Siksa-guru is Liberated Devotee

By Kailasa Candra dasa

Revised, October 2009

All emphases have been added for your edification and realization.

“The initiating and instructing spiritual masters are equal and identical manifestations of Krsna, although they have different dealings.”  Caitanya-caritamrita, Adi 1.34, purport

“Therefore, there is no difference between siksa-guru and diksa-guru . . .  Room conversation in Bhubanesva on Jan. 31, 1977

“According to sastric injunctions, there is no difference between siksa-guru and diksa-guru, and generally the siksa-guru later on becomes the diksa-guru.” Srimad-bhagavatam, 4.12.32, purport

tad vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet
samit-panih srotriyam brahma-nistham
Mundaka Upanisad, 1.2.12

The siksa-guru is on the same platform of realization as the diksa-guru,  therefore they are equal and identical manifestations of the Lord.  As stated above, the diksa-guru and the siksa-guru, in the true senses of the terms, are both fixed in brahman realization (brahma-nistham); they are both tattva-darshi, having seen the Truth (tattva-vidah, S.B., 1.2.11).  An advanced devotee may see the Truth as brahman as he is making progress toward higher realizations, viz., Paramatma and Bhagavan darshan.

A millionaire is obviously a rich man, but, beyond him, both the multi-millionaire and the billionaire can also still be called millionaires. Diksa-guru and siksa-guru, in the true senses of the terms, are situated on the same absolute platform of brahma-bhuta (brahma-nistham), although there are, of course, different levels of realization developed on that platform.  It is nevertheless one (jnana-advayam as per S.B., 1.2.11). 

The cheap, so-called diksa-guru--or the cheap, so-called siksa-guru--is not a manifestation of the Supreme Lord, however.  Only the post-modern sahajiyas consider them as such and prematurely consider themselves to be siksa-gurus but not diksa-gurus.

“There is no difference between the shelter-giving Supreme Lord and the initiating and instructing spiritual masters. If one foolishly discriminates between them, he commits an offense in the discharge of devotional service.”   Caitanya-caritamrita, Adi 1.47, purport

“Sometimes a caste guru says that yei krsna-tattva-vetta sei guru haya means that one who is not a brahmana may become a siksa-guru or a vartma-pradarsaka-guru but not an initiator guru. According to such caste gurus, birth and family ties are considered foremost. However, the hereditary consideration is not acceptable to Vaisnavas. The word guru is equally applicable to the vartma-pradarsaka-guru, siksa-guru and diksa-guru.”  Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya 8.128, purport

Srila Prabhupada implies that anyone who is differentiating between the diksa-guru and a siksa-guru, in terms of level of realization, is in illusion.  The example of the Hindu caste guru is cited here.  In applying this to the current situation, we should not cooperate with any new, post-modern Western quasi-caste system, although that’s exactly what is being elevated to religious dogma at this time.

vande ‘ham sri-guroh

Transliteration: vande—offer my respectful obeisances; aham—I; sri-guroh—of my initiating spiritual master or instructing spiritual master Cc., Antya 2.1, purport

“There are two kinds of guru: the diksa-guru and the siksa-guru.” From Sri Nagar Kirtan within GitavaliA Collection of Songs published in 1893 by Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur.  Translation by Dasaratha Suta das

When the word guru is used, it refers to either the diksa-guru or the siksa-guru, unless specified; the vartmapradarsaka-guru is also a siksa-guru, but he has a different dealing with a person who has just come into contact with the absolute teachings.  On the assumption that the above-quoted translation is accurate, Srila Saccidananda Bhaktivinode Thakur originally presented the correct understanding of siksa-guru over a century ago. 

siksa-guruke tajani krsnera svarupa
antaryami, bhakta-srestha,—ei dui rupa

Transliteration: siksa-guruke—the spiritual master who instructs; ta’—indeed; jani—I know; krsnera—of Krsna; sva-rupa—the direct representative; antaryami—the indwelling Supersoul; bhakta-srestha—the best devotee; ei—these; dui—two; rupa—forms.

“When by learning from the self-realized spiritual master one actually engages himself in the service of Lord Visnu, functional devotional service begins. . .” Caitanya-caritamrita, Adi 1.47, purport

Self-realization begins at brahma-bhuta.  Usually, that English term (self-realization) is used in reference to Paramatma or even higher understanding.  Nevertheless, the brahma-bhuta soul is a highly advanced devotee:

navyavad dhrdaye yaj jno
brahmaitad brahma-vadibhih
na muhyanti na socanti
na hrsyanti yato gatah

“The Supreme Knower in the heart (Paramatma) makes everything ever-fresh.  This is brahman realization (brahma-bhuta) according to the knowers of the Absolute Truth.  When they attain this, the brahma-realized are never bewildered, never lament, and are never elated.” S.B., 4.30.20

In the purport, Srila Prabhupada adds: “There is really nothing uninspiring for a highly advanced devotee. . . The Supersoul gives instructions to the sincere, unalloyed devotee on how he can progress more and more in approaching the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Srila Jiva Gosvami in this connection says that the Supersoul, the plenary expansion of the Personality of Godhead, exists in everyone's heart, but in the heart of the devotee He reveals Himself as ever-increasingly new. Being inspired by Him, the devotee experiences increased transcendental bliss in the execution of his devotional service.”

jive saksat nahi tate guru caittya-rupe
siksa-guru haya krsna-mahanta-svarupe

Transliteration: jive—by the living entity; saksat—direct experience; nahi—there is not; tatetherefore; guru—the spiritual master; caittya-rupe—in the form of the Supersoul; siksa-guru—the spiritual master who instructs; haya—appears; krsnaKrishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead; mahanta—the topmost devotee; sva-rupe—in the form of.

Since one cannot visually experience the presence of the Supersoul, He appears before us as a liberated devotee. Such a spiritual master is none other than Krsna Himself.” Caitanya-caritamrita Adi 1.58

Note here that “such a spiritual master” is referred to in the verse and transliteration as a siksa-guru, i.e., siksa-guru, in the true sense of the term, is an advanced, liberated devotee of the Lord.  “He appears before us as a liberated devotee.”  Anyone who says otherwise disqualifies himself immediately relative to any claim he has made to being siksa-guru.

“A siksa-guru who instructs against the instruction of spiritual, he is not a siksa guru. He is a demon. Siksa-guru, diksa-guru means . . . Sometimes a diksa-guru is not present always. Therefore, one can take learning, instruction, from an advanced devotee. That is called the siksa-guru. Siksa-guru does not mean he is speaking something against the teachings of the diksa-guru. He is not a siksa-guru. He is a rascal.” Lecture in Honolulu, July 4, 1974

For every one of his initiated disciples, Srila Prabhupada was diksa-guru, siksa-guru, and their vartma-pradarshaka-guru as well.  In the Cc., Adi Lila 1.58 transliteration cited above, it should be understood that mahanta and mahatma are synonymous.  The siksa-guru, in the true sense of the term, is a liberated, self-realized mahatma--an advanced devotee, a great soul. 

 “Sometimes a diksa-guru is not present always.” Now, what did Srila Prabhupada mean when he said that?  Did he mean that the diksa-guru (when not present)—being allegedly (according to the post-modern definition) more advanced than a siksa-guru—indirectly forces his disciple to accept instruction from persons who are not on the realized platform?  In other words, the newcomer must now accept instruction and direction from, and service to, any devotee who happens to present himself as a siksa-guru—who is considered as such according to the unauthorized post-modern definition—even though that so-called siksa-guru says that he is not qualified to be diksa-guru.

No, of course not.  It simply means that a diksa-guru is not always present with his initiated disciple, even when the diksa-guru is still externally manifest.  This was certainly the case while Srila Prabhupada was here, as most of his disciples had very limited direct access to him.  That is the meaning of “not present always.” It does not mean that one of his rank-and-file initiated devotees was automatically obliged to accept some other godbrother--perhaps initiated earlier and maybe a temple president or a sannyasi or a commissioner—as a siksa-guru.

While Srila Prabhupada was manifest, he did not for the record recognize any of his disciples as having attained the platform of siksa-guru, despite his order to them to reach that status.  Later in the article, this fact will be very specifically corroborated.

“The diksa-guru and the siksa-guru are both intimate servitors of Lord Krsna.” Harinama-cintamani of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, as translated by Bhanu Swami

“ . . . the pure devotee who instructs and guides the disciple in the confidential service of Sri-Sri Radha and Krishna is the siksa-guru.”

 “One should . . . worship both the initiating and instructing spiritual masters with great attachment, never thinking that the guru is merely a great sage—rather, that he is one's most intimate and well-wishing friend.”  

Both of these quotes from Sri Manah Siksa by Srila Raghunatha das Gosvami, as translated by Sarvabhavana das

On the reasonable expectation that these are accurate translations, they all further establish the exalted status of a genuine siksa-guru.  He is intimately in touch with his spiritual master, even if his guru is no longer physically manifest. The siksa-guru in the true sense of the term is a liberated, pure devotee—above the stage of an impersonalist or even a brahma-realized maharshi (who is not a Vaishnava).  As long as such a siksa-guru first directly receives the order from Srila Prabhupada, he is already fully qualified to become a diksa-guru, as established earlier (“ . . . generally the siksa-guru later on becomes the diksa-guru.” S.B., 4.12.32, purport).

kiba vipra, kiba nyasi, sudra kene naya
yei krsna-tattva-vetta, sei ‘guru’ haya

“If one becomes a guru, he is automatically a brahmana.” Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya 8.128, purport

“Automatically a brahmana” directly relates to the realized brahmin, i.e., a Vaishnava who is brahma-realized. “Self-realized” often refers to the uttama-adhikari—who knows his own spiritual self as well as the form, quality, and pastimes of the Supreme Lord--but it also sometimes refers to the brahma-realized devotee, as in Bhagavad-gita:

“Thus when he is completely free from false ego, he becomes non-attached to all material things, and that is the stage of self-realization of brahman. That stage is called the brahma-bhuta stage.”  18.51-53, purport:     

Being completely free from identification with false ego, being firmly situated in sattva with no influence of the lower modes piercing the mind or intelligence, is no minor achievement. The advanced devotee who has attained such a status is sometimes also called a topmost devotee. To continue our previous analogy, for a person who is in debt and barely has one hundred dollars in his name, a millionaire is considered to be the topmost rich man.

Such a liberated person no longer desires external material happiness. This state is called brahma-bhuta, attaining which one is assured of going back to Godhead, back to home. Bhagavad-gita, 5.24

vaco vegam manasah krodha-vegam
jihva-vegam udaropastha-vegam
etan vegan yo visaheta dhirah
sarvam apimam prthivim sa sisyat

Transliteration: vacah—of speech; vegam—urge; manasah—of the mind; krodha—of anger; vegam—urge; jihva—of the tongue; vegam—urge; udara-upastha—of the belly and genitals; vegam—urge; etan—these; vegan—urges; yah—whoever; visaheta—can tolerate; dhirah—sober; sarvam—all; api—certainly; imam—this; prthivim—world; sah—that personality; sisyat—can make disciples.

A sober person who can tolerate the urge to speak, the mind's demands, the actions of anger and the urges of the tongue, belly and genitals is qualified to make disciples all over the world.Upadeshamrita, Verse One    

He is qualified, no doubt, but His Divine Grace has made it abundantly clear that the dhira must also receive the directive from his guru. In the Second Chapter of the Bhagavad-gita, the dhirah is established as a self-realized, undisturbed devotee of the Lord.  He is guru and is qualified to initiate disciples, as evidenced here.  As applied to Srila Prabhupada’s initiated disciples—if any one of them has attained or will attain this level of dhira--he was or is also automatically a siksa-guru. However, he or she is qualified to become a diksa-guru only after having received the direct order from Srila Prabhupada to initiate disciples.  Obviously, it would only be logical that His Divine Grace would extend just such an order to any one of his disciples who has attained this level of realization. 

Srila Rupa Gosvami, in using sisyat in the verse from the Nectar of Instruction quoted above, indicates initiated disciples.  Any other limited interpretation of sisyat is a watered-down stretch, generally motivated by a desire to differentiate siksa-guru from diksa-guru.  Nevertheless, Srila Prabhupada added: “But by my order” in the May 28, 1977 conversation in Vrindavan (the so-called appointment tape). There is no need for any kind of gauna-vritti in interpreting his injunction: 

Amara ajnaya guru hana. Be actually guru, but by my order.”

Prabhupada had just quoted from Cc., Madhya 7.128--then he added “but”, along with the three other words.  That means that there is something else to the order, a further clarification and qualification.  Then he clarifies exactly what that something else is: “my order.”

It is said that, if you repeat something three times, then the unbiased intelligence remembers it.  We have repeated this essential point more than three times, but those pretending to sleep will still not hear it.

Srila Prabhupada (saksad-dhari) certainly was (and remains) the direct representative of—and non-different from--the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.  At the same time, Srila Prabhupada is a glorious ever-liberated individual, the Supreme Personality of Servitor Godhead.  As such, when he says that the order must come directly from him, the direct meaning, the mukhya-vritti, is not at all difficult to assimilate.  After all, Lord Caitanya would never give an order like this to a jiva (initiated into His line by Srila Prabhupada) if His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada did not first also order it directly for that disciple.  In other words, if someone says that Lord Caitanya generically gives the order in Madhya 7.128, Prabhupada has added the stricture that the order must also specifically come from him to his disciple.  Indeed, he may give the order even previous to brahma-bhuta, but he will never give it to anyone still entangled in anartha or aparadha. Prabhupada has clearly said, in Nairobi on Oct. 28, 1975, that he himself received the order to become guru from his spiritual master:

Brahmananda: He's asking: When did you become the spiritual leader of Krishna consciousness?
Prabhupada: When my Guru Maharaja ordered me. This is the guru-parampara.
Indian man: Did it . . . ?
Prabhupada: Try to understand. Don't go very speedily. A guru can become guru when he's ordered by his guru, that's all. Otherwise, nobody can become guru.
Indian woman: (Hindi question)
Prabhupada: (replies to her in Hindi, then continues . . .) Sadhi mam prapannam: "I am surrendered to You. Whatever You say, I shall carry out." That's all.
Indian man: When did he tell you to . . . ?
Prabhupada: What is the business, “When did he tell me?” And why shall I disclose to you? It is so very insignificant thing that I have to explain to you?
Indian man: No, I am just curious when . . .  
Prabhupada: You should be curious within your limit. You should know that one can become guru when he is ordered by his guru, this much.

jive saksat nahi tate guru caittya-rupe
siksa-guru haya krsna-mahanta-svarupe

In the purport to Cc., Adi 1.58, Prabhupada explains: “It is not possible for a conditioned soul to directly meet Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but if one becomes a sincere devotee and seriously engages in devotional service, Lord Krishna sends an instructing spiritual master to show him favor and invoke his dormant propensity for serving the Supreme. The preceptor appears before the external senses of the fortunate conditioned soul . . .”

Saksat means direct experience. Jive saksat means that the jiva gets the direct experience. This obviously refers to pratyaksa, as prati means near or through the material senses. The conditioned soul is generally limited to pratyaksa, and he cannot (nahi tate) inwardly perceive the guru in his heart. However, he can perceive and hear from the guru who appears externally as a liberated devotee to impart spiritual instruction. The conditioned soul must surrender his senses to the manifest siksa-guru, who can also be called a living guru, as long as that term is understood properly without offense.

“So Krishna is within as caitya-guru, and when we are serious, He comes out as the spiritual master. Siksa-guru, diksa-guru. So there is no difference between siksa-guru and diksa-guru and Krishna. Krishna manifests Himself externally as siksa-guru and diksa-guru.” Lecture in Vrindavan on Oct. 29, 1972

Of particular note here is that the siksa-guru is also generally an external manifestation, so all these claims by newcomers that Prabhupada is their siksa-guru may or may not be as legitimate as they first may seem.  We can intuit just how sincere such claims are when we see the affiliations of these new people and note just what they are preaching.  When they are affiliating with and preaching that which is not, then we can be certain that His Divine Grace is not their siksa-guru.  Prabhupada comments upon the Book Bhagavat, which is also an external manifestation; as such, he can be contacted in that way.  However, the general understanding is that the siksa-guru is an external manifestation for the conditioned soul, not solely a previous spiritual master who has left physical manifestation.

“The first manifestation described is the spiritual master, who appears in two plenary parts called the initiating spiritual master and instructing spiritual master. They are identical because both of them are phenomenal manifestations of the Supreme Truth.” Caitanya-caritamrita, Introduction to Adi Lila

“He helps us from within as Caitya Guru, and He expands Himself externally as Siksa Guru (as instructor) and Diksa Guru (initiator). So, the principle is that whatever you are instructed by the Caitya Guru internally may be confirmed by the instructor or initiator externally. Then your progress will be complete.” Letter to Sivananda, May 21, 1969

“He expands Himself externally as Siksa Guru . . . ” The external manifestation as siksa-guru is necessary so that the conditioned soul does not convince himself (delude himself by mental speculation) that some kind of self-motivated, nonsensical order or conclusion is coming from caitya-guru.  However, none of these references specifically state that the siksa-guru must always only be an external manifestation; we shall present a translation from Harinam-cintamani which indicates that previous Acharyas can also be considered siksa-gurus. 

“Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami states that the instructing spiritual master is a bona fide representative of Sri Krishna. Sri Krishna Himself teaches us as the instructing spiritual master from within and without. From within, He teaches as Paramatma, our constant companion, and from without He teaches from the Bhagavad-gita as the instructing spiritual master. There are two kinds of instructing spiritual masters. One is the liberated person fully absorbed in meditation in devotional service, and the other is he who invokes the disciple’s spiritual consciousness by means of relevant instructions. Thus the instructions in the science of devotion are differentiated in terms of the objective and subjective ways of understanding.” Caitanya-caritamrita, Adi 1.47, purport

A section of this purport has been repeatedly distorted in post-modern times to justify the misconception that any devotee (on virtually any platform of purity--or lack thereof) can present some teaching from Srila Prabhupada to a newcomer and thus be considered a siksa-guru.  Such a misunderstanding constitutes a gross violation of the intent of this passage.  The misconception itself can be further explained in this way: The liberated siksa-guru is ultra-special, while the non-liberated (?) siksa-guru is a very general and basic thing, rather easy of access. From this wrong foundation, the so-called objective way of understanding the Vedic and Vaishnava instructions is through the liberated acharya—obviously, Srila Prabhupada is usually cited here. Following through on this misconception, almost all of Prabhupada’s initiated devotees are then supposedly also siksa-gurus, teaching people the subjective (?) way of understanding. 

What nonsense! The misinterpretation hinges on an unnecessary application of gauna-vritti or laksana-vritti to the text. Such is not the intent of this purport, however, because this kind of misinterpretation and misapplication defies all the other statements made in shastra on the subject of siksa-guru, as well as commentaries on this topic made by Srila Prabhupada elsewhere (some of which have been cited in this article).  Thus, there is definite criterion for rejection of laksana-vritti here.

The mukhya-vritti application to this above-mentioned purport is to be accepted, and it is as follows: Consider the two kinds of liberated devotees, known as ghostyanandi and bhajananandi.  The ghostyanandi speaks and, as such, he gives relevant instructions subjectively to each of his disciples.  The bhajananandi does not give such instruction nor does he (with rare exception) act as initiator guru. Instead, he sets the example of a liberated soul (that kind of siksa-guru) by his presence and spiritual vibration; this is the objective manifestation.  Both advanced devotees are genuine siksa-gurus, because both teach as external manifestations of the Supreme Lord in human form, i.e., living gurus. 

This proper and logical interpretation matches and harmonizes with all of the other references to siksa-guru given to us by Srila Prabhupada and the Vedic and Vaishnava scriptures. Gauna-vritti has no application to the above-mentioned purport (Adi 1.47). 

“A devotee must understand that the adi-guru, original spiritual master of the sampradaya, is the siksa-guru, and only his teachings are to be accepted and not those of any other scholar or teacher.” Harinama-cintamani of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, as translated by Bhanu Swami

On the assumption that this is an accurate and authoritative translation, here we see that even the non-manifest devotee can be accepted as a kind of siksa-guru.  This concept of siksa-guru is applicable to the previous Acaryas of the Sampradaya, particularly the founders of the lines, referring to  Madhvacharya, Ramanujacharya, Vishnu Swami, and Nimbarkacharya.  Logic indicates that this would also be applicable to the Sampradaya Acharyas who follow that Adi Guru.  All of their siksa is primarily “in the shape of scriptures” although, taking advantage of modern technology, it also now can be had in both video and audio formats.

Let me paraphrase Srimad-bhagavatam, 1.7.5, as per Prabhupada’s purport. It means that conditioned souls are being reclaimed by the Supreme Controller in two ways, namely by the process of punishment by the external energy and by God Himself as the spiritual master within and without. Within the heart of every living being, the Lord as Paramatma becomes the spiritual master, and from without He becomes the spiritual master in the shape of scriptures, saints and the initiator spiritual master.

Check out that purport for yourselves, prabhus.

What we do not find anywhere in it is that the initiator spiritual master can be anything but an external manifestation of the Lord.  The diksa-guru is specifically cited in 1.7.5 as being “from without.” The purport does not specifically mention the siksa-guru or instructing spiritual master in terms of him being only an external manifestation from without.  Conversely, it does specifically cite the diksa-guru (“initiator spiritual master”) in just such a context. That constitutes proof that the diksa-guru must always be an external manifestation for the conditioned souls.

The example of rare souls (like Dhruva Maharaj) from ancient times, those who received initiation from Sri Devarshi Narada Muni (or any other non-manifest guru), is not viable at this time.  That kind of initiation is especially vitiated and inapplicable when it is turned into an organized or institutionalized initiation process.

In S.B., 1.7.5, Srila Prabhupada also cites “the guru in the shape of scriptures” as per the well-known verse Cc., Madhya 22.54. This is the Book Bhagavat.  The devotee can receive siksa through this transcendental facility, as it brings the association, instruction, and guidance of Srila Prabhupada’s translations and commentaries.  These benefits are effective as long as there is eagerness to understand the transcendental message. The guru in the shape of scriptures gives such devotees access to the benefit of his sadhu-sanga in the shape of scriptures.  Neither the Book Bhagavat nor siksa-guru should ever be considered some kind of post-modern leviathan, however; there is no such thing as a group being the guru.

Caitanya Mahaprabhu says:

sadhu sanga sadhu sanga sarva sastra kaya
lava matra sadhu sange sarva siddhi haya

Prabhupada: "Even a moment's association with a pure devotee—all success.” Not necessarily that one has to acquire it previous, no. Generally it is so, but sadhu sanga has got its effect. Caitanya Mahaprabhu said: lava matra sadhu sanga sarva siddhi haya. You have not read in the Sanatana-siksa in the Teachings of Lord Caitanya?
Sannyasi: Does that also apply to reading the words of a pure devotee?
Prabhupada: Yes.
Sannyasi: Even a little association with your books has the same effect?
Prabhupada: Effect, of course. It requires both the things. One must be very eager to take it. Room Conversation in Indore 12-13-70   

“ . . . if he is conversant in the science of Krsna he can become a spiritual master as vartma-pradarsaka-guru, diksa-guru or siksa-guru. The spiritual master who first gives information about spiritual life is called the vartma-pradarsaka-guru, the spiritual master who initiates according to the regulations of the sastras is called the diksa-guru, and the spiritual master who gives instructions for elevation is called the siksa-guru. Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya 8.128, purport

The initiating and instructing spiritual masters are equal and identical manifestations of Krsna, although they have different dealings.  Caitanya-caritamrita, Adi 1.34, purport

The issue of difference amongst and between gurus is not on the platform of their realizations; it is in connection to their functions or dealings. 

Guror avajna. First offense is guror avajna: Defying the authority of guru. This is the first offense. So one who is offensive, how he can make advance in chanting? He cannot make. Then everything is finished in the beginning. Guror avajna. Everything is there. If one is disobeying the spiritual master, he cannot remain in the pure status of life. He cannot be siksa-guru or anything else.” Lecture in Honolulu, July 4,1974

siksa-guru-brnda krpa koriya apar
sadhake sikhan sadhaner anga-sar

But I consider the numerous instructing spiritual masters (siksa-gurus) to be more important, for they show unlimitedly more mercy by training the neophyte devotees in all the essential aspects of practical devotional service (sadhana-bhakti). Sri Sri Kalyana Kalpa-taru: The Desire Tree of Auspiciousness from A Songbook of 62 Bengali Songs by Srila Saccidananda Bhaktivinoda Thakura, translation by Dasaratha-suta dasa

Assuming that the translation is accurate, both references confirm that a neophyte or kanistha-adhikari is not really a siksa-guru, unless specifically ordered by his spiritual master to initiate disciples.  Certainly, in such a case, that devotee would have to be, at bare minimum, anartha-nivritti; he or she could not still be entangled in any kind of aparadha or anartha.

If Kirtanananda Maharaja speaks what I speak, then he can be taken as siksa-guru. Guru sastra sadhu. The spiritual master is one; that is a fact. Kirtanananda Swami may be taken as sadhu not spiritual master or as instructor guru . . . You have written that the devotees here (in New Vrindavan) say that you cannot know me, but only Kirtanananda Maharaja can know me. But, if Kirtanananda is a disciple and he can know me--and you are also a disciple-- why you cannot know me?” Letter to Paramananda and Satyabhama, 7-20-74

Simply put, Srila Prabhupada did not lend any credence to the idea, then rampant in West Virginia, that the mahant mentioned in this letter had attained to the platform of siksa-guru.  There was no ringing endorsement that anyone had been recognized by him as siksa-guru in 1974.

“This is the function of the GBC, to see that one may not be taken away by maya. The GBC should all be the instructor gurus. I am in the initiator guru, and you should be the instructor guru by teaching what I am teaching and doing what I am doing. This is not a title, but you must actually come to this platform. This I want.” Letter to Madhudvisa 8-4-75

When you want something, that means that you don’t have it. No ringing endorsement here, either. None of the commissioners had attained to the platform of siksa-guru as of this date in 1975.

Prabhupada: So many complaints.
Secretary: Therefore, change is good.
Prabhupada: No. You become guru, but you must be qualified first of all. Then you become.
Secretary: Oh, that kind of complaint was there.
Prabhupada: Did you know that?
Secretary: Yeah, I heard that, yeah.
Prabhupada: What is the use of producing some rascal guru?
Secretary: Well, I have studied myself and all of your disciples, and it's clear fact that we are all conditioned souls, so we cannot be guru. Maybe one day it may be possible . . .
Prabhupada: Hmmmm . . .
Secretary: (pause) but not now.
Prabhupada: Yes. I shall choose some guru. I shall say: "Now you become acharya. You become authorized." I am waiting for that. You become all acharya. I retire completely. But the training must be complete.
Secretary: The process of purification must be there.
Prabhupada: Oh, yes, must be there. Caitanya Mahaprabhu wants that. Amara ajnaya guru hana: "You become guru." But be qualified. Little thing, strictly follower . . .
Secretary: Not rubber stamp.
Prabhupada: Then you'll not be effective. You can cheat, but it will not be effective. Room Conversation on April 22, 1977 in Bombay

In this very important conversation, we see that His Divine Grace gave no ringing endorsement for siksa-guru anywhere in his movement in 1977 as well. The obvious and logical conclusion is that none of his disciples had attained the platform of guru—either siksa-guru or diksa-guru—as of six months prior to his disappearance.  One month later (after this Bombay conversation), in Vrindavan, he again spoke of initiation, as well as the principle of guru (generically)—really adding nothing new to what he had given throughout all of his writings, letters, lectures, and conversations over the past decade. An important excerpt from that May, 1977 conversation has been cited previously in this article. 

Still physically manifest, a little over one month after that May conversation, he appointed eleven rittviks—only rittviks--to initiate disciples into the line on his behalf; this also was nothing new.  Srila Prabhupada was the diksa-guru for all of these newly-initiated disciples in the late summer and fall of 1977—up to November 15th of that year. 

During his manifest presence, His Divine Grace never recognized anyone as being on the platform of guru, and certainly did not recognize any of his disciples being the Acharya.  He also never recognized anyone as being siksa-guru. In the Bombay room conversation (cited above), he agrees (“Yes”) with the conclusion that his leaders were all still conditioned souls, not qualified to be guru at any level. 

Considering and analyzing this evidence without motivation or bias, it all points to a sad state of affairs in effect during the last days he was with us.  This became even worse as time went on, especially in connection to the zonal acharya scam after his disappearance.  There has been a lot of cheating since that time, and the cheating continues.  As His Divine Grace predicted, this has resulted in the current centrifugal state of chaos and disintegration. The various concoctions have not been effective in the matter of bringing any of the new people to pure Krsna conscious understanding.

So, at this time, what is the actual adhikara of his preachers today?  If somebody preaches--if he or she is not a brahma-realized, Paramatma-realized, or Bhagavan-realized siksa-guru--then what is his or her status?  Early on in his movement, Srila Prabhupada gave us the answer:

“Yes, whoever you tell the chant to, it is effective. 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.” Letter from L. A. to Bhaktin Andrea Temple in the Bahamas, dated 3-6-68

However, it must be noted that Srila Prabhupada was physically manifest when this letter was written, and there was a vast difference between those new people and the devotees who had already been initiated by Srila Prabhupada.  This remains the case today, also. The new people back then received the mantra from him—even through the agency of different non-initiated devotees--but they had not as yet been actually initiated:

“Yes, there is definitely a vast difference between initiated and non-initiated. One who is initiated is authorized, and one who is not initiated is not authorized. . . . One who becomes initiated is channelized to the authorities in the disciplic succession. One who isn't initiated may chant Hare Krishna (and should certainly be encouraged to do so) and serve in his own way. And gradually, by doing so, he may want to be initiated.” Letter to Satsvarupa, 11-14-68

There is also a vast difference between a genuine siksa-guru and a sahajiya.  The cheap guru/cheap disciple syndrome is nowadays pushed by the sahajiya section, as they stress that spiritual advancement is measured by the alleged importance and display of superficial or material results.  His Divine Grace warned us about this:

“They should be checked. Otherwise, one will gradually become sahajiya or one who takes spiritual advancement as something materially manifest.” Letter to Makhanlal, 6-3-70

A siksa-guru never interferes with the adhikara of any other devotee.  If a devotee reaches the required qualification, he is a siksa-guru; if he receives the order, he is diksa-guru.  A genuine siksa-guru never tries to check him in either case.  A siksa-guru is never a sahajiya.  A siksa-guru never tries to claim that gross results—number of “initiates,” number of temples, number of properties, number of bank accounts, number of letters previously received, etc.--prove anything.  He never looks to materially manifest results in order to establish his status, and he never waits in queue for one or two years in order to be voted in as diksa-guru (or not vetoed) by the governing body of such a confederation. 

The genuine diksa-guru understands that, upon attaining necessary qualification, he is duty-bound to fulfill his adhikara; when he becomes liberated from all entanglement in anartha, aparadha, and karma, he acts as guru.  The actual order does not come from some kind of commissary; it has no relation to any group or confederation.  The order comes from the devotee’s spiritual master.  Those who devise elitist or confederated schemes in order to create another oppression counter to the eternal system are never siksa-gurus or diksa-gurus.  The initiations such men perform are not recognized by the guru-parampara.

A genuine siksa-guru does not preach that initiation is attained from a previous spiritual master in the sampradaya, one who is no longer externally manifest to confirm that relationship.  A siksa-guru neither respects nor condones such cheap initiations performed by so-called rittvik-acharyas.  A siksa-guru is liberated, and he does not say or do anything that is not conducive to his disciple also becoming liberated.        

The conclusion is that, unless we are actually on the platform of guru—and that platform is fundamentally one—we should serve Srila Prabhupada as his representative.  We should repeat his message as he has given it.  We should not artificially or prematurely declare ourselves to be siksa-guru and compound that offense by improperly differentiating between diksa-guru and siksa-guru.  We should promote for all devotees the opportunity to take advantage of the externally manifest guru in the form of the scriptures and their bona fide commentaries, and we should strive to reach the platform of strictly following.  We should neither become entangled in any institutionalized delusion, nor mislead thousands of innocent fools into the delusion that they have become initiated by a non-manifest spiritual master, nor affiliate with the neo-Mutt, which is dishonoring the previous Acharya by preaching a false doctrine concerning our origination.


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Quotes from the books of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada are copyright by the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust