Chakra Discussions

Who Is the Real Guru In ISKCON? a Reply To Former Bhakta Mike

by Pavamana dasa, ACBSP

Posted June 27, 2006

There are many faults in ISKCON today, as Bhakta Mike has pointed out. No ordinary man (or woman) deserves to be worshipped. Unfortunately, he has thrown the baby out with the bath water. The key here is: no ORDINARY man deserves worship. However, we should be careful to remember that the GURU isn't an ordinary man. He's not a "man" at all, but representative of Lord Krishna. As such, he is to be respected "as good as God". If someone is a bona fide Guru, he can accept worship ON BEHALF OF LORD KRISHNA, NOT FOR HIMSELF. That is considered illegal in spiritual terms. If a postman opened the mail and took what he wanted from it, he'd be arrested for mail theft. The Guru is only the "postman" for Lord Krishna, and nothing more. He doesn't accept anything for himself, but accepts everything on behalf of Lord Krishna.

Unfortunately, we have seen in the past that some of the "gurus" who have accepted disciples have become enamored by accepting service for themselves, and not in the mood of service to Lord Krishna. Thus, they have adulterated the whole process of Guru worship. As a result of such adulteration, many followers of ISKCON have given up the process of bhakti yoga altogether.. This is extremely embarrassing for those of us who have invested our lives in ISKCON, because it shows a lack of maturity in our movement and ourselves. But, more importantly, it leaves the general public with the impression that our process of yoga isn't bona fide, or that we are a dangerous cult. Neither of these statements is true.

We must understand that we aren't blindly following a "man" who has invented some process of self realization. Our process of Krishna Consciousness is laid out for us by none other than Lord Sri Krishna Chaitanya and his disciples, the six Goswamis. We are following these Acharyas. If one thinks that they are, after all, ordinary "men", then there is no hope at all. A person who believes that the Acharya is an ordinary man has a hellish mentality. One has to have faith in Lord Krishna, and similar faith in His representative. But, one has to be sure that representative is bona fide.

How do we know who is bona fide? There are symptoms, and these symptoms are found in the Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam, and other literatures translated and commented upon by Srila Prabhupada. In particular, there are statements in the Upadeshamrta (Nectar of Instruction) regarding who is a bona fide Guru. It is up to each one of us to determine for ourselves whether someone is bona fide, and if we have doubts, we need not place our faith in that person. We ALREADY have a bona fide Guru- Srila Prabhupada. If we haven't found someone worthy of becoming our initiating Guru, there's no hurry. Krishna will make the arrangement. Let's keep in mind that we have everything we need already. EVERYTHING is available in ISKCON. We have devotee association, we have the Shastras, we have the Deities, and we have service. There's no need to go elsewhere.

Let us also remember that we are in a contaminated atmosphere. Participation in ISKCON is voluntary. No one is being paid for his service. We all come to this movement with material desires, misconceptions, doubts, and delusions. In spite of these, if we engage ourselves sincerely and seriously, these material qualities will disappear in due course. But it may take some time. And, due to our misuse of our independence, we may fall down and infect ourselves with material nature again.

Some of us have been blessed to occupy a lofty post, maybe even Guru. That does not mean that we have become a pure devotee just because we have some disciples, or has some big post, or a big orange stick. It means that Krishna and Srila Prabhupada have given us that post as our service to the movement. It may be that we have some talent which is being put to use to advance the society. But until we are fully purified, we are still struggling with our own contamination.

It is no surprise that we have problems in ISKCON. If we, collectively, execute every order we've received from our Spiritual Master, there wouldn't be so many difficulties and deviations. It is entirely because we HAVEN'T kept our vows, and have deviated from the principles, that problems arise.

To conclude, we should not be surprised by the difficulties which have arisen in ISKCON. We only need to have faith in the process, and follow the bona fide Guru. Then our success is assured.

I would like to personally apologize for my own shortcomings, and hope that the assembled Vaishnavas will forgive me for my offences. Even though I am personally a fallen rascal, I just had to respond to Bhakta Mike's comments here. I hope he will reconsider his rejection of the real Krishna Consciousness process. Even if he cannot remain within ISKCON, I implore him to seek association with the Vaishnavas and continue the blissful pursuit of Bhakti Yoga.