Better to be Safe
In time of emergency, one may assume the responsibility of commander, if one’s own commander is absent or killed. But still the official rank is conferred by higher authority. Only in the complete absence of authority can one assume the rank without sanction. Srila Prabhupada’s situation was like that. He simply had to assume the post, because there was no one to confer the acharya post on him. It was conferred by the Divine Authority, Krishna and the disciplic succession.
But we should not EQUATE ourselves with him. That would be presumptuous and offensive. Better to be safe, remain as humble rittvik representatives of His Divine Grace, the Sampradaya Acharya.
Srila Prabhupada cautioned:
If one remains always a servant everlastingly of guru, then he is liberated. And as soon as he thinks that he is liberated, he’s a rascal. That is the teaching of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu…. You must be ready always to be chastised by guru. Then he’s liberated. And as soon as he thinks that “I am beyond this chastisement, I am liberated,” he’s a rascal…. Why this Gaudiya Math failed? Because they tried to become more than guru. He [Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura], before passing away, he gave them all direction and never said that “This man should be the next acharya .” But these people, just after his passing away, they began to fight, who shall be acharya. That is the failure. They never thought, “Why Guru Maharaja gave us instruction so many things, why he did not say that this man should be acharya?” They wanted to create artificially somebody acharya, and everything failed. They did not consider even with common sense that if Guru Maharaja wanted to appoint somebody as acharya, why did he not say? He said so many things, and this point he missed? The real point? And they insist upon it. They declared some unfit person to become acharya. Then another man came, then another, acharya, another acharya. So better remain a foolish person perpetually to be directed by Guru Maharaja. That is perfection. (Srila Prabhupada, August 16, 1976, Bombay Conversations with Srila Prabhupada, Vol. 26, p. 59-60)
We always hear “rittvik is not in our tradition.” But we reply it is Srila Prabhupada’s order, and to assume he forgot to elaborate on it is impudence on the part of the disciple. So is the attempt to contradict Srila Prabhupada’s order by searching out quotations from Srila Prabhupada’s books, others’ books or other gurus. We have seen the result of neglecting Srila Prabhupada’s directive “Act as rittvik representative of the Acharya.” Six fell, five are under serious suspicion. There can be no harm in admitting that we do not know what is the tradition. All we know is the July 9th, 1977 letter is the last instruction Srila Prabhupada gave regarding initiations. We accept it literally, without question. So what harm can there be in that? What do we lose by accepting the order of the spiritual master verbatim, without addition, without subtraction? We tried the way of speculation, interpretation and concoction. What have we to lose at this point? Practically everything is already lost.
Even if we accept that Srila Prabhupada’s order breaks the tradition, are we so high that we can risk questioning Srila Prabhupada’s arrangement? Should we think Srila Prabhupada was unaware of the tradition? He needs us to correct him? And then again, is this apparent break of tradition all so important in consideration of his underlying intention? Should we think Srila Prabhupada’s discernment and intention were ill-motivated? Or under the influence of illusion, imperfect senses or cheating propensity or a mistake on his part?
If we accept Srila Prabhupada as the Sampradaya Acharya, then whatever he does becomes the law or becomes the standard. Why should we presume to know his intention? All these questions must be addressed.