Srila Prabhupada, His Movement & You

“On My Order Become Guru” — Who has Received the Order?

From Tirthakara das
1 September 1994

Dear Hansadutta Prabhu:

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Prabhu, we met briefly last year in Vrindavan, where you would give a reward of $108,000.00 to any ISKCON guru who could prove himself appointed to the position of full guru-acharya. Well, apart from Srila das, no one turned up, as expected.

Anyway, I’ve had a busy time here, coming back from India in February, buying an old dike house, renovating, getting settled, etc.

Yesterday, Vyasa Puja day of Srila Prabhupada, we (wife and two children) were in Radhadesh. Before leaving, I purchased a little booklet called Guru Tattva, written by Gaura Govinda Swami. Tonight I re-read your magazine, Srila Prabhupada, His Movement and You. Well, I must say I’m still puzzled by it all. Gaura Govinda put an appendix in from the life of Sri Ramanujacharya, including his initiation, and he presents two important points: 1) Ramanujacharya did not accept Yamunacharya as his initiating spiritual master, but the disciple of Yamunacharya, Mahapurna, as his spiritual master; 2) he was not requested to accept initiation from the now-departed Yamunacharya, but took direct initiation, coming in the preceptorial line from the disciple of Yamunacharya. Good point. Can you comment on this one?

While reading your magazine, I noticed you put a lot of emphasis on the July 9th letter from Srila Prabhupada. But the thing is, Prabhupada requested the eleven disciples to act as rittviks while he was present. Not a word is mentioned that this was to be continued after his disappearance. I mean, that would really convince me, but as it is, I find it a bit vague. On the other hand, I agree with the quotations Gaura Govinda Swami gives from Srila Prabhupada’s books regarding the qualifications of a guru —must be an uttama-adhikari, as otherwise the disciple of a kanistha or madhyam cannot advance very well to the ultimate goal of life under his insufficient guidance. Therefore, to me it seems they should have acted as regular gurus, as Prabhupada mentioned, not as acharyas and without the pomp and splendor.

In other words, if they can act in a humble way, in an honest way, where the disciple knows, “My guru is not an uttama, but he acts as regular guru on Prabhupada’s order,” isn’t that acceptable? If both disciple and guru know this, then what is the harm if he gives diksha and shiksha to a neophyte, as long as he’s sincere?

On the other hand, the disciple has to see his guru as absolute, so I don’t really know. Rittvik initiation from a departed Vaishnava (although Vaishnavas never die, living in transcendental sound) is also uncommon in our parampara. In other words, I’m not convinced and remain confused, because nowhere Prabhupada says, “Continue to be rittvik after my departure.”

Another argument I often hear is, “Well, such and such may have fallen down, but that does not mean that they are all the same! Just because he couldn’t make it, we should all abandon our position?”

I just want to be frank and open. Can you shed some light on all these points I made? Some devotees say that Gaura Govinda stresses the qualifications of guru so much because he thinks himself as being qualified. What is your opinion? I’m afraid to judge anyone, because who am I? I’m most unqualified. I read some lectures of HH Gaura Govinda, and I like them. He must be an advanced soul. All I know, to reach the brahma-bhuta stage is not an easy matter, but as I say, I don’t want to judge. I would actually welcome very much devotees that can come to that platform as our movement very much needs such elevated persons. Hope this meets you in good health and Krishna consciousness.

Your unworthy servant,
Tirthakara das

From Hansadutta das,
9 September 1994

Dear Tirthakara Prabhu:

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Thank you for your letter dated September 1, 1994. It was nice to hear from you after not seeing you since India.

You write, “If they can act in a humble way, in an honest way, where the disciple knows, ‘My guru is not an uttama, but acts as a regular guru on Prabhupada’s order,’ isn’t that acceptable? If both disciple and guru know this, then what is the harm?”

To be humble, honest and sincere means simply to be obedient to the order of Srila Prabhupada—”Act as rittvik.” So you have asked, “What is the harm?” But I ask you what is the harm in being obedient to the order of Srila Prabhupada to act as rittvik—which is the only order he ever gave to any disciple by name and letter (July 9, 1977)? But to act without being ordered is very harmful, however humble, honest and sincere one may pose himself.

I think whatever doubt and confusion remains in your mind may be cleared up by reading the enclosed draft, which is a continuance of Srila Prabhupada, His Movement and You and our first attempt in publishing the Inside Nama Hatta newsletter. I’m anxious to have your honest response in this connection. I hope you are well.

Your humble servant,
Hansadutta das

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