11) Reject Unauthorized Successor “Acaryas” or “Diksa-Gurus”.
Srila Prabhupada did not practice a system of nominating or approving successor acaryas or diksa-gurus. Nor did Srila Prabhupada authorize any person, group, or organization to nominate or approve successor acaryas or diksa-gurus. Nor did Srila Prabhupada indicate that one may appoint himself as diksa-guru or acarya simply by adopting the role or status. Such ideas are insidious concoctions, unsubstantiated anywhere in Srila Prabhupada’s teachings or directives for sadhana.
“Caitanya Mahaprabhu—He is God. Guru more murkha dekhi’ karila sasan: ‘My Guru Maharaja saw Me as fool number one, and he has chastised Me.’ He’s God. This is the example. If one remains a servant everlastingly of the guru, then he is liberated. And as soon as he thinks that he is liberated, he’s a rascal. That is the teaching of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Guru more murkha dekhi’. Caitanya Mahaprabhu is murkha? Why is it He’s posing Himself as that murkha?–‘l am fool number one.’ That means that is liberation. You must be ready always to be chastised by the guru. Then one is liberated. And as soon as he thinks that ‘I am beyond this chastisement-I am liberated,’ he’s a rascal. Why does Caitanya Mahaprabhu say guru more murkha dekhi’ karila sasan? This is sahajiya-vada— thinking, ‘Oh, I have become liberated. I don’t require any direction of my guru. I’m liberated.’ Then he’s a rascal.
“Why did this Gaudiya Matha fail? Because they tried to become more than the guru. He—before passing away—he gave all direction and never said that ‘This man should be the nextacarya.’ 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 on so many things—why did he not say that this man should be acarya?’ They wanted to create artificially somebody as 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 insisted upon it. They declared some unfit person to become acarya. Then another man came. And then another — ‘Acarya’.’ Another — ‘Acarya’! So better remain a foolish person perpetually to be directed by Guru Maharaja. That is perfection. And as soon as he learns that Guru Maharaja is dead, ‘Now I am so advanced that I can kill my guru and I become guru.’ Then he’s finished.” (Conversation, August 16,1976, Bombay)
Srila Prabhupada: “Only Lord Caitanya can take my place. He will take care of the movement.” (Conversation, November 2, 1977, Vrndavana)
Guest: “When did you become the spiritual leader of Krishna consciousness?”
Srila Prabhupada: “When my Guru Maharaja ordered me. This is the guru-parampara. Try to understand. Don’t go very speedily. A guru can become a guru when he’s ordered by his guru. That’s all. Otherwise, nobody can become guru.” (Conversation, October 28,1975, Nairobi)
12) Avoid Disobedient, Unauthorized Ideas about Spiritual Initiation.
Srila Prabhupada never suggested that immature preachers should pose as diksa-gurus and initiate their own disciples in the Krishna consciousness movement. Similarly, the practice of “reinitiating” devotees who have already earnestly begun serving Srila Prabhupada, having received the bhakti-lata-bija or seed of devotion by His Divine Grace (guru-krsna prasada), is against Vaisnava principles. Sincere students reject all these unauthorized practices and never accept imitators as substitutes for the genuine Vaisnava acarya. [Persons posing as sadhus or gurus often propagate the following deviations:
a) Vaisnava gurus or acaryas are authorized by ecclesiastical arrangements (acarya boards, two-thirds-majority votes, and so forth) or appointed from among immature devotees.
b) Vaisnava gurus are self-made or nominated by their friends or followers.
c) Vaisnava gurus are ordinary men who sometimes make common mistakes, and even great devotees (mahajanas) sometimes become degraded under the Lord’s external maya-sakti.
d) The bona fide spiritual master may sometimes become a demon.
e) A disciple may need to neglect his Vaisnava guru sometimes, or interpret and edit his instructions, or even reject him completely.
f) Sadhana-bhaktas, neophyte Vaisnavas, may accept special instructions and special siddha-pranali “initiation” from an unauthorized, self-styled preacher if he claims to be augmenting the teachings of the bona fide Vaisnava acarya.
g) Vaisnavas, although sincerely engaged in the service of the bona fide acarya, require initiation by an ecclesiastical “guru” and “reinitiation” when their former ecclesiastical “guru” deviates.
h) A student of Krishna consciousness may accept initiation, diksa, from more than one guru,
i) Vaisnava acaryas die or become “posthumous,” like all mortal men, and thus become inaccessible or ineffective in the matter of initiating and guiding new disciples,
j) Some of the instructions of the Vaisnava acarya automatically become irrelevant after his disappearance.
“He reasons ill who tells that Vaisnavas die, when thou art living still in sound.” (From a poem by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura.)
“There is no possibility that a first-class devotee will fall down….” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya 22.71, Purport)
“A devotee must have only one initiating spiritual master, because in the scriptures acceptance of more than one is always forbidden.” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi 1.35, Purport)
“Sri Jiva Gosvami advises that one not accept a spiritual master in terms of hereditary or customary social and ecclesiastical conventions. One should simply try to find a genuinely qualified spiritual master for actual advancement in spiritual understanding.” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi 1.35, Purport)
“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. Lord Krishna states in Bhagavad-gita, vyapasrita: one should accept a spiritual master. By this process the entire world can be converted to Krishna consciousness.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.8.54, Purport)
13) Follow Srila Prabhupada’s Authorized System for Initiations.
Srila Prabhupada has ordained and implemented a system for initiations in his mission using deputed priests of the acarya, who offer formal initiation on behalf of Srila Prabhupada. This system has been in place and functioning in the Krishna consciousness movement since 1970, or slightly prior. Srila Prabhupada never suggested it should be discontinued for any reason. To the contrary, via numerous spoken and written directives, Srila Prabhupada has clearly delineated his intention to continue initiating disciples in the Krishna consciousness movement by this system perpetually. Srila Prabhupada’s sincere followers accept his system without speculation, following the infallible authority of sadhu-sastra-guru. (See Appendix: Conversations, May 28th and July 7th, 1977, Vrndavana; Srila Prabhupada’s last directive on initiations, July 9,1977.)
“My dear R-, Please accept my blessings. Just now I have received some more requests for giving first initiation …, and now I am receiving weekly not less than ten to fifteen such requests from new students. So it is becoming very expensive to send so many sets of beads such a long distance, and it has become a little bothersome for me also, so I think now you may be appointed by me to give first initiations to new disciples by chanting on their beads on my behalf. In America K- is doing that. So now if there are two of you, that will give me great relief. K- will chant on the beads for new devotees in America, Canada, like that; you can chant on the beads for the European continent, new disciples. They shall, of course, still be considered as my disciples, not that they shall become your disciples, but you will be empowered by me to chant their beads and that is the same effect of binding master and disciple as if I were personally chanting.” (Letter, January 4,1973)
Disciple 1: “Then our next question concerns initiations in the future, particularly at that time when you are no longer with us. We want to know how first and second initiation would beconducted.”
Srila Prabhupada: “Yes. I shall recommend some of you… I shall recommend some of you to act as officiating acaryas.”
Disciple 2: “Is that called ritvik-acarya?”
Srila Prabhupada: “Ritvik. Yes.” (Conversation, May 28,1977, Vrndavana) [See also: Conversation, July 7, 1977, Vrndavana; Srila Prabhupada’s last directive on initiations, July 9,1977.]
Srila Prabhupada: “Hare Krishna. One Bengali gentleman has come from New York?… So I have deputed some of you to initiate. I have already deputed… So, deputies… J’s name was there?”
Disciple: “It is already there, Srila Prabhupada. His name was already on that list [of deputies in the July 9th directive, stating Srila Prabhupada’s authorized system for initiations ‘henceforward’].”
Srila Prabhupada: “So I depute him to do this… This initiation. I have deputed my disciples. Is it clear or not?” Disciple: “It’s clear… We will explain to the Bengali gentleman, just as you have described to us, so that he’ll be satisfied with this arrangement.” (Conversation, October 18, 1977, Vrndavana)
14) “Knowledge Should Be Taken from the Perfect Person.”
Only an uttama-adhikari, a topmost, perfect devotee, is qualified to deliver the student from the miseries of the material world and the cycle of birth and death. Therefore, all sastras andacaryas recommend that serious students of Krishna consciousness accept only an uttama-adhikari as diksa-guru. Students should not accept as guru an imperfect person who is subject to fall-down. Sincere devotees should not accept initiation according to temporal ecclesiastical arrangements but should rather accept only the topmost devotee as diksa-guru, according to thesadhana prescribed by Srila Prabhupada.
“The whole world is in the blaze of material pangs, threefold miseries, and a person who is authorized to deliver people from those material pangs —he is called a spiritual master.” (Lecture, August 17,1968, Montreal)
“… help can only be given by a spiritual master like Krishna. Therefore, the conclusion is that a spiritual master who is one hundred percent Krishna conscious is the bona fide spiritual master, for he can solve the problems of life.” (Bhagavad-gita 2.8, Purport)
“Since one cannot visually experience the presence of the Supersoul, He appears before us as a liberated devotee. Such a spiritual master is none other than Krishna Himself.” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi 1.58)
“A bona fide spiritual master is in the disciplic succession from time eternal, and he does not deviate at all from the instructions of the Supreme Lord…” (Bhagavad-gita As It Is 4.42, Purport)
“The spiritual master is always considered either one of the confidential associates of Radharani or a manifested representation of Sri Nityananda.” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi 1.46, Purport)
“On the whole, the spiritual master is an agent of Krishna. Either he is assistant to the gopis or assistant to the cowherd boys. He is on the level of Krishna. That is the verdict of all scriptures. Krishna is worshipable God, and the spiritual master is worshiper God.” (Letter, September 26,1969)
“… a disciple should be careful to accept an uttama-adhikari as a spiritual master.” (Nectar of Instruction, Text 5, Purport)
“Knowledge should be taken from the perfect person—because if you take knowledge from a person who is defective, your knowledge has no value. You must take knowledge from the perfect.” (Lecture, April 12,1974, Bombay)
15) Practice and Preach Srila Prabhupada’s Empowered Instructions.
Srila Prabhupada’s bountiful vani (instructions) found in his authorized publications and in his recordings are fully potent for the practice and propagation of Krishna consciousness. Sincere students of Krishna consciousness regularly study Srila Prabhupada’s books and recordings and live by his eternal, divine instructions.
“Whatever is to be learned can be learned from our books. There is no need whatsoever for outside instruction.” (Letter, December 25,1973)
16) Associate With and Serve Srila Prabhupada’s Sincere Disciples.
In sum, genuine preachers of Krishna consciousness always encourage and promote the association of Vaisnavas based upon recognition and relish of Srila Prabhupada’s unique position as anitya-siddha Vaisnava, sakty-avesa avatara, Sampradaya Acarya and beloved guru for all his sincere followers. As a matter of course, Krishna conscious devotees come together and preach on this basis, following Srila Prabhupada’s instruction, “Always keep the Acarya in the center.”
“I wish that each and every branch shall keep their independent identity and cooperate, keeping the Acarya in the centre. On this principle we can open any number of branches all over the world.” (Letter, February 11,1967)
17) Follow Srila Prabhupada’s Format for Various Functions.
Members of the Hare Krishna Society naturally cooperate to arrange Vaisnava festivals on a regular basis and try to preach, according to individual capacity, following the format given by Srila Prabhupada, with the chanting of the Lord’s holy names, readings and classes from the authorized and approved pre-1978 editions of Srila Prabhupada’s books, discussions based on his Bhaktivedanta Purports, and prasada offered and distributed in the way Srila Prabhupada has shown us.
18) Encourage Open Discussions Among Sincere Devotees.
Srila Prabhupada always encourages istha-gosthi (public discussion) among devotees. Members of the Hare Krishna Society agree to encourage and promote istha-gosthi among ourselves and others, to discuss the proper conclusions of Vaisnavism and their practical application, based upon Srila Prabhupada’s teachings.
siddhanta baliya citte na kara alasa
iha ha-ite krsne lage sudrdha manasa:
“A sincere student should not neglect the discussion of such conclusions, considering them controversial, for such discussions strengthen the mind. Thus one’s mind becomes attached to Sri Krishna.” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi 2.117)
19) Serve Srila Prabhupada, Cooperatively.
In conclusion, members of the Hare Krishna movement embrace the simple yet sublime Vaisnava principles of serving Srila Prabhupada—the Acarya—and working together to help him distribute the blessings of Lord Sri Krishna Caitanya all over the universe.
“No one can check the spread of the Krishna consciousness movement, because upon this movement is the benediction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu.”(Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi 17.204, Purport)
satam prasangan mama virya-samvido,
bhavanti hrt-karna-rasayanah kathah
taj-josanad asv apavarga-vartmani,
sraddha ratir bhaktir anukramisyati:
“The spiritually powerful message of Godhead can be properly discussed only in a society of devotees, and it is greatly pleasing to hear in that association. If one hears from devotees, the way of transcendental experience quickly opens, and gradually one attains firm faith that in due course develops into attraction and devotion.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.25.25)
Param vijayate sri-krsna-sankirtanam! All Glories to Sri Krishna Sankirtana!
Om Tat Sat.