"Current": in the immediate present
Posted July 1, 2003
Follow in the steps of the mahajanas
This is a response to Deepak Vohra's article, "Where Does Srila Prabhupada Say that 'Current' Means Living". Firstly let me explain that I did not meant to infer that the guru is no longer living once he has entered nitya-lila. I used the word "living" in its current vernacular form, meaning whilst someone is still in physical manifest presence here in this material world.
To answer Deepak's question, I am not the type of person who can extract Prabhupada quotes right, left and centre. However, the word "current"--from "current link"--is defined as "belonging to the immediate present" (Funk and Wagnall's). Regarding diksa, what is the precedent to interpret this word otherwise?
Examining our Gaudiya Vaisnava sampradaya, the record will show that all Gaudiya Vaisnava acaryas took initiation--whether harinama or mantra-diksa--from "living" (current) contemporaries. Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura once wrote that the Vaisnava lives forever in sound, and Sri Jiva Goswami wrote that by the grace of Sri Krsna the guru can hear the sincerest prayers of the disciple even after he has entered the nitya-lila. However, neither of these two, nor any other Gaudiya acarya, has written anywhere that the guru gives diksa after his disappearance. There is no record that any took diksa from departed acaryas. Did Prabhupada do this? Did Sridhara Maharaja? Bhaktivinode? Gaurakisora? The resounding answer is no--they all took diksa from the current (immediate present) acarya.
There is no precedent from guru, sadhu or sastra to do otherwise. Neither is posthumous rtvik (proxy) initiation valid in Gaudiya siddhanta. In this respect we have the advice: mahajeno yena gata sa pantha, "follow in the footsteps of the previous acaryas". All Gaudiya Vaisnava acaryas have taken diksa from current acaryas. Let me now ask Deepak: where does Srila Prabhupada, or any other acarya say that "current"--in regard to diksa--means to take initiation from a departed acarya. And furthermore, who has done this in the past?
Gaudiya Vaisnava precedent (siddhanta) dictates we take shelter and initiation from a living--i.e. physically present--guru. Any attempts at defeating each other with Prabhupada's words to mean otherwise are only attempts at creating new apasampradayas--heterodox traditions. However, if we do want to take Prabhupada's words as our only pramana, then we should remember that he too wanted his spiritual sons and daughters to become guru and further increase the branches of the Caitanya tree.
However, whilst we are "Prabhupadanugas", we should also remember that we are Rupanugas. Follow in the footsteps of the mahajanas and stick to the Saraswata branch of Gaudiya Vaisnavism.
Rama Kesava dasa