Very Difficult times for new Bhaktas…
Krishna consciousness is a lifestyle which is about as different as possible from the lifestyle we have been trained up to lead in the West. To make the transition training is required. So Prabhupada created ISKCON where he could train his disciples to live a life centered around Krishna and where they could practice pure devotional service…
Hare Krishna My Dear Madhudvisa dasa
Please accept my utmost respect and devotion for your kindly preaching this Krishna consciousness movement. Your articles on this website are very nice. But I am so ignorant on the one point of the guru, for some time I thought I understood but I need clarification. Do I have to except another guru other than Srila Prabupada to be initiated? Or can I become initiated by a representive of Prabupada as my spritual master, how does this work. Please explain this if you could be so kind, and forgive my ignorance so that even a fool like me can understand.
Your humble servant
Hare Krishna! Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
Although your questions seem simple they are not easy to answer. So please forgive the delay. I have been thinking about you.
Prabhupada is living and we can get initiation from him, but the reality is not many can do this, certainly not without the help of the system that Srila Prabhupada set up for training his disciples. Prabhupada does not accept disciples very easily. Krishna consciousness is a lifestyle which is about as different as possible from the lifestyle we have been trained up to lead in the West. To make the transition training is required. So Prabhupada created ISKCON where he could train his disciples to live a life centered around Krishna and where they could practice pure devotional service and where new people could come and associate with the devotees and in that way become Krishna conscious themselves.
But that whole system is now broken and the training is not available. Now ISKCON has no desire whatsoever to follow Srila Prabhupada and they do not like ISKCON as Srila Prabhupada designed it. Prabhupada created a society of devotees living together in his temples and farm communities. It is this society of devotees living together and striving for pure devotional service that Prabhupada wants. Realistically for practically everyone it is not possible to become Krishna conscious without living in the association of devotees. So Prabhupada’s ISKCON is this association of devotees where sincere students of Srila Prabhupada can live with other sincere students of Srila Prabhupada and together in the association of devotees practice pure devotional service under the direction of Srila Prabhupada. This is ISKCON. But the leaders of today’s ISKCON hate this. They want to be the guru themselves and they want to have their own disciples. But this did not work. It was a great disaster. So now they are just interested in getting a crowd of Hindus to come to the Sunday Feast and trying to extort money from them so they can eat and sleep comfortably. So this is today’s ISKCON. Hinduism with absolutely no tolerance at all for anyone who wants to follow Srila Prabhupada.
So for new bhaktas who actually want to become Krishna conscious ISKCON is not an option. If you associate with ISKCON your spiritual life will be destroyed for sure. Because they will teach you to disobey Srila Prabhupada and to be offensive to anyone who is actually following Srila Prabhupada. Today’s ISKCON trains anyone who comes to it to be an offender to Srila Prabhupada and and offender to anyone who follows Srila Prabhupada. Associating with ISKCON is a recipe for certain spiritual death.
As far as getting initiated you have to find someone who you can surrender to, someone who you accept as being non-different from Krishna, and not only do you have to accept him as that, he actually has to be on that platform — a pure devotee of Krishna — and as we have discussed before that is very rare.
Right now you do not seem to be very clear about what a guru is or who is qualified and what you should do. So the answers to all these questions are in Srila Prabhupada’s books. You need to take shelter of Srila Prabhupada by firstly:
- Chanting at least 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra daily
- Following the four regulative principles: no illicit sex, no meat eating, no gambling and no intoxication
- Reading all of Srila Prabhupada’s books.
- Engaging in devotional service as you are instructed by Srila Prabhupada in his books
The situation right now is if you cannot do this you are in trouble. Currently there is no accepted way that devotees can become disciples of Srila Prabhupada. It is not so simple as just finding someone to initiate you on behalf of Srila Prabhupada. The whole system that Prabhupada established to accept and train disciples has been broken. Prabhupada’s standard is generally that you have to live in the temple and serve for at least 6 months under one of his appointed representatives and that representative has to be convinced that you are chanting at least 16 rounds a day and following the 4 regulative principles and engaged in serving Krishna according to the instructions of Srila Prabhupada 24 hours a day. That is Prabhupada’s standard. But there are no temples prepared to train you as a disciple of Srila Prabhupada and no Temple Presidents to recommend you to Srila Prabhupada for initiation when they are convinced you are fixed up in chanting your 16 rounds a day and following the regulative principles and rising before 4 in the morning to attend Mangal Aroti and fully engaged in service. So it is a little difficult to say the least.
So if I was you I would not bother yourself so much about the details of initiation. Rather become qualified as a disciple of Srila Prabhupada. Develop a taste for chanting the Hare Krishna mantra, develop a taste for reading Srila Prabhupada’s books, distribute Srila Prabhupada’s books to everyone you meet, don’t eat anything that is not cooked by devotees and not offered to Krishna, that probably means you will have to start cooking for Krishna yourself. Consider the possibility that your life may change as a result of surrendering to Krishna, be open to that.
Basically we have to organize our lives so that we are always remembering Krishna, never forgetting Krishna. That is the regulative principle that contains all other regulative principles.
Prabhupada gives the example of the man who wants to purchase gold but goes to the grocery store to purchase it. He is a fool. He does not know that you can not purchase gold at the grocery store. So the grocer can understand that this man has no idea what gold is. So he takes his money and gives him something yellow. That is what ISKCON’s bogus gurus have been doing all these years. And there is a constant stream of fools waiting to be cheated. So the solution is education. If that man had known what gold was firstly he would not be trying to purchase it at the supermarket and secondly he would have been able to tell real gold from the imitation gold.
So if you want to get a real guru you have to be educated what a real guru is. And that educational process is outlined in Srila Prabhupada’s books. It is not a simple thing, it requires great determination, and it may take some time.
And taking initiation from Srila Prabhupada is also not so cheap. He wants disciples who are prepared to surrender. And surrender is not cheap.
I can not give you a simple answer. You have to take the training and become educated so you know yourself. And that education takes time and effort on your part. If you undergo the training you will get the results.
Krishna is in your heart, He will help you, the more you purify your heart by chanting Hare Krishna and performing devotional service under the direction of Srila Prabhupada the more clearly you will see things.
So I am sorry there is no easy answer to your question, but you have to go through the process of saddhana-bhakti, practicing Krishna consciousness under the regulative principles, and become a little fixed-up in this way you will become educated and will know the qualifications of a bona fide spiritual master. Prabhupada is not going to initiate anyone who is not fixed up in the basic principles of Krishna consciousness. We have to be very fortunate to meet a bona fide spiritual master, the opportunity is very rare. It is by the mercy of Krishna that we get a bona fide guru and by the mercy of a bona fide guru we get Krishna.
If you chant the Hare Krishna mantra sincerely and read Prabhupada’s books and try to put what you read into practice in your life your heart will become purified and gradually you will understand very clearly what you have to do. There is no easy answer.
The situation is difficult. The organization that Srila Prabhupada established to accept and train his disciples is no longer functioning in that way and there is no other organization set up to accept and train disciples on Srila Prabhupada’s behalf.
There is no simple answer. You will find the answer by seriously executing the practice of saddhana-bhakti under the direction of Srila Prabhupada and following all the instructions you get from Srila Prabhupada as you read his books. It is all in your hands. It is up to you. And right now there is not much support for devotees like yourself. Hopefully this will change, but that is the situation at present. As you chant Hare Krishna and as you read Prabhupada’s books and as you serve Krishna with your mind, body and words, your heart will be purified and you will feel transcendental bliss… And Krishna will direct you from within the heart.
The reality is most people need guidance and training by qualified disciples of Srila Prabhupada to come to the platform of Krishna consciousness, to come to the standard Srila Prabhupada requires before he will initiate anyone. But the other reality is such guidance is not available at the moment. So what to do???
Chant Hare Krishna and be happy