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Srila Prabhupada, His Movement & You

by Hansadutta das

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Srila Prabhupada called the rittvik representatives his deputees (excerpt from Conversations with Srila Prabhupada, Vrindaban, 18 October 1977):

SRILA PRABHUPADA: Hare Krishna. One Bengali gentleman has come from New York?

TAMAL KRISHNA: Yes, Srila Prabhupada. Mr. Sukamal Roy Chowdury.

SRILA PRABHUPADA: So I have deputed some of you to initiate? Hm?

TAMAL KRISHNA: Yes. Actually...Yes, Srila Prabhupada.

SRILA PRABHUPADA: So I think Jayapataka can do that, if you like. I have already deputed. Tell him.


SRILA PRABHUPADA: So, deputees, Jayapataka's name was there?

BHAGAVAN: It is already on there, Srila Prabhupada. His name was on that list.

SRILA PRABHUPADA: So I depute him to do this at Mayapur, and you may go with him. I stop for the time being. Is that all right?

TAMAL KRISHNA: Stopped doing what, Srila Prabhupada?

PRABHUPADA: This initiation. I have deputed the, my disciples. Is it clear or not?

GIRIRAJA: It's clear.

SRILA PRABHUPADA: You have got the list of names?

TAMAL KRISHNA: Yes, Srila Prabhupada.

SRILA PRABHUPADA: And if by Krishna's grace I recover from this condition, then I shall begin again, or I may not be pressed in this condition to initiate. It is not good.

GIRIRAJA: We will explain to him so that he will understand properly.


GIRIRAJA: I said we will explain to the Bengali gentleman just as you have described to us, so that he'll be satisfied with this arrangement.

Srila Prabhupada dictating to Tamal Krishna Goswami a letter to Hansadutta regarding preaching in Sri Lanka (Excerpt from Conversations with Srila Prabhupada, Vrindavana, July 19, 1977

TAMAL KRISHNA: Upendra and I could see it for the last... [break]

SRILA PRABHUPADA: And nobody is going to disturb you there. Make your own field and continue to become rittvik and act on my charge. People are becoming sympathetic there. The place is very nice.

TAMAL KRISHNA: Yeah. He says, "The introduction of Bhagavad-gita has been translated into Tamil, and I will have the second chapter done next. Then publish a small booklet for immediate distribution."


In a lecture given on Chaitanya-charitamrita, 19 April 1967, Srila Prabhupada unmistakably rejects the appointment of successor acharya(s):

Because, in our mission, my spiritual master never designated anybody acharya.

In 1969, Srila Prabhupada sent the following letter to one of his god-brothers:

I have also read specifically your articles on the matter of acharyas, wherein on the 14th Paragraph I see the acharya shall be entitled to nominate in writing his successive acharya. But we do not find any record where our Srila Prabhupada nominated any acharya after Him. Different persons have interpreted on this point, and every one of our god-brothers is acting as acharya, so this is a controversial point which I do not wish to enter into while we are proposing for co-operation.

And in 1974, Srila Prabhupada reiterates that his own spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur never appointed any disciple(s) to succeed him:

He did not instruct a particular man to become the next acharya, but just after his passing away, his leading secretaries made plans without authority to occupy the post of acharya, and they split into two factions over who the next acharya would be. Consequently both factions were asara, or useless, because they had no authority, having disobeyed the order of the spiritual master. -- Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila, Volume Three (1st paragraph of p. 5)

Srila Prabhupada warned his disciples not to repeat the mistake of the Gaudiya Math and concoct an order which the spiritual master in fact never gave:

He [Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami Maharaja] never recommended anyone to be acharya of the Gaudiya Math.... If Guru Maharaja could have seen someone who was qualified at that time to be acharya, he would have mentioned. Because on the night before he passed away he talked of so many things, but never mentioned an acharya..... Therefore we may not commit the same mistake in our ISKCON camp.--Srila Prabhupada's letter to Rupanuga dasa, dated April 28, 1974

Srila Prabhupada declares that only Lord Chaitanya can take his place and in plain language says that there is no such thing as the next appointed leader. (Spoken on 2 November, 1977--just 12 days before Srila Prabhupada left this world!!)

SRILA PRABHUPADA: [Speaking in Hindi to Sri Narayana and Sri Baaj] Only Chaitanya Mahaprabhu can take my place. He will take care of the movement.

[Break. Then speaking to disciples] [They were asking,] "After you, who will take the leadership? And "Everyone will take, all of my disciples. If you want, you can take also. [laughter] But if you follow. They are prepared to sacrifice everything, so they'll take the leadership. I may, one, go away, but there will be hundreds, and they'll preach. If you want, you can also become a leader.

"We have no such thing, that 'Here is [the next appointed] leader.' Anyone who follows the previous leadership, he's a leader. 'Indian,' we have no such distinction, 'Indian,' 'European.'"

BRAHMANANDA: They wanted an Indian to be the leader?

SRILA PRABHUPADA: Yes. [laughs] "Everyone, all my disciples, they are leaders. As purely as they follow, they become leader. If you want to follow, you can become a leader. You are Indian. But you don't want." I told them that.

TAMAL KRISHNA: Yes, they probably wanted to propose somebody who would take over our movement.

SRILA PRABHUPADA: Yes. Leaders. All nonsense. Leader means one who has become first-class disciple. He is leader. Evam parampara-prapta .... One who is perfectly following our instruction is...ara na kariha mane asha . You know this? What is that? Guru-mukha-padma-vakya, chittete kariya aikya, ara na kariha mane asha. Who is leader? A leader, to become leader is not very difficult, provided one is prepared to follow the instructions of a bona fide guru .--Conversations with Srila Prabhupada, Vol. 36, p. 234-235

Srila Prabhupada explains that a real disciple does not aspire to become guru and amass followers; but he strives to perfect himself, practicing obedience to the order of the spiritual master and Lord Chaitanya and thus becomes qualified to preach. (Conversations with Srila Prabhupada, 2 May, 1976, Fiji):

SRILA PRABHUPADA: That is the difficulty. Everyone sees that "Some way or other, I become guru. Then so many persons will offer me respect. Somehow or other, create some situation. Then I become guru." This is going on. Not bona fide guru . Bona fide guru is indicated by Chaitanya-- amara ajñaya guru hana:"Become guru." Why ambition? Actually become guru . But how to become guru? Yare dekha, tare kaha 'krishna upadesha.' That's it. Otherwise goru . So they will not take this simple method. They will drink, they will hunt after woman and have some attractive singing or dancing and become guru . What is meaning of guru, they do not know. Somehow or other become popular and become guru. This is going on. So with maya you can attract these foolish rascals very easily. If you can manufacture.... You cannot, but if you can show some jugglery, then you become guru . People are after all these things, material things. They are not after Krishna. They are after money and women. So if you give some mantra, then gold will be manufactured, and all women will be attracted, very first class.

GURU KRIPA: You know, Srila Prabhupada, they say that if anyone has power to induce anybody to chant Hare Krishna, therefore they must have some special power. Therefore that's their qualification.

PRABHUPADA: That special power, that is said in the shastras. But people do not want that.

GURU KRIPA: Just like, for example, in Bengal before, there was that Charan das Babaji. He induced them to chant the wrong mantra, but where is...? He's not specifically parampara .

PRABHUPADA: No. He chanted for some time and, of course, there was chanting of "Nitai-Gaura." He introduced new system of chanting: nitai-gaura radhe-shyama. So the "Nitai-Gaura" chanting will have some effect, Kali-yuga. Although he was presenting pervertedly, the beginning was "Nitai-Gaura," so it would have some effect. He did not know actually Nitai-Gaura, from his words it appears. He used to preach that Nitai is Radharani and Gaura is Krishna. That is siddhanta-viruddha . But some way or other, he was chanting "Nitai-Gaura," so some effect were there. Just like sandalwood. You do not know which way better pulp comes out, but if you rub any way, some pulp will come, because it is sandalwood. So he had some effect of chanting "Nitai-Gaura," but later on they deteriorated, because they did not know actually, neither they were taught. Siddhanta-viruddha . The siddhanta-viruddha means it will deteriorate. It will not endure.

GURU-KRIPA: Srila Prabhupada, what about, say, many of your god-brothers? They also have disciples, and they also are properly initiated by a proper spiritual master, and they give the Hare Krishna mantra?

PRABHUPADA: The thing is the spirit, real service of preaching, stopped. Formality is going on, but the real business.... Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's movement means amara ajñaya guru hana tara ei desa. That is stopped. Do you follow? The formalities are there, but the real life of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's movement is preaching. Otherwise, why Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says, amara ajñaya guru hana tara ei desa?Tara means preaching. Yare dekha, tare kaha 'krishna-upadesha.' And that is stopped. They are satisfied if they could construct one temple and beg some rice from the neighbourhood--"Sir, we have got some temple...." That's all. They are satisfied. The spirit of preaching forward--papi tapi jata chilo, hari-name uddharilo --that is stopped. So by hari-nama, by chanting, by this way, to live little peacefully in the temple and eat and sleep, that much they have got. If that is the success, that success they have got. And this was condemned by my Guru Maharaja, that "To earn some money by showing Deity in the temple and eat and sleep, better you become a sweeper in the street and earn your honest livelihood and live." This is cheating. This was condemned. To construct a temple...just like the Vrindavana Goswamis are doing. They thought that "This is our business. Some innocent people will come here and offer some... bas . That's our good income." According to the temple's popularity, they think, "This is our success." Success is his who is pushing forward the preaching method. That is his success. And if we think that "By showing a temple Deity we get some money and rice and cloth and just peacefully live here, don't bother about going to Fiji and all over...." [laughs] That much success they have got. But that is not Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Prthivite ache yata nagaradi grama, sarvatra prachara . What they are doing for that? That is point.

GURU-KRIPA:What if sometimes disciple, he may go to preach, but he's not preaching in the exact same spirit of his spiritual master?

PRABHUPADA: Therefore he is not to be preached. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says, janma sarthaka kari' kara para-upakara: "Go to do good to others. First of all, you do good to yourself." First of all, you become really preacher. Then go to preach. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu never sent neophytes to go to preach. For neophytes, the preaching is not their business. For neophyte, one should stick to the worship of Deity in the temple. And those who have understood the philosophy, applied the philosophy in his life, he should go for preaching. Otherwise he'll preach wrongly, like...what is that? Charan das Babaji. And it will stop. He wanted to preach, but he did not know how to preach, and therefore after his life, it is finished. So Chaitanya Mahaprabhu does not say like that, that "You remain a rascal and go to preach."No. Janma sarthaka kari . "Your first business is that you make your life perfect. Then go to preach. Perfect means you learn how to obey My orders." That is perfection. Amara ajñaya. So if you are actually, perfectly carrying out the orders of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, then you are preaching. Otherwise you will do wrongly, mislead. Don't do that. Andha yathandhair upaniyamanah . If you remain blind, don't try to lead other blind men. That is misleading. First of all open your eyes. Everything is there. Nobody can do anything whimsically. If you do whimsically, concoctedly, that will be failure. It will not be effective.

GURU-KRIPA: Even though one may get many followers, that is not--

PRABHUPADA: Many? What you...? Many followers.... The philosophy you present, it must be followed by everyone. That is wanted. You have got, say, ten thousand followers. That does not mean success. Everyone has got some followers. This...what is that? Guruji Maharaja. He has got also so-called followers. The T.M....he has got also some followers. Everyone has got some followers. But what kind of followers they have? That is quality. Everything has quality. Simply quantity is not. There are many Christians. Even up to date, some Christian fair or...many millions will come. What is the quality? Quality is all meat-eaters. But Christian means he should not kill. Where is the Christian? So we have to test by the quality, followers. My Guru Maharaja used to say like that, that "If I get at least one quality disciple, then all my labour will be a success." He was saying like that: quality, not the quantity. By quantity, if one is amazed, then he is also goru. By quality: what kind of followers? That is the.... From the very beginning my strictures are there, that "You have to follow this." Quality. If I were "No, you can do like Vivekananda, yes, what you can, whatever you like," then I think quantity would have been very, very big. But I don't say. I make him promise before the fire, before the Deity, before guru . [break] That one moon is taken into account. Who takes account of the millions of stars? Ekas chandras tamo hanti na cha tara sahasrasah . Quality. So we should be quality devotee, not quantity devotee. I have taken two glasses. Just see how nice water is, tap water. Here so many dobs are available, and this rascal is manufacturing RC and he is going as to And for hearing Bhagavad-gita they have no time and they are trying to go to Vrindavan. Quantity, not quality. So civilisation. Do that. Bhedyadasana. Bhedyadasana ... [indistinct]. Bhedi, lamb. They are going, hundreds and thousands. They flock. So...and if one bhedi, lamb, is somehow or other pushed into slaughterhouse stockroom, so all the...all of them. You haven't got to take many. Some way or other, you induce one of them to go into the...what is called?...shed where stocks are kept for taking out daily and killing. So they do not mind that "We are being pushed into this room for future killing. Never mind. One has gone. Go." They'll go. So this is called in Hindi, bhedyadasana, that without any consideration... "One has entered, let us all enter." That is bhedi, means animal. Their disciples like this.

What is the use of 70 gurus or even a million gurus when one pure devotee, Srila Prabhupada, the Sampradaya Acharya, can deliver the whole world?

It is said that a single pure devotee of the Lord can deliver all the fallen souls of the world. Thus one who is actually in the confidence of a pure devotee like Narada or Shukadeva Goswami and thus is empowered by one's spiritual master, as Narada was by Brahmaji, can not only deliver himself from the clutches of Maya, or illusion, but can deliver the whole world by his pure and empowered devotional strength. --purport, Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.8.5

If we take percentage of the stars, the moon is nothing. But moon is [more] important than all the nonsense stars.... What is the use of taking percentage of the stars in the presence of moon? Let there be one moon, that is sufficient. There is no question of percentage. One ideal man. Just like in Christian world, one ideal Lord Jesus Christ.... There are millions of stars.... But still, because it is moon, it is more sufficient than all these small stars. So produce moon. -- Conversations with Srila Prabhupada, Vol. 13, p. 188-190

Srila Prabhupada envisioned and worked for a unified preaching mission:

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

Further testimony to the fact that the spiritual master lives eternally and preaches through his bona fide disciples:
Thakura Bhaktivinoda also wanted to beget a child who could preach the philosophy and teachings of Lord Chaitanya to the fullest extent. By his prayers to the Lord he had as his child Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja, who at the present moment is preaching the philosophy of Lord Chaitanya throughout the entire world through his bona fide disciples. --Purport, Srimad-Bhagavatam, Canto Three, Chapter Twenty-two, Text 19
If I depart, there is no cause for lamentation. I will always be with you through my books and my orders. I will always remain with you in that way. --Srila Prabhupada
Even after the departure of his spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada continued to act under his direction:
So better remain a foolish person perpetually to be directed by Guru Maharaja
If one remains always a servant everlastingly of guru, then he is liberated. And as soon as he thinks that he is liberated, he's a rascal. That is the teaching of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.... You must be ready always to be chastised by guru. Then he's liberated. And as soon as he thinks that "I am beyond this chastisement, I am liberated," he's a rascal. ...Why this Gaudiya Math failed? Because they tried to become more than guru. He [Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura], before passing away, he gave them all direction and never said that "This man should be the next acharya." But these people, just after his passing away, they began to fight, who shall be acharya . That is the failure. They never thought, "Why Guru Maharaja gave us instruction so many things, why he did not say that this man should be acharya? " They wanted to create artificially somebody acharya, and everything failed. They did not consider even with common sense that if Guru Maharaja wanted to appoint somebody as acharya, why did he not say? He said so many things, and this point he missed? The real point? And they insist upon it. They declared some unfit person to become acharya . Then another man came, then another, acharya, another acharya . So better remain a foolish person perpetually to be directed by Guru Maharaja. That is perfection. And as soon as he learns the Guru Maharaja is dead, "Now I am so advanced that I can kill my guru and I become guru ."--Srila Prabhupada, August 16, 1976, Bombay ( Conversations with Srila Prabhupada, Vol. 26, p. 59-60)
Dedication by Srila Prabhupada to his spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Gosvami Prabhupada (from Srimad-Bhagavatam):
He lives forever by his divine instructions, and the follower lives with him.

Opportunity to Hear from the Pure Devotee--Srila Prabhupada's explanation of the importance of hearing from a pure devotee (Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.20.25)
sa uttamasloka mahan-mukha-cyuto
smrtim punar vismrta-tattva-vartmanam
kuyoginam no vitaraty alam varaih
sah--that; uttama-sloka --O Lord, who are praised by selected verses; mahat --of great devotees; mukha-cyutah --delivered from the mouths; bhavat --Your; pada-ambhoja--from the lotus feet; sudha--of nectar; kana--particles; anilah--soothing breeze; smrtim--remembrance; punah --again; vismrta--forgotten; tattva --to the truth; vartmanam --of persons whose path; ku-yoginam --of persons not in the line of devotional service; nah --of us; vitarati --restores; alam --unnecessary; varaih --other benedictions.
TRANSLATION: My dear Lord, You are glorified by the selected verses uttered by great personalities. Such glorification of Your lotus feet is just like saffron particles. When the transcendental vibration from the mouths of great devotees carries the aroma of the saffron dust of Your lotus feet, the forgetful living entity gradually remembers his eternal relationship with You. Devotees thus gradually come to the right conclusion about the value of life. My dear Lord, I therefore do not need any other benediction but the opportunity to hear from the mouth of Your pure devotee.
PURPORT: It is explained in the previous verse that one has to hear glorification of the Lord from the mouth of a pure devotee. This is further explained here. The transcendental vibration from the mouth of a pure devotee is so powerful that it can revive the living entity's memory of his eternal relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In our material existence, under the influence of illusory maya, we have almost forgotten our eternal relationship with the Lord, exactly like a man sleeping very deeply who forgets his duties. In the Vedas it is said that every one of us is sleeping under the influence of maya . We must get up from this slumber and engage in the right service, for thus we can properly utilize the facility of this human form of life. As expressed in a song by Thakura Bhaktivinoda, Lord Chaitanya says, jiva jaga, jiva jaga . The Lord asks every sleeping living entity to get up and engage in devotional service so that his mission in this human form of life may be fulfilled. This awakening voice comes through the mouth of a pure devotee.

A pure devotee always engages in the service of the Lord, taking shelter of His lotus feet, and therefore he has a direct connection with the saffron mercy particles that are strewn over the lotus feet of the Lord. Although when a pure devotee speaks the articulation of his voice may resemble the sound of this material sky, the voice is spiritually very powerful, because it touches the particles of saffron dust on the lotus feet of the Lord. As soon as a sleeping living entity hears the powerful voice emanating from the mouth of a pure devotee, he immediately remembers his eternal relationship with the Lord, although up until that moment he had forgotten everything.

For a conditioned soul, therefore, it is very important to hear from the mouth of a pure devotee, who is fully surrendered to the lotus feet of the Lord without any material desire, speculative knowledge or contamination of the modes of material nature. Every one of us is kuyogi, because we have engaged in the service of this material world, forgetting our eternal relationship with the Lord as His eternal loving servants. It is our duty to rise from the kuyoga platform to become suyogis, perfect mystics. The process of hearing from a pure devotee is recommended in all Vedic scriptures, especially by Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. One may stay in his position of life--it does not matter what it is--but if one hears from the mouth of a pure devotee, he gradually comes to the understanding of his relationship with the Lord and thus engages in His loving service, and his life becomes completely perfect. Therefore, this process of hearing from the mouth of a pure devotee is very important for making progress in the line of spiritual understanding.

The Path of Blessedness


If we become arrogant after having adopted the path of devotion, if we worship only God and disregard the worship of His devotees, we could be put to manifold difficulties for our offence at the feet of the servants of God; we would be overtaken by the greatest of all misfortunes by being afflicted with apathy for the principle of devotion itself.

Human life is meant solely for the attainment of the supreme good. Why do I forget it? Why do I forget that I am the meanest and least of all entities? The ambition to lord it over others, to be great, to be an elevationist, or salvationist is brought about when we allow ourselves to fall victims to the temptations of the deluding energy of God. Such ambition is petty and useless. If there is any use in curbing one's hankering after becoming great in the eyes of the world, if there is any use in gaining one's real health, it is imperative to accept the line of thought of the Vaishnavas.

Those who are fit to possess abundant power of devotion, they are strong. I should not apply myself to find out the shortcomings of the Vaishnavas, or to condemn the service of Lord Vishnu or to seek to establish my own point of view, neglecting the method which I may be enabled to serve the Lord and His devotees. No language can describe the havoc that is wrought in human life by such arrogance. I make this submission with all humility, `May you kindly refrain from merely imitating the conduct of the Vaishnavas. May you always follow their line of thought." There is no relationship for us other than with the devotees of Vishnu. Relationship with other persons can only aggravate the desire for sensuous gratification.

Many a year has now passed over me one by one. I at last realise that there is no other help for me than the mercy of the holy feet of the Vaishnavas. Every one of my acts is fit to be attacked. I pray to those who look down upon me, that if they consider that it is allowable for me to follow the conduct and the teachings of the Vaishnavas, they would no longer maintain that attitude. They will kindly impart to me the needful strength and fitness to communicate their power to those who are stupid and devoid of all strength.

One who serves Lord Hari counts himself the least of all entities. One is lifted to the highest order of the Vaishnavas when one can feel himself the least of all. One can then proclaim out the message of the highest devotion to Lord Hari.

"The best of all persons deems himself to be less than all others." Such is the great dictum.

It is necessary for the best to scrutinise one's ineligibility. Why should a person be anxious to pry into the defects of others when he does not seek to scrutinise his own conduct? Is this the disposition of the Vaishnavas? On the other hand, even those who are low in the scale of service may attain the highest level. Let us remember the texts: "Not to speak of persons who listen to and remember with care the instructions of the spiritual scriptures, even those who live by sin, viz. women, shudras, hunas, sabaras and birds of the air can know God and prevail over His deluding power, if they follow the conduct of the devoted servants of the Lord, who covers all the worlds by His wonderful strides."

"The acts and expressions of the Vaishnavas cannot be understood even by the wise." The devotees are attached to the Lord, who pervades the worlds with His wonderful strides. Let us not be misled by the apparent sight. Many a person has been liable to mistake the pebble for the pearl, the snake for the rope, evil for good, by falling a victim to delusion by relying on apparent sight. It is only when a person allows himself to fall into the clutches of self-delusion that one's senses show their eagerness for supplying the wants incidental to the phenomenal world by supposing himself to be an inhabitant of the same. We should consider well how we are to be delivered from being thus exploited by the deluding energy. It will never bring us relief if we adopt the lordly mentality for supplying our present inadequacies and for avoiding what certain hasty observers have been pleased to dub as "the slave mentality" of the devotees of God. Such mode of think accelerates our march towards the inferno by plunging us into the course of sensuous indulgences.

If we disregard or ignore the devotees of God for elevating ourselves, we would thereby be cast into the prison of three dimensions and spring towards inflation instead of construction. "I will be good; I will be cured of my mundane desires; I will have real well-being." This is the proper kind of judgment. But it is not at all laudable to entertain the contrary thoughts, "I will be great, I will gratify my malice by stopping the course of the whole world." It is by no means proper to set up one's superiority against the worshipfulness of God's devotees. The path of hearing to the transcendental world has been rendered devious by the misinterpretation of the text "aham brahmasmi." I have listened to the true interpretation of the text at the lotus feet of my divine master. It is to this effect: "It is our eternal duty to chant constantly the name of Hari by being infinitely more truly humble than the smallest blade of grass, more truly forbearing than even the proverbially patient tree, and to honour others without seeking honour.

What persuasive courtesy, what humility do these words express! How great is the benefit, how great the good that we may have by listening to such words! We have it from the Talaba Upanishad that those who aspire to be master of the devotees, who are the masters of God Himself, are indeed most culpably arrogant. Srimad-Bhagavatam significantly declares, "Let those who profess to know God brag to their knowledge, but let me have nothing to do with such fellows." This is all I have got to say in this matter.

Not one of the paths of this material world is a path of the service of the Divinity. The idea that one should be master of God's devotees leads to inferno. It is harmful to follow any worldly path. To follow the devotees of God is the only path that leads to one's real good. Whatever method is followed by the devotees is worthy of being cherished with the utmost love and reverence.

Holding the blade of straw between my teeth, I pray time and again for this only boon, that I may be a particle of dust on the lotus feet of the most revered Sri Rupa Gosvami Prabhu. Let there be birth after birth for us, that we may walk in the path of the followers of Sri Rupa by being the particle of dust on the lotus feet of the devotees of God. The root of it all is humility, or the due realisation on one's own ineligibility. If the conviction of our unfitness for the service of God is revealed to us either automatically or by the instruction of other persons, we are only then in a position to appreciate the beauty of the lotus feet of God's devotees. In all the talks of the average people of this world, the idea that is uppermost is how to promote the gratification of one's senses. If we happen to be obsessed with the idea that it is the path of religion, we would be prevented for good from becoming truly religious.

Tamal Krishna Goswami's Confession

In 1979-1980, Tamal Krishna Goswami (GBC guru-acharya ) confessed that Srila Prabhupada never appointed any successor guru-acharyas:

TAMAL KRISHNA GOSWAMI : ...Actually, Prabhupada never appointed any gurus. He did not appoint eleven gurus. He appointed eleven rittviks [officiating priests]. He never appointed them as gurus . Myself and the other GBCs have done the greatest disservice to this movement for the last three years, because we interpreted the appointment of rittviks as the appointment of gurus....

[What Srila Prabhupada said was], "All right, I will appoint so many," and he named them. He made it very clear that they [new members] were still to be his disciples. At that point it was very clear in my mind that they were his disciples....

Now I understand that what he did was very clear. He was physically incapable of performing the function of initiating physically; therefore he appointed officiating priests to initiate on his behalf. He appointed eleven and he said very clearly, "Whoever is nearest, he can initiate."

This is a very important point, because when it comes to initiating, it is not "whoever is nearest." It is wherever your heart goes--to whom you can repose your faith in.

But when it is officiating, it's "whoever is nearest," and he was very clear... "Whoever is nearest will check you out. Then, on my behalf, they will initiate...."

If it had been more than that [officiating priests], you can bet your bottom dollar that Prabhupada would have spoken for days and hours and weeks on end about how to set up this thing with the gurus.... But he did not, because he already said it a million times. He said, "My Guru Maharaja did not appoint anyone. It is by qualification." We made a great mistake....

You cannot show me anything on tape or in writing where Prabhupada says, "I appoint these eleven as gurus ." It does not exist, because he never appointed any gurus. This is a myth.--1979-1980, Topanga Canyon, California, (Spoken in Topanga Canyon and subsequently published in ISKCON Journal, Vol. I, No. 1)

Excerpt of Letter from Mukunda Goswami to Bhakta dasa, dated April 21, 1993:

...I think the idea of people initiating on behalf of Prabhupada is a concoction. But I don't object to devotees whose gurus fell down, if they do not want to accept re-initiation. But I see many that have done so and are doing much better for it, although I'm not a thousand percent convinced that everyone has to take re-initiation. I am convinced that Prabhupada actually did name and assign specific people to act as initiating gurus after he would depart. This is not just an opinion or an assumption, but it is based on research, findings, discussion, and listening to tapes.

Next, my realization about someone who initiates in the wake of Prabhupada's disappearance from our material vision in this material world is based on what Prabhupada wrote in the first chapter of Easy Journey to Other Planets. In this chapter Prabhupada outlines what he describes as "a desire for the kingdom of God." He then writes, "The following details outline a general practice by which one can prepare himself for an easy journey to the Vaikuntha and to the material planets where life is freed from old age, disease and death." He then lists twenty "positive functions," beginning with the acceptance of a bona fide spiritual master, following in the footsteps of great sages, following scriptural instructions, living in a spiritual atmosphere, etc. Point number thirteen out of eighteen includes this statement:

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 a class with a limited number of disciples.
This is my concept of today's guru in ISKCON, that he is a monitor guru. ENDQUOTE

Notes: Why does Mukunda Goswami say the idea of people initiating on behalf of Prabhupada is concoction? We did it when Srila Prabhupada was present. Why not in his absence? What about the July 9th letter? Although Mukunda Goswami accepts the idea of monitor guru, he thinks "initiating on behalf of Srila Prabhupada is a concoction." Does he mean to say Prabhupada concocted the idea of rittvik initiation? Then we will have to reject Prabhupada's authority as acharya and accept Mukunda Goswami as the final authority in the disciplic succession.

"Monitor" means on behalf of the teacher, and teacher means on behalf of the school, or the sampradaya . Disciple means one who is under the authority of his spiritual master--living or departed. If the disciple is not initiating on behalf of his spiritual master and all the spiritual masters in the disciplic succession up to Krishna, then the question will be: For whom is the disciple (Mukunda Goswami) initiating new disciples? Is he initiating the newcomers for himself? Are the initiates his servants? His property? Are they his fans (fanatics), like movie stars and pop stars have fans?

Or is the monitor spiritual master which Mukunda Goswami says he accepts as his concept of ISKCON guru, initiating new disciples directly for Krishna, thereby jumping over not only his guru (Srila Prabhupada), but jumping over the whole line of spiritual masters and acharyas in the guru parampara? Even if we accept ISKCON gurus are uttama adhikaris, why would such exalted personalities be so adverse to initiating for their spiritual master as deputies or rittvik representatives of the acharya? Why so much stress on the proprietorship over the disciple? Doesn't "monitor" mean on behalf of the teacher, Srila Prabhupada?

Questions and Answers

Question: Could you please clarify the statement, "When the rittvik matures and understands his everlasting subordination to his spiritual master, then he is seen as a full guru," taken from Srila Prabhupada, His Movement and You ("Letter to New Initiates")?

Yashodanandan das: When a devotee "matures," this means when a devotee fully matures in terms of actual realising and manifesting the symptoms of love of Godhead ( bhava and prema ). These are fully described in the Nectar of Devotion and in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. This is not achieved by some rubber-stamping or some so-called appointment. Neither is this achievement of love of Godhead an automatic push-button process. It is a lifetime of constant surrender to the order of the bona fide acharya (Srila Prabhupada), dedication and service. Then the devotee will be seen in that light, not artificially, but really on account of his devotional accomplishment. The above statement should be understood in the proper context of the other points which have been made in the same letter and in the same magazine.

Question: Hansadutta das is just trying to be a guru. He tried to be a guru in ISKCON; he could not make it. He tried again a few years ago, and now he is just trying to be a guru with a different label, rittvik .

Hansadutta das: That's right. I tried to be a guru. I tried to be a guru in ISKCON. Fortunately, I saw the errors of my ways, realising the only guru and acharya is Srila Prabhupada, and therefore now I am trying to become the servant of the guru, Srila Prabhupada. If this is objectionable, then you have to take up the matter with Srila Prabhupada.

Even if a devotee failed to actually fulfil the order of the spiritual master, as in my case I failed to properly act as a rittvik acharya representative of His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada in the immediate aftermath of his departure in 1977, this does not mean that a devotee is condemned or destined to perpetually fail. One must try again to fulfil the order, because THE ORDER OF SRILA PRABHUPADA STILL STANDS--"Act as rittvik of the acharya ." As such, I am only trying to fulfil his order.

Yashodanandan das: There is a confused and insensitive mentality behind this kind of accusation. If a devotee, whether it be Hansadutta or any kind of " dutta," is sincerely trying to chant the prescribed number of rounds (which the said Hansadutta does), follow the regulative principles (which he also does), preach Krishna consciousness to the innocent, go out and chant Harinama in public, organise Vaishnava festivals and make devotees, why should anyone object to these activities?

The proponents of the GBC's "Anyone can become a guru" philosophy object if another devotee sincerely tries to present the message of Krishna consciousness on behalf of the bona fide acharya (Srila Prabhupada) without personal ambition, thus truly fulfilling the real order and duty of a bona fide devotee. They simultaneously criticise another devotee for trying to be a guru, which is not a fact in this case, since Hansadutta has already admitted that he is simply trying to be a humble representative of the acharya, Srila Prabhupada.

Question: But this rittvik idea which you are proposing is against the tradition of Vaishnavism, which clearly stipulates that a living, physically present guru must be there to initiate and guide the prospective candidate.

Yashodanandan das: The rittvik-acharya, or officiating representative, is also a living spiritual guide, whose function is to initiate on behalf of the acharya, Srila Prabhupada and to actually train and teach the devotees.

Do the critics of the original arrangement which Srila Prabhupada made for his society for continuance after his departure (the rittvik-acharya system), know more about the Vaishnava tradition than Srila Prabhupada? From whom have we learned the tradition of Vaishnavism? FROM SRILA PRABHUPADA!

The proponents of "We are all automatically gurus after the physical departure of the acharya " claimed for more than ten years that they had been appointed by Srila Prabhupada. Where is the proof for this claim? There is no record of any appointment or selection of successor acharya or appointed diksha gurus by His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada during the last few months of his manifested presence. There is only one document from Srila Prabhupada's hand (July 9th, 1977) addressing the question of who and how initiations will continue. It is clear and final. No other document regarding initiations and gurus exists. It is his last will and testament.

It should be mentioned that Srila Prabhupada is the acharya of his movement, and he is (and was) perfectly entitled to make whatever arrangement he saw fit to continue his movement in a united way.

Srila Prabhupada never contradicted shastra. He established the real purports of the shastra .

He took into consideration:

  1. the relative level of advancement of his disciples. He obviously did not see that they were ready and fit as of 1977 to occupy the full-fledged position of diksha guru and acharya; otherwise, why did he not indicate so directly?
  2. the grievous mistake of the post-1937 Gaudiya Math acharyas, whom Srila Prabhupada appropriately called "self-appointed acharyas. "
    Because in our mission, our Guru Maharaja never appointed anyone as acharya .--Srila Prabhupada, lecture on Chaitanya-charitamrita, New York, 1967.
    He was trying to avoid the very same mistake made by the disciples of Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur. Why would he repeat the same mistake that he had criticised earlier?
  3. By 1977, he had already established in his society a system of management with an international GBC to oversee the affairs of the society and keep the teachings of Srila Prabhupada in their pure and original form. The function of initiation was already established by Srila Prabhupada during his manifested presence. He did not change it; he merely adjusted some minor details, such as allowing the new officiating acharyas to ascertain the new candidates' eligibility on their own, the choice of the names, etc. This system was never changed by Srila Prabhupada. He never indicated in his will (June, 1977), or in his last letter to all the temple presidents, which he signed, that the arrangement should ever be changed upon his physical departure.
  4. Srila Prabhupada very intelligently arranged so that the system of initiations (rittvik system) would be a perfect plan for keeping his society united. The rittvik-acharyas were meant to emphasise: a) Srila Prabhupada as the worshipable acharya for everyone and b) initiate newcomers on his behalf as humble representatives of his movement and properly train them and teach them Krishna consciousness. Therefore he said, "I wish that each and every centre shall remain independent, keeping the acharya in the centre."

Question: But still would this not contradict the shastras?

Yashodanandan das: There are four distinct possibilities that can be concluded here:

  1. Srila Prabhupada did not make any kind of arrangement for initiations for after his physical departure. He left it to the speculation of his disciples, or he left it to the GBC to vote in or elect acharyas.

    However, there is no verifiable evidence for this theory. Srila Prabhupada very carefully established and nurtured a society. All the major programmes of deity worship, book publishing, book distribution, gurukula programme, devotee training, etc. were very specifically described in his books, letters, etc. Especially on major decisions he made it very clear in writing. The theory that Prabhupada "left us insufficient guidance" is rejected by all sincere disciples of Srila Prabhupada. It is unacceptable.

  2. Srila Prabhupada made arrangements for his leading disciples to go to Gaudiya Math advisors who were supposed to clarify the statement of Srila Prabhupada.

    This theory has yet to be supported with appropriate, verifiable evidence. This theory would be a major contradiction of numerous statements by Srila Prabhupada about the Gaudiya Math, its leaders and their role in the disobedience of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati's order by unauthorisingly "appointing one acharya, who subsequently failed, and by having everyone else artificially occupying the position of acharya and thus breaking down the whole united preaching mission of Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur." This theory is also rejected by the sincere disciples of Srila Prabhupada.

  3. A third possibility exists. Srila Prabhupada did in fact "appoint or select" diksha gurus or acharyas prior to his departure for Goloka.

    This choice, regardless of the various slanted interpretations which would be required to establish it, was allegedly done in the last few months prior to Srila Prabhupada's departure. He allegedly chose 11 acharyas or "his best men," according to some apologists of the GBC official party line. These men, upon the departure of Srila Prabhupada, then assumed their acharya appointment. This is the gist of the acharya appointment theory of the GBC. The problem with this interpretation is that there is no written, verifiable proof that Prabhupada appointed or selected the original 11 as diksha gurus or successor acharyas or zonal acharyas, as claimed by them. The only capacity in which these original 11 had been chosen is that of rittvik-acharya, or officiating acharyas, as per the July 9th, 1977 letter. Six of the original "chosen acharyas " have fallen. The integrity of the other five has been called into question after numerous philosophical deviations and openly supporting other deviant persons. The question comes up: "Did Srila Prabhupada actually know who was qualified and who was unqualified to be acharya? And if he did appoint acharyas, did he make a wrong choice? Did he know how to recognise another pure devotee?" The proponents of this "acharya appointment" theory would have to explain whether or not the fully realised pure devotee makes mistakes or is subject to the four defects of conditional life. DID THE GBC MAKE A MISTAKE? OR DID PRABHUPADA MAKE A MISTAKE? We are firmly convinced that Srila Prabhupada was beyond making mistakes. The true followers of Srila Prabhupada reject the "acharya appointment" theory, because it contradicts the statements and teachings of Srila Prabhupada.

  4. The only other possibility, which is now being accepted as the only clear, self-evident, logical choice by almost all of Srila Prabhupada's disciples and followers, is that Srila Prabhupada rejected the above three theories. That is, he did not want to send his disciples to the Gaudiya Math for inconclusive advice, he did not forget to make a proper arrangement, and he did not make a mistake by appointing unqualified men to the position of acharyas . Instead, he made a very workable arrangement to continue initiations after his departure by selecting rittvik-acharyas, whose primary function was to initiate new devotees as they did in his presence for years a) on behalf of Srila Prabhupada and b) on behalf of his glorious movement.

Thus Srila Prabhupada made a most practical arrangement which could have easily carried his society through the difficulties of his eventual physical absence. The new devotees would thus be his students (studying his books and teachings and thus getting initiated into transcendental knowledge by His Divine Grace). The new devotees would simultaneously be his followers (by following the rules and regulations and the discipline laid out by the Sampradaya Acharya, Srila Prabhupada), and thus, in fact, the new students would be his disciples under the care and guidance of senior devotees, who would thus act as guides and representatives of the Sampradaya Acharya, Srila Prabhupada.

Srila Prabhupada did not contradict the tradition. He established a very practical, simple plan by which everything could go on very nicely, despite his physical absence from the scene, which is the duty of the great Sampradaya Acharyas. HE ACTED PERFECTLY ACCORDING TO TIME, PLACE AND CIRCUMSTANCE.

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