Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Guest guest

Being Chaste to Srila Prabhupada

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

Guest guest

Q & A with Swami B.V. Tripurari


"Srila Prabhupada said that after his departure one could approach his

Godbrother B.R. Sridhara Maharaja for philosophical enquiries. This was

his final instruction regarding Srila Sridhara Maharaja, which I

followed, and as philosophical instruction constitutes siksa, Srila

Sridhara Maharaja became my siksa guru."



Q. In the International Society for Krsna Consciousness (Iskcon) the

phrase "being chaste to Srila Prabhupada" is used a lot these days,

even though he never used these exact words. This phrase is repeated

over and over in lectures and discussions in an effort to keep Iskcon

members from straying outside that organization, either to read

literature published by other Gaudiya missions or to take instruction

from devotees who are not members of Iskcon. The implication is that if

one takes a serious interest in either of these they are being unchaste

to Srila Prabhupada--and thus an offender to him. What is you opinion

about this?


I asked some Iskcon members how hearing from a devotee outside that

society would make one unchaste to Srila Prabhupada and the answers I

got were interesting. Many simply cited references from Srila

Prabhupada against hearing from his Godbrothers saying that these were

reason enough for them. Others said that hearing from a devotee outside

of Iskcon might confuse members, and others thought that being

initiated by a guru outside of Iskcon would connect one with a

different branch of our sampradaya and that such a branch wouldn't be

as bona fide as Iskcon. Most devotees acknowledge that in his last days

Srila Prabhupada said that his disciples could go to his Godbrother,

Srila Sridhara Maharaja--a guru outside of Iskcon, for philosophy.

However many believe that this was only for the purpose of asking for

technical information and not for taking shelter of as one's siksa

guru, which would in their minds be unchaste to Srila Prabhupada. As an

initiated disciple of Srila Prabhupada who later accepted a siksa guru

outside of Iskcon, do you consider yourself chaste to Srila



A. The ideal all devotees strive for is exclusive dedication to Sri Guru.

For myself and other disciples of Srila Prabhupada, this, of course,

means exclusive devotion to him. This certainly involves chastity, but

on a higher level it also involves purity, within which the dynamic

expression of chastity is contained. It is possible to be chaste but

not pure, but it is not possible to be pure and not chaste, for the

purity of spiritual advancement depends on the grace of Sri Guru. Only

when he or she is pleased with the disciple can the disciple attain

purity, and no one can please their guru by abandoning or relativizing

him or her-by not being chaste to Sri Guru.


Chastity, as opposed to purity, implies some force. The famous chastity

belts of old world Christian Europe are a good example. Whereas purity

denotes absence of temptation, chastity implies controlling one's

impulses and actions. In some ways, the concept that of chastity you

have described is similar to purdah, the Muslim idea of chastity

imposed on its women, involving total seclusion from the world.


Chastity of this sort does have its advantages--bad influences are kept

out and temptation is minimized; however, the fruit of these advantages

contains the seed of their downside: insularity. In the vacuum of

insularity, time stands still, and if one remains in this vacuum after

its fruits are attained and does not internalize one's chastity and go

forward, what follows is the rapid slowdown of both personal growth and

relevant preaching.


Going into the larger world of Gaudiya Vaisnavism, meeting other

devotees and conceptions, sorting out the relative from the absolute,

the siddhanta from the misconception--these things push and pull a

devotee and challenge his or her faith. Not everyone is ready to make

the transition from insular chastity to the madhyama stage that leads

to true purity, but one whose faith is strong enough knows that staying

too long in the nest of insularity actually checks the development of

one's service to Srila Prabhupada.


Let me relate to you how Srila Prabhupada himself addressed this issue.

Dr. O.B.L. Kapoor (Adi Kesava dasa), a dear Godbrother of Srila

Prabhupada who assisted him in Vrindavana and contributed articles to

"Back to Godhead," once expressed concern that Prabhupada's disciples

might eventually suffer from insularity by not taking advantage of the

association of other advanced devotees and the entirety of the Gaudiya

scriptural cannon. Furthermore, he suggested, they might succumb to

offensive thinking toward other advanced devotees, thinking only Srila

Prabhupada as worthy of hearing from. Srila Prabhupada replied that he

looked at his disciples as young trees around which he had built a

fence to protect them in their early stages of growth. However, he said

that as they grew to maturity they would naturally reach beyond that

fence. Firmly rooted in one place in exclusive devotion to Sri Guru,

they would then also be able to take advantage of the association of

others without being confused.


Another way of thinking of how to proceed from insularity to a

well-integrated and mature understanding of chastity is in terms of

Srila Prabhupada's books. Reading Srila Prabhupada's books carefully

leads one naturally into the entirety of the Gaudiya cannon with his

particular emphasis, that of the line of Thakura

Bhaktivinoda-Bhaktivinoda parivara. After all, are the innumerable

references within Srila Prabhupada's books to other Gaudiya texts not

there to tell the reader that he or she can look to those texts for

further information on a particular subject? Only one lacking interest

in a particular subject would react otherwise.


In the beginning it is natural and quite appropriate for a guru to tell

the student to listen to him or her alone. However, if the student

listens well, he or she will eventually realize that guru is

everywhere-the universality of Sri Guru-and that our initiating (diksa)

guru can speak to us through other devotees, devotees who are pure

enough to serve in the capacity of an instructing (siksa) guru. How

shall we regard them? Scripture is clear on this point: the diksa and

siksa guru are equal manifestations of divinity and thus must be

honored equally.



Ideally it is not lack of faith in one's diksa guru that leads one to

one's siksa guru. Identifying one's siksa guru is an exercise of faith

by which divine faith is nourished, fostering its growth. In contrast

to strong faith, weak faith requires an enemy. As I have said earlier,

there is a place for that--but not a place in eternity.


Divine faith is independent and may appear wherever she likes. We

offend her by any attempt to rule over her and legislate where and in

whom she can appear. We are her servants, not her master. Divine faith

is our Deity, not our doormat.


You write of your experience of Iskcon. I have not been a member of

Iskcon for more than twenty years, but some of its leading members do

keep in touch with me, and I think they would agree with everything I

have written above. They would likely agree with you to some extent as

well and honestly admit that in many instances Iskcon is troubled by

weak faith in the name of chastity while lacking purity (which is a

problem that is hardly exclusive to Iskcon). My humble advice is that

while it is appropriate at one stage to advocate insularity, if in

doing so this in turn fosters offensive thinking towards more advanced

devotees whose chastity is dynamic within the scope of spiritual

purity, then leaders must correct the situation. They must speak up

against this, as it is counterproductive to that which it seeks to

accomplish: maintaining and increasing the ranks of the institution for

the pleasure of its Founder Acarya and Sri Krsna Caitanya.


Without speaking up, moderates leave the microphone in the hands of

fanatic flag-waving fundamentalists, who take pride in trampling on the

faith of others in the name of chastity to their Founder Acarya.

Moderates must speak up for the simple reason that they know better,

and the gift of knowledge brings with it the mandate to share it with

others. Only as much as the leaders speak up will Iskcon experience

dynamic chastity within purity. Of course in doing so leaders must

exercise spiritual discretion, for while a carte blanche rejection of

everyone outside of the institution in the name of chastity is faulty,

it is also true that not every devotee's association is favorable and

complimentary to the emphasis of Srila Prabhupada.


In my particular case, I accepted Pujyapada Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara

Deva Goswami as my siksa guru. I did so following the suggestion of

Srila Prabhupada, who told us that after his departure we could

approach Srila Sridhara Maharaja for philosophical guidance.

Philosophical guidance is siksa, not technical advice on how to perform

a particular ritual. Furthermore, no single devotee has received a more

glowing endorsement from Iskcon's Founder Acarya than Pujyapad Sridhara

Maharaja. God knows that I and other ex-members of Iskcon have made the

case time and time again, even while blocked from the podium. In the

face of this historical record and Gaudiya siddhanta, the arguments you

cited that others raised against Iskcon members accepting someone like

Pujyapada Sridhara Maharaja as a spiritual authority are unbecoming an

institution that prides itself in representing Srila Prabhupada. These

arguments have been answered many, many times.


Editors note: Further information on this controversial subject can be

found in the book "Our Affectionate Guardians" by B.B. Visnu Maharaja,

which is available at: http://www.gosai.com/chaitanya/saranagati/html/vishnu_mjs/affection_unabridged/index.html


However, I understand the pragmatic institutional concerns and

sentiments that may make it difficult for Iskcon to allow its members

to accept spiritual authorities who are not members of the institution.

If someone is a member of a particular institution, he or she must

accept the spiritual authority of that institution, and if such a

person has a second spiritual authority while remaining within the

institution, this could be a recipe for problems. It is also best to

remain with those who share the same sentiments and important to

preserve the personal sentiments of Srila Prabhupada within Iskcon. At

the same time, I believe that a policy that takes individual cases into

consideration is better than a blanket policy forbidding all Iskcon

members from accepting siksa from devotees who are not Iskcon members.

Furthermore, in instances where it may not be appropriate for a given

member to remain in Iskcon while accepting a siksa guru outside Iskcon,

the faith of such persons should be honored, and all dealings between

such ex-members and members should remain cordial and mutually

respectful, fostering unity in diversity. It is no more spiritually

correct to be on one side or the other. What is correct is to honor the

free flow of divine faith.


Let me conclude by explaining further how I view my own position, about

which you have asked. I am one and different from my Godbrothers and

Godsisters who have not embraced Srila Sridhara Maharaja as their siksa

guru. We are all initiated by Srila Prabhupada and are thus members of

the Gaudiya sampradaya and the Bhaktivinoda Parivara. Thus we should be

one philosophically. We have the same diksa guru. We also share the

same religious sentiment for our guru. However, I have another

religious sentiment for Sridhara Maharaja that they do not share. While

we must be one philosophically (abheda), there is also room for a

variety of religious sentiments (bheda). This difference is not

philosophically wrong, nor is it somehow inordinate. The variety of

sentiments in the philosophy of Mahaprabhu constitutes its beauty.

Furthermore, the sentiment I have for Srila Sridhara Maharaja, although

not shared by some of my Godbrothers and Godsisters, is one that I

share with Srila Prabhupada himself, who called Srila Sridhara Maharaja

his siksa guru. If Srila Prabhupada had affection for Srila Sridhar

Maharaja, as he made clear, and if he felt that Sridhara Maharaja

helped to prepare him for coming to the West in the capacity of a siksa

guru, as he publicly told us in Mayapura, how can anyone justifiably

object to my affection for Srila Sridhara Maharaja and my faith in his



Ultimately, all of Iskcon's objections to my accepting Srila Sridhara

Maharaja as my siksa guru are based on institutional concerns, not

guru, sadhu, and sastra. Sastra does not place institutional limits on

accepting a diksa or siksa guru. It speaks in universal terms and

leaves practical details to the faith and discretion of the guru and

disciple. In proportion to the disciple's level of advancement, the

guru guides him or her according to time, place, and circumstance; thus

the record shows that in most cases before his departure Srila

Prabhupada did not want his fledgling disciples to associate with many

of his Godbrothers. However, his final words on the matter were that

his disciples could go to Srila Sridhara Maharaja for philosophy, which

I did. I never regretted this decision even though because of it I am

no longer welcome in the institution that Srila Prabhupada founded.

Still, I believe now, as I did then, that in the matter of accepting a

siksa guru I have been truly chaste to the instructions and mission of

my diksa guru, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. By

his grace may I also become pure.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest guest

Yes. I liked the eloquent explanation of how one may be supposedly "chaste", but not pure. However, if one is pure, chastity is automatically included, for one cannot become pure without the causeless mercy and blessings of Sri Guru.


Looking back over the years, it's as if this "chastity" buzzword has been used as little more than a scare tactic to keep the "flock" in check. And also, as a poor excuse to commit offenses to Vaishnavas outside of Iskcon.


Srila Prabhupada said to accept everything favorable and to reject everything unfavorable. If an "outside" sadhu can help one to become more pure, to chant offenselessly, then obviously, this is favorable to devotional service. And if so, then how can this possibly invoke displeasure from Srila Prabhupada? Those who are really chaste are the ones who will do whatever necessary to become purified, even if it means risking banishment and scorn from one's convenient circle of friends, society, and institution.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest guest

Tripurari Swami



Dear Guru Maharaj, I would like to get some information about Tripurari Swami:

who he is?

why he left ISKCON?

is it truth that he was offended by ISKCON and then appologized?

why he is not working with ISKCON now?

is it truth what he says that Srila Prabhupada`s Bhagavad Gita was changed by BBT?

it it truth that Srila Prabhupada ordered his disciples to follow Sridhar Swami after his disappearance?

is it truth that he preaches that homosexuality is supported by Vedas and was common in Vedic culture?

Your humble servant,

Krsnangi devi dasi



Dear Krsnangi dd


Hare Krsna!


Thank you for your questions.


Tripurari Maharaja was initiated by Srila Prabhupada 1st, 2nd, and sannyas. He was well known as a big book distributor in Srila Prabhupada's time. After Srila Prabhupada's departure he remained as a conservative Iskcon leader for a number of years. I mention this because we have heard that he has said that he was present when Srila Prabhupada was supposed to have said that, ”You my disciples should follow B R Sridhar Swami after I disappear”. Of course Srila Prabhupada never said that, but even if he had why didn't Tripurari Maharaja go to Sridhar Maharaja right away? In fact Tripurari was highly critical of those first Iskcon devotee who started to go to Sridhar Maharaja in around 1982.


What Srila Prabhupada did say about Sridhar Maharaja was that he could be consulted on philosophical points. He never intended that he be consulted on how to manage his international society, as Sridhar Maharaja had no experience in that regard nor did he really see the necessity for such a far reaching world wide society. He like to speak in small circles and go deeply into the philosophy, and almost never left his compound in Nabadwipa.


I was personally working with Tripurari Maharaja in San Francisco when he decided to leave Iskcon, somewhere around 1986. By this time he had gotten some of Sridhar Maharaja's books and was impressed with his writings. He had also become an Iskcon guru and had a initiated some disciples. A couple of years prior to this I personally had a very vivid dream wherein Srila Prabhupada came to me and made it clear that I should not involve myself with Sridhara Maharaja's group, so although Tripurari tried to get me involved in his separating from Iskcon I was not interested. I had been advising him to keep his connection with Sridhara Maharaja confidential but one morning we came into the temple to greet the Dieties and found Sridhara Maharaja's picture on the altar in between the picture of Srila Prabhupada and the picture of Srila Bhaktisiddanta. Tripurari sat down to give class and explained that, ”The GBC has failed and therefore Krsna has sent Sridhara Maharaja on the horizon”. I was shocked by this turn of events! Srila Prabhupada had worked so hard to make a workable system to carry on his most cherished mission and here was Tripurari throwing it away so soon after Srila Prabhupada's departure.


So to say, that he was thrown out of Iskcon is simply not accurate. He knew full well that when he put Sridhar Maharaja's picture on the altar in an Iskcon temple, which by the way had a life size murti of Srila Prabhupada, he was clearly and boldly declaring his separation from Iskcon. So nobody threw him out, as a matter of fact the local GBC man, Atreya Rsi, was prepared to let him keep that rented building so he could continue his mission separate from Iskcon, without making any fight. Eventually he did move to another place but he was given a fair amount of money to cover whatever he had invested in that rented building.


Now of course his prediction that the GBC would fail didn't prove to be true. However over the years, as many people would always ask him why he left the mission of his Guru, Srila Prabhupada, especially as Srila Prabhupada's last instruction was for us to show our love for him by cooperating together, it became convenient for him to imply he was thrown out. The readers can judge for themselves, but these are the facts as I personally witnessed.


I have never heard anywhere that Iskcon apologized to him personally. Of course they did offer a general apology to all the devotees for any offences that may have been committed by the leaders after Srila Prabhupada left.


Why he is not working with Iskcon now would have to be asked to him.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest guest

It may be useful to know who the "Guru Maharaja" is who's claiming such an intimate relationship with Tripurari Maharaja. And in fact, if you read Tripurari Maharaja's article, he doesn't claim that Prabhupada said we "should follow B R Sridhar Swami after I disappear.” He says only that Prabhupada recommended that we may approach Sridhar Maharaja for understanding the philosophy. And this Krishnagi's last three questions don't have any relation in fact with anything Tripurari Swami has said. I think I doubt the truth of this.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

"Now of course his prediction that the GBC would fail didn't prove to be true."


hmmm... I can think of lots of failures directly attributed to GBC. if TVS simply means "they are still in charge", he is obviously right.


I also have real hard time believing GBC was so nice and kind in providing all facilities to a perceptible "deviant" sannyasi... I was around in those days (altough not at that particular location) and such kindness is the last thing I can think of...


anyway... Tripurari Maharaja was not perfect in those days either... nobody was. but his current writings are very, very mature and he deserves a lot more credit and recognition than he gets.


as to apologies from GBC... LOL! I'm still waiting for their apologies for the zonal acharya idiocy and the resulting GBC coverups of the various "acharyas" shenanigans maintained by them for years... how about apologies to gurukula students directly from GBC people that were in charge in these areas (zones)? one of Kirtanananda's top stooges is in charge of GBC now. has he EVER apologized to anybody for anything he did and was part of? and what a trail of devotee tears does he have behind him... it is supremely sad, that such people dont even realize they have hurt so many people, and dont feel the need to come clean with their past. perhaps such apologies would convince devotees that they have indeed grown spiritually, and now really qualify for their leadership posts... /images/graemlins/frown.gif

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest guest

"Now of course his prediction that the GBC would fail didn't prove to be true."


In context that seems to refer to the gbc failing without sridhara maharaj and spliting up like gadiya math, which "obviously" didnt happen.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Guest: "In context that seems to refer to the gbc failing without sridhara maharaj and spliting up like gadiya math, which "obviously" didnt happen."


I don't know what Tripurari Maharaja may actually have said on that fateful morning. (His memory of these events likely differs from Trivikrama Maharaja's, and anyone else's memory is very likely going be different from either.) The state of the GBC and ISKCON in those days was rather strange, and there were some spectacular failures they were no longer able to hide from the other devotees.


The fragmentation of the GBC over the decades has taken somewhat different forms than we may have seen with the Gaudiya Math. That said, we must acknowledge that they have worked very hard to maintain the GBC as a (somewhat) functional body.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest guest

Srila Prabhupada's last instruction was for us to show our love for him by cooperating together


Was this really his "last" instruction? I've never been able to find this quote in the Folio, hence I've heard this quote phrased differently, depending on who is using it.


Regardless, cooperation is obviously a desirable thing. But it is a two-way street. The original Iskcon devotees who sought Srila Sridhara Maharaja's good advice and instruction, while wanting to continue their service within Iskcon, were banned. Some who were banned opened their own centers, (such as Dhira Krsna Maharaja.) It didn't have to be that way, but the GBC was un-cooperative. The 2 GBC men most outspoken against Srila Sridhara Maharaja, Ramesvara and Bhagavan prabhus, fell down hard within a few short years. Mad elephant offenses? Most likely.


Apart from that, 90% of Srila Prabhupada's disciples left within 10 years of Srila Prabhupada's Disappearance. Could some of that mass exodus have been prevented with a more cooperative GBC? Or did the onus for cooperation lie solely upon those disciples who left (or were tossed out?)


Bhakta Tom

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Guest: "The 2 GBC men most outspoken against Srila Sridhara Maharaja, Ramesvara and Bhagavan prabhus, fell down hard within a few short years. Mad elephant offenses? Most likely."


And do you know what Sridhar Maharaja's response was when they left? While many devotees in LA were celebrating, Sridhar Maharaja cried, lamenting that Srila Prabhupada had invested so much in these men, and that investment seemed to have been lost (or something to that effect).


So who was the better association?

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest guest

Srila Sridhara Maharaja exemplified the true spirit of audarya. Magnanimous and compassionate. He cried when he learned of this falldown, despite knowing that this person was behaving enemical towards him.


It is a great loss when even one person falls down, and especially when that person received so much direct mercy from Srila Prabhupada. Neophytes (or pretenders) may celebrate such a loss. Meanwhile, our affectionate guardians weep.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest guest

I don't doubt that these 'fallen' are still much more evolved, much more dear to Sri Krsna, much more elevated than anyone here. I will certainly never use that term.


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest guest

"I don't doubt that these 'fallen' are still much more evolved, much more dear to Sri Krsna, much more elevated than anyone here. I will certainly never use that term."


Brevity is a nice quality. However, in this instance your message is so short as to leave me feeling somewhat perplexed. Who are you referring to? Which post are you replying to? If this is about Jaya and Vijaya, of course they are not "fallen." This was a spiritual pastime arranged by the Lord. If you're speaking of aspiring devotees, that is a different matter. It is a sad and unfortunate fact that sometimes devotees do fall down, unless and until they are fully purified. When chanting the holy name, we are warned to carefully avoid the 10 offenses, otherwise, a falldown may occur. We are admonished to be especially careful about Vaishnava Aparadha, as this is the mad elephant offense which can destroy one's devotional creeper.


Apart from that, I couldn't find where anyone used the word "fallen." The 2 devotees in question were addressed as "prabhus", which is a sign of respect. Prabhu means master. I have no doubt that the 2 devotees mentioned are far more advanced than myself. Whether they are more dear to Krsna than everyone else here, I would never be so flippant as to make such a sweeping statement.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest guest

That was good advice. Let us concern ourselves with our selves. Let us stay out of that overpowering ocean of rumour, lest we drown like Gajendra.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest guest

What rumour? Can you be specific? Thus far, historical accounts have been discussed. As far as being concerned with ourselves, our ultimate self-interest is best served by seeking out good association, (and avoiding the bad.) The topic of this thread is an attempt to address this issue as it relates to hearing from Sadhus outside of Iskcon. If you have an opinion one way or the other, please articulate. Otherwise, it almost sounds as if you're trying to stifle the discussion.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest guest

Sri Srimad Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja suggests that it is not we who find the sadhu, but rather it will be Sri Krsna who arranges our meeting with a sadhu:




[Exerpt] - "Then Krishna, who is in your heart, will see that you are crying and he will help you. He will make arrangement for you to meet such a sadhu. That is the arrangement of Krishna. When you meet such a person you will feel some spontaneous attraction from the core of your heart. That attraction is the proof."

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

This has always been my understanding. My first temple president, Goursundar prabhu, made the point at one initiation that Krishna arranges these things Himself. We also see that in the case of Dhruva in the fourth canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, when the Lord arranges for Dhruva to meet Narada Muni. This is no doubt as true of siksa gurus as of the diksa guru.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest guest

I was initiated by a iskcon false guru, who later fell down, then my heart went to Srila Prabhupada or i should say back to him. Then i learned that a ritvik movement was also trying to make "bogi yogis", now i think that Srila Prabhupada in his books is the only way!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest guest

When you choose a guru you have to do it using prabhupadas books, you have to discriminate between different types of devotees, and choose an uttama, if he fell down then its your karma , cheaters get cheated, thats not to say there are no pure devotees in iskcon, but there are plenty that arent. Even if a guru falls and our aim was krishna and a guru is just a via medium to guru if he is addicted to krishna we use him to see krishna, one the transparency goes we take shelter of someone else we can see krishna through, or if we can see krishna through prabhupadas books then we should use them and otehr devottees who can hel us see krishna, diksa is a formality that is needed, just as the formality of the marriage cermony is needed, but your diksa guru doesnt have to be the one that takes you back to godhead it can be your siksa guru. The system has always been flexible according to the nature of the person, as we desire krishna awards us ways to get to him. Even if our guru falls its no big deal as krishna is our aim and we will find someone else that can help us, if we were attracted to material personality and forgot our main aim which is getting to krishna by any means then sentmentally we will be upset when guru falls, guru is via medium not god, although if he is transparent via medium then treated as god, but once transparency goes we find either siksa through books or anotehr elevated vaishnava.


Simple for the simple

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest guest

Q. I was told that one's gratitude to Srila Prabhupada is in question if one takes initiation from a guru outside of Iskcon. What is your opinion of this statement?


A.(Tripurari Swami): My opinion is that this statement is offensive to Srila Prabhupada and contrary to his essential teachings. Srila Prabhupada taught that initiation is based on the faith of the disciple and the qualifications of the guru, not upon the guru's affiliation with a particular religious institution. Gurus that are actually qualified inspire people to accept initiation by their scriptural knowledge and pure spirituality, not by using subtle intimidation such as you have described.


While Iskcon is the religious institution that Srila Prabhupada founded and no doubt wants to flourish, he also acknowledged that there were qualified gurus outside of Iskcon. Iskcon members would do well to admit this and thereby stop trying to denigrate the faith of those who have been initiated by gurus who are not members of Iskcon. Srila Prabhupada's acknowledgment is illustrated in the following excerpt from a letter where he gives permission for his own disciple, a devotee who had been in Iskcon, to take second initiation (diksa) from his Godbrother and join that Gaudiya mission.


"Please accept my humble obeisances at your lotus feet. I understand from the letter of Asita das that he has gone to your place in Jagannatha Puri. He has asked permission from me for taking initiation from you. I have given him my permission and you can initiate him if you like so that he may increase his devotional service there."

(Letter 75-01-14 Bombay)


Gaudiya siddhanta teaches that one should take initiation from the guru who awakens one's faith in nama dharma. If a person finds faith and inspiration in relation to a qualified guru outside of Iskcon, then naturally that devotee should take initiation from him or her. Would Srila Prabhupada approve of doing otherwise? Would he approve of a person taking initiation from a guru that he or she was not fully inspired by, simply for the sake of showing gratitude to him?


Such a display of ignorance and sentimentality would certainly not be pleasing to Srila Prabhupada. Is his mission to increase the membership of Iskcon or to spread Krsna consciousness? Those that answer this question by saying 'both' need to be aware that Krsna consciousness is infinitely larger than just Iskcon. Knowing this, members of Iskcon should be encouraged toward healthy interaction with devotees of other Gaudiya institutions, rather than being erroneously told that one's gratitude to Srila Prabhupada is in question if one takes initiation from a guru outside of Iskcon. [top]


Q. Wasn't Srila Prabhupada's siksa to "never leave Iskcon" and doesn't this instruction apply for his disciples as well as their disciples?


A. Where exactly, and in what context, does the siksa to "never leave Iskcon" appear? Srila Prabhupada might have said something similar to this, but I could not find anywhere where he actually wrote or said "never leave Iskcon." I did find an instance in a letter written in 1976 where an unhappy devotee was told by Srila Prabhupada not to go outside the shelter of Iskcon. Considering its contents one should note that Srila Prabhupada was still personally in charge of Iskcon at that time and that until 1981 his society was the only Gaudiya Vaisnava organization in the West. Now there are many Gaudiya organizations preaching outside of India.


Even if the so-called siksa "never leave Iskcon" does appear somewhere, how can one justify making those words the pivotal instructions around which all other siksa from Srila Prabhupada must revolve? Especially considering everything that has happened in Iskcon during the past twenty-seven years since his disappearance?


For example, what if one is faced with a choice between an instruction such as "never leave Iskcon" and the instruction to never offend a pure devotee? Certainly the instruction to never offend a pure devotee is more prominent in Srila Prabhupada's books. Therefore, which instruction is more important? What if the so-called mandate to never leave Iskcon implicates one in offenses to pure devotees because Iskcon administrators instituted a policy of Vaisnava aparadha shortly after Srila Prabhupada's departure? Note that many of the original architects of this policy are no longer in Iskcon themselves, including seven of the eleven Iskcon gurus that came to power almost immediately after Srila Prabhupada departed.


Of course, I recognize that to many devotees the virtues of choosing between remaining in Iskcon and leaving Iskcon are not so clear. But in my case Iskcon's governing body made the choice perfectly clear. They ordered me to reject Sridhara Maharaja as my siksa guru or leave Iskcon. They ordered me to reject the guru that Srila Prabhupada said was a pure devotee and his siksa guru.


Srila Prabhupada said,


"I had the opportunity of associating with Sridhara Maharaja for several years. Krsna and Prabhupada (Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura) liked him to prepare me. Sridhara Maharaja lived in my house for many years, so naturally we had very intimate talks and he was my good advisor. I took his advice and instructions very seriously, because from the very beginning I knew he was a pure Vaisnava, a pure devotee, and I wanted to associate with him, and I tried to help him also. Our relationship is very intimate."

(Room conversation March 17, 1973)


Srila Prabhupada wrote,


"If you are actually serious to take instructions from a siksa guru, I can refer you to the one who is the most highly competent of all my godbrothers. This is B. R. Sridhara Maharaja, whom I consider to be even my siksa guru, so what to speak of the benefit that you can have by his association. So, if you are serious about the advancement of your spiritual life, I will advise you to go to Sridhara Maharaja. It will be very good for your spiritual benefit, and I will feel that you are safe. When I was in India with the others, we lived with Sridhara Maharaja. You can also make arrangements for your other godbrothers to go there in the future."

(Letter January 31, 1969)


[Editor's note: further information on the relationship between Srila Sridhara Maharaja and Srila Prabhupada can be found in the book Our Affectionate Guardians .]


However, rather than continue this endless debate regarding "never leave Iskcon," I propose that we adjust to the present, forget the contentious past, forgive one another, and work cooperatively to preach the essential teachings of Sri Caitanya. To agree to do this, I believe, would please Srila Prabhupada infinitely more than further argumentation on the subject of leaving Iskcon.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You are posting as a guest. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

  • Create New...