Please accept my obeisances. All Glories to Srila Prabhupada.
Thank you for taking the time to respond to me on this.
It has been my experience that ISKCON is not a homgeneous body on most
any issue. Even if the leaders publically take one position or the
other - they will privately express other views and sentiments on
There isn't one disiciple of Srila Prabhupada who does not share the
"essence" of what you express in terms of Srila Prabhupada's actual
position within "HIS" mission - when it is presented and worded in a
I can give you an analogous example.
Take an impromptu survey. Ask 100 women - devotee or nondevotee - it
really doesn't matter this question.
"Do you think a man should be able or "permitted" to marry more than
one woman at the same time?"
Note the almost universal condemnation of such an idea expressed
by the women for this.
Now ask 100 women the following:
" If two women - gay or straight love and value the same man and
wish for this man to father each of their children - do
you think that men should be able to tell these women that THEY CANNOT
Note their almost universal condemnation of any man who might DARE to
tell them that they can or cannot do whatever they wish for.
Believe me - I have made this experiment and it is amazing to see their
The questions are essentially the same - but the wording
alone implies that the women are "IN CHARGE" in one scenario - and
the men are in charge in the other.
So discussing the issue of guru is like this in ISKCON. When
discuss the pricipal of 'Who is the final ABSOLUTE AUTHORITY" in ISKCON
- EVERYONE AGREES - it is His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada.
If you ask anyone - anyone - "Do you understand Srila Prabhupada to be
the final ABSOLUTE authority for every single soul that comes to
consciousness by means of his books and disciples?" There is not a
single soul who will disagree.
When you ask "Is Srila Prabhupada ULTIMATELY everyone's spiritual
Everyone will answer "Of course".
But if you then ask anyone who came to Krishna consciousness after the
His Divine Grace, "Who is your guru?" you will get a completely
different answer than
would be proferred were you to ask the above-mentioned "Is Srila
Prabhupada ULTIMATELY everyone's spiritual master?"
Essentially ISKCON is bound by the reality of the natural results
established with the formation of an institution. The "Gurus" are
beholden to the authority of this insitution, like a Mercedes dealer.
The Mercedes dealer is obliged to sell only "authorized" Mercedes—new
or used. He is obliged to utilize "authorized" sales and promotional
materials. He is obliged to follow ALL the standards established by the
PARENT COMPANY. He cannot pretend to be independent of the PARENT
COMPANY. Within THIS framework, managers are schooled and trained to
REPRESENT MERCEDES BENZ.
Had Srila Prabhupada not established the BBT and Governing Body of
ISKCON, the principle of succession—who would lead or not—in the
aftermath of his passing would conform to the essence of his letter to
Tusta Krsna Prabhu  in 1974 [sic, 1975]
explained the "law of disciplic
However - in the end, he did not leave his ISKCON Mission—the
"Mercedes Benz" of spiritual movements—without very clear guidelines as
to who could and more importantly who could not act in
of ritvik representative of THE ACHARYA in the mission. He himself
defined "Ritvik" as one who acts as an "authorized" representative,
responsible to officially confirm the "initiation" of the new men and
women upon their being "recommended" by the "LOCAL TEMPLE
Just like the Mercedes Benz dealer! They were authorized to chant upon
their beads, provide the spiritual name and authorize the temple
president to conduct
a fire sacrfice exactly as had been done for many years in ISKCON.
These men were expected to support the "system" initiated by His Divine
put the full responsibility for preaching "locally" in the able hands
of his TEMPLE PRESIDENTS.
He said—for now—THESE men will assume this added responsibility,
and when others names were profferred, he said "NO. Previously we were
lenient but now we must be very careful." So in the very act of
authorizing some men to initiate on behalf of his mission—and denying
others the authority—he set the simple standard.
are Deciding Who and What is Guru
It is in
this simple act of authorizing some—and denying others—that his actions
should be clearly understood. This single action was
repugnant to his Godbrother Sridhara Swami. Whereas Srila Prabhupada
"instructed" his temple presidents and the newcomers across the
globe in 1977 EXACTLY what their relationship was with these newly
authorized men, Sridhara Swami introduced a subtle yet massive
deviation, exactly as he had done to his own guru's
back in the '30's. The temple presidents's were "instructed"
to now send
their letters TO WHOEVER WAS NEAREST ,
readiness of the new candidates for initiation, to the newly authorized
gurus, and in turn these men were now "authorized" to,
consulting Srila Prabhupada, chant upon their beads and provide them a
new spiritual name, and initiate them on behalf of His Divine Grace
Srila Prabhupada and his mission. Sridhara Swami replaced "N
earest" - with "D - earest" and
this led to the calamitous
collapse of the "Mercedes Benz" of spiritual movements.
As a direct result of his ideas - Srila Prabhupada's simple
mission has been hijacked by the sentiments of the newcomers who are
actually now the final arbiters of what constitutes
a "Mercedes Benz" and who gets authorized to sell them.
Now the newcomers are dictating - "OH I think this one is MY guru!
"feel" this one to be a "pure devotee! I want THIS one or THAT one
to be MY guru" etc etc etc Amongst themselves they ask
like "Who are you aspiring for, Prabhu?" This is not what Srila
Prabhupada arranged for.
In 1977 - when reminded that he had as of yet not arranged anyone to
take responsibility for South America in this regard, Srila Prabhupada
IMMEDIATELY shot back "Oh Yes. South America. Hrdayananda Maharaja. He
It just does not get any more simple than that.
South America was at that time about 240 Million people and Hrdayananda
was ordered to take full responsibility for every damn one of them. If
all 240 million of them suddenly surrendered to Srila Prabhupada's
mission, Hrdyananda Swami was the authorized "dealer" of the Mercedes
Benz of spiritual movements—Srila Prabhupada's ISKCON—to initiate
each of them after receiving the letter of recommnedation
from the local temple president, confirming their careful
adherence to the simple 'PROCESS" of puruscharya vidhi
described in Chaitanya Charitamrita
Madhya Lila 15: 107- 115 
These 240 million South Americans were not instructed to "study the
field" as Sridhara Swami suggested in 1978 and determine with WHOM or
IN whom their faith should be placed!!
the deviation. Sridhara Swami had no experience of how simply
Srila Prabhupada had arranged his mission. He essentially failed to
acknowledge the position of Srila Prabhupada as the current
representative of THE ACHARYA; the fully empowered manifestation of
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarawati Thakur. He clearly considered Srila
Prabhupada "An" Acharya; as if there even exists such a species!!!
There is ONLY and ever THE ACHARYA!!
THE. T...H...E —THE ACHARYA!! Acharya
cannot be two or three.
Acharya is one!!
there can be countless - unlimited "representatives" of THE ACHARYA.
But THE ACHARYA IS NON-DIFFERENT from Lord Sri Krishna Himself. Lord
Krishna clearly established this in His discourse in the 11th Canto of Srimad
Bhagavatam and as there is ONLY ONE
SUPREME PERSONALITY OF
GODHEAD, Lord Krishna Himself ("Krsnas tu
Bhagavan Svayam"), there is only one ACHARYA: "Acharya
MAM"! Srila Prabhupada unequivocally established this in his
offering to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur in 1936, and Srila
Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur ordered that this offering of Srila
Prabhupada - so concise and perfect in its conclusions - be published
in The Harmonist magazine's next publication. It is
presented for all
men and for all time in the Science of Self Realization.
Guru in ISKCON means first and foremost - to act loyally
in the precise
capacity that Srila Prabhupada "authorized". That is the principal
qualification that must accompany the other two qualifications of
perfectly following and repeating the teachings of THE ACHARYA.
Thus guru means to act ON BEHALF of the Acharya Srila
clearly demonstrate that your position is always fully representative
of him and his instructions.
Nearest vs Dearest!!
This is the nuts and bolts of the issue.
If the temple president sends his letter to whoever is NEAREST - and
accept this - they are clearly demonstrating that they accept Srila
Prabhupada as THE ACHARYA.
If the temple president is obliged to send his letter to whomever is
DEAREST to the
sentiments of the newcomer then they are clearly acting under the
guidance of His Holiness Sridhara Swami and have accepted him as THE
How many understand this reality today in ISKCON?
Not many. But this is where the confusion entered. And removing this
confusion is the simple key to setting things right again.
Re-initiation is impossible. There is no such thing in the matter where
Srila Prabhupada as been accepted as the ABSOLUTE AUTHORITY.
It is like pregnancy. Once the seed is planted and the child is there
and gowing - THERE IS NO NEED for an additional act of sexual
intercourse to generate life in the womb.
It is that simple.
Once the seed has been planted by hearing the Holy Name from one of
Srila Prabhupada's servants and we have become convinced to
accept THIS HOLY NAME as our means to approach Lord Krishna and leave
this world once and for all by digesting Srila Prabhupada's explanation
of this Truth through his books, OUR INITIATION HAS ALREADY OCCURRED.
What flows from that in the way of formality is just that—formality.
The initiation ceremony is merely the "shotgun wedding". We are seated
at the fire, and to the outsider it appears that we are "initiating"
our Krishna consciousness, but in truth we are all—each of us—seated
there at the
fire and according to the above-mentioned verses of
the Chaitanya Charitamrita, we are at
least 6 months pregnant with blissful Krishna consciousness!
This fact is clear to most men in ISKCON and this is why most men do
not push the notion of re-initiation. They know it to be unneccessary
for all but the truly sentimental. And for those who seek it, why
should anyone interfere with their desire? Like the sacred rite of sati
performed by chaste ladies of yesteryear, it is only undesirable
IT IS FORCED upon an unwilling woman. If there is no coercion,
its acceptance is only important to the individual who voluntarily
seeks it or rejects it.
Your servant Praghosa Das
Sampradaya Sun <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Dear Praghosa das,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
Thanks for your email. It may be me who's more out of the loop than you.
Basically, what one GBC says, another GBC may have a totally different
policy on, so it's not that this is strict GBC policy. It's really the
who push this issue more than the gurus themselves or the GBC.
disciples are constantly trolling for new recruits in their camp, and
they often are
known to harass those they discover who are in a position to be
The first question out of their mouth is "who is your guru?" If
you say Srila
Prabhupada, then they find out that he's not your diksha guru,
they push you to come
to their guru for re-initiation. If you decline, they assume
you're a Ritvik. So, basically it's a culture and a way of
life. It's indelibly implanted
into the society. Please note that I didn't get any feedback from
saying that it wasn't part of their philosophy.
One good example I personally experienced recently was at the Portland
temple, where there are many shell-shocked ex-devotees from Prithu's
Bir Krishna das Goswami became the new GBC, and promptly went about
re-initiating many of the devotees there. So many, so quickly, that it
was clearly a
policy decision, even if unwritten.
Please continue to give us your support and feedback, and let us have
the opportunity to publish anything you wish to share with the
On Tue, 25 Oct 2005 10:41 , Patrick Hedemark sent:
>Hello Rocana prabhu,
>Just read this article by yourself on re-initiation. I was not
had reinstituted a policy advocating "re-inititiation" for devotees
who did not
seek it. I understood that they did not object to it but if someone was
they did not push its so-called "necessity".
>Am I out of the loop on this one?
2. Letter dated July 9, 1977 (Srila Prabhupada's
last written directive, deputising 11 senior disciples as rittvik
representatives of the Acharya). Go to
full text of letter.
3. The texts referred to are found in Chaitanya-charitamrita
Madhya lila 15.108-111, of which Text 108 specifically mentions purascharya
vidhi, as follows:--
diksha-purashcharya-vidhi apeksha na kare/ jihva-sparshe
a-chandala sabare uddhare : "One does not have to undergo
initiation or execute the activities required before initiation. One
simply has to vibrate the holy name with his lips. Thus even a man in
the lowest class [chandala] can be delivered." Go to full text of the relevant
4. "The Absolute Necessity of a Spiritual
Master", A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, first published in The Harmonist,
1936; subsequently published in The Science of Self Realization.
Go to full text.