Becoming Sensitive to the Spiritual Master's Instructions
Posted September 23, 2012
Dear Srila Prabhupada,
Please accept my prostrated obeisance. All glories to your divine grace. I wish to present this homage in the form of remembrance of your instructions in the context of what is happening in ISKCON
Fact 1: Secret of success in spiritual life is to serve the instructions of the spiritual master as one's life and soul and never deviate:
Srila Prabhupada has mercifully revealed the secret of success in spiritual life:
"The secret of success in spiritual life is in satisfying the spiritual master and thereby getting his sincere blessings... It is essential, therefore, that a disciple be very much obedient and submissive to the bona fide spiritual master." (Srimad Bhagavatam 1.1.8 Purport)
In various lectures, correspondences, the daily practices that Srila Prabhupada instituted in ISKCON, his own life's example – he has emphasized this principle. For instance, once in Philadelphia after the Bhagavatam class, he mentioned:
"Guru-mukha-padma-vakya, cittete koriya aikya. Now citta means consciousness or heart. "I shall do this only, bas. My Guru Maharaja told me; I shall do this." Cittete koriya aikya, ar na koriho mane asa. So it is not my pride, but I can say, for your instruction, I did it. Therefore whatever little success you see than all my Godbrothers, it is due to this. I have no capacity, but I took it, the words of my guru, as life and soul. So this is fact. Guru-mukha-padma-vakya, cittete koriya aikya. Everyone should do that. But if he makes addition, alteration, then he is finished. No addition, alteration. You have to approach guru—guru means the faithful servant of God, Krsna—and take his word how to serve Him. Then you are successful. If you concoct, "I am very intelligent than my guru, and I can make addition or alteration," then you are finished. (Srila Prabhupada lecture, July 12th, 1975, Philadelphia)
Fact 2: Authorization is essential to become Spiritual Master:
You have stated in the purport of the Srimad Bhagavatam:
One should take initiation from a bona fide spiritual master coming in the disciplic succession, who is authorized by his predecessor spiritual master. This is called diksa-vidhana." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.8.54)
Not only did Srila Prabhupada state this in the purport, you mentioned this during a conversation with an Indian gentleman in Nairobi:
Indian man: When did you become the spiritual leader of Krsna consciousness?
Prabhupada: When my Guru Maharaja ordered me. This is the guru-parampara.
Indian: Did it...
Prabhupada: Try to understand. Don't go very speedily. A guru can become guru when he's ordered by his guru. That's all. Otherwise nobody can become guru. (Bg class Oct 28th, 1975 Nairobi)
During the Bhagavatam lecture in Mayapur in 1977, Srila Prabhupada stated this principle even more forcefully:
"Guru cannot be self-made. No. There is no such single instance throughout the whole Vedic literature. And nowadays, so many rascals, they are becoming guru without any authority. That is not guru. You must be authorized. Evam parampara-praptam imam ra... [Bg. 4.2]. As soon as the parampara is lost, sa kalena yoga nasto parantapa, immediately finished. The spiritual potency finished. You can dress like a guru, you can talk big, big words, but it will never be effective." (Srimad Bhagavatam class, Mayapur, Feb 27th, 1977)
Fact 3: Srila Prabhupada did not authorize or appoint any of his disciples to become Spiritual Master or Diksha Guru after his disappearance:
It is a well established historical fact that Srila Prabhupada did not appoint any one to become an Acharya or Spiritual Master after his disappearance from the material world. Srila Prabhupada's personal secretary, HH Tamal Krishna Goswami has stated:
“Actually Prabhupada never appointed any gurus. He appointed eleven ritviks. He never appointed them gurus. Myself and the other GBC have done the greatest disservice to this movement the last three years because we interpreted the appointment of ritviks as the appointment of gurus.”
– HH Tamala Krishna Goswami, (Personal Secretary to Srila Prabhupada during the last days in Vrindavan; excerpts from Pyramid House Confessions, Dec 3rd, 1980)
The GBCs have admitted in various forums that Srila Prabhupada did not appoint Gurus to succeed him. Like in this excerpt from a debate on this issue, HG Ravindra Svarupa Dasa says:
“And it’s a fact that Srila Prabhupada never said, ‘Alright here is the next Acharya, or here is the next Acharya and they are authorized gurus for the Movement, for the world.’ He did not do that.” (Ravindra Svarupa Das, San Deigo debate, 1990)
HH Bhakticharu Swami, a personal servant of Srila Prabhupada during his last days in Vrindavana, further testifies and elaborates the circumstances during that period:
“During the last days of Srila Prabhupada’s physical presence in 1977 in Vrindavana, there was a lot of pressure on Srila Prabhupada to appoint the successor gurus. ‘Once after the devotees had left Srila Prabhupada’s room, he turned to me and said in Bengali, ‘My Guru Maharaja did not appoint an Acharya. They expect me to appoint one!’”
It is well established that there was pressure on Srila Prabhupada to appoint the next Acharya from the disciples and Srila Prabhupada did not want to appoint one.
How can someone be insensitive to these facts? How can someone not be sensitive to these wishes of Srila Prabhupada?
Fact 4: Srila Prabhupada describes the history of Gaudiya Mutt and analyzes the causes of it’s decline to be deviating from the spiritual master’s instruction on successor acharya.
Srila Prabhupada recounted the history of the Gaudiya Mutt and the last days before the disappearance of Srila Bhakti Siddantha Saraswathi Thakura. In one of the letters Srila Prabhupada wrote:
“Still he requested his disciples to form a strong Governing body for preaching the cult of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He never recommended anyone to be acarya of the Gaudiya Math. But Sridhara Maharaja is responsible for disobeying this order of Guru Maharaja, and he and others who are already dead unnecessarily thought that there must be one acarya. If Guru Maharaja could have seen someone who was qualified at that time to be acarya he would have mentioned. Because on the night before he passed away he talked of so many things, but never mentioned an acarya. His idea was acarya was not to be nominated amongst the governing body. He said openly you make a GBC and conduct the mission. So his idea was amongst the members of GBC who would come out successful and self effulgent acarya would be automatically selected. So Sridhara Maharaja and his two associate gentlemen unauthorizedly selected one acarya and later it proved a failure. The result is now everyone is claiming to be acarya even though they may be kanistha adhikari with no ability to preach. In some of the camps the acarya is being changed three times a year. Therefore we may not commit the same mistake in our ISKCON camp.” (Srila Prabhupada letter to Rupanuga, April 28, 1974)
Srila Prabhupada explains that Srila Bhakti Siddantha Saraswathi Thakura also did not appoint any of his disciples as a Spiritual Master. Srila Prabhupada also says that this was not an “inadvertent slip” but a consciously meditated plan on the part of Srila Bhakti Siddantha Saraswathi Thakura to not to appoint any of his disciples as the next Spiritual Master or Acharya. Srila Prabhupada describes the happenings in Gaudiya Mutt once in the purport of Chaitanya Charitamrita:
“Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, at the time of his departure, requested all his disciples to form a governing body and conduct missionary activities cooperatively. He did not instruct a particular man to become the next acarya. But just after his passing away, his leading secretaries made plans, without authority, to occupy the post of acarya, and they split into two factions over who the next acarya would be. Consequently, both factions were asara, or useless, because they had no authority, having disobeyed the order of the spiritual master.” (Chaitanya Charitamrita, Adi 12.8 purport)
In yet another room conversation in 1976, Srila Prabhupada analyzes why the Gaudiya Mutt failed and links to disobedience to the order of the spiritual master with regard to successor Acharya:
“Why this Gaudiya Matha failed? Because they tried to become more than guru. He, before passing away, he gave all direction and never said that “This man should be the next acarya.” But these people, just after his passing away they began to fight, who shall be acarya. That is the failure. They never thought, “Why Guru Maharaja gave us instruction so many things, why he did not say that this man should be acarya?” They wanted to create artificially somebody acarya and everything failed. They did not consider even with common sense that if Guru Maharaja wanted to appoint somebody as acarya, why did he not say? He said so many things, and this point he missed? The real point? And they insist upon it.” (Room conversation Aug 16, 1976, Bombay)
Particularly important in this context is Srila Prabhupada’s statement: “They did not consider even with common sense that if Guru Maharaja wanted to appoint somebody as acarya, why did he not say? He said so many things, and this point he missed? The real point? And they insist upon it.”
In yet another purport to Chaitanya Charitamrita verse, Srila Prabhupada writes:
“One must judge every action by its result. The members of the self-appointed acarya’s party who occupied the property of the Gaudiya Matha are satisfied, but they could make no progress in preaching. (Chaitanya Charitamrita, Ädi 12.8 purport)
It is to be noted here that Srila Prabhupada is describing the Gaudiya Mutt situation with the words: self-appointed acharyas.
Fact 5: The disciples of Srila Prabhupada were very ambitious to become Gurus and Srila Prabhupada was conscious of this:
As early as 1967, Srila Prabhupada wrote this about his first sannyasi disciple:
“Kirtanananda was awarded the position of a Sannyasi because he wanted it although I could understand it that he wanted to be a spiritual master himself. (Srila Prabhupada letter October 27th, 1967)
During the brief eleven year period of founding and growing of ISKCON, Srila Prabhupada encountered again and again his disciples trying to become Spiritual Master, the most honored position in the society. HG Bhurijana Dasa writes in his book, My Glorious Master:
“Prabhupada began criticizing his disciple, Gaurasundara, and his anger was as intense as the monsoon rains." He wants to be guru, but he is not qualified. All of them, they want to be guru without qualification and they will fall victim to sex life."
Even a few months before Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance, one of his senior GBC man and sannyasi was trying to become a spiritual master:
“Prabhupada: .... People complained against Hamsaduta. Did you know that?
Tamala Krsna: I’m not sure of the particular incidences, but I’ve heard general...
Prabhupada: In Germany. In Germany.
Tamala Krsna: The devotees there.
Prabhupada: So many complaints.
Tamala Krsna: Therefore change is good.
Prabhupada: No, you become guru, but you must be qualified first of all. Then you become.
Tamala Krsna: Oh, that kind of complaint was there.
Prabhupada: Did you know that?
Tamala Krsna: Yeah, I heard that, yeah.
Prabhupada: What is the use of producing some rascal guru?
Tamala Krsna: Well, I have studied myself and all of your disciples, and it’s clear fact that we are all conditioned souls, so we cannot be guru. Maybe one day it may be possible...
Tamala Krsna: ...but not now.
Prabhupada: Yes. I shall choose some guru. I shall say, “Now you become acarya. You become authorized.” I am waiting for that. You become all acarya. I retire completely. But the training must be complete. (Room conversation, April 22, 1977, Bombay)
Fact 6: Srila Prabhupada was very meticulous in his working and had deep concern for his institution, ISKCON:
There is abundant testimonies from disciples who witnessed the meticulous working of Srila Prabhupada.
Prabhupada was meticulous. He put on his Vaisnava tilaka that way, artistically and methodically performing each function. He used his pen that way also. He took it out of his pen box, used it, and then returned it to the box on his desk. Prabhupada warned his servants never to touch anything or move anything on his desk.
His book writing was also like that. His standard was that each and every word out of tens of thousands of words from thousands of verses must have its own synonym. Prabhupada had a limited time for writing the Bhagavatam every day, yet he never diminished his standard that each word gets its own synonym. Then he always gave the English translation, and then a purport. Whenever he saw the editors or publishers failing in this meticulous standard, he became very upset. (Recollections by HH Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami, Secretary to Srila Prabhupada)
Another devotee who served as his secretary also recalls:
Working in the capacity of Srila Prabhupada’s secretary during his visit to South Africa, I would read the letters addressed to him and type out his reply for signing. Srila Prabhupada was very meticulous about his correspondence. He read all his mail and gave a reply to almost every letter he received. He was always giving guidance and encouragement. He read each and every one of his letters prior to signing them, making corrections or additions. (Recollections by Pusta Krishna Das, Secretary of Srila Prabhupada)
Srila Prabhupada exhibited such concern for the institution ISKCON that he founded. Srila Prabhupada had witnessed the decline and failure of the Gaudiya Mutt institution. Would he leave the matter concerning the succession of Acharya in ISKCON without clarity?
Let us take a look at all these facts read together:
Fact 1: Secret of success in spiritual life is to serve the instructions of the spiritual master as one’s life and soul and never deviate.
Fact 2: Authorization is essential to become Spiritual Master.
Fact 3: Srila Prabhupada did not authorize or appoint any of his disciples to become Spiritual Master or Diksha Guru after his disappearance.
Fact 4: Srila Prabhupada describes the history of Gaudiya Mutt and analyzes the cause of it’s decline to be deviating from the spiritual master’s instruction on successor acharya.
Fact 5: The disciples of Srila Prabhupada were very ambitious to become Gurus and Srila Prabhupada was conscious of this:
Fact 6: Srila Prabhupada was very meticulous in his working and had deep concern for his institution, ISKCON.
It is important to see what the position of the GBC is as expressed by one of it’s leading voices, HG Ravindra Svarupa Dasa, in this article officially published:
“There is a failure to appreciate the problem Srila Prabhupada faced in his last days. We can be sure that he knew his own disciples better than they knew themselves; he had no illusions about their spiritual qualification. Yet they were pressing for a selection of successor gurus, the ultimate position for the ambitious. Hamsadutta and Kirtanananda had already been rebuked by Srila Prabhupada for receiving guru-puja in the presence of the spiritual master, a serious transgression. Without any indication from Srila Prabhupada in this manner, there would have been chaos. Yet Srila Prabhupada clearly did not want to give his sanction to unfit people, a spiritual error. He therefore selected them without endorsement. In response to the question of initiation after departure, Srila Prabhupada gave a list of 'officiating gurus', designating them in an indirect or oblique manner. He expected them to become 'regular gurus' in the future, but there was no 'hand-picking of successors', no laying of hands and anointing with oil, no transfer of power to some special and exclusive group. Srila Prabhupada also knew that some, like Kirtanananda, would initiate with or without his sanction, so he named them. If he had not, there would likely have been a schism in 1978 instead of 1987. I feel that Srila Prabhupada's solution was brilliant, the best that could have been done under the circumstances. The result would depend on Krsna. (Cleaning House Cleaning Hearts by HG Ravindra Svarupa Dasa)
It is to be noted in this article is the reasoning: “He therefore selected them without endorsement. In response to the question of initiation after departure, Srila Prabhupada gave a list of 'officiating gurus', designating them in an indirect or oblique manner. He expected them to become 'regular gurus' in the future,…”
On such an important matter as initiation in the future in ISKCON, which had caused the failure of Gaudiya Mutt, which Srila Prabhupada had witnessed over decades, would Srila Prabhupada leave the matter nebulous as mentioned here?
It is surprising that on such an important matter of the Spiritual Master or Guru in ISKCON, the most important principle of following the orders of the spiritual master and not deviating is not being honoured.
Srila Prabhupada, please bless us that we don’t become insensitive to your instructions on this matter or any other matter.
Your humble servant,
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