Creating the Post of Officiating Acarya

Officiating Acarya Initiation

Creating the Post of Officiating Acarya

In the ensuing struggle between the Devotees of ISKCON Bangalore and ISKCON Mumbi, it is this authors hope that both sides will try to work towards a brotherly reconciliation. Wherein both sides can find the common ground, which is faith in, and obedience to the teachings of Srila Prabhupada.

Srila Prabhupada’s intentions with regard to how initiations should be conducted in his physical absence was clearly stated in the May 28th, 1977 discussion with the GBC:

Satsvarūpa: …Then our next question concerns initiations in the future, particularly at that time when you’re no longer with us. We want to know how first and second initiation would be conducted.

Prabhupāda: Yes. I shall recommend some of you. After this is settled up, I shall recommend some of you to act as officiating ācāryas.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Is that called ṛtvik-ācārya?

Prabhupāda: Ṛtvik, yes.

Satsvarūpa: Then what is the relationship of that person who gives the initiation and the…

Prabhupāda: He’s guru. He’s guru.

Satsvarūpa: But he does it on your behalf.

Prabhupāda: Yes. That is formality. Because in my presence one should not become guru, so on my behalf, on my order… Āmāra ājñāya guru hañā [Cc. Madhya 7.128]. Be actually guru, but by my order.

Satsvarūpa: So they may also be considered your disciples.

Prabhupāda: Yes, they are disciples. Why consider? Who?

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: No, he’s asking that these ṛtvik-ācāryas, they’re officiating, giving dīkṣā. Their… The people who they give dīkṣā to, whose disciple are they?

Prabhupāda: They’re his disciple.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: They’re his disciple.

Prabhupāda: Who is initiating. He is grand-disciple.

Satsvarūpa: Yes.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: That’s clear.

So it is plain to see that those giving diksa would be acting as officiating acaryas, and those receiving diksa from them would be their disciples. It is the duty of the GBC to create the post of Officiating Acarya so that we may all be properly connected to the disciplic succession.

“Who is Initiating” refers to the Officiating Acarya who is giving diksa, and those who receive diksa are his initiated disciples and Srila Prabhupada’s grand-disciples.

That’s clear. (However that instruction was never followed).

The GBC must create the post of “Officiating Acarya”, and all the ISKCON gurus would be considered as such, as it should have been since the time of the famous July 9th Letter. This I think, would be the beginning of the much needed reconcililation, and cure many of the ills of our society.

The following is the Synopsis of the System of Initiation as applicable to the ISKCON Bangalore group of temples and could be incorporated into mainstream ISKCON very easily.

The Post of Officiating Acarya

The Synopsis of the System of Initiation
(As applicable to ISKCON Bangalore group of temples)
Final Synopsis offered to GBC by Madhu Pandit dasa on March 5th, 2013

An elaboration of the July 9th 1977 directive on initiation to be followed by Bangalore Group of temples.

1.) The giver of 1st and 2nd initiation, acting as representative of Acharya, will be called Officiating Acharya. The Officiating Acharya shall also be considered a formal or institutionally appointed official guru[2] by the candidates whom he initiates, but not a guru in the sense described in paragraph 2. The devotees whom he initiates do not also consider or call themselves diksa disciples of the Officiating Acharyas.

2.) Srila Prabhupada’s books and other writings, HDG’s teachings in lectures, letters and conversations describe a bona fide, a cent percent Krishna conscious and pure devotee spiritual master coming in the disciplic succession of Acharyas[3] to whom one has to completely surrender to, render service and please such a spiritual master to attain success in spiritual life – obtain Krishna prema and return Back to Godhead. That spiritual master for all devotees of ISKCON-Bangalore group will be Srila Prabhupada.

3.) The following will apply to the Officiating Acharyas:

a. Merely because the Officiating Acharyas have performed the official initiation ceremonies, they shall not be considered as Maha bhagavatas or pure devotees or regarded as sakshad Hari nor are their instructions to be followed absolutely without deviations.

b. There shall be no worship in the form of daily guru puja or Vyasa Puja for the Officiating Acharya.

c. No special pranam mantra or honorific titles will be used for the Offciating Acharyas.

d. Pictures of Officiating Acharyas will not be placed on the altar by the pujari.

e. Guru Gayatri meditation is only on Srila Prabhupada.

f. Officiating Acarya do not sit in the disciplic succession or Acharya Parampara[4], as successor Acharya of Srila Prabhupada. Officiating Acharya by virtue of performing 1st and 2nd initiation ceremonies cannot be regarded as a current link in the disciplic succession of Acharyas as mentioned in the Introduction of Bhagavad Gita As It Is. Srila Prabhupada shall continue to be the current link in the disciplic succession of Acharyas.

g. The Officiating Acharya do not receive guru dakshina or if they receive, they transfer the same to the nearest ISKCON temple.

4.) It shall be made clear that giving the Vaishnava dasa name and the set of mantras qualifying one for Deity worship on behalf of Srila Prabhupada is Officiating Acharya ’s function.  Any respect given to him is for this service. Any further respect is for his actual spiritual position as a devotee.

5.) If an Officiating Acharya by any chance falls down, it will not be required of those whom he initiated that they take re-initiation to continue performing Deity worship. It is in this sense, ISKCON recognizes that these Officiating Acaryas are institutional gurus, giving the initiation on behalf of the institution and on behalf of Srila Prabhupada.

6.) For ISKCON Bangalore group of devotees everyone’s primary guru is Srila Prabhupada since he is the primary siksha guru, deliverer and vanquisher of sinful reactions. However at one stage of such an ongoing process of Krishna consciousness ie; the initiation ceremony, the Officiating Acarya gives the formal initiation on behalf of Srila Prabhupada.

7.) For the question, “Who is your guru?” ISKCON Bangalore group of devotees will answer the question as “Srila Prabhupada” only.

8.) For the question, “Whose disciple are you?” ISKCON Bangalore group of devotees will answer the question as Srila Prabhupada only.

9.) For the question “Are you a diksha disciple of SP”?
The Bangalore Group of devotees will answer:
“The person who performed the formal or official diksa ceremony is ____(name of the Officiating Acharya); but the person who gives us transcendental knowledge, who vanquishes our sinful reactions and one who delivers us is Srila Prabhupada.”

10.) To manage initiations in the ISKCON Bangalore group of temples, ISKCON GBC or ISKCON Mumbai Bureau will appoint some devotees recommended by the ISKCON Bangalore group as Officiating Acharyas, from time to time, provided they also fulfil the requirements of personal spiritual qualification which are presently applicable to the initiating gurus in rest of ISKCON. They will give the Vaishnava names for the first initiates, and personally give the gayatri mantra for the second initiates (not play Srila Prabhupada’s tape). Only such appointed Officiating Acaryas shall perform 1st and 2nd initiation in the Bangalore group of temples.

11.) As Founder and Acharya of ISKCON[5] and exalted pure devotee of Krishna and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, all devotees in ISKCON can and should be encouraged to take complete shelter of Srila Prabhupada and his instructions.

12.) In the case of ISKCON Bangalore group of devotees, during the 1st initiation ceremony the Officiating Acarya shall formalize the relation[6] between the new devotees and Srila Prabhupada as THE PRIMARY GURU to whom they shall surrender completely, regarding him as saksad hari and please him to please Lord Krishna, who will through a process awaken divya jnana, vanquish sinful reactions, deliver them from the material world and bless them with Krishna prema.

13.) Post the settlement of the dispute between ISKCON Mumbai and ISKCON-Bangalore, with the Guru issue settled as outlined in this document, an ongoing discussion of the guru issue can continue with a Guru Issue Committee that includes representations from GBC members, members of ISKCON Bureau, selected members from national bodies around the world and ISKCON Bangalore group devotees.

The conclusions of such a Guru Issue Committee will have to be accepted in the Bangalore group of temples by a referendum of all the initiated disciples of the ISKCON Bangalore group. As long as there is no acceptance by a majority of the initiated disciples in such a referendum, the Bangalore Group of devotees will continue with the understanding as outlined in this document.

This is to ensure that by a majority vote in the Guru Issue Committee, in which the ISKCON Bangalore group representatives will be a minority, the ISKCON Bangalore group will not be helplessly forced to accept any conclusion of the Guru Issue Committee.

14.) Both groups will not try to change faith of young devotees of the respective temples on the guru issue and the system of initiation. The guru issue will be discussed only in disciplined, pre-approved (by both groups) and moderated forum and in a civilized and vaishnava manner. A code of conduct shall be followed for visiting devotees to the ISKCON temples of both groups in the spirit of this settlement.

15.) The belief, preaching and practice in ISKCON Bangalore group of temples will be that the devotees receive the Holy name from Srila Prabhupada as the current link in the disciplic succession at the time of first initiation[7], and Srila Prabhupada is the one who is awakening divya jnana, vanquishing sinful reactions and delivering all surrendered souls in an ongoing spiritual process that begins the first day the devotees come in contact with Srila Prabhupada[8] through his books, his devotees[9] or his institution.

However the Gayatri mantras are given by the Officiating Acarya into the right ear of the initiated devotee on behalf of Srila Prabhupada.

16.) Although the ISKCON-Bangalore group of devotees maintain that they are disciples of Srila Prabhupada because he is the giver of all levels of transcendental knowledge (divya jnana), vanquisher of sinful reactions and deliverer of devotees, considering the sensitivities involved in ISKCON with regard to guru issue and ongoing discussion of Guru Issue Committee, they shall not ‘call’ themselves diksa disciples of Srila Prabhupada, but will only call themselves disciples of Srila Prabhupada or Prabhupadanugas, and say that Srila Prabhupada is their primary guru.

Footnotes:

[1] This is a slightly edited version of the note jointly prepared with representatives of ISKCON Mumbai and ISKCON-Bangalore group on Feb 3rd, 2013. However this is edited for brevity and only those points applicable to ISKCON-Bangalore group of temples is presented here.

[2] Satsvarupa: Then what is the relationship of that person who gives the initiation and the…
Prabhupada: He’s guru. He’s guru. (May 28th, 1977 conversation)

Tamala Krsna: No, he’s asking that these ritvik-acharyas, they’re officiating, giving diksa. Their… The people who they give diksa to, whose disciple are they?

Prabhupada: They’re his disciple. (May 28th, 1977 conversation)

The word guru is equally applicable to the vartma-pradarsaka-guru, siksa-guru and diksa-guru. (CC Madhya 8.128)
 
[3] The äcärya gives the suitable method for crossing the ocean of nescience by accepting the boat of the Lord’s lotus feet, and if this method is strictly followed, the followers will ultimately reach the destination, by the grace of the Lord. This method is called äcärya-sampradäya. It is therefore said, sampradäya-vihénä ye manträs te niñphalä matäù (Padma Puräëa). The äcärya-sampradäya is strictly bona fide. Therefore one must accept the äcärya-sampradäya; otherwise one’s endeavor will be futile. (Srimad Bhagavatam, 10.2.31);

If you want real knowledge, then you must take knowledge from the äcäryas or the äcärya-paramparä. Then there is knowledge. Otherwise it is ignorance. (Srila Prabhupada lecture, Sanand, Dec 25th, 1975)
 
[4] Just like Gosvämés, they are äcäryas; Srinivas Äcärya. So äcärya paramparä, disciplic succession. Baladeva Vidyäbhüñaëa is also äcärya in this Gauòéya-sampradäya. So his special gift… Every äcärya means he gives some special things. Previous äcärya has given, and the next äcärya gives something more. That is the symptom of äcärya. …So every äcärya is giving a further lift. (Srila Prabhupada class on Isopanisad, Los Angeles, 1970)

The spiritual master, being in the disciplic succession stemming from Närada Muni, is in the same category with Närada Muni. A person can be relieved from his sinful activity if he surrenders to the lotus feet of a person who actually represents Närada Muni. (CC Madhya 24.258)
 
[5] I was being maintained by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness of which I am the Founder and Acharya. (Srila Prabhupada letter to Bank of Baroda, Jan 2nd, 1971)

This is to certify that Mr. Brent Selden, whose initiated name is Sudama das Goswami, is the president of our Honolulu Center, and therefore authorized to deal with all lands and property possessed by ISKCON.
Sincerely, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, Founder and Acharya, of International Society for Krishna Consciousness. (Srila Prabhupada letter dated April 21st, 1974)

[6] “When taking shelter in ISKCON, a devotee establishes a relationship with many gurus, foremost of whom is our Founder-Acarya, as well as others who serve as siksa, or instructing, gurus. At a later point in one’s spiritual development, and upon initiation a devotee in ISKCON formalizes his or her relationship with a personal diksha guru, Srila Prabhupada and the other members of our parampara.” GBC Statement Regarding the ISKCON Bangalore Litigation dated Jan 23rd, 2013
 
[7] Now the next initiation will be performed as a ceremony officially, of course that ceremony has value because the name, Holy Name, will be delivered to the student from the disciplic succession, it has got value. (Srila Prabhupada letter to Tamala Krishna, Aug 19th, 1968)
 
[8] The eternal bond between disciple and spiritual master begins from the first day he hears. Just like my spiritual master. In 1922 he said in our first meeting, you are educated boys, why don’t you preach this cult. That was the beginning, now it is coming to fact. Therefore the relationship began from that day. (Srila Prabhupada letter to Jadurani, Sept 4th 1972)
 
[9] You have heard it from me and my disciples, similarly I have heard it from my Guru Maharaja, and so on, and on. Because you have heard it from a pure devotee of the Lord, therefore it is transmitted from you to another. Just as an aerial message, is transmitted from one place to another, similarly, this Guru parampara system is working. My disciples are my agents, my representatives, so by hearing it from them, you are receiving it from me. And because you are a sincere soul, those who are hearing the Mantra from you are receiving it in disciplic succession, from Lord Caitanya and from Lord Krishna. (Srila Prabhupada letter to Andrea temple, 6th March 1968)

 A note on posthumous initiation- a different perspective:

We also do not consider this as a posthumous initiation system as the system does not presume to make Srila Prabhupada do any act part of diksha which is a prakrta component after his disappearance from our mundane view. The external, physical or prakrta components of diksha like the ceremonies, giving mala, gayatri, pariksha and acceptance of discipleship are being done by living persons on behalf of Srila Prabhupada as per the written directions of Srila Prabhupada on 9th July 1977. We do not say Srila Prabhupada is doing this aspect of diksha. It is done by the officiating Acaryas on behalf of Srila Prabhupada who are living persons. It is the non physical part or the aprakrta role that we believe Srila Prabhupada continues to perform in accepting disciples for himself as he was doing before his dissappearance. We do not presume any mystical role of Srila Prabhupada to do the prakrta part of diksha. There should be no bar in a person transcendentally acting from an aprakrta plane after his disappearance as physicality is immaterial for acting from the aprakrta plane. The Officiating Acarya will personally give the gayatri mantra into the right ear of the devotee. Hence, in our opinion assigning that Srila Prabhupada is posthumously doing the initiation itself is a misapplication to July 9th 1977 system of initiation as there is no physical role of Srila Prabhupada in the entire process. Our case is quite different from a clear case of posthumous initiation in which someone took initiation straight out of a picture or Deity of Srila Prabhupada and took mala from the picture or took a Vaishnava name himself assuming that Srila Prabhupada is doing all this. Plus we are accepting that the Officiating Acarya is institutionally appointed guru directly representing Srila Prabhupada for the purpose of formally connecting the devotees to Srila Prabhupada as their primary Guru and not merely a priest. I just mentioned it if it helps the GBC see that July 9th system is not really posthumous in the plain sense. Live people are doing the prakrta part of diksha.

 

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Annada Dasi
    May 16, 2013 @ 13:38:31

    Dear Devotees,

    Please accept my humble obeisances, All Glories to Srila Prabhupada. I was recently reading in Srila Prabhupada’s translations and purports in the 5th Canto about the caliber of the rtvijah priests. They were so qualified that they were able to invoke the presence of Lord Visnu to their sacrifice, and being pleased and merciful upon them He agreed to appear as the son of Maharaj Nabhi, Lord Rshabdev. They were perfect brahmanas and Vaishnavas. My point is that whilst leaders are squabbling about this and that,they seldom stop to reflect that the Lord is perfectly aware of our paltry disqualifications, and that this movement is still going on in spite of all the unfavorable acts committed in Srila Prabhupada’s name. As Srila Prabhupada said many a time this movement is based on science and logic that supports the sentiment of Krishna Prema. We cannot expect to please Srila Prabhupada so long as we continue to act whimsically on some most important issues. Prabhupada has mentioned that the first quality of a devotee is that she or he is a perfect lady or gentleman. The essential quality of being a gentleman is honesty. Let’s work on that please. your servant Annada devi dasi.

    Reply

    • The Hare Krishna Movement
      May 17, 2013 @ 08:04:48

      Hare Krishna Annada Prabhu

      Please accept my respectful obeisances. All Glories to Srila Prabhupada!

      Thank you for reminding us of the vaisnava qualities we should be striving towards, particularly honesty. If we were honestly trying to advance the mission of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, we would not be not be trying to take-over a successful preaching center like ISKCON Bangalore. We, as a society, would be encouraging and praising their success. It seems to me, their only crime is trying to keep Srila Prabhupada in the center of all their activities and service, and follow his instructions. Honestly, we should follow their lead.

      Your servant
      Vyasasan das

      Reply

  2. Locanananda dasa
    May 18, 2013 @ 17:34:53

    So, Srila Prabhupada is our eternal spiritual master, and the officiating acarya is giving diksa as a regular guru representing the founder acarya. Good.

    In terms of the formalities of initiation, the new disciple is receiving diksa officially from the officiating acarya who, in turn, must be qualified to act as the transparent via medium to Srila Prabhupada and the guru parampara.

    The question that will be asked of the new initiate is “Who were you initiated by?” and the answer is, “I was initiated by ____________ Maharaja, an officiating acarya acting on behalf of Srila Prabhupada.”

    My suggestion is that we should be careful not to get caught up in trying to assign siksa and diksa roles when discussing the system of initiations our spiritual master intended to have implemented, just as Srila Prabhupada himself did not bring up these separate functions in explaining future initiation protocols. Dividing up the roles of siksa and diksa guru has been superimposed on ISKCON’s handling of initiations instead of accepting the system of officiating acaryas called for by Srila Prabhupada.

    Madhu Pandit prabhu’s proposal sounds very much like an ultimatum, rather than a humble submission. I hope the GBC does not demonstrate a typical knee-jerk reaction to its tone. The ISKCON gurus among them are probably thinking, “If we let them do this in Bangalore, it will eventually lead to the end of our total control of ISKCON,” and our response to that is, of course:

    “Well, that would be a good thing. We should always accept whatever is favorable for the spreading of Krishna consciousness and try to please guru and Krishna in all that we do. What could be more auspicious and more pleasing to the Supreme Personality of Godhead and His pure devotees than to follow Srila Prabhupada’s final instruction on the matter, that when he would no longer be physically present, initiations would be conducted by officiating acaryas?”

    Your servant,
    Locanananda dasa

    Reply

  3. Well wisher
    Jun 12, 2013 @ 07:30:22

    Actually no one is understanding the real motive of Srila Prabhupada except a few sincere souls who want to follow Him Strictly in order to help fulfill the desire of spreading the names of the Lord all over the world. To be honest as the proverb says -united we stand divided we fall- is very true in material life but is applicable in spiritual life too when we are following the Instructions as ordered by the spiritual master and not as it suits us accordingly. This is what is happening in Iskcon today and though it seems it is spreading the message of Lord Chaitanya far and wide in all over the world, but just imagine the result it would be if Everyone truly follows Srila Prabhupada and act as He wants us to like bangalore devotees are doing and hence the result- a center of Srila Prabhupada which is glorified whoever visits even once. Action speaks louder than voice and this is real preaching-the common man getting being inspired by one visit. What is the difficulty if we become humble and simply let Srila Prabhupada take ALL Glorifications and this way make Him famous-He is already by His books- ebe jas ghisuk tribhuwana, we sing daily and many will be singing daily in 10000 years to come, but where will we be, who are taking glorification today and whom no one will know also in future, say- 100 years or so. So many disciples of different gurus are internally into dispute with each other and in future so many more gurus will come into existence and with daily increasing in kaliyuga , chances of such internal fights will only further increase. But it all can be easily Stopped by one and only one means and that is Surrendering to Srila Prabhupada and change the face of the whole world – and give a chance to all souls to live in The house Srila Prabhupada build wherein – what to speak of only mumbai and bangalore or all ISKCON devotees- the whole world can stay peacefully together.

    Reply

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