"Oh, I know that you people are also nice devotees, but I want to find a guru who is a follower of Srila Prabhupada." I have heard this statement umpteen times. Let us reflect a moment on this topic.
This world is living in the dark depths of ignorance about the functional principles of the guru-parampara. Let us reflect on the subject matter: What are the principles delineating the flow of the preceptorial succession? Who is a follower of the Acarya?
As the spiritual science itself is not of the mundane realm, certainly the principles guiding its flow are not of a mundane nature, and as such, they are thus never bound by ecclesiastical establishments.
"Sri Jiva Gosvami advises that one not accept a spiritual master in terms of hereditary or customary social and ecclesiastical conventions", as stated by Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in his commentary of the Caitanya Caritamrta (Adi-lila, 1.35).
Only a transcendental consideration, viz. the transcendental realization of the devotee, is a fit consideration for ruling out the disciplic line.
I recall a leading ISKCON-sannyasi giving the following statement to me a year ago about a person who was very fond of reading Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada's books, and who then accepted diksa from Sripad Bhaktipramoda Puri Maharaja: "Yes, I can understand their choice. However, it is unfortunate that in this way they are losing their connection with Prabhupada."
Let us examine the history to see if there is any practical substance to our bold claim on the non-mechanical nature of the current of transcendental knowledge. Let us travel back in time with the guru-parampara, as it was accepted by Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati.
Our first example dates only a century back in time. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada accepted initiation from Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji Maharaja. Now, who will dare to deny the fact that Srila Sarasvati Thakura is a follower of Srila Thakura Bhaktivinoda, although not formally initiated by him? Indeed, Srila Sarasvati Thakura has understood the holy precepts of Thakura Bhaktivinoda in toto, and thus he is certainly and unquestionably a follower of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. There is not the least doubt about it.
Our second example dates one generation further into the history, as Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji Maharaja accepted babaji vesa from Srila Bhagavata dasa Babaji Maharaja, and yet was also a staunch follower of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura.
We need not go much more back in time to note that Srila Thakura Bhaktivinoda accepted diksa from Vipin Bihari Goswami, and yet is was staunch follower of Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji, entirely dedicated to his precepts.
Let us leap a few generations back. Srila Thakura Narottama accepted diksa from Srila Lokanatha Goswami, but there is not a slightest doubt of the fact that he is among the most resplendent followers of the six Gosvamis of Vrindavana, as is Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami, who is also not initiated by them. In fact, we do not even know the name of Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja's initiating spiritual master.
Ultimately the fact is that Sriman Mahaprabhu Himself had no formally initiated disciples. Yet we all claim to be His followers. We have not heard of a fire sacrifice being performed or mantras given to the six Gosvamis, or to anyone for that matter, by Sriman Mahaprabhu. It is evident that Sriman Mahaprabhu did not place all that much emphasis on the external acceptance of initiation, as He did on the inner flow of spontaneous loving devotion.
He initiated the mellows of Vraja-prema in hearts. This is real initiation, and this is the ruling principle of preceptorship.
As the final example in this regard, we may note that Srila Vyasadeva did not formally accept initiation from Sri Narada Muni upon their meeting on the banks of the Sarasvati-river. Srila Narada initiated him with transcendental knowledge only. This is the sum and substance of any right for preceptorship.
Reflecting on the examples given, we are bound to conclude the following: Stating that the precepts of the guru-parampara descend only through anusthaniki-diksa, or the formal duty of accepting initiation according to a ritual, is tantamount to turning one's back to the sacred precepts of the entire guru-parampara.
The factual divine succession, based on the transmission of divya-jnana, or transcendental knowledge, is called bhagavat-parampara, and it is widely accepted among the genuine followers of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada. Let us follow the Acarya.
Atul Krishna dasa
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