Need a Living Guru?
From Riktaharshan (formerly Vrindaban Chandra das of Mt. Kailash, aka Eric Johanson),
13 January 1994
Dear Hansadutta Prabhu:
Please accept my most respectful obeisances. All glories to your diksha guru Srila Prabhupada, who I pay dandavats to as my shiksha guru.
I have just read the following excerpt in the “Merry Krishnas” issue (#6) of the PADA newsletter:
Hansadutta Prabhu now initiates newcomers as Prabhupada’s disciples, and a Prabhupada initiation ceremony was given by him recently in the Philippines [sic]. Simultaneously, he has advised all his former disciples to consider Srila Prabhupada to be their actual guru. They should consider the initiation [newsletter’s italics] he gave them formerly as a rittvik initiation, done on behalf of Srila Prabhupada.
I was surprised to read that you are (allegedly) pushing this new philosophy. As you may remember, in 1988, we mutually agreed to annul my 1978 initiation by you. Did I also receive a “rittvik initiation” from you at that time? I certainly don’t consider Srila Prabhupada to be my diksha guru.
In that 1978 ceremony, as well as all the others you performed back then, you never spoke of this rittvik initiation. You instead preached strongly against anything like it, emphasizing that all genuine disciples must be initiated by a living guru.
The rittvik people attack this phrase, saying it’s an offense (in effect, calling Srila Prabhupada a dead guru). Srila Prabhupada is still gloriously living, no doubt. Using the phrase “living guru” is just a common way of referring to a guru who is constantly manifest in what appears to be a physical body, that’s all. Prabhupada has chosen not to do that since November of 1977.
Actually, Srila Prabhupada himself used the phrase “physical spiritual master.”
O’GRADY: The problem is to find this spiritual master.
PRABHUPADA: No. There is no problem. THE PROBLEM IS IF YOU ARE SINCERE. Yes. That is stated. Because actually you have got problems. But God is within your heart. Isvarah sarva-bhutanam hrd-dese arjuna tisthati. God is not far away. God is within your heart. So, IF YOU ARE SINCERE, then God will GIVE YOU SPIRITUAL MASTER. If He knows that now you are sincere, then He will give you a spiritual master.
O’GRADY: O.K. Thank you. That I know.
PRABHUPADA: Therefore, God is called chaitya-guru, the spiritual master within the heart. And the PHYSICAL spiritual master is God’s mercy. If God sees that you are sincere, He will give you a spiritual master who can give you protection. He will help you from within and WITHOUT—WITHOUT in the
PHYSICAL FORM of spiritual master and within as the spiritual master within the heart. (Srila Prabhupada speaking with Desmond O’Grady, Rome, May, 1974)
As far as “initiating on behalf of Srila Prabhupada” goes, Prabhupada also used that phrase. Does that mean that you and your god-brothers have all actually been initiated by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta (with Prabhupada as a mere rittvik on his guru’s behalf)?
You are all helping me in pushing forward this mission of Lord ChaitanyaMahaprabhu, coming down by disciplic succession to my Guru Maharaja. So, whatever you have spoken, it is simply due to them. I am simply the via medium to receive them, ON BEHALF of my Guru Maharaja, His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja Prabhupada. (Srila Prabhupada, 21 August 1971)
As one of the devotees who knew you (to some extent), despite your personal problems, I was often impressed with your strength in speaking out against rationalized concoctions like rittvikvada. Generally, you had a very good understanding of the philosophy and preached it in clear terms, without compromise.
In the Christian community, Jesus was initiated by a spiritual master, John the Baptist. The initiation process is essential… necessary in order to be recognized by God. A medical student has to follow the standard course under a recognized professor. Then he will get his degree. However, if the student goes to the library and reads all the books on his own, he will never be recognized as bona fide. (Hansadutta das, 14 January 1969, Berkeley)
How many students do you know who study under a departed and non-manifest professor on campus and still get their degree from that college?
This rittvikvada is following the path of modern-day institutionalized delusions posing as religions. PADA hints this is the case:
The priest is called a rittvik in Sanskrit. So PADA heartily applauds… an end to the need for re-initiations. Hey! Once you have your baptismal initiation, how many more do you need anyway? Do you need a new marriage certificate when the priest changes? No. So this soft approach to re-initiation is good. (PADA, issue #4)
Diksha, however, is a personal affair, not something to be decided by across-the-board proclamations. Srila Gaura Kishora das Babaji and his sole disciple, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, set the example—the guru and the disciple have to both formally accept one another.
Yet, with what they say is absolute authority, the rittvik party spirit waves a new flag. Anyone who picks up a bead bag and chants, “Jaya Prabhupada” soon becomes a formally initiated disciple of His Divine Grace. And Srila Prabhupada automatically takes his karma? And Srila Prabhupada will return to the physical plane to deliver him if he doesn’t reach perfection?
It’s not hard to believe that Srila Prabhupada left, at least in part, because he didn’t wish to accumulate any more of that.
Wouldn’t you have branded this rittvikvada as sahajiya at one time? It’s setting up a kind of First Church of Prabhupada, the Redeemer. And ironically, the man who is now spearheading the campaign received a very clear warning from Prabhupada himself: “IT’S CHURCH! IT’S CHURCH! IT’S CHURCH!” Ask him.
The real process is to become completely sincere. Then Krishna will descend to such a person in the form of the self-realized, pure devotee spiritual master. There is no substitute for this.
Neither the ecclesiastically appointed, voted-in, non-vetoed, post-holder, musical-chairs gurus nor the rittvik-Churchianity material arrangements will work. They cannot deliver the goods.
If someone is not insane and finds that he has not been directly accepted by a manifest guru, then he should honestly draw but one conclusion: he has not yet become sincere enough in spiritual life! Any other conclusions are delusions. The rittvik arrangements discussed by His Divine Grace with his leading secretaries were meant to facilitate world-wide initiations during his manifest presence. Those instructions were no longer applicable after his disappearance. All these post-1977 initiations were and still are a sham and a mockery of the parampara. We should clean house, go back to square one and start over. We shouldn’t propose some new, further-flung falsity that will only create more factions.
Why can’t we encourage and facilitate people to become spiritually sincere? Are we frightened that they may actually find out a pure devotee? Are we frightened that Paramatma may then dictate in our hearts that we should also approach such a pure devotee for shiksha? Instead, with rittvikvada we give the babies a mirror, get a reflection in it and then tell them they’ve actually captured the moon in their hands.
This is an open letter, so you can print it in PADA or elsewhere, if you choose to do that. I assume the afore-mentioned annulment applies to any new conception of initiation you may hold. I hope so. Kindly contact me if that is an incorrect assumption. Most of the things PADA is hammering down on I also despise. So I find the newsletter to be doing some good work and exposing things that fully require to be exposed. But this rittvik philosophy it pushes will spoil it.
Your eternal servant,
P.S.”Even a slight change will spoil it. That is why I have always been so careful to give you only those things which I have heard from my Guru Maharaja.” (Srila Prabhupada to Hansadutta, Vrindaban, 1967)
From Hansadutta das,
Dear Eric Johanson:
Please accept my humble obeisances. If we simply accept Srila Prabhupada’s last directive in the matter of who will initiate without interpretation, then all the confusion and speculation will vanish, as fog vanishes with the appearance of the morning sun. I hope you are well.