, rather than the AMBITION to BE THE
GURU’S SERVANT or to be PRABHUPADA’S SERVANT TODAY as MUCH as they were in Prabhupada’s physical presence. This is the SUM and SUBSTANCE of all ISKCON’s problems.
If this simple problem is solved, the whole ISKCON PREACHING MACHINE can begin to roll again, as it rolled BEFORE with Prabhupada at the wheel.
Even if some personalities are UTTAMA ADHIKARI (within or without ISKCON), on the highest platform of realisation in Krishna bhakti, such persons would have no objections to acting as representative of the ACHARYA, because they would have no attraction for wealth, women and FOLLOWERS. Naturally such highly elevated souls would come down to the MADHYAM ADHIKARI platform to preach as the representatives of the ACHARYA in order to keep the UNITY, seeing it as necessary for making organised propaganda on the material plane within the SAMPRADAYA under the AUSPICES of the SAMPRADAYA ACHARYA.
ISKCON preaching MISSION means ORGANISATION, and that requires strategy, which necessitates co-operation and unity—which is possible only if there is one ABSOLUTELY PERFECT PERSON, the SAMPRADAYA ACHARYA, under whose divine lotus feet all the Vaishnava leaders (rittvik representatives of the acharya) can work harmoniously, and all the disciples in the various camps under diverse rittvik leadership can be as brothers and sisters of one family—the BRAHMA GAUDIYA VAISHNAVA SAMPRADAYA. All the numerous camps can be united under one authority, the Brahma Gaudiya Vaishnava Sampradaya Acharya, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Founder-acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, which is the modern-day name, known traditionally as the Brahma Sampradaya.
His books will be accepted as the standard texts for all Vaishnava devotees throughout the world for the next 10,000 years, and thus ISKCON can truly be “a house the whole world can live in.” But neglecting this essential understanding (seeing Prabhupada as the sampradaya acharya), the ISKCON will become a house NO ONE can live in, NOT EVEN PRABHUPADA, ITS FOUNDER-ACHARYA.
It should be noted with concern that of the eleven original so-called gurus named by Srila Prabhupada in his July 9th, 1977 newsletter, six have fallen down. The remaining five acharyas (?!), Harikesh Swami, Tamal Krishna Goswami, Jayapataka Swami, Hrdayananda Goswami, Satsvarupa das Goswami were all strong supporters of those who fell, in many cases justifying or covering up the gross deviations exhibited by their colleagues. All of the five remaining acharyas (?!) have come under close scrutiny -some being suspended from performing initiation, due to exhibiting doubtful behaviour. Then what are we to think of those new gurus who have been appointed by these five remaining doubtful GURU ACHARYAS?! If the root is rotten, how will the tree grow? This question should be given serious thought.
[Note: In 2005 only two of the eleven self appointed so-called gurus are left over: Jayapataka and Hrdayananda. Tamal has died and Satsvarupa has fallen down with illicid sex with ffemale disciple.]
Dubious Tapes Vs. Clear Documents The endless controversy over whether Prabhupada appointed gurus, acharyas or rittvik deputies can be satisfactorily concluded by pointing out that Prabhupada left written instructions. Srila Prabhupada left a last will and testament. He left a BBT document regarding the continued publication of his books. He left a GBC document outlining how the movement is to be managed. And he wrote a letter on July 9, 1977, appointing 11 senior devotees as rittvik gurus, officiating
deputies, to continue the process of initiating new members on behalf of “the Founder-acharya,” Srila Prabhupada. All the men named in that letter already had been doing these rittvik initiations on Prabhupada’s behalf for a number of years. Therefore, there was no need for Prabhupada to write an official letter in this regard, save and except to make it clear that these senior disciples should perpetuate the rittvik responsibilities they were already performing in the future, as in the absence of Srila Prabhupada, which at that time was apparently very near at hand.
In a court of law, doubtful, barely audible, hissing tape recordings regarding the last will and testament of a deceased party would never be accepted as substantial evidence to contradict a clearly written document with appropriate signatures of the deceased and a leading family member (Tamal Krishna Goswami). Therefore, the questionable “appointment tapes” should be dismissed as entirely irrelevant in the presence of Srila Prabhupada’s clearly-worded letter regarding initiation and the position of those performing the initiation function.
The letter dated July 9, 1977 is all the EVIDENCE that exists from Prabhupada’s hand, establishing his policy with regard to this all-important question as to who will continue initiations and how they should be conducted in Prabhupada’ s absence. Why not accept Prabhupada’s last word in his July 9th, 1977 letter as final? Why not have faith in Prabhupada? Why entertain endless arguments from so many doubtful sources? Why not accept the final dictation and order as per the July 9, 1977 letter sent by Prabhupada to his senior disciples, stating his desire for them to act as rittviks? Do we have to accept the word of irreputable authorities, some of whom have long ago proven their disqualifications by obvious disgraceful behaviour, and others who are strong supporters of the now fallen gurus? What is the harm if we place full and unflinching faith in the words of Srila Prabhupada? Who but a fool would dare to dismiss or argue against the order of the Founder-acharya, Srila Prabhupada?
On the other hand, to accept the dictation of Prabhupada’s letter of July 9, 1977 as final and conclusive would be poison for those persons who entertain the ambition to take the post of guru. Such persons will forever present vague and contradictory arguments to keep alive their ambitious fever for being the successorguru-acharya! But those who harbor no such ambition can understand the order of Prabhupada plain and simple, as he wrote it down in the July 9th, 1977 letter, ordering his disciples to function as deputies or rittviks on behalf of the acharya of the community of Vaishnavas worldwide within and without ISKCON, and that order is like a breath of fresh air for the drowning man.
How to Recognise the Acharya The pioneer in any field always gets the greatest credit, because it is he only who opens the door to a new world, a new thought, a new horizon—like Columbus, who innocently chanced upon America, the New World, while searching for India. Columbus opened the door for a whole migration of humanity from Europe and all the world to eventually form the New World, or the United States of America, the most powerful nation on Earth.
So everyone after Columbus, however great he may be, owes his regards to Columbus for opening the door to the New World, and Columbus is never obliged to any late-corners or new-corners. Like Columbus, Prabhupada set out from India and opened the door to the spiritual world for the whole world, and every transcendentalist thereafter is obliged to Prabhupada. Prabhupada is never obliged to those coming after him, however great they may appear as individuals. Neither is he obliged to his contemporaries. That is the unique position of Prabhupada as the acharya of the entire Gaudiya Vaishnava Sampradaya.
With this view in mind, everyone should see their way clear for uniting harmoniously under the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada, the acharya of the Gaudiya Vaishnava Sampradaya, for preaching the great mission of Krishna consciousness all over the world as Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati envisioned it. Any individual or group obstinately remaining stuck up in their petty, egocentric conception of preaching Krishna consciousness is surely doomed to fail.
Here we wish to present some shastric evidence in support of the afore-mentioned conclusions. The following excerpts courtesy of Atma Tattva dasa:
The Founder acharya is distinguished from all other acharyas, and his qualities and activities are outlined in the shastras:
tabhyas sarvajana trata sarvasrestatamo dhruvan diva abhaya pradanartham visadikritya bhutale
Among all acharyas, certainly he who is the deliverer of all people, who appears in this world for the purpose of removing the fears of the fallen souls (diva-abhaya) is the most perfect.
gitacaryokta tatvartha caramartha prakasanam rsiproktapramananam krtva vyakhyanamuttamam
He sheds light on the ultimate meaning of the philosophical conclusions spoken by Krishna, who is the speaker of Bhagavad-gita. He also gives perfect purports to the evidences given by the rishis.
divyaprabandhan lokebhya sarakopadibhi paryantam arthopadesa paryantam vardhayaitva ca sasvatah
He propagates everywhere the meanings and purports of the songs of the previous acharyas.
natharyadi gurunam ca satakopadi yoginam ahrtya vyasa sutranam artham lokahitaya ca sribhasyadi mahagrantham vidhaya karunarnaya nirjitya sarvasamayan vadena sataso’subhan
He, the ocean of mercy, contributes great books for the welfare of the people that explain the meaning of Vedanta strictly in line with the previous Vaishnava acharyas and devotees. In this way he conquers all, defeating hundreds of different kinds of inauspicious philosophies by his arguments.
ityadibhir yatisresta karye lokahite rata nathadidesike tebhya pradhano bhavati dhruvam
Because of engaging in the welfare of the people of the world, that perfect and topmost mendicant is certainly the most important Founder acharya (pradhana). (Prapannamrita Tarpana 62.47-53) [END OF QUOTE]
Just as Vyasadeva is recognized as acharya because he presented the Vedic literatures, so Prabhupada is recognized as acharya because of his making the Vedic literatures accessible to
every man all over the world, and no one since has been able to contribute anything so significant. Rather, everyone is borrowing from him – his books are the standard.
Srila Prabhupada translated and wrote purports to the four essential Vaishnava literatures, namely to 18,000 verses of Srimad-Bhagavatam, 700 verses of Bhagavad-gita, 17 volumes of Chaitanya-charitamrita and to Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu. He not only published these books and others; he also created a monthly magazine (Back to Godhead). He also recruited thousands of young disciples in every country of the world, whom he engaged in distributing these literatures by the millions. Prabhupada wrote 7,000 letters (printed in five volumes) and gave lectures and personal darshans, a collection of which has been published recently by the Bhaktivedanta Archives, comprising another 42 volumes of books.
Srila Prabhupada initiated a whole new movement in the field of art, producing thousands of paintings, sculptures, music and dance performances.
Srila Prabhupada built temples in Bombay, Vrindaban and Mayapur, with comfortable and stylish hotel and guest houses for each place. His disciples opened and continue to maintain hundreds of temples worldwide.
Srila Prabhupada inspired the New Vrindaban-type farm communities all over the world. He started Gurukulas for teaching Krishna consciousness to children.
Srila Prabhupada taught a whole generation a new way of life from how to eat, how to dress, how to bathe and toilet, how to live as a gentleman in this world and how ultimately to leave this world for the next world, to go back to home, back to Godhead. No other person on this planet has preached worldwide so extensively. Therefore he is the Brahma Sampradaya acharya. What Vyasadeva is to the Vedic age, Srila Prabhupada is to the modern age and for ages to come, because everyone is taking advantage of his books, temples and devotees to preach Krishna consciousness all over the world.
Who is Representing Srila Prabhupada? The recent proliferation of gurus, both within and without ISKCON, appears to be like the proliferation of ambitious kings who were eventually annihilated by Krishna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra 5,000 years ago. Kings who are not subordinate to an enlightened emperor will fight with one another for wealth, women and personal aggrandisement. Gurus also will fight with one another for wealth, women and prestige, if they do not submit themselves as deputies of the prominent sampradaya acharya, namely Srila Prabhupada.
The acharya is the topmost authority over all gurus in the Gaudiya Vaishnava line or school. Vyasadeva, Madhvacharya and Lord Chaitanya are such acharyas. Today that acharya is Prabhupada, without whom none of the present and future gurus would/will have any standing. It is therefore absolutely necessary for every preacher and guru, regardless of which camp he rules over, to act as the humble representative of Srila Prabhupada, the world acharya of the Gaudiya Vaishnava Sampradaya. Failure on anyone’s part to do so will result in creating unwanted factions, thereby causing dissension in the world community of Krishna devotees.
In Easy Journey to Other Planets, Srila Prabhupada outlined 20 favourable practices for a disciple, and Number 13 reads:
He must not take on unlimited disciples. This means that a candidate who has successfully followed the first twelve items can also become a spiritual master himself, just as a student becomes a monitor in class with a limited number of disciples.
“Monitor” means on behalf of the teacher. A disciple is always under the authority of his spiritual master, living or absent. If the disciple is not initiating on behalf of his spiritual master and in fact on behalf of the whole disciplic line of spiritual masters, for whom is he doing the initiation?? For himself? Are the initiates his property, his personal servant, his fans (fanatics) just as movie stars and pop stars have fans? Or is the “monitor spiritual master” initiating his disciples directly on behalf of Krishna, thereby jumping over not only his spiritual master (Srila Prabhupada), but all spiritual masters in the disciplic succession?
All preaching endeavours can be harmonised by uniting in one front under the authority and blessings of the present acharya, Srila Prabhupada. What the emperor is to provincial princes and kings throughout the world, the acharya is to the many gurus, uniting their effort as one school or sampradaya worldwide. By serving the sampradaya acharya, all devotees can harmoniously serve Krishna as one family, although the individual devotees may be under different gurus in different parts of the world. There may be many commanders in the field, each conducting a campaign on a different enemy front, but all of them are subordinate to the commander-in-chief, who directs each commander accordingly.
It is the failure of ISKCON leaders and Gaudiya Math leaders to properly under-stand the significance and function of the sampradaya acharya, which continues to create an undesirable proliferation of self-motivated gurus who do not serve the acharya and thus do not serve Krishna, but in fact utilise the name, fame of the acharya and Krishna to attract followers whom they exploit for wealth and prestige in the guise of guru.
Of course, everyone will say, “We have Prabhupada in the centre,” and that is a fact, but what is the underlying motive for such Prabhupada-centred show of devotion? Duryodhana and Arjuna both had Krishna in the centre, but Duryodhana was envious of Krishna and was interested only to use the assets of Krishna. Arjuna, on the other hand, was interested simply to love and serve Krishna. He was not interested in Krishna’s assets. Similarly, we hear everyone say, “Srila Prabhupada in the centre,” but what we see is that everyone uses the assets (books, temples, devotees, name and fame) of Prabhupada, but each serves only his personal ambition to occupy Prabhupada’s post of guru-acharya, instead of using Prabhupada’s assets to serve Prabhupada. This is the pivot of the whole problem.
The guru is Krishna Himself, and all should serve him. One who claims to be a guru disqualifies himself, because by such claim he impudently announces that he is God or Krishna. This is the mystery of the acharya. We can recognise the acharya in that person who presents to the world the conclusive Truth, setting aside all doubts, and who stands out amongst all other men as a living example. “By their fruits you shall know them.”
When Parikshit Maharaja was cursed to die, he called all the rishis, yogis, mystics, learned scholars and devotees to inquire what he should do to prepare for death. Every one of them offered so many conflicting opinions. However, when Sukadeva Goswami arrived, all parties submitted themselves to him (even Vyasadeva, his father). Sukadeva Goswami was accepted as the topmost transcendentalist. Thus there was harmony, and he spoke Srimad-Bhagavatam for the whole world. Similarly, before the appearance of Srila Prabhupada, there were so many
contending camps, even in the Gaudiya Math institution. Srila Prabhupada, like Sukadeva Goswami, presented the Bhagavatam, dispelling all contention, confusion and pretense.
Now that Srila Prabhupada is gone, again so many gurus, camps and contenders have come forward, seeking to step into Srila Prabhupada’s shoes. In response to a question to Srila Prabhupada re Ramakrishna Swami, Srila Prabhupada replied that maybe Ramakrishna was Krishna, but we can know it for certain that Bhagavad-gita is Krishna, so why take risk? Similarly, we know it for certain that Prabhupada is nitya-siddha, so why take risk in taking shelter of conditioned souls posturing as pure devotees? Let us therefore accept Prabhupada as the sampradaya acharya and re-establish a united Brahma Vaishnava Sampradaya. What is the harm in that?
Gaps in the Line The following is a quotation from Srila Prabhupada regarding the importance of the prominent acharya.
Regarding parampara system: There is nothing to wonder for big gaps. Just like we belong to the Brahma Sampradaya, so we accept it from Krishna to Brahma, Brahma to Narada, Narada to Vyasadeva, Vyasadeva to Madhva and between Vyasadeva and Madhva there is a big gap. But it is some-times said that Vyasadeva is still living, and Madhva was fortunate enough to meet him directly. In a similar way, we find in the Bhagavad-gita that the Gita was taught to the sun god some millions of years ago, but Krishna has mentioned only three names in this parampara system – namely, Vivasvan, Manu and Iksvaku; and so these gaps do not hamper from understanding the parampara system. We have to pick up the prominent acharya and follow from him. There are many branches also from the parampara system, and it is not possible to record all the branches and sub-branches in the disciplic succession. We have to pick up from the authority of the acharya in whatever sampradaya we belong to. (Letter to Dayananda, dated 12 April, 1968)
And in a lecture given in India, 1972, Srila Prabhupada also said:
Which you can do only if you follow the acharyas, not these rascals. Do not follow any rascal. You follow the acharyas, you get the benefit of Krishna consciousness. Ramanuja Acharya commentary is there, Madhvacharya commentary is there, so you take advantage of them, and read them very nicely. (Lecture given in Visakapatnam, India, February 20, 1972)
Prescription Takes Precedence Over Book Knowledge I am aware of the fact that devotees will bring so many quotations from Srila Prabhupada’s books to support conclusions contrary to the rittvik representative system prescribed by Srila Prabhupada in the July 9, 1977 letter.
To such devotees we must point out that Prabhupada’s books are the standard books for everyone in the Brahma Gaudiya Sampradaya, just as the law books or medical books are standard books in their field. Still, when the judge hands down a judgment or the physician writes a specific prescription for the patient, that takes precedence over the book knowledge. Although Prabhupada wrote so many books, his prescription for his immature disciples in the last days was “Act as rittvik representative of the ACHARYA, DEPUTIES and MONITOR of the ACHARYA.”
Having run the full course of this race, this point is very clear by realisation born of the fire of ordeal. I am not philosophising these are my realisations by the grace of Prabhupada and Krishna.
Hansadutta dasa, June, 1993