(Click to enlarge photo of disciples offering obeisances to Srila Prabhupada, Nairobi, 1971)
Prabhupada: These my disciples, they are part and parcel of me. Whole mission is going on with their cooperation. But if he says that "I am equal to my Guru Mahārāja," then that is offense.
Mr. Malhotra: Suppose guru desires that my disciple should rise higher than me.
Prabhupada: That means he is in lower stage. That you have to accept first of all.
Mr. Malhotra: Like as a father sees that his children grow.
Prabhupada: Yes, still father begets father, and a child cannot become father.
Mr. Malhotra: Father begets father, but he feels that he may..., will progress...
Prabhupada: No, no. Father may want to see that the son is equally qualified, but still the father is father, and child is child. That is perpetual. Similarly, a part and parcel of God may be very powerful, but that does not mean that he has become God.
Mr. Malhotra: Other traditions, guru disciple, then the disciple becomes guru, then disciple. The gurus may change.
Prabhupada: They cannot change. If there are change of guru, the disciple acts. But does not... He'll never say that "I have become equal or one with guru." That is not so.
Mr. Malhotra: I am thinking about this, Swāmījī, that your Guru Mahārāja is preaching through you, and you are preaching through them.
Mr. Malhotra: So disciple is guru through his disciples.
Prabhupada: That's all right. Evaṁ paramparā prāptam (BG 4.2). But that does not become..., he has become. He may be representative of guru, representative of God, but it does not mean that he has become God.
Mr. Malhotra: But he becomes guru to his disciples.
Prabhupada: That's all right.
Mr. Malhotra: Never equal to his guru.
Prabhupada: Not equal; representative. Not equal. I send one representative of this man, and he may be very expert, doing very good business, still he cannot be equal with me. He is acting as my representative, that's another thing. But not that he has become the original proprietor.
Mr. Malhotra: But as your disciples, you are taken as guru.
Prabhupada: But they will never say that they have become equal with me: "I have advanced to be my guru." Never say. Just like this boy, he is offering obeisances. He may be expert in preaching more than me, but he knows that "I am subordinate." Otherwise, how he shall offer obeisances? He can think, "Oh, now I am so learned. I am so advanced. Why shall I accept him as superior?" No. That continues. Even after my death, after my disappearance, he will offer obeisances to my picture.
(Srila Prabhupada Conversation, Poona, December 22, 1976)