Taking Diksa from the
Physically Departed Guru


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 72, Vol 1, 2022

GBC voted-in guru HH Jayadvaita Swami ("JAS") accepts that one who has physically departed can become one's diksa guru. All quotes in shaded boxes are from a class JAS gave dated 22/11/21. All emphases added.

Permission is enough

An aspiring disciple of HH Gaura Govinda Swami ("GGS"), a physically departed GBC guru, asked the following question to JAS about whether or not she could accept GGS as her diksa guru despite his having physically departed:

"when you approach a bona fide guru for siksa/diksa, and they say ‘yes, the next time I can give you diksa' but they leave the planet, what is the situation for that person"

To which JAS replied:

"It's a question of what constitutes diksa. [...] I would lean toward saying that his word was good enough, you know, it's already accepted, [...] just the word of the spiritual master is enough"

Thus, JAS makes the point that the diksa guru's physical absence is not relevant. Rather, only two things are relevant:

a) What constitutes diksa;
b) Whether or not the spiritual master has given permission for initiation to take place. And if he has, then it is valid for one to consider that person as one's diksa guru, even if he is not physically present, because he has already "accepted" you.

External confirmation not needed

JAS states that just "acceptance" by the spiritual master is enough to consider oneself a diksa disciple of a physically departed guru because all other things are not necessary:

"the rest is formality [...] Rupa Goswami, Sanatana Goswami, they just changed their names, but He didn't say ‘I hereby initiate you' [...] Prabhupada met his spiritual master, he said, ‘from the first meeting I accepted him as my guru', and then later there was an official ceremony [...] But it may not always be that way. Due to circumstances [...] the externals may not always be in place"

Rather, JAS states that the transmission of transcendental knowledge – that's actually diksa:

"Krsna didn't officially initiate Arjuna but He gave him knowledge [...] divyam jnanam yato dadyat [...] That's diksa. [...] Jiva Goswami says ‘transmission of transcendental knowledge'".

JAS validates the rtvik system

Thus, JAS states that:

1) Diksa from a physically departed guru is possible as long as the guru has given permission for the diksa;
2) Because diksa is just the transmission of transcendental knowledge;
3) Everything else is not necessary.

Although JAS was asked about GGS, JAS gives his answers above as principles, and thus they can apply to any guru, and indeed they apply to Srila Prabhupada. In regard to point 1), Srila Prabhupada gave his permission for a member of ISKCON to become his initiated disciple, as long as they get a recommendation from their temple president:

"Temple Presidents may henceforward send recommendation for first and second initiation to whichever of these eleven representatives are nearest their temple. After considering the recommendation, these representatives may accept the devotee as an initiated disciple of Srila Prabhupada by giving a spiritual name, or in the case of second initiation, by chanting on the Gayatri thread, just as Srila Prabhupada has done."
(July 9th, 1977 directive, countersigned by Srila Prabhupada)

There is no dispute that after July 9th, 1977, everyone in ISKCON already had permission to be initiated by Srila Prabhupada without any involvement from him, as long as they followed the above process. However, there is no mention of any other condition needing to be satisfied for this permission, such as Srila Prabhupada needing to be physically present on the planet. Rather, the temple president recommends, and the rtvik representative gives a spiritual name. That's it.

Srila Prabhupada gives diksa

As for point 2), it is Srila Prabhupada who is responsible for this transmission of transcendental knowledge which constitutes diksa, and even the GBC does not dispute this:

"Such uplifting knowledge is called divya jnana, and its transmission is called siksa. This divya jnana is the principle active ingredient of diksa."
(GBC Resolution 404, 1999)

"Srila Prabhupada [...] The primary siksa-guru"
(GBC Resolution 305, 2012)

Thus, the GBC states that divya-jnana is the "principle active ingredient of diksa" and transmitted by siksa, and that it is Srila Prabhupada who primarily transmits this divya-jnana due to being the primary siksa guru.

Thus, JAS's explanation of how one can accept oneself to be a diksa disciple of GGS even after GGS has physically departed – points 1, 2 and 3 from the previous section – applies just as equally to Srila Prabhupada.

JAS does caution:

"we'd be careful about, well, I was initiated by Prabhupada because I sat in front of a picture, and you know, I accepted in my heart [...] they just imagine in their mind that Prabhupada could be their guru or what have you."

But, as we just showed above, the July 9th, 1977, rtvik system sanctioned by Srila Prabhupada does not involve doing this, and hence JAS's point here is not relevant if one is following Srila Prabhupada's rtvik system correctly. Nor does The Final Order, which JAS himself has called "the rtvik Bible", promote such an "imagination" method. Thus, JAS has not presented any valid objection to accepting Srila Prabhupada as one's diksa guru.


1) JAS has to accept that Srila Prabhupada can become one's diksa guru as long as Srila Prabhupada gave permission for this – which he did in the July 9th, 1977, directive. A permission which is not tied to him requiring to be physically present, since he delegated that permission entirely to temple presidents and rtvik representatives.

2) It is a permission that is still valid today, because Srila Prabhupada never gave a succession order for others to replace him as ISKCON's diksa guru – rather, all ISKCON gurus today were either appointed as rtviks by Srila Prabhupada or voted in by the GBC.

Thus, yet again, another ISKCON leader has ‘unwittingly' promoted Srila Prabhupada as being ISKCON's diksa guru.

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