By:Dama Ghosha Dasa (Seattle, USA)
I read one story of a devotee who sat in on a discussion of some iskgurus who were saying that practically all of their disciples fall away in 2-3 years, so get as much (money) out of them as soon as you can. This is the mentality of a family priest, not a Vaishnava acharya.
So after these two types of cheaters come together for some guru-disciple business, then what happens? Shastra states that the bogus guru and the bogus disciple both go to hell. Not a very pretty picture is it?
WHAT IS REAL INITIATION?
Conversations, May 20, 1975, Melbourne
Devotee (3): Srila Prabhupada, if one goes to the temple, if one attends the temple regularly and inquires from the devotees about the devotional principles, and because of some reason, it's not necessarily... it's not convenient for him to live in the temple at that time, and he is living with people...
Prabhupada: No, no, you live in temple or without temple, if you follow the instruction, that is wanted. If you live without temple and chant sixteen rounds and observe the regulative principle, that's all right. It doesn't require that you should live in the temple. And if you live in the temple and do all nonsense, then what is the use of living in the temple?
Devotee: Is it wrong to think of initiation then? Or initiated also?
Prabhupada: Their "thinking" means they are not fixed up. That very word suggests that they are not fixed up. Oh, initiation can take place anywhere.
[In the above conversation we see Srila Prabhupada stressing that initiation can take place anywhere. Many devotees think that initiation has to take place ONLY in a temple with the fire sacrifice, all your family members, Temple President, GBC sanction, etc. Yet here Srila Prabhupada states that initiation can take place anywhere. Why is that?
Because initiation means it is an affair of the heart when the aspirant decides he or she wants to be guided by the parampara disciplic succession as delivered down through eternal time. When THAT time comes, THAT moment in time is considered "initiation". Then a formal initiation can take place later, even decades later or 11 years, as was Srila Prabhupada's personal case.]
Lectures, December 10, 1976, Hyderabad
So anyway, from 1922 [when he first met Bhaktisiddhanta Maharaj] to 1933 practically I was not initiated, but I got the impression of preaching Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's cult. That I was thinking. And that was the initiation by my Guru Maharaja. Then officially I was initiated in 1933 because in 1923 I left Calcutta. I started my business at Allahabad. So I was always thinking of my Guru Maharaja, that "I met a very nice sadhu." Although I was doing business I never forgot him.
[So above is the proof by Srila Prabhupada himself. He states that he first met Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Maharaj in 1923, at which point he considered himself "initiated" even though he waited until 11 years later for the formal initiation, due to business concerns which took him out of Calcutta and away from Bhaktisiddhanta Maharaj.]
Conversations, October 16, 1976, Chandigarh
Interviewer: What is the procedure of the movement? Do you initiate yourself all the disciples or do your other disciples also do that?
Prabhupada: Well, initiation or no initiation, first thing is knowledge. Initiation is formality. Just like you go to a school for knowledge, and admission is formality. That is not very important thing.... So our this movement is successful...
[In this conversation Srila Prabhupada states that for initiation, the first thing is knowledge, not the banana thrown into the sacred fire. First we have to be convinced about what we are hearing and doing, then that conviction becomes our desire for initiation within the heart by following the teachings laid down by the acharyas in our sampradaya.]
Srimad Bhagavatam 10.13.54
The visnu-murtis all had eternal, unlimited forms, full of knowledge and bliss and existing beyond the influence of time. Their great glory was not even to be touched by the jnanis engaged in studying the Upanishads.
Mere shastra jnana, or knowledge in the Vedas, does not help anyone understand the personality of Godhead. Only one who is favored or shown mercy by the Lord can understand Him. This is also explained in the Upanishads (Mundaka Upanishad 3.2.3):
nayam atma pravacanena labhyo
na medhasa na bahuna srutena
yam evaisa vrnute tena labhyas
tasyaisa atma vivrnute tanum svam
"The Supreme Lord is not obtained by expert explanations, by vast intelligence, or even by much hearing. He is obtained only by one whom He Himself chooses. To such a person, He manifests His own form."