Found in Sanga, Sanga 2000.

One Guru, Many Gurus

January 23rd, 2000 | No Comments

Q. A recent Sanga Q & A read, “How can a disciple whose beloved guru is not in the best of shape, avoid re-initiation?” You answered, “He or she must pray for the upliftment of their guru.” How can a guru be fallen or in bad shape? Common sense tells us that a siddha (pure devotee) cannot and does not fall. I’m very interested to hear your answer with quotes from Srila Prabhupada. I have also read that re-initiation is bogus. Do you have any quotes from Srila Prabhupada that support re-initiation?

A. Your question implies that a guru cannot fall down. However, according to Srila Prabhupada it appears that it is possible for even a maha-bhagavata to fall down. He has mentioned this in relation to hearing mayavada philosophy. I quote, “The Mayavada philosophers have presented their arguments in such attractive, flowery language that hearing Mayavada philosophy may sometimes change the mind of even a maha-bhagavata.” If a maha-bhagavata’s mind changes from the Vaisnava conclusions to those of the Mayavada philosophy, this is considered a falldown. What then should his disciple do?

Furthermore, all gurus are not uttama-adhikaris. In fact all gurus function as madhyama-adhikaris, either descending from the uttama-adhikari platform, or rising from the kanistha-adhikari platform. The ascending madhyama-adhikari guru can fall prey to maya.

Just what the disciple should do if his guru experiences difficulty is explained by Jiva Goswami in his Bhakti-sandarbha. In the Q & A under discussion I have given a synopsis of Sri Jiva’s sampradaya teaching.

Please read Bhakti-sandarbha very carefully, and your understanding on all of these issues will improve. Moreover, I have answered with sensitivity to a devotee in an awkward position. He has respect for his guru, yet he knows him to be less than qualified. Let him continue to respect him for now from a distance, take shelter of a qualified siksa-guru, and get a better understanding of the principle of guru over time in good association. This is what I have recommended. Following this policy he will be heartened and gradually find shelter of a qualified guru.

As for being initiated a second time (what you refer to as re-initiation), this is mentioned in Caitanya-caritamrta in regard to Gadadhara Pandita, gadadhara-pandite tenho punah mantra dila: “Pundarika Vidyanidhi initiated Gadadhara Pandita for the second time.” Gadadhara felt the necessity to hear his diksa-mantra again after his mind had become polluted by offense. The details of this are found in Pundarika Vidyanidhi Vilasa, part two. In this instance Pundarika was encouraged by Mahaprabhu to hear his diksa-mantra again from his mantra-guru. Gadadhara’s offense was that he gave the mantra, in the capacity of a guru, to an unqualified person. A guru can commit this offense.

Furthermore, Srila Prabhupada also allowed his disciple Asita dasa to be released from his status as his disciple and take initiation a second time from Bhakti Dayita Madhava Maharaja. Asita had been initially inspired by Madhava Maharaja, but later took initiation from Prabhupada. After some time his original sraddha in Madhava Maharaja pushed him in Madhava Maharaja’s direction, as did the Iskcon management in Mayapur.

After discussing the matter of his faith with Prabhupada, Prabhupada gave him permission to take initiation from Madhava Maharaja. Part of this story is told in the following letter that Prabhupada wrote to his disciple Asita dasa.

“Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your letter and have noted the contents. If you want to stay there I have no objection. For the time being you can perform your devotional service in Puri and when I return to Mayapur in mid-March, you can see me and we shall see what was the cause for your being asked to leave. It is a big establishment and sometimes disagreement happens and I am helpless. I am inquiring from Mayapur why you were asked to leave there. If you want to take initiation from Madhava Gosvami Maharaja I have no objection.”

There is much more to say on all of this, but I would have to quote books that doubtless you would not accept (anything other than those written by Srila Prabhupada). You have requested that I limit my answer to that which can be supported by Srila Prabhupada’s books.

I humbly suggest that all of the books from our sampradaya acaryas are not different from the teachings of Srila Prabhupada, and that one who is properly initiated, as I am, has more than one guru via this initiation.

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