Physically Departed / Spiritually Present

Srila Prabhupada Spiritually Present

Physically Departed / Spiritually Present
Author unknown

“Yes, I am the Spiritual Master of this institution, and all members of the society, they’re supposed to be my disciples. They follow the rules and regulations which I ask them to follow, and they are initiated by me spiritually.”

Srila Prabhupada left this world on November 14th 1977 in Krishna’s holy land of Vrindavan. He had been translating his books and instructing his disciples to the very last, and left in the most auspicious circumstances, surrounded by his disciples chanting the maha-mantra.

He left behind a massive legacy of teachings in the form of numerous books, audio and video taped lectures and conversations, as well as a worldwide Movement. He said he had given everything necessary to go back home, back to Godhead, we just had to read his books, chant and follow his instructions. He taught that there was no difference to serving him when he was physically present, to doing so when he was absent. He would remain spiritually present in his books and instructions:

“There are two conceptions, the physical conception and the vibrational conception. The physical conception is temporary. The vibrational conception is eternal.[…] When we feel separation from Krishna or the Spiritual Master, we should just try to remember their words or instructions, and we will no longer feel that separation. Such association with Krishna and the Spiritual Master should be association by vibration not physical presence. That is real association.”

He spoke of his relationship with his own spiritual master:

“Although according to material vision His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada passed away from this material world on the last day of December 1936, I still consider his Divine Grace to be always present with me by his vani, his words. There are two ways of association – by vani and by vapuh. Vani means words and vapuh means physical presence. Physical presence is sometimes appreciable and sometimes not, but vani continues to exist eternally. Therefore, one must take advantage of the vani, not the physical presence.”

And in the Srimad-Bhagavatam he clearly taught that it was not necessary to associate physically with liberated souls:

“It is sometimes misunderstood that if one has to associate with persons engaged in devotional service, he will not be able to solve the economic problem. To answer this argument, it is described here that one has to associate with liberated persons not directly, physically, but by understanding, through philosophy and logic, the problems of life.”

Just before his physical departure Srila Prabhupada set up a system of initiation employing the use of rittvik (ceremonial priests) who would continue to initiate on his behalf, without the need for any physical involvement from Srila Prabhupada. In this way, Srila Prabhupada could continue to initiate new disciples for as long as his Movement existed. Although some of his disciples became confused after his departure as to how initiation should continue, thankfully this situation is slowly being rectified to restoring Srila Prabhupada as the sole initiating guru for the Movement; just as Srila Prabhupada intended:

“Yes, I am the Spiritual Master of this institution, and all members of the society, they’re supposed to be my disciples. They follow the rules and regulations which I ask them to follow, and they are initiated by me spiritually.”

Thus Srila Prabhupada has left an open invitation for all future generations to become his direct initiated disciple if they so wish. Any sincere seeker of the truth who appreciates Srila Prabhupada’s glorious life and achievements, and carefully studies his teachings, must surely find this an attractive proposition.

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