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:
From a lecture by Śrīla Prabhupāda on the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Hyderabad, India, April 15, 1975:
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.
Letter by Tamāla Kṛṣṇa Gosvāmī to all GBC’s and temple presidents, Vṛndāvana, India, July 9, 1977:
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.
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):
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:
July 31, 1977:
Letter from Haṁsadūta to Veda Guhya Dās:
From Śrīla Prabhupāda’s “DECLARATION OF WILL,” June 5, 1977:
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?
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):
Śrīla Prabhupāda’s letter to Kīrtanānanda, February 11, 1967:
The Ramakrishna mission achieves “this principle” that Śrīla Prabhupāda wants to be followed in ISKCON through a ṛtvik system.
Letter by Śrīla Prabhupāda to Rūpānuga Dāsa, April 28, 1974:
May, 1977: Śrīla Prabhupāda Begins Discussing Ṛtvik Initiations:
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.”
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.
September 17, 2003, by “Guest”:
“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!!!” -http://www.pratyatosa.com/?P=t):
“…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” -http://www.pratyatosa.com/?P=y)
Science of Self Realization Introduction by Mukunda Dāsa Gosvāmī:
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.”
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 (http://pratyatosa.com/?P=1z), or by associating with those who have heard from the Gauḍīya Maṭha.
Prabhupāda said in a signed, written document:
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:
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)