Does the Disciplic Succession stop with Srila Prabhupada?

Does the Disciplic Succession stop with Srila Prabhupada?
By Ananda Devi
Posted on 4. April 2009 by Prabhupadanuga News

Whether Srila Prabhupada is “physically present” or not is of no consequence He is the current link in ISKCON. Srila Prabhupada IS the “current link” in ISKCON. There is no difference between Srila Prabhupada, ISKCON, and the sound vibration coming from Him, even though He is not personally present. The potency is never minimized because the vibrator is apparently absent.

Srila Prabhupada incorporated the organisation named ISKCON as a legal entity. He had already foreseen the future temples, farms, devotees and His position in Sri Chaitanya’s Sankirtana Movement. Not only is Srila Prabhupada the Founder/Acarya, but also the Diksa Guru of ISKCON. In 1966, this position was not questioned.

Srila Prabhupada gathered together the Brahma-Samita, the essence of Vedic literature, the Srimad Bhagavatam authored by Srila Vyasadeva, the Nectar of Devotion and Instruction by Rupa Goswami, the Caitanya-caritamrita by Krsnadasa Kaviraja, and His very own Bhagavad-Gita As It Is, as well as many other Vedic literatures. These are the cream of Vedic literature, not the bread and butter; those He discarded.

As a uniquely empowered potent preacher, Srila Prabhupada created His very own organisation for Him to be the centre, ISKCON. The exclusive worship is the same today as it was back in those days. Srila Prabhupada is directly worshipped as the Diksa Guru as if He was physically present today There has been no change to the daily worship.

From Mangala Arati through to Bhagavatam class is all based around Srila Prabhupada’s process of Diksa that He introduced for His ISKCON. In ISKCON this is exactly the definition and meaning of “current link” to the Disciplic Succession.

Whether Srila Prabhupada is “physically present” or not is of no consequence He is the current link in ISKCON. Srila Prabhupada IS the “current link” in ISKCON. There is no difference between Srila Prabhupada, ISKCON, and the sound vibration coming from Him, even though He is not personally present. The potency is never minimized because the vibrator is apparently absent.

Why was there a need to create a Spiritual Institution called ISKCON? What is its function? Why did no other Acarya do this? What effect does the creation of a unique spiritual institution have on the dynamics of Initiation?

The traditional Disciplic Succession as we all know is not based on spiritual institutions, only Srila Bhaktisiddhanta created the Gaudiya Math and the Disciplic Succession carried on into ISKCON via Srila Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada did not operate within Srila Bhaktisiddhanta’s Gaudiya Math. ISKCON was created by Srila Prabhupada so He could be the Diksa Guru in His own right, authorised and empowered by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta and Krsna. That is why ISKCON became so successful.

The examples of the Disciplic Succession before that was to have only one Acarya at a time as the head of the Disciplic Succession. The transcendental knowledge was then handed to the most pure and surrendered soul, whether they physically met or not. The examples in the Disciplic Succession are varied, there is no axiomatic law to follow save and except the line follows the topmost Acarya. Srila Prabhupada called them
“Prominent Acharyas”, that there were also many branches and sub-branches that were too numerous to record. So we don’t’ know anything about how they operated.

The story of ISKCON being a totally unique organisation, not at all traditional, means in ISKCON we have traditional and non-traditional spiritual dynamics in play. Srila Prabhupada introduced particular instructions that are ISKCON-specific. Chanting a minimum of 16 rounds a day is one introduction that is ISKCON-specific. There are numerous other instructions. We should all know about them. And they belong to Srila Prabhupada.

The example of Srila Prabhupada creating His own organisation called ISKCON, an altogether separate institution from the Gaudiya Math, gives us the understanding that to operate as a fully empowered Diksa Guru, He must set up His own camp. To operate within the Gaudiya Math for Srila Prabhupada would have been an incompatible situation from a philosophical view. Firstly, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta’s position would have been compromised, relegated and undermined, and a disciple would never do this.

Secondly, as an empowered preacher Srila Prabhupada would not have received the co-operation from His godbrothers, and so Srila Prabhupada would also be compromised in His position as Diksa Guru and as a future Founder/Acarya of ISKCON. Thirdly, to constitute a Disciplic Succession link means to create a separate identity from the last link, the Oneness and Difference of Disciplic Succession links. To establish Srila Prabhupada’s Mission separately from Srila Bhaktisiddhanta’s Mission, Srila Prabhupada created ISKCON. He did not merge with the Gaudiya Math, otherwise it would create a paradoxical anomaly in Vaisnavism, which is not possible.

The Disciplic Succession is punctuated by individuals who have humbly demonstrated their own devotional service potency. In fact, the process of devotional service always begins in the service of the devotee who appears in the Disciplic Succession. When we apply this to ISKCON, it is also plain that a Successor in the traditional sense of the law of Disciplic Succession cannot operate within the legal organisation of the ISKCON entity; it’s not compatible.

To effect the law of Disciplic Succession from ISKCON’s point of view would mean the Successor creating His own organisation equivalent to ISKCON and the Gaudiya Math, taking His rightful place in the Disciplic Succession ,no problem. ISKCON still exists and the new Math exists, as does the Gaudiya Math, and we can chose Who to follow. If we want to follow Srila Prabhupada we come to ISKCON. He is the Founder/Acarya, the Diksa Guru, the giver of the process of Diksa specific to ISKCON, and the author and compiler of all the Books of Transcendental Knowledge. In short, He can exclusively claim all devotees as His Disciples that join ISKCON, and the right of a Disciple is to exclusively claim Srila Prabhupada as his Diksa Guru.

For a Diksa Guru to succeed in ISKCON through the process of Disciplic Succession is totally incompatible on so many philosophical, spiritual and etiquette levels. A fully qualified Diksa Guru would never undermine or obstruct His own Spiritual Master’s mission, so a new organisation would have to be created on the strength of His own potency, not from a shared or imitated potency or through sharing Srila Prabhupada’s Books. A Diksa Guru follows in the footsteps of His own Spiritual Master, He does not imitate or steal from His Spiritual Master. This would implicitly mean a disqualification. The two scenarios are mutually exclusive.

Devotees practising initiations within ISKCON today, or at any time, can only be acting in a submissive, subservient position to Srila Prabhupada. If we are to believe they are acting in any other way it means we have compromised and relegated Srila Prabhupada within His own movement, which would be illegitimate. As we all know, Srila Prabhupada never appointed any Diksa Gurus and the GBC have not been empowered to appoint Diksa Gurus.

Back in 1966, Srila Prabhupada knew exactly why He was incorporating an organisation called ISKCON, of which He is the Diksa Guru and Founder/Acarya. He was dictated to by the Paramatma who authorised and empowered Srila Prabhupada as a surrendered and sincere Vaisnava.

At present date we do not have a Successor to Srila Prabhupada and Srila Prabhupada knew all this back then, that the Disciplic Succession law is incompatible with the legal entity called ISKCON, and so initiations can carry on in ISKCON by representatives of the Spiritual Master, Diksa Guru, Founder/Acarya, Maha-bhagavata and Shakti Avesa Avatar, who is none less than Srila Prabhupada.

Does the Disciplic Succession stop with Srila Prabhupada? It’s predicted by Srila Prabhupada that this Hare Krishna Movement will last for 10,000 years and Srila Prabhupada’s Books will be the lawbooks for that duration, and so the Disciplic Succession will last for at least that long. Who knows after that?

The conclusion of transplanting a traditional process called Disciplic Succession for the purpose of Diksa Initiation by a fully qualified Diksa Guru of Uttama-Adhikari status is incompatible into a non-traditional spiritual institution centred around the Founder/Acarya, which already has a fully qualified Diksa Guru, Srila Prabhupada.

If within ISKCON, the process of formal initiation is to continue, then the use of representatives of the Acarya is the only way that this can take place.

If it is supposed that the Officiating Acarya process was put into place and authorised for after Srila Prabhupada’s departure, then this would not undermine, relegate or compromise Srila Prabhupada’s position. He would therefore remain in the present tense, the Founder/Acarya and Diksa Guru. This would not contravene the law of Disciplic Succession on any level. Any Diksa Guru wanting to operate outside the entity of ISKCON and branch off would necessarily follow His Spiritual Master’s example, as did Srila Prabhupada. And there are many examples of this in the past.

This scenario is suitable for all disciples of His Divine Grace as there is opportunity for all to operate depending on their surrender and sincerity. As we surrender, so Krishna awards us. Either new members can take formal initiation through the representatives of Srila Prabhupada and serve in ISKCON, or they can find Srila Prabhupada’s disciples that have branched off and are now Diksa Gurus in their own right, and serve under their process of Diksa and worship them in the traditional befitting way in their Branch. In this way there can be no disagreement with the way forward for Diksa Initiation. Everyone is satisfied.

Obviously this is only an outline and there are many supportive quotes and letters to help us fathom how the Disciplic Succession is applicable, where to apply the law of Disciplic Succession and understand why an Officiating Acarya process can be applicable, even with the apparent absence of Srila Prabhupada. The Disciplic Succession’s existence is not evidence or proof that it need be applied dogmatically and the Officiating Acarya’s non-traditional history is not evidence or proof that Srila Prabhupada did not intend this for the purposes of formal initiation within ISKCON after His disappearance. Although the two processes are mutually exclusive, that does not mean they cannot be applied simultaneously where applicable.

Our continued debate on these issues needs to be on an understanding of how to apply these different processes, when they are authorised, where to apply them, and not just argue focusing on one is right and one is wrong. They are both right. How can we apply the law of Disciplic Succession to the legal entity of ISKCON, keeping Srila Prabhupada as the worshipable Diksa Guru, and have other Diksa Gurus within ISKCON?

To me there is a conflict of interests for everyone in this scenario. The Officiating Acarya alternative that has been allegedly proposed in the July 9th Letter keeps Srila Prabhupada not only as the worshipable Diksa Guru in ISKCON, but keeps Him in the present tense — not as previous Diksa Guru, as in the case of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta for us ISKCON devotees.

I hope that makes some sense to you, even to the hardliners on both sides. Perhaps we need to take some steps backwards and try and understand where we are coming from, that we are not that well informed and maybe not that well considered on these philosophical issues. There are alot of ramifications that have not been understood about introducing a process that we are not that familiar with.

This debate would not have lasted this long if it were just straightforward and fully understood, would it? Srila Prabhupada would have made an evaluation and put us all straight on this matter easily, but we have no one on His level. Let’s keep debating, not arguing, so we represent Srila Prabhupada in a better light instead of just squabbling.

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