Don’t just give brahmin initiation to anybody-SP

January 20, 2023 in Articles by Damaghosa dasa

Jan 5 1972 letter to Niranjana

Please accept my blessings. I thank you for your letter dated 1st January, 1972 and am glad that you have received my letter. The four sinful activities which one must avoid if there is to be any hope for spiritual advancement are the eating of meat, fish and eggs, the use of intoxicants, illicit connection with women, and gambling. So these are the first four sins which I ask all of my students to strictly avoid committing. Practically the entire population of the world is entrapped by these four sinful activities. In our Krishna Consciousness Society we are training our students up to the standard of brahminical culture. So the great respect we are getting here in India and throughout the rest of the world is due to these restrictions. Actually our students have surpassed the category of brahmana because they are Vaisnavas which means they are transcendental to any material position, and brahmana is a material order of life, part of the Varna Ashrama system. Many times I have been told by other so-called holy men that I should not expect that foreigners will be able to avoid these sinful activities. But I have never compromised in any way and as a result of our sticking strictly to our principles our position is unique.
Jan 23 1974
Regarding second initiations, I have become very concerned lately, that some of our older students who have been given the second initiation, have not been strictly following the rules and regulations. So from now on I want our presidents to be very sure about the devotees they are recommending to me for second initiation. I think sometimes in the past devotees have been recommended chiefly because some more helpers were required in maintaining the deity work. Of course, necessity is there. It is just like in government, the government has need for a number of men to fill important posts, but first the persons must be qualified before they can award the post. Even though there may be a pressing demand, first the man must be qualified. Our system is that after one year from the first initiation, if the devotee is strictly following our principles without deviation, and if he will sign a statement in seriousness, that he will not deviate from the chanting and regulative principles, then, on your mature consideration you can recommend him to me. It is not that we are stopping second initiation, but I want to be sure it does not become a farce and names be sent to me without proper qualification. We are criticizing the caste brahmanas for saying that the Americans and Europeans cannot be awarded brahmanainitiation, because according to Vedic sastra, anyone who is properly trained up under a bona fide spiritual master, can become twice born. But if our brahmanas do not take their second initiation seriously, then we will be deserving of criticism. So on this basis, if your think the men you have recommended are still eligible, you can resubmit their names to me and I will accept them.
April 28 1974
Initiation should be given as a future hopebut we should be careful about the second initiationAs recommended by the president or GBC they should only do so when they are quite confident of a man. Otherwise, he should not be recommended. If you follow this principle it will be successful. Every day I am getting request for second initiation, but I do not know. The responsibility goes to the presidents who pick them. Unless they are thoroughly convinced second initiation should not be given. In the beginning we may be a little lenient. But if someone falls down after being initiated he should not be credited with second initiation.
Your ever well-wisher,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
May 27 1974
I am also accepting Jogindra vandana for second initiation who has been initiated for two years. I want to stress to you to be very cautious about giving me recommendation for second initiation. There are four orders of life, it is not that everyone has to be a brahmana just because he has been initiated 1 or 2 or any number of years. Especially if one cannot even rise early for mangalaarati he should never be given brahminical initiation. All your programs are encouraging to me and keep sending me information.

May 27 1974
I am enclosing brahmana threads and gayatrimantra for Ādi Kesava das and Vivasvan das. You must be very careful before you award the brahminical thread by recommending a man to me. Now that we are dividing our society into the four orders as much as possible, it is not that every man has to be made a brahmana after a year. Especially if one cannot even get up early and go to mangalaarati he cannot become a brahmana. So consider it carefully before you recommend further men to me. Sometime in the past Rupanuga Maharaja reported that you were not sending him regular reports so he could compile his GBC report to me; please cooperate with him in this so our huge organization can run smoothly in all its parts.
May 26 1974
Based on their declarations of sincerely following all the prescribed Vaisnava regulations for one year, and on your recommendation, I have accepted JagatPrabhu das, Praghosa das, Kanva das and NitaiGauracandra das for second initiation and I have enclosed sacred thread and gayatri. You were present in Hawaii when I was there and was particularly stressing that the presidents must be very careful on recommending gayatri initiation.After allwe are criticizing false cast brahmanas, if we ourselves are bogus brahmanas then our position is very bad. Now that we are more and more trying to implement the varnasrama divisions of society, we should not think that everyone has to become a brahmana. For example you are developing a farm there; so those who work the farm do not necessarily have to be a brahmana if they are not inclined to the brahminical standards. In this way, be careful about awarding the second initiation.
June 18 1974
I appreciate that you say you have very carefully considered the names and the candidates have had several interviews and written statements before you would consider them, both for first and second initiationI am especially concerned that the second initiation not be taken cheaply and devotees who do not even rise early be recommended for brahmanaTherefore I have accepted the devotees recommended by you and their new spiritual names are as follows:
Nov 21 1974
It is very good that you have purchased a third bus and also that you are rotating the men. This is a good idea. Yes, train up the brahmanas very carefully. Many Indians and foreigners criticize us how we can create brahmanas. They are under the impression that brahmanas are born like horses and asses are born. According to Bhagavad-gita brahmanas are according to guna and karmaSo the training of brahmanas should be so nice that people will be forced to accept them as brahmanas by guna, quality, and karma, action.
So go on with your preaching solidly. Krishna will be pleased and CaitanyaMahaprabhuwill be kind. He is already kind. You simply have to go village to village, and your life will be perfect.
April 27 1974
There is no question of a devotee becoming a sudra if he does certain work. No, a devotee is never a sudra. He is transcendental. Because their activity is done in transcendental loving service unto the Lord, it is all on the transcendental plane, brahmabhuyayakalpate [Bg. 14.26]. You should not quit your present job, it is good service to Krsna. Although you may be working hard, you are always working for Krsna; so do not be confused about your position and never forget Krsna in any circumstances.
Some Conclusions–From these letters it seems Srila Prabhupada was becoming aware of many devotees not following the 4 principles-even some of his leaders, and this was a concern especially for the movements public face as being preachers or brahmana/Vaisnavas. One of his  basic complaints to his TP’s was that if someone could not even get up daily for mongol arotik, how could this person be a brahmana?
And he also made another good point-its not that everyone who comes and chants Hare Krsna maha mantra has to become initiated as a “brahmana” when their quality of work is not in line with brahminical work. So even if one is not “brahminical” in quality and work, still that person if he or she is regularly chanting the Holy Names is still a devotee and above this varnashrama material  classification. He or she is not a “sudra” as he mentions above.
Today in the current world of Hare Krsna devotees, I dont know what is going on anymore because for the most part I am out of touch with most of them.
I  see and hear things from time to time which show me that these above instructions by Srila Prabhupada are still very valid and still should be followed because, no matter who your “guru” is, these rules and reg’s are still part and parcel of the original Vedic culture for personal purification..
One last but important point-is that the very first letter Jan 5 1972  Prabhupada points out how many times he was told or advised by Hindu sadhus or holy men that his foreign students/disciples would not be able to follow these 4 rules. He already was well aware of the western devotees past habits, but chose instead to give us a chance, something no Indian bodied “sadhu” would ever have done.  They considered us “untouchable” as we were. back then…..
Jan 11 1977..Prabhupāda: Yes. We are brainwashing from bad to good. That is our business. We are washing the brain from all rascaldom. That is our business. You are… Your brain is filled up with all rubbish things: meat-eating and illicit sex, gambling. So we are washing them. Ceto-darpaṇamārjanam [Cc. Antya20.12]. Śṛṇvatāṁ svakathāḥkṛṣṇaḥpuṇyaśravaṇakīrtanaḥ, hrdy antaḥ-stho abhadrāṇi [SB 1.2.17]Abhadrānī washing. Abhadrāṇi means bad things. The bad things should be washed off. Don’t you cleanse your home? Don’t you cleanse your room? Is not that brainwashing? So if you wash your room very cleansed, who blames you? But you are so rascal that “Why you are washing this garbage?” you are protesting. You are such an intelligent man. We are washing the garbage; you are protesting, “Why you are washing the garbage?” This is your intelligence. But intelligent men wash the garbage. That is the law of nature, cleanse. That we are doing. According to Vedic civilization, you are actually untouchable. Now we have come to touch you; therefore wash you must first. You are untouchable. In Indian civilization, dog is untouchable, and that is your best friend. So you are not touchable.Therefore we have to wash you. And unless your brain is washed, you cannot understand Kṛṣṇa. So it is necessary. Is that all right? Dog is your best friend. In India dog is untouchable. So “Man is known by his company.” If your best friend is dog, then what you are? We can understand your position because you sleep with dog, you eat with dog, your best friend is dog, so what you areYou must be washed. It is a fact. Every woman, every man, has some dog.
Hare Krsna
damaghosa das