It is not that you have become a student and you'll remain student. No. One day you shall become also guru and make more students, more students, more. That is Caitanya Mahaprabhu's mission, not that perpetually... Yes, one should remain perpetually a student, but he has to act as guru.
Now, in this article, entitled "ISKCON Is Much Bigger Than We Think," We are offering a different perspective. We have explained the statements of Srila Narayana Maharaja as far as we have understood them. These explanations have been regularly placed just below the bolded and bracketed statements of the IRM, and they are headed: 'COMMENT'. This article is long - it is 21 pages. Many of our respected readers have one or two full-time jobs, with children or others requiring attention. We beg your indulgence, to patiently go through the pages. All aspects of the topic are covered here, and you will be able to use the contents for many purposes.
This insignificant person prays for the causeless mercy of Sri Guru and Gauranga to be able, even in a very minute degree, to properly serve my worshipable diksa-guru, Srila Prabhupada, my worshipable siksa-guru, Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja, and our worshipable guru-parampara.
1) The IRM quoted Srila Narayana Maharaja: "Those who think, 'There is no need to accept a guru as a mediator because we can chant the holy name, we can read books, and we can do arcana and sadhana simply by the rtvik system,' are not within the guru-parampara. They deceive others. They are actually cheaters; not bhaktas."
The IRM replied: [Of course no one except NM has ever even proposed this. The Ritvik system is DEFINED as accepting Srila Prabhupada as the Guru who mediates.]
COMMENT: Srila Narayana Maharaja is not saying that Prabhupada is not the guru who mediates. All acaryas in disciplic succession are gurus who mediate; no doubt. Srila Maharaja is simply saying that one needs the guidance of a pure devotee to understand Prabhupada's mediation. The question here is whether or not all devotees and aspiring devotees have equal access to understanding Prabhupada's books, cassette tapes, videos, etc., or whether we general devotees, who are conditioned souls, need the association of pure devotees to help us understand him.
Although they state in their reply that Prabhupada is the mediator, the proponents of the rtvik system are certainly indirectly claiming to be the mediators to Prabhupada. Otherwise they would not be writing their version of Prabhupada's legacy here, in hopes to correct another's version.
Let Prabhupada mediate: On Dec. 20, 1975, in Bombay, Prabhupada said in a conversation,
"And why you are teaching them there is no need of guru? That means you want to be guru… Whatever it may be, I require your help to understand it. Therefore you become my guru. If I require your help to understand something, that is guru. And you say there is no need of guru. Then why you are taking trouble to teach me this nonsense?"
The IRM may think I am using this quote inappropriately, although I think Prabhupada is inspiring me to use it. Why should the IRM mediate? Prabhupada is my diksa-guru. Let Prabhupada mediate with me. According to the above-mentioned quote by Prabhupada, if the IRM says I need them to understand when and when not to quote Prabhupada, that means they want to be some kind of guru. The question then arises, "Who is the best guru to help me understand Prabhupada?" That best guru can only be another pure devotee. Only a self realized soul can perfectly understand another. In his purport to Bhagavad-gita, ch. 4 text 19, Srila Prabhupada writes:
"ONLY A PERSON IN FULL KNOWLEDGE CAN UNDERSTAND THE ACTIVITIES OF A PERSON IN KRSNA CONSCIOUSNESS."
The only transparent mediator to Prabhupada is a pure devotee, the 'transparent via-media.' Perhaps Prabhupada is mediating to Srila Narayana Maharaja. In fact, Prabhupada called Srila Narayana Maharaja to his bedside in Vrndavana in his last days and requested him to help his young disciples.
2) The IRM quoted Srila Narayana Maharaja: "Nowhere in the sastra is it written that a rtvik can ever give bhakti. This can never be the case."
The IRM replied: [Nowhere has it ever been claimed by anyone that the 'rtvik gives Bhakti'. Those who accept the rtvik system receive Bhakti from the self-realized Guru, Srila Prabhupada.]
COMMENT: Bhakti is coming down in the chain of disciplic succession, from perfect master to perfect disciple, and that is why it is free from the four defects. For example, we pray daily to Srila Rupa Gosvami, "sri-caitanya-mano-'bistam sthapitam yena bhu-tale, svayam rupah kada mahyam dadati sva-padantikam." In essence, this prayer means that Rupa Gosvami, more than anyone else, understands the teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and if one takes his shelter, he will realize Mahaprabhu's mission and become perfect. Although Rupa Gosvami is the mediator to Mahaprabhu for the entire universe, the acaryas in his disciplic succession had to come, one after another, each explaining the previous acarya, so that we could understand his presentation.
Srila Narayana Maharaja is simply saying here that in order to get bhakti from Srila Prabhupada, one has to be able to understand and then follow his instructions. If those instructions are equally comprehensible to all, why is there so much disagreement? We can see from the Internet (VNN, Chakra, FORUMS etc.) that there are so many disagreements on so many instructions. There are disagreements on jiva-tattva, rtvik, guru-tattva, sahajiyaism and gopi-bhava, the GBC, Prabhupada's omniscience, varnasrama, bhagavat-tattva, the necessity and meaning of raganuga-bhakti, sadhana and sadhya, and so many other topics. Although all parties use Prabhupada's books as their reference, why all the disagreements? It is because those who are less advanced will understand less, those who are more advanced will understand more, and those who are most advanced will understand most. Thus, the most advanced devotees, the self-realized devotees, will help us the most to get bhakti by following Prabhupada's instructions.
The following quotes may help to understand the different degrees of understanding Prabhupada's books, or any sastric literature, by different grades of devotees:
"kanistha-adhikari does not know much about sastra" (SB 4.22.16 Purport)
"A neophyte believes that only love of Krsna or Krsna consciousness is very good, but he may not know the basis of pure Krsna consciousness or how one can become a perfect devotee." (Cc Madhya 22.71 Purport)
"One who is not very expert in argument and logic based on the revealed scriptures, but who has firm faith, is considered a second-class devotee. He also must be considered most fortunate." (CC Madhya 22.67)
"The second-class devotee, even though he cannot support his position with sastric reference, can gradually become a first-class devotee by studying the sastras and associating with a first-class devotee. However, if the second-class devotee does not advance himself by associating with a first-class devotee, he makes no progress." (Cc Madhya 22.71 Purport)
"One who is expert in logic, argument and the revealed scriptures and who has firm faith in Krsna is classified as a topmost devotee. He can deliver the whole world." (Cc Madhya 22.65)
"One who is expert in logic and in understanding the revealed scriptures, and who always has firm conviction and deep faith that is not blind, is to be considered a topmost devotee in devotional service." (Cc Madhya 22.66)
"The devotees are also described as positive, comparative and superlative in terms of their love and attachment for Krsna." (Cc Madhya 22.71 Purport)
According to the above-mentioned quotes, it is the first-class devotee, the self-realized maha-bhagavat devotee, who can best help us understand Prabhupada's books and the instructions therein. By the association of pure devotees we can understand what was Prabhupada's intention for initiations and everything else, after his departure, and forever.
3A) The IRM quoted Srila Narayana Maharaja: "They say that in this world there are no pure devotees, and therefore there are no pure devotees to initiate anyone. This idea is very, very wrong and it is against the principles of bhakti."
The IRM replied: [No we do not say this. In "The Final Order" we actually state the opposite. There maybe many pure devotees. But this does not change the fact that Srila Prabhupada established the Ritvik system for ISKCON. Thus NM's idea is 'very, very wrong' and it goes against the principles of actual Ritvik system as given by Srila Prabhupada.]
COMMENT: Prabhupada gives instructions in how to deal with those 'many pure devotees.' It is not that we can associate with everyone, but we should not associate with the pure devotee. If one thinks he can be Krsna conscious and associate properly with Prabhupada without their help, it means he does not actually recognize their presence.
It is quite understandable that if one has been cheated by those who only claimed to be pure devotees, he will not trust others. Ultimately, however, we can only be cheated by our own karma. It is quoted in Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya-lila 9.77: "One who seeks Your compassion and thus tolerates all kinds of adverse conditions due to the karma of his past deeds, who engages always in Your devotional service with his mind, words and body, and who always offers obeisances unto You is certainly a bona fide candidate for becoming Your unalloyed devotee."
If I received a false spiritual master, it may have been because I was a false spiritual master in my last life. Or, I may have offended my pure devotee spiritual master in my last life. There is always a karmic reason for our sufferings and for the obstacles in our spiritual life. However, to invent a new system as a 'short-cut' will not help us. Rather, we shall admit that we are ultimately the cause of those obstacles to our advancement, and pray to Prabhupada and Krsna for proper guidance. That will help us.
The IRM stated here that there may be many pure devotees. Since Prabhupada is the 'guru who mediates', we turn to Nectar of Instruction Text Five, in order to see how to relate to those pure devotees. Prabhupada translates Srila Rupa Gosvami: "One should mentally honor the devotee who chants the holy name of Lord Krsna, one should offer humble obeisances to the devotee who has undergone spiritual initiation [diksa] and is engaged in worshiping the Deity, and one should associate with and faithfully serve that pure devotee who is advanced in undeviated devotional service and whose heart is completely devoid of the propensity to criticize others."
3B) Again we quote the IRM's reply: There maybe many pure devotees. But this does not change the fact that Srila Prabhupada established the Ritvik system for ISKCON. Thus NM's idea is 'very, very wrong' and it goes against the principles of actual Ritvik system as given by Srila Prabhupada.]
COMMENT: Prabhupada did not establish the rtvik system (the theory of post-samadhi diksas, or the theory of a departed acarya giving diksa) for ISKCON. What is the meaning of ISKCON? In this material world, ISKCON began in the beginning of time. Lord Brahma is in ISKCON, Narada, Vyasadeva, Rupa Gosvami and so on are all ISKCON. ISKCON is an English nomenclature or expression for the eternal Krsna consciousness movement. It was started by Krsna Himself, then it came to Brahma and so on. Gradually it came to Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who also played the role of an ISKCON member, as did His followers like Srila Rupa Gosvami. Rupa Gosvami then established ISKCON in its Sanskrit name, Visva-Vaisnava-Raja Sabha, and it was under the presidency of Srila Jiva Gosvami. That eternal movement came down through the unbroken chain of masters, and it gradually came to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. Srila Sarasvati Thakura then translated that same Visva-Vaisnava-Raja Sabha into Bengali, and the name became Gaudiya Matha. After the departure of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, when certain persons made it too difficult to execute bhakti in his temples, his disciple Srila Bhaktiprajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja, along with our Prabhupada and one other advanced devotee, founded the Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti. That Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti is the same Gaudiya Matha in its pure form, the same Visva-Vaisnava-Raja Sabha, the same Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya Sampradaya, the same Krsna consciousness movement.
Our revered Gurudeva, Srila Prabhupada, accepted his sacred sannyasa initiation from Srila Bhaktiprajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja. Then, to deliver that same eternal message of the Kingdom of God, he brought that same Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti to the West, translating it into English, under the name ISKCON, the International Society for Krsna Consciousness.
So ISKCON is not a new movement. It is coming down in a chain of perfect master to perfect student, who then becomes the perfect master. Prabhupada is in that same line. He never manufactured a new system. He only followed the same system of initiation and instruction as was established by his predecessors. He never gave 'the principles of the actual rtvik system,' as stated by the IRM. The rtvik system is nowhere to be found in our disciplic succession. Even Lord Brahma, who was the only person in the universe for awhile, personally met his guru, Bhagavan Sri Krsna, and Krsna personally shook hands with him.
Prabhupada said: "So similarly, as Krsna says, this is called disciplic succession. Lord Caitanya, although Krsna Himself, He has accepted the disciplic succession from Krsna... I have given you the process of disciplic succession: from Krsna, Brahma; from Brahma, Narada; from Narada, Vyasa; from Vyasa, Madhva; from Madhva, Madhavendra Puri; from Madhavendra Puri, Isvara Puri; from Isvara Puri, Lord Caitanya. So evam parampara. So in the parampara system, in that disciplic succession, you will find no change. The original word is there. That is the thing. They are not foolish to manufacture something new. What new? People are after something new manufactured by this tiny brain. What new you can manufacture? That is all nonsense. If you want the real thing, then you have to take the old, the oldest. You cannot change anything. Can you change any law of the sun rising or sun setting?" (Caitanya-caritamrta Lectures, New York, December 1, 1966)
ISKCON is much bigger than we may think. Who can deny that Narada Muni is ISKCON? Prabhupada writes:
"Narada Muni:…He is the son and disciple of Brahmaji, and from him the disciplic succession in the line of Brahma has been spread. He initiated Prahlada Maharaja, Dhruva Maharaja and many celebrated devotees of the Lord. He initiated even Vyasadeva, the author of the Vedic literatures, and from Vyasadeva, Madhvacarya was initiated, and thus the Madhva-sampradaya, in which the Gaudiya-sampradaya is also included, has spread all over the universe. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu belonged to this Madhva-sampradaya; therefore, Brahmaji, Narada, Vyasa, down to Madhva, Caitanya and the Gosvami's all belonged to the same line of disciplic succession. Naradaji has instructed many kings from time immemorial. In the Bhagavatam we can see that he instructed Prahlada Maharaja while he was in the womb of his mother, and he instructed Vasudeva, father of Krsna, as well as Maharaja Yudhisthira." (SB 1.9.6-7 Purport)
Prabhupada writes in Caitanya-caritamrta:
"Kaviraja Gosvami is very valuable for all pure devotees…IN THIS WAY THE MESSAGE IS TRANSMITTED IN THE BONA FIDE SPIRITUAL DISCIPLIC SUCCESSION FROM BONA FIDE SPIRITUAL MASTER TO BONA FIDE STUDENT." (Cc Madhya 8.312 Purport)
In Hyderabad, India, on December 10, 1976, Prabhupada gave a lecture on the divine Disappearance Day of his Guru Maharaja, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, and there he clearly established his 'final order' for the continuation of his mission after his departure. There is no mention here of any rtvik system. Rather, he talks about the same parampara system that he had been teaching us since 1966, at 26 2nd Ave. The disciplic line continues from perfect master to perfect disciple.
Prabhupada began this Disappearance Day lecture by reading aloud from a Back to Godhead magazine:
"...'simple expression of reverence and love. The disciple, Abhaya Charan Dasa, was to become His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder-acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.' Then he spoke in his own words: "So, whatever I appreciated forty years ago, the same principle is going on. We have no change.
"…So we got this information from His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, and that knowledge is still going on. You are receiving (that knowledge) through his servant. And in the future, the same knowledge will go to your students. This is called parampara system. Evam parampara prap... It is not that you have become a student and you'll remain student. No. One day you shall become also guru and make more students, more students, more. That is Caitanya Mahaprabhu's mission, not that perpetually... Yes, one should remain perpetually a student, but he has to act as guru. That is the mission of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. It is not that because I am acting as guru, I am no longer student. No, I am still student. Caitanya Mahaprabhu taught us this instruction that we shall always remain a foolish student before our Guru Maharaja. That is the Vedic culture. I may be very big man, but still, I should remain a foolish student to my guru. That is the qualification. Guru more murkha dekhi' karila sasana. We should be always prepared to be controlled by the guru. That is a very good qualification.
"… I remember the same thing, as it is, in 1922, and still the same thing is going on. There is nothing new. We have nothing new to do. Simply let us present as it is; it will be successful. You see. The spirit of my writing is the same…So the same thing, it is chalked out by Krsna, and by parampara system we have understood this philosophy. Evam parampara praptam imam rajarsayo viduh [Bg. 4.2]. So keep this parampara system. This Vyasa-puja is parampara system. Vyasa-puja means to accept this parampara system. Guru is the representative of Vyasadeva because he does not change anything. What Vyasa-paja... What Vyasadeva said, your guru will also say the same thing. Not that, 'So many hundreds of thousands of years have passed away. Therefore I will give you a new formula.' No. There is no new formula. The same Vyasa-puja, the same philosophy. Simply we have to accept it. Then our life will be successful. Thank you very much."
Prabhupada writes the same thing in his purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam, 4.28.31, and again there is no mention of the rtvik system: "After one such Manu passes on, another Manu begins his life-span. In this way the life cycle of the universe is going on. As one Manu follows another, the cult of Krsna consciousness is being imparted, as confirmed in Bhagavad-gita (4.1): 'The Blessed Lord said: "I instructed this imperishable science of yoga to the sun-god, Vivasvan, and Vivasvan instructed it to Manu, the father of mankind, and Manu in turn instructed it to Iksvaku.'" Vivasvan, the sun-god, imparted Bhagavad-gita to one Manu, and this Manu imparted it to his son, who imparted it to yet another Manu. In this way the propagation of Krsna consciousness is never stopped. No one should think that this Krsna consciousness movement is a new movement. As confirmed by Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam, it is a very, very old movement, for it has been passing down from one Manu to another…The cult of Krsna consciousness, based on the nine principles of devotional service (sravanam kirtanam visnoh smaranam pada-sevanam/ arcanam vandanam dasyam sakhyam atma-nivedanam [SB 7.5.23]), will never be stopped. It will go on without distinction of caste, creed, color or country. No one can check it."
4) The IRM quoted Srila Narayana Maharaja: "Beware of this rtvik system. Without a self-realized guru you cannot achieve bhakti in thousands of births. This is an established truth. This is siddhanta. You should therefore accept a sad-guru, serve him, and try to follow his instructions. Then you can develop your Krsna consciousness and all of your anarthas will disappear. Otherwise, it will never be possible for pure bhakti to come and touch your heart and senses."
The IRM replied: [Since the Ritvik system actually ENABLES one to 'accept, serve and follow the instructions of the self-realised sad guru', it is clear that one must 'beware of NM', for he is teaching the exact OPPOSITE of the truth. Otherwise 'it will never be possible for pure understanding to come and touch your heart and senses'.]
COMMENT: It is not stated anywhere in Prabhupada's books that the rtvik system 'actually enables one to accept, serve and follow the instructions of the self-realized sad-guru'.
Prabhupada never established the rtvik system. It is nowhere in his books. It is also nowhere in his letters, except for one letter, which was actually written by Tamala Krsna Maharaja. (What follows is a history of the origin of the rtvik theory. Because it is also a history of the origin of the appointed-guru theory, if anyone does not want to read it, he can feel free to move on to #5.)
In that letter, Tamala Krsna Maharaja was referring only to the rest of the period that Prabhupada would be physically present, from July to November, 1977. In that letter, Tamala Krsna Maharaja gave his own interpretation of a conversation that took place on May 28th, a conversation in which he, himself, had given an interpretation of the word rtvik that is nowhere in Prabhupada's books. From that conversation he also interpreted that Prabhupada was appointing eleven initiating gurus, and from that interpretation the zonal-acarya system was temporarily manifest.
The cassette tape recording, if heard carefully, strongly suggests that it was a combination of several spliced conversations, all grafted together. But even if it was not, even giving it the benefit of the doubt, Prabhupada clearly says in one of the sections, "Amara ajnaya guru han." Prabhupada is simply quoting Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu there. Mahaprabhu is ordering everyone to become guru, and those who are qualified to be guru can make disciples. Mahaprabhu says, "Instruct everyone to follow the orders of Lord Sri Krsna 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 (Cc Madhya 7.128)."
Two purports later Prabhupada explains, "One should not try to be an artificially advanced devotee, thinking, 'I am a first-class devotee.' Such thinking should be avoided. It is best not to accept any disciples (Cc Madhya 7. 130)." So Prabhupada did not invent anything new in his last days.
Tamala Krsna Maharaja wrote in that letter: "…Srila Prabhupada indicated that soon He would appoint some of His senior disciples to act as 'ritvik - representative of the acarya, for the purpose of performing initiations, both first initiation and second initiation." In the letter, Tamala Krsna Maharaja mentioned eleven disciples whom, according to him, Prabhupada had appointed to be the 'ritvik-representatives'. Later on, after Prabhupada's departure, these eleven were said to be the 'appointed successor gurus of ISKCON,' and this was announced to the devotees in all the temples.
From when, and from where, did this idea come? Weeks after the conversation of May 28th, after at least one hundred other conversations, there was a conversation in mid June. [That conversation does not seem to be in FolioViews, but I acquired the cassette recording, in 1980, from the Tamala Krsna Maharaja Tape Ministry.] In that June conversation, one of the leaders asked Prabhupada if the ISKCON management should continue to postpone initiations due to Prabhupada's ill health. Prabhupada encouraged the devotees that initiations could continue because the various leaders around the world who had been managing the organization of initiations and sometimes officiating the fire sacrifices could simply continue in their zones, and there would be no problem in that. He said that Ramesvara, for example, was in such and such an area, Jayatirtha was in such and such area, and so on. Prabhupada also said in that conversation that he himself was in India, and he could personally perform the function there. Prabhupada wasn't giving anything new. The principle of devotees holding the fire sacrifices in their local temples after Prabhupada had accepted the aspiring initiates had been going on at least since 1969 or 1970.
In 1969 Prabhupada gave brahmanical initiation to Srimati Saradia dasi. At that time her husband hadn't received brahmanical initiation. He received it two years later, and at that time Prabhupada wrote him (April 4, 1971): "I am enclosing herewith your sacred thread, duly chanted on by me. Gayatri mantra is as follows: (taken out of the published letter) Ask your wife to chant this mantra and you hear it, and if possible hold a fire ceremony as you have seen during your marriage and get this sacred thread on your body. Saradia, or any twice-initiated brahmana, may perform the ceremony."
Now, in 1977 Prabhupada was not starting a new thing. It was neither an appointment of gurus nor of rtviks. Prabhupada was simply making himself accessible, in those four months, to all those sincere aspirants of his mercy who had been long awaiting initiation. Somehow, some of the leaders combined the two very separated conversations of May and June, and made the appointment theory.
Throughout Prabhupada's books he translates from our previous acaryas and sastra that the bona fide guru is a manifestation of Krsna and not a conditioned soul. (We have included quotes in this connection at the end of this article.*) If Prabhupada had appointed conditioned souls to be guru, who would later on fall down in various ways, it would have meant that he didn't understand his own books.
From that same May 28, 1977 conversation, others created the rtvik theory. Many proponents of the rtvik philosophy concluded that the subsequent falldowns of the gurus, and other disturbances in the movement created by them, were due mainly to the fact that the eleven didn't realize they were only supposed to be rtviks. If they were 'rtviks', as those rtvik proponents said, then, since the rtvik theory is a manufactured one, these eleven could ONLY have manufactured their positions. They wouldn't have had any other choice but to manufacture. A manufactured theory can only produce manufactured activities.
It was stated at the bottom of Tamala Krsna Maharaja's letter that his letter was approved by Prabhupada, but there is no sufficient proof. Why would Prabhupada change the philosophy at the last moments of his stay in this world? He is a bona fide guru, and guru doesn't say anything different from scripture, especially at the last minute.
Those with the 'appointed initiating-guru' theory have their own interpretation of that May conversation, the IRM has another, we have another, and someone else may have still another. This shows that Prabhupada is not equally understandable to all. Otherwise, why would we be differing in our understanding? We need mediators to understand Prabhupada, and the perfect mediator is the pure devotee.
It is understandable that many followers of the rtvik system have previously suffered from giving their hearts to those who said they were pure devotees and later cheated them. Because of this, they may be afraid to think of surrendering to someone again. It may also sometimes become painful, or even distasteful, for them to read Prabhupada's books. This is because in those books they see the same words that were spoken to them by those who cheated them, like 'bona fide representative', 'diksa-guru', 'siksa-guru', 'pure devotee', and so on. That is understandable. But they will be happy to know that they need not throw the baby (sastra) out with the bath-water (misunderstanding of sastra).
The IRM wrote: [The Ritvik system is DEFINED as accepting Srila Prabhupada as the Guru who mediates.]
COMMENT: Mediators are required to properly glorify their bona fide gurudeva, if he has been offended or misunderstood or underestimated by others, in knowledge or in ignorance. And even without these negative causes, it is the duty of disciples to mediate on behalf of their guru, whether the disciples are pure devotees or not. For example, former members of ISKCON have left Prabhupada's shelter and are following a group of sahajiyas whose popularity is now spreading like wildfire. These sahajiyas are proclaiming that Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and his line of successors, including Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura and our own Srila Prabhupada, are not bona fide. The sahajiyas say that they are not in Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's disciplic succession. Taking advantage of the fact that most devotees are neither strong in their faith towards Krsna nor in their understanding of scripture, these persons twist the meanings of the scriptures to further undermine the devotees' faith. One of the reasons neophyte devotees come under the sway of such sahajiyas is that they have been cheated by persons who claimed to be appointed by Prabhupada as his successors. In their hearts they blamed Prabhupada.
So here is a small example of someone mediating on Prabhupada's behalf in that regard. Many devotees think that Prabhupada personally wrote a 'last will' in 1977, in which he turned over the spiritual institution of ISKCON to the GBC as the 'executors' and 'ultimate managerial authorities,' meaning the ultimate spiritual authorities of all the devotees. But someone may come as a 'mediator' and show that the will was not actually personally written by Prabhupada, and moreover it was simply a legal document so that ISKCON's properties could be legally protected from unlawful persons, so that its tax exemption would remain intact, so that no individual devotee could claim ownership of any temple, and so on. That mediator may show you a small excerpt of a conversation that took place on June 2, 1977, so that you can have more information about that will. What follows is such an excerpt, and it shows that it was not a will of successorship at all:
Giriraja: So we drafted a will, including the trust for the properties of India and some of the other...
Prabhupada: Will? Will. There will be direction that, "Management should be done like this." That's all.
Prabhupada: Nobody can say in court case that, "This temple will be in charge of this person, this temple..."
Ramesvara: Yes, just like you said.
Giriraja: So we've included those points in your brief will. Should I read it?
Giriraja: Then we can type it. "I, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, settler of the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, and disciple of Om Visnupada 108 Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja Prabhupada, presently residing at Sri Krsna-Balarama Mandir in Vrndavana, make this, my last will. 1) The Governing Body Commission, GBC, will be the trustees of the entire International Society for Krishna Consciousness."
Prabhupada: You can... Then there will be question, "The trust deed will be given? Then there will be tax."
Giriraja: No, because the ISKCON trust is already there, and ISKCON is already tax exempt. The only difficulty is if you create a new trust.
Prabhupada: No, no new trust.
Prabhupada: Instead of trustees...
Tamala Krsna: Use a different word.
Ramesvara: Not to apply to a trust.
Giriraja: Oh, I see.
Ramesvara: It's a different word.
Prabhupäda: Supreme managers.
Gopala Krsna: Supreme managers. (laughter)
Prabhupada: Or the ultimate managers, like that.
Gopala Krsna: The ultimate executives?
Tamala Krsna: Yes, the executors.
Gopala Krsna: Ultimate executors.
Tamala Krsna: Or commissioners. You have...
Prabhupada: Hm. Yes, commissioners.
Tamala Krsna: Commissioner is good, 'cause it's already...
Prabhupada: Use such word.
Tamala Krsna: Use a word that's proper.
Tamala Krsna: For now just use one word.
Giriraja: "2: Each temple will be a trust property..."
Prabhupada: Again "trust" word.
Gopala Krsna: Again "ISKCON property."
Giriraja: Okay, we can change that wording.
Mediators are there. The question then arises, "Who is the perfect person to mediate in all matters of connection to Prabhupada and all other acaryas in the disciplic succession?" It is the perfect devotee. It is the pure devotee. Only a pure devotee can understand another pure devotee of the same caliber. In Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 23.39, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu personally says to Sri Sanatana Gosvami: yanra citte krsna-prema karaye udaya, tanra vakya, kriya, mudra vijneha na bujhaya. "Even the most learned man cannot understand the words, activities, and symptoms of a person situated in love of Godhead."
In text 40 He quotes: "'Even a most learned scholar cannot understand the activities and symptoms of an exalted personality in whose heart love of Godhead has awakened.'"
5) The IRM quoted Srila Narayana Maharaja: "I would like to clarify one thing. I am not saying that all rtviks mislead others. Only those who say that there is no need of a guru do so. Real rtviks know all sastras, and all of them have gurus. A rtvik cannot be a rtvik without accepting a real guru."
The IRM replied: [Since a Ritvik is DEFINED as someone who accepts Srila Prabhupada, it is NM who is again misleading us by positing the existence of a non-existent entity.]
COMMENT: There are real rtviks, the ones who are referred to in the sastras, and there are those who are not. Prabhupada's books don't say that a rtvik is defined as one who accepts him. There are only 19 places in all of Prabhupada's books that the word rtvik is used, and they all refer to a priest employed for a temporary material purpose. A few of those references are as follows, and all the other references are of this nature. Rtviks are priests employed to perform a fire sacrifice for a material purpose. (You will not find the word 'rtvik' in these English translations. You will find the word 'priest'. If you will see the word-for-word synonyms, or the original Sanskrit sloka, you will see the word 'rtvik':
A) "The great sage Maitreya said: Thus being pardoned by Lord Siva, King Daksa, with the permission of Lord Brahma, again began the performance of the yajna, along with the great learned sages, the priests, and others." (SB 4.7.16)
B) "All the priests and other members of the sacrificial assembly and all the demigods, having been defeated by the soldiers of Lord Siva and injured by weapons like tridents and swords, approached Lord Brahma with great fear." (SB 4.6.1-2)
C) "Told by the chief priest 'Now offer oblations,' the person in charge of oblations took clarified butter to offer. He then remembered the request of Manu's wife and performed the sacrifice while chanting the word "vasat." (SB 9.1.15)
D) "Manu had begun that sacrifice for the sake of getting a son, but because the priest was diverted by the request of Manu's wife, a daughter named Ila was born. Upon seeing the daughter, Manu was not very satisfied. Thus he spoke to his guru, Vasistha, as follows." (SB 9.1.16)
Years later, after the disappearance of Prabhupada, someone wrote a glossary, in which he invented a new definition of the word rtvik. It is a definition that is not found anywhere in Prabhupada's books, or in any scripture. His definition is the following: "rtvik–one who acts on behalf of his preceptor."
6) The IRM quoted Srila Narayana Maharaja: "Nowadays, therefore, those who call themselves rtviks are all cheaters, and we should beware of them."
The IRM replied: [Here NM contradicts himself. He had JUST said that he is: "NOT saying that ALL rtviks mislead others." Here he says that: "Ritviks are ALL cheaters".]
COMMENT: There is no contradiction here. Srila Narayana Maharaja only meant that all those who are pretending to be rtviks, without knowing what the word really means, are cheaters.
Prabhupada is certainly present in his books. No one will deny that. But it is by the association and guidance of pure devotees that we neophytes can get access to the deep meanings of those books. The great depths of Prabhupada's books are like a treasure chest, and the key to unlock the lock is in the hands of pure devotees. The proponents of the rtvik system give classes for newer and younger devotees than themselves, in Srimad-Bhagavatam, Caitanya-caritamrta, and Prabhupada's other books. That means they are attempting to mediate. Fine. Sastra agrees that there must be mediators present in this world. However, conditioned souls are not good mediators. Conditioned souls have four defects. They commit mistakes, they are subject to illusion, they have imperfect senses, and they cheat others.
All scriptures, including Srila Prabhupada's books, appear to have contradictions. Seeing these apparent contradictions, we kanistha-adhikaris sometimes become confused, lose our faith, and leave Krsna consciousness. Otherwise, not knowing how to blend the different statements together, we understand and preach the wrong information, thus impairing our own advancement and intentionally or unintentionally cheating others. Here are some examples of only-apparent contradictions:
(1) Apparent contradictions regarding the kanistha-adhikari:
1a) "…the neophyte kanistha-adhikari does not know much about sastra but has full faith in the Supreme Personality of Godhead." (SB 4.22.16 Purport)
1b) "One whose faith is soft and pliable is called a neophyte (kanistha jana)." (CcMad.22.69)
(2) Apparent contradictions regarding the ease of chanting Hare Krsna:
2a) "My dear King, although Kali-yuga is an ocean of faults, there is still one good quality about this age: Simply by chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, one can become free from material bondage and be promoted to the transcendental kingdom."
2b) "If one is infested with the ten offenses in the chanting of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, despite his endeavor to chant the holy name for many births, he will not get the love of Godhead that is the ultimate goal of this chanting." (Cc Adi 8.16)
(3) Apparent contradictions regarding Prabhupada and ISKCON:
3a) "No one should think that this Krsna consciousness movement is a new movement. As confirmed by Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam, it is a very, very old movement, for it has been passing down from one Manu to another." (SB 4.28.31 Purport)
3b) "As far as we are concerned, we have already started the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, and many thousands of Europeans and Americans have joined this movement." (SB 4.28.31 Purport)
(4) Apparent contradictions regarding the fall of the Jiva:
4a) "Formerly we were with Krsna in His lila or sport." (Letter to Madhudvisa, date unknown)
4b) "The conclusion is that no one falls from the spiritual world, or Vaikuntha planet, for it is the eternal abode." (SB 3.16.26 Purport)
(5) Apparent contradictions regarding Nanda Baba being Krsna's real father:
5a) "Lord Krsna saved His foster father, Nanda Maharaja, from the fear of the demigod Varuna and released the cowherd boys from the caves of the mountain, for they were placed there by the son of Maya." (SB 2.7.31)
5b) "O Sanatana, please hear about the eternal form of Lord Krsna. He is the Absolute Truth, devoid of duality but present in Vrndavana as the son of Nanda Maharaja." (Cc Madhya 20.152)
5c) "He (Krsna) wanted to inform Arjuna that because Arjuna was the son of Prtha, the sister of His own father Vasudeva…" (Bg 1.25 Purport)
Who can reconcile these statements, which are not contradictory but seem to be, and which are all wonderful? Can the IRM do so? Only a pure devotee can reconcile the above statements in such a way as to greatly increase our faith in Srila Prabhupada.
7A) The IRM quoted Srila Narayana Maharaja: "There are so many gurus: caitya-guru, diksa-guru, siksa-guru, bhajana-guru, and others. Why go to a bogus-rtvik guru? If our siksa-gurus are Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Nityananda prabhu, and Radhika, why do we need to go to these rtviks?"
The IRM replied: [Since Ritviks accept all these same 'Gurus, and do NOT accept a 'ritvik-guru' (this term is never used by either Srila Prabhupada or "The Final Order"), since all the Ritvik does is perform a ceremony on behalf of the Real Guru - Srila Prabhupada - the actual conclusion is why do we 'need to go to NM', since he states nothing EXCEPT the actual OPPOSITE of the facts.]
COMMENT: The real diksa-gurus and siksa-gurus are all pure devotees. Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 1.45 states: "According to the deliberate opinion of all revealed scriptures, the spiritual master is non-different from Krsna. Lord Krsna in the form of the spiritual master delivers His devotees." Caitanya-caritamrta Adi-lila 1.47 states: " One should know the instructing spiritual master to be the Personality of Krsna. Lord Krsna manifests Himself as the Supersoul and as the greatest devotee of the Lord." (Many aspiring devotees, who came after Prabhupada's departure, are afraid that if they get diksa from another pure devotee, they will not have an intimate relationship with Prabhupada. They need not worry, because there is another beautiful aspect of these two verses appearing together. Although Prabhupada will not be the diksa-guru of those aspirants who came after his departure, he will happily be their siksa-guru. Being a manifestation of Krsna's nature and personality, the siksa-guru can be as intimate with the disciple as the diksa-guru.)
Although they are rare, there are always pure gurus in this world. Otherwise, Prabhupada would not have stressed on sadhu-sanga. He would have just said: "Just read and don't do anything else." In his purport to Bhagavad-gita 6.42, Prabhupada writes: "By the grace of the Lord, there are still families that foster transcendentalists generation after generation." Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura quotes Ananta dasa in chapter 7 of his Jaiva Dharma: "Moreover, the association of sadhus (suddha-bhaktas) is very rare, because even though sadhus are always present, the common man cannot recognize them."
We have to associate. No conditioned soul can honestly say he only associates with Prabhupada. He will associate with his mother, his god-brother, his wife or girlfriend, his dog, or a pure devotee. The real thing is to choose which association will bring him closest to Prabhupada. The answer is: the person who is closest to Prabhupada, in both siddhanta (philosophical conclusive truths) and mood (the mood of a self-realized mahabhagavata), can bring another person close to Prabhupada. One can give what one has.
In Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya-lila 5.131, Prabhupada translates Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami who is quoting Sri Svarupa Damodara Gosvami: "'If you want to understand Srimad-Bhagavatam, he said, you must approach a self-realized Vaisnava and hear from him. You can do this when you have completely taken shelter of the lotus feet of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.'"
Herein Svarupa Damodara Gosvami instructs the poet from Bengal to hear Srimad-Bhagavatam from a pure Vaisnava and learn from him. In India especially, there is now a class of professional Bhagavatam readers whose means of livelihood is to go from village to village, town to town, reading Bhagavatam and collecting daksina, or rewards, in the form of money or goods, like umbrellas, cloth and fruit. Thus there is now a system of Bhagavata business, with recitations called bhagavata-saptaha that continue for one week, although this is not mentioned in Srimad-Bhagavatam. Nowhere does Srimad-Bhagavatam say that the Bhagavatam should be heard for one week from professionals. Rather, Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.2.17) says, 'srnvatam sva-kathah krsnah punya-sravana-kirtanah: one should regularly hear Srimad-Bhagavatam from a self-realized Vaisnava. By such hearing, one becomes pious.'"
No one can remain without association. If one does not hear from pure devotees, he will have to hear from imperfect conditioned souls. A newer devotee will have to hear from her husband, her temple president, or her god-sister or god-brother, or she will have to hear from the proponents of the rtvik system.
Prabhupada's books are full with beautiful quotes expressing the importance of associating with pure devotees. He is clearly speaking about physical association, and not just reading books. One such quote is found in Srimad-Bhagavatam (SB.4.29.39-40): "My dear King, in the place where pure devotees live, following the rules and regulations and thus purely conscious and engaged with great eagerness in hearing and chanting the glories of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, in that place if one gets a chance to hear their constant flow of nectar, which is exactly like the waves of a river, one will forget the necessities of life–namely hunger and thirst–and become immune to all kinds of fear, lamentation and illusion."
"The cultivation of Krsna consciousness is possible where great devotees live together and constantly engage in hearing and chanting the glories of the Lord. In a holy place like Vrndavana, there are many devotees constantly engaged in chanting and hearing the glories of the Lord. If one gets the chance to hear from pure devotees in such a place, allowing the constant flow of the river of nectar to come from the mouths of pure devotees, then the cultivation of Krsna consciousness becomes very easy. When one is engaged in constantly hearing the glories of the Lord, he certainly rises above the bodily conception. When one is in the bodily conception, he feels the pangs of hunger and thirst, fear, lamentation and illusion. But when one is engaged in hearing and chanting the glories of the Lord, he transcends the bodily conception.
"The word bhagavad-gunanukathana-sravana-vyagra-cetasah, meaning "always eager to find the place where the glories of the Lord are being heard and chanted," is significant in this verse. A businessman is always very eager to go to a place where business is transacted. Similarly, a devotee is very eager to hear from the lips of liberated devotees. As soon as one hears the glories of the Lord from the liberated devotees, he immediately becomes impregnated with Krsna consciousness."
Srimad-Bhagavatam (SB 5.12.12) states:
"My dear King Rahugana, unless one has the opportunity to smear his entire body with the dust of the lotus feet of great devotees, one cannot realize the Absolute Truth. One cannot realize the Absolute Truth simply by observing celibacy [brahmacarya], strictly following the rules and regulations of householder life, leaving home as a vanaprastha, accepting sannyasa, or undergoing severe penances in winter by keeping oneself submerged in water or surrounding oneself in summer by fire and the scorching heat of the sun. There are many other processes to understand the Absolute Truth, but the Absolute Truth is only revealed to one who has attained the mercy of a great devotee."
In the Twelve chapter of Nectar of Devotion it is stated:
"The importance of discussing Srimad-Bhagavatam in the society of pure devotees was explained by Saunaka Muni during the meeting at Naimisaranya, in the presence of Suta Gosvami. Suta Gosvami confirmed that if someone is fortunate enough to associate with a pure devotee of the Lord even for a moment, that particular moment is so valuable that even those pious activities which can promote one to the heavenly planets or give liberation from material miseries cannot compare to it. In other words, those who are attached to Srimad-Bhagavatam do not care for any kind of benefit derived from elevation to the higher planetary kingdoms, or for the liberation which is conceived of by the impersonalists. As such, the association of pure devotees is so transcendentally valuable that no kind of material happiness can compare to it."
We read in Chapter Nineteen of Nectar of Devotion:
"There are many societies and associations of pure devotees, and if someone with just a little faith begins to associate with such societies, his advancement to pure devotional service is rapid. … This is the first stage of association with pure devotees. In the second stage, after one becomes a little advanced and mature, he automatically offers to follow the principles of devotional service under the guidance of the pure devotee and accepts him as the spiritual master."
7B) Again we quote the IRM's reply: […Since all the Ritvik does is perform a ceremony on behalf of the Real Guru - Srila Prabhupada - the actual conclusion is why do we 'need to go to NM', since he states nothing EXCEPT the actual OPPOSITE of the facts.]
COMMENT: If the rtviks are not pure devotees, they would not be able to definitively ask Prabhupada when and if he is accepting someone as a disciple, and when and if a 'ceremony' should be performed. Only a pure devotee can know that.
Prabhupada wrote in his purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam (SB 4.28.52 Purport):
"Consultation with the Supersoul seated within everyone’s heart is possible only when one is completely free from the contamination of material attachment. … The Paramatma is always the caitya-guru, the spiritual master within, and He comes before one externally as the instructor and initiator spiritual master. The Lord can reside within the heart, and He can also come out before a person and give him instructions. Thus the spiritual master is not different from the Supersoul sitting within the heart. An uncontaminated soul or living entity can get a chance to meet the Paramatma face to face. … Then one can take instructions from the Supersoul directly. This is the duty of the pure devotee: to see the bona fide spiritual master and consult with the Supersoul within the heart.
"When the brahmana asked the woman who the man lying on the floor was, she answered that he was her spiritual master and that she was perplexed about what to do in his absence. At such a time the Supersoul immediately appears, provided the devotee is purified in heart by following the directions of the spiritual master. A sincere devotee who follows the instructions of the spiritual master certainly gets direct instructions from his heart from the Supersoul."
8) The IRM quoted Srila Narayana Maharaja: "This word 'rt' has come from the word 'Rg-Veda.' Those who know all Vedas, including the Rg, Sama, Yajur, and Atharva Veda, all the Upanishads, and all the Puranas, are actually rtvik. [...] (There are nineteen places in Prabhupada's books where the word 'rtvik' is used, and in all cases the word only refers to a priest officiating or performing a fire sacrifice). [...] After deliberation upon the Mahabharata, Ramayana, and Puranas, it becomes obvious that rtviks have nothing to do with the supreme transcendental goal...'Rtau yajtiti rtviki.' One who conducts sacrifices according to Vedic mantras is called a rtvik. There is an arrangement of 16 types of rtviks to perform the sacrifices."
The IRM replied: [This is massive contradiction by NM. Earlier in an interview that he had given to the ISKCON Journal in 1990, NM had claimed that: I have not seen the word "ritvik" in our Vaisnava dictionary. (…) We have seen no such word as "ritvik". (Narayana Maharaja Interview, ISKCON Journal, Page 23) Now NM wants to enlighten us how the word Ritvik not only exists, but how he has seen it in many places from the Vedas to Srila Prabhupada's books!]
COMMENT: (A small point is that those words were in brackets. They were not spoken by Srila Maharaja during the July 19th lecture, but at another time. They were published in the magazine called "A True Conception of Guru Tattva.) There is no contradiction here. Srila Narayana Maharaja is only saying that the word rtvik and the word Vaisnava are not synonymous. That is why he uses the term 'Vaisnava dictionary.' The rtvik is an employed priest who performs a fire sacrifice to fulfill the material purpose. A Vaisnava's only purpose is to satisfy Visnu, or Krsna.
9) The IRM quoted Srila Narayana Maharaja: "I think, however, that these modern rtviks don't even know the ABC's of the Vedas. [...] There are nineteen places in Prabhupada's books where the word 'rtvik' is used, and in all cases the word only refers to a priest officiating or performing a fire sacrifice. Even when the word used is 'rtvik acarya,' it is still defined as a priest performing a fire sacrifice for a secular gain."
The IRM replied: [The word 'ritvik-acarya' is NEVER used in Srila Prabhupada's books. It seems it is NM who does not know the ABC's of Srila Prabhupada's books.]
COMMENT: That statement, "There are nineteen…secular gain," was not made by Srila Narayana Maharaja. In the edited transcription of this lecture, that statement is in brackets, as correctly indicated by the IRM article. Any sentences that are in brackets are added by the editors. This is our general procedure. So please excuse us for that. It was our mistake. In Srimad-Bhagavatam 8.20.22 the Sanskrit verse includes the words, "sahartvig-acarya-sadasya etat." Now I see that the word-for-word synonyms reveal that the word 'rtvik' and the word 'acarya' (when combined together in the text become 'rtvig-acarya') refer to two persons. Thanks to the IRM article for pointing that out. Please excuse us for that. We are definitely not pure mediators.
The term rtvik-acarya is present twice in Prabhupada's Folio, but neither time was it spoken or written by Prabhupada. The IRM is correct that there is no such thing as rtvik-acarya. The word rtvik-acarya was spoken by Tamala Krsna Maharaja in the controversial conversation with Prabhupada of May 28, 1977. During that conversation, Tamala Krsna asks a question about initiations after Prabhupada's departure. However, considering that there is no such thing as a rtvik-acarya, his question doesn't make any sense. The following is a short excerpt from that conversation:
Prabhupada: Yes. That is formality. Because in my presence one should not become guru, so on my behalf, on my order... Amara ajnaya guru hana. Be actually guru, but by my order.
Satsvarupa: So they may also be considered your disciples.
Prabhupada: Yes, they are disciples. Why consider? Who?
Tamala Krsna: No, he's asking that these rtvik-acaryas, they're officiating, giving diksa. Their... The people who they give diksa to, whose disciple are they?
Prabhupada: They're his disciple.
Tamala Krsna: They're his disciple.
Prabhupada: Who is initiating. He is grand-disciple.
Tamala Krsna: That's clear.
Perhaps Prabhupada's answers, quite ambiguous if not seen in the light of all his books, were spoken in such a way to please some of his young disciples.
The spiritual master sometimes hides himself, and there is an interesting history in the Puranas to illustrate this idea: The demon Virocana and the demigod Indra approached Lord Brahma together, and both asked him to teach them about the Absolute Truth so they could be happy. Brahma told them both to be brahmacaris in his asrama for twenty-five years and then return to him. After twenty-five years he spoke to them both in such a way that they thought he was saying the body is the Supreme Truth. Virocana gladly returned to his demonic society and told them that his guru had told him everything and they should all engage themselves to make their bodies happy. Indra, on the other hand, thought, "My guru could not be wrong. My understanding must have been wrong. This body is the source of ignorance and misery." He returned to Brahma and asked again. Brahma told him to practice twenty-five more years in his asrama and then return to him. After the next twenty-five years Brahma spoke in such a way that Indra understood that he said the mind is the Supreme Truth. Again on the way home he had doubts, returned to Brahma, spent another twenty-five years in his asrama, understood from Brahma's next discussion that deep sleep is the Truth, and finally, after the completion of one hundred years, Brahma made him understand the atma and Bhagavan.
Our Prabhupada is also a guru in Brahma's line. Why did he write in 'The Nectar of Devotion' that Nanda Baba is the foster-father of Krsna? It is not a fact. Yet it is said, and Prabhupada has said, "Whatever I wanted to say, I have said in my books." How can we reconcile this? Only another Mahabhagavata can understand a Mahabhagavata like Prabhupada. Prabhupada writes in his purport to Srimad Bhagavatam 7.13.14: "It is therefore said, vaisnavera kriya mudra vijna na bhujhaya. A highly advanced Vaisnava lives in such a way that no one can understand what he is or what he was."
tasmad gurum prapadyeta
jijnasuh sreya uttamam
sabde pare ca nisnatam
"Therefore any person who seriously desires real happiness must seek a bona fide spiritual master and take shelter of him by initiation. The qualification of the bona fide guru is that he has realized the conclusions of the scriptures by deliberation and is able to convince others of these conclusions. Such great personalities, who have taken shelter of the Supreme Godhead, leaving aside all material considerations, should be understood to be bona fide spiritual masters."
siksa-guruke ta’ jani krsnera svarupa
antaryami, bhakta-srestha,––ei dui rupa
"One should know the instructing spiritual master to be the Personality of Krsna. Lord Krsna manifests Himself as the Supersoul and as the greatest devotee of the Lord."
(Cc Adi 1.47)
jive saksat nahi tate guru caitya-rupe
siksa-guru haya krsna-mahanta-svarupe
"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 Krsna Himself."
(Cc Adi 1.58)
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