BY BHAJAHARI DAS (ENGLAND)
Jan 17 1999
95% of Madhudvisa prabhu's latest article 'Problems With The Final Order' is perfect and sublime, since it consists of nothing but quotes from Srila Prabhupada. The problem is with the remaining five percent, namely Madhudvisa's comments, for they bare little relation to what Srila Prabhupada says in the given quotes. For example the author emphatically states:
Madhudvisa (henceforward the 'author') then offers pages of quotes from Srila Prabhupada which do not mention the word 'diksa', nor the word 'initiate' even once. Where are these many direct orders to all his disciples to become DIKSA
gurus? Why can the author not even produce one? In the examples given, Srila Prabhupada invariably quotes the 'amara' verse which can only refer to instructing gurus, not diksa gurus- 'it is best not to accept any disciples'. (I have placed Krishnakanta's explanation for this again
at the end of this article in case the author wishes to challenge our conclusion).
As an advocate of his own special brand of 'soft ritvik' the author is correct to point out that 'The Final Order' breaks with some previous ritvik writings. Previous versions of 'soft ritvik'
had it that the ritvik system was only meant to run until one or more of the ritvik acarya's became qualified diksa gurus. At this point, it is alleged, the order ceases to apply. In 'The Final Order' (point 25 pages 46-47) we pointed out that this was speculation since the order mentions no such
thing, and for as long as ISKCON exists (up to ten thousand years) there can be no change to the system of management (see Srila Prabhupada's final Will). Therefore we concluded that the final July 9th order only supports a 'hard ritvik' interpretation.
The system` shall apply for as long as ISKCON exists.
The author argues that Srila Prabhupada wanted all his disciples to initiate their own disciples once they were qualified. He then states:
So in other words Srila Prabhupada's real order was for everyone to become guru and then immediately leave ISKCON. Srila Prabhupada went to all that trouble just set up a mere springboard for millions of other competing organisations run by self governing initiators. It would only take one new diksa guru to emerge, and ISKCON would become defunct. It is a sastric injunction that one must approach the current link, and those new current links would not be in ISKCON. According to the author it would be untenable for a bona fide diksa guru to remain in ISKCON:
Thus the most qualified devotees (or those that felt themselves to be so) would constantly leave ISKCON, which will be obsolete with the first departing current link, to up their own rival institutions. It is at this point the author's thesis falls apart with self-contradiction:
But the definition of ISKCON is that a governing body commission governs it. The whole point of these gurus leaving was so they would not be under a governing body, but instead act independently. Thus the author has completely contradicted himself.
Our position has always been that anyone wanting to initiate their own disciples should do it outside ISKCON; but their new organisation could not, by definition, be new branches of ISKCON.
And how will the author's proposed system guard against unqualified persons initiating disciples? Apparently it will not since the author chirpily informs us:
Oh well that's all right then. But wait a minute, some ISKCON gurus have never visibly fallen down, and at least one has initiated nearly as many disciples as Srila Prabhupada did. How will the author measure success we wonder? Also this splintering off into different tiny competing organisations is almost exactly what happened to the Gaudiya Matha, and was something Srila Prabhupada roundly condemned. The author's position is further undermined by the fact that in many of the quotes he offers Srila Prabhupada stresses how anyone can be guru without any qualification other than to simply repeat what he has heard. According to the following quotes offered by the author a diksa guru should not even travel, but just stay wherever he is living and preach to his friends and family:
According to the author's interpretation of the above there is no reason why every one of Srila Prabhupada's ten thousand followers should not have immediately left ISKCON to set up shop as initiating founder acaryas on November 14th 1977.
And if the author insists that the qualification for diksa guru is indeed highly stringent, then he will have to find different quotes than the ones he has offered as evidence. Either way his argument collapses.
Everyone already agrees that Srila Prabhupada wanted his disciples to become guru, acarya, spiritual master, preacher, teacher, ritvik. We have absolutely no problem with this. It's what Srila Prabhupada asked for
over and over again. But nowhere above is Srila Prabhupada referring to the guru needing to first be a mahabhagavat (qualifications for diksa) before he acts, or traveling the world initiating his own disciples, writing his own books and forming his own
organisation. The quotes offered by the author are clearly referring to instructing, not initiating gurus.
The author seems to be obsessed with the idea of becoming qualified and starting one's own organisation. Maybe this is because he himself started his own organisation many years ago, called 'Shelter', of which he titled himself the 'Founder-Acarya'.
As the author himself says, if one is not qualified he will not be successful.
Srila Prabhupada's system was simple - one movement, and one Diksa Guru - bas; and all devotees united within ISKCON under a GBC (which followed his instructions)- a real unified world preaching mission. Our position is that there should be NO CHANGE to the system Srila Prabhupada established. What the author proposes would lead to a worse shambles than we have now. His whole thesis is speculative since nowhere does Srila Prabhupada ever describe anything like what the author is proposing.
It is good that the author has drawn attention to himself and others with similar beliefs. We certainly do not want ISKCON's much needed reforms derailed by such a speculative, subjectively based, time-delayed, GBC-less M.A.S.S. system.
Your servant Bhaja hari das
There follows Krishnakant's explanation of the 'Amara' verse based on Srila Prabhupada's teachings:
Evidence supporting the conclusion that the 'amara ajnaya' verse (C:C Madhya 7:128) as used by Srila Prabhupada, refers to instructing guru, is based on two considerations:
a) The explanation of the verse itself by Srila Prabhupada.
b) The usage of the verse by Srila Prabhupada in relation to his disciples.
Let us look at these in turn:
The actual verse is as follows:
yare dekha, tare kaha 'krsna'-upadesa
"Instruct everyone to follow the orders of Lord Sri
Krishna as they are given in the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam. In this way become a spiritual master and try to liberate everyone in this land." (C:C, Madhya, 7:128)
Let us look directly before and after this verse; and also at the surrounding purports generally.
Just before this verse in the purport to the last verse - 7:127, Srila Prabhupada states:
And then immediately Srila Prabhupada states:
Straight away we can see that the context is becoming a
PREACHER or siksa guru. It should be clear just from this that "to become an ideal householder", "One can remain comfortably in his residence", "If one is a
literate", are not the phrases that are associated with becoming a diksa guru who takes disciples and has a formal guru-disciple relationship with them. Neither is teaching 'everyone to become an ideal householder' the sum and substance of acting as a diksa guru.
As we look further the nature of the guru being described becomes even clearer:
Notice how Srila Prabhupada gives the 'essence' of the verse as the last sentence in the purport:- 'pursuing the method described here by Lord Chaitanya', 'becoming Guru', involves staying at home, chanting and preaching, nothing more. In the next two purports Srila Prabhupada elaborates on this and adds:
Thus we can see that staying at home, chanting and instructing whatever little you may know to your close associates is a prescription only for preachers/siksa gurus. It is not describing taking up the formal process of diksa guru as
practised in ISKCON. The whole thrust of the purport should make this clear where Srila Prabhupada speaks favourably about
POLYGAMY. He speaks more of this than 'becoming guru', a phrase not even repeated in the purport. Yet we do not see how everyone taking more than one wife is the normal way to
'become a diksa guru'!
Just in case anyone has any doubts that it is PREACHERS only that are being spoken of and NOT diksa gurus, Srila Prabhupada states:
To accept disciples is the very purpose of the diksa guru.
And then at the end of this verse Srila Prabhupada gives his conclusion to all the 3 verses:
One point of this 'clear advice' is that it is
'BEST not to accept ANY disciples'. Not SOME, or TOO MANY, but
To follow the order to 'become guru', according to Srila Prabhupada means:
Stay in your position, and stay at home. Get married, chant, instruct your family and friends in the Bhagavad Gita.
To not accept any disciples.
Further please note what is
NOT said here:
One must first get initiated by a spiritual master.
Wait till that spiritual master leaves the planet before executing this instruction.
Item 1. would be a very unusual way to describe the process of becoming a diksa guru. Items 2,3 and 4 make it clear that we are
NOT talking about diksa gurus.
Just the context of the verse should have made it clear that Lord Chaitanya was simply giving an instruction as to how best one can practice Krishna Consciousness at home, and not become a guru that will take disciples. The brahmin, kurma, wants to leave home and travel with Lord Chaitanya, but Lord Chaitanya tells him not to speak like that but instead 'become a guru' and TRY and liberate everyone. He never advises the Brahmin to first take diksa from him, or that he should wait until the Lord has completed his pastime before he can take up this instruction. Nor does he make any reference to the nature of the instruction changing once Lord Chaitanya has left the planet.
It may be argued that when Srila Prabhupada repeated the order to his disciples, outside of his books, he may have modified it to mean diksa for his disciples. Yet an analysis of Srila Prabhupada's use of this verse merely confirms the above
principles, for when he does use it, we often find 3 characteristics:
He will use it when addressing large crowds that invariably contained uninitiated persons. He makes no reference to one needing to first be initiated formally in order to execute the instruction to preach and 'be guru'.
He will use it in the present tense. Further, no reference is ever made when issuing the instruction that they
MUST all wait for his departure before acting on the instruction. Rather one is expected to act on the instruction immediately - this is a fatal blow to the GBC's case since they
are using the 'law of disciplic succession' as principal evidence. By this very same law, all these uses of Lord
Chaitanya's order are also eliminated.
The instruction is given in the context of the most minimal qualification possible, with everyone and anyone exhorted to execute the instruction, even children.
Many examples are there, since the order to 'be guru' in this context was given many times, but just a couple of examples will make this clear:
The above is clearly not talking about becoming a diksa guru, but simply a preacher.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.