Gurus in ISKCON

By editor - 3.5 2024

Finding a Guru

The Live Help volunteers on are often asked, “How do I find a guru in ISKCON?” It’s not an easy question to answer.

But it is a good question. Srila Prabhupada repeatedly stresses the need for a spiritual master. In one sense, Prabhupada is the de facto spiritual master of anyone who follows his teachings. Still, our tradition insists that anyone serious about spiritual progress must approach a qualified guru and request initiation. If the guru agrees, a sort of contract is established between the two: The disciple agrees to follow the instructions of the guru, and the guru agrees to guide the disciple toward the goal of pure love of God.

By contract I don’t mean to imply that the guru-disciple relationship is an impersonal business exchange. It is a spiritual relationship of love, trust, and respect. The guru is not merely fulfilling a ritual role but is the dearest friend of the disciple, being the direct representative of Krishna.

As for finding a guru, first let me clear up a misconception. Many people think that finding a guru in ISKCON means picking from a list. While it’s true that ISKCON’s governing body (GBC) keeps a list of devotees authorized to accept disciples, the list is not closed. All devotees in ISKCON are potential spiritual masters, provided they meet the spiritual requirements. (Following etiquette, disciples generally refrain from initiating while their spiritual master is present in this world.)

An aspiring disciple should have a real relationship with the prospective guru. As with any relationship, it has to develop in some way. The prospective guru should be regularly guiding the prospective disciple. When both are satisfied that a true guru-disciple relationship exists, then initiation is appropriate.

All of this implies that if I’m looking for a guru, I must put myself in regular contact with someone more advanced in Krishna consciousness than I am. In fact, it is sometimes said that we don’t find the guru; the guru finds us. Or, more accurately, when we’re ready to meet a guru, Krishna sends one.

Naturally, meeting one’s guru is easiest if one lives in the company of devotees, especially in or near an ISKCON community. Many devotees have changed their lives and moved close to a temple, understanding the importance of Krishna conscious association. A person serious about spiritual progress has to consider that option. If it’s not viable, then one must look for other ways to associate with devotees, such as scheduling regular trips to the nearest temple or inviting traveling preachers to one’s home. In places with no ISKCON temple, groups of devotees sometimes meet regularly and sponsor visits from senior devotees. Once a connection is established, relationships can develop through correspondence.

Finding an ISKCON guru without direct association with ISKCON devotees will be difficult—but not impossible. More and more senior devotees are writing books, and recorded lectures are available to those willing to put some effort into finding them. If you feel inspired by a devotee’s books or lectures, you can ask that person for personal spiritual guidance and see how the relationship develops.

To use a word that may be overused, sincerity is the key. If you sincerely want a guru, Krishna will help. You just have to be willing to follow His direction from within your heart.

List of Initiating Gurus in ISKCON

Acyuta Priya Das RNS (APD)
Adikarta Das (AKD)
Asita Krishna Swami TKG (AKS)
Atmanivedana Swami BSDS (AVS)
Badrinarayan Swami (BNS)
Bhaktivaibhava Swami (BVS)
Bhakti Bhagavatamrita Kesava Swami PVS (BBKS)
Bhakti Bhrnga Govinda Swami (BBGS)
Bhakti Caitanya Swami (BCAIS)
Bhakti Carudesna Swami BTS (BCDS)
Bhakti Dhira Damodara Swami BTS (BDDS)
Bhakti Gaurava Narayan Swami TKG (BGNS)
Bhakti Gauravani Goswami (BGVG)
Bhakti Prabhupada-vrata Damodara Swami (BPDS)
Bhakti Prema Swami BCS (BHPS)
Bhakti Raghava Swami (BRS)
Bhakti Ratnakara Ambarisa Swami GKG (BRAS)
Bhakti Sundar Goswami (BSG)
Bhakti Vasudeva Swami BTS (BHVS)
Bhakti Vijnana Goswami RNS (BVG)
Bhakti Vikasa Swami (BVKS)
Bhaktivyasa Tirtha Swami BSDS (BVTS)
Bhakti VV Narasimha Swami (BVVNS)
Bhakti-bhusana Swami (BBS)
Bhaktimarga Swami (BMS)
Bhaktipada Goswami SRS (BPG)
Bhurijana Das (BJD)
Bir Krsna Das Goswami (BKG)
Caitanya Candra Das GGS (CCD)
Caitanya Candra Caran Das JPS (CCCD)
Candra Mukha Swami HDG (CMKS)
Candramauli Swami (CMS)
Caru Das (CD)
Danavir Goswami (DG)
Devamrita Swami (DAS)
Dhanvantari Swami (DVS)
Dhirasanta Das Goswami (DDG)
Drutakarma Das (DKD)
Gauranga Prem Swami JPS (GRPS)
Giridhari Swami (GDS)
Giriraja Swami (GRS)
Gopaswami Das (GSD)
Gopal Krsna Goswami (GKG)
Guru Prasad Swami (GPS)
Haladhara Swami GGS (HDS)
Hanumatpresaka Swami (HPS)
Harivilas Das (HVD)
Hrdayananda dasa Goswami (HDG)
Indradyumna Swami (IDS)
Janananda dasa Goswami (JG)
Jayapataka Swami (JPS)
Jivananda Das (JND)
Kalakantha Das (KKD)
Kavicandra Swami (KVCS)
Kesava Bharati dasa Goswami (KBDG)
Kratu Das (KRD)
Kripamoya Das (KMD)
Krsna Ksetra Swami (KRKS)
Lokanath Swami (LOK)
Madan Gopal Das SDG (MGD)
Madhu Sevita Das (MSD)
Mahadyuti Swami (MDS)
Mahaman Das (MMD)
Mahaprabhu Swami SRS (MPS)
Mahatma Das (MD)
Mahavisnu Swami (MVS)
Manonatha Das (MND)
Matsya Avatara Das (MAD)
Medhavi Das (MDD)
Narayani Devi Dasi (NDD)
Navayogendra Swami (NYS)
Niranjana Swami (NRS)
Partha Sarathi Das Goswami (PSDG)
Patita Pavana Das IDS (PPD)
Prahladananda Swami (PAS)
Purushatraya Swami (PTS)
Radhacaran Das TKG (RCD)
Radha Govinda Das SRS (RGD)
Radha Govinda Swami (RGM)
Radha Krishna Das TKG (RKD)
Radhanath Swami (RNS)
Rama Govinda Swami KDS (RMGS)
Ravindra Svarupa Das (RVSD)
Romapada Swami (RPS)
Rtadhvaja Swami (RTS)
Sacinandana Swami (SNS)
Samik Rsi Das (SRD)
Sankarsana Das (SDA)
Satyadeva Das (SDD)
Sivarama Swami (SRS)
Smita Krsna Swami (SKS)
Srivas Das BTS (SVD)
Subhaga Swami (SSM)
Sundarananda Das GGS (SND)
Sukadeva Swami RNS (SDS)
Trivikrama Swami (TVS)
Vaisesika Das (VSD)
Varsana Swami (VS)
Vedavyasapriya Swami (VVPS)
Virabahu Das (VBD)
Yadunandana Swami SDG (YNS)
Yamunacarya Das Goswami HDG (YDG)

[Notes: 1. initials in parentheses are the abbreviations of the initiating guru; 2. abbreviations not in parentheses indicate the initiating guru’s own spiritual master; 3. all devotees without such initials are disciples of Srila Prabhupada]

This list only gives the names of gurus currently accepting disciples, but aspiring disciples are not limited to this list in their search for a guru. Devotees in ISKCON are free to approach any ISKCON devotee in good standing for initiation, whether or not they are on this list, with the following provisos:

1) If the prospective guru is a disciple of Srila Prabhupada or a departed guru and has not gone through the nomination process, that prospective guru should go through the nomination process to accept disciples.

2) If the prospective guru is a disciple of a living guru, that prospective guru must obtain permission from his guru to initiate, and then go through the regular nomination process.

Not accepting disciples:

Bhakti Visrambha Madhava Swami
Bhanu Swami
Ganapati Swami
Jayadvaita Swami
Mukunda Goswami
Satsvarupa Das Goswami
Vegavan Das