When I asked Narayana Maharaja (Gurudeva) for diksa, his secretary Madhava Maharaja asked me: “Do you chant 16 rounds everyday? Do you follow the four regulative principles?” Which I did at the time. So Gurudeva said yes.
Looking back I now see how unfit I was for diksa. I’m unable to chant 16 rounds everyday and are unable to completely follow the regulative principles. I’m work in progress. So I wonder, did Gurudeva make Madhava Maharaja ask since I was so unfit? I have no doubt that he was directly under Gurudevas orders here, but if I had said the same thing to him – would it have heavier reactions toward me?
Tripurāri Swami: “We have been trying harder and harder, Śrīla Prabhupāda, to make our techniques of distribution more honest and to be straightforward and not to cheat so much as some of the methods in the past.”
Śrīla Prabhupāda: “No, the thing is that Kṛṣṇa’s service is so sublime that even if we cheat, we are not culprit. But because we have to deal with the worldly men, we have to go according to their rules and regulations on cheating. Otherwise, a devotee of Kṛṣṇa, he never cheats. He never cheats, whatever he does. The mother says to the child, ‘My dear child, if you take this medicine I will give you this laḍḍu.’ The child is deviated. He is not able to digest the laḍḍu, but the mother sometimes cheats, and when he takes the medicine, the laḍḍu is not delivered. Similarly, we have to say so many things very pleasing to him. But our business is let him take this medicine. That is our tactic. That is not cheating. If the mother helps the child drinking medicine, then afterwards she does not supply the laḍḍu, that is not cheating. Somehow or other, that is the instruction of Rūpa Gosvāmī. Tasmāt kenāpy upāyena manaḥ kṛṣṇe niveśayet. Somehow or other let everyone be Kṛṣṇa conscious. The other rules and regulations will act as the servant, but the main business is to bring one to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. We are not meant for cheating anyone; we have no such business. But to lead one to Kṛṣṇa consciousness we may sometimes say some things, and that is not cheating.”
The problem with the absolute view of Guru, is that it limits the Guru. If someone is on a mission from Goloka to share the highest siddhanta with the lowest people, they are free to do whatever they want to make that happen. They should be able to say: “All the acharyas are manjaris” even if it’s not true. As Gurudeva told Lilasuka prabhu: “Mercy is independent from whatever the truth might be”.
When Gurudeva accepted me as his disciple, the real and only sankalpa (vow) I gave was this: I would always stay loyal to Gurudeva. Even if I disagreed with him, I would never leave him. He is my beloved Gurudeva.
I’ve spent months mulling over the preaching tactic argument. I saw it as a betrayal and that was something I was unable to accept. Then I realized how this would have played out in real life if I had been close to Gurudeva. What if he one day brought me to his room to tell me that he had lied to me about the nature of Srila Prabhupadas service. I would be heartbroken, then I would get angry. But since I had given my vow, I would continue staying and serving as best as I could. At some point I would come to the point of acceptance, then the spirit of understanding would blossom within me.
There is a world of difference between the person who asked Gurudeva for diksa and the person I am today. Since I received diksa, my consciousness has slowly evolved. Now I understand that my vow of loyalty, can better be described as a lifelong vow to work on spiritual progress. I owe everything to my Gurudeva.
So what if he may have cheated me? If he had told me he lied to me, he subtly implies that I have evolved. I have been raised from a kindergarten level to.. well, something higher at least.
There is something refreshing and a lack of anxiety with this view. Guru are not like “Oh, what if I say this and people will have misconceptions forever?”. They trust that it will all be figured out over time.
But to lead one to Kṛṣṇa consciousness we may sometimes say some things, and that is not cheating.
This post is inspired by Syamananda Prabhu, who provided the quote and I have even stolen sentences/opinions of his. Let’s hope this cheating is beneficial.