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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > Spiritual Questions & Answers > Pre-2007 QnA Swami Gaurangapada > Disciplic Succession

Title: Disciplic Succession

User: Swami Gaurangapada Date: 2006-10-14 18:21:00


What do you think about a Guru or Acharya initiating disciples after his disappearance from this world? - Vijay

††† Answer by Swami Gaurangapada:


I will reply to this question briefly and for only one time. There is no such precedent or example in the entire Gaudiya Vaishnava Parampara ever of an Acharya accepting disciples after his physical disappearance from this world in the manifest pastimes.

Because that would mean an end to the Guru Disciple Disciplic Succession (Parampara) which is the form of transmission of knowledge and mercy from time immemorial and authorized by Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita. (evam parampara praptam). The word "succession" itself means that Guru will accept the Disciple, and then the Disciple will become Guru on the order of the Guru or after the Guru's disappearance and he or she will accept Disciples, and then those Disciples will go on to become Guru and accept Disciples and so on.


After some years of the disappearance of the Supreme Lord Gauranga, He personally appeared in a spiritual vision and embraced Shrila Narottama dasa Thakura and gave him His pure love when Shrila Narottama went to bathe in the river. But still He instructed him to go and accept Diksha from the living spiritual master Shrila Lokanatha Goswami. He did not initiate Shrila Narottam directly in that vision. He could do so if He wanted but he wanted to uphold the principle of approaching Him through the disciplic succession.


Shrila Shrinivasa Acharya Thakura went to accept shelter of Shri Gadadhara Pandita in Puri Dhama but before he reached Shri Gadadhara disappeared. Then Shri Gadadhara appeared to him personally in a divine vision and instructed him to go to Shrila Rupa and Shrila Sanantana in Shri Vrindavana Dhama and not did not initiate him directly. When he reached Vrindavana to accept Diksha from Shrila Rupa or Shrila Sanatana, he came to know that the had just disappeared from this world so he fainted on the ground and decided to give up his life.


Again Shrila Rupa and Shrila Sanatana directly appeared to him in a vision but instead of initiating him in the vision they directed him to accepted initiation from the living spiritual master Shrila Gopala Bhatta Goswami who was still in Shri Vrindavana Dhama. Shrila Rupa and Shrila Sanatana Goswami are our Primary Acharyas and if such initiation after their disappearance was possible, they would have given initiation in the vision itself to Shrila Shrinivasa Acharya Thakura. But they are the protectors of the principle of disciplic succession and that is why they sent Shrila Shrinivasa Acharya Thakura to a living Guru Shrila Gopala Bhatta Goswami. These pastimes are described in Shri Bhakti Ratnakara and Shri Narottama Vilasa published by Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada.


Even the Supreme Personality of Godhead Lord Krishna and Lord Gauranga accepted living spiritual masters in the form of Shrila Sandipani Muni and Shrila Ishvara Puri to show us by His example that initiation from a living spiritual master in compulsory in spiritual life.


Shrila Prabhupada also established and preached this system of disciplic succession. A few of his quotes are as follows:


"Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's principle is anyone who knows the science of Krishna, he can become spiritual master. This is the principle." (Vrndavana, October 16, 1972)


"Regarding your question about the disciplic sccession coming down from Arjuna, it is just like I have got my disciples, so in the future these many disciples may have many branches of disciplic succession." (Los Angeles, 25 January, 1969)

"I am also obliged to them because they are helping me in this missionary work. At the same time, I shall request them all to become spiritual master. Every one of you should be spiritual master next." (Hamburg, September 5, 1969)

"Every student is expected to become Acharya. Acharya means one who knows the scriptural injunctions and follows them practically in life, and teaches them to his disciples." (New Delhi, 2 December, 1975)


"A person who is liberated acharya and guru cannot commit any mistake, but there are persons who are less qualified or not liberated, but still can act as guru and acharya by strictly following the disciplic succession." (New York, 26 April, 1968)


"So there is no bar for anyone, that one cannot become the spiritual master. Everyone can become spiritual master, provided he knows the science of Krishna. That is the only qualification." (New York, August 17, 1966)


"Everyone can, whoever is initiated, he is competent to make disciples. But as a matter of etiquette they do not do so in the presence of their spiritual master. This is the etiquette. Otherwise, they are competent. They can make disciples and spread they are competent to make disciples." (Detroit, July 18, 1971)


"So far designation is concerned, the spiritual master authorizes every one of his disciple. But it is up to the disciple to carry out the order, able to carry out or not. It is not that spiritual master is partial, he designates one and rejects other. He may do that. If the other is not qualified, he can do that. But actually his intention is not like that. He wants that each and every one of his disciple become as powerful as he is or more than that. That is his desire. Just like father wants every son to be as qualified or more qualified than the father. But it is up to the student or to the son to raise himself to that standard." (San Diego, June 29, 1972)


"You each be guru," he said. "As I have five thousand disciples or ten thousand, so you have ten thousand each. In this way, create branches and branches of the Chaitanya tree." (Mayapur GBC meetings 1976)


Keep trained up very rigidly and then you are bona fide Guru, and you can accept disciples on the same principle. But as a matter of etiquette it is the custom that during the lifetime of your Spiritual master you bring the prospective disciples to him, and in his absence or disappearance you can accept disciples without any limitation. This is the law of disciplic succession. I want to see my disciples become bona fide Spiritual Master and spread Krishna consciousness very widely, that will make me and Krishna very happy." (New Delhi, 2 December, 1975)


Shrila Prabhupada Quotes above are copyrighted by The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc. "".