Krsnacandra Dasa – Vrndavan:
Dear Tulasi Devi Dasi
Thank you for your article. The points you raise have been discussed adinfinitum within our ISKCON Society.
From your perspective, you believe that you are acting and thinking correctly as your understandings and arguments have been based on what you have heard, read and understood. However, this is based on the presumption that the individual that you surrendered to is in fact a bona fide representative of Srila Prabhupada and Lord Krsna.
When you read Bhagavad Gita or Srila Prabhupada’s instructions and teachings you found the principle that you must find a spiritual master and surrender unto them and render loving service unto them. ISKCON provided an assortment of individuals and presented them as bona fide spiritual masters and you accepted them as such and having done so, you gravitated towards the one that ‘at the time’ you could believe in, and subsequently formalized this relationship according to the custom of the Society.
However, were you made aware at the time of joining ISKCON that Srila Prabhupada did not appoint any gurus to act as initiating spiritual masters?
Were you also informed that an initiating spiritual master or diksa guru, as taught by Srila Prabhupada, meant that the person was a suddha bhakta or pure devotee who was actually experiencing Krsna prema?
Were you also informed on the factual history of the movement when eleven devotees appointed themselves as Acharya’s and bona fide initiating spiritual masters against the instructions of Srila Prabhupada and against the wishes of the majority of devotees, who were their Godbrothers and Godsisters?
My guess is that you weren’t.
So you naturally accepted what you were presented by the institution as fact and so now here we are…
If after Srila Prabhupada’s departure the general devotees had taken a stand against these ambitious young men way back in the late seventies and made sure that their spiritual master’s wishes and instructions were enacted, we would not be having this conversation.
The reason why the movement succumbed to these ambitious young men was because these individuals took positional power which they used to subvert the orders of Srila Prabhupada and began to reorganise the movement into one that more suited their agenda.
They appointed themselves as Acharyas and divided up Srila Prabhupada’s kingdom, kicking out all those members who did not comply with their authority and policies. They rode on the crest of the tsunami from the beat of Srila Prabhupada’s Sankirtan’s Bhrihat Mrdanga and they still ride this wave today.
BUT this is NOT their wave! This is Srila Prabhupada’s. The euphoria you feel when you gaze into their eyes or listen to their words is not from them – it is Srila Prabhupada. It is Srila Prabhupada’s words that resonate in their mouths which they only use to make you believe that they are self realized souls, suddha bhaktas.
They know this. They lied to you and you believe them.
The ‘wave’ that many disciples of these illegally appointed diksa gurus ride is a wave of the pop star groupie and is not therefore based on sastra and factual knowledge.
It is interesting to note that the GBC have incorporated a “Being a Guru in ISKCON” training seminar process using the following rationale why a so called “suddha bhakta” requires seminars and workshops…
“Someone may wonder how it is that gurus can attend training seminars. The question was answered this way: Learning from one another is a strength, not a weakness, and wanting to always learn and improve in devotional service is the sign of Vaishnava humility.” (http://news.iskcon.org/node/1411)
Srila Prabhupada gives the analogy that if ones hands are bound then you require someone whose hands are unbound in order to be liberated from those bonds. There is no other way. In order to teach one must be a teacher who knows the subject matter. As Vaisnavas this means one must be a suddha bhakta who is in suddha-jnana realization of his nitya svabhava or nitya dharma. Therefore there is no question of seminar based training for being a better guru.
If you require this kind of training or if you believe that this kind of training is needed to improve the consciousness of a devotee then you certainly are; not only ‘not’ on the same page or chapter of Vaisnava siddhanta you are not even reading the same book!
If you can accept that a guru requires seminars and workshops in order to increase their Krsna prema then you are most certainly in a very dangerous position with regards to your spiritual life.
It is the institution that is artificially imposing more and more gurus into the position of initiating spiritual master which is increasingly dividing or splintering our society.
As we know, or at least should know, the Rubber Stamped Guru Business is an artificial imposition onto Srila Prabhupada’s ISKCON Society making it an extremely dangerous schism that has torn apart our Society from within.
They know that they are illegally presenting themselves as suddha bhaktas who are qualified to take on the responsibility of disciples. We know it too, the only people who don’t are their most unfortunate disciples.
For some years now there has been contention within the ISKCON society as to what system for initiations should be adopted by our Society. The mainstream / institutional camp, who have instituted the Rubber Stamping system, promote that Srila Prabhupada wanted tens of thousands of Rubber Stamped Gurus for his ISKCON Society who go on to make their own disciples – even though there is not one shred of evidence for this stance.
Then there is the ritvik camp who believes that Srila Prabhupada left us with a system that will also appoint or rubber stamp a devotee, who will act as his representative in the formal aspect of the initiation process and accepts the novice on behalf of Srila Prabhupada in an official capacity. The Initiation ceremonies will be conducted in the Temple under the direction of the local Temple President. The new initiate will be a direct disciple of the suddha bhakta, Srila Prabhupada.
The other system that is apparent in Srila Prabhupada instructions and teachings is that if one becomes pure or a suddha bhakta or is able to chant purely, suddha nama, then one is eligible to make disciples all over the world…
The only way that one can become pure is to follow the prescribed duties of the suddha bhakta, His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.
However, what would one’s vision be if one became a suddha bhakta? If one had factually successfully traversed the path of raganuga bhakti to become a svabhava–siddha, or a perfected being, who knows his true nature, or nitya dharma, by achieving jadda-mukti, or liberation from matter, and attained the highest level of consciousness, while still in this material body, of svarupatah-jada-mukti…
Surely they would be able to fully appreciate that Srila Prabhupada was a nitya siddha devotee of Krsna who has been personally and specifically sent by the Lord Himself to establish this ISKCON Society and that they themselves were a baddha jiva who had attained perfection via strictly following the duties that Srila Prabhupada had prescribed for them. In other words they would fully recognise and therefore appreciate that they were the disciple and Srila Prabhupada was the param guru.
If they were in fact a – walking talking breathing- suddha bhakta, then they would also ‘know’ that there is no need to change anything that the shaktiavesa avatar suddha bhakta had established and there was no need for them to interfere with his work and assume his position as ‘an’ Acharya of ISKCON.
Srila Prabhupada’s mission was to deliver the fallen souls of the kali yuga and he is more than able to achieve that. They would also know that Srila Prabhupada’s sincere desire and ultimate purpose was that we go back to Godhead to be with Lord Krsna and that and that only would be our sole goal.
I am sure that once at that level of consciousness they would also have direct connection with Srila Prabhupada and will still be following his instructions but only more closely and more deeply while on their way back to Krsna…
They would know that to change or attempt to replace Srila Prabhupada would mean that they did not realize Srila Prabhupada’s preeminent role and purpose nor would they have understood Srila Prabhupada’s heart.
Therefore they would not dare to assume the role and function of an initiating spiritual master by a ‘show of hands’ vote.
Yet these ‘guru maharajas’ of FISKCON arrogantly parade around flaunting their ill gotten disciples as a badge of honour in front of the suddha bhakta’s face.
Having said that… Tulasi Devi Dasi, Srila Prabhupada teaches us to be independently intelligent and so long as you and others like do not know the actual history and philosophy of the movement and keep on supporting pretenders and usurpers to come between you and Srila Prabhupada we will have this huge schism within our devotional community.
The onus is on you and others like you, to educate yourselves and change.
Another point that you bring up, is the point regarding; what would happen if the GBC would concede to removing the “initiating spiritual master’ position and title in ISKCON and replace it with the ritvik position and title, which would mean that if present and future gurus of ISKCON will be either reappointed or appointed as ritvik gurus by bureaucratic decree – that nothing will really change at all…
This is certainly a concern – you are right, nothing will change for this Guru system of adoration and supplication to the false guru has been acculturated into the fabric of our society and will take generations to change.
The ten years or so of Srila Prabhupada’s hard work to ‘habituate’ the members of ISKCON to the Vedic Vaisnava system was washed away by the rascaldom of so called devotees who desperately wanted fame, adoration, worship and their desire to be served by others and by those whose intentions were to destroy our movement from within.
We all have our work cut out for us if we want to truly desire to become Krsna conscious. Hard choices are going to have to be made by those who want this. The idea that Srila Prabhupada is the param guru and the sole Acharya for ISKCON must again be the focus of the movement and that means the ‘guru’ system must be abolished and the proponents of this system must be given the choice to either leave ISKCON and lose their titles, functions, privileges and bank accounts or take on a role as a disciple of Srila Prabhupada and try and learn what it is to become humble.
Their ‘disciples’ would need to be taught how to take shelter of Srila Prabhupada by senior devotees who have demonstrated their loyalty to Srila Prabhupada and who have a deep understanding of the philosophy and who are able to control their desire to lord it over others…
As a movement we have never known what life will be like without the physical presence of the suddha bhakta Srila Prabhupada – It is now time to learn this…
There is no other way.
Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada