All Pure Vaishnavas are Sri Krishna's Ritviks
BY: R.A. SADHUDASA ANUDASA
Jul 21, 2011 SRIDHAM MAYAPUR, WEST BENGAL (SUN) Sri Krishna is the original guru and everybody else is His representative.
The IMPERSONAL --and even ATHEISTIC-- conception of the above statement is that one can claim to be exactly like Sri Krishna, and have one's own PERSONAL representatives or ritviks AFTER ONE'S PHYSICAL DEPARTURE FROM THE PLANET. Surely, Srila Prabhupada NEVER intended such thing. Sri Yogananda Paramahamsa might have been a great saint in the IMPERSONAL realization, and that's how he might have "empowered" Sri Vivekananda as his ritvik after his "PERSONAL" demise.
The shastras explain that a person who has accepted Krishna as the Supreme Identity of the Personal Godhead can initiate disciples. In this sense, all those who have accepted Sri Krishna as the Original Source of Godhead, are His DIRECT representatives or ritvik-gurus.
The ultimate trouble of making any pure Vaishnava the SOLE ritvik, or EXCLUSIVE representative of Sri Krishna, is that attempts to the very essence of PERSONALISM. The sentimentally immature attitude of empowering ONLY one personality as the exclusive representative of Sri Krishna leads to DEIFICATION (in the sense as being GOD Himself), which translates as atheism disguised as a devotional attitude --yes, devotional perhaps, nonetheless neophyte and impersonal.
When Vaishnava students pray: "vande ham sri guru, sri yuta-pada-kamalam, sri gurum-vaishnavas ca... " it implies to realize that we are paying homage to our respective EXCLUSIVE initiator spiritual master (diksha-guru) --the shastras condemn having many duly professing Vaishnava diksha-gurus, since it is also a sign of IMPERSONALISM to do so--, and unto our MANY instructing spiritual masters or shiksha-gurus, as well as to ALL the Vaishnavas of the FOUR sampradayas, or PERSONALIST schools of thought.
It is an IMPERSONAL desire to have more than ONE EXCLUSIVE diksha-guru, as it is ILLOGICAL to claim that one has more than ONE bio-logical father. No doubt, a normal human being has other affectionate family members that may affect the same feelings as one's father... however the bio-LOGICAL FATHER is ONLY one. Sarvabhavana Bhattacharya --as the leading Mayavadi of his time--, wanted to re-initiate Mahaprabhu, and that is a sign of impersonal consideration. Vaishnavas NEVER re-initiate another initiated student of a practitioner Vaishnava, even if such guru is a neophyte. Such attitude or practice is ONLY performed under the IMPERSONAL connotation of ones life. If it is practiced amongst aspiring Vaishnavas It only creates dissension, and offenses towards Vaishnavas.
The PERSONAL-ritvik conception per excellence declares that Sri Krishna is the CONSTITUTIONAL Eternal Father and Original Guru of absolutely everybody. On the other hand, the IMPERSONAL-ritvik conception declares that Srila Prabhupada is the INSTITUTIONAL Eternal Father and Original Guru of absolutely everybody willing to partake of such cult.
The following statements from Srila Prabhupada are CONCLUSIVE in regard to the acceptance of a personal diksha-guru:
Srimad Bhagavatam 3.22.7: "The favor of the spiritual master is not received through any other part of the body but the ears. This does not mean, however, that the spiritual master gives a particular type of mantra through the ears in exchange for some dollars and if the man meditates on that he achieves perfection and becomes God within six months. Such reception through the ears is bogus. The real fact is that a bona fide spiritual master knows the nature of a particular man and what sort of duties he can perform in Krishna consciousness, and he instructs him in that way. He instructs him through the ear, not privately, but publicly. "You are fit for such and such work in Krishna consciousness. You can act in this way…
… There are different departments of activity in Krishna consciousness, and a spiritual master, knowing the particular ability of a particular man, trains him in such a way that by his tendency to act he becomes perfect."
Bhagavad-gita 11.54: "For one who does not take personal training under the guidance of a bonafide spiritual master, it is impossible to even begin to understand Krishna."
Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya 15.108: "Vaishnavas following the path of Sri Narada and his successors endeavor to establish a personal relationship with the Lord by receiving the grace of a bona fide spiritual master through initiation, and in this tradition the devotees are obliged at the time of initiation to begin engaging in Deity worship."
Srimad Bhagavatam 3.25.25: "Generally, people are convinced of the impersonal feature of the Absolute Truth. Because they do not associate with devotees, they cannot understand that the Absolute Truth can be a person and have personal activities. This is a very difficult subject matter, and unless one has personal understanding of the Absolute Truth, there is no meaning to devotion. Service or devotion cannot be offered to anything impersonal. Service must be offered to a person."
I do hold a personal appreciation and care for the spiritual welfare of ALL those who have established themselves under the shelter of Srila Prabhupada, whether as his diksha or shiksha students. However, I see a tinge of IMPERSONALISM in the claim that one is being directly connected with Srila Prabhupada through a process that is NOT practiced within any of the four Vaishnava schools, as to consider oneself as DIRECTLY initiated through a diksha ceremony --which represent one's submission to a PERSON that can instruct and guide us by DIRECT PERSONAL example, as instructed above by Srila Prabhupada.
Nonetheless, one can without any doubt be DIRECTLY initiated into Vaishnavism through Srila Prabhupada's eternal instructions. To that extent one has to be so advanced into PERSONALISM that one would accept without any hindrance that Srila Prabhupada's manifestation in the FORM of his instructions (shiksha) came from other PERSONS. Such PERSONS were the ones that published the books where one read about Srila Prabhupada, or the persons that first spoke about him, or gave us his books. Therefore if Srila Prabhupada "came" to all in an INDIRECT way, why one would only accept his DIRECT PERSONAL initiation? This is one of the signs of IMPERSONALISM.
Indeed, VERY rare are those that joined Srila Prabhupada's mission without ANY PERSONAL inference from anyone else, besides Srila Prabhupada HIMSELF.
The CONCLUSION is that Vaishnavas have to accept a guru that can train them PERSONALLY in every aspect. This is how we understand that all pure Vaishnavas are Sri Krishna's ritviks. The IMPERSONAL-ritvik principle claims that one can be directly initiated into any society of pure Vaishnavas without accepting a particular PERSON as a Vaishnava diksha-initiating-guru but Srila Prabhupada himself. If Sri Gauranga --in His function as the Perfect Devotee-- HIMSELF has His DIRECT PERSONAL diksha and shiksha-gurus, why would someone NOT follow His advice? In Bhagavad-gita it is instructed to approach a bona fide PERSONAL guru, unto whom one can ask relevant questions, receive his pertinent spiritual direct answers and advice according to one's particular personality, and finally surrender to.
To expose one's individuality, or particular personality, by means of a PURE IMAGINATIVE mentality of listening to Srila Prabhupada's direct instructions in one's heart could mean a risk in itself. However there could be such pure soul amongst ourselves. Surely, they would not have trouble accepting any formal diksha-guru of their "mundane" midst, since they are ALREADY in contact with the DIVINE through the agency of Srila Prabhupada's inspiration. Even Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur accepted a diksha-guru, who was NEVER rejected or minimized, however who wasn't his main inspiration. Nonetheless, the social Vaishnava etiquette was duly fulfilled.
Of course, we are NOT postulating here to become a BLIND FOLLOWER of a pseudo-Vaishnava since we need to be formally initiated into Vaishnavism. FORMAL initiation is NOT needed for one to become liberated. The offenseless chanting of the maha-mantra Hare Krishna is enough to become liberated. I know two exemplary Vaishnavas that are Srila Prabhupada's shiksha-disciples since more than 23 years, and they have not yet accepted formal initiation from anyone in the Vaishnava world. To me, both of them have demonstrated to be more advanced than "gurus" that were their con-temporaries and have fallen down to the extreme of even rejecting Vaishnavism all together. So, this is a proof that SHIKSHA is more ESSENTIAL than diksha.
We may run the risk to get a wrong perception after chanting the Gurvashtakam prayers, were it is instructed to worship the spiritual master as God Himself, and lose proper power of discrimination if NOT philosophically cautious. However, we should be intelligent enough to scrutinize the saints we associate with through the agency of the shastras. Otherwise, that will be the end of the formula, guru-sadhu-shastra ... BLIND FAITH is the worse thing that could happen to any human being.
There are many prakrita-sahajiyas that are neophyte Vaishnavas and others that are NOT even Vaishnavas. There are some IMPERSONALISTS in the dress of Vaishnava since the conditioned jiva is IMPERSONAL by constitutionally being part of the Brahmajyoti, thus just conscious of Krishna in His aspect as Vasudeva, or the ALL-PERVADING SUPREME, when He is NOT in the company of His internal potency. Therefore, we can meet persons that pose as if walking on air, speaking and chanting very softly, and dancing like swans, but in their heart there is NO devotion for their spiritual master, what to say for Sri Krishna. They are very expert at doing melodious "bhajan", just to satisfy their sensual minds in search of profit and adoration. One has to learn about these pretenders by analysing that Srila Prabhupada or the senior most Vaishnavas NEVER acted in such lascivious behavior. It is advised that to perform pure devotional service, one has to be very sober.
We are NOT concluding here that we may be above everybody else, and pose as the purest of the Vaishnavas. We are far from such cry. Nonetheless, although there might be pure Vaishnavas in ISKCON without a doubt, we have learned that they have a particular way to present themselves, and it is shown in Prabhupada's teachings. Nothing needs to be re-invented.
Actually, we are our own worst enemy, since we are CONSTITUTIONALLY a minute spiritual spark, whose forgetfulness of Krishna consciousness comes WITHIN this material world (NEVER from Krishnaloka), and since time immemorial have been envious of Krishna and His devotees again and again, thus losing PERSONALISTIC spiritual power of discrimination. This means that our discrimination is very meager... only on the level of pure selfishness or IMPERSONALISM.
The ULTIMATE BLOW to the IMPERSONAL ritviksm that claims to receive direct diksha from Srila Prabhupada is that Srila Prabhupada's NEVER recorded his sannyasa-mantra. Therefore the system that anyone can receive direct initiation from Srila Prabhupada through his voice recording proves incomplete, thus making the conception LIMITED or faulty, since Prabhupada becomes LIMITED in regard to his capacity to offer this kind of initiation. Obviously Srila Prabhupada can also become manifested to someone in dreams, and fully reveal himself. However, we are referring here to the claim that is Prabhupada in his murti form that is giving also sannyasa initiation.
Srila Prabhupada accepted sannyasa initiation from one of his Godbrothers, although it was inspired by the DIRECT shiksha received from Srila Bhaktisiddhanta during his personal dreams. Srila Prabhupada could have accepted sannyasa initiation DIRECTLY from a picture of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, once it was PERSONALLY requested by his guru through dreams. Nonetheless, Prabhupada did NOT follow his spiritual master's example of accepting sannyasa from the photo of his own spiritual master. Instead, he approached his Godbrothers for that.
The CONCLUSION is that the Prabhupada-ritvik followers cannot introduce Srila Prabhupada as their sannyasa-guru, unless they have the sannyasa-mantra of Srila Prabhupada. If they ONLY trust Srila Prabhupada as their exclusive diksha and shiksha-guru, thus accepting ALL initiations exclusively from him, then how it will be accommodated receiving his DIRECT sannyasa initiation also? Is the sannyasa initiation to be removed from his preaching mission, when he clearly instructs us about such important aspect of life to be followed, in accordance with Gaura's teachings?
By the agency of Divine Providence, and of an intimate Godbrother, I received a copy of Srila Prabhupada's sannyasa-mantra as it was PERSONALLY given by Bhaktiprajnana Keshava Maharaja to him. I may decide to offer such spiritual piece of historical evidence to the IMPERSONAL-ritvik followers, however would I or any of them deny my PERSONAL decision in doing so?
Would I consider myself such a MESSENGER of Srila Prabhupada as to "mediate" with his sannyasa-mantra, with a sense that it is Srila Prabhupada offering it and not MYSELF? Surely NOT. I feel confident to speak 100% on his behalf, but I'm NOT able to CHANNEL Srila Prabhupada 100% PERSONALLY, since I'm an eternal individual and he is another eternally different individual --obviously, one much more elevated than my fallen self.
Although Srila Prabhupada is my eternal guide and master, it is Sri Krishna WHO IS eternally present in my heart since time immemorial in my conditioned life. It is Sri Krishna Who has granted me the infinite fortune to include Srila Prabhupada in my heart, who is HIS most bona fide ritvik or representative. It is NOT that Srila Prabhupada tries to be Krishna Himself, and portrays himself as the ONLY guru to be followed in detriment of other saintly personalities who also may assist us in our spiritual path. THERE IS PLENTY OF EVIDENCE that he was not a sectarian guru. Those who have trouble understanding this, no doubt are Vaishnava students still, however NOT yet truly PERSONALISTS --sorry if it may sound harsh.
FINALLY, IS the sannyasa-mantra, given to Srila Prabhupada On a piece of paper, a tool for someone to become a sannyasa disciple of Bhaktiprajnana Keshava Maharaja? Surely NOT. Still somebody may argue that it can be possible if one has such faith to perceive Srila Keshava Maharaja through it. Then there is NO trouble, since everything is based on PURE FAITH... however, is such faith an IMPERSONAL or PERSONAL one, which could be used to glorify the pure Vaishnavas or one-SELF-ishness?
The answer is on our own hearts, and the doubt comes when our FAITH has to manifest out of it in the SHAPE or FORM of a Vaishnava saint. One has to be able to recognize Krishna everywhere, to then start the process of PERSONALISM, as Sri Prahlada Maharaja initiates. One has to be able to recognize Srila Prabhupada's teachings as belonging to Krishna directly, and give Prabhupada eternal credit for the UNIQUE and PUREST manner that he delivered them. As Vaishnava students we have to ask ourselves if we are ready to recognize Srila Prabhupada AGAIN, if he decides to reincarnate ANEW amongst ourselves.
Be confident that Srila Prabhupada IS PERSONALLY PRESENT in his photo, his murti, and his teachings. If our faith in Krishna allows us to perceive Prabhupada in such ways, we'll then be able to also perceive his PERSONAL PRESENCE THROUGH his pure students, whether they may be his diksha or shiksha followers... there is NO need to DEIFY him. He is NOT God... he is God-like. Beware of NOT being too intellectually philosophical neither sentimentalist though; there are demons disguised as Vaishnavas amongst his so-called diksha disciples also. This is the subject of another analysis in-depth.
I eternally remain your servant, in the seva to Srila Prabhupada and the pure Vaishnavas,