ACCEPTING THE LINE OF DISCIPLIC SUCCESSION
“Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is none other than the combined form of Sri Radha and Krsna. He is the life of those devotees who strictly follow in the footsteps of Srila Rupa Gosvami. Srila Rupa Gosvami and Srila Sanatana Gosvami are the two principal followers of Srila Svarupa Damodara Gosvami, who acted as the most confidential servitor of Lord Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu, known as Visvambhara in His early life. A direct disciple of Srila Rupa Gosvami was Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami. The author of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami, stands as the direct disciple of Srila Rupa Gosvami and Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami.
The direct disciple of Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami was Srila Narottama dasa Thakura, who accepted Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti as his servitor. Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura accepted Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji, who initiated Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, who in turn initiated Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji, the spiritual master of Om Visnupada Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja, the divine master of our humble self…. The subject matter of this book is not a mental concoction but a factual spiritual experience that one can realize only by accepting the line of disciplic succession described above. Any deviation from that line will bewilder the reader’s understanding of the mystery of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, which is a transcendental literature meant for the postgraduate study of one who has realized all the Vedic scriptures such as the Upanisads and Vedanta-sutra and their natural commentaries such as Srimad-Bhagavatam and the Bhagavad-gita.”
(From the Caitanya Caritamrita Adi-Lila Chapter 1 [authorized 1975 edition]: The Spiritual Masters)
It is very interesting to note that the above disciplic succession referred to here has nothing to do with the formalities of Initiation as it is known in modern ISKCON today. It is referring to the authorized disciplic Succession based on the transfer of realization from one devotee to another. Not the formalities of who chants on ones beads, gives a name or performs a formal fire Yajna, where the initiate makes his vows before the sacred fire and deity. In fact, often case, such as with Narottama dasa Thakura and Visvanatha Cakravarti they never even met! So there is no possibility for there to have been a formal ceremony between them. Furthermore, Narottama underwent the formalities with Lokanatha not Krsnadasa.
Narottama appeared sometime in 1531 (exact date is unknown). His disciple was Ganga Narayana Cakravarti. Ganga Narayana’s disciple was Krishna Carana Cakravarti. Krishna Carana’s disciple was Radha Ramana Cakravarti, the formal guru of Visvanatha Cakravarti.
The exact year of Visvanatha’s birth is unknown. It is estimated to be somewhere between 1620-1640. He departed in 1708. So obviously due to the century difference between them they never even met. But Srila Prabhupada says that we get a “factual spiritual experience that one can realize only by accepting the line of disciplic succession described above.
This means that the way to have a factual spiritual experience is by hearing from the realized masters like Srila Prabhupada even if they are not physically present. It has nothing to do with the person that formally performs our initiation ceremony. It is a matter of what great personality (physically present or not) we are associating with through either meditation, service or hearing. Hearing can mean reading or hearing about him from a transparent source. But the connection or as Srila Prabhupada calls it “disciplic succession” is not based on formalities or physical presence. We also notice this in Srila Prabhupada’s introduction to the Bhagavad Gita this same conclusion is there. That disciplic succession is also not based on the person that performs ones initiation ritual. Thus the person performing the formalities of initiation chanting on beads and choosing a name is not the real spiritual connection. The disciplic succession is the person that we get our real transcendental wisdom from by reading there books or hearing their lectures etc (weather we have physically met them or not).
So if we are reading Srila Prabhupada’s books then Srila Prabhupada is our spiritual master.
(Please see the quotes at the end of this article for more information in this regard.)
It is even more interesting to notice that Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura rejected his initiating guru Bipin Bihari Goswami due to a philosophical dispute. Later in a public meeting/debate of all the sadhus, to Bhaktivinoda’s great pleasure, his son, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami defeated Bipin Bihari Goswami. As a result we do not see his name in the disciplic succession.
So we must just catch the feet of the most recent topmost devotee Uttama-Adhikari and Acharya weather we are formally initiated by him or not. This is the process that Srila Prabhupada has instructed us to follow and even warns us that any deviation from this will bewilder us.
So we are so fortunate to have all Srila Prabhupada’s books, recorded audio and even hundreds of hours of free video’s for our spiritual growth. We must simply take advantage of this process of taking direct shelter of Srila Prabhupada for this is the disciplic succession that Srila Prabhupada has recommended above.
Here at Krishna Path we are very happy to offer you so much of Srila Prabhupada’s original authorized unadulterated books audio art etc for free. Please take full advantage of it and read and chant every day!
We are also in the process of redesigning Krishnapath.org so you can have a more enjoyable user-friendly experience. The new website should be launched in a month or so. So stay tuned.
So there is nothing to be said new. Whatever I have to speak, I have spoken in my books. Now you try to understand it and continue your endeavor. Whether I am present or not present, it doesn’t matter.
(Arrival Speech – May 17, 1977, Vrndavana)
If I depart, there is no cause for lamentation. I will always be with you through my books and my orders. I will always remain with you in that way.“
(Back To Godhead vol.13 01/02, 1978)
Indian lady: Can the death of a spiritual master take to us, or I can get… Is that spiritual master still guiding after the death? (?)
Prabhupada: Yes, yes. Just like Krsna is guiding us, similarly, spiritual master will guide. We are being guided by Krsna, by the Bhagavad-gita. Although Krsna is not physically present, so-called… Krsna is present always. But even if we say that Krsna is not physically present as He was present before Arjuna, still, His book, Bhagavad-gita, is there.
(His Divine Grace Srila Sac-cid-ananda Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s Appearance Day, Lecture — London, September 3, 1971)
Indian Man(2): …like your company very much in Toronto and we feel like talk you so much, but we don’t have so much time to talk with you. You have so much mercy, so we have not… know so much about Krsna from you.
Prabhupada: So in my absence you read the books. What I talk, I have written in the books. That’s all.
Indian Man (2): Personally, we think more greater.
Prabhupada: That’s all right. But still, you can associate with me by reading my books.
(Morning Walk — August 7, 1975, Toronto)
Prajapati: In the Bhagavad-gita it is indicated by Sri Krsna that when we approach a bona fide spiritual master our relationship is twofold. We render service and then we also make inquiry.
Prajapati: Now, you have answered all our inquiries so thoroughly in our books that to make inquiry at this point seems like…, you’ve already answered all the questions. So how may we… What is the proper relationship at that point to make inquiry?
Devotee (4): Read the books.
Prabhupada: Yes. Read the books, yes. Why I’m working so hard? Read the books. [break]
(Morning Walk – January 5, 1974, Los Angeles)
Lord Brahma heard the occult sound tapa, but he did not see the person who vibrated the sound. And still he accepted the instruction as beneficial for him, and therefore he engaged himself in meditation for one thousand celestial years. One celestial year is equal to 6 x 30 x 12 x 1000 of our years. His acceptance of the sound was due to his pure vision of the absolute nature of the Lord. And due to his correct vision, he made no distinction between the Lord and the Lord’s instruction. There is no difference between the Lord and sound vibration coming from Him, even though He is not personally present. The best way of understanding is to accept such divine instruction, and Brahma, the prime spiritual master of everyone, is the living example of this process of receiving transcendental knowledge. The potency of transcendental sound is never minimized because the vibrator is apparently absent. Therefore Srimad-Bhagavatam or Bhagavad-gita or any revealed scripture in the world is never to be accepted as an ordinary mundane sound without transcendental potency.
one has to associate with liberated persons not directly, physically, but by understanding, through philosophy and logic, the problems of life.
In my books the philosophy of Krishna Consciousness is explained fully so if there is anything which you do not understand, then you simply have to read again and again. By reading daily the knowledge will be revealed to you and by this process your spiritual life will develop.…You may please me the most by reading my books and following the instructions therein and by becoming fully Krishna Conscious in this life time.
(Letter to: Bahurupa Bombay 74-11-22)
I have instructed everything in my books.
(Letter to: Dina Dayala Mayapur 76-02-25)
Interviewer: You are the translator of many books, from what I understand.
Prabhupada: Yes. So that translation, the book, will speak how I have translated.
Interviewer: Um hm. I was wondering…
Prabhupada: You read the books, Then you’ll understand. Instead of asking me, you better read the books. That is real understanding.
(Interview with Newsweek – July 14, 1976, New York)
In my books the philosophy of Krishna Consciousness is explained fully so if there is anything which you do not understand, then you simply have to read again and again. By reading daily the knowledge will be revealed to you and by this process your spiritual life will develop. Krishna Consciousness is not a hackneyed thing but it is something which is our natural and original consciousness. Presently our consciousness is clouded just like a mirror becomes covered with dust So the cleansing process is this chanting and hearing and doing some service and trying to please the Spiritual Master. By this process our consciousness becomes clear and we are able to understand everything.
(Letter to: Bahurupa – Bombay 22 November, 1974)
Every one of you must regularly read our books at least twice — in the morning and evening, and automatically all questions will be answered.
(Letter to: Ranadhira – Los Angeles 24 January, 1970)
So utilize whatever time you find to make a thorough study of my books. Then all your questions will be answered.
(Letter to: Upendra – Nellore 7 January, 1976)
Reporter (2): What will happen to the movement in the United States when you die?
Prabhupada: I will never die.
Devotees: Jaya! Hari bol! (laughter)
Prabhupada: I shall live for my books, and you will utilize.
(Press Conference – July 16, 1975, San Francisco)
The merciful Lord left behind Him the great teachings of the Bhagavad-gita so that one can take the instructions of the Lord even when He is not visible to material eyesight. Material senses cannot have any estimation of the Supreme Lord, but by His inconceivable power the Lord can incarnate Himself to the sense perception of the conditioned souls in a suitable manner through the agency of matter, which is also another form of the Lord’s manifested energy. Thus the Bhagavad-gita, or any authentic scriptural sound representation of the Lord, is also the incarnation of the Lord. There is no difference between the sound representation of the Lord and the Lord Himself. One can derive the same benefit from the Bhagavad-gita as Arjuna did in the personal presence of the Lord.
One who can see Srimad-Bhagavatam can see also Lord Sri Krsna in person. They are identical.
arcye sila-dhir gurusu na… Gurusu means those who are acaryas, to accept their body as ordinary man’s body, this is denied in the sastras. So although a physical body is not present, the vibration should be accepted as the presence of the spiritual master, vibration. What we have heard from the spiritual master, that is living.
(Lecture Excerpt – Los Angeles, January 13, 1969)