Sankirtan Stories

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The following is a very nice story which appeared as a Back to Godhead Magazine Article back in 1998. It was written by Locanananda dasa and he recounts the true events that occurred while out chanting on a hot summers day, in the streets of New York City.

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The Spiritual Master (Part 4)

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…What Srila Prabhupada arranged in ISKCON was a very safe and very clear path for the new adherent to advance in Krishna consciousness and in the end to reach the ultimate goal of going back to Godhead. The process of sadhana bhakti with morning and evening classes, kirtana and Deity worship coupled with training in preaching and daily Sankirtana activity was the path to purification and the awakening of our dormant love for Krishna. Simple, yet sublime!

As far as acceptance of a spiritual master, in our day it was a foregone conclusion that the initiated disciple was agreeing to worship Srila Prabhupada as good as God and that the spiritual master was promising to deliver the disciple from the cycle of birth and death.

Presently, people are still being attracted to join this movement by coming into contact with Srila Prabhupada’s books, by association with good devotees who represent him with transparency, and by developing a taste for chanting the Holy Name and honoring Krishna prasadam. They agree to abide by the principles established by Srila Prabhupada for all generations of ISKCON devotees — past, present and future. They read and distribute his books, offer obeisances to him when entering the temple, worship his murti, and focus on cultivating a personal relationship with him. In other words, someone who joins our movement today is doing so as a follower of Srila Prabhupada and is accepting His Divine Grace as their eternal spiritual master. It is he who is taking them back to the spiritual world. How could someone who is not a resident of the spiritual world do so?

This is a continuation from our previous posts, The Spiritual Master some time ago, and the further discussion in The Spiritual Master (Part 2)
And The Spiritual Master (Part 3) This is a fascinating account by Sriman Locanananda Prabhu revealing his insights into the ‘guru issue’ in our ISKCON society today, from his own personal understanding, and his realizations of the instructions given by Srila Prabhupada shortly before his untimely departure. Our obeisances to him for sharing his personal recollections and realizations. This new The Spiritual Master (Part 4) is exploring the same theme although from a different source.

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The Spiritual Master (Part 3)

This is a continuation from our previous posts, The Spiritual Master some time ago, and the further discussion in The Spiritual Master (Part 2) This is a fascinating account by Sriman Locanananda Prabhu revealing his insights into the ‘guru issue’ in our ISKCON society today, from his own personal understanding, and his realizations of the instructions given by Srila Prabhupada shortly before his untimely departure. Our obeisances to him for sharing his personal recollections and realizations. [Note: some of the other comments were edited out so as not to distract from Locanananda Prabhu’s train of thought. You can follow the entire stream of comments by going to Prabhupada News As I stated, this is a fascinating account, however, this does not necessarily reflect our views on the ‘guru issue’. But Locanananda Prabhu makes a very well stated argument, and we are in complete agreement with his assessment that “success in spiritual life, means following the instructions of the spiritual master”.

… the next step is to find a way to convince others of Srila Prabhupada’s actual intention in laying out a ritvik initiation system. It was not to end the parampara with himself as the last guru in our line. It was not to push aside what he himself referred to as the “law of disciplic succession.” It was to introduce a method by which millions of souls throughout the world could be initiated into the society of vaisnavas and attain the mercy of Krishna and the previous acaryas on their journey back to Godhead.

…everyone is taking shelter of Srila Prabhupada and receiving transcendental knowledge, but they are receiving so much more. By his grace, we will be able to enter the spiritual abode and interact with Krishna face to face. Without pleasing Srila Prabhupada, one cannot even make one iota of spiritual advancement.

…Srila Prabhupada had his reasons for introducing the title “officiating acarya” instead of “diksa guru” or “initiating spiritual master,” to designate the giver of diksa when he would no longer be present. Why devotees cannot accept Srila Prabhupada’s terminology is beyond my comprehension. As far as Srila Prabhupada’s present position, we can learn from a letter written to Brahmananda on Nov. 15, 1969 where he said,

“So far as I am concerned, in relationship with my disciples who are so kindly cooperating with me in the matter of my rendering service to my spiritual master, for them I am always ready to come back from Goloka Vrindaban, if they are not delivered along with me.”

The point made here is that one should think that upon his disappearance from our visual perception, the spiritual master has returned to Goloka Vrindaban. What he has left behind is the legacy of the temples he established, the Deities he installed and the body of instructions he imparted. By his inconceivable mercy, Srila Prabhupada, while residing in the abode of Krishna, continues to bestow his blessings upon us. As disciples, we should make every attempt to end the cycle of birth and death by preparing ourselves through the purificatory process of devotional service to go back to Godhead so as not to oblige the spiritual master to come back to this world to deliver us.

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The Spiritual Master (Part 2)

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This is a continuation from our previous post, The Spiritual Master a few days ago. This is a fascinating account by Sriman Locanananda Prabhu revealing his insights into the ‘guru issue’ in our ISKCON society today, from his own personal understanding, and his realizations of the instructions given by Srila Prabhupada shortly before his untimely departure. Our obeisances to him for sharing his personal recollections and realizations. [Note: some of the other comments were edited out so as not to distract from Locanananda Prabhu’s train of thought. You can follow the entire stream of comments by going to Prabhupada News

…Because the focus of every devotee’s efforts is to please Srila Prabhupada knowing him to be Krishna’s pure representative, we can understand that the officiating acarya’s function is to formalize the disciple’s connection with Srila Prabhupada and the disciplic succession by the giving of diksa.

… According to this correct understanding, the officiating acarya is not particularly empowered to take those he initiates back to Godhead. But if he is capable of acting as the transparent via medium to the founder acarya, he is certainly to be honored and shown great respect. However, so that Srila Prabhupada remains the central figure and worshipable spiritual master within the Hare Krishna movement, no other spiritual personality should become his competitor by exacting worship from disciples. It is the responsibility of the GBC to preserve this unique role as exclusively the position of Srila Prabhupada.

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The Spiritual Master

This is excerpted comment by Locanananda Prabhu at Prabhupada News on an article posted there by one of Srila Prabhupada’s personal servants, Gauridasa Pandita dasa, about the Ritvik order. Very nice comment.

The Spiritual Master
by Locanananda dasa

Srila Prabhupada is the eternal spiritual master of his followers and of all generations of followers still to come. His Divine Grace likened initiation to the admissions procedure at school. He said it was more or less a formality. He surely never wanted this initiation issue to divide his followers into different camps.

The essence of the process of devotional service is to surrender to the spiritual master. A disciple accepts the discipline taught by Krishna’s pure representative. He does not manufacture his own way. In that sense, followers are disciples, and Srila Prabhupada will deliver them to Krishna.

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Initiation Protocols

And the most definitive direction on this subject is found in the purport of the Srimad Bhagavatam: “One should take initiation from a bona fide spiritual master coming in the disciplic succession, who is authorized by his predecessor spiritual master. This is called diksha-vidhana.” (SB 4.8.54)

Initiation Protocols
Interview with Sriman Locanananda Prabhu

Interviewer: The issue of initiations in ISKCON has divided devotees for several decades and appears to have evolved into a schism. What is your personal perspective on this issue?

Locanananda dasa: When I was President of the Amsterdam temple in 1977, I received a copy of the Summary Report of the GBC meetings held in Vrndavana that year from the 27th through the 29th of May. In that report, two of the three questions Srila Prabhupada answered on May 28th were included, but the answer to the question about future initiations was not. A few weeks later, I received a copy of the July 9th letter explaining the new initiation protocols. It didn’t seem as if much had changed. Initiations would resume despite Srila Prabhupada’s ongoing illness. The letter also addressed the selection of “rittik” representatives of the acarya and referred to the May 28th meeting with Srila Prabhupada, but there was no detailed explanation as to how the two were connected. We were really left in the dark for years as to what instructions Srila Prabhupada had actually given the GBC as a mandate for future initiations.

Interviewer: Would you say it was a cover-up and hijacking of the movement?

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In Glorification of His Grace Tribhuvannatha Prabhu


In Glorification of His Grace Tribhuvannatha Prabhu
by Locanananda dasa 2001

At the 1970 London Rathayatra, more than thirty years ago, I met a young bhakta who, like myself, was trying to absorb the transcendental gift of Krishna consciousness. He was bright-faced, innocent, full of energy and obviously very dedicated to pleasing his spiritual master. I knew him as Tom, and I thought that if I could do just as he was doing— always joyfully chanting the Hare Krishna Mantra and studying Srila Prabhupada’s books — then everything about my life would turn out all right.

We remained friends all of those years, but our service rarely brought us together. Still, I always felt a close connection with His Grace Tribhuvannatha Prabhu. In 1976, we spent some time associating in the holy land of Vrndavana Dhama and I can still recall the kirtana he led after Srila Prabhupada performed a fire yajna in the courtyard of the Krishna-Balarama Mandira. There was great potency in his chanting, the potency that comes from being totally surrendered to the will of a pure devotee of Krishna. Tribhuvannatha Prabhu’s chanting sounded like a call to every jiva soul to rise up and begin to serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead who resides in the hearts of all.

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This Movement is Srila Prabhupada’s Mercy Upon the Conditioned Souls of this World

This Movement is Srila Prabhupada’s Mercy Upon the Conditioned Souls of this World
Originally published as; Reply To Chakra Ritvik Debate, but timely today as the Battle over Bangalore continues…
By; Locanananda dasa
Editorial, Jun 30 (VNN)

Perhaps the most significant point is, that for members of ISKCON, the most important source of authoritative statements concerning the process of initiation are the words, spoken or written, of our own spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada.

After offering his association to his disciples over the years, by the time he was ready to announce his plan for future initiations after his disappearance, he could judge exactly to what extent his leading disciples would be able to follow in his footsteps by acting as gurus. Therefore, in his final instructions, he announced that he would recommend some of his disciples to serve as officiating acharyas, acting as his representatives. He did not declare anyone to be a full-fledged, fully realized, fully independent diksa guru to be worshiped by all as he himself had been worshiped. Instead, he named certain members of the GBC to occupy this post and to perform the service of accepting disciples on his behalf in addition to all of their other duties as zonal secretaries.

It was (and still is) obvious that no single individual could have been called upon to succeed him as head of the institution. This was never what Srila Prabhupada had in mind for ISKCON, even for future generations. … As a result of their misunderstanding of Srila Prabhupada’s final instructions, the GBC members who began to initiate thought that they were personally capable of delivering their disciples from birth and death because they were diksa gurus. The long-lasting effect of the illusion they created was to push Srila Prabhupada into the background by denying his second generation of followers direct access to him.

…We all need to be reminded that this movement is Srila Prabhupada’s mercy upon the conditioned souls of this world. It is Srila Prabhupada who is meant to receive the credit and glorification for whatever is achieved by his followers throughout the course of this movement. As an eternal associate of Lord Sri Krishna, Srila Prabhupada is capable of entering the heart of any sincere follower and inspiring and guiding him or her from within.And we should never think that he has abandoned us and is no longer available to us despite our most sincere prayers. His Divine Grace can be reached by whoever opens any of his books to page one and hears from him by submissive oral reception. And the role of anyone who performs initiations in ISKCON now or in the future is to simply encourage everyone to adhere themselves strictly to what has been set forth by our spiritual preceptor as the message of the disciplic succession he represents.

Full article followes;

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Arsha Prayoga – Part IV


Arsha Prayoga – Part IV
By Sriman Locanananda Prabhu

For those who saw the Hare Krishna movement spread from city to city and from country to country, it was clear that the original version of Srila Prabhupada’s books was full of spiritual potency and did not require to be changed in any way for his words to act upon the hearts of the conditioned souls.

The question as to whether the writings of the Acharya may or may not be revised by his disciples after his disappearance is answered by the rule of arsha-prayoga.

This principle states that one should not see mistakes in what the spiritual master has written or think that his writings may be changed to make them more effective or politically correct. To preserve his teachings in their originally published form is the way by which the Acharya is honored, and to do otherwise is to dishonor him. That is the rule of arsha-prayoga, a principle that devoted followers of a bona fide spiritual master must adhere to without deviation.

The rationale for changing Srila Prabhupada’s books was based on a series of false arguments, many of which were defeated by Srila Prabhupada himself as this article will show. To justify their actions, the BBT editors created the illusion that Srila Prabhupada’s books were defective and in need of extensive editing even though they knew His Divine Grace had never authorized anyone to revise his books after his disappearance. Subsequent to his departure, they conveniently overlooked the principle of arsha-prayoga and proceeded to do exactly what Vaishnava tradition strictly prohibits.

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The Real Final Order


The Real Final Order
10/25/1998 – 2410
Editorial (VNN) – by Sriman Locanananda Prabhu 
Submitted on the disappearance day of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

During what Srila Prabhupada thought might be his final days, he summoned his GBC representatives from all over the world to come to his bedside in May of 1977. He was about to pronounce his final instruction concerning how the movement should be expanded after he was no longer physically present to oversee things. When he was specifically asked how initiations would be performed in the future, he replied that he would recommend some of his GBC men to act as officiating acharyas in his absence. This was a momentous pronouncement. He was going to create the post of officiating acharya by naming some of his disciples to initiate on his behalf. They would actually be gurus, but would act as representatives of the acharya in initiating members into Srila Prabhupada’s movement after His Divine Grace had left this world. Although everyone present said that this instruction was understood, in the twenty-one years since this revelation, not a single ISKCON guru has called himself an “officiating acharya”. This has produced a contrary result.

To resolve the conflict and ongoing debate between the proponents of “ritvik” initiation and ISKCON’s official interpretation of Srila Prabhupada’s instructions, we must find a common denominator upon which both parties can agree. That one camp is ready to excommunicate or overthrow the other is causing a massive headache in the minds of peaceful devotees everywhere. With the greatest urgency, the fracture in our movement must be healed before it becomes a permanent schism. To avoid causing further embarrassment to our spiritual master, and to protect innocent devotees and well-wishers of the Krishna consciousness movement from the devastating effect of our fratricidal follies, all followers of Srila Prabhupada should stop their sabre rattling and calmly consider how to resolve their differences.

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Officiating Acharya’s


The War is Over
Editorial (VNN) – by Locanananda Das

There is a popular ideology that claims that Srila Prabhupad should still be considered the diksa guru in ISKCON. It is commendable that devotees who espouse this ideology want to see Krishna’s pure devotee unlimitedly and perpetually glorified. That goal can be accomplished by following the system of “officiating acharyas” that he factually authorized. An “officiating acharya” simply teaches by example how to follow in the footsteps of the great preceptor and founder acharya of ISKCON and then engages everyone in the service of expanding the sankirtan movement.

When Srila Prabhupad was asked how initiations would be performed after he was no longer physically present, his response was clear and powerful. He had been contemplating this question for ten years, and his main concern was to guarantee the continuity and future growth of his movement. His reply was “I shall recommend some of you to act as officiating acharya.” This was the term he wanted to introduce to describe the role of his disciples who would initiate new devotees as members of ISKCON after he had concluded his manifest pastimes.

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Why Not Just Print Prabhupada’s Original Books

Why Not Just Print Prabhupada’s Original Books
By Sriman Locanananda Prabhu

Srila Prabhupada said that our purpose was unity, and even though the legal documents seem to create a workable arrangement by which both editions of his books can be made available, the true potency of the Hare Krishna movement will be manifested when the deviation is removed and we are all distributing the same Bhagavad-gita As It Is, the same Krishna Book and the same Teachings of Lord Caitanya, just as we all chant the same Mahamantra, offer obeisances to the same spiritual master and worship the same Supreme Personality of Godhead

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Arsha-Prayoga Part III – The Case Against Changing Prabhupada’s Books


EDITORIAL
BY LOCANANANDA DAS – 11-01-04

While planning to print the unabridged version of the Bhagavad-gita, Srila Prabhupada often referred to it as the revised and enlarged edition. When the BBT published its unauthorized adulterated Gita years later, they would henceforward refer to the 1972 printing as the original edition while calling theirs the revised and enlarged edition. This appears to be a subtle act of deception meant to validate the irreverent practice of changing Srila Prabhupada’s Books.

The remainder of this article will focus mainly on the Bhagavad-gita As It Is, which contains the essence of Vaishnava philosophy. Srila Prabhupada said that the Krishna consciousness movement is genuine, historically authorized, natural and transcendental due to its being based on the Bhagavad-gita As It Is. It was his conviction that the entire human society could embrace one God, Krishna, and live harmoniously by practicing one religion, devotional service to God, by chanting one mantra, the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra, and by following one scripture, the Bhagavad-gita As It Is. Because the Bhagavad-gita is so vitally important to the spreading of Krishna consciousness, the adverse effect of changing its original wording without the approval of the Acharya can hardly be estimated.

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Arsha Prayoga Part II

Arsha Prayoga Part II
By Sriman Locanananda Prabhu

Srila Prabhupada’s desire was to see his books translated into all of the major languages of the world. By 1970, numerous centers had opened in countries outside of the United States and translation work had begun in Germany, France, Canada, South America and Japan. When the German devotees undertook the translation of the Srimad Bhagavatam, they discovered what they thought were grammatical discrepancies in the original English. The translators reasoned that if their spiritual master could publish his books with flaws included, then their own translation work could also contain mistakes and no harm would be done. In a very strongly-worded letter, Srila Prabhupada chastised his disciples for thinking they could imitate their spiritual master and explained that to avoid this offense, they must follow the principle of arsha prayoga.

One should not see mistakes in the books written by his spiritual master, nor should one think he is able take the same liberties taken by him. His Divine Grace warned his disciples that only if they were able to spread Krishna consciousness all over the world as he had done could discrepancies in their translation work be overlooked, otherwise not.

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Initiation Protocols

May 28th, Initiation Protocols
Interview with Sriman Locanananda Prabhu

May 26, NEW YORK — Interviewer: The issue of initiations in ISKCON has divided devotees for several decades and appears to have evolved into a schism. What is your personal perspective on this issue?

Locanananda dasa: When I was President of the Amsterdam temple in 1977, I received a copy of the Summary Report of the GBC meetings held in Vrndavana that year from the 27th through the 29th of May. In that report, two of the three questions Srila Prabhupada answered on May 28th were included, but the answer to the question about future initiations was not. A few weeks later, I received a copy of the July 9th letter explaining the new initiation protocols. It didn’t seem as if much had changed. Initiations would resume despite Srila Prabhupada’s ongoing illness. The letter also addressed the selection of “rittik” representatives of the acarya and referred to the May 28th meeting with Srila Prabhupada, but there was no detailed explanation as to how the two were connected. We were really left in the dark for years as to what instructions Srila Prabhupada had actually given the GBC as a mandate for future initiations.

Interviewer: Would you say it was a cover-up and hijacking of the movement?

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Arsha Prayoga And Shakespeare (I)

Arsha Prayoga And Shakespeare (I)
By Sriman Locanananda Prabhu

The question as to whether the writings of the acarya may or may not be revised by his disciples after his disappearance is answered by the rule of “arsa prayoga”.

This principle states that one should not see mistakes in what the spiritual master has written or think that his writings may be changed to make them more effective or politically correct. To preserve his teachings in their originally published form is the way by which the acarya is honored, and to do otherwise is to dishonor him. That is the rule of “arsa prayoga”, a principle that devoted followers of a bona fide spiritual master must adhere to without deviation.

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Arsha Prayoga Part (I) – Resistance To Change


Arsha Prayoga Part (I) – Resistance To Change
By Locanananda Prabhu

Let me first offer my prostrated obeisances unto the lotus feet of that supreme swan-like devotee of the Lord, our spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, by whose mercy the fallen souls of Kali Yuga may taste the sweetness of the narrations of the pastimes of the Lord and His pure devotees. As the bonafide representative of Sri Vyasadeva, he composed a mountain of transcendental literature to enlighten the entire human society, explaining even the most confidential truths regarding vaisnava philosophy.

His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada displayed all of the symptoms of an empowered jiva soul, working tirelessly to distribute the transcendental message of love of Godhead throughout the world. It is therefore the duty of his followers to preserve the legacy and protect the honor of such a great spiritual personality whose every moment was dedicated to the spreading of Krishna consciousness.

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Arsha Prayoga


Arsha Prayoga – Part One
April 26, 2010 by Locanananda Prabhu

For those who saw the Hare Krishna movement spread from city to city and from country to country, it was clear that the original version of Srila Prabhupada’s books was full of spiritual potency and did not require to be changed in any way for his words to act upon the hearts of the conditioned souls.

The question as to whether the writings of the acarya may or may not be revised by his disciples after his disappearance is answered by the rule of “arsa prayoga”. This principle states that one should not see mistakes in what the spiritual master has written or think that his writings may be changed to make them more effective or politically correct. To preserve his teachings in their originally published form is the way by which the acarya is honored, and to do otherwise is to dishonor him. That is the rule of “arsa prayoga”, a principle that devoted followers of a bona fide spiritual master must adhere to without deviation.

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108 Imporant Slokas from the 1972 Bhagavad-gita As It Is

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The Hare Krishna Cookbook

Songs of the Vaisnava Acaryas

Bhagavad-gita As It Is 1972 Edition “Online”

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Srimad Bhagavatam Online

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Raja-Vidya the King of Knowledge

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Important Slokas from the Brahma-samhita

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Slokas from the Sri Isopanisad

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Prayers By Queen Kunti (Slokas)

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Gajendra’s Prayers of Surrender (Slokas)

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