Srila Prabhupada’s letters On Guruship
Srila Prabhupada’s 6341 letters represent an undervalued, untapped and formidable source of spiritual and philosophical knowledge, knowhow and information.
Let us consider for example 751202let.TustaKrishna hereunder reproduced:
2 December, 1975
My Dear Tusta Krishna Swami,
Please accept my blessings. I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 21 November, 1975. Every student is expected to become Acarya. Acarya means one who knows the scriptural injunctions and follows them practically in life, and teaches them to his disciples. I have given you sannyasa with the great hope that in my absence you will preach the cult throughout the world and thus become recognized by Krishna as the most sincere servant of the Lord. So I’m very pleased that you have not deviated from the principles I have taught, and thus with power of attorney go on preaching Krishna Consciousness, that will make me very happy as it is confirmed in the Guru vastakam yasya prasadat bhagavata prasadah just by satisfying your Spiritual Master who is accepted as the bona fide representative of the Lord you satisfy Krishna immediately, without any doubt.
I am very glad to inform you that Sudama Vipra Maharaja is also now following my principles. So I am very, very happy to receive all this news. Thank you very, very much.
Keep trained up very rigidly and then you are bona fide Guru, and you can accept disciples on the same principle. But as a matter of etiquette it is the custom that during the lifetime of your Spiritual Master you bring the prospective disciples to him, and in his absence or disappearance you can accept disciples without any limitation. This is the law of disciplic succession. I want to see my disciples become bona fide Spiritual Master and spread Krishna consciousness very widely, that will make me and Krishna very happy.
I hope this letter finds you well,
Your ever well wisher,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
The main cause of the Guruship controversy stems from quoting Srila Prabhupada out of context.
The above letter on its own however, clears ALL doubts and ALL ignorance. It simultaneously gives the law of disciplic succession in FULL. Just see the perfection and completeness of Srila Prabhupada’s letters and consequently of their author, Srila Prabhupada Himself!
Srila Prabhupada clearly says here that:
“…as a matter of etiquette it is the custom that during the lifetime of your Spiritual Master you bring the prospective disciples to him, and in his absence or disappearance you can accept disciples without any limitation.” and that is where the ritvik procedure ends and full fledged Guruship begins. The same logical conclusion can be drawn from the 730822vp.Lon quote below.
Furthermore, Srila Prabhupada clearly explains how the law of disciplic succession operates.
Besides giving a 3 pronged definition of “Acarya”: that the Acarya
One: knows the scriptural injunctions.
Two: follows himself / herself the scriptural injunctions
Three: teaches the same to his disciples,
Srila Prabhupada makes two major relevant statements in this particular letter:
One that “Every student is expected to become Acarya. ”
And two, that “I want to see my disciples become bona fide Spiritual Master ”
That means that every bonafide disciple of Srila Prabhupada must work very hard and must endeavor his very best to live up to Srila Prabhupada’s expectation and become qualified as a bona fide Spiritual Master. The responsibility to guide and save the world is very great and heavy and it represents the function of Srila Prabhupada’s true followers. Neither is Guruship an impossible or forbidden task, nor is it a casual option. It is a great challenge for every bona fide Prabhupada disciple. To be a Prabhupada disciple is not a cheap or mediocre thing because the Master Himself is topmost superlative.
We should also note very carefully indeed that, in this particular letter, Srila Prabhupada does not make any gender distinction at all. He does not specify that every male student only should become Acarya or that He wants to see every male disciple only to become bona fide spiritual master. Not at all! On the contrary, in the following 730822vp.Lon quote below Srila Prabhupada positively designates “men, women, boys and girls, (to) become Spiritual Master.”
There is no alternative choice. Besides this choice, there is only failure. Every generation, MUST (“abhigaccet”) follow to the best of its ability “the law of disciplic succession”, as Srila Prabhupada puts it so nicely in this letter, just as Shastra says that one MUST accept a spiritual master, Tad-vijïänärthaà sa gurum eva abhigaccet samit-päëiù çrotriyaà brahma-niñöham [MU 1.2.12].
And frankly speaking, every Prabhupada disciple’s power of attorney to take up the service of bona fide Spiritual Master is already intrinsically contained in this letter.
Not even to mention the practical benefits, for the sake of proper regulation of the process, it will be best however to accept and undergo the Guru qualifying process as set out by The International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Srila Prabhupada’s organization and movement, in order to obtain one’s certificate of authenticity and qualification for such a responsible, top most and culminating service. Several brains are generally better than a single one.
It is not that because some have failed that everyone else will also fail. Neither should we subscribe to the jackal’s philosophy, that if the grapes are out of our reach, we automatically condemn the grapes as inedible. On the contrary, we note already the existence of so many brilliant successes and many more such successes will follow. “There is no difficulty.”
Here is another relevant passage from 730822vp.Lon
“To become Spiritual Master is not very difficult thing. You’ll have to become Spiritual Master. You, all my disciples, everyone should become Spiritual Master. It is not difficult. ……. Keep trained up very rigidly and then you are bona fide Guru, and you can accept disciples on the same principle. But as a matter of etiquette it is the custom that during the lifetime of your Spiritual Master you bring the prospective disciples to him, and in his absence or disappearance you can accept disciples without any limitation. This is the law of disciplic succession. I want to see my disciples become bona fide Spiritual Master and spread Krishna consciousness very widely, that will make me and Krishna very happy.
So I hope that all of you, men, women, boys and girls, become Spiritual Master, and follow this principle. Spiritual Master, simply, sincerely, follow the principles and speak to the general public.”
All glories to the transcendental, most merciful and most knowledgeable, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, Srila Prabhupada, the Founder-Acarya of The International Society for Krishna Consciousness and Institutor of the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust!
“He Built a House in Which the Whole World Can Live!”
In service to Sri Guru, Lord Gauranga and the Vaishnavas.
Yadavendra Das, travelling book distribution preacher.