Hare Krishna! All glories to Sril Gurudeva! All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
Welcome to this page for getting trained to be an aspirant/ sheltered devotees of HH Jayapataka Swami Guru Maharaja.
We hope to cover all the details required for you to qualify for this and we hope that this will be a very deep, meaningful and enjoyable experience for you. Please feel free to ask any questions or doubts or express your feelings and requirements as we go along. Please read the materials and learn them and do some home- work which we may give you from time to time.
The need for taking shelter of Guru:
No one can become self- realized simply by reading books. Getting extracted from Maya’s clutches is not easy. It is a path on which tests and difficulties are certain. No one can enter the kingdom of God on his strength alone. Therefore, all the scriptures emphatically state the absolute necessity for all spiritual aspirants to accept the shelter of a bona-fide spiritual master.
Srila Prabhupada has said: “In every step of one’s life the spiritual master guides… To give such guidance a spiritual master should be a very perfect man. Otherwise, how can he guide?... One cannot deny the order of the spiritual master. Therefore, one has to select a spiritual master by whose orders one will not commit a mistake. Suppose you accept the wrong person as a spiritual master and he guides you wrongly, then your whole life is spoiled. So one has to select a spiritual master whose guidance will make one’s life perfect. That is the relationship between spiritual master and disciple. It is not a formality. It is a great responsibility, both for the disciple and for the spiritual master.” (From a lecture given in 1966)
Within ISKCON at the present time, any disciple of Srila Prabhupada who is in good standing within the society and is approved to give initiation according to the society’s procedures may be approached and requested to initiate a candidate into Krishna consciousness. Some grand-disciples of Srila Prabhupada have also been approved for giving initiation.
“In good standing” means that he must have a clean record of following the regulative principles, daily chanting sixteen rounds of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra on japa mala, a good record of rising early and attending temple programs, steadiness in devotional service, and philosophical fidelity to the tenets of Krishna consciousness, and he must be working within the organizational framework of ISKCON as accepted by the Governing Body Commission.
An aspiring disciple should also see how much the spiritual master is attached to the process of devotional service and the preaching of Krishna consciousness.
The guru-disciple relationship is ,ideally, close and personal. Therefore, when selecting the person who is to be one’s spiritual master, one’s worshippable guide, there are personal considerations also. The teachings of all the bona-fide spiritual masters are the same, but each spiritual master has his own personality and approach to guru-ship.
Having formally accepted the shelter of a guru, the devotee continues practising Krishna consciousness as before. However, he now directs his guru-worship toward the guru he is taking shelter of, as well as toward Srila Prabhupada. He will now chant his own guru’s pranama –mantra(if any) when offering obeisances to his guru or when offering food to Krishna. Although he is not formally initiated, he has accepted shelter of a particular guru and starts to respect him as such.
At least six months after having formally taken shelter of a guru, a devotee may be initiated by him.
Apart from one’s own initiating spiritual master, one should continue to hear from and serve other devotees (especially senior devotees) in ISKCON. Although it is natural that one will have affection for his own guru, the Vaishnava etiquette is that one should treat the guru’s Godbrothers as respectfully as the guru himself.
If one has previously taken initiation from a person who is not bona-fide, recognized Vaishnava, then according to scripture that person must be rejected for the sake of accepting a bonafide spiritual master. People who are already have such “gurus” are often afraid to give them up, fearing retribution, but they need not worry. The scriptural warning against leaving one’s spiritual master does not apply in the case of bogus gurus, and this is stated in the scripture itself. Those who take shelter of a proper Vaishnava guru will certainly be directly protected by Krishna(see Srila Prabhupada’s purport to Srimad- Bhagavatam 8.20.1 for further discussion on this point.)
We will continue in our next letter soon.
Thank you very much.
Vijay Venugopal das & Prema Padmini devi dasi