Śikṣā outside ISKCON?

<< Dobut 8 >>

PART THREE - Doubts and Answers
Doubt 8

Doubt 8: It appears that Śrīla Prabhupāda instructed at least some senior Vaiṣṇavas to help his disciples after his departure. Does this not indicate that they would be śīkṣā-gurus for ISKCON’s members?

Also, is it not possible that one of them may be Śrīla Prabhupāda’s self-effulgent successor, as Prabhupāda was the self-effulgent successor to Bhaktisiddhānta Ṭhākura?

Answer: First-hand sources testify that Prabhupāda requested at least one senior Vaiṣṇava to care for his followers.(38) Those same sources, however, confirm that the request was brief and clearly not an invitation to be a śīkṣā-guru, rather, a well-wisher.

That explanation is consistent with other evidence; Śrīla Prabhupāda gave no instruction that he had empowered any Vaiṣṇava from outside ISKCON to be a śīkṣā-guru — what to speak of his successor.

The very idea of a successor is contrary to Prabhupāda’s set-up of the Society.(39) Nor is there any written or verbal instruction indicating a successor; in fact, Śrīla Prabhupāda opined that among the Vaiṣṇavas he knew, none was qualified to be ācārya.(40)

Those suggesting that a Vaiṣṇava from outside ISKCON could be its ācārya are obliged to provide irrefutable evidence of their claim. And that evidence must be of a superlative quality, as referred to in the previous answer (to Doubt 7). It is not the burden of ISKCON to disprove the successor theory. Until irrefutable evidence is provided in its favour, we will have to assume there is no successor śīkṣā-guru to Śrīla Prabhupāda.


NOTES

38Two devotees present heard the discussion.
39Prabhupāda modelled ISKCON according to Bhaktisiddhānta Ṭhākura’s will, which he explained in a letter: “... on the night before he passed away he talked of so many things, but never mentioned an acarya. His idea was acarya was not to be nominated amongst the governing body. He said openly you make a GBC and conduct the mission. So his idea was amongst the members of GBC who would come out successful and self-effulgent acarya would be automatically selected.” (Letter, Tirupati, April 28, 1974) Therefore, if there is to be an ācārya, he will not be self-appointed; he will come from members of the GBC, not elsewhere.
40In a letter Prabhupāda wrote, “Actually amongst my Godbrothers, no one is qualified to become acarya.” (Letter, Tirupati, April 28, 1974)
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