“Living” Guru Desperation


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 57, Vol. 1 2018, Editorial

On page 13, we highlighted HH Trivikrama Swami ("TKS") putting forward arguments he did not even agree with in his desperation to prevent Srila Prabhupada from remaining ISKCON's diksa guru. Another interesting example of such a phenomenon comes from HH Chandra Shekhara Swami ("CSS"), an ISKCON sannyasi. To justify why Srila Prabhupada could not continue to be the diksa guru in ISKCON today, he claimed on social media that:

"Those reading Prabhupada's books will find inspiration, no doubt. The issue is that, just by reading, will the reader obtain a correct understanding of these books. That is why we have a personal spiritual master. A book cannot tell you that you have misunderstood it. That is why we need a LIVING spiritual master, because it is so easy to delude yourself, that you have understood Prabhupada and are really following him."
(CSS, 15/10/17)

CSS puts forward an argument here that he does not actually accept, in his desperation to prevent Srila Prabhupada from remaining ISKCON's diksa guru:

1) He says we must have a "living" (as in physically present) spiritual master, but CSS himself does not have such a physically present spiritual master, being a disciple of Srila Prabhupada.

2) He says that without such a "living" guru we may not understand the books. However, since for over 40 years CSS himself has not had such a "living" spiritual master, then he also may not have understood Srila Prabhupada's books. But he does not believe this, since as a sannyasi he travels all over the world claiming to teach others what Srila Prabhupada's books teach.

Continuing with his reasoning for why Srila Prabhupada cannot be accepted as the diksa guru in ISKCON today, he next claims:

"To be initiated by Prabhupada in the present means that you can connect with Prabhupada unmediated by your own misconceptions. [...] A living spiritual master can contradict our misreadings and our misleading internal visions."

However, many of Srila Prabhupada's disciples were initiated by Srila Prabhupada having never had any contact with him before getting "connected" with him through initiation, or indeed ever. A prominent example of the former is GBC-elected guru HH Sivarama Swami who states:

"That was the first personal contact with his Divine Grace, although I had been an initiated devotee for two years."
(SRS, "Meeting Srila Prabhupada")

CSS claims that the clearing up of misunderstandings requires a "living" spiritual master to contradict the disciple. But, as already stated, many disciples of Srila Prabhupada never had any contact with him. These persons never had any of their misunderstandings contradicted by Srila Prabhupada through direct "living" contact, and thus such "living" interaction cannot be necessary. Thus, such persons would be in the same position as someone who got initiated by Srila Prabhupada now. Yet, CSS accepts all such persons initiated pre-1977 as being bona fide disciples of Srila Prabhupada. Therefore, he clearly does not believe that initiation from Srila Prabhupada has to require Srila Prabhupada's physical presence.

Thus, this common GBC "living" guru argument is the height of desperation: those without "living" gurus themselves arguing that one must have such "living" gurus just to deny Srila Prabhupada's diksa guru position!

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