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Arsa-prayoga Is Not The Complete Picture

          As the inappropriateness of changing of Srila Prabhupada’s books is becoming clearer and clearer amongst devotees, we are seeing an increase of activity aimed at putting an end to these book changes. In the midst of this, there are some who oppose the changes being made to Srila Prabhupada’s books yet at the same time insist that Srila Prabhupada can only act as siksa guru (instructing spiritual master) for future generations of devotees in the Krishna consciousness movement. Such a blunt contradiction is indicative of one who is still compromised with the “living guru” philosophy propagated by self-authorized/voted-in gurus, or perhaps a political agenda to assume (or re-assume?) the post of guru. Either way, the entire purpose and proper utilization of Srila Prabhupada’s books is being suppressed by these types of people, who outwardly express the desire to preserve this utilization.

“If you miss one point, there is a mistake in your calculation. Regardless of what you add or subtract after that, the mistake is already in the calculation, and everything that follows will also be faulty. We cannot simply accept that part of the scripture we like, and reject what we don’t like, and still expect to get the result.” (The Science of Self Realization 4: Understanding Krsna and Christ)

          Changing Srila Prabhupada’s books cannot be justified on the plea of [so-called] improvement. This is where the principle of Arsa-prayoga comes in, which states that even if there are some discrepancies in an authority’s writing or if they are irregularly composed, they should be accepted and are accepted by purified men who are thoroughly honest (SB Preface / Letter 1-20-72). But in applying the principle of Arsa-prayoga one must also accommodate that changing Srila Prabhupada’s books breaks the authorized disciplic succession. Srila Prabhupada’s books are nondifferent from himself in the deliverance of one who abides by the instructions prescribed in his books. In that way his books themselves are the current link in the disciplic succession (please see Srila Prabhupada’s Discipline). Under the circumstances, if one does not accommodate this, their use of the principle of Arsa-prayoga is incomplete; The entire calculation if off, having accepted one part of the scripture picture and not the other.

          What is the real reason why Srila Prabhupada’s books should be preserved and unchanged? It is so that people can take full potent advantage of the books. Simply not changing them for the sake of respect and preservation for what has been presented as it is is very nice and a noble, dutiful task. But Srila Prabhupada’s books are even more than historical spiritual masterpieces deserving of preservation. Srila Prabhupada’s books are actually meant to guide society for many, many years to come. More specifically, Srila Prabhupada’s books will spiritually guide each and every devotee in the Krishna consciousness movement with transcendental knowledge (diksa). Full advantage of Srila Prabhupada’s books means adhering to the actual devotional principles prescribed in the books and thereby receiving transcendental knowledge from them – from Srila Prabhupada. This point has been examined in depth in our article A Spiritual Approach.

          Proposing no changes to the books but rejecting their full diksa utilization holds the same effect as literally changing the books in that the full utility of Srila Prabhupada’s books is lost either way. 

          Srila Prabhupada did in fact order for initiations to continue to be done on his behalf – one of the many methods implemented in the movement for the sake of world-wide preaching – in perfect harmony with sastric principles. To argue that Srila Prabhupada’s books should not be changed while at the same time arguing that Srila Prabhupada’s status-quo as initiating spiritual master for the movement should have been changed (and was changed) is clearly just another phase of hypocrisy.

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