“Guru” in the Singular and Clarity about “Fall Down”

January 5, 2014 in Articles, Dhira Govinda dasa by Nityananda Rama dasa

**newruleWe need a guru in whom we have absolute faith and     whom we are willing to follow unconditionally in order to spiritually     progress to the realm of pure devotion to Sri Krsna. This statement is made     with reference to the point that each of us has many gurus, with “gurus”     used in the sense of “teacher”, or “person who inspires and guides us”. We     have many gurus, and it is understood that we generally don’t consider these     many gurus to be on the absolute platform. That is fine, realistic, to be     expected. That said, we need one guru, or at least one guru, who is on that     absolute platform and in whom our trust is implicit and absolute. Sincere     followers of Srila Prabhupada agree that Srila Prabhupada exists on that     absolute platform and is fully qualified as a shelter for the unconditional     surrender of conditioned souls. As we assert in Srila Prabhupada: The     Prominent Link, when a person contacts Srila Prabhupada’s movement, that     person has found a guru, in the sense of finding a Vaisnava who is     completely worthy of their absolute faith. In that sense, the person no     longer needs to seek a guru, because s/he has found one. Of course, that     person will naturally have so many other devotees guide, instruct and mentor     him/her during their spiritual lives. Although the person may consider one     or more of these other devotees to be on the absolute platform, it is not     necessary that s/he considers as such, or that those guides and mentors be     on that platform, because Srila Prabhupada is perfectly serving in that     capacity for the aspiring devotee. Thus, to reiterate, Srila Prabhupada     flawlessly fills the role of guru, in the singular sense of the term, for     all who contact his movement.

There is a game going on in the ISKCON     organization. The game sounds something like “Now that you’ve been in the     movement for six months, or twenty years, or whatever, you should find a     guru.” In the context of the presentation in the paragraph above, the     absurdity of that game should be apparent. To justify the game the     leadership of the ISKCON organization needs to dance in amusing ways.     Essentially they seem to need to passively convince that Srila Prabhupada is     not available to play that role. For example, they may say that one needs a     living guru, implying that Srila Prabhupada is not living, despite so much     evidence to the contrary. Or they may say that one needs a guru who is     physically present on this planet, or something to that effect. Then one may     wonder about the situation of those who received formal initiation from a     devotee, such as Gaura Govinda Maharaja, who is no longer physically present     on the planet. Do those initiates need to search for a guru, with “guru”     used in the singular sense? If so, then supposing they find a guru in whom     they have absolute faith, and that guru passes away the next day. Does the     initiate then need to search for another guru, and then yet another when     that one passes away? It may be asserted that the initiate doesn’t need to     search for another guru, because his guru who has physically departed     continues to live in sound and instruction. Then, one may reflect that if     this guru who has departed continues to live, inspire and serve as a guru,     then it would seem that Srila Prabhupada could also do that. Thus, in     looking for a guru in the absolute position, there seems to be no basis for     searching for a Vaisnava other than Srila Prabhupada. Of course, at all     stages of our devotional lives we seek devotees who will guide and inspire     us, though, it seems to me, there is no reason, at any stage of our     devotional lives after we’ve encountered Srila Prabhupada’s vani, to search     for a guru in the absolute position.

So, members of ISKCON leadership     tend to obscure the issue by asserting things like “Srila Prabhupada can be     the siksa guru, but not the diksa guru”, and various similar statements.     Essentially, they’re attempting to assert that Srila Prabhupada is not     available to be the guru in the absolute position. Herein we won’t enter     into the discussion of the meaning of “diksa”. That is addressed to some     extent, though by no means fully, in Srila Prabhupada: The Prominent Link     (PL). Even if we consider “diksa” in terms of the formal ceremony of     initiation, as ISKCON leadership is often inclined to do, our parampara     teaches that the guru in the absolute position, who is the reservoir of     implicit faith for the disciple, is not intrinsically the devotee who     conducts the ceremony of initiation. This is clearly evident from the list     of the parampara found at the end of the BG Introduction. This is separate     though related to the discussion about the essence of the process of diksa     being in no way dependent on the formal ceremony of initiation.

From     what I am able to perceive, the position of the ISKCON leadership is that     Srila Prabhupada, for some reason that I’ve not yet comprehended, is not     available to be that guru in the absolute position, and thus a person who     contacts Srila Prabhupada’s movement must search for a guru from amongst     members of the list of gurus approved by ISKCON leadership. Apart from the     difficulties of establishing Srila Prabhupada’s unavailability, this stance     also encounters serious problems in relation to the concept of “fall     down”.
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