Apr 19 2009, UK — In 1977 Srila Prabhupada apparently departed this world. There were many devotees who witnessed this in Vrindavan. And for those of us that were not there to witness this with the physical organ of eyes, there were videos made.
The departure from this world of Srila Prabhupada has been misunderstood, misrepresented and misinformed. In March 1978, the GBC capitalized on the very fact that Srila Prabhupada was now no longer physically present. Primarily the GBC became unregulated, unable and incapable of regulating themselves, with no watchdog to oversee their mistakes and correct them. Because they were not uttama in their actions, words and decisions, any slight deviations were undetected, something that had happened in the past where Srila Prabhupada had to immediately rectify their mistakes. Srila Prabhupada was surprised that He had had to rectify their mistakes and they the GBC had missed this simple point.
So as time had passed to 1978 with no regulatory body in place, the GBC made the historical mistake of introducing the much maligned Zonal Acarya process. This conceptualised idea came about from a plethora of mistakes, misconceptions and misunderstandings, many of which still infiltrate.
My own definition of this era is called the “conceptualised physically present diksa guru theory”, which also happens to aid and abet the Disciplic Succession traditionalists who want to apply this dogmatically, mechanistically and inappropriately. In March 1978 this was exactly what was on offer from the GBC and the “uttama-adhikaris”, some of whom still think this is the axiomatic truth.
If the Disciplic Succession is not continued through Diksa initiations by uttama-adhikaris who were physically present, then the Disciplic Succession would end and be lost. Indeed, many “senior” devotees muted these very same words, and still do, in earnestness, unbelievably. So the scheme was dreamed up and set in place in rather a hasty meeting and introduced to the unsuspecting devotees of that time, and was bought hook, line and sinker. I can even remember how so many “senior” devotees instructed the new members here in the UK that Jayatirtha and then Bhagavan Goswami were indeed uttama-adhikaris, and this was taught in the Introductory Bhakta Programme in much the same way as Absolute Truth. What chance did the young devotees have if the senior experienced devotees were caught up in the illusion?
The original theory has had to be evolved, diluted and manipulated, essentially totally modified to keep apace the legacy of corruption, illicit behaviour and deviations, until today we have a particularly nebulous, errant and whimsical definition of “Diksa guru”. With so many contradictions going, on who knows what the GBC are talking about on this subject?
But the real idea of the concept was to control ISKCON through the process of Diksa Initiation and therefore the power, money and disciples. What should have happened was in the mid-eighties, when there was so much crashing down of the big “uttama” boys, is we should have come to our senses. It could have been a big relief and a totally different story. Unfortunately, due to the new boys on the block, so to speak, trying to get a piece of the action, we have been bombarded with the bluff of continued misconstrued philosophy. Even the then Chairman GBC Sannyasi/Guru made a full- hearted attempt to persuade us all that now Srila Prabhupada was gone and thereby not accessible, and the only exclusive “current link” to the Sampradaya was the bona fide physically present Diksa Gurus who by now were roaming the planet in hoards. Has there ever been so many vying for so few for so long for eternity?
The theory that had been introduced by the GBC in 1978 was based on at least two philosophical mistakes, the first being that Srila Prabhupada was gone and not available directly, and the second was “you,” needed a physical guru for the whole process of Diksa. An absent Diksa Guru can’t give Diksa if he isn’t here!!!!!! These two interpolations and assertions were conclusions from interpretations from Srila Jiva Goswami’s Krsna Sandharba, Anuccheda 153. You may remember a group of Sannyasis around the late ’80s presenting this philosophy together, with remarkably good success. In point of fact, they had diametrically interpreted the instruction of Srila Jiva Goswami’s writings, something that is popular in ISKCON to bolster up peculiar theses. Not that you could NOT associate with Krsna and Srila Prabhupada now that They had departed, but HOW to associate with Them in Their aprakrat feature. It’s really an ABC of Krsna Consciousness, although Krsna is no longer with us, He is aprakrata, we can still associate with Krsna through mantropasanamayi, worship through sound vibration. Lucky for us, otherwise there would be no point in chanting the Holy Name, even to the point of svarasiki, direct relish of rasa.
As we all know, the bona fide Spiritual Master is directly on the same platform of Absoluteness as Krsna, and the example of Srila Prabhupada is the same. To associate with Him through His Books, His Murti, His Pictures, His ISKCON, His Instructions, etc., which will eventually take us to direct relish of rasa with Srila Prabhupada. Actually, Srila Prabhupada emphasised over and over again the importance of vani over vapu. But the hallucination of the “physically present” guru was in place. And many devotees of good standing took on the burden of this weird theory, thinking it to be true.
The literal readers of the Bhagavatam and Bhagavad-gita think that even Krishna has a “physical” body and that the “physical” representation of the Supersoul is the embodied human being. Here we find the concept that the Spiritual Master is the “physical” representation of the Supersoul, and has been literally interpreted to mean a physical body. But when you are trying to fix a certain type of philosophy to match up with a misconception you have to clutch at straws to match them up. In 1978, this is exactly what we find, that to proceed with their concept of physically present diksa gurus there has to be philosophy to make it bona fide. So whenever the word “physical” is used in the Scripture, it has been interpreted to mean a “living” person that is viewable with the sense of eyesight.
Even though the Scriptures enjoin us to “see the scriptures through our ears”, shastra-chakshus, clearly we find discrepancies and perhaps deceit. The “physical” representation of the Supersoul is the Spiritual Master, whether in His vapu or vani. Even if the Spiritual Master is apparently absent He is still the “physical” representation of the Supersoul. All the previous Acaryas and Mahajanas are “physical” representations of the Supersoul, just as is His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada. The serious subtle manipulation of our understanding that the dis-appearance of Srila Prabhupada, the previous Acaryas and Mahajanas, makes them unavailable is paramountly inappropriate in our advancement in devotional service. Exactly how do we associate with the aforementioned Sadhus, viz-a-viz Sadhu-Sanga, unless they are available directly and currently to us all?
This thesis also raises a number of questions which seem to further undermine its validity:
1. If we can’t associate with Srila Prabhupada, what is the point in distributing His Books?
2. What is the point in reading His Books?
3. What is the point in reading the books of the previous Acaryas?
4. What is our position now that Srila Prabhupada has disappeared?
5. How do we currently have more access to Srila Prabhupada than newer devotees in ISKCON?
6. To what extent can a devotee who is less realized than Srila Prabhupada be a via medium capable of awarding divya-jnana?
7. How does he necessarily afford a new man any greater facility to associate with Srila Prabhupada?
8. Exactly what does physical presence have to offer them that Srila Prabhupada’s siksa does not?
The theory of having a physically present guru interferes with the devotee from association with any Sadhu that is not corporal (with veins), so when we arrive at stage 2 of kanishta adhikari, our devotional service is arrested. Which means, if we were to accept the theory, we are all confined to kanishta. For advancement in devotional service, the theory is self-defeating. All the Sadhus are aprakata, so in Sadhu-Sanga we associate through sound, receiving their blessings, encouragement and inspiration. We are connected to the greatest personalities in the universe by the medium of sound and instructions. The Sadhus are the most renounced, most humble, most pure and most ecstatic personalities. They actively give us association and constitute the real, eternal, living family of the spiritual world.
The continued debate for the mechanical application of the Disciplic Succession to continue via the self-appointment and vote for “physically” present Diksa Guru is based on many flawed ideas that were banded around in 1978 and more recently. The Disciplic Succession is only continued as it has traditionally been continued and cannot be applied inappropriately and dogmatically, artificially. But when we talk about Diksa initiation, we have to have a fully qualified Diksa Guru of the topmost quality to transmit the Diksa process specific for His disciples. In fact, the terms “bona fide” and “diksa” infer only uttama-adhikari.
The Diksa Guru has to be from the highest category. The 2nd and 3rd class devotees may have disciples, but can’t have Diksa disciples. Because of their insufficient knowledge they cannot award the process of Diksa. They can, however, guide devotees within ISKCON to Srila Prabhupada’s process of Diksa as in the Officiating Acarya process, a common practice that we all experience when coming to ISKCON. Therefore their disciples are siksa disciples and must be given diksa initiation from the Diksa Guru, who is Srila Prabhupada within ISKCON.
There is absolutely no doubt that Srila Prabhupada IS the Diksa Guru in ISKCON. We can’t prove He is NOT the Diksa Guru. The physical presence of Srila Prabhupada has no bearing on the process of Diksa that He introduced for ISKCON devotees, even after His disappearance. The presence of the other gurus in ISKCON is not evidence or proof that Srila Prabhupada is not the Diksa Guru, either.
The conceptualised physically present diksa guru theory was introduced in 1978 after Srila Prabhupada disappeared, so a need was created by the GBC to accommodate their own invented idea to control power through the process of diksa initiation. Which obviously backfired. The resultant fallout of these misconceptions has been a willingness to adopt the very same misconceptions by many devotees and misapply the Diksa Guru concept and the Disciplic Succession law to interpreted ends.
It is not in our remit to decide how and who is to continue the Disciplic Succession, and the very fact that the theory even influenced devotees to contemplate decisions on continuing the Disciplic Succession is evidence of the danger of accommodating theories like this. Who are we to think we can apply and continue the Disciplic Succession? Isn’t this the responsibility of Srila Prabhupada and the Absolute Truth, Krishna?
The point being that any introduction, establishment and decisions made on continuing the Disciplic Succession are the exclusive domain of Vaisnavas on the level of Srila Prabhupada and the Prominent Acaryas. Our inclusion into Srila Prabhupada’s Vaisnava family by His mercy and grace are not a qualification to manipulate Disciplic Succession laws for our own sense gratification. We are way beyond our portfolio, rather like the frog in the well analogy.
Although the GBC/Gurus have had over 31years for their trial and error process of establishing the continuance of the Disciplic Succession, we still have exactly the same process of Diksa and Transcendental Knowledge that Srila Prabhupada originally put into place for ISKCON, and we all follow His brand of devotional service in ISKCON. Srila Prabhupada is still worshipped as the present Diksa Guru in the same way as when He was physically present, which makes Him the exclusive Diksa Guru. The only way to argue that He is NOT the Diksa Guru for ISKCON is to stop worshipping Him as such. If the Gurus in ISKCON today are genuine, then the worship of Srila Prabhupada has to STOP now. We cant worship more than one Diksa Guru because it is tantamount to having two or more Diksa Gurus, which is illegitimate. The worship of Srila Prabhupada within the ISKCON infrastructure is as a Diksa Guru, the prominent Guru in ISKCON’s case. Srila Prabhupada’s Guru Puja after greeting the Deities is directly as the Diksa Guru, which is universally accepted and practiced by all devotees.
The next argument is, the reason you are worshipping your Diksa Guru and then Guru Puja for Srila Prabhupada, His Books, His ISKCON, etc. is because He is the Founder/Acarya and He loses His Diksa Guru status.. This contradiction in terms means you are your Diksa Guru’s disciple and Godbrother simultaneously, because you are worshipping Srila Prabhupada on the same terms as the Diksa Guru, totally incompatible, a spin-off from the conceptualised physically present guru theory. If it were normal to worship in this way, then Srila Prabhupada’s disciples would join in with the Gaudiya Math in Guru Puja for Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, and so on along the Disciplic Succession. God knows how Lord Brahma would get on worshipping Krsna’s higher link that does not exist. The whole concept becomes a nightmare of conundrums.
What makes sense is that Srila Prabhupada is the Diksa Guru because He is the initiator of the process of Diksa for ISKCON. Srila Prabhupada IS the current link and Founder/Acarya to be connected to, Srila Prabhupada is worshipped exclusively in ISKCON by all that join ISKCON, Srila Prabhupada continues the Disciplic Succession in ISKCON, as many branches and sub-branches can expand from the Disciplic Succession as necessary, as did in the past. New members are attracted to Srila Prabhupada or other Diksa Gurus in the Disciplic Succession in the branches and sub-branches that They have set-up.
There is no contravention of Disciplic Succession law and ALL disciples can have their desires fulfilled. This conclusion is not against the idea of guru, sadhu and scripture because all eventualities are taken into consideration, Disciplic Succession Law and ISKCON with Srila Prabhupada’s process of Diksa, and added branches. Who could not be in bliss?
What is stopping any devotee from setting up their very own organisation, coming up with an original name for it, and being the Founder/Acarya and Diksa Guru, as their Spiritual Master did with ISKCON? What is stopping you?