Posted October 15, 2005
Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and his followers.
I am sorry to see Garuda's nice article under attack. I do not think there is any reason to panic. Garuda's article was plainly a call to ISKcon to allow more devotees to initiate, and there was absolutely no indication that a "new" type of guru was to be concocted against Srila Prabhupada's wishes. Garuda's logic was extremely simple (and there is no need to exaggerate what he was saying).
Garuda simple logic was that if there were more gurus, then the likelyhood of devotees finding a local guru would (obviously) increase. Then, the new devotees, by being able to associate with a local guru, would have much greater chance to develop nicely in Krsna consciousness. So, what is the fault there? Garuda is simply proposing that we need to take more special concern for the tender, new devotees (and get over the lording-it-over politics), and does not imply any need for a "new" type of guru. Maybe Visnuratha is disturbed that these senior devotees would be called "gurus," but he must know that there are so many types of gurus.
In any case, there is no need to fear as gurus are sometimes formally or informally recognized (i.e., think of the vartmapradarshika guru, or the devotee who initially preaches to a non-devotee, and causes that person to chant and to become a devotee). Obviously, if the siksha guru is empowered by Krsna, (s)he may then be eventually recognized as a regular diksha guru, but where is the need to panic? The only warranted panic should be that we aren't preaching enough!
Garudaji also made the point that many senior devotees are not being utilized for preaching. [The only complaint I have about his article is that he only mentioned quite belatedly or as an after thought, that women are virtually ignored as potential gurus and that this attitude is a gaping hole that drives women away, as they see the blatent hypocrisy. This means that women are being completely overlooked in their preaching capacity. This is proof of a monopoly unless we are going to claim that NONE of Prabhupada's female disciples have made any tangible advancement. It is like the ritvik theory of "no disciplic succession" but applied strictly to women due to not seeing women as spiritual. If we can't get off the bodily concept then this will certainly affect women who thought about joining but then don't, due to seeing the considerable hypocrisy of denying that "aham brahmasmi" applies to women, too. The male leaders must mature on this topic and while I'm glad that Garuda brought it up, I think it deserved more than a belated honorable mention].
Along the same lines, if as Visnuratha points out in one of his Prabhupada quotes, "even a child can do it" then what is the argument for not having more women gurus, what to speak of more gurus in general? There is a false dilemma in worrying about the so-called dangers of having "too many" gurus. Just think of all the bogus gurus outside of ISKcon and then just try to claim that ISKcon has too many. It is a strange claim even if Prabhupada discouraged his disciples from taking on disciples. Discouraging is different from denying altogether. The ritviks confuse this point, too. Prabhupada discourages because the responsibility is so great.
The only "new" result from having, at least, shiksha guru status, is that the senior devotees would become, at least, locally recognized "shelter-giving" gurus. This would probably bring ISKcon devotees closer, as a family. That seems like a nice idea, to me.
Visnuratha has proven, by his quotes on gurus, siksha gurus are needed, but he has not proven that more "regular" gurus are not needed. Who would say such a thing? Rather, artificially restricting sincere devotees from preaching is not needed, and the politics of a "guru-ship monopoly" is exactly what Garuda is railing against. I think this is clear.
Garuda is simply arguing for more preaching. If some of those senior devotees become "regular" gurus, (as Srila Prabhupada referred to sincere devotees who are following the four regs, preaching nicely and chanting their rounds) then, who can limit the number of initiating gurus and why should the number be limited if Lord Chaitanya said that "everyone" should become guru? What about Gopal guru, who instructed Lord Chaitanya? He was just a child.
Therefore, I wish to say that I am sorry to see Garuda's article being
attacked or misunderstood.