Only Authorised, Liberated Gurus


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 73, Vol. 2, 2022, Interactive

"Thank you so much for the books and magazines recently received. They have reaffirmed everything I believed about the position of initiating gurus in ISKCON which caused me so much anger and confusion over the years before I left. The treatment received from these men and the GBC body and in particular the zonal gurus often led to a situation where devotees claiming to be disciples of these devotees assumed authority over devotees Srila Prabhupada personally initiated and trained. If one didn't kowtow to these imposters, one was often demeaned and shunned. Now the situation sees ridiculous appellations to a disciple's name such as JPS or ACBSW...what a lot of schism forming garbage!
However, I was recently reading an account by Bhurijana about Srila Prabhupada dealing with Siddhasvarupa and I have a memory that Srila Prabhupada said something along the lines that he could be a guru and take disciples but not in the presence of his spiritual master. Can I ask your argument against this letter being an invitation to all of Srila Prabhupada's disciples to initiate? And of course this one:
In a letter to Janardana on April 26, 1968, Prabhupada wrote, "A person who is liberated acarya and guru cannot commit any mistake, but there are persons who are less qualified or not liberated, but still can act as guru and acarya by strictly following the disciplic succession.""
- G. Stanley, Bali, Indonesia

Editor replies:

The first letter you are referring to is the one sent to Siddhasvarupa's follower Tusta Krsna, wherein Srila Prabhupada says:

"during the lifetime of your Spiritual master you bring the prospective disciples to him, and in his absence or disappearance you can accept disciples without any limitation. This is the law of disciplic succession."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter to Tusta Krsna, 2/12/75)

1) This letter simply states that a disciple initiating can only happen after Srila Prabhupada has physically departed. Srila Prabhupada is stating the time period in which such a thing may occur.

But, in order for this to happen, at least 2 conditions need to be satisfied:

a) Srila Prabhupada renounces his position as ISKCON's diksa guru.
b) There exist some qualified disciples, and Srila Prabhupada authorises these qualified disciples to take his position as ISKCON's diksa guru.

None of these things happened, and indeed the absence of a) alone precludes b) from happening.

2) Regarding the letter to Janardana you sent, here is what it states, with numbering added to the sentences for ease of reference:

"On the whole, you may know that he is not a liberated person, and therefore, he cannot initiate any person to Krishna Consciousness. [1] [...] Generally the spiritual master comes from the group of such eternal associates of the Lord; but anyone who follows the principles of such ever liberated persons is as good as one in the above mentioned group. [2] [...] A person who is liberated acharya and guru cannot commit any mistake, but there are persons who are less qualified or not liberated, but still can act as guru and acharya by strictly following the disciplic succession. [3]"

a) Sentence 1 makes it clear that a non-liberated person cannot be a diksa guru.

b) Sentence 2 states that the diksa guru is generally a nitya-siddha, i.e. ever liberated, but others who are not nitya-siddha (sadhana-siddha) can also become qualified to be a spiritual master by following the principles of such ever liberated gurus.

c) Sentence 3 simply repeats what sentence 2 just said by stating that those who are not liberated, i.e. the sadhana-siddhas, can also become diksa gurus by strictly following the disciplic succession. Obviously, as a result of such strict following, they will become qualified to act as a diksa guru, i.e. liberated. This is confirmed by sentence 1 which states that only such a person can act as a diksa guru.

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