(A Room conversation amongst disciples of Srila Prabhupada)
Swami Narasingha: They don't want to accept what Jiva Goswami has said. They want to understand the truth in terms of the present, not in the light of the previous acaryas. They regard their books as dispensable. That is a big mistake. Can you actually imagine walking up to Srila Prabhupada and saying, " The six goswamis are very great, we have their picture on the altar, but it is obvious that since your books are here all the other works of the acaryas are dispensable." That couldn't possibly fly, so to speak. Or they could say it in such a way like, "Srila Prabhupada, through you we are going to get everything. We can't understand many of the previous acaryas, but through you we are going to get everything." "Yes." You know in a different mood. If you did it with that mood ... we could burn all the other books. We don't need anything. You are a fool. He would just have to tell you you are a fool right to your face...
There are no real philosophers in the world today. There are only politicians, scientists and other types of sense-gratifiers. There are no philosophers. And if there were, they wouldn't have a prayer to deal with, without the help of the sandarbhas. You can only deal with the scientists and materialists with the help of Srila Prabhupada's purports. [When you get into details of philosophy...] For instance, most devotees can detect sahajyaism only because Prabhupada said these are the groups of sahajyas, different things like that. In many cases they really don't understand, what is the sahajyaism about this? For example, there is a group which sings this mantra: nitai-gaura, radhe-syama, hare krsna, hare rama. Srila Prabhupada said, "Yes, they are devotees, but the acaryas have recommended: sri krsna-caitanya prabhu nityananda...(panca-tattva maha-mantra) and then the hare krsna maha-mantra." They sing this mantra and we say this mantra is not bondfide. But Prabhupada says they are devotees.
If you look at the mantra, nitai-gaura, radhe-syama, hare krsna, hare rama, there are so many names poetically put together. What is wrong with this? Prabhupada said it is bogus. But if that is all you are armed with, if that is your only proof, a third party will challenge, "Prabhupada said? That is nice. But why is it bogus? This man says it isn't, but your Prabhupada said it is. Okay. Why is it bogus? Don't just tell me who says it is bogus; that is not what I asked you. I asked you why it is bogus." And pretty much they end up saying, "It just is, that's all. Because he said." And then they will be lost. Then there is nothing.
Why should they listen to you? "He says, you say, but I want to know why." Then they say, "Why do you chant this mantra?" And they will give you an answer and a meaning to their mantra. If you can't follow the siddhanta, right then they will turn around to you and ask, "What is wrong with that?" And you will say, "Prabhupada said it wasn't right." Sorry, you don't know why it isn't right, you lose. Actually, it has to do with the siddhanta that they know. And that's it in a nutshell: they consider Nityananda to be Radharani. Someone neophyte might say , "Well, it doesn't matter if they have the wrong understanding, they are worshiping Krsna. So they are worshiping Caitanya and considering Nityananda to be Radharani. That may be a mistake, but they are worshiping Gaura-Nitai." The way some devotees think, that is all right, they are worshiping Gaura-Nitai. So you are not a big philosopher, so you have a little misunderstanding. That little misunderstanding makes the whole thing stink right on the spot. That makes the whole thing go rotten and void, become zero. You get nothing out of it. You go to a different place, not where they are.
JD: You mentioned this the other day, Sridhara Maharaja's comment on a certain group. They are worshiping the conception of so many different...
SN: Their conception is adulterated, but their sadhana is better than ours. Almost exclusively every member of their group chants 64 rounds a day, almost exclusively. They do kirtana hour after hour. We say, remember the days in the 60s and the 70s when we used to do six hours of hari-nama a day? Well they do six hours of hari-nama a day and they have been doing it since the days of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta. In many ways they have a shining program, more complete and better than us. Then someone will say, "Well they have this kirtana-style which is really not what Prabhupada wanted. They have this really flamboyant style of dancing and spinning, and swooning and jumping with the mrdanga."
You should have seen the bull fights in Mayapura this year in the kirtana. They also have a strange way of dancing and singing and yelling and whooping and hollering. They are in a very, very weak position, not referring to the siddhanta, not knowing much about the substance.
RD: So if one doesn't know the siddhanta, or doesn't know the reason why something is bogus, and another group comes along with a sadhana or philosophy that Prabhupada didn't address directly, they will be helpless in understanding whether it is bonafide or not.
SN: Exactly. They can only think,"They are not in our society, they are not bonafide. We know that."
RD: So the only safe thing for them is to give a categorical denunciation. Where what Srila Sridhara Maharaja was saying it seems to me, represented a personality who could filter out what was outside of your direct experience of what Prabhupada gave you, could give you the essence of Gaudiya Vaisnavism beyond what Srila Prabhupada may have detailed to us and help us sort through it, but they rejected that so they have either blocked out anything beyond their society or, whatever they do contact outside is very questionable, maybe sahajiyism, maybe something....
JD: ...something outside the camp...
SN: Like what was done at Mayapur, they invited a big personality in who is basically an impersonalist and had a big program. That is done in the name of money-making.
One of the parts to the answer to Mother Dirgha's question is that...how to defeat the ritvik idea and the answer is that, because there is no example of a ritvik acarya ever in the whole history of existence in this universe. And there are hundreds of stories in the Srimad-Bhagavatam of guru disciple, guru disciple. In the C.c. there wasn't even ritvik what to speak of Srila Prabhupada, Caitanya Mahaprabhu was present but the people weren't ritviking for Him. There is no example of a ritvik ever. There is only the example of parampara. In the Nectar of Devotion, Chapter Seven, which is a summary study of Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu, you have to look it up, Srila Prabhupada talks about sannyasis. There he says that the sannyasi will always accept any sincere disciple. That is one of the direct references. C.c. Adi-lila 1. The truth of guru-tattva is described. It describes the parampara, the disciplic succession. Without being initiated by a bonafide spiritual master...it doesn't say without being initiated by a ritvik of a bonafide spiritual master although he has left the world. It says without being initiated by a bonafide spiritual master one cannot go back to Godhead. And also in there it says, first one generally takes siksa, then the siksa-guru then gives diksa. So there is no example of a ritvik anywhere except sometimes during the living presence of the spiritual master a ritvik acts as a priest because he can't be present. That is quite common.
Otherwise, if you look in the current Sikh magazine you can find many good references for ritviks because that is what the Sikhs are. They are a ritvik religion. They finished off the last guru, Guru Nanak Singh. They define a ritvik body that sits in the temple in Amritsar and they worship the Grantha-sahib. Just like some devotees, all they need is Srila Prabhupada's books as their guru. Well all they need is Guru Nanak's book. It is called the Grantha-sahib, the great book. And they give ritvik. But in our line there is no example. There is no precedence anywhere; not in any lecture of Srila Prabhupada.
One time one newspaper reporter inquired, "After you, who will be guru?" And Srila Prabhupada said, "All my disciples will be guru." There is no reference to their brand of ritvik. It is just a play on words that Prabhupada made the ritviks. But he didn't say they would be anything but be the ritviks. He established the ritviksto initiate around the world before he left the world on his behalf. In their mind there is no proof that that was ever changed. Therefore that is what he set up and that is what goes on, until he indicates otherwise. But the otherwise had already been indicated for 12 years of preaching.
When I took sannyasa (1976), and I can show you my sannyasa initiation, Prabhupada said in his very short sannyasa initiation lecture, "you become guru." He says it five times in this lecture. "You become guru. You become guru." Some people say that that means siksa guru. In Srila Prabhupada's essay, that is in the BBT archives, we printed that in the book, Search for the Ultimate Goal of Life. Srila Prabhupada says, there are some who say that become guru means only become siksa-guru. And he said, such persons are foolish. They do not understand the parampara. That is in The Search for the Ultimate Goal of Life. What he says five times, particularly in my sannyasa initiation lecture, he says in hundreds of times in other places, both generally and pointedly. There is no reference anywhere of a ritvik. And as I said yesterday, ultimately the ritvik, even if everyone agrees to become a ritvik. My disciples they don't want a ritvik,they are quite happy with their guru. Ask them. Why should they want to become Prabhupada's disciple?
But if you say there is no one qualified among Prabhupada's disciples, then why would anyone want to become his disciple?
If all of you have been following his teachings for 25-30 years and you are not qualified, then why should I follow his teachings? It must mean that his teachings have no potency. That is what the ritviks are actually saying. They are saying that Prabhupada has no potency. His teachings have no potency. Well maybe, you, [refers to a devotee not present], don't follow the principles, well I do--for twenty-seven years, very strictly. And not just the principles of four regulative principles, a lot of other principles that are outlined in the sastras. What it means to become a Krsna conscious person. What it means to serve the spiritual master. .
And basically ritvik philosophy is not good because it is offensive to those who actually do follow. And that is really what it is all about. Oh, you don't follow. You are the one that doesn't do this. You are the one who can't come to the dhama and live in India. You are the one who has no tapasya.You are figuring that no one else does. Well, I've been here for twenty years and I've been following for longer than that these principles and concepts, siddhanta and so many things. So to say that no one is qualified...okay what if no one is qualified? Then why become a disciple of A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami? What is the advantage? Oh, now you are going to become qualified? All the others didn't.
They don't know what it means to become qualified. The spiritual master can qualify somebody, even though they have a defect in their habit or their practice. That is also possible. Does [ this devotee] accept that Prabhupada's father is a pure devotee? If so, then let him answer why did Prabhupada's father give hashish and marijuana to the sadhus that came into his house? Why did he go and make gifts of marijuana and butter to the sannyasis at kali-ghata? I mean he was distributing dope basically. So which way do you accept him as a pure devotee? What is the criterion that makes him a pure devotee? It is certainly not that. He has a hooka in his house, that is even mentioned in the Lilamrta. And I guess only the guests smoke it. Have you ever sat down with somebody and just tried to get them something to eat. "No, no I won't take." That just doesn't fly. Ten times, but one of the times for sure they are going to insist that you have the drink, the water, the refreshment, the sandwich, whatever it is that you are offering them.
So by what criterion does he know he is a pure devotee. I don't think [name] Prabhu can answer that question. I don't think he knows. Then by his own estimation Prabhupada's father is not fit. He doesn't strictly follow the principles. Then by which way is he known as a pure devotee? What is a pure devotee?
They think a pure devotee means somebody who is materially pure. Nobody is materially pure. What, you don't pass stool? Everyone has a material body. Everyone is materially contaminated, more or less. They don't know what is spiritual purity. It is just that they have some idea of what is material purity. And they fail in that also. They fail in both counts. Therefore they just figure no one is qualified. That is the truth.
If I wanted to go and accept a teacher and learn karate, let's say. So I go to one school and I inquire, in the national competition, how many of the students of this teacher took first or second place? Oh, no, no they got their butt kicked every time for a year. Why would you want to become his student for? Then they say, here is another professor, his students win everytime.
Immediately you want to enroll in the school where the students are successful. Not where the students are a failure. You don't want a tutor whose students fail the exams. If you look for a tutor you want a tutor whose students pass the exams with flying colors. So if you look for a spiritual master you just don't look for the spiritual master, you look for the spiritual master who has the qualified disciples and then for sure you know you have the right thing. And they discredit Srila Prabhupada by saying no one is qualified. And he also indicated that when he said, You can judge the spiritual master by the disciples. And that is just what they are doing.
They are condemning Srila Prabhupada. Why? Because their glorification of him is just mundane. It is not really transcendental. When it is taken and put under the magnifying glass it is no glorification of him. It is a vilification of him. Not a glorification. He used to say, You have to be this or that about behavior and following because one will judge, or one will know about the spiritual master due to the position of his disciples.
So that is what we know about Srila Prabhupada according to them, that there is no use in following this teaching, it doesn't work.
So they'll have to say they are not qualified and for the dignity of Srila Prabhupada I'll say, that's fine with you but I don't have the same opinion about others. And I see others who are qualified and they've got the mercy and they know the philosophy and they know the practice. And look at Srila Prabhupada... you say you haven't seen God, then sit down and be quiet. I say I have and you listen to me. Ultimately I have to take the same stand even if they say, Oh that is quite puffed up. And I say, Well that is quite an embarrassment for you to keep saying no one is qualified who has been following Srila Prabhupada. That is quite an embarrassment. So ultimately I would have to take that position and say, Yes, I am, I can, I will, I do, and all by the grace of Srila Prabhupada, nothing on my own. And they are saying just the opposite. They are saying his grace comes to me and it amounts to nothing.
Then from another side Prabhupada and Krsna are on the same plane, the same transcendental plane. So either you bring down Krsna or you bring down Prabhupada. In either case you have to be qualified.
Even if you want to be a ritvik and connect to Srila Prabhupada you have to be able to transcend this world, you have to be connected in the line. The flow of the current has to be coming through you also, otherwise you can't connect anybody.
And that is what initiation, real initiation means. The disciples, they are connected to the whole flow. And according to their adherence to the line, to the conception and everything, then that matures more and more.
But this ritvik idea is saying, okay you are a Prabhupada disciple, good luck, I didn't make it I hope you do. That doesn't work at all.
RD: Another thing we were discussing in North Carolina before we came here is they say you become directly Srila Prabhupada's disciple.
SN: Hansadutta, one of the leaders of the ritviks, told his former disciple Ram das (Rahugana), since reinitiated by Srila Bhakti Promod Puri Maharaja, that he doesn't really believe in the ritvik philosophy, but just has to have something to do.
What is the meaning of that, connecting me to Srila Prabhupada. What is the meaning of that? He is doing the same thing. So we should consider like, well, who should the truth of the sampradaya come through? And if that is true, if that's the truth... Years ago N. D., a godbrother, had his confrontation and I was asked to do something. So I said that I don't want to get involved with this issue. I have more important things to sort out than the ritvik thing, because it isn't an issue in the world I live in, where I am with the public or with the devotees. Anyway, so I called him up and said, Okay, I'll try to do something. I'll send you a list of twenty questions. You send these questions to [name] Prabhu, either 5 at a time or all at a time, whatever you want. And he said to say this, Well, according to what we conceive of what you are saying, because there are no references to ritvik anywhere in the sampradaya, you are proposing a new course for the sampradaya, so we are willing to accept that but we want to get a little confidence in you that it has taken a turn since the time of Brahma, it is going to be a new type of thing. We just want to be sure, so we want you to answer these questions which will show that you understood the old sampradaya. And if you can answer these questions then we can consider that you may know what is the future that is to be done. If you can't answer these questions then you haven't understood the primary, how you can understand the theoretical science let along what is to be done in the future. This is to be done now, this ritvik. If he didn't understand the old school... and I gave him twenty questions and he mailed them to him but he never got a reply back.
I've never met the man personally but I have heard his philosophy and I've heard different kinds of things and there is no way he or his team of ritviks can answer these questions because they seem to miss the fundamental substance of the Brahma-Gaudiya Vaisnava sampradaya which comes through Lord Caitanya and the Six Goswamis, either from Srila Prabhupada's book or any source.
They manytimes give a mundane conception for these things. And that is part of our reply, part of our challenge back to them. If they heard part of this and they want to respond... actually I have forty questions now. They are not tricky questions, or loaded questions. They are straightforward questions. Why this? Why this? What is the meaning of this song? What is the meaning of this? Simple things. Things that they even do. What is the meaning and why do we do it? Who are these people? And they don't know. So...Wasn't there some questions in your little booklet about ritvik or something?
RD: That was Prabhupada's initiation lecture.
SN: One of these was all about the ritvik also. Well, not all about but part of it was about ritvik.
RD: Your booklet?
RD: There is the history of Ramanujacarya when he comes to see the deceased body of Yamunacarya and he has already left the world and he is in samadhi. And there is a mystic transmission of the three vows. He hadn't taken diksa from him. They had never seen each other. When Yamunacarya had come to where Ramanuja was as a boy and he was studying under Yadhava Prakash. He had seen Ramanuja on the street but they never had any direct contact. Before, Yamunacarya he sent his disciple to bring Ramanuja to him. But by the time the disciples had travelled from the distance where Ramanuja was living Yamunacarya had left his body. When Ramanuja arrived there was a crowd...if there was ever an instance of direct public witnessing of divine connection between the guru and the disciple it was that instance. It is very well documented. And yet after that instance, he wasn't initiated, he returned to his village and the disciples of Yamunacarya they got together and had a meeting and said, Well someone has to go on behalf of the sampradaya and give him diksa and initiate him. They choose among themselves one Mahapurnama, who was a householder devotee, disciple of Yamunacarya. And he became the diksa guru of Ramanuja.
If there was ever a case that would have been a ritvik initiation, or that they would consider, that would have been done. But it is such an obvious thing that they said, Well now someone has to go and give him diksa to bring him into the sampradaya. A very, very clear case that after that kind of connection still diksa was given by a living acarya who later Ramanuja surpassed. Ramanuja even initiated disciples in the living presence of him. He had many gurus whom he had studied different sastras under. And our sampradaya, to a large degree, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati instituted different things based on the structure of Sri sampradaya. I recently discussed with my wife, that was a very, very prominent example in very strict vaisnava sampradaya,total dismissing any idea of ritvik. Actually the direct opposite.
JD: One thing ritviks always say when you come in conversation with them is, Prabhupada said everything is in his books.
SN: What is the meaning of the sannyasa gayatri mantra?
What is the meaning of the sannyasa gayatri mantra? Prabhupada gave it to over seventy men. What is the meaning of it? It is not in his books. You don't know. Wrong.
Where in his books does it say who is the prayojana acarya? Wrong. It is not in his books.
Where does it tell us what is the commentary of the brahma gayatri mantra? Wrong. It is not in his books. That is a foolish statement. Because we cannot understand at that time. Everyone is fool. One time Prabhupada said, Preaching is for fools. It means going out and convincing people. They are the fools so we have to convince them. We have to make arguments with them.
Srila Prabhupada would meet with Sridhar Maharaja, they didn't have to convince each other that Lord Chaitanya is God. They could relish being in the holy dhama, relish the holy name, relish some aspect of the Brahma-samhita. Again, you have studied Srila Prabhupada's books, you have studied the conversations, the ritvik people, how do they explain in all those fifteen volumes of conversations Prabhupada preaches to everybody and he corrects everybodies misconceptions, from disciples to doctors, to heads of state. But when he talks to Srila Sridhara Maharaja in one of those volumes, Srila Prabhupada makes a statement about Ganesh and Srila Sridhar Maharaja corrects him and says, No, it is not like that. And then Srila Sridhar Maharaja talks for about three fat paragraphs describing Ganesh and the position of Ganesh. And after that Srila Prabhupada says, Oh yes, Maharaja, thank you. Nobody in the world could we ever see correct Prabhupada or tell him.
Srila Sridhar Maharaja preached to Srila Prabhupada for six straight years. They lived in the same house together and Sridhar Maharaja did the preaching and Srila Prabhupada learned from him the conception of Bhaktisiddhanta. And Srila Prabhupada was thoroughly abreast of all of these things. Highest conceptions. They come out in a few places.
There was an article about that in the Gaudiya. deha-pada pallavam... one verse written by Jayadeva Goswami describing Krsna's plea for the foot dust of Srimati Radharani. This verse is only mentioned twice. Once on record and once to Jadurani in 1967 where he told her the whole story about how Jayadeva Goswami wrote that verse. Similarly when Kesava Maharaja left the world in 1968 or '69 Srila Prabhupada wrote a pranama mantra and forwarded by mail to Mathura as a condolence for the disappearance of Kesava Maharaja. That mantra was actually taken from the Stavavali of Raghunatha dasa Goswami verse #4 or 6 and he just changed one of the lines and made the verse go to Kesava Maharaja instead of to Sanatana Goswami. He knew about the Vilapa Kusamanjali also. That is considered the highest and most esoteric poetry. That is why Raghunatha das Goswami is considered the prayojana acarya. Basically because of that set of poems. That is it, there is nothing higher, no aspiration, no concept, no feeling, no necessity, no urgency superior to what the acaryas found in those prayers.
This isn't described in Srila Prabhupada's books. But Srila Prabhupada is fully aware of that. Everything is found in Srila Prabhupada's books except over half of the tenth canto, and the eleventh canto and the twelfth canto. Those are not in Srila Prabhupada's books. So, these are spirited statements. Just like here in our temple we have everything, but part of that everything is that desire to be ready to receive whatever else Krsna wants to give. That means in everything. Prabhupada has given us everything, that means he gave us Sridhara Maharaja also, so why do you reject that. That's what they cannot understand. We have Sridhara Maharaja because he gave him to us. I had never been on that side of the river practically.
Tripurari Maharaja was massaging Srila Prabhupada's feet when Srila Prabhupada said, if you have any questions regarding the philosophy you go to see my Godbrother B. R. Sridhar Maharaja in Navadvipa. Tripurari Maharaja was massaging his feet. If you ask anybody, if you took a picture, painted a picture of that, there is Tamala Krsna Maharaja and a few people standing around by Srila Prabhupada's head and Tripurari Maharaja is massaging his feet and he said, on this particular day at this very moment the order was given, or not the order but a reply to a question, an answer to an inquiry was given to this group of devotees. Is there any body in this group that we might think that this reply would go to more than the others?
Yes, the man who is massaging the feet is the man to receive this order most prominently. There is evidence that when Duryodhana and Arjuna came and Arjuna went to the feet of Krsna. Duryodhana went to his head and it is not because when Krsna looked and opened His eyes and looked down His body. It is more advantageous to be at the feet of the guru than to be next to his head. It is better to be at his feet.
So basically, the ritvik's philosophy is a frustrated philosophy. It comes from frustration which stems from the inability to follow, inability to follow the teachings of the spiritual master, not properly studying, not properly understanding, not properly following. It comes from this type of frustration. It is also like a scape-goat. It's like-that's right, now you don't have to practice and you never do.
You never have to become pure and we can just continue the lineage of Srila Prabhupada. We can continue his glory in the world and we don't have to become pure to do it. We can just be screw ups the whole life and the answer is, no, you will be a failure. You can only continue to glorify the spiritual master by becoming pure yourself.
Even in the Manu-samhita, which is the original law book of mankind, it says that after the spiritual master disappears the disciples have two choices: one is to serve the senior brother, the senior disciple, and the other is to sit on the seat, the asana, of the guru and take the position, the command, continue the line. There are only two choices.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja sort of added a third choice there, get out of the way. Either give support, take the post, or step aside. The history of ISKCON was they only gave one choice: give your support. There was no question of someone else taking the post. Neither was there any chance of getting out of the way. You couldn't even step out of the way. If you stepped out of the way you were branded as an envious snake for not giving your positive support. In other words, if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. But Srila Sridhara Maharaja says that either one has to take up that service and carry the line, give support to a senior Godbrother, or just step back and don't interfere, just step out of the way.
So, the ritvik idea is a cop out philosophy, to say that no one is qualified, therefore I don't have to become qualified, we will just initiate everyone as Prabhupada's disciple.
RD: The question we had was that they will encourage everyone to become directly Prabhupada's disciple but will they ever accept them as an equal Godbrother?
SN: No. If they have enough money they might even accept them as a superior Godbrother. If they have enough money they will make it. But actually they don't.
Srila Bhakti Promod Puri Maharaja said this ritvik philosophy is very dangerous, it is the death of the sampradaya, it is the death of the line. There is no life there.
In fact, this ritvik acarya idea is dead conception. Where is the life? Life means I must become pure, I must surrender. I must embrace the life of unalloyed devotion and I must preach.
But what are the ritvik acaryas doing, they are pointing to the so called disqualification of others. They say no one is qualified to hold the post of guru. They see only disqualification in everyone. They are like Duryodhana but we should not be like him, we should try to see like Yudhisthira.
There was a story. One day Lord Krsna met with Duryodhana and Yudhisthira. Krsna asked Duryodhana to go into the kingdom and bring back a person more qualified than himself. Then Duryodhana went out. Krsna then requested Yudhisthira also to go into the kingdom and to find a person less qualified than himself. Yudhisthira Maharaja was also highly qualified in all the military sciences and more. Then Yudhisthira went out. After some time both men returned alone, empty handed. Krsna then inquired from each why they had returned alone. Duryodhana said, I could not find anyone more qualified than myself. And Yudhisthira said, I could not find anyone less qualified than myself.
You see? Those with the ritvik mentality are like Duryodhana. They do not and cannot see the good qualities of others. In this way what they want to say is that they alone are qualified, at least to judge the qualifications of other. This kind of thinking is avaisnava and it is against the devotional line.
Another argument is this: the ritvik acaryas are saying that no one is qualified, but they have not seen everyone, so how do they know for sure? It is the same old story.
A man says that he has not seen anyone who has seen God, therefore he says that no one has seen God. But how does he know? He has not met everyone and inquired, "Have you seen God?" "No." And if he met someone who said that he had seen God, would he believe him? Probably not.
Consider this point also: Srila Prabhupada had at least five thousand disciples, and many of them are still carrying on Krsna consciousness even to this day. Now you want to say that none of them have become qualified, none of them have become Krsna conscious, none of them are qualified.
So if that is true, then why on earth would you want to become a disciple of Srila Prabhupada? After all, not even one of his disciples became qualified-- even after following the process for almost thirty years. Then what will be the use of your following that process? Certainly it will be defective. If one is a professor but none of the professor's students have qualified to pass the examination then why would I want to enroll as one of his students? I would do much better for myself to find a professor who has got some qualified students. Then at least I might have a chance to qualify myself.
Those who are preaching the ritvik conception are actually doing great harm to Srila Prabhupada's movement. This ritvik idea is dangerous, it simply leads to the grave, it has no life.
But how can we know for sure if a Godbrother is a qualified paramahamsa or not?
First you surrender. Become the pure devotee of Krsna and your spiritual master then you will know who is who. It takes one to know one. So they say there is no one qualified, but I say that I have met so many qualified personalities.
For example, if I ask you was Srila Prabhupada a pure devotee? Everyone will say yes. But what is your proof? What is your proof that he was a pure devotee? Prove it. Here is an answer from one Godbrother: Well, Srila Prabhupada came to America alone, spread the movement, preached to the public, published many books on the topic of Krsna consciousness.
Then here is my reply: Yes, Srila Prabhupada did that and much, much more but that is all external. Do you mean to say that if an old man simply comes to America and publishes some books on Krsna then we should consider him a paramahamsa? No. Then what is the actual proof? Prove it. The Godbrother say, I have my faith and I know it in my heart that Srila Prabhupada is a pure devotee. And then myself speaking: Yes. That is your proof. That is your only proof.
Your faith is your proof. Faith allows us to know, to understand, to measure the standard but that is our only real proof.
And Srila Prabhupada also stated that. And this is somewhere in the Folio. It is somewhere on tape. He was asking the devotee how do you know Krsna is God? They were giving sastra. Prabhupada said, the Bible also says, how do you know? And they would give another answer. And Prabhupada would say, the Christians are also saying. He was playing the devil's advocate. Finally one devotee says, Well I know in my heart and Prabhupada said, yes, that is your proof.
The sastras are not the proof, there are so many sastras. The Bible, the Koran, so many. But what is your real proof. You can seek help from the sastras to know some of the necessary qualifications in guru but ultimatey we must hear from our heart. And that is the real proof. It is a subjective experience. They don't even have a conception of objective and subjective consciousness. These people don't understand different planes of consciousness, objective, subjective etc. It is a matter of knowing from the inner flow of the heart. It is not objective but subjective. Knowledge of the position of the guru descends from above. Krsna Himself reveals the guru to a prospective candidate. Krsna chooses who will be guru and for whom. It is not a matter of voting a man to the post of guru nor is the position of guru understandable by those who have no faith.
The qualifications to know the truth, to understand the position of guru depends on sraddha, our faith. Yasya-deve para-bhaktir... If we have proper faith then the truth is revealed in our heart and there is no greater proof than that. We may judge the position of so many persons in this world by their various qualification and disqualifications but if we try to understand what is guru in that way we will be baffled.
Godbrother: But the guru must be pure and perfect?
SN: Yes. He must be pure. He must be perfect but what are your conceptions of purity or perfection? In which way shall we consider that he is perfect or not? How shall we understand his purity?
By Vedic standards the gopis are impure. They were unchaste from the material point of view but what was their standard of spiritual purity.
They are actually the purest of the pure because they simply wanted to satisfy Krsna. They have no separate desire other than the pleasure of Krsna. Then why is it that the wives of the Vedic brahmanas in Krsna-lila were more pure than their husbands? Because they simply tried to satisfy Krsna and His friends. Materially women are considered less intelligent than men and they are always impure like the sudras. But they were more pure than their husbands.
Also Ramananda Raya was a sudra, a government servant, therefore he was impure by vedic standards and as such a sannyasi should never touch such a person. But Caitanya Mahaprabhu rejected such measures of purity and impurity and embraced Ramananda Raya. Not only that but he accepted Ramananda Raya as His rasa-guru.
We cannot know what is spiritual purity simply by trying to measure purity by material standards. One may perfectly follow the four regulative principles for many, many lifetimes but he may remain impure. On the other hand one may not so expertly observe the regulative principles yet he may be a pure devotee of Krsna. What? The Godbrother says, But that is impossible. Srila Prabhupada taught us to strictly follow the regulative principles otherwise we cannot go back to Godhead.
My answer: Yes, we may strictly follow the regulative principles but without surrender to guru and Krsna where is our purity? It remains only material purity. There are many brahmanas and sannyasis in India who are very, very strictly following the four regulative principles yet they are great oppressors and offenders of Caitanya Mahaprabhu's mission (Mayavadi's for one). Similarly there are examples of many devotees who are not so strict about the regulative principles but they are pure devotees nonetheless. What? You have got to be kidding, the Godbrother says, Like who?
And I say: Like Srila Prabhupada's father for example. Everyone knows that Srila Prabhupada dedicated his Krsna Book to Gour Mohan De, a pure devotee of Krsna. Yet his father kept a hooka, a water pipe, in his house for entertaining saintly persons. And he sometimes supplied them with ganja, marijuana also. So what is his purity if he supplied a water pipe and ganja to his guests? If you did such things at this time your Godbrothers would drive you out with a stick. You will be outcast from the society. So what was the purity of Srila Prabhupada's father that he took him to be a pure devotee of Krishna?
His purity was that he simply desired that his son would become a pure devotee of Srimati Radharani and he prayed to all those saintly persons whom he entertained to please give this blessing to his son. That was his purity. He simply desired for his son to become a pure devotee of Srimati Radharani.
So we have to judge purity from the inner plane not from the external circumstances. There is another example. There was Pundarika Vidyanidhi. When he came to Navadwip he was setting in his luxurious house smoking a water-pipe, wearing costly clothing and perfumes. From his external appearance and habits he was a materialist. But when he heard the verse aho baki yam stana-kala-kutam recited by Mukunda Datta he became mad with love of Krsna.
aho baki yam stana-kala-kutam
jighamsayapayayad apy asadhvi
lebhe gatim dhatry-ucitam tato 'nyam
kam va dayalum saranam vrajema
"Oh, how amazing it is! The sister of Bakasura (Putana) desiring to kill Sri Krishna, smeared poison on her breasts and forced Krishna to drink her milk. Even so, Lord Krishna accepted her as His mother, and so she reached the destination suitable for Krishna's mother, Of whom should I take shelter but the most merciful Krishna?"
When Pundarika Vidyanidhi heard this verse he became very serious and soon shivering, shedding tears, and rolling on the floor in ecstasy became manifest in his body. He began to cry, "Of whom should I take shelter but the most magnanimous Lord? Where should I take refuge without such a Lord?" So much devotion Pundarika Vidyanidhi had for Krishna within but outwardly he appeared to be an ordinary materialist.
Godbrother: Is there more than one pure devotee manifest on the planet at a time.
SN: Certainly. Srila Prabhupada used to say that there were many pure devotees living in Vrindavana chanting 100 rounds japa daily. But it is not so easy to find such devotees because they usually keep themselves hidden from the public eye. Many of Srila Prabhupada's godbrothers were also pure devotees; Sripad Keshava Maharaja, Srila Sridhara Maharaja, and Krishna dasa Babaji Maharaja, just to name a few. As Srila Prabhupada once said, "My spiritual master did not initiate fools." Both Kesava Maharaja, Sridhara Maharaja, and Babaji Maharaja have all been certified in writing by Srila Prabhupada as being paramahamsas and pure devotees, and or both. No question about it, it has been confirmed by him. So even if we have no faith, no, Prabhupada confirms. Kesava Maharaja is a pure devotee. Sridhara Maharaja is paramahamsa. He is a pure devotee. Babaji Maharaja he is paramahamsa.
A neophyte devotee who has some faith in his Guru thinks that his Guru is the only paramahamsa. Ami guru, jagat guru, my Guru is Jagat Guru. This thinking will be troublesome for the disciple. The neophyte does not understand the faith of others he thinks that everyone must be of his mark. The neophyte must make progress in his vision otherwise he runs the risk of commiting offense and again falling back into the mundane world. There is not only one guru or one pure devotee but many.
This point has not been properly understood by the general body of devotees. For example, just after the disappearance of our Srila Prabhupada it was said that there were only eleven pure devotees. Now it is widely said by a number of devotees that there are no pure devotees at all. The propaganda machine goes on but where is the proper understanding where is the knowledge and realization? In the beginning they were claiming there were eleven pure devotees now they are saying there are no pure devotees. But we are thinking that in both cases there is no proper knowledge or realization.
There is always a plurality of Gurus; chaitya-guru, vartmana-pradarshika-guru, siksha-guru, nama-guru, mantra-guru, sannyasa-guru, rasa-guru, sastra-guru, dham-guru, param-guru, etc. There are many Gurus but the neophyte devotee has trouble to understand what is actually Guru so he is some times accepting one (or eleven) and rejecting another (or everyone).
The search for Guru is not limited to your society or mine or anybody else's. Guru is a universal principle not a sectarian concern. Srila Prabhupada had to leave the Gaudiya Math started by his spiritual master in order to preach and pursue the truth. Similiarly, individually we have had to leave the movement to maintain our proper conceptions of the Gaudiya Vaishnava Sampradaya. Not only ourselves but many have felt the necessity to leave in their search for a bona fide Guru and to maintain the proper standards of purity free from vaishnava-aparadha since the disappearance of Srila Prabhupada.
Godbrother: Can one have two Gurus?
SN:Why two Gurus? One can have hundreds of Gurus if necessary. For example. If in a previous life one has accepted a Guru but due to his own short coming he could not achieve success then in a future life he will be given another chance. He will meet Sri Gurudeva in a future life but that may or may not be the same identical personality who was his Guru in the past. But Guru he will get, that is sure. We may pass many lifetimes being helped by many Gurus before we reach perfection.
Godbrother: But what about this lifetime. Can one have more than one Guru in this lifetime. For example, you have first, second, and sannyasa initiation from Srila Prabhupada but you also have a disciple relationship with Srila Sridhar Maharaja. How is that possible?
SN:That is also not a new thing. It is more the standard in our parampara to have two or more Gurus rather than having only one. In fact Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur often remarked that the, "eka-guru-vadis, those who preach the philosophy of having only one Guru will certainly have a difficult time achieving perfection."
If you study our Guru-parampara carefully you will see that many of our acaryas such as Krishna Dasa Kaviraja Goswami, who offers respect to Rupa and Raghunatha at the end of every chapter of the Caitanya-caritamrta, had two or more Gurus. Actually he mentioned four gurus.
There is his initiating guru, Lord Nityananda was his guru, and Rupa and Raghunatha. He had four gurus mentioned.
Actually, after the disappearance of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura, many of his disciples accepted siksa from Srila Sridhar Maharaja. Our Srila Prabhupada also accepted Srila Sridhar Maharaja as his siksa guru. And on the order of Srila Prabhupada I have also accepted Srila Sridhar Maharaja as my siksa guru and that has been a great blessing for me.
Godbrother: Wouldn't it be better if everyone was just a ritvik-acharya and initiated disciples on behalf of Srila Prabhupada?
SN:That is all right but we are not Sikhs. That is the conception started by Guru Govind Singh. He announced that there would be no more Gurus, only that a body of ritvik-acharyas would initiate. Since then Sikhism has become a dead religion. We are not interested in that. We are members of a living conception, a living sampradaya.
JD: Even if you wanted to use that statement that everything is in Prabhupada's books you could agree with it; that's true so where is the ritvik philosophy.
Prabhupada said everything is in my books so where is the ritvik philosophy? If its not in the books so then it can't be...
MD: Is the word ritvik even mentioned in the books?
RD: Yes, in a yajna, a priest. I forget. It was pointed out years ago.
SN:The way the ritviks were appointed...I was a ritvik.I mean, can you imagine when Srila Prabhupada is in good health, anyone else chanting on the beads. And Prabhupada is going to give the beads...I mean, can you imagine I was there and Prabhupada said to me, "here you chant on the beads." And the disciples are sitting there and I chant on the beads and then I give them back to Prabhupada and he gives them to those disciples? Right in front of them? Can you imagine how wierd that would be? Can you imagine that happening?
Well, it happened. Right in front of the devotees Prabhupada asked me to chant on the beads. In Hyderbad farm there were three people being initiated and he asked me to chant on the beads and then he gave the beads and the name because he was tired. And he asked me to chant on the beads. I chanted on the beads and he gave the beads to those three devotees and gave them first initiation. And so many times Prabhupada wrote: chant on their beads and this is their names. Many times. That is ritvik. That is the ritvik function. Can you imagine their thinking with Prabhupada sitting right there and he asks someone else to chant on the beads and then he takes the beads and he hands them to them.
When Srila Prabhupada was ill he started setting up a system, this area and that area they would initiate on his behalf. And there is that point I mentioned the other day it is the Godbrothers mainly saying this. A new person he doesn't come and decide that, they decide that for him. According to the association he comes into his faith develops. So if he meets a ritvik and he tells him, no one is qualified, you just do this and that and we will initiate you and you can become a disciple of Prabhupada. Even if you did that you may find in due course, I mentioned this the other day, where the candidate disciple just said, well I don't want to be Prabhupada's disciple, I want to be your disciple. I don't know Prabhupada. I read his books but I am inspired by what you tell me. No, no you will be Prabhupada's disciple.
That happened during the time of Srila Prabhupada. Some man wanted to be initiated by Brahmananda. There is a letter. In the living presence of the spiritual master generally the etiquette is followed. That is just another rule of etiquette. As I was pointing out to someone the other day, the disciple who is preaching knows that the potency for preaching that whatever people are attracted to in him that is actually just the grace of the spiritual master just working through him. So it is natural that he wants everyone to be initiated by his own guru. But after his disappearance the same principle is working if he is surrendered to that principle. Actually in this little blue book it mentions two good qualifications there for becoming guru. guru-nistha and niskincana bhakti. We must give respect to the post of guru, of course we should have the necessary qualifications, guru nistha and niskincana bhakti, firm faith in the order of the spiritual master and freedom from the desire for power, profit, adoration and distinction. And we should have this before accepting the post of guru and accepting disciples. But it will be very difficult to say from an objective point of view who is or who isn't a paramahamsa. In here Prabhupada says about the post of guru. Someone says the guru must be paramahamsa. The answer is the post is paramahamsa.
Srila Sridhar Maharaja said the same thing in a more elaborate way. He would say, yes in Trafalgar Square there was a billboard in WWII, wear this uniform, the uniform will show you what to do. He gave that example, without qualification take the post, the post will dictate to you what is your duty. Srila Prabhupada said that in my sannyasa initiation lecture also. And he says, the post of the guru is paramahamsa,the message is paramahamsa, that will make you paramahamsa. Take this post. If you fail, you have lost nothing. They asked him once. In ISKCON they called a sannyasi a vantasi; it means a vomit eater.
They asked Srila Sridhar Maharaja what is the fate of a fallen sannyasi? He said, a vedic sannyasi, who has taken sannyasa in the course of varnasrama certainly suffers a tremendous loss.
Those who have sacrificed their youthful life, and this and that, and fame and country, to take the calling of preaching and make the sacrifice for Caitanya Mahaprabhu, under great personalities like Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, their gain is tens of hundreds of thousands of times greater than their apparent present loss of having fallen down from sannyasa. The sacrifice of serving such a soul for even a moment is thousands and thousands of times greater than the defect that comes to them for losing their sannyasa, for falling down. ISKCON doesn't have such a generous view at all. And that generous view comes from a proper appreciation.