Saturday, 17 December 2011

The Guru and Initiation Myth

1) MYTH: “Diksa (spiritual initiation) can only take place when the spiritual master is present on the planet since he needs a physical body in order to absorb all the new disciple’s karma (sinful reactions).”
BUSTED: As interesting as the above restriction to the transcendental process of diksa sounds, it was never once mentioned by Srila Prabhupada, and since he is our ultimate authority we can only conclude it is speculation.

Furthermore: Srila Prabhupada taught that the spiritual master would sometimes suffer bad dreams or sickness when accepting a disciple’s karma, but never once did he say that without such physical manifestations diksa was not possible.
If it was essential for Srila Prabhupada to be physically present in order to absorb his disciple’s karma, then that would mean that any of his disciples who may have performed even one sinful act since he physically departed is doomed to remain in the material world.
Srila Prabhupada accepted that Lord Jesus Christ could give liberation to his followers: “Actually, one who is guided by Jesus Christ, he’ll get liberation, certainly.”
(Room Conversation, July 4th, 1972, recorded in Perfect Questions, Perfect Answers)
And yet Lord Jesus has not had a physical body in which to suffer such symptoms for over two thousand years. Ultimately it is Lord Krishna who absorbs all the sinful reactions, not the spiritual master: “The poor spiritual master is kind and merciful enough to accept a disciple and partially suffer for that disciple’s sinful activities, but Krishna, being merciful to His servant, neutralizes the reactions of sinful deeds for the servant who engages in preaching His glories.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 9.9.5, purport)
2) Myth: BUSTED: Yet again the above “injunction” is never once mentioned in the entire, vast cannon of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings, and can therefore be safely discarded.
If this were true, then thousands of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples were never properly initiated since he did not physically attend many of the initiation ceremonies, as the following letter proves: “At your recommendation I have consented to give second initiation to both Sriman Traidas and his wife Pramada. (…) First of all you must secure one tape of me reciting Gayatri(2) mantra. (…) Then you must hold a fire yajna for the two devotees as you have seen so many times before. Then let them each hear the tape through the right ear, privately and individually (…) Then you can get the thread on Traidas’s body.”
(Srila Prabhupada Letter to Danavir, Nairobi, 27th September, 1971)
(1) Devotional regulations required for Deity worship and initiation (2) Special mantra given at the time of second initiation 3) MYTH: “Pariksa (mutual testing and examination) between the Guru and disciple, an essential pre-initiation procedure, can only take place if they physically meet.”
BUSTED: Since Srila Prabhupada did not physically meet many thousands of his initiated disciples, this cannot be an essential aspect of the initiation process. In most cases Srila Prabhupada delegated this examination of the prospective disciple to his Temple Presidents or some other representative.
It was their responsibility to make sure new candidates for initiation were strictly following for a minimum of six months for first initiation. This approach is sanctioned in Srila Prabhupada’s books: “In our Krsna Consciousness Movement the requirement is that one must be prepared to give up the four pillars of sinful life [...] In western countries especially we first observe whether a potential disciple is prepared to follow the regulative principles (…) In this way the disciple renders devotional service under the guidance of the spiritual master or his representative for at least six months to a year.” (Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya-lila, 24.330, purport)
Generally the newcomer would examine Srila Prabhupada by studying his books. 4) MYTH: “We must hear the gayatri mantra, and spiritual knowledge in general, from the lips of the spiritual master. Therefore the Guru must be physically present in order to initiate disciples.”
BUSTED: This idea comes from quotes such as the following: “When one’s knowledge of mantras is received from the lips of the bona fide spiritual master, one’s mantra is considered pure…” (Hrdyananda dasa Goswami’s translation and purport, Srimad Bhagavatam 11.21)
As we saw Srila Prabhupada instruct above: “First of all you must secure one tape of me reciting Gayatri mantra.” So, whilst no one is denying that hearing directly from the lips of a pure devotee would be good, we can also conclude that listening to a tape must be sufficiently potent, or else why would Srila Prabhupada have sanctioned this as part of general initiation procedure within ISKCON?
Srila Prabhupada also placed great emphasis on the distribution of his books, and equated “reading” such books with “hearing” directly from the spiritual master: “Reading or hearing from the realized person there is no difference…” (Srila Prabhupada Letter to Punjabi Premanand, 16th April, 1976)
“These are not ordinary books. It is recorded chanting. Anyone who reads, he is hearing.” (Srila Prabhupada Letter to Rupanuga Das, 19th October, 1974).”


  1. Even when Prabhupada never personally met his disciple, he wrote a letter formally accepting the recommended dsicple.
    You may have accepted Srlla Prabhupada, but where is your confirmation that he has accepted you?
    Do you think anyone can force Prabhupada to accept him/her as a disciple, without his acknowledged consent?
    Bhojadeva dasa

  2. I never claimed that I can force Srila Prabhupada to do anything. This is patently absurd. What I did claim was that Srila Prabhupada continues to accept disciples. This is entirely in line with Srila Prabhupada's statement in his Declaration of Will of 4th June 1977 that executive directors of ISKCON properties must be "my initiated disciple".
    For Your' information - a Will is written for what happens after a person leaves their body.

    My statement is also in line with Prabhupada's signed directive dated July 9th 1977, where it is stated three times that all future disciples are initiated disciples of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

    I suggest you reads the July 7th, 1977 Room Conversation between Srila Prabhupada and Tamala Krishna Goswami in Vrindavan, where Prabhupada devolves the power of attorney to the

    "So without waiting for me, whoever you consider deserves...That will depend on discretion"
    (Srila Prabhupada to TKG, July 7th, 1977).

    "I shall remain your PERSONAL GUIDANCE, physically present, or NOT PHYSICALLY.(Room Conv., 14/7/77. Vrindavan)

    "As far as my blessing is concerned, it does NOT require my physical presence." (SPL Bala Krsna, 30/6/74)

    Indian Lady that Spiritual Master guiding after the death?
    Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Yes. Just like Krsna is guiding us, similarly Spiritual Master will guide (Lecture, 23/9/69)

    Madhudvisa: Is there any way for a Christian to, without the help of a spiritual master, to reach the spiritual sky through believing in the words of Jesus Christ and trying to follow his teachings?
    Prabhupada: I don’t follow.
    Tamala Krsna: Can a Christian in this age, without a spiritual master, but by reading the Bible and following Jesus’s words, reach the…
    Prabhupada: When you read Bible, you follow spiritual master. How can you say without? As soon as you read Bible, that means you are following the instruction of Lord Jesus Christ, that means you are following spiritual master. So where is the opportunity of being without spiritual master?
    Madhudvisa: I was referring to a living spiritual master.
    Prabhupada: Spiritual master is not the question of… Spiritual master is eternal. Spiritual master is eternal. So your question is without spiritual master. Without spiritual master you cannot be, at any stage of your life. You may accept this spiritual master or that spiritual master. That is a different thing. But you have to accept. As you say that “by reading Bible,” when you read Bible that means you are following the spiritual master represented by some priest [ritvik] or some clergyman [ritvik] in the line of Lord Jesus Christ. So any case, you have to follow a spiritual master. There cannot be the question without spiritual master. Is that clear?
    So according to Prabhupada Jesus Christ is the spiritual master for all the Christian who follow Jesus as it is.Jesus Christ doesn't have to give in writing if he is accepting them as his disciples.

    In that same above conversation Prabhupada explains the ritvik system as a Christian would understand it. His disciples in the west are mostly converted Christians and Jews. This simply means a Christian today, right now, if he wants Jesus as his guru, then that person must follow, thru a local priest (or ritvik) all the teachings of Jesus. How does he do this? By reading the bible and following, as explained thru a priest (ritvik priest) of Jesus Christ).

  3. July 9th, 1977 - "Now that Srila Prabhupada has named thesse 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."
    (Srila Prabhupada’s final signed Directive describing the initiation system to be followed in ISKCON, sent to all GBC's and Temple Presidents )
    July 11th, 1977 - "A letter has been sent to all the Temple Presidents and GBC which you should be receiving soon describing the process for initiation to be followed in the future. Srila Prabhupada has appointed thus far eleven representatives who will initiate new devotees on His behalf."
    (Letter from Tamala Krishna Goswami to Kirtananda describing the above system)
    July 19th, 1977 - "Make your own field and continue to be ritvik and act on my charge."
    (Room Conversation, above dictated by Srila Prabhupada to his secretary Tamala Krishna Goswami)
    July 31st, 1977 - "Make your own field and continue to become ritvik and act on my behalf."
    (Above dictation sent out to Hamsaduta Swami by Tamala Krishna Goswami in a letter)
    Nov 1977 - "The system of management will continue as it is now and there is no need of any change."
    Srila Prabhupada is clearly saying the temple president may henceforward send recommendation for first and second initiation to whichever of these eleven representatives and 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.
    Prabhupada devolves the power of attorney to the
    ritviks.So Srila Prabhupada is accepting all of us as his initiated disciple through the ritviks.