Should There Be Other Diksa Gurus?


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 75, Vol. 4, 2022, Interactive

he following letter quoted in the shaded boxes was sent by Jaakko Arra from Espoo, Finland, and our response is interspersed between his statements below (emphases added):

No succession

"1. As we know, Srila Prabhupada ordered persons to act as rtviks on his behalf. This should have never been stopped.
2. There are also direct orders from Srila Prabhupada stating that anyone who becomes qualified can become an acarya, in this instance an initiating spiritual master:
''Keep trained up very rigidly and then you are bona fide Guru, and you can accept disciples on the same principle. But as a matter of etiquette it is the custom that 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.''
(Letter to Tusta Krsna Dasa, 2/12/75)
3. This being a direct permission from the spiritual master that anyone who keeps trained rigidly in Krsna consciousness, an acarya, can theoretically accept disciples, I see no reason to argue that His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada should be the only initiating spiritual master."

a) In point 1: You have correctly asserted that Srila Prabhupada should have permanently remained the diksa guru of ISKCON, as evidenced by him having set up a rtvik system to conduct initiation ceremonies.

b) In point 2: You have presented a letter from Srila Prabhupada in which he sets out the conditions for how he could be succeeded by his disciples.

c) However, in point 1 you have already stated that no succession of Srila Prabhupada will ever take place, since the system of Srila Prabhupada continuing to remain the diksa guru of ISKCON "should have never been stopped".

d) Hence, the letter provided in point 2 would not be applicable in this situation, as no succession was to ever take place.

e) In point 3: You claim there is no reason to argue that only Srila Prabhupada should initiate. But, as we have just shown, you yourself have provided that argument in your point 1, since you have made it clear that Srila Prabhupada is not to be succeeded as the initiating spiritual master for ISKCON.

Thus, we can note that, as this letter merely states the conditions that need to be fulfilled in order for a succession to possibly occur, if Srila Prabhupada does not first renounce his position as ISKCON's diksa guru, then the issue of him needing to be succeeded does not in any case arise. And, no such renunciation of position took place, but rather, Srila Prabhupada wanted to continue to initiate in ISKCON via the use of rtviks or representatives, as you agree.

The monitor guru

"I will try to present here some further evidence that there should not be strict restrictions for who is allowed to become guru [...] the book Easy Journey to Other Planets [...] There we find a description of general practices one must follow for spiritual elevation to Vaikuntha. Of particular interest regarding this issue is item nr. 13 on the list, as what it states is that a spiritual master cannot accept unlimited disciples, which is further explained, that this means a sincere disciple in the absence of their spiritual master is allowed to accept disciples (Easy Journey to Other Planets, p. 32–35):
"13. He must not take on unlimited disciples. This means that a candidate who has successfully followed the first twelve items can also become a spiritual master himself, just as a student becomes a monitor in class with a limited number of disciples.""

However, this item no. 13 does not refer to becoming a diksa guru, and this can be proven again simply by using your own argument. You have quoted Srila Prabhupada stating that the spiritual master mentioned here is like one who becomes "a monitor" in a "class". Such a class monitor has two characteristics:

i) The monitor is a senior pupil assigned by the teacher to help him deal with other pupils. Thus, he is clearly not another teacher, but rather a pupil who assists the teacher. Hence, this would be no different to a diksa guru asking one of his disciples to help assist more junior disciples. It is not that a monitor is assigned to replace the teacher, but rather he merely assists the teacher. Whereas, a diksa guru succeeds his own diksa guru, as the letter to Tusta Krsna Dasa that you presented states.

ii) Consequently, the monitor can act in the presence of the teacher, alongside the teacher, and not only after the teacher has become permanently absent. After all, the monitor, as stated above, only deals with a "limited" number of disciples, and thus the teacher must be simultaneously present to teach the rest of the class. Whereas, the Tusta Krsna Dasa quote clearly states that one can only become a diksa guru after one's own diksa guru has physically departed. Thus, in order to prove your diksa guru thesis, you have been forced to falsely claim that in this statement from Easy Journey to Other Planets it is "further explained", that it "means" that a disciple can accept disciples "in the absence of their spiritual master". But, as just shown, that is not a fact, since this spiritual master, the "monitor", does not specifically act only in the teacher's permanent absence.

Thus, even the dictionary defines a class monitor as:

"a school pupil with disciplinary or other special duties".

Therefore, a monitor is not a teacher, but just another pupil who works alongside the teacher, and hence is not a replacement for the teacher once the teacher has permanently departed. And, thus, the spiritual master mentioned here is definitely not a diksa guru.

iii) The Tusta Krsna Dasa quote also makes it clear that the diksa guru can accept disciples "without any limitation". Whereas, this "monitor" guru is the opposite, being only allowed to have a "limited number of disciples".

Thus, by using your own evidence – the letter to Tusta Krsna Dasa – it can conclusively be shown that the "monitor" guru is not a diksa guru.

In addition, the quote from Easy Journey to Other Planets you have presented goes on to state:

iv) That next, point 14, the monitor guru must go on to develop "solid knowledge of the necessary books".

v) Then, progressing further, point 15 states that the monitor guru must go on to develop mental equilibrium.

vi) Then, progressing even further, point 16 states that the monitor guru, "in the next stage", must become free from lamentation and illusion.

Therefore, the monitor guru is someone who is still ignorant, mentally unstable, in illusion, and afflicted with lamentation. But, a diksa guru is, by definition, one who is already freed from such basic contaminations. Thus, by simply using the very same evidence you have provided, it can be shown that there are at least 6 reasons why a monitor guru is not a diksa guru.

Should not

"Furthermore, as we can see His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada outlining in the Upadesamrta, even a neophyte devotee or one on the intermediate platform should be allowed to accept disciples.
"One should not become a spiritual master unless he has attained the platform of uttama-adhikari. A neophyte Vaisnava or a Vaisnava situated on the intermediate platform can also accept disciples, but such disciples must be on the same platform, and it should be understood that they cannot advance very well toward the ultimate goal of life under his insufficient guidance. Therefore a disciple should be careful to accept an uttama-adhikari as a spiritual master."
(The Nectar of Instruction, purport for Text 5)

You have claimed that the above states that a non-uttama-adhikari "should be allowed to accept disciples", but the above actually states the exact opposite:

1) "One should not become a spiritual master unless he has attainted the platform of uttama-adhikari".

2) "Therefore a disciple should be careful to accept an uttama-adhikari as a spiritual master."

In addition, we can see that the non-uttama-adhikari gurus mentioned are not even diksa gurus, being unable to guide the disciple to the goal:

"it should be understood that they cannot advance very well toward the ultimate goal of life under his insufficient guidance."

Whereas, a diksa guru is one who takes us towards the ultimate goal of life, liberation:

"The spiritual master initiates the disciple to deliver him"
(Cc., Madhya-lila, 1.218, purport)

Thus, in conclusion, by using the 3 quotes you have provided, it can be proven that they do not refer to Srila Prabhupada being succeeded by other diksa gurus, and thus he remains the only diksa guru for ISKCON.

"I hope this reaches you well and perhaps even Krishnakant himself, again my sincerest obeisances to everyone at the IRM and of course Prabhupada. Jaya Srila Prabhupada!"


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