Sri Madhu Pandit Dasa’s Official Reply to EC

Madhu Pandit das

This is the ongoing dispute between ISKCON Bangalore and ISKCON Mumbai with Sri Madhu Pandit Dasa’s official reply to EC, followed by the EC Letter to Madhu Pandit Dasa. Hopefully all this will be settleded up someday, and devotees can go back to serving the mission of Srila Prabhupada and Lord Caitanya, and work together again in the spirit of cooperation.

Sri Madhu Pandit Dasa’s official reply to EC
By: Madhu Pandit Dasa, Bangalore.

Dear Tamohara prabhu, Anuttama prabhu, and Praghosa prabhu,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

We beg to acknowledge your letter dated 27th Oct 2013 addressed to three of us. I had immediately replied to your above letter on 28th October stating that we will respond to it soon. I noticed several discrepancies vis-a-vis what transpired in the meeting as you have stated. There were many things in the your letter which did not represent accurately and completely what transpired in our discussion in Chennai with HH Jayapataka Swami, HH Bhanu Swami and Dayaram Das. Probably it is due to miscommunication and partial communication from the source where you got the information (from one of the bureau members). It is understandable considering that it is second hand information and those who presented it also probably wanted to dilute it hoping against hope for some serious reforms in ISKCON and was shooting off our shoulders to achieve the same.

Meantime we see that one of your members have posted that letter in the Sampradaya Sun with a political twist and apparent motive to disturb many devotees all over the world who looks upon ISKCON Bangalore as a panacea to all the guru issues in rest of the movement. This was most unexpected move and we consider that these persons are misusing a genuine discussion held with some Bureau member to bring Srila Prabhupada to his original spiritual position in ISKCON for political mileage.

The most inaccurate statement in your letter is your statement that we have evolved our understanding and moved away from the rtvik position. There is no question of us evolving our ‘understanding’ or position since our stand on initiation is not based on any philosophical interpretation but simply following faithfully the written directive of Srila Prabhupada on initiation with full faith in it that it ought to be philosophically sound if Srila Prabhupada set it up. Unless, we are shown authentically that Srila Prabhupada superseded that directive, we would continue with that understanding.

Two things that came out during discussion from HH Bhanu Swami were

1. As far as Harinam initiation is concerned there is no question of it being a posthumous initiation for reasons given by him below.

2. Srila Prabhupada introduced Harinama Diksha for the first time in the Goudiya line as it was not there in Goudiya Mutt. There is only one initiation there.

These two points mentioned by HH Bhanu Swami prompted me to pose a challenge to the Bureau and GBC to come up with reform wherein for entire ISKCON Srila Prabhupada will be accepted as the only giver of Holy Name during 1st initiation and the devotee getting initiated would accept him as the primary guru in his life to whom he would surrender.

Please take on record the following narration as to what transpired in the discussion as narrated below and please do not take anything stated in your letter as voicing our stand unless it is confirmed in the narration below.

Meeting held on 24th August 2013.

On the request from Muralishyam Dasa brahmacari of ISKCON Mumbai we consented to meet on 24th August as he was repeatedly requesting us to meet once HH Jayapataka Swami to hear how Bureau and GBC are working in different ways to bring Srila Prabhupada in the centre. We made it very clear that we will not be giving any new proposal than what we have given so far to the Bureau till then, all of which received a negative response from the GBC. He said that Doyaram Prabhu was planning to propose some changes to the GBC during the upcoming Bureau and GBC meeting in Oct 2013.

The meeting was held in Chennai Iskcon temple and HH Jayapataka Swami. HH Bhanu Swami and Doyaram Prabhu represented Mumbai and myself, Chanchalapathi Dasa and Jai Chaitanya Dasa from our side. HH Bhanu Maharaja started with a presentation on different components of Diksha, explaining how Harinama diksha or 1st initiation was not considered Diksha and Diksha usually referred to the 2nd initiation which was primarily meant for deity worship. He also explained how our spiritual progress fully depended on chanting the Hare Krishna maha mantra rather than the Gayathri mantra on which the devotees spend a few minutes of day to chant three times but we spend hours chanting and spreading the Hare Krishna Mahamantra and serving the Mahamantra. And liberation is the combined result, acquiring spiritual knowledge from Srila Prabhupada and sadhu, Sastra, of chanting Hare Krishna mantra, deity worship etc. He also made the point that the Harinam diksha or first initiation was not part of diksha system in Goudiya mutt tradition and that Srila Prabhupada introduced this for the first time in ISKCON moving away from tradition for purposes best known to him as the Founder-Acharya of the movement.

At the end of the presentation and talk by Bhanu Swami, if ISKCON really wanted to bring Srila Prabhupada in the centre, I posed a challenge of a possible reform in ISKCON to the bureau and the GBC. It was, if Harinam initiation is not a regular Diksha as was explained by Bhanu Swami, then the question of posthumous diksha does not arise in the first initiation. Then why doesn’t ISKCON GBC bring out a position paper that Srila Prabhupada as the giver of the Holy name to all candidates in this movement at the 1st initiation ceremony and recognise him as his spiritual master and facilitate instilling the relationship of surrendering their soul to Srila Prabhupada, in the minds and hearts of every initiated candidate. Srila Prabhupada should be the one personality for everyone to place their full faith which is of the quality as good as ones faith in Krishna as required by the famous quote for a self-realization “Yasya deva para bhaktir, yatha deve tatha gurau, tasyaiva kathitha hyartha, prakashante mahatmanah,” To this Bhanu swami replied that that Bhaktivinod Thakur does talk about Nama Guru in Harinama Cintamani. And agreed that such an initiation cannot be considered posthumous initiation as Srila Prabhupada never gave the maha-mantra into the candidate’s ears like giving he gave Gayathri mantra during the 1st initiation ceremony and that Harinam works even without formal diksha. He said philosophically the GBC should have no problem in such a proposal as per his opinion though he was not sure whether GBC would accept it or not. I reiterated that if this is accepted this will seal the fact in the mind of the candidates that Srila Prabhupada is the primary Guru or Harinama guru playing the most important part in their spiritual life by delivering Holy name from disciplic succession and taking them back to Godhead. I explained that bringing Srila Prabhupada in the centre as Founder-Acharya is best achieved by bringing Srila Prabhupada in the centre of the heart of every initiated person as his/her first and primary guru during 1st initiation. There is no better way to bring Srila Prabhupada in the centre in one single stroke of reform in ISKCON without all the cosmetic changes that GBC has made so far to put Srila Prabhupada in the centre. All candidates for 1st initiation will be very well informed institutionally on the janme janme prabhu sei position of Srila Prabhupada in their lives and the need to take his eternal shelter if they want to be part of ISKCON. Also Vyasa puja and guru puja in Iskcon should only be for Srila Prabhupada. Also there should no choosing of the Harinama guru or officiating acarya for 1st/ Prabhupada initiation. Dayaram Prabhu interjected that it would be hard for GBC to accept this part of candidates not choosing the initiator.

I continued that “the current initiators of the institution giving out such 1st initiation wherein Srila Prabhupada delivers them the Holy Name from disciplic succession can be called Officiating Acharya, the term unambiguously used by Srila Prabhupada when specifically asked about future initiations.” Any of the GBC approved gurus can give mala and name on behalf of Srila Prabhupada as officiating Acarya and conduct the first initiation where Srila Prabhupada is offered to them by the institution as their Primary guru and specifically Nama guru. To this Jayapataka Swami said the GBC would not accept the terminology of Officiating Acharya.

I further expressed how Srila Prabhupada taught us a kind of surrender to guru that was total surrender as required by our philosophy. But today’s initiation system of ISKCON institutionally incorporates and encourages implicitly or sometime explicitly a system where the innocent new devotees follow the system and offer this kind of surrender to persons other than Srila Prabhupada as their guru just as all the pre-1977 initiated disciples offered their surrender to Srila Prabhupada. And when the guru falls down, which has happened so many times and will continue to happen, ISKCON as an institution is being part of a ‘deception’ that occurs . There can be no solution for this potential betrayal of faith unless you instruct the person getting initiated specifically that one should not place that kind of faith in your guru as you place in Srila Prabhupada. And if you tell them not to place their 100% faith in the infallibility of your guru, then you are depriving an opportunity to an ISKCON member to practice Bhakti with strong guru bhakti as required by our siddhanta , as taught to us by Srila Prabhupada as per the quote “ Yasya deva para bhaktir…”.

Then Dayaram Prabhu supported this point and said that ISKCON should seriously look into this proposal of Srila Prabhupada being the Harinama guru of everyone not because of I am proposing this but independently as the duty of GBC to bring Srila Prabhupada into the heart of all initiated devotees to avoid this kind of embarrassing situation for ISKCON when gurus fall down and where ISKCON is definitely taking part in misleading of devotees whose gurus end up falling down. He also added that if at all faith in one person can be made compulsory or legislated, that is the faith in Srila Prabhupada.

I said if the GBC can come this far with a clear position paper on 1st initiation as discussed above then I believe that it is the most authentic way of placing Srila Prabhupada in the centre . Otherwise it is never the same ISKCON that Srila Prabhupada left behind with us in 1977. If the GBC does bring out such a conclusive position then I am personally willing to seriously discuss within our group temple presidents (21 of us ) and the elected GBC of Bangalore Group of temples ( 9 of us) whether they are willing to consider the Gayathri mantra during 2nd initiation for deity worship to be accepted to given by one of the ISKCON officiating acarya into the ear of the prospective disciple as there is one precedent where Srila Prabhupada directed one of his disciples to chant Gayathri mantra into the ears of a prospective disciples during second initiation.

Then the issue of over emphasising diksha over siksha was brought up by Jayapataka Swami as the real reason for confusion on the guru issue. He said that the persons giving 2nd initiation can be called monitor gurus, the term used by Srila Prabhupada in “Easy journey to other planets”. I said when they themselves state that there is over stress on the word ‘diksha’ in ISKCON as they refer to the present gurus then they should set it right by using a different terminology like monitor gurus and stop using diksha guru for the present gurus. Bhanu Swami suggested that they be called pancharatrik gurus.

I said terminology of these gurus who give Gayathri initiation can be a matter of discussion between us once the GBC is willing first to take the big step of recognizing Prabhupada’s spiritual position in the hearts of every initiated devotee as their primary guru who gives them the Holy Name during first initiation. Today the word ‘diksha’ means different connotations to different people in ISKCON starting from nomenclature of one time ceremony to an understanding that it is an on-going process of receiving transcendental knowledge from the guru and annihilation of sinful reactions.

Dayaram Prabhu asked me if I can give this proposal in writing. I said we have given many proposals in writing in the past with no result and this is something that has to originate from one of them and we would scrutinize whether we have understood each other on what was discussed respond to it… I also added that this is my impromptu personal inspiration offered for bringing about a drastic change in ISKCON where the first initiation is a rtvik initiation as it is not a posthumous diksha according to HH Bhanu Swami and not the opinion of the rest of the group. Then they said GBC is against using the word rtvik initiation though all of them understood that what I proposed is a Harinam initiation or first initiation being given by Srila Prabhupada.

I said that I can try to convince everyone in our group on second initiation being given into the ears from persons authorized by GBC if a big change can come for entire Iskcon where 1st initiation is from Srila Prabhupada considering it a big leap to put back spiritually ISKCON to the situation it was pre-1977.“I also added that some members among current Bangalore group should also be authorized by GBC for this to do this function of initiation specifically amongst us.”

HH Jayapataka Swami said that change in ISKCON is a very slow process it can happen only little at a time and felt that my proposal to them to bring Srila Prabhupada really in the centre by making Srila Prabhupada as the direct giver of first initiation through officiating acaryas may not be accepted by the GBC in this form according to him. He said that he was not very much convinced whether 1st and 2nd initiation can be separated as two initiations as Bhanu Swami presented. He said he is attempting various means like adding some more oaths during first initiation or creating some ashraya ceremony before 1st initiation to impress the pre-eminent position of Srila Prabhupada in the life of all devotees.

I responded that we will wait till then and keep going our way and resume dialogues in future, whenever that be, when the ISKCON has changed enough to consider that everyone can have Srila Prabhupada as his primary guru to whom they surrender their life and soul to him and receive Holy Name directly from him and always think as his Harinama guru and not merely preeminent-siksha guru. Then there is some hope of coming together subject to discussing other things.

HH Jayapataka swami said that he was nowadays always trying to project Srila Prabhupada in the centre at every opportunity. He, in very clear terms, informed that he has made significant change in his mind on the permissibility of direct relationship that a new initiate can have with Srila Prabhupada and how he was fully supporting this fact currently. (Earlier in 1999 when the dispute began with Bangalore devotees, he denied that his disciples can have direct relationship with Srila Prabhupada). Most significantly he did apologize on that day for his previously held hard core Guru stand by not supporting direct connection with Srila Prabhupada for his disciples. Reciprocating the same, just before parting , Chanchalapathi Prabhu, Jai Chaitanya Prabhu and myself offered our apologies to HH Jayapataka Swami for any offenses that have been committed personally to him in the process of our continued determination to follow what we think and believe was Srila Prabhupada’s directive on initiation.

The half day meeting ended with the conclusion that Bhanu Swami will make a presentation to the GBC in these lines for their consideration in the GBC meeting to be held in Mumbai in Oct.

After that we have received your letter under reply which needed this clarification to give you the complete and accurate picture as narrated above.

Again we repeat that there is no question of evolving into any new understanding for us. The essential challenge of reform posed before the GBC is whether ISKCON GBC would accept first initiation as being given by Srila Prabhupada to move forward with further discussions. I considered such a move by GBC a major reform considering the following quote of Srila Prabhupada:

“Why do you believe in rumours, that first initiation is not so important as second? I have already said that it is equally important, but you say rumour. Actually first initiation is more important. You can go without second initiation; if the first initiation is executed very thoroughly that is sufficient. First initiation stands strong. The spiritual master accepts the disciple’s sinful reactions upon giving first initiation. The Vedic system was to give the sacred thread at the first initiation. We are following Pancaratriki. Vedic initiation was given to a person born to a brahmana. That is not possible in this age. Therefore he has to be prepared by Hari Nam initiation and then second initiation. He is given a chance. Therefore others protest that I am giving initiation: He is not born of a brahmana, how can he be initiated?”

Considering the fact that some persons connected to the bureau are now politicizing this genuine efforts to bring some considerable changes in ISKCON to re-establish Srila Prabhupada’s spiritual position and role in ISKCON by leaking out your letter to Sampradaya Sun with twisted title to it , we have decided that henceforth we shall deal only directly with the GBC EC on these matters and continue to discuss further if the GBC wishes to move in this direction at all, now that you know exactly where we stand on the understanding on the guru issue.

Your servant,
Madhu Pandit Dasa.


EC Letter to Madhu Pandit Dasa

By- EC- Tamhohara Dasa, Anuttama Dasa and Praghosha Dasa.

From: GBC EC
Date: 27-Oct-13 13:52 (19:22 +0530)
Comment: Text PAMHO:25713507 by Anuttama (das) ACBSP (IC N.America)

Subject: From the GBC EC
October 26, 2013

Dear Madhu Pandit Prabhu, Chanchala Pati Prabhu, and Jai Chaitanya Prabhu,
Please accept our humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

We have been informed by Bhanu Swami, Jayapataka Swami, and Dayaram Prabhu about the meeting you had with them at the Chennai ISKCON Temple on August 24, 2013. We were informed that the meeting was cordial and that both parties expressed themselves clearly on the issues that have separated us.

It was reported to us that your primary concern is to ensure that Srila Prabhupada’s unique position and importance is not minimized within ISKCON now or in the future. We are in complete agreement with you about this point.

As acknowledged previously, we regret that after Srila Prabhupada’s departure his status was minimized by some within our society, especially during the “zonal-acharya” period of ISKCON. Our understanding of Srila Prabhupada’s unique historical and spiritual position has evolved as we more clearly comprehend the greatness of His Divine Grace’s contributions to the Lord’s mission.

We were informed that in Chennai you stated that you no longer insist that Srila Prabhupada be considered the diksha guru of ISKCON devotees in the future, nor for those who took initiation after the physical departure of His Divine Grace in November 1977.

We are happy to note that you have evolved your views on these points. This opens the door for concrete discussions to resolve our differences, while recognizing your concern that Srila Prabhupada be the preeminent guru in the life of every ISKCON devotee.

Bhanu Swami, Jayapataka Swami, and Dayaram Prabhu informed us that you would like the GBC to establish (a) Srila Prabhupada as the Hari Nam guru, the giver of 1st initiation, for ISKCON devotees, and (b) that persons who serve as diksha gurus in ISKCON will give the 2nd initiation.

We understand that you agree that the devotees who offer 2nd initiation will be called by your group as the diksha guru. Devotees in your group will not claim Srila Prabhupada as their diksha guru and will call the giver of second initiation their diksha guru.

A select committee of GBC Executive Committee members and other senior devotees discussed your proposal on October 9, 2013 at the Juhu Temple, but we did not come to a conclusion concerning making Srila Prabhupada the main guru in 1st initiation. The committee felt that the proposal needs deeper, thoughtful consideration. The GBC will have to ensure that this proposal is in line with scriptures, the teachings of Srila Prabhupada, and would be desired by Srila Prabhupada for ISKCON.

In our previous letter we referenced our recent statement regarding Srila Prabhupada’s position in ISKCON and his relationship with every devotee:
“As the Founder-Acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) and the preeminent teacher and ultimate authority within our society, Srila Prabhupada has a unique relationship with every ISKCON devotee. . .

“Srila Prabhupada, as the Founder-Acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, is the preeminent siksa guru for all members of ISKCON. All members of ISKCON, for all generations, are encouraged to seek shelter of Srila Prabhupada. All members of ISKCON are entitled and encouraged to have a personal relationship with Srila Prabhupada through his books, teachings, service, and his ISKCON society. . .”

On this point we seem to agree.

We are also aware of the philosophical point, as explained by Bhanu Swami, that according to sastra, 1st initiation is generally not diksha but only a commitment to chant Hari Nam. Before Srila Prabhupada established it in our sampradaya diksha usually meant pancharatrika diksha (presently what is called 2nd initiation in ISKCON).

But, it is also a fact that Srila Prabhupada established the system of giving 1st and 2nd initiation and that he used the term, “1st initiation.” Therefore, again, before making any changes, the GBC body needs to give careful consideration.

In short, we are pleased that you have moved away from the “Ritvik” ideology and we now sincerely hope to find ways to accommodate your group of devotees within the greater ISKCON.

In the meantime, we are open to hearing other ideas you may have to help in clarifying Srila Prabhupada’s position as both Founder-Acharya and preeminent siksha guru for all of ISKCON.

Your servants,

GBC Executive Committee
Tamohara das, Chair
Anuttama das
Praghosa das

Text pasted from; Iskcon Times

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