The Evidence Continues:
What Do the Books Say? (Part 1)


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 4, Summer 2004

Having examined Srila Prabhupada's written directive, his Last Will and Testament, and instructions sent out by Srila Prabhupada's Secretary, we will now turn to examining what Srila Prabhupada's books state regarding what initiation system should be followed in ISKCON. Srila Prabhupada's books of course are applicable for the lifetime of ISKCON. It is not that they were applicable only before Srila Prabhupada departed or they became applicable only after Srila Prabhupada departed. No, they are applicable for the lifetime of ISKCON, both for whilst Srila Prabhupada was physically present, and for after he departs. This means that any instructions we find in his books would have been applicable whilst Srila Prabhupada was present, and will also be applicable for the lifetime of ISKCON following Srila Prabhupada's physical departure, unless the books themselves state otherwise of course.

Srila Prabhupada's books do state the specific initiation system to be followed in ISKCON.

These references are given in the boxes below.

"In our Krsna consciousness movement, the requirement is that one must be prepared to give up the four pillars of sinful life: illicit sex, meat-eating, intoxication and gambling. In Western countries especially, we first observe whether a potential disciple is prepared to follow the regulative principles. Then he is given the name of a Vaisnava servant and initiated to chant the Hare Krsna, at least sixteen rounds daily. In this way the disciple renders devotional service under the guidance of the spiritual master or his representative for at least six months to a year. He is then recommended for a second initiation, during which a sacred thread is offered and the disciple is accepted as a bona fide brahmana."
(Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya 24:330)

"Due to the necessity of these activities, we do not immediately initiate disciples in the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. For six months, a candidate for initiation must first attend arati and classes in the sastras, practice the regulative principles and associate with other devotees. When one is actually advanced in the purascarya-vidhi, he is recommended by the local temple president for initiation. It is not that anyone can be suddenly initiated without meeting the requirements. When one is further advanced by chanting the Hare Krsna mantra sixteen rounds daily, following the regulative principles and attending classes, he receives the sacred thread (brahminical recognition) after the second six months."
(Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya 15:108)

"Thus in the beginning the students of our Krsna consciousness movement agree to live with devotees, and gradually, having given up four prohibited activities-illicit sex, gambling, meat-eating and intoxication - they become advanced in the activities of spiritual life. When one is found to be regularly following these principles, he is given the first initiation (hari-nama), and he regularly chants at least sixteen rounds a day. Then, after six months or a year, he is initiated for the second time and given the sacred thread with the regular sacrifice and ritual."
(Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi 17:265)

No other initiation system to be followed specifically in ISKCON is mentioned in Srila Prabhupada's books.

On each occasion the following identical arrangement is described:

a) The candidate must follow 4 regulative principles and chant 16 rounds for 6 months.
b) If these requirements are met, he is automatically recommended for initiation by the Temple President.
c) Then the candidate will automatically become initiated by Srila Prabhupada.

Interestingly the above arrangement is identical to the ritvik system. Step c) follows from the fact that the books are describing the exact system that was in place when Srila Prabhupada was on the planet the system in which he was the sole initiator. We already covered the point, that whatever the books state will have to be applicable for both Srila Prabhupada's physical presence and for after his physical departure. Hence the books describe the initiation system which was in place when Srila Prabhupada was on the planet, and also the system which should be followed for the lifetime of ISKCON.

This system involved a person being recommended for initiation by the Temple President, and then automatically receiving initiation from Srila Prabhupada. The formalities of receiving this initiation right from the early days of ISKCON were in most cases given by senior devotees on behalf of Srila Prabhupada, who would chant on beads, conduct the fire sacrifice, play the Gayatri tape etc., and in the latter days would also accept the disciple on behalf of Srila Prabhupada by giving a name.

The books mention only one initiation system, which applies continuously during and after Srila Prabhupada's presence. The books do not state that in ISKCON one system is to be followed whilst Srila Prabhupada is present, and then another system will be followed once Srila Prabhupada departs.

Hence clearly the books do not describe an initiation system with someone as the Diksa Guru other than Srila Prabhupada.

In the next issue we will provide further evidence how this initiation system detailed in the books could never refer to a Guru system involving ISKCON's current multiple Guru system.

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