“If they consider it is Kṛṣṇa’-upadeśa, then they’re at liberty to spread it anywhere and everywhere”

At the request of Srila Bhakti Kanan Giri Maharaja I recently posted an article by Sriman Jagadananda dasa Adhikari entitled “Correction and Instruction”.
I asked Srila Giri Maharaja if I could also post his Holiness’s reply to his disciple concerning the submission for publication of this article.
I received this reply –

Dear Sriman Uddharan dasa Adhikari,

Please accept my humble dandavat pranamas.

| May I post this reply to your disciple and If so what title should I use?

Srila Sridhara Maharaja has given the answer to your question.

81.12.02.A at about 30:00

“Yes, one who has got that, he may do. He may publish, I have no objection. Dhira Krishna Maharaja or something like, he also asked me, ‘May we print all these things?’. Yes, you do, yes, you do. Anyone who has heard it, he may do and publish if he thinks it is, to do some good to the world, then of course he is justified to do that.

I don’t want to make it a trade, it must be the most benevolent trade of Mahaprabhu. But no special trade. For His trade, to convert all under Krishna Consciousness, that earnest idea we must embrace, one and all. These are the interests of Mahaprabhu and Krishna, Prabhupada, Swami Maharaja. For their interest it is repeated, meant, worth something. Everyone is at liberty to do that. It is not mine. If the words come from our Master, Krishna, everyone should have right to accept that and to spread that. yāre dekha, tāre kaha ‘kṛṣṇa’-upadeśa. If they consider it is Kṛṣṇa’-upadeśa, then they’re at liberty to spread it anywhere and everywhere. His conscience to be justified.

If he sincerely thinks that, of course he will do it. It is not mine, it is of my Gurudeva and he would say [these] are Mahaprabhu, a ray of Bhagavatam, Vyasadeva, in this way. Gaura Hari Bol… And, if anyone gets any real benefit out of that, then I shall get reward from above and I shall get good will from them also. I want that sort of blessing. For my own sustenance I want that. Gaura Hari Bol.

The reaction will come to me if really that is helpful, the reaction will come to me, to bless me, to make me more fit for the service of my Lord. Gaura Hari Bol.

Without that I may not have anything to change in my heart. I may not do. I pray to my Lord. To make trade over this Hari Katha, our Guru Maharaja condemned it…”

I believe you should choose the title according to your inspiration.

Swami B.K. Giri

And my inspiration for the title? I find it in the words of Srila Sridhara Maharaja –

“If they consider it is Kṛṣṇa’-upadeśa, then they’re at liberty to spread it anywhere and everywhere”

So, I am taking the liberty to publish this spiritual instruction from Om Vishnupada Srila Bhakti Kanan Giri Maharaja to his disciple Sriman Jagadananda dasa Adhikari because I do consider it to be “Kṛṣṇa’-upadeśa”, non different from the teachings of Lord Sri Krishna as in Bhagavad-Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam.

It is my prayer that the readers of the following transcendental correspondence will also find some guidance and inspiration for their devotional practicing life as I have done.

Yours humbly,
Uddharan dasa

Dear Sriman Jagadananda dasa Adhikari,

Please accept my blessings and well-wishes.

If I were choosing the “Subject” of this email it would be “Almost perfect.” Your article is very well done and I will be very happy if you will write more articles that are so nicely and sincerely composed. By reading this article I am seeing your improved introspection and deeper talents as a writer. The subject, and your treatment of it, reveal some genuine insight that is always welcome and generally comes by the process you seem to have experienced involving tapasya (sacrifice) and austerity and, through your devotion, you have come out in a more brilliant form. The formula to follow, by way of its converse, is mentioned below. By applying it, you have gained some success.

Bg 18.67

idaṁ te nātapaskāya
nābhaktāya kadācana
na cāśuśrūṣave vācyaṁ
na ca māṁ yo ’bhyasūyati

Synonyms:
idam — this; te — by you; na — never; atapaskāya — to one who is not austere; na — never; abhaktāya — to one who is not a devotee; kadācana — at any time; na — never; ca — also; aśuśrūṣave — to one who is not engaged in devotional service; vācyam — to be spoken; na — never; ca — also; mām — toward Me; yaḥ — anyone who; abhyasūyati — is envious.

Translation:
This confidential knowledge may never be explained to those who are not austere, or devoted, or engaged in devotional service, nor to one who is envious of Me.

In other words, by practicing austerity, devotion, engaging in devotional service and being non-envious of Krishna you have gained some insight into the confidential knowledge of the Lord. Now you should continue to build upon this success.

I have attached a PDF which will show my editing of your article. There were only two significant areas that required change. The first was this: “All glories to my gurus, Srila B.K. Giri Maharaja, Srila Govinda Maharaja, Srila Sridhara Maharaja and Srila Swami Maharaja.” I changed it to: “All glories to my guru, Srila B.K. Giri Maharaja and my param gurus Srila Govinda Maharaja, Srila Sridhara Maharaja and Srila Swami Maharaja.” My gurus are also your gurus (param gurus, like grandfather gurus), but somewhat removed. Srila Govinda Maharaja explains the difference this way:

Disciple not will think, “My guru is small guru and Swami Maharaja is big guru.” That is offense to guru.

Disciple must think, “My guru is the supreme.” And, there, in the [parampara], my guru’s guru. My father is my father. It is very easy thing to understand. My grandfather may be a king. But, my father is my father. He’s my father.

My relationship with my father is very close. But blood relation with my grandfather. Grandfather my relative. And my father is my father, he is not relative.

And guru, his position, always supreme position. Guru Maharaja sometimes joking [sounds like] “chota guru chota hamsa, para guru paramahamsa” [“little guru, little mantra, big guru, big mantra” (chota guru, chota mantra, boro guru, boro mantra)]

Small guru, small mantram. And, big guru, big mantram, it is not. Joking, Guru Maharaja, that “chota guru chota hamsa, para guru paramahamsa”, it is not fact.

Guru means representative. Guru means incarnation of Krishna. And first test, that is the darshan, that is the vision of devotee, disciple. Then when he will enter in more and more deepest layer, level, then he will understand what is the form of his guru. There is Rupa Manjari, there is many things and supremely, it is extremely going to Srimati Radharani.

—Srila Govinda Maharaja “Hapaniya Morning Lecture (12/26/93)” @ about 53 minutes.

You may have noticed that I almost always refer to my “trinity of gurus” and perhaps you are following that example. But I refer to them in this way because I have some personal intimacy with each of them, which developed over a long time and, with my latter two gurus, only after my initiating guru’s, Srila Prabhupada’s, disappearance.

Until Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance he was our all-in-all. We knew no other gurus, except by what we heard from Srila Prabhupada. Everything came through His Divine Grace. Only in that way did we come to know the glories of Srila Saraswati Thakura, Srila Gaura Kishora dasa Babaji, Srila Bhakti Vinoda Thakura and many other great acharyas in the line of the Gaudiya Vaishnava sampradaya. By Srila Prabhupada’s grace alone I also came to know of the glorious position of Srila Sridhara Maharaja and, in turn, by his grace, the glories of Srila Govinda Maharaja.

Srila Govinda Maharaja wrote the following as it relates to Srila Saraswati Thakura:

“his intense devotion for his mūl-āśray-vigraha [root form of shelter] has made him blind and he is thus unable to see anything apart from his Śrī Guru-pāda-padma [lotus feet of Sri Guru]—not even the higher āchāryas of his own sampradāya. He can see only his own āśray-vigraha [giver of shelter]. His devotion for his āśray-vigraha is that intense, and he is thus able to say,

tanra sama anya keha    dhariyā e nara-deha
nāhi dila kṛṣṇa-prema dhane

[“No one has ever assumed a human form and distributed the wealth of Kṛṣṇa-prema the way he has.”]

—”Rupanuga Guru Tattva”, OCTOBER 21, 2011

Srila Prabhupada, Swami Maharaja, wrote these concluding words after completing his translation of Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta:

Purport: 

Concluding Words

Today, Sunday, November 10, 1974-corresponding to the 10th of Kārttika, Caitanya Era 488, the eleventh day of the dark fortnight, the Rāma-ekādaśī-we have now finished the English translation of Śrī Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī’s Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta in accordance with the authorized order of His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Gosvāmī Mahārāja, my beloved eternal spiritual master, guide and friend. Although according to material vision His Divine Grace Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda passed away from this material world on the last day of December, 1936, I still consider His Divine Grace to be always present with me by his vāṇī, his words. There are two ways of association-by vāṇī and by vapuḥ. Vāṇī means words, and vapuḥ means physical presence. Physical presence is sometimes appreciable and sometimes not, but vāṇī continues to exist eternally. Therefore we must take advantage of the vāṇī, not the physical presence. The Bhagavad-gītā, for example, is the vāṇīof Lord Kṛṣṇa. Although Kṛṣṇa was personally present five thousand years ago and is no longer physically present from the materialistic point of view, the Bhagavad-gītā continues.

In this connection we may call to memory the time when I was fortunate enough to meet His Divine Grace Śrīla Prabhupāda, sometime in the year 1922. Śrīla Prabhupāda had come to Calcutta from Śrīdhāma Māyāpur to start the missionary activities of the Gauḍīya Maṭha. He was sitting in a house at Ulta Danga when through the inducement of an intimate friend, the late Śrīmān Narendranath Mullik, I had the opportunity to meet His Divine Grace for the first time. I do not remember the actual date of the meeting, but at that time I was one of the managers of Dr. Bose’s laboratory in Calcutta. I was a newly married young man, addicted to Gandhi’s movement and dressed in khadi. Fortunately, even at our first meeting His Divine Grace advised me to preach the cult of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu in English in the Western countries. Because at that time I was a complete nationalist, a follower of Mahatma Gandhi’s, I submitted to His Divine Grace that unless our country were freed from foreign subjugation, no one would hear the message of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu seriously. Of course, we had some argument on this subject, but at last I was defeated and convinced that Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s message is the only panacea for suffering humanity. I was also convinced that the message of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was then in the hands of a very expert devotee and that surely the message of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu would spread all over the world. I could not, however, immediately take up his instructions to preach, but I took his words very seriously and was always thinking of how to execute his order, although I was quite unfit to do so.

In this way I passed my life as a householder until 1950, when I retired from family life as a vānaprastha. With no companion, I loitered here and there until 1958, when I took sannyāsa. Then I was completely ready to discharge the order of my spiritual master. Previously, in 1936, just before His Divine Grace passed away at Jagannātha Purī, I wrote him a letter asking what I could do to serve him. In reply, he wrote me a letter, dated 13 December 1936, ordering me, in the same way, to preach in English the cult of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu as I had heard it from him.

After he passed away, I started the fortnightly magazine Back to Godhead sometime in 1944 and tried to spread the cult of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu through this magazine. After I took sannyāsa, a well-wishing friend suggested that I write books instead of magazines. Magazines, he said, might be thrown away, but books remain perpetually. Then I attempted to write Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Before that, when I was a householder, I had written on Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā and had completed about eleven hundred pages, but somehow or other the manuscript was stolen. In any case, when I had published Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, First Canto, in three volumes in India, I thought of going to the U.S.A. By the mercy of His Divine Grace, I was able to come to New York on September 17, 1965. Since then, I have translated many books, including Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, Teachings of Lord Caitanya (a summary) and many others.

In the meantime, I was induced to translate Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta and publish it in an elaborate version. In his leisure time in later life, His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura would simply read Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta. It was his favorite book. He used to say that there would be a time when foreigners would learn the Bengali language to read the Caitanya-caritāmṛta. The work on this translation began about eighteen months ago. Now, by the grace of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, it is finished. In this connection I have to thank my American disciples, especially Śrīmān Pradyumna dāsa Adhikārī, Śrīmān Nitāi dāsa Adhikārī, Śrīmān Jayādvaita dāsa Brahmacārī and many other boys and girls who are sincerely helping me in writing, editing and publishing all these literatures.

I think that His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura is always seeing my activities and guiding me within my heart by his words. As it is said in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, tene brahma hṛdā ya ādi-kavaye [SB 1.1.1]. Spiritual inspiration comes from within the heart, wherein the Supreme Personality of Godhead, in His Paramātmā feature, is always sitting with all His devotees and associates. It is to be admitted that whatever translation work I have done is through the inspiration of my spiritual master, because personally I am most insignificant and incompetent to do this materially impossible work. I do not think myself a very learned scholar, but I have full faith in the service of my spiritual master, His Divine Grace Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. If there is any credit to my activities of translating, it is all due to His Divine Grace. Certainly if His Divine Grace were physically present at this time, it would have been a great occasion for jubilation, but even though he is not physically present, I am confident that he is very much pleased by this work of translation. He was very fond of seeing many books published to spread the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. Therefore our society, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, has been formed to execute the order of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and His Divine Grace Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura.

It is my wish that devotees of Lord Caitanya all over the world enjoy this translation, and I am glad to express my gratitude to the learned men in the Western countries who are so pleased with my work that they are ordering in advance all my books that will be published in the future. On this occasion, therefore, I request my disciples who are determined to help me in this work to continue their cooperation fully, so that philosophers, scholars, religionists and people in general all over the world will benefit by reading our transcendental literatures, such as Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta. 

Thus end the Bhaktivedanta purports to Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, dated November 10, 1974, at the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, Hare Krishna Land, Juhu, Bombay.

Through the above quotations you can see and understand the proper singular focus of a disciple on his particular guru.

As long as the initiating spiritual master is living, he is the be-all and end-all for the disciple. Other vaishnavas should be respected. The predecessor acharyas will also be respected and venerated, but principally for their most important contribution to our spiritual life: by their grace, we have gotten our eternal Divine Master.

Srila Prabhupada’s preaching had such a strong influence that it affected a worldwide change in the acceptance and appreciation of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Therefore, Srila Sridhara Maharaja commented that he (Srila Prabhupada) is a shaktyavesha avatar of Sri Nityananda Prabhu. Often it is thought that Srila Prabhupada brought Krishna Consciousness to the West. It is true, but it did not end there. He also brought it to the East, and he brought it back to India where so many thought they already had it, but did not. They had only a facsimile. Some few in India had received the pure seed of Krishna bhakti by the grace of Srila Saraswati Thakura and his genuine followers. But Srila Prabhupada’s preaching was the most extensive of any of his Godbrothers and, therefore, had the greatest impact, as you would expect from Sri Nityananda’s shaktyavesha avatara. 

Srila Prabhupada showed by his example, as well as through his preaching, the true path to be followed by the Gaudiya Vaishnavas. It began and ended with unflinching devotion to his guru. One would expect that his followers would show the same thing. For the most part, they did not, and could not. Nevertheless, most of them had some inspiration to continue to preach and practice what they had learned from their spiritual master. They did that, but with many things mixed in which did not come from our guru. They mixed their own ideas with his, with the result that something different was produced.

This is the way of the descent of the Truth. It begins as a pure prefect substance, but becomes mixed with the imperfect and is transformed into something less than perfect. It happened after the disappearance of Srila Saraswati Thakura, Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada, Srila Sridhara Maharaja and Srila Govinda Maharaja. Fortunately, after Srila Saraswati Thakura, these few, who can be known as my trinity of gurus, preserved the pristine substance of Krishna Consciousness after the passing of their guru. If anyone else did, or did not, is not a subject of my concern.

Srila Prabhupada [Saraswati Thakura] said, “Only Sri Vṛshabhanu Nandini and my Sri Guru-pada-padma beautifully serve Krishna at all times; I do not know, nor do I need to know, who else does or does not.” (Srila Govinda Maharaja, Sri Gaudiya Darshan, Vol. 14, Issue 2, 12/1/70)

I am concerned, however, that my disciples will not be mislead.

Therefore, I must say that after these great gurus of mine departed, they left some vacuum and maya, in the form of illusion and false ego, filled the space previously occupied by the pure followers of Sri Krishna Chaitanya. This was not only my observation, it was seen and confirmed by Srila Prabhupada, Srila Sridhara Maharaja and, lastly, Srila Govinda Maharaja. Each of them told us what happened after their guru’s disappearance. Now, after the departure of Srila Govinda Maharaja, I must tell it to you. 

The following is a summary from a letter written by Srila Govinda Maharaja to a Godbrother of mine, a disciple of Srila Prabhupada, that describes the events that typically follow the disappearance of a great acharya:

When an ISKCON Acharya does some activities that even the material people will not do, then how can we agree? And in which way can the sincere seeker be faithful to that Acharya? Such seekers want no mundane things from ISKCON. They need the seeds of Krishna consciousness and the association of good Vaishnavs. 

They need to have the seeds planted happily in the heart, and to get more and more inspiration to practise Krishna consciousness, and they can inspire others also by their example as good ISKCON devotees. But we cannot ignore the fact that inside ISKCON many of the leaders have proceeded in a very mechanical and mundane way. 

. . . In those earlier days when Srila Swami Maharaj established the now exalted ‘International Society for Krishna Consciousness’ his Mission was always receiving proper nourishment through his divine association. Perhaps everything was not going fully perfectly, but on the whole we can say that his Mission was the only hope for the Western world to happily practise Krishna consciousness. It is true that after his disappearance some disturbance came in his beloved ISKCON Mission, and it is a very usual thing. In every mission everywhere it must be expected that when the exalted sun is going to set, some illusory environment will try to influence over all that mission. I cannot say that in Srila Swami Maharaj’s time there was no influence of illusion, but by his divine power everything was immediately harmonised. 

Everybody will try to make his Mission perfect, and I think all the auspicious and great Acharyas in this world tried to make their Missions perfect and spent their whole energy for that. And I have no doubt they were all the well-wishers of all jiva souls. 

I think the ISKCON Mission is completely different from other missions: we can consider it as a God-gifted organisation for the super-benefit of the conditioned souls through His Divine Grace Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj. Srila Guru Maharaj said, “Srila Swami Maharaj is a Saktyavesa-avatara, otherwise no man can make such a mission all over the world within five years.” In a very short time he widely gave the chance to receive the supreme goal of life: unalloyed devotion to Krishna in the line of Sriman Mahaprabhu. 

In the time of Srila Swami Maharaj whenever news would come from any corner of the world of the many persons chanting the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra and practicing pure devotional life, at that time I saw the face of Srila Guru Maharaj to be greatly exalted and he openly praised Srila Swami Maharaj’s divine activities and glories in front of everybody. I also saw his similar divine expression whenever Srila Swami Maharaj would come and report his missionary news to Srila Guru Maharaj. They were both very great, and their basic discussion was very high and harmonious about spreading real Krishna consciousness. 

Srila Swami Maharaj himself selected a few leaders for maintaining and spreading Krishna consciousness all over the world for his Mission—that was called the “G.B.C.”—and he was proud of them. At that time my own feelings were non-different from ISKCON and I was very happy to see the mood of the devotees. I did not get the chance to mix with everybody— it was also not possible—but I was surprised to see the depth of knowledge of Krishna consciousness in those I saw. Actually, I received much nice impression and enthusiasm from them including Sripad Bhavananda Maharaj, Sripad Tamal Krishna Maharaj, Sripad Achyutananda Prabhu, etc. I still have many friends in the ISKCON society and they have a very good mood. They live within the preaching and practising life and I highly respect them. 

But you know that after the disappearance of Srila Swami Maharaj many things have happened in that society. Not only that, but many of the great, great devotee personalities showed their very unfortunate form and that was painful for their followers and many of the followers of Srila Swami Maharaj, and it was very painful for myself also. Those confused persons eagerly sought secure shelter for their spiritual life, but they could no longer fully trust others in that society. At the same time they did not want to leave Krishna consciousness because in their hearts there lived the seed of Krishna consciousness planted by Srila Swami Maharaj. 

Srila Swami Maharaj often said, “I am ISKCON.” That means that all the property of Krishna consciousness—the Society he formed—was living with him, and he could not tolerate that any disturbance will come to his preaching life, and he would try to remove such disturbances by any means. But after His Divine Grace’s disappearance, some wave of illusion in the form of ego immediately tried to spread bad influence. You know that many have been affected by that influence. By those infected persons’ power many good souls were ousted, and Srila Guru Maharaj tried to give them some hope and shelter in the form of relief work. At present I am trying to serve his divine chair to the best of my limited capacity. 

Actually Srila Swami Maharaj organized the ISKCON society so there can be practicing of Krishna consciousness under proper guardianship, and that is the only goal of life for all conditioned souls. This is not only the preaching of His Divine Grace, but it is also the preaching of Sriman Mahaprabhu, His associates and the preceptorial line after Him. No doubt it has manifest in the world at large, especially in the West, through Srila Swami Maharaj, but the many disciples of Srila Saraswati Thakur and our Srila Guru Maharaj continued according to their own capacity to preach and practise Krishna consciousness. We see everywhere that each do not have the identical preaching method and mood of Sriman Mahaprabhu: trnad api sunichena taror api sahisnuna, amanina manadena… and they were not all free from Vaisnav-aparadh. Therefore many difficulties arise in every society, and even our society is not fully free from that. 

We need to do good for ourselves and for others. We want to leave the ideal of mundanity and we must try to achieve the super-beneficial transcendental service-plane—which is really our life’s goal—through chanting the Maha Mantra without offense in the association of devotees, and preaching. The chanting without offense is so very essential, and if that feeling does not come to us we will not get the proper beneficial results. I feel that this is very important for us now.

Now, throughout the world (following in the aftermath of the true preachers), in the name of Gaudiya Vaishnavism, just as in India before the advent of Srila Bhakti Vinoda Thakura, a great deal of misconception about Krishna Consciousness is being spread in the name of Krishna Consciousness.

Many, who attempted to fulfill the role of guru, were obviously unable to maintain that position. Others showed no outward defect, but harbored some significant internal defect. As a result, the teaching that one should have full faith in one’s spiritual master has been diluted and replaced with the idea that one should have full faith in one of the predecessor acharyas. That kind of preaching and behavior is against our siddhanta where it is stated:

yasya deve parā bhaktir yathā deve tathā gurau
tasyaite kathitā hy arthāḥ prakāśante mahātmanaḥ

“Only unto those great souls who have implicit faith in both the Lord and the spiritual master are all the imports of Vedic knowledge automatically revealed.”—Svetasvatara Upanishad

Previously in India there were so many who thought they knew the meaning of Krishna bhakti, but did not. They thought they knew who Krishna was, but did not. They thought they knew the meaning of Bhagavad-gita and the Vedas, but they did not. So too, now throughout the world, the same thing has occurred due to the aftereffects of our great preacher devotees. The pure distilled tonic of Krishna Consciousness, meant to enlighten us about these important subjects, which are meant to give relief to all the suffering souls of this world, has been watered down and distributed as the original brand, but without the curative effect.

It is similar to what I know of the Christian church. From my little knowledge it seems the Catholics are the closest to our principal of following a sampradaya. The pope is considered to be in the line of succession to Saint Peter, who was a direct disciple of Christ. But I never hear of a current pope being referred to as the guru of the Catholics, nor is he considered to be their savior. Those positions are still reserved to Jesus, although he may be hundreds of generations removed from the present day pope. What is the meaning of faith in Jesus, absent faith in his disciples? Has Jesus no present day representative? No. He does not. I never hear of the pope, or anyone, being mentioned as a guru in the line of Jesus, who is continuing his disciplic succession. Although known as the “Vicar of Christ”, the pope carries little weight by comparison to Christ. He can “feed the sheep” [the church] but he cannot perform the function of guru, as Christ did. The Christians all refer to the ancient messiah Jesus as if he were their present day messiah. They have no faith that God could anoint a present day “son” to do His work of salvation. In fact, they declare God had only one son, and he was the only one capable of raising up the sinners.

By contrast, we accept the powers of Vyasa to include transforming the conditioned souls into servants of Krishna. But we recognize many subsequent Vyasas also and celebrate their appearance days as “Vyasa Puja.”

Like the Christians we could skip over all the successor acharyas after Vyasa and declare him as our savior and ourselves as his followers. We could do the same with Sriman Mahaprabhu, or even Krishna, thus avoiding any intermediary whatsoever between ourselves and God. We could do these things, but we would be cheating ourselves, just as some of those in the line of Thakura Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada are cheating newcomers and others by promoting the idea that he is the only qualified guru, or other things in general conformity with that line of thinking.

For a real connection to Krishna Consciousness we need a living guru whose siksha inspires us to seek initiation from him. Then we need to approach him and ask that he accept us as his disciple. He does not have to agree to that proposal. We can only know that he has agreed to accept us as a disciple by his positive affirmation of that fact, either directly or via his rtvik. Those propagating the idea that we can become disciples of previous acharyas like Srila Prabhupada, Vyasadeva or Jesus Christ are cheating the public. Anyone who accepts this idea can only imagine or hope they will be accepted by such a distant guru. They have no certain way of confirming their having been accepted as a disciple. This uncertainty can never produce firm faith, the type of faith mentioned above in yasya deve para bhaktir… Therefore, their progress in spiritual life will be very little and the effort to get that very little commodity will be very tiresome, tedious and unrewarding. They will have wasted this valuable human life.

As you mentioned in your article, the guru’s instruction is often hard, but only the hard hammer of the sword-smith can produce the strongest sword. And, when we go to battle with maya, as we must, we want to be equipped with the strongest sword available to us. The duty of the disciple is to provide the best steel possible to the guru, in the form of surrender. The duty of the guru is to shape and anneal the steel he has been given into the best sword possible for cutting away the knots of ahankara, false ego and illusion. He does this through his instruction.

The metaphors you used in your writing were very good. And your article was so compact I was left wanting more. I call that a good ending. But look forward to more.

Whatever it is you are doing. I say continue doing it. If it means a wider space of time between articles, it seems a worthwhile price to pay except that I will also be forced to undergo some tapasya, waiting anxiously for the next installment to appear.

As you read above in the long quote from Srila Prabhupada’s conclusion to the Antya Lila of Chaitanya-charitamrta, vani, instruction, is more important than vapuh, physical association. I also look forward to the day when I can be with you in person. I think we will get that chance in due time. I have never been to the Philippines, although I look forward to that opportunity. Your suggestion that you want to serve me “in person” has reminded me of something Srila Govinda Maharaja once told me: “Before a guru goes to a new country he should have at least six disciples there.” I now have two, so we are one third of the way to that target.

Until we get the chance for personal association you can be sure that serving the instructions of the guru is at least as good, if not better, than serving in his personal presence. Srila Sridhara Maharaja gave the example that a lice may be living very close to the guru, on his scalp. But it is better to do the work of the guru, serving as his arms and legs. That will make one very dear to the guru, while the lice is only a botheration.

Please be attentive to your chanting. Continue to be humble, tolerant and patient. Have faith in Sri Guru and Krishna. Be respectful to everyone, especially the devotees of Krishna. And be happy in Krishna Consciousness. In this way you will achieve the fulfillment of all your heart’s desires.

I pray this finds you well in health and spirits. Please convey the same to your good wife and your two beautiful children.

With affection,

Swami B.K. Giri