Last Link At The End Of The Line:
Not debate, but following instructions is paramount duty
Posted July 14, 2003
Opposing parties are deeply entrenched in their arguments. No matter what evidence is presented, each party will dig in deeper to defend its position and attack the opposing idea. After years of debate between the "On-behalf-of vadi" and "As-my-disciple vadi" theories, neither party has prevailed.
My conclusion is this:
- The disciplic succession is like a chain; one does not jump over the
last link to be initiated by an acarya farther up the chain, saying: "I like
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta; I will take initiation from him" or "I like Srila
Jiva Gosvami; I am his direct disciple" or "Ah, I will avoid all controversy
and take initiation directly from Lord Krishna!"
- Acaryas not physically present are called previous or predecessor
acaryas. Their instructions are not to be neglected or minimized. To connect
to the Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya, one must approach the last link, not
some other person. The people at the end of the line are (1) The disciples
of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta who are still physically present, (2) their
disciples physically present, (3) their disciples personally present, etc.
At this stage, no person can directly approach Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, Srila
Gaura Kisora, Srila Bhaktivinoda or any acarya before these. The only people
one can approach for initiation are physically present individuals.
- Instructions of previous acaryas are understood through current acaryas
-- the last qualified links on the line. The personal examples of an acarya
are also valid instructions. Srila Prabhupada accepted a physically present
person as the last link, the person at the end of the line, who was Srila
- A person wanting to be connected by the "As-my-disciple vadi" theory
must approach a disciple of Srila Prabhupada or one of that disciple's
disciples if he or she, like H.H. Tamal Krishna Gosvami, is no longer
physically present. The "On-behalf-of vadi" theory does not allow for anyone
approaching Srila Prabhupada directly without reference to a so-called
"ritvik priest". In either case, connection to the sampradaya is through the
last link, the last person on the line.
An uninitiated person cannot read Srila Prabhupada's books, perform a fire sacrifice and self-initiate as a diksa disciple of Srila Prabhupada, nor can such a self-initiated "diksa disciple" perform fire sacrifices as a "ritvik priest" and produce new diksa disciples of Srila Prabhupada. One must approach a person who has already received Gayatri Diksa from Srila Prabhupada, or a disciple of such a person.
- In essence, the argument between the "As-my-disciple vadi" and
"On-behalf-of vadi" is moot. Where a person approaches the last link,
the last person on the line, there is fire sacrifice -- one for Harinama
Diksa and one for Gayatri Diksa. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta initiated disciples
and Srila Prabhupada also did so with the Harinama and Gayatri ceremonies.
Anyone connecting to the sampradaya via Srila Prabhupada or any descendent
is duty bound to use his system.
As described by Srila Krishna das Kaviraja in Caitanya-caritamrta, there is no difference between the Siksa Guru and Diksa Guru, other than the formality of the Diksa initiation. One who approaches the sampradaya in the "On-behalf-of vadi" mode must accept the "ritvik priest" as a siksa guru, listen to his or her instructions and follow them, as that person is a direct manifestation of Lord Krishna. Whether a person is a siksa guru, diksa guru or "ritvik priest", the transmission of spiritual knowledge is identical. When a person approaches in the "As-my-disciple vadi" mode, obedience and service is also demanded.
- The "As-my-disciple vadi" devotee thinks he or she is the diksa disciple
of his or her initiating guru, and the "On-behalf-of vadi" devotee thinks he
or she is the diksa disciple of Srila Prabhupada. Both "On-behalf-of vadi"
and "As-my-disciple vadi" devotees are duty bound to obey and serve the
diksa or siksa guru as a manifestation of Lord Krishna. The "ritvik priest"
must act as a siksa guru and must thereby be qualified as one in advance of
taking up the "ritvik priest" function.
- Attainment of the Lord's grace is in following the instructions of
the spiritual master, either as siksa, diksa or "ritvik priest". It does
not matter who performs the formal ceremony for connection to the
Sampradaya, so long as that person follows the instructions of his or her
spiritual master. If one of Srila Prabhupada's disciples is following his
instructions, he or she is then authorized to make disciples all over the
world; this is confirmed by Srila Rupa Gosvami in the first verse of
Upadesamrita. Disciples posing as siksa guru, diksa guru or "ritvik priest",
but not following the instructions of Srila Prabhupada [or their guru], are
unqualified to do anything, and will cheat their blind followers.
Of what use is a disciple of Srila Prabhupada who says, "I am a 'ritvik priest' and, even though I do not follow my Guru's instructions, the fire sacrifice I perform is potent enough to make you a direct Diksa disciple of Srila Prabhupada"? This is a form of sahajiya [making transcendence cheap] deviation, in which disciples, no matter what their standard of service, imagine that the fire sacrifices they perform have potency. The potency is in the fire sacrifice only if the perfomer is strictly following, just as the Deity is potent only if the pujari is pure. For a "ritvik priest" to be bona fide, his or her devotional standard must be at least that of a siksa or diksa guru [strict follower of one's guru].
- All standards of qualification are based on following the
instructions of the Guru. One who is not following the instructions of
the Spiritual Master is not qualified to pass those instructions on by way
of fire sacrifice, thus posing as a false siksa, diksa or "ritvik priest".
Either one is following or one is not following! One who does not follow 50
percent of the instructions cannot expect a student to follow them. None of
Srila Prabhupada's godbrothers were qualified to become acarya due to their
disobedience of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta's GBC instructions. Despite the fact
that Srila Prabhupada praised them for "at least" following the basics and
trying to preach, as well as asking for their forgiveness of any offenses at
the time of his departure, he still forbade all of his disciples to have
intimate association with them.
- Many of Srila Prabhupada's disciples who are not following his basic
instructions are acting as siksa gurus, diksa gurus and "ritvik priests".
Srila Prabhupada has demanded the following basic instructions from all of
his disciples. Some of these were posted on the wall of the 26 Second Avenue
1. 16 rounds daily
2. 4 regulative principles
3. morning and evening program
4. book and prasadam distribution (Hari Nama Sankirtana) [includes related projects BBT, BI, ITV, etc.]
5. Deity worship
6. disassociation from non-devotees
7. 12 festivals per year
8. establishment of Varnasrama College at each center
9. establishment of Gurukula
10. establishment of self sufficient rural communities
11. various support instructions [directions of management, marriage and parenting, personal comportment, etc.]
12. Cooperative conduct of the mission
In nearly every case where a disciple of Srila Prabhupada poses as a siksa, diksa, or "ritvik priest", many of these instructions are not being followed or attempted. Before his departure he stressed the idea, "If you cannot expand, at least maintain".
Nearly all so-called "expansion" has been undertaken on a platform deficient of these basic instructions. Current leadership has minimized these instructions, neglected them and inserted concocted ideas. What is the use of big, big temples supported by devotees who barely follow the basics of 16 rounds and four regulative principles?
The gurukula system fell apart due to mismanagement, unqualified personnel and child abuse. There are no plans to re-establish it, so most parents send their children to public school.
Varnasrama College was never established in the centers. Without proper training, the devotees cannot work to establish a Vaisnava civilization with dependence on Krishna, the land and the cows.
Rural communities have never become self-sufficient. Without rural communities, there can be no progress toward independence from the surrounding mundane culture.
Most devotees now work among non-devotees to support the Temple and those who live in it. Many such devotees do not chant 16 rounds, or follow the four regulations, and rarely attend morning and evening programs or engage in Hari Nama Sankirtana or any kind of preaching. Such devotees actually feel a certain pride of accomplishment in attending college, setting up a mundane career, opening a bank account, buying a home on mortgage, purchasing new cars, furniture, electronic gadgets, home accessories, lawn mowers or sports equipment, with full integration into the surrounding social structure, yet they feel they are representing the philosophy in a way that makes it palatable to others. Factually, they are karmis dressing up as devotees for a few hours each week, much like a costume ball. Krishtians!
- I challenge proponents of both the "As-my-disciple vadi" and
"On-behalf-of vadi" systems to adopt the "Follow-the-instructions vadi" --
to spend their valuable time understanding and following the above
instructions of a specially empowered acarya. This, rather than endless
debate on a topic of virtually no relevance, must be the goal of life. At
the end of life, how well one performed in an irrelevant debate or in a
mundane career will have no value. Following the guru's instructions is the
ONLY action sufficient for promotion into the eternal Goloka pastimes of
Their Lordships Sri Sri Radha and Krishna.
- If there is any response to this letter, it will likely be directed to further debate on "As-my-disciple vadi" and "On-behalf-of vadi" systems rather than on how the instructions can be followed. That is the nature of illusion when it is allowed to enter the community of devotees -- a perfect instance of "Nero fiddling while Rome burned."