Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja
Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja

Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja
Varsana, India

[The following is an excerpt from Śrīla Gurudeva's lecture dated November 20, 2001, in Varṣāṇa, India, on the occasion of the disappearance day festival of Śrīla Prabhupāda Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja.

ISKCON: From the Beginning of Creation

Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja: I want to clarify something. We hear and read that Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja established ISKCON (the International Society for Kṛṣṇa consciousness). What is ISKCON? He himself has clarified the meaning, beginning with kṛṣṇah-bhakti-rasa-bhāvitā-matiḥ [Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 8.70]. [FOOTNOTE 1] Those persons who follow this verse are actually ISKCON members. ISKCON is not new.

Śrīla Prabhupāda states in The Journey of Self Discovery:
"I have translated the words Kṛṣṇa consciousness from kṛṣṇa-bhakti-rasa-bhāvitā."

Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 8.70:
kṛṣṇa-bhakti-rasa-bhāvitā matiḥ
krīyatāṁ yadi kuto 'pi labhyate
tatra laulyam api mūlyam ekalaṁ
janma-koṭi-sukṛtair na labhyate

Pure devotional service in Kṛṣṇa consciousness cannot be had even by pious activities in hundreds and thousands of lives. It can be obtained only by paying one price; that is, intense greed to obtain it. If it is available somewhere, one must purchase it without delay. *

Your Prabhupāda did not actually establish ISKCON. ISKCON was established by Brahmā, and by Kṛṣṇa Himself. Brahmā is one of the four sampradāya gurus, and he established ISKCON by the mercy of Kṛṣṇa. Nārada is the first ISKCON member, Śrīla Vyāsadeva is the second, and Śrī Sukadeva Gosvāmī is the third. All pure devotees in the guru-paramparā are ISKCON members. [FOOTNOTE 2]

FOOTNOTE 2: excerpt from Prabhupāda's lecture on December 1, 1966: "I have given you the process of disciplic succession: from Kṛṣṇa, Brahmā; from Brahmā, Nārada; from Nārada, Vyāsa; from Vyāsa, Madhva; from Madhva, Mādhavendra Puri; from Mādhavendra Purī, Īśvara Purī; from Isvara Purī, Lord Caitanya. So, evam paramparā. In the paramparā system, in that disciplic succession, you will find no change... They are not foolish to manufacture something new... If you want the real thing, then you have to take the old – the oldest. You cannot change anything. Can you change the law of the sun rising or setting? The old laws are going on, and you have to follow them."

Śrīla Svāmī Mahārāja translated the name ISKCON into English, but Vaiṣṇava society has actually existed since the origin of creation, the beginning of time. As he himself has said, it is "the same wine in a new bottle." He never created anything new. He gave the same philosophy that Kṛṣṇa gave in His Gītā, the same philosophy that was given by Śrīla Vyāsadeva in his Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, and the same philosophy that was given by Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī in Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta. He took all these teachings from his guru, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Ṭhākura, and he also took something from his sannyāsa guru, Śrīla Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja. He received the sannyāsa mantra from him, the mantra for attaining the service of Rādhā, and after that he preached this mission. In this way, only the name of his mission was new, and it was mainly only new to Western countries. In India ISKCON has been extant from the beginning of time.

We Will Be ISKCON Forever

[During his lecture Śrīla Gurudeva noticed a guest in the audience who had received sannyāsa from Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja Prabhupāda, and after Prabhupāda's disappearance took bābājī-vesa. He then commented:]

Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja: I have not seen any instance that a devotee who took sannyāsa from Śrīla Prabhupāda Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura has taken bābājī-vesa. There is no example at all.

Guest: What about Kṛṣṇa dāsa Bābājī? "

Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja: Kṛṣṇa dāsa Bābājī was not a direct disciple of Śrīla Prabhupāda Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. My Guru Mahārāja never accepted him as a bābājī. He always addressed him by his brahmacārī name, Svādhikārānanda Brahmacārī. Kṛṣṇa dāsa Bābājī had not previously accepted Śrīla Prabhupāda as his sannyāsa-guru, and moreover he had never been a sannyāsi. He had been a brahmacārī.

There is no example in the entire history of Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda's sannyāsīs that anyone has given up his sannyāsa dress and taken the dress of a bābājī. The proper conceptions and principles of sannyāsa are in line with the principles of ISKCON. We are also ISKCON, and we will be ISKCON forever. One who is actually a member of ISKCON will never leave ISKCON, in this life or any future life.

Guest: Śrīla Purī Mahārāja gave bābājī-vesa to some disciples.

Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja: We are not speaking about giving bābājī-vesa. He never gave bābājī-vesa to anyone who was previously given sannyāsa. Our Guru Mahārāja also gave bābājī-vesa, and Śrīla Prabhupāda Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura also gave bābājī-vesa to some, but they never changed anyone from sannyāsa to bābājī.

There is almost no difference between a sannyāsī and bābājī, in the sense that the mantra of both is the same. The main difference is that the bābājī is mostly a bhajanānandī (a renunciant who mostly concentrates on his personal bhajana, spending less time in preaching activities), and the sannyāsī is a goṣṭhyānandī (a preacher who is also engaged in bhajana). Only those who don't know the principles of either can change their dress. We should not change.