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Dandavats! All Glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga!

Continuation of Guru Issue

Tuesday, 26 November 2013 / Published in Articles / 3,641 views

By Dusyanta dasa

This article is not exactly originating from whether women can be Diksa Gurus. But the recent articles have brought up some interesting points. And I read all the articles including the comprehensive download called “Did Srila Prabhupada want Women Diksa Gurus” from eye of the storm books. In this download it came across that the book was biased towards trying to prove that Srila Prabhupada did want women Diksa Gurus. And I think that when you try to prove a point in this way the article takes on a biased colour and this colour shone through the whole download, unfortunately.

Isn’t it better to produce all the evidence from a transparent point and let the reader make up his mind unless you are an Uttama Adhikari writer? In Iskcon we continually make this mistake of presenting our own ideas based upon what we have read. But are we taking everything into account and are we presenting it accurately. My answer would be no we are not.

“There are nine gates in the body; two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, the mouth, the genitals and the anus. When every gate is illuminated by the symptoms of goodness, it should be understood that one has developed the mode of goodness. In the mode of goodness, one can see things in the right position, one can hear things in the right position, and one can taste things in the right position. One becomes cleansed inside and outside. In every gate there is development of the symptoms of happiness, and that is the position of goodness.” Bhagavad-gita As It Is. 14; 11.

Unless a person has attained this standard of maintaining the nine gates in the mode of goodness there is every chance of misunderstandings, misapplications and mis representation. And have we not already seen as historical fact this mode of operations in Iskcon since Srila Prabhupada is not here to correct all the failings.

The down load was a comprehensive writing but unfortunately from my point of view there were serious mistakes in its presentation. This was due to the fact that it was trying to prove the point rather than to present the truth. To present truths we have to be at least in the mode of goodness to make those presentations and we have to know the whole guru-tattva subject from every angle or else we will keep repeating Iskcon historical mistakes.

So for me the first mistake it made was the title. “Did Srila Prabhupada want women Diksa Gurus?” That is not the first consideration and it came across that we have learnt to run but can’t walk. Firstly we need to understand what Sri Guroh is, not what gender Sri Guroh is. We need to understand the function of Sri Guroh, the differences between the Diksa Guru and Shiksa Guru, and what happens to our relationship with Sri Guroh after He is no longer physically present.

So just to show one example of the misrepresentation of the download there is a quote from the Chaitanya Charitamrta 1.34;

“The Initiating and Instructing Spiritual masters are equal and identical manifestations of Krishna.”

That’s how it appears in the down load but actually from Srila Prabhupada’s Book itself it reads like this;

“ The Initiating and Instructing Spiritual masters are equal and identical manifestations of Krishna, although They have different dealings.”

Considering the length of the download why does the five words that are omitted not get included into the presentation. And these five words also illustrate the difference between the Diksa Guru and the Shiksa Guru. In fact in the down load they actually put a full stop after the word “Krishna” as if it were the end of the sentence not even some dots……… to indicate there is more to the sentence.

So this extra part that they neglected to put in “ although they have different dealings” means that there are also differences and they are not just equal. So what are the differences between the Diksa Guru and the Shiksa Guru? What is the difference between the dealings and how do they affect our relationship? And lastly how does the Diksa Guru and Shiksa Guru change functionality after they no longer physically exist?

Now if we start answering these questions then we are on the right road of understanding who is Sri Guroh not what gender Sri Guroh is. If we actually start reading Srila Prabhupada’s books all the answers are there but we have to ask the right questions and the question of gender is not the right question, because it is not dealt with in a transparent way.

In Srimad Bhagavatam the right answers are there if we find them and we seek from a transparent place. If we are trying to consciously prove what we believe then we have already made the mistake of colouring our inquiry. That’s why we have so much debate in Iskcon because we colour our enquiries and therefore our answers are also coloured. And the more we actually study the down load the more we can see its colouring. It looks as though it’s a brilliant and comprehensive article but there are so many mistakes in it that we would need another book to rebut the misunderstandings, mistakes and misapplications.

I thought that the presentation really supports the ritvik ideology. If there is no difference between the Diksa Guru and the Shiksa Guru then the relationship and dealings are equal. If the Diksa Guru is Diksa Guru after he is no longer physically present then why cant Srila Prabhupada be everyone’s Diksa Guru after He has departed. According to the GBC resolution, Srila Prabhupada is everyone’s Pre-eminent Shiksa Guru after He has departed, especially after He departed. So if the Shiksa Guru is exactly equal to the Diksa Guru then Srila Prabhupada must also be everyone’s Diksa Guru after He physically departed. There is no difference between the Diksa Guru and Shiksa Guru according to the download article so that supports the ritvik notion that Srila Prabhupada is everyone’s Diksa Guru, period.

So that’s wrong then. The Diksa Guru and Shiksa Guru are not equal because their dealings and therefore the relationship for the disciples are different. (Cc 1.34.) . So what we have to establish is how the dealings are different and what criteria has to be in place to apply that difference. For instance if Srila Prabhupada is everyone’s Diksa Guru after He departed then He must have also been everyone’s Diksa Guru before He appeared. But He wasn’t. We did not even know Him until He made His presence felt. This is another difference between the Diksa Guru and the Shiksa Guru.

In fact if you read Cc 1.34 from a different angle of English language all it is saying is the Diksa and Shiksa Gurus are equal-manifestations of Krishna not that they themselves are equal to each other. And in the introduction to Chapter one of Cc we find this corroborating evidence;

“ The first manifestation described is the Spiritual master, who appears in two plenary parts called the initiating spiritual master and instructing spiritual master. They are identical because both of them are phenomenal manifestations of the Supreme Truth.”

This quote does not support the concept that the Diksa Guru and Shiksa Guru are equal and identical to themselves but “identical manifestations” of the Supreme Truth. They are identical manifestations, not identical to themselves. And they are identical manifestations of the Supreme Truth. And simply they are described as “two” plenary parts; otherwise it would state they appear in “one” plenary part called the initiating spiritual master and the instructing spiritual master. Why have two words “Diksa” and “Shiksa” to describe a manifestation of the same equality and identity?

If we consider the relationship and dealings we have with our Spiritual master we have to understand what our service is to our Spiritual Master and how it is functioning and the presence of the Spiritual master that bears down on that relationship. So how do we know what it is? How to apply it and what changes with physical disappearance?

When Srila Prabhupada was physically present He was Shiksa Guru and Diksa Guru. He instructed us to serve His physical body when He was physically present. But the service and dealings and relationship ALL change when He is no longer physically present. Srila Prabhupada says the disciple has to change the service, at the time when He is no longer physically present, from serving His physical body, His Vapuh, to serving His words, His instructions, His Vani. From serving His Vapuh we are instructed to serve His Vani only when He is no longer physically present.

The two different conceptions of the presence of the Spiritual Master are the physical conception and the vibrational conception. Srila Prabhupada says the physical conception is temporary and the vibrational conception is eternal. The eternal relationship with our Spiritual Master then is through the eternal vibrational presence not the physical presence. When He is physically present the Spiritual Master is served through His physical body, which is temporary, but when He is no longer physically present the service is changed to serving His eternal Vani, sound vibrational presence.

The Spiritual Master exists eternally through His Vani, that’s before He physically exists and after He physically exists. This is an absolute requirement for a disciple to relate eternally with the Spiritual Master. Otherwise how is the eternal relationship exhibited through a temporary physical presence? The Diksa Guru only exists temporarily when He is physically present and only accepts service and therefore relationship through His physical body.

Krishna Himself teaches us as the Instructing Spiritual Master (Shiksa Guru) from within and without. From within He teaches as Paramatma, our constant companion, and from without He teaches from Bhagavad-gita As It Is as the Instructing Spiritual Master (Shiksa Guru). The Bhagavad-gita is Lord Krishna’s Vani and in this form He teaches as the eternal Instructing Spiritual master and Srila Prabhupada our Spiritual Master is also our eternal Shiksa Guru in His Vani.

When the Spiritual Master instructs us to serve Him after He is no longer physically present it is through His Vani as Shiksa Guru. But when He is physically present He instructs us to serve His physical body as Diksa Guru. We serve our Diksa Guru when He is physically present through His temporary physical body and when He is no longer physically present we serve His eternal vibrational presence, His Vani.We cant and don’t serve the Diksa Guru after He is no longer physically present or before He is physically present, this is how the dealings and relationship are different between the Diksa Guru and the Shiksa Guru. Service to the Diksa Guru is only whilst He is physically present, whilst service to the Shiksa Guru is eternal.

This is just dealing with only one small part of the download book that is found as a link from the article by Kaunteya dasa. This item is dealing with the synthetic premise that the Diksa Guru and Shiksa Guru are equal in all respects and at all times and with the same functionality. Clearly that premise is flawed by the evidence that they present in the downloaded book by missing out applicable points even within the same sentence. To provide a comprehensive book that is trying to establish truth means it has to be transparent. Transparent in its questioning and transparent in its answering and I think it fails on both accounts.

Whether the Diksa Guru is male or female is tertiary and irrelevant in all cases, what we have to establish in a transparent way are the primary questions on Guru tattva. Otherwise we just wind up with another inconclusive book that answers another coloured idea. And another Iskcon mistake on the guru tattva subject. In material life it is said that mistakes are the pillars of success but in spiritual life mistakes are the pillars of more mistakes and this down loaded book is an illustration of how this is exhibited. If we want to build a foundation of spiritual strength in Iskcon it would be more favourable to ask questions and answer questions in a transparent way, only then will we start to progress.

Shastra Dana Sweden
If spiritual happiness is eternal, why is our experience of that happiness temporary?

7 Responses to “Continuation of Guru Issue”

  1. Atmavidya Dasa says :

    Dusyanta Prabhu wrote:

    “Did Srila Prabhupada want Women Diksa Gurus” from eye of the storm books. In this download it came across that the book was biased towards trying to prove that Srila Prabhupada did want women Diksa Gurus. And I think that when you try to prove a point in this way the article takes on a biased colour and this colour shone through the whole download, unfortunately.

    What you are describing is a classical case of Confirmation Bais

    Confirmation bias (also called confirmatory bias or myside bias) is a tendency of people to favor information that confirms their beliefs or hypotheses.[Note 1][1] People display this bias when they gather or remember information selectively, or when they interpret it in a biased way. The effect is stronger for emotionally charged issues and for deeply entrenched beliefs. They also tend to interpret ambiguous evidence as supporting their existing position. Biased search, interpretation and memory have been invoked to explain attitude polarization (when a disagreement becomes more extreme even though the different parties are exposed to the same evidence), belief perseverance (when beliefs persist after the evidence for them is shown to be false), the irrational primacy effect (a greater reliance on information encountered early in a series) and illusory correlation (when people falsely perceive an association between two events or situations).

    A series of experiments in the 1960s suggested that people are biased toward confirming their existing beliefs. Later work re-interpreted these results as a tendency to test ideas in a one-sided way, focusing on one possibility and ignoring alternatives. In certain situations, this tendency can bias people’s conclusions. Explanations for the observed biases include wishful thinking and the limited human capacity to process information. Another explanation is that people show confirmation bias because they are weighing up the costs of being wrong, rather than investigating in a neutral, scientific way.

    Confirmation biases contribute to overconfidence in personal beliefs and can maintain or strengthen beliefs in the face of contrary evidence. Poor decisions due to these biases have been found in political and organizational contexts.

    Full text at

  2. Balakrsna das says :

    Regarding the book “Did Srila Prabhupada want Women Diksa Gurus” the following email was circulated earlier this year.

    Dear Prabhus,
    Please accept my humble obeisances.
    All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

    I roughly went through the book “Did Srila Prabhupada Want Women Diksa-gurus?”

    I just want to share a point which might be useful.
    Kaunteya prabhu had depicted some images of Goddesses’ statues from Tamilnadu and says that women in the past had [sacred] threads. I read somewhere an argument that we cannot compare the goddesses with ordinary women. That’s fine. However, I had a doubt about those strands.

    Thus I contacted a Tamil stapati who makes this kind of sculptures. As per his statement, these three strands has nothing to do with upavita [Brahmin thread]. It is called sannaviram. It is a designed ornament made with pearls or similar material and worn by women for decoration. Women in traditional Indian culture used to wear so many ornaments and this is just another ornament.

    It is funny that our devotees decide something just by seeing some image without doing even cursory research about it.

    Thanking you.

    Your servant

  3. Devaki says :

    Thank you kindly for your wonderful article – I fully appreciate all the points you are making. In my humble way I tried to do exactly that with my article “The Hot Issue – Female Diksa Guru”: without being strongly oppinionated and without trying to prove my vision I simply tried to shed some light on Prabhupada’s purport from the story of Parvati cursing Citraketu.
    Believe it or not: I am not categorically against women serving as Diksa Gurus. How can one, if Prabhupada says that ‘there will not be many’, and if in our line there has been women in that role of Diksa Gurus?! It is almost absurd to me to be categorically against it. But obviously the qualification has to be there.

    I think many devotees really missed the whole essence of my article, and your article I see as a good answer to this misunderstanding.

    Your servant, Devaki dd

  4. Puskaraksa das says :

    The diksa guru is a manifestation of Madana-mohana in the sense that he bestows sambandha in the form of diksa, over which the deity of Sri Madana-mohana presides.

    The siksa guru is a manifestation of Govinda Deva, the presiding deity of abhidheya.

    The diksa-guru establishes our sambandha, our relationship with Krishna.

    The siksa-guru teaches us abhidheya, or how to act within that relationship.

    The diksa-guru establishes our feet in the land of Vrindavana.

    The siksa-guru teaches us how to move in the land of Vrindavana.

    The classic examples of these two manifestations of guru in our tradition are Sri Sanatana Goswami and Srila Rupa Goswami.

    Sanatana Goswami has written Brhat-bhagavatamrta, which orients us towards the spiritual realm, in consideration with our present position.

    Rupa Goswami has written Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, which delineates the different aspects of bhakti, or that activity that naturally follows from the sambandha-jnana.

    So, I do not see how the relationship with the bona fide diksa-guru would be temporary or limited to the service of his vapuh…?

    It seems that the confusion may arise from the contemporary example of so-called diksa-gurus who fall down, leaving the disciple with the misconception, used as a consolation, that this relationship was not so important and temporary anyway…

    However, we have to understand, as Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja explained, according to our Vaishnava siddantha, that if the diksa-guru falls down, all the initiations are null and invalid. So, the disciples of that fallen would-be guru (since a sat guru never falls) have to receive real initiation from a valid via media, who will genuinely connect the disciple with Krishna and establish a true sambandha in between the jiva and the Supreme Personality of Godhead…

    In that regard, Srila Prabhupada explains that the siksa-guru generally becomes the diksa-guru, which ought to prevent one from being disappointed, as well as from minimizing the position of the diksa-guru!

    Besides, one generally tends to misunderstand the necessity of receiving both general siksa from Sastras and our previous acaryas, as well as receiving some personalized siksa from our personal siksa guru who will guide us individually all the way up to the supreme goal of prayojana, pure love of God, Krishna prema, provided he, himself, is a pure devotee, as how otherwise, could he grant what he doesn’t have himself…?

  5. Bhaktilata dasi says :

    @Devaki referring to your comment #3.

    I do not know anyone who is categorically against Female Diksha Gurus. We have had a few authentic FDGs that are recognized by our acaryas, ladies like Jahnava devi who was “Nityananda sakti,” and an incarnation of Ananga Manjari, the younger sister of Srimati Radharani. These authentic FDGs were very rare and highly exceptional personalities.

    I am aware that just as some now want to imitate such rare examples that in the past some have wrongly imitated such rare souls and created FDGs. And in the process of thus deviating from Daiva Varnashrama Dharma rendered the Gaudiya Sampradaya practically impotent by allowing sahajiyaism and a welter of apasampradayas to flourish to the point that by the time of Bhaktivinode Thakura to be called a Vaisnava in Orissa and Bengal was an insult.

    We all know how BVT and BSST struggled in the fight against apasampradayas, sahajiyaism and caste consciousness to again revive Gaudiya Vaisnavism. BSST went to S India and studied how the highly respected Sri and Madhva Sampradayas utilized Varna Ashrama dharma to maintain the purity of their sampradayas. “Purity is the force.” BSST reintroduced Daiva Varna Ashrama into the Gaudiya sampradaya to maintain the purity and create a fortification against sahajiyaism.

    It then seems incredulous and horrifying that certain factions in ISKCON want to reverse the work of our purva acaryas in order to satisfy the whims of the western gender equity program.

    What people do object to are the clearly observable bias of those who want to lower the bar for FDGs so that they are no longer exceptions like Jahnava Devi.

    For a female devotee to regularly chant her rounds, study sastra, preach nicely etc. should be the standard in ISKCON but is now elevated to being something wonderfully exceptional and on the level of Jahnavi Devi.

    I am now understanding very clearly what Rupa Goswami meant when he wrote that so-called devotion which is not according to the Sruti, smritis and other authentic sastras is just a disturbance in society.

  6. Bhaktilata dasi says :

    General rules are not changed because something happens to a particular person in a special situation. General rules should be accepted by people in general. Sri Dhruva Maharaja went to Dhruva loka in his material body; seeing that, should one waste time hoping for the same?

    Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura: Bhaktyaloka p.85

    The purport is that we should not imitate personalities like Jahnava Devi.

  7. atmaram says :

    Very nice article. It very well corroborates both the points. Sometimes in the process of Krishna Conciousness we are exposed to apparent contradictions and opposing views. But those are just to deepen our understanding about the process. Can women be Diksha Gurus….Absolutely yes!! What to talk of women even small children can become. 4 kumaras, Dhruva Maharaj, Prahlada Maharaj are vivid examples for the same. Krishna can make anyone his instrument to give the knowledge of absolute truth and pure devotion. So why not women, men or any other species also. We cant predict or limit the potency of Krishna. But at the same time the crucuial points brought out by Devaki Mataji are also true and it would be fatal to ignore those. If the women or men or anyone else truly transcend their bodily conceptions and are fully blown in pure devotional service and it is favourable for expansion of Lord Chaitanya’s Sankirtan movement in given time and age then by the order of superiors one can become Guru.
    But we should be cautious not to make it a quota system. In corporate world often we see the debate that why not many women CEOs?? In top Management colleges there is a drive to better the gender mix. To achieve that mix and many women CEOs sometimes there is artificial drive, propaganda and fixed numbers which associations target to have.
    We are spritual organization and in the spiritual process and not a material organization and not into a material process. We are taught to depend on mercy of Guru and Krishna to achieve spritual results. One of that result is to tangibly and truly serve devotees aad potential devotees. Then it is mercy of Guru and Krishna by which we are being pulled up to any level to do that service.
    Another concern was that if we are not sharing our comments in the fabric of vaisnava ettiquetes and displaying anguish very clearly then it becomes very painful and hurts the faith of many.And more over its not good for us. I dont know what are our moderation rules..