Competent to Make Disciples
Competent to Make Disciples?
By Narasimha das
[This conversation may not be correctly transcribed. That should be checked out if anyone wants to use it. Can’t remember where I got it. Probably from my very old Kindle. (Sent this out several weeks back and got no response until now.)]
All very good comments from Damaghosa, Naveen Krishna, Dhira Govinda and Yasoda-nandana. Very good point Damaghosa makes about sannyasa being banned. Yasoda’s and Dhira Govinda’s comments reminded me of a recent vivid Prabhupada dream I had, but doubters may not accept this line of thinking. Srila Prabhupada’s personal presence in murti form is not a fact for everyone. As Jesus said, “Cast not your pearls before swine.” The gbc posers, as Dhira Govinda reveals, deny that great Vaishnavas are equal to the Supreme Lord in freedom, potency and status. They feel the praises and prayers we sing in guru-vandana are just customary hyperbole that can be applied to any pretender. They don’t understand how the topmost Vaishnava is powerful due to empowerment from Krishna. They are, at best, veda-vada-ratas with no transcendental realizations due to their ulterior motives and deceit.
Anyway this specific question of the status of the murti of Srila Prabhupada was already asked by a disciple and answered by Srila Prabhupada in a conversation Oct.27th, 1975, Nairobi, as cited in SPS page 17. (Contrary to a recent suggestion posted on this string, I would suggest that devotees carefully read and reread SPS as a study guide for Srila Prabhupada’s vani in regards to essential conclusions and completely discard Mr. Cant’s TFO.)
Guest: “After you, is any decision made who will take over?”
Srila Prabhupada: “Yes. All of them will take over. These students, who are initiated from me, all of them will act as I am doing. Just like I have got many disciples, which I am making, initiating, they are being trained to become future spiritual masters.”
Guest: “How many swamis have you initiated?”
Srila Prabhupada: “About ten… Now, they’re competent. They can, not only the swamis, even the grhasthas–they are called dasa adhikari–and brahmacaris, everyone can, whoever is initiated, he is competent to make disciples. But as matter of etiquette they do not do so in the presence of their spiritual master. This is etiquette. Otherwise they are competent. They can make disciples and spread. They can recruit more members in this. They do, but they are being trained up. Just like here in this meeting, one of my disciples, he is acting as priest. It is not me; he is acting. So some of my students, they are acting as priests, some of them are swamis, so they are competent to make disciples.”
First thing to note is that Srila Prabhupada makes no mention here or elsewhere of his disciples offering initiation to their own followers, or persons who would become their own disciples.
There does seem to be other similar statements in other letters and conversations, but I would take all them as suspect until they can be verified by a competent Prabhupadanuga. No such like is found in the original books, other than mention of “monitor” gurus who act as assistants.
All such insinuating statements need to be understood in contrast to Srila Prabhupada’s clear, concrete statements regarding his own position as diksa-guru and sad-guru and the qualifications needed for such a post. It’s not that campsters can cherry pick the statements that seem to support their camp views. Apparent contradictions must be resolved. Guru-tattva and Krishna-tattva are not so easy to manipulate. Only the sincere will get it.
Sometimes the questioner is not ready to hear the full truth. Srila Prabhupada gave drastically different answers to the same questions posed by perhaps more sincere and simple persons, such as a conversation in Mexico City, 2/12/75, cited on page 23 of SPS and on the inside back cover of SPS. There are many similar statements.
For ISKCON leaders and followers, Srila Prabhupada clearly prescribed the ritvik system in his final order on initiations, a system that had been followed for years in his presence. He is alluding to it here by speaking of how his disciple was performing the local priestly duties in a temple function, perhaps an initiations ceremony. Yet he also here suggests that his disciples were competent to recruit new disciples on behalf of the mission and were in fact doing so. He mentions the positions of “swami” and “priest” for his disciples but does not mention the position of diksa-guru. He never suggested a post of “ISKCON Guru” for top preachers. He offered positions of temple president, sannyasi, GBC, ritvik, trustee but never diksa-guru.
Srila Prabhupada never suggested that new disciples belonged to him and that in the future new devotees would belong to his successors. He saw everything, even himself, as belonging to ISKCON, or Lord Chaitanya’s sankirtana mission. When upstarts asked him ‘Whose disciple?’ Srila Prabhupada replied, “Why ask whose? They are His disciples–He who initiates… His grand-disciple.” (Conv. May 28, 1977)
It’s not so easy to prove an obligation for everyone to follow all official ISKCON directives from now on, since iskcon is now largely defunct and deviated. Iskcon’s authority is lost. Who knows what hidden tape or doctored transcript or recording will pop up next? Bogus sadhus must be ignored, as far as possible. Those who are not part of the chaotic misskcon fission fiasco must follow shastra, sadhu, guru–as revealed in Srila Prabhupada’s books. Political intrigue is not the
way of Vaishnavas. Real Vaishnavas preach to the innocent and don’t require sanction from pseudo-religious institutions.
According to shastra, all initiated Vaishnavas can accept disciples or students, but less-experienced ‘gurus’ who are not self-realized and not fully empowered by Krishna are not sufficient. One needs the mercy and instruction of a maha-bhagavata. It is the duty of new disciples to be careful to accept a maha-bhagavata as sad-guru, but no one can legislate this by institutional decrees. Srila Prabhupada, His Divine Grace, is also manifest through the preaching of bona fide disciples able to inspire others to read his books and follow his instructions. As subordinate siksha-gurus and ritviks, sincere disciples assist the mission of the bona fide spiritual master, the Sad-Guru for the Golden Age, Srila Prabhupada. They are also gurus if they inspire others to surrender to Srila Prabhupada’s mercy and instructions.
Not everyone will be able to immediately appreciate the full mercy of Srila Prabhupada. It is not possible to rubber-stamp new Prabhupada disciples. Many newcomers are not ready or willing for full surrender; they need some compromise. Such persons are not really qualified to accept initiation in Srila Prabhupada’s mission. Similarly, preachers who don’t accept Srila Prabhupada’s ritvik system for initiations and other sadhana should not represent themselves as ISKCON preachers. They can join other camps, or create their own, and in this way attempt to become diksa-gurus without authorization. All those who oppose Srila Prabhupada’s final instructions for initiations in ISKCON begin their rapid descent to darkness. We should carefully ignore all these people.
Srila Prabhupada said, “We haven’t got to answer every argument of a madman.”