Friday, 9 December 2011

Gauridasa Pandita Dasa: What Kind of Guru are You?

Dear Vaisyaseka Prabhu, [...] As you may know I was one of Srila Prabhupada’s personal servants back in 1977. I was in Hrishikesh with Srila Prabhupada when he first told us that he wanted to go to Vrindavan to leave his body.
This was mid-May. So we went to Vrindavan the next day where Prabhupada asked to see all of the devotees in his room. After all the devotees that could settled in, Srila Prabhupada started to speak. He said that he had come to Vrindavan to leave his body but we devotees didn’t need to lament because he would live on in his books. There is a tape of this
arrival address. Half of the devotees including Yasosanandan Swami, began to cry and begged Srila Prabhupada not to leave. It was a sad shock to us all to hear these words from His Divine Grace.

About a week later I was attending to Srila Prabhupada in his garden when his secretary asked him if he would appoint a guru to succeed him after his departure. Prabhupada said that he would appoint ritvik representatives who would initiate on his behalf.

Later on May 28th 1977, there was a GBC meeting in Srila Prabhupada’s
room in Vrindavan. It’s on tape. Knowing Srila Prabhupada already said
he was getting ready to leave the planet the questions concerned the
future of the movement after his departure. So Satsvarupa asked how
initiations would go on after his departure and Prabhupada said that
he would appoint ‘officiating acharyas’. Hearing that the secretary,
TKG, asked if that was also called a ‘ritvik’ having heard him mention
it earlier and Prabhupada said, “ritvik yes.”
He said he would appoint them later.

Later on July 5th I was attending to Prabhupada in his garden in the
morning as usual when Tamal read some letters to Prabhupada. They were
from temple presidents asking for initiation approval for their local
devotees. Srila Prabhupada said that he would appoint some ritvik
representatives soon. Then on July 7th he heard more requests for
initiations and started to name the first group of ritvik
representatives of the acharya. The secretary said that all the
devotees the reps. Initiated would still be Srila Prabhupada’s
disciples and Srila Prabhupada said, “Yes.”
So it was understood by the secretary, TKG and I thought this is what
would happen. Needless to say I was shocked to see what happened after
His Divine Grace left.

On July 9th 1977, TKG read the Newsletter to all GBC’s and Temple
Presidents back to Prabhupada, who dictated it on the 7th, and he
approved it and signed it. This is the final order on Iskcon
initiations that Srila Prabhupada gave.

I heard and saw all of this and more. I have tried to tell the GBC
these facts but so far they have refused to allow me time to address
them. So individually I try to inform them when I get the opportunity.
I told Navayogendra Swami years ago in LA and he accepted that he
should be a ritvik representative and promised he would; but when the
GBC found out they gave him an ultimatum to give up ritvik or leave
Iskcon. He choose to stay and it’s hard to blame him for that.
Trivikrama had a dream a few years ago where Prabhupada told him to
ask Yasodanandan and myself about the guru issue. When he came to
Mangala Aritika in Berkeley I was there, which is rare, the morning
after his dream. The Swami approached me and asked to hear what I
heard from Srila Prabhupada. I spent about an hour going through the
events and he seemed to accept it and asked what he should do next. I
said he should try to convince the GBC members. It seems he either hit
a brick wall or didn’t even try at all.

I talked to my old friend Bhakti Charu Swami, in Srila Prabhupada’s
garden in LA and told him what I heard and he said that he tells his
initiates that Srila Prabhupada is their ‘delivering guru’ and he is
just helping them take shelter of Srila Prabhupada. I said the others
don’t say that and it would be good if he could talk to them about it.

We had a GBC initiation debate in San Deigo Temple in Jan. 1990 and at
the end of that nice debate is was voted on by the NA GBC that another
debate would occur at the next Mayapur Goura Pouranima festival.
Instead of allowing the next voted on debate the GBC banned any
discussion of the ritvik initiation system in Iskcon and any devotees
discussing it would be banned from the temples.

So here we are today. I was surprised to hear that you had also taken
that path. That is why I felt oblidged to tell you all this. So the
order of the spiritual master is to initiate on his behalf. You can
continue to be a spiritual leader, a ritvik representitive is a very
honorable position and responsibility. It’s unfortunate that it has
been made a bad name and system since it came from the lotus mouth of
His Divine Grace. So you should tell the devotees that you authorized
for initiation that they should worship Srila Prabhupada and they are
his disciples. You can be and are their siksa guru and ritvik
representitive but the diksa guru is one, Srila Prabhupada. You won’t
find one quote where Srila Prabhupada says that we can be diksa gurus
in Iskcon. If you analize all the ‘be a guru’ quotes; you will see
they all refer to preaching, to being siksa gurus.

The guru issue is one of the hardest issues to understand so it is of
utmost importance that we study exactly what Srila Prabhupada ordered
in regards to initiations after his physical departure. That way we
will be able to follow the orders of the Spiritual Master and not
commit the third offense to the Holy Name and the Guru which would
also offend the Lord Krsna Himself!

Srila Prabhupada did not act like a guru in his guru’s temples. That
is against Vaisnava tradition. If you are an uttama adikari you can
become a diksa guru and deliver your disciples but you should follow
the example of our guru and do it in your own temples. Srila
Prabhupada asked us to show our love for him by cooperating and that’s
why he so intelligently set up the ritvik initiation system to keep us
all united working for the common cause, spreading love of God.

Some will claim that I and the other ritvik advocates are just envious
and offensive to the modern day gurus. I can assure you that is not
the case. But we want the mission to succeed and in order for that to
happen we have to follow the orders of the spiritual master. Then we
can cooperate much better and unify, purify and expand the greatest
mission on earth, the International Society for Krsna Consciousness.

As Krsna told Arjuna the teachings of Bhagavad Gita then asked him to
deliberate on it and then do as he saw fit; I have told you what I
heard from the lotus mouth of His Divine Grace and now it is up to you
to do what you think is right. I hope you keep your request to
maintain a humble attitude and follow your heart and your our
spiritual master. And if you do take the side if the Pandavas like
Bangalore Temple, who so nicely follow Srila Prabhupada’s orders and
distribute more mercy than any other temple in the world it would be
fantastic. We could use another great general in Sri Sri Guru and
Gouranga’s Sankirtan Army to win the war against maya for Srila
Prabhupada and Lord Krsna. Then you will be a victorious part of the
solution; not the problem.

I feel this is my mission in life; to keep this issue alive. I was
electrocuted in front of Srila Prabhupada who could no longer walk to
pull the plug that was shocking me. But he called out to Upendra
Prabhu who came out and pulled the plug. I thought I really died. I
was unconcious for about 2 hours. When I came back Srila Prabhupada
called me into his room and compassionately asked if I was alright. I
felt embarassed to have made such a scene and sheepishly answered that
I was alright. Then he said that I should take that as a good lesson
that death can come at any moment and we should always be ready. I
thanked him for being my real loving father and offered my
obeisance’s. Later I thought and still do sometimes that it would of
been better if I left this world then and there; I would of went back
home being in the direct service of the guru in Sri Vrindavan Dham.
Then I think Krsna and Prabhupada saved me to keep this most important
issue alive.
It was almost a lost case until Rupa Vilasa and others found the
evidence, especially the July 9th Newsletter, and other evidence and
presented it so nicely at the one and only so far debate. For years I
was going on just my memories and Yasoda’s diary and was called a liar
by TKG and Suhotra and others; but when I heard the tapes and saw the
Newsletter I was vindicated but am still awaiting the final verdict.

Whatever you decide you have been an inspiration to so many for so
long and will continue because it’s your nature and we love you for
all your great service. Please forgive me for being so bold to write
you this open letter and keep me as one of your many freinds and fans.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Hoping this meets you well,
Your servant,
Gauridasa Pandita Dasa

And your life will be sublime!

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