Friday, December 21, 2018

Intermingling False and Real Gurus

ISKCONIRM: In previous issues, we have exposed various attempts by ISKCON guru and GBC HH Hridayananda Dasa Goswami ("HD") to minimise Srila Prabhupada. This article continues with this theme. All quotes in the shaded boxes are taken from an initiation talk given by HD on 29/5/18. All emphases added.

Confusing real and false gurus - 1
Speaking about the guru-disciple relationship, HD states that the disciple completely surrendering to the guru can lead to abuse:
"you have this extreme self-surrender, [...] therefore, that culture of extreme self-humbling has to be, um, that culture has to exist within a clear philosophical understanding that prevents abuse".
However, Srila Prabhupada does recommend such self-surrender to the guru:
"Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura remarks in this connection that a disciple must accept the words of his spiritual master as his life and soul."
(Cc., Adi-lila, 7.72)
But he has never taught that such full surrender to the guru can ever lead to any kind of abuse.
It is a fact, however, that surrendering to a false guru, such as HD, can definitely lead to abuse. For example, ISKCON has officially accepted that as one of the infamous 11 "zonal acaryas", HD was responsible for perpetuating the abuse of forcing his disciples to consider him to be a pure devotee:
"But by the influence of maya, illusion, a different idea soon evolved – that Srila Prabhupada had appointed eleven "pure devotees" to serve as the only gurus after him. [...] In particular, we express our heartfelt apologies for contributing to the hurts and wrongs devotees endured when ISKCON diverged from Srila Prabhupada's instructions."
(Editor in Chief, Back To Godhead, #25-01, 1991)
Confusing real and false gurus - 2
HD, however, goes on to claim that this "abuse" can arise with bona fide gurus, such as Srila Prabhupada:
"one example of an undesirable outcome, [...] because one is in such a reverential mood of surrender and ‘I am nothing and the guru is everything', that it can, and has led often to, the sense that everything the guru says on any subject is somehow true, because the guru is all-wise, [...] Prabhupada clearly said this was absurd. Even in his own case".
Again, the "guru" not always speaking the truth is the case only with a false guru. This has been proven by the numerous articles and books produced by the IRM which clearly document how the false, unauthorised gurus in ISKCON, such as HD, make many statements that are definitely not true. And thus we are able to fill up every issue of BTP! But this is not the case with Srila Prabhupada, who does not make false statements. Rather, as a bona fide spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada speaks in line with scripture:
"A bona fide spiritual master does not mention anything not mentioned in the authorized scriptures."
(SB, 4.16.1)
Therefore, just as he did when he posed as a "pure devotee" during the "zonal acarya" hoax (The Great Guru Hoax Part 1), HD is again confusing himself and the other unauthorised ISKCON gurus with Srila Prabhupada – or false gurus with a bona fide guru.
Sastra understood through guru
Having claimed that self-surrender to a guru can lead to abuse, which as we saw is actually only the case with a false guru, HD then states that this is counteracted by sastra being a higher authority than the guru:
"And so Prabhupada, Prabhupada always emphasised that the guru, that the ultimate authority is sastra. In the system of guru, sadhu and sastra, the ultimate authority is sastra."
But sastra itself is not understood independently, but only through the real guru:
"Narottama dasa Thakura states that one has to ascertain the right path for his activities by following in the footsteps of great saintly persons and books of knowledge under the guidance of a spiritual master (sadhu-sastra-guru-vakya)."
(SB, 4.21.28-29)
Therefore, the actual authority in practice will always be the bona fide guru, nor is it necessary to have an authority to "check" the bona fide guru. Thus, HD, has again mixed up the situations applicable to the false and real gurus.

Jumping over
"Prabhupada did make statements like ‘you can't jump over your guru', and so on, but he was, I mean we never want to jump over the guru [...] let's say I read a sastra which Prabhupada did not translate, or I read many other books that Prabhupada didn't translate, [...] so we can look at other sastras, we can hear from other teachers, but we understand everything within a framework that Prabhupada gave."
HD correctly states that Srila Prabhupada ordered us to not "jump over" him. But HD then goes on to claim that we should do exactly that, by saying it is fine to go outside Srila Prabhupada's teachings as long as we try to understand them within Srila Prabhupada's "framework". But though Srila Prabhupada did make statements such as –
"You say that you would read only one book if that was all that I had written, so you teach others to do like that. You have very good determination." 
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 14/11/73)
"Whatever is to be learned of the teachings of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura can be learned from our books. There is no need whatsoever for any outside instruction."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 25/12/73)
– he never ordered us to go outside his teachings and books, and thus the question of how to understand these outside teachings does not even arise.
Srila Prabhupada teaches:
"Intermingling the spiritual with the material causes one to look on transcendence as material and the mundane as spiritual. This is all due to a poor fund of knowledge."
(Cc., Madhya-lila, 16.72)
Thus, due to a poor fund of knowledge, HD has engaged in projection and intermingled the standards and philosophy that are applicable to the false gurus in ISKCON such as himself, with being applicable to the bona fide guru, Srila Prabhupada.

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