Counterfeits Spoil the Integrity of the Genuine, Authorised Sampradaya
Singapore, 1 December 1993
Dear Rahugana das:
Please accept my most humble obeisances.
On the morning of November 21st, Sunday, when you were supposed to meet me, while I was waiting for you, I wrote down the following points which I wanted to present to you for your consideration in order to impress upon you the importance and necessity of worshipping Srila Prabhupada as the Sampradaya Acharya. Please bear with me and let me know what you think. Perhaps we can meet in the States.
Why There Must be a Sampradaya Acharya, and Why He Must be Prabhupada?
There is no history of any acharya before who has done so much in so short a time as Srila Prabhupada has done.
The original acharya was Brahma, next Narada, then Vyasadeva, who recorded all the Vedic wisdom—therefore, Vyasapuja. We worship the person (guru) who perfectly represents the written conclusions of Vyasadeva. Without Vyasa’s writings, there would be no knowledge of Vedas in the present-day world. Next came Madhvacharya, then Lord Chaitanya and the six Goswamis, without whom we would have no Sankirtan movement, no science of devotional service ( Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu ). The six Goswamis excavated the places of lila in Vrindaban, so it is by their mercy we are in Vrindaban. Then came the modern-day acharya, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur, who pioneered Krishna consciousness towards the western world by publishing in English language and sending books to McGill University, Emerson and Tolstoy. His son, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, further pioneered modern-day preaching by utilizing auto, press and foreign missionaries, and at last the attempt initiated by Thakur Bhaktivinoda and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta bore fruit completely in the personality of Srila Prabhupada, who synthesized the whole VEDIC CULTURE by writing, speaking and demonstrating all the VAISHNAVA CONCLUSIONS so PERFECTLY that all the people of the world are able to assimilate them and practice them in daily life almost instantly. There is no history of any Vaishnava acharya who in so short a time was able to BROADCAST and convert so many people to the worship of Krishna throughout the whole world community.
There is no preacher today who would have any standing had the door not been opened up for him by Srila Prabhupada, just as no one would have any access to Vedic knowledge had Vyasadeva not recorded them five thousand years ago.
The conclusion is: anyone who preaches Krishna consciousness today must present himself as the servant and representative of the SAMPRADAYA ACHARYA, Srila Prabhupada, because failing to do so, one becomes an INGRATE and makes the greatest offense, namely disregarding the Acharya, which Krishna says “is My
This one adjustment in the Sampradaya—to recognize, worship and honor Srila Prabhupada as the Sampradaya Acharya—has the potential to correct the greatest number of problems facing the Vaishnava community world-wide today. It can immediately unite all contending parties and demonstrate to the non-devotional world the power and efficacy of bhakti-yoga. Without establishing this principle of ACHARYA WORSHIP in our Sampradaya, all these so-called gurus must be seen as the worst kind of offenders, pretenders and religious charlatans, because their activities, although apparently Vaishnava, holy and pure, aim at nothing more than improving personal FAME, FORTUNE and SENSE GRATIFICATION (gross or subtle). Just as one who prints and passes counterfeit money causes the greatest damage to the economy and welfare of the society. Although counterfeit money may be very expertly produced, it has no value, because it is not backed by the authority of the government.
Unless one is a government agent, it is almost impossible for the ordinary citizen to detect counterfeit money, because it may be identical in all respects—paper, engraving, color, printing. The only difference is in the authority behind the currency notes. It is also the case with gurus and preachers. They are either authorised by the Sampradaya Acharya or they are not. Therefore Prabhupada says, “Don’t just follow any rascal. Follow the acharyas. Their commentaries are there.” Then one has the YARDSTICK whereby which he can actually measure the spiritual status and substance of a person. Without this, one is sure to be misguided.
As counterfeit money introduced into the economy destroys the value of genuine money, similarly unauthorized preachers allowed to pose as bona fide devotees wreck the unity and purity of the Sampradaya. That is what is happening today. The Gaudiya Vaishnava Sampradaya is in SHAMBLES, all because we do not insist on everyone, especially the leaders, being authorized by the Sampradaya Acharya. Why do we not insist on this qualification (credential)? Because everyone is aspiring to take the post of the acharya himself. The last such aspirant, Kirtanananda, is now on the way out. The most recent aspirants, Gour Govinda and Govinda Maharaja are on the way in. So this ASPIRING and EXPIRING will go on. But if we want real shelter and progress in spiritual life, all that we require to do is either take shelter of the Sampradaya Acharya, Srila Prabhupada (tried, tested and proven, undisputable) or any sincere devotee who perfectly understands this point and thus serves the SAMPRADAYA ACHARYA as his representative.
Guru parampara is a strict hierarchy, even more precise than the chain of command in a military organization. No one can preach Krishna consciousness and simultaneously keep himself and his followers aloof from submission and service to the SAMPRADAYA ACHARYA (like a loose cannon on deck), however erudite he may be.
But this is precisely the situation that exists in the world today. Dozens of so-called gurus all rounding up disciples, like cowboys rustling wild horses on the range. “If everyone just initiates, then there will only be a contradictory result. As long as it goes on, there will only be failure.”—Srila Prabhupada, Phalgun Krishna Panchami
This is not what Srila Prabhupada wanted. Nor is it Vedic culture. Nor will it awaken Krishna consciousness. We take it as our personal service to Srila Prabhupada to address this problem and to preach on the basis of this vision and understanding. We have spoken with senior devotees, especially Puri Maharaja, and he has confirmed this essential point and encouraged us to broadcast it to the best of our ability, within and without ISKCON.
The rittvik question is automatically addressed and resolved by establishing this all-embracing Sampradaya Acharya conception.
The heart’s function is the most fundamental of all organs in that it pumps blood to all parts of the body, thereby keeping it strong and healthy. Similarly, the SAMPRADAYA ACHARYA is the heart of the Vaishnava community. His commentaries on the standard Vaishnava texts (siddhanta ) are the life blood of the devotees of the Sampradaya. Thus all must worship and represent the Acharya in their preaching.
Those who neglect the SAMPRADAYA ACHARYA are in a diseased condition of spiritual life, just as any part or organ of the body not receiving regular circulation of fresh blood supply from the heart must inevitably become diseased and lose its power to function.
We must not simply take from the Sampradaya Acharya. We must also give, just as blood gives life and nourishment to all parts of the body but it also must be served by infusion of prana, as it circulates through the lungs. In this way the whole body remains fit and strong. Those who take advantage of the Sampradaya Acharya but do not give proper respect and worship to the Acharya are committing guru avajña and sadhu ninda, the two most dangerous kinds of Vaishnava aparadha. In other words, unauthorized preachers—those utilizing the assets and gifts of the Sampradaya Acharya but failing to honor and worship him—are just like PIRATES or DACOITS. Such persons, although exhibiting a wealth of Vedic knowledge and culture, cannot help us, because their assets are all like stolen treasures, illegally obtained.