07 Apr Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Position In Iskcon
INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR KRISHNA CONSCIOUSNESS
Founder-Ācārya: His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda
The following evening lecture-seminar on Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Position In Iskcon, was given by His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami in ISKCON Chowpatty on 07 April 2014.
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Hare Kṛṣṇa. So class will be go on until what time? 9h00? It’s alright? So late? [Somebody says something to Mahārāja which is not audible] Okay.
So as Gaurāṅga prabhu just mentioned that he was expecting me to give a sort of a seminar on a very important topic that the GBC had been discussing for last many, many years and systematically through a committee called ‘Śrīla Prabhupāda’s position committee’, a sub-committee in the GBC. They have eventually come up with a book called “Śrīla Prabhupāda the Founder Ācārya of Iskcon”.
Nobody has any doubt about Śrīla Prabhupāda’s position as the Founder Ācārya but the consideration was what does it actually mean ’Founder Ācārya’ ? Śrīla Prabhupāda is the founder of Iskcon, no one will contest that. Śrīla Prabhupāda is the Founder and Śrīla Prabhupāda will always remain the Founder of Iskcon but this concept of Ācārya, that Ācārya, he is not only the Founder; he is also the Ācārya of Iskcon. So that is what we had to thoroughly research and this committee had about eleven members. The committee was formed in 2006 and for seven years we have been researching, discussing twice a year. During the GBC we have an extensive indepth probing into this topic and then eventually Ravindra Svarūpa prabhu who is actually… Most of us, most of us in Iskcon think that he is one of the best thinkers, one of the most profound thinkers and one of the best writers of Iskcon. And so Ravindra Svarūpa prabhu is also a member of this team. He eventually wrote this book. And this book has been gone through extensively by the GBC members and the senior devotees of Iskcon. Their input also was taken to establish this concept of Śrīla Prabhupāda as the Founder Ācārya. Then finally this book has come out this year and we want this books to be read by anyone who comes in contact with Iskcon. Anyone who becomes involved in Iskcon we want everyone to read this book in order to understand Śrīla Prabhupāda’s special position in Iskcon.
So I will briefly give you the background of this. Like Prabhupāda actually got this concept of Founder Ācārya from his spiritual master, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Thakur. Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Thakur established an institution. The name of that institution was Gauḍīya mission and in a way we can see that Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Thakur got this concept of institutionalized propagation of Kṛṣṇa Consciousness movement from his father and śikṣā guru Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Thakur. Bhaktivinoda Thakur revived Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s teachings. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, as you all know, created an incredible spiritual revolution in India. He revolutionized the spiritual scenario of that time about five hundred years ago. At that time India was completely under the Muslim domination. And Vedic culture due to the influence of Kali became practically contaminated with all kinds of misconceptions. What was going on in the name of Hinduism had very little to do with the Vedic culture. All kinds of superstitions and all kinds of undesirable activities were introduced in the name of Vedic culture.
The brāhmaṇas were dominating the scene. They were actually caste brahmins in most cases. It means that they are born in a brahmin family. By caste they are brāhmaṇas but by qualification they were not. And this was a very, very ominous phase of Vedic culture at that time. So at that time Caitanya Mahāprabhu came and revived the Vedic culture through His saṅkīrtana movement. He came and established the yuga–dharma. What is the yuga-dharma for this age of Kali? Hari–nāma–saṅkīrtana. There are four yugas and for those four yugas there are four different types of dharmas. kṛte yad dhyāyato viṣṇuṁ tretāyāṁ yajato makhaiḥ dvāpare paricaryāyāṁ kalau tad dhari-kīrtanāt. In the Kṛta-yuga, Satya-yuga, the yuga-dharma is dhyāyate Viṣṇu, meditating upon Viṣṇu; in Tretayuga the yuga-dharma is yajate makha performing sacrifice for the pleasure of Viṣṇu, Yajñeśvara or makhau. And dvāpare paricaryāyāṁ, in Dvāpara-yuga, the yuga-dharma is to worship the Lord in the temple and kalau tad hari kīrtanāt and the yuga-dharma of the age of Kali is to chant the holy name of the Lord. harer nāma harer nāma harer nāmaiva kevalam kalau nāsty eva nāsty eva nāsty eva gatir anyathā. So Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu came and established the yuga–dharma. In other ages to perform dharma there was the consideration of qualification. Especially the spiritual activities were performed by the brāhmaṇas but in Kali-yuga there is total varna-śaṅkara, admixture of the caste, āśramas and varṇas. Therefore Caitanya Mahāprabhu came and gave a process that is meant for everybody and which was very strongly opposed by the brāhmaṇas but Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, He successfully established the yuga–dharma, nāma–saṅkīrtana.
Soon after Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s disappearance (soon means say about hundred and say about two hundred years after Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s disappearance) His saṅkīrtana movement again became affected by all kind of apasampradāyas. ‘Apasampradāyas’ means the group of people who claimed that they are the followers of Caitanya Mahāprabhu but they were not actually proposing or they are not presenting and practicing the teachings of Caitanya Mahāprabhu. They have nothing to do with the teachings of Caitanya Mahāprabhu but they claimed that they were the followers of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
In some cases the deviation came gradually and in some cases the deviation came rather abruptly. Just they came and they started to claim they are the followers of Caitanya Mahāprabhu. And those apasampradāyas are known as Aul, Baul, Leda, Ledi, Sakhībekhī, Smārta, Jatigosai and all these. There are thirteen apasampradāyas. And these apasampradāyas totally eclipsed the teachings of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Totally eclipsed those teachings and as a result of that Mahāprabhu’s teachings were lost. And what was going on in the name of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s teachings is just this, what this apasiddhantas claim: the deviant propositions of these apasampradāyas. So in this way when Mahāprabhu’s teachings were practically lost, at that time Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Thakur came and Bhaktivinoda Thakur started to revive Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s saṅkīrtana movement.
Just to give you an idea how ominous the situation was at that time. Bhaktivinoda Thakur became interested in Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s teachings, he started to look for Caitanya Caritāmṛta because he heard that in Caitanya Caritāmṛta Mahāprabhu’s teachings have been presented in a most sublime way by Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī. But in entire Bengal, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Thakur could not find a single volume of Caitanya Caritāmṛta, not a single copy of Caitanya Caritāmṛta. Eventually he found a copy, a handwritten copy of Caitanya Caritāmṛta in Orissa. Then he took that Caitanya Caritāmṛta and he started to print Śrī Caitanya Caritāmṛta with his ‘Amṛta-pravāha-bhāṣya’ his own commentary. He gave a commentary on Caitanya Caritāmṛta called ‘Amṛta-pravāha-bhāṣya’ which literally means the ‘flow of nectar’. The commentary that is the flow of nectar of Śrī Caitanya Caritāmṛta and this is how Bhaktivinoda Thakur started to revive Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s teachings and the intelligent class of people, intellectual class of people, sophisticated people started to realize the wonderful profundity of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s teachings, the sublime nature of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s teachings.
Bhaktivinoda Thakur himself was a very high ranking government officer at that time. At that time India was under the British rule and Bhaktivinoda Thakur was a deputy magistrate in the British government. So he was an extremely busy because of his very high position in the government service. So, he could not himself do very much to establish Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s teachings and spread Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s teachings. He wrote books; he started to print books; he started to write many, many wonderful books. He wrote; he presented Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s teachings in the form of beautiful poetries in Sanskrit, in Bengali, in English. He was an extremely brilliant personality. And at some point he resigned from his office and he committed himself completely to establishing Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s teachings but he himself could not do very much. So at that time when he was the deputy magistrate of Jagannātha Purī, he prayed to Lord Jagannātha for a qualified assistant, to send a qualified assistant who could help him in his preaching mission.
And as a result of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Thakur’s prayers Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Thakur came as his son. And it is Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Thakur who actually furthered the mission of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Thakur. The blueprint of Kṛṣṇa Consciousness movement that Bhaktivinoda Thakur gave through his writings, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Thakur started to implement that. And through Bhaktivinoda Thakur’s writings and Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Thakur’s action, one thing becomes very clear that both of them could perceive to spread Kṛṣṇa Consciousness movement all over the world in every town and village, there is a need for a collective endeavor that could continue generation after generation.
Caitanya Mahāprabhu predicted that Kṛṣṇa Consciousness movement would spread all over the world in every town and village. How many of you are aware of this prediction of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, please raise your hand. So, all of you are aware of it. Now just consider the impossibility or the incredibility of this prediction. When did Caitanya Mahāprabhu make this prediction? About five hundred years ago. Five hundred years ago when people did not even know how many continents there were on this planet! At that time Columbus just discovered America and although he reached America, but he didn’t realize that it was America that he discovered. He thought that it was India because his aim was to come to India because those days India was the most glorious country, the most opulent country. And from Europe they used to have trade with India over land. Travelling over land was very risky. There were bandits, dacoits and there were so many difficulties, deserts, so many difficulties they had to overcome to come to India, but still people used to come from Europe to have trade with India, to take the wealth from India. Their dream was to come to India and become rich [laughter]
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: And at that time Copernicus figured out that the earth is round. Prior to that in Europe they used to think that the earth was flat. Copernicus figured out that the earth is round. So here the young man Columbus, he considered if the earth is round and if there is ocean in the west, now if I move westward then I will come to India. And he convinced the queen of Portugal, Queen of Spain rather, Isabella, he convinced her to patronize him to find a waterway to India. She liked the idea. She patronized him. And Columbus set out, they built a beautiful boat, strong boat and got his crew and he set out to find India. He was moving, traveling westwards. India is in the east but if the earth is round then if I go west, then eventually I will come to India. So that was his idea. So when he landed in the West Indies, again West Indies [laughter], so he found the land, so he thought he came to India and that’s why the original Americans, the aborigines of America are known as Indians, red Indians
[Jaya Śrī Śrī Radhā-Gopinātha ki jaya. Jaya Śrī Śrī Śrīnāthjī ki jaya. Jaya Śrī Śrī Gaur Nitāi ki jaya].
So the point is: five hundred years ago people didn’t even know how many continents were there but at that time Caitanya Mahāprabhu, see how emphatic His prediction was prithivite āche yata nagarādi grāma, which means ‘as many towns and as many villages are there, everywhere all over the world My saṅkīrtana movement will spread’ sarvatra pracāra haibe mora nāma, the nam saṅkīrtana will spread, the yuga–dharma will spread.
So five hundred years back this prediction was made by Caitanya Mahāprabhu. It was an impossible prediction but no matter how impossible it may sound, can anything be impossible for the Supreme Personality of Godhead? So when the Supreme Personality of Godhead said that, it is bound to happen.
Bhaktivinoda Thakur had that implicit faith and with that faith he started to revive this saṅkīrtana movement. As early as in 1894 Bhaktivinoda Thakur wrote in his book called ‘The Bhagavat and The Life And Precepts Of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.’ He mentioned that a time will come when these teachings of Caitanya Mahāprabhu will spread all over the world in every town and village. He is simply repeating what Caitanya Mahāprabhu said. It will spread in every town and village and all the religions will come under this umbrella of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s teachings. Now this is also another incredible prediction or incredible assessment.
At that time India was under the British rule, the deep influence of British domination. when the British made the Indians feel, not only feel, but believe with full conviction that whatever is Indian is useless and West is the best. That is what they very successfully made all the Indians believe. And that faith or that influence or effect of the British teaching is still prevalent in India today. Even still today we are blindly following the West. We are blindly imitating the West with a deep conviction that West is the best and India is not good. But Bhaktivinoda Thakur at that time he wrote with such conviction as if he was seeing the future. He is saying that it will happen; it will happen.
Mahāprabhu’s teachings will spread over the world so much so that all the religions will come under or will find proper meaning of their conviction in Mahāprabhu’s teachings, because ultimately all teachings are culminating into Mahāprabhu’s teachings. And Bhaktivinoda Thakur could foresee that for that we need an institution. Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Thakur understood that and when he implemented his mission, when he started to preach, he established the institution known as Gauḍīya Mission and within fifteen years time he actually established that mission all over India, all over India. Can you imagine about almost hundred years ago about ninety-five, ninety years ago, this Gauḍīya Mission had 63 centers and temples all throughout India. They had actually 64 but the 64th one was in Rangoon, in Burma. So he established 64 temples at that time. How many temples do we have in Iskcon?
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: No in india?
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Anyway it took us some time. Okay Iskcon has only about 45 to 50 temples, big temples. So we can see about hundred years ago he had established 63 temples in fifteen years time because he started to preach in about 1920 and he left this planet in 1936. We can see that Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Thakur, he gave maximum emphasis on the institution and before leaving this planet, Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Thakur, he did not appoint any successor, whereas all the religious institutions those days, not only those days, now also we see, most of the religious groups they appoint a successor. Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Thakur did not mention anything about a successor, rather he suggested, he instructed his disciples to collectively maintain the institution through a governing body. And he himself did not say very much about his position as the Founder Ācārya but he implied that they should actually manage the institution through him as the head of the institution. That is how Prabhupāda actually also got the concept of Founder Ācārya. Although Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Thakur did not so emphatically mention that, but with Prabhupāda we find that Prabhupāda was quite emphatic about that. I will come to that why Prabhupāda did that. One thing Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Thakur and Bhaktivinoda Thakur and Śrīla Prabhupāda, our Śrīla Prabhupāda knew one thing that this massive task of spreading Kṛṣṇa Consciousness all over the world in every town and village is not going to happen in one generation. It will take generations after generations together. Therefore there is a need of a collective endeavor and for that collective endeavor there is a need for an institution and to hold the institution together there is a need for a collective management and a specific head of the institution.
So these concepts were very clear in their mind. First thing this massive task is not going to be achieved in one or two generations. For that – in order to continue the mission there is a need for collective endeavor. To systematically implement that collective endeavor there is a need for an institution. And in order to hold the institution together we need the head of the institution who will stand against the onslaught of time or who will remain over a period of time even after his disappearance. And to hold it together there is a need of concept of collective management.
Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Thakur quite clearly indicated that to his disciples but unfortunately they could not understand that because there was no such precedence in the past. So soon after Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Thakur’s disappearance, his leading disciples began to consider that how can a spiritual institution go on by some, through some group of managers? How can a spiritual institution continue with a group of managers? Rather to continue the institution we need an Ācārya, a spiritual head and disregarding Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Thakur’s instruction they appointed an Ācārya and unfortunately that Ācārya fell down and when the Ācārya fell down the structure was resting on him, so the structure collapsed. And Prabhupāda pointed out then after that, first struggle started two groups wanted to become the Ācāryas. And then when the Ācārya fell down then the structure collapsed and then everybody wanted to be the Ācārya.
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: See I am just giving the history and there is no need to hide anything because in order to understand things clearly we have to have the proper perception of what actually happened. And as a result of that we see what happened in the Gauḍīya Mission which was so effective at one time that it had 63 temples around India and Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Thakur’s dream was to take it out of India, spread it all over the world because that is how Mahāprabhu’s prediction will become a reality.
But unfortunately soon after his disappearance the structure collapsed and when the structure collapsed, we can see that they are maintaining their spiritual lives. Different leaders had different groups, their different temples and they are carrying on with their spiritual lives, but that massive preaching mission came to a grinding halt, just stopped.
The only person who could actually understood the heart of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Thakur was Śrīla Prabhupāda. How? When Śrīla Prabhupāda took sannyāsa he was actually trying to help, I mean you can, actually it will be very interesting to read. Prabhupāda wrote a few poems after Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Thakur’s disappearance. One is called Vaisistakastakam and the other is called Virahastakam. So in that poetry Prabhupāda is clearly mentioning, he is urging his Godbrothers that please try to understand Guru Mahārāja’s mission. Like he had such a wonderful vision and he showed how to implement that vision into a reality, so let us all get together and make that reality, the dream of our spiritual master come true. But his poetry, his poems remained just poems. Just like people read poetry and don’t pay much heed to it. Nobody took it seriously.
Then eventually Śrīla Prabhupāda goes to America. When Prabhupāda went to America and when Prabhupāda got the opportunity to somehow start something in America, Prabhupāda wrote to all his Godbrothers, that please, not all his Godbrothers, his leading God brothers, that now this opportunity has come in America, Guru Mahārāja wanted that we do something in the western world, so please come and let’s do it together. Prabhupāda was prepared to give them the leadership and become their follower but they didn’t respond. Then finally Prabhupāda actually decides to form his institution. And that is the International Society for Kṛṣṇa Consciousness. And from the very beginning we notice that in this institution, the International Society for Kṛṣṇa Consciousness, Prabhupāda did not really established himself. From the name itself we can see, the International Society for Kṛṣṇa Consciousness. It’s interesting to note that, at that time many other Indian gurus went and they had their institutions and take the name of all these institutions and what do you find? All these institutions were named after themselves. Cinmaya Mission. Anyway let’s not mention the names [laughter].
So they were all named after themselves. The only exception was the International Society for Kṛṣṇa Consciousness. And then what does Prabhupāda do? Soon after that Prabhupāda forms a GBC with eleven members, the Governing body. Prabhupāda gives the purpose of that institution, the seven objectives of this institution. And this is how we are seeing that Prabhupāda right from the beginning was forming the institution and Prabhupāda knew that he had only a few years. He went to America at the age of seventy. He started the movement at the age of 71 actually. Iskcon was established in 71 in a small little storefront, in 26 2nd Avenue. When he was 70 years old, I mean, you know that you don’t have much time. Prabhupāda was very much aware of that, that he didn’t have much time but here is the massive task of spreading Kṛṣṇa Consciousness all over the world. His Spiritual Master asked him to do this when he was 26 years old. He received this instruction when he was 26 years old but finally he got the chance to implement that instruction when he was 71 years old.
So Prabhupāda started to spread to establish the institution and he formed… The first thing he did is to establish the institution. And what a bold step Prabhupāda took we can see. And that also shows Śrīla Prabhupāda’s foresight. Prabhupāda named the institution the International Society for Kṛṣṇa Consciousness. The lawyer who was actually registering the institution and even his few American, young American followers, all of them thought to call it an International Society for Kṛṣṇa Consciousness is not a good idea [laughter]. Rather call it the International Society for God Consciousness because people don’t, in America they don’t know what is Kṛṣṇa, what Kṛṣṇa Consciousness actually meant, but Prabhupāda was adamant. No, International Society for Kṛṣṇa Consciousness. Swamiji people won’t understand what Kṛṣṇa is, Who Kṛṣṇa is. Prabhupāda said I have come here to make them understand [laughter]
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: …that Kṛṣṇa is God. So we can see such clarity of perception. Like, Prabhupāda knew this is how the world is going to recognize the Supreme Personality of Godhead. And then Prabhupāda forms the GBC, the governing body and what is Śrīla Prabhupāda’s role? He is one member of that governing body. He also has the same one equal vote, just one vote, one person and no veto power [laughter].
So that is how Śrīla Prabhupāda formed the governing body concept and Śrīla Prabhupāda gave the emphasis on the governing body. You have to maintain the institution. You have to protect the institution. You have to continue the mission that I am establishing. And then even during his last days, few months before Śrīla Prabhupāda left the planet, Prabhupāda very emphatically told us, “Don’t make the same mistake that my God brothers made after guru Mahārāja’s disappearance.” Guru Mahārāja wanted them to maintain the institution through the governing body but disregarding his instruction they appointed an Ācārya and when the Ācārya fell down, everything collapsed. Don’t make the same mistake. What did Prabhupāda mean by saying that?
Maintain the institution collectively because individually you may have problems. Individually one may have problems but the collective endeavour will protect us from that crisis. And we have seen in Iskcon, if we look at the history of Iskcon, we can see, many of our leading devotees had spiritual difficulties but Iskcon is still going strong why? Because of this collective concept of management. Out of 30 individual leaders, out of 30 members, if one member has difficulty then what will happen? That difficulty is not going to affect the movement so much. It will affect; a big leader when he has difficulty it will have its affect naturally throughout the movement but the institution won’t collapse because there are 29 other members to hold it together and then in course of time that person is going to be replaced. His position is going to be filled in. So then again another person has difficulty there are 29 to protect that difficulty.
Now so this way we can see that an institution is of absolute importance. Institution is of absolute importance to continue the mission for generations to come. And so like, here we saw that Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Thakur just rarely mentioned once or twice about his position as the Founder Ācārya of Gauḍīya Mission. In some writings in some articles, his position has been established but he did not say very much but it is interesting to note that Prabhupāda quite emphatically spoke of his position as the Founder Ācārya and at least to me I will honestly admit it was actually quite surprising.
I was quite surprised. It happened in Bombay actually, in Juhu temple. The Juhu temple was being constructed at that time. A newspaper article came out and Śrīla Prabhupāda read that article and then he asked who gave the interview. And the devotee who gave the interview, who spoke to the newspaper reporters, he was called in. And there were many other leading devotees present there and Prabhupāda blasted him. And why? That Prabhupāda’s name as the Founder Ācārya has not been mentioned in the entire article. And I was a new devotee at that time. I was thinking that Prabhupāda is so humble but why Prabhupāda is so particular about his name not being printed in that article. It was at the back of mind. At that time I couldn’t quite understand and of course I let it just pass.
But later on I realized that Prabhupāda was so emphatic about his position, so much so that, Prabhupāda after that actually Prabhupāda mentioned that wherever Iskcon name comes up there must be his name as the Founder Ācārya. You all know that. In books, even in the temples, wherever, Iskcon’s name would be printed, Iskcon’s name would appear his name must be there as the Founder Ācārya, His Divine Grace A C Bhaktivedanta Swami. Now it’s quite, in a way it was quite surprising, on one hand Prabhupāda is so humble. I have seen people were giving credit to Śrīla Prabhupāda in such an amazing way and Prabhupāda was always avoiding that credit. Like, I remember once there was a press conference and the press people were telling Śrīla Prabhupāda that he achieved something that Caitanya Mahāprabhu Himself couldn’t achieve. And they pointed out that Caitanya Mahāprabhu spreaded Kṛṣṇa Consciousness all over India but you have spread it all over the world. In a way indicating that Prabhupāda has achieved something which is greater than Mahāprabhu but was Prabhupāda’s response? I haven’t done anything. It’s all Mahāprabhu has done. My Guru Mahārāja has done it. They are simply giving me the credit. They have done it but they gave me the credit. So this is how and not only on one occasion. Time and time again I have seen, people would come and glorify Śrīla Prabhupāda in so many wonderful ways but Prabhupāda would always avoid those glorifications and offer all the glories to his Guru Mahārāja and Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
But in this instance we could see that Prabhupāda is so emphatic that his name should be there as the Founder Ācārya whenever the name Iskcon comes up. It took me some years to understand that. After I saw the crisis that our movement had gone through and how this concept of institution protected us from those calamities, then I began to realize the importance of an institution and to hold the institution together we need the head of the institution properly established. So Prabhupāda was emphatic about his position as the Founder Ācārya not for his own glorification and aggrandizement. Prabhupāda was doing that just to secure the movement. Prabhupāda was doing that just to secure Iskcon. And these two concepts are absolutely essential: Prabhupāda’s position as the Founder Ācārya and the collective concept of management through the governing body.
So anyway, so finally all these ideas have been thoroughly discussed and eventually it has come up in the form of a book. I think we have only few copies sent here. How many copies- anyway these books are meant for free distribution and we are going to translate in all the major languages. We started to work already in Hindi, Bengali, Russian and Spanish. Let me see- German, French. So they are going to be translated because in all major languages so that everybody gets an opportunity to read this book and understand what Iskcon is. What Śrīla Prabhupāda’s position in Iskcon and eventually how this Iskcon is going to successfully spread Kṛṣṇa Consciousness all over the world. Gaurāṅga Prabhu, let me know how many copies you need in English. I will just send them, arrange to send them.
Hare Kṛṣṇa. All glories to Śrīla Prabhupāda. So does anybody have any question? Yes
Devotee: Mahārāja, Hare Kṛṣṇa. Hare Kṛṣṇa Guru Mahārāja. As you said Śrīla Prabhupāda’s position as Founder Ācārya I heard one of your lecture that you said in Christianity they give more focus on Jesus Christ. So Christianity is now flourishing so they focus Jesus Christ as God and how Kṛṣṇa Consciousness will flourish when we put Śrīla Prabhupāda as a focus, as the Founder Ācārya and just say relate something can we…
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: I think what I mentioned is that just as in Christianity Jesus Christ has a very special position. Can you think of Christianity without Jesus Christ? Can you think of Islam without Mohamad? No, even Prabhupāda himself said that we should make a research on Rāma Krishna Mission [laughter]. And find out about Ramakrishna’s position there. Like, the institution is together because of this personality who set up the institution who is the founder and Ācārya of the institution. That Jesus Christ is seen as God that is a misconception. Jesus himself never said that he is God. He always said he is the son of God. Anyway that’s a different thing altogether. Any other question? Yeah, Gaurāṅga Prabhu.
Gaurāṅga Prabhu: So just coming back to the point of what initially inspired you to get connected to Śrīla Prabhupāda when so many other philosophies and…
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: [laughter]
Gaurāṅga Prabhu: so many other things were also there?
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Well I could also ask you the same question [laughter]?
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Well I was searching for spiritual life. I wouldn’t say spiritual life so much, I was kind of… I didn’t- I was concerned -I was aware that to enter into a spiritual life you need a spiritual master who would guide you to spiritual life and I was searching for a Guru in India. But I was within a short time disillusioned because I could see that I mean, at least I couldn’t find anybody to whom I could surrender myself completely. At least that understanding was there that I have to surrender myself to a Guru and then the Guru will take me, although I didn’t know where [laughter] and in this way when I practically gave up my search, then I came across this Nectar of Devotion and when I started to read it, then from the very first page it occurred to me that this is what I was looking for. Those days my understanding of spiritual life was to achieve liberation. And when I started to read Nectar of Devotion then I could see, that Prabhupāda is talking about five kinds of liberation and then Prabhupāda explained that out of these five kinds of liberation, four are positive and one is negative and then I realized that the one that I was aspiring for [laughter] is a negative one.
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: And then it came with a wonderful awareness, I mean, that Prabhupāda mentioned that God is a person. Those days my understanding of the Absolute Truth or God was rather impersonal. But Prabhupāda very clearly pointed out that God is a person and then he pointed out that Kṛṣṇa is God. And I mean being born in India, you know, we grow up with a very close connection to Kṛṣṇa. But here Prabhupāda is so clearly pointing out that Kṛṣṇa is God and it came with such clarity and profound awareness that I felt that this is what I was looking for and then I had a dream the next night. I saw Śrīla Prabhupāda in the dream and I saw him sitting on a throne. Those days I didn’t know what a Vyasasana was. So Prabhupāda looked like a person… Like he was sitting on a throne and there was a beautiful brilliant light around him. And just the sight made me realize that here is my guru. Finally I found him. So I offered my obeisances to him. Didn’t ask any question, just my heart was filled with profound joy that finally I found my spiritual master and fortunately when I met Śrīla Prabhupāda, very kindly he allowed me also to be with him all the time. So that was another stroke of good fortune for me. Thank you. What about yourself [laughter]?
Gaurāṅga Prabhu: I was studying at IIT and I met Bhakti Rasāmṛta Mahārāja and that was the end of my [laughter]
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: [laughter]
Gaurāṅga Prabhu: …and then I connected to the devotees here.
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Thank you. So everyone has a history. Thank you. Any other question? Yes. Can somebody give her the mike?
[ some delay in switching on the mike]
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Okay, go ahead. Yeah now it’s working.
Devotee: Hare Kṛṣṇa Mahārāja. You were able to have a glimpse of the idea of Founder Ācārya or the importance of institution or this GBC in scripture?
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: What’s your question?
Devotee: Were you able to find the idea of the Founder Ācārya or like this because this talk you like said, the importance of Founder Ācārya or the importance of institution? So are we able to find this idea in scripture?
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: In the scriptures? Well I mean I don’t know whether, I mean, it’s not mentioned like scripture in that way but in the history we find. Say for example that in the age of Kali whoever established any religious doctrines, he founded an institution or sampradāya. For example Rāmānujācārya did that. Mādhāvcārya did that and in those sampradāyas, say for example MādhavĀcārya has a prominent position. He is the sampradāya Ācārya. Rāmānujācārya is the sampradāya Ācārya. And also we can see that Madhvācārya did not appoint one successor. He appointed eight successors for eight maths, right? And they in turn actually become the Ācārya at different times, different years. So this way we can see that in the.. you see here we have to also consider another thing like in the spiritual scene in India, you can see it was a personal thing. When one wanted to take to spiritual life, he used to go the forests or go to the Himalayas, live in the āśrama of his guru and get trained up and in course of time he could become a guru himself and train his disciples. This was a very, very limited endeavor, a very, very selected endeavor. But in the age of Kali it has become a massive endeavor, it’s meant for all. This was not before. Caitanya Mahāprabhu came and gave this Kṛṣṇa Consciousness movement for everybody. So when you do things collectively in this way you have to have a structure. And that structure is the institution. And like, I mean, I can’t immediately think of any scriptural evidence for that but one thing that comes to my mind in that respect: that in the spiritual sky there are groups like that. Like Kṛṣṇa has His institution that’s called Vraja. And in Vraja there are different groups. Nanda Mahārāja’s group: there Nanda Mahārāja is the Founder Ācārya [laughter]
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Rādhārāṇī’s group and there are eight governing body commissioners [laughter].
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: So when you think of a structure then you have to have a definite, you know, the head of the structure and the management body. Like, can you think of an army without a general and officers. To systematically have the army function effectively, don’t you see the army has.. you are from which country?
Devotee: From Hongkong
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: From Hongkong. Okay. Anyway although it has a small army but in the army you will find that there is a lieutenant. He has his small group. Then above that there is a captain. He has his group. Above the captain there is the Major. Above the Major there is Colonel. Like that and then finally on top you get the king. So similarly you see when you think of a structure it has to be like that. The head of the structure and below that there are definite officers executing different missions. Even in the spiritual sky you get that. Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī is the Commander in Chief [laughter].
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Thank you. Hare Kṛṣṇa. All glories to Śrīla Prabhupāda. Any other question? Yes.
Devotee: Hare Kṛṣṇa Mahārāja. Mahārāja, once I was told that as we read Prabhupāda’s books he is our śikṣā guru also.
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Yes Prabhupāda is the guru as the śikṣā guru. There are two types of gurus. Śikṣā guru and dīkṣā guru. Dīkṣā guru is the one who gives dīkṣā. Dīkṣā guru is the guru who gives the mantra and to the dīkṣā guru one surrenders. He is the surrendering point. But śikṣā guru is the person who is training us in spiritual life. Now in Iskcon whose śikṣā is prevalent, whose śikṣā is most prominent? Not most prominent whose śikṣā is the śikṣā in Iskcon? Śrīla Prabhupāda’s. Therefore Śrīla Prabhupāda is undoubtedly the śikṣā guru of all the devotees in Iskcon for all time and this is the point. Prabhupāda is the Ācārya. Ācārya means guru. Śrīla Prabhupāda is the śikṣā guru.
And that is the difference we are having with some other group in Iskcon, I mean a group which kind of splintered away from Iskcon. They are saying that Prabhupāda is going to be the dīkṣā guru. No one is qualified to give dīkṣā. I mean we have problem with that concept because there is no such precedence, there is no such scriptural evidence, it never happened in the past, it’s not mentioned in the scriptures that after one’s disappearance one will continue to give dīkṣā. It doesn’t happen that way and Śrīla Prabhupāda didn’t himself say anything about that. So Prabhupāda is not going to function as the dīkṣā guru but Prabhupāda is functioning as śikṣā guru and Prabhupāda will continue to function as śikṣā guru because Prabhupāda’s śikṣā is the foundation of Iskcon.
Okay? And incidentally we also have to remember that our line is actually śikṣā paramparā. The line the guru paramaparā that we draw is not based on dīkṣā, it’s rather based on śikṣā. For example Gaurakiśora Dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja was not dīkṣā disciple of Bhaktivinoda Thakur. Bhaktivinoda Thakur was not the dīkṣā disciple of Jagannātha Dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja. Jagannātha Dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja was not the dīkṣā disciple of Baladeva Vidyābhusan. But that is how our line is. So what does it indicate? It indicates that it is a śikṣā paramparā which is also known as Bhāgavata paramparā. So should we sing a bhajana? Like what if we, since we are glorifying Prabhupāda what if we sing śuddha bhakta caraṇa reṇu?
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Who is playing the mṛdaṅga. You will play. Okay very good.
Is it alright if I sing will you be able to follow without the song. Oh given. Okay.
Guru Mahārāja sings the bhajana: Śuddha Bhakta Caraṇa Reṇu