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Preaching at Kumbha Mela
while staying at the Kumbha Mela festival in Allahabad I went over to
visit the Ritvik camp as I had heard about their 15 metre high deities of
Gaura Nitai. They were very impressive. I couldn't get in to the site
without buying a book for 10 rupees. "Do you have one in
English" I asked. I was handed a copy of "The Laws of
Nature" by HDG Srila Prabhupada. Back in my homeland as I read
through the book I came to a paragraph that reads, "As you progress
in bhakti-yoga, you may eventually want to accept initiation. Before he
left this world in 1977, Srila Prabhupada authorized a system in which
advanced and qualified devotees would carry on his work by initiating
disciples in accordance with his instructions. At present there are many
spiritual masters in ISKCON. To learn how you can get in touch with them
for spiritual guidance, ask a devotee at your nearby temple, or write to
the president of one of the ISKCON centers listed at the end of this
book.” So, what am I to do? Surely they must be aware that Srila
Prabhupada's books contain many instructions like this. Should I believe
what is written here? It doesn't seem to fit in with the Ritvik idea.
Certainly if I go to a nearby temple or write to the president of one of
the ISKCON centers listed at the end of the book, they aren't going to
suggest that I "head for the nearest Ritvik temple" because they
seem to be so few and far between. Personally, I can accept the fact that
"Srila Prabhupada authorized a system in which advanced and qualified
devotees would carry on his work by initiating disciples in accordance
with his instructions,” and I can also accept that sometimes things
didn't go at all according to that plan. Still, there are advanced and
qualified devotees in ISKCON. So many. And they're not all gurus either.
You find them cooking in kitchens, cleaning the hallways, emptying the
garbage bins, distributing books, performing hari nam sankirtan,
worshipping the deities or doing a whole host of services for Krishna.
Services that, were it not for the divine touch and guidance of Srila
Prabhupada, would have us all acting as slaves to our minds and senses.
Chewing the chewed and toiling uselessly for mundane pleasures which are
readily available to even the hogs and dogs. So thank you my Ritvik
friends for giving me Srila Prabhupada's mercy. I need it badly.
© CHAKRA 27 February 2001
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