"Srila Prabhupada’s Instructions on Advanced Association"
by Rocana dasa
February 23, 2005
A Response to Aniha das
Religion without philosophy is sentiment (or sometimes fanaticism),
while philosophy without religion is mental speculation.
In his February 11th article on Chakra, Aniha das responded to my previous article wherein I address my many concerns over B.V. Narayana Maharaja’s comments on the Bhagavata Sampradaya theory. Aniha’s opening excuse that he is unqualified to respond on a philosophical level is nonsense. Instead, he was moved to express his sentiments and frustration at my apparent criticism of great Vaisnava personalities. He refuses to directly debate, point on point, but instead resorts to the touchy, feely, new-age approach. He parrots often-heard verses and stories used by spokesmen of the Gaudiya Matha camps.
I won’t participate in the counter-quoting game. I’ve already presented my arguments in the original article, and will be happy to engage in any direct discussion on the points raised therein. After publishing that article, I was challenged by another BV Narayana Swami disciple, who presented himself as Krsna das from the Netherlands. He had a similar approach as Aniha das’s. The ensuing debate can be found at the Krsna Blog. My thanks go out to Shiva das for the valuable contributions he made during that Blog thread. I invite interested readers to study the contents and add their own comments.
I will take this opportunity to expand upon my initial article and the Blog contributions that followed it. My position is essentially rooted in my image of His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada as being situated in the exalted post of a rare Sampradaya Acarya. For those unfamiliar with this idea, I invite you to read my Sampradaya Acarya paper. Those who read the above-mentioned Blog and Sampradaya Acarya paper, and who are not convinced by my conclusions, are encouraged to present their thoughts and challenges.
As I see it, the essence of this disagreement is a pervasive lack of realization in regards to Srila Prabhupada’s unique position. Understanding this phenomenon also helps us to understand why Srila Prabhupada ordered the ISKCON-wide ban on associating with his Godbrothers. Historical memory reveals that since Srila Prabhupada’s departure, this order was ignored by the GBC, which resulted in major problems. Yet again, time has proven that Srila Prabhupada was correct.
My challenge is directed to any and all who advocate that Srila Prabhupada’s Godbrothers/gurus are spiritually equal to him. I assert that all are not spiritually equal, and that only the other nitya siddha Sampradaya Acaryas such as Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati and Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura are comparable to Srila Prabhupada. The “all Gurus are one” asiddhantic theory is a virus originating from the Gaudiya Matha philosophers, and it has insidiously infected countless devotees.
ISKCON’s Prabhupada Lilamrita, which casually depicts Srila Prabhupada, has contributed to this contamination. This literary concoction is, in fact, a remnant of the early days of the Zonal Acarya era. It leaves the reader with the impression that Srila Prabhupada is a sadhana siddha. This outlook mirrors the conclusion of Srila Prabhupada’s Godbrothers. Amazingly, this treatise remains the official ISKCON biography of their Founder-Acarya.
In reality, the guru issue has been hotly debated since time immemorial. To illustrate this, we can reflect upon the historical example presented by Aniha das in his article. During the Battle of Kurukshetra, Arjuna fought and mortally wounded his beloved grandfather, Bhisma deva. In the first Canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam there is a description of Bhisma deva’s passing from his body while lying on the bed of arrows. In these verses and Srila Prabhupada’s purports, Bhisma deva is described as one of the twelve great Vedic authorities known as Maha jnanas. Yet just before the battle Sri Krsna spoke the Bhagavata Gita, saying that he had come to reestablish the Brahma Parampara on account of this knowledge being lost. Interestingly, we find that Bhisma isn’t listed as one of the 32 Sampradaya Acaryas going back to Lord Brahma.
My point is that Sampradaya Acaryas are situated in a category all to themselves. I am not implying that Sampradaya Acaryas have been the only pure devotees in this universe from the time Lord Brahma spoke the truth to the Sun God, who then spoke it to Manu. What I am saying is that the Sampradaya Acaryas play an important role in Lord Krsna’s overall mission of saving the fallen conditioned souls. There are innumerable other pure devotees who play supporting roles as participants in Krsna lilas, including Shaktavesa Avataras such as Jesus and Mohammad. In fact, Lord Krsna’s empowered pure devotes are innumerable; they display many pastimes within this material world.
In the context of this debate, we are focusing on those exalted souls whose mission is to revive, rejuvenate, surcharge, and philosophically expound, according to time, place and circumstance, the Brahma Vaisnava Sampradaya. Let’s not forget that there are Sampradaya Acaryas within the other three Vaisnava Sampradaya traditions, such as Ramanuja and Nimbarka Acaryas.
I hope this explanation illustrates my position that some of Srila Prabhupada’s Godbrothers may very well be advanced sadhana siddha Vaisnava’s and honorary members of our Sampradaya, but they are not Sampradaya Acaryas. I am convinced that Srila Prabhupada has exhibited symptoms which show him to be a nitya siddha Sampradaya Acarya rather than a sadhana siddha, like others in the modern Krsna Consciousness landscape.
Aniha das speaks abundantly about Srila Prabhupada’s active participation and close association with his Godbrothers during his pre-ISKCON days. Despite the few supporting quotes he presented in his article, these pastimes were not familiar topics during Srila Prabhupada’s ISKCON lila. On the other hand, Srila Prabhupada far more frequently brought up the fact that he had disagreed with his Godbrothers and that his difference of opinion went back to the time of his Guru Maharaja’s departure. He let us know, in no uncertain terms, that they failed to appreciate that Srila Bhaktisiddanta Sarasvati was a nitya siddha Sampradaya Acarya. Consequently, they tried to replace him as the head of the Gaudiya Matha. All the hearsay accounts offered by Aniha das came to light after Srila Prabhupada’s departure, and they are therefore suspect.
Aniha das comes to his conclusions based on these anecdotal stories, and from this he extrapolates that we are authorized to follow Srila Prabhupada’s footprints and associate intimately with Godbrothers, uncles, and cousins. Apparently we are to ignore the profound philosophical disagreements between them and Srila Prabhupada. Not only are the circumstances much different for us today then they were for Srila Prabhupada with regards to the availability of Vaisnava association, but Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati didn’t decree to Srila Prabhupada that he was to avoid his Godbrothers, like Srila Prabhupada decreed to us.
Another aspect of this issue to keep in mind is that from the very onset, Srila Prabhupada fully comprehended the transcendental nature and spiritual status of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur in terms of being a Sampradaya Acarya. Consequentially, Srila Prabhupada was more than capable of associating with his Godbrothers, despite the fact that they didn’t share his realization, and he could do so without being adversely effected by their “living Acarya” rhetoric -- unlike most of us in today’s circumstance.
History reveals that Srila Prabhupada never had any long-term commitment to any of his Godbrother’s mathas. I hypothesize that it was because of the aforementioned contrariety in regards to the Sampradaya Acarya.
Srila Prabhupada informed us, his disciples, far more often and in more detail about his disharmony with his Godbrothers then he ever did as to the rosy “good time” pictures Aniha das wishes us to embrace. Aniha’s emphasis on Srila Prabhupada’s seldom-uttered complimentary comments, and the unspoken meaning Aniha das construes from the “final forgiveness” statement Srila Prabhupada made just prior to his departure, seem dishonest to me. This vision leaves everyone with the impression that Srila Prabhupada finally admitted that he had made an egregious blunder, both in forbidding us to associate, and in making critical public and sastric comments suggestive of him being influenced by the mood of anger. There appears to be no advisement that Srila Prabhupada gave the matter deep, conscious consideration before acting, on both accounts.
We are advised that serious disciples are obliged to cultivate the attitude that all of Srila Prabhupada’s purports are non-different from sastra. The logic of Aniha das and his peers suggests that Srila Prabhupada’s fault-finding statements should be deleted from the archives. The bottom line is that Vaisnavas following Srila Prabhupada are obliged to accept one side of the argument or the other. Therefore, the question remains: which is more offensive, to associate with the Godbrothers, or to avoid their association?
For thirty years prior to his journeying to the west, Srila Prabhupada maintained throughout his profound realization that his guru was, in reality, a Sampradaya Acarya. The critical statements Srila Prabhupada made of his Godbrothers were primarily rooted in their lack of appreciation for Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati’s exalted position. The Godbrothers’ lack of realization resulted in the ruination of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta’s vibrant preaching mission. Their pretentious attempt to replace him with a non-Sampradaya Acaraya was the cause of the mission’s loss of momentum. We could say the same thing for the post-samadhi ISKCON GBC, as evidenced by their immediate enactment of the disastrous Zonal Acarya System, which was suggested by the Gaudiya Matha acaryas.
If you truly believe that Srila Prabhupada is on the exalted platform of a Sampradaya Acarya, then you can theoretically immunize yourself from being adversely influenced by all the pretentious small “a” acaryas. Evidence is that they don’t accept the concept of a category of spiritual classification known as the Sampradaya Acarya. Instead, they preach something less than that understanding -- which means they preach that Srila Prabhupada is on a less exalted platform.
It is a great shame that those who advocate the Sampradaya Acarya concept are looked upon suspiciously by the authorities in various institutional camps. Not surprisingly, the authorities view the idea as a potential threat to their own status. Keeping one’s thoughts on this matter private for the sake of gaining “association” may be deemed a worthwhile trade-off for some devotees. I don’t find fault with those who decide to zip their lip. Maybe Srila Prabhupada did the same during his pre-ISKCON lila period. Regardless, we must keep in mind that Srila Prabhupada is a Sampradaya Acarya, and as such is infinitely more qualified and capable in all activities, some of which are potentially dangerous to a neophyte’s spiritual health.
It behooves us to remember that Srila Prabhupada did clearly and categorically forbid his disciples from associating with his Godbrothers. All the profound reasons behind this decree continue to remain a mystery and consequently, we are still involved in this 30 year-old discussion. The Gaudiya Matha devotees have gone out of their way to dispel any fear we may have of disobedience to the guru. Aniha das has provided us with many of their well-known arguments, by which many in the past have been convinced -- even those within the highest ranks of ISKCON management.
The modus operandi for most, if not all, the Gaudiya Matha gurus, as well as many ISKCON diksa gurus, is to promote the concept that our branch of Gaudiya Vaisnava lineage is enjoying an era of diksa guru initiation. I can find no supporting statements from the last two Sampradaya Acaryas, namely Srila Bhaktisiddanta and Srila Bhaktivedanta Swamis, verifying the validity of the current ‘exclusive diksa guru’ ideology. Quite the contrary.
I have encountered copious pronouncements by ISKCON personalities which glorify various characterizations of Srila Prabhupada. However, not one of these accolades categorically declares Srila Prabhupada as a rarified nitya siddha Sampradaya Acarya on the same level as Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati and Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. Why this is so remains a mystery to me.
Aniha das has informed us that Lord Chaitanya instructed his followers to be very reverential to our Spiritual Master’s Godbrothers: “Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Himself taught us that we should offer all respects to the godbrother of our guru and never find fault in him.” One must ask the question as to why, if the above is true, this truth doesn’t apply to Srila Prabhupada, who indelibly enshrined within his purports to divine scriptures many critical remarks directed towards the actions of his Godbrothers?
By my way of thinking, if Srila Prabhupada felt so duty bound to express his disapproval, despite the sastric warnings, then we must conclude there is a profound message to all the future readers. Srila Prabhupada let us know on many occasions that his comments on sastra are Lord Krsna communicating through him. Aniha das is now asking us to accept his personal premise that Srila Prabhupada had included his dire warnings only for the sake of protecting his preaching mission. What negative influence originating from the Godbrothers would have adversely affected Srila Prabhupada’s preaching effort? Aniha das asks us to swallow his contention that this necessity on banning association with the Gaudiya Matha was, in fact, a temporary measure that is now outdated. Yet Aniha das offers no explanation for the fact that Srila Prabhupada apparently embedded such a temporary instruction into the permanency of sastric purport.
I assert that Srila Prabhupada’s pastime of asking forgiveness from his Godbrothers at the end of his lila was simply a gesture of genuine humility and magnanimity. He made no mention that he was referring to his previous contentious critical comments. It appears that Aniha das’s group has jumped to their conclusion because they were always offended by Srila Prabhupada’s attitude in this regard, and were looking for some indication that Srila Prabhupada was admitting that he was mistaken. Aniha das’s position logically leads the reader to conclude that his vision of Srila Prabhupada is that he is a fallible jivatma.
Aniha das adds insult to injury by introducing ideas that will logically lead some to conclude that Srila Prabhuapda’s comments on his Godbrothers should be removed from his books. For example, he goes so far as to say that the devotees constant repetition of Srila Prabhuapda’s criticisms “brings shame on ISKCON.” Let us pray that in the future, the BBT authorities will not be influenced by the likes of Aniha das, and will not have Srila Prabhupada’s books once again “edited” so as to remove these contentious comments.
This issue has been exhaustively researched by both sides, therefore the chance that any new information will come to light is slim to non-existent. Consequently, serious devotees must study the philosophical points made by both parties and decide what personal conclusions they will reach in this regard. While reaching the wrong conclusion may not destroy one’s devotional life, this is not a small matter and it has the potential of seriously impacting one’s spiritual progress.
Replies: 6 comments
Posted by Uddharana dasa @ 02/24/2005 09:18 AM PST
My pranams. Allow me to play devil's advocate. There is no doubt that SP held SBST in absolute love and surrender but what is your specific reference for saying "For thirty years prior to his journeying to the west, Srila Prabhupada maintained throughout his profound realization that his guru was, in reality, a Sampradaya Acarya."
Posted by Rocana dasa @ 02/28/2005 07:12 PM PST
Dear Uddharana dasa,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
Thank you for reading and commenting on this Blog thread.
There is no doubt that SP held SBST in absolute love and surrender but what is your specific reference for saying
"For thirty years prior to his journeying to the west, Srila Prabhupada maintained throughout his profound realization that his guru was, in reality, a Sampradaya Acarya."
If you are asking me to provide a specific quote from the Vedabase Folio in order to substantiate my claim that Srila Prabhupada knew his Spiritual Master was a Sampradaya Acarya, then I have to admit I can’t find anything that is overtly obvious. I could, however, ask you or anyone to provide a quote that indicates otherwise. On this issue and on many others, the followers are expected to personally “connect the dots”.
There are really only two opposing answers to your question. One is that Srila Prabhupada did know that his Spiritual Master was a nitya siddha, as I’m proposing. The other is that he didn’t, as is suggested by the Lilamrta and accepted by its adherents. My Sampradaya Acarya premise is based on the understanding of Srila Prabhupada factually being nitya siddha. The Lilamrta conclusion is based on the sadhana siddha analysis.
My statement that Srila Prabhupada realized his Spiritual Master was a Sampradaya Acarya is based on the assumption that when two empowered nitya siddhas meet for the first time, and both are on the same deputed divine mission, they recognize one other. We understand that nitya siddha representatives advent on account of being sent by the Lord, in this case Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. As such, they are essentially controlled/overseen directly by the Lord. Whether or not there was some yoga maya covering applied to this lila so as to have the pastimes unfold according to plan, I can’t say with complete certainty. Srila Prabhupada called Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati “a Vaikuntha Man”. It has been told with all authority that Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura begged Lord Caitanya to send a nitya siddha to help, and his son appeared to fulfill that request. In my previous paper, I’ve given a more expanded set of symptoms Srila Prabhupada manifested throughout his ISKCON lila period which revealed that he, too, is a nitya siddha.
With respect to Srila Prabhupada being a Sampradaya Acarya, we are all aware of the reminiscent conversations and lectures Srila Prabhupada gave which seem to humbly indicate otherwise. Naturally, I don’t put much stock in these utterances when weighed against the preponderance of evidence to the contrary. The humble proclamations of Maha-Bhagavata devotees should not be taken as declarations of truth, just as Hari das Thakura’s humble actions and words only reveal his profoundly advanced stage, or as Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu ordered one and all not to broadcast his actual status as the Yuga Avatar. The sastra is filled with such vocalizations of humility made by exalted personalities. Why not hear Srila Prabhupada’s statements as being on a similar spiritual level?
The excerpts below, from the writings of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati (“Be Humbler Than A Blade Of Grass”)”, illustrate my point.
“If anybody coming up to Chaitanya deva happened to say ‘You are the Son of the Lord of Braja’, He at once used to put His hands to His ears and protest - “Krishna should be called Krishna; I am a tiny jiva; you should not call Me Krishna.”~~~~~~~~~~~~~
“All the audience have accepted ordinary seats, I alone have been provided with a lofty seat. All are being told in effect - “Do have a look at a big animal from the Zoo-gardens. What arrogance! So foolish! So wicked! Have you ever seen such a big brute? Garlands of flowers have been put round his neck! What laudations! What bombastic long-drawn and hyperbolic adjectives! And how complacently too be [sic] is listening to the praise of his own achievements, how intently, and with his own ears! He also evidently feels delighted in mind! Is he not acting in plain violation of the teaching of Mahaprabhu? Can such a big brute, so selfish and insolent, be ever reclaimed from brutishness?
I happen to be one of the greatest fools. No one offers me good advice on account of my arrogance. Inasmuch as nobody condescends to instruct me I placed my case before Mahaprabhu Himself.”~~~~~~~~~~~~~
“I am extremely unfit and encompassed with all the evils. But an immense number of God’s devotees have mercifully appeared for the good of one like me who is so completely engulfed in evil. Many of them have gathered at this place for subduing my irrepressible arrogance. All of them are instructing me about the highest service of God. May we be ever ready to sweep away from our hearts, by the rough application of hundreds of thousands of pointed broomsticks, the wicked design of desiring to be honoured above other persons by the devotees of God.”
In a separate email, you wrote:
I am interested to know how you put together the main components of theSampradaya Acarya concept.
In making spiritual progress, one’s realization serves as a stepping-stone for the next revelation. In my pursuit of transcendental understanding of the divine nature of the personality of Srila Prabhupada, I have found that realization is gained gradually by perseverance.
Granted, I was fortunate enough to be Srila Prabhupada’s diksa disciple. This fact has its obvious advantages, but it also has some downsides when it comes to offering my thoughts on this, the most important and basic of subjects. The awkwardness for someone in my position is that many readers will write my hypothesis off as the fanatical exuberance of a narrow-minded disciple. We have all witnessed such individuals, both as Srila Prabhupada disciples and other Vaisnava followers. Under the weight of that social stigma, I try to present what I feel is truth. Admittedly, I’m not so spiritually advanced that I’m never wrong, nor am I completely free from bias. As for being totally logical in my predilection for recognizing Srila Prabhupada as a Sampradaya Acarya, my assertions are certainly open to challenge.
Being discouraged by the mind’s objections and criticism from others never gets one anywhere. This is especially true when criticism is surcharged with accusations of one being envious, an aparadhi, offensive, lacking humility, and so on. Many times I have second-guessed my own mindful perceptions of major events, personalities, and circumstances, especially pertaining to Krsna Consciousness. Over time I’ve discovered that I was often correct, and should have acted rather than complacently gone along with the flow. Trust one’s God given common sense is a truism I try to follow. Having said that, I have concluded that those who find fault with my assertions are equally as speculative in their claims that Srila Prabhupada is something other than a Sampradaya Acarya. In other words, Srila Prabhupada is and always will be mysterious to us lowly conditioned souls.
I have decidedly fixed my mind on the goal of gaining as much insight as Supersoul will reveal to me in terms of Srila Prabhupada’s identity. It has taken me many years to gradually come to my present position, and I expect and hope to continue this journey on until… is there an end? Isn’t this the purpose of life, to understand and love the Supreme Lord and his confidential associates? Best to begin with our extraordinary Spiritual Master.
The most important feature of our preaching is Srila Prabhupada’s version and vision of Krsna Consciousness. That’s what we are “marketing’. After all, Srila Prabhupada as the Sampradaya Acarya distinguished himself, first and foremost, as a super-empowered worldwide preacher and he continued in that role until his physical departure. He strongly encouraged us all to follow his example. In this regard, I have been continually reminded about the manner in which ISKCON, the Gaudiya Matha and many independent devotees are under-rating Srila Prabhupada when introducing him to newcomers. Their hagiography is sadly lacking in enthusiasm, is non-philosophical and sentimental, to the point of mundane-ness bordering on offensiveness. Many preamble pieces to Srila Prabhupada’s books and other ISKCON literatures begin by highlighting such unflattering, irrelevant circumstances as heart attacks, being penniless and alone, having diabetes, previously being a business man, abandoning his family, and so on. Internally, we often hear far more flattering terms describing Srila Prabhupada, such as his being properly described as a nitya-siddha, Maha-Bhagavata, Shaktavesa avatar, savior of the world, etc. Unfortunately, all these wonderful adjectives typically come without any philosophical explanations, which could indicate that the statements have no real absolute substance, but are just expressions of an individual’s personal feelings.
Why is there such a huge discrepancy between these two diametrically opposed accounts of the Founder-Acarya? I am only left to wonder in disbelief. ISKCON has doggedly stuck to Satsvarupa’s Lilamrita approach of presenting Srila Prabhupada as being an “accessible human”. I have stated many times that I believe that the Lilamrita is, in fact, a very offensive product of the Zonal Acarya propaganda machine. Present day ISKCON authorities show their extreme foolishness in this regard. While their expressed desire is to see ISKCON become a worldwide religion, they allow their official manifesto to diminish Srila Prabhupada’s image. Where would the Christians be today if they hadn’t presented Jesus in the heart-wrenching, dramatic and mystical fashion they have? The Christians philosophically present their “founder-acarya” as a nitya siddha (immaculate conception) savior of the world. Christian preachers like to emphasis all of Christ’s mystic powers, miracles and so on. Can Srila Prabhupada be described in a similarly larger than life manner? Yes, because in our hearts we all know Srila Prabhupada qualifies as a Shaktavesa nitya siddha. Of this there is no doubt! At least not to me.
What the future holds for ISKCON is anyone’s guess, but unless and until the powers that be do a complete rethink on “marketing” Srila Prabhupada, they will not be utilizing the unlimited potential which has been squandered up to now. They will also leave the door open for others to re-write Srila Prabhupada’s history in an even less flattering manner.
What I have described in terms of projecting Srila Prabhupada’s image applies to ISKCON’s attracting new members and keeping the one’s they have from going to Gaudiya Matha competitors. By not projecting this image, ISKCON authorities are also handicapped in their ability to satisfactorily defend against accusations hurled at Srila Prabhupada by the gurukulis and other disenfranchised ex-members of ISKCON.
I hope the above will help to answer your question as to how I put together the main components of the Sampradaya Acarya concept. This thesis is the result of my past experiences and present circumstances, which together contributed to the development of the concept. If I have not clearly answered your question(s), perhaps it would be helpful for me to do a bullet-point outline of the fundamental assumptions underlying this concept. Let me know if this would be more helpful.
I offer my ideas for the consideration of both newcomers and old-timers alike. Newcomers seem to have no problem whatsoever accepting and adopting this concept. Old-timers naturally, have some resistance, because the debate of these ideas jars their long-held understandings and assumptions. Up until now, no one has defeated my premise. As for bringing this point of view to the level of absolute truth, that’s not likely to occur unless and until another Sampradaya Acarya appears, or someone on the spiritual level of Krsna dasa Kaviraj writes a definitive version of Srila Prabhupada’s pastimes and philosophy. Prior to the Chaitanya-caritamrita, most within Vaisnava Community were not absolutely sure what version of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s appearance, pastimes and disappearance to accept as absolute truth. During this interim period of the post-samadhi Srila Prabhupada era, it behooves all of us to give this subject careful thought, as we are frequently called upon to acquaint sincere seekers with the glories of Srila Prabhupada.
Posted by withheld @ 03/02/2005 07:53 AM PST
"I am convinced that Srila Prabhupada has exhibited symptoms which show him to be a nitya siddha Sampradaya Acarya rather than a sadhana siddha, like others in the modern Krsna Consciousness landscape."
Siddha is siddha isn't it? What difference would it make spiritually if one attained siddha through sadhana or one was nitya siddha?
Posted by Rocana dasa @ 03/09/2005 10:36 PM PST
Dear Anonymous poster,
Thank you for your recent comment. You wrote:
“Siddha is siddha isn't it? What difference would it make spiritually if one attained siddha through sadhana or one was nitya siddha?”
In his 1973 lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 2:3, Srila Prabhupada said:
“So this is the difference between sadhana-siddha and nitya-siddha. Gaurängera sarigi-gane, nitya-siddha kari’ mane, se yaya vrajendra-suta-pasa. Gauda-mandala-bhumi, yeba jane cintamani, tära haya vrajabhume vasa. So nitya-siddha means he has no chance to forget Krsna. That is called nitya-siddha. And sadhana-siddha means by following the regulative principles, the rules and regulations, one revives his Krsna consciousness. Both things are siddha because you cannot revive Krsna consciousness without being Krsna conscious. It may be covered. So nitya-siddha means he does not get covered by the influence of material nature about his natural devotional tendency to serve Krsna. He never becomes covered. This is difference. Krsna gives him chance to get birth in such a family. Just like Pariksit Maharäja, that he never gets the chance of forgetting Krsna. So one who does not get the chance of forgetting Krsna is called nitya-siddha. This is the difference.”
So, you hear directly from Srila Prabhupada, above, what is the difference between the sadhana and nitya siddha. My premise is that Srila Prabhupada, being a nitya siddha as well as a Sampradaya Acarya, differs from his Godbrothers. I am not only identifying Srila Prabhupada as nitya siddha, but am also specifying that he is an eternal associate of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. The transcendental mission of spreading Krsna Consciousness worldwide was accomplished as predicted due to the appearance of three successive nitya siddhas, beginning with Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, then his son Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, then his disciple Srila Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada.
With regards to the spiritual status of Srila Prabhupada’s godbrothers, I am in no position to qualify their status as sadhana-bhaktas. In other words, if and when they have reached complete perfection (siddha), at that point they also become nitya-siddha, meaning they never fall down. Given the fact that the Godbrothers are sadhana-siddha, we can understand that the Lord, on this specific mission of spreading the Sankirtan movement, did not send them as he did the three aforementioned jagat-guru Sampradaya Acaryas.
When discussing sadhana bhaktas, the question inevitably arises as to just how far along they are in their Krsna Conscious advancement. Have they reached perfection [siddha]? It is impossible for a neophyte to determine precisely the level of another mature associate. We have had so many graphic and in some case tragic examples of diksa gurus falling from a position that their disciples and followers assumed and hoped was beyond the dangers of fall down. How many other spiritual authorities are pretending to be more fixed-up in their Krsna Consciousness than is actually the case? In this context, I am primarily referring to ISKCON and Gaudiya Matha “approved” gurus.
From a broader viewpoint, Srila Prabhupada has many times mentioned that there are innumerable bogus gurus trolling for followers. This dilemma of finding a bonafide guru has always been present, since the beginning of time, except in the case of accepting a nitya siddha as guru. If the rare opportunity arises when one comes in contact with such a personality when they are manifesting their lila, then that is very nice, but even after they disappear they leave behind many ways and means to associate. Let me remind the reader that I’m not suggesting “post-samadhi diksa initiation”, commonly known as “Rtvik”.
By learning from the teachings and pastimes of such great personalities as the Sampradaya Acaryas, the sincere candidate has a much greater chance of discovering a sincere representative of the nitya siddha who is willing and able to assist the student in understanding and serving the mission of the Sampradaya Acaryas.
Posted by Name withheld @ 03/10/2005 05:45 AM PST
Thanks for answering my "siddha" question above (or should I say thanks to Srila Prabhupada who answered it directly).
You end above by saying, "By learning from the Sampradaya Acaryas, the sincere candidate has a much greater chance of discovering a sincere representative of the nitya siddha who is willing and able to assist the student in understanding and serving the mission of the Sampradaya Acaryas."
If as you say, you are not referring here to post-samadhi ritvik initiation, who may I ask are you referring to? Which sincere representatives of the Sampraday Acarya do you have in mind? Do they initiate?
Posted by Rocana dasa @ 03/15/2005 12:19 PM PST
Thanks for your last reply. You wrote:
“If as you say, you are not referring here to post-samadhi ritvik initiation, who may I ask are you referring to? Which sincere representatives of the Sampraday Acarya do you have in mind? Do they initiate?”
I tried to answer this question in my Sampradaya Acarya and Church of Rtvik papers, but I welcome an opportunity to present it again in a more concise manner.
There is no escaping the absolute principle enunciated in the sastra that sincere newcomers must at some point find and surrender to a bona fide guru. “Bona fide” means a guru who is fully and firmly situated within the pure teachings and transcendental mood of the Sampradaya which the candidate is wishing to be initiated into. In our case, this is the Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya.
My main point is that Srila Prabhupada is the most recent manifested representative of our exalted Sampradaya. Therefore, the first and foremost prerequisite for anyone presenting themselves as a bona fide Guru is that they recognize that reality. The next indispensable requirement is that the spiritual teacher being followed is himself closely following the teachings and process set down by the present Sampradaya Acarya.
Srila Prabhupada has left us an unprecedented, copious archive of easily available written material so that the intelligent seeker can thoroughly familiarize and educated themselves. If the neophyte doesn’t recognize that this process is a requirement, then they are leaving themselves open to being cheated. There are plenty of pretentious “gurus” masquerading as Srila Prabhupada’s approved representatives. There are others, from other Gaudiya branches, who tell yet another story. Very few, if any, clearly introduce Srila Prabhupada as being an exalted nitya siddha Sampradaya Acarya. So these personalities have to be viewed with a degree of suspicion. For those who find the “Sampradaya Acarya” rhetoric too unfamiliar or confusing, there is a simpler way to state it: a bona fide guru introduces Srila Prabhupada as being on an equal and exalted nitya siddha status as Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, and this exalted status must be qualified and characterized in comparison to those who are not on the same lofty platform. In other words, it is not enough to simply say Srila Prabhupada is highly exalted. If no point of comparison is offered, how is anyone to judge the degree to which this statement is true?
We often hear members of the institution originally founded by Srila Prabhupada who say they are simply and purely presenting Srila Prabhupada, that is their qualification. This statement in itself is a subtle form of pretension. The truth is that unless someone is extremely advanced in our practice and philosophy, they cannot claim with any certainty that they are presenting Srila Prabhupada just as he would have presented himself in the present day circumstance. With Srila Prabhupada’s ISKCON over the last nearly thirty years since his departure, many “admitted” maha mistakes have proven that the supposed “advanced” disciples were not following Srila Prabhupada purely. A more accurate statement would be that they were they trying, in their own neophyte way, to present their own sincere realizations of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings. Having been personally, actively present during most of Srila Prabhupada’s ISKCON lila period, I can say with certainty that many of the present day practices and even some of the philosophy is different from what was accepted as the undisputed standard during Srila Prabhupada’s manifest presence. Yet many present day devotees don’t hesitate to proclaim that they are “simply and purely presenting” Srila Prabhupada.
In my opinion, those wise seekers of initiation should consider what I have stated above to be yet another litmus test. Time has proven that the GBC stamp of approval awarded to their diksa gurus doesn’t carry much weight. The nebulous, approvable standard of whether or not someone is or is not following the regulative principles and chanting their rounds for a period of time is almost ludicrous. I could elaborate on this further, but I assume the reader gets my meaning.
I personally recommend that a far greater emphasis be put on the principle and practice of accepting a siksa guru who appears to be “qualified” according to the above-mentioned criteria, rather than committing to a diksa relationship based on those qualifications. ISKCON itself has a proviso (in small print) that their approval is based on the “buyer beware” concept. Unfortunately, they have put little or no effort into the siksa guru idea that was embraced by the most recent Sampradaya Acaryas. Srila Prabhupada’s original ISKCON was fully and successful functioning based on the Sampradaya Acarya’s empowerment of siksa gurus. So why, today, are we divested of this program? I’ll leave the reader to answer that question using his or her own common sense.
I am not against diksa initiation. How could I be? It is a sastric truth. However, the method by which a candidate discovers and qualifies their eternal diksa guru is far more serious and important than many “diksa oriented” institutional representatives are making it out to be. Again, the reader can ascertain the reasons behind this policy. Better for a thoughtful seeker to be super-cautious, patient, and resistant to peer and institutional pressure when it comes to being a disciple of a diksa guru. Easier said than done.
I hope this addresses your question.