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Letter from Prabhavisnu Dasa

Friday, 13 January 2012 / Published in Appeals / 7,224 views

By Prabhavisnu das

To my dear disciples and any other devotees who may be interested,

Hare Krsna. Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupad!

By now most of you will have gotten the news about my situation and perhaps read the general letter that I sent out to ISKCON devotees.

First of all let me say what a wonderful experience it has been for me to have had your association for all these years. I have very close relationships with many of you and those relationships have greatly inspired me in devotional service. I have generally been very happy in Krsna consciousness and I have always tried to give that happiness to others as best I could. It is actually very much against my nature to give pain to anyone. Nevertheless, at this time many of you must be feeling great pain and distress, and are wondering what the future holds in store for me and for yourselves. I therefore wish to wholeheartedly apologise to all of you for my inappropriate behaviour which has brought this about.

Kindly allow me to recount a little history from my perspective. When I was in London in 1975 I thought it might be best for me to marry, as I was President of two temples at the time, including the Manor, and had to deal with many householders. However, my GBC man told me to go to India and prepare to take sannyas. I had never thought of taking sannyas, but within 4 days I was on the plane to Mumbai. Srila Prabhupad asked me be the Vice President and manage the Mumbai temple and later allowed me to go on the BBT library party to distribute his books. After that on his instruction I began to preach in Bangladesh and Nepal. Sannyas was conferred upon me in 1979 when I was 28 years old. I was always taught that one should not ask for sannyas but accept it if one’s seniors confer it. I must admit that I did not give it much thought at all and did not fully understand the ramifications. The culture in India/ Bangladesh/ Nepal was very conducive for brahmcari/sannyas life, so it did not seem difficult. In retrospect it appears that I was too young to take sannyas. Fortunately, our movement has matured a lot since then and the criteria for accepting sannyas have become very strict. No-one in ISKCON now is allowed to take sannyas at such a young age. The candidates are scrutinised for many years before approval is given. Both they and the senior vaisnavas on the GBC must be fully convinced that they can maintain their vows.

In 1984 when I came to Mayapur, a devotee told me that I had been appointed as a GBC member and that I should go to the GBC meeting. I had no prior knowledge that this was going to happen. I felt rather uncomfortable at the GBC meetings as there were so many much more senior devotees there. I was at the time a Regional Secretary in several Asian countries so my service in the field did not change much.

In 1987 the GBC appointed me as an initiating guru. One member sudenly made the proposal in the middle of the meeting. I objected saying I did not feel ready for that but the Chairman overruled me and called for the vote which was passed. I was at first reluctant to take on that service as it was such a big responsibility.  Nevertheless, gradually the need to initiate became more and more both from the side of aspirants as well as from temple leaders who wanted devotees to be initiated in order to maintain the various services and push on the movement. So eventually as a matter of duty I began to initiate. I always considered that I was accepting disciples on behalf of ISKCON, Srila Prabhupad and the parampara, and have never considered those I initiated to be only “my disciples.” As such I have always tried to encourage you to remain in ISKCON and serve in ISKCON. I have simply tried to preach and transmit the teachings of Srila Prabhupad to you as I best as I could and to encourage you to always chant Hare Krsna.

I am not complaining about having been given so much responsibility. I accept it as Krsna’s mercy. It has been a tremendous opportunity for devotional servce, and a real challenge. Most likely I should have spent more time in the Holy Dhams hearing and chanting, but somehow I have a very active nature and always felt it my duty to visit as many centres and devotees in my GBC zone as possible. Had I been either a sannyasi and GBC only or a sannyasi and initiating guru only it may have been easier to maintain sannyas, but I found all three roles together to eventually be too stressful. Ultimately it is my fault for not maintaining my sannyas vows. I cannot blame others, but still the circumstances have also played a role in my difficulties.

In the areas where I was preaching the movement grew very rapidly, mainly because there is a lot of interest in Krsna consciousness, and of course due to the efforts of the leaders and all of the devotees, yourselves included. As a result the number of disciples and temples grew rapidly. ISKCON has and is expanding a lot in Russia, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Myanmar and Malaysia. And amongst western countries Australia and New Zealand also have quite a number of temples and devotees. In all there are around 100 centres of varying sizes and many thousands of devotees in the areas where I was GBC Zonal Secretary. Overseeing all of that became more and more strenuous for me over the years and counselling disciples and other devotees also required a lot of energy. Sometimes there have been serious, long-term disagreements amongst devotees. Trying to settle such conflicts was especially stressful for me. As a result in the last year or so I have felt the need to periodically get away from the intensity of life inside ISKCON and go to some quiet and peaceful places in nature, and found Thailand to be a very beautiful country. By my temperament I also do not feel so comfortable being a public figure and a leader in a large religious movement. I feel the need to live a quieter kind of existence with less pressure to be what others expect or would like me to be. As I have not been able to maintain the required standards of behaviour for a sannyasi and guru in ISKCON. I have therefore tendered my resignation from all positions of leadership in ISKCON.

In the last few days I have had many well- wishing letters from disciples, godbrothers and disciples of godbrothers throughout the movement and I thank you all very, very much for your support and encouragement. It gives me great strength to face the future. All my life I have travelled and now I feel the need to live in one place. During the last 9 months I have also developed a relationship with a lady in Thailand, who I feel is a good soul that can help me at this stage of my life. She is a half -Thai half-Chinese lady who runs a clothing business with her brother, and is a hard-working person. I am not in a rush to marry but it is a definite possibility. I am really sorry that things have transpired in this way. I know it is really improper but quite honestly I just couldn’t decide what to do, and thought I might be able to overcome it. On the one hand so much expectation was placed on my shoulders, and on the other hand I just felt the need to get away from the stress of management, counselling and constant travelling. I have always chanted my rounds and regularly attended kirtans and classes.  If things work out I would like to help spread the sankirtan movement  in Thailand. I feel very much at home amongst the people there who in general have a respectful and kind-hearted nature. I also find the climate to be very suitable for my physical health, which has begun to deteriorate due to constant travel. However, if things don’t work out there I would hope to live in an ISKCON community somewhere else. I think we should let some time pass to see how I get on in Krsna consciousness. I need some time and space to work out my personal situation. Please allow me that.

In any case, I want to encourage you to remain steady in your service and sadhana and to take shelter of the senior Vaisnavas in our movement, who are very serious and dedicated in following the teachings of Srila Prabhupad. I have always tried to encourage you to seek such association, and to keep harmonious relationships with all the Vaisnavas. There are so many wonderful senior devotees who can inspire you and give you shelter through their siksa. Srila Prabhupad created the GBC to be the spiritual and managerial head of ISKCON. All the GBC members are working hard to lead and improve the movement. Many of them are close friends and I very much respect and appreciate the difficult and responsible service that they are doing. No doubt the GBC body will give you some guidance in the near future so I advise you to accept that. Ultimately everyone in ISKCON is under the shelter of Srila Prabhupad and the previous acaryas, so despite changes in my own life you are all in a good position to progress spiritually.

In future I would sometimes like to visit ISKCON temples, especially the Holy Dhams, and hope to meet many of you in course of time.  If any of you would like to keep in touch and write me by e-mail from to time to time I will be happy to answer and give you any encouragement that I can. Not so much in the official role of a guru giving siksa to disciples but rather as a friend and well-wisher.

Once again I offer you my deepest apologies for the pain that I have caused you. Kindly forgive the mistakes that I have made and any offences I may have committed to any of you. Ultimately this is just a small hiccup in the eternal progress of the sankirtan movement, which is so powerful that it can overcome all obstacles. Perhaps it will be a chance for reflection and some improvements can come about as a result of this. Hopefully these kinds of heavy responsibilites will be shared out more in future. The GBC is working to empower a new generation of leaders. It is very important for the continuation of the sankirtan movement.

Please absorb yourselves in chanting Hare Krsna and devotional service in ISKCON. Please continue to cooperate together and with other devotees to please Srila Prabhupad by expanding the sankirtan movement. May Lord Krsna bless you all.

Your unqualified servant and well-wisher,

Prabhavisnu das

20 Responses to “Letter from Prabhavisnu Dasa”

  1. Puskaraksa das says :

    Dear Prabhavisnu das Prabhu, dear devotees

    Please accept my humble obeissances.
    All glories to Srila Prabhupada. All glories to Sri Guru & Sri Gauranga.

    At the outset, I would like to state that I appreciated the tone of both letters from Prabhavisnu das Prabhu. There is a combination of honesty and sincerity which is indeed touching and does require a lot of humility and lucidity from his part, both in his thinking process and the analysis of his personal situation, which leaves plenty of hope for his future spiritual life.

    Considering the amount of service rendered by our dear Prabhavisnu das Prabhu, one can only hold him in high esteem and pay respect to him for all the valuable seva he rendered over the last 40 years or so… As a matter of fact, I was talking last Sunday with the lady devotee, Mandakini devi dasi, who handed him over a magazine in London and invited him to come over to the temple in Burry Place, back in 1970. She told me how, to her surprise, Srila Prabhupada thanked her especially that day, upon her return to the temple…

    Of course, some critics (amongst whom the promoters of the “rittvik approach” hold the first rank) will overlook Prabhavisnu Maharaja’s seva throughout the course of all these years, altogether as a devotee, a GBC and a guru and will profusely denigrate Prabhavisnu das, for having fallen down from his position…

    In that regard, I would be tempted to quote Jesus: “Let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” In the same spirit, Srila Bhaktisiddantha dismissed those who wanted to fulfill the wish, that his beloved spiritual master had expressed out of humility, to have his body dragged in the streets, after his passing away, pointing out at the lack of qualification of anyone around… Rather, he indicated that all should honor his sat guru as he ought to be…

    Prabhavisnu das Prabhu is definitely a vaishnava (even though he currently has to readjust his position and ashrama) and, as such, keeps deserving our respect and support. Hence, he ought to always feel welcome and at home in all ISKCON temples… Thereby, we seize this opportunity to wish him to keep in touch with Sri-Sri Radha-Krishna and Sri-Sri Gour-Nitai, Srila Prabhupada – his beloved spiritual master and well-wisher – and all the assembly of devotees…

    This being said, with a straw in between the teeth and with all due respect, there is yet the main point of guru tattva which needs to be addressed more thoroughly…

  2. Puskaraksa das says :

    In that regard, Prabhavisnu das not being in a position, neither willing, to fulfill his duty anymore as guru, i.e. liberating his disciples from the cycle of birth and death, as per the injunction of Srimad Bhagavatam: guror na sa syat… na mocayed yah samupeta-mrtyum (S.B. – 5/5/18), is an issue which requires more light to be cast upon, for the welfare of all the souls who had placed their faith in Prabhavisnu Maharaja’s capacity to guide them along the path back home, back to Godhead, as per the expected qualifications of a bona fide spiritual master:

    kripasindhu susampurnah sarva satvopakarakah
    nisprhah sarvatah siddhah sarva vidya visaradah
    sarva samsaya sancchetta ‘nalaso gurur ahrtah
    (Haribhakti Vilasa – 1/45/46)

    Such person is called Guru who is an ocean of mercy, who feels pain on seeing the unhappiness of others, who is always satisfied and who works for the welfare of others, who does not desire sense gratification, who is perfect in all respects, who is expert in all scriptural knowledge, who removes the doubts of his followers and who is not lazy, always engaged in serving the Lord.

    Therefore, while Prabhavisnu das Prabhu, being understandably embarrassed and apologetic, wishes to encourage his “former” disciples (as he confesses not to be in a position to maintain that guru-disciple relationship) and tells them that “despite changes in my own life, you are all in a good position to progress spiritually”, one ought to reflect upon the injunctions of sastras and the recommendations of our previous acaryas, in such a case when the guru falls down and gives up his duty…

    In that regard, Danavir Maharaja has made a nice compilation, which you may consult at the following links:

    Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja had also rendered the same verdict, when consulted on that point in the mid eighties, stating that ‘if the guru falls, all initiations become null and invalid”. This is understandable, as the guru is supposed to connect us with the Guru Parampara, all the way to Krishna, as the last link. If that link fails, then the connection is broken!

  3. Puskaraksa das says :

    To that, some may object that the guru has pointed us in the proper direction, i.e. service to Srila Prabhupada’s ISKCON Movement, which remains! But, by doing so, they confuse the diksa guru with the vartma-pradarshaka guru, who do not hold the same responsibility and are not meant to play the same role!

    Besides, as pointed out in the above compilation, one should not remain without a guru! Otherwise, why should one accept a guru in the first place…?

    Neither can one assert oneself to have become a Prabhupada disciple, without having duly been accepted by him as such… Srila Prabhupada is not meant to be considered as an automated machine, distributing diksa for the next ten thousand years, without having either been consulted, or having given his approval…

    In that regard, one may reflect upon how Srila Bhaktisiddantha had literally to beg – and surrender – to Srila Gaura Kishora das Babaji, before he could be accepted as his disciple!

    Therefore, even though time may not be ripen yet, disciples of his Grace Prabhavisnu das (and as such, of any fallen guru) should kindly consider taking shelter of another vaishnava, as we are all meant to act and serve as the servant of the servant of the servant… So, the generation of devotees who didn’t receive initiation from Srila Prabhupada is meant to accept diksa from one of his disciples (or in some cases, his grand disciples). Similarly, future generations will follow the same process.

    So, there is hope. We all learn from our mistakes, be we guru, disciple, God-brother or God-sister, nephew or niece, ISKCON leader or GBC member… Failure is the pillar of success… A devotee is one who may fall a thousand times, but picks himself up a thousand and one time…!

    So, we wish Prabhavisnu das and all the sincere souls who have come in his association, having happened mostly to live and serve in the zone he was in charge of as a GBC member, to keep their spirit up and keep taking shelter of Guru, Sastras and Saddhus…

    Srila Prabhupada indicated that the main verse of Bhagavad-gita was:

    tad viddhi pranipatena 

    pariprasnena sevaya 

    upadeksyanti te jnanam 

    jnaninas tattva-darsinah

    tat–that knowledge of different sacrifices; viddhi–try to understand; pranipatena–by approaching a spiritual master; pariprasnena–by submissive inquiries; sevaya–by the rendering of service; upadeksyanti–initiate; te–unto you; jnanam–knowledge; jnaninah–the self-realized; tattva–truth; darsinah–the seers.

  4. Puskaraksa das says :

    Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.
    (B.g. 4.34)

    Interestingly enough, Srila Prabhupada translated this verse, starting with these words: “Try to learn”. He didn’t say “Learn”. So, one may have tried and ought to try again!

    All we can pray for, is both to be granted the eyes and vision to recognize the sat Guru – he, who is a Tattva darshi, who is a seer of the Truth, i.e. sees Krishna, the Absolute Truth – and have the required sincerity to surrender at his feet and serve him, so as to become ourselves, in due course of time, sat shishyas…

    Hoping this finds you all well and inspired in developing your Krishna consciousness, I remain,
    Your menial servant in the service of Sri Guru & Sri Gauranga

    Das dasanudasa
    Puskaraksa das

  5. Sita Rama 108 says :

    Puskaraksa Prabhu has quoted some senior members of ISKCON regarding the resignation of a diksha Guru. I strongly recommend viewing what the ultimate managerial authority says about the issue.
    ISKCON LAW BOOK : “Guru šraya” for Guidance
    [Devotees whose initiating spiritual master has fallen down should take guidance from the GBC papers entitled “Guru šraya” and “Questions and Answers About Reinitiation.” These papers also present ISKCON’s guidelines on the importance of taking shelter of a spiritual master and the role of ik÷a-guru.}
    That is” Guru Asraya”. I could not find a downloadable copy of these. But ISKCON leaders should be able to provide them upon request. I remember the opening statement was that NO DEVOTEE SHOULD FEEL PRESSURED IN ANY WAY TO BECOME RE-INITIATED.
    Another pertinent statute:
    Section 600: INTERNAL ISKCON
    Srila Prabhupada’s Siksa Position
    601 [ISKCON LAW] A duly initiated disciple in ISKCON can accept Srila Prabhupada, the founder-acarya of ISKCON, as his principle siksa-guru. During his devotional life, he may experience that he derives more spiritual inspiration from Srila Prabhupada’s books and vani than from his own diksa-guru
    This is pertaining to one “duly initiated” in ISKCON. I have seen no law that says this initiation is null and void if ones Guru resigns. And such a statement is inconsistent with policy that second initiated devotees can continue to be pujaris if their diksha Guru resigns. I was a full time pujari from 1989-1993 although my diksha Guru resigned in 1985 and I had not been re-initiated. Beyond that the spiritual inspiration one receives from following Srila Prabhupada’s vani cannot be checked by any one. After my Guru resigned I experienced individuals who tried to check the inspiration I received from Srila Prabhupada despite the fact that I was cooperating with, and serving, ISKCON. This was a couple of decades ago. I hope there are no members of ISKCON who continue to act in this manner.

  6. pustakrishna says :

    It is there in Srila Prabhupad’s purports, and it is something that Srila Prabhupad once discussed with me personally in 1976, “One cannot be his own guru”. If you try to become your own guru, you will become a servant of the mind. No matter how strong you think your understanding is in this transcendental philosophy, our conditioned nature is very strong. Srila Prabhupad therefore implored, “One should not be his own guru”.

    Whether one accepts a lesser fallible person as a guru, you have Srila Prabhupad as your siksha or instructor guru. He gave us so many literatures with so much instruction, simply for us to take it. Yes, sell the books as service, but take the instruction…that was time and again said by His Divine Grace, read the books. Try to bring the spiritual philosophy alive in your life like Arjuna with Krishna.

    Pusta Krishna das

  7. Puskaraksa das says :

    Pranams. All glories to Srila Prabhupada. All glories to Sri Guru & Sri Gauranga.

    Thank you, dear Pusta Krishna Prabhu, for quoting Srila Prabhupada. “One should not become one’s own guru!”

    This reminds me of an instance when, in the eighties, I introduced a brahmacari, who was the bhakta leader in Radhadesh (Belgium) at the time, to Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja. He had been initiated by the former “zonal acarya”, who had fallen down and was claiming that he had now taken shelter of Srila Prabhupada’s books and had accepted Srila Prabhupada as his guru!

    Then, Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja questioned why he had not also accepted Srila Bhaktisiddantha Sarasvati Thakur, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur, Srila Narottama das Thakur or Srila Rupa Goswami as his guru, as Srila Prabhupada was passing down the teachings of the Parampara and the previous acaryas…?

    Finally, Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja concluded: “Actually, you have become your own guru!”

    That sincere devotee realized his foolishness and later on became a disciple of Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja.

    The point is that one may – and should draw – great inspiration from and abide by the teachings of Srila Prabhupada and our Parampara, as well as of Sastras. But, one cannot accept a book or a recording as his guru, in the formal sense of “guru”, as defined by the Supreme Personality of Godhead in Bhagavad-gita…!

    One needs to practice “paripratena, pariprasnena and sevaya” B.g. 4.34:
    “pranipatena–by approaching a spiritual master; pariprasnena–by submissive inquiries; sevaya–by the rendering of service”.

    The point is that one needs to receive personal guidance and specific instructions from a liberated soul, in order to be able to be extracted from this material world, as an individual jiva with a particular conditioning, which one will not be able to find in books…

    As it is, there are general instructions which apply to all, and specific instructions as well as personal guidance, which is tailor made for each individual devotee…

    Otherwise, one becomes one’s own guru and decides for oneself: “Oh, I will do this and later I will do that” and/or becomes a puppet in the hands of some conditioned soul(s)…

    Hare Krishna

    Your servant
    Puskaraksa das

  8. Puskaraksa das says :

    In answer to Sita Rama Prabhu, who has been so kind to list our previous acaryas as senior members of ISKCON, when they quote the verdict of Sastras, in regards to the necessity of accepting another guru, when one’s previous one falls down, I would beg to refer in that line, for instance, to Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura who, as also did Srila Jiva Goswami, quotes the following verse from the Mahabharata in his Udyoga Parva (179.25):

    Guror api avaliptasya karyakaryam ajanatah
    utpatha-pratipannasya parityago vidhyate

    If the guru becomes attached to sense gratification, loses his sense of duty and follows a degraded path, a path other than devotional service to the Lord, he should be rejected. (Mahabharata)

    On the other hand, the Kathopanisad (1/3/14) states:

    utisthata jagrata prdpya varan nibodhata
    ksurasya dhara nisita duratyaya
    durgama pathas tat kavayo vadanti

    Thus addressed the Veda Purusha, regarding the pious ones (the sadhus):

    “Oh Sadhus! Be relieved of the thoughts regarding various earthly possessions. Desert the unwanted elements, get spirited in the real self and try to acquire knowledge regarding Godhead by obtaining the compassion of the blessed ones. This mortal world is like the sharp edge of a blade and cause of innumerable sorrows. It is beyond easy means to cross this mortal world without acquiring knowledge regarding Godhead. The divine seers pronounce that the world reliever Brahma, is attained with great efforts. There is no other way to swim across the sea of this mortal world, except by pursuing Godhead at the lotus feet of Srila Gurudev.”

    So, if one’s earlier initiating “guru” has now another agenda and is becoming absorbed in some material activities, then what would be the fate of a disciple who would remain without proper shelter and personal guidance…

    Of course, there may be some necessary transitory period, during which one may need to readjust and find another guru, or rather hopefully be found by a sat guru, as Guru and Krishna are the seers and we are meant to be seen…

    As a matter of fact, it is by the mercy of Krishna that one meets a sat Guru. Therefore, a blind conditioned soul – who, all the more, has no measuring rod to measure guru – should pray to Srila Prabhupada and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to be blessed with such transcendental encounter with Krishna’s representative and both be blessed with the capacity to surrender at his lotus feet, while being accepted as shishya by his divine grace.

  9. Puskaraksa das says :

    brahmanda bhramite kona bhagyavan jiva
    guru-krsna prasade paya bhakti-lata-bija
    (Chaitanya caritamrita, Madhya – 19/151)

    According to their karma, all living entities are wandering throughout the entire universe. Some of them are being elevated to the upper planetary systems, and some are going down into the lower planetary systems. Out of many millions of wandering living entities, one who is very fortunate gets an opportunity to associate with a bona fide spiritual master by the grace of Krsna. By the mercy of both Krsna and the spiritual master, such a person receives the seed of the creeper of devotional service.

    As a matter of fact,

    nayam atma pravacanena labhyo
    na medhaya na bahuna srutena
    yam evaisa vrnute tena labhyas
    tasyaisa atma vivrnute tanum svam
    (Kathopanisad – 1/2/23)

    The Supreme Lord is neither attained by reasoning or by vast intelligence, nor even by much hearing. He is attained only by one whom He Himself chooses. To such a person He manifests His own form.

    Therefore, the mercy of such a person, Srila Gurudeva – the Tattva darshi, he who sees Krishna – is for us essential:

    mukam karoti vacalam
    pangum langhayate girim
    yat-krpa tam aham vande
    sri gurum dina tarinam
    (Bhabartha Dipika)

    I offer my respectful obeisances to the Spiritual Master whose grace turns a dumb into an eloquent speaker and enables the lame to cross mountains.

    Hence, if one’s guru falls down, both our previous Acaryas and the Holy Scriptures are unanimous in their conclusion:

    paramartha gurvasrayo vaharika guru
    adi pratyagena api kartavyah
    (Bhakti sandarbha – 210)

    One should reject a worldly, materialistic, and spiritually unqualified guru and should take shelter of a qualified pure Vaisnava guru.

    However, one should not be overly surprised not to be able to meet with and surrender to the bona fide guru in the first place, as such a sat guru is very rare, not to speak of ourselves, trying to qualify as sat shishyas:

    shravanayapi bahuvir jo na lavyah
    shrunvantopi bahavo jam na biduh
    ascharjyosya bakta kushalosya labdha
    ascharyo jnata kushalanusistah
    (Kathopanisad – 1/2/7)

    That Atma (Paramatma) is neither audible nor attainable by many, because an experienced adviser versed in Vedic scriptures and a realized person are rare. He (the bona fide spiritual master) only can make the disciple efficient. Some efficient souls come to know Him (Krishna) after being advised by an experienced Acharya (a sat Guru).

    Hoping this finds you all well,
    I remain

  10. Sita Rama 108 says :

    Puskaraska Prabhu,
    You accuse me of listing the previous Acharya’s as senior members of ISKCON, when I was clearly referring to your citation of Danavir Maharaja and Gaura Govinda Maharaja. Please do not continue to deal with this serious and sensitive issue by twisting facts in the manner of mundane politicians
    This is a serious issue. There are two concerns here, the TRUTH,and the most effective way to present the truth to assist the hundreds, or possibly thousands, of devotees who are experiencing a challenging situation.
    As for previous Achaya’s, I recommend all accept Srila Prabhupada, the Founder Acharya of ISKCON as the ultimate authority. He established the GBC as the ultimate managerial authority in ISKCON. Therefore I suggested devotees refer to the guidelines, policies, and laws the GBC has established regarding this issue.
    The GBC forbids anyone from pressuring a devotee to become re-initiated. If one does so, in spite of this, they are not following the instruction of the ultimate Acharya, Srila Prabhupada.
    Gaura Govinda Mahraja may have encouraged a devotee to accept re-initiation from him by exposing his nonsense but it does not follow that every devotee who is without a diksha Guru is lost with no direction. There are devotees who smoothly progress to following the four regs, chanting 16 rounds, moving into a Temple, and performing years of service without a diksha or siksha Guru other than Srila Prabhupada.
    You can continue, forever, in a competitive debate about this if you desire. But I can tell you from personal experience that after my diksha Guru resigned I found the most difficult thing was the devotees arguing about the topic and trying to pressure me to act in one way or another. Do you really want to increase the hardship devotees are experiencing?
    When, and IF, a devotee is ready to get re-initiated they will do so voluntarily, pressure on them to do so before that time results in either undue problems or accepting a diksha Guru for the wrong reason.
    I never bowed to pressure from accusations that I was inwardly a ritivk disguised as a faithful follower of ISKCON or that I had a grudge against ISKCON due to being under the “Zonal Acharya” system. However these arguments were proven wrong when (13 years later) I was re-initiated by one of the original 11 Guru’s. My siksha Guru was also, previously, a GBC member appointed directly by Srila Prbahupada.

  11. Puskaraksa das says :

    Dear Sita Rama Prabhu, please do not become angry. We understand you may have your own history and your own opinion, but please kindly acknowledge that everything cannot be centered around you and your personal experience…

    Srila Gour Govinda Swami is only abiding by the authority of Sastras and of our previous acaryas and Dhanavir Goswami in the two articles I forwarded the links to, is also only doing the same. So, we are not passing on personal opinions, but passing on and abiding by the teachings of (sat) Guru, Sastras and (pure) Saddhus, which we acknowledge to be the Supreme Authority…

    There is no question of pressurizing anyone to accept Guru. We are just presenting the conclusion of Sastras, supported by pure devotees and personal associates of the Lord, such as Srila Jiva Goswamis and Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur.

    Hence, please do not pressurize devotees to follow your own example, whatever it may be!

    Kindly allow everyone to study and meditate on Tattva…

    Then, according to one’s particular degree of sincerity and hankering, each one will be guided by Caitya Guru…

    In that regard, we should remember that whoever has the good fortune to become sheltered by a pure devotee of the Lord, is to be considered as baut bhagyavan, as very fortunate…

    Hence, please do not take it as a curse or something unfortunate, but rather as an immense opportunity to receive qualified guidance on the path of developping Krishna prema, pure love of God…

    For us to become proper recipients of such mercy, when it is made available…

    Hoping this finds you well and in an appeased mood,
    I remain
    Yours sincerely, in the service of Srila Prabhupada and ISKCON

    Das dasanudasa
    Puskaraksa das

  12. veda says :

    I was just wondering about this whole reinitiation topic. I personally believe that without guru (read living guru) as taught by Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja one cannot advance In KC. I’m not going to go into quoting sadhu and sastra about it because others more knowledgeable have already done so. However, I feel that there is two scenarios when your guru falls down. As we know, sadhu and sastra mention that we can take a guru who is not on utamma platform and also that a falldown is always possible – there are examples in scripture. I believe that there are two kinds of falldowns – one is when the guru truely leaves the path of bhakti and another is when due to whatever reasons the guru cannot uphold his vows. I feel, reading the letter of Prabhavisnu dasa and letters of support from devotees he served with and inspired that he is in the second case. He has not given up the path of bhakti but is suffering a setback. In his case his disciples can still respect him for the inspiration he was in their devotional life, all the while recognising his present situation, and seeking siksa from another guru. I dont believe that they need to reject him totally and get reinitiated. Ultimately that is the disciples choice. The guru who has suffered a setback and his disciple should be honest about the new position they find themselves in. The disciple should not fall into blatant criticism of the guru, because that will not help his bhakti, particularly if the guru is staying under the guidance and still serving his spiritual masters mission, albeit in a humbler position; nor should the disciple be sentimental and still uphold his guru as being utamma adhikari or faultless. A honest recognition of the situation seems to be the healthiest choice for both. In devotional life, particularly in an institution like ISKCON, devotees who may at some point or other have been a source of inspiration can leave the path of bhakti. I should remain gratefull to them for being the ones who helped me on this path but at the same time recognise that maybe at his present time he is not in that position anymore.
    What I do see is that apparently in our society whenever a guru suffers a falldown it seems to stem from the same place – too much travel, too much administrative troubles, physical tiredness, etc. Another problem seems to be that the standard of worship given to a guru is too high both for the good of the guru as well as for the disciple.

  13. veda says :

    part two

    In our gaudiya tradition worship of guru is of utmost importance, however in our case as a society maybe we should avoid getting into lavish vyasapujas, footwashing, and allowing devotees to be cannonised as pure devotees. I have seen, since childhood, so many pure devotees “fall down” and the sorrow and loss of faith it causes. I also think that it puts these devotees who are real stalwarts of our movement in a position where they cannot be human anymore. They have to keep up a front and get cut off from being able to confide about their weaknesses. In the case of Prabhavisnu dasa we can see that his service record is impecable and that he was and still is an inspiration to so many devotees. Maybe if he wasnt put into the position he found himself in, wether by choice or peer pressure, this situation wouldnt be as heavy as it is now. The worship of guru as given in scripture is something very dangerous unless you are totally freed from material desires and how many devotees are on that level ? I feel that, in some cases, we are creating super gurus who can do whatever they want because all their actions are transcendental. They become untouchable and no one can call them up on their actions. They are accountable to nobody. Only the uttama adhikari is on that level. And generally they show by example that it is not a healthy place to be in. In our tradition, vaisnavas have always put themselves under the guidance of other vaisnavas.
    I beg forgivness if I have caused offence to anyone by my words – it is just an observation of someone trying to remain on the path of bhakti. I recognise that I havent done 1% of the service that someone like Prabhavisnu dasa has done for Srila Prabhupada and I’m sure that he will never be rejected by him. There is a story of Pritu Putra swami who completely gave up the path of bhakti. At the time of his death he apparently sat up and pointing in front of him exclaimed, “Look, Srila Prabhupada has come”. So though we should recognize the error we should avoid too much criticism of the person. We should respect even a dog who has served our spiritual master.

  14. Sita Rama 108 says :

    Dear Moderators, Please post this comment, with names omitted AND proper capitalization of Maharaja’s name INSTEAD of the TWO sent directly before it.
    Puskaraksa Prabhu,
    You give the example of a devotee who was trying to be his own Guru after his diksha Guru resigned, he was exposed by Gour Govinda Maharaja, and he surrendered to him. Although that experience is different from mine I appreciate it. It is a success story-ki jaya!
    However I feel the example of my personal experience may also be valuable. However, I am not advocating my own opinion. I am advocating the conclusion of the shastra, Srila Prabhupada’s vani, the authoritative conclusions of the collective GBC, and unlimited examples of those who follow these authorities.
    I am not against encouraging devotees to approach another Guru after theirs resigns, that is why I recommend the GBC papers which DO encourage this. But the GBC attitude is not that someone must do this immediately or they are some kind of rascal.
    My experience was, I continued and 13 years later, when I was ready, I accepted re-initiation. Others may accept shelter of a Guru immediately; others may lose their focus and benefit from someone like Gour Govinda Maharaja exposing them.
    Gour Govinda Maharaja was speaking to someone who was trying to be his own Guru. Maharajah essentially called him a bogus rascal. I personally know a devotee who became attracted to Gour Govinda Mahraja after Maharaja called him a cheater, for reasons unrelated to the present topic. Some individuals are nourished by this type of chastisement. You are focusing on this type of person. But if you accuse EVERYONE who does not immediately aspire for re-initiation of being a rascal you create a great disturbance and I really wish you would just stop it!

  15. Puskaraksa das says :

    Dear Sita Rama Prabhu

    I understood that you were undergoing some training at university about “conflict resolution”. Try to see if they don’t have some course about “avoiding generating conflicts” as well, which is just one step ahead of conflict resolution… Just in case!

    There is actually no problem. Everybody has gotten some minute independence. Everyone can make and will make a choice… Each of us has his/her own pace, conditioning, sukriti from past lives, hankerings, material and spiritual desires and some minute share of independence.

    It is an alchemy, which no one can decipher except for the Supersoul and the external manifestation of the Supersoul, Sri Guru, who is only worthy of being compared to Sri Hari, and worshiped as saksad Hari… We worship every day such a pure saddhu guru: vande guroh sri caranaravindam…

    Coming back to the example of Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja, please do not misunderstand…

    Sri Guru is patita pavana… He is very merciful… By the grace of Paramatma, he is granted the power to know what is the position of each individual soul and what is the appropriate remedy concerning each conditioned soul, in regards to their specific material disease…

    This is why we need personal guidance from guru. When one is blinded by cataract, one goes to see an eye surgeon… It is not possible for one to operate himself or herself alone… In the same way that you can’t be your own surgeon, you can’t be your own guru. It is as simple as that!

    Similarly, when one is prisoner of samsara, blinded by material attachments from time immemorial, one should approach the expert surgeon, Srila Gurudeva, so that he may grant us jnana caksu in the first place, which will enable us to see with the eyes of knowledge, thanks to being enlightened with the spiritual understanding of Tattva.

    Furthermore, Srila Gurudeva will confer upon us, by his causeless mercy, bhakti vilocanena – spiritual vision, by smearing our eyes with the balm of love, i.e. with Krishna prema…

    This is the ultimate goal of life, the paramam purushartha… So, who would be so foolish as to neglect it or miss the rare opportunity of this human life and not hanker for it?

  16. Puskaraksa das says :

    Therefore, we have to be thankful to whoever has helped us, along the path… We may have accepted so and so, as guides along the path and they have guided us part of the way. For that, we are grateful to them.

    We have had so many parents, teachers and guides along the journey of life, during so many lifetimes and as we owe a tribute to each of them, we pay respect to all of them.

    But we want to attain our ultimate destination, Sri-Sri Nitai-Gauranga’s lotus feet…

    So, if the boat we were on sinks, should we keep hanging on to that boat and sink along with it…?

    Therefore, we are hankering for the association of that saddhu guru, that liberated soul who is able to make us cross over this ocean of births and deaths and who only can give us Krishna, for Krishna is His, as he has bound Krishna within his heart, with the rope of love…

    In the footsteps of Srila Bkativinoda Thakur, we aspire to be in a position to pray:

    vaishnaba thakura, doyara sagara,
    e dase koruna kori’
    diya pada-chaya, sodho he amaya,
    tomara carana dhori

    chaya bega domi’, chaya dosha sodhi’,
    chaya guna deho’ dase
    chaya sat-sanga, deho’ he amare,
    boshechi sangera ase

    ekaki amara, nahi paya bala,
    tumi kripa kori’, sraddha-bindu diya,
    deho’ krishna-nama-dhane

    krishna se tomara, krishna dite paro,
    tomara sakati ache
    ami to’ kangala, ‘krishna’ ‘krishna’ boli’,
    dhai tava pache pache

    0 venerable Vaishnava, O ocean of mercy, be merciful unto your servant. Give me the shade of your lotus feet and purify me. I hold on to your lotus feet.

    Teach me to control my six passions; rectify my six faults, bestow upon me the six qualities, and offer unto me the six kinds of holy association.

    I do not find the strength to carry on alone the sankirtana of the Holy Name of Hari. Please bless me by giving me just one drop of faith with which to obtain the great treasure of the Holy Name of Krishna.

    Krishna is yours; you have the power to give Him to me. I am simply running behind you shouting, “Krishna! Krishna!”

  17. Puskaraksa das says :

    So, we are hankering for the association of that saddhu guru who can give us Krishna, for Krishna is His, as he has bound Krishna within his heart with the rope of love…

    In the footsteps of Srila Bkativinoda Thakur, we aspire to be able to pray:

    vaishnaba thakura, doyara sagara,
    e dase koruna kori’
    diya pada-chaya, sodho he amaya,
    tomara carana dhori

    chaya bega domi’, chaya dosha sodhi’,
    chaya guna deho’ dase
    chaya sat-sanga, deho’ he amare,
    boshechi sangera ase

    ekaki amara, nahi paya bala,
    tumi kripa kori’, sraddha-bindu diya,
    deho’ krishna-nama-dhane

    krishna se tomara, krishna dite paro,
    tomara sakati ache
    ami to’ kangala, ‘krishna’ ‘krishna’ boli’,
    dhai tava pache pache

    0 venerable Vaishnava, O ocean of mercy, be merciful unto your servant. Give me the shade of your lotus feet and purify me. I hold on to your lotus feet.

    Teach me to control my six passions; rectify my six faults, bestow upon me the six qualities, and offer unto me the six kinds of holy association.

    I do not find the strength to carry on alone the sankirtana of the holy name of Hari. Please bless me by giving me just one drop of faith with which to obtain the great treasure of the holy name of Krishna.

    Krishna is yours; you have the power to give Him to me. I am simply running behind you shouting, “Krishna! Krishna!”

  18. Subal Krsna says :

    Dandavat pranams Prabhavisnu prabhu,

    Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Sri Guru & Sri Gauranga! All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

    I want to express my gratitude for what I perceived as your sincere and steady efforts over many years to serve your divine spiritual master and the members and yatras of ISKCON.

    ‘Haters gonna hate’ of course, but persoanl humility and sincerity will prevail, and those are two qualities imho closely associated with your good self….. Sadhu-sanga ki jaya!!!

    Best regards,
    Subal Krsna das (Bh. Scott NZ)

  19. nrsingha8 says :

    Bhaktivinoda Thakur; One who chants suddha-krsna-nama even once is indeed
    a Vaisnava & Diksa (initiation) is unnecessary in terms of the existential
    reality (tattva) of sri näma At this point, one more thing needs to be
    considered. Be…coming a suddha Vaisnava does not depend on the process
    of taking diksa (ceremonial initiation). Diksa is the process whereby a
    person receives a mantra for the worship of Sri Hari’s deity form, and
    thus comes at least to the stage of vaisnava-praya. In terms of the
    existential reality of the holy name (nama-tattva), such diksa is
    unnecessary. As Sriman Mahaprabhu has said: prabhu kahe,—“yanra mukhe suni
    eka-bara krsna-nama, sei pujya,—srestha sabakara” Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu
    answered, “He from whose mouth suddha krsna-nama is heard even once is
    worshipful and is the best among human beings.” eka krsna-name kare
    sarva-papa ksaya nava-vidha bhakti purna nama haite haya Even uttering
    Krsna’s suddha nam a single time destroys all of one’s sins. The nine-fold
    process of devotional service (navadha-bhakti) attains completeness only
    through nama. diksa-purascarya-vidhi apeksa na kare jihva-sparse a-candala
    sabare uddhare One is not required to undergo the process of receiving
    diksa or any preparatory regulative rites in order to chant krsna-nama.
    Simply by coming in contact with the tongue, krsna-suddha Nama delivers
    everyone, including even the most degraded class of men. anusanga-phale
    kare samsarera ksaya citta akarsiya karaya krsne premodaya Sri
    Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila (15.106–109) As a secondary result of
    chanting krsna-nama, one’s material entanglement is terminated. The
    primary result is that the mind and heart of the chanter become
    uncontrollably drawn to Krsna and finally krsna-prema awakens in his
    heart. ataeva yanra mukhe eka krsna-nama sei ta’ vaisnava, kariha tanhara
    sammana Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila (15.111) One who even chants
    Krsna’s pure name a single time is described as a Vaisnava;

    Translated from Sri Gaudiya Patrika, Year 7, Issue 10 in Rays of The
    Harmonist, Kartika.

  20. krishna-kirti says :

    One thing I am worried about is how little stigma there is left nowadays for a guru who falls down. Just from from the comments above, PD’s down fall is regarded as little more than a circumstantial mishap, an accident. But further information we have now shows it was going on for more than a decade. Thus the facts, and magnitude of the incident, in this discourse are grossly distorted.

    Here is the problem: if you remove the stigma, you remove a strong disincentive for that kind of behavior, and you encourage more of it. To abandon a negative attitude towards this kind of thing is a step backwards for us, not a step forward. It’s something like the spiritual equivalent of modern countries that in the name of civility ban the death penalty.

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