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His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Brahma Sampradaya Acharya

Society of Devotees - Disciples of Srila Prabhupada

Spiritual Master - Rittvik -  Initiation

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[Posted 9 October, 2006]

Under the Guidance and Care of Srila Prabhupada

Praghosa das



Dearest all, As you are all the closest of my family and friends, I wanted to send each of you copy of my very carefully considered conclusions on the matter of initiation in Krishna Consciousness as given by our Acharya Srila Prabhupada.

This paper has quite literally been percolating inside my head and heart for many years. I first wrote the essence of these conclusions in a letter to HH Tamal Krishna Goswami in 1995. He elected to ignore my attempt to reach out to him in this matter.

I went to Portugal in 1981 FULLY CAPABLE of gifting the "local natives"—as Srila Prabhupada would sometimes call locals throughout the globe—with the standardized process of pure devotional service as given by His Divine Grace and our Acharyas.

This world is born of "open court rebellion" and thus a place of unceasing WARFARE. Within family life this warfare does not take precedent, at least not in the open. But warfare abounds about us.

All conflict now erupting about the globe can be traced back to this essential dispute: Who is God - and who is authorized to speak on His behalf?

I believe that Srila Prabhupada speaks for himself.

Though my words will initially be seen or presented as threatening to the status quo, upon careful examination, one will find that they do no such thing.

They are my final conclusion in the matter. I am, as my family knows, quite stubborn where it concerns matters of grave importance.

Within my words one will find tolerance for what I view as "insubordination", provided unreserved allegience to Srila Prabhupada's direct instructions are not being coercively prevented from being honestly embraced by those who choose to.

Where coercion is allowed to take the dominant position I will expose it for what it is and work towards its destruction. Where it is not entertained and "LIBERTY" is promoted I am a humble servant of the freedom to seek out and find "the really good preceptor" by any man.

I offer this first to my closest and dearest in this world, My wife Radhanga and our Children.

Then to my dear friend Udayananda Das who brought me insistently to the shelter of Srila Prabhupada.

Then to Hansadutta Das whom I consider as my mentor and careful "adjudicator" in all matters pertaining to Srila Prabhupada's most intimate mood of preaching.

Then to Badarayana Prabhu who helps me daily in my service of sankirtan to Srila Prabhupada.

And last but not least to my dear friend Bhakta Mike, who is like a son or younger brother to me and tolerates occasional surliness as a family member.

I cherish all of you and am grateful to all of you for your help and support.


"Of every religion the followers are divided into two classes, esoteric and exoteric. The esoteric section are sufficiently spiritualized to understand the prophet or the guru; and their number is very small. As time rolls on, their number becomes still smaller and smaller till it comes to nil. And as the number decreases, spiritual adulteration increases till at last the truth is entirely lost sight of, and the religion becomes irreligious. The followers now fight more for the sake of the name of the religion than for the truth it teaches; they fight more for the shadow than for the substance. They begin to twist and torture the sacred injunctions laid down in the holy scriptures and to serve their selfish ends, try to bring out a meaning that these do not and cannot mean.

"The most astounding and inappropriate rites that are now associated with our own religion are but results of flagrant violation of shastric injunctions; and for this none but the present so-called gurus, or rather the spiritual babblers, are mostly responsible." (Nimananda das Brahmachary, "Transmigration of Souls", an article originally published in The Harmonist (Sree Sajjanatoshani), Vol 25, No 10, March 1928, here taken from "Fanaticism and Death of Religion")


Without a self-realised soul at the head of the institution, it would become nothing more than atheism disguised as its opposite, because in the absence of the self-realised, spiritually empowered leader, "Putanas" or impostors masquerading as spiritual leaders would inevitably hijack the institution for their own nefarious ends. "No human contrivance can prevent these Putanas from obtaining possession of the pulpits" (Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur, in his essay "Putana"), and in the name of spirituality they would inevitably stoop to such depths of depravity that even "the worst of non-ecclesiastical criminals are found to recoil." (full text: Without the self-realized soul at its head, The Bhaktivedantas KRSNA WORLD Blog)

Srila Prabhupada's Perfect and Natural Arrangement for the Simple System of Initiation into the Krishna Consciousness Movement

"The Guru is not a mortal, erring creature like ourselves. He is eternal Servant of Sri Krishna Whom He sends into this world for the deliverance of fallen souls. He comes into this world on this "Mission of Causeless Divine Mercy" in order to help us to rise, out of the depths of sin to our natural state of absolute purity, by methods which are perfectly consistent with the principles of our really unbiased reason. So long as we refuse to listen to him we are doomed to misunderstand everything." (Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur)


Vaikunthanatha(ACBSP): In 1972, when Srila Prabhupada gave a series of lectures on The Nectar of Devotion for one month in Vrindavana, a thought was plaguing me. When I first joined, I'd been taught that the parampara system is like a chain, and if you're not initiated, if you're not initiated, if you're not linked up to this chain, then you can't go back to Godhead. I thought, "We're distributing so many books, but if the people who read them are not initiated, then they can't go back to Godhead". So one day I followed Srila Prabhupada from Rupa Goswami's samadhi, where he lectured, and just before Srila Prabhupada stepped onto his courtyard, I said, "Srila Prabhupada, we're distributing so many books but if people aren't initiated, then they can't go back to Godhead". Srila Prabhupada turned, looked me right in the eyes and said, "Just by reading my books they are initiated". I thought, "That is an incredible example of compassion". (Initiation Neither Rite Nor Wrong)


"Diksha is the process by which one can awaken his transcendental knowledge and vanquish all reactions caused by sinful activity. A person expert in the study of the revealed scriptures knows this process as diksha." (Chaitanya-charitamrita Madhya Lila 15.108)

The above statements are not hyperbole by our Acharyas. These two statements are acknowledged as objective reality. The assignation of such value to the spiritual master, rendering the Guru as "worshipable", is established by none other than the Supreme Lord, Lord Sri Krishna Himself.

His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada asserts this in total in the following offering delivered in 1936 as his Vyasa Puja offering of glorification of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur on his appearance day.

The Absolute Necessity of a Spiritual Master
ABHAY CHARANARAVINDAM DAS
"'In order to learn the transcendental science, one must approach the bona fide spiritual master in disciplic succession, who is fixed in the Absolute Truth.'

"Thus it has been enjoined herewith that in order to receive that transcendental knowledge, one must approach the guru. Therefore, if the Absolute Truth is one, about which we think there is no difference of opinion, the guru also cannot be two. The Acaryadeva for whom we have assembled tonight to offer our humble homage is not the guru of a sectarian institution or one out of many differing exponents of the truth. On the contrary, he is the Jagad-guru, or the guru of all of us; the only difference is that some obey him wholeheartedly, while others do not obey him directly." full essay

In the following essay Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur explains in detail all the essential details concerning initiation in Krishna consciousness under the guidance of the bonafide spiritual master:

Initiation into Spiritual Life
SRILA BHAKTISIDDHANTA SARASVATI THAKUR
"The ceremony of diksha or initiation is that by which the spiritual Preceptor admits one to the status of a neophyte on the path of spiritual endeavour. The ceremony tends to confer spiritual enlightenment by abrogating sinfulness. Its actual effect depends on the degree of willing co-operation on the part of the disciple and is, therefore, not the same in all cases. It does not preclude the possibility of reversion on the novice to the non-spiritual state, if he slackens in his effort or misbehaves. Initiation puts a person on the true track and also imparts an initial impulse to go ahead." full essay

The factual presentation of the facts as they pertain to the spiritual master and how we are able to access his guidance and mercy are perfectly facilitated in the arrangements of the Founder Acharya for ISKCON, Srila Prabhupada. Carefully read them below and you will see the simplicity and ease with which Srila Prabhuapda set about arranging for the whole world to come under the shelter of our spotless parampara, descending from Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu!

Srila Prabhupada's instructions on initiation are in perfect harmony with both his own essay and the essay on initiation by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur Srila Prabhupada. They are as follows:

Letter of July 9th, 1977
"Dear Maharajas and Prabhus,
Please accept my humble obeisances at your feet. Recently when all of the GBC members were with His Divine Grace in Vrndavana, Srila Prabhupada indicated that soon He would appoint some of His senior disciples to act as "rittvik" - representative of the acarya, for the purpose of performing initiations, both first initiation and second initiation. His Divine Grace has so far given a list of eleven disciples who will act in that capacity..." full text

Conclusion

This is the conclusory communique to all temples presidents and GBC's on the subject of future initiations/gurus in ISKCON after Prabhupada leaves his body. These instructions were sent after several GBC meetings during the previous month specifically on this subject.

The specific word "henceforward" has only one meaning, viz. "from now onwards" or "from this time forward". This is both according to Srila Prabhupada's own previous usage of the word and the meaning ascribed to it by the English Language. Unlike other words, the word henceforward is unambiguous since it only possesses one dictionary definition.

The word "henceforward" does not mean "from now onwards until I depart". It simply means "from now onwards". There is no mention in the letter that the system should stop on Srila Prabhupada's departure, neither does it state that the system was to only be operational during his presence.

This is the simple, safe and secure system set up by Srila Prabhupada four months before his departure, with no subsequent instruction to terminate it. Without such a counter instruction, this letter remains intact as Srila Prabhupada's instruction on initiation.

This legal ISKCON document states ISKCON initiation policy from that time (July 9, 1977) onward. The recording of names cannot refer to the chronological validity of this document, because there is no all-important time limitation stated, nor is there mention of any time limitation in any of Prabhupada's other written or recorded statements on ritvik initiations.

Therefore the word "henceforward" can only mean "from this time onwards", or until this document is specifically countermanded by him. This never took place.

Therefore, the appointed successor diksha-guru system in ISKCON today is not the authorized system left us by Srila Prabhupada. One can only conclude that Srila Prabhupada's original system was REJECTED by the leadership of ISKCON. It is safe to conclude, upon careful examination of all the evidence, that this rejection was the result of personal motivation due to immaturity and/or insubordination, in concert with the acceptance of the guidance of "Higher Authority"** (see below) in the form of HH Sridhara Swami Maharaja in 1978. It has endured to this day.

**In 1978 the GBC "consulted" HH Sridhara Swami as to "How" they were to put into effect Srila Prabhupada's instructions in this matter of initiations. He counseled that the new men should be given an opportunity to "study the candidates" for some time, in order to determine in whom they were to repose their shraddha or faith". This was quite literally a complete and total reversal of Srila Prabhupada's direct order in this matter. Srila Prabhupada's system of initiation never obliged the new men in Krishna Consciousness, whose faith in the science of Krishna consciousness rested 100% upon his books and the standards maintained universally by ALL his initiated disciples, to upon his physical absence search from amongst his authorized men for a qualifed "candidate" who was to be viewed as "worthy" of this new man's faith. Temple to temple, leader to leader, the process was sublime and "standardized". There was no question of these men being "candidates". Srila Prabhupada's original appointees were "AUTHORIZED" to re-present Srila Prabhupada and HIS standards. That is all. There was no instruction to now "search from amongst them", thus scuttling the very simple and standardized procedures long established by His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada for the easy adoption of Krishna consciousness by anyone - anywhere - in the world.

It should be noted that the word "candidate" used by Sridhara Swami is in actuality to be applied to the aspiring disciple—not THE SPIRITUAL MASTER. A "Candidate" seeks the "approval" or vote of confidence from others. Srila Prabhupada was never a "candidate" or "suitor" seeking our approval or allegience. He came to us unrequested and unannounced, and he IMPOSED the Absolute Truth within the atmosphere of open rebellion that is this degraded Western culture. We could then accept or reject his authority, but he was not seeking our vote of confidence. We were humbly requesting his confidence in our sincerity to follow his standardized presentation of the science of Krishna consciousness. The mere fact that Sridhara Swami even used this word to describe the appointed representatives of the Acharya Srila Prabhupada denotes his own misunderstanding of his own position in relationship to Srila Prabhupada. He viewed himself, in the presence of the self-effulgent Acharya Srila Prabhupada, as a "candidate" for the allegience or committment of aspiring disciples, when he should have openly admitted to Srila Prabhupada's obvious exclusive authority as Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur's successor and shown full insistance that ALL should take full and unreserved shelter of His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada.

This counsel was rejected in its essence, however, and the GBC adopted the Zonal Acharya system instead. In this they got it 50% right: no need to search, but they misrepresented themselves as Acharyas.

Later, the "counsel" of HH Sridhara Swami was proffered by the next generation of reformers in 1986, as they argued in favor of opening up the position of Acharya to more men - AND - now encouraging the newcomers to search amongst the "candidates" to see which one could actually inspire their conviction or "shraddha" as Sridhara Swami called it. We now see this phenomenon of "suitorship" being proffered within Srila Prabhupada's mission to one extent or another as the "exclusively" proper transmission of Srila Prabhupada's instructions. It is acceptable only if and when Srila Prabhupada's orginal system of "appointed" or "authorized re-presentatives are first clearly explained to be Srila Prabhupada's actual original arrangement.

Prabhupada's Supporting Instructions

There were other statements made by Srila Prabhupada, and his secretary, in the days following the July 9th letter, which clearly indicate that the ritvik system was intended to continue without cessation:

"...the process for initiation to be followed in the future." (July 11th)
"...continue to become ritvik and act on my charge." (July 19th)
"...continue to become ritvik and act on my behalf." (July 31st)

In these documents we find words such as "continue" and "future", which along with the word "henceforward" all point to the permanancy of the ritvik system. There is no statement from Srila Prabhupada that even hints that this system was to terminate on his departure.

Letter to Hansadutta Das, July 10th, 1977
"His Divine Grace said, 'You are a suitable person, and you can give initiation to those who are ready for it. I have selected you among eleven men as "rittvik" or representative of the acharya, to give initiations, both first and second initiation, on my behalf.' (A newsletter is being sent to all Temple Presidents and GBC in this regard, listing the eleven representatives selected by His Divine Grace. Those who are initiated are the disciples of Srila Prabhupada, and anyone who you deem fit and initiate in this way, you should send their names to be included in Srila Prabhupada's 'Initiated Disciples' book. In this way the Temple Presidents will send their recommendations for initiation direct to the nearest representative who will give a spiritual name or chant on the Gayatri thread just as Srila Prabhupada has been doing.)" full text


Letter to Kirtanandanda Swami from Srila Prabhupada, July 11th, 1977
"A letter has been sent to all the Temple Presidents and GBC which you should be receiving soon, describing the process for initiation to be followed in the future. Srila Prabhupada has appointed thus far eleven representatives who will initiate new devotees on His behalf. You can wait for this letter to arrive (the original has been sent to Ramesvara Maharaja for duplicating), and then all of the persons whom you recommened in your previous letters can be initiated." full text


Letter from Ramesvara Das - to all Godbrothers throughout ISKCON, July 21,1977

"THE BHAKTIVEDANTA BOOK TRUST
Founder - Acarya: His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
July 21st, 1977

"ALL GLORIES TO SRI GURU AND GOURANGA!
Dear GBC Godbrother Prabhus,
Please accept my most humble obeisances in the dust of your feet. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

"I have just received some letters from Tamal Krishna Maharaja, and am enclosing herein two documents: 1) Srila Prabhupada's final version of his last will, and 2) Srila Prabhupada's initial list of disciples appointed to perform initiations for His Divine Grace. This initial list is also being sent to all centers.

"From Tamal's letter it seems that Srila Prabhupada is enthusiastic despite poor health, and is translating full force. He especially becomes enthused when reports arrive from different GBC men and temples with preaching results, general good news, etc. and Tamal Krishna Maharaja has stressed that we should all be sending such reports, as His Divine Grace often asks, "What is the news?" An outstanding example of Srila Prabhupada's mood was shown after receiving an encouraging preaching report from Hansadutta Swami in Ceylon. Srila Prabhupada said, "I want to go to Ceylon. I can go. I can go anywhere by chair. It is difficult only in the imagination. The swelling is touching the skin, not my soul.

"More than anything else, Tamal has stressed the genuine need for a visiting GBC member to come every month for personal service. Since Srila Prabhupada has recently said that now this regular visiting is very important, all GBC members should be anxious to do this, as it not only involves important work which will help relieve Prabhupada from management, but also involves attending Srila Prabhupada personally, giving him massages and many other nectarian services, and in general affords an unusual amount of personal association, even more than in the past. Out of over 23 GBC members there should never be one month not filled up.

"One final news report is that Srila Prabupada has appointed a new GBC member for North India (including Delhi but not Vrndavana) - His Holiness Bhakti Caitanya Swami. Tamal Krsna Maharaja said that His divine Grace appointed him to encourage him for the outstanding preaching work he is doing in Punjab.

"Jai, I hope this finds you all well, and fully absorbed in preaching and thus satisfying Srila Prabhupada fully.
Your most unworthy servant,
(signature appears on the original document)
Ramesvara dasa Swami"

Letter from Tamal Krsna Goswami (on behalf of Srila Prabhupada) to Hansadutta Prabhu, July 31st 1977
"You have written to Srila Prabhupada saying you do not know why Srila Prabhupada has chosen you to be a recipient of his mercy. His Divine Grace immediately replied, 'It is because you are my sincere servant. You have given up attachment for a beautiful and qualified wife and that is a great benediction. You are a real preacher. Therefore I like you. (Then laughing) Sometimes you become obstinate, but that is true of any intelligent man. Now you have a very good field. Now organize it and it will be a great credit. No one will disturb you there. Make your own field and continue to become rittvic and act on my behalf.'" full text

Srila Prabhupada's Declaration of Will
"The executive directors who have herein been designated are appointed for life. In the event of death or failure to act for any reason of any of the said directors, a successor director or directors may be appointed by the remaining directors, provided the new director is my initiated disciple following strictly all the rules and regulations of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness as detailed in my books, and provided that there are never less than three (3) or more than five (5) exeutive directors acting at one time." full text

Finally—and most importantly— HH Tamal Krsna Goswami sent the following letter to Vasudeva prabhu in Fiji only 27 days before His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada left this world, providing the DIRECT TEMPLATE along with Srila Prabhupada's own sense of importance and URGENCY to "increase the number of devotees" from amongst the "local natives"—be they in Fiji, Nigeria or Grosse Pointe, Michigan!

"Srila Prabhupada was very pleased to know that book distribution is being increased with the ample assistance of householders living outside the temple. Prabhupada said that "any of these sincere householders should be initiated. Increase the number of devotees there. You initiate them with a fire ceremony. I have already named eleven of my disciples so you can write to any of them the recommended persons and after receiving the spiritual name, you can hold a fire ceremony."

"... In general, Srila Prabhupada's main desire is that you should increase the number of devotees. In this regard, His Divine Grace said, "Initiate the local natives. Ask them to give up their bad habits and become Vaisnavas. Four times while Srila Prabhupada heard your letter, He stressed this point of increasing the number of followers there. So just as when Srila Prabhupada went to America, He was very merciful and lenient in giving out first initiations, so you may also be. If someone has agreed to follow the regulative principles and has been attending the temple for some time and chanting rounds,** you can encourage them by giving initiation. You may send the names of such worthy persons to any one of the eleven devotees whom Srila Prabhupada has designated to initiate on His behalf, and after receiving the sanctified beads and new names, you can then perform the initiation ceremony. In this way spread very vigorously his glorious movement of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and try to make Fiji the first Krishna conscious country in the world." full text

**This conforms to Srila Prabhupada's clear instructions in the purport to CC Madhya Lila 15.104-108 as to how the new men approaching our International Society for Krishna Consciousness for initiation are guided:

"In the morning, afternoon and evening, one should worship the Deity, chant the Hare Krishna mantra, offer oblations, perform a fire sacrifice, and feed the brahmanas. These five activities constitute purascharya. To attain full success when taking initiation from the spiritual master, one should first perform these purascharya processes. The word purah means 'before' and charya means 'activities.' Due to the necessity of these activities, we do not immediately initiate disciples in the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. For six months, a candidate for initiation must first attend arati and classes in the shastras, practice the regulative principles and associate with other devotees. When one is actually advanced in the purascharya-vidhi, he is recommended by the local temple president for initiation. It is not that anyone can be suddenly initiated without meeting the requirements. When one is further advanced by chanting the Hare Krishna mantra sixteen rounds daily, following the regulative principles and attending classes, he receives the sacred thread (brahminical recognition) after the second six months." (Chaitanya-charitamrita Madhya 15.104-108)

In concert with book distribution (see my opening comments by Vaikunthanatha Prabhu) and his GBC/Temple President managerial system, Srila Prabhupada's perfect system does not ask of those who come to Krishna Consciousness, giving up any and all forms of "pretentious" religion, to now "pretend" that ANYONE is infallible and incapable of disappointing our Acharyas. Their "initiation" into Krishna consciousness is not contingent upon their finding an "infallible" representative of Srila Prabhupada and the parampara, but rather upon their willingness to serve the instructions of Srila Prabhupada as they naturally descend to them through his Bhaktivedanta purports and the honest and loyal devotees who are carefully following those same instructions and "authorized" to teach the next generation how to do likewise.

Simple - Sublime - Secure

The absence of a countermanding order in this matter is extremely signifcant.

If we study the [not reproduced here] "Codicil" to his will that Srila Prabhupada legalized on November 5th 1977, we find that he concluded that such a "codicil" was needed because he wished to "clarify certain things which are to a certain extent a little vague in my previous Will dated 4th June, 1977".

What followed were specific "countermanding" instructions to his will. These new instructions rendered certain details in the will—dealing with the changes in the codicil—to be his clear and no longer "vague" wishes in those matters.

Had Srila Prabhupada considered his instructions on initiation to have been likewise "vague", he certainly would have left countermanding instructions. He did not. Over the years there have been countless attempts on both side of the issue of initiation to explain WHY he did not. All that matters in the end is that he did not. We are thus left with the instruction only.

In the material world there are numerous official organizations—literally thousands in every country—whose management is highly dependent upon very clear chains of command. Systems such as the United States Navy or the Federal Reserve Banking System, the Red Cross, or the United States Coast Guard—to name only a few—are extremely dependent upon rigid adherence to all internal memorandums that deal directly with the execution of the affairs of each of those systems. In many cases such adherence is routinely acknowledged as connected to factual "life or death" for countless individuals. No officer of such institutions is able to arbitrarily alter or ignore any internal memo that directly mandates their actions. Doing so can and in most cases will result in highly negative consequences for everyone involved and in due course the violater(s) of such internal instructions are terminated. Where their refusal to follow orders can result in death, destruction or enormous financial loss, their insubordination can even result in the offender's being placed in prison or their death!

These organizations are important - yet their influence is at the utmost, dealing with "Life and Death" only. ISKCON, however, deals directly with "Life and Death—and then Life and Death—and then again Life and Death" for all living entities!! Consequently, each of Srila Prabhupada's direct memos sent to his GBC and Temple Presidents dealing with precisely what he wanted accomplished and how he had determined was the best way to achieve that need to be recognized as infinitely more significant than any "internal memorandum or instruction" serving to guide the actions of any other organization in the world. They should be followed with resolute determination. Anything less is insubordination. The management of Srila Prabhupada's ISKCON is millions and millions of times more important than all of the mundane institutions in this world that carefully ensure that their intructions are strictly followed. End of Story.

In the above essay on "Initiation" Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur states:

"It is, however, very rarely that a person with modern culture feels inclined to submit to the guidance of another specially in spiritual matters. But the very person submits readily enough to the direction of a physician for being cured of his bodily ailments. Because these latter cannot be ignored without consequences that are patent to everybody."

We all work in a world that carefully guards the sound principles that serve to ensure with careful and secure management, our wealth and/or our person. For example, we tend to choose airlines that we are reasonably certain follow the internal guidelines established by their company's management, that see to the all-important maintenance of the aircraft itself. Were we to know that in general the maintainence crew regularly ignores the internal guidelines of a particlular airline as they directly pertain to the proper upkeep of the aircraft, there is NOT ONE GBC OR GURU in ISKCON who would knowingly test fate by flying such a whimsically managed airline where the men responsible for the safety of the aircraft regularly disregard the internal memos conerning the proper upkeep of the aircraft that are provided almost daily by their authorities, thus increasing the routine risks associated with air travel. Likewise, no one would invest in a business or company of any kind if it was discovered that the "chain of command" that is naturally vital to the health and profitability of any compay was regularly ignored or contradicted without authority by the managers and employees. As Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur states above, exactly why such caution is naturally exercised: "Because these latter cannot be ignored without consequences that are patent to everybody."

If this be true in such material situations, how much more cautious need we be in adhering to the insructions of our Acharya as they pertain to the management of his ISKCON mission.

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur states that all that is needed to make our life sucessful is our consulting and following the instructions of a really competent "spiritual physician".

"The evil that results from our neglect of the ailments of the soul is of a nature that paralyses and deludes our understanding and prevents the recognitions of itself. Its gravity is not recognized as it does not apparently stand in the way of our worldly activities with the same directness as the other. The average cultured man is, therefore, at liberty to ask questions without realizing any pressing necessity of submitting to the treatment of spiritual maladies at the hands of a really competent physician".

Srila Prabhupada's simple and effective arrangement for bringing THE spiritual master easily within reach of every single soul in any town or village of the world is obvious to all but the most stubborn. Clearly he established himself as the "really competent physician" and perfectly arranged for all souls to come under his expert guidance and care with the help of his books and his devotees.

The arrangement of Srila Prabhupada—solid men, devotees in fine standing authorized to initiate on his behalf and clearly representing themselves as "ritvik-representatives of the Acharya", confirming the devotee's initiation as Srila Prabhupada's disciple and an initiated member of ISKCON—is in fact the arrangement that is spelled out by His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada as his instructions in the matter in all the directives sent out to his loyal men throughout the world. For anyone to protest otherwise is merely "inventing" in the face of all the clear and simple evidence to the contrary.

This does not prevent someone from rising to the level of purity where it is naturally recognized by some and they may choose to accept this person as guru. But that must happen naturally, not with the assistance of coercive arrangements that bar him from first considering the arrangement of Srila Prabhupada for his easy initiation as it is described in his letter to Vasudeva Prabhu. Anyone who prevents Srila Prabhupada's initial arrangement from being the primary arrangement offered by His Divine Grace to any new man is guilty of a very grave infraction. Whether done in ignorance or malice, such withholding of Srila Prabhupada's instructions consitutes cheating of the highest order.

Krishna consciousness is a very natural process. For some, their approaching Krishna through the spiritual master will conform to the process as given by Srila Prabhupada when he was both here with us and his simple system he left us. Their progress in both "vairagya and vidya" will be almost entirely dependent upon their immediate devotee association—the temple residents, temple president, etc. They may have little to no contact with nor dependence upon those men authorized to confirm their initiation. Others, though, may attribute great value to the association and leadership of some of these men and will naturally feel their Krishna consciousness intimately linked with the compassion and guidance of one or some of these devotees.

Whether the relationship between the devotees and the men authorized to initiate is seen by them to be one of guru or "ritvik-representative", the position of Srila Prabhupada's men is the same: to properly exemplify their commitment to the simple science of Krishna consciousness as given us by Srila Prabhupada, with enthusiasm to share this science with any and all who can take it and to cooperate with the simple yet highly effective GBC/Temple President managerial system so carefully constructed by our spiritual master Srila Prabhupada.

Again, Simple - Sublime - Secure.

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur states in the above essay [Initiation]: "The crux of the matter lies not in the external nature of the ceremony of initiation as it appears to us, because that is bound to be unintelligible to us being an affair of the other world, but in the conviction of the necessity of and the successful choice of a really good preceptor."

The liberty to choose, based upon our sound reasoning and the wisdom of the scriptures, the "really good preceptor" now some 30 years after Srila Prabhupada left us will find some men more willing to place their confidence in a direct relationship with one of Srila Prabhupada's duly initiated men who have proven themselves sufficiently to be capable of guiding them by precept and example as their "good preceptor". This will always be a matter of individual choice. Some will naturally prefer to avoid any risk in this choice by accepting Srila Prabhupada's simple system. They must never be discouraged to do so, but likewise no one should object to a man's independently "assigning" absolute value to one of Srila Prabhupada's disciples as his guru either, provided this "guru" remains committed to Srila Prabhupada's system of management that emphasizes the instructions of Srila Prabhupada and his wishes to uplift "the local natives" with the assistance of his duly appointed GBC and temple presidents. This is extremely important.**

**See the above-cited letter to Vasudeva Prabhu in Fiji.

In either case, the order to seek and take shelter of the bonafide spiritual master is simple and clear. How it can most easily be accomplished within the framework of Srila Prabhupada's teachings and ISKCON mission is likewise simple. With Srila Prabhupada's arrangement, there is no risk of disappointment. If one elects to take a risk (choosing to take shelter of Srila Prabhupada by accepting one of his disciples as his guru), it is personal and can thus never jeopardize the authority of The International Society for Krishna Consciousness in any way whatsoever. He must be free to subjectively "assign" absolute value to his spiritual master, and he must be allowed to subjectively consider his spiritual master in light of the "objective value" placed upon the spiritual master by Lord Sri Krishna Himself. (See my opening statement: "The guru is not a mortal, erring creature like ourselves. " (Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur) This is his natural right and we can no more disturb that than we should hide from him Srila Prabhupada's original system established on the 9th of July 1977.

We need not complicate this aspect of devotional service. Devotees should not waste time fighting amongst themselves over this issue. Groups who advocate coercively barring the new men from accepting Srila Prabhupada's duly initiated men as their guru on the grounds that Srila Prabhupada's system for initiation forbids them from doing so overlook the simple essence of the teachings of our Acharyas; "the conviction of the necessity of and the successful choice of a really good preceptor." This is and will always remain a matter of personal conviction.

Srila Prabhupada's Bhaktivedanta purports are clear as to who can and who cannot act as guru. They clearly spell out the superlative method of fulfilling the requirements in this matter. That is indisputable. However, his leaving us with a risk-free system of "authorized" men who meet the minimum requirements in terms of qualifications and the maximum qualifications where it matters most—loyalty to the purpose of Srila Prabhupada and his International Society for Krishna Consciousness, His ISKCON—to initiate on his behalf is clear and likewise indisputable by all but the stubbornly insubordinate.

In the end - it is entirely up to the aspiring devotee. We need only explain to him his two options and allow him the liberty to determine for himself how he will meet the required mandate to seek out and take shelter of the "really good preceptor". In either case his duties will remain the same: to work cooperatively with his temple president, GBC representative and fellow godbrothers and godsisters. His mission will remain the same. If he strictly follows the teachings of our Srila Prabhupada, in the end he can be confident that the results will also be the same. He will achieve the actual goal of life, fully pleasing the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Grown men are at liberty to determine whether they wish to simply accept the shelter of Srila Prabhupada and his instructions as he provided in his internal memo of July 9th 1977, or they can exercise their own liberty to choose from amongst any of the duly initiated disciples of His Divine Grace in good standing and take shelter of them as their chosen spiritual master, fully aware, though, that their choice is in fact their personal choice, and they will have to live with the consquences of that decision, auspicious or not so. Both methods consitute the same act: taking shelter of Srila Prabhupada and the parampara.

If this arrangement, which is most natural, is accepted, all conflict in this matter will end, and we can all get to the business at hand: saving all souls entrapped in this material world with the wonderful mercy of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His sweet sankirtan mission, the chanting of the Holy Names of Lord Krishna:

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

With Respect to all aspiring servants of His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada
Praghosa Das
October 2, 2006

ADDENDUM: Conclusion

Over the years since 1977, there have been countless arguments made for and against the acceptance of the above evidence and their obvious mandates. It is important to note that all arguments beg for summary ajudication, the means to settle them. In this particular case we all may be well intended, but "good intentions" are not the means to measure the value of any particular argument in a disagreement. Only when there is a mutually accepted "final authority" whose authority is accepted as Absolute and Final can dispute cease. For all those "initiated" by Srila Prabhupada by means of his authoritative presentation of Krishna Consciousness, he is that undisputed Absolute and Final authority. Other than Srila Prabhupada, we have no means to decipher the relative from the absolute, the truth from fiction. Consequently, I offer the following as a final note to the above paper—the above paper being the summary adjudication of the "contended facts" and relevant evidence, the simple verbatim presentation of Srila Prabhupada's recorded instructions on this matter.

Up till now I have found no one who disputes the existence of this evidence. However the disputes have always manifest after the above cited "evidence" has been accompanied by the myriad of interpretations and/or alterations introduced by others. Unless the above cited evidence is allowed to stand on its own merit as Srila Prabhupada's own intended directives, we are left then with a movement that is fractured into as many opinions as there are members!

Srila Prabhupada in his own exchange with the famous Professor Staal stated:

"Regarding our correspondence, actually this quotation and counter-quotation cannot solve the problem. In a court both the learned lawyers quote from law books, but that is not the solution to the case. The determination of the case is the judgment of the presiding judge. So argument cannot bring us to a conclusion."

So I offer this final note from His Divine Grace to support my conclusion—which is this:

1. His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupa is our accepted Final and Absolute Authority. He is the "Judge" on this matter.
2. The evidence cited in this paper is merely a verbatim presentation of his factual instructions—nothing more, nothing less.
3. Without accepting those instructions verbatim, in the ultimate issue, we are left with as many interpretations as there are human beings on the planet

Final Note by Srila Prabhupada in his wonderful exchange with Professor J. F. Staal ("The Krishna Consciousness Movement is the Genuine Vedic Way"):

"In a court of justice two lawyers put forward their respective relevant arguments taken from the authorized law books to decide a point, but it is up to the judge to decide the case in favor of one of the litigants. When the opposing lawyers put forward their arguments, both of them are legal and bona fide, but the judgment is given as to which argument is applicable to the particular case.

"Lord Caitanya gives His judgment on the authority of shastras that the chanting of the holy names of the Lord is the only means to elevate one to the transcendental platform, and actually we can see it is effective. Each and every one of our students who has seriously taken to this process may be examined individually, and any impartial judge will find it easy to see that they have advanced in their transcendental realization further than any philosophers, religionists, yogis, karmis, etc.

"We have to accept everything favorable to the circumstances. Rejection of other methods in a particular circumstance does not mean that the rejected ones are not bona fide. But for the time being, taking into consideration the age, time, and object, methods are sometimes rejected even though bona fide. We have to test everything by its practical result. By such a test, in this age the constant chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra undoubtedly proves very effective.
A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami (Conversation with Professor of Philosophy and of South Asian Languages, University of California Berkeley, California, January, 1970)

Arguments that do not favor the simple acceptance of Srila Prabhupada's clear instructions in this matter—for any reason whatsoever—spring not from the Absolute but from the relative consideration of our minds. The moment we replace the exact words of our Acharya, or we augment them with OUR interpretations, which spring from our "biased reason", we are in fact hearing ourselves—not Srila Prabhupada, and as Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur has said in the opening comments: "So long as we refuse to listen to him, we are doomed to misunderstand everything".

I offer this paper with a desire serve the long-term interests of all aspiring servants of Srila Prabhupada in their efforts to please the Lord and safely return Back to Home, Back to Godhead.

All Glories to His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada!


© 2004 - Hansadutta dasa
World Sankirtan Party


Srila Prabhupada His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

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