Initiation or dīkṣā is the formal acceptance of spiritual vows by the prospective disciple as mandated by a bona fide spiritual master. It is the most important of the ten reformatory processes prescribed for human life. It is formally conducted as a ceremony wherein the spiritual master formally accepts the devotee as his disciple and guides him on the path back to Godhead.
The ceremony itself is not the initiation. Initiation or dīkṣā is actually the transmission of spiritual knowledge from a bona fide spiritual master to a sincere student of spiritual life. But the ceremony formalises or solidifies the agreement between the master and the disciple and is therefore equally important. Śrīla Prabhupāda himself introduced us to this standard system of paramparā.
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Śrīla Prabhupāda initiated over 5,000 disciples in the course of 11 short years. The particular details or the technicalities regarding how the ceremonies were to be conducted were adjusted by his sheer spiritual genius. Given his busy schedule, he gradually adjusted the way he conducted the initiations to the point that it required minimal or no personal involvement on his side. He eventually completely delegated it to his representatives.
In fact, he is so extraordinarily merciful that he clearly spelt out in written form a policy in which anyone can take his shelter even after his physical departure in November 1977. Unfortunately, this crucial truth was hidden away from the general body of devotees by some ambitious disciples of his. These ambitious disciples became spiritual masters on their own accord and wilfully disobeyed the instructions of Śrīla Prabhupāda.
Such gross deviation has catalysed many other major deviations in today’s ISKCON (International Society of Krishna Consciousness). There has been introduction of demigod worship, impersonalist philosophies being entertained and impersonalists glorified, embezzlement of funds, child abuse, immoral sexual conduct, violence (even murder) — the very things that are supposed to be outside of the purview of a Vaiṣṇava’s behavior. You can find all the details of the damage elsewhere on the Internet. A Google search will bring up enormous amounts of information in this regard. We do not want to delve on that here.
Over a period of many years, sincere devotees who want to revive the glory of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s ISKCON have unearthed volumes of relevant evidence both from Śrīla Prabhupāda’s documents/letters and from the scriptures to substantiate the position of Śrīla Prabhupāda as the sole dīkṣā-guru of ISKCON.
At ISKM, we have made a humble attempt to make the truth of this matter easily understandable to anyone and everyone by compiling all the relevant evidences from earlier findings and some never-before-added, compelling scriptural evidence into a simple, consumable formats such as PDF, printed books and videos.
Through these media, we hope to educate and inspire sincere Vaiṣṇavas to objectively understand the root cause of the problem and to rectify the situation by adhering strictly to the instructions of Śrīla Prabhupāda, especially in regards to initiation.
We appeal to you to lend an ear to this most important message in which every contemporary Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava has a significant stake. After assimilating it, please broadcast this message to every single devotee you care about. Let the truth prevail.
The seed for all this content was the release of our position paper Initiations After 1977, or in short, IA77. It was published in the English language in an electronic format (PDF and ePUB) on the 13th of August, 2016, on the 50th anniversary of the incorporation of ISKCON by Śrīla Prabhupāda. Ever since, the position paper and the documentary video have been translated into many languages by sincere Prabhupādānuga devotees.
This effort to educate the body of sincere devotees about the important issue of initiations is just one of the many steps taken by the International Sri Krishna Mandir (ISKM) to reinstate Śrīla Prabhupāda as the sole dīkṣā-guru in a practical manner.