A Christian Ex-pastor Writes


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 34, Winter 2011/12, Interactive

"I am a Christian (and former pastor) who has really benefited from the writings of Srila Prabhupada. I am also a witness to the pre-1977 and post-1977 ISKCON. [...] I also saw the radical change in ISKCON devotees after Prabhupada's passing. It was then that I noticed devotees with an incredible propensity for violence, which the media soon picked up on. So perhaps your book The Final Order would be a good place to start for an outsider such as myself who wants to know what happened to Prabhupada's movement. In the meantime, I am hoping it is ok to ask some questions given below."
- Kel McMahon, California, USA

"1) Is it possible for someone who chants the maha-mantra and follows the instructions of Prabhupada to go back to Godhead without ever receiving initiation?"

Editor replies:

Srila Prabhupada distinguishes between initiation, and the formalising of that initiation via a ceremony:

"So anyway, from 1922 to 1933 practically I was not initiated, but I got the impression of preaching Caitanya Mahaprabhu's cult. That I was thinking. And that was the initiation by my Guru Maharaja."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 10/12/1976)

"Initiation is a formality. If you are serious, that is real initiation. [...] My touch is simply a formality. It is your determination, that is initiation."
(Srila Prabhupada, "The Search for the Divine", Back To Godhead)

"The chanting of Hare Krsna is our main business, that is real initiation. And as you are all following my instruction, in that matter, the initiator is already there."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 19/8/1968)

"Well, initiation or no initiation, first thing is knowledge... knowledge. Initiation is formality. Just like you go to a school for knowledge, and admission is formality. That is not very important thing."
(Srila Prabhupada Interview, 16/10/1976)

"Faith means firm conviction that "If I become transcendentally engaged in the service of the Lord, then my life becomes successful." This is called faith. And that conviction must be firm, not tottering faith. So when this faith is created, then actually the initiation begins. [...] So this firm conviction is the beginning of initiation. [...] So initiation means to be engaged in that Brahman activities. [...] So adau sraddha, when one becomes firmly convinced that "By becoming Krsna conscious or being engaged in the transcendental loving service of Krsna, my life is successful, life will be successful," that is the beginning of Krsna consciousness, or initiation."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 29/7/1968)

"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. And after you have practiced these things for a few months' time, then we can see to your formal initiation."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 11/8/1972)

And he further states:

"In other words, the chanting of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra is so powerful that it does not depend on official initiation, [...] The offenseless chanting of the holy name does not depend on the initiation process. Although initiation may depend on purascarya or purascarana, the actual chanting of the holy name does not depend on purascarya-vidhi, or the regulative principles. If one chants the holy name once without committing an offense, he attains all success."
(Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, 15:108, purport)

From this we can understand that those who are fully surrendered to following Srila Prabhupada's orders can chant offenselessly and can achieve success in Krishna consciousness even without an official initiation ceremony.

"2) What are Srila Prabhupada's official instructions concerning his Godbrothers? I know that after Prabhupada's passing many devotees who became disillusioned with ISKCON linked up with some of his Godbrothers."

Editor replies:

There is no instruction from Srila Prabhupada where he has asked us to take shelter of his Godbrothers. On the contrary, he warned us against doing this:

"Actually amongst my Godbrothers no one is qualified to become acarya. So it is better not to mix with my Godbrothers very intimately because instead of inspiring our students and disciples they may sometimes pollute them. This attempt was made previously by them, especially Madhava Maharaja and Tirtha Maharaja and Bon Maharaja but somehow or other I saved the situation. This is going on. We shall be very careful about them and not mix with them. This is my instruction to you all. They cannot help us in our movement, but they are very competent to harm our natural progress. So we must be very careful about them."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 28/4/1974)

"So I have now issued orders that all my disciples should avoid all of my godbrothers. They should not have any dealings with them nor even correspondence, nor should they give them any of my books, nor should they purchase any of their books, neither should you visit any of their temples. Please avoid them".
(Srila Prabhupada Letter,  9/11/1975)

Also, I would suggest you go to our homepage at www.iskconirm.com, and look at all the replies under the heading "Replies to Gaudiya Matha", which can be found within the matrix of challengers. There are many papers there rebutting arguments made by Gaudiya Matha supporters, who are followers of Srila Prabhupada's Godbrothers.


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