Understanding the Position and Presence of Srila Prabhupada
UNDERSTANDING THE POSITION AND PRESENCE OF HIS DIVINE GRACE A.C. BHAKTIVEDANTA SWAMI PRABHUPĀDA, FOUNDER-ĀCĀRYA OF THE INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR KRISHNA CONSCIOUSNESS
- "Let me introduce myself as the Founder-Ācārya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness." 
710420 - Letter to Unknown written from Bombay
Śrīla Prabhupāda – Founder-Ācārya and Origin
The continual recognition of Śrīla Prabhupāda's central position as the foundation of the ISKCON movement, would lead to - a strong connection with the disciplic succession, harmony among various branches of his movement, togetherness among all followers, cooperation born out of love for him and a bonafide path to loving devotional service. Śrīla Prabhupāda's position and presence in his movement today can be realized in the words directly expressing his desire 
- "One thing, regarding registering, is that our system is to keep the name of the Founder-Ācārya His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda on all registration documents, as well as all stationery, books, and publications." - 741113 - Letter to Deoji Punja written from Bombay
to always be recognized as the world leader, 
- "This is to inform you that I, the undersigned, am the Founder-Ācārya of ISKCON and the world leader for all of its branches." - 741126 - Letter to Attorney General's Department written from Bombay
principal ācārya, 
- "I am the principal Ācārya or Chief Minister of the organization." - 680611 - Letter to Mr. J.A. Hamilton Jr written from Montreal
final authority, founder-ācārya 
- "As the Founder-Ācārya and final authority on all ISKCON matters please be informed that until you receive authorization from me you may kindly wait in these matters of loans until further notice from me." - 760729 - Letter to Mr. B. J. Murdock written from Paris
and origin. The understanding and recognition of his position as the principal ācārya can be derived directly from his clear instructions. He states how he must be understood as the life of this movement. He also further qualifies what it means to be the founder-ācārya and origin. His position encompasses that he is directly or indirectly informed of everything concerning this movement. This may also be perceived as informing or aligning all our actions to his instructions and words:
- "Just like if I am taken as the origin of this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, that means I know everything directly and indirectly of all this movement. If I do not know directly or indirectly everything of this movement, then I cannot be called the founder-ācārya. And as soon as the origin becomes a knower, he is life." - 750221 - Lecture SB 01.01.01 - Caracas
In a room conversation in 1977, Śrīla Prabhupāda further expands how for general understanding, the founder may be understood as a director, but the common connotation of the term director must not be mistaken to be applicable here. Śrīla Prabhupāda's position cannot be shared, he is the sole ācārya and origin of his movement – the only founder. He emphasised on why the term founder-ācārya must specifically be used.
- TamālaKṛṣṇa: It says: His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, founder and director of the . . .
- Brahmānanda: No 'Prabhupāda'?
- TamālaKṛṣṇa: 'A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, founder and director of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement.'
- Prabhupāda: Of course, ācārya means director. That is another . . . but why they . . . (indistinct) . . .?
- Satsvarūpa: One difficulty is later in the issue they referred to Kīrtanānanda Mahārāja as 'Founder and director.' So it makes him . . . 'Of New Vrindaban.' So you're director and he's director, so you're equal. They're described as equals. But if you were ācārya, he could not be also called ācārya of New Vrindaban.
- Prabhupāda: No, it should be continued, ācārya.
- - 770218 - Conversation C - Mayapur
Even in the legal sense, 
- "As the Founder-Ācārya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, I authorize that the Society may incorporate under the Religious Societies Act of 1860 separately in West Bengal as the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (Calcutta) with myself as Founder-Ācārya." - 741030 - Letter to whom it may concern written from Calcutta
the movement derives legitimation and full authority 
- Before the finalization of registration takes place I would request you to send me one copy of the constitution for our society there so I can approve it finally. My name should be there as the founder-ācārya, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami. I should have full authority in all matters. - 741229 - Letter to Mr. Punja written from Bombay
from him and his words are to always be made the ultimate and overruling decision:
- "In that trust you must be very careful to make sure that my name is registered there as the founder-ācārya and that I am to be the ultimate authority. In other words, in any case of necessity of vetoing or cancelling any decision made by the other trustees, I should be able to do like that. My decision should over-rule all the other trustees combined." - 741228 - Letter to Kurusrestha written from Bombay
Śrīla Prabhupāda – the tattva-darśī śikṣā-guru
Our understanding of Śrīla Prabhupāda can be derived from the understanding we have received from him. In line with this understanding, on March 12, 2013, the GBC released a statement on the position of Śrīla Prabhupāda as the pre-eminent śikṣā-guru. 
- Statement of the Governing Body Commission (GBC) of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). Adopted March 9, 2013. - GBC Statement on Śrīla Prabhupāda's Preeminent Position
Moreover, in the Kṛṣṇa book, a śikṣā guru is referred to as the spiritual master who instructs the disciple about spiritual matters and such a guru is recognised as the bonafide representative of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Śrīla Prabhupāda states that Kṛṣṇa helps us from within as caitya guru and He expands Himself externally as śikṣā guru and dīkṣā-guru. Therefore, whatever is instructed by the caitya-guru internally may be confirmed by the instructor externally and thereby one's progress becomes complete.
- "Regarding your question of Paramatma: you are fortunate enough for your sincere service, Kṛṣṇa as Paramatma Who is sitting within your heart is now dictating. Kṛṣṇa is so kind that He wants to help us as Spiritual Master in two ways. He helps us from within as Caitya-guru and He expands Himself externally as śikṣā-guru (as instructor) and dīkṣā-guru (initiator). So the principle is that whatever you are instructed by the caitya-guru internally may be confirmed by the instructor or initiator externally. Then your progress will be complete." - 690521 - Letter to Sivananda written from New Vrindaban, USA
And although śikṣā gurus can be many, Śrīla Prabhupāda is the pre-eminent śikṣā guru and the ultimate authority. The acceptance of his position as our ultimate authority can be substantiated by what Śrīla Prabhupāda gave us, as a definition of who can be recognised as an ultimate authority. His position in the movement today can be realised not only through his words directly expressing his desire to always be recognised as the origin, final authority and founder-ācārya, but also from scriptural understanding of him being the ultimate authority or tattva darśī. A good starting point is to study the term tattva-darśī. In the purport to Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 5.15.4, Śrīla Prabhupāda states that the word tattva-darsi refers to one who has perfectly realized the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Such a person can become a guru and propound Vaiṣṇava philosophy all over the world.
- As confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (4.34), upadekṣyantitejñānaṁjñāninas tattva-darśinaḥ: "one who has seen the truth can impart knowledge." The word tattva-darśī refers to one who has perfectly realized the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Such a person can become a guru and propound Vaiṣṇava philosophy all over the world. - SB 5.15.4
Śrīla Prabhupāda further clarifies what are the qualities of an authority and why a tattva-darśīis to be considered authoritative - it is because he is very pure and uncontaminated,
- "So according to Vedic scripture, a tattva-darśī should be very pure, uncontaminated. Therefore, generally we go to the qualified Brāhmaṇa, satyaṁ śamo damas titikṣā ārjavam, jñānaṁ vijñānam āstikyaṁ brahma-karma svabhāva-jam." - 731116 - Lecture - Delhi
knower of the absolute truth, complete in knowledge, self-realised soul and seer of the truth. Such a person is capable of propounding transcendental knowledge all over the world as the ultimate guru. The aspect of tattva-darśī is very important and one should accept as ultimate authority, a guru who is tattva-darśī and who is above the bodily concept of life:
- This word tattva is very important. Unless one is tattva-darśī, there is no use to take instruction from him. Useless waste of time. Tattva-darśi means... Kṛṣṇa says in another place, manuṣyāṇāṁ sahasreṣu kaścid yatati siddhaye (BG 7.3). Siddhi means liberated, means who has no more the bodily concept of life.  - 750918 - Lecture SB 06.02.15 - Vrndavana
The knowledge of the Vedic scriptures cannot be understood directly and therefore, there is a need to approach a tattva-darśī.It is just like when Sukadeva Gosvami, a tattva-darśī was approached by Parīkṣit Mahārāja. Such personalities are sudhyanti or purified.  The self-realized soul can impart knowledge because he has seen the truth. Therefore, unless one is tattva-darśī, in complete knowledge of the Absolute Truth, one cannot describe the activities of the Personality of Godhead."  Given that it is little chance of spiritual advancement recommended that one approach the tattva-darśī to receive transcendental knowledge, it is repeatedly specified that spiritual advancement is actually dependent on taking shelter of such a tattva-darśī. For knowledge we have to go to the right person - pranipatena, the one who has actually seen or experienced the Absolute Truth and unless one finds out such a person who has actually seen the Absolute Truth through spiritual eyes or who has experienced what the Absolute Truth is, there is very little chance of spiritual advancement. , Śrīla Prabhupāda recommends that a seeker must learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master, inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. Moreover, in the Bhagavad-gītā, Kṛṣṇa can be seen as providing evidence from the tattva-darśibhiḥ, those who have seen the truth –"they have concluded like that."
- So this is... Kṛṣṇa, although He is the authority, still, He says that ubhayor api dṛṣṭo 'ntas tv anayos tattva-darśibhiḥ. He says, "All the tattva-darśī, the knower of the Absolute Truth, they know it very well, and they have decided like that.” The purpose is that we have to accept the experience of the tattva-darśī, of the seer of the Absolute Truth. That is knowledge. - 750216 - Lecture BG 02.16 - Mexico
Furthermore, in philosophical and logical traditions, jñānamaya-yajña is recommended to be the highest yajna and if one actually wants jñāna, then he has to first of all find out a person who is tattva-darśī. Thus, using the example of gold, Śrīla Prabhupāda points out how when a person digresses from the ultimate authority, such a person is then cheated. Just like if one wishes to purchase gold, one must know where gold is available and the attempts to purchase gold from a grocer shop is simply hopeless and impossible - then one will be cheated. 
- So from whom you'll have to inquire? From a person who has actually seen what is tattva, what is truth, from him. Therefore I was speaking yesterday, last night, in Hindi, that the tattva is not to be inquired from a pān-wala or biḍi-wala. No. One who has actually seen the tattva, tattva-darśī. - 731116 - Lecture - Delhi
This indicates the need to adhere to bonafide authority and this is the way of proper understanding. Śrīla Prabhupāda distinguished that although we may give references sometimes in the modern age that such and such professor says such and such, but these individuals are not tattva-darśibhiḥ - they are all speculators. Emphasis must be laid upon the term tattva-darśibhiḥ and Śrīla Prabhupāda instructs that the essence of this term must be learnt very nicely in order to distinguish what is authoritative and what is not authoritative or "simply speculation." 
Associating with Śrīla Prabhupāda through his Vāṇi
It is evident how the association with Śrīla Prabhupāda through his words builds the very foundation of one's life in devotional service. Association with Śrīla Prabhupāda should not merely be understood as being in his physical presence as association with His words are immensely significant. Śrīla Prabhupāda describes the distinction between vapu and vāṇi. Vapu refers to the physical body and vāṇi means the vibration. The ācāryas, their body is not considered as material - arcyeśilā-dhīrguruṣunara-matir. Although the physical body of the ācārya is not present, the vibration should be accepted as his presence – that is real association:
- So we should associate by the vibration, and not by the physical presence. That is real association. Śabdādanavṛtti.  - 680818 - Lecture SB 07.09.12 - Montreal
And what is heard from the spiritual master, that is living.  In the purport to Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 2.9.8, Śrīla Prabhupāda states that the potency of transcendental sound is never minimized because the vibrator is apparently absent. Similarly, the prowess and effect of association with Śrīla Prabhupāda's books, lectures, letters and conversations have the potency as any transcendental sound and he is living in them:
- "The potency of transcendental sound is never minimized because the vibrator is apparently absent. Therefore Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam or Bhagavad-gītā or any revealed scripture in the world is never to be accepted as an ordinary mundane sound without transcendental potency." - SB 2.9.8
- Prabhupāda: I will never die.
- Devotees: Jaya! Hari bol! (laughter)
- Prabhupāda: I shall live for my books, and you will utilize. - 750716 - Interview - San Francisco
And when one tries to serve such an ācārya according to His desire, one does not factually feel any separation from him: 
- I thank you very much and all the devotees for offering me a garland daily as you were doing when I was physically present. If a disciple is constantly engaged in carrying out the instructions of the Spiritual Master he is supposed to be constantly in company with his Spiritual Master. This is called Vaniseva. So there are two kinds of service to the Spiritual Master. One is called vaniseva and the other is called vapuseva. Vaniseva means as above mentioned, executing the instructions, and vapuseva means physically or personally rendering service. So in the absence of physical presentation of the Spiritual Master the vaniseva is more important. My Spiritual Master, Sarasvati Gosvami Thakur, may appear to be physically not present, but still because I try to serve His instruction I never feel separated from Him. I expect that all of you should follow these instructions.  - 700822 - Letter to Karandhara written from Tokyo
Therefore, to carry out the teachings of the ācārya is more important than to worship the form, although none of them should be neglected, and if we keep to the vāṇi - words, then we remain very fixed up.
Śrīla Prabhupāda, through his vapu and continually with his vāṇi, spreads the message of Lord Caitanya – the dharma of the golden age, and the extent of his efforts are unprecedented in the history of Vaishnavism. One who preaches this dharma all over the world is the empowered ācārya – "kali-kālera dharma — kṛṣṇa-nāma-saṅkīrtana, kṛṣṇa-śakti vinā nahe tāra pravartana."  Śrīla Prabhupāda empowered by the Lord, is our connection to the disciplic succession, preceded by Lord Kṛṣṇa. In the purport to Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.5.39, it is stated that the Lord reveals His identity gradually to one who has unflinching faith, both in an ācārya and in the Lord. Further, in the purport to Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 3.33.10, it can be confirmed that in the discharge of devotional service, if one has unflinching faith in the instruction of the bona fide spiritual master and follows the rules and regulations, he is sure to be liberated, even within this present body. Therefore, attachment to the lotus feet of Śrīla Prabhupāda – our principal and founder ācārya, as well as unflinching faith in and association with his vāṇi are our only means to develop unflinching faith in the Lord, in this process of Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
- See Ācārya 710420 - Letter to Unknown written from Bombay
- See 741113 - Letter to Deoji Punja written from Bombay
- See 741126 - Letter to Attorney General's Department written from Bombay
- See 680611 - Letter to Mr. J.A. Hamilton Jr written from Montreal
- See 760729 - Letter to Mr. B. J. Murdock written from Paris
- See acarya. 750221 - Lecture SB 01.01.01 - Caracas
- See 770218 - Conversation C - Mayapur
- See 741030 - Letter to Whom it may concern written from Calcutta
- See 741229 - Letter to Mr. Punja written from Bombay
- See 741228 - Letter to Kurusrestha written from Bombay
- See GBC Statement on Śrīla Prabhupāda's Preeminent Position
- See Kṛṣṇa The Supreme Personality of Godhead (1970)
- See 690521 - Letter to Sivananda written from New Vrindaban, USA
- See SB 5.15.4
- See 731116 - Lecture - Delhi
- See 750918 - Lecture SB 06.02.15 - Vrndavana
- See 760911 - Lecture SB 01.07.12 - Vrndavana
- See SB 8.24.53
- See 660815 - Lecture BG 04.34-38 - New York
- See 760613 - Conversation - Detroit
- See 750216 - Lecture BG 02.16 - Mexico
- See 660810 - Lecture BG 04.24-34 - New York
- See 731116 - Lecture - Delhi
- See 730822 - Lecture BG 02.16 - London
- See We should associate by the vibration, and not by the physical presence. That is real association
- See 690113 - Lecture Excerpt - Los Angeles
- See Potency of transcendental sound is never minimized because the vibrator is apparently absent
- See I will never die, I shall live for my books, and you will utilize
- See 700622 - Letter to Hansadutta written from Los Angeles
- See 700822 - Letter to Karandhara written from Tokyo
- See 721214 - Letter to Tusta Krsna written from Ahmedabad
- See 750302 - Lecture Festival Appearance Day, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati - Atlanta
- See CC Antya 7.11
- See SB 1.5.39
- See SB 3.33.10