Thursday, 27 December 2012

When Lord Krishna Garlanded Prabhupada

By Bahushiras Das Adhikary
The following narration is from the visionary Memories series of Shriman Siddhanta das Adhikary. It is the remembrance of Shriman Bahushiras das Adhikary given in DVD 44 and in vol. 3, p. 334 of the book Memories-Anecdotes of a Modern-Day Saint.
After Shrila Prabhupada’s disappearance, [Patita Pavana das] asked if I’d like to assist Satswarupa’s Lilamrita project by interviewing people in India who had known Shrila Prabhupada. One of them was Acharya Prabhakar Misra, Prabhupada’s first disciple. Acharya Prabhakar Misra was clean-cut, well-behaved and articulate. His demeanor impressed me. He held a MA and PhD and was a very cultured Sanskrit scholar and teacher.
In Jhansi, Prabhupada had told Acharya Prabhakar. “I met you because I saw you in a dream and I knew that I was supposed to come here.” Prabhupada and he would do bhajan together. They’d hold Rathayatra festivals and they’d have programme in villages in the area.

Acharya Prabhakar said that on Shri Krishna Janmashtami in 1954, he had to go to Delhi. When he returned to Jhansi, he took a little rest, woke up at 1:00 am and heard Shrila Prabhupada ecstatically playing mridanga in the temple room. Prabhupada was chanting in total bliss.
Acharya Prabhakar went upstairs and saw Shrila Prabhupada bouncing around the temple room performing kirtan. Prabhupada was wearing a kadamba flower garland that went all the way down to his feet. Kadamba flowers are very rare in Jhansi and when they are available they are usually the size of a golf ball.
But the ones Prabhupada was wearing were big, the size of tennis balls. And he said that the atmosphere right down to the atoms in the room was not material, aprakrita. The place was surcharged with the fragrance of the heavenly planets.
Acharya Prabhakar wanted to ask Shrila Prabhupada, “Where did this garland come from? It is not available from the market.” But Shrila Prabhupada would not answer. His Divine Grace just kept on performing kirtan, bouncing round the room and chanting. The next morning Acharya Prabhakar asked Shrila Prabhupada, “Where did you get the garland, why did it have such a rich fragrance, and why were you feeling so blissful?”
Shrila Prabhupada told him, “I was chanting to Krishna and feeling some love for Him. And He appeared and gave me this garland. I went to touch His feet and He disappeared. Because of that I was dancing around the temple room.” Shrila Prabhupada was crying.
Acharya Prabhakar was very believable and I felt that what he told me was valid. He also said that sometimes Shrila Prabhupada’s mood was to perform kirtan intensely. He would chant on and on and on for three days straight.
We hear that sometimes he wouldn’t eat for long periods, especially near the end of his manifest lila, but remarkably in Jhansi, he was doing kirtan for a long period of time without eating or sleeping. And the result of his bhajan was that Krishna appeared.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Srila Prabhupada - a cowherd boy

Goloka and Montreal

Govinda Dasi
Govinda dasi is a disciple of Srila Prabhupada since 1967.She is his only disciple who is mentioned by name in Srimad-Bhagavatam.In this section we reproduce a few of her reminiscences of Srila Prabhupada from 
- the 1008 Ways to Remember Srila Prabhupada by Govinda dasi. 

Gaurasundara and I remained in Montreal for the duration of time that Swamiji was in India; that was about six months. During that time we drew many pictures for early Back to Godhead magazines and daily we worked in our small art studio while hearing Chaitanya Charitamrita and Srimad Bhagavatam. During that time I began working on a drawing of Krishna and Balarama returning home with their cows, millions of cows. It became a kind of meditation. Daily I worked on this drawing and although we had little information of how Vrindavana looked, it seemed to manifest from within the heart. Though we did many other pictures, this picture was the most dear to me. Even when I close my eyes I would still see an ocean of cows with Krishna and Balarama prancing before them and in my view, over to the right, that cowherd boy was clearly meant to be Srila Prabhupada. 
After all Swamiji had requested me to paint his portrait in San Francisco, and it was one of the first pictures I painted for him. Now I felt I was painting his spiritual portrait in Goloka. It was an innocent offering. I sent a copy of the drawing to Swamiji in Vrindavana, saying, 'This cowherd boy is my portrait of you'. Thank you, Srila Prabhupada for giving me that glimpse of Goloka. It spurred me on in my desire to serve you; even now when I see this picture, my original drawing has been colored in and hangs behind the Deities of Krishna Balarama, I think of you as I see you walking besides Krishna and Balarama, herding the cows home in the evening and I think that this is no accident that this very picture that I had offered to you so many years before is your portrait walking beside your beloved Krishna Balarama and you are there nearby. Thank you, Srila Prabhupada.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Ritvik Acarya or Diksa Guru?

By: Madhavananda das
Hare Krishna prabhus,
Locanananda prabhu has been describing his understanding of how initiations should be conducted.
The idea that initiated devotees should be the disciples of those people performing the initiation ceremony does not add up. If we follow this interpretation of the May 28th  conversation – that the new initiates are their disciples, and Prabhupada’s grand disciples; if we accept this then we also must accept what Prabhupada says right there in the previous sentence, that the ritvik system would only serve as a necessary formality for the time up until his physical departure, at which time the 11 disciples would assume the position of regular initiating gurus. So it doesn’t make any sense why you would still today call the initiators “ritvik acaryas”. Why not just call them diksa gurus? Your idea is basically the same as the GBC, only difference is you disagree that the initiating gurus should be worshiped. Perhaps we just don’t want to call them “initiating” or “diksa gurus” because we all know that Prabhupada has taught us that the initiating guru is to be worshiped as good as God.
Tamala Krsna: Is that called rtvik-acarya?
Prabhupada: Rtvik, yes.
Satsvarupa: Then what is the relationship of that person who gives the initiation and the…
Prabhupada:  He’s guru. He’s guru.
Satsvarupa: But he does it on your behalf.
Prabhupada: Yes. That is formality. Because in my presence one should not become guru, so on my behalf, on my order… Amara ajnaya guru hana. Be actually guru, but by my order.

Prabhupada  says on May 28th that the initiations would be done on his behalf only as a formality during his physical presence, and afterwards they would be regular initiating gurus, accepting their own disciples who would be be grand disciples of Prabhupada. So if we look at it this way, which is the same explanation given by the GBC, then the function of ritvik would have been only for during Srila Prabhupada’s physical presence, and afterwards there would be no more ritvik at that time. These chosen disciples would then be regular diksa gurus. So it does not make sense to still call them ritvik acaryas today. If we’re going to accept the conversation that way, that they are Prabhupada’s grand disciples, why not accept the whole thing? Prabhupada clearly says there that ritvik would only be during his physical presence.
But the other point is that Prabhupada says “on my order”. And this is the main point as to why some of us do not accept that Prabhupada ever actually authorized anyone for this position. The fact that so many of these 11 disciples later, after claiming themselves as successors, were then exposed in all kinds of illicit activities, is proof enough that Prabhupada never actually gave anyone such an order. And the fact that all these 2/3 elected rubberstamped gurus today keep falling down like dominos, is further enough proof that the current system is not bonafide either.
One may question why then Prabhupada would have lead them to believe that they were going to become initiating gurus. The May 28th  recording itself has been forensically analyzed and is claimed to be adulterated. But even taking it as genuine, it is possible that Prabhupada was giving a test to his disciples by telling them this and then never actually giving such an order. There is also the fact that many of the tapes from Prabhupada’s final days have been totally eliminated, being burned in a fire after being put in the hands of Tamal Krishna. So there could have been many more things Prabhupada spoke on this matter to these disciples.
In any case, Prabhupada said when he orders. Where is such an order no one can clearly say. The follow up letter to this conversation which came on July 9th, does not mention anything about these persons transitioning into diksa gurus after his departure. It only describes the ritvik system and says that it should be implemented henceforward. It does not say that it should end at any time. That is an assumption that the system should be terminated after his departure. We are also making the assumption that Prabhupada was asked on May 28th specifically how initiations would continue after his departure, and that Prabhupada then followed up a few weeks later by issuing a letter to the entire society regarding initiations, but which has nothing to do with what would happen after his departure, which was the whole point of the GBC meeting.
This letter is the first and last letter, the one and only letter that Prabhupada ever issued to the entire society concerning initiations, and we are proposing that it has absolutely nothing to do with how initiations would continue into the future – that it is only a description of how things would go on for a few months, and after that we have no other specific instructions on how things would go on, aside from the May 28th conversation, which was never instructed by Prabhupada to be issued to all leaders of the society, and which speaks nothing of there being a multitude of initiators who would be rubberstamped by an ecclesiastical board. This makes a lot of sense – we’re saying that the May 28th conversation supersedes the letter which Prabhupada signed and ordered to be issued to the whole society. That the letter actually has nothing to do with after Prabhupada’s departure because all the instructions we need Prabhupada gave on May 28th, a recording which was not made available to anyone for 10 years after Prabhupada’s departure. That makes a lot of sense.
If we believe that justification for ending the ritvik system was given on May 28th, and that Prabhupada, despite saying “when I order”, had already given the order at the same time, then we have to believe that Prabhupada actually authorized those 11 persons to become regular initiating gurus to be worshiped as good as God. Obviously that does not make much sense either.
This is the only difference between Locanananda prabhus idea and that of the GBC, whether these “initiating gurus” should be worshiped or not. Where does Prabhupada say that the initiating guru would not be worshiped? We’re saying that Prabhupada does not mention anywhere that he would accept disciples after his departure. But where does Prabhupada mention anything about this idea, that someone would be an initiating guru simply as a formality, not to be worshiped? The whole reason why this matter is so controversial is because Prabhupada always describes the position of the initiating guru as worshipable, on the same level with the Supreme.  And he says that only a first class mahabhagavata devotee is eligible to occupy the position of initiating guru.
“Our next spiritual master is he who initiates us into transcendental knowledge,
and he is to be worshiped as much as I am. […] the spiritual master who
initiates the disciple is called disksa-guru.” (Lord Krishna Krsna Book 80)
“When one has attained the topmost position of maha-bhagavata, he is to be
accepted as a guru and worshiped exactly like Hari, the Personality of Godhead.
Only such a person is eligible to occupy the post of a guru.” (Madhya 24.331 purport)
“The guru must be situated on the topmost platform of devotional service. There
are three classes of devotees, and the guru must be accepted from the topmost
class. The first-class devotee is the spiritual master for all kinds of people.”
(Madhya 24.330)
Prabhupada defines the initiating guru as “the real spiritual master”, the “one spiritual master”, the “only one.”:
“To answer your last point, one who teaches can be treated as Spiritual Master. It is not that after we become initiated we become perfect. No. It requires teaching. So if we take instruction from them, all senior godbrothers may be treated as guru, there is no harm. Actually, you have only one Spiritual Master, who initiates you, just as you have only one father. But every Vaisnava should be treated as prabhu, master, higher than me, and in this sense, if I learn from him, he may be regarded as guru. It is not that I disobey my real Spiritual Master and call someone else as Spiritual Master. That is wrong. It is only that I can call Spiritual Master someone who is teaching me purely what my initiating Spiritual Master has taught.”(Letter to Sri Galim 11/20/71)
So this description given by Prabhupada above does not comply with the idea that the diksa guru can be just someone who performs a ceremony, is not worshiped, etc. Where does Prabhupada define diksa as simply a ceremony, or formality? This idea disregards the actual meaning Prabhupada gives for diksa – the reception of transcendental knowledge, which is primarily being given through Srila Prabhupada. So how one can say Prabhupada is not the one giving diksa? This is overemphasizing the formality aspect which Prabhupada says is not even essential, and it proposes a parampara which is mainly based on formality, and which overlooks the actual essence – reception of transcendental knowledge. We can cover it over by calling them “ritvik acaryas”, but then to say that the disciples are their own and Prabhupada’s grand disciples, what we are really saying is that they are the initiators the one’s giving the diksa, in other words – the diksa gurus. Why not just say it plainly? Prabhupada however, has not anywhere defined the role of an initiator, or diksa guru, whatever you may call it, in this way.
All of the following statements from Srila Prabhupada describing diksa and disciplic succession are completely at odds with the idea that diksa is just a ceremony, a formality, and that the initiating guru is just someone who is part of that formality. No, Prabhupada says the diksa guru is the real guru, whom we get the knowledge from, and whom we worship, and who must be an uttama adhikari – someone who actually sees Krishna always, not just someone who performs a fire ceremony and then has practically nothing or very little to do with the devotee thereafter.
”Diksa actually means initiating a disciple with transcendental knowledge by which he becomes freed from all material contamination.” (Madhya 4.110) “Initiation means receiving the pure knowledge of spiritual consciousness.” (Madhya 9.61) “Diksa is the process by which one can awaken his transcendental knowledge and vanquish all reactions caused by sinful activity.” (Madhya 15.108) “In other words, the spiritual master awakens the sleeping living entity to his original consciousness so that he can worship Lord Visnu. This is the purpose of diksa, or initiation. Initiation means receiving the pure knowledge of spiritual consciousness.” (Madhya 9.61) “…disciplic succession does not always mean that one has to be initiated officially. Disciplic succession means to accept the disciplic conclusion.” (Letter Dinesh 10/31/69) “Initiation or no initiation, first thing is knowledge. (break) …knowledge. Initiation is formality. Just like you go to a school for knowledge, and admission is formality. That is not very important thing.” (Conv. 10/16/76)
Nowhere does Prabhupada ever describe this relationship of an initiating guru in such a way that the initiator is simply a person who performs a ceremony simply for the sake of formality , and does not receive worship.  That type of guru at best is what Prabhupada always defines as an instructing, or siksa guru. And Prabhupada says one may have many siksa gurus, but the initiating guru must be one. Why? Well it must be because the initiating guru is worshiped as good as God, and thus must factually be as good as God, a mahabhagavata, infallible. Also because the instructions of the initiating guru are the primary source of knowledge.
Where did Prabhupada ever describe that devotees would do all the worship for their grand spiritual master and siksa guru? Prabhupada did not initiate disciples and then have them doing guru puja for Bhaktisiddhanta. Perhaps there are a few isolated cases one can dig up somewhere of instances where the siksa guru was the prominent guru, but as far as Prabhupada’s teachings, where has Prabhupada given such examples? As far as I’ve seen, Prabhupada practically always, with few rare exceptions, defines the initiating guru as one who is a mahabhagavata and is worshiped as good as God.
I do not know why there is the confusion with calling these people “ritvik acaryas” and saying that at the same time they accept their own disciples who are Prabhupada’s grand disciples. If we accept that these people are the initiators and that the initiates are Prabhupada’s grand disciples, then why not just comply with the GBC and accept that they should be worshiped? Even the few instances where Prabhupada did indicate to his disciples that they could eventually occupy the position of initiating guru, he acknowledged that they likewise would  also be worshiped:
“I have heard that there is some worship of yourself by the other devotees. Of
course it is proper to offer obeisances to a Vaisnava, but not in the presence of the
spiritual master. After the departure of the spiritual master, it will come to that
stage, but now wait. Otherwise it will create factions”. (Letter to Hansaduta October
1, 1972)
Personally I believe that such few quotes like these show that Prabhupada encouraged the ambitions of certain disciples in order to continue serving and being instrumental in expanding the mission. It is not however, necessarily proof that they were yet on the level. Of course this a favorite type of quote for our friends who adhere to the rubber stamping process. They have their quotes too. The most interesting quote I’ve seen is one which simultaneously accommodates both points of view:
“One should not become a spiritual master unless he has attained the platform of uttama-adhikari. 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. Therefore a disciple should be careful to accept an uttama-adhikari as a spiritual master.” (NOI5)
Notice how it somewhat acknowledges accepting initiation from a guru who is not on the top level, while at the same time moreover it discourages doing so. My conclusion is that this subject matter of accepting disciples is intentionally somewhat ambiguous, lending itself to various interpretations. I believe that when Prabupada was directly approached with the question of initiations after his departure, he likely had good reason to not answer in clear cut black and white terms. It may have just not been the Lord’s will for him to do so. And this is why we may not find any clear cut, black and white statement where Srila Prabhupada says flat out “I will continue to be the initiating guru even after my physical departure.” Think of what may have ensued had Prabhupada actually made such a statement. It is likely that envy would have surmounted causing great disruption. In order to avoid such disruption, while at the same time keeping everyone’s ambitions busily engaged, Prabhupada did not directly answer this question. It is meant to be understood be revelation. This concept is described in the CC.:
TRANSLATION: At first all the followers of Advaita Acarya shared a single opinion. But
later they followed two different opinions, as ordained by providence. PURPORT: The words daivera karana indicate that by dint of providence, or by God’s will, the followers of Advaita Acarya divided into two parties. Such disagreement among the disciples of one acarya is also found among the members of the Gaudiya Matha.
We all know the story of disagreements after disappearance of Bhaktisiddhanta over precisely the same issue, and how they started rubberstamping initiating gurus, and how Prabhupada has said that we should never make the same mistake in ISKCON. It is ironic how history has repeated itself although the warnings were there written clearly on the wall. Anyhow, the way I see it Prabhupada has given instruction on this matter by various indications which require serious inquiry on the part of any devotee. Prabhupada did not need to answer this question directly in black and white terms, about how initiations would continue. It is apparently by Lord Krishna’s arrangement that each devotee is given the task to inquire for themselves into this matter and sincerely try to understand the instructions Srila Prabhupada has given in this regard. It is basically a test for all. In this way the Lord is fulfilling everyone’s desire and rewarding everyone according to their surrender. It is by the will of Providence that this disagreement is there, just as the disagreement was the will of Providence after Bhaktisiddhanta’s passing, as stated above.
Anyway that you look at this situation, any argument that you give there will be questions and some things may not seem to make perfect sense. So we have to look at which one makes the most sense of all. This argument that these people are the initiators, not Prabhupada, and that no one else can anymore become a direct initiated disciple of Prabhupada, just does not quite add up nearly as much as the concept of everyone accepting Prabhupada as the initiator, as a unifying principle for the future of this movement. At least as far as I am concerned. But hey, we all have our free will. Everyone is entitled to believe whatever they want. What makes the most sense to you? It is not possible for everyone to always agree on one thing. In the end we have to agree to disagree and acknowledge that there will be different groups of devotees according to different natures and different levels. Prabhupada acknowledges this in his teachings and instucts for us to associate with likeminded devotees. This website is called “Prabhupadanuga” and is obviously intended for devotees who believe that Prabhupada set up a rtivik system to continue accepting his own initiated dsiciples after his physical departure. Why there are persons here trying to convince others of something to the contrary is beyond me.
There are many, many points to make in support of accepting the continuation of the ritvik system, and we can go on forever. But there’s two more points I’d like to add here. First point is regarding what Prabhupada has stated several times in later years, when questioned by news reporters, one being from Time magazine; these are some major public statements. In late 1976, on at least three occasions, reporters specifically questioned Srila Prabhupada on whether he would have any successor after his departure. Note that each time Srila Prabhupada indicates there would not be any successor, but that he was training ‘managers’, or GBC to carry on the movement. Each time he only refers to the zonal system and GBC zonal secretaries. He never said then that his disciples would initiate their own disciples and carry on the parampara in that way. He refers again and again to the zonal system and GBC secretaries. Again, a zonal system is only required for initiations if we’re talking about ritvik initiations, because Prabhupada has never defined an initiating guru as being restricted to any zone.
Reporter: “Is there anyone who is designated to succeed you as the primary teacher of the movement?” Prabhupada: “I am training some, I mean to say, advanced students so that they may very easily take up the charge. I have made them GBC. They are under my direct training, and I think they will be able to conduct this movement.” Reporter: “Do you expect to name one person as your successor or have you already?” Prabhupada: That I am not contemplating now. But there is no need of one person.” (Int. 6/4/76)
Interviewer: “What happens when that inevitable time comes when a successor is needed?” Ramesvara: “He is asking about the future, who will guide the movement in the future.” Prabhupada: “They will guide. I am training them.” Interviewer: “Will there be one spiritual leader, though?” Prabhupada: “No, I am training GBC, eighteen all over the world.” (Conv. 6/10/76 L.A.)
Interviewer: “I was wondering if he had a successor to do… Do you have a successor to take your place when you die?” Prabhupada: “Not yet settled up. Not yet settled up.” Interviewer: “So what process would the Hare Krsnas…?” Prabhupada: “We have got secretaries. They are managing.”
(Conv. 7/14/76 N.Y.) Reporter: “Who will succeed you when you die ?” Prabhupada: “I will never die! I will live forever from my books and you will utilize.”
The last point is regarding the fact that Prabhupada’s final will states that only his initiated disciples can be the trustees for ISKCON properties. The continuation of the ritvik system is the only way that this condition can be met in future generations.
In summary, I put forward several questions for anyone who has the same conclusion Locanananda prabhu is giving. Our views are similar in the sense that we agree that only Srila Prabhupada should be worshiped. But to preach that no can anymore become Srila Prabhupada’s initiated disciple I perceive to be a form of exclusiveness which is there to protect the idea that one is special, one of the chosen few “Prabhupada disciples”. It is another form of distinction and adoration. I do not see how this idea is meant to expand the Krishna consciousness movement. People need to be given encouragement and full faith that they can be directly connected to a mahabhagavata pure devotee. There is too much cheating going on in this Kali Yuga, and people need something which they can be assured of, and which will unify people. This whole business of so many people having their own disciples is just factionism and so much cheating. It does not make any sense that this is what Prabhupada has intended for us. Let’s give up this sort of monopoly on being a Prabhupada disciple and rather just encourage everyone we can that they too can be a disciple of Prabhupada.
Here are my questions:
1. If todays initiated devotees are Prabhupada’s grand disciples, why do you call the initiators “ritvik acaryas” when Prabhupada said ritvik would be done only as a formality during his physical presence ? (provided he gave the order for them to become initiating gurus). Why do you not just call them initiating gurus or diksa gurus?
2. Where does Prabhupada describe this relationship of an initiating guru who is not worshiped and who is simply someone who performs a formality and does not necessarily even have much involvement in the disciples’ life? how do you describe the actual relationship between the person conducting the initiation, whom you call a “ritvik acarya”, and the newly initiated devotee. Where does Prabhupada describe such a relationship?
3. Where does Prabhupada define diksa as merely a ceremony, or a formality as being the essence of initiation?
4. How do you explain that in Prabhupada’s final will it states only his intiated disciple can be a trustee of any ISKCON property. How will this condition be met in future generations?

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Prabhupadanugas Sedro Woolley Wa USA Videos

Govardhan puja festival Sedro woolley Wa 2012
This is the first kirtan during arotik. GovardhanMountain is made out of halava, couscous, green tomato cake, bean pate, a lake of sweet rice and lots of other delectables.....
And of course GiriHari-Govardhana silas--several of Them, sits atop it all....

The second video of the Govardastakam bhajan sung by Radharani devi dasi from Vancouver.
There are several ways to sing this song, and this is an upbeat version , nicely done.
Kanhaiya das and his family brought many home made ghee wick lamps for the devotees
to offer to Lord Damodara...

Iskcon Inc Sunday program at Andrey's apt in Moscow