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Reinitiation and Narayan Maharaja
By Krishna-kirti das

Dear Vaisnavas and Vaisnavis, please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Up to the recent past, our ISKCON society has seen the fall down of many leaders, several of whom had disciples. The former disciples of those spiritual masters were often upset, confused, and sometimes left Krishna-consciousness; the more fortunate ones took shelter of a spiritual master as either a diksa- or a siksa-guru. But even some of these devotees had the further misfortune of having their new-found spiritual masters fall down again, and again. Such not infrequent occurrences make fertile ground for loss of faith and doubt. When such loss of faith becomes prominent, devotees abandon our society as it stands today and repose their bruised faith elsewhere.

Some camps opposing ISKCON bluntly say that this string of mishaps and fall downs by a section of our leadership is proof that leaders in ISKCON as a whole are unfit to accept disciples. While such fall downs have been unfortunate, they do not indicate that all of those who fell were never bona fide, nor does it mean that the rest who have not fallen are unqualified to be spiritual masters. In fact, there are many senior devotees in our society who have been acting in an exemplary way and have been preaching very wonderfully without a break for the last 30 years. Thousands of new devotees from the ranks of the karmis have been made by these merciful acaryas. Those of us who are Srila Prabhupada's grand-disciples, who by their mercy came to know who is Krishna and what is our relationship with Him, must therefore offer our humble obeisances at their feet.

Regarding those leaders in ISKCON who have not fallen down and who continue to preach wonderfully by their example, I wish to address the issue of Narayana Maharaja initiating their disciples. The need to address this issue arises from the fact that Narayana Maharaja and his disciples actively try to recruit us. One disciple of Narayana Maharaja has said:

"We have not seen any reasons to avoid Srila Narayana Maharaja's association that can be taken seriously. The members of ISKCON will be denied the opportunity of hearing from him if they follow the orders of the GBC above the orders of Srila Rupa Gosvami, Srila Prabhupada, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, and all of our predecessor acaryas. Therefore ISKCON members must make the decision to think for themselves or allow the GBC to think for them. The disciples of Hrydayananda Maharaja also have now a decision to make. In light of his duplicity and loyalty to a GBC, which is deviated from the teachings of its founder acarya and Srila Rupa Goswami they must decide to continue to follow such a bogus guru or reject him. "[1]

So the person who wrote and published this in a public forum has asked all devotees who have gurus in ISKCON who are in good standing to leave their spiritual masters. Specifically, he has asked me and my Godbrothers and Godsisters to reject our spiritual master. It should be remembered that he is exhorting devotees to abandon spiritual masters who have not fallen down and who have not ceased in their preaching activities.

The sole reason the above person asks us to abandon our spiritual masters, as stated in the reference above, is that our spiritual masters have ordered us not to associate with Narayana Maharaja or his followers.

Why have we been ordered to not associate with Narayana Maharaja and his followers? Because (1) although claiming to be a disciple of Srila Prabhupada, Narayana Maharaja does not respect the directives in Srila Prabhupada's final will and testament with regard to the management of ISKCON; and (2) Narayana Maharaja re-initiates disciples from spiritual masters who are in good standing.

GBC as Final Authority, Not Narayana Maharaja

Srila Prabhupada in his final will and testament, has clearly stated who should be the final authority in the matter of managing ISKCON:

"The Governing Body Commission (GBC) will be the ultimate managing authority of the entire International Society for Krishna Consciousness. "[2]

Nowhere in Srila Prabhupada's will is there any mention that Narayana Maharaja was to be the final authority for ISKCON. Yet Narayana Maharaja and his followers claim that it was Srila Prabhupada's desire that Narayana Maharaja will guide ISKCON. To support their claim, they have referred to a newly published transcript wherein Srila Prabhupada is having a discussion with Narayana Maharaja and says to him:

Narayana Maharaja: You have done a wonderful thing. It is necessary to care for and preserve this mission, and see that it is managed skillfully.

Srila Prabhupada: You kindly instruct them on this matter. I'm unable to speak. [3]

In the above reference, the publishers have written in uppercase letters the phrase "YOU KINDLY INSTRUCT THEM ON THIS MATTER" to demonstrate that this is what Srila Prabhupada wanted. The algebra here, so to speak, is that if the GBC is to manage ISKCON, and Narayana Maharaja is to instruct (read "become siksa-guru") of the GBC, that makes Narayana Maharaja the highest authority for ISKCON. However, we find in the same reference that Srila Prabhupada did not consider this to be the case:

Narayana Maharaja: Only one thing. They should be told not to fight with each other for self-interest. They should work in cooperation to spread your mission.

Srila Prabhupada: Don't fight among yourselves. I HAVE GIVEN YOU MY WILL. EXECUTE THAT. . . Today is Ekadasi?

Some points should be noted: Narayana Maharaja states that Srila Prabhupada's disciples ("they") should not fight with themselves, making a distinction between himself and them. However, Srila Prabhupada's response clearly speaks to Narayana Maharaja and his disciples together. ("Don't fight among yourselves. ") And what is Srila Prabhupada's instruction to his disciples and to Narayana Maharaja?

I HAVE GIVEN YOU MY WILL. EXECUTE THAT

In other words, whatever advice Narayana Maharaja or any other sadhu may give, the GBC has the adhikar, or right, as per Srila Prabhupada's final will and testament, to have the final decision on accepting or rejecting such advice. Narayana Maharaja does not respect this.

Narayana Maharaja and his disciples will say that this "will" spoken of above is Srila Prabhupada's collective desire as stated in his books, teachings and conversations and not limited to a piece of paper required by secular authorities. But ISKCON is not a material society, and Srila Prabhupada placed on that "piece of paper" his desire that the GBC be the ultimate managing authority for ISKCON. This is not a mundane formality, as there is no requirement by the karmi government that Srila Prabhupada had to make a GBC at all. He could have easily picked a successor, or said in his will that the GBC was to be subordinate to Narayana Maharaja, but he didn't. He made the GBC the ultimate authority for ISKCON, not Narayana Maharaja.

Furthermore, Srila Prabhupada's usage of language (with regard to the phrase "my will") most closely resembles other instances where Srila Prabhupada refers specifically to the document that is his final will and testament and not to his collective instructions:

"This will be my will, and some of you will sign. That's all. That is sufficient. "[4]

"I have given in writing everything, whatever you wanted-my will, my executive(?) power, everything. "[5]

"Print books, and as I have given in my will, half, again print, and half spent for propaganda as you like. "[6]

Notice that in two of the three phrases above, Srila Prabhupada uses the word "given" (with the phrase "my will"). This is used only in conjunction with his final will and testament. Srila Prabhupada never speaks in this manner when he refers broadly to all of his instructions or desires (in his books, lectures, etc. ).

And finally, even if Narayana Maharaja considers that this "will" refers to everything but Srila Prabhupada's "final will and testament", this "final will and testament" is also an instruction to be obeyed along with all the other instructions. If Narayana Maharaja really considers himself obligated to follow Srila Prabhupada as a disciple, then he must also accept Srila Prabhupada's instruction that the GBC is the final authority with regard to ISKCON's affairs. Otherwise, he should not claim such discipleship.

Re-initiation

There was a time within ISKCON when everyone, and our leaders in particular, had high regard for Narayana Maharaja. It is not that they felt Narayana Maharaja was trying to take away their disciples. In fact, some leaders with disciples also granted requests from their disciples to formally accept Narayana Maharaja as their siksa-guru. However, when those disciples went to Narayana Maharaja for siksa, Maharaja instead gave them diksa, thus betraying the good will reposed in him by ISKCON's leaders.

"I had some disciples and I consented that they could accept siksa from NM [Narayana Maharaja] but instead of siksa NM gave them re initiation. "[7]

We can see from this that Narayana Maharaja has earned his pariah status, not that he was minding his own business and all of a sudden ISKCON's leaders became envious. If Jayapataka Maharaja consented that his disciples could take siksa from Narayana Maharaja, what was the need of Narayana Maharaja re-initiating them? At the point in time where Jayapataka Maharaja consented to his disciples accepting siksa from Narayana Maharaja, it could not be said that Jayapataka Swami was envious of Narayana Maharaja. Nor was Jayapataka Maharaja fallen. So what other reason could Narayana Maharaja have for re-initiating disciples from a guru who is not fallen or avaisnava?

Narayana Maharaja himself has explained that if the disciple has no faith in his spiritual master, then that is grounds for re-initiating him.

"Some ask if I am re-initiating. I have never re-initiated. If anyone's guru is fallen or he has no faith in his guru, I will help him. "[8]

There are no objections for him or anyone accepting as a disciple someone who's guru has fallen. But the second reason he gives, "he has no faith in his guru" assumes that if a disciple has no faith in his guru, his guru must not be bona fide.

Gurus can be bona fide and have disciples who have no faith in them. Srila Prabhupada himself had many disciples who never had faith in him and had disciples who had faith but then due to excessive material conditioning or offenses lost their faith. In a few cases some disciples were so offensive and faithless that Srila Prabhupada banned them from his temples. If Narayana Maharaja's reason for initiating people is due to lack of faith in their spiritual master, then Narayana Maharaja may then re-initiate Srila Prabhupada's disciples (who have no faith).

It may be claimed that a spiritual master lacks sufficient knowledge to instruct a disciple (that they are not a "rasika bhakta" - another nonsense claim that will be dealt with in another article), and because of his inability to instruct the disciple it is therefore proper to give up such a spiritual master and choose another. However, Bhaktivinoda Thakura forbids this:

"If the guru is not a mayavadi or offender to Vaisnavas nor addicted to sinful life, then one should not reject him even if he has a lack of knowledge. Rather, showing him due respect, with his permission, one should take spiritual instructions from an advanced devotee and serve that devotee properly. "[9]

Also, Srila Prabhupada clearly states that one is forbidden to have more than one diksa-guru:

"A devotee must have only one initiating spiritual master because in the scriptures acceptance of more than one is always forbidden. "[10]

Even if a guru is lacking in knowledge, if he is not fallen, nor an offender, nor a mayavadi, he is not to be rejected. And since one cannot reject such a diksa-guru, there is no question of initiating the disciples of such a guru. Rather, it is advised that such disciples seek spiritual instructions from another. This is permission to receive instruction (siksa), not to receive mantra diksa.

Narayana Maharaja has clearly overstepped his bounds by initiating disciples of other spiritual masters, who, in good faith, once trusted him to not do such forbidden things. Jayaptaka Maharaja certainly had enough tattva-jnana to understand that even if he was unqualified, that such re-initiation is forbidden. Therefore he was right to object and forbid his disciples from seeing Narayana Maharaja.

As a final note, Narayana Maharaja denies that he "re-initiates" anyone because he doesn't accept that any one of Srila Prabhupada's grand disciples have a bona fide spiritual master. The logic here is that if they don't have a bona fide spiritual master, then giving them mantra-diksa is not re-initiation.

"So I am not re-initiating. I am only trying to help them. If I do not help, then who will help them? Because they have lost faith in their gurus, I am doing so. "[11]

As has been demonstrated above, loosing faith in one's spiritual master does not mean the spiritual master is not bona fide, nor is it proper to initiate the disciples of a spiritual master who is not fallen.

Although at one time a well-wisher of ISKCON, we have seen that Narayana Maharaja has been enticing us grand-disciples of Srila Prabhupada to abandon our gurus who are not fallen, are preaching widely and are in good standing. His actions have been nothing short of a betrayal of those he is claiming to help and a nothing short of a betrayal of Srila Prabhupada.

Although this has been unpalatable to speak, the truth must be known. I thank you for your time and attention.

Hare Krishna.

Your servant, Krishna-kirti das (HDG)

  1. Puru das as quoted in "To Hear Or Not To Hear" (http://vnn.org/editorials/ET0103/ET28-6676.html)

  2. Declaration of Will, 4th June, 1977

  3. Prabhupada's Final Words: On Iskcon and Srila Narayana Maharaja (http://www.vnn.org/world/WD0102/WD06-6546.html) Transcript dated October -November, 1977

  4. Discussions, May 20 - 22, 1977, Vrindavan

  5. Room Conversation, October 2, 1977, Vrindavan

  6. Conversation, October 12, 1977, Vrindavan

  7. Jayapataka Maharaja, as quoted in "To Hear Or Not To Hear" (http://vnn.org/editorials/ET0103/ET28-6676.html)

  8. Narayana Maharaja, Lecture, April 22, 2001, Salt Spring Island, Vancouver, Canada. (http://vnn.org/world/WD0105/WD28-6773.html)

  9. Jaiva Dharma Chapter 20, from Bengali original, page 353

  10.  Caitanya-caritamrita, 1.35 purport

  11. Narayana Maharaja, Lecture, April 22, 2001, Salt Spring Island, Vancouver, Canada. (http://vnn.org/world/WD0105/WD28-6773.html)

© CHAKRA 1-July-2001

 

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