Friday, 2 December 2011

Sixteen Points to Consider Regarding the Rtvik Issue

By Pratyatoṣa Dāsa (ACBSP),

Dear Prabhus, please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Śrīla Prabhupāda!

Concerning the “ṛtvik issue” (initiation on Śrīla Prabhupāda’s behalf by a ṛtvik representative of the Ācārya), please consider the following sixteen points:

1. Follow the Latest Order
From a lecture by Śrīla Prabhupāda on the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Hyderabad, India, April 15, 1975:
I may say many things to you, but when I say something directly, "Do it", your first duty is to do that. You cannot argue, "Sir, you said me like this before." No, that is not your duty. What I say now, you do it. That is obedience.
If the captain of the ship says “5° starboard” and the first mate replies, “But captain, before you told me ‘10° port’.,” then it can be understood that the first mate has gone insane.

2. The July 9th Letter 
Letter by Tamāla Kṛṣṇa Gosvāmī to all GBC’s and temple presidents, Vṛndāvana, India, July 9, 1977:
To All G.B.C. and Temple Presidents

Dear Mahārājas and Prabhus,

Please accept my humble obeisances at your feet. Recently when all of the GBC members were with His Divine Grace in Vṛndāvana, Śrīla Prabhupāda indicated that soon He would appoint some of His senior disciples to act as ritvik - representative of the ācārya, for the purpose of performing initiations, both first initiation and second initiation. His Divine Grace has so far given a list of eleven disciples who will act in that capacity:

His Holiness Kīrtanānanda Swami
His Holiness Satsvarūpa dāsa Gosvāmī
His Holiness Jayapatākā Swami
His Holiness Tamāla Kṛṣṇa Gosvāmī
His Holiness Hṛdayānanda Gosvāmī
His Holiness Bhavānanda Gosvāmī
His Holiness Haṁsadūta Swami
His Holiness Rāmeśvara Swami
His Holiness Harikeśa Swami
His Grace Bhagavān dāsa Adhikārī
His Grace Jayatīrtha dāsa Adhikārī

In the past Temple Presidents have written to Śrīla Prabhupāda recommending a particular devotee's initiation. Now that Śrīla Prabhupāda has named these representatives, temple presidents may henceforward send recommendation for first and second initiation to whichever of these eleven representatives are nearesttheir temple. After considering the recommendation, these representatives may accept the devotee as an initiated disciple of Śrīla Prabhupāda by giving a spiritual name, or in the case of second initiation, by chanting on the Gāyatrī thread, just as Śrīla Prabhupāda has done. The newly initiated devotees are disciples of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, the above eleven senior devotees acting as his representative. After the temple president receives a letter from these representatives giving the spiritual name or the thread, he can perform the fire yajña in the temple as was being done before. The name of a newly initiated disciple should be sent by the representative who has accepted him or her to Śrīla Prabhupāda, to be included in His Divine Grace's "Initiated Disciples" book.

Approved: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami [signed]
Please note that the above is the last formal instruction that Śrīla Prabhupāda gave on initiations within his beloved ISKCON before his physical departure on November 14, 1977. If someone quotes Śrīla Prabhupāda as having said, “My disciples should become gurus.,” then this obviously does not mean diksha (initiating) gurus within ISKCON, because his last instruction (See point #1 above) for ISKCON was to have ṛtviks (priests) initiate on his behalf “henceforward.” If you search the Vedabase for “henceforward,” you will see that Śrīla Prabhupāda always meant “from this time forth; from now on,” which, according to the dictionary, is the only literal meaning that the word “henceforward” can have.

3. Tamāla Kṛṣṇa Testifies
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa Gosvāmī, one of the 11 original, ṛtvik - representatives of the ācārya (See point #2 above) said on December 3, 1980 (Transcribed from a tape recording of the actual conversation):
Actually Prabhupāda never appointed any gurus. He appointed eleven ritviks. He never appointed them gurus. Myself and the other GBC have done the greatest disservice to this movement the last three years because we [falsely] interpreted the appointment of ritviks as the appointment of gurus.

4. Haṁsadūta Testifies
Śrīla Prabhupāda wrote in signed letters to Haṁsadūta Dāsa, one of the 11 original, ṛtvik - representatives of the ācārya (See point #2above):
July 10, 1977:
You are a suitable person and you can give initiation to those that are ready for it. I have selected you among eleven men as "Ritvik" representative of the Acharya, to give initiations, both first and second initiation, on my behalf.
July 31, 1977:
Make your own field and continue to be ritvik and act on my behalf.
Letter from Haṁsadūta to Veda Guhya Dās:
…It was clear that Śrīla Prabhupāda had officially introduced the concept of "Ritvik representative of the Acharya" as the arrangement for initiations by his disciples for the future of ISKCON. Had there been anything more to clarify certainly Śrīla Prabhupāda would have written another letter to amend what was already so clear. But he never did, other than reinforce what he had already written: "Continue to act as ritvik representative of the Acharya."…

5. Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Will 
From Śrīla Prabhupāda’s “DECLARATION OF WILL,” June 5, 1977:
…The Governing Body Commission (GBC) will be the ultimate managing authority of the entire International Society for Krishna Consciousness…

…The system of management will continue as it is now and there isno need of any change

…Each new executive director for the ISKCON properties must bemy initiated disciple
A person’s “will” is a legal document which goes into effect after the person “dies.” What is to prevent a lawsuit from being filed the second an attempt is made to make someone such as a “grand disciple” a “new executive director for the ISKCON properties” because he is not Śrīla Prabhupāda’s “initiated disciple?” Śrīla Prabhupāda said that his books would be the “law books for the next 10,000 years.” How is this possible unless Śrīla Prabhupāda intended for initiations “on my behalf” to continue for the next 10,000 years? If the Christian’s policy of “accepting Lord Jesus in my heart” is not valid, and they cannot make any spiritual advancement without the aid of a “living guru,” as the GBC contends, then how did the follower of Lord Jesus, St. Francis of Assisi, become such an incredibly great saint?

6. Christian Example
The following morning walk conversation, recorded in Seattle on 10 February 1968, shows that Śrīla Prabhupāda approved of the highly successful Christian system of encouraging their followers to accept Lord Jesus Christ as their spiritual authority through the agency of a ṛtvik representative (priest or minister):
Madhudviṣa: Is there any way for a Christian to, without the help of a spiritual master, to reach the spiritual sky through believing in the words of Jesus Christ and trying to follow his teachings?

Prabhupāda: I don’t follow.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Can a Christian in this age, without a spiritual master, but by reading the Bible and following Jesus’s words, reach the…

Prabhupāda: When you read Bible, you follow spiritual master. How can you say without? As soon as you read Bible, that means you are following the instruction of Lord Jesus Christ, that means you are following spiritual master. So where is the opportunity of being without spiritual master?

Madhudviṣa: I was referring to a living spiritual master.

Prabhupāda: Spiritual master is not the question of… Spiritual master is eternal. Spiritual master is eternal. So your question is without spiritual master. Without spiritual master you cannot be, at any stage of your life. You may accept this spiritual master or that spiritual master. That is a different thing. But you have to accept. As you say that “by reading Bible,” when you read Bible that means you are following the spiritual master represented by some priest or some clergyman in the line of Lord Jesus Christ.

7. Ramakrishna Mission Example
Śrīla Prabhupāda’s letter to Kīrtanānanda, February 11, 1967:
I wish that each and every Branch shall keep their independent identity and cooperate keeping the Ācārya in the centre. On this principle we can open any number of Branches all over the world. The Ramakrishna mission works on this principle and thus as organization they have done wonderfully.
The Ramakrishna mission achieves “this principle” that Śrīla Prabhupāda wants to be followed in ISKCON through a ṛtvik system.

8. Mistake in Our ISKCON Camp
Letter by Śrīla Prabhupāda to Rūpānuga Dāsa, April 28, 1974:
[Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta] never recommended anyone to be ācārya of the Gauḍīya Math. … If Guru Mahārāja could have seen someone who was qualified at that time to be ācārya he would have mentioned. Because on the night before he passed away he talked of so many things, but never mentioned an ācārya. … Therefore we may not commit the same mistake in our ISKCON camp. … [The members of the Gauḍīya Mat;ha] cannot help us in our movement, but they are very competent to harm our natural progress. So we must be very careful about them.

9. “Ṛtvik. Yes.”
May, 1977: Śrīla Prabhupāda Begins Discussing Ṛtvik Initiations:
From: Gauridas <Gauridas@*******.com>
Date: Thu, 14 May 1998 05:12:15 EDT
To: Pratyatoṣa Dāsa
Subject: Re: Usenet Ritvik Discussion

In a message dated 98-05-14 02:29:27 EDT, Pratyatoṣa Dāsa writes:

> ROOM CONVERSATION. Vrindavana, May 28, 1977:
> Satsvarūpa Mahārāja: "Then our next question concerns
> initiations in the future, particularly at that time when you
> are no longer with us. We want to know how first and second
> initiations will be conducted."
> Śrīla Prabhupāda: "Yes. I shall recommend some of you. After
> this is settled up. I shall recommend some of you to act as
> officiating ācārya."
> Tamāla Krishna Mahārāja: "Is that called ritvik-acarya?"
> Śrīla Prabhupāda: "Ritvik. Yes."
> "Ritvik" is not a word which was part of the devotee lexicon
> at that time. Therefore, it is obvious that Śrīla Prabhupāda
> had been talking about "ritviks" on previous occasions which
> were never recorded, or the recordings were hidden or
> destroyed, otherwise how would Tamal Krishna Goswami think to
> ask this question?
> Here is a quote on this subject from "The Betrayal" by Purañjana
> Prabhu:
> "MYSTERIOUS GAPS? There are still mysterious and unaccounted for
> 'time gaps' (missing tapes?) in these conversations. There is no
> small amount of suspicion that some of the 'new gurus' are
> responsible for this. Additionally, GBC’s such as Tamal Krishna
> Swami, Jayādvaita Swami and others sometimes refer to the 'pre-
> May 28th ritvik guru discussions.' However, no public record or
> indeed an existing scrap or trace of these conversations is
> currently available. Where are they?"

I would like to answer this question to the best of my ability.

When Śrīla Prabhupāda said we should be officiating acharyas, Tamal mentioned it because he heard Śrīla Prabhupāda talk about it in the garden days before. I stood before Śrīla Prabhupāda, serving him with the chamara [fan] during this time.

Tamal also admitted to me in a letter that the guru issue was "fraught with errors". (TKG letter to GPD)

If the "Final Order" is too intellectual for some of your readers, then I recommend that they read my historical account of the facts in chronological order. I compiled it recently, and I call it "On My Behalf".

Your servant,
Gaurīdāsa Paṇḍita Dāsa

10. Unprecedented Technology
One thing that sets Śrīla Prabhupāda apart from all of the other great saints of history is the fact that he left us not only his books, but also, audio and video recordings of his exact words. All of these recordings have been carefully transcribed into digital form. All of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s books, lectures, conversations, letters, etc. can be digitally copied in a few minutes with no possibility of changes being made. This is certainly a great boon for this planet for the next 10,000 years, which, Śrīla Prabhupāda said, will be a “golden age.”

11. Unprecedented Policies
If authorizing ṛtvik initiations on his behalf, after his physical departure, is unprecedented in our line of Vaiṣṇavas and cannot be supported by quotes from shastra (scriptures), so what? Śrīla Prabhupāda also did many other things that are unprecedented in our Brahma-Gaudiya Vaiṣṇava line of disciplic succession:
a. Crossing over the ocean as a sannyāsī.
b. Allowing his disciples to chant only 16 rounds a day instead of 64.
c. Authorizing ṛtvik initiations on his behalf before his physical departure.
d. Performing marriage ceremonies as a sannyāsī.
e. Giving Gāyatrī mantra initiation to women.
f. Traveling by air as a sannyāsī.
g. Allowing men and women to live together in the temple building.
h. Allowing women to lead kīrtanas.
i. Allowing women to give the Bhāgavatam class.
j. Allowing women to hold responsible positions of leadership within the movement.

12. Witness Testimony
Date: 02/08/2000
Author: harinām <harinām@********.net

Hare Krishna Pratyatosh,

One more important piece of evidence that recently became public is Śrīla Purī Mahārāja's video taped interview in which he confirms that Śrīla Prabhupāda did explain to him his plan for ritvik representatives initiating on his behalf after his physical disappearance.

The video is available for $19.95 at 1-800-310-video.

Thanks for taking the time to explain to all the anti-ritvik vādīs in the land of oz. I have done it on this board, VNN, and elsewhere many times. Now there is a respectable witness (SP's godbrother) to Śrīla Prabhupāda's ritvik plan and we will see the deviants in ISKCON looking more and more stupid. No one can say we did not warn them as far back as 1978.

All glories to Śrīla Prabhupāda.

13. It’s Offensive to Discipline a Real Guru
September 17, 2003, by “Guest”:
The bottom line of the [ISKCON guru] issue is whether or not any guru is subjected to the dictates and discipline of the GBC. The fact that Prabhupāda established the GBC as the Governing Authority for ISKCON rules out the possibility of any diksha gurus in ISKCON except him. Prabhupāda ruled out the diksha guru system in ISKCON by saying that a bona-fide spiritual master is never subjected to the discipline or restrictions of a GBC or anyone else. The fact that the GBC is in the position of having to regulate and restrict the activities of the ISKCON gurus shows that indeed there can be no gurus in ISKCON except Prabhupāda. A real guru is never subjected to the control and discipline of any committee, Godbrother, disciple or anyone else. Śrī Guru is a free agent independent of committee regulation or control. ISKCON clearly has a whole set of rules and laws that regulate, discipline and restrict all the diksha gurus in ISKCON. This situation is clearly in violation of the teachings of Śrīla Prabhupāda. We find his instructions in the matter in the Nectar of Instruction text 6 purport:

"It is also an offense to consider an empowered Vaishnava an object of disciplinary action. It is offensive to try to give him advice or to correct him…The spiritual master must not be subjected to the advice of a disciple, nor should a spiritual master be obliged to take instructions from those who are not his disciples. This is the sum and substance of Śrīla Rūpa Goswami's advice in this sixth verse."

Śrīla Prabhupāda is saying here that in the Rūpānuga sampradāya a spiritual master should not be subjected to the discipline or regulations of any committee, individual or group of individuals. A real spiritual master is not subject to such regulation.

Therefore, by establishing the GBC as the managing authority of ISKCON, Śrīla Prabhupāda ruled out the possibility of a multiplicity of gurus in ISKCON by making the GBC the functioning authority over all ISKCON affairs. In ISKCON today there is a class of spiritual masters who are all subjected to the regulation and discipline of the GBC. This is totally incongruent with the concept of a traditional spiritual master who is above and beyond all such committee regulation.

Prabhupāda said it is an offense to try and discipline or regulate a spiritual master. Therefore either the regulating of ISKCON spiritual masters by the GBC must stop or [the ISKCON] diksha guru system must stop. Refusing to do so results in offenses which will destroy devotional service and make [devotional service] fruitless and futile.

14. It’s Offensive to Say that Prabhupāda Left Things Unclear
“When Śrīla Prabhupāda was here, if the temple president recommended you to be initiated, then you got initiated. If he didn’t, then you didn’t. It was as simple as that. This is the way it should be today.” (“Śrīla Prabhupāda Left Things Unclear? No!!!” -
“…to say that Śrīla Prabhupāda was negligent in regards to making it extremely clear how initiations were to be continued in post-samadhi ISKCON is a very great offense against my Guru Mahārāja, Śrīla Prabhupāda!” (“The GBC Can’t Have It Both Ways” -

15. I Shall Never Die
He reasons ill who tells that Vaiṣṇavas die, when thou are living still in sound.
Science of Self Realization Introduction by Mukunda Dāsa Gosvāmī:
"I shall never die.", Śrīla Prabhupāda’s once said. "I shall live forever in my books."
Anytime one of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s disciples would ask him for permission to initiate, Prabhupāda would tell him that as a matter of etiquette, he should wait until Prabhupāda was no longer present. Because Śrīla Prabhupāda is never going to leave us, I take this as a polite way of telling him “I don’t want anyone else taking on disciples on his own behalf in my institution.”

16. Self Motivation and Bad Association
Are the above fifteen points not obvious? Even an intelligent karmī can understand, in a few minutes, that Śrīla Prabhupāda prescribed ṛtvik initiations for the future of ISKCON. It’s crystal clear. It’s all there in signed, written documents (See #2 and #5 above). After reading the above fifteen points, if someone still tries to make Śrīla Prabhupāda’s own terminology (ṛtvik) into a dirty word, or tries to say that Śrīla Prabhupāda left things unclear or subject to debate, or tries to vilify the proponents of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s own idea, the ṛtvik system of initiations, then he can be understood to:
a. …have the “I wanna be a guru” disease, or he is influenced by those who have the disease. In other words, he is self-motivated.
b. …have disobeyed Śrīla Prabhupāda by hearing from members of the Gauḍīya Maṭha (, or by associating with those who have heard from the Gauḍīya Maṭha.
Prabhupāda said in a signed, written document:
We shall be very careful about them and not mix with them. THIS IS MY INSTRUCTION TO YOU ALL. They cannot help us in our movement, but they are very competent to harm our natural progress. So we must be very careful about them.
What could be more clear than this? Prabhupāda made it very clear that we should not hear from them in an way, shape, or form, for fear that we might become contaminated/bewildered. Brahmānanda Prabhu, former GBC man and ISKCON’s first temple president, confirmed to me very recently that it’s very important not to hear from them.

From an initiation lecture by Śrīla Prabhupāda in Boston, December 26, 1969:
[Kṛṣṇa consciousness] is simple for the simple, but it is very hard for the crooked.
I firmly believe that the simple, straightforward logic which I have presented above will very easily stand up in any court of law in the world, what to speak of the court of public opinion.
If a disciple of Śrīla Prabhupāda is actually qualified to be an independent dīkṣā (initiating) guru, and he has that desire, then he can start his own institution, like Śrīla Prabhupāda did, so what’s the problem?

Your servant, Pratyatoṣa Dāsa (ACBSP)

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