Who is Representing Srila Prabhupada?
The acharya is the topmost authority over all gurus in the Gaudiya Vaishnava line or school. Vyasadeva, Madhvacharya and Lord Chaitanya are such acharyas. Today that acharya is Prabhupada, without whom none of the present and future gurus would/will have any standing. It is therefore absolutely necessary for every preacher and guru, regardless of which camp he rules over, to act as the humble representative of Srila Prabhupada, the world acharya of the Gaudiya Vaishnava Sampradaya. Failure on anyone’s part to do so will result in creating unwanted factions, thereby causing dissension in the world community of Krishna devotees.
In Easy Journey to Other Planets, Srila Prabhupada outlined twenty favorable practices for a disciple, and Number Thirteen reads:
He must not take on unlimited disciples. This means that a candidate who has successfully followed the first twelve items can also become a spiritual master himself, just as a student becomes a monitor in class with a limited number of disciples.
“Monitor” means on behalf of the teacher. A disciple is always under the authority of his spiritual master, living or absent. If the disciple is not initiating on behalf of his spiritual master and in fact on behalf of the whole disciplic line of spiritual masters, for whom is he doing the initiation?? For himself? Are the initiates his property, his personal servant, his fans (fanatics)—just as movie stars and pop stars have fans? Or is the “monitor spiritual master” initiating his disciples directly on behalf of Krishna, thereby jumping over not only his spiritual master (Srila Prabhupada), but all spiritual masters in the disciplic succession?
All preaching endeavors can be harmonized by uniting in one front under the authority and blessings of the present acharya, Srila Prabhupada. What the emperor is to provincial princes and kings throughout the world, the acharya is to the many gurus, uniting their effort as one school or sampradaya worldwide. By serving the Sampradaya Acharya, all devotees can harmoniously serve Krishna as one family, although the individual devotees may be under different gurus in different parts of the world. There may be many commanders in the field, each conducting a campaign on a different enemy front, but all of them are subordinate to the commander-in-chief, who directs each commander accordingly.
It is the failure of ISKCON leaders and Gaudiya Math leaders to properly understand the significance and function of the Sampradaya Acharya, which continues to create an undesirable proliferation of self-motivated gurus who do not serve the Acharya and thus do not serve Krishna, but in fact utilise the name, fame of the Acharya and Krishna to attract followers whom they exploit for wealth and prestige in the guise of guru.
Of course, everyone will say, “We have Prabhupada in the center,” and that is a fact, but what is the underlying motive for such Prabhupada-centered show of devotion? Duryodhana and Arjuna both had Krishna in the center, but Duryodhana was envious of Krishna and was interested only to use the assets of Krishna. Arjuna, on the other hand, was interested simply to love and serve Krishna. He was not interested in Krishna’s assets. Similarly, we hear everyone say, “Srila Prabhupada in the center,” but what we see is that everyone uses the assets (books, temples, devotees, name and fame) of Prabhupada, but each serves only his personal ambition to occupy Prabhupada’s post of guru-acharya, instead of using Prabhupada’s assets to serve Prabhupada. This is the pivot of the whole problem.
The guru is Krishna Himself, and all should serve him. One who claims to be a guru disqualifies himself, because by such claim he impudently announces that he is God or Krishna. This is the mystery of the acharya. We can recognize the acharya in that person who presents to the world the conclusive Truth, setting aside all doubts, and who stands out amongst all other men as a living example. “By their fruits you shall know them.”
When Parikshit Maharaja was cursed to die, he called all the rishis, yogis, mystics, learned scholars and devotees to inquire what he should do to prepare for death. Every one of them offered so many conflicting opinions. However, when Sukadeva Goswami arrived, all parties submitted themselves to him (even Vyasadeva, his father). Sukadeva Goswami was accepted as the topmost transcendentalist. Thus there was harmony, and he spoke Srimad-Bhagavatam for the whole world. Similarly, before the appearance of Srila Prabhupada, there were so many contending camps, even in the Gaudiya Math institution. Srila Prabhupada, like Sukadeva Goswami, presented the Bhagavatam, dispelling all contention, confusion and pretense.
Now that Srila Prabhupada is gone, again so many gurus, camps and contenders have come forward, seeking to step into Srila Prabhupada’s shoes. In response to a question to Srila Prabhupada re Ramakrishna Swami, Srila Prabhupada replied that maybe Ramakrishna was Krishna, but we can know it for certain that Bhagavad-gita is Krishna, so why take risk? Similarly, we know it for certain that Prabhupada is nitya-siddha, so why take risk in taking shelter of conditioned souls posturing as pure devotees? Let us therefore accept Prabhupada as the Sampradaya Acharya and re-establish a united Brahma Vaishnava Sampradaya. What is the harm in that?