Srila Prabhupada, His Movement & You

Monitor Guru

Excerpt of Letter from Mukunda Goswami to Bhakta dasa, dated April 21, 1993:

…I think the idea of people initiating on behalf of Prabhupada is a concoction. But I don’t object to devotees whose gurus fell down, if they do not want to accept re-initiation. But I see many that have done so and are doing much better for it, although I’m not a thousand percent convinced that everyone
has to take re-initiation. I am convinced that Prabhupada actually did name and assign specific people to act as initiating gurus after he would depart. This is not just an opinion or an assumption, but it is based on research, findings, discussion, and listening to tapes.

Next, my realization about someone who initiates in the wake of Prabhupada’s disappearance from our material vision in this material world is based on what Prabhupada wrote in the first chapter of Easy Journey to Other Planets. In this chapter Prabhupada outlines what he describes as “a desire for the kingdom of God.” He then writes, “The following details outline a general practice by which one can prepare himself for an easy journey to the Vaikuntha and to the material planets where life is freed from old age, disease and death.” He then lists twenty “positive functions,” beginning with the acceptance of a bona fide spiritual master, following in the footsteps of great sages, following scriptural instructions, living in a spiritual atmosphere, etc. Point number thirteen out of eighteen includes this statement: This means that a candidate who has successfully followed the first twelve items can also become a spiritual master himself, just as a student becomes a monitor in a class with a limited number of disciples.

This is my concept of today’s guru in ISKCON, that he is a monitor guru.

Notes: Why does Mukunda Goswami say the idea of people initiating on behalf of Prabhupada is concoction? We did it when Srila Prabhupada was present. Why not in his absence? What about the July 9th letter? Although Mukunda Goswami accepts the idea of monitor guru, he thinks “initiating on behalf of Srila Prabhupada is a concoction.” Does he mean to say Prabhupada concocted the idea of rittvik initiation? Then we will have to reject Prabhupada’s authority as acharya and accept Mukunda Goswami as the final authority in the disciplic succession.

“Monitor” means on behalf of the teacher, and teacher means on behalf of the school, or the sampradaya. Disciple means one who is under the authority of his spiritual master—living or departed. If the disciple is not initiating on behalf of his spiritual master and all the spiritual masters in the disciplic succession up to Krishna, then the question will be: For whom is the disciple (Mukunda Goswami) initiating new disciples? Is he initiating the newcomers for himself? Are the initiates his servants? His property? Are they his fans (fanatics), like movie stars and pop stars have fans?

Or is the monitor spiritual master which Mukunda Goswami says he accepts as his concept of ISKCON guru, initiating new disciples directly for Krishna, thereby jumping over not only his guru (Srila Prabhupada), but jumping over the whole line of spiritual masters and acharyas in the guru parampara?

Even if (for the sake of argument) we accept ISKCON gurus are uttama adhikaris, why would such exalted personalities be so adverse to initiating for their spiritual master as deputies or rittvik representatives of the acharya? Why so much stress on the proprietorship over the disciple? Doesn’t “monitor” mean on behalf of the teacher, Srila Prabhupada?

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