Constitution for ISKCON As It Is - Article 8


Aug 10, 2017 — CANADA (SUN) —


8.1 Connecting to the Pure Sampradaya

    8.1.1 The Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya, like all bona fide Vaisnava sampradayas, has at its foundation a unique, pure, unalloyed siddhanta which has been preserved and passed on since the Sampradaya's inception, without adulteration.

    8.1.2 The pure siddhanta is passed down through disciplic succession, and is delivered by various means: through the preaching of the Sampradaya Acaryas (the topmost members of the disciplic succession) and through the bona fide spiritual masters who are following them (diksa, siksa and vartma-pradarsika); through the Book Bhagavat (Sri Krsna, the Absolute Truth embodied in sastra); and through Caitya Guru (paramatma).

    8.1.3 The pure siddhanta is completely transcendental and cannot be restricted by circumstances or formalities within this material world. Regardless of the circumstances of initiation, whoever is preaching and living this pure siddhanta should be recognized and worshipped as a bona fide spiritual master in our Sampradaya.

    8.1.4 In accordance with sastra, ideally one gets diksa initiation from a bona fide guru in disciplic succession.

    8.1.5 In the event Caitya Guru does not arrange for one to get diksa initiation in this lifetime, one can still get directly connected to the pure sampradaya through Caitya Guru; through Book Bhagavat; through the preaching of the Sampradaya Acaryas, and in particular through the vani of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the most recent manifestation of the pure sampradaya, 32nd on the list of topmost members of the Gaudiya Vaisnava disciplic succession going back to Lord Brahma; and through the siksa instruction of those bona fide spiritual masters who are following in this disciplic succession, delivering pure siddhanta. Being connected to the pure sampradaya through any of these means is a form of initiation. However, none of these means of connection to the sampradaya shall be misconstrued as being diksa initiation. One cannot become a diksa disciple of His Divine Grace by engaging in a post-samadhi ritvik diksa religious ceremony.

8.2 Caitya Guru

    8.2.1 "He [Krsna] helps us from within as Caitya Guru, and He expands Himself externally as Siksa Guru (as instructor) and Diksa Guru (initiator). So, the principle is that whatever you are instructed by the Caitya Guru internally may be confirmed by the instructor or initiator externally. Then your progress will be complete." [44]

    8.2.2 Caitya Guru directs the sincere seeker to the Book Bhagavat or other means by which transcendental knowledge is transmitted through a bona fide via medium. The Sampradaya Acaryas have facilitated caitya-guru by producing transcendental literatures. By reading sastra and hearing from Book Bhagavat, one begins to develop faith. Caitya Guru recognizes the sincerity of the seeker and directs his path, thus one finds their way to vartma-pradarsika-guru or enters the community of devotees and comes into relationship with the siksa-guru, and eventually with diksa- guru. There are no hard and fast rules about the ordering of events − Sri Krsna works with the individual seeker in whatever way He sees fit, arranging for the transmission of transcendental knowledge, divya-jnanam.

8.3 Book Bhagavat

    8.3.1 "In my books the philosophy of Krishna Consciousness is explained fully so if there is anything you do not understand, then you simply have to read again and again. By reading daily the knowledge will be revealed to you and by this process your spiritual life will develop." [45]

    "Human reason fails to understand how by serving the devotee bhagavata or the book bhagavat one gets gradual promotion on the path of devotion. But, actually, these are facts…" [46]

    8.3.2 By way of bhagavad-vidhi initiation, connection to the pure sampradaya is available to the sincere seeker through book bhagavat. This connection does not prevent the seeker from accepting pancaratriki-vidhi initiation from a bona fide diksa-guru who manifests sometime thereafter. One may accept both bhagavad-vidhi and pancaratriki-vidhi initiation.

    8.3.3 The process of bhagavad-vidhi, chanting the Holy Name and hearing from Book Bhagavat, is best engaged within the system established by His Divine Grace, wherein the seeker is supported in his spiritual pursuits in the temple environment, having the benefit of association (sadhu-sanga), and receiving siksa training, which eventually leads to diksa initiation.

    8.3.4 His Divine Grace's books are meant to be read, and advanced followers are also meant to preach from the books. The importance of preaching and training shall not be minimized or discouraged by the general instruction, 'just read the books'.

8.4 Vartma-pradarsaka Guru

    8.4.1 "The spiritual master who first gives information about spiritual life is called the vartma-pradarsaka-guru… The word guru is equally applicable to the vartma- pradarsaka-guru, siksa-guru and diksa-guru." [47]

    This guru is generally considered to be the first person who, by the arrangement of caitya-guru, offers spiritual assistance to the inquiring seeker by introducing them to Krsna consciousness, giving them a book, introducing them to the devotees or directing them to the temple. One's relationship with vartma-pradarsaka-guru is typically informal, and lasts as long as mutually agreeable. While there is not a deep commitment in one's relationship with vartma-pradarsaka it can evolve into a siksa-guru relationship.

8.5 Siksa Guru

    8.5.1 "So Krishna is within as caitya-guru, and when we are serious, He comes out as the spiritual master. Siksa-guru, diksa-guru. So there is no difference between siksa- guru and diksa-guru and Krishna. Krishna manifests Himself externally as siksa- guru and diksa-guru." [48]

    8.5.2 Siksa and diksa Non-different:

      "The first manifestation described is the spiritual master, who appears in two plenary parts called the initiating spiritual master and the instructing spiritual master. They are identical because both of them are phenomenal manifestations of the Supreme Truth." [49]

      "There is no difference between the shelter-giving Supreme Lord and the initiating and instructing spiritual masters. If one foolishly discriminates between them, he commits an offense in the discharge of devotional service." [50]

    8.5.3 Distinctions between siksa and diksa and Qualifications of siksa-guru:

      Although sastra clearly states that diksa-guru and siksa-guru are non-different, sastra also provides various distinctions, including the fact that diksa and siksa have different dealings, and that while one is encouraged to take diksa rom a maha- bhagavata, bona fide siksa-gurus are not always liberated:

      "The initiating and instructing spiritual masters are equal and identical manifestations of Krsna, although they have different dealings." [51]

      "Sometimes a diksa guru is not present always. Therefore one can take learning, instruction, from an advanced devotee. That is called the siksa-guru." [52]

      "The guru [sarva-yajnesu diksitah] must be situated on the topmost platform of devotional service. There are three classes of devotees, and the guru must be accepted from the topmost class... When one has attained the topmost position of maha-bhagavata, he is to be accepted as guru and worshiped exactly like Hari, the Personality of Godhead. Only such a person is eligible to occupy the post of a guru." [53]

      "There are two kinds of instructing spiritual masters. One is the liberated person fully absorbed in meditation in devotional service, and the other is he who invokes the disciple's spiritual consciousness by means of relevant instructions." [50]

      "Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami states that the instructing spiritual master is a bona fide representative of Sri Krishna. Sri Krishna Himself teaches us as the instructing spiritual master from within and without. From within, He teaches as Paramatma, our constant companion, and from without He teaches from the Bhagavad-gita as the instructing spiritual master. There are two kinds of instructing spiritual masters. One is the liberated person fully absorbed in meditation in devotional service, and the other is he who invokes the disciple's spiritual consciousness by means of relevant instructions. Thus the instructions in the science of devotion are differentiated in terms of the objective and subjective ways of understanding." [50]

    8.5.4 Progression from siksa to diksa-guru:

      Both the disciple accepting instruction from a siksa-guru and the siksa-guru himself may progress: the disciple progresses to taking diksa initiation, and the guru may progress from serving as instructing guru to serving as initiating guru:

      "Generally a spiritual master who constantly instructs a disciple in spiritual science becomes his initiating spiritual master later on." [54]

      "It is the duty of the siksa guru or diksa guru to instruct the disciple in the right way, and it depends on the disciple to execute the process. According to sastric injunctions, there is no difference between siksa guru and diksa guru, and generally the siksa gurulater on becomes the diksa guru." [55] In the event a siksa disciple has advanced beyond the siksa-guru's ability to provide progressively advanced spiritual instruction to the disciple, the siksa-guru should turn the disciple over to a siksa or diksa-guru who can continue to offer advanced instruction.

    8.5.5 Emphasis on Siksa Following the mood of the most recent Sampradaya Acaryas, Members shall discourage misplaced emphasis on diksa-initiation over and above siksa, i.e., emphasis on diksa as the only means of being connected to the pure sampradaya. Members shall encourage an emphasis on siksa instruction, cultivated in an environment of preaching and training according to the instructions of His Divine Grace. Those who are qualified to act as siksa-guru shall be encouraged to actively serve in that capacity.

    8.5.6 Regulation and Oversight of Siksa Although the Society shall in no way impede the arrangements of Caitya Guru by asserting a determination of who is qualified to serve as siksa-guru, the Society shall encourage Member siksa-gurus to perform the duties of guru in bona fide fashion, according to sastra and the standards and instructions set forth by His Divine Grace. As public figures and spiritual leaders within the Society, siksa-gurus operating within the Society shall be held to the highest scrutiny of the Members, who shall not be intimidated or discouraged from pointing out what appear to be indiscretions in the way siksa-gurus conduct themselves. "Actually, you have only one Spiritual Master, who initiates you, just as you have only one father. But every Vaisnava should be treated as prabhu, master, higher than me, and in this sense, if I learn from him, he may be regarded as guru. It is not that I disobey my real Spiritual Master and call someone else as Spiritual Master. That is wrong. It is only that I can call Spiritual Master someone who is teaching me purely what my initiating Spiritual Master has taught." [56]

    8.5.7 Concept of 'Maha-siksa' His Divine Grace gave diksa initiation to many disciples during his manifest lila, and these individuals alone are his diksa disciples. As the uttama-adhikari, maha-bhagavata Founder-Acarya, His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada, directly and personally during his manifest lila served as siksa- guru for all his other sincere followers. Following his acceptance of maha- samadhi, His Divine Grace continues to serve as eternal diksa-guru to his initiated disciples, and serves as Book Bhagavat for all other sincere followers. The contrived categorization of His Divine Grace as 'maha-siksa' of all followers is rejected, as the concept has no basis in sastra. It does not properly describe His Divine Grace's post-samadhi relationship with his diksa disciples, nor does it describe his relationship with his grand-disciples. The term or concept 'maha-siksa' shall not be employed by Members of the Society, and particularly diksa-guru Members, to suggest that 'maha-siksa' is synonymous with book bhagavata or that 'maha-siksa' somehow eclipses the role and responsibilities the diksa-guru has for his own disciples. The burden of training, and the karmic burden for disciples shall be understood to rest directly upon the diksa-guru himself, and not upon the so-called 'maha-siksa', His Divine Grace.

(To be continued…)


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