Krishnakant, IRM, editor of Back to Prabhupada Magazine – As with all our articles in this section, the one below was first published in the IRM’s official magazine Back To Prabhupada. BTP is being distributed for free to ISKCON devotees and people interested in Srila Prabhupada’s teachings worldwide. If you would like to receive BTP at your home, simply send us your full name and street address via the following email address: irm@iskconirm. com.
If you have any questions, comments or criticisms, please do not hesitate to write us. We welcome all correspondence and are looking forward to hearing from you.
Thank you & Hare Krishna
Readers’ questions and challenges
“Why are you writing in such a way about Gour Govinda Maharaja? You have no knowledge about sabda-brahma [...] Gour Govinda Maharaja was an acarya.”
- Rupanuga Das, Brahminical Council, Loire, France
You are referring to where we have directly quoted Gour Govinda Maharaja (“GGM”) as follows:
“One has to hear. It is not that, “All right, tapes are there, I’ll hear the recorded tapes.” Sabda-brahma will never descend. [...] You should be greedy. Physical contact is required. You must hear directly, not just by listening to tapes. Sabda-brahma will never descend through a tape. One must hear from a physically present Sri Guru.”
(HH GourGovinda Swami, ‘Q&A’ The Worship of Sri Guru, chapter 3)
Our knowledge of sabda-brahma (transcendental sound) comes from Srila Prabhupada – the real Acarya – who, both by precept and example, taught the complete opposite to GGM:
1) Srila Prabhupada stated that sabda-brahma, such as the Gayatri mantra, can descend through a tape:
“I am enclosing herewith a tape of the gayatri mantra chanted by me [...] The process should be that you let each of them hear the tape individually (through earphones) [...] Let them read the mantra and listen to the tape.”
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, July 14th, 1971)
2) Srila Prabhupada stated that the guru does not need to be physically present in order to transmit sabda-brahma:
“[...] Brahma, the prime spiritual master of everyone, is the living example of this process of receiving transcendental knowledge. The potency of transcendental sound is never minimized because the vibrator is apparently absent.”
(Srimad-Bhagavtam 2.9.8, purport)
`Your argumentation against gurus in ISKCON somehow reminds me of the Seventh Day Adventists and their fixation on the bishop in Rome. You will not be able to score points with your ISKCON guru paranoia here in Weimar. By the way, I don’t have a problem with different groups creating spaces in which Krishna Consciousness can be practiced and Prabhupada’s teachings will be spread. Indeed, I am happy to hear about such endeavors. I wish you Krishna’s, Radharani’s and Prabhupada’s blessings.’
- Antaranga Shakti Das, Weimar, Germany
a) Srila Prabhupada was removed as the Guru of his own movement in 1977;
b) Thousands of devotees have had their spiritual lives destroyed by following unauthorized and unqualified devotees masquerading as gurus;
c) Srila Prabhupada’s name and teachings are used to dupe thousands of innocents into following a path not given by Srila Prabhupada, thus leading them to be disconnected from the parampara;
- is not paranoia but a reality. Indeed, ISKCON’s own gurus admit the devastation they have wrought:
“FACT: ISKCON gurus have opposed, oppressed and driven out many sincere Godbrothers and Godsisters.”
(HH Jayadvaita Swami, Where the Ritvik People ore Right, 1996).
The paranoia would be to pretend that none of this is happening, and to instead criticise those who speak these truths as being paranoid.
Thank you for your blessings. Through the IRM we are indeed “creating a space” where true Krishna consciousness and Srila Prabhupada’s teachings can be practised and spread.
“I just received Issue 21 and like all previous issues I will read and pass it on to another Prabhupada disciple/buddy of mine who in turn will read and pass it on to yet others. We sometimes discuss the articles at our weekly satsang or when we get together for a cup of tea or a walk. I am yet to be inspired into more loving service to Radha & Krsna or to my Master upon reading your magazine which should be the intention, I think.
It’s not that I do not appreciate the effort you folks put into these publications, misguided as it is- maybe – but hopefully good intentioned. Having said that I would like to mention that it appears to me that IRM (members?) are more interested in creating division(s) and themselves looking for notoriety rather that unity. Please convince me otherwise.”
- Toshan Das, Victoria, Canada
Thank you for your letter. Thank you also for passing the magazine on to others to read. As you will see from our letters section, and the “Coming to Prabhupada” series, many persons have been inspired to start serving Srila Prabhupada as a result of reading our magazine. We did not create a division; it already exists — between those who wish to follow Srila Prabhupada’s orders (IRM) and those who are disobeying them (the current GBC).
The IRM seeks to unite these groups by presenting the evidence for Srila Prabhupada’s orders, so that the disobedient group will begin to follow Srila Prabhupada’s orders. And we are having success in this effort since many persons have indeed “come back” to Srila Prabhupada as a result of our efforts, as the letters pages attest.
Unity can only exist with Srila Prabhupada in the centre, not 80+ competing guru cults.
`Why do we need your explanations since Srila Prabhupada is still alive and thus very able to himself explain perfectly all our questions and thus everything?”
- Sven-Ove Persson, Björnlunda, Sweden
1) We have never claimed that no one can be a siksa guru (preacher) – on the contrary we say that Srila Prabhupada’s many calls for “becoming guru” refer to everyone, including the GBC, becoming siksa guru, and faithfully teaching his instructions to others. Srila Prabhupada makes this clear throughout his instructions, for example:
`The GBC should all be the instructor gurus. I am the initiator guru, and you should be the instructor guru by teaching what I am teaching and doing what I am doing.’
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, August 4th,1975, emphasis added)
`One only has to (…] instruct relatives and friends in the teachings of the Bhagavad-gita and SrimadBhagavatam. [...] It is best not to accept any disciples [...] Thus one can become a spiritual master [...]‘
(Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 7.130 purport, emphasis added)
We are acting in exactly the same way devotees acted when Srila Prabhupada was on the planet pre-1977, where Srila Prabhupada was everyone’s diksa Guru, and every devotee simply preached to make others Srila Prabhupada’s disciple.
2) However, the situation in ISKCON today is not at all the same as it was pre-’77; instead we have persons claiming they are Srila Prabhupada’s successors in the parampara, and that only by worshipping them can one reach Krishna.
Clearly these two situations, 1) and 2), are fundamentally different, hence the need for the IRM to exist as real siksa gurus.