(Click to enlarge photo of His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada.)
"We are pushing on this Kṛṣṇa consciousness not by whims. It is approved by great ācāryas. We are following their footsteps. That's all. That is our business."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, New York, April 11, 1969)
"So we have to follow the footprints of the ācāryas. Mahājano yena gataḥ sa panthāḥ (CC Madhya 17.186). We cannot understand higher things unless we follow the footprint of great personalities."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, San Francisco, September 11, 1968)
"By following in the footsteps of the great ācāryas, one associates with the haṁsas or paramahaṁsas, those who are completely freed from material contamination. Indeed, by following the instructions of the ācāryas one is always freed from all material contamination, and thus one's life becomes successful, for one reaches the goal of life."
(Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 7.9.18, Purport)
"Don't follow any rascal. You follow the ācārya, you get the benefit of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. That is our request. Tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma naiti (BG 4.9). Then your human form of life will be blessed. You'll get success in obtaining this human form of life."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Visakhapatnam, February 20, 1972)
"We don't manufacture anything. We simply follow. Mahājano yena gataḥ sa panthāḥ (CC Madhya 17.186). Mahājanas, great personalities, great authorities, that is our process. Guru-mukha-padma-vākya, cittete kariyā aikya, āra na koriya mane āśa. This is the process. The guru-mukha-padma-vākya, whatever is coming out of the mouth of the spiritual master... Because he'll never speak nonsense. He'll also speak the same thing which he has heard from his guru. That is called anu. Anu, following. So this is very easy. We don't manufacture things. What is the use of manufacturing things? We are imperfect; what we can manufacture? Whatever we shall manufacture, that is imperfect because we are imperfect. The modern scientists, they are manufacturing some ideas. I manufacture, and you manufacture some idea. You defeat me; I defeat you. So tarkaḥ apratiṣṭhaḥ (CC Madhya 17.186). In this way—I defeat you; you defeat me—that will not solve the problem. The problem will be solved when we follow the authority."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Mayapur, February 19, 1976)
"We have to follow the footprints of great saintly persons, devotees, mahājana. Here is Ṛṣabhadeva. But in the Kali-yuga it is not possible to imitate ājagara-vṛtti. It is not possible, because we are already so weak. Mandāḥ sumanda-matayo manda-bhāgyā hy upadrutāḥ (SB 1.1.10). This is our position. We are very unfortunate. Every one of us, we are very bad, mandāḥ, bad habits. So it is not possible to imitate Ṛṣabhadeva or Haridāsa Ṭhākura. Don't imitate, but try to follow. Anusaraṇa. Anukaraṇa is not good. Anukaraṇa means false imitation. That is called anukaraṇa. And anusaraṇa means to follow. Try to follow as far as possible."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Vrindavan, November 19, 1976)
"Therefore it is said, mahājano yena gataḥ sa panthāḥ (CC Madhya 17.186). Big personalities, what they have done, we have to follow that. So our principle is that, that we are following Caitanya Mahāprabhu, mahājana, a great personality. Or the Christians are following Christ, a great personality. Mahājano yena gataḥ sa panthāḥ. You follow some mahājana, great personality. Don't take opinion this man, that man, this man, this man. Then you will be bewildered. Dharmasya tattvaṁ nihitaṁ guhāyāṁ mahājano yena gataḥ sa panthāḥ. So you have to follow one great personality, ācārya. That is also recommended in the Bhā..., ācāryopāsanam (BG 13.8), following the ācārya. So we have got recognized ācārya, just like you said, Rāmānujācārya, Madhvācārya, Nimbārka, Viṣṇu Svāmī, Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Or Śaṅkarācārya even. You follow one ācārya, like Christians, they follow Christ, ācārya. The Muhammadans, they follow ācārya, Muhammad. That is good. You must follow some ācārya. But don't give your opinion. That is our process. Evaṁ paramparā-prāptam."
(Srila Prabhupada Conversation, Melbourne, May 20, 1975)
"Regarding parampara system: there is nothing to wonder for big gaps. Just like we belong to the Brahma Sampradaya, so we accept it from Krishna to Brahma, Brahma to Narada, Narada to Vyasadeva, Vyasadeva to Madhva, and between Vyasadeva and Madhva there is a big gap. But it is sometimes said that Vyasadeva is still living, and Madhva was fortunate enough to meet him directly. In a similar way, we find in the Bhagavad-gita that the Gita was taught to the sungod, some millions of years ago, but Krishna has mentioned only three names in this parampara system—namely, Vivasvan, Manu, and Iksvaku; and so these gaps do not hamper from understanding the parampara system. We have to pick up the prominent acaryas, and follow from him. There are many branches also from the parampara system, and it is not possible to record all the branches and sub-branches in the disciplic succession. We have to pick up from the authority of the acharya in whatever sampradaya we belong to."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, April 12, 1968)
"If you stick to the principle of following the footsteps of previous predecessor, evaṁ paramparā-prāptam (BG 4.2)—don't add anything, don't subtract anything, present as it is and keep your spiritual strength intact—then the preaching will go on. Nobody can disturb you. That's all."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Bombay, January 9, 1973)