Can Greatness Be Too Great?

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By Kesava Krsna Dasa

I began to write a simple, short comment on Parampara Prabhu’s article about our sampradaya, but more thoughts came, and thought again that this might as well become an article. Is the desire to glorify Srila Prabhupada or other vaisnavas in certain ways, the result of our human calculation, or our realised convictions?

It is human nature and natural for us to adulate those who mean the whole world for us. In the case of one’s saviour or spiritual master, there is ample space to describe him in terms befitting our estimation. But our estimations may come from trying to be different, or original, to be recognised or even subtly competitive.

By trying to be different, one may invent a title for an acarya and have one’s identity or status linked to it by way of a website or individual self. The same can be said for trying to be original or to be recognised.

As far as being subtly competitive, it can happen say when, while reading one’s Vyasa-puja offering or giving some verbal address or talk, or even in writing, one can try to outdo what others have said thus far in glorification of the spiritual master. For instance, I have seen it said of Srila Prabhupada that he is The Yuga Acarya. Think of the implications for this?

Fairly recently after our Aindra Prabhu left us, there was a desire by some to have him designated as Nama Acarya, (in an unofficial capacity) when our sacred lineage already has one. What precedent could that have set? What titles would our other great kirtaneers have eventually?

I have also observed how the term ‘Prabhupada’ is not very popular among some other Gaudiya Matha groupings, particularly among disciples of God brothers of Srila Prabhupada.

These all point to the phenomenon of each of us wanting to identify with and be part of the best – human nature again. Our respective spiritual masters and our Srila Prabhupada is the best for us in terms of guiding us to pure service for the Divine Couple, Sri Sri Radha and Krishna.

Does this help us feel good about ourselves in a spiritual or human way, or both? Does it make us feel even better if whom we follow is given the highest or ‘better-than-the-other’ accolade? Should there be any surprises in this?

What really matters is how we internally develop our relationships with our spiritual masters, fellow vaisnavas and the Lord. As the songs of acaryas proclaim, our Guru Maharaja’s or Siksa Gurus are everything for us. Where they might stand in matters of importance as far as our sampradaya goes has no real impact on our relationships, but it might hurt our own esteem and self-worth otherwise. So long as repect for them is deserving, we are happy, or not?

When Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was present, and so were Svarupa Damodara, Ramananda Raya, Rupa, Raghunatha and Sanatana Goswamis and countless others who were all acaryas in their own rights. But Lord Chaitanya is considered the Acarya of that time due to His originality, reforms and assimilating two points of philosophy from each of the four sampradayas, and helping to clear philosophical and tattva uncertainties with “Simultaneous Oneness and Difference” harmony.

In spite of Srila Prabhupada’s definition of an Acarya we all know of, is there still a difference between an Acarya and a Guru or initiating spiritual master? Is an Acarya one who has done more, and innovated more, or has achieved what others of his generation has not, just as the Galileo’s, Newton’s and Einstein’s stood out in the scientific world?

Because our Srila Prabhupada did something unprecedented in travelling to the West and becoming a historical figure in Western thought, is it that we must think he is more nearer and dearer to the Lord than the other acaryas? Is this really the case?

It is often said by followers of Srila Prabhupada that our Founder Acarya has a special place near the Lord. There is no doubting of this, but could this sentiment have a comparative edge that makes the other acaryas in our line, “Very dear to the Lord, but not as dear as Srila Prabhupada?” How can we determine this… by the quantity of achievement alone?

When Srila Prabhupada states on the first line of Nectar Of Instruction how, “This International Society For Krishna Consciousness is conducted under the supervision of Srila Rupa Goswami,” does this make Srila Prabhupada less? Is it not a glorious position to be under the care of Sri Rupa and Rati Manjaris?

If we assume titles for Srila Prabhupada like Sampradaya Acarya, that would put him above Srila Rupa Goswami, what to speak of others. And if the title Yuga Acarya is used, we know something is wrong with that title. Then we sometimes hear that Srila Prabhupada is the Seventh Goswami, or the Eighth if we factor in Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur. Where does it end?

Do we need to recognise one, two or three definitive titles for Srila Prabhupada and abide by them in official dealings? Or can we accommodate all heartfelt descriptions as tokens of life changing gratitude? Should there be a rule, for example, if and when devotees meet with Gaudiya Matha members, not to use the term ‘Prabhupada’ due to sensitivity?

We all know the greatness of Srila Prabhupada, but is there a possibility of attributing terms and titles that make him too Great? If so, would this increase the prospects of something close to Godhood being conferred upon him in the future? In our past, during the late 1960’s Srila Prabhupada was referred to as ‘God’ by impersonalist leaning disciples.

Our Iskcon level of Guru worship for initiating spiritual masters has also been toned down over the years, and it is still described as excessive by some. Could this have a bearing on our overall sense of glorification for vaisnavas in general? Are we too generous with our glorification in general?

There is a danger in our Iskcon case, where disciples of initiating spiritual masters, although having the right to glorify their Gurus, may do so with well-meaning but comparative miscalculation. There may be a nice description of how one’s initiating spiritual master ‘appeared’ in this world, whereas Srila Prabhupada was ‘born’ in this world.

These apparently small differences can have huge consequences for future generations. But if these escape our scrutiny now, or we ignore them as ‘sincere’ efforts to please, then our sense of glorification will remain unbalanced.

With all the different types of glorification expressed in various ways as our human nature dictates - even when trying to subscribe to vaisnava ideals – it seems that we need a consistent set of guidelines to help devotees know when and how to glorify with Realism.

Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa

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1 Sita Rama 108

Kesava Krsna Prabhu,
Please Accept my humble obeisances.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

You write:“ As the songs of acaryas proclaim, our Guru Maharaja’s or Siksa Gurus are everything for us. Where they might stand in matters of importance as far as our sampradaya goes has no real impact on our relationships, but it might hurt our own esteem and self-worth otherwise.
We might define “importance as far as our sampradaya goes” as the level one accomplishes the goal of our sampradaya which is to see the Maha Mantra chanted in every town and village .Practice of Krishna Consciousness outside South East Asia was practically nonexistent for at least the past few thousand years. It is an objective fact that Srila Prabhupada’s importance, in terms of spreading Krishna Consciousness all over the world, is essentially unprecedented. So I cannot imagine how Srila Prabhupada’s importance to the sampradaya could hurt our self esteem and self worth.
On the other hand, it would be absurd to shy away from glorifying Srila Prabupada under the idea that we should not be egotistical about his accomplishments. That would be a variation of “I confess! He did it.” Instead we say “Yes, look at my humility, my Guru is not that great”
I accept your point that we should have the greatest appreciation for our own spiritual father or great-grandfather because we are personal recipients of their mercy, and at the same time we should be a little objective about our Guru in comparison to other Guru’s. There may be many others, who like Srila Prabupada, are on the top level of spiritual perfection. There is no need to make such comparisons. Everyone should have the utmost appreciation for their own Guru and at the same time acknowledge that Srila Prabhupada is the greatest preacher of Krishna Consciousness. To be averse to the plain facts, to be unwilling to acknowledge an objective accomplishment of a Pure Devotee of Krishna is due to envy only.

Comment posted by Sita Rama 108 on April 23rd, 2012
2 Sita Rama 108

I feel to cover my bases I should qualify that the objective facts do not require seeing Srila Prahupada as THE greatest preacher of Krishna Consciousness. But he is in a short list of a few those who made the greatest contributions to our sampradyaya.

Comment posted by Sita Rama 108 on April 23rd, 2012
3 pustakrishna

Srila Prabhupad’s position in the Gaudiya Vaishnava Sampradaya is well established. His books and the other paraphernalia that has been preserved by the Bhaktivedanta Archives assure that his position as an important siksha guru will persist indefinitely.
But, Srila Prabhupad has said, “You judge the jockey by the performance of the horse”. That is to say, Srila Prabhupad will be judged by the performance of his present and future students.

But, one point I wanted to make is this: Remember that whatever you publish on the internet is viewable worldwide, and for an indefinite period of time. We have seen horrible and unproven accusations thrown around in books and on the internet that, in my opinion, tend to defame His Divine Grace. To preserve the legacy of Srila Prabhupad, His Divine Grace assured that by serving his spiritual master by presenting Krishna consciousness in the English language…publishing so many translations and the like. Trying to magnify his greatness is best accomplished by distributing his books to seekers. You can do this in every walk of life. You can share his books, especially The Bhagavad Gita As It Is, as possible. Always keep some around to present to those whom you encounter. Selectively placed, you are helping Srila Prabhupad to sow the seed of bhakti in the hearts of many future bhaktas.

I think that websites that present heavily controversial issues may consider that they are doing a service, but this must be balanced against whatever dis-service they may also be
promoting. Srila Prabhupad did not like to hang out the dirty laundry, so to speak. He quietly persevered and carried on. Even in the most unfortunate situations, this was his modus operandi. There is no end to the discussion of our good or bad karma, which are simply reactions ordained by the higher control of Krishna’s energies. It is more important to glorify Krishna and to carry on the transcendental activities of Krishna consciousness.

In the past, in the present, in the future, some who are engaged in devotional service, even some very highly positioned people, will fall down from their position or act badly. There is an alternative manner to deal with these disappointments. It is not to have a worldwide court! It is to persevere according to Srila Prabhupad’s example. He created the concept of a GBC. They have the responsibility of managing his mission. Pusta Krishna das

Comment posted by pustakrishna on April 24th, 2012
4 Kesava Krsna dasa

Sita Rama Prabhu,

Dandavats, and Jaya to Srila Prabhupada.

As we all should know, each of our acaryas and liberated pure devotees, all have an ability to purify the entire world, but the Lord chooses who will display certain of His and their enhanced opulences at different times, places and circumstances.

From their absolute positions now displayed in human forms, there is no comparison between them for us to make, except that we observe that some acaryas preach extensively and others like Srila Gaura Kishor Dasa Babaji, not so, being in a mood of renunciation. But still, even he is Jagat Guru, though our comparative faculties may not think so.

The title ‘Saktyavaesa’ for Srila Prabhupada first came from his God brother, Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhar Maharaja. This has become mainstream Iskcon acceptance now, in part because it was conferred from an authoritative source.

But even at the time when this title first came about, it was not not accepted by all the then zonal acaryas we had at the time. In fact the thinking was, “If Srila Prabhupada is ‘empowered’ as Srila Prabhupada’s God brother says, then that makes Srila Prabhupada and all of his lifetime in preparation in coming to the West, less important…”

In other words, this title ‘minimised’ Srila Prabhupada, they thought. See how the comparative edge caused a dent in the extended self-worth? This is just one historical example. Nowadays, we are honoured about this ‘empowered’ status.

These self-worth issues surface if we try to compare one acarya or one pure liberated devotee with another, from a material level. By doing this there is a tendency to attach our own extended self-worth into the equation, which is self defeating.

Otherwise, as you say, there is no reason to feel challenged in this way. But it happens and it persists, usually in indirect types of human behaviour, that experienced Vaisnavas can observe.

Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa.

Comment posted by Kesava Krsna dasa on April 25th, 2012
5 Sita Rama 108

Kesava Krsna Prabhu,
Please accept my humble obiesances.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
I do not deny any of your points. I do not see any fallacies in the way you are using them here. I just wanted to point out that they can be used in erroneous ways.
Extended self worth comes in many forms. Some devotees criticize ISKCON in the guise of NOT extending self worth. What they attempt do is show their own humility by focusing on the faults of others. By this they avoid seeing their own faults and instead falsely present themselves as humble, progressive thinkers.
I personally feel the best way to go beyond my own elusive false ego is to understand that I am connected to, the inconceivable pure, Srila Prabhupada , the mercy of his followers, himself , and the Mercy of Krishna, only. The more I understand the greatness of Srila Prabhupada, and all the devotees in ISKCON, the more I realize I do not deserve to be connected with them.
Sentimental, in ISKCON jargon, denotes feelings that are not genuinely spiritual; by default this means the false ego is active in them. We should concentrate NOT on sentimental praise but on the objective greatness of all Vaisnava’s. We need not be in denial of the shortcomings of a devotee or of ISKCON but we should do this while recognizing our own shortcomings rather than go out of our way to criticize our own people to make ourselves look progressive.
This also takes the form of minimizing Srila Prabhupada in the name of nonsectarianism. Whenever I see something that could be used to that end I proactively caution myself and others to beware of it even if it is presently being used in an appropriate manner.
Ys
Sita Rama dasa

Comment posted by Sita Rama 108 on April 25th, 2012
6 pustakrishna

I want to share one perspective of Srila Prabhupads’s. This is when he would say that his position is as the servant of Krishna. Then he would sometimes say…but that is not such a small position. The idea is often expressed by Srila Prabhupad that the son of a wealthy man shares in the wealth of his father. Similarly, knowing that Krishna is so great, the Summum Bonum, the All in all, the Supreme Creator/Knower/Maintainer and even Destroyer of His own creation…then it is no small thing to be the servant of such a great Person.
I remember that devotees giving lectures try to extend themselves to glorify Srila Prabhupad. And, on occasion our Srila Prabhupad would take time to glorify his GuruMaharaj and the like. But, his main preaching theme is Krishna consciousness. He never desired that his disciples would make a “personality cult” of him. He recognized that it is the duty of the spiritual master to teach the disciples how to properly honor and serve their Gurudeva, but make no mistake…this was not to create a personality cult of any kind.
Try to find the balance in that. Balance, because it may be a position that one must adjust to in different ways at different times.
Finally, Srila Sridhar Maharaj had the eyes to recognize that Srila Prabhupad was that empowered soul who would expand Krishna consciousness to every town and village of the world. He was Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s designated man! When Srila Sridhar Maharaj thus described our Srila Prabhupad as a “saktyavesh avatar”, Srila Govinda Maharaj then asked Srila Sridhar Maharaj: “Saktyavesh avatar of whom?” Srila Sridhar Maharaj replied: “of Nityananda Prabhu”. Given the merciful nature of Srila Prabhupad, as the deliverer of the most fallen souls, we can appreciate this more. This was related to me personally by Srila Govinda Maharaj with whom I shared a very wonderful 18 year friendship.
I also had the blessed fortune of having close association with Srila Prabhupad. That association meant service. There was practically not a chance to gloat in the light of that association. At that time, we felt like we were on a battlefield with Maya, and our general was giving commands. This one go here, this one go there to preach, and many smaller considerations as well. Now that we are older, and perhaps can reflect, we try to digest all of this, but must remember that Srila Prabhupad did not promote a personality cult around him. Pusta Krishna das

Comment posted by pustakrishna on April 26th, 2012
7 Puskaraksa das

As Kesava Krishna Prabhu nicely presented it, there are usually some ulterior motives in promoting one’s guru, in the line of egotistical self-promotion. This is also described as the complex of the disciple, i.e.: “My Guru is Jagat Guru!”

This being said, there are some objective factors which differentiate a nitya-siddha from a (still) conditioned soul!

But who has the eyes to see, at a (still) conditioned level?

Even though past sukriti plays a vital role in one’s positioning during one’s current lifetime, we understand that it is by the mercy of Krishna that one is blessed with a bona fide spiritual master:

brahmanda brahmite kona bhagyavan jiva
guru-krsna-krpaya paya bhakti-lata-bija

“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 Krishna. By the mercy of both Krishna and the spiritual master, one such person receives the seed of the creeper of devotional service.”
(Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya-lila 19.151)

Nevertheless, Guru tattva should be known so as not to identify a (still) conditioned soul with the Acarya:

apane acare keha, na kare pracara
pracara karena keha, na karena acara

Some behave very well but do not preach the science of Krshna, whereas others preach but do not behave properly.
(Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya 4.102)

‘acara’, ‘pracdra’,– namera karaha ‘dui’ karya
tumi– sarva-guru, tumi jagatera arya

You simultaneously perform both duties in relation to the holy name by your personal behavior and by your preaching. Therefore you are the spiritual master of the entire world, for you are the most advanced devotee in the world. (Caitanya-caritamrta Antya 4.103)

From this, we can understand that there is a hierarchy amongst devotees; some are more advanced than others, some are pure devotees and some are not - yet, some are empowered to preach in a grand way and some in a (much) lesser way.

But all this analysis ought to be objective and based on reality and not on the subjective appreciation of some conditioned souls, be they disciples or prospective disciples.

Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja used to ask: “Do you have a measuring rod to measure Guru?”

Indeed, the glories of a sat Guru are unfathomable!

Comment posted by Puskaraksa das on April 28th, 2012
8 Sita Rama 108

Dear Puskaruska Prabhu,
Please accept my humble obeisances.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
You mentioned several points such as, there are objective factors to distinguish a (still) conditioned soul from the a nitya-siddha, and we should know Guru tattva so we do not mistake a (still) conditioned soul for the Acarya
In your statement above I see no assertion that Srila Prabhupada is on a certain level. Of course that is not required. We should allow a person to form their own conclusion after hearing about Srila Prabhupada’s qualities and preaching activities. One does not have to be a nitya siddha or even a devotee to have the “eyes to see” that Srila Prabhupada behaved well. As for his preaching it is an objective fact that he spread Krishna Consciousness all over the world and as Srila Prabhupada himself said, “saved wholesale Jagai’s and Madai’s”. If someone does not come to that conclusion on their own there is probably no sense wasting our breath debating with them.
We have false ego and the only way to overcome it is to glorify the devotees and Krishna. We are not going to immediately transcend it 100%. But we do not avoid preaching until we are totally transcendental, rather our process is to become purified BY preaching. There is no need to worry so much about false ego, because Srila Prabhupada qualities are so attractive that they capture ones attention and this naturally brings the speaker and the hearer above self centeredness. Only an inordinately self centered person will channel their attention away from Srila Prabhupada’s greatness and focus on criticizing the preacher. This is an interesting tactic; a person absorbed in false ego to the point they can’t appreciate Srila Prabhupada glories, justifies their envious aversion by accusing the devotee of egoism. Any experienced preacher can see through this bluff, but a beginner may be intimidated by it. Therefore we ask new devotees to boldly glorify Srila Prabhupada and Krishna and we beg them not to let the envious inhibit spreading of the glories of devotional service. This attempt to inhibit preaching is a type of violence and we should fight against all forms of it by propagating the rational and scientifically verifiable process of Krishna Consciousness; with no hesitation.

Comment posted by Sita Rama 108 on April 29th, 2012
9 Sita Rama 108

Dear Puskaruska Prabhu,
I would like to add, I would never deny that material motivations pop up as we attempt to serve Krishna. But the false ego is subtle and we have to beware of trying to overcome it with our own effort. If our activity is a bonafide preaching service, Krishna will smash us in a way that we have to become humble to continue. If this is not happening to us we should engage in more direct preaching rather than avoid preaching to focus on brain salad surgery.
I was a full time book distributor from 1980 to 1983 and I know every book distributor has had experiences similar to mine. If you approach twenty people in a row and every one of the screams at you and calls you bad names you begin to think, “hmm maybe it is me, not them”.
You have to see that people are justifiably rejecting your competitive and manipulative attitude (false ego). In other words even a non devotee is justified in chastising you. But the chastisement will not bring you to a higher level in itself; it is a catalyst to depend on Krishna by begging Him to allow you to serve Him.
After swallowing hard on a regular basis you begin to distinguish between valid objections and personal attacks based on hypocritical envy. Although it is an oversimplification; basically, when you chase someone down in a parking lot, they may have valid a reason to respond in a defensive/competitive manner, but when someone criticizes you for simply glorifying Srila Prabhupada and Krishna that is usually just envious hypocrisy.

Comment posted by Sita Rama 108 on April 29th, 2012
10 Puskaraksa das

Dear Sita Ram Prabhu

I am not going to get into some complicated bla bla bla…

The point I made, in the sentence you picked up on “there are some objective factors which differentiate a nitya-siddha from a (still) conditioned soul!”, is that we should differentiate in between a nitya-siddha such as Srila Prabhupada and the level ofworship due to him, with a (still) conditioned soul, even acting as diksa guru, not to speak of less advanced devotees, debating in an intelligent way (just kidding).

Hoping this finds you well

Hare Krishna

Comment posted by Puskaraksa das on April 29th, 2012
11 Sita Rama 108

Puskaraksa Prabhu,
I agree with 100% to your point in comment 10. In your introduction to comment 7 you stated that, “My Guru is Jagat Guru” is based on egotistical self promotion;my point in comment 8 and 9 is that this is not always the case, and we have to beware of those who criticize us for glorifying our Guru. That criticism may have some merit but most of the time it is hypocritical envy.
You are too kind for complimenting me for “debating in an intelligent way”. However my goal is to go beyond competitive debate and come to the level of dialogue; where individuals with different perspectives add together for a more comprehensive view. Work in progress.

Comment posted by Sita Rama 108 on May 1st, 2012
12 Payonidhi Das

Can greatness be to great, yes certainly, I was a friend of Aindra Prabhu and he would have laughed at calling him Nama acarya and actually feel insulted.That this honor is only for Namacarya Srila Hari das Thakura. His wish is very clear , do not just offer lib service, but please go on all the streets and corners and chant the Mahamantra with great devotion..fullfilling the wishes of Srila Prabhupada and Namacarya Haridas Thakura…this only will be the wish of Aindra Prabhu, do not try to decieve in this way….he would say.I have no doubts for one second. I have often discussed with him about this and his wish was that all leaders in ISKCON also set the example and do regular Nama sankirtana, no one is to “big” or to little to do Nama Sankirtana.

Comment posted by Payonidhi Das on May 2nd, 2012
13 Kesava Krsna dasa

If it is felt that our individual glorification of our respective spiritual masters encroaches upon others who have spiritual masters, and that a possibility exists for one set of glorification to ‘outdo’ the other based on whether one guru is deemed conditioned or liberated, then there is a simple solution for this.

Hari-Bhakti-Vilasa recommends that we keep our own personal relationships with our Istha-deva’s ‘hidden.’ It does not require false humility to do this. In fact, it might require more self-control and restraint to follow this. But our Iskcon set-up is not geared towards this.

In the absence of the ‘hidden’ mechanism, there will always be the likelihood of comparing one guru or one vaisnava with another according to our material faculties – our sense of ‘manadena’ can be swayed by emotional mistiming.

Under the circumstances, the best remedy for all of us, as Pusta Krishna Prabhu mentioned in an earlier comment on this thread, is to become the best ‘adverts’ or representatives of our respective spiritual masters. This simple but effective behavioural requirement carries with it an integrity all can respect and honour.

Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa.

Comment posted by Kesava Krsna dasa on May 2nd, 2012
14 Puskaraksa das

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur depicted the complex of the disciple with these words: “amar guru, jagat guru!”

So, the depth of the matter is about humility and lucidity. I would also add to that: knowledge, past sukriti, as well as the mercy we receive by the grace of Krishna. As it is, it is by the mercy of Krishna that one gets Guru. And it is by the mercy of Guru that one gets Krishna.

The gist of these articles about the Parampara is that we have to respect other vaishnavas who are the heirs of the other three bona fide disciplic successions. However, all have to accept and worship Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu; otherwise, they are to be known as pasandis!

Hence, we do cherish Srila Prabhupada and worship him both for his spiritual stature as a nitya-siddha and pure devotee, as well as for the greatness of his achievements, having spread the Holy Name and Vaishnavism throughout the earth, launching in a great way, the fulfilment of the prophecy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, recorded in Caitanya Bhagavat:

prithivite ache yata nagaradi-grama
sarvatra pracara haibe mora nama

“In every town and village of the world, My name [the holy name of Krishna] will be preached.”

Nevertheless, we shouldn’t necessarily waist our valuable time in generating more and more controversies, which will occupy our mind, while distracting us from the ultimate goal of developping Krishna prema, pure love of God.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur states that “Useless arguments arise from envy or pride, aversion or attachment to sense gratification, or foolishness or self-pride. Quarrelsome people also become intoxicated by useless arguments. While discussing topics of the Lord and His devotees the practicing devotee should always be careful to avoid useless arguments”.

Hence, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur advises us: “Discussions to establish the knowledge of one’s relationship with the Lord are not prajalpa. Those who conquer the assembly by useless arguments do not reach any conclusion; therefore it is certainly one’s duty to give up such logician’s association. This is confirmed in the Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya 12.183) by Sri Vasudeva Sarvabhauma, who said:

tarkika-srgala-sange bheu-bheu kari
sei mukhe ebe sada kahi ‘krsna’ ‘hari’

In the association of the jackals known as logicians, I simply continued to bark a resounding ‘bheu bheu.’ Now, from the same mouth I am chanting the holy names ‘Krsna’ and ‘Hari.’”

Hare Krishna bolo

nāma-gāne sadā ruci, laya kṛṣṇa-nāma
C.c; Madhya 23.32

Comment posted by Puskaraksa das on May 3rd, 2012
15 Sita Rama 108

Dear Kesava Krishna Prabhu,
I believe genuine glorification is uplifting for all. I feel disciples are attracted to the purity of a Guru. We simply need to reemphasize what that glorious purity is. A Guru is glorious to the extent they are dedicated to serving and glorifying Srila Prabhupada.
I think GBC resolution 309(2012) is an attempt to raise awareness of this fact:
So “,…. visitors are made aware that whatever inspiration the devotees are receiving from the guru is due to the great mercy of Srila Prabhupada” guidelines for websites were established:

1. They prominently feature a picture of Srila Prabhupada on the introductory page
2. They credit him as the “Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness”
3. They contain a brief summary of his accomplishments and provide authorized website links to his teachings
I went to http://iskconleaders.com and investigated devotee websites. My counting may not be perfect but the basic picture is quite clear. I considered guideline 3 to be two guidelines; links to Srila Prabhupada’s teachings, and a summary of his accomplishments. This gave a total of 4 guidelines.
Of the 95 Maharajas listed I found 39 had websites. Out of those I found 6 had non prominent picture of Srila Prabhupada, so they satisfied none of the above criteria. I found 1 with a prominent picture only. There was 1 with a prominent picture and a summary of accomplishments but no mention of Srila Prabhupada as the Founder Acarya. There were 3 cites with a prominent picture, Srila Prabhupada’s title, and a summary of his accomplishments.
So if we take 39 cites with each possibly meeting 4 criteria we have 4×39=156 possible points. I counted a total of 11 points or about 7%. There will be a major change as these websites adhere to the GBC guidelines. And I believe this will send a powerful message to disciples regarding the difference between sentiment and the true glory of their Guru.

Comment posted by Sita Rama 108 on May 6th, 2012
16 Akruranatha

This is a nice discussion and I think Kesava Krsna Prabhu’s point in #13 is very important and bears much more elaboration and consideration.

I am coming late to the conversation and have little time at the moment (I am in a hurry to get somewhere).

I am sorry that my first contribution here will be in the category of “nitpicking”, but something did not sit right to me about this statement in the original post:

“But Lord Chaitanya is considered the Acarya of that time due to His originality, reforms and assimilating two points of philosophy from each of the four sampradayas, and helping to clear philosophical and tattva uncertainties with “Simultaneous Oneness and Difference” harmony.”

It seems wrong on several levels. For one thing, I do not know that Lord Caitanya is considered the “Acarya of that time.” I am not sure what KK means by that. [We could explore various uses of the word “acarya” and that would also be an interesting discussion, but I just never heard it put like that, that Lord Caitanya was the “Acarya of that time.”]

The thing is, Lord Caitanya is actually Krishna Himself appearing in the mood of His best devotee. Other avatars of the Supreme Personality of Godhead descended along with Him, and other manifestations of His internal shakti, but Lord Caitanya is unique, not because of things He said or did, certainly not because of His “originality” as a philosopher or reformer, but because of who He actually *is*, as recognized by all the great acaryas who were present at that time, such as Lord Advaita, Lord Nityananda, Srivas Thakur, Gadadhara Pandit, Haridas Thakur, Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya, Svarupa Damodar Goswami, etc. etc.

There were definitely many great acaryas present on this earth at this time, and they recognized Lord Caitanya as the original source of all avataras. This was not some form of exaggerated praise of a great spiritual personality or a superlative devotee, or like the Mayavadis who think that any sannyasi is equal to Narayan because the jiva and the parabrahman are not different. The identification of Lord Caitanya as directly the Son of Mother Yasoda is reality; it is science, not flowery language or poetic license.

Once again, sorry to find fault. I will have many things to praise over the coming days, when I have time, but I could not let that one go without comment. I know you did not mean it that way, KK Prabhu, but it does read that way, unfortunately.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on May 6th, 2012
17 Kesava Krsna dasa

Akruranatha Prabhu,

Thank you for highlighting the ”…at that time” query. You further took the sting out with politeness.

I’m sure you’re aware that Srila Prabhupada frequently cited outstanding names like Sankacarya, Ramanuja, Chaitanya and so on, and not always in exact order of appearance, to authenticate certain relevant topics at hand, like Bhagavad-Gita for example. It is an accepted bona-fide scripture because certain of these acaryas endorsed it.

In these instances, Sri Chaitanya is counted among our acaryas. Put into context, the “at that time” might suffice. In another context, when we know of the Supremacy of Lord Chaitanya, we will not refer to Him as just an acarya.

Linked to the statement you brought up, I raised the question of whether there is a difference between an acarya and a spiritual master. We know there is no difference, but it appears that the spiritual masters that have “gone the extra mile” as it were, or who originated a branch of the Chaitanya Tree, tend to have the affix acarya.

You are right to say that discussion that is more elaborate can arise out of breaking down different components of subjects aired.

If we see the comments of Sita Rama and Puskraksa Prabhu’s we’ll notice how their flow of thought influences the direction of their comments. If we were to stick to each line of thinking and further analyse, there will always be something new to mention, that can indeed fill out daily newspapers.

Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa.

Comment posted by Kesava Krsna dasa on May 7th, 2012
18 pustakrishna

In the Bhagavad Gita As It Is at the end of the introduction (approved by Srila Prabhupad), Lord Chaitanya is listed as number 22 in the line of the Brahma Sampradaya. During the time of Lord Chaitanya, Srila KrishnaDas Kaviraja mentioned that there were over 70 branches to the serving tree of Mahaprabhu. Those disciples that have followed in the line of Lord Chaitanya’s disciple, Srila Rupa Goswami, are known as Rupanugas or followers of in the line of Srila Rupa Goswami. Other lines also proceeded from Lord Chaitanya. This is how the Parampara has proceeded. It is not that our beloved Srila Prabhupad was the only line from Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Therefore, we must know how to demonstrate respect and honor to other vaishnavas.

The question of how our Srila AC Bhaktivedanta Swami became Srila AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad is a historical one. Some of the early western followers of Srila Prabhupad asked if they could call him Srila Prabhupad. Our Srila Prabhupad consented. Some of the other Gaudiya Math sannyasis has previously called him Swami Maharaj. (AC Bhaktivedanta SWAMI). No disrespect was intended. Srila Prabhupad and others have called their Gurudeva as Guru Maharaj. This is a nearly universal form of address. Our beloved Godbrother Sripad Pradyumna used to nearly always address our Srila Prabhupad as Guru Maharaj. This is proper. Somewhere along the line, politics entered into this and some may have thought that our Srila Prabhupad should not be addressed like Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur Prabhupad. We were told that the term Prabhupad means “at whose feet (pada) the other prabhus can take shelter”. It should not be a political issue, but rather, out of love for our early ISKCON bhaktas, they wanted to address him as Srila Prabhupad. But, really, a rose by any other name would still be a rose.

It is vital that we not be rushed when we write on the internet. It is there forever. It is a great responsibility and I have mentioned in my comment #3 above that we must write only as a service to our Gurudeva realizing the service that we are offering. I am a poor-hearted servant, but I have learned that all activities in devotional service should be done as an offering and under the order of one’s Gurudeva. Even chanting the Holy Names, we need to always remember that we are doing this on the order of our Gurudeva, as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Himself said. Pusta Krishna das

Comment posted by pustakrishna on May 8th, 2012
19 Kesava Krsna dasa

Sita Rama Prabhu,

Yes, ‘genuine’ glorification is uplifting. Then what is ‘genuine’ glorification? Shouldn’t one already be in an uplifted state?

Would Srila Prabhupada’s coming to the West be the best example of his glorification of his Guru Maharaja, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta? By service? By being exemplary?

The same Hari Bhakti Vilasa recommends that each time there is a reference to our Guru Maharaja’s or others worthy of our utmost respect, we put our hands together, as if in the Namas-te supplication. Put into practice, we’d be doing lots of Namas-te’ing throughout our days.

These types of glorification have more meaning than verbal ones that aim hopefully, to get one into the Guru’s good books, or to feel a sense of partial achievement.

If the Bhakti service mood is meaningful, then whatever words issue forth in glorification will also have meaningful weight behind it. Such verbal glorification will then be genuine.

As for your attention to the websites, I see that some action has set out guidelines, so it’s a matter of time before compliance ensues.

Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa.

Comment posted by Kesava Krsna dasa on May 8th, 2012
20 Sita Rama 108

Kesava Krna Prabhu,
You write:
“If the Bhakti service mood is meaningful, then whatever words issue forth in glorification will also have meaningful weight behind it. Such verbal glorification will then be genuine”.
That is what I was trying to say. Thank you for explaining it in a simple and precise way.
Ys,
Sita Rama das

Comment posted by Sita Rama 108 on May 9th, 2012
21 Sita Rama 108

Dear kesava Krsna Prabhu,
You write in comment #17:
“If we see the comments of Sita Rama and Puskraksa Prabhu’s we’ll notice how their flow of thought influences the direction of their comments.”
I would ask that you do not compare me with Puskraksa Prabhu. We have a beautiful(yet budding) adversarial relationship. Painting us with the same brush could jepordize that.
Ys,
Sita Rama das

Comment posted by Sita Rama 108 on May 9th, 2012
22 Akruranatha

It was at times a paradox to me that the Guru “reforms” that took place beginning in about 1986 and which have been largely successful in dealing with problems ISKCON had under the zonal acarya system largely involved reducing the glorification and worship of the spiritual masters by disciples.

After all, a disciple must take shelter of the spiritual master’s lotus feet and become totally dedicated to carrying out his orders. The secret of success in spiritual life is to get the blessings of the spiritual master. To one who has complete faith in the spiritual master and the Supreme Lord all the meanings of the Vedic scriptures are automatically revealed. Without the grace of the spiritual master one cannot make any progress toward the goal, but by the grace of the spiritual master one gets the grace of Krishna. It is an offense to the Holy Name of Krishna to disregard the spiritual master or consider him an ordinary man.

So how is it that in ISKCON we needed to reduce the public worship of gurus, take away their lofty titles of “This-Pada” and “That-Pada”, take down their big vyasasanas in the temple rooms, stop publishing articles in the BTG and elsewhere that elevated those specific 11 devotees Srila Prabhupada named in the July 9, 1977 letter as especially pure (compared to their godbrothers) and specifically chosen to give shelter to all the people of the world, stop disciples from promoting their own gurus as superior to others in ISKCON, increasing the number of devotees serving as initiating guru while in many ways decreasing the culture of promoting the universal public worship of “ISKCON gurus”?

These were not the sum total of reforms, but they were central to the reform process, and they proved effective.

The answer to the paradox is given by Kesava Krishna in comment #13 and was given in a brilliant article by Madhavananda Das called “Hide Your Guru”.

The disciple’s worship of and surrender to his or her spiritual master is not a matter of some kind of imperialistic program to get everyone else to recognize that individual as the best or holiest or most faithful messenger of Lord Krishna. It should be a sacred (and therefore treasured), internal attitude of genuine submission.

Our message to the public is not to promote the personality cult of different individual spiritual masters, but to present the teachings of Krishna handed down through parampara.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on May 9th, 2012
23 Akruranatha

To the extent we need to promote a public personality cult we can for now remain satisfied to promote the Founder-Acarya of ISKCON, Srila Prabhupada. After all, Srila Prabhupada should be universally recognized as a Vaisnava of extraordinary power who through his personal influence converted millions of people into devotees of Krishna (including those from outside of Hindu society on an unprecendented scale).

Regarding use of the term “acarya”, Pradyumna Prabhu wrote a letter back in 1978 in which he pointed out that the term is used in various ways. In one sense, any spiritual master who teaches by example is called an acarya. In another sense, the term is reserved for the head of a specific monastic order or institution. Pradyumna gave three senses, and I do not remember exactly, but there was an even more exalted sense of the term I believe, referring to the senior-most devotee to whom all others of that era defer (this may tie in to what Kesava Krishna intended in discussing Lord Caitanya).

The point Pradyumna was making to the GBC was that the “acaryas” in ISKCON following Srila Prabhupada’s departure should not be over-promoted as “world acaryas” or even managerial heads of the institution (we have a GBC for that), but only in the sense of being ordinary, humble spiritual masters dedicated to providing their disciples the guidance and training they need to achieve success in bhakti yoga.

I hope I am not misstating Pradyumna’s point too much. At the time, his letter was unfortunately rejected, although I think if we look at it now most ISKCON leaders will see it as prescient and wise.

It is commonplace, but mistaken I think, to try to allocate blame, and especially to criticize the initial 11 zonal acaryas as 100% responsible for the mistakes of the early 1980s. Our whole culture was geared toward external promotion of the cult of personality in an immature way.

We can say that our senior-most gurus and GBC members should have recognized that, and not fallen victim to material desires, but all of us have to take responsibility for our own continuing spiritual progress.

The idea of “guru as fashion” improperly shifts responsibility away from the disciple. It is a disciple’s responsibility to submit questions and get a clear understanding, not just promote the right “savior” and let him do all the work. The same dynamic is at work in the criticism of spiritual leaders we hear from some disgruntled antagonists.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on May 9th, 2012
24 Puskaraksa das

Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 7.5.11

śrī-prahrāda uvāca
paraḥ svaś cety asad-grāhaḥ
puḿsāḿ yan-māyayā kṛtaḥ
vimohita-dhiyāḿ dṛṣṭas
tasmai bhagavate namaḥ

Prahlāda Mahārāja replied: Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whose external energy has created the distinctions of “my friend” and “my enemy” by deluding the intelligence of men. Indeed, I am now actually experiencing this, although I have previously heard of it from authoritative sources.

PURPORT

As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (5.18):

vidyā-vinaya-sampanne
brāhmaṇe gavi hastini
śuni caiva śvapāke ca
paṇḍitāḥ sama-darśinaḥ

“The humble sage, by virtue of true knowledge, sees with equal vision a learned and gentle brāhmaṇa, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [outcaste].” paṇḍitāḥ, those who are actually learned — the equipoised, advanced devotees who have full knowledge of everything — do not see any living entity as an enemy or friend. Instead, with broader vision, they see that everyone is part of Kṛṣṇa, as confirmed by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu (jīvera ’svarūpa’ haya — kṛṣṇera ‘nitya-dāsa’ [Cc. Madhya 20.108]). Every living entity, being part of the Supreme Lord, is meant to serve the Lord, just as every part of the body is meant to serve the whole body.

As servants of the Supreme Lord, all living entities are one, but a Vaiṣṇava, because of his natural humility, addresses every other living entity as prabhu. A Vaiṣṇava sees other servants to be so advanced that he has much to learn from them. Thus he accepts all other devotees of the Lord as prabhus, masters. Although everyone is a servant of the Lord, one Vaiṣṇava servant, because of humility, sees another servant as his master.

Understanding of the master begins from understanding of the spiritual master.

yasya prasādād bhagavat-prasādo
yasyāprasādān na gatiḥ kuto ‘pi **

“By the mercy of the spiritual master one receives the benediction of Kṛṣṇa. Without the grace of the spiritual master, one cannot make any advancement.”

Comment posted by Puskaraksa das on May 9th, 2012
25 Puskaraksa das

End of the Bhaktivedanta purport:

sākṣād-dharitvena samasta-śāstrair
uktas tathā bhāvyata eva sadbhiḥ
kintu prabhor yaḥ priya eva tasya
vande guroḥ śrī-caraṇāravindam **

“The spiritual master is to be honored as much as the Supreme Lord because he is the most confidential servitor of the Lord. This is acknowledged in all revealed scriptures and followed by all authorities. Therefore I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of such a spiritual master, who is a bona fide representative of Śrī Hari [Kṛṣṇa].”

The spiritual master, the servant of God, is engaged in the most confidential service of the Lord, namely delivering all the conditioned souls from the clutches of māyā, in which one thinks, “This person is my enemy, and that one is my friend.” Actually the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the friend of all living entities, and all living entities are eternal servants of the Supreme Lord. Oneness is possible through this understanding, not through artificially thinking that every one of us is God or equal to God. The true understanding is that God is the supreme master and that all of us are servants of the Supreme Lord and are therefore on the same platform. This had already been taught to Prahlāda Mahārāja by his spiritual master, Nārada, but Prahlāda was nonetheless surprised by how a bewildered soul thinks one person his enemy and another his friend.

As long as one adheres to the philosophy of duality, thinking one person a friend and another an enemy, he should be understood to be in the clutches of māyā. The Māyāvādī philosopher who thinks that all living entities are God and are therefore one is also mistaken. No one is equal to God. The servant cannot be equal to the master. According to the Vaiṣṇava philosophy, the master is one, and the servants are also one, but the distinction between the master and servant must continue even in the liberated stage. In the conditioned stage we think that some living beings are our friends whereas others are enemies, and thus we are in duality. In the liberated stage, however, the conception is that God is the master and that all living entities, being servants of God, are one.

Affectionately yours,
in the service of Srila Prabhupada and of his faithful servants

Das dasanudasa
Puskaraksa das

Comment posted by Puskaraksa das on May 9th, 2012
26 Kesava Krsna dasa

It does seem a paradox that a reduction in external guru worship counters the need for disciples to please. But this reduction has had some positive results.

I’m just wondering now what the implications would be for Iskcon and the disciples of present day initiating spiritual masters, if ‘hidden’ guru worship were to take hold.

I suppose first, some guidelines would be necessary. The Vyasa-puja ceremonies we are familiar with today, might be no more. I’m sure some allowance would be for home Vyasa-pujas only. Even this would be a cultural shift.

But would it really be a cultural shift if we consider how excessive we were. Have we struck the right balance now?

Then we have to distinguish between different types of glorification. It is often the case that say, an aspiring disciple of a guru with little philosophical grounding, will more likely glorify in excess of what they know. Imagine this on a big scale, and what will we get?

We have disciples who have gone through two or three fallen gurus. Their glorification will be more measured than most.

Already we can see different levels of devotees who will glorify differently. There will be junior God Brothers and Sisters having God Brothers and Sisters perhaps 30 odd years more senior than them. Here we’ll probably see qualitative differences.

As for Pradyumna Prabhu, I have heard that even now he is teaching the Upanisads and Yoga Sutras at university. After all of his time spent with Srila Prabhupada, his experience would benefit us. I really hope some mutual rapprochement encourages him to come back.

Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa.

Comment posted by Kesava Krsna dasa on May 10th, 2012
27 Puskaraksa das

For your kind information, please find here below the script of the original letter of July 9, 1977 nominating the 11 ritviks meant to perform initiation ceremonies on behalf of Prabhupada, except for Vrindavana where he was personally present:

Letter to: All G.B.C., All Temple Presidents
Vrindaban
9 July, 1977

To All G.B.C., and Temple Presidents

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 ritvik - 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:
His Holiness Kirtanananda Swami
His Holiness Satsvarupa dasa Gosvami
His Holiness Jayapataka Swami
His Holiness Tamala Krsna Gosvami
His Holiness Hrdayananda Gosvami
His Holiness Bhavananda Gosvami
His Holiness Hamsaduta Swami
His Holiness Ramesvara Swami
His Holiness Harikesa Swami
His Grace Bhagavan dasa Adhikari
His Grace Jayatirtha dasa Adhikari

In the past Temple Presidents have written to Srila Prabhupada recommending a particular devotee’s initiation. Now that Srila Prabhupada has named these representatives, Temple Presidents may henceforward send recommendation for first and second initiation to whichever of these eleven representatives are nearest their temple. After considering the recommendation, these representatives may accept the devotee as an initiated disciple of Srila Prabhupada by giving a spiritual name, or in the case of second initiation, by chanting on the Gayatri thread, just as Srila Prabhupada has done.

The newly initiated devotees are disciples of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad, the above eleven senior devotees acting as His representative. After the Temple President receives a letter from these representatives giving the spiritual name or the thread, he can perform the fire yajna in the temple as was being done before. The name of a newly initiated disciple should be sent by the representative who has acceted him or her to Srila Prabhupada, to be included in His Divine Grace’s “Initiated Disciples” book.

Hoping this finds you all well.

Your servant, Tamala Krsna Gosvami
Secretary to Srila Prabhupada

Approved:(signed) A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
(Prabhupada signature appears on the original)

Comment posted by Puskaraksa das on May 11th, 2012
28 Puskaraksa das

It is interesting to note in the above quoted purport by Srila Prabhupada on S.B. 7.5.11, that Srila Prabhupada himself translates the following prayer as follows:

sākṣād-dharitvena samasta-śāstrair
uktas tathā bhāvyata eva sadbhiḥ
kintu prabhor yaḥ priya eva tasya
vande guroḥ śrī-caraṇāravindam **

“The spiritual master is to be honored as much as the Supreme Lord because he is the most confidential servitor of the Lord. This is acknowledged in all revealed scriptures and followed by all authorities. Therefore I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of such a spiritual master, who is a bona fide representative of Śrī Hari [Kṛṣṇa].”

Srila Prabhupada specifies that this prayer which we sing in the morning (also meant to be offered at noon and at dusk) refers only to such a spiritual master, who is a bona fide representative of Śrī Hari [Kṛṣṇa].”

This may answer the question of our friend Akruranatha Prabhu raised in Post 22, where he wonders, after many of the 11 ritviks had already fallen and proven not to be such bona fide representatives of Sri Hari, why the standard of worship of many a diksa guru in the line of Srila Prabhupada was to be questioned and often decreased, considering that all these diksa gurus may not be of the caliber described in that prayer corresponding, according to the very words of Srila Prabhupada, to the standard of worship - the spiritual master is to be honored as much as the Supreme Lord because he is the most confidential servitor of the Lord; this is acknowledged in all revealed scriptures and followed by all authorities - applicable only to he, who is considered to be having “lotus feet” for he is “such a spiritual master, who is a bona fide representative of Śrī Hari [Kṛṣṇa].”

Hoping this finds you all well and happily engaged in seva
Sincerely

Das dasanudasa
Puskaraksa das

Comment posted by Puskaraksa das on May 11th, 2012
29 Kesava Krsna dasa

It does seem a paradox that a reduction in external guru worship counters the need for disciples to please. But this reduction has had some positive results. It helps to reduce the tendency for cult worship, but not enough – more still needs to be done to curb this.

I’m just wondering now what the implications would be for Iskcon and the disciples of present day initiating spiritual masters, if ‘hidden’ guru worship were to take hold.

I suppose first, some guidelines would be necessary. The Vyasa-puja ceremonies we are familiar with today, might be no more. I’m sure some allowance would be for home Vyasa-pujas only. Even this would be a cultural shift.

But would it really be a cultural shift if we consider how excessive we were. Have we struck the right balance now?

Then we have to distinguish between different types of glorification. It is often the case that say, an aspiring disciple of a guru with little philosophical grounding, will more likely glorify in excess of what they know. Imagine this on a big scale, and what will we get?

We have disciples who have gone through two or three fallen gurus. Their glorification will be more measured than most.

Already we can see different levels of devotees who will glorify differently. There will be junior God Brothers and Sisters having God Brothers and Sisters perhaps 30 odd years more senior than them. Here we’ll probably see qualitative differences.

As for Pradyumna Prabhu, I have heard that even now he is teaching the Upanisads and Yoga Sutras at university. After all of his time spent with Srila Prabhupada, his experience would benefit us. I really hope some mutual rapprochement encourages him to come back.

Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa.

Comment posted by Kesava Krsna dasa on May 11th, 2012
30 Unregistered

CC Adi 1.46
Śrī Caitanya Caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā, 
Chapter 1: The Spiritual MastersCC Adi 1.45 CC Adi 1.47

His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda

TEXT 46

ācāryaṁ māṁ vijānīyān

nāvamanyeta karhicit

na martya-buddhyāsūyeta

sarva-deva-mayo guruḥ

SYNONYMS
ācāryam—the spiritual master; mām—Myself; vijānīyāt—one should know; na avamanyeta—one should never disrespect; karhicit—at any time; na—never; martya-buddhyā—with the idea of his being an ordinary man; asūyeta—one should be envious; sarva-deva—of all demigods; mayaḥ—representative; guruḥ—the spiritual master.

TRANSLATION
“One should know the ācārya as Myself and never disrespect him in any way. One should not envy him, thinking him an ordinary man, for he is the representative of all the demigods.”

PURPORT
This is a verse from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (SB 11.17.27) spoken by Lord Kṛṣṇa when He was questioned by Uddhava regarding the four social and spiritual orders of society. The Lord was specifically instructing how a brahmacārī should behave under the care of a spiritual master. A spiritual master is not an enjoyer of facilities offered by his disciples. He is like a parent. Without the attentive service of his parents, a child cannot grow to manhood; similarly, without the care of the spiritual master one cannot rise to the plane of transcendental service.
The spiritual master is also called ācārya, or a transcendental professor of spiritual science. The Manu-saṁhitā (2.140) explains the duties of an ācārya, describing that a bona fide spiritual master accepts charge of disciples, teaches them the Vedic knowledge with all its intricacies, and gives them their second birth. The ceremony performed to initiate a disciple into the study of spiritual science is called upanīti, or the function that brings one nearer to the spiritual master. One who cannot be brought nearer to a spiritual master cannot have a sacred thread, and thus he is indicated to be a śūdra. The sacred thread on the body of a brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya or vaiśya is a symbol of initiation by the spiritual master; it is worth nothing if worn merely to boast of high parentage. The duty of the spiritual master is to initiate a disciple with the sacred thread ceremony, and after this saṁskāra, or purificatory process, the spiritual master actually begins to teach the disciple about the Vedas. A person born a śūdra is not barred from such spiritual initiation, provided he is approved by the spiritual master, who is duly authorized to aw

Comment posted by nrsingha8 on May 11th, 2012
31 Unregistered

CC Adi 1.46
Śrī Caitanya Caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā, 
Chapter 1: The Spiritual MastersCC Adi 1.45 CC Adi 1.47

His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda

TEXT 46

ācāryaṁ māṁ vijānīyān

nāvamanyeta karhicit

na martya-buddhyāsūyeta

sarva-deva-mayo guruḥ

SYNONYMS
ācāryam—the spiritual master; mām—Myself; vijānīyāt—one should know; na avamanyeta—one should never disrespect; karhicit—at any time; na—never; martya-buddhyā—with the idea of his being an ordinary man; asūyeta—one should be envious; sarva-deva—of all demigods; mayaḥ—representative; guruḥ—the spiritual master.

TRANSLATION
“One should know the ācārya as Myself and never disrespect him in any way. One should not envy him, thinking him an ordinary man, for he is the representative of all the demigods.”

Rest of full purport here;

http://chilp.it/0186f1

Comment posted by nrsingha8 on May 11th, 2012
32 Sita Rama 108

Dear Puskaraksa Prabhu
Please accept my humble obeisances.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
With the utmost seriousness, I want to say, I enjoy reading you comments, your sincerity shines through.
I would like to add, It seems to me you are saying: We need an on-going, reassessment, of caliber differentiation that facilitates role adjustment through the appropriate integration of a consensus of the authoritative facts within our unique societal structure.
My suggestion is we formulate a perceptual maturation process encompassing instructional guidance resources, interfaced with a developmental orientation toward creative cultural articulation.
I am sure we are on the same page with these decisive means to overcome a divisive issue.

Comment posted by Sita Rama 108 on May 12th, 2012
33 Puskaraksa das

Dear Sita Rama Prabhu

PAMHO AGTSP AGTSG & SG

“Saralatā ei vaiṣṇavata”: Simplicity is Vaishnavism

As a gift, the following, from “Why Krsna Became Gauranga Mahaprabhu” by Sri Srimad Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja:

…/… Approaching Krsna, she said, “I am Vrnda. I have come here under the direction of Paurnamasi. I understand that there is no means how you will be able to meet Radharani and console Her, to break Her sulkiness. No other means is there, but one thing is there. If you do what I say, then there is hope.”

Krsna says, “All right. I must do whatever you say. I cannot understand what to do. I am bewildered, I can’t think of what to do.”

Vrnda said, “All right. You should give up this gopa-vesa (dress of a cowherd boy). You have to give up this thing. Such nice curling hair on Your head–but you have to shave your head. Yes. And give up the flute. Give up your peacock feather. And don’t be in these three places bent, tri-bhanga. Give up all these things and this blackish body. No! These are all things You have to give up. You have to shave Your head and You have have to become a sannyasi and give up all these things. I will teach You one song. You have to sing that song. And take one khanjani, a musical instrument. You have to play and sing that song in that sannyasi form, then there is hope.”

When Vrnda said this, immediately that form appeared there. Krsna became that sannyasi form–shaved head, and His complexion is of molten gold. No peacock feather, no flute, no three places curved form. In yogi, sannyasi form He immediately appeared there. Then Vrnda devi sang a song, that is glorification of Radha,

srimate radhe bada abhimani
bamya bhave siromani-syama sari ange
achadana tava tapta-kancana varana
eto dina chile pagalani raye
kanu preme prana sampi
sarve rupe guneogo gandharvike
kanu mana kari curi aji radha prema
bhika mage kanu phere dware dware hai

“Oh Srimate Radharani, You have developed a sulky mood. You are the crest jewel of the leftisty mood. Your whole body is covered with a bluish sari. The complexion of Your body is that of molten gold. Up to now Radharani was mad for Kanu (Krsna) prema. She was stealing the mind of Krsna. O Gandarvike, You were stealing the mind of Kanu, Krsna, enchanting Him with Your beautiful form and qualities. But today Kanu, Krsna, is moving from door to door begging radha-prema, radha-prema, radha-prema”

…/…

Comment posted by Puskaraksa das on May 14th, 2012
34 Puskaraksa das

…/…

So in the meantime, Lalita has gone to Radharani and said that a sannyasi thakura has come. “He is singing a very nice song. He knows how to calculate Your fate.”

Then Visakha takes the sannyasi into the kunja. She requested Krsna, “Will You please again sing that nice song You were singing before?”

Then Krsna sang that song in glorification of Radha. “Today Kanu is a bhikari, He is a beggar, moving from door to door begging radha-prema.” When Radharani heard that last line, She said,

aslisya va pada-ratam pinastu mam
adarsanan marma-hatam karotu va
yatha tatha va vidadhatu lampato
mat-prana-nathas tu sa eva naparah

Radharani said the last verse of Siksastskam. “That debauchee, lampatah, whatever He likes He may do. He may do. He may embrace Me or kick Me, or crush Me with His feet or put Me in this condition of acute pangs of separation. Such painful condition, not giving Me darsana. Whatever He likes He may do, that debauchee. But He is the Lord of My heart, no one else.”

…/…

So this is how Krsna has to cry and has to become a sannyasi begging for radha-prema. Radharani was crying and Visakha stated, “One day You’ll have to cry like that!” And so He’s crying in the form of Mahaprabhu.

sri-radhayah pranaya-mahima kidrso vanayaiva
svadyo yenabhuta-madhurima kidrso va madiyah
saukhyam casya mad-anubhavatah kidrsam veti lobhat
tad-bhavadhyah samajani sai-garbha-sinadau harinduh
(Sri Caitanya caritamrta, Adi 1.6)

What is Radharani’s love? Now Krsna is a beggar of that. Radha-prema-bhikari. He came in a sannyasi form, as a beggar, begging radha-prema. In a completely different form–no three places curved, no curling hair–shaved head. Now His yellow garment is saffron colour and He’s begging for radha-prema. That is radha-bhava. He came in this sannyasi form, otherwise He cannot pay back the debt. Krsna has become indebted. In this way, Krsna paid back the debt. So Radharani’s sulkiness vanished. That is why Krsna became sannyasi, He became Mahaprabhu.

He (Krsna) came to understand these three things: “What is Radharani’s love? What is My beauty that Radharani relishes? What happiness and pleasure does Radharani get relishing My beauty, how can I know?” In order to fulfill these three types of greed and desires Krsna appeared as Mahaprabhu, from the womb of Sacimata, sai garbha-sindau harinduh. In order to understand these three things is why He became a sannyasi. This is so wonderful–Krsna became amazed.

Comment posted by Puskaraksa das on May 14th, 2012
35 Puskaraksa das

This is the activity of Yoga-maya, Paurnamasi. Oh, so wonderful that even Krsna cannot understand, then how can others understand? *

* Note: Maybe our most intelligent friend, Sita Rama Prabhu?

All glories to Srila Prabhupada
All glories to the pure devotees in his line of disciplic succession

Yours in service

Das dasanudasa
Puskaraksa das

Comment posted by Puskaraksa das on May 14th, 2012
36 Akruranatha

“This may answer the question of our friend Akruranatha Prabhu raised in Post 22…”

Dear Puskaraksa Prabhu, it seems to me you are missing the point of my comment #22. Probably I did not make it clearly enough.

Of course a spiritual master must be bona fide, but so must a disciple. I think in ISKCON we still may have a tendency to over-emphasize the external glorification of our respective spiritual masters while not taking seriously enough the duty of a disciple to actually get the real mercy of the spiritual master, by becoming properly submissive and receptive to understand his instructions about Lord Krishna.

Srila Prabhupada repeatedly emphasized the most important quality of a bona fide guru as that of being a faithful disciple, who does not manufacture anything but carries the message of Krishna just like a humble postal peon carries the mail. That is why the spiritual master is honored as being “directly Hari”: because of his freedom from false ego that allows him to represent Hari transparently.

Of course, Srila Prabhupada famously mentions that it is best to select a spiritual master from among the uttama adhikaris (again, those who are so free from false ego that they have no propensity to criticize others), but he also mentions that an intermediate devotee or even a neophyte may serve as a spiritual master. The important thing is that the spiritual master remain faithful, both in how he acts and how he speaks, and that the disciple takes shelter sincerely, without ulterior motive, and learns how to properly discharge devotional service and chant the mantras given by the guru with all attention and sincerity.

Becoming a bona fide disciple makes one a proper receptacle to understand and transmit the message of Krishna, the same Bhagavatam that has been handed down from acarya to acarya for generations.

I am not sure why you quoted the July 9th letter in full (as if we were not familiar with it?) Perhaps you can explain more?

There is one common narrative, that Srila Prabhupada appointed these 11 senior disciples to serve as his representatives during his illness, but they were the wrong choices to go on as the first group of initiating gurus after his departure. Either Srila Prabhupada chose the wrong people (one version goes), or else the whole idea that he wanted them to serve as regular initiating gurus was a mistake.

I think the above approach is mistaken and needs to be examined….

Comment posted by Akruranatha on May 15th, 2012
37 Akruranatha

I am sure Srila Prabhupada intended that the 11 disciples he appointed to perform “ritvik” initiations before his departure should go on as regular gurus afterwards.

It is foolish to try to understand the transcendental intentions of a great devotee like Srila Prabhupada, but that is the topic at hand and we must do so to the best of our ability, with reverence and humility.

I am sure Srila Prabhupada knew that if his disciples were not careful to act as humble postal workers honestly transmitting the message they received through parampara, that if they tried to enjoy the “post” of being worshipable acaryas and masters of others, making a show of being greater than they really were, they would fail. But I also assume he had every hope that they would succeed in acting as bona fide gurus in accordance with his many instructions on the subject.

I cannot imagine that he purposely picked unqualified disciples with some hidden motive, while passing over more qualified disciples. It seems far fetched and convoluted, as if he had some secret, byzantine plan. I think the reality is much more straightforward: He selected those he considered best suited, he knew they would face challenges (as would his whole society), that we would have lessons to learn and adjustments to make as things unfolded, but he had done his own duty well and the rest would be up to us, and Krishna would help us as long as we remained devoted and sincere.

Some of the lessons we have learned are: (1) a lot depends on the personal faith and relationship of guru and disciple, and it causes problems to expect everyone in a particular geographical region to take shelter of the institution’s appointee to that zone; (2) while a disciple’s duty is to revere and worship his or her guru, the guru should not demand or expect such treatment from devotees who are not his or her disciples, and should continue to set a good example of having healthy, humble relationships with friendly godbrothers and godsisters; (3) the spiritual authority a guru has over disciples should not be parlayed into political authority in managing the institution (being a spiritual master is not a managerial post, nor is it license to act as “despot” over non-disciples); (4) there is a danger that being over-revered can cause a careless, immature devotee to be corrupted or seduced into thinking he or she deserves such honor and can materially enjoy the position.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on May 15th, 2012
38 Akruranatha

I am sure we could come up with a long list of valuable lessons we learned as a society from the problems of the 1980s. I remember reading one essay by Ravindra Swarupa Prabhu observed quite trenchantly that it was perhaps unusual that the reform we needed was one of furniture: we had to stop the practice of giving too much special distinction to the devotees serving as initiating gurus by seating them on high vyasasanas that were reserved only for initiating gurus.

But I think the narrative that focuses on the lack of qualification of the initial 11 (or at least those of them who fell down) draws our attention away from the lessons we needed to learn. It is an oversimplification to say our problem was to choose the wrong people to act as gurus, or to simply make the non-controversial observation that if we had ten or fifteen topmost paramahamsa devotees of the caliber of Rupa Goswami or Srila Prabhupada to serve as our acaryas, our problems would be solved.

Every child’s parents are gods to them, because of their complete dependence on their parents for food, shelter, protection, clothing, medicine, guidance, knowledge of all kinds, and life itself. Of course, some parents are better or more qualified than others, and some may be hardly worthy of the title “parents” at all, but it is a child’s duty to show gratitude and devotion to parents (as we recently observed on Sunday, which was “Mother’s Day, at least in the U.S.)

Similarly husband and wife are god and goddess to each other, at least in civilized society. With this reverence also comes great responsibility to fulfill one’s role as husband or wife, and there are reciprocal duties.

In feudal society there are also formal but emotional relationships of honor, loyalty, gratitude and responsibility between Lord and Vassal, King and Courtier, Master and Apprentice. In all these relationships there is an internalized understanding of corresponding duties. “Noblesse oblige” literally means that one who is in position of honor and nbility is obliged to conduct himself or herself with correspondingly noble qualities.

Of course, a bona fide spiritual master must actually *be* divine, in the sense of having transcendental thoughts, acts and words. All true devotees should be in that sense divine. But the corresponding duties of gratitude and obligation, of supplication and benediction, should not so unusual that they are reserved only for a small, unique elite…

Comment posted by Akruranatha on May 15th, 2012
39 Akruranatha

In our modern, post-industrial society with its high division of labor and commercialized relationships based on an ethic of egalitarianism and “universal rights” (and corresponding lack of spontaneous emotional relationships based on “status”), to worship any human being seems a shocking and unusual thing. Everyone is reduced by modern leveling to the status of an equal bargaining partner or competitor.

In more “normal” societies (if I can use that word), it is quite common for people to understand that the reverence we feel for our superiors — priests, lieges, teachers, parents, sovereigns — is due to their being in some sense incarnations of God. Not that they are really the omniscient creators of the universe or anything like that, but that what they do for us in our relationship with them is a reflection of what God does for us.

Srila Prabhupada used to talk about how Russian Communists would tell and demonstrate to simple peasants how they get their daily bread from party apparatchiks and not from God, but Srila Prabhupada would say an intelligent person would ask, “So where did you get the bread, rascal?”

By focusing on the unique and rarely attained qualities of bona fide gurus, we lose something of this ability to see Krishna throughout His creation, in the different important and powerful people and teachers He sends to us: “Know that all opulent, beautiful and glorious creations spring from but a spark of My splendor.” (B.G. 10.41)

It is the quality of a bona fide spiritual master that he or she can teach us to realize this statement of Lord Krishna, to see how Krishna is everywhere and is acting throughout all our relationships. The tendency to think that Krishna only exists in the temple or in one’s own spiritual master (and to not know how to properly respect other devotees or deal appropriately with people in general) are symptoms of the materialistic, neophyte devotee.

I guess what I am saying is, although it is indeed important that a bona fide spiritual master is a qualified devotee who can teach by example and give proper advice and training in devotional service, who is versed in Vedic wisdom and fixed in transcendental realization, there is something superficial about approaching the guru problems in ISKCON by simply focusing on the guru side of the equation. It is a many-faceted issue. The way we, as disciples, treat our gurus and other devotees and their gurus, is an important consideration.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on May 15th, 2012
40 Puskaraksa das

Dear Akruranath Prabhu

To answer your question in regards to why I have quoted the letter of July 9, 1977 in full on Post #27, it is because you had written the following on Post #22: “… those specific 11 devotees Srila Prabhupada named in the July 9, 1977 letter as especially pure (compared to their godbrothers) and specifically chosen to give shelter to all the people of the world, …”.

So, on one hand, I did not remember that Srila Prabhupada had designated these 11, only mentioned to be taken amongst “some of his senior disciples”, as being “especially pure” as you have apparently wrongly reported, neither were they “specifically chosen to give shelter to all the people of the world”, as you stated, most likely in a mood imbibed both with nostalgia and some earlier attachment to one of these 11, even if he drifted away…

On the other hand, even if some of us might have read this letter earlier, it might not have been the case of all our readers. So, I provided the letter both as a matter of conveniency, as well as to provide the very words used in the letter, so that no one may be mislead by any wrong memory or false interpretation…

The bare truth is that Srila Prabhupada did not nominate these 11 ritviks as his successor gurus in the Parampara and all the more not as his only succesors! So, these 11 proved themselves to be guilty of some manipulation and all of us (including them) had to bear the consequences of that!

Coming back to Guru tattva, it is a fact that one should accept an uttama adhikari as Guru, which means a pure devotee of Krishna. Otherwise, how could someone who has not gotten pure love of God, give you pure love of God?

It is specifically mentioned that the Guru musy be a Tattva darshi; he must see Krishna! Otherwise, how can he be Krishna’s representative, if he doesn’t know Krishna?

So, we may have different teachers who may help us go from first grade to second grade, etc., along the path leading to prema bhakti, but in the end, only a premi bhakta can grant us prema bhakti by his unalloyed mercy!

This is an exact science. This is not a sentimental or a speculative process.

So, only he who sees Krishna, who has bound Krishna in his heart with the rope of pure love, is referred to in the “samsara prayer” we sing every morning. Only he, is worthy of being called “saksad Hari” and only he, is eligible to accept the standard of worship corresponding to “saksad Hari”.
It is as simple as that!

Comment posted by Puskaraksa das on May 16th, 2012
41 Puskaraksa das

So, other gurus of lesser caliber, should have the honesty to step down and acknowledge the fact that they can take their disciples only part of the way but, at the stage of spiritual advancement they are currently at, not all the way to Sri-Sri Radha-Krishna’s lotus feet… This why these lesser advanced gurus are supposed to sit at the feet of the current Prabhupada of the time, so that both they and their disciples can be lead the rest of the way…

However, you are right to also insist on the other side of the matter, which is the qualification of the disciple! Not only ought one to find a sat Guru, one should also qualify to become a sat shisya!

Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja sumerizes these two aspects very nicely, while stressing in this occurence, the duty of the disciple: Sisyatva (Discipleship)
Class delivered by Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja
(Bhubaneswar – March 18, 1993)

“One who can inculcate pure loving devotion unto you, he is a real guru.

He who has given me prema-bhakti at the lotus feet of Krishna, he is my supreme friend, he is my eternal father and mother. He is a real guru. If you tread this path of prema-bhakti then there is no fear of death, no fear of Yamaraj. No fear. So he has saved me from the clutches of Maya, clutches of Yamaraja. Those who cannot give me prema-bhakti at the lotus feet of Krishna, their guruship is partial guruship. He who has made me realize eternity, this eternal servitudeship, is my eternal guru, he is real guru — he has establish my relationship with that Supreme Eternal.

So one who is completely cent percent surrendered unto the lotus feet of such a guru, who is fortunate enough and has gotten such a guru he will get the mercy. He is really a fortunate soul. But if that disciple develops duplicity and is superficial, not serious in the heart and only showing outwardly, yes, yes, “Gurudeva shower your mercy on me…” just outwardly showing and speaking from the lips but inside there is a different mood. There is duplicity there. He deserves cheating, not mercy! Therefore sadhu guru has two things: kripa and vancana, mercy and cheating. So what you deserve will come to you. And Krishna knows the heart, if really in your heart you are purified. If duplicity is there then your heart is contaminated. All your activities are only for show, only outward and based on duplicity, then you deserve cheating. you cannot get the mercy.” TBC

Comment posted by Puskaraksa das on May 16th, 2012
42 Puskaraksa das

(continuing)

“Those who are nama bhajana kari, they have to follow these eight things: First thing is they should develop unflinching faith, strong faith in the words of sadhu-sastra-guru. Second he should develop greed for the association of a nama tattva vit sadhu, a sadhu who knows nama tattva; he should always remain in such association. Third thing, he should be greedy to hear Krsna Katha, Hari Katha, that is coming out from the lotus lips of such a sadhu. What he hears then by the order of that sadhu guru he speaks, he does kirtana. That is sravana kirtana process. The fourth consideration is if you follow then all your anarthas will be completely destroyed, anartha nivrtti. Then sadhaka will come to the platform of nistha. Nistha means no oscillation of the mind because there are no anarthas, no unwanted things, no other desire are there.

This is the only thing, how to render loving service unto Krishna and give Him pleasure. It is only for His pleasure; then your mind will be fixed in the Holy Name, fixed at the lotus feet of Krishna. That is man mana bhava. That is nistha, aikantika nistha. This is the fifth thing. Then sixth thing is your mellow will be revealed to you, dasya, sakya, vatsalya, madhurya and based on that mellow, on that platform, you will engage constantly in bhajan,

hare krsna hare krsna krsna krsna hare hare
hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare

This is called sarasika ruci. This is ruci based on that mellow. Then the seventh things is, it will be very painful for you to give up chanting the Holy Name even for a moment. You will feel pain - this is asakti, Strong attachment to the Holy Name. Then you will develop bhava. Bhava comes prior to the rising of pure prema, bhava bhakti. And last is prema. When bhava matures then prema arises. That is called sthaya-rati. This are the eight things. This is the instruction of Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Prabhupada Maharaja.

Thank you

I think you have gotten something at least 30%. It is very difficult to understand. It isn’t an easy thing but it is the most important. Unless your heart is purified, unless your consciousness is purified, you cannot understand. There is no question of understanding and Kaviraj Goswami says apana sodhite for my own purification I will write. Not for any material purpose or material gain. It is for the pleasure of Guru and Gauranga. Then the heart will be purified. Then you can understand it. Otherwise you cannot understand.

Hare Krishna”

Comment posted by Puskaraksa das on May 16th, 2012
43 Akruranatha

” it is because you had written the following on Post #22: “… those specific 11 devotees Srila Prabhupada named in the July 9, 1977 letter as especially pure (compared to their godbrothers) and specifically chosen to give shelter to all the people of the world, …”

Puskaraksha, by cutting a small part of my sentence out of context you are taking the *opposite* of my meaning. Perhaps the fault was my unclear writing, but if you look back at my comment #22 you will see that I was saying that we have learned over the years that we needed to *stop* elevating those initial 11 as if they were “especially pure (compared to their godbrothers) and specifically chosen, etc.”

I could have written it better, but if you read my whole comment carefully you would not make the mistake of thinking I said that Srila Prabhupada really did in his letter identify these 11 as especially pure. What I meant to say is, when articles came out in BTG in the 1980s promoting these 11 in that way, it was mistaken, and later we corrected that mistake by stopping such statements.

You say: “So, these 11 proved themselves to be guilty of some manipulation and all of us (including them) had to bear the consequences of that!”

I am not sure what you mean by “some manipulation”. It is possible, I suppose, that Srila Prabhupada gave some direct instructions in or around July 1977 about how to carry on the parampara system within ISKCON after his departure that were suppressed by leaders ambitious to become zonal acaryas — and of course conspiracy theories of that sort abound — but I have seen very little credible solid evidence that would lead me to such a conclusion.

It seems more likely to me that Srila Prabhupada did intend that in the event of his departure (it was not clear whether he would depart or recover from illness), the 11 “officiating acaryas” would then serve as an initial group of initiating gurus, and that the GBC would make whatever adjustments were necessary for management of the society and faithfulness to his teachings as events unfolded.

Yes, Srila Prabhupada does write in the NOI, “…a disciple should be careful to accept an uttama-adhikari as a spiritual master”. However, I think the tendency of devotees to focus on qualifications of different gurus in ISKCON and whose is uttama or not is an unwanted distraction: we must focus on how we are being faithful followers, rather than on whose guru is highest, or whose is unqualified.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on May 18th, 2012
44 Akruranatha

In the same Purport to Text Five of NOI, Srila Prabhupada writes:

“A neophyte Vaisnava or a Vaisnava situated on the intermediate platform can also accept disciples, but such disciples must be on the same platform, and it should be understood that they cannot advance very well toward the ultimate goal of life under his insufficient guidance.”

Of course, they are not limited to one guru: they have one initiating guru, but they may have any number of instructing gurus, and a madhyama or neophyte initiating guru should direct disciples to more advanced devotees for instruction. All of us in ISKCON have the benefit of Srila Prabhupada’s instructions in books, recordings, videos, conversations, letters and so on.

Srila Prabhupada also writes, in the preceding sentence, “One should not become a spiritual master unless he has attained the platform of uttama-adhikari.”

Nevertheless he did appoint the first 11 to serve as his representatives before his departure, and from the evidence I have seen he intended them to initiate disciples on his order after his departure. He encouraged all of us “become guru, but be qualified.” He said that one who understands the order of Mahaprabhu, “amar ajnaya guru hana tara ei desa” is qualified to be guru.

The distinction between initiating and instructing guru may be commonly misunderstood. I have heard people suggest that an initiating guru must be highly qualified, but any old fool can be an instructing guru. That is mistaken. Guru is guru is guru. Initiation is a specific function, but instruction is every bit as fundamental to the guru-disciple relationship, if not more.

If you instruct anyone in devotional service, in some sense you are acting as a guru; yet we are all called upon to give instructions, every day, according to our capacity. “Please read this book”, “Please chant Hare Krishna.” We give these instructions daily, under order of superior authority.

From the same NOI Purport: “One should not accept a spiritual master without following his instructions. Nor should one accept a spiritual master to make a fashionable show of spiritual life.”

By making personality cults of the “my guru is best” variety, we tend to deflect interest away from the all-important question of what it means to be a bona-fide disciple. It is easier to feel “I have joined the right group” than to actually surrender to Krsna. Thus religionists waste time quarreling about which is the “true church.”

Comment posted by Akruranatha on May 18th, 2012
45 Unregistered

Akruranatha Prabhu wrote;Of course, Srila Prabhupada famously mentions that it is best to select a spiritual master from among the uttama adhikaris (again, those who are so free from false ego that they have no propensity to criticize others), but he also mentions that an intermediate devotee or even a neophyte may serve as a spiritual master. The important thing is that the spiritual master remain faithful, both in how he acts and how he speaks, and that the disciple takes shelter sincerely, without ulterior motive, and learns how to properly discharge devotional service and chant the mantras given by the guru with all attention and sincerity.

Here is the actual section verse and purport that Akruranatha prabhu is referencing;

NOI Verse 5 (purport)
In this verse Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī advises the devotee to be intelligent enough to distinguish between the kaniṣṭha-adhikārī, madhyama-adhikārī and uttama-adhikārī. The devotee should also know his own position and should not try to imitate a devotee situated on a higher platform. Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura has given some practical hints to the effect that an uttama-adhikārī Vaiṣṇava can be recognized by his ability to convert many fallen souls to Vaiṣṇavism. One should not become a spiritual master unless he has attained the platform of uttama-adhikārī. A neophyte Vaiṣṇava or a Vaiṣṇava situated on the intermediate platform can also accept disciples, but such disciples must be on the same platform, and it should be understood that they cannot advance very well toward the ultimate goal of life under his insufficient guidance. 
>>

So Prabhupada seems to state here that A neophyte Vaiṣṇava or a Vaiṣṇava situated on the intermediate platform can also accept disciples. However,according to Srila Prabhupada,it should be understood by such disciples and all concerned that no-one can advance very well toward the ultimate goal of life under their ‘insufficient guidance’. 

So a disciple has to see such ’spiritual master’ as insufficient. Otherwise,he would not be following Srila Prabhupada’s Nector of Instruction. Such spiritual masters are then obviously not of the category of bona-fide Spiritual Master as described in sastra. 
Thus it would make sense that they must only be considered intermediate guide or ’stand-in’ untill the possibility ofsufficient guide becomes available.
It seems that Akruranatha’ understanding of what it means to be Saksi-Hari is coming from a very different interpretation

Comment posted by nrsingha8 on May 18th, 2012
46 Unregistered

Some of our official spiritual masters seem to allude yo the same point. In Mahavishnu swami’s website biography it is written;

“In 1990 he accepted his first disciple as Srila Prabhupada had wanted his followers to also guide and initiate others in Krishna Consciousness. He took up this task in the spirit of being one of Prabhupada’s “monitor” gurus. Now he has initiated over a 100 disciples.” (Website biography of HH Mahavishnu Swami [UK])

In Śrīla Prabhupāda’s early book Easy Journey to Other Planets, there is a very interesting list of practices by which a devotee can prepare himself to go to the spiritual world. #13 reads:
“He must not take on unlimited disciples. This means that a candidate who has successfully followed the first twelve items can also become a spiritual master himself, just as a student becomes a monitor in class with a limited number of disciples.” [Easy Journey to Other Planets, 1]

Another spiritual master wrote;

“This concept of ‘monitor guru’ is not broadly discussed in Śrīla Prabhupāda’s books. Here is one mention:
Prabhupāda: In India the system is in the school that the best student is appointed… What is called in English? The chief student is called “minor,” or… “M,” beginning.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Monitor.
Prabhupāda: Monitor, yes. Monitor. So He was monitor. 
[Room Conversation, Los Angeles 8/4/69]
The important point here is that in traditional Vedic education, there is a role of Monitor, where in the absence of the guru, the chief student monitors the class. I can recall other discussions of the Monitor Guru concept around the time of the early 1970s, but they do not appear in the Vedabase.

However, I consider myself and my service precisely in the role of Monitor Guru. I am not anxious to take many disciples; I will take only as many as I can instruct and care for nicely. Any more, and I would not be able to guide their spiritual advancement properly. I am simply a monitor, keeping the paramparā going until Kṛṣṇa sends a properly qualified ācārya to carry on the line.”
Ysvt.

Comment posted by nrsingha8 on May 18th, 2012
47 Sita Rama 108

As disciples of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples we can compare Srila Prabhupada, Founder Acarya of ISKCON with our Diksa Guru in the following manner. Infinity does not rule out a greater infinity. The set of odd whole numbers is infinite; the set of all whole numbers is a greater infinity. The Diksa Guru gives us a direct connection to the parampara and relieves us of the karma of quadrillions of births. That mercy is infinite and eternal; we are infinitely and eternally indebted. However the infinite mercy we receive from Srila Prabhupada( as the pre imminent Siksa Guru for as long as ISKCON exists) is a greater infinity then the infinite mercy we receive from our Diksha Guru. The reason why Srila Prabhupada is a greater infinity has been discussed several times and should be self evident.
The Mercy of Krishna is comparable to the electricity coming from a powerhouse. Krishna is the powerhouse and all the electricity is non different from Krishna. Srila Prabhupada is a major transformer of electricity, and his disciples are lines extending that potency. The Guru will never declare himself equal to his own spiritual master, and we acknowledge that there are Diksa Guru’s in ISKCON, who unlike Srila Prabhupada, are not infallible. But as long as they are connected to the transformer and the source of the potency (through their own sacrifice) they make the mercy of Krishna available to the conditioned souls. That Mercy is brahma, unlimitedly great and unlimitedly expanding, paramam, it has no comparison in this material world, and it is suksman, very fine (Krishna The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Ch. 88). The adjustment is not to minimize the mercy we receive from our Guru but to acknowledge that the Guru can only give that mercy when/if they are connected with Srila Prabhupada and Krishna. And even in the case where the Guru becomes disconnected, the disciple does not lose the advancement made through the mercy of the Guru when the Guru was connected.

Comment posted by Sita Rama 108 on May 18th, 2012
48 Akruranatha

I came across the link to this recent audio discussion by Sivarama Swami: http://www.sivaramaswami.com/e.....more-17376

In it, Maharaja says that we should recognize that madhyama adhikaris and even kanistha adhikaris may perform the service of giving initiation in ISKCON, and that if the ISKCON legislation for obtaining GBC “no objection” blessings for serving as diksa guru involves certifying the candidate as completely free from sex desire and other anarthas, it should be revised and the bar lowered.

I would like to report that in my own experience for recommending a candidate for GBC approval, though the counsel of at least 10 senior local devotees were asked to rate the candidate in categories including personal sadhana, attachment to hearing and chanting, cooperation with ISKCON’s management system, knowledge of Srila Prabhupada’s books, commitment to book distribution and preaching in general, *and* freedom from sex desire and from desire for prestige, honor, distinction, etc., we were not being asked to certify that the candidate got perfect marks in each category.

We had questionnaires and rated the candidate on a scale of 1 to 5 in each category and then there was a place for comments.

In order to forward the candidate’s name to the GBC for “no objection” consideration, it was only necessary that a *majority* of the local council (not a unanimous decision) recommended him for the service (not approved him as completely free from material contamination).

I thought it was a good process and that the forms were well designed to elicit information and comments which the GBC could then follow up on in deciding whether to object.

But getting back to the “guru tattva” discussion, I take it all of us are in agreement that a madhyama adhikarti (or even a neophyte!) who is not free from all anarthas can still serve as an initiating (or instructing) guru. The question is, can such a devotee be highly honored, even in private, by his own disciples, receive puja and sit on a throne and allow his disciples to chant “guruvasthakam” or “guru vandana” prayers.

I think Puskaraksa and I disagree on this point, but it is healthy to discuss such things in a spirit of istagosthi and listen to each other carefully. It is a worthwhile topic, and one I hope will be answered when I take the GBC’s “guru-disciple” course.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on May 19th, 2012
49 Akruranatha

One thing I can share is my own experience with my vartma-pradarsika guru, Akincana das, whom I met at the University of Miami in Florida in either late 1974 or early 1975.

I have not seen him or contacted him since. If anyone knows him I would love to know how to get in touch with him to express my gratitude. Many years ago someone told me that he left ISKCON and was selling insurance in Chicago, but I was never able to confirm this or to contact him. I realize he was likely a neophyte devotee just doing normal preaching duty (if preaching duty can be “normal”), and yet I feel like he brought me in touch with Krishna and was therefore acting in a transcendental capacity.

He gave me *prasadam*!! It was not the first time I had eaten food distributed by Hare Krishna devotees, but it was the first time I experienced how a seemingly normal morsel (in this case a simple sugar cookie) could taste so much better than anything I had ever experienced. I offer my obeisances to that cookie and to the devotee who gave it to me.

If devotees are acting on superior orders, even ordinary or neophyte devotees can act in extraordinary ways. They are connected to the current and can connect one to the powerhouse, which is Lord Krishna.

Of course I would not suggest that every devotee should worship Akincana Prabhu as “jagat guru”, or seat him on a big vyasasana and wash his feet and offer incense to him, but as for myself I can see that he came to me as a manifestation of Krishna’s divine grace, and I am eternally in his debt.

And really, mundane kings and politicians and even low-class athletes and actors or other celebrities are sometimes seated on thrones and greeted with arati and foot bathing. If you go get a pedicure for $15, a Vietnamese lady will wash and massage your feet. I do not begrudge anyone from receiving that kind of treatment. If a son loves his father and worships him as good as God, where is the harm?

I think the biggest harm comes when we advertise a devotee as being on a higher level of bhakti (e.g., asakti, bhava, prema, samadhi, etc.) than he really is, or when we pressure devotees into posing themselves as such (by pushing this notion that they cannot otherwise serve as gurus).

I also think we harm the mission when we promote competition that “my guru should be recognized as ‘the current Prabhupada’ by all of ISKCON.” We should focus on how best to serve the Founder-Acarya’s mission.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on May 19th, 2012
50 Praghosa

Akruranatha prabhu posted:

“the ISKCON legislation for obtaining GBC “no objection” blessings for serving as diksa guru involves certifying the candidate as completely free from sex desire and other anarthas”

The section of ISKCON law being referred to above reads as follows:

6.2.1 Mandatory Qualifications
The following are the minimum qualifications necessary to be approved as a diksa or siksa-guru in ISKCON.
1. Must have been an initiated disciple for at least ten years.
2. Must be strictly following the four regulative principles, regularly attending the morning program, and chanting sixteen rounds daily.
3. Must not have had a fall-down within five years.
4. Must evince no tendency toward moral turpitude in his present or past activities.
5. Must be free from the following undesirable qualities:
(a) attachment to kamini-kañcana, “the devil” in the form of sex objects and wealth;
(b) pratistha, false prestige and personal ambition;
(c) nisiddhacara, behavior contrary to Vaisnava principles;
(d) kuti-nati, diplomatic or duplicitous behavior;
(e) puja, the desire for personal worship;
(f) labha, mundane profiteering.
6. Must have excelled in preaching activities.
7. Must exhibit proficiency in knowledge and understanding of sastra.
8. Must preach without concoction and strictly according to the parampara, with sastric knowledge grounded firmly in siddhanta, or conclusive truth.
9. Must be effective in practical preaching and counseling.
10.Must have no loyalties that compete with or compromise his loyalty to Srila Prabhupada, to his teachings, and to ISKCON.
11. Must show understanding of and dedication to Srila Prabhupada’s mission with a strong commitment to maintaining and increasing book distribution and other ISKCON projects.
12. Must recognize the GBC as the ultimate managing authority in ISKCON, support the GBC system, and follow the GBC.
13.Should be engaged full-time in devotional service in an ISKCON center or other ISKCON-approved preaching program.

In relation specifically to point 5 above, as referenced by Akruranatha, the key word is ‘must’.

Also the question arises that once a devotee successfully goes through the no objection procedure and is approved to serve as an ISKCON guru, is the above endorsement of his qualifications akin to confirming him as an uttama adhikari?

Continued…

Comment posted by Praghosa on May 19th, 2012
51 Praghosa

If it is then is he an uttama adhikari as described in the Bhakti Rasamrta Sindu, which is limited to within vaidhi sadhana, or as described in the Srimad Bhagavatam, which clearly indicates a devotee who possesses prema bhakti?

Either way, is it fair that we burden devotees with such a lofty endorsement? - I think not.

And can we guarantee that all who go through the no objection procedure are in fact uttama adhikaris? - Again I think not.

And does it discourage other devotees from coming forward to serve as gurus in ISKCON? - I think so.

Your servant,

Praghosa dasa

Comment posted by Praghosa on May 19th, 2012
52 Akruranatha

Praghosa Prabhu,

I accept that ISKCON law 6.2.1 should be amended, or at least item 5 thereof.

I am not sure that the key word is “must”. I think the key may be “free”, with the implied sense of “completely free”. I think we want our initiating gurus, sannyasis, GBCs and other leaders to be free from these things as far as possible, at least “relatively free” from these things.

It is like saying that a candidate “must excel” at preaching. He also “must excel” at being free, compared to others, from items 5 (a) through (f).

While the law reads as if we are guaranteeing they are completely free, my experience in forming a local council of senior devotees and having them fill out the questionnaires was that the process was designed to have devotees who know the candidate and serve side by side with him make candid comments about his relative qualifications in these categories, and forward such comments to the GBC for consideration and follow up.

I remember one sannyasi/guru commented about the candidate we presented to the GBC (who was approved), that he did not think the candidate was free from the desire for honor, but that he though the candidate was more free than himself from such contamination.

I think we *do* want to discourage devotees who are likely to fall down or cause trouble from becoming initiating gurus or sannyasis in ISKCON. It hurts ISKCON’s reputation whenever an initiating guru falls down. It also hurts the disciples and sometimes undermines their faith in the whole process of devotional service. There really are people who are quite unfit that would like to be respected as bona fide gurus within ISKCON (I have met some), and who might be able to attract some disciples and cause trouble that could have quite negative consequences for the preaching mission. I am glad the GBC vets people and withholds its blessings in some cases, and I am glad that individual devotees are careful and introspective before deciding whether they are really being called upon by Krishna to perform that very responsible service, or if they have ulterior motives.

Our scriptures are full of warnings that one should not become a guru, father, mother or worshipable person unless one can deliver one’s dependents, that one should not make many disciples or do so for the wrong reasons (such as to obtain wealth or prestige). We should continue to promote such teachings, and also to manage or police how gurus are behaaving in ISKCON.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on May 19th, 2012
53 Kesava Krsna dasa

Part One:

We have to balance the ‘Uttama’ adhikari ideal held by many, and strongly so, with the fact that Iskcon is a preaching movement that continues to grow.

If we are to wait for an ‘uttama’ Bhagavat before commencing with Guruship, we may have to either wait, or not even recognise one. How many recognised Sri Pundarika Vidyanidhi Mahasys of Sri Chaitanya era? He purposely covered his greatness with shows of, we could say, ostentatious opulence.

Still, our preachers who go out under the protection and guidance of the Lord, are capable of doing remarkable things. Even for the qualified among them who can take on disciples, we have standards.

Though the allowance for kanistha and madhyama gurus appear to fall short of our Uttama standards, I don’t think it falls short in our worldwide preaching context. I strongly believe that Srila Prabhupada operated on this principle when he ‘nominated’ the original 11, as is being discussed, among other things.

Problems arose when these 11 acted on, and were designated as Uttamas, and our corresponding worship of them matched that of Uttama infallibles. We were soon to learn that our worship was way too excessive. Greatness indeed became too great.

We have all heard various sayings on, for instance, “Empty barrels make more sound.” if we apply this concept to our then mode of worship, was this excess of guru pomp and ceremony an indictment of our general lack of Vaisnava education and spiritual culture? Yes it was. Less educated people make more sound.

Is this still the case today? If we acknowledge that madhyama and kanistha adhikaris are being gurus, yet they are called Maha-Bhagavats, sometimes in front of installed deities, then some excess is still apparent.

Shouldn’t our mode of worship more realistically reflect the possible ‘Monitor’ or ‘Stand-in’ roles? Does this excess still boom with barrel-like loudness?

Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa.

Comment posted by Kesava Krsna dasa on May 19th, 2012
54 Kesava Krsna dasa

Part Two:

(BG 10.38) “Of secret things, I am silence…” In the purport for this, Srila Prabhupada equates silence with rapid spiritual progress. “Among the confidential activities of hearing, thinking and meditating, silence is most important because by silence one can make progress very quickly.”

A position of a disciple is of charitable indebtedness towards one’s guru. A disciple’s deeds should outweigh external glorification of the guru. But we have allowed such glorification to continue. Are our guru/disciple affairs too public?

Shouldn’t there be a sense where in Matthew for example, Jesus says that one’s left hand should not know what the right hand is giving in charity. Can this same apply to guru worship?

Doesn’t Lord Krishna tell His dear Gopis, feeling that He is unable to repay them for their extraordinary self-sacrifices, to “Please let your own deeds be your compensation?” Krishna says this because the gopis are the most learned.

If we as a society rely more on external glorification rather than deed, does this reflect our learning and maturity? To hide one’s guru or istha-deva is in fact a very active deed – one is certainly not lazy or avaerse to real and true glorification – their lives already are. They just might not be so public, as we are used to.

There are Vyasa-puja celebrations to observe of course, but any true external glorification has to match our learning which shapes our cultural diversity within our society of devotees. Isn’t there a problem of encouraging the neophyte tendency to measure, when we are so public?

Let our own deeds be our real basis for culture and glorification.

Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa.

Comment posted by Kesava Krsna dasa on May 19th, 2012
55 Akruranatha

Nrsimha8 (sorry I do not know your actual name) says:

“Thus it would make sense that they must only be considered intermediate guide or ’stand-in’ untill the possibility ofsufficient guide becomes available.
It seems that Akruranatha’ understanding of what it means to be Saksi-Hari is coming from a very different interpretation”

It may be we have a different understanding and I may well be wrong, but that is why we should talk and clarify and keep open minds.

One thing I would say is, a disciple whose guru is a neophyte will need further guidance to progress beyond the neophyte stage. For a sincere disciple who is making progress and needs guidance from a more advanced guru, I think Krishna will make the necessary arrangement when the time comes. Also, as I mentioned above, we all have the opportunity in ISKCON to take guidance from the extensive sound vibrations left for us by Srila Prabhupada.

But again, if the disciple is going to remain a neophyte or madhyama adhikari for some time, it may not be a serious problem to serve for now under the guidance of a spiritual master who is a steady, faithful devotee who is still in the stage of anartha-nivrtti.

As for myself, I am still very much in the stage of sadhu-sanga and bhajana-kriya and anartha nivrtti. I still have plenty of anarthas. And everywhere I look, most of the disciples I see still have some anarthas. Getting rid of all these anarthas takes steady, determines, enthusiastic practice, but it also is understood to be a gradual process that requires patience.

Yes, we do need to understand the goal, and we should acknowledge that it takes an extraordinary, advanced devotee to help guide us from nistha to ruci all the way up to prema.

In fact, it should be acknowledged that even beginners in ISKCON who are steadily chanting their rounds and doing daily service are extraordinary, so the actual maha-bhagavata devotees who experience ecstatic symptoms when they hear the name “Krsna” or see a peacock feather are even super-extraordinary among many extraordinary souls. “Such a great soul is very rare.”

Srila Prabhupada does often emphasize the very special qualities of the paramahamsa guru and how exalted such a devotee is. As we have seen in NOI, he also emphasizes that we should learn to distinguish between the three levels of devotee, respect them accordingly (even the neophyte we should give all respects to within our minds), and also recognize our own level …

Comment posted by Akruranatha on May 19th, 2012
56 Akruranatha

We should recognize our own level and not try to pose as a perfect maha-bhagavat while still in the beginning stages of practice. Granted. It is disastrous to pose as a siddha artificially, and it is good for devotees to recognize, as NOI indicates, who is really steadily engaged in preaching service, with enthusiasm, converting many fallen souls, without complaining or criticizing others, who does not waste time in unnecessary sense gratification or useless quarrels.

However, that may be all the more reason we do not put pressure in ISKCON to make people think, “You cannot initiate a disciple and commit to guide a disciple unless you are an uttama adhikari.” We need serious, experienced devotees to roll up their sleeves and give the mantras and the training in sadhana bhakti to junior devotees. Of course it is not a job for a hypocrite or a fool, but it is a job our senior, steady, experienced and faithful devotees should undertake.

Srila Prabhupada sometimes emphasized the exalted qualities of a bona fide Vaisnava guru, but at other times he presented, it is not so difficult to just repeat exactly what we have learned from him without changing anything. Often he said that he expected his own disciples to carry on the parampara after his departure. He was training up his disciples so that they could become bona fide gurus in the future.

How can a madhyama adhikari or even a neophyte be accepted as “saksad-dhari”? If he is not speaking anything else than Bhagavatam and is not acting contrary to Bhagavatam than he is a kind of Bhagavata. If he is delivering genuine Bhagavatam under superior orders, than he is Bhagavata. Whether you call him “monitor guru” or “spiritual master” is perhaps only a difference of nomenclature. Should we not offer all respects to our guru, even though he is like a student who has become a monitor in class with a limited number of students?

The whole idea of acintya bhedaabheda is summed up by Srila Prabhupada in the phrase, “Krishna is everything, but not everything is Krishna.” The maha-bhagavatas can see Krishna everywhere because everything is carried out by His energies which are nondifferent from Him, though under His control.

The holy name is directly Krishna, though we are advised to hear Him as far as possible from the lips of pure devotees. The form of Krishna is also directly Krishna. To become a disciple we must also accept one devotee as our worshipable guru…

Comment posted by Akruranatha on May 19th, 2012
57 Akruranatha

It is part of the process of devotional service that we learn how to be disciples. We learn to serve a devotee in the way we would directly serve Krishna. We take guidance from a more experienced devotee how to execute devotional service in accordance with the universal, scientific principles handed down through the parampara, and in this way we learn to behave in the Vaikuntha atmosphere in which everyone wants to be the servant of the servant of the servant. We have a specific relationship with at least one specific devotee who, as our initiating guru, we serve as a form of Krishna, just as the Deities or Holy Names are forms of Krishna (and in addition to one initiating guru we an have many instructing gurus, though generally a devotee who gives us extensive instructions in devotional service will eventually become our initiating guru).

I have seen over the years some devotees in ISKCON feel it is important to establish that their own spiritual master must be recognized as the “self effulgent acarya” or topmost devotee in ISKCON, because he is the one “mahabhagavata” among many intermediate or neophyte gurus, the single moon among many stars. Sometimes these disciples had a very nice guru, sometimes they pushed a guru who later fell down (e.g., Kirtanananda), sometimes they argued that their guru need not follow the GBC (a mere “committee of lesser devotees”) and that the GBC must instead surrender to their guru, sometimes they even advocated that we must go outside ISKCON to get shelter from one supposed “jagat guru” or another. Mostly I have seen this as a distracting and destructive force within Srila Prabhupada’s movement.

Srila Prabhupada left us with a GBC as the managing authority, and warned us against creating a rubber-stamped acarya. Those who follow Srila Prabhupada should accept this system. Imperfect though it may be when it comes to nitty-gritty details, it is perfect because it is the instruction of the Founder-Acarya.

We may believe our individual gurudevas do or do not meet the qualities of uttama adhikaris as given in the NOI or the Bhagavatam (I have heard that Bhaktivinode Thakur even described Emerson as an “uttama adhikari”, which seems to stretch the meaning of the term), but it should not be the source or quarrels or organized politicking and canvassing among the disciples.

And yet whatever level a guru is on, if he is Guru, how can a serious disciple neglect him? He is still Krsna’s ambassador.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on May 19th, 2012
58 Puskaraksa das

It is not that one should either become guru on one’s own initiative (as this is most dangerous and most likely to be premature), or be voted in as guru (be it through a survey or a consultation).

Neither should one normally require the approval of others, when one has actually received the instruction to act as Guru, from the previous bona fide representative and acarya in our Parampara.

As it is, our process is not an ascending process, but a descending process!

Therefore, one becomes empowered to act as Krishna’s representative, by Krishna Himself and by the sanction and mercy of the previous acaryas in the Paramprara.

Hence, it is not for some conditioned souls, to elect their representative and declare him to be saksad Hari, i.e. the external manifestation of the Supersoul!

In that regard, the prayers adressing the pure devotee, should “preferably” go to a pure devotee, and not to a (still) conditioned soul, whose condition is still far from the transcendental qualities depicted in these songs and prayers. This may be considered as a matter of honesty, so as not to mislead others and not cheapen the whole process, as well.

Hence,, the next bona fide link(s) in the Parampara, manifest(s) “on the behalf of the previous acarya”, “on his order”, and only “when he has ordered”.

Nevertheless, those who are meant to be(come) bona fide representatives of our Parampara are, undoubtedly, to manifest some vaishnava qualities and some spiritual achievements, which will certainly be appreciated by sincere devotees. Therefore, the “no objection” process set up by the GBC should not be an obstacle for such an empowered representative of the Parampara, already authorized by Krishna and our previous acaryas.

If it was the case, for some time, due to some internal politics, or the inimity of some members, one should still rest assured that Krishna and Srila Prabhupada would not let the Sankirtan Movement be hindered for a long time and for wrong reasons!

So, our culture is one of tolerance and cooperation, as a worldwide organization, meant to serve the highest welfare of humanity. In this line, the surrendered soul knows that despite the (still) conditioned nature of some of the GBC members, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Srila Prabhupada are in control of their spiritual Movement.

Hence, all the sincere devotees surrendered at Srila Prabhupada’s lotus feet, cherish in the shrine of their heart: “If you love me, cooperate with each other…”

Comment posted by Puskaraksa das on May 20th, 2012
59 Akruranatha

“Neither should one normally require the approval of others, when one has actually received the instruction to act as Guru, from the previous bona fide representative and acarya in our Parampara.”

I guess the word “normally” is key. If one has truly received the order from one’s own bona fide guru, who would object? But for the sake of managing a worldwide society, movement or preaching mission, it is better to take permission from other leaders of the organization, according to the rules devised to protect the mission, and thereby set a good example of how to function as a “good citizen” of the organization.

The problem is, there will be others who have not actually received the instruction, and who are not qualified or have some ulterior motivation, and the institution needs to have some method of weeding them out, either before they start accepting disciples or afterwards.

As we know, the history of religion is full of the establishment of institutions or churches which can be misused for sense gratification and are periodically subject to “reforms” or rebellions against corrupt and spiritually blind authorities. However, from my perspective, ISKCON suffers more from a kind of natural irreverence for legitimate authority and hierarchy — whether from hippie-anarchist roots or just the basic temper of modern society — than it does from any powerful, calcified elite that checks the flow of true spiritual authority.

I suppose others might disagree with me. In the material world, these forces are always churning, just as the modes of nature are constantly vying for supremacy, or the Apollonian vies with the Dionysian.

I think this whole discussion is very healthy and good and is bringing out many valuable points, even though some of us do not exactly have the same ideas or opinions about everything.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on May 20th, 2012
60 Akruranatha

We know, as Vaisnavas, that God is both transcendent and immanent.

The Old Testament’s Jehova is a jealous God. Great emphasis is placed on His difference, His transcendence and separateness from anything in His creation. The greatest crime is to accept someone else as God other than Him, as signified in the historical episode of the Hebrews having taken to worshiping the idol of Baal (a golden calf) when Moses was away.

Thus, although the Ten Commandments do enjoin us to honor and obey our father and mother (and by implication other authorities such as king, teacher, elders, priests, etc.), the First Commandment enjoining us to have no other God besides Him (and the Second prohibiting worship of graven images) are given pride of place, sometimes taken to irrational extremes.

Orthodox Muslims take these principles very seriously. They criticize Christianity for taking one of the holy, blessed prophets (Jesus) and equating him with Allah, who is transcendental to all the things and people we see around us, including even the prophets. The doctrine of “guru tattva” is anathema for them, as is the concept of “avatar”. God never appears on earth in human form, nor is any human, demon or angel, no matter how faithful a messenger of God or endowed with divine power he or she may be, to ever be equated with the infinitely great God who created the whole universe and exists outside of time and space.

These principles, valuable in themselves (Krishna also distinguishes between Himself and the sages and demigods who can never know Him), were somehow carried to extremes in the main branches of orthodox Abrahamic religions.

In an interesting talk he gave at Stanford University recently, H.H. Hrdayananda Maharaja discussed how when the Roman Empire became Christian, religion became united with imperialism in a novel way. Suppressing paganism became a justification for empire, and the previous religious freedom and pluralism that had prevailed in the ethnically and culturally diverse Empire was curtailed as never before. The use of the mission to suppress paganism as a justification for empire was employed a few centuries later with the rise of Islam. (The zinger of his talk was that modern Science, the bastion of empirical epistemology and reason, was carrying on the same mood of imperialism that Christianity had first turned against early Science’s renewed interest in pre-Christian philosophical examination of the natural world.)

Comment posted by Akruranatha on May 20th, 2012
61 Akruranatha

But turning back to the issue of guru tattva, in which God Himself (”directly Hari!”) is understood to be coming to a disciple in the form of His dear devotee, it appears to be an appreciation of God’s immanence, His oneness with everything in His creation, that may strain our received notions of the importance of distinguishing God (”The Greatest”, “The Creator”, “The Infallible”, “The Imperceptible, Unknowable, Immeasurable”) from that which is not God.

Hinduism may have the fault — whether through popular influence of Mayavada, or prevalence of karma kanda rituals aimed at achieving material opulence and happiness (often through worship of Devas which, although identified as sattvic by Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita, is nevertheless condemned as less-intelligent), or the combination of such things and perhaps a pious willingness on the part of the people generally to accept things very easily without too much analytic rigor — to over-emphasize God’s immanence, as may also be seen in mystic Sufi traditions within Islam or in some Christian mystical or New Age traditions.

It has been remarked that one striking feature of the preaching of Srila Prabhupada (and of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada before him) was how he took strong, black and white positions and did not shy away from criticizing ideas promoted by famous “holy men”. There was no wishy-washiness, but a clear, powerful exposition of the Vaisnava philosophical system, and a willingness to distinguish pious-sounding falsehoods from proper conclusions.

Mayavadis are willing to accept almost anyone as an incarnation of God, because their ultimate idea is that whenever God displays form, qualities or personality, He is really becoming material. When the only true God is impersonal brahman, awarding the title of “incarnation” becomes easier, cheaper. In the same way, distinction between Vishnu and demigods become imprecise, as Vishnu becomes demoted to just another material (mode of goodness) manifestation of impersonal brahman. This is related to the second offense to the holy name of Krishna: We should see the demigods as divine only because of (and to the extent of) their service and obedience to the Supreme Lord, Krishna. They can never be equal to or independent of Him.

Sometimes Krishna Himself serves as guru, as He did with Lord Brahma or, when appearing as Lord Caitanya, with Sanatan Goswami. More commonly He performs that function in the form of one of His devotees.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on May 20th, 2012
62 Akruranatha

Reading over my last few posts, it occurs to me that in striving not to be over-critical of the “Jealous God” emphasis on dualism (God as very distinct from the manifestation of His various energies), I overcompensated by not sufficiently explaining the superiority of the Vaisnava conclusion of acintya bhedabheda tattva, as taught by Lord Krishna in Bhagavad-gita.

If God were only an unapproachable, unimaginably great being located far away, how is it that He is also all-pervading and seated within everyone’s heart? Bahir Nrsimho hrdaye Nrsimho — He is both outside of us and also within our hearts.

If He were so different from us and from everything in His creation, how could we ever approach Him, or He us? How could our mundane senses and mind and scriptures and prophets ever lead us to Him?

This seems to be a principle fault of the over-emphasis on God’s transcendence: we fail to see how He is nondifferent from His energies, and divorce Him from nature.

At least in Christianity there is the idea that God came in a human form as Jesus and was compassionate to the fallen souls in their separation from God and offered to intercede on their behalf. (In other words, He was performing the mission of Guru) In the ritual of communion the Christians also seem to have something similar to what Vaisnavas recognize as prasadam: through the proper performance of sacrificial offering, God mercifully becomes one with the food and drink we take into our bodies.

But they still have banished much of the idea of God in Nature. There is little if any recognition of the distinction between internal or spiritual nature (which acts beyond duality) and external material nature (who gives us everything we have as conditioned souls, but who can also be cruel and terrifying). There is some limited worship of the divine feminine in the cult of the Virgin, or of Mary Magdalene, and in the recognition of God as “Holy Spirit”, often depicted symbolically as a dove, but for the most part the suppression of paganism was a banishment of recognizing divinity in Nature.

Vaisnavas know that Nature (both external and internal) are obedient to Krishna, and that He can immediately transform His external energy to internal at His will. He can manifest Himself as He likes, as a book, a painting, or as a benevolent devotee-teacher. Our mind and senses, though made of matter, are meant for being used and transformed (spiritualized) in His devotional service.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on May 21st, 2012
63 Puskaraksa das

On Post #47, our friend Sita Rama Prabhu has drawn an analogy: “The mercy of Krishna is comparable to the electricity coming from the powerhouse, and gurus are lines extending that potency.”

So, I would liike to add that the ampericity of the wire matters, so as to be able to convey the full flow coming from the powerhouse, that is to say that the potency and purity of the guru is of utmost importance, so as to be able to pass on the full mercy of Krishna: Krishna sakti vina nahi tare pravartana.

This is why even an instant of association with a pure saddhu guru is so important:

sādhu-saṅga’, ’sādhu-saṅga’—sarva-śāstre kaya
lava-mātra sādhu-saṅge sarva-siddhi haya
C.c. Madhya 22.54

Hence, one should receive the Holy Name from the lips of a pure devotee.
In this way, approaching a pure devotee, serving his lotus feet and receiving his mercy is not an option.

Alternatively,

tad asma-saram hridayam batedam
yad grihyamanair hari-namadheyaih
na vikriyetatha yada vikaro
netre jalam gatra-ruheshu harshah
C.c. Adi 8.25

“If one’s heart does not change, tears do not flow from his eyes, his body does not shiver, and his bodily hairs do not stand on end as he chants the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, it should be understood that his heart is as hard as iron. This is due to his offenses at the lotus feet of the Lord’s holy name.”

For,

‘eka’ krishna-name kare sarva-papa nasa
premera karana bhakti karena prakasa
C.c. Adi 8.26

Simply chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra without offenses vanquishes all sinful activities. Thus pure devotional service, which is the cause of love of Godhead, becomes manifest.

anayase bhava-kshaya, krishnera sevana
eka krishna-namera phale pai eta dhana
C.c. Adi 8.28

As a result of chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, one makes such great advancement in spiritual life that simultaneously his material existence terminates and he receives love of Godhead. The holy name of Krishna is so powerful that by chanting even one pure name, one very easily achieves these transcendental riches.

Alas,

hena krishna-nama yadi laya bahu-bara
tabu yadi prema nahe, nahe asrudhara
tabe jani, aparadha tahate pracura
krishna-nama-bija tahe na kare ankura
C.c; Adi 8.29-30

If one chants the exalted holy name of the Lord again and again and yet his love for the Supreme Lord does not develop and tears do not appear in his eyes, it is evident that because of his offenses in chanting, the seed of the holy name of Krishna does not sprout.

Comment posted by Puskaraksa das on May 21st, 2012
64 pustakrishna

When all is said and done, it is not possible to digest the glory of Krishna’s devotee, just as it is not possible to digest Krishna (think of Aghasura!). The material mind tries to place all things and concepts into a neat folder so we can close the drawer on the file, but it is not possible. When Krishna has revealed Himself in His mystical greatness, then there is nothing left for Arjuna to do but to surrender to Him. Then, Krishna in His complete wisdom advises us…tad viddhi pranipatena…approach His devotee to learn the process of Krishna conscious revival. Krishna’s advice is non-different from Krishna, and so the very dear messenger of the Supreme Lord is one and different from the Lord. Spiritual achievements may not be necessary (#58) since a Babaji like Gaurakisora das was highly revered by Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur simply by his quality alone.
I have heard it discribed that what differentiates a genuine messenger from a flawed one is that the message has “backing”. Like paper money, if it has backing it is valuable. If it is counterfeit, it does not have genuine value. So what is the backing? Backing means that the parampara is backing the teaching of such persons. It must be transparent, and it must be authorized by the prior acharya.
If the tree of Mahaprabhu’s great sankirtan movement is to expand for the next 10,000 years, then many, many wonderful teachers of Krishna consciousness will take up His teachings successfully. We want to encourage the future warriors of Krishna consciousness. If there are casualties on the battlefield, then a new wave of warriors must come forward to take up the service and risk all for Sri Sri Guru Gauranga. Pusta Krishna das

Comment posted by pustakrishna on May 22nd, 2012
65 Puskaraksa das

In my previous Post #63, please kindly replace the improper word “amparicity” by “ampacity”, to which you can also add the word “gauge”, so as to properly point out the fact that the capacity of transmission of the flow of mercy (or electricity in this analogy) depends on the quality of the wire, i.e. the guru…

In regards to the “spiritual achievements”which may be an aspect evaluated through the “no objection” process to be authorized to serve as guru in ISKCON, as per points #6 and #9 of the list of requisites, I agree with Pusta Krishna Prabhu that being a pure devotee is sufficient in itself, which will also enable one to automatically satisfy all the aspects of point #5 of these requisites, which would probably not be the case otherwise…!

Comment posted by Puskaraksa das on May 22nd, 2012
66 Akruranatha

Undoubtedly, Srila Prabhupada does emphasize in his books the importance of association with “nivrtta-tosaih”, very advanced devotees who have no material interests, who have ananya-bhakti or “unalloyed” devotion, not mixed with residual karma and jnana, the desire to become the enjoyer or to merge with the Absolute Truth.

However, he has also given us the task of cooperatively spreading the Sankirtan Movement all over the world, and as I indicated above, quarreling about whose guru is best, or which gurus are unworthy, can interfere with that mission.

Granted, having truly unworthy or insincere followers of Srila Prabhupada being revered as spiritual leaders in ISKCON can also hurt the mission, and the GBC has some responsibility to keep those who do not act or speak correctly from retaining positions as spiritual authorities.

Before Srila Prabhupada’s departure, ISKCON was a group of disciples of a single guru. Even within our family of followers of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur Prabhupada, there was some friction between ISKCON devotees and followers of Srila Prabhupada’s godbrothers. In those days, we were mostly non-Indian and they were mostly Indian, but besides that, the different disciples had some suspicion that their guru was worthy but other gurus weren’t. Some of Srila Prabhupada’s own godbrothers even made the horrible mistake of suggesting that initiation by Srila Prabhupada was insufficient or inferior, and reinitiating his disciples, even in his presence. There is a common tendency among neophytes to worship the Deity and the spiritual master but to not know how to recognize and properly respect other Vaisnavas.

If ISKCON is going to succeed in spreading Krishna consciousness all over the world, it has to succeed in properly accommodating many spiritual masters and their many, many disciples within one organization. We had some trouble at first but have been been getting better and better at this over the last 25 years.

Devotees should learn to recognize and distinguish between kanistha, madhyama and uttama bhaktas, but all are to be respected. We respect neophytes in the mind, madhyamas with the body (paying obeisances), and uttamas with faithful service.

This idea (of some of ISKCON’s antagonists) that if a neophyte has initiated a disciple he should be demonized and vilified, should be understood sensitively. It may be the “jealous God” factor is at work, or other factors.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on May 22nd, 2012
67 Akruranatha

By making the worship of spiritual masters other than Srila Prabhupada more private, with less public ostentation, we have avoided offending the sensibilities of those who may have felt that, after dedicated themselves voluntarily to a movement dedicated to worshiping and serving Srila Prabhupada, the character of the organization had changed.

We hear this complaint from some, that ISKCON became a society dedicated to honoring and glorifying a small number of his senior disciples, some of whom may not have been their friends, or may even have been been enemies or rivals.

Of course we know that ISKCON is a society dedicated to worship of Radha-Krishna, to distribute the teachings of Lord Caitanya and to glorify Bhagavad-gita, Srimad Bhagavatam, the literature of the Six Goswamis, the constant chanting of the Maha Mantra.

But from the material point of view people tend to see it as a vehicle for leaders in the spiritual hierarchy to dominate followers. Even in Srila Prabhupada’s presence, it was a common reaction of reporters and outsiders to enviously question, “Why are they bowing down to that man? Why did they hire him a limousine? Isn’t it just a scam so he can live comfortably?”

I have seen former ISKCON leaders complain in print, “Why should they [successor gurus] get all the followers, money and property?” While we might perceive some envy or personal ambition in such critical statements, we can be sensitive to these concerns. Our gurus are not the “enjoyers” of ISKCON. Krsna is.

And while we should as dutiful disciples respect our gurus as “directly Hari” (because they are beloved servants of Hari), we can recognize this as our private affair, not the main business or public message of ISKCON.

Others may have other gurus. ISKCON’s message is not to make everyone accept and worship our own particular gurus, but to take shelter of the holy names, of Lord Krishna’s instructions, of Lord Caitanya, of the writings of the Founder-Acarya. And yes, those instructions do include the injunction that if one really wants spiritual perfection and realization and to make a permanent solution to the cycle of material suffering and death, one must take shelter of a bona fide guru and learn from him how to become a pure devotee. But we are not promoting any specific guru, so long as he is qualified.

There are many qualified gurus in ISKCON. Arguing over who is qualified has been a destructive force, historically.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on May 22nd, 2012
68 Puskaraksa das

I would like to reassure our dear friend Akruranatha Prabhu and let him know that a pure devotee is not, or even several pure devotees are not, to be envisioned as a threat to the unity of ISKCON!

Rather, a pure devotee, disciple of Srila Prabhupada or later on, in the line of Srila Prabhupada, will have no other ulterior motive but to serve Srila Prabhupada and his mission purely. To the contrary, conditioned souls will be more likely to mix their bhakti with anarthas, desire for name, fame and adoration, if not with some other grosser material desires…

Another risk is the risk of philosophical deviation. A pure devotee will strictly adhere to the conclusions of sastras and will not concoct any new interpretation, deviating from the verdict of scriptures and the teachings of our previous acaryas.

A pure devotee will also only be concerned with assisting others in becoming pure devotees. In this way, he will be the well-wisher of other devotees and will not cultivate any other separatist interest than the highest welfare of conditioned souls and therefore, all the more of all devotees already engaged along the path leading back to Godhead.

On their side, conditioned souls acting in the role of disciples will have a tendency to assert their ego and proclaim that their guru is “jagat guru”, be this true and justified, or wrong and just a farce!

Nevertheless, advanced devotees will be able to discern wheat from chaff. Others, more engrossed in some materialistic conceptions, may expectedly be fooled, taking Krishna to be Maya and Maya to be Krishna…

So, we have to develop and maintain a positive and constructive attitude, no matter what, even if everything may not run smoothly in the material world, be it a spiritual movement meant to deliver the highest message of Godhead.

In this way, Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja remained faithful, till his last breath in Mayapur, where he left his body while narrating Radha Krishna pastimes, to one of the instructions Srila Prabhupada gave him: “Tolerate, tolerate; Cooperate, cooperate”.

Hoping this finds you all well and happily engaged in the service of Srila Prabhupada’s mission,

Your servant
Puskaraksa das

Comment posted by Puskaraksa das on May 26th, 2012
69 Kesava Krsna dasa

We have a tendency to glamourize renunciation and the leadership thereof. This is a mode of passion fad. Little wonder then, that certain ambitions can be met when aiming for such positions. To receive glorification from this level is certainly excessive greatness.

The rush to establish VAD within Iskcon will be fruitless unless it begins from the top. When renunciates hold administrative power which is a ksatriya activity, we should not be surprised if casualties prevail. Heroism, power, strength and so on are the attributes of ksatriya or passionate resolve.

There is something heroic about being a renunciate, and deservedly so. But when renunciation is mixed with passion, and added glamour, then it is a hard shell to break. Yet VAD implementation has to begin with having renunciates in their correct positions, whereas the ksatriya administrative roles filled in appropriately.

If real VAD sets in motion, our Iskcon world will be a vastly different place. At present, we do not have required sadhana and spiritual needs space, both for our renunciates and our sense of family. We are living under a varna-less roof. Does friction and non-cooperation come to mind?

When VAD is functional, we shall see how all section of our community fit into place. If this happens, then our sense of glorification will be equally spread out.

Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa.

Comment posted by Kesava Krsna dasa on May 26th, 2012

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