03/04/98 - 1669
Srila Prabhupadas Conception of Acharya
USA (VNN) - by Rishi Kumara das (see also VNN story# 1659)
I would like to say a few words about the recent article posted
on VNN by Dharmapada. ("Srila Prabhupada, A Ramanuja For Us!")
He has explained well some of the defects of the current situation
with gurus in ISKCON. The GBC has often gone to the Gaudiya Matha
to get support for their guru system, but whats the use of that?
Srila Prabhupada even criticized his exalted personal friend and
Godbrother for his idea to put forth diksa-gurus, or acaryas.
Although Srila Prabhupada highly regarded Sri Sridhara Swami Maharaj,
he didnt agree with his idea that ordinary devotees should sometimes
assume the role of acharya. (Nor when the GBC questioned Sridhara
Swami on the guru issue, did they properly answer his question,
What did Swami Maharaj say to do?)
Instead of remaining humble servants of the mission of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta
Sarasvati Thakur and working together, various camp leaders tried
artificially to create acaryas to fulfill the role of diksa guru
in the Gaudiya Matha. But Srila Bhaktisiddhanta never told them
to do this. His conception, as Srila Prabhupada explained, was
that only an empowered person could act as diksa-guru in Lord
Caitanyas movement. Others should preach as of representatives
of the self-efflugent Acharya.
In spite of Srila Prabhupadas warnings about the mistakes of
the Gaudiya Matha, after Prabhupadas departure a few GBCs got
together and decided they would disband Srila Prabhupadas system
of initiations by representatives and create their own system,
which became known as the Zonal Acarya System. They did this without
any authority from Srila Prabhupada, and this caused great confusion
in the Krsna consciousness movement. In 1986 the GBC introduced
a new system to streamline approval for appointments in ISKCON
of gurus, and this system has been revised and adjusted many times.
Even with all their resolutions and meetings they have no clear
consensus in the GBC on the guru issue, and they dont even follow
all their own rules. All this confusion has come about due to
our not carefully hearing from Srila Prabhupada alone. We listened
to our own minds and Godbrothers possessed with the misguided
ambition to occupy the seat of the spiritual master.
Why should the disciples of the greatest acharya who ever lived
think we need to go to other groups to understand what Srila Prabhupada
wanted us to do? This makes no sense. Do we think that Srila Prabhupadas
volumes and volumes of instructions are incomplete or unclear?
Why do we need the Ramanuja Sampradaya or the Madhva sannyasis
of Udupi, or even the Gaudiya Matha, to tell us what we should
be doing? Did Srila Prabhupada neglect to tell us something? Something
so important? Actually, the Vaisnavas in other sampradayas should
be coming to us for advice on how to get connected with Srila
Prabhupada and the mission of Lord Chaitanya. All leading devotees
in every sampradaya and camp should aspire to represent Srila
Prabhupada and his mission. The problem is we, the disciples of
Srila Prabhupada, are not fully convinced of the value of Srila
Prabhupada and his instructions, so how will we inspire others?
I agree with Dharmapada that it seems strange the GBC would need
to appoint a subcommittee to determine how to put Srila Prabhupada
in the center of ISKCON. But then why does Dharmapada prabhu think
we need to consult the Ramanuja people to get insight how to do
this? I agree that they could perhaps offer a lot in the form
of cultural and religious advice. For instance, they could advise
us what to do about child abusers, woman haters, womens rights,
social development, and other mundane issues upon which we speculate
endlessly. (All these meetings on various issues would seem
far less pressing if we could all could rise above the bodily
concept and focus on developing real devotion to Srila Prabhupada.)
I disagree, though, that we need to go to others to solve the
guru issue, which is a matter of to be solved by spiritual deliberation
based on Srila Prabhupadas instructions alone.
Ive heard from devotees who have preached in South India for
many years that the Madhva sampradaya and the Ramanuja sampradaya
have practically dried up of spiritual potency. Due to their not
properly understanding and representing the Acharya, these sampradayas
became corrupted. Authorities in these movements do not agree
on every philosophical point. The Ramanujas, like other spiritual
movements in Kali Yuga, have degenerated due to the influx of
mundane religious and cultural ideas.
Such a fate can be avoided in ISKCON only if we stick very carefully
to understanding and following Srila Prabhupadas instructions.
For those who doubt that we can literally accept Srila Prabhupadas
final order on initiations in ISKCON, or for those who feel we
must maintain the GBCs current system for initiations, I beg
you to research the answers to the questions listed below. This
research should be based on Srila Prabhupadas books and instructions
alone. In this way we can help protect the all-spiritual Hare
Krishna movement founded by Srila Prabhupada. We can save it from
degenerating to the status of a mundane religious culture. All
our problems and confusion on various issues can be easily solved
simply by our careful hearing from Srila Prabhupada in the association
of those who are satisfied hearing from Srila Prabhupada alone.
To say nothing of clearing confusion, hearing from Srila Prabhupada
repeatedly and meditating on him constantly easily awards the
highest benediction of krsna-prema.
To help figure out how to keep Srila Prabhupada perfectly in the
center in ISKCON, I suggest we research the answers to the following
questions: 1.) Where is the instruction from Srila Prabhupada
authorizing his disciples to act as initiating spiritual master
in ISKCON? Is no specific order required from Srila Prabhupada
for this important service?
2.) Is it a sastric principle that any disciple can initiate after
his gurus disappearance? If so, why do Srila Prabhupadas books
clearly state that only an uttama-adhikari, or a mahabhagavata,
is eligible for the post of initiating spiritual master? When
did Srila Prabhupada order anyone to become a diksa-guru in ISKCON?
3.) Which statements in Srila Prabhupadas books indicate that
his disciples must act as diksa-gurus in ISKCON?
4.) Formerly in ISKCON, Srila Prabhupada was the only devotee
who served as diksa-guru. Presently, seventy or eighty devotees
serve as diksa-gurus because the GBC has determined that Srila
Prabhupada can no longer accept disciples. How did the GBC arrive
at this conclusion?
5.) Where did Srila Prabhupada describe how his successor gurus
would be chosen or authorized for the post of diksa-guru in ISKCON?
6.) Where did Srila Prabhupada describe how several diksa-gurus
would function in ISKCON together? Did he offer any specific guidance
on this issue? 7.) Where in Srila Prabhupadas books is stated
the principle that an acarya would be unable or unwilling to accept
as disciples persons who begin following his instructions after
his disappearance? Where in Srila Prabhupadas books or instructions
are described principles indicating that after the disappearance
of an empowered acarya no new student can accept him as diksa-guru?
8.) Where in Srila Prabhupadas books does he describe the principles
indicating that a system of officiating acaryas would constitute
a deviation from Vaisnava siddhanta if the system was maintained
after the disappearance of the acarya?
9.) There are devotees in ISKCON who met and served Srila Prabhupada
personally yet received initiation from another ISKCON guru in
1978. There are other devotees who never saw Srila Prabhupada,
yet were initiated in 1977, just before Srila Prabhupadas disappearance.
Regarding their relationship with Srila Prabhupada, what is the
difference between these two categories of devotees?
10.) When did Srila Prabhupada sanction positions (other than
His own) of absolute authority in ISKCON?
11.) Why are new ISKCON devotees encouraged to accept devotees
other than Srila Prabhupada as absolute authority?
12.) Srila Prabhupadas books clearly advise that devotees accept
as initiating spiritual master only an uttama-adhikari. Why are
new devotees in ISKCON told they must accept devotees other than
Srila Prabhupada as their diksa-guru?
13.) If a devotee has accepted initiation in ISKCON and follows
Srila Prabhupadas instructions, why would he need to get reinitiated
or wonder if Srila Prabhupada had accepted him? What, then, would
be the value of his assurance in being initiated or reiniated
by a self-appointed ISKCON guru?
14.) Where in Srila Prabhupadas books or instructions is the
subject of reinitiations discussed? Where in Srila Prabhupadas
books or instructions does he sanction the idea of reinitiations
15.) Formerly in ISKCON there was no discussion of reinitiations.
Since Srila Prabhupadas disappearance His representatives, with
GBC sanction, have reinitiated hundreds of devotees who had
already been initiated according to Srila Prabhupadas standard
and were engaged in serving Srila Prabhupadas mission. Why was
16.) Srila Prabhupada never approved the idea of self-appointed
gurus or gurus by the appointment or approval of an ecclesiastical
board (such as the GBC). In fact, He several times criticized
his Godbrothers for artificially creating posts of diksa-guru
, or acarya, in the Gaudiya Matha. What lesson can we learn from
this mistake of the Gaudiya Matha?
17.) Why are new ISKCON devotees not encouraged to repose their
full faith in Srila Prabhupada alone? Why are they told they must
first surrender heart and soul to someone else?
18.) Since 1972, Srila Prabhupada had sometimes arranged that
his deputies performed initiations on his behalf. That system
was officially reestablished by Srila Prabhupadas final written
order (dated July 9th, 1977). He specifically set up this system
to operate totally without his physical involvement. He indicated
this system should operate perpetually and several times warned
ISKCON leaders to leave his systems of management unchanged. Why,
then, was Srila Prabhupadas system for managing initiations in
Finally, we might ask, "Could it be that we have misunderstood
or misrepresented Srila Prabhupada and some of his divine instructions?
Could this be why weve all seen so much confusion and offense
in ISKCON?" To help keep Srila Prabhupada perfectly in the center
of ISKCON, ISKCON devotees should all agree to follow all of Srila
Prabhupadas orders precisely. Until we do that, advice from other
sampradayas and gurus may only add to our confusion.
NEWS DESK | WORLD | TOP