Diksa & Siksa

Jun 7 2018 - Krishna Talk 209

Question: The question may be asked that if one has a diksa-guru who has given permission to take siksa from another guru, but the siksa-guru is revealing things that puts the diksa-guru in a more relative position, then what is the disciple to do? How does the disciple harmonise the two, or maybe it is not possible to harmonise. What should the disciple do in that case?

Answer: Diksa and siksa-gurus are explained in Srila Prabhupada’s purport to Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 1.47 as being equal manifestations of Krsna. The initiating spiritual master (diksa-guru) is a personal manifestation of Madana-mohana vigraha, whereas the instructing spiritual master (siksa-guru) is a personal representative of Govinda-deva vigraha. Furthermore, it is stated that Madana-mohana represents the stage of sambandha and Govinda-deva represents the stage of abhidheya.

Though both diksa and siksa-gurus are equal manifestations of the Paramatma (the Lord of the heart), when a real conflict occurs, the higher position is given to the siksa-guru. By ‘real conflict’ I mean to say when the diksa-guru is giving inferior instruction – then such a diksa-guru may be respected at a distance, or if really bad, completely rejected. An example here to keep in mind is Bhaktivinoda Thakura, whose diksa-guru was Vipina-vihari Gosvami. Bhaktivinoda took mantra-diksa from Vipina-vihari Gosvami, but because of material and caste-conscious (society conscious) thinking within Vipina-vihari Gosvami, Bhaktivinoda distanced himself from him and accepted Jagannatha Dasa Babaji as his siksa-guru (sad-guru).

The situation in today’s Vaisnava world is quite lamentable and I personally feel sad for the situation that many devotees find themselves in today. There are probably 100 initiating gurus in the Hare Krsna movement, but a vast majority of them (if not all of them) are simply institutional gurus and fall short of being the representatives or manifestations of Krsna. In other words, they are not in the guru-tattva.

These institutional-gurus are fine with their disciples taking siksa within the frame work of their society consciousness (as in _____ Swami’s book, ‘Siksa-guru in ISKCON’), but the problem arises when Krsna conscious siksa comes into conflict with their society consciousness. This is a real problem for many devotees in the Hare Krsna movement who have become inspired by the siksa of Srila Sridhara Maharaja or his representative, and at the same time are condemned by their diksa-guru, or just find themselves uninspired by their diksa-guru and the institutional policies that they live under.

There are examples of devotees having to reject their diksa-guru and there are plenty of sastrika quotes to support their doing so. However, my personal recommendation is that devotees should avoid having to completely reject their diksa-guru as far as possible. The diksa-guru may be uninspiring, yet he may still be in relatively good standing—continuing to follow the regulative principles and engaging in some form of devotional service, though not suddha-bhakti. In that case, I personally see no need for one to reject one’s diksa-guru completely and to seek re-initiation. I think it far better, remembering the example of Bhaktivinoda, to keep such an uninspiring diksa-guru at a respectable distance and pursue proper siksa. In some cases, a direct relationship with a Vaisnava as one’s siksa-guru may be pursued, and in other cases simply siksa from sastra may be the only recourse for the disciple.

It is indeed wonderful when one’s diksa-guru and siksa-guru can be seen as being equally representative of Krsna, without conflict or loss of inspiration – such as in our case, having taken our diksa-mantras from Srila Prabhupada and later, taken rupanuga-siksa from Srila Sridhara Maharaja. How wonderful indeed!

But that is not the situation that many, many devotees find themselves in today. Because ISKCON is so entrenched in society consciousness, they fail to see the real necessity of their disciples and instead of Krsna consciousness, they feed them International Society Consciousness (ISCON) – and they are proud of it.

Here are some quotes from sastra concerning the above matter. The first quote from Jiva Gosvami is the one I recommend devotees try to follow as far as possible. In other words, a lack of knowledge of pure devotional service may be tolerated to some extent, but offences to real Vaisnavas or nasty behavior are grounds for complete rejection.


From Jiva Gosvami’s Bhakti Sandarbha:

ata eva durata evaradhyas tadrso guruh vaisnava vidvesi cet parityajya eva

“If a guru does not permit his disciples to honor great devotees of the Lord, such a guru should be respected only from a distance, And, if he is envious of real Vaisnavas, he should be rejected.” (Bhakti Sandarbha 238)

From Narahari Sarkara Thakura’s Krsna Bhajanamrtam:

kintu yadi gurur asamanjasam karoti tarhi yukti-siddhaih
siddhantais tasya rahasi dandah karaniyo na tu tyajyah

“However if the guru commits inappropriate acts, then one should privately confront him and reprimand him using logical conclusions – but one is not to give him up.”

guror danda iti cen naguror apy avaliptasya karyakaryam ajanatah utpatha-pratipannasya parityago vidhiyate

One should not be hesitant in reprimanding the guru because:

“It is one’s duty to give up a guru who cannot teach the disciple what he should do and what he should not do, and who takes the wrong path, either because of bad association or because he is opposed to Vaisnavas.” (Mahabharata, Udyoga-parva 179.25)

anena sarvam susobhanam iti

“In this way, everything becomes most auspicious.”

svabhava eva vaisnavanam krsnasraya eva mulam
tad-guna-gana-yaso-varnana-vilasa-vinoda-prakhyapanam jivanam

“It is indeed the nature of Vaisnavas to take full shelter of Krsna. It is their very life to sing His glories and qualities, describe His fame and His pastimes, and distribute news about Him.”

vaisnavah sarve tad anusaram eva guru-mukhat va
sva-buddhya va vyavaharanti iti kramah

“All Vaisnavas follow this. They perform their activities either according to the instructions from the guru’s mouth, or by following their own intelligence. This is the proper process.”

tatra gurur yadi vi-sadrsa-kari isvare bhrantah krsna-yaso-vimukho
vilasa-vinodam na angikaroti svayam va durabhimani loka-stavaih
krsnatvam prapnoti tarhi tyajya eva

“But in this regard, if the guru commits improper activities, is bewildered about the Supreme Lord, is averse to propagating Krsna’s fame, does not relish or accept His divine pastimes, or becomes proud due to the praise of ordinary people, then he falls into darkness. Then he should be rejected.”

katham eva gurus tyajya iti no, krsna-bhava-lobhat krsna-praptaye
guror asrayah krtas tad-anantaram yadi tasmin gurau asuri-bhavas
tarhi kim kartavyam asura-gurum tyaktva sri-krsna-bhaktimantam
gurum anyam bhajet

“One should not think, ‘How can I reject my guru?’ With great eagerness to achieve Krsna’s divine nature, a devotee takes shelter of a guru. But later, if that guru takes on a demoniac mentality, then what can be done? Rejecting such a demoniac guru, one should accept and worship a guru who is full of bhakti for Krsna.”

tasya krsna-balad asurasya guror balam
mardaniyam iti vaisnava-bhajana-vicarah

“By strength gained through Krsna, the power of such an asurika guru is destroyed. Such is the deliberation on Vaisnava bhajana.”

(Sri Krsna Bhajanamrtam v.59-67)

From Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s Jaiva-dharma:

“Before accepting a guru, one should examine him to see that he is expert in the tattva spoken in the Vedas and has realised para-tattva. If he is, then he will certainly be capable of giving all kinds of instructions about the Absolute Truth. Normally, there is no question of giving up the diksa-guru. There are two circumstances, however, in which he should be abandoned. First, if the disciple accepted the guru without examining the guru’s knowledge of the Absolute Truth, his Vaisnava qualities, and his other qualifications, and second, if after initiation, the guru does not perform any function, he should be given up. Many passages in sastras give evidence for this.”

yo vyaktir nyaya-rahitam anyayena srnoti yah
tav ubhau narakam ghoram vrajatah kalam aksayam

“He who poses as an acarya, but gives false instructions that are opposed to the sattvata-sastras, will reside in a terrible hell for an unlimited period of time, and so will the misguided disciple who mistakenly listens to such a false guru.” (Hari-bhakti-vilasa 1.62)

guror apy avaliptasya karyakaryam ajanatah
utpatha-pratipannasya parityago vidhiyate

“It is one’s duty to give up a guru who cannot teach the disciple what he should do and what he should not do, and who takes the wrong path, either because of bad association or because he is opposed to Vaisnavas.” (Mahabharata, Udyoga-parva 179.25)

avaisnavopadistena mantrena nirayam vrajet
punas ca vidhina samyag grahayed vaisnavad guroh

“One goes to hell if he accepts mantras from an avaisnava-guru, that is, one who is associating with women, and who is devoid of krsna-bhakti. Therefore, according to the rules of sastra, one should take mantras again from a Vaisnava guru.” (Hari-bhakti-vilasa 4.144)

“The second circumstance in which one may reject the guru is if he was a Vaisnava who knew the spiritual truth and principles when the disciple accepted him, but who later became a Mayavadi or an enemy of the Vaisnavas by the influence of asat-sanga. It is one’s duty to give up such a guru. However, it is not proper to give up a guru whose knowledge is meager, if he is not a Mayavadi or an enemy of the Vaisnavas, and is not attached to sinful activity. In that case, one should still respect him as guru, and with his permission, one should go to another Vaisnava who is more knowledgeable, and serve that Vaisnava and take instructions from him.”

(Jaiva-Dharma, Chapter 20)

From Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s Hari-nama Cintamani:

tabe jadi e ghatana kabhu haya
asat-sange gurura yogyata hata ksaya
prathame chilena tini sad-guru pradhana
pare nama-aparadhe hana hata jnana

“It may happen that for some reason, the guru at some time falls into bad association and loses the qualification to be a guru. Initially, when the disciple accepted him, he was exalted, but later due to offenses to the Holy Name, he became bereft of knowledge.”

vaisnava-vidvesi kari chade nama rasa
krame krame hana artha kaminira vasa
sei guru ccadi sisya sri krsna-krpaya
sad-guru labhiya punah suddha nama gaya

“He becomes inimical to Vaisnavas and loses taste for the Holy Name, then eventually, he becomes desirous of wealth and women. Such a guru should be rejected by the disciple, who, by the mercy of Sri Krsna, will again find a genuine guru and chant the Holy Name purely.”

(Hari-nama Cintamani 6.39-42)

From Sarasvati Thakura’s commentary on Caitanya-caritamrta:

“One who gives instruction on hari-bhajana is the siksa-guru. The guru or acarya is never devoid of bhajana nor does he behave improperly. The mahant-guru who finds bliss in performing bhajana and the caitya-guru who gives us the discrimination for accepting those things that are favorable to bhajana are the two types of instructors.

Instructions on bhajana differ according to differences within the stage of practice (sadhana) and attainment (sadhya). Sri Gurudeva, who bestows Krsna, by enriching his disciple with sambandha-jnana, reveals to him the realisation of his own service.

After attaining the mercy of the siksa-guru, the instructions, which are then given on the pure service of Visnu, are known as abhidheya.

The siksa-guru in the form of a servitor, the personification of abhidheya, is non-different from the diksa-guru - the bestower of sambandha-jnana. Both of them are Gurudeva.

To consider one greater than the other, or perceive them as unequal creates an offence. There is no difference between Krsna's form (rupa) and His very Self (svarupa) – there is no difference created by language.

The siksa-guru is Sanatana, the bestower of Madana-Mohana’s lotus Feet. To the jivas who have forgotten Bhagavan and are unable to wander in Vraja, he gives the realisation that Bhagavan’s feet are one’s highest attainment. The siksa-guru is Rupa, the bestower of the qualification to perform service to Govinda and to the feet of that Personality who is His Dearest One."

(Purport to Caitanya Caritamrta Adi-lila 1.47)

From Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s Sri Guru & His Grace:

Devotee: If the initiating guru falls down from the path, what should the disciple do?

Srila Sridhara Maharaja: “He may take shelter of the holy name of Krsna again and wait for some time. If the guru was at first a sincere disiciple of his spiritual master, and now as a result of some offenses he is being neglected by his guru, he may be led astray for some time. But he may return to the standard again. Still, it is said in the Mahabharata (Udyoga-parva 179.25):

guror apy avaliptasya
karyakaryam ajanatah
parityago vidhiyate

"A guru who does not know what is to be done and what is not to be done, who has left the path of devotional service, should be abandoned."

This is found in Bhisma's statement in the Mahabharata. Bhisma is one of the twelve mahajanas, and this is his statement to his astra-guru, Parasurama.’

“Jiva Gosvami says that if the guru goes astray he should be abandoned, but there may be circumstances where, by the inconceivable desire of Krsna, the guru may go astray for a time and then come back again. In that case, the disciple should wait for some time. It is very unfortunate for the disciple when such things happen. You will find this elaborately dealt with in the Hari-nama Cintamani of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. If a son leaves home and disobeys his father, the father may be indifferent to him; he may exclude him from the will. If, however, the son returns after some time and is again obedient, then he may collect his inheritance. In a similar way, a spiritual master may disobey his guru, and then his guru may be indifferent to him for some time, but again if he sets himself right, he will not be disinherited. This is explained in Bhagavad-gita (api cet suduracaro). So we should not deal very abruptly with these unfortunate incidents, but we should wait and see. Everything must be done judiciously.’

“In trying to understand the relationships between guru and godbrother and guru and disciple, we will find very subtle points of sentiment. Just as when Krsna entered into the arena of Kamsa, he appeared differently to different persons, the disciples will have one view of their guru and his godbrothers will have another view and disposition. The disciples of a genuine guru will see their guru as being with Krsna, but that may not be seen to his godbrothers. In madhurya-rasa, Krsna is seen in one way, and in vatsalya-rasa, Mother Yasoda sees him in another way. The servants see him in another way. The rsis like Gargamuni will see him in another way. As Krsna likes to show himself, he will be seen.’

“You may see the guru in your own way, but still, you'll have to behave in such a way that the newcomer's faith will not be disturbed. The newcomers should always be encouraged, because it is very difficult for a fallen soul to collect his faith and regard and offer it to the guru. It should be our concern that they collect their maximum regard and offer it to the guru. On the other hand, I may have my own conception about my godbrother. I may foster that within my heart. As much as possible I should try not to disturb his disciples. If, unfortunately, an acarya falls, and proves himself to be lacking in that capacity, then if that comes to a sufficient degree, some steps may be taken; we may have to take some unhappy action. But let God save us from that disastrous condition. That should be our feeling.’

“Otherwise, as long as possible, the rank should be respected. Both the relative and absolute consideration- side by side. The disciples should be encouraged by the relative consideration mostly. And godbrothers will have more feel for the absolute consideration. But still, they shouldn't disturb the newcomers in their premier position. Even if you think that the person performing the function of acarya is lower in qualification (adhikara) than you, still you should formally give some special honor to him because he is in that position. The son may be the judge, and the father may be the lawyer, but the father must give respect to the son. He must give respect to the chair. So that kind of adjustment should be kept in the mission. When you are alone, the acarya brother and his non-acarya brother can mix freely. You can give a slap to his face. But when publicly amongst his disciples, you must show that sort of behavior. Respectful conduct should be publicly maintained to keep up the peace of the mission.’” (Sri Guru & His Grace, Ch.8)