Initiation Bait-and-Switch


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 61, Vol 1, 2019, Interactive

"Hare Krishna, Krishnakant Prabhu,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
In 1990, PV Maharaja [Prabhavishnu Swami, as he was then, now he is Prabhavishnu Dasa - Ed.] initiated me on behalf of Srila Prabhupada. He stated this himself to me prior to initiation. He told me this as I had asked him if he was a pure devotee of Krishna and he told me directly that he wasn't and that the initiation was done to help me serving Srila Prabhupada's movement. Does that mean, therefore, that I was given officially ritvik initiation and that means that I am officially Srila Prabhupada's disciple? Or does that mean the initiating ISKCON gurus trick people to believe that they are initiating you to be Srila Prabhupada's disciple? Is this an example of the bait-and-switch practice? Can you please clarify this point for me?
Your humble servant,"
- Ananta Sesa Dasa, New South Wales, Australia

Editor replies:

You have raised a very important question, since it is becoming common for the GBC gurus to claim that they are simply initiating or accepting the disciple "on behalf" of Srila Prabhupada. Here are some examples:

"On behalf of His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada, I'm very happy to give you the name Saci Mayi Devi Dasi."
(Radhanath Swami, Initiation ceremony, 7/12/14)

"And I am giving you initiation on behalf of ISKCON, on behalf of Prabhupada. [...] On behalf of Srila Prabhupada I give you your spiritual name, Parama Karuna Dasa."
(Bhakti Charu Swami, Initiation ceremony, 2/7/11)

"Prabhupada, you have come to his lotus feet. On behalf of him I ask you the question: what are the four regulative principles?"
(Kripamoya Dasa, Initiation lecture, 19/7/15)

And HH Bhakti Tirtha Swami (Vyasa-puja Offering, 1985) and HH Mahavishnu Swami (website biography) were both claiming to act as "monitor gurus" rather than diksa gurus. And there are other examples similar to your experience with PV Maharaja.

However, the test is what actually happens after such a proclamation by the GBC guru to the initiate. And following the initiation ceremony, here is what actually happens:

a) The initiate offers his prasad to a picture of the GBC guru.
b) The initiate performs guru-puja to the GBC guru.
c) The initiate attends, participates in, and writes offerings for, the GBC guru's Vyasa-puja.
d) The GBC guru never refers to, or treats, the initiate as his "Godbrother".
e) The GBC guru does not ask the initiate to write Vyasa-puja offerings to Srila Prabhupada as Srila Prabhupada's disciple, in the same manner that the GBC guru will.

Thus, in all respects, a guru-disciple, rather than disciple-disciple of Srila Prabhupada, relationship is enforced. After all, it is a GBC Resolution that "ritvik" initiations on behalf of Srila Prabhupada are prohibited in ISKCON, and thus, the GBC gurus are not going to conduct them. Hence, your suspicion is correct that such proclamations of acting "on behalf" of Srila Prabhupada are just another "bait and switch" technique to use Srila Prabhupada's name in order to attract followers.

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