" Make your own field and continue to be Ritvik and act on my behalf."
- Śrīla Prabhupāda: July 31, 1977.
Tuesday, 17 January 2012
Ameyatma Das speaks about "Living" guru,ritvik system and post 1977
Prabhupada:Spiritual master is not the question of… Spiritual master is eternal. Spiritual master is eternal.
By Ameyatma Das Q: Can Parampara exist without a living pure devotee? A: Yes! From a Traditional Literalist point of view
Anyway, regarding the need for a “Living” guru or the pure representative of Krishna. When you refer to a “living” spiritual master as opposed to a “dead” spiritual master you are referring to the body – vapu form.
The vani of guru lives eternally with his followers. The most important aspect, what is the true essence of Guru, however, is his eternal vani, not his temporary vapu manifestation. Just after Srila Prabhupad left I began hearing the phrase “Living Spiritual Master”, referring to the 11 new acaryas.
This phrase became much more pronounced in the 90′s. So one day I sat down with the Vedabase and searched for all varieties of the concept, living spiritual master, living guru, living acarya, etc. Only in recent version of the Vedabase has “living acarya” appeared, it is a quote from Satsvarup in one of his more recent books. And also in Kurma’s cookbook he proclaims that one must connect oneself to a “living spiritual master” [if by "living" he is referring to the vani, than it is true statement, otherwise there is not so much value in connecting to the living vapu form - the vast majority of Srila Prabhupada's disciples had no direct connection to his vapu form.]
However, I found only one reference in Srila Prabhupada’s works. It is found during QA of a lecture given by Srila Prabhupada. Madhudvisa and Tamala Krsna are present. The use of this phrase, however, comes not from Srila Prabhupada, but comes from Madhudvisa.
“Madhudvisa: 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? Prabhupada: I don’t follow.
[ One obvious reason SP may have replied that he does not follow is that Madhudvisa asks is there any way to go back to Godhead if one is following the teachings of Jesus - meaning accepts him as one's spiritual master, but has no spiritual master - "I don't follow"... ] Tamala Krsna: Can a Christian in this age, without a spiritual master, but by reading the Bible and following Jesus’s words, reach the… Prabhupada: 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? Madhudvisa: I was referring to a living spiritual master. Prabhupada: 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. So any case, you have to follow a spiritual master. There cannot be the question without spiritual master. Is that clear? Madhudvisa: I mean like we couldn’t understand the teachings of the Bhagavad-gita without your help, without your presentation. Prabhupada: Similarly, you have to understand Bible with the help of the priest in the church. Madhudvisa: Yes. But is he receiving a good interpretation from his disciplic succession or his bishop? Because there seems to be some kind of a discrepancy in the interpretation of the Bible. There’s many different sects of Christianity that interpret the Bible in different ways. Prabhupada: Of course, there cannot be any interpretation in the Bible. Then there is no authority of Bible. If you interpret something… Just like “Call a spade a spade.” So if you call something else, that is a different thing. He’s not spiritual master. Just like this is watch. Everybody has called it watch, and if I call it spectacle, then what is the value of my being spiritual master? I’m misleading. It is watch, that I must say. So when there is misinterpretation, he’s not a bonafide spiritual master.” Ref. VedaBase => Lecture — Seattle, October 2, 1968
Now, I take the same conversation and replace all references to Jesus and his teachings with Srila Prabhupada and his teachings…
“Madhudvisa: Is there any way for an ISKCON Devotee to, without the help of a spiritual master, to reach the spiritual sky through believing in the words of Srila Prabhupada and trying to follow his teachings? Prabhupada: I don’t follow. Tamala Krsna: Can an ISKCON Devotee in this age, without a spiritual master, but by reading Srila Prabhupada’s books and following Srila Prabhupada’s teachings, reach the… Prabhupada: When you read Srila Prabhupada’s books, you follow spiritual master. How can you say without? As soon as you read Srila Prabhupada’s books, that means you are following the instruction of Srila Prabhupada, that means you are following spiritual master. So where is the opportunity of being without spiritual master? Madhudvisa: I was referring to a living spiritual master. Prabhupada: 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 Srila Prabhupada’s books,” when you read Srila Prabhupada’s books that means you are following the spiritual master represented by some [Ritvik] priest or some ISKCON brahman devotee in the line of Srila Prabhupada.
So any case, you have to follow a spiritual master. There cannot be the question without spiritual master. Is that clear? Madhudvisa: I mean like we couldn’t understand the teachings of the Bhagavad-gita without your help, without your presentation. Prabhupada: Similarly, you have to understand Srila Prabhupada’s books with the help of the [Ritvik] priest in the temple. Madhudvisa: Yes. But is he receiving a good interpretation from his disciplic succession or his GBC? Because there seems to be some kind of a discrepancy in the interpretation of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings. There’s many different sects of Srila Prabhupada’s followers that interpret Srila Prabhupada’s teachings in different ways. Prabhupada: Of course, there cannot be any interpretation in Srila Prabhupada’s teachings. Then there is no authority of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings. If you interpret something… Just like “Call a spade a spade.” So if you call something else, that is a different thing. He’s not spiritual master. Just like this is watch. Everybody has called it watch, and if I call it spectacle, then what is the value of my being spiritual master? I’m misleading.
It is watch, that I must say. So when there is misinterpretation, he’s not a bonafide spiritual master.”
In the above I am not introducing any ‘interpretation” of what Srila Prabhupada said. Simply I replaced all instances of his speaking of another guru, Jesus and his teachings, the Bible, with Srila Prabhupada’s name and his books and teachings – the words and concepts are those of Srila Prabhupada, not my interpretation.
Jesus’ vapu form passed away 2000 years ago, but Srila Prabhupada says you can go back to the spiritual world by following his teachings, that Guru does not die, he lives eternally by his vani.
If you accept and follow Srila Prabhupada’s books and his teachings then there is no question of being without spiritual master. But, question was, what about the need for a “living spiritual master” – the “living pure Devotee”?
There is no question of DEAD spiritual master. Spiritual Master IS ETERNAL. That is Srila Prabhupada’s answer. Spiritual Master Is ETERNAL. There is no question of a “living” spiritual master as opposed to a “dead” spiritual master. Spiritual master lives eternally in sound, in vani.
When you refer to living or dead you are only referencing the vapu form. This is the science taught by the vapu-vadis – those who profess that you need a living breathing vapu form. This concept is totally absent in all of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings. You will find that he never spoke in this way ever.
He never used the phrase “living guru”, or “living pure devotee”. This refers to the vapu form only. You need to take shelter of the eternal vani of the bonafide representative of Krishna, not the temporary vapu or ‘living’ form.
The true LIFE-Force of the pure Devotee is his vani, not his vapu form. I also had a personal experience back in 1975. One day I saw an ad for a used 3D camera so I bought it in order to take some 3D photos of Srila Prabhupada.
One morning I took the camera to Bhagavatam class and sat about 10 feet in front of Srila Prabhupada. Earlier i had taken photos on morning walk, and when he came to the FATE doll studio for tour and in the museum while we were working on it. But, this day I took the camera to class. I had taken some photos of him getting on the Vyasasan, then during Jaya Radha Madhava, then during class I continued to hold up the camera and take pictures.
Many devotees have told of moments that during Bhagavatam class they felt that Srila Prabhupada was speaking directly to them. Well, this was one of those moments for me, and in fact, he was speaking directly to me. As I again held the camera to my face and was looking for the opportune moment to take the next picture I heard Srila Prabhupada say, paraphrasing from memory, “So, in the future, after the pure devotee has left our world [of course, SP was speaking about the vapu form being visible], what is the value of photograph?
You take photo so that later you can show others, ‘here, this is what the pure devotee looks like’, what is the value of this? There is no real value. Better you “hear” from the pure devotee and then later you can repeat what he has said.
The real essence of Guru is his vani, his teachings, not his vapu form, what he looks like, so there is no real value in taking photos to show others what the pure devotee looked like.”
As Srila Prabhupada spoke like that, I had that feeling, obviously, that Srila Prabhupada is speaking directly about and to me…. I immediately set the camera down and never took any more 3D photos of Srila Prabhupada.
Rather, the very next day I began bringing my own tape recorder to class and made my own direct tapes so i could hear what the pure devotee said…
[So, I took about 20 something 3D slides of Srila Prabhupad so that now people can see what the pure devotee's vapu form looked like in 3D, but Srila Prabhupada convinced me there is no real value, that day I heard his instruction spoken "directly to me", and as he said, to repeat those words - his vani - that is the real essence of guru - not his vapu form]
The real value of Guru is there in his vani, but, those who oppose the Ritvik system when they say, “living Guru” they are not referring to the living eternal vani, but, they are referring to the temporary “living” vapu form – vapu form does not give spiritual shelter, vapu form does not save us.
Vapu form does not initiate us or teach us. Guru-vani, that is our life and soul, that is our savior. — May 28th, Srila Prabhupada is asked the important question how he wants initiations to go on in the future when he is no longer present. Srila Prabhupada immediately says the matter is not yet settled up, he says.
“As soon as this is settled up, I shall recommend some of you”. So, he told us this matter is not yet settled, and he also told us that once it is settled he will take a very specific action. What is that action? He will recommend some of the GBC to act as Ritvik.
July 9th letter refers back to that very May 28th conversation, and it refers to when he said when the matter is settled up he would soon recommend some of the GBC to act as Ritvik. That was his incomplete answer to the question.
Then, on July 9th he gives his recommendation of 11 men and he completes the answer to that question. He told us that the matter will be settled when he makes the recommendations, and July 9th he makes the recommendations, so now we know the matter is FINAL, it is now settled up. The process he now details via the July 9th letter is his final – settled up answer.
This is the COMPLETION of his answer. The connection is explicitly stated in the letter. And Srila Prabhupada signed it. The letter was the result of a number of meetings by Srila Prabhupada with Tamal where Srila Prabhupada detailed exactly what he wanted. The meetings were attended by only 2 people along with Srila Prabhupada.
Tamal Krishna and Gauridas Pandit. Gauridas Pandit was there because he was in-training to take over as Srila Prabhupada’s personal secretary. After coming out of Srila Prabhupada’s room Yasodanandan Swami saw Gauridas Pandit, i think on the 8th or 9th of July and asked him what Srila Prabhupada was talking about in the meetings.
Gauridas told him Srila Prabhupada was giving details of how he would remain initiating guru after he departs with initiations held on his behalf via Ritvik system. Yasodanandan also asked Tamal about this, Tamal told him he was writing everything down in the form of a letter that was to be sent out to all the temples. Yasodanandan then wrote about this in his diary.
Later when Gauridas told the GBC that Tamal was lying about the July 9th letter, that Srila Prabhupada spoke with him many times detailing the process, Tamal told the GBC that Gauridas was envious rascal, that Tamal was by then one of the big 11 new acaryas, so the GBC believed him and totally rejected Gauridas.
But, Yasodanandan Swami came forward with his diary as proof that this is what took place and supported Gauridas, still the GBC rejected them both as being envious of the “pure devotee” Tamal Krishna… So the lies continued. After the letter was finalized and signed by Srila Prabhupada, it is not clear if it was widely mailed out because those who were temple presidents at the time have no memory of ever seeing it.
After Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance the rank and file Prabhupada disciples were simply told that Prabhupada wrote a letter, or list as it was often referred to, naming the 11 new acaryas. We were told he named them as Ritviks while he was present and that he wrote that they were to become his successor acaryas after he departs.
That is what we were told, the GBC wrote exactly that in their official paper they widely sent out to all centers in March 1978 (they didn’t widely send out Srila Prabhupada’s July 9th letter, they kept it hidden, but, their own letter they sent out lying about what Srila Prabhupada wrote in the July 9th letter).
Bharadraj, a senior disciple, told me he could not believe Srila Prabhupada had named these men as his successors. Actually very few of us believed it, or at least had a real hard time swallowing it. Bharadraj asked Ramesvar to show him the list where Srila Prabhupada supposedly instructed that these men were to become his successors so he could see it for himself, and Ramesvar refused to show him.
He said that Srila Prabhupada wrote it for GBC-eyes only. For long time, many of us had a bad taste in our mouth, and really did not believe Srila Prabhupada wrote that these men were to be his successors. But, if you are told a lie long enough, and you have no other information to go on, eventually many of us began to believe the lie.
It was not until 1996, 19 years after it was written, that I first read the actual July 9th letter. I felt totally betrayed. I don’t think you were in ISKCON in 1977-78, but, this was the GBC’s mantra, they told us that in the letter where Srila Prabhupada had named these 11 men as Ritviks, that in that same letter he instructed they were to become the next new acaryas, his successors.
We were dupped, we were lied to. But, I do not think, as some do, that all the GBC knowingly duped us. I really think it was mainly just Tamal. Tamal told the GBC that he wrote the July 9th letter, and he assured them that the letter only applied to while Srila Prabhupada was living, that afterwards they were to become gurus.
But, in 1980 Tamal confessed he had lied because he wanted to be big guru. In 1980 Tamal was preaching that he was the next via-media and that no one, even his god brothers – disciples of SP, could not go back home to back to Godhead without surrendering to and serving him.
He was saying that taking shelter of Srila Prabhupada was not good enough, that only he, Tamal, could actually save them. The GBC rightly understood this to be a major fall down and chastised Tamal by revoking his guru status. He was to no longer accept worship as a guru or take new disciples.
He was humbled by this and in such humble mood confessed that he had lied about the July 9th letter, that Srila Prabhupada never asked them to become successor acaryas, that he only asked that they remain Ritviks.
As soon as the GBC heard about his confession they held an emergency meeting with him. At the end of the meeting the GBC restored him as guru and Tamal disclaimed his confession (which was recorded). What sort of standards does the GBC have?
They saw this man had fallen and was preaching a bogus idea, puffed up, then, they claim that the reason Tamal said Srila Prabhupada had said they were to remain Ritviks was because he had become envious, that since he could not be guru then out of spite he wanted that no one be guru, so they claim his confession was a spiteful lie.
So, the GBC takes someone who is fallen, who then acts out of spite and enviousness and makes up a damaging lie in order to take down his god brothers, blackmail, and they turn around and proclaim him as bonafide official Iskcon guru, GBC, full self-realized pure devotee and acarya in good standing.
What is their standard? OR did they want so badly to remain guru that they offered to drop their chastisement in return for Tamal disowning his confession… they would all be able to continue being guru – rejecting what Srila Prabhupada actually wanted…
Either way, the moral ethics of the GBC is brought into question. You make one point, that the names of the initiates are to be sent to Srila Prabhupada to be added to his book of disciples. So, you claim that since this can not be done after his vapu stops living, it should null and void the entire Ritvik process.
But, this leaves us with big problems, that if the July 9th letter is NOT to be taken as Srila Prabhupada’s completion of his answer to the May 28th question, then by your view he never completed his answer to that most important question. And, it means that you think he must have foolishly signed his name to a letter that states that it was his answer to the question…
Sending the names to Srila Prabhupada to be recorded it would not take much intelligence to add the names, this was to be done AFTER the entire process of Ritvik initiation was completed, it was not required in order to carry out the initiation process.
Otherwise, those who would insist it would, would be left to simply conclude that Srila Prabhupada then gave no lasting system at all. You also proclaim that a living pure devotee is needed. Srila Prabhupada told us that when Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Maharaja was leaving this world that he selected no successor and he ordered his men not to elect one by vote.
Srila Prabhupada said Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Maharaja saw that no one was, at the time, qualified, so he chose no one to carry on giving initiations. And, later Srila Prabhupada told us that none of his godbrothers were qualified to give initiation.
So, what this means is that at times Krishna does not provide access to pure devotee. In fact, it is stated that to gain the association of pure devotee is most rare in this world.
Billions of people are on the planet and the vast majority are born and die without contact with pure devotee. It is most rare. When Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Maharaja left this world our Srila Prabhupada had not manifest his pure qualities, that is Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Maharaja did not name him his successor, but he taught that the pure devotee will rise like the full moon in the sky, he will become self-evident – and Srila Prabhupada did so.
Our Srila Prabhupada, however left a process by which he would go on giving diksha in absence of his vapu form, if he saw his men were qualified the July 9th letter, his final settlement on this topic, would have explicitly said these men were to become his successors – but, Srila Prabhupada could see they were not qualified yet, he could not promote people who are not truly qualified.
These men were not, that is simply fact. Just as Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Maharaja did not see Sridhar Maharaja or Puri Maharaja or Bon Maharaja or even our own Srila Prabhupada as qualified at the time he departed, so he chose no one.
Srila Prabhupada also chose no one, but left a system by which he would continue to give his diksha shelter. Guru – anyone can become guru. There are so many gurus. Outside of ISKCON one can become guru, if there are people who accept you as such, you can become guru, but, in Iskcon, Srila Prabhupada never gave anyone else to become guru.
He wanted we all become, but he never named anyone. He provided system by which he could go on giving diksha, that was his greatness, his unfathomable mercy.
But, Sampradaya does not end, his disciples can also become guru. There is no restriction that they cannot. But one can also take Srila Prabhupada as guru and by the Ritvik process can still become his disciple.
Srila Prabhupada taught that those who follow Jesus and take shelter of his teachings even 2000 years later, Jesus is their guru and they can go back to the spiritual world by their following their guru. This is so for Jesus, why not for Srila Prabhupada who left a formal system to carry on giving initiations in the absence of his Vapu form.
Anyway, i am traveling with work and have even more limited time to go on with this at this time. If you want to kling to the vapu vada idea promoted by the current GBC that is your choice. But, I cannot. Hope this meets you well, and happily engaged in service to Krishna,