by Narasimha das
Srila Prabhupada never hesitated
to offer spiritual initiation to anyone who agreed to follow
his instructions. He initiated persons not born in brahmin
families or families that follow Vedic culture. Srila Prabhupada
accepted both men and women from all backgrounds as his initiated
disciples and promised he would take them back to Godhead
if they followed his instructions. What’s especially
unusual about the system of initiations Srila Prabhupada arranged
was that it requires no physical contact between Srila Prabhupada
and his new student. In fact, many devotees where initiated
by Srila Prabhupada without ever meeting His Divine Grace.
Such initiations would have been impractical had Srila Prabhupada
not authorized senior disciples to accept and train new students
on his behalf.
To expand Lord
Çaitanya’s transcendental mission, Srila Prabhupada
made many arrangements to help sincere souls approach him,
inquire from him, and accept him as sad-guru. By making himself
available in the form of his books, murtis, movement, and
representatives, he greatly expanded opportunities for devotees
to get the fully potent association of a paramahamsa Vaisnava.
As the movement expanded, the facilities for innocent persons
to take shelter of Srila Prabhupada also expanded.
Near the time of Srila Prabhupada’s departure, the Movement
was growing more quickly than ever. Therefore on July 9th,
1977 he formally established an initiation system that had
already been in practice in ISKCON. By his final order, Srila
Prabhupada authorized deputies to accept disciples on his
behalf, yet without writing to him for confirmation, as they
had done before. By this order, Srila Prabhupada authorized
representatives to decide who would be accepted for initiation
in ISKCON. Srila Prabhupada had already clearly established
the standards for being accepted as his initiated disciple,
therefore he trusted the discretion of senior disciples to
manage this system on his behalf. (For exact descriptions
of Srila Prabhupada’s standards for initiations see
C.c. Adi 17.265 and C.c Madhya 24.330 purports.)
Srila Prabhupada never authorized anyone to initiate their
own disciples in his movement, and he never gave the GBC authority
to select or approve diksa-gurus. What Srila Prabhupada did
do was set up a system to continue initiations in ISKCON according
to the standards he had already established. His final order
on initiations simply confirms the system Srila Prabhupada
had already set up in ISKCON. The only adjustment Srila Prabhupada
made by his final directive was to eliminate the need for
representatives (such as temple presidents) to write to him
for approval. Rather, they were instructed to write to the
local ritvik, the representative of the acarya. In this way,
Srila Prabhupada authorized ritviks to accept disciples on
The GBC has no authority to discontinue devotional practices
or management systems His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada personally
arranged. The GBC has no authority to sanction diksa-gurus.
In fact, the entire arrangement of gurus and initiations in
ISKCON today is a concoction. Srila Prabhupada never ordained
diksa-gurus , nor did he set up any system to empower the
GBC to do so. Yet the GBC insists on defending their concocted
guru system, which has caused division and chaos in ISKCON
for more than 20 years.
Question: Are you saying that the GBC has no authority to
regulate who initiates in ISKCON?
Answer: Srila Prabhupada initiates in ISKCON. His words and
example inspire us all to join Lord Caitanya’s movement.
The GBC has authority to preserve what Srila Prabhupada established,
not to create something new. Srila Prabhupada never approved
the idea of self-appointed gurus or gurus by the appointment
or approval of an ecclesiastical board. He several times criticized
his Godbrothers for trying artificially to create posts of
diksa-guru , or acarya, in the Gaudiya Matha.
Question: Must Srila Prabhupada always remain the initiating
guru in ISKCON?
Answer: We must follow the order we have. The entire Hare
Krsna movement follows Srila Prabhupada. He’s the spiritual
master of the universe. What’s wrong with that idea?
Question: How do we know that Srila Prabhupada won’t
order someome to become diksa-guru., the initiating spiritual
master. Maybe he already has.
Answer: Srila Prabhupada’s arrangement for initiations
in ISKCON is clear. We can’t change this arrangement,
which is based on Srila Prabhupada and his authority, just
because someone claims that Srila Prabhupada told him he could
initiate his own disciples. Who is making such claims?
Question: What if a new devotee wants to accept one of Srila
Prabhupada’s disciples as the spiritual master rather
than trying to develop a direct relationship with Srila Prabhupada?
Could he do that?
Answer: Not in ISKCON. Srila Prabhupada made himself fully
available in the form of his extensive vani and also as his
divine murti. Daily attendance of his guru-puja, his mangala-arati
prayers, and careful study of his books is essential for all
ISKCON devotees. Yet devotees may naturally follow senior
advanced disciples who inspire them in their devotion to Sri
Guru and Sri Gauranga. Srila Prabhupada encouraged such practical
training and teacher-student relationships. Yet he never authorized
any disciple to post himself as the initiating spiritual master
in ISKCON. He never authorized any of his disciples to act
as the sad-guru, who must be worshipped like the Supreme Lord.
Question: But sannyasis receive worship from others.
Answer: Genuine Vaisnavas are certainly worthy of worship.
To be a faithful disciple of Srila Prabhupada is an exalted
status. Nonetheless, no regular worship or formal status as
diksa-guru was ever authorized by Srila Prabhupada for any
of his disciples in ISKCON. Srila Prabhupada wanted faithful
disciples, not self-appointed pretenders. If a new devotee
hasn’t developed faith in Srila Prabhupada as his guru,
he should not accept initiation in ISKCON. Similarly, if a
disciple wants to appoint himself as guru, he has no right
to use ISKCON for his enterprise.
Question: But doesn’t the law of disciplic succession
prohibit jumping over the current guru in favor of the previous
Answer: Srila Prabhupada is still the current acarya. Who
can deny this? Do we need a candle to see the full moon? Srila
Bhaktivinode Thakur said, “He reasons ill who tells
that Vaisnavas die, when thou art living still in sound.”
Who is that guru we jump over by accepting Srila Prabhupada?
If someone says new devotees need to surrender heart and soul
to unauthorized or mixed devotees, such ignorant persons should
be jumped over or ignored.
Question: Doesn’t the sincere disciple automatically
become the guru and then serve his own disciples by helping
them become Krsna conscious?
Answer: The disciple follows the order of the Acarya, and
serves in that way. Srila Prabhupada created many posts for
his disciples (such as sannyasa, GBC, and temple president),
but he never created posts of diksa-guru. Nor did he tell
the GBC to do so. Srila Prabhupada is both the siksa-guru
and diksa-guru in ISKCON. Advanced devotees should train new
disciples to associate with Srila Prabhupada constantly by
hearing from him repeatedly with rapt attention. In this way,
everyone gets the same benefit and guarantee in their cultivation
of pure devotional service.
Question: But don’t Srila Prabhupada’s books talk
often of his disciples becoming diksa-gurus and accepting
their own disciples?
Answer: No. Srila Prabhupada asks everyone to become guru
by preaching and training others in the philosophy and practices
of Krsna consciousness. He never asked anyone to begin initiating
their own disciples in ISKCON. We find no such instruction.
Not all pure devotees initiate disciples and accept worship
from other Vaisnavas. It’s not automatic that pure devotees
will initiate. A pure devotee accepts the post of spiritual
master when the Supreme Lord or His empowered representative
orders him. (See S.B. 4.8.54, purport)
Question: Don’t Srila Prabhupada’s books say that
everyone should become guru and help others? Isn’t this
Lord Caitanya’s mission?
Answer: Lord Caitanya’s mission is to give pure chanting
of Hare Krsna and pure devotional service. Srila Prabhupada
warns that no one should be accepted as a pure devotee if
he is not properly authorized. Please consider this passage
from Caitanya-caritamrta: “Vallabha Bhatta wanted to
be initiated by Gadadhara Pandita, but Gadadhara Pandita refused,
saying, ‘The work of acting as a spiritual master is
not possible for me. I am completely dependent. My Lord is
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. I cannot do anything independently,
without His order.’ ” (C.c. Antya-lila 7.150,
7.151) Pure devotees never think they are independent. All
work in ISKCON is created by Srila Prabhupada. The post of
“ISKCON guru” is a GBC concoction. Unfortunately,
due to this concoction, many preachers have been polluted
by false ambition.
Question: But Lord Caitanya gave a blanket order for everyone
to become guru. Why do you say such gurus can’t initiate
their own disciples?
Answer: They may initiate when they get an order to initiate.
Sri Gadadhara Pandit himself said he needed a direct order
to initiate! Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu wanted everyone to become
Krsna conscious and preach. He never said all devotees must
initiate their own disciples. In fact, Srila Prabhupada specifically
warns, “It is better not to accept any disciples.”
Srila Prabhupada said, “A guru can become guru when
he’s ordered by his guru. That’s all. Otherwise
nobody can become guru.” (S.P. Bg. Lecture, 1975)
Question: By preaching and practicing Krishna consciousness,
isn’t one automatically qualified to become an initiating
Answer: Not necessarily. But qualification is seperate issue.
We may have qualifications, but an order is still required.
For instance, I may be qualified for the order ofsannyasa,
but in ISKCON I will need authorization to be accepted as
a sannyasi. The position of Gaudiya Vaisnava guru, or acarya,
is equal to that of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. (C.c.
Adi 1.46) Sri Gadadhara Pandita said he was unable to initiate
without the direct order of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Why speak
Question: How is it possible that Srila Prabhupada can accept
disciples after his departure? And how do we know he wants
Answer: You think there’s something that’s impossible
for Srila Prabhupada? He set up a ritvik system for this.
He established ISKCON to train devotees to be his steady disciples
and preach. It used to be common knowledge among devotees
that His Divine Grace was willing to accept the whole world
as his disciples. He accepted disciples in Australia while
in Europe. He accepted disciples in America while in India.
He accepted disciples he had never met. Srila Prabhupada can
do this. He is still doing this. It is in our hands to get
the credit for helping him do this by agreeing to remain his
Question: Then we should ask new devotees to surrender heart
and soul to someone they can never meet personally or write
a letter to.
Answer: Do you think Srila Prabhupada is dead? The issue here
is the authority of the Jagat Guru. He never said his physical
presence was essential. Many of his so-called “direct”
disciples, devotees initiated prior to 1977, never saw him
or wrote to him. Srila Prabhupada said following his order
is essential. He never stressed his physical presence. His
order is directly the will of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Why
should we tax our brains to justify defying Srila Prabhupada’s
order? The problem is that devotees have not carefully heard
from Srila Prabhupada or his genuine representatives. They’ve
been misled by the gbc to think Srila Prabhupada is gone and
can no longer personally guide or initiate devotees.
Question: According to Vedic tradition, when the guru departs,
his disciple becomes the initiating guru and accepts his own
disciples. This is the parampara system. We can’t stop
this eternal system.
Answer: There is no such tradition of defacto guru, or guru
by automatic inheritance. Yet all Vedic traditions are satisfied
if we follow Srila Prabhupada’s formula for expanding
the worldwide mission of Krsna consciousness. One day there
may be millions of devotees qualified to offer diksa. Yet
in Srila Prabhupada’s mission, they will follow Srila
Prabhupada’s system and train disciples to offer their
full devotion and surrender to Srila Prabhupada and His mission
rather than to themselves. Such self-realized souls may have
many devoted followers. Pure devotees teach by their example
how to serve Srila Prabhupada’s mission as humble representatives
of the Saktyavesa Avatar, the Jagat Guru. If representatives
of Srila Prabhupada train everyone to accept Srila Prabhupada
as acarya, the parampara system will florish gloriously. Advanced
devotees will happily agree to remain humble representatives
of His Divine Grace, the Jagat Guru, Srila Prabhupada.
Questions: But don’t all genuine spiritual masters accept
disciples on behalf of the previous acaryas? Don’t ISKCON
gurus engage their followers in unalloyed service to Srila
Answer: Yes, to the first question. No, to the second. They
are misleading their so-called disciples. These ambitious
men could have been loved and honored as the representatives
of Srila Prabhupada, but instead, due to false ambition, they
created intrigue and suffering for everyone, including themselves.
What’s at stake here? Why all the fuss to reject Srila
Prabhupada’s final order on initiations? Think about
Question: Isn’t diksa just a formality? Isn’t
it the Hare Krsna mahamantra that actually initiates everyone?
Answer: Diksa is the process by which one can awaken his divya-jnana
and vanguish sinful reactions (C.c Madhya, 15.108). The initiation
ceremony is a formality, but that also has been recommended
and established by our Gaudiya Vaisnava acaryas, beginning
with Srila Rupa Gowsami. By definition, then, the diksa-guru
must be a fully self-realized soul. No one else is qualified
to offer true diksa.
Question: If everyone takes siksa from Srila Prabhupada, isn’t
that enough? Why should we worry who initiates?
Answer: The siksa-guru and diksa-guru must be seen equally.
Generally, they are the same person. They are both absolute.
Why deny new devotees the assurance of being directly connected
with Srila Prabhupada through both diksa and siksa? Who will
they accept as Srila Prabhupada’s equal? The real point
is following the formula Srila Prabhupada personally arranged.
Why does the GBC refuse to accept Srila Prabhupada’s
Question: The GBC believes that ordaining gurus is the most
effective way to recruit and train devotees and thus continue
Answer: The parampara is continued by disciples who follow
the order of the Acarya. ISKCON devotees must follow Srila
Prabhupada’s instruction to preach on His behalf. Srila
Prabhupada is the Jagat Acarya. His position is the same as
Lord Nityananda’s or Lord Balarama’s. No order
of His Divine Grace can be changed or ignored. By training
everyone to be disciples of Srila Prabhupada, the parampara
will continue gloriously.
Question: I think most ISKCON gurus are representing Srila
Answer: Preachers who represent Srila Prabhupada’s mission
teach that Srila Prabhupada is the absolute shelter for all
ISKCON devotees. They teach devotees to hear from Srila Prabhupada
and worship him with full surrender. They don’t encourage
devotees to worship mixed devotees or offenders as the initiating
spiritual master. Nor do they teach that mixed devotees are
in the Gaudiya Vaisnava sampradaya. Rather they train devotees
to accept Srila Prabhupada and surrender to his mission directly.
Unless the GBC accepts Srila Prabhupada’s order, they’ll
continue to mislead innocent devotees and create chaos.
Question: Are all ISKCON gurus offenders?
Answer: According to Srila Prabhupada, those who attempt to
exploit or misdirect the mission of the Acarya due to personal
ambition are “severe offenders". No one can capture
the post of Vaisnava Acarya by artificial arrangements. “A
Vaisnava acarya is self-effulgent, and there is no need for
any court judgment.” (C.c Madhya 1.220 purport) Srila
Prabhupada and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati both warn that
one who covets the post of Vaisnava Acarya or tries to assume
the post without authority causes havoc by his imitation.
Even Sri Gadadhara Pandit, the incarnation of devotional energy,
says he needs a direct order to initiate. He was not willing
to assume the post of Supreme Personality of Servitor Godhead
without a direct order from Lord Caitanya. Yet if we ask an
ISKCON guru, “When did Srila Prabhupada order you to
become the initiating spiritual master?” What will he
Question: He might say, “I am a guru because the GBC
confirmed my nomination. I don’t claim to be absolute.
Only my disciples see me that way because the sastras say
the guru must be worshipped like God. I accept the authority
of the GBC as absolute. In that way, I am absolute.”
Answer: This is no reply. They’ll agree to be ritviks
of a deviated GBC but not of Srila Prabhupada! They misrepresent
the most exalted post of Vaisnava guru. By their deviation,
they’ve opened the flood gate for sahjiya cheating and
anarchy. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura warned, “One
who thinks he is guru is ‘garu’.” ‘Garu’
means cow. A cow is an animial. We may worship a cow sometimes,
but it remains an animal nonetheless.