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“You have to remember that in the passage under review Srila Prabhupada used the word 'initiated' to refer only to Jagannatha dasa Babaji's relationship with Bhaktivinoda Thakura, not to Bhaktivinoda Thakura's relationship with Gaura-kisora das Babaji.”

DRAVIDA DASA
      Explaining book edit changes


Response to Dhira Govinda Prabhu
By Dravida dasa

Dear Chakra Readers

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

The following is my final communication with Dhira Govinda Prabhu concerning my changes to the beginning of Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 1.

Your servant Dravida dasa


Haribol Dhira Govinda Prabhu,

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

Thank you for your thoughts on my changes to the passage in question. I think that to have left the two "initiated"s in place would have required a large footnote along the lines of your explanation to avoid confusion in the reader. A few pages later in the CC (at Adi 1.35) the reader encounters this passage:

"A devotee must have only one initiating spiritual master because in the scriptures acceptance of more than one is always forbidden. There is no limit, however, to the number of instructing spiritual masters one may accept. Generally a spiritual master who constantly instructs a disciple in spiritual science becomes his initiating spiritual master later on."

Having read that Jagannatha dasa Babaji initiated Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, the reader would naturally assume that Jagannatha dasa Babaji is Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura's initiating spiritual master. But we know that Bhaktivinoda already had one--Vipina Vihari Goswami--and so that impression would be false because "acceptance of more than one [initiating spiritual master] is always forbidden."

You say, "Of concern is that the explanation for deleting the word 'initiated' seems to be largely based on the understanding of the word 'initiated', 'as we know it in ISKCON'. Perhaps when Srila Prabhupada used the word 'initiated', he did so deliberately, and the meaning of the term as it has come to be understood in ISKCON is faulty."

But certainly the common meaning of the term as understood in Iskcon comes from how Srila Prabhupada used it--either to refer to the formal process of first initiation by himself personally or by himself through his representative, with fire sacrifice, the taking of sacred vows, the change of name, etc.--or to the awarding of the sacred thread at the time of second initiation. Since Prabhupada almost always used "initiation" and its variants to mean one of these two processes, especially when referring to modern times, I don't think you can call the understanding of this term current in ISKCON as faulty. The more expanded meaning of diksa in Madhya-lila doesn't negate the meaning Srila Prabhupada usually employed.

Plus, you have to remember that in the passage under review Srila Prabhupada used the word "initiated" to refer only to Jagannatha dasa Babaji's relationship with Bhaktivinoda Thakura, not to Bhaktivinoda Thakura's relationship with Gaura-kisora das Babaji. The second "initiated" was added by an editor, probably under the impression that Jagannatha das Babaji had formally initiatied the Thakur, and that the latter had formally initiated Gaura-kisora. So to strictly follow what Srila Prabhupada said, we would have something like this:

"The direct disciple of Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami was Srila Narottama dasa Thakura, who accepted Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti as his servitor. Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura accepted Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji, who initiated Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, the spiritual master of Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji, the spiritual master of Om Visnupada Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja, the divine master of our humble self."

This takes us even further down the road toward conveying the idea that Jagannatha das Babaji was the initiating spiritual master of Bhaktivinode Thakur (false), while at least leaving open the possiblity that the latter was not the initiating spiritual master of Gaura Kisora (true). But this creates a false distinction: in truth, Jagannatha das Babaji was an instructing spritual master of Bhaktivinoda Thakura, and the Thakur was an instructing spiritual master of Gaura-kisora das Babaji.

Nowhere in his entire corpus does Srila Prabhupada say that Bhaktivinoda Thakura initiated Gaurakisora dasa Babaji. So the editors shouldn't add it. But now we have a distinction that doesn't belong.

I chose to do what I did because it avoids all these pitfalls and still conveys the guru-disciple relationship Prabhupada wanted to express among these leading lights.

Aside from the passage itself, I can easily see the following syllogism flowing from your notes on diksa:

Diksa is really the imparting of transcendental knowledge. Srila Prabhupada is the pre-eminent imparter of transcendental knowledge for all generations of Iskcon devotees, now and in the future. So Srila Prabhupada is giving diksa to all who take knowledge from his books, tapes, and other media. He who gives diksa is the diksa-guru. One is enjoined to have only one diksa-guru because the acceptance of more than one is strictly forbidden in the sastra. Therefore Srila Prabhupada is the only diksa-guru for all Iskcon devotees for the next ten thousand years.

I don't think I want to go down that road.

Hoping this meets you well, I remain 
Your servant, Dravida dasa

© CHAKRA 9-July-2000

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