As far as I know both ISKCON and Jiva Institute are Gaudiya Vaisnavas, but what are the philosophical differences between these two ?

2 Answers 2


There aren't many philosophical differences between ISKCON and the Jiva Institute. They both believe in Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's philosophy of Achintya Bhedabheda. And Babaji Satyanarayana Dasa, the founder of the Jiva Institute, is a former ISKCON member, as he describes in this web page:

I never made any propaganda against Srila Prabhupada, ISKCON or Gaudiya-Math, either through internet, through writing books, articles, or by speaking. On the contrary, in my books I have honored and recognized Srila Prabhupada as a propagator of Gaudiya Vaishnavism.

I left ISKCON, or rather, was forced to leave about fourteen years ago because of some philosophical differences. Having philosophical differences is common any spiritual organization, and this is certainly also the case in our Gaudiya Vaishnava history. The beauty of Vedic Culture is that one can have differences of opinion and respect simultaneously. In fact, our very philosophy is based on the principle of difference and non-difference simultaneously. For the modern mind this seems absurd, and any difference is taken as disrespect and inimical. I tried to reconcile one of the differences I had with ISKCON in my book, “In Vaikuntha not even the Leaves Fall”, so that ISKCON’s teachings could be in line with the teachings of the Gosvamis, but this was not acceptable to the ISKCON leadership. As a result I was mistreated and my book was banned. Thus I saw no possibility of reconciliation, although that was my heart’s desire.

Even though I was defamed and mistreated, I did not endeavor to harm ISKCON or the Gaudiya Math. I have never stepped into ISKCON territory after my departure from ISKCON to avoid any conflict or confrontation. At the same time, curiously many ISKCON leaders over the years approached me privately for philosophical advice and consultation and used the material they received for their own projects – often without mentioning my name which was blacklisted in ISKCON. I was and I am still open to peaceful dialogue.”

In any case, one prominent philosophical difference they have is that ISKCON believes that Jivas sometimes fall from Vaikuntha into the world of Samsara if they do bad deeds in Vaikuntha, whereas the Jiva Institute believes that Jivas who dwell in Vaikuntha never fall from it. This difference is discussed in great detail in Babaji Satyanarayana Dasa's book "In Vaikuntha Not Even the Leaves Fall", which you can read here.

Another thing to note is that ISKCON has a sharply negative view of the Jiva Institute, described in this editorial from the ISKCON publication the Sampradaya Sun. They put Jiva Institute people in the general category of "Babajis" who have the potential of leading ISKCON novices astray by overly focusing on the romantic Lilas of Krishna in Vrindavan, which can lead the novices to material temptation. They also characterize Jiva Institute people as "Asampradaya" or lacking a proper Sampradaya. Which brings me to the final difference, namely a difference in Guru Paramparas. Here is the ISKCON Guru Parampara:

  1. Kṛṣṇa
  2. Brahmā
  3. Nārada
  4. Vyāsa
  5. Madhva
  6. Padmanābha
  7. Nṛhari
  8. Mādhava
  9. Akṣobhya
  10. Jaya Tīrtha
  11. Jñānasindhu
  12. Dayānidhi
  13. Vidyānidhi
  14. Rājendra
  15. Jayadharma
  16. Puruṣottama
  17. Brahmaṇya Tīrtha
  18. Vyāsa Tīrtha
  19. Lakṣmīpati
  20. Mādhavendra Purī
  21. Īśvara Purī, (Nityānanda, Advaita)
  22. Lord Caitanya
  23. Rūpa, (Svarūpa, Sanātana)
  24. Raghunātha, Jīva
  25. Kṛṣṇadāsa
  26. Narottama
  27. Viśvanātha
  28. (Baladeva), Jagannātha
  29. Bhaktivinoda
  30. Gaurakiśora
  31. Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī
  32. A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda

And here is the Jiva Institute Guru Parampara:

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Both ISKCON and the Jiva Institute trace their Guru Paramparas to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the founder of the Gaudiya Vaishnava sect, but ISKCON's Parampara traces its origins to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's shishya Rupa Goswami, whereas the Jiva Institute's Parampara traces its origins to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's shishya Gadadhara Pandita. It's also worth noting that the Jiva Institute claims that Rupa Goswami received Diksha from Gadadhara Pandita; see this web page.

  • 2
    ISKCON believes that Jivas sometimes fall from Vaikuntha into the world of Samsara if they do bad deeds in Vaikuntha, whereas the Jiva Institute believes that Jivas who attain Vaikuntha never fall from it. I'd like to comment just briefly on two points here of what you said. ISKCON devotees or Gaudiyas in their traditional understanding of those matters don't believe that "bad deeds", what you mentioned, is material karma like we see in this material world which bound us to samsara (repeated births and deaths). ... Commented Oct 13, 2017 at 21:36
  • ... In Vaikuntha everyone is protected from any influence of his deeds. So there is no karma in some ordinary sense there in Vaikuntha. Another point. whereas the Jiva Institute believes that Jivas who attain Vaikuntha never fall from it ISKCON also believes the same thing! It's not that ISKCON believes that when you finally reach Vaikuntha after gone through samsara you will fall again to samsara. ISKCON also believes you will not fall again! Commented Oct 13, 2017 at 21:36
  • @brahmajijnasa I edited my answer to reflect your second point. As to your first point, if not bad deeds, then what kinds of deeds result in falling from Vaikuntha? Commented Oct 13, 2017 at 21:50
  • Ok. I will respond later perhaps not today but in a few days I think, in our chat room. Commented Oct 13, 2017 at 21:54
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    The article refers to the "Sampradaya Sun" as an ISKCON publication. The Sampradaya Sun is not an official ISKCON publication... it is a publication from some ISKCON members. Commented Oct 17, 2018 at 12:21

Both are Gaudiya Vaishnavas & both belong to Different lineage within the Gaudiya Tradition. Overall phikosphy is same however certain differences are like:-

  1. Jiva Institute Disagrees with the ISKCON Concept of Bhagvata Parampara introduced of Srila Bhaktisiddhant Sarasvati Thakur Prabhupad (Guru of Srila Prabhupad)

  2. There is disgareememts on the topic of Varnashram

  3. Some sort of difference must be there with the topic of Siddha Pranali & Wearing of Safron cloth.

Other than this overall there isn't any difference as such.

ISKCON comes in lineage of Advaita Acharya & Nityananda Prabhu while Jiva Institute is in lineage of Gadadhar Pandit.

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