ISKCON Radhadesh Lecture on Śrīla Prabhupāda ‘The Founder-Ācārya of ISKCON’

ISKCON Radhadesh Lecture on Śrīla Prabhupāda ‘The Founder-Ācārya of ISKCON’

namo om vishnu padaya kṛṣṇa presthaya bhutale
śrīmate bhaktivedanta swami iti namine

namaste sarasvati deve gaura vani pracarine
nirvisesa sunyavadi pascatya desa tarine

śrī kṛṣṇa chaitanya prabhu Nityānanda Śrī advaita
gadadhara Śrīvasadi gaura bhakta vrinda

hare kṛṣṇa hare kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa hare hare
hare rāma hare rāma rāma rāma hare hare

jaya jaya prabhupāda !

gaura premanande !

namo om vishnu padaya kṛṣṇa presthaya bhutale
Śrīmate bhaktivedanta swami iti namine

namaste sarasvati deve gaura vani pracarine
nirvisesa sunyavadi pascatya desa tarine

Śrīla Prabhupāda Ki Jaya !

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Hare Kṛṣṇa

Devotees: Hare Kṛṣṇa

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: I am happy to see you all here today. I can see how Radhadesh is booming… So many devotees. How many of you are in this college, the Bhaktivedanta College?

Devotees: [Unclear]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: How many you are here for the kirtan seminar? And how are you enjoying your kirtan participation? Are you enjoying the wonderful atmosphere in Radhadesh and are you developing your attachment to Śrī Śrī Radha-Gopinatha and Jagannatha-Baladeva-Subhadra and Śrī Śrī Gaura-Nitai?

So I was told to speak about the Holy Name before I go into the main topic of the discussion today. Holy Name, these two words themselves clarify what the Holy Name is. Whose Name is Holy? Kṛṣṇa’s Name, the Name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Our Names are not Holy. The Name, the Name indicates a person. Who is this Holy Name indicating? The Supreme Personality of Godhead. When we say the Name then it naturally indicates somebody. There we have to understand Who we are actually addressing when we chant. There is the consideration of knowing the Person, understanding the Person and develop a relationship with the Person. Sambandha, relationship. The Name is in relationship to Who? Sometimes in India… In India Kṛṣṇa is a very popular name. You even come across ‘Kṛṣṇa Lodge’, ‘Kṛṣṇa Rice field’, ’Kṛṣṇa Hotel’, what to speak of so many people have names like Kṛṣṇa. When we say Kṛṣṇa, do we indicate those people in relation to those factors? Our understanding should be very clear that when we say Kṛṣṇa it is indicating the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In this respect we can consider there is a very…

The Vedas are very scientific. Vedas mean knowledge. That knowledge is real. Knowledge is scientific. [Unclear] The Vedas are dealing with real scientific teaching. Say for example the Vedas are considering that there are two types of sounds: meaningless sound and meaningful sound. [Mahārāja makes a sound by ticking on the microphone and then clapping his hands] Does it convey any meaning? Or we can sometimes say ‘bla bla bla’. In some language it means something but in English it does not mean anything. So we have meaningful sound and meaningless sound. So many sounds are there, they don’t convey any meaning. They do not convey any meaning. But there are other sounds. For example the moment we hear the sound ‘water’. We get the impression of an object. When we say ‘Hridaya Chaitanya Prabhu’ we recognize a person. When we say ‘Château De Petite Somme’… These are meaningful sounds. Water, floor, walls, door, flowers, vase, painting. These sounds convey the meaning or identify the objects of this material nature.

But there are some other sounds which come from another world. Is there another world beyond this material nature? How many of you believe that there is another world beyond this material nature? Thank you. Some sounds actually come from there. And those sound vibrations identify the objects of that nature. And those sounds are called ‘mantra’. Mantras are not the sound vibration of this material world. Mantras are the sound vibrations of the spiritual world. They reveal the objects of the spiritual world. And among all objects of the spiritual world which is the topmost object of the spiritual world? The Supreme Personality. Therefore the sounds which reveal the identity of the Supreme Personality of Godhead are called maha-mantra. Mantras reveal the objects of the spiritual reality but the maha-mantra is the supreme object of the spiritual world. Who are the supreme objects of the spiritual reality? How do you get to know about the supreme object? Hare Kṛṣṇa. This Hare, what does this Hare mean?

Hare can mean so many things. Invocative [Unclear] this Hare. It can mean Hari. Hare in the vocative can mean Hari. Hara is Lord Shiva. It can also mean Lord Shiva. If somebody wants to identify like that… That’s why this sambandha consideration. To us who does this Hare indicate? Hara. Who is Hara?

Devotees: Rādhārāṇī

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami : Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. To us Hare is the vocative of Hara, Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. Then Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Why? Because He is all attractive. He is endowed with all features of attraction in an unlimited sense. What are the features of attraction? The features of attraction are wealth, strength, fame, beauty, knowledge etc. We naturally become attracted to these features… Wealth attracts us, strength attracts us… Now Kṛṣṇa has all these to the fullest extent, to the absolute extent. Somebody may not be attracted to wealth but he is attracted to fame. Somebody may not be attracted to beauty but one must be attracted to one of this six, if not all six. And Kṛṣṇa has all these six qualities to the fullest extent. Therefore can anybody avoid being attracted by Kṛṣṇa? Kṛṣṇa is the all-attractive. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is all-attractive. Therefore He is Kṛṣṇa.

The Sanskrit words are all very meaningful. All Sanskrit words come from a root. Like say, as I mentioned Veda. Veda means knowledge. And where is the Veda word stemming from? Veda stems from ‘vid’ which means to know. Know, ‘vid’. And there are different… in which way it should be addressed or expressed. So ‘veda’ means knowledge. The word ‘Kṛṣṇa’ is stemming from the root ‘krs’. karṣan veṇu-svanair gopīr. So karshan, Kṛṣ-ṇa, the One Who is all-attractive.

So this is how the Name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead generally indicates different qualities of the Supreme Personality. Similarly Rāma. The word Rāma is stemming from the root ‘Ram’. [Unclear] Rāma… Radha-Rāmana. One Who enjoys the Supreme pleasure, the Supreme Enjoyer, the Enjoyer of the supreme pleasure, He is Rāma. In this way this Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Hare Hare, Hare Rāma Hare Rāma Rāma Rāma Hare Hare is indicating the transcendental couple, the predominating factor of the spiritual reality, Radha and Kṛṣṇa.

By chanting this Hare Kṛṣṇa maha-mantra what are we doing? We are establishing our relationship. Therefore those who are in ISKCON they are not going to settle for anything less than the supreme abode. Nothing less means, not even Vaikuṇṭha, not even Ayodhyā, not even Dvārakā, not even Maṭhaurā. They won’t settle for anything less than Vṛndāvana. That is the ultimate destination of the devotees of ISKCON.

Sometimes devotees insist that you have to give me second initiation. Actually the second initiation is not important. Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, once you get the Hare Kṛṣṇa maha-mantra you got the highest. So when you got the highest, then what is the point of getting anything less? When you got ten thousand dollars does it not automatically mean you also got one thousand dollars, two thousand dollars? When you have the maha-mantra you have everything. But then the question may arise that why we have the system of second initiation. The second initiation is for the rules and regulations, to abide by the rules and regulations of the scriptures in worshiping the Deities.

But the Hare Kṛṣṇa Maha-mantra is beyond. In simple words it can be explained this way. If you achieve perfection in Gayatri-mantra you will go to Vaikuṇṭha. When you achieve your perfection chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, where will you go? Goloka-Vṛndāvana. Where do you want to go? Vṛndāvana or you want to go to Vaikuṇṭha? If you want to go to Vaikuṇṭha then you focus on Gayatri mantra. But those who want to go to Vṛndāvana they are requested to chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa maha-mantra. And by achieving his perfection in chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa maha-mantra one can go to Goloka-Vṛndāvana. Or Goloka-Navadvipa. There is no difference. Two sides of the same limb. One side is Vṛndāvana where Kṛṣṇa is enjoying in loving exchange with his devotees and the other one is Navadvipa where Kṛṣṇa is distributing that love that He is enjoying in Goloka. Now enjoying and distributing, out of these two, which one is more magnanimous.

Devotee: Distributing.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami : therefore either way, Navadvipa or Vṛndāvana. But one consideration is that those who are in Navadvipa they have access to Vṛndāvana. But those who are in Vṛndāvana they may not have access to Navadvipa. This way it is a better option to go to Navadvipa. Because they are option to both. Navadvipa as well as Vṛndāvana. Those who are in Caitanya Mahāprabhus’ pastimes they are in Navadvipa. So in the age of Kali Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu makes this Holy Name available to anyone. Actually this Holy Name which leads to Vṛndāvana is very rare. Access to Vṛndāvana is very, very rare. It is rare even for Lord Brahma, it is rare even for Lord Shiva. Don’t get shocked when I say that it is rare even for Laxmidevi. That is how rare this access to Vṛndāvana is. You know Lord Shiva wanted to enter in Vṛndāvana. Finally you know how he got access to Vṛndāvana? As Gopesvara Shiva. And that also he did not get access to the rasa-dance. He stood there at the gate. Prosecuting the trespassers. So those trespassers cannot enter. Lord Shiva is guarding the gate.

Laxmidevi asked Nārāyaṇa: “Please take me to your Vṛndāvana pastimes.” Nārāyaṇa said: “Okay, the way to enter in Vṛndāvana is by following one of the residents of Vṛndāvana. Follow one of the devotees of Vṛndāvana. Laxmidevi said: “I am Laxmi, how can I submit myself to one of the residents of Vṛndāvana?” I am Laxmidevi, the eternal consort of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Nārāyaṇa said: “Then forget about entering Vṛndāvana.” [Laughter] So Laxmidevi performed great austerities, she performed severe austerities. And as a result of that Kṛṣṇa appeared. Kṛṣṇa asked: “Laxmi, what happened?” Why are you performing such severe austerities” So Laxmidevi told Him. So Kṛṣṇa placed Laxmidevi on His chest as Śrīvatsa, and that is how Laxmidevi got entrance into the rasa-dance.

That Kṛṣṇa-prema is being distributed without any qualification or eligibility. Who is doing that? Only the Supreme Personality of Godhead can do that brahmar durlabha prema sabakare jache The transcendental loving relationship of Vraja. He is going after and requesting everybody. [Unclear] Whoever He is seeing, in a very humble way He is requesting. Please accept this Holy Name and by that secret… Amara… Purchase me by paying the price of chanting the Holy Name Kṛṣṇa. That’s why Rupa Goswami, he is saying: “namomahā-vadānyāyakṛṣṇa-prema-pradāya tePradāya te means distributing. He is distributing this Kṛṣṇa-prema without any consideration qualification of eligibility “Take it.” So Who is This Person? So Kṛṣṇa-prema that is rare for Lord Shiva, Lord Brahma, even Laxmidevi, then Who can distribute Kṛṣṇa-prema in this way? Therefore Śrīla Rupa Gosvami is saying: “He must be Kṛṣṇa Himself.” Because other than Kṛṣṇa Who can distribute Kṛṣṇa-prema in this way? Kṛṣṇaya Kṛṣṇa Chaitanya. Kṛṣṇa Himself must have come with this identity of Kṛṣṇa Caitanya. This is how the identity of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has been revealed. And the importance of the glory of the Holy Name has been… And Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu distributed this Kṛṣṇa-prema only throughout India. But Mahaprabhu made a wonderful prediction. What is that prediction? How many of you know? That wonderful prediction of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu:

pṛthivīte āche yata nagarādi grāma
sarvatra pracāra haibe mora nāma

As many villages and towns are there, everywhere, in every town and village this Kṛṣṇa consciousness will spread. And in order to fulfill that prediction, what did Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu do? In order to fulfill that prediction what did Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu do? Did Śrī Chaitanya Mahprabhu Himself come and distribute it? He did it to some extent. But in order to fulfill this prediction what did He do? He sent Śrīla Prabhupāda. And it is due to Śrīla Prabhupāda’s wonderful arrangement that Kṛṣṇa-consciousness spread all over the world. Actually in this arrangement of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu there are three personalities, culminating ultimately in Śrīla Prabhupāda.

The first personality is Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura . Caitanya Mahāprabhus teachings were lost. Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s dhama and Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s teachings, these two things disappeared. The dhama disappeared after the flood, a big flood and Navadvipa got lost. And then His teachings got eclipsed by the apa-sampradāyas. Unscrupulous people in the Name of Caitanya Mahāprabhu started to promote all kinds of bogus philosophies, bogus ideologies… So much so that… There was a time when Caitanya Mahāprabhus teachings were completely lost. Only some bhajanandi Vaishnavas in Navadvipa, Vṛndāvana like Jagannatha Babaji Mahārāja , Gaurakisora Babaji Mahārāja . They were kind of retaining, they only had these pure teachings of Chaitanya Mahāprabhu. Otherwise by the activities of these other sampradāyas, these teachings of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu were lost.

Then came Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura to revive the teachings of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Do you want to know how the situation was at that time when Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura started the revival of the mission of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu? He was looking for a Caitanya-caritāmṛta and he could not find a single Caitanya-caritāmṛta in the entire Bengal. In the whole of Bengal there was not a single Caitanya-caritāmṛta. And finally he found it in Orissa. Then he wrote his Amrita Pravaha Basya, his on commentary called the Flow Of Nectar. Amrita, the nectar and Pravaha means flow. And he started to print that Caitanya-caritāmṛta, he started to distribute it. And in this way the Caitanya-caritāmṛta s’ teachings were revived. Otherwise the intelligent, educated, sophisticated class of people did not even want to have anything to do with the teachings of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhus movement. Because they thought that Mahāprabhu’s movement is what the apa-sampradāyas are doing. They were smoking ganja, they would smoke hashish, they were having illicit relationships with women, these were part of their activities, the so-called spiritual activities. Part of their spiritual activities were fish eating, not meat eating. Part of their spiritual activities were fish eating, intoxication, illicit sex and gambling. You can imagine what was going on in this way, in the Name of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Naturally the educated people of India did not want to have anything to do with his movement. But Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura started to revive Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhus’ mission by printing Caitanya-caritāmṛta [Unclear], the teachings by printing, writing books, writing poetry. He was a very sophisticated, a very exalted personality. He was the deputy magistrate. People naturally started to take him seriously. He was so influential. In this way he started the revival of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s mission. But he was in the government’s service. So he could not do very much himself. Then as you know he prayed to Lord Jagannatha. He was the deputy magistrate of Lord Jagannatha’s temple. He was the custodian of the Jagannatha temple. He prayed to Lord Jagannatha and as a result of his prayer who came?

Devotee: Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura .

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: And ŚrīlaBhaktisiddhāntaSarasvatīṬhākura actually started to spread Kṛṣṇa consciousness. In a way we can consider that Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura gave the blue print. And Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura implemented it. And then unfortunately the mission of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura was disintegrated. It fell apart after his disappearance. Unfortunately his leading disciples could not understand his most important instruction. Before he left the planet Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura wanted that: “Work collectively in that institution that he created the Gauḍīyā mission. And manage the mission; manage the institution through a governing body”. But unfortunately some of his leading disciples considered how a spiritual organization can be run by a group of managers. So we need an ācārya, a spiritual leader. And they appointed an ācārya. Unfortunately he fell down. And when he fell down the structure was lost. And already two fractions started to fight over the possessions, the property. Prabhupāda said, initially they appointed one ācārya and he fell down. Then everybody wanted to become the ācārya. They had a small, little temple and they became the Founder-Ācārya of that temple. But most of them actually continued their spiritual life in their respective temples. But that collective endeavor to spread the movement was not there. And as a result of that the teachings stopped. They had their own Maṭha, they had a few disciples and they had their show going. But that vision that Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura created was lost. He himself spread Kṛṣṇa consciousness all over India. Those days … He had sixty three temples in India and one temple in Birma. He had sixty four temples. We can well imagine what a massive movement he created at that time. But because his followers did not listen to his instruction, to collectively manage that institution, the institution fell apart and the preaching stopped. The only person who could actually understand Śrīla Bhaktisiddhanta Siddhanta Sarasvati’s vision, ideology, was Śrīla Prabhupāda. And we can see from the very beginning, Śrīla Prabhupāda was always pushing: “Please, let us join together” He expressed this in his early writings and many poems from that time, where he expressed his heart felt concern, agony. Time and time again he is trying. “And still now, let us combine and work together and spread this movement.” They did not respond.

When Śrīla Prabhupāda went to America, he got some opportunity to preach there. Śrīla Prabhupāda wrote to his leading Godbrothers. An opportunity is there. You all come now. At that time Śrīla Prabhupāda even prepared to give them the leadership and he was happy to be just serving them in the mission. And that’s why when all the efforts to work collectively failed, Śrīla Prabhupāda decided to set up his institution: “The International Society For Kṛṣṇa Consciousness.”

We can see that Prabhupāda himself gave the absolute importance to the institution. Prabhupāda himself did not want to put himself in front. Even today we can see, like in India, what to speak of other countries, even in India people do not recognize who is behind these ISKCON temples. Gradually they are becoming aware. But common people don’t even know. Like for example in Māyāpur the ISKCON temple is known as the sahib Maṭha, meaning the temple of the English men. And in Vṛndāvana the Angrezi mandir, again the same: ‘The temple of the English men’. But they don’t recognize that behind this movement is Śrīla Prabhupāda. And Prabhupāda also did not care about getting any credit for himself. Prabhupāda was simply concerned about fulfilling the mission of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.

Like we notice, those days in the mid-sixties, many so-called spiritual leaders went from India to America. It was big business at that time. And what we notice that all of them named their institution or organization according to their names. Mahesh-yogi, Bala-yogi, Cinmāyā Ananda, so many. Rāma-Kṛṣṇa was [unclear]. So they all named their institution after them. But Śrīla Prabhupāda’s institution, what was the name of that institution? The International Society for Kṛṣṇa Consciousness. It was not the International Society for Bhaktivedanta Swami Consciousness or Prabhupāda Consciousness. Prabhupāda called it Kṛṣṇa consciousness. And for that also there was some concern. When Prabhupāda was registering that institution, then the lawyer and even his followers, those who are actually going to become the trustees of his institution, even they thought that the International Society For Kṛṣṇa Consciousness, actually it was not really right. It should be named as the International Society for God Consciousness. But Prabhupāda stopped this point. He said: “No. The International Society for Kṛṣṇa Consciousness” When they said people don’t know Kṛṣṇa, they know God. Let us name it in a way that they will be able understand. What was Prabhupāda’s response? “I have come here to make them understand that Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” That was how determined Śrīla Prabhupāda was with his mission.

And we see that Prabhupāda put the absolute importance on the institution of ISKCON. He identified himself as a member of the GBC, member of the Government Body Commission. This is how he did it. And Prabhupāda very emphatically told us not to make the same mistake that his Godbrothers made after Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī left. Don’t make the same mistake. “Manage the institution collectively through the GBC.”

And we notice that Śrīla Prabhupāda actually gave emphasis on two things. One is his position as the Founder-Ācārya. And the other is to collectively manage this institution through the GBC. Why is that? Because these two factors are absolutely essential to hold the institution together. In order to hold the institution together we need the head of the institution properly established. Otherwise the institution will fall apart, as it happened in the Gauḍīyā-Maṭha. We see that although Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura did not say very much about his position, his position as the Founder-Ācārya, although he used the expression ‘Founder Ācārya’, but his position was not so emphatically established. But one thing we noticed: “Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī did not say anything about how the initiation would continue after he disappeared. [Unclear] about the management. But nothing about who will become the next ācārya. But Prabhupāda did.

Prabhupāda made one point very clear. That he is the Founder, naturally nobody will doubt that. But Prabhupāda also emphatically established that he is THE ācārya of ISKCON, which means that Śrīla Prabhupāda is going to be the guru of all the devotees of ISKCON at all times. He is the Founder-Ācārya. And all the other gurus, all the other leaders will function as the sub-servants, as his representatives. In this respect we can also consider… I consider two things here: “Why an institution is so important” And the second consideration is: “Why it is so important to hold the institution together we have to recognize Śrīla Prabhupāda’s unique position.

First we consider why an institution has such an importance. You see, a personality like Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, Śrīla Prabhupāda, they are very rare, they come only once in a blue moon. Fortunately these three personalities came practically in succession. Generally such personalities are very, very rare. And to continue the mission… His mission only started to be successful, to have any result only when he went to America, when he was at the age of seventy.

So Prabhupāda actually started the mission at the age of seventy. So when you start something at the age of seventy, how much time do you think you will have? Obviously not a very long time. [Unclear] Unless you are in māyā. Those who are in māyā they think they have a lot of time. They never think that they are going to die. But a spiritual personality is considering that I am starting the mission at the age of seventy and how much time do I have? And when such a personality leaves how the mission will continue? The mission will continue only through the collective endeavor. We have seen Gauḍīyā Maṭha, although it was so successful, like why after Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī disappeared, it just fizzled down, the preaching mission stopped practically. Why is that? Because when Bahktisiddhanta Sarasvati Ṭhākura left, the way to continue the mission would have been to collectively hold it together, to continue the mission. But when they failed to act collectively, although they maintained their spiritual life, but that massive preaching movement came to a halt. That’s why Prabhupāda was so emphatic about the institution and the collective management, the collective endeavor of the devotees to continue the mission. Consider what was one of the last instructions of Śrīla Prabhupāda. “Your love for me will be shown by how you cooperate with each other.”

How to express our love for Śrīla Prabhupāda? By achieving big, big things ourselves? No. Prabhupāda himself is saying that the way to express our love for him will be by a collective endeavor, a united endeavor. In a way we can see the absolute emphasis Śrīla Prabhupāda gave in the united endeavor to spread the mission. Because after Prabhupāda, like we saw in Gauḍīyā-Maṭha one ācārya was appointed, he fell down. Whereas in ISKCON so many gurus fell down but what happened to the movement? Did the movement suffer? Damage has been caused but the movement survived. ISCKON is still there. Why? Because of that consideration of managing the institution collectively through the GBC. The gurus may have fallen down but the GBC is continuing the mission. Sometimes the GBC’s also have to face different challenges. Powerful individuals, they wanted to hurt the movement. But the GBC’s stood their ground. If you don’t come up to the standard of following the four regulative principles and the other standards then you cannot be in ISKCON, no matter whoever you are. They could do it because it is a collective body. If one individual is very strong and if we have to face him singularly, individually it would have been very difficult, but collectively it was possible. No matter how powerful that individual is. He is not strong enough or rather the GBC or the collective body is stronger than the strongest individual in ISKCON.

Now I go to the second point. Why do we need Śrīla Prabhupāda as the Founder-Ācārya to keep the institution together? A spiritual movement or spiritual teaching is a matter of teachers, a spiritual master and disciple. Generally in India what used to happen? The guru used to have an āśrama and the disciples used to come and get training. And then when the guru would retire he would hand over the āśrama to a chosen one. If other disciples wanted to also continue then they would go and open their own āśramas. That was the custom of Vedic culture. But Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura and Śrīla Prabhupāda saw that in order to continue this mission of spreading Kṛṣṇa consciousness all over the world we need an institution of that dimension, an institution, not a small little āśrama in a small little village. We need an international organization. And a personality like Śrīla Prabhupāda can create that organization. This is not a small āśrama. It is an international society whose activities are going to spread all over the world. And no one person is going to be qualified enough to be the head. In one generation it may happen. But generation after generation it cannot be. One person cannot be the head of the institution. It is too big for anyone. Therefore there is the need of the collective consideration of management. That’s why Prabhupāda did not hand over ISKCON to anybody. Prabhupāda did not appoint any ācārya or successor. Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura did not appoint any successor. Prabhupāda just said: “Manage the institution through the governing body” And that is going to be… Here we can see that the head of the āśrama, Prabhupāda’s position as the head of the āśrama has been established for all times.

And GBC’s have passed various resolutions in ISCKON. One such resolution is that Śrīla Prabhupāda is THE pre-eminent śikṣā-guru of all the devotees of ISKCON for all times. Because naturally, it is natural. Śrīla Prabhupāda’s śikṣā is the very foundation of ISKCON. Prabhupāda’s books are the basis of ISKCON. All that we teach is based on Śrīla Prabhupāda’s arrangement, on his teachings. Previously although the guru used to hand over the āśrama to a chosen one… But Śrīla Prabhupāda did not do that. Rather Śrīla Prabhupāda established himself as the Founder-Ācārya indicating that he will remain the head of the institution. And others will function as his representatives.

So in the GBC we have a thing called the strategy-planning committee. And the strategy planning committee has other subcommittees. One such subcommittee is Śrīla Prabhupāda’s position. And after intense discussion for years eventually this year we have come out with a book that has been written by Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu, after extensive research. And that is this book “Śrīla Prabhupāda The Founder-Ācārya”.

How many of you have seen this book? How many of you read this book? So now we got the books here… [Unclear] London. These books will also be translated into various languages. And we feel very happy that finally this book has come out establishing ISKCON’s understanding of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s position. And how we want to implement this understanding… This is how our institution, our society [unclear]. There was a time when our leading devotees, whether consciously or unconsciously they started a competition. And as a result of that Prabhupāda’s position was eclipsed. And it is fortunate that we detected that. Unfortunately we had to try to rectify it.

And in simple words Śrīla Prabhupāda is THE Head of ISKCON for all times. Everybody in ISKCON functions as a servant, as Śrīla Prabhupāda’s representative in ISKCON, and so forth. Then we will see how strong, how powerful this movement will become and how wonderfully by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhus mercy the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement will start to spread all over the world, exponentially. Thank you all very much.

All glories to Śrīla Prabhupāda! Gaura premanande!

Devotees: Haribol!

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Does anybody have any question?

Devotee: In Ravindra Svarupa’s ecclesiology it’s surprising to find hardly any references to the place Śrīla Prabhupāda gave to his books in his vision of ISKCON. There is no discussion of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s intellectual contribution, which one would think is central to the mission of a Founder-Ācārya as understood in this book. The book lists five “core” elements (the founding of ISKCON, Prabhupāda’s use of the title “Prabhupāda,” the use of the title “Founder-Ācārya,” establishing the GBC, and beginning the Māyāpura temple). Establishing the BBT is mentioned, but then it is said not to be a “core” component “considered in terms of ecclesiology.” And nothing further is said about Śrīla Prabhupāda’s books.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Well, to me it is kind of natural. When you think of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s teachings, where are Śrīla Prabhupāda’s teachings? Aren’t the teachings in his books? Sometimes you know, when something is so obvious, probably there is no need to separately mention that. Who will deny that Śrīla Prabhupāda’s teachings are the very foundation of ISKCON? And his teachings have been established through his books.

But I agree, it is a good point. Probably we should have added that point. I will speak to Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu. Maybe we can add that point. Prabhupāda himself pointed out that his books are the basis; the books are the basis of ISKCON. Thank you.

Devotee: [Unclear]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: You see, in many ways you know, what the ritviks are saying the GBC is also saying. The only conflict, the only factor is that ‘While the GBC is saying or ISKCON is saying that Śrīla Prabhupāda is the most important, pre-eminent siksa-guru of all the devotees in ISKCON, they are saying that Prabhupāda is the dīkṣā-guru. The problem actually is that the consideration of dīkṣā requires a person giving it. That’s why there is the need for somebody to give the mantra and guide the individual on a daily basis [Unclear]. That’s the only difference. If they accept that Śrīla Prabhupāda is the pre-eminent siksa-guru of all the devotees in ISKCON for all times, then there won’t be any conflict.

Jaya Śrī Śrī Radha-Gopinatha ki jaya, jaya Śrī Śrī Jagannatha, Baladeva, Subhadra Maharani ki jaya! Jaya Śrī Śrī Gaura-Nitai ki jaya!

Śrīla Prabhupāda is the pre-eminent siksa-guru of all the devotees in ISKCON for all times and our line is actually a śikṣā succession. Our line is not a dīkṣā succession. Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura did not get dīkṣā initiation from Śrīla Jagannatha Babaji Mahārāja . Gaurakisore Babaji Mahārāja was not his dīkṣā guru. This line is a siksa line. Even if you go beyond. Baladeva Vidyabusana did not get dīkṣā from Vishvanatha Chakravati Ṭhākura. So it is purely a śikṣā. And Śrīla Prabhupāda is THE śikṣā-guru.

Devotee: [unclear]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: A very good point. Actually the GBC‘s are working on that. How to make everybody tangibly understand that Śrīla Prabhupāda is the pre-eminent siksa guru of everybody in ISKCON. We have been practicing in a way. But we have also seen that they have not implemented that. For example that when a devotee joins the movement, initially for the first six months whose praṇāma-mantras do they chant? Prabhupāda’s praṇām-mantra. Then only comes the dīkṣā guru they have chosen. So that already indicates that Prabhupāda is the personality who is the most prominent spiritual personality. And we are considering different ideas also. For example Jayapataka Mahārāja came up with the idea that when a devotee decides to take a vow of following the four regulative principles, chanting sixteen rounds, then he should accept Śrīla Prabhupāda through a ceremony. Just like for initiation we have fire sacrifice, they can have a ceremony with a fire sacrifice. These are the things that have been discussed. And I am sure that eventually something very tangible, very substantially will come out, a measure will be established that will establish Śrīla Prabhupāda’s position. [Unclear] When devotees take disksa, our understanding should be they are coming to us, for us to offer them to Śrīla Prabhupāda and engage them in his services. And things are gradually developing. You see ISKCON is a very young movement. And in the early days devotees made mistakes. Like many of the gurus assumed the role of dīkṣā guru after Śrīla Prabhupāda’s disappearance. Their point is that they did not know anything about the role of guru. The only guru they knew is Śrīla Prabhupāda. So they acted the way Prabhupāda acted. But the thing is that they eclipsed Śrīla Prabhupāda’s position, although unconsciously. And what a big price they had to pay.

Devotee: Thank you Mahārāja for your class. I have a question about something from years ago. [Unclear] He said that most of ISKCON problems are coming from Vaishnava aparādha [Unclear]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Well, we can speculate so many things. But the reality is that Śrīla Prabhupāda wanted us to function in ISCKON. Śrīla Prabhupāda was so emphatic, so concerned about protecting us, our spiritual life. Prabhupāda did not want us to go out of our temple in Māyāpura. Because Prabhupāda saw the danger of us associating and being influenced by outsiders. [Unclear] They tried to poison, they tried to mislead, some of them stole the disciples. We are not going outside and trying consciously to commit offense. We are simply saying: “Please, leave us alone.” “Leave us alone”. We are happy just being in ISKCON. But when somebody comes to steal the devotees of ISKCON then yes we have to say. “Please don’t steal our devotees.” And if one is offended by that what can be done?

Devotee: Śrīla Prabhupāda’s praṇāma-mantra. And we were always trained…[Unclear] I saw it so many times that devotees start chant Hare Kṛṣṇa without chanting Śrīla Prabhupāda’s praṇāma mantra.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: That’s news to me. Our way, the way is how Śrīla Prabhupāda established things. Yes, we must first approach Śrīla Prabhupāda, then Pancha Tattva and then the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra. How did we get the mantra? First by Śrīla Prabhupāda’s mercy. Then by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhus’ mercy. And then comes the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra. You know why Nityānanda Prabhu punished Raghunata Dasa Gosvami? You know why? Because RaghunāthadāsaGosvāmī was approaching Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu directly. But Caitanya Mahāprabhu is Nityānanda Prabhus property. Therefore He chastised: “You are a thief!” He called him a thief. Because you are stealing my property without telling Me, without My permission. And that’s why we see also Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī could not go to Caitanya Mahāprabhu.[Unclear]… But after he approached Nityānanda Prabhu. This time he succeeded. [Unclear] He accepted Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. There is a way to approach the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

hai nitai bine bai radha-kṛṣṇa paite nai

Without the permission of Nityānanda, the guru you cannot not get Radha-Kṛṣṇa. So this is the way and we should stick to that way. And the thing is, although Prabhupāda did not want to be glorified himself but it is our duty to glorify Śrīla Prabhupāda. I love to sing ‘Jaya Prabhupāda’. I love to sing Śrīla Prabhupāda’s praṇāma-mantra and then the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra. And that is what we should be the standard. [Unclear]. Anyway if somebody does that he should be corrected.

Devotee: [Unclear]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu: Yes, that should be the standard. It is not that after we chant for six months the Prabhupāda-mantra and then Prabhupāda is cast out of our lives. Whoever we are approaching is helping us to get to Śrīla Prabhupāda. That should be the understanding. When we come to the temple what do we get, you know. The temple presidents, the preachers, what do they present? They all are actually representing Śrīla Prabhupāda. And that is the simplest way to go. Thank you.

Devotee: How to know what the Supreme Personality of Godhead wants from me?

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: How to know what the Supreme Personality of Godhead wants from you? That’s why you have to ask the Vaishnavas. Because you may not hear what the Supreme Personality of Godhead says, but the Vaishnavas can hear. And they can transmit [Unclear]. Like for example when you are at the temple and you want to serve Kṛṣṇa, do you go to Kṛṣṇa and ask Him: “Kṛṣṇa, what should I do for You?” Or do you go to the temple president and you ask him what service you want me to do. You get the point? It is always better to approach through the via-media [Unclear].

Devotees: What is dharma?

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Dharma, service. Dharma means Kṛṣṇa’s instructions. Dharma, the word dharma [Unclear] the Supreme Personality of Godhead. And the ultimate dharma is to surrender to Kṛṣṇa. Therefore ‘sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaranaṁ vrajaYou know this verse from Bhagavad-gīta? Kṛṣṇa is telling: “Give up all your so-called dharma and just surrender unto Me.” [Unclear] So have you surrendered to Kṛṣṇa?

Devotee: [Unclear]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Very good.

Devotee: [Unclear]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Well, best is to avoid them, those who come up with these challenging questions. And anyway, if you cannot avoid them and if you have to confront them… Sometimes also I have to also confront them and you know what I ask them? I don’t ask them directly. I tell them: “Did Caitanya Mahāprabhu say that Kṛṣṇa consciousness will spread all over the world? They can’t say no [Unclear]. I ask them: “Is that Caitanya Mahāprabhus desire that this Hare Kṛṣṇa movement spreads all over the world? They can’t say no. And the personality who fulfilled that prediction of Caitanya Mahāprabhu, is he in line with Caitanya Mahāprabhu? Mahāprabhu’s most amazing, most wonderful prediction becomes a reality. Now the person who fulfills that prediction of Caitanya Mahāprabhu, is he in line with Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu? How do we determine the line? We determine the line by seeing how the desire of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu is fulfilled. That is the real [Unclear]. You see, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhanta Ṭhākura who actually designed the parampara, they have to recognize that [Unclear] he is an eternal associate of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu Himself. When he says that, how can we not accept that? Then are we not happy that Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhus prediction becomes a reality? The Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement spreading all over the world? And those who are real followers of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu should they not be happy that the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is spreading all over the world? Now instead of becoming happy, if they feel sad, then it is their bad luck.

Devotee: Guru Mahārāja we see in Christianity that they are strongly preaching about Jezus Crhist and even fanatically. Should we become like that about Śrīla Prabhupāda?

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: You see when you are standing on a genuine ground than you don’t really have to broadcast in that way. This kind of activity as you mentioned is borne in the mode of passion; it is generally in the mode of passion. And the thing about passion is that it leads to ignorance. Therefore in the Bhāgavatam it says that one should transcend the mode of passion and come to the mode of goodness. Kṛṣṇa consciousness is founded in the mode of goodness and then transcending the mode of goodness is the mode of pure goodness, sudha sattva. Like rather than saying we are the best, we are the best, we are saying: “Read the books and see for yourself.

Devotee: Another question, Guru Mahārāja, someone was saying about dīkṣā, someone was presenting that sannyāsa initiation and second initiation is also dīkṣā initiation. Is that right?

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Yes, it is dīkṣā but generally dīkṣā means mantra. Sannyāsa is taking a vow. Stepping into another asrāma. The sannyāsa-guru is more like a witness. Sannyāsa guru is not like giving the spiritual guidance. It is more like witness. And one gets the mantra, one gets the sannyāsa-mantra. That way it is dīkṣā. Because there is sannyāsa mantra. And the sannyāsa guru gives the mantra.

Devotee: [Unclear]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Okay, very good point. Why dīkṣā? Caitanya Mahāprabhu Himself said when He gave the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra: “Chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra does not require the dīkṣā … Just by coming in contact with the Nama even the chandalas [Unclear]. One of the reasons, one of the purposes of dīkṣā is to give the mantra. But Caitanya Mahāprabhu gave the mantra. [Unclear] Otherwise mantra is given by the guru through the process of dīkṣā. But this does not require dīkṣā. But dīkṣā has another consideration. At the time of initiation the disciple surrenders himself and at that time Kṛṣṇa accepts. Although dīkṣā is not necessary Kṛṣṇa [Unclear] for the process of surrender. That is why [Unclear] Gauḍīyā-Maṭhaa does not consider this [Unclear]. According to them. Whereas in ISKCON Prabhupāda [Unclear] the gayatri But in Iskcon Prabhupāda [Unclear]. Any other question? Okay.

Devotee: [Unclear]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami : Jaya Śrī Śrī Gaura-Nitai, Jaya Śrī Śrī Radha-Gopinatha ki jaya, Jaya Śrī Śrī Jagannatha, Baladeva, Subhadra. Jagat-guru Śrīla Prabhupāda ki jaya!

Devotee: [Unclear]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: You see, the ultimate spiritual life is a love affair. And the love automatically demands loyalty. Or the natural factor is love. And if you harbor that attitude then everything [Unclear]. Personally I developed some very close relationship with some Godbrothers, especially one of them. As long as it was helping to strengthen my relationship with Śrīla Prabhupāda, it was allright. But a time came when I had to choose between Śrīla Prabhupāda and them. So as I say… The ultimate consideration where we have … Now it is extending to an institution. So many… But no, no matter whatever happens… Was it not John Kennedy’s maiden speech? “America with all thy faults I love you”. So that should be our attitude. Iskcon, whatever happens. We are seeing that by Kṛṣṇa’s arrangements, by Caitanya Mahāprabhus arrangement, problems are there they are naturally overcome. And ISKCON is becoming stronger and stronger. Just consider today where we are, it is very, very different from where we were about thirty years ago. So who knows how ISKCON, what kind of shape ISKCON is going to take in the future. One thing is clear; ISKCON is here to fulfill the prediction of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Like how my answer to that is… Look at any spiritual organization. After its founder leaves, it disintegrates. Whereas in ISKCON, thirty seven years after Śrīla Prabhupāda this movement is growing stronger and stronger. And with the passing of time… In spite of our mistakes, in spite of our defects… Śrīla Prabhupāda is a special agent, Śrīla Prabhupāda is a special who came to establish the mission, we don’t know for how long, at least a few thousand years. Two hundred years from now [Unclear].

Devotee: [Unclear]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Very good, very good point. And you see, as opposed to Christianity ISKCON has a very positive [Unclear] to overcome those and that is: Jesus’ instructions have not been inscribed. Therefore there have been so many undesirable… Whereas in ISKCON Prabhupāda’s instructions are inscribed in his books… Because Prabhupāda’s instructions they are there for thousands of years to come. You give a Bhāgavatam class that does not conform with Śrīla Prabhupāda’s instructions, twenty five devotees will just pounce on you. Thank you.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Hare Kṛṣṇa. So we can have a little kirtan. The harmonium.

Transcription & Editing: Rāmānanda Rāya Dāsa