“Who is my disciple?”:
Srila Prabhupada explains


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 27, Spring 2010

In 1968, declaring his status as the spiritual master of ISKCON, Srila Prabhupada stated:

"Yes, I am the spiritual master of this institution, and all the members of the society, they're supposed to be my disciples. They follow the rules and regulations which I ask them to follow, and they are initiated by me spiritually."
(Srila Prabhupada Radio Interview, March 12th, 1968)

In the quotes below, Srila Prabhupada reiterates this point, making it clear that the requirement for being considered as his initiated disciple is to be disciplined by his rules and regulations. Furthermore, Srila Prabhupada does not state that following his rules and regulations and being disciplined by them (disciple) is dependent on needing to have physical contact with him. One does not therefore become the initiated disciple of the person who simply administers the initiation ceremony (ritvik) or who asks us to follow the rules and regulations given by Srila Prabhupada, just because he may proclaim: "Srila Prabhupada has departed, and so you must accept me as his successor!".

One who follows Srila Prabhupada's discipline is Srila Prabhupada's disciple

Prabhupada: "Who is my disciple? First of all let him follow strictly the disciplined rules."
Devotee: "As long as one is following, then he is..."
Prabhupada: "Then he is all right."
(Srila Prabhupada Morning Walk, June 13th, 1976)

"A disciple means one who is always following the orders of the spiritual master. So I instruct my disciples to refrain from four prohibitions, namely no eating of meat, fish or eggs, no illicit sex life, no taking of intoxication, including tea, coffee, cigarettes, etc., and no gambling. Besides that my students must chant sixteen rounds of japa-mala of Hare Krsna mantra daily. So if you are able to follow these principles without fail, then you are as good as my disciple."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, August 11th, 1972)

"That is dharma, discipline, to abide by the state laws. There must be some discipline. Similarly, to make yourself advanced in spiritual life, you must have to observe the discipline. Without discipline, it is not possible. Adau gurvasrayam. Therefore Rupa Gosvami says in his Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu that discipline means, one who observes discipline, he is called disciple. Everyone knows it. Disciple means one who observes discipline. If one does not observe discipline, then he is not a disciple. And one who is not a disciple, his life is chaotic. He cannot be happy. Therefore Vedas say that "You must accept a bona fide guru and become disciplined under his instruction.""
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, January 21st, 1974)

"A spiritual master means voluntarily accepting a great personality whose rules and regulations he must abide by. This is accepting of spiritual master, voluntarily accepting somebody, "Yes, sir. Whatever you say, I'll accept." Sisya. Sisya means who abides by the rules. That is called sisya. Or English, "discipline." So either you take English or Sanskrit, the same meaning. Sisya means who accepts the ruling of his spiritual master; and disciple means also the same thing, who becomes disciplined by the spiritual master."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, September 12th, 1969)

"My advice is always chant 16 rounds minimum and follow the four regulative principles. All of my disciples must agree on this point otherwise they are not my disciples. Let one live anywhere, but stick to the principles. Disagreements will continue in this material world. So one may live in a suitable place, but one must follow these five principles. My disciples must follow these principles living either in heaven or hell."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, February 17th, 1976)

Reporter: "But suppose I were to become an initiate. Wouldn't I have to come and live in the temple?"
Srila Prabhupada: "Not necessarily."
Reporter: "I can stay at home?"
Srila Prabhupada: "Oh, yes."
Reporter: "What about work? Would I have to give up my job?"
Srila Prabhupada: "No, you'd simply have to give up your bad habits and chant the Hare Krsna mantra on these beads -- that's all."
Reporter: "Would I have to give any financial support?"
Srila Prabhupada: "No, that is your voluntary wish. If you give, that's all right. And if you don't, we don't mind. We do not depend on anyone's financial contribution. We depend on Krsna."
(The Science of Self-Realization, Chapter 2)

Srila Prabhupada's physical presence not necessary to initiate disciples

"So it is becoming very expensive to send so many sets of beads such long distance, and it has become little bothersome for me also, so I think now you may be appointed by me to give first initiations to new disciples by chanting on their beads on my behalf. In America Kirtanananda Swami is doing that. So now if there are two of you that will give me great relief. Kirtanananda will chant on the beads for new devotees in America, Canada, like that, you can chant on the beads for the European continent new disciples. They shall, of course, still be considered as my disciples, not that they shall become your disciples, but you will be empowered by me to chant their beads and that is the same effect of binding master and disciple as if I were personally chanting."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, January 4th, 1973)


Return to IRM Homepage


Please chant: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna, Krishna, Hare, Hare,
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama, Rama, Hare, Hare.
And be Happy!