History of Diksa Guru in ISKCON 1978-2014

BackTo-Godhead-ISKCON-Initiation

The other day I got a new phone, a smart phone. I wanted to see how smart it was, so I asked it a Question. “Who is Srila Prabhupada” and I was very surprised when it started talking, with authority. It also brought up a Google page with links to various articles. One of the links brought me to this very informative composition on the history of ISKCON. Although I was aware of most of the history, still to see it all written in one place was something. Thank you to Nrsimhananda Prabhu, who did a fine job of putting it all together. We share it with all of you.

History of Diksa Guru in ISKCON 1978-2014
by Nrsimhananda dasa

This is a history of GBC resolutions, gurus approved, gurus suspended, and other key events in ISKCON as specifically related to diksa and siksa gurus. Although compiled carefully over many years, and in consultation with many ISKCON members, some historians and some former members, there are undoubtedly a lot of errors and omissions in this document due to a lack of information. There are especially errors in terms of the specific years that some persons were approved or disapproved to act as diksa guru in ISKCON. Such errors are due to a lack of record-keeping on the part of any official ISKCON body. This is intended to be a public document, for the view of anyone interested in ISKCON history; it is not an internal document.

(Note: most GBC resolutions are here in a summary form; some are in the exact wording).

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Initiations in ISKCON

SP_initiation
There is an ongoing debate on how initiations were to go on after Srila Prabhupada’s physical disappearance.  Many devotees don’t like to talk about it or think about it, so conditioned are we to accept the status quo.   But I think it is important not to turn a blind eye on the issue of initiation, and how it was meant to go on, as initiation (accepting a spiritual master), is a very important step in progressing in spiritual life. Success in spiritual life is in following the instructions of the spiritual master.  So for the sake of keeping the very important issue alive we present the following post that we saw recently on the Prabhupada News website.

It is widely known that Srila Prabhupada instituted a ritvik or representative (proxy) initiation system throughout ISKCON as early as 1971 in order to meet the growing need to initiate his disciples worldwide. However what is not widely known is that he instructed his disciples to continue initiating new disciples on his behalf even after his physical disappearance.

He called those disciples who performed the initiation ceremonies ritvik representatives of the acharya (officiating acharyas). Below are quotes directly from Srila Prabhupada for the evidence of these instructions as well as explanations, philosophical insights, and historical background.

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The Nectar of Instruction

Nectar of Instruction

…In this verse Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī advises the devotee to be intelligent enough to distinguish between the kaniṣṭha-adhikārī, madhyama-adhikārī and uttama-adhikārī. The devotee should also know his own position and should not try to imitate a devotee situated on a higher platform. Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura has given some practical hints to the effect that an uttama-adhikārī Vaiṣṇava can be recognized by his ability to convert many fallen souls to Vaiṣṇavism. One should not become a spiritual master unless he has attained the platform of uttama-adhikārī. A neophyte Vaiṣṇava or a Vaiṣṇava situated on the intermediate platform can also accept disciples, but such disciples must be on the same platform, and it should be understood that they cannot advance very well toward the ultimate goal of life under his insufficient guidance. Therefore a disciple should be careful to accept an uttama-adhikārī as a spiritual master.

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