I was introduced to the movement in 1980 in State College, Pennsylvania, by Stambha Prabhu. I attended evening programs at the preaching center he ran, and began reading Srila Prabhupada's books. After graduating college I backpacked around Europe and visited some Hare Krsna temples there. I traveled from Europe to Israel, and visited the devotees near Tel-Aviv every few weeks. In April 1984, I moved into the temple.
Danavir Maharaja was regional secretary for Israel and spent a lot of time in the country. In December 1985, I received first initiation from Bhagavan Prabhu. By that time I had been studying Srila Prabhupada's books for more than four years. I had first met Bhagavan in Italy in the summer of 1983. He and I had a very nice relationship -- close, humorous, respectful.
I served intensely under Bhagavan's and Danavir Maharaja's direction, doing temple service, collecting, distributing books, etc. When Bhagavan officially fell down in the later half of 1986, I felt bad for him, of course, but his actions did not affect me spiritually or materially. I became sankirtana leader, then Tel-Aviv temple president, then I went to north Israel and met the Druze.
Late in 1988 some senior devotees recommended that I ought to take second initiation; they gave me a list of initiators. Danavir Maharaja was the only one whom I knew with any intimacy, and shortly thereafter Danavir Maharaja performed my second initiation (technically, I wasn't reinitiated). As Stambha Prabhu guided me in Krsna consciousness from the time I encountered the movement for about three years thereafter, Danavir Maharaja was my guide and teacher from 1983 till the late 80s.
Srila Prabhupada has always been my primary guru. As for other gurus, I've had many, and I continue to have many. Danavir Maharaja for the past twelve years or so has not been as influential in my spiritual life and thought as for the few years prior to that. This is not due to any sort of frustration or bitterness with him. I have full respect for Danavir Maharaja, and his staunch example continues to inspire me. My feelings for him, and for Bhagavan, are gratitude for how they've helped me in Krsna consciousness.
My relationships with the Vaisnavas who have performed my initiation ceremonies have to some extent informed my writing, but have not been a driving force leading me to write. Danavir Maharaja and I served closely on many projects from 1983 through 1992. From 1992 through 1998 we kept in close contact with each other, though we didn't directly work on the same projects as much as in the years prior.
Late in 1998 I came out with the paper The Humble Guru. Danavir Maharaja didn't appreciate that paper and for a few months he didn't speak with me. However, by the late spring/early summer of 1998, he and I were again having long phone conversations about various projects such as Druze preaching. This isn't to say that he grew to appreciate The Humble Guru paper, but he did not let it interfere with other devotional topics and projects. The last time Danavir Maharaja visited Alachua, late in 2000, he stayed at my home for several days and I greatly appreciated his association. Since about January 2002, around the time when Srila Prabhupada: The Prominent Link was issued, we have not had much contact. I do hope we reestablish our closer relationship, as my relationship with him is one that I deeply value.
Danavir Maharaja became upset with me when I wrote The Humble Guru, and then again when I wrote Srila Prabhupada: The Prominent Link (PL). Before I began writing these papers, he was not upset with me and we had a very amicable working relationship. I have great respect and admiration for Danavir Maharaja, while acknowledging that he is unfavorable towards PL. [My writing of these essays in no way stemmed from dissatisfaction on my part with Danavir Maharaja, or with the way I've been treated in ISKCON. The ISKCON organization has treated me very well, and I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to do a variety of services in ISKCON for the past two decades.]
Srila Prabhupada frequently defined diksa in terms of divya-jnana, or transcendental knowledge (e.g., Madhya 15:108; Madhya 4:111; SB 10:2:18; Lecture 7/29/68, 2/22/73, 12/29/73; and other places). Srila Prabhupada is the main Vaisnava directly giving me transcendental knowledge; while many other devotees continue to impart divya-jnana to me, Srila Prabhupada is the primary personality doing this. In terms of the formal initiation ceremony, perhaps Danavir Maharaja or Bhagavan Prabhu could be termed my diksa guru. If I needed to designate a title for the Vaisnava who performs the initiation ceremony, I would choose "officiating acarya", because that is the title Srila Prabhupada used when asked in a non-leading, open-ended manner by Satsvarupa Maharaja on May 28, 1977.
PL presents a "this and that" perspective rather than a "this or that" perspective. This is consistent with our parampara. In the purport to Adi-lila 10:17, Srila Prabhupada writes, "There are many disciples of Vakresvara Pandita in Orissa, and they are known as Gaudiya Vaisnavas although they are Oriyas. Among these disciples are Sri Gopalaguru and his disciple Dhyanacandra Goswami."
Disciplic descendents are not only the disciples of their initiators but also of the founder of the line. This is especially so in ISKCON where Srila Prabhupada's books are the permanent foundation of our transcendental knowledge. We distribute his books, chant his name in kirtana and worship him with daily puja.
At the start of Sri Caitanya-Caritamrta, Srila Prabhupada writes: "A direct disciple of Srila Rupa Goswami was Srila Raghunatha dasa Goswami. The author of Sri Caitanya-Caritamrta, Srila Krsnadas Kaviraj Goswami, stands as the direct disciple of Srila Rupa Goswami and Srila Raghunatha dasa Goswami." At the end of the Introduction to Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Srila Prabhupada lists Rupa Goswami as #23, Raghunatha dasa Goswami as #24, and Krsnadas Kaviraja Goswami as #25. Though Krsnadas Kaviraja Goswami is two places down from Rupa Goswami, he is still described as the direct disciple of Rupa Goswami. It is also noteworthy that neither Raghunatha dasa Goswami nor Srila Rupa Goswami was the formal initiator for Krsnadas Kaviraj Goswami.
I have presented PL with a mood to help resolve fractious conflicts in
Srila Prabhupada's movement. To attempt to cast the ideas therein as
"ritvik" or "not ritvik" may be easy for the mind, but won't help to
comprehend the concepts in the essay. [If you have an interest in the concepts
presented in Srila Prabhupada: The Prominent Link, please read the book itself,
with a mind open to fresh and perhaps useful perspectives. For a copy of Srila
Prabhupada: The Prominent Link, please contact PL@Satvatove.org. Hare Krsna.]