editorials

Lively, insightful commentary on contemporary issues facing spiritual practitioners.

reviews

Book, film, and audio reviews of contemporary Gaudiya media, as well as a wide variety of media of interest to the spiritually minded.

news

News from around the world with an emphasis on alternative press that is especially relevant to spiritual practitioners.

classroom

Excerpts from classical Gaudiya texts, with and without commentaries, hosted by teachers with whom readers can interact and ask questions.

philosophy

Philosophical articles on Gaudiya Vaisnavism that focus on the tradition’s scriptural conclusions as well as its feeling for the nature of ultimate reality.

Home » comics

Nectar of Deviation

Submitted by on July 26, 2010 – 11:46 pm286 Comments

286 Comments »

  • madan gopal das

    Bringin’ it on Gurunistha!

  • Gopakumar das

    Oh Oh…here we go…..

  • Gopakumar das

    I think this would be siddhantic proof of the truth of Freud.

  • Paul Howard

    This comic shows as much philosophy as the GBC resolution on the matter, which is to say, none. At least the comic has an excuse.

    • The rivik theory itself has little or no philosophical content. But I certainly agree that the GBC can be philosophically vacuous at times. I never read their resolution, but on this issue I am surprised they needed one.

      Rather than being a philosophy unto itself, ritvik is a deletion of an aspect of an existing philosophy: the solution to yoga nasta–parampara or literally, “one after another.” They have deleted the Gita’s solution to the problem they perceive. And their interpretation of an imagined absolute “final order” reads more like a legal document than a philosophical one.

      • KB das

        Maharaja, the ritvik theory is based upon the philosophical concept that the acharya is Krishna’s representative and has the authority to implement a ritvik system. What is not philosophical about that?
        The ritvik system allows for ISKCON members to accept the guru whom they really love and believe in as opposed to someone who happens to be next person in the physical succession.
        Why should new devotees be told they cannot have Srila Prabhupada as guru instead of some western devotee that they really don’t believe in all that much?
        If new devotees coming don’t have all that much regard for the ISKCON guru assortment, then why should they be despised for accepting Srila Prabhupada as their guru?
        I can’t see the hate?
        Why?

        • Audarya-lila dasa

          First off, the philosophy as you have pointed out previously, is that Guru, Sadhu and Sastra all agree and confirm the truth. That is certainly what Srila Prabhupada taught. The Acharya can make adjustments in application of the philosophy based on time, place and circumstance – but not omit or change key points of the philosophy. That is not the teaching.

          Second, it is not taught anywhere in any Vedic sastra that one can take diksha from an Acharya who isn’t present to examine the qualifications and sincerity of the aspiring student or to personally instruct the student. There are cases, such as Madhvaharya where he is said to have taken diksha from Vyasadeva personally – but that is not a case where he merely read a book and said to himself, ‘I can find no one worthy of taking shelter of except the author of this book’. Furthermore, his diksha was personal – it wasn’t one sided. Today, the problem is that devotees are teaching a deviation and telling newcomers that no one is qualified except Srila Prabhupada and they can take direct shelter of him. These people create the doubt while providing the deviant solution and ignorance perpetuates itself.

          Third, the philosophy as spoken by Krsna himself in Bhagavad-gita is that this teaching is handed down over the generation by parampara, from teacher to student.

          The reason a person shouldn’t be misled and told that he/she can take diksha from Srila Prabhupada is simply that it is a lie. It is no truer than telling someone they can take diksha from Rupa Goswami or Chaitanya Mahaprabhu himself. The honest advice to give any aspiring sadhaka is to sincerely practice bhakti sadhana and pray for good guidance. Sincerity never goes in vain. When Krsna sees the sincerity of the practicioner he will personally come before him/her as Sri Guru and help that person advance in spiritual life. That is the philosophy and that is what an honest devotee should say to an honest enquirer.

          • KB das

            That whole explanation is based upon the concept of a physical succession and completely ignores the fact that there is a connection to the guru through his teachings that is much more substantial than setting through an initiation ritual that is a cultural act and not a spiritual act.

            I keep hearing devotees say that the parampara is a physical succession.
            Funny, Srila Prabhupada and Srila Sridhar Maharaja always taught different.

            The Saraswata acharyas tried with all their might to discredit the physical parampara, yet there seems to be a popular resistance to what they taught.
            What we have is a new class of career priest emerging who are vehemently opposed to the Saraswata ideology.

            The fact that Srila Prabhupada endorsed, supported and praised Lord Jesus as “our guru” despite the fact he had no physical contact with him is very telling of how false the physical succession mongers are.

            The problem is that many devotees are confused and trying to make the old Vaidic concept of parampara as the Gaudiya standard. The Gaudiya parampara is not a Vaidic parampara it is a Bhagavat parampara and deals in substance rather than formality.

          • That whole explanation is based upon the concept of a physical succession and completely ignores the fact that there is a connection to the guru through his teachings that is much more substantial than setting through an initiation ritual that is a cultural act and not a spiritual act.

            No its not merely physical. Its one after another, another one of spiritual substance. The anti physical ideas you reference speak of a mere physical line with no substance and insist that in place of this sham one must connect with a physically present representative of spiritual substance. This is the teaching of BSST, SSM, and SP that you refer to in a misleading manner.

          • Alex

            “The anti physical ideas you reference speak of a mere physical line with no substance and insist that in place of this sham one must connect with a physically present representative of spiritual substance. This is the teaching of BSST, SSM, and SP”

            Spiritual substance is obviously a necessity – it defines the parampara – but “Physically present representative” is interesting.

            Would you consider a book to be a “physically present representative”?

            If a living, breathing, human body is needed to make this connection – How can we understand the fact that BSST took sannyasa from a picture of his physically departed guru? It seems that by doing this, BSST is accepting the picture as a physically present representative.

          • Gaura-Vijaya

            BVT has pointed out if one is qualified there can be isolated cases for initiation by dreams or some people like Jada Bharata who had an advanced Guru in previous life and such exceptional people can come in direct contact with Gurus like Narada inaccessible to ordinary people. But that person will obviously show a spiritual maturity that is beyond that exhibited by the rivik initiates of SP and such cases are not a subject of official legal documents. You need exceptional adhikara which is beyond the range of people like us.

          • Would you consider a book to be a “physically present representative”?

            A “physically present representative” does not refer to a book. The book is a passive agent of divinity and the sadhu as guru is an active agent of the same. Sri Krsnadas Kaviraja has explained that Gaura Nityananda make their benediction available to us by bringing us in touch (physically) with two Bhagavatas, book and person (guru). So the book itself answers your question. It does so over and over again every time it stress the need for sri guru. It never says that it will suffice in this regard leaving no need for the person/guru. Never.

            It should be easy to understand the difference between a person and his or her book. The book cannot ask you if you have understood what it says, but the person can and we require such active compassion.

            Nothing could be more important and foundational to one’s spiritual life than the shelter of sri guru. And this is of course stressed throughout the entirety of sacred literature. Indeed, one cannot engage in krsna-bhakti without also engaging in guru-bhakti. Sri Rupa Goswami teaches us that taking shelter of sri guru (guru-padasraya) is the first limb of sadhana bhakti and that it is followed by diksa, sika and rendering affectionate seva to sri guru (visrambhena guru-seva). While in this scenario krsna-bhakti is the body (anga) and guru-bhakti is the limb (angi), guru-bhatki nonetheless prefaces any expression of krsna-bhakti. Furthermore Sri Jiva Goswami writes in his Bhakti-sandarbha that sometimes devotees reverse this order, making guru-bhakti the anga and krsna-bhakti the angi and this is more pleasing to Krsna.

            Furthermore nowhere is it taught that one does not need a guru becasue Krsna is in one’ heart. Nowhere. The teaching is that although Krsna is in one’s heart, he mercifully appears externally before one in the form of sri guru, jive saksat nahi tate guru caittya-rupe siksa-guru haya krsna-mahanta-svarupe. Thus it is Krsna himself who brings us to our guru, knowing as he does our heart. Then in a systematic manner sri guru brings us to Krsna, guru krsna prasade pai bhakti lata bija. Thus let your faith in sri guru be well informed faith, informed that is by sastra. We don”t care for other opinions.

          • madan gopal das

            KB:

            The fact that Srila Prabhupada endorsed, supported and praised Lord Jesus as “our guru” despite the fact he had no physical contact with him is very telling of how false the physical succession mongers are.

            C’mon KB, you don’t really believe that do you? I know that you are smart enough to see that Prabhupada called Jesus “our guru” in preaching – only for preaching. I’m sure in every instance he said this it was probably followed by some “thou shalt not kill” preaching. “We follow his teachings, and so should you!” Nevermind Prabhupada was mixing religions there… (Old vs. New Testament)

            Preaching against “succession of bodies” is only to point out that when there is an apparent break in parampara as our lineage lists it, we emphasize the teaching over the idea that one has to be initiated in a family lineage. We are a teaching lineage, bhagavata parampara and when there are seeming gaps of time, we list the next prominent acarya who carried the teaching forth. There is no current shortage of people representing Prabhupada’s teaching, though maybe not as prominently as he did.

            You know so much of Srila Sridhar Maharaj’s teaching. Please don’t distort it. You could be a resource for those of us who did not have his association.

          • madan gopal das

            Alex:

            If a living, breathing, human body is needed to make this connection – How can we understand the fact that BSST took sannyasa from a picture

            BSST had a relationship with his guru’s living, breathing, spiritualized body. He had previously rendered service, inquired submissively and received blessings from his guru when Gaura-Kishor was present. Taking sannyasa after he departed was simply carrying instructions he already received further. He had imbibed his guru’s instructions by having his presence. This is much different than having never met Prabhupada, reading his book and then thinking oneself his initiated disciple. BSST took real initiation (shelter and transmission of divine knowledge) from GKdB when babaji was present, and later took an additional initiation, sannyasa. In the example of a disciple, his foundation was set during GKdB’s physical presence.

          • Gaura-VIjaya

            Another point to consider is that when BSST did take sanayasa from a picture, it was a big point of debate proving that is not a standard practice. Only people with advanced spiritual qualifications can survive on just pure connection with the departed guru. Actually, most people need to continue to take instructions from an advanced vaisnava after the departure of their guru as they are not qualified to access the guru well enough to interpret his desire.

          • Responding to your points…

            1. Is it your idea that we should understand sastra independently? My understanding is that we receive our understanding through the acarya, who is guru and sadhu, and whose words are sastra.

            2. Where in sastra (either the ancient texts or Srila Prabhupada’s words) is an acarya barred from accepting disciples through representatives according to specified criteria?

            3. Yes, there are teacher and student, but of course teacher is another way of saying siksa guru, and we’re talking about diksa gurus. Furthermore, where in Bhagavad-gita does it say that one must stop being any kind of guru immediately upon leaving the body?

            4. “It is no truer than telling someone they can take diksha from Rupa Goswami or Chaitanya Mahaprabhu himself.” Neither Rupa Gosvami nor Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu instituted a system for accepting disciples in their absence. Srila Prabhupada did.

        • The acarya has the authority to represent Krsna, who says when their is yoga nasta the solution is parampara. Similarly the Bhagavata says that the the galitam phalm comes via sukha mukhad. And as VCT explains, this means it comes to use through the guru parampara, which means one after another.

          Let’s face it, rivik can only exist in a spiritual vacuum if at all. Who wants that? But I do agree that it is unappealing to get initiated by less than qualified people you have no love for. The good news is you don’t have to, unless you want Iskcon’s socioreligious environment and support more than a qualified guru (if there are none in Iskcon). Anyway, it’s an Iskcon problem and it will persist in and around the sect as much a powerful spiritual personality does not fill the gap and shake the society up.

          I really don’t think that you can say that stopping the parampara at Prabhupada and thereby discontinuing it is something he clearly wanted when that is something he taught against in his books. Thus the logical answer is that one should follow the eternal system set up by Krsna, not invent something new that contradicts his words and put words in Prabhupada’s mouth or twist an unnatural meaning out of words that he spoke on one occasion. If that means that Iskcon is left without an acarya (a subjective call), so be it. Don’t change the philosophy. Change Iskcon!

        • Let me add that these nice, gentle, poor ritvik people have no ben particularly kind to me nor appreciative of my efforts. Quite the contrary. Pujyapada Sridhara Deva Goswami told me that when your guru leaves the world you have three choices:

          1. serve one who truly represents him.
          2. become his representative (easier said than done)
          3. get out of the way.

          In my experience they cant even get out of the way.

          • Gaura Vijaya

            Well said, Maharaja. In fact, they are masters in creating hindrances for others by using the internet to promote vaisnava aparadha.

        • madan gopal das

          There is no hate of people here. I don’t think comics represent hate of apasiddhanta, though that may be very much in line with our “saraswata” lineage – viruddha-apasiddhanta – BSST became VERY angry with apasiddhanta.

          If new devotees coming don’t have all that much regard for the ISKCON guru assortment, then why should they be despised for accepting Srila Prabhupada as their guru?

          Because a guru MUST have the ability to be able to tailor the teaching to the disciple’s “psycho-physical nature” (Prabhupada said) and most importantly the level of adhikara. If a new devotee is not satisfied with who they are told is guru, the problem is likely that they should not be told WHO is guru, but rather WHAT qualifications guru possesses and then left to explore who speaks to their faith in such a way. It is a cop-out to fall back on Prabhupada. Prabhupada is never going to sauce that disciple out, or tenderly guide the disciple towards progressive attainment they may be eligible for. It is nonsense!!! These “disciples” should not be despised, they should be corrected and those who would mislead them into accepting other than a living guru might be dispicable.

      • The philosophy is to follow the acarya’s order and to understand sastra through him, is it not?

        On April 22, 1977, Tamal Krsna Gosvami told Srila Prabhupada that in his view, none of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples was qualified to initiate disciples for themselves, and Srila Prabhupada made no objection. He said in response that he was waiting for someone to become qualified; but in the months that followed, he never said anyone was qualified, or at least there is no record nor have I heard any such claim.

        Instead, on May 28, 1977, when directly asked about initiations after his disappearance, he said he would “recommend some of you to act as officiating acaryas,” which he clarified to mean “rtviks.” Later in the conversation that followed, he said that one could become guru when he orders, not otherwise. A few weeks later, on July 9, he recommended some devotees to become virtually independent rtviks with no indication that this system should be terminated at any time, and he never amended it. This document, which was widely promulgated along with Srila Prabhupada’s will, arranged a system whereby Srila Prabhupada could accept disciples with no physical involvement. I fact, it seems to me that this was its specific purpose, enabling Srila Prabhupada to accept disciples without his physical involvement.

        I don’t see where there is any room for disagreement with the above facts, but even if you have some objection, it remains that the rtviks are Hare Krishna devotees trying to follow a known pure devotee. Of course, some may be more or less committed or developed than others, but they are devotees. Many have displayed anger, etc., in response to being forced out of ISKCON, but that seems pretty normal to me. Srila Prabhupada created ISKCON, but those who want to be his disciples are kicked out, although having contemporary gurus who have not conquered their lust is approved by the GBC.

        When did Srila Prabhupada say he would stop accepting disciples? I have never heard anything of the sort.

        Neither have I heard of him saying you could accept disciples of your own. Yet I’m quite willing to give you and your disciples the benefit of the doubt in this matter, to engage in your spiritual lives according to your faith and your understanding of Srila Prabhupada’s instructions. Why can’t you and your disciples show us the same respect or at least refrain from picking fights?

        Hare Krishna

        • The philosophy is to follow the acarya’s order and to understand sastra through him, is it not?

          Yes, that is part of the teaching. However, it is clear from Prabhupada’s teaching throughout his books that one must accept initiation from the parampara. It is also clear that initiation is not given by previous acaryas. Thus your interpretation of his instructions concerning succession is what is in question because it clearly contradicts everything else he taught about succession.

          In the Bhagavata we find statements that need to be understood in light of Vayasa’s samadhi described in 1.7, because otherwise they appear to contradict the acintya bhedabhdea understanding of the Goswamis. There are many examples. The point here is that there is a teaching that the acarya must represent in order to be an acarya in the first place. Prabhupada’s authority derives from his accurately representing the Goswami’s, who are the Gaudiya sastra gurus. If he says something that seems to contradict them and even contradicts other statements he himself makes over and over again, we are obliged by the system of guru parampara to understand the seemingly contradictory statement in light of his many other statements that conform with the teaching of the Goswamis.

          In this case the statements you cling to and then interpret to mean that Prabhupada wanted to institute a system of succession that effectively did away with a successor are a radical departure from standard Gaudiya philosophy concerning succession and for that matter from all Vedanta philosophy. As mentioned above they are also a radical departure from everything Pabhupada taught about succession. Indeed, ritvikvada does away with a successor whose very purpose as conceived of in the traditional system is to shed new light in accordance with time and circumstance without departing from the philosophy. This is what keeps the tradition vital. So the ritvik legal/literal interpretation is suspect in the least and the sect tends to take all statements literally which is evidence of the problem that arises without a successor to help keep the succession focused on the spirt of the teachings rather than merely the letter of the law.

          Add to the above the fact that the ritvik legal interpretation is highly debatable in and of itself. And its only attempt to support its interpretation with Guadiya philsophy is the statement you have made above, which while sounding correct lacks understanding where the acarya’s authority derives from. In other words Prabhupada cannot just say that “In my lineage we will do away with gurus,” for example, and remain a Gaudiya authority, unless he can demonstrate from sastra, employing sastra-yukti, that his statement represents the tradition he is a follower of. If he were to make such a statement and then seek to support it by saying in the name of Gaudiya philsophy that “I am the acarya and whatever the acarya says one is to follow. That is the philosophy and therefore my statement represents Gaudiya philosophy,” this would be absurd. If this were our philosophy we wold be in deep trouble! Any acarya could say whatever he or she liked and call it Gaudiya Vaisnavism. This idea is something that Prabhupada preached strongly against for good reason.

          So you cite an aspect of the philosophy: “The philosophy teaches that we are to follow the order of the acarya.” But you fail to point out that the order of the acarya must be one that is supported by Guadiya philsophy. So if the “final order” interpretation is not supported by Gaudiya philosophy, it is a misinterpretation of the acaryas intent. Please consider this, in that the only philosophy ritvikvada can cite in its support is a misinterpretation of the philosophy. Whereas the opposition to ritvikvada has volumes of philosophy and precedent to refute it. This sees a formidable argument. No?

          Note that on many occasions Prabhupada expressed his desire that his own disciples would initiate after his departure. So he was not opposed to this and thus the porblem is merely that many of them have made a mockery of the institution of guru. Solution: Find a qualified guru. Result: find Prabhupada in a way that you could not have otherwise. My students love Prabhupada and many feel themselves not only under his shelter but in his eternal group n the Vrakja-lila (their ideal). Can’t get much closer to him than that!

          I will leave the legal wrangling you seek to engage in above to others, as I feel it is transcended by the points I have raised.

          As for my own position, Pujyapada Sridhara Deva Goswami encouraged me to initiate disciples and expand the mission of my Guru Maharaja. However, blessing may not always come externally. When did Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura tell his disciple Abhaya-caranaravinda dasa he could initiate? If one preaches and become self effulgent in the eyes of others, that devotee becomes guru. This we see from many examples, not the least of which is Prabhupada himself. This is the system. it is not about appointments, as Prabhupada so readily pointed out.

  • KB das

    And to think that the poor boy could have utilized his time in devotional service instead of ego venting his anger at an invisible boogey-man?
    The ritvik has apparently attained the same status as the Sasquatch, Chupa-cabra and the Jersey Devil?
    Maybe there is a ritvik under your bed Gurunishta?
    Better check tonight before you go to bed.
    Boo!!

    • madan gopal das

      There might be one in your head KB! I think you’ve said you don’t really accept that philosophy, but really seem quick to defend it. Maybe Gurunistha is just trying to scare out all the closet ritviks because they’re the ones who might actually be salvageable.

  • KB das

    Swami says:

    I really don’t think that you can say that stopping the parampara at Prabhupada and thereby discontinuing it is something he clearly wanted when that is something he taught against in his books.

    Maharaja, I know that there is a class of “ritvik” proponent out there that think as such. However, do we discredit Vaishnavism because there are sahajiyas? Or, do we reject Jesus because Christians are misguided?
    Why should Srila Prabhupada’s “ritvik” concept be dragged down into the dirt because there is a section of envious disciples who abuse the concept to insult and offend everyone else?

    The entire Gaudiya tradition is based off of innovation and the revelation of how limited is the range of the Vedas.
    KC is beyond the range of the Vedas.
    So is the Gaudiya sampradaya.

    Anyway, my point is that, in establishing the ritvik system, Srila Prabhupada never intended to stop the parampara at himself.
    In fact that is just a red herring, a false claim and line of BS that the anti-ritviks use to discredit the concept.
    Srila Prabhupada established the ritvik system because ISKCON was his society, his mission and his movement. As such anyone who joins that society has every right to be a disciple of Srila Prabhupada as much as anyone else before him.
    Apart from that, anyone can accept anybody they want as guru and the ritvik system didn’t change that. It simply offered newcomers to ISKCON a chance to be as inspired and motivated as those members than joined before them.
    Srila Prabhupada didn’t stop the parampara at himself.
    Anybody can play guru who wants to.
    The ritvk system was exclusive to ISKCON and did not include any such statement as “the parampara stops with me”.
    I think that is such a ridiculous copout to say that the ritvik system was ever meant for that purpose.

    In ISKCON or outside of ISKCON, anybody can play guru or accept any guru they like.
    Srila Prabhupada simply wanted to accommodate all the future devotees that would be coming after reading his books wanting to be his disciple.
    Now, instead of coming to ISKCON and becoming a disciple of Srila Prabhupada everyone is required to pick one of the official ISKCON gurus who many times fails to garner the factual faith and devotion of the candidate.

    You left ISKCON and started your own mission. You have every right to do that. The ritvik concept doesn’t prohibit that. It simply accommodates those people who come to KC because of reading Srila Prabhupada’s books and want to dedicate themselves to HIS service.

    I can’t see for the life of me why anyone is envious of that.

    • Here is my suggestion for innovation:

      The riviks are half right in that they insist that the guru must be qualified. Iskcon is half right in that it insists that everyone must receive initiation— hear the mantra from the guru who accepts one as his or her disciple.

      Let’s put the two halves together!

      Otherwise you have your own unique interpretation of ritvik for-iskcon-only and thus it is clear that there are many nuanced ritvik ideas out there. Your for-Iskcon-only version includes, as you have mentioned elsewhere on these pages, that the rivik initiation must come through one of the eleven chosen representatives. So that’s the end of that. The only one of them that agrees with this and thus the only one who engaged in this idea from the ritvik priest vantage point was Hamsadutta after he left Iskcon. So it has not worked. And no wonder, it does not include one guru following another—parampara. I think you need to get a better grasp of what parampara means before you say that ritvik does not effectively end it. We know who the one is for you. Who is the other?

  • KB das

    Maharaja, I remember distinctly that in ISKCON for the last few years of the Prabhupada era that Srila Prabhupada had done a gayatri tape to be heard by the ISKCON initiates taking Brahman initiation.
    So, you say it must come from the lips in physical contact. That is the same position as Ananta das Babaji and lots of others, but we know for sure that Srila Prabhupada sanctioned a gayatri tape to be heard by the new initiates.

    So, Srila Prabhupada instituted that system, but it appears that you don’t agree with that idea.
    As Sridhar Maharaja said, the ritvik powers can be temporary or they can be permanent. Srila Prabhupada at no time ever withdrew ritvik powers from any of his men before he left.

    So, Srila Prabhupada instituted the ritvik system in ISKCON and it is only on HIS authority that it can be revoked. The GBC does not have the power to revoke the order of Srila Prabhupada. Nobody does.

    So, unless and until somebody can show me an order where Srila Prabhupada withdrew his authority from his ritviks before his passing I would have to say the the order still stands.
    I pity anyone who stands against that order.

    As well, it is documented and well known that Srila Prabhupada gave the GBC authority to appoint more ritviks after his passing as needed. Maybe you will remember that Tamal and some others were canvassing to make Brahmananda a ritvik but Srila Prabhupada refused and told the GBC that in the future if he rectifies himself he can also be a ritvik in ISKCON.

    So, the arrangement for perpetuating the ritvik system was already in place and Srila Prabhupada had authorized the GBC to appoint more ritviks as needed in the future.

    Now, why would Srila Prabhupada say that if in fact it was just a temporary policy to be implemented for the duration of his life?

    I’m just an outsider taking an objective look.
    I don’t have a dog in the fight or an institution I favor.
    I am just a simple man who appreciates the truth no matter how bizarre it might appear.

    • Prabhupada accepted recommended disciples in his presence and sent them a tape of his speaking the diksa mantras and also chanted on their beads. You think this is the same as hearing the tape after he has left the world on the basis of your particular interpretation of some things he said that contradict the philosophy regarding the nature of succession. You are free to do so, but as with other issues you are likely alone on this one. Good luck.

      Now if your bizarre (your word) interpretation is correct, Iskcon’s GBC must appoint new ritviks and ritvik initiate the thousands of devotees who are not really initiated properly within Iskcon. Then since Iskcon in this scenario has its acarya fixed for eternity there will no successor acarya, who typically writes new commentaries and sets the preaching tone for his time, etc. In other words the seva that requires the successor acarya in the first place will be done by one who is no longer here to do it. How’s that for any postmoderns out there, equally valid? How can we possibly know? Ask Jesus/Brahma?

      • Gaura-Vijaya

        I think the only things which ritviks or even people inside ISKCON use is SP’s supposed quote,” My books are law books for next 10,000 years.” End of the story no need to do anything else, just parrot SP stick to his books not even changing the grammar. That is the policy. In fact, any problem is blamed on the fact that we are not keeping SP in the center. If SP is followed literally till the letter ( not in spirit) everything will be ok. 🙂

      • KB das

        Thanks for the information Maharaja, because now I know for sure that I was never really initiated by Srila Prabhupada and it was all a GBC scam. Because when I got initiated first and second it was approved by Jayatirtha who also performed both fire sacrifices and who took me into the temple president’s office in Chicago and played the Gayatri tape for me to hear, all the while he was pretending to be authorized by Srila Prabhupada. He had the tape and was authorized to use it. That tape was ordered destroyed by Tamal shortly after the passing of Srila Prabhupada. I know one devotee who told me that he found the one for the Denver temple in the garbage can of the temple president’s office.

        By the way, this all happened during the Prabhupada era and Jayatirtha prabhu had the authority to approve initiations on behalf of Srila Prabhupada, pick the name and perform the yagna. But, you are saying that they all lied: Tulsi Dasa, Jayatirtha, Danavir, Urjasvat, Uttama Sloka and everyone lied to me that Jayatirtha prabhu had authority from Prabhupada to give me Brahmana initiation?

        So, if your position holds true Maharaja, then I was never really initiated at all.
        So I happened to be one of the few people who saw how the ritvik system was really working in ISKCON just before the passing of Srila Prabhupada and I think the system was a really ingenious innovation by Srila Prabhupada.

        Unfortunately, the disaster he wanted to prevent occurred anyway because his direction for ISKCON was not followed.

        I have seen with my own eyes how Srila Prabhupada wanted ISKCON to function. I have seen with my own eyes the failure of the GBC to follow that. I have seen with my own eyes ISKCON reduced to a whimpering shadow of it’s former self because of deviation from the orders of Srila Prabhupada.

        It doesn’t take any big genius to understand that ISKCON was in the hands of a few young men just a few years out of puberty when Srila Prabhupada left and that the notion that all these young men should divide up the world and become acharya was terrifying to Srila Prabhupada who tried to prevent the atrocities that have been committed to so many of his disciples by the ISKCON “gurus” and their gangs of thugs and groupies filling up the bed space in the Hare Krishna ashrams and running off all the original ISKCON devotees. Now it is not unusual for these ISKCON members to get paid a salary.

        I think Srila Sridhar Maharaja put it well when he said “I pass urine on your GBC”.
        I couldn’t agree more.

        • But, you are saying that they all lied: Tulsi Dasa, Jayatirtha, Danavir, Urjasvat, Uttama Sloka and everyone lied to me that Jayatirtha prabhu had authority from Prabhupada to give me Brahmana initiation?

          No that is not what I am saying at all but I will leave it to you to reread what I have written and understand it or not.

        • KB,

          Let me give it one last shot here. You were initiated by Prabhupada who approved Jayatirtha and others in his last days to act as a ritviks on his behalf in carrying out the details of initiation. In this regard Jayatirtha, who acted as the ritvik for your initiation, had you listen to Prabhupada’s recorded recitation of the diksa mantras. Nothing out of the ordinary there. This was more or less standard procedure for Iskcon during Prabhpada’s presence, although before he became ill he would usually confirm by letter his acceptance of a disciple. So here he extended the function of the ritvik more than he had previously owing to his failing health. He spiritually reasoned that using the taped recording of his recitation of the diksa mantras constituted an example of yukta vairagya, and in this he followed the precedent of his guru who on one occasion had given diksa over the telephone when it was impossible for him to be present personally. In Prabhupada’s arrangment he did not extend the power of the ritvik to include, as it often does, the recitation of the mantra by the ritvik. So it was although innovative, a touch conservative nonetheless.

          Now because Prabhupada told JT and others they could act as ritvk on his behalf in his later days amongst us, and he never told them explicitly that after his departure they would no longer be empowered to act as his ritviks, you assume that his plan was that his society’s succession would be continued in this way via ritvik initiations after his departure, which would have been a very significant departure from the norm regarding the standard understanding of the function of the ritvik and the nature of succession that leaves a very real service for a living person to fulfill.

          Despite the obvious problems with this idea and its being a departure from tradition and arguably from the philosophy, you add to your case for it a statement from Sridhara Maharaja that empowerment can be permanent or temporary. Thus you speculate that Prabhupada can do whatever he likes, even forego the standard parampara system because he is an acarya, and because he never explicitly said that his appointed ritviks during his presence would not be able to function in that capacity in his absence and another guru mentioned at one time the idea that empowerment in general can be either permanent of temporary that Prabhupada’s empowerment of his ritviks during his presence was permanent and that he wanted his society to deal with his succession in this way. That is your “philosophy.”

          It goes against Guadiya precedent. It also goes against our philosophy, in that the acarya is such because he represents Krsna, not that he or she has the freedom to change it, as in this case by effectively stopping the guru parampara. While making adjustments are within the scope of the acarya’s service, if not the essence of it, such innovations require support from sastra. Indeed we find that SP continually cited scripture insightfully in support his various innovations. In your scenario he stops from dong this, which was his standard practice as per tradition and philosophy, a practice he taught us to follow. Your “philosophy” then goes on to do away with the possibility for realized innovations on the part of a successor acarya as well.

          Add to this that if this were Prabhupada’s desire for succession, it has failed as pointed out by Kulapavana. And lastly you give no compelling reason as to why this extremely convoluted so called innovation is necessary or even has any purpose other than to cater to the sentiments of a few devotees who want to be Prabhupada’s disciples even after he has departed, when in his own words sentiment without philosophy is only fanaticism. Furthermore this sentiment is at least 50% fueled by the failing of his disciples to represent him properly. In other words it is a reaction to a problem that would not exist had he been properly represented (my suggestion) and if the devotees were better versed in the philosophy. Those that were better versed took shelter of Sridhara Maharaja.

          Jesus/Brahma!

          • KB das

            Maharaja, why is it that whenever neutral third parties are asked to look at the ISKCON ritvik issue and the little bit of actual ritvik instruction by Srila Prabhupada that these scholars and professors unanimously agree that Srila Prabhupada’s final instructions included installing the ritvik system for ISKCON permanently?

            Why is it that this issue conveniently divides along particular lines of political positions in the movement but when outside observers are asked to look at the evidence they all agree that Srila Prabhupada was establishing a ritvik system in ISKCON.

            That is one of the reasons I have a problem with it.
            It just seems that too many people have a dog in the fight to have an objective opinion.

            It takes somebody outside the purview of the sect politics and positions to take a really objective view of Srila Prabhupada’s statements and come to a truly unbiased, objective judgement.

            The whole Gaudiya sampradaya is a make-believe sampradaya that was manufactured at the time of Mahaprabhu. It’s just really amusing to see these Gaudiyas and their magical mystery sampradaya trying to claim rights to all sorts or rigid Vedic principles when in fact the whole sampradaya with it’s silken Swamis is a fabrication.

          • I am not familiar with any scholarly objective observations concerning this issue. Furthermore it would be suspect of them if they themselves were not Gaudiya practitioners because such scholars often get that which they are not subjectively involved in all wrong. Kennedy and Dimock are good examples. I am, however, aware of devotee scholars who are not in Prabhupada’s linage that I consider objective and they have rejected the ritvik succession idea. But if you tell us who the sources you are referring to are and provide links to their opinions, I could give you a more complete answer.

            And you have revealed that you are very subjectively involved in the controversy, given that you were initiated by Prabhupada through a ritvik and your stated take on this experience and its import as you understand it. So by your own logic, you would be the last person to get an objective opinion from.

            So I also find this latest objective-scholarly-opinion-reasoning faulty, as I have the rest of your stated reasons for your belief. Meanwhile my stated reasons for rejecting the ritvik idea remain either uncontested or unsatisfactorily dealt with by anyone, as far as I can tell.

          • KB das

            Maharaja, perhaps the most well-known scholar outside ISKCON that has looked at all the evidence and come to a judgment is Professor Kim Knott – professor of religious studies at Leeds College UK.
            He not only came to an opinion but he highly recommends that all incoming devotees read the IRM position book before they jump into ISKCON and commit to a guru.

            He says:

            “I hope this book will be read carefully and discussed widely because the profound issues it raises demand consideration at all levels. Every devotee has a real stake in the matter.”

          • Thanks. This comment is not an endorsement of the ritvik position. But is he says that he endorses it elsewhere, he only reveals his ignorance of Gaudiya siddhanta.

          • Gaura-Vijaya

            I think it is not just Gaudiya Siddhanta, but a siddhanta common to all devotional and for that matter even impersonal schools.

          • KB das

            There is also the very respected Prof Tatachar, Director, Academy of Sanskrit Research, Melkote, Mandya district, Karnataka.
            Maybe some people would like to pass him off as some sort of crackpot or idiot, but I actually think that maybe such an intelligent Indian man might actually not be the idiot that some would have him to be.

            Please find below the result of some more research with other sampradayas. Prof Tatachar was also approached by Sriman Basu Gosh prabhu and Vidvan Gauranga in connection with the vidvat goshti. For some reason, he could not attend the same. However he gladly gave a letter and answered questions in an interview.

            Your servant,
            Madhu Pandit Dasa.

            Part 1. A letter given by Prof Tatachar, Director, Academy of Sanskrit Research, Melkote, Mandya district, Karnataka.
            Part 2. Excerpts of an interview with Prof Tatachar.
            Part 3. Biodata of Prof Tatachar.

            Part 1. A letter given by Prof Tatachar, Director, Academy of Sanskrit Research, Melkote, Mandya district, Karnataka.

            Prof. M A Lakshimtatachar, Jan 30th, 1999
            Director, Academy of Sanskrit Research

            Respected Madhupandit ji,

            Humble Pranams. Before writing this letter let me introduce myself as a Sayamacharya belonging to the family of Anantanpillai otherwise known as Anandacharya who was one among the simhasanadipathis appointed by Ramanuja himself to initiate disciples into Srivaishnavism. Further I have also continued the same tradition as I am initiating many into Srivaishnavism in the name of my revered acharya Sri U. Ve. Alwar Tirumala Iyengar Swami who was the 34th successor in the Acharyapurusha parampara. I have also enclosed herewith my bio data, which gives some information about my educational and philosophical background.

            Now, I learn that there is some discussions are going in ISKCON regarding succession. The bone of contention is whether Ritviks appointed by HH Srila Prabhupada could be considered only his representatives or should they be considered as acharyas themselves as they are initiating the disciples into the Hare Krishna movement.

            I have very carefully gone through the letter of HH Srila Prabhupada, which was issued on July 9th 1977.
            According to me this letter has five parts.

            1. In the changed circumstances permission to certain disciples to act as ritviks – as his representatives.
            2. Specific names of these who can act as ritviks – representatives of Srila Prabhupada 3. Change of procedure
            4. Stress on the point that after initiation from the ritviks appointed by HH Srila Prabhupada they are considered to be disciples of HH Srila Prabhupada only.
            5. The action to be taken to include the names of the initiated in the disciples book of HH Srila Prabhupada only.

            The letter categorically makes it clear that the eleven Ritviks can never claim acharyaship as they are the only representatives of HH Srila Prabhupada. They are like the instruments in the hands of acharya for the sake of initiation. The letter stresses again and again that the initiated are the disciples of HH Srila Prabhupada only. Refer to these statements:

            1. Ritvik – Representative of the Acharya for the purpose of performing initiations.
            2. Ritviks – These representatives may accept the devotee as an initiated disciple of Srila Prabhupada
            3. The newly initiated devotees are the disciples of HDG Srila Prabhupada.
            4. The name of the newly initiated disciple should be sent by the representative who has accepted him/her to Srila Prabhupada to be included in HIS DIVINE Grace’s “Initiated disciples book.”

            There are several such instances in SriVaishnava Parmapara (tradition). Take the example of Sri Ramanujacharya himself who was the foremost amongst the Srivaishnavacharyas. He was initiated into the Srivaishnava texts and secrets by five great acharyas who are the disciples of Acharya Yamuna. That is why is called Panchacharya Pradarshita.

            Though he was a disciple of these five Acharyas, just like the Ritviks appointed by HH Srila Prabhupada ji, these ritviks never claimed that they were the Acharyas’ of Ramanujacharya. On the other hand it seems Yamunacharya had seen Ramanuja only once in Kanchipuram when he was studying with Yadava Prakasha and he also showered blessings on Ramanujacharya from a distance. Very interestingly; Ramanucharya mentions Yamunacharya and offers obeisances to him in his benedictory verses found in the beginning of the Vedartha sangraha. This shows that Acharya Ramanuja is considered to be a sishya of Yamunacharya only.

            Besides the very concept of Ritvik has a special significance here. In the olden days there would be a Yajamana who could engage Ritvik, Adhvaryus etc., for the performance of sacrifice. These people after performing the sacrifice would get some dakshina. But the net result of the sacrifice would go to the Yajaman himself, as he was mainly responsible for the performance. The ritviks were entitled only to initiate disciples into the Hare Krishna Movement. But the disciples thus initiated by these representatives are always considered to be the disciples of Srila Prabhupada only. Since he is the yajamana who has engaged these ritviks for the performance of initiation.

            Again I have to stress that the letter makes it amply clear that the disciples thus initiated by the representatives of Srila Prabhupada are only the disciples of Srila Prabhupada only, not of the representatives.

            I also want to confirm that this system can continue perpetually even in the physical absence of HH Srila Prabhupadaji as it has continued in Ramanujas tradition as any person initiated by any acharya has dasyanama like Lakshmittathacharya Ramanuja Dasa though Ramanuja passed away long ago. Hope, Madhupandit Dasaji, Ihave made my point clear. With warm personal regards,

            Yours sincerely,
            Lakshmi Tatachar (Signed)

            Part 2. Excerpts of an interview with Prof Tatachar.

            Can an acahrya who is not physically present give diksha?

            ISKCON devotee: Our point is that although Srila Prabhupada is not physically present, that does not in any way stop the validity of his continuing to be diksha guru.

            Sri Tatachar : Definitely. That is my view.

            ISKCON devotee: Can the absence of a physical body limit the functioning of the acharya, in terms of Srila Prabhupada being able to impart knowledge and take karma of the disciples? Can Srila Prabhupada do this now?

            Sri Tatachar: Just because somebody has a physical body, can he take your karma? Is he competent to do it? The presence or the absence of the physical body is not the criteria to take away the karma of a particular person. On the other hand, it depends on the devotion of the disciple and the grace of the acharya. Say for instance, Srila Prabhupada’s guru was not there when Srila Prabhupada was present. Do you mean to say that they are not capable of taking the karma of their disciple?

            The interesting thing is (quotes a verse in Sanskrit from Yatindra vimsati composed by Sri Manavala Mamuni of Sri Vaishnava sampradaya, who appeared nearly 200 years after Sri Ramanuja).

            ISKCON devotee: So what is the import of this statement?

            Sri Tatachar: That means though the guru is not physically present, he can take away all the karmas of the disciple. That is the potency of the acharya. In that way, it is not important whether the acharya is alive with a physical body or not. That is not important.

            ISKCON devotee: One of their objections is that it stops the parampara.

            Sri Tatachar : How does it stop the parampara? These ritviks will further appoint ritviks.

            ISKCON devotee: There is a provision for that. Prabhupada says more can be added when necessary.

            Sri Tatachar: More can be added and these ritviks will initiate all of them into the Hare Krishna movement and Srila Prabhupada will be their guru. What harm is there? Because the very word ritvik’ has a special significance here. What do you mean by ritvik? A person who performs this particular duty. Suppose a king performs a sacrifice he is considered a yajaman. Even now wealthy people organise for us, Sudarshana homa. Probably in your place also. So that person is called a yajamana. When we came to your place Madhu Pandit Das was the yajamana. He didn’t perform the sacrifice. He engaged all these people – Venkatesh and I came and many other peopplle came and we performed the homa. After performing the homa we were given dakshina. So our relationship ends there itself. Because we had received the dakshina for the service we had rendered. But the end result goes to whom? To the yajamana only. Similarly, these ritviks get some dakshina from the persons whom they initiate. Once that is done their work is over. But the result that such and such a person is a disciple of such and such a guru goes to SP. That’s why the word ritvik is used here. Otherwise he would have used a different word. And he would have stated that these are my sishyas, these sishyas are here afterwards considered to be the gurus to succeed me. “He is my successor,” he didn’t say that.

            Does the rtvik system violate any Vedic principles of guru parampara?

            ISKCON devotee: You have compared the arrangement in the Sri sampradaya with that of the rtvik arrangement that Srila Prabhupada has directed us to follow. (He also supervised the running of this system from July to November, 1977). In rtvik system, there is an important difference. Here Srila Prabhupada is not giving any guruship to the rtviks·

            Sri Tatachar: Yes, that is right, that is what we see from the letter also.

            ISKCON devotee: In the event of the rtviks being representatives only and not being gurus, is there a violation of any shastric principle or is it violating any spiritual·

            Sri Tatachar: No, it is not violating. On the other hand, it supports what I have stated. In the case of Sri Ramanuja, I have stated that he appointed 74 simhasana-adhipatis and made them gurus. In spite of that we owe our allegiance to Sri Ramanuja only.

            ISKCON devotee: You are saying that in spite of being some sort of guru, you are the disciple of Sri Ramanuja only?

            Sri Tatachar: Yes, definitely. That is why we say that we are Sri Ramanuja dasan only. I have to say, adiyen madhura kavi Lakshmi Tatacharya Ramanuja dasan, when I prostrate before anyone. Sri Ramanuja dasa is the common thing found in all the Sri Vaishnavas, though we have been initiated by one of the simhasana-adhipatis appointed by Sri Ramanuja himself who were considered to be gurus. In spite of this we are expected to state that we are disciples of Sri Ramanuja only.

            ISKCON devotee: In our case it is clear that Srila Prabhupada did not give any gurusghip·

            Sri Tatachar: So it is all the more clear and imperative because Srila Prabhupada mentions very clearly in the letter that these are rtviks. That is why I have given the meaning of the rtviks – this word comes from the rig veda. The rtvik is a sacrificer who is appointed by the yajamana. Suppose you are the yajamana, you can appoint me as the rtvik and this rtvik performs the role of a priest on behalf of the yajamana. This may happen when the yajamana does not know the vedic rituals or even if he knows and if he is not in a position to perform this role, then he may appoint a rtvik.

            So he will perform the sacrifice and give dakshina to the rtviks·Who gets the result of the sacrifice? It obviously goes to the person who has engaged these rtviks and sent money for the sacrifice, the yajamana.

            The word rtvik is very significant. That is why Srila Prabhupada was so clever to say that they are only rtviks and not acaryas. So the result goes to Srila Prabhupada only.

            Again, will the parampara stop?

            ISKCON devotee: In the Bhagavad Gita, Srila Prabhupada gives the guru parampara – Brahma, Narada, Vyasa·and so on till Srila Prabhupada. In the rtvik system, who comes after Srila Prabhupada?

            Sri Tatachar: Srila Prabhupada himself. Only the rtvik system continues and Srila Prabhupada is the guru.

            ISKCON devotee: When that happens, is the parampara not stopping?

            Sri Tatachar: No. What can be done? Srila Prabhupada has not appointed an acharya. The parampara continues through a chain of rtviks.

            Is authorization essential to become an acharya?

            ISKCON devotee: One final question is that for somebody has to become an acharya, how important is it for him to receive an authorisation to take that post from the previous acharya? In this case, there is an authorisation to continue to as a ritvik and ritvik alone, there is not authoriation to function as guru. How important is it to receive an authorisation?

            Sri Tatachar : It is very much necessary to receive an authorisation. Without an authorisation you cannot do. Generally what happens in the Srivaishnava parampara, they were always worried about the succession ( Tamil sloka). Who will be the successor to take care of the propagation of this system? When the acharya was about to pass away, he would nominate a person to take care of the panth and hold the mantle thereafter. That is how it has been done. That is why even in the Srivaishnava parampara, while giving sannyasa, he cannot take sannyasa on his own. The acharya will give the sanyas and say that here afterwards he will be the mathadipathi.

            ISKCON devotee: That means authorization is a must.

            Sri Tatachar : IT IS A MUST

            ISKCON devotee:To become a guru or a mathadipathi or a peethadipathi

            Sri Tatachar : Yes, yes, yes. Otherwise I am very sure that SP would have used another word altogether instead of ritviks. These are my successors’ – no problem. He never said successors’. Again and again he stresses these are my representatives only, they are only expected to initiate them, ultimately all of them are my disciples only, not the disciples of others’.

            Part 3: Biodata of Prof MA Tatachar

            Presently Director, Academy of Sanskrit Research, Melkote, Mandya district, Karnataka.

            Educational qualification: MA (Sanskrit) University Gold medalist Navinanyaya vidvan (President of India’s Gold medalist) Alankara vidvat madhyama Visastadvaita and other schools of philosophy

            Work experience: Head of the Department of Sanskrit, Govt college, Chitradurga and Bangalore. Director, Academy of Sanskrit Research, Melkote, Mandya district, Karnataka. Teaching Visistadvaita, Sanskrit and Shastras at MA, Mphil and PhD levels.

          • Too bad the learned scholar and Sri Vaisnava had no other information to base his opinion on, as we do.

          • Gaura-Vijaya

            This is not the official opinion of Sri Vaisnavas. You yourself called him a crack pot, but perhaps he was necessary as an evidence.

          • Gurunistha dasa

            Yes, one letter and knowledge of the succession in Srivaishnavism doesn’t seem like a very good basis for making sweeping statements of ISKCON’s situation.

          • As Gaura-vijaya points out, his is an interpretation of the Sri Vaisnava precedents he cites that differs from orthodox Sri Vaisnavism. Ritviks approached the man and told him their view and produced the letter they think is irrefutable proof. So he gives his opinion without hearing from the other side of the debate. Not a scholarly approach.

            The case has not been made and unfortunately its main proponent here never acknowledges points that he cannot refute, but rather jumps to another point to make it look like the debate is still alive. It’s not.

            My question for those who have been following all along is who is Brahma’s mother? Hail Mary!

          • Gaura Vijaya

            “In spite of this we are expected to state that we are disciples of Sri Ramanuja only.”

            This statement is his personal opinion. I know people who are in Sri Vaisnava sampradaya and they don’t consider themselves as disciples of Ramanuja. Yes, Ramanuja holds a place that is special in their sampradaya like the Gosvamis in GV. We call ourselves Rupanugas, so does that mean we are direct disciples of Sri Rupa? It is in similar way Sri Vaisnavas consider themselves disciples of Ramanuja, not in the ritvik interpretation of things. SP is not the sampradaya acharya for GV. That is another debate. Tripurari Maharaja pointed out that we are Bhaktivinoda Parivara, so does that mean we are direct disciples of BVT?

            Lastly, BVT has pointed out if one is qualified there can be isolated cases for initiation by dreams or some people like Jada Bharata who had an advanced Guru in previous life and such exceptional people can come in direct contact with Gurus like Narada inaccessible to ordinary people. But that person will obviously show a spiritual maturity that is beyond that exhibited by the rivik initiates of SP and such cases are not a subject of official legal documents. You need exceptional adhikara which is beyond the range of people like us.

          • KB das

            Mary was just a nice but ordinary Jewish girl. She wasn’t any big incarnation of anybody special. However, after becoming the mother of Jesus she of course attained Brahmaloka.
            Mary was another one of the persons who never understood the actual teachings of Jesus, but she acquired much sukriti being the mother of Jesus and went to Heaven.
            The cult worship around Mary is another foolish fabrication that Lord Jesus is not the least amused by.
            Jesus’ actual name was Joshua Ben Joseph. Paul, not contemporary to Jesus, attached that name to Joshua.

          • Gopakumar das

            Mary was just a nice but ordinary Jewish girl. She wasn’t any big incarnation of anybody special. However, after becoming the mother of Jesus she of course attained Brahmaloka.
            Mary was another one of the persons who never understood the actual teachings of Jesus, but she acquired much sukriti being the mother of Jesus and went to Heaven.
            The cult worship around Mary is another foolish fabrication that Lord Jesus is not the least amused by.
            Jesus’ actual name was Joshua Ben Joseph. Paul, not contemporary to Jesus, attached that name to Joshua

            Are we joking now? Are you guys having a playful banter or is this intended to be real? I can’t believe this is the content of this conversation. This is outright insanity. I am qualified to call it that.

          • Well KB is dead serious and he is a ritvik supporter so I take it seriously in considering all factors objectively.

            Kind of took the postmodern out of you there for a minute, eh?

          • KB das

            As quickly as you can Grasshopper (take the pebble from my hand).
            Then, you will be able to understand the mysterious and mystical secrets of this magical dialogue.
            I am still holding the pebble.
            There are mysteries untold.

          • This is perhaps the most compelling evidence to date. Brahma is of course empowered by Krsna—think ritvik, Wow, I am starting to get it. And in his appearance as Jesus his connection with his mother was not physical yet she attained Brahmaloka. Now that’s ritvik! The fact that she did not understand the teachings is also evidence of ritvikvada during her time—a compelling precedent. Jaya Brahma/Ben/Joshua/Joseph!

          • KB das

            Jesus was not the product of a virgin birth. That again is the product of the Paganization of Jesus’ teachings.
            Jesus was conceived through the same process as all other humans.
            Jesus had a simple physical body – nothing magical about it.

            Besides that Srila Prabhupada teaches about ajnata-sukriti as well.
            Serving the pure devotee is always beneficial whether done with knowledge or unknowingly.
            Mary always wanted miracles from Jesus, because she knew he was special having been told by the archangel Gabriel, but Jesus never performed like Mary wanted and she lived her whole life in frustration that her God/Son was not performing miracles and proving his Godship over the universe.
            Mary did not possess pure devotion. She was just a simple Jewish girl, not any mother of God in the spiritual sense.

          • KB das

            I am not so sure that Professor Tatachar was that naive or gullible. Maybe it is a little naive to presume him to be?
            Usually, Indian intellectuals are more studious than that.

          • No presumptions here. I am just stating the facts as presented by the prof himself. His opinion is based entirely on one letter. He was asked what he thought the letter said and if there was a precedent for the ritvik interpretation of it.

          • KB das

            That one letter happened to be not a letter but an official ISKCON document registered by the secretary of Srila Prabhupada and witnessed by all the senior GBC.
            It was Srila Prabhupada’s official, formal declaration of spiritual succession for ISKCON and it was all about the ritviks working with the GBC authority. The GBC recommended for initiation and the ritvik acharya (officiating acharya) gave final approval and picked the name or had one of the Sanskritists do it. Then the local GBC or TP would do the yagna for the initiation ritual. If the devotee was getting Brahman initiation he would get the mantras by tape and a photocopy to be burned upon memorization.

            It is a known fact and it is recorded that when Satsvarupa and the GBC went to Prabhupada for final siksha on how initiation would go on in ISKCON after his passing he said he would appoint some “officiating acharyas” who would perform the ritvik function.
            When Sridhar Maharaja found out about this his position of course changed from what he originally told to the GBC when they came to him for guidance and blessings mostly.
            He withdrew all his support for the ISKCON gurus and the GBC management.
            He withdrew his blessing from a number gurus and mentioned something about a conspiracy to minimize his authority as sampradaya acharya.

          • Just one of the problems with this argument is that it, like the rest of the primary thrust of ritvikvada, is a legal argument for a policy regarding succession that has no philosophical support. The legal argument itself can be argued till the cows come home, but if the pro ritvik argument is not philosophically sound in the first place, its legal argument is dismissed. As we have seen, the “philosophy” upon which the pro ritvik argument is based is actually against the conclusion of Gaudiya siddhanta (apasiddhanta)

            The “philosophy:”

            SP is a perfect acarya and therefore he can do whatever he likes, including altering the parampara system set up by Krsna that involves one guru following another in succession by ending the succession aspect of the parampara.

            That’s it. Nothing more (pun intended).

            This leaves one with virtually no parampara, if one understands the term correctly. It provides for no successor, leaving no means for the lineage to remain vital by way of providing ongoing new light with regard to new times and circumstances. And the justification for all of this is that some devotees want to be initiated by Prabhupada even after he has departed. Or the idea that Prabhupada knew no one in his lineage would ever be qualified to serve as a successor acarya and no acarya from outside of his direct lineage could ever fill the gap. This second justification is worse that the first. It is an insult to Prabhupada himself. It has no basis in anything Prabhupada ever said or taught. Indeed, who could fill the shoes of Mahaprabhu? In terms of representing him in succession, many it would appear.

            Conclusion: Ritvikavada is sentiment without philosophy and thus religious fanaticism. And we have seen practically that it is fanatical and thus irrational right here on these pages and elsewhere for the last thee decades. Indeed, the fanaticism it breeds in its extreme form is so anti devotional that it constitutes no more than a taste for and campaign of Vaisnava aparadha, and while less extreme forms of it sometimes reluctantly publicly try to distance themselves from this extreme, they privately appreciate it.

          • Babhru

            This is Prof. Tatachar’s opinion, and it appears to be based on his reading of the July 9th letter. His speculations about Srila Prabhupada’s intentions for ISKCON’s long-range future are based solely on his reading of that letter and, no doubt, his discussions with Madhu Pandit and his associates. There’s no evidence here that he has researched Gaudiya vaishnava siddhanta or practice beyond the devotees he’s speaking with here.

            I don’t have any basis for considering whether he is or is not, as you suggest, a crackpot. But his reading of that letter clearly misses the context in which it appears: the conversations in May (whatever you may think of them), the teachings of the sampradaya (of which Prof. Tatachar is not a member; in other words, he, too, is an outsider, despite all his other qualifications), and the clear teachings Srila Prabhupada gave us over the course of his preaching career. Therefore, although some may find it interesting for one reason or another, I think it would be hard to argue persuasively that Mr. Tatachar’s opinion should influence our practice at all. You may find this persuasive, KB, or, more likely, just useful for stirring things up; however, I see little value in it. I don’t see that it adds anything new to the conversation.

            Ultimately, though, this is little more than a distraction. If it were so clear that Srila Prabhupada intended to have only ritvik initiations in ISKCON in perpetuity, he would have done so in a way that was systematic and unmistakeable. There just simply is no clear evidence that he did so.

          • Babhru

            Actually, Prof. Knott is a she, and she admits in her foreword to the “Final Order” paper that she’s an outsider and that it may not be wise for her become involved in the discussion. And, as Swami points out, her Foreword does not endorse the ritvik position. She simply exhorts devotees to consider the arguments carefully. That’s just what academics do, or should do.

            The plain truth is that the ritvik argument didn’t appear in ISKCON until the late ’80s, and then as a reaction to persistent problems in the institution’s leadership. As Swami has pointed out, this practice contravenes the practice of guru paramapara. It also flies in the face of everything Srila Pranhupada taught us the whole time he was with us. If he intended to institute such a practice, he would have done so explicitly and in such a way that there would have remained little or no room for doubt as to his intention. As someone who is not only a sophisticated reader and someone who has spent many years teaching argument, but also an experienced disciple and practitioner, I have examined the issue carefully (that’s what we academics do) and found the case wanting. There is, as Gertrude B. Stein said, no there there. These devotees, many of whom are long-time friends whom I like very well, and many of whom I respect, simply have not made the case. The evidence is not there. Bas.

          • Babhru

            Sorry: Gertrude Stein. (I must have been thinkning of Alice.)

          • Gaura-Vijaya

            KB, it is good that you finally have come out to defend the ritvik system and confirmed your support for it. At least it is better than saying that you don’t support it and then spend gallons of ink in defending the cause. Now, people at least know what you stand for.

    • madan gopal das

      So, Srila Prabhupada instituted the ritvik system in ISKCON and it is only on HIS authority that it can be revoked.

      This is just plain stupid. Conveniently Prabhupada will never revoke the order until his “second coming” (now there’s some juicy Jesus/Prabhupada analogy for ya!) so everyone after Prabhupada’s physical presence has no personal instruction, no personal relationship, no updated teaching for progressive advancement of the movement. Just Prabhupada memories videos and books and classes. Awesome… And awesomely stagnant forever. What the hell happens when women start being more intelligent(!), technology revolutionizes the capability for preaching, someone discovers aliens, devotees start to make their own donuts… What happens when the ritviks Prabhupada appointed fall-down, leave, or do their own thing?? If you don’t accept the GBC, how could you accept any new ritviks they appoint??? Doesn’t matter, Prabhupada’s teachings from the 1970’s are all we need until the second coming. Hey, bell-bottoms made a come back!

      Prabhupada did not revoke the order because it was clear that after his departure, ritvik ends. Then… “disciple of my disciple, my grand-disciple.” What is so hard to understand about that?

  • Kula-pavana

    Ultimately the question boils down to: “Does it work or not?”
    If Srila Prabhupada indeed invented the ritvik system for his institution, does it really work? Is it fulfilling the expectations of the founder-acharya? Is it fulfilling the expectations of the new disciples? Is it producing pure Krsna-bhaktas? While the first and last ones are highly debatable and subjective, the second is very tangible and can be directly evaluated.

    There are very few bhakti-yoga adepts I have met in my life that are satisfied by a ritvik system. They invariably long for a guru they can approach directly, ask a personal question and get a direct answer. Somebody truly qualified, inspiring, knowledgable, and pure.

    Yet obviously there will be exceptions and with time Srila Prabhupada can be turned into Jesus and his ritvik followers into the Church of Bhakti or something along those lines. Still, the question remains: does it work? Some of the things Srila Prabhupada introduced did not work, like the gurukulas, appointed for life GBC system, or sannyasa given to young men. So just because you think Prabhupada introduced it, does not guarantee it will work.

    If the old, non-ritvik system worked for SP, why not stick with it? It would seem like a common sense approach, but common sense was always a rare commodity in Iskcon.

    • KB das

      That is not the kind of society that Srila Prabhupada established.
      Only the early disciples and GBC, sannyasis and Temple Presidents had direct access to Srila Prabhupada. Thousands of initiated never got any more than classes, guru-pujas and some kirtan with Srila Prabhupada. Open access was closed in the very early days especially after the GBC was established. The namby-pamby notion of the disciple needing lots and lots of intimate grooming by the guru was rejected by Srila Prabhupada and it was quite visible by how he ran ISKCON. The guru is not a baby sitter for a bunch of shitty-diaper neophytes. Most all of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples understand that and were more concerned with serving him than loitering around his physical body and asking a bunch of retarded questions to Jagat Guru.

      So, your idea is not the kind of society that Acharya Srila Prabhupada established.
      He had a chain of command. A very strict chain of command and that is how he had ISKCON set-up for strict training of all new members.
      The point is, ISKCON cannot be compared to anything else. It can only compared against the direction it was given by the Acharya.

      • Kula-pavana

        KB: “The namby-pamby notion of the disciple needing lots and lots of intimate grooming by the guru was rejected by Srila Prabhupada and it was quite visible by how he ran ISKCON. The guru is not a baby sitter for a bunch of shitty-diaper neophytes.”

        And that approach failed miserably, generating horrendous abuse of rank and file devotees by very poorly trained and power hungry leaders he promoted. The guru is certainly responsible for training his disciples and for the activities of the institution he created. Devotees were trained to be obedient worker bees who suspended their own rationality and critical thinking for the sake of blind following – that only made things worse, allowing the abuse to continue unchecked. And it was all happening while Prabhupada was still here, in pre-1978 Iskcon.

        We may say that Srila Prabhupada had no other choice, or that his choices were limited, but we cannot say that his approach was sustainable or that it needs to continue now because it is good and practical. You have to judge things by the results. And we have plenty of things to judge this system by – hard historical facts, not sentimental notions of ‘good old days’ created by selective memory process.

        • Gaura-Vijaya

          Very well said Kula Pavana. In one of the discussions with Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu, he pointed out the same thing. Things were not as rosy as painted out during SP’s presence. People were abusing authority in his presence and SP had to correct that several times.

      • madan gopal das

        KB, I’m really wanting to hear you answer to Prabhupada’s statement that those initiated by the ritvik’s after Prabhupada’s departure are “his (the ritvik’s) disciple”, Prabhupada’s “grand-disciple”.

        You said:

        Thousands of initiated never got any more than classes, guru-pujas and some kirtan with Srila Prabhupada.

        First, lack of direct access to the guru is not an excuse for lack of progress on the part of the disciple. At the same time, such access affords great opportunity. From the history I have learned, it does seem that some of the leadership restricted access to Prabhupada; however, direct association with Prabhupada by all of his disciples was just not possible, given the scope of his outreach program. There is a balance that has to be found between outreach and cultivation – throwing seeds everywhere, or nurturing the growth of the few that sprout. The need at Prabhupada’s time was scattering seeds all over the world. Even then, he spoke early on about “boiling the milk”, slowing down, more deeply instructing his students. I think that there are a few occassions when he lamented taking “too many disciples”, at least he instructed about this principle in his books. Why would he do that if he could accept unlimited disciples into eternity, without being able to continue to guide them?

        Let’s think about his own example of being a disciple. BSST certainly had a large number of diciples. Prabhupada was one, without much position in the mission during his guru’s living presence. However, he did meet with BSST a few times and received valuable instructions, which were tailor made by BSST to empower Prabhupada in a service he could excel in (preaching in English). This is why one has to have a living guru.

  • KB das

    Swami says:

    And lastly you give no compelling reason as to why this extremely convoluted so called innovation is necessary or even has any purpose other than to cater to the sentiments of a few devotees who want to be Prabhupada’s disciples even after he has departed,

    Maharaja, I think the long list of fallen gurus, fallen Swamis, abusive gurus, abusive Swamis and the virtual annihilation of ISKCON as all the compelling evidence needed to understand why Srila Prabhupada established a ritvik system on authority from Krishna.
    One would need to have blinders on to not see the obvious reason Srila Prabhupada established a ritvik system and it is the global desecration of the sacred Gaudiya order than mandated the ritvik system.
    Srila Prabhupada saw all these atrocities coming. He tried to prevent it with innovative concepts, but obviously the gaggle of aspiring gurus busted loose anyway and now there is mayhem and madness all over the world in the name of Srila Prabhupada.

    • Well your final reasoning given above is about as reasonable as the “Final Order,” the ritvik quasi legal document charading as philosophy. What Prabhupada actually tried to do was train devotees who could fill he shoes in his absence. This he makes abundantly clear throughout his teachings.

  • KB das

    What about Madhu Pandit prabhu and the hundreds of devotees that believe that Prabhupada wanted the ritvik system for ISCKON?
    Are all these people hallucinating?

    I could understand the bitterness if it was just a couple of crackpots promoting ritvik, but there are some serious Vaishnavas promoting this ritvik thing and I think that one minimizes them at his own peril.

    Ritvik is ALIVE AND WELL much to my surprise and amusement.

    Maybe some members here think ritvik is a joke, but that can only be due to the head-in-the-sand syndrome of a spiritual Ostrich.

    this is a ritvik temple –
    http://www.iskconbangalore.org/

    • What about Gaura Nagara-bhava? It is more widespread that ritvikvada.

    • Citta Hari dasa

      Come now, KB, you should know better than that. This is a fatally flawed argument: just because lots of people believe something definitely doesn’t make it true. Or do you still think the world is flat?

  • KB das

    SRila Prabhupada’s last will and testament says:

    “The executive directors who have herein designated are appointed for life. In the event of the death or failure to act for any reason of any of the said directors, a successor director or directors may be appointed by the remaining directors, provided the new director is MY INITIATED DISCIPLE following strictly all the rules and regulations of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness as detailed in my books, and provided that there are never less than three (3) and five (5) executive directors acting at one time.”
    (Statement 3, The Last Will and Document, Emphasis Added)

    So, without a ritvik system ISKCON was set to self-destruct upon the demise of the last disciple of Srila Prabhuapda?

    It is quite obvious from this Will of Srila Prabhupada that he expected that in the future all the initiates in ISKCON would be HIS disciples.

  • Ram

    Dear all,

    I feel it is plausible for someone to become conscious of Krishna by reading books then after learning from them becomes serious to take bhakti but it will be giving rise to self-contentedness rather than Sadhu Sanga. There will not be exchange of realizations.

    A.C. Bhaktivedanta will always say that He is inferior to Srila BhaktiSiddhanta. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta will always say He is inferior to Srila Gaurakishore Babaji; and this moves up to the fully potent Shree Krishna. Who would have accepted A.C. Bhaktivedanta as Guru in the presence of Srila Bhaktisiddanta? He would have been judged as an inferior and perhaps an impostor. So ritviks are in my opinion people who cannot see with compassionate eyes effort of their contemporaries who rose to Guruship as they have witnessed the potency of Prabhupada while He was here on the planet. Definitely those contemporaries are not to the level of their own Guru in the Iskcon case, Srila Prabhupada and this will never be as this is the diffusion effect of the mercy in maya.

    I also want to point out that definitely the next generations to come will need Gurus and this can be seen in reality. We should not infuse hate and fight among ourselves but should understand that in the continuum of understanding faith and frailties of the human understanding, there will be emerging school of thoughts and they must cohabit with tolerance without reaching out to the point of judgment of what is siddhanta or apasiddanta…

    • madan gopal das

      there will be emerging school of thoughts and they must cohabit with tolerance without reaching out to the point of judgment of what is siddhanta or apasiddanta…

      This is not the example of BVT, who specified, judged 13 apasiddhanta ideas of his time and said he would not associate with them.
      Tolerance, co-existence, co-habitation is for relationships and community, helping people to “get along.” What makes us community though, what makes us part of a spiritual group is based on shared philosophy – siddhanta. Apasiddhanta is a great divider and should therefore be challenged, judged, whatever you want to call it. It should be defeated, and if people must cling to apasiddhanta, they can have their own group, pursuing their own goal. I can co-exist with others, no problem. But bad philosophy is not so tolerable if you have some affection for the source of the good philosophy.

      • Ram

        This is not the example of BVT, who specified, judged 13 apasiddhanta ideas of his time and said he would not associate with them.

        At the time of BVT, there was only one BVT and He is unique and was empowered to do that. Why is it that nowadays everyone thinks that they have become minute BVTs and are authorized to judge? Did your guru preach that or ordered you to do that?
        Has fighting ever won over thoughts of people? I would like to say that it is the ways of the Bully as someone before me said.
        Why can’t there be a dialogue between the school of thoughts and each can understand the position of the other?
        On this page I witness only the pride and ego of supposedly spiritual people. I see no one refuting perfectly Pr. KB das with enough sastric injunction and critical-ism. Even the Lord of the webpage is silent.

        I want to ask the following question:
        Where is the apasiddhanta in Ritvik philosophy?
        Krishna sends us to the Spiritual Master and Only the person Krishna sends us to the Spiritual Master depending on our mentalities.(BSST)
        If a person cannot appreciate a living Guru or is not convince of Him being a representative of Krishna, What will you do for such a person?
        If the person is convinced by the knowledge left behind by a great soul and is agreeable to think of himself as a follower of that soul, Should we condemn that as sentimental and not associate with him or hate him for that?

        Lastly is Parampara only about Diksha or is it a line of thought about Krishna? Will Krishna not accept an uninitiated person?

        • All current and previous Gaudiya acaryas teach directly and indirectly that the ritvik idea is appasiddhanta. To differ with them is proud. The appasiddhanta is that bhakti begins with gurupadasrya followed by diksa and siksa. To think that I would like to be the disciple of BVT or any other purva acarya (note the term used: purva=previous) and therefore I will not take initiation from someone representing him today—from a current acarya—is gurur avajna, the first offense to Harinama. Purva acaryas are not giving diksa in the present, but you think bhakti is your right and you can just go and take diksa from them and then call those who patiently point out from sastra the fault in this approach proud.

          To ask whether parampara is only about diksa is to flaunt one’s ignorance as to what diksa is in the first place.You do not know what you are talking about. You ask, “Will Krsna not accept an uninitiated person?” This again brings you into question. It is Krsna who has established the way to approach him, and that way is guru parampara. He takes pleasure in this system. It is his system. He asks you to serve him by serving his devotee, but you propose that one can just as well go directly to Krsna and he will accept you. He asks for milk and you bring him water and ask us will he not accept water? Where is the appasiddhanta is ritvik? To ask this it is apparent that you have not read these pages well, or if you have, you have a learning deficit. Do you have a guru who has initiated you and who you can ask for clarification about something you are clearly confused about? This is recommended in sastra and you may have inadvertently proved it better than anyone writing here. If someone has not found a living guru that person should continue to look and perhaps learn what it means to look and how to go about that. “Should we condemn that (ritvikvada) as sentimental and not associate with him (a ritvik) or hate him for that?” This has already been answered in numerous ways by more than one contributor here.

          Once again, if you have ben initiated into the parampara, if a guru in the parampara has mercifully given you mantra diksa and acknowledged that he or she has accepted you, then please ask him/her if ritvikavada is appasiddhanta and get back to us with his/her answer. I want to hear what your guru says about this issue, and please give us his/her blessed name.

          Lastly note that the philosophy is that Krsna is the guru, acaraya mam vijaniyat. The point here is that Krsna manifests externally as the guru. Why? Because otherwise he is not as readily accessible or even approachable. The obvious implication of this is that one must take shelter of a guru in one’s midst and that this is how one takes shelter of Krsna on his terms, because Krsna and the pruva acaryas are less readily accessible or even approachable. If this were not the implication, what would be the need for the guru at all? Why can we not take initiation from a purva acarya? For the same reason we cannot take initiation from Krsna.

          • Ram

            Dear Maharaj and Madan Gopal Prabhu,

            Please accept my humble obeisances.

            I thank You both for answering my foolish mind and now I see clearer.
            Yes, We need the Parampara as per the Siddhanta You both explained and Yes, We should try to protect our precious Sampradaya against bogus well elaborated rhetoric of aggressors. Indeed I thank the Lord, Cause of all causes, Shree Krishna, for allowing me to experience and access these discussions that saved me from aparadha and doubt.

            You are all glorious. Jai. Haribol.

        • madan gopal das

          I see no one refuting perfectly Pr. KB das with enough sastric injunction and critical-ism.

          You must be in a different reality. KB, and now you have given no sastra as pramana for the ritvik idea and then when argument runs out you say that everyone on the other side is really mean, having a hate-fest on the ritviks. No, we are actually inspired by Krsna’s wonderful siddhanta. I am thoroughly enjoying myself because I am not insulting vaisnavas, I am continually thinking about siddhanta. I would just like to see some from your end.
          So, please take note. The Lord of the website has spoken in answer to your inquiry and dozens of other posts previously which it is apparent you have not noticed or read. KB has been addressed dozens of times, with many many scriptural references, and “critical-ism”. And here is another attempt:

          Where is the apasiddhanta in Ritvik philosophy?

          Siddhanta = Krsna’s teaching. Here is sastric injunction:
          Bhagavad-gita 4.34 (taken from a ritvik authorized un-edited translation!)

          tat–that knowledge of different sacrifices; viddhi–try to understand; pranipatena–by approaching a spiritual master; pariprasnena–by submissive inquiries; sevaya–by the rendering of service; upadeksyanti–initiate; te–unto you; jnanam–knowledge; jnaninah–the self-realized; tattva–truth; darsinah–the seers.

          TRANSLATION
          Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.

          The divine words of Sri Krsna state that the disciple must do pariprasna, submissive inquiry from the guru.

          Now here is the “critical-ism” you asked for: How can anyone who accepts Prabhupada do pariprasna with him? Yes you can read his book. Some may say you can render service to him (by serving his institution, or distributing his books), but tell me how you can submissively inquire from him? Prabhupada never says that you can avoid this part of the equation. To the contrary, “Inquiries and submission constitute the proper combination for spiritual understanding.”

          There, once again an answer with sastric injunction and critical thinking. Please provide an answer back with the same.

        • madan gopal das

          My dandavat pranam to you Ram. You demonstrate the character of a sincere devotee. Bhakti–siddhanta satyam eva jayate!

  • KB das

    Maharaja, I just find it so noteworthy that humble Vaishnavas as your good self offer respect to Muslims, Christians and Hindus, but are so eager to come out and insult and abuse a large section of devotee who who are still accepting Srila Prabhupada as their guru.

    I just think it is quite amazing how Gaudiyas were taught to respect all religions except perhaps a religion that is based upon following Srila Prabhupada.

    I think when it comes to respecting the faith of others that such a policy should also include respecting and honoring the faith of the “ritvik” devotees who find their faith in Srila Prabhupada.

    I don’t think you can have it both ways. You can’t embrace and encourage all the other religions (as Srila Prabhupada certainly did) and yet become a big critic of devotees of Srila Prabhupada.

    I don’t find ritvik-bashing to be in the least a humble or considerate attitude considering that so many new and young devotees are finding their faith in the teachings of Srila Prabhupada.
    To minimize and insult these devotees by calling them all misguided followers of apasiddhanta is just thoughtless and disrespectful of these new devotees.
    I think we should be above such petty smallness.
    There is no harm in anyone accepting Srila Prabhupada as their guru.
    How can anyone possibly insult these new devotees of Srila Prabhupada like that and consider themselves as leaders of the KC movement?

    • Gaura-Vijaya

      They insult vaisnavas all through by saying no guru right now is qualified and all our initiations are bogus. If they start a different religion like Protestant Christianity, they can do that. We don’t respect fanatic Christians or Muslims either.

      • KB das

        It is not about “they” the fanatic extremist ritviks who were created by the GBC. It is about documented evidence that both Srila Prabhupada and Sridhar Maharaja were both betrayed in their attempts to establish ritvik systems in their missions.

        You can’t discredit the ritvik systtem because there are some extremists out there reacting to the anti-Prabhupada sentiment going around.

        The GBC created all these ritvik factions because they failed to implement the ritvik system that Srila Prabhupada established.
        So, if the GBC had followed Srila Prabhupada like they were supposed to there would be no renegade ritvik sects.
        Considering that the GBC has failed to follow Srila Prabhupada, it’s hard to fault those disciples who feel obliged to fill in the gap and practice the ritvik system of diksha.
        Yashaodananda is one such disciple and he distinctly remembers that before Prabhupada’s passing everyone knew that Srila Prabhupada was establishing his ritvik system as the permanent standard for ISKCON.
        After Prabhupada left is when the deviations started to show up and the ritviks claimed acharyaship and took over ISKCON.
        The GBC just stood by with their fingers up their nose.

        • Gaura-Vijaya

          What the hell now ritviks who have abused SSM all through the internet and blamed him for failures of ISKCON are going to be the people who are championing SSM’s cause?
          It is pretty fascinating you have great resilience to defend the ritvik system forever, though you said you don’t believe in it.

        • madan gopal das

          Yashaodananda is one such disciple and he distinctly remembers that before Prabhupada’s passing everyone knew that Srila Prabhupada was establishing his ritvik system as the permanent standard for ISKCON.

          So he remembers what everyone else forgot, or deviously tried to cover up?? That wouldn’t convince me even if for the 12 previous years Prabhupada hadn’t been teaching the opposite. Got anything better?

          • KB das

            The thing is, by the time that 12 years was over there were enough sannyasi falldowns and vacating of the ashram by senior disciples that Srila Prabhupada could see that most the whole pack was neophyte and vulnerable to all sorts of corruption. Brahmananda, Kirtanananda, Vishnujan, Rupanuga etc. etc. had all given Srila Prabhupada problems and were causing a lot of doubt about the dependability of these western sannyasis.
            By the time Srila Prabhupada had gotten down to finalizing his declaration of succession he had seen enough of these fallen Swamis and fallen disciples to realize that he had to do something extraordinary to prevent exactly the kind of atrocities that have gone on in ISKCON since 1977.
            So, he installed a ritvik system that was overthrown in a conspiracy of personal conquest by these senior men.

          • madan gopal das

            one question only KB, I keep asking it. What did Prabhupada mean when he said new initiates would be “his (the ritvik’s) disciple” and called the initiate “grand-disciple”?

        • Babhru

          KB: “Yashaodananda is one such disciple and he distinctly remembers that before Prabhupada’s passing everyone knew that Srila Prabhupada was establishing his ritvik system as the permanent standard for ISKCON.”
          Well, that’s something rather different from what he remembered 20 years ago, when he engaged in the ritvik “debates” in San Diego. He remembered then that Srila Prabhupada had told him that. If it had been so plain in 1977, if “everyone” knew it, why was it more than 10 years before everyone heard about it?

          I also remember something. I remember that, in 1970, a senior Godbrother told me about a walk with Srila Prabhupada in the gardens of the Los Angeles SRF. One of the devotees mentioned that he had heard that the SRF leaders were initiating new students as disciples of Yogananda. Prabhupada’s reply: “This is bogus. One requires a living guru.”

          You talk of documented evidence, but where is it? The July 9th letter? Prof. Tatachar’s testimonial? Your conviction? As Gaura Vijay points out, you’ve also said you don’t believe it. You’re just all over the place, so don’t be surprised if readers find it difficult to take you seriously.

    • madan gopal das

      Stop sidetracking the argument by moving from philosophical discussion to implications of personal hate, attack or insult on the part of Swami or anyone else. This is just a diversion. Calling a belief system apasiddhanta says nothing about how Swami or any other commentator feels about a particular individual. Appealing to sentiment and warm and fuzzy feelings about people is a tactic used by those who don’t have support for their arguments. Kind of an opposite ad-homenim.
      All of us know someone who believes in ritvik. I doubt that we hate or insult them. But having no love for their “philosophy” is different. Keep that straight, and then come up with some decent rebuttal.

      • KB das

        Look, the ritvik religion is here to stay whether we like it or not. We can either be gracious well-wishers of these followers of Srila Prabhupada or snide critics. Being the snide critic looks very unbecoming to everyone outside the pit-fighting arena of Hare Krishna politics.

        There is not just a handful of these ritvik believers out there. There are hundreds if not thousands.
        To take an offensive position against these hundreds and thousands of devotees is enough to keep even the most prestigious of individuals in the sandbox of neophyte mentality dying for a drop of real spiritual refreshment.

        These devotees are Vaishnavas.
        So now, which aspiring Vaishnava is it alright to belittle begrudge and discourage with all sorts of negative gestures and accusations?

        After the guru fiasco of ISKCON has already played out and shown the atrocity of their abuses, how anyone can criticize the ritvik proponents is simply beyond comprehension.

        It’s not pretty site.
        Aversion is the other side of attraction.
        All this chiding of the ritviks is simply an attempt to stir up anti-ritvik sentiment, much to the detriment of the perpetrator.

        Maye it is time to move on to something more positive and progressive aside instigating further negativity between Saraswata devotees over the ritvik boogey-man?

        • madan gopal das

          You’ve done it again KB. You are diverting from answering questions or proposing anything other than selective memory as pramana, and then accuse others of insulting “vaisnavas”. It appears we keep reaching the limit of your argument. Again and again I say: no one is insulting vaisnavas. Who cares how many hundred or thousands of them there are, they are holding belief in a philosophy that is contrary to what “vaisnavas” believe in. To be a vaisnava means to follow, to worship Krsna. Krsna says he is the acarya, “acarya mam”. And Prabhupada wants you to be an acarya, everyone to be an acarya… Yeah, a bunch of people who tried did bad things and created a bad reputation. Move on already. Become acarya (or follow one, or get out the way!)

          Prabhupada:

          This is guru’s business. It is not very difficult. Anyone who is sincerely following Kṛṣṇa’s instruction and instructing others also to do that, that is ācārya. Āpani ācari prabhu jīvere śikhāya. This is ācārya. You behave yourself exactly as it is stated in the śāstra, as it is ordered by Caitanya Mahāprabhu, as it is ordered by Kṛṣṇa… Āpani ācari jīvere śikhāya. And you teach all your disciples, who comes to you as your disciples, teach them. This is ācārya. So ācārya, guru, representative, it is not difficult. Simply one has to become very, very sincere.

    • Citta Hari dasa

      You can’t discredit the ritvik systtem because there are some extremists out there reacting to the anti-Prabhupada sentiment going around.

      KB, it appears from this that you are conflating the rtvik system as it actually is with the idea that a person can initiate newcomers as disciples of a departed acarya. The traditional (siddhantically correct) rtvik system is this: a person (called a rtvik) acts on behalf of an acarya while the acarya is present. When the acarya leaves the rtvik’s job is done; there is no question of being a rtvik for that acarya any more. The task for the disciple is then, as Swami has already stated, to lead, follow, or get out of the way. Initiating people as disciples of the departed acarya is not the siddhanta, and no amount of so-called “evidence” is going to convince anyone who knows the siddhanta that Prabhupada took it upon himself to change the system of guru-parampara. I for one am convinced that he would never, in a million maha-kalpas, do that.

      And let’s be clear: no one here is trying to discredit the true rtvik system, and no one ever said the rtvik system is a heterodox practice. What has been said is that the way a sector of devotees has taken that perfectly legitimate practice and twisted it to mean the end of the guru-parampara is apasiddhanta. You take issue with your understanding of rtvik being called that, but you have yet to provide any compelling evidence as to why anyone should accept the interpretation you are championing.

      It is (painfully) obvious to me that one can’t become the disciple of a guru who is no longer physically present. That such is difficult to accept only means that there is a dearth of understanding of Gaudiya siddhanta. You go on about people’s faith in Srila Prabhupada, but what meaning is there to that faith if it takes one outside of the parameters of the siddhanta? If through reading his books (for example) one develops real faith in Srila Prabhupada then the very next thing they will do is seek out someone who represents Gaudiya Vaisnavism in a living way, as he represented it. Problem solved–no need for the whole bizarre rtvik enterprise.

  • KB das

    Basically, the anti-ritvik people are trying to say that somebody who gets a book of Srila Prabhupada, reads it, follows it, comes to the temple and worships the Lord and chants Hare Krishna, they are saying that this person has NO GURU?
    I mean how darn arrogant can you get to accuse followers of Srila Prabhupada of not having a guru or not being connected to the Parampara?

    The parampara doesn’t end with Srila Prabhupada.
    He will continue to extend the parampara to anybody and everybody who is willing to read his books and acquire spiritual knowledge.
    The parampara is the line of thought, the line of faith and the line of devotion. It is not a succession of bodies.

    When a person reads the book of Srila Prabhupada he gets initiated by Srila Prabhupada personally by reading the book.
    Initiation is not a ritual ceremony. It is an ongoing process of learning and learning until ultimate liberation is attained.

    Anyone who thinks that initiation is a formal ritual ceremony is of course lacking substance.
    It’s just a little peculiar that anyone would attach such a superficial meaning to the concept of diksha.

    • Why don’t we start a movement to be initiated directly by Rupa goswami? I want to be be initiated by you on the behalf of Rupa Goswami. I don;t want other gurus in between. I don’t think anybody is qualified like Rupa Goswami. Only Rupa Goswami for me as he is the best teacher. My sentiment is exclusive for Rupa Goswami as SP is merely using his books. The original is Rupa Goswami, I have learnt Sanskrit and I will read only his books. Please be a ritvik KB and initiate me on his behalf. I beg of you sincerely?

    • madan gopal das

      The parampara is the line of thought, the line of faith and the line of devotion.

      Yes, a line of thought, faith and devotion that is carried through time in the vessels of living human hearts.

      Prabhupada may be a kind of guru to someone who reads his books, but he cannot be their diksa guru. Diksa is not just a ceremony, it is the transmission of transcendental knowledge between guru and disciple. It is a beginning, and an ongoing process. If the last broadcast from your transmitter was in 1977, that process (by nature active) is finished. Yes, one can learn from Prabhupada, get some siksa, but ongoing transmission of knowledge that is deeply rooted in relationship – diksa – nobody can have after that last radio broadcast – unless of course they had diksa from the source.

    • Citta Hari dasa

      When a person reads the book of Srila Prabhupada he gets initiated by Srila Prabhupada personally by reading the book.

      Initiated by him personally by reading a book? With all due respect, that idea is unadulterated garbage, and no reasonable person will accept such a half-baked notion. If what you say is true then that would mean Prabhupada has nothing to say about who he accepts as a disciple, but that’s not what the philosophy says (grace comes from above, remember?) nor what he demonstrated in his mission. He refused to initiate some people, regardless of how much “faith” they had in him. Why would that change after his departure?

      • Gaura-Vijaya

        I asked him million times to initiate me on behalf of Rupa Goswami, but KB ignores my plea and keeps on singing his own tune. He does not answer any arguments and keeps on bringing new things. It is unreasonable, but when a person like KB has his personal revelations from Jesus, do you think mortals like us can change his thinking?

  • All of this sentiment for ritviks who “just want to serve Prabhupada” and the subsequent portraying those against ritvikvada as insensitive, etc. is confused at best. Only those who speak out against the appasiddhanta of ritvik really care about those who embrace it and really want them to have a genuine experience of Prabhupada via the system of guru parampara. Ritvik affords only an imagined concept of Prabhupada, one arising out of appasiddhanta. Genuine spiritual sentiment occurs within the paramaters of Gaudiya siddhanta. One who is a disciple of Prabhupada’s disciple quaified to serve as guru is not blocked from Pabhupada, but rather his or her capacity to access him is facilitated. Sorry to point out the obvious here, but . . .

    • Pandu

      Thanks for your opinion, Maharaj, but it contradicts my experience. I came to ISKCON based on my faith in Srila Prabhupada, and I eventually got initiated by a GBC-certified guru because that’s the way they said it had to be done. Unfortunately it did not work very well as it was an unnatural relationship, since my real faith was in Srila Prabhupada. Having a supposed guru standing between me and Srila Prabhupada has not worked at all for me, to the point where a few years ago I stopped believing that I am properly initiated. Yet to participate in my ISKCON community, I have to live a lie and act as though I am this guru’s disciple. I do not see how entertaining a false relationship like that is at all good for my spiritual life, but it is a tradeoff I must make to have devotee association these days.

      Of course there are many devotees whose experience illustrates the point much more dramatically. So many devotees have been thrown off track by unqualified men posing as gurus who claimed to be the way to connect aspiring devotees with Srila Prabhupada. Hey, if that’s people’s faith, then let them go for it; but if a newcomer is chiefly inspired by Srila Prabhupada, then he is their natural guru and that relationship should be honored, not mocked.

      • I am sorry to learn that you took initiation from someone on the grounds that you did, Iskcon’s institutional idea of guru-tattva. Your understanding of Krsna consciousness has been shaped largely by Iskcon’s version of it, Iskcon and it’s reactionary subset of ritvikvada. I more or less consider Iskcon a representation of covert rivik. So not that much difference between the two.

        But I have not been a member of Iskcon for 25 years and I differ from it’s institutional policies on such issues because I do not think they represent the spirit of its founder. And I know many devotes who have had an experience like yours. But that does not change my opinion on sastra and what my Guru taught. Faith is good an it should be honored, but it should become sastriya-sraddha, scripturally well informed faith. So I honor your faith in my Guru, but I seek to strengthen it as well. I invite you to come and spend some time with me where these issues can be discussed in much greater depth.

  • KB das

    Swami writes:

    All current and previous Gaudiya acaryas teach directly and indirectly that the ritvik idea is appasiddhanta.

    I must differ here. Acharyas are not limited to sannyasis. There are several acharyas promoting the ritvik system.
    Madhu Pandit prabhu, Yashodanandana and some other exemplary Vaishnavas promote the ritvik system.

    The proposal that only the sannyasis in the Hare Krishna cult can be acharya is also another bogus notion used to minimize the advanced Vaishnavas promoting ritvik for ISKCON.

    • Here is the point KB. No previous or present acarya supports a rivik idea. Then a devotee decides that despite this fact ritvikvada is correct and sets himself/herself up as the so called ritvik acarya and then says that there is a precedent amongst contemporary acaryas for ritvikvada. It does not work like that. Just give up.

      • KB das

        Maharaja, despite a lot of hate and anger for Tamal Krishna Maharaja around the KC movement, I have to give him credit for this candid moment when he opened up, told the truth and set the story straight for all time to come.
        Here is the truth according to TKG.

        PYRAMID HOUSE CONFESSIONS December 3rd 1980

        Tamala Krishna Maharaja: “I’ve had a certain realization a few days ago.(…) There are obviously so many statements by Srila Prabhupada that his Guru Maharaja did not appoint any successors.(…) Even in Srila Prabhupada’s books he says guru means by qualification.(…)

        The inspiration came because there was a questioning on my part, so Krishna spoke. Actually Prabhupada 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 interpreted the appointment of ritviks as the appointment of gurus.

        What actually happened I’ll explain. I explained it but the interpretation is wrong. What actually happened was that Prabhupada mentioned he might be appointing some ritviks, so the GBC met for various reasons, and they went to Prabhupada, five or six of us. (This refers to the meeting of May 1977,). We asked him, “Srila Prabhupada, after your departure, if we accept disciples, whose disciples will they be, your disciples or mine?”

        Later on there was a piled up list of people to get initiated, and it was jammed up. I said, “Srila Prabhupada, you once mentioned about ritviks. I don’t know what to do. We don’t want to approach you, but there’s hundreds of devotees named, and I’m just holding all the letters. I don’t know what you want to do”.

        Srila Prabhupada said, “All right, I will appoint so many…” and he started to name them. He made it very clear that they are his disciples. At that point it was very clear in my mind that they were his disciples. Later on I asked him two questions, one: “What about Brahmananda Swami?”. I asked him this because I happened to have an affection for Brahmananda Swami.(…) So Srila Prabhupada said, “No, not unless he is qualified”. Before I got ready to type the letter, I asked him, two: “Srila Prabhupada is this all or do you want to add more?”. He said, “As is necessary, others may be added.”

        Now I understand that what he did was very clear. He was physically incapable of performing the function of initiation; therefore he appointed officiating priests to initiate on his behalf. He appointed eleven, and he said very clearly, “Whoever is nearest can initiate”. This is very important because when it comes to initiating, it isn’t whoever is nearest, it’s wherever your heart goes. Who (you) repose your faith on, you take initiation from him. But when it’s officiating, it’s whoever is nearest, and he was very clear. He named them. They were spread out all over the world, and he said, “Whoever your nearest, you just approach that person, and they’ll check you out. Then, on my behalf, they’ll initiate.” It is not a question that you repose your faith in that person – nothing. That’s a function for the guru.

        “In order for me to manage this movement”, Prabhupada said, “I have to form a GBC and I will appoint the following people. In order to continue the process of people joining our movement and getting initiated, I have to appoint some priests to help me because(…) I cannot physically manage everyone myself.”

        And That’s all it was, and it was never any more than that, you can bet your bottom dollar that Prabhupada would have spoken for days and hours and weeks on end about how to set up this thing with the gurus, because he had already said it a million times. He said: My Guru Maharaja did not appoint anyone. It’s by qualification.” We made a great mistake. After Prabhupada’s departure what is the position of these eleven people?(…)

        Prabhupada showed that it is not just sannyasis. He named two people who were grihastas, who could at least be ritviks, showing that they were equal to any sannyasi. So anyone who is spiritually qualified – it’s always been understood that you cannot accept disciples in the presence of your guru, but when the guru disappears, you can accept disciples if you are qualified and someone can repose their faith. Of course, they (prospective disciples) should be fully appraised at how to distinguish who is a proper guru. But if you are a proper guru, and your guru is no longer present, that is your right. It’s like a man can procreate(…) Unfortunately the GBC did not recognise this point. They immediately (assumed, decided) that these eleven people are the selected gurus. I can definitely say for myself, and for which I humbly beg forgiveness from everybody, that there was definitely some degree of trying to control(…) This is the conditioned nature, and it came out in the highest position of all, “Guru, oh wonderful! Now I am guru, and there is only eleven of us”(…).

        I feel that this realization or this understanding is essential if we are to avoid further things from happening, because, believe me, it’s going to repeat. It’s just a question of time until things have a little bit faded out and again another incident is going to happen, whether it’s here in L.A. or somewhere else. It’s going to continuously happen until you allow the actual spiritual force of Krishna to be exhibited without restriction.(…) I feel that the GBC body, if they don’t adopt this point very quickly, if they don’t realize this truth. You cannot show me anything on tape or in writing where Prabhupada says: “I appoint these eleven as gurus”. It does not exist because he never appointed any gurus. This is a myth.(…) The day you got initiated you get the right to be come a father when your father disappears, if you are qualified. No appointment. It doesn’t require an appointment, because there isn’t one.

        So, the ultimate ISKCON insider, the most confidential of confidential disciples of Srila Prabhupada did have a rare candid moment when he actually opened up, let it off his chest and came clean with all of ISKCON over the issue.

        Too bad it was too late for Tamal to stop the insanity that turned Srila Prabhupada’s mission into case study in failed guru policy.
        Shortly thereafter Maharaja resorted back to amnesia and spent years trying to undo this rare moment of honesty.

        • All TKG is saying is that SP appointed ritviks to officiate during his presence and that therefore there were not 11 chosen gurus but rather all of Prabhuapda’s disciples could serve as gurus after his departure if they were qualified. He is apologizing for constructing an elite 11 guru club rather than acknowledging the Prabhupada did not appoint anyone and expected gurus to emerge naturally as his disciples became qualified. I am not sure if i agree with his explanation here but that is beside the point. This has absolutely nothing to do Prabhupada creating a rivik system into eternity.

          To be frank it has been interesting dealing with this nonsense. Many excellent points have been brought out by those who know the siddhanta and have common sense (sukritivan/sumedhasa), and some humor has been shared as well. But the opposition to the siddhanta is so pathetic at this point that it is somewhat disheartening. There is no Rocky here in the ring who is going to get up after all of this and deal a knockout blow. It’s over. TKO in the very least. I hoped at least for that much objectivity and integrity from the opposition but I find it lacking, and that may be one of the unfortunate results of buying into apasiddhanta, especially one of this nature that, as we have seen over the years, has lent itself to so much Vaisnava aparadha.

    • Citta Hari dasa

      You can call whoever you want an acarya, but if they teach a heterodox idea then their understanding of siddhanta (and by extension qualification as acarya) is called into question.

    • Syamasundara Dasa

      This is quite a ridiculous oxymoron. A rtvik by definition is an officiating priest, not an acarya!
      That’s their whole thing: “Look how honest I am, I don’t say I am an acarya, I can’t take you to Krsna’s feet, but Prabhupada is and can, so I initiate you on his behalf only.

  • KB das

    Just a curious note. The term “parampara” only shows up one time in all of Sanskrit texts in the Vedabase.
    It comes up one time in the Bhagavad-gita.

    http://vedabase.net/bg/4/2/

    So, we know the concept is important, but we also know that the term only comes up once in Bhagavad-gita and not even once in Srimad Bhagavatam.

    Parampara is important, but at the same time we have to understand that anyone who read the books of Srila Prabhupada are connected to the parampara.
    As well, anyone who reads a book of Tripurari Maharaja will also be connected to him through siksha and connected to the parampara as such.
    So, does Maharaja believe than anyone who reads his books, loves them and follows them are not connected to his heart?
    They are not his followers?
    They have no guru?
    Too bad.

    • Babhru

      KB:

      Just a curious note. The term “parampara” only shows up one time in all of Sanskrit texts in the Vedabase.
      It comes up one time in the Bhagavad-gita.

      http://vedabase.net/bg/4/2/

      So, we know the concept is important, but we also know that the term only comes up once in Bhagavad-gita and not even once in Srimad Bhagavatam.

      And just how important is the concept of parampara? To begin with, Krishna directly addresses it in Bhagavad-gita as the method of transmitting vedic wisdom in human society. You may characterize that as only one mention, but it’s a pretty big one. Moreover, Srila Prabhupada mentions it at least 1500 hundred times in his books, letters, and correspondence. I find that even more interesting.

      What’s curious to some, I suppose, is your dedicating so much time and energy to arguing for something you sometimes say you don’t believe in. Of course, you’ve said so many things online, with no consistency whatsoever, that many would wonder if you actually believe in anything.

    • Citta Hari dasa

      It does not take a genius to see that there is a world of difference between reading a book from afar and being an initiated disciple. Swami has already pointed out that the book is the passive agent of Divinity whereas the guru is the active agent. I know which one I would rather have in my life.

      If you think there is no difference then it really is too bad–for you. If one who reads the books of my Guru Maharaja (to use the example you’ve cited) develops real love for and faith in then one will do the next logical thing: approach him for initiation! Unless and until that happens–and they have been accepted by him as students–one cannot say they have taken up sadhana-bhakti proper. And no, just reading a book and considering oneself a follower does not constitute taking shelter.

    • Gauravani dasa

      I’m sure this has been brought up before: counting the number of times a particular phrase appears in the VedaBase does not constitute a comprehensive study or understanding of the concept. Doing so is misuse of the VedaBase and not very intelligent. Another word for parampara might be… sampradaya. Did you count that word too, KB?

      Also, just because someone reads a particular guru’s books does not mean he/she understands it enough to be a follower. At best, the reader would be a follower of their own understanding (i.e., their mind), which is influenced by the gunas and materially motivated. It also does not mean that the guru accepts the reader as his/her student.

      It is striking that you refuse to accept that there is a real relationship between the guru and his/her student. Not only is ritvikvada appasidhhanta, it sounds boring too.

    • Audarya-lila dasa

      KB,

      Why don’t you try to be honest in your posts instead of continually skirting issues and trying to suggest something that obviously isn’t true. Of course Tripurari Maharaja honors the connection of anyone who reads his books and is trying to put the teachings found therein into practice. Those individuals are not his initiated disciples – but they are connected with him on the basis of their faith and their sincerity of putting the teachings into practice.

    • Syamasundara Dasa

      The name Radha doesn’t appear in either the Gita or the Bhagavatam.

  • Dandavat pranams Ram.

    (the software did not allow me to place tis comment beneath yours)

  • Paul writes,

    1. Is it your idea that we should understand sastra independently? My understanding is that we receive our understanding through the acarya, who is guru and sadhu, and whose words are sastra.

    No, guru is not sadhu and sastra and guru all combined into one. There is guru; there is sastra; there is sadhu. The three work together. It is a kind of check and balance idea. We should receive our understanding from the acarya, who represents the sastra and thereby is an authority, and whose words are also confirmed by other sadhus/precedents.

    2. Where in sastra (either the ancient texts or Srila Prabhupada’s words) is an acarya barred from accepting disciples through representatives according to specified criteria?

    He is not but the specified criteria is also given for ritvik. It does not include giving diksa on the acaryas behalf after he has departed. Why? Because there is already an arrangement in place for that called parampara for good reason. For example, the acarya gives diksa but he also gives relevant siksa in accordance with time and circumstance to keep the lineage vital, and this is really what qualifies him to give diksa: realization of the essence of the tradition that manifests itself in the ability to apply it dynamically. Ritvik does not replace parampara any more than parampara replaces ritvik. The two concepts are not synonymous.

    3. Yes, there are teacher and student, but of course teacher is another way of saying siksa guru, and we’re talking about diksa gurus. Furthermore, where in Bhagavad-gita does it say that one must stop being any kind of guru immediately upon leaving the body?

    So your idea is that Prabhupada will give the diksa and and equally qualified guru will give the siksa (siksa and diksa gurus are equal manifestations of divinity with different functions). But a qualified siksa guru will give you the siksa that you can’t take diksa from a previous acarya. That’s standard. No one on this side is saying that the purva acarya stops being a guru in any capacity upon departing. No, he or she becomes a purva acarya with a specific function, as explained in sastra. And of course he has particular relevance for his lineage.

    4. “It is no truer than telling someone they can take diksha from Rupa Goswami or Chaitanya Mahaprabhu himself.” Neither Rupa Gosvami nor Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu instituted a system for accepting disciples in their absence. Srila Prabhupada did.

    No he did not. The people you follow did.

    • Pandu

      It appears that you’re saying that Srila Prabhupada’s purports do not count as sastra.

      Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvatai Thakur has said, “What are the Scriptures? They are nothing but the record by the pure devotees of the Divine Message appearing on the lips of the pure devotees. The Message conveyed by the devotees is the same in all ages. The words of the devotees are ever identical with the Scriptures. Any meaning of the Scriptures that belittles the function of the devotee who is the original communicant of the Divine Message contradicts its own claim to be heard.”

      I cannot understand sastra directly, so I accept as truth what Srila Prabhupada has taught. I know you’ve disagreed with him on certain issues, an obvious example being his disapproval of homosexual relaitonships. I also recall a conversation we had here last year where you and your disciples were arguing that it’s better for devotees to not wear tilak in public. So it would seem that your idea is that each guru can interpret sastra in his own way, but as long as there is a new guru, the parampara continues.

      Naturally Srila Prabhupada wanted his disciples to develop to the point where he could authorize them to accept their own disciples, but I don’t see where he actually gave authorization. At least as of April 22, 1977, he said he was still waiting. On May 28, he was still waiting. July 9 he certified independent rtviks to initiate on his behalf, not gurus. On October 18 he referred to the same list of rtviks, calling them deputies, not gurus. Naturally he wanted his disciples to be the next initiating gurus, but the disciples must be qualified first. When do you think he actually said they were qualified and gave the required authorization?

      “It does not include giving diksa on the acaryas behalf after he has departed.”

      So far that seems to be just your opinion. If you have proof from Srila Prabhupada’s words, please share it.

      “No he did not. The people you follow did.”

      Really, he definitely did, and it’s certain because he employed it several years during his manifest pastimes. He created that rtvik system to accept disciples despite his being occupied elsewhere. He developed the system to the point where the July 9 document gave the rtviks full authority to accept disciples on behalf of Srila Prabhupada without consulting him. On December 3, 1980, TKG said Srila Prabhupada told him that more rtviks could be added. Srila Prabhupada never said or even hinted that this system should stop, nor have I seen anything in his teachings that would not allow it to continue. You’re claiming that limitation exists based on your interpretation of the parampara system, but I have yet to see anyone give proof from Srila Prabhupada’s words. If you can find something like that, please present it. Hare Krishna.

      • You have not grasped the import of my post. Let’s focus on avatara tattva, since this is what parampara concerns: the nature of Krsna’s decent. With a comprehensive grasp of this subject that can be gained by careful study of Prabhupada’ teaching, all of which conforms with the previous acarya’s and is thus valid, we will be in a position to evaluate the novel idea of ritvikavada. Then if the ritvikvada interpretation (note the term) is shown to be in contradiction to the philosophy on avatara tattva, we know that this interpretation is not correct. Then we will have to interpret whatever Prabhupada has said about succession that you highlight such that is conforms with this aspect of the philosophy. Why? because Prabhupada is a representative of Gaudiya siddhanta and Gauidya siddhnata is not something one makes up as one goes along, even while it lends itself to new light. Think about this.

      • Babhru

        Pandu:

        It appears that you’re saying that Srila Prabhupada’s purports do not count as sastra.

        Pandu, I’ve spent some time looking, but I could not find the purport or purports you suggest are being ignored. Perhaps you can help me out here.

        You insist that Swami provide some proof that Srila Prabhupada said we cannot initiate on behalf of a departed acharya, but you’ve ignored calls for similar proof that he intended that we initiate on his behalf in perpetuity. If you have such evidence, please share it. You seem to infer it from his practice for three or four years of having certain leaders chant on new disciples’ beads on his behalf, together with what Tamal Krishna Maharaja wrote on July 9. And inference can be a useful pramana, but only if it’s supported by shastra.

        • You insist that Swami provide some proof that Srila Prabhupada said we cannot initiate on behalf of a departed acharya

          Yes, Babhru. And may I also point out that I think the burden of proof is with Paul because it is his idea that is a departure from the meaning of guru parampara (one guru after another).

          • Babhru

            Thanks for that. I was thinking just the same thing.

          • I’m amazed that I should have to prove Srila Prabhupada wanted his initiation system to continue after his disappearance. His Last Will, which was distributed along with the July 9 document, says the system of management was to continue unchanged. I would take that to include initiations. On May 28 he responded to the direct question of initiation after his disappearance by saying rtvik. That was the system right up until his last breath, and he never said it was to stop.

            Yet you guys insist it had to stop and we have to prove otherwise. No matter what Srila Prabhupada thought his disciples’ qualifications (or lack thereof) were, by divine law he had to entrust at least some of them with the highest spiritual responsibility. Fake it til you make it. (One of Bhakti-Tirtha Smami’s disciples recently told me that was one of BTS’ mottos.) A warm body on the Vyasaasana, and the parampara lives, but if Srila Prabhupada accepts any disciples after his mahasamadhi, then it dies. What?

            It’s quite ridiculous IMHO. I just want to have a guru whom I fully trust and love, whom I believe wanted to accept disciples like me, and you guys like to mock me for it to preserve your status quo. The jokes are not funny, nor is the bullying, the banning, the constant ridicule, the F-ing with people’s minds and disrespecting our personal spiritual lives. If I were not so hooked, I’d not want to be a Hare Krishna at all because of nonsense like this.

          • Paul,
            The decent of Krsna in the form of guru-tattva is considered Krsna’s krpa avatara, the decent of his mercy. Krpa avatara is a term used to refer to Nityananda as well, and of course our parivara often refers to him as akhanda guru tattva, the reservoir of guru tattva.

            How does the guru tattva manifest in this world? Through a divine prampara system involving one guru following the previous guru. Given this system we have guru tattva that is manifest in the form of the current acarya, and guru tattva that is unmanifest in the form of the previous acarya. Acarya and purvacarya, two distinct forms of guru tattva with two distinct functions. The pruvcarya is venerated. His or her sadhaka deha is placed in samadhi and enters Gaura lila. We worship this form as one that has gone to the paravyoma. Meanwhile the current acarya recruits for the sampradaya, giving diksa.
            Giving diksa requires exercising discrimination. Thus Prabhupada often said that the uttama bhakta must descend to the madhyama platform for preaching. Madhyam is the functioning position of guru because in the uttama condition one lacks the required discrimination needed to determine who shall be initiated and who shall not.

            Now the puracarya is in the full blown uttama position. I say full blown because even when he is manifest among us he moves between this inner, uttama absorption and the outer world requiring discrimination (madhyama). Mahaprabhu himself is an example. But again, the purvacarya has gone to the other side and does not function in the capacity to give diksa. He does not move between uttama and madhyama . His blessing may be attained as it radiates from him and those who petition him in prayer through guru parampara can bask in it. But he is not in a position to give diksa. He does not descend to the madhyama platform. Thus the need for one after another. There are other reasons for one after another as well but this is the teaching in brief.
            Now if one wants to merge the purvacarya’s function with the function of the current acarya, one wants to change this divine system and in doing so ignore the reality explained above that distinguishes the purvacaryas from current acaryas. In ritvikvada one expects the purvacarya to perform the function of the current acarya who is done away with.

            First of all one would need a pretty good reason to do this. They would need to improve upon the system that has worked fine for thousands of years. But moreover they would have to demonstrate that their improvement was not a departure from the philosophy governing avatara tattva. Furthermore they would have to turn the purvacraya into one looking in their direction rather then in Krsna’s, turn him into a madhyama, that is, perhaps better stated with one eye to Bhagavan and one eye toward us.

            Can Prabhupada’s words about succession be interpreted to mean he instituted this. Some think so. Is that interpretation an improvement on the divine parampara system? No. Is it a significant departure from the divine system of parampara. Yes. Is it spiritually possible? No, if you understand the otherworldly nature of prema prayojana. Those who have attained prema prayojana are relived from initiating by their successor. They do not function as madhyama bhaktas from Goloka. And once going there the never return, never return.
            Now if you want to say but pure devotees can do anything, you merely spew nonsense. We have two choices here. One choice is to understand Prabhupada’s disjointed comments about succession in concert with the philosophy on succession above that has been with us for an eternity with no exceptions and that Prabhupada hammered into this disciples heads for his entire preaching campaign. Again and again he stressed an unbroken chain of disciplic succession that involved one after another. That is what “unbroken means,” one after another. If there is no other, it is broken. The second choice requires interpreting Prabupada’s disjointed comments about succession to mean that he intended to depart from that which he preached over and over again, that which has been in place for all sampradayas forever and for good reason. This second choice places him at odds with the philosophy and the rich tradition of guru parampara. The first does not.

            Moreover there is absolutely no advantage to rivikvada, but rather many disadvantages. The perceived advantage is honoring one’s faith and avoiding fallen guru problems. But such faith is not sastriya sraddha as pointed out above because it contradicts siddhanta on avatara tattva. And while it appears to save us from fallen gurus, it leaves us with an imagined diksa guru constructed out of apasiddhanta and from what we have seen often fallen ritviks. Ritvikvada is nothing more that a concoction on the part of some to deal with an anomaly without recourse to sastra. It replaces the successor with an appointed ritvik priest who is imagined to mediate between the new disciple and the purvacarya for the function of diksa, after which the purvacarya is expected to function as the current acarya in all respects keeping a purvacarya with at least one foot in this world. Thus it exemplifies a misunderstanding of he nature of prayojana tattva, or the nature of prema and its implications for those who have attained it, and sambandha tattva, in as much as diksa falls under its jurisdiction as a function performed on the intermediate platform.

            Ritvikvada is apasiddhanta. And Prabhupada does not teach apasiddhanta. So if you think he does, you need to think again. He is not saying what you think he is in all that you cite in terms of import. You have missed the spirit of his teaching and identified with something he said literally here and there and pasted it together to give it your own import. And what is your philosophy to support it? “Prabhupada instituted it.” There is a disconnect here. If he did, he just disqualified himself as a representative of Gaudiya siddhanta. Is there any wonder why I as his disciple who has received three initiations from him might object to your idea?

          • Paul,

            Emotional appeals don’t work here. Furthermore you engage in that which you criticize above and wrongly attribute it to your opposition (me). You had faith in Iskcon’s system. Now you don’t and you criticize those that do, both the gurus and their sisyas. You belittle them. You are “F-ing with people’s minds and disrespecting our (their) personal spiritual lives.” Your words not mine. Meanwhile there are real gurus representing Gaudiya Vaisnavsm and Srila Prabhupada in particular. We represent this sector and do not agree with the Iskcon system you were indoctrinated into nor with your present position, both of which are wedded to one another. We are the middle path, if you will.

            Aside from this here is something to consider. The Bhagavatam says that Vasudeva and Devaki underwent severe penance in their pervious lives to get God as their son, and as a result of such austerities Krsna appeared as their child. This is directly stated in the Srimad Bhagavatam. However, it does not represent Guadiya-siddhanta on its face and there for it is explained away by the Goswamis on the basis of the essential message of the Bhagavatam itself with the help of other Puranic references. How could the eternal mother and father of Devakinandana have been dependent upon performing austerities to get Krsna as their son? Furthermore performing austerities to attain Vraja rasa will not be fruitful, as the example of the Laxmi illustrates. So the words of the Bhagavatam must be understood in the light of the siddhanta. Such questions arise upon reading this section of the Bhagavatam in the line of Sriman Mahaprabhu.

            Now this this what some of us here are doing with regard to the words of Prabhupada you cite. We are understanding and explaining them in light of Gaudiya siddhanta. So there is nothing to be amazed about. We are following the standard set by the purvacaryas.

          • “Is there any wonder why I as his disciple who has received three initiations from him might object to your idea?”

            What I wonder is why you keep telling stories of your own instead of simply telling me when Srila Prabhupada authorized initiating gurus. I wrote here simply to ask that your crew kindly refrain from criticizing “rtviks,” not for your instruction. I’m not your disciple, nor do I care how many initiations you’ve had. LOL! I’m interested in Srila Prabhupada’s words, and if you want to convince me of your point of view, you should quote him to prove your point. The central point as I see it is the fact that his disciples terminated the initiating system he instituted without his authorization. You say it was necessary, but Srila Prabhupada did not say that. Instead when he was directly asked about post-samadhi initiations, he said by rtvik. That’s a historical fact that isn’t going to change no matter how much you beat around the bush.

          • What stories are you referring to? Do you know the difference between stories and siddhanta? And I wrote to simply ask you to refrain from telling people that my guru taught apasiddhanta. You do not care how many initiations I have received from Srila Prabhupada, but they mean something to His Divine Grace. One of them designated me as one qualified to instruct others in Guadiya-siddhanta. He personally asked me to do that. He had that confidence in me. But you do not care for Prabhupada’s words/confidence/actions in this regard. You do not care for my instruction. The central point is that you have no initiation. Indeed it appears that you reject the initiation you received without getting so called ritvik initiated. Please correct me if I am wrong. I will stop here. This discussion is way over your head. You are not dealing with Iskcon here.

            As for your “question,” Prabhupada did not have to say that the ritvik system for initiations in his presence would stop after his departure because for anyone paying attention he taught us what the word ritvik means and what the word parampara means. The two are not synonymous.

          • madan gopal das

            As someone questioned earlier, when did BSST give the “required authorization” for Prabhupada to accept diciples? In Prabhupada’s case it was not a stated blessing of his Gurudeva to function in that capacity, rather a natural continuation of parampara that Prabhupada saw a pressing need for. We don’t question his qualification, but rather see his taking on the role of guru as divine grace. What mercy!
            However, similar to these times some of Prabhupada’s godbrothers questioned how he was performing the function of guru. The thing is, it is not your position to suggest whether guru is qualified or not. Sastra delineates the basic qualifications to be guru, and the faith of a qualified disciple declares a particular person to be so.
            We can however question the faith of those who would accept Prabhupada as their guru because we are not questioning their faith, but rather questioning their interpretation of sacred siddhanta. And in this case it does matter “how many initiations” Swami received, or your connection to Prabhupada because a disciple is only a disciple as much as he/she follows the teaching of the guru. Swami’s considerable association with Prabhupada and blessings received do indicate a significant understanding and continuum of relationship with him. Furthermore, to discount Prabhupada’s ability to make at least one of his disciples qualified to carry on guru parampara is offensive to him.
            Pandu:

            Naturally Srila Prabhupada wanted his disciples to develop to the point where he could authorize them to accept their own disciples, but I don’t see where he actually gave authorization…Naturally he wanted his disciples to be the next initiating gurus, but the disciples must be qualified first. When do you think he actually said they were qualified and gave the required authorization?

            You say Prabhupada wanted his disciples to accept their own disciples (when qualified). After samadhi, how is Prabhupada supposed to say “this disciple is qualified”? Still waiting??? When Prabhupada said “grand-disciple”, “by my order he becomes”, “regular guru”, “formality” that while the guru is present one does not initiate (implying therefore that one does when guru is no longer present)… all this in one conversation in May ’77, you think he was still waiting? He may have been cautious because of the brief amount of time he had to train his disciples, but he certainly wasn’t waiting for them, rather he was waiting until his disappearance, when the task would be thrust upon them, qualified or not.
            You are just throwing out all evidence which contradicts your opinion, giving weak weak interpretations and barely quoting Prabhupada yourself. Finally, like KB and others you resort to saying that people who challenge your concocted philosophy are bashing or insulting ritviks. Sorry, that’s not good enough. Engage with some philosophy, not sentiment. Better yet, “Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively (sorry, can’t do that with Prabhupada) and render service unto him. The self-realized souls can impart knowledge unto you because they have seen the truth.”

      • I know you’ve disagreed with him (Prabhupada) on certain issues, an obvious example being his disapproval of homosexual relaitonships.

        Whoops! No disagreement there Pandu. Its called guru parampara, or “What Prabhupada would say if he were here now.” But with your system you cannot answer that question. After all, we know that Prabhupada changed his mind on issues from time to time with new information. But your system does not allow him to continue to do that.

  • The parampara (one after another) system has a purpose. When one leaves another is required for the very same reason that the one who left was required previously. How does ritvikvada fill this need? It closes its eyes and pretends there is no need because, as we hear, “Prabhupada is in his books,” “Prabhupada is non different from his instructions,” etc., etc. It ignores the very purpose of the parampara.

    Now if it is to be a replacement of the traditional parampara system, it must do everything the system does and to be of greater value as well. But it does neither of these things. In fact it makes the situation worse because it tries to make instructions intended for a particular time applicable to all times.

    But what if there is no one qualified to succeed Prabhupada? Then so be it. This has happened before and it will happen again in various lineages. This is then also where the parampara comes to the rescue. It is not institutionally bound. Find a qualified guru, not an institution. That’s the system.

  • Babhru

    Paul Howard wrote,

    4. “It is no truer than telling someone they can take diksha from Rupa Goswami or Chaitanya Mahaprabhu himself.” Neither Rupa Gosvami nor Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu instituted a system for accepting disciples in their absence. Srila Prabhupada did.

    Swami’s reply, “No, he did not,” should suffice. You and those whom you follow keep saying he did, but the evidence that he did simply does not exist; otherwise, someone would have produced it by now. Your saying something does not make it so, no matter how many times you say it. You may succeed in planting a ritvik-in-perpetuity meme among the devotees, but those with faith in guru, sadhu, and shastra will show how it’s really just a virus.

    The plain fact, Pandu, is that no one, regardless of how disillusioned we were by ISKCON’s failures at spiritual leadership, spoke of such a thing until the late ’80s. The problems of ISKCON’s leadership did spawn much discussion of the desirability of gurus to actually be advanced devotees, ideally uttama adhikaris, and there were many who held this line for some years. But there was no suggestion that Srila Prabhupada had anticipated this by creating a ritvik-in-perpetuity system for ISKCON until the idea began to be promulgated by the staff of the Vedic Village Review magazine pubished by Nityananda das in Mississippi.

    Even at the meeting of hundreds of Godbrothers in New Vrindavan in 1985, this idea wasn’t brought up. And there were many dissatisfied devotees there.

    Let me repeat: If you continue to assert that Srila Prabhupada established a system for continuing to initiate disciples even after his disappearance from our vision, something very much the opposite of what he taught us the entire time he was with us, you should be prepared to offer convincing evidence. Otherwise, few thoughtful devotees will take you seriously.

    • Well said Babhru. The “revelation” attributed to SP is a fabrication of a handful of his students that began to unfold ten years after his departure. And it continues to be honed to this day with a number of versions of it out and about. Incidentally, in my limited experience proponents of one version tend not to be gracious with proponents of other versions. All of this from the sutra “Henceforward . . .”

      • Pandu

        Suggesting that the rtvik understanding depends entirely upon the “henceforward” is rather deceptive, considering that the letter would retain exactly the same meaning if the word were removed. Either way, the letter says the rtvik system was meant to operate with the changes described in the letter from then on into the future.

        On the other hand, there is not even one word in that document suggesting that it was to be terminated at any time. Nor was the document amended later. We simply have modern gurus and their cheerleaders saying that it HAD to stop upon Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance, but without any such order from Srila Prabhupada.

        So you say we have one word, but it’s one word that merely emphasizes the meaning inherent in the whole letter. From your side we’re still waiting to see one word from Srila Prabhupada terminating the initiation system he developed.

    • Pandu

      That the rtvik system was operating for several years is a historical fact. Srila Prabhupada obviously created it so he cound initiate disciples in his absence. He could not be everywhere at once, and he had aspiring disciples all over the world.

      The idea that this system had to stop upon Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance did not come from him, or at least there is no such evidence. (IF YOU HAVE CONCLUSIVE EVIDENCE, PLEASE PRESENT IT.) On the other hand, on 5/28/77 when he was directly asked how initiations were to be conducted after his disapparance, he said by rtvik. Later when the conversation turned to gurus, he said it would be on his order. However I have not seen any such order. Have you?

      You say that it wasn’t until the late 80s when the ongoing rtvik idea began, but other devotees have said otherwise. As I recall, Gauridas Pandit prabhu said he brought up the subject with TKG, who threatened to kick him out. Then he wrote a long letter to Satsvarupa, who did not respond and then supposedly lost it along with many other documents in a fire. I’ve heard that that Yasodanandana was told about it by TKG in July 1977. A few months ago I read an open letter by Govinda Dasi saying she spoke with Sruta Kirti about the Zonal Acarya system being created back in 1978, and he assured her that it was common knowledge that Srila Prabhpupada was the only guru for ISKCON.

      Then there is the fact that relevant documents were not freely distributed. Do you remember what year you first heard the May 28 tape or read a transcript? When did you read the July 9 letter? When did you first read or hear the Oct. 18, 1977, coversation? The impression I’ve gotten of the way the Zonal Acaryas controlled ISKCON in their era was that one could not oppose them and remain in ISKCON. I guess that’s one way to maintain control, but not what I would have expected of a spiritual society.

  • Babhru

    Pandu:

    You say that it wasn’t until the late 80s when the ongoing rtvik idea began, but other devotees have said otherwise. As I recall, Gauridas Pandit prabhu said he brought up the subject with TKG, who threatened to kick him out. Then he wrote a long letter to Satsvarupa, who did not respond and then supposedly lost it along with many other documents in a fire. I’ve heard that that Yasodanandana was told about it by TKG in July 1977. A few months ago I read an open letter by Govinda Dasi saying she spoke with Sruta Kirti about the Zonal Acarya system being created back in 1978, and he assured her that it was common knowledge that Srila Prabhpupada was the only guru for ISKCON.

    I know Gauridas, and he and I like each other a lot. But I certainly can’t vouch for anything he says about what he heard when he was helping Tamal Krishna Maharaja care for Prabhupada in 1977. His response to Srila Prabhupada’s departure, though, at least when he went to Hawaii, was less than exemplary, which made it a little hard for me to take him too seriously when he became an advocate of the perpetual-ritvik idea years later. I know he’s a solid devotee these days, and I’m always happy to see him. Whenever he would be hassled at the San Diego temple, I consistently defended him because I knew he didn’t try to use his visits to the temple to advocate the perpetual-ritvik idea.

    As for Govinda dasi, I know her much better than I do Gauridasa. We’ve been pretty close friends for over 40 years. And I can tell you, she’s singing a much different song now than she was then. If Srutakirti assured her in ’78 that everyone knew that Prabhupada was the only guru for ISKCON (whatever that means), neither he nor she ever mentioned it to me. And I had his kids living with me in my gurukula ashram starting in early ’79. As much as I love Govinda dasi, and I truly do, I have seen her story change over the years. In fact, for some time in the late ’70s and early ’80s, she was sure that a particular one of our Godbrothers would eventually be universally recognized as the next Acharya for all of ISKCON. (It never happened.)

    But this isn’t even real evidence. It’s hearsay, at best. I was quite active among dissident ISKCON members, and there wasn’t any talk of a perpetual ritvik system until, at the earliest, the late ’80s. In fact, I rented a room in the home of a devotee who is now well known as a ritvik proponent, and, although he was as critical as anyone of the nonsense going on among ISKCON’s leadership, he spoke very supportively of most of ISKCON’s gurus at the time. Another renter was a graduate student in philosophy who was exploring Krishna consciousness. The three of us often had long, wide-ranging conversations, and this devotee was not at all critical of the general practice of some of our Godbrothers accepting disciples.

    Then there is the fact that relevant documents were not freely distributed. Do you remember what year you first heard the May 28 tape or read a transcript?

    Yes, I do, in fact. It was 1979. Ramesvara loaned me a copy of that tape to listen to, at least partly to convince me that Srila Prabhupada had appointed them. I had a somewhat different impression of the conversation(s) than he wanted to convey.

    The impression I’ve gotten of the way the Zonal Acaryas controlled ISKCON in their era was that one could not oppose them and remain in ISKCON.

    Yes, that’s very much the way it was in many places. I saw many friends precede me in exiting ISKCON. I stayed because I had a service I felt was important. Nevertheless, I was gone before 1985 was done.

    I guess that’s one way to maintain control, but not what I would have expected of a spiritual society.

    On this you and I agree precisely. I have not been a defender of ISKCON’s policies regarding gurus, or a number of other things, for that matter. At the same time, I do not accept the suggestion that Srila Prabhupada was so impotent that none of his disciples were able to make spiritual progress. Some of them, both in ISKCON and outside, seem to me to be able guides to their disciples, many of whom I see making impressive progress in saranagati. But much of what could be called ISKCON’s policy and practice over the last many years seems more concerned with controlling human and other assets than with genuine spiritual progress.

    So far, I don’t see your evidence that Srila Prabhupada intended to contravene everything he taught us during his years with us.

  • Gopakumar das

    (Regarding Srila Prabhupada teaching ritvikvada, Swami Tripurari says, “There is a disconnect here. If he did, he just disqualified himself as a representative of Gaudiya siddhanta.”

    This is the irony of this particular kind of distortion. Paul, I can understand that some sadhakas want to believe that they can still take initiation from Srila Prabhupada. The disappointments have been great in the last 30 years. But Srila Prabhupada dedicated his entire life and work to the establishment of Gaudiya siddhanta in the West. Why would he then actively go against it? It just doesn’t add up.

    See the thing about any glorification is, if it amounts to an unrealistic idealization it will always do an injustice to the fullness of who the actual person is. This is the case with Srila Prabhupada as well. He was a true sadhu and a saktyavesa avatara (empowered representative). What he was not was authorized to alter the siddhanta in a manner that contradicts the lineage. It is not a service to him to believe that he did…even when we seem to have ample evidence to support that view. What I have found about evidence in the world is: there is always enough data available to selectively support almost any point of view. This is why we have theological constraints to make sure we stay in bounds despite our tendencies to distort. This particular evidence does not truly glorify Srila Prabhupada…it actually damages him. This means that if we think he is a pure devotee…we have to wonder how we are flawed in any argument that will reduce him in any way.

    There are living sadhus nowadays. Please try to find one that speaks in a manner that you can trust, it is not hopeless… believe me.

  • Babhru

    Paul Howard:

    Instead when he was directly asked about post-samadhi initiations, he said by rtvik. That’s a historical fact that isn’t going to change no matter how much you beat around the bush.

    You keep making this assertion, but you’ve offered no direct evidence. You’ve given us nothing more than inference and speculation. There is no there there. As Swami says, you’re out of your depth here, Pandu.

    • Gopakumar das

      I think Paul has made it evidently clear that he is not interested in siddhantic reason. He wants to center his thinking on only Srila Prabhupada’s interpreted words with no required relationship to siddhanta. At this point, everything said on the topic is for the other readers.

      I hope other readers get this point (if they did not understand it already): Srila Prabhupada had high regard for Gaudiya Siddhanta and wanted more than anything to present it in the Western world. His words should always be understood in relation to these theological bounds AND as a pure devotee he was well within these bounds. Any teaching that says otherwise does not praise him…it degrades his memory.

    • Bhaktikanda

      Where connection is concerned, accepting initiation from a departed soul makes as much sense as giving initiation to a departed soul.

  • Gopakumar das

    There is something very vile about this ritvik siddhantic variation. It seems to be a rejection of the authority of Krishna who says, “of subdoers, I am time” and that as an authority we must be subdued by the constraints of time. These ritvik followers say, “We deny your time constraints and your parampara”. They also seem to thumb their noses at the idea of having to be subordinate to senior devotees by saying, “I am a disciple of Srila Prabhupada as well! No hierarchy here!”. This is just the definition of envy…envy of god and envy of sadhu. There is no need to be humble or flexible under the foot of those above us. There is no one above them except a concept of Guru frozen in time –that by virtue of being frozen– can be controlled by them, rather than standing dynamically above them instructing them to change.

  • Paul Howard

    By “stories” I mean that instead of offering evidence from Srila Prabhupada’s own words, you’re only trying to tell me what /you/ think.

    “The central point is that you have no initiation.”

    How is that central? No, the central point is that Srila Prabhupada did not authorize diksa gurus, apparently yourself included. Instead of defending that point, you want to change the subject to something irrelevant.

    I’m not claiming to be guru. I don’t even claim to be initiated. However I can read just fine and understand reason. On October 28, 1975, when Srila Prabhupada said, “A guru can become guru when he is ordered by his guru. That’s all. Otherwise nobody can become guru,” it raises the question of when he authorised you or anyone to become a diksa guru. And you’re avoiding that while your disciples mock and ridicule aspiring devotees like me.

    I don’t think of myself as having rejected my guru. My guru is Srila Prabhupada. The devotee who sat as guru in my initiation ceremony was not authorized by him, so apparently it was just pretend.

    The difficulty is that I am uncertain how to get properly initiated when the GBC is propping up false gurus instead of honoring Srila Prabhupada’s order. Also if I get initiated as Srila Prabhupada’s disciple, I will likely get banned and will not be able to bring my family to our local temple. So this is an awkward situation, but I trust that Srila Prabhupada will see me through it.


    Babhru is saying that I’ve made up the assertion that Srila Prabhupada said he wanted initiation by rtvik after his disappearance, but I can’t understand how he could think that. The May 28, 1977, conversation is famous enough that we should all know it. Satsvarupa asked about post-samadhi initiation, and Srila Prabhupada said he would appoint some disciples to act as officiating acaryas, a.k.a. rtviks. Later the conversation changed to gurus and he said it would be when he orders, but there is no evidence of any order having been given.

    Since you guys have thus far not been able to either show when Srila Prabhupada said to stop his rtvik system, nor can you say when he authorized diksa gurus, my patience is wearing thin. Hare Krishna.

    • Kula-pavana

      Paul Howard:
      “No, the central point is that Srila Prabhupada did not authorize diksa gurus, apparently yourself included. Instead of defending that point, you want to change the subject to something irrelevant.”

      And how was Srila Prabhupada himself authorized as a diksa guru? He gave diksa for the first time in Jhansi to Acharya Prabhakar. That was in 1952. Is there a proof that he was authorized by his guru to do so? No, there is not. And if there is, please show me – any statement from BSST to that effect. Prabhupada said he was authorized by his guru to initiate, but all we have is his word for it and he offered no details. Most likely if it did come, it was in a dream.

      And the entire ‘authorization’ argument is bogus anyway, because there is no such requirement in the shastra or in our tradition. Prabhupada’s godbrothers did not object to his initiations. He initiatied more disciples after he took sannyasa in 1957. Again, no objections from his godbrothers.

      Prabhupada made up the guru authorization requirement so that his overly ambitious disciples would not start initiating on their own prematurely, causing chaos to his mission.

      • Pandu

        “And the entire ‘authorization’ argument is bogus anyway, because there is no such requirement in the shastra or in our tradition.”

        If a guru says “You cannot initiate disciples without my authorization,” you would argue? Wow. I should’ve gotten initiated by Bhakti-Tirtha Swami instead of Bhaktimarga Swami. I could be a guru already, nevermind all my material conditioning.

        Srila Prabhupada said he was authorized; nobody asked him when. I believe him, and I hope you do too.

        I’ve read that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur had said the next acarya would be self-effulgent. I don’t have a reference handy so can’t say for sure, but in any case there’s a powerful statement from Srila Prabhupada in the Vedabase lamenting the chaos that he felt brought down the Gaudiya Matha after his guru’s disappearance. Srila Prabhupada obviously did not want that to happen to ISKCON, and the rtvik system he established would surely have helped. Srila Prabhupada, as the Founder-Acarya, could do that. (I’ve never seen anyone present proof from sastra saying he could not.) Instead they scrapped it and became false acaryas, bringing so much trouble and shame to the Hare Krishna movement.

        It’s not my purpose here to try to undermine the relationship between Tripurari Swami and his disicples. Devotees here, I presume his disciples, have been attacking rtviks. When there is an attack, sometimes one responds with a defense and sometimes with a counter-attack, even when one wants the fight to stop. Sometimes one has to say things he would rather not say. Your spiritual lives are your business, and I just want to be able to have my relationship with Srila Prabhupada show externally as it exists in my heart and is natural, and after examining the relevant evidence, I believe Srila Prabhupada approves.

        • Kula-pavana

          My argument is with a supposed requirement that every guru must submit to his peers an explicit proof of authorization to give diksa from his own spiritual master.

          1. No previous gurus were required to do such a thing, and that included Srila Prabhupada. As I said, if you have such an explicit proof applying to him, please produce it for us to see. Anybody can say he is authorized and you must apply the same standard of proof for every guru. If you take Prabhupada on his word alone, why not take other gurus on their word alone?

          2. If SP made this requirement for his disciples, they may feel obligated to honor it, but since – as you claim – he invented the ritvik system, the requirement is absolutely useless, as he – as you claim – did not explicitly authorize ANYONE to give diksa on their own behalf. Another typical ritvikvada inconsistency.

          3. Since I don’t accept that authorization requirement as valid, I have no problem judging gurus by their actual qualifications. I am not a disciple of Tripurari Maharaja but I do see him as a guru qualified to give Vaishnava diksa, just like Prabhupada’s godbrothers saw him being qualified to give diksa without requiring any proof of authorization.

          Anything your guru says MUST be evaluated in the light of guru (meaning his guru), sadhu, and shastra. Otherwise you may run the risk of misunderstanding the process of bhakti-yoga.

    • Babhru

      Pandu:

      Babhru is saying that I’ve made up the assertion that Srila Prabhupada said he wanted initiation by rtvik after his disappearance, but I can’t understand how he could think that. The May 28, 1977, conversation is famous enough that we should all know it. Satsvarupa asked about post-samadhi initiation, and Srila Prabhupada said he would appoint some disciples to act as officiating acaryas, a.k.a. rtviks. Later the conversation changed to gurus and he said it would be when he orders, but there is no evidence of any order having been given.

      In fact, the conversation says no such thing, at least unequivocally. You’re making an inference based on your disappointment with the person to whom you submitted yourself for initiation. I’ve presented my understanding of this part of the conversation elsewhere.

      Since you guys have thus far not been able to either show when Srila Prabhupada said to stop his rtvik system, nor can you say when he authorized diksa gurus, my patience is wearing thin. Hare Krishna.

      Well, Hare Krishna yourself! I have, of course, been accused of trying others’ patience before. But it’s not unreasonable to read in this part of the coversation that he would appoint disciples to officiate over initiations in the meantime, and that, when the time comes, they would be regular gurus.

      Satsvarupa: Then what is the relationship of that person who gives the initiation and the…
      Prabhupqada: He’s guru. He’s guru. [The person who gives initiation is guru. Get it?]
      Satsvarupa: But he does it on your behalf. [That “he” is someone other than Srila Prabhupada.]
      Prabhupada: Yes. That is formality. Because in my presence one should not become guru, so on my behalf, on my order… Amara ajnaya guru haya [Cc. Madhya 7.128]. Be actually guru, but by my order. [You can’t be guru now, while I’m present; that’s the formality. But you should become guru. What’s implied is that we must become qualified, and in his absence, those who are qualified should become gurus by his order–the order that he has given since he began preaching, the same order that Mahaprabhu gave.]

      I might point out yet again that you have thus far not been able to show clear, unequivocal evidence that Srila Prabhupada intended that we act only as ritviks in perpetuity. But I won’t.

      • This “On my order” idea sems to have been misunderstood by ritviks as well. Here Prabhupada is saying it in the context (which will be lost on them) of citing Mahaprabhu, who said this to Kurma. The actual quote says that Kurma (and as Prabhupada used, it everyone else) should spread krsna upadesa, and and that doing so one has the backing of Gaura to serve as guru. Of course elsewhere other qualifications are mentioned elsewhere as well none of which include being appointed.

        • KB das

          I have seen numerous statements by Srila Prabhuapda telling all his followers to become guru. There is no dearth of evidence that he authorized all his devotees to extend and expand the number of devotees.
          However, he empowered the GBC to execute the ritvik function as necessary. But, there is no reason to think that Srila Prabhupada did not expect that some of his disciples would have followers of their own who want diksha from them. That should be perfectly allowed, but most of the ritviks are extremists offending others unfairly and not understanding that ritvik should have been available alongside non-ritvik initiations by any number of Prabhupada disciples.
          Many ritviks are doing ritvik a serious disservice by taking a very extremist ritvik position and criticizing independent preachers as your holiness.
          As such, they are actually doing ritvik a disservice and not representing Srila Prabhupada as well as they would like to assume.
          Still, the GBC created these cults because they failed to follow the mandate. Their existence can be placed squarely on the GBC and the ISKCON guru elite as well.

          Prabhupada introduced the ritvik conception into the KC movement. It wasn’t masterminded by some envious disciples using a Sanskrit dictionary and looking for a way to stop all the ISKCON sannyasis from becoming guru.

      • Paul Howard

        I didn’t mean to imply that I was losing patience with you, rather with this topic in general. I’m just tired of all the rtvik-bashing and seeing the same weak arguments justifying it.

        I’be always found the May 28 conversation confusing. First Srila Prabhupada says the disciples are to be his, then “Yes, they are (their) disciples, (but) (why) consider… who,” which sounds to me like Srila Prabhupada noticed that his disciples had something different in mind. Then the conversation changes to talk of his disciples as gurus. Somehow TKG calls it clear. Finally, Srila Prabhupada comes back to the topic and emphasizes “When I order…”

        Yet despite it having been “clear” to TKG before, on Dec. 3, 1980, he said, “Myself and the other GBC have done the greatest disservice to this movement the last three years because we interpreted the appointment of rtviks as the appointment of gurus.”

        Now, 30 years later, they’re still trying to figure out how to run their guru business. For example Srila Prabhupada never said a word about how the GBC and gurus should balance power. So when the GBC passes a rule saying no -pada titles after Srila Prabhupada (1999, the same year they outlawed rtviks), but the guru likes his -pada name, who does the disciple obey?

        In any case, when the subject of the May 28 conversation was put into writing and promulgated, the whole “disciple of my disciple” subject was left out and the rtvik method given full emphasis.

    • Syamasundara Dasa

      it raises the question of when he authorised you or anyone to become a diksa guru. And you’re avoiding that while your disciples mock and ridicule aspiring devotees like me.

      Seeing your attitude within a circle of devotees and toward a senior Vaishnava it appears that you will remain as an aspiring devotee for a long time.
      SP only had good things to say about Swami Tripurari and Srila Sridhara Maharaja is the one who gave Swami the permission to accept disciples and extend Mahaprabhu’s welfare work.
      Given that SP implied once that Swami reasons like a pure devotee, that he held SSM in high regard, considering him his siksa guru, and that you consider SP as your guru (or should I say a shield behind which being disrespectful to his beloved children), I would take a different stance.
      Otherwise, all that SBS ever said to SP is “I think it would be good for you if you preached in English.” It doesn’t sound to me like an authorization for him to be a guru either in SBS’s presence or after, yet by his own qualification and sincerity he proved to be quite the guru.
      Like Swami said earlier, this is not Iskcon, so please be careful in how you address someone who has every right to sit on a vyasasana, both with regard to scriptural understanding and personal conduct over the past 40 years.

  • Gopakumar das

    Srila Prabhupada’s words (unless of course Paul and others do not accept his authority either and place their own opinions and wishes above those of the param-guru):

    One should not proudly think that one can understand the transcendental loving service of the Lord simply by reading books… One must accept a Vaisnava guru (adau gurv-asrayam), and then by questions and answers one should gradually learn what pure devotional service to Krsna is. That is called the parampara system.” (Cc. Antya-lila 7.53, purp.)

    I wish that in my absence all my disciples become the bona fide spiritual master to spread Krsna consciousness throughout the whole world. (SPL Madhusudana, Nov. 2, 1967)

    Regarding your question about the disciplic succession coming down from Arjuna, it is just like I have got my disciples, so in the future these many disciples may have many branches of disciplic succession. (Los Angeles, 25 January, 1969)

    Every one of you should be spiritual master next. (Hamburg, September 5, 1969)

    These students, who are initiated from me, all of them will act as I am doing. Just like I have got many Godbrothers, they are all acting. Similarly, all these disciples which I am making, initiating, they are being trained to become future spiritual masters. (RC Detroit, July 18, 1971)

    You, all my disciples, everyone should become spiritual master. (London, August 22, 1973)

    Every student is expected to become acarya. Acarya means one who knows the scriptural injunctions and follows them practically in life, and teaches them to his disciples… I want to see my disciples become bona fide Spiritual Master and spread Krishna consciousness very widely, that will make me and Krishna very happy… Keep trained up very rigidly and then you are bonafide Guru, and you can accept disciples on the same principle. But as a matter of etiquette it is the custom that during the lifetime of your Spiritual master you bring the prospective disciples to him, and in his absence or disappearance you can accept disciples without any limitation. This is the law of disciplic succession. (SPL Tusta Krsna, December 2, 1975)

    The word guru [in this verse, yei krsna-tattva sei guru haya] is equally applicable to vartma-pradarsaka-guru, siksa-guru and diksa-guru. Unless we accept the principle enunciated by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, this Krsna consciousness movement cannot spread all over the world. (Cc. Madhya-lila 8.128, purp.)

    The disciple, if he cannot understand the statement of the scriptures or any saintly person, he submits his doubts before the spiritual master and he clears it. In this way we have to make progress. (Montreal, July 9, 1968) By reading you cannot understand. (Bom. Jan. 8, 1977)

    Question: Through a book can you contact the spiritual master?
    Prabhupada: No, you have to associate.
    Devotee: “Can you associate through a book?” she asked.
    Prabhupada: Yes, through books and also personal. Because when you make a spiritual master you have got personal touch. Not that in air you make a spiritual master. You make a spiritual master concrete. So as soon as you make a spiritual master, you should be inquisitive. (RC London, Sept. 23, 1969)

    Bhaktivinoda Thakur (although I doubt ritviks accept his authority):
    In Bangladesh, a new version of the Kartabhaja sect was founded by one Anukul Chandra. Posing himself as a Supreme Lord, Anukul Chandra has been worshipped by his followers as such. Specific features of his worship were his “Visvarupa darsanas,” which centered on a very degraded practice. He is now dead, but his followers propagate that he can initiate latter-day devotees through preachers known as ritviks. New initiates must agree to follow the principles—be vegetarian once a week and worship no deity other than Anukul Chandra’s picture.

    Thanks to Swami B.B. Visnu’s article How about them apples?

    • Yes, the standard philosophy on succession in Prabhupada’s words. I knew I had read about it somewhere. 🙂

      • KB das

        Orders of the acharya must be taken in chronological order.
        Sometimes devotees fail to take all of Srila Prabhupada’s instructions in chronological order and in so doing they commit offenses by not keeping up with his most recent judgments and orders.
        Some devotees like to disqualify the ritvik system by quoting previous statements of Srila Prabhupada, but the intelligent and sincere disciple will understand these orders in proper order and not get confused.
        Srila Prabhupada’s final orders on succession is what we must look at, not something he said before that. Srila Prabhupada’s personal instructions to disciples and his general guidance to the GBC cannot be confused. If one does so, he offends everybody on all sides.

        • We will go with the “Law of disciplic succession.”

        • madan gopal das

          Hey KB, got a question for you, again!!! Will you answer?
          How do you interpret these “final orders” from Prabhupada?

          Prabhupāda: They’re his disciple.
          Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: They’re his disciple.
          Prabhupāda: Who is initiating. He is granddisciple.
          Satsvarūpa: Yes.
          Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: That’s clear.
          Satsvarūpa: Then we have a question concer…
          Prabhupāda: When I order, “You become guru,” he becomes regular guru. That’s all. He becomes disciple of my disciple. That’s it.

          Here Prabhupada is confirming everything he’d been instructing his disciples for 12 years previous. You are basically saying all that doesn’t matter, that Prabhupada could change his mind and go against all that teaching and here tell the GBC something different. Problem is, this is Prabhupada telling the GBC’s the same thing he’s been telling all disciples for all time. “After I’m gone, you’ll initiate your own disciples.” Duh! I’m really starting to question whether this is the matrix, an alien spaceship, the Jesus plane in Brahmaloka or what. How else to explain these differences in the interpretation of the English language which are so obvious? Or are you having a Hindu encounter with stubbornity?

          • KB das

            Your transcription and your understanding are both wrong.
            It should read “who is initiating…… his Grand-disciple”. Your quote of “he is grand-disciple” makes no sense because Prabhupada would be saying that the initiator is his own grand-disciple.

            Prabhupada clearly said that the initiate will be the grand-disciple of “who is initiating”.(Srila Prabhupada)
            The ritvik is not initiating anyone. He is simply performing the yagna for the acharya who is the initiator. Ritvik is not the initiator. He is priest with special authority.
            That was simply making a slight difference the pre-ritvik disciples and the post-ritvik disciples.
            But all are disciples and grand-disciples of the one acharya initiator of ISKCON – Srila Prabhupada.

            Actually, Srila Prabhupada made it quite clear that he was offering initiation into a whole society of devotees where newcomers would have hundreds of gurus beyond his level and able to offer instruction.

            If you read Srila Prabhupada’s books you will see how he refers to initiation into ISKCON as a disciple of the acharya. ISKCON is a society of Vaishnavas where all the senior devotees tend to the care of the junior devotees and that was a great system that nobody has been able to surpass.

            The trend nowadays is to put all the emphasis on this Pancaratrika vidhi in an attempt to discredit the Bhagavat-marga, but Srila Prabhupada came up with a great system that fulfills all requirements despite some claiming it is apasiddhanta.

            You can only have an honest dialogue when you are ready to approach the issue with an open mind free from party or camp politics and ready to expand your understanding of Krishna consciousness beyond sectarianism and bitterness.

            This negative posturing against the ritviks has nothing to do with suddha-bhakti.

          • madan gopal das

            KB dude!, I mean prabhu, you are stretching Prabhupada’s words SO bad. You know where I got that quote from? A ritvik site prabhupadabooks.com which heralds the “unedited” pre-1978 books!
            I’ll even give you some leeway for confusion on the granddisciple thing. But the very next thing Prabhupada says (he brings it up after TKG and SDG are about to change the subject) is to eradicate any doubt as to what they think is “clear”. “Disciple of my disciple” is almost as if to say “if you were confused, here it is again more explicitly.” Then he says “regular guru, that’s all”, “that’s it”, as if to say “you know, the normal process! After ritvik, after the acarya passes, the ritvik becomes a regular guru, like the regular concept of guru you’ve always heard of from me!”
            You’ll wear yourself out with much more word jugglery. If you really want to impress with mental contortionism, try explaining the basic English out of “disciple of my disciple”. Don’t strain your brain, it is much easier to see the obvious, what is in concert with all his other teaching and what is in concert with the sampradaya he represents. I think I give up. Just don’t say we’re being mean to ritviks anymore, that is getting old.

        • Babhru

          KB:

          Orders of the acharya must be taken in chronological order.

          Got pramana?

          • KB das

            Sure, we have tons and tons of examples of Srila Prabhupada giving disciples orders and then changing those orders to something else later. We saw many, many examples of Srila Prabhupada giving a new order that outdated a previous order.
            Other than that, it seems like common sense should be praman as well.
            Could you imagine one of Srila Prabhupada’s secretaries neglecting an order from Srila Prabhupada because it was different than a previous order?

            Praman?
            Heck, even the GBC mentions this same principle in their own papers on the subject.
            You need praman to decide whether you should follow an old instruction or a recent instruction?
            Sorry, but I even accept common sense as praman on this one.

            Surely you were jesting?

          • Paul Howard

            Are you thinking instructions can be taken in any order? Even the GBC admitted in their booklet, _Gurus and Initiation in ISKCON_, “In logic, later statements supersede earlier ones in importance.” That’s just common sense.

            “I may say many things to you, but when I say something directly to you, you do it. Your first duty is to do that, you cannot argue — ‘Sir, you said to me do like this before.’ No, that is not your duty. What I say to you now, you do it. That is obedience, you cannot argue.” – Srila Prabhupada, S.B. lecture, April 14, 1975, Hyderabad.

    • Kula-pavana

      Gopakumar writes:
      “Bhaktivinoda Thakur (although I doubt ritviks accept his authority):
      In Bangladesh, a new version of the Kartabhaja sect was founded by one Anukul Chandra. Posing himself as a Supreme Lord, Anukul Chandra has been worshipped by his followers as such. Specific features of his worship were his “Visvarupa darsanas,” which centered on a very degraded practice. He is now dead, but his followers propagate that he can initiate latter-day devotees through preachers known as ritviks. New initiates must agree to follow the principles—be vegetarian once a week and worship no deity other than Anukul Chandra’s picture.”
      ————————–

      How on earth can this be a quote attributed to BVT???
      Anukul Chandra died in 1969. Is BVT chanelling this message to Swami B.B. Visnu from the Great Beyonda? You can’t make up stuff like that… it is very disturbing…

    • Syamasundara Dasa

      Thank you Gopa, about time!
      I’ve been slowly catching up with this thread due to internet difficulties and I was wondering why everybody was just saying: “This is not the siddhanta, not what SP said, you have no proof”, but no one was coming with more smashing stuff.
      Swami’s post about purvacarya and uttama/madhyama adhikari is the most conclusive and definitive, and now we have some of the so-long asked for evidence.

    • We will go with the “Law of disciplic succession.” And of course all of these statements are unequivocal and in concert with Guadiya siddhanta, as opposed to the disjointed statements ritviks have woven together into their fomentation. To see just how ambiguous (at best) they are in comparison to unambiguous, philosophically correct quotes provided here by Gopa Kumar interested parties can read Disciple of My Disciple; An Analysis of the Conversation of May 28th 1977 found here: http://www.iskconirm.com//

      • Unfortunately some people here cannot even admit that there is a controversy concerning the statements they feel are so clear. That is troubling. But the proof of the controversy is again found here http://www.iskconirm.com// where Iskcon gives their interpretation of the few disjointed statements of Prabhupaa on he issue and sides agains the ritivk interpretation.

        So ritivikavada is based on a very questionable interpretation of what Prabhupada has said, one that contradicts earlier unequivocal statements on his desire concerning his succession. It also is not supportable by previous precedent in any sampradaya or Gaudiya/Vaisnava siddhanta, as has been demonstrated here. Thus in the face of this, continued insistence that ritvikvada is valid and was Pabhupada’s desire appears to be more of an emotional appeal than anything else. And while I sympathize with those who feel this way and understand why, there is a spiritually sound solution to their emotional reality that will take time to realize and retire ritvikvada, as on the one hand spiritual leadersconsistently exhibit their qualifications and on the other hand greater spiritual necessity arises in the hearts of those now embracing ritvikavada.

    • Pandu

      All these early statements are interesting to read, and I’ve thought about them plenty over the past few years and found that that they definitely do not prove your point, especially when considered together with other evidence. If a father says he wants his sons to become doctors, it means that he wants them to study and train to complete the requirements and be certified to practice medicine. It is not an unconditional approval for anyone to act above their qualification. Naturally Srila Prabhupada optimistically wanted all his disciples to become well situated in pure devotional service, and he even sometimes used their desire for disciples to entice them to stay in ISKCON, but then in 1977 he said he was still waiting to see someone qualified. As late as October 18, 1977, he was still calling them “deputies,” not gurus. The letter of July 9, 1977, is an official document that he had sent to ISKCON’s leaders all over the world, which spelled out how initiations would be conducted from then on. It established what was not clear before, as is proven by the fact that Satsvarupa had to ask (5/28/77) on behalf of the GBC what to do about initiations after Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance. Srila Prabhupada answered rtvik, and followed up with a written order making it law.

      It does not mean that we have only books to consult. The matter of instruction is siksa, and it’s well established that one can (and generally does) have multiple siksa gurus. Beyond simply reading, one can also understand bhakti through practical engagement in devotional service. It’s hard to believe that getting initiated by an empowered, pure devotee through his authorized representatives, taking guidance from other advanced devotees, studying Srila Prabhupada’s books and audio recordings, and engaging in devotional service is a recipe for spiritual disaster. On the other hand, accepting initiation from someone like Kirtanananda (who also got three initiations from Srila Prabhupada but turned out to be a pedophile) can definitely screw up an aspiring devotee. Who wants it their sacred duty to stand in the hall while his guru maharaj fondles young boys in a locked room? Who wants to have to murder another devotee to protect the false image of his guru? Or in other cases, who wants to have a guru who tries to engage his disciples of either gender to engage in illicit sex with him? It is ridiculous and embarrassing how many guru scandals that have occurred since Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance. All this could have been dramatically mitigated if devotees were allowed to see Srila Prabhupada as their chief connection to the parampara, instead of some bogus guru who abandons his disciples to marry his massage therapist.

      Less than a week ago I was at a festival and talked with an ISKCON guru who was hanging out with his girlfriend (probably about half his age) while his poor wife tagged along some distance away. It’s a scandal I read about a few months ago and was strange to see in person.

      Back to the subject of books… I know many of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples never met him. Most never got to ask him questions directly. Most did not go through a period of mutual examination, etc. With the criteria that supposedly prevents the rtvik system from continuing, these initiations fail the same tests. How are they different from someone like me who did not meet him personally, but who none the less attracted me to aspire for Krishna consciousness and has been my sole inspiration? If someone first joined in 1977 and got initiated via rtvik without ever having met Srila Prabhupada, does his inability to directly ask questions of Srila Prabhupada make him not a disciple? If the ability to have a Q & A dialogue is required for discipleship, then it would follow that none of the devotees with us today can be considered Srila Prabhupada’s disciples, since he’s no longer here to answer their questions. Really, it seems like you folks are just fishing for excuses to be guru yourselves either now or in the future, pointing fingers and bashing rtviks, and not seeing your three fingers pointing back at you.

      • Kula-pavana

        The ritvik system does not solve the central lack of qualification issue. Whether you accept K-swami as a ‘ritvik guru’ or a ‘regular guru’ makes zero difference because he was unqualified to perform either function. Still, he was one of the ‘chosen’ 11, authorized directly by Srila Prabhupada.

        So then the question arises: “How important, or meaningful, is such an authorization?” Out of the 11 SP authorized directly, quite a few turned out to be very poor choices. Thus one may conclude that any such authorization is far from complete assurance that a guru is truly ‘bona-fide’ and you are still forced to rely exclusively on QUALIFICATIONS.

      • Syamasundara Dasa

        It’s hard to believe that getting initiated by an empowered, pure devotee through his authorized representatives, taking guidance from other advanced devotees, studying Srila Prabhupada’s books and audio recordings, and engaging in devotional service is a recipe for spiritual disaster

        Who are these authorized representatives? My understanding is that SP appointed 11 rtviks. Later they all acted as gurus. So, whoever is initiating as rtvik now must have claimed his or her position based on inference or perceived necessity, not SP’s direct order.

        Also:

        but then in 1977 he said he was still waiting to see someone qualified

        That’s the key point, that means that if there had been even just one disciple who was qualified, the whole issue we are discussing now would have never arisen. I’ve read a lot of posts here from pro-rtvik people, and if we were to cross out the parts that refer to the unqualified and disappointing gurus, none of their claims would hold water. The fact that unqualified people were in a position of power is just a contingency. A whole philosophy and process cannot be created based on that when we already have a wonderful process that works, if only devotees applied themselves sincerely. SP didn’t order his disciples to be unqualified, he ordered them, if he ever did, to act as rtviks, because it was the safest thing to do considering the general immaturity of his disciples, but at some point, given that SP is a bona fide carrier of Mahaprabhu’s mercy and that he had explained everything in his lectures and books, someone will or has become qualified. What’s wrong with accepting that?

    • Amara dasa

      Thanks for this nice list of quotes, Gopa Kumara prabhu!

  • Babhru

    KB:

    Your transcription and your understanding are both wrong.
    It should read “who is initiating…… his Grand-disciple”.

    Actually, the transcription is correct. I listened to the recording some time ago along with the transcription. Here’s what’s happening. TKG asks, “The people who they give diksa to, whose disciple are they?” He seems to be asking whose disciples those initiated by his disciples will be.
    Srila Prabhupada replies, “They’re his disciple.”
    TKG: “They’re his disciple.”
    Prabhupada: “Who is initiating. He is granddisciple.” If this were being edited for clarity, we might do so like this: “[Of] who is initiating. He is [our] granddisciple.”

    The sense of this statement that struck both TKG and SdG as clear was likely conveyed through gestures and/or facial expression. This is how I made sense of the exchange, and devotees I’ve discussed it with said they felt it was a reasonable reading. Otherwise, how does the idea of granddisciple even make sense here? I’m quite aware that ritvik true believers will not be persuaded by what I suggest here. I don’t expect them to, I’m not discouraged by their refusal. I don’t dislike them for their refusal, nor do I think they’re bad people, or bad devotees. But I do think they’re mistaken. And, although I prefer not to debate this issue, especially with such true believers, I’m not afraid to point out the problems with their arguments when it’s called for.

    Here’s the thing: If Srila Prabhupada had intended to change what he had taught us over the previous 12+ years, he would have given it the same energy and attention he had just given to the accounts. He would have given unequivocal instructions to that effect. But he didn’t. Even this conversation is muddied by TKG’s bringing in the term ritvik. But Srila Prabhupada instead just sort of moves through the issue rather quickly, apparently relying on the devotees’ common sense, based on what he taught during his preaching career.

    • KB das

      The conversation is questionable because there was obviously a gang of big shot sannyasis there trying to manipulate Srila Prabhupada in to saying what they were trying to force him to say that they were being appointed as gurus.
      They asked him “how will initiations go on after you are no longer with us” and Srila Prabhupada said “I will appoint officiating acharyas” and Tamal asked if that was “ritvik” as Tamal had said that Prabhupada had mentioned earlier that he would appoint some “ritviks” when Tamal first dogged him about it.

      That should have been then end of it.
      Ritvik – baas.
      But no, Tamal and the boys had to keep dogging Prabhupada and it is quite obvious on the tape that they were trying to manipulate the conversation in favor their anti-ritvik position.

      So, anyway, forget the conversation because it was manipulated and distorted in an attempt to confuse Prabhupada’s actual orders.
      What we really have to go on is the official ISKCON document that Srila Prabhupada ordered and signed appointing ritviks and shutting down the power grab for guru that was at a fever pitch with these senior sannyasis when they were trying to manipulate the conversation in question.
      We have a legal document that Prabhupada signed.
      Don’t trust the deceiving conversation of the manipulationists.
      I will take my position on that as opposed to any confused conclusions that come out of that manipulated conversation with Srila Prabhupada where a few men tried their best to defy Srila Prabhupada because they wanted so bad to be guru after his passing.

      • The conversation is questionable because there was obviously a gang of big shot sannyasis there trying to manipulate Srila Prabhupada in to saying what they were trying to force him to say that they were being appointed as gurus.

        Thanks for your mystic insight into their motives. That makes it a lot clearer.

        • Paul Howard

          Their motives were made obvious by their actions as “zonal acaryas.” Behavior follows desire.

          • If you want to read motives into conversations you no longer read them literally. You can not clamor for objective truth on the basis of a literal reading of what SP said in one place and then embrace a subjective reading in another. And to interpret motive is subjective.

            Your logic is lacking here. Some men acted as acaryas because, according to the literal reading of this conversation, that’s what they thought they were supposed to do. The fact that they did it in their particular zones is also natural and to be expected. The fact that the free flow of faith was later obstructed in some zones was of course a problem, but it does not reflect conclusively on the gurus’ motives during this conversation. Indeed, a good part of the reason that this free flow of faith was restricted in some zones (not all) was that the local devotees wanted the devotees they recruited to be initiated by the guru serving in their zone rather than follow their faith that might take them to another zone. Thus they preached heavily to some devotees to accept a the guru serving in their zone.

          • Pandu

            “Some men acted as acaryas because, according to the literal reading of this conversation, that’s what they thought they were supposed to do.”

            Some of them may have thought they were acting properly, but May 28 was not the only conversation Tamal Krsna Gosvami had with Srila Prabhupada on this. Unfortunately there is a curious lack of tapes available from that time period, but what we do have shows that the July 9 document was prepared over a number of days at least, no doubt with Srila Prabhupada saying just what he wanted done.

            It is too much for me to believe that TKG did not know what Srila Prabhupada wanted of him, but yet on Dec. 3, 1980, TKG confessed to having made a big mistake in thinking they were appointed as acaryas. From what I’ve hear about this, the confession was a political maneuver, and he went back to playing the zonal acarya role fairly quickly. I never met TKG, from all I’ve heard from so many devotees, I find it hard to trust him.

          • These men were basically sincere. They were natural leaders and some had a desire to be guru that was not entirely unhealthy, others were a bit over the top in that area. But Prabhupada trusted them and kept himself surrounded by them. He put himself in their hands. So I would not be too quick to criticize them for their motives at the time of this conversation. They did get worse later on, but at this time they were probably at their best. They loved Prabhupada very much and showed that love by their service and sacrifice. Those who criticize them today for things they did later on should keep this in mind. Such persons may have many of the same faults that they did. Note that that none of them are my favorite Godbrothers, and some of them I find repulsive.

            But you don’t want to learn from me. So besides besides all of this, again, to read motive into the conversation is to read it subjectively. And ritvikvada is very much insistent upon objective, literal reading, as evidenced by your own approach demonstrated here on the Harmonist. So you can’t have it both ways: Subjective when it works for your position and objective when it does not.

        • KB das

          But, Maharaja, we know that you were not one of the ambitious sannyasis in question. Tamal drove you out of ISKCON over Sridhar Maharaja and your work as a great preacher and ascetic certainly attracts a certain class of devotee who want an more genuine guru-disciple relationship.

          None of my criticisms of those elite group applies to you.
          We know that Tamal complained to Prabhupada about your being too independent of the GBC authority, but Srila Prabhupada told them to back off because you report directly to him.
          So, that is certainly a special endorsement from Srila Prabhupada.
          You position is perhaps the most solid of any of the sannyasi disciples and your service as guru is certainly needed, warranted and appreciated by many.

          Your views on ritvik are natural, but then again there was nothing natural or normal about ISKCON. It was always a shoot from the hip situation.

          You don’t need to be ritvik. You are doing well in your service to Prabhupada outside of ISKCON.
          It is a noble ideal to salvage ISKCON, though probably not possible considering the mess it is in.

          Besides that “incarnation of book distribution”.
          So, you were empowered by Prabhupada as incarnation of his book distribution. Who ever got that praise?
          So, you were empowered an an avatar of mercy distribution by Srila Prabhupada and he also empowered some others as ritviks and as GBCs to keep his mission alive without all sorts of sectarianism that crops up with this 108 gurus of the ISKCON GBC.

          There are very few who understand the truth about ritvik.
          Even most of the ritvik proponents do not or they would know that the ritvik system was for the GBC to implement and not for multiple renegade disciples to do outside of ISKCON.
          Still, the GBC failures have created these renegade sects of ritviks because factually the GBC dropped the ball on this one and shattered ISKCON into hundreds of sects one of which you have started.

          Srila Prabhupada did not want a splintered, shattered movement. He wanted a strong and unified society free of all the scandal and controversies that the ISKCON GBC system has caused for the last 33 years.

          Only the ritvik system could have prevented this disaster and that is why the ritvik system was established by Srila Prabhupada with direct inspiration from Srila Saraswati Thakur and followed by Srila Sridhar Maharaja.

          Kali-yuga and all, sannyasis falling like flies – the ritvik system was the only hope but it was rejected and the disaster resulted.

          • Sanjaya

            KB:

            “Only the ritvik system could have prevented this disaster and that is why the ritvik system was established by Srila Prabhupada with direct inspiration from Srila Saraswati Thakur and followed by Srila Sridhar Maharaja.”

            I saw this one as one of the core points of emotional approaches on the issue of succession in ISKCON. A simplistic one. Since to attain the qualifications and understand/realize the gaudiya-siddhanta about succession are certainly much more difficult.

  • Gopakumar das

    At this point it feels like all the evidence available has been thrown into the pot. I think that for some individuals the emotional need to accept a variant tradition trumps all reasonable, sastric, sadhu validated, and traditional arguments. Now, the only question that remains for me is, “what is the emotional need that causes such a great distortion?” It must be a deep need and a deep injury to justify such a concoction that will forever alter the substance and potency of Gaudiya Vaisnavism.

    I sincerely ask all ritviks, “Have any sadhakas initiated as Prabhupada’s disciple under a ritvik priest after his passing achieved ruci, rati or bhava? Have any realized their ultimate nature and form in bhajana? The proof is in the pudding.

    On the other hand, Prabhupada disciples who were initiated by him during his manifest presence, initiated under the force of his approval, good will, and volition, have achieved such levels of experience and realization. This is supposed to be our inheritance from our divine lineage.

    • Good points.

      I believe the emotional need arises from the deep injury of experiencing the fall of so many Iskcon gurus. This combined with a deep attachment to Iskcon leaves some in need of distortion. Leaving Iskcon does not register with some as a viable alternative.

  • Gopakumar das

    I saw this one as one of the core points of emotional approaches on the issue of succession in ISKCON. A simplistic one. Since to attain the qualifications and understand/realize the gaudiya-siddhanta about succession are certainly much more difficult.

    Great observation Sanjaya. I think you are right. The wish here is that bad things could have been avoided and this is the way they might have been. It is a magical fantasy that unfortunately is not likely to be true. Bad occurrences, disappointments, and hard work cannot be bypassed. They are part of life and religious life as well. Now these magical fantasies are turned into pseudo-philosophies as a prophylactic for bad things to come. This is just a perpetuation of the same faulty delusion.

    The truth is that we all want to bypass the hard work and ‘get there’ easily and with little pain. But anything worth having is also worth the work. Besides all that, the difficulties and traumas devotees have gone through over the last 30+ years are not in utter vain… many took these bitter lemons and made lemon nectar for Krishna. That is the nature of true surrender. You don’t just try to elevate the status of bitterness and bypass the transformation.

  • KB das

    Maharaja, I was more or less clueless as a rank and file devotee as were thousands of others. You question why it took the ritviks so long to come around with their complaints, but if you remember the GBC had an iron fist control on ISKCON at that time and that power then transferred over to the deputies of Prabhupada. (there ain’t no new sheriff in town, just a lot of deputies)

    Anyway, I remember the moment I became a “ritvik” and it had nothing to do with the fact that I got two ritvik initiations during the Prabhupada era.
    When I joined up with BS Goswami in San Jose, leaving ISKCON for good and all it’s rot and corruption, I asked BS Goswami what he thought was Srila Prabhupada’s wishes concerning the ritvik vs. guru situation and it was his answer that made me a ritvik even though he is not and was not a ritvik.
    When I asked him what Prabhupada wanted, he told me quite honestly that Prabhupada said “don’t change anything after I am gone”.
    He quoted me a couple of occasions where Prabhupada hammered that idea home and drilled Tamal, Hansaduta and some others by asking them “do you understand? don’t change anything after I am gone”.

    Well, that is documented and well known and any of the ISKCON insiders know well that Srila Prabhupada drilled his top men several times with “don’t change anything after I am gone” just before he passed.

    So, for me, that certainly includes the ritvik system. I think that was probably one of the most important things that he was trying to convince them not to change.

    But, what happened?
    Shortly after Prabhupada left there were major changes made to the ISKCON initiation system. The ritvik system was dumped and all the gayatri tapes were ordered destroyed or thrown in the garbage.
    Changes. Big changes.

    So, I don’t call that not changing anything.
    Most certainly that was what Srila Prabhupada was talking about when he told Tamal and the other big guns waiting in the wings not to change anything about the way ISKCON was being conducted.

    So, BS Goswami made me a ritvik even though he hates ritvik.

    “Don’t change anything after I am gone” (Srila Prabhupada) made me a ritvik more than any tape or letter.

    • BTW, I have a copy of the tape of Prabhupada chanting the mantras.

      • KB das

        I have heard of at least 3 or 4 copies still in the possession of some disciples.
        I took my thread off many years ago, but I hope to be fit to put it back on someday in the not too distant future, but it is not extremely important to me anymore.
        The Pancaratrika system is valid, but in Kali yuga the Bhagavat marga is more practical for the masses – hearing and chanting etc. etc.

      • Pandu

        Hey, that’s great news. Personally I’ve never read or heard the Gayatri (except for a few lines) because I don’t consider myself qualified, but it’s good to know that someday I may be able to hear Srila Prabhupada chant it.

        I hope you keep the tape safe, which really means to make copies and spread them around.

  • Audarya-lila dasa

    What is really odd to me is that ‘ritvikvada’ has zero support from sastra – not a single bit of supporting evidence from any of Srila Prabhupada’s books, from any books authored by his Guru Maharaja Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, nothing from Rupa Goswami, Sanatana Goswami, Jiva Goswami, Krsnadasa kaviraja or Vrndavana dasa Thakur. Can’t find anything written in support of it from Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakur, Kavi Karnapura or Locana das Thakur. Nothing to be found anywhere in any of the books written by the sampradaya’s architects. On the other hand there is literally mountains of quotes regarding Sri Guru and the need to accept diksha from a bona fide spiritual master coming in Guru Parampara.

    The entire ritvik ‘doctrine’ rests on the disappointment about unqualified people taking up the role of Guru and a single letter distributed to temple presidents explaining how initations were to take place while Srila Prabhupada was sick and unable to perform the task of even looking over recommendation letters.

    I understand and empathize with devotee’s disappointment over placing their faith in someone less than qualified. However what I don’t understand is why those who are disappointed don’t look deep within themselves to find their resolve to truly embrace Mahaprabhu’s teaching and lineage and move forward to find genuine good guidance. The teaching is brimming over with quotes and directions to find a sadhu – to associate with those who can help you. The need for associating with and learning from advanced vaishnavas is established as an unequivical fact in all of our books. Still, some people think that no one is advanced and that they can’t learn anything from anyone except Srila Prabhupada.

    It is very sad and unfortunate as far as I am concerned. That is why the apasiddhanta needs to be exposed for what it is. Devotees who have a burning innner need to advance in bhakti and make this life useful need the real teaching and need to shown what is a sham and what isn’t.

    The real necessity of all aspiring sadhakas is to find good company and the company of those teaching apasiddhanta is by the very definition not good.

    • Gaura-Vijaya

      But there are many SP disciples who started ritvikvada and not the new ones. What need did they have? They already got a good Guru and now KB has also used SSM as evidence for ritvikvada. Sometimes the reasons don’t seem to be genuine enough either. There is some parallel between Protestant Christianity and ritvikvada as Protestant Christianity was a reaction against Catholic corruption.

    • Pandu

      There is also zero opposition from sastra.

      Not only that, but I’ve yet to hear of any sastric support of the rtivk system that Srila Prabhupada operated during his pastimes here. So really the “not in sastra” argument proves nothing. Srila Prabhupada started a rtvik system, and the claim that it had to stop upon his disappearance is entirely speculative. The rtvik system came into existence under Srila Prabhupada’s order and it was terminated by his disciples without his authorization.

      “Still, some people think that no one is advanced and that they can’t learn anything from anyone except Srila Prabhupada.”

      I don’t know anyone who holds such an extreme view.

      • Babhru

        Pandu:

        “Still, some people think that no one is advanced and that they can’t learn anything from anyone except Srila Prabhupada.”

        I don’t know anyone who holds such an extreme view.

        You’re very fortunate in this. I have met such persons.

        Regarding the “authorization” argument, here’s what Srila Prabhupada has to say:

        Atreya Rsi: How many qualifications does a spiritual master have in
        terms of being a spiritual master?
        Prabhupäda: One qualification: he is a devotee of God. That’s all.
        Atreya Rsi: Also is he designated?
        Prabhupäda: Huh?
        Atreya Rsi: Does he have to be designated by the former spiritual
        master? He has to be devotee…
        Prabhupäda: Oh, yes, oh yes.
        Ätreya Åñi: …surrendered and designated. That is…, identifies
        disciplic succession: both surrender and designation.
        Prabhupäda: And by the result.
        Atreya Rsi: And the result of activity.
        Prabhupäda: So far designation is concerned, the spiritual master authorizes every one of his disciple. But it is up to the disciple to carry out the order, able to carry out or not. It is not that spiritual master is partial, he designates one and rejects other. He may do that. If the other is not qualified, he can do that. But actually his
        intention is not like that. He wants that each and every one of his disciple become as powerful as he is or more than that. That is his desire. Just like father wants every son to be as qualified or more qualified than the father. But it is up to the student or to the son to raise himself to that standard.

    • Bhaktikanda

      *What is really odd to me is that ‘ritvikvada’ has zero support from sastra – not a single bit of supporting evidence from any of Srila Prabhupada’s books, from any books authored by his Guru Maharaja Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, nothing from Rupa Goswami, Sanatana Goswami, Jiva Goswami, Krsnadasa kaviraja or Vrndavana dasa Thakur. Can’t find anything written in support of it from Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakur, Kavi Karnapura or Locana das Thakur. Nothing to be found anywhere in any of the books written by the sampradaya’s architects. On the other hand there is literally mountains of quotes regarding Sri Guru and the need to accept diksha from a bona fide spiritual master coming in Guru Parampara.

      The entire ritvik ‘doctrine’ rests on the disappointment about unqualified people taking up the role of Guru and a single letter distributed to temple presidents explaining how initations were to take place while Srila Prabhupada was sick and unable to perform the task of even looking over recommendation letters.

      I understand and empathize with devotee’s disappointment over placing their faith in someone less than qualified. However what I don’t understand is why those who are disappointed don’t look deep within themselves to find their resolve to truly embrace Mahaprabhu’s teaching and lineage and move forward to find genuine good guidance. The teaching is brimming over with quotes and directions to find a sadhu – to associate with those who can help you. The need for associating with and learning from advanced vaishnavas is established as an unequivical fact in all of our books. Still, some people think that no one is advanced and that they can’t learn anything from anyone except Srila Prabhupada.

      It is very sad and unfortunate as far as I am concerned. That is why the apasiddhanta needs to be exposed for what it is. Devotees who have a burning innner need to advance in bhakti and make this life useful need the real teaching and need to shown what is a sham and what isn’t.

      The real necessity of all aspiring sadhakas is to find good company and the company of those teaching apasiddhanta is by the very definition not good.*

      Sadhu sadhu! Excellent comment Audarya-lila das.

  • Sanjaya

    Pandu Prabhu,

    Regarding the ‘authorization’ argument, I don’t think it’s safe for us to generalize that none of SP’s disciples that act as diksa guru presently were authorized by SP, since there is possibility that they were authorized the way SP authorized by BSST. Here is another risk of embracing ritvikvada. You simply tend to unable to appreciate the advancement of other devotees to a status of diksa-guru.

    Here in Bali, Indonesia, a far away place off from the disaster caused by fallen gurus, the ritvikvada is very impotent. It came for the first time about 7 years ago, embraced by some, but last only for 3 years, or maybe 4 the max. Presently nobody care, believe or pay attention to it.

    • Pandu

      The question of a guru being authorized by a secret or mystical process cannot be totally discounted, but it is also not entirely the same question as Srila Prabhupada continuing to accept disciples. Although I’ve made the point that there is no record of Srila Prabhupada having authorized any of his disciples to initiate as gurus, I’m open to the possibility that it could be done at any time. He did say he was waiting for someone to be qualified, and if he can accept disciples now then he could also authorize gurus (although he instituted a process that pertains to the former but not the latter). If someone believes Srila Prabhupada wants him to initiate disciples and an aspiring disicple has the corresponding faith, then I hope it goes well for them.

      Either way, it does not mean Srila Prabhupada cannot continue to accept disciples too. A grandfather can always have more children if he has the potency to do so, even after his death if he makes certain arrangements; and as a guru, I have no doubt that he has the spiritual potency to continue accepting disciples. In the absence of proof to the contrary, it should be a matter of the aspiring devotees’ personal faith.

      • madan gopal das

        Pandu:

        A grandfather can always have more children if he has the potency to do so, even after his death if he makes certain arrangements

        !!!!!!!!!!!!
        Huh? “Certain arrangements” meaning frozen sperm? Now this is getting really weird. But you bring up a good example which further destroys the ritvik theory.
        A grandfather could have his sperm frozen and after his death have more children. But what is the difference? Number one, Gramps can’t choose his “mate”. Where is the love without relationship? Number two, those poor rugrats will never know gramps and who he was to them, because they never met him! If they are lucky they might be able to hear some stories from the fading memories of his contemporaries. But if the sperm was frozen for say 10,000 years, who knows what version of gramps that ritvik baby will get. Scary thought.

      • Syamasundara Dasa

        and as a guru, I have no doubt that he has the spiritual potency to continue accepting disciples.

        How can you say this after Swami’s post about the purvacarya and current acarya and the position of uttama adhikari/madhyama adhikari? Have you read it?
        We sometimes criticize Christians because they mostly consider God in relation to them on Earth, God as the judge, creator, etc of this world, whereas we are concerned with God when he wants to be himself, with his associates in his realm, but now I see the same attitude applied to SP.
        Clearly you must think/know that Prabhupada entered the nitya-lila, so you think he is concerned with accepting disciples over here? It’s true that Srila Sridhara Maharaja said Vrndavana is a land of gurus, but it is so because everybody there consider themselves as Krsna’s servants. What about SP’s own inner and real life as a soul? We may see him as an acarya, but he only and always considered himself as a servant of his guru and Krsna, serving in the position of guru for as long as it was needed. When Krsna couldn’t bear the separation from Prabhupada any longer, he took him, with his spiritual ideal and fully bloomed type of love, and left us his material form (albeit spiritualized), with that golden complexion, as my gurudeva likes to remember, and all those physical characteristics, for us to worship and pray to. I remember the first time I went to Madan Mohan mandir in Vrndavana, I prayed to Sanatana Goswami for his mercy while paying obeisances, and I felt a very strong potency, but at that time it was Divinity in a generic sense reciprocating with me and that lucky drop of sincerity in me, even if it wouldn’t have been incorrect to say that Sanatana Goswami listened to my prayer and gave me his mercy.
        When Venus eclipses the Sun, it’s not incorrect to say that you looked at Venus and got blinded by its effulgence.
        The whole parampara is in a straight line between Divinity and us.
        They say that marriage is the most important step in life, but initiation the way we know it is a much higher and deeper bond of love, and love takes notoriously two.

      • Syamasundara Dasa

        He did say he was waiting for someone to be qualified

        And that should be sufficient evidence that he believed in the Parampara system and had all intentions to perpetuate it; just he hadn’t found anyone qualified yet. Big deal. I always found the GBC ridiculous in their “appointing” gurus and even more when they revoke the status of guru of someone. A guru is self-effulgent, someone who embodies the teachings and lives in them, the most attentive servant of his own guru, someone who corresponds to the descriptions in the Upadesamrta, and whose sincerity and commitment causes Krsna to blow in his or her sail in the effort of helping others. What is all this emphasis on a formal authorization from the previous acarya? Where do you find that between Baladeva Vidyabhusana, Jagannatha dasa babaji, BVT, Gaurakisora dasa babaji, SBS, and our Prabhupada? Feel free to go all the way back to Madhavendra Puri if you want. It’s important to understand the import of the parampara.

  • KB das

    Here is another point that gets totally over-looked or ignored by the anti-ritvik thinkers. We know Srila Prabhupada installed the ritvik system shortly before his passing. It just seems that Srila Prabhupada would have foreseen that a certain section of disciple would maybe try to continue the ritvik system after his departure if he didn’t outline the expiration circumstances for the ritvik system.
    Srila Prabhupada easily should have thought many times that some of his disciples would want the ritvik system to continue unless and until Srila Prabhupada issues a mandate with an expiration date.

    As thorough as Srila Prabhupada was and he failed to ever say one word to the effect “but do not try to continue this ritvik system after I am gone”?
    Srila Prabhupada didn’t think that he should clarify the matter if in fact it had an expiration date?

    Srila Prabhupada also never issued one order or instruction as to how the new gurus in ISKCON would relate with the GBC in the power scheme of spiritual authority. Again, as thorough as Srila Prabhupada was and he never once mentioned anything? As well, if these men felt they were going to become gurus and not one of them asked Srila Prabhupada how they would relate with the GBC after they become guru?
    C’mon! Gimme a break! I was born during the day but it was not yesterday.

    So, I don’t buy it.
    If Srila Prabhupada would have intended for the ritvik system to stop at his passing as he knew well that there would be lots of confusion after his passing about the ritvik system, he would have said something. We have nothing. Not one word from Srila Prabhupada on an expiration date for the ritvik system in ISKCON. He just never issued any mandate for it being stopped at any time. He never authorized it to be stopped after his passing or mentioned one word about it but on the other hand said several times very strongly “don’t change anything after I am gone”.

    I have no preferences apart from the facts and I think the facts speak volumes about Srila Prabhupada never saying one word or being asked one word about how these “gurus” would relate with the GBC in the power structure after the passing of Prabhupada.

    Outside the cult all the scholars and intellectuals look at ISKCON as a has-been cult that is dying out because of blatant and documented deviations from the acharya’s mandated charter for the society.
    Inside the cult everyone sees through rose-colored lenses and all the little gurus are happy with their little cult of cronies.
    Outside, ISKCON it looks pathetic. Inside ISKCON it is a cult of honesty among thieves and their creed is appalling.

    • A bit of reverse logic there.

    • madan gopal das

      KB:

      As thorough as Srila Prabhupada was and he failed to ever say one word to the effect “but do not try to continue this ritvik system after I am gone”?

      Why do you think he said numerous times that the etiquette is not to initiate disciples in the presence of the spiritual master? The obvious implication is that they will initiate their own disciples after his disappearance. Again, what does disciple of my disciple mean? Ritvik ends at disappearance – it is obvious in so many ways.

      KB:

      Srila Prabhupada also never issued one order or instruction as to how the new gurus in ISKCON would relate with the GBC in the power scheme of spiritual authority.

      Although this is true, it doesn’t lend any credence to the idea that therefore there weren’t going to be gurus. Succession of managerial leadership for a spiritual institution is a very difficult ordeal, one that Prabhupada attempted with a GBC, following the example of BSST. BSST’s mission also had many difficulties switching from one acarya (BSST) to a GBC system and it ended up failing. But nobody concluded that the failure resulted from not keeping BSST as the acarya even after his departure! I guarantee if Prabhupada was the only acarya, and the GBC was his perpetual managerial successor, you would have SO many problems with the decisions the GBC made, and all they would have to say to you is “Prabhupada declared us the managerial authority, we do as we like.” And you would have to eat that! Can’t complain to Prabhupada, but he’s the acarya!!!

      I think it makes much more sense to question whether the GBC system is a viable system for succession, because no matter what, there is going to be difficulty balancing authority roles between a GBC and a multiple gurus. I don’t think it works. Why do you think Srila Sridhar Maharaj didn’t go the GBC route?

      • Why do you think he said numerous times that the etiquette is not to initiate disciples in the presence of the spiritual master?

        Numerous times? I’m aware of only two private letters, one to John Milner (3/24/71):

        So far as your taking initiation from Brahmananda Maharaja, I have no objection, but it is the etiquette that in
        the presence of one’s Spiritual Master, one does not accept disciples. In this connection, Swami Brahmananda
        may write me and I will instruct him.

        and the other to Tusta Krsna Swami (12/2/75):

        But as a matter of etiquette it is the custom that during the lifetime of your spiritual master you bring the
        prospective disciples to him, and in his absence or disappearance you can accept disciples without any limitation.

        For both cases, when taken in context it seems obvious to me that Srila Prabhupada’s intention was to offer a ‘carrot on a stick’ to stop the devotees in question from initiating disciples then rather than to promise them the automatic right to accept disciples in the GV line upon his disappearance. Otherwise why didn’t he make the promise to his disciples in general?

        • Another subjective reading. So intentions do matter, as does context. The literal word is often misleading. Prabhupada may have apparently said one thing but meant something else. Let’s apply that across the board. He said “henceforward” but what he meant was “until he passes away” because that is how the parampara works as evidenced from his direct statements about the nature of paramapara and his desire in this connection that his disciples would initiate in his absence, and traditionally that is how a ritvik works (as opposed to a spiritual successor)–as a priest during a sacrifice representing the present acarya.

          Otherwise, regardless of the fact that he only mentions this twice in letters/conversations, it is a central to Vaisnava decorum. The rule is that in the presence of a one’s guru one should not be very eager to impart instructions, even if one is competent and well versed, and this obviously applies to giving initiation in the presence of one’s guru. Prabhupada refer to this as maryada vyatikrama in his books.

    • Kula-pavana

      KB: “Outside the cult all the scholars and intellectuals look at ISKCON as a has-been cult that is dying out because of blatant and documented deviations from the acharya’s mandated charter for the society.”

      Really? All the scholars are saying ISKCON is dying because of deviations from the acharya’s mandated charter for the society?
      I would like to see some quotes.

      Even during Srila Prabhupada’s presence Iskcon was not at all appealing to general populace. It appealed almost exclusively to counterculture youth. And the 60’s are over, brother…

      Actually Iskcon today appeals to a much broader audience than ever before. And it is not dying. It has more members now than in 1977. And it is more respectable.

      Iskcon problems did not start when SP left this world – but most of them did not fully manifest in his presence. Some problems are still there, but there are plenty of great stories as well. Give credit where credit is due.

  • Babhru

    KB:

    Outside the cult all the scholars and intellectuals look at ISKCON as a has-been cult that is dying out because of blatant and documented deviations from the acharya’s mandated charter for the society.

    This is a gross overgeneralization, which weakens your argument. ISKCON is not what it was, in many ways, and it’s certainly not what we who sacrificed years of our youth would have liked it to be. And it may indeed be a “has-been cult that is dying out.” But to say that all scholars and intellectuals who study the institution see it as such is a fallacious argument. Even one dissenting scholar would make your assertion false. And if you said “most shcolars and intellectuals,” you should be ready to back it up with credible research indicating that 50% + 1 of all scholars and intellectuals outside ISKCON agree with it.

    As I’ve pointed out, I’m often much more interested in how we discuss these issues than in the issues themselves. Carelessly making wild assertions does not strengthen one’s argument.

    • KB das

      Well, you can’t blame me for putting my own spin own it.
      There are several scholars who have supported the ritvik group.
      If you deny that then of course that is not sincere.
      I am not going to dig around for all the names.
      If you really want to hear the other side of the argument then the IRM website is there with all their arguments well documented and some scholars and intellectuals who have offered opinions.
      Do your homework before you take your position. I wouldn’t want to embarrass you in front of all the members here.

      • Gopakumar das

        Do your homework before you take your position. I wouldn’t want to embarrass you in front of all the members here.

        Seems to me like this is exactly what you want to do. But this may not be exactly what you ultimately accomplish doing.

      • Babhru

        KB:

        Do your homework before you take your position. I wouldn’t want to embarrass you in front of all the members here.

        You embarrass me? Perhaps you have such an ambition, but it’s more likely you’ll continue embarrassing yourself. After all, you’re the one who insists on making unsupported assertions. I’ve read the IRM’s stuff, and all the other ritvik groups’ stuff too, and, despite examining it with an open mind, continue to remain unimpressed.

        Moreover, I continue to find these discussions less than interesting. I haven’t seen anything new in years. Vaporize away!

        • KB das

          The unsupported assertions are the assertions that assert that an acharya cannot establish a ritvik system if he so feels the need.
          None of you have showed any shastric support for your claim that an acharya does not have the authority or power to do that. In fact shastra seems to say that the acharya represents Krishna and can do as he sees fit.

          Bhaktivinode explained it nicely in Tattva-sutra:

          “Therefore, when the self-realized devotees ordain any new arrangement, they should be agreed with as a religious code, even if such new arrangements are not found in the scriptural dictums of the previous sages.”

          Here is all the authority I need to accept that Srila Prabhupada’s ritvik system is approved and authorized.

          This dictum of Bhaktivinode is all the philosophical grounds we need to accept the validity of the ritvik system of Srila Prabhupada.

          I am sure others will try to skew some obscure meaning from the text, but the text really speaks for itself.

          This is the gift of Bhaktivinoda.
          Now, we are not locked and chained into dogma and dry neophyte interpretations of parampara.

          • Thereore, when the self-realized devotees ordain any new arrangement, they should be agreed with as a religious code, even if such new arrangements are not found in the scriptural dictums of the previous sages.”

            If something is not found in the scripture that is one thing, but if something contradicts scripture that is another. But that aside you have yet to establish that Prabhupada even wanted a so called ritvik system of succession contradicting the parampara systeem which calls for one after another, much less that he conceived of it as part of his so called master plan, as you claim. And fortunately merely saying something is true over and over does not make it so, although many people think it does.

          • KB has dropped a bomb here. Nice one.

            The anti-rtviks claim that Srila Prabhupada could not have instituted a rtvik system because it’s against sastra or “anti-siddhantic,” but they never provide the quotes that prove it. So it’s an empty argument.

            But now we have a statement from Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, which I’ve never heard but always felt was true anyway, that Srila Prabhupada was not bound by precedent in dealing with an unprecedented situation.

            There may have been talk of a worldwide Vaisnava society before, but Srila Prabhupada created it in the modern world. The gunas are the same, but in many ways the world is very different than it was 500 years ago. The leaders of ISKCON almost all came from upbringings that were grossly degraded by Vaisnava standards, and Srila Prabhupada had only about a decade to train them to take his place.

            Not only does that make a rtvik system valuable as a safe way to keep anyone from getting too big-headed, it also favors the approach that says to look to Srila Prabhupada’s actual orders rather than making one’s own interpretations of sastra and assuming Srila Prabhupada agreed and acted within the boundaries we set for him.

            The latter assumption is discredited by the fact that Srila Prabhupada’s disciples were not big scholars of Vaisnava tradition. He could not assume they would come to any certain conclusion based on sastra and had to tell them what he wanted. The GBC had to have a delegation to ask how initiations should be conducted after Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance because they didn’t know. The consideration of Srila Prabhupada’s audience favors the method of looking to his direct teachings, rather than independently interpreting sastra, to understand his intentions.

            The anti-rtviks say the rtvik system contradicts everything Srila Prabhupada taught previously, but that itself is contradicted by the May 28 conversation. If Srila Prabhupada’s teachings were so definite in supporting the anti-rtviks position, then Satsvarupa would not have asked, and Srila Prabhupada would not have said rtvik in reply.

            It’s almost funny how the anti-rtvik arguments fall apart. First they say Srila Prabhupada didn’t give a rtvik system because it’s against sastra, but they fail to supply any statement from sastra prohibiting it. So then they fall back to saying no one had done it before, and we reply that he could still have done it. Now we see that Bhaktivinode Thakur agrees.

            Once again it all comes down to the fact that Srila Prabhupada created a rtvik system, operated it for years, developed it to where it was to go on without his involvement, said this is how it is to be done from then on. His disciples stopped that and claimed to be the new gurus, all without his authorization. Disaster followed.

            The anti-rtviks would have us believe that just about any warm body sitting as guru means the parampara continues. We want the pure devotee.

          • It’s contradicts sastra because sastra has already delineated the system for succession and ritvikvada contradicts it. It’s called guru parampara. Need I translate this term again for you to demonstrate how ritvikvaa contradicts it? As already pointed out numerous times as well ritvikvad adds nothing. It merely does away with the guru for all intents and purposes, all in the name of having an infallible guru. But this point will be lost on you no doubt.

            Incidentally all anti ritviks do not want to substitue false gurus for real gurus. Some do, but then again all ritviks do with their imagined idea of guru.

            May 28th speaks of guru parampara.

            But you are free to carry on as you like about a master plan of Prabhupada that is not in place now and never will be. It gives its believers a huge excuse for avoiding advanced association. Let me ask what this imagined system is doing for you now? There are no authorized ritvik representatives of SP within Iskcon where the whole system is supposed to flourish. So even if the system was desired, it is not functioning and it looks like it never will, having been declared a heresy within Iskcon. So there is no one to take initiation from Prabhupada via his ritvik anyway, no one authorized by him or Iskcon’s GBC. Meanwhile you acknowledge that there may be representatives of Prabhupada who are actual gurus representing him outside of Iskcon in the traditional parampara system. So by our own admission there are two systems (although I do not agree). But only one is functioning. It of course is functioning while ritvik is not for all of the reasons cited against rivikvada, but even if for argument sake I accept the two systems, only one is in place. therefore sincere devotees should follow the parampara system. And furthermore, why should we argue about the credibility of a system that does not exist anyway?

          • Syamasundara Dasa

            The anti-rtviks would have us believe that just about any warm body sitting as guru means the parampara continues. We want the pure devotee.

            This game works only if by anti-rtviks you only mean Iskcon (past which the world doesn’t exist).
            The moment you have a pure devotee who is anti-rtvik you are going to have to reconsider your position. Catch is, with your system no pure devotee will ever be recognized. What? Does he/she claim to be better than Prabhupada?

  • Alex

    Although the ritvik system is in principle opposed to the essential nature of the disciplic succession, it shouldn’t be considered some dangerous deviation – it can be useful in some circumstances.

    Srila Rupa Goswami has said:- “Somehow or other become Krishna conscious – let the rules and regulations follow”. For some devotees, the concept of ritvik is that somehow or other.

    I am not a ritvik and feel no need to be formally initiated. I have no sastric proof to offer you, but it has been my experience that books have connected me to SP and SSM in a very real way.

    I came across Srila Prabhupada’s books in the early 1980’s. SP was recently departed and Iskon’s GBC was out of control. I left the association of Iskon, disgusted with their activities – but I took with me Srila Prabhuapda’s translation of the Srimad Bhagavatam and a few books of SSM. For the past 30 years I have read those books over and over again and sincerely tried to follow SP and SSM’s instructions.

    On the many occasions I had questions about things I didn’t understand – I would mentally place my question in what I called “Srila Prabhupada’s In Tray” and ask for clarification. The questions were always answered. Some within minutes – some took years for me to understand. Although they are no longer physically present – SP and SSM are very much alive to me.

    SP and SSM’s books have given me everything I need to progress in Krishna consciousness. They have taught me everything I know about KC. They have given me the maha-mantra and they have given me the correct conception of who and what that mantra represents. How can they not be my gurus?

    SP dedicates his Srimad Bhagavatam to his spiritual master with the words:- “He lives forever in his divine instructions and the follower lives with him”.

    Jai Gurudev

    • Please read the books more carefully.

    • Gopakumar das

      SP and SSM’s books have given me everything I need to progress in Krishna consciousness.

      That you know of… but if you read the words of ALL the sadhus in our lineage and the sastra it says that you must surrender to a sadhu and take actual instructions…especially as you progress. I know people want to feel self sufficient… but living people are still needed. Krishna consciousness is a high ideal. Just chanting some rounds and following a few principles is not the goal… it is the means. So unless you have realized all your ideals –in which case I will alter my argument significantly– you will need more in the future.

      They have taught me everything I know about KC.

      To date. You can never know all you need to know about Krishna unless you achieve darsan of him… so maybe have some modesty about what a few books have taught you.

    • Gopakumar das

      You do realize that with Swami B.V. Tripurari you are associating with one of the few sadhus who have been equally influenced by both Srila Prabhupada and Srila Sridhardeva Maharaja? These are very powerful influences and in him they have proven so.

    • Kula-pavana

      Alex: “On the many occasions I had questions about things I didn’t understand – I would mentally place my question in what I called “Srila Prabhupada’s In Tray” and ask for clarification. The questions were always answered. Some within minutes – some took years for me to understand. Although they are no longer physically present – SP and SSM are very much alive to me.”

      Has it ever occured to you that these answers might be coming form Sri Guru? What does Krsna say in Bhagavad-gita? Who is that inner voice? Who gives the knowledge, determination, and understanding of how to come to Him?

      Our gurus are very useful because they are the manifest extension of Sri Guru, but Sri Guru is always there as the root of our learning.

    • On the many occasions I had questions about things I didn’t understand – I would mentally place my question in what I called “Srila Prabhupada’s In Tray” and ask for clarification. The questions were always answered. Some within minutes – some took years for me to understand. Although they are no longer physically present – SP and SSM are very much alive to me.

      Ask them about the importance of being initiated and guided by a guru in their parampara and then see if “their” answer corresponds with everything they have written about this subject.

      • Alex

        I understand the importance of the guru and being guided by him.

        I disagree with the “physically present” representative part. I do not recall either SP or SSM laying any stress on this.

        Certainly SSM has said that physical association with the guru is not of primary importance. SP has also said that being formally initiated is not of primary importance.

        Knowing your respect for SSM, I am surprised at your emphasis on the representative being physically present.

        • Certainly SSM has said that physical association with the guru is not of primary importance. SP has also said that being formally initiated is not of primary importance.

          Knowing your respect for SSM, I am surprised at your emphasis on the representative being physically present.

          You misunderstand what you have read. Both SP and SSM emphasized the importance of being initiated both in their writings and by their examples. At the same time they also emphasized that to identify with the instructions of the guru is more substantial in the sense that to not do so but merely associate personally is a bit of a farce. Where SSM says that mere physical proximity is empty he is also referring to lineages that have no spiritual substance. Merely by connecting physically with a guru that has no realization is spiritually vacuous. This is his point. Similarly SP says on occasion that merely by accepting formal initiation one should not think that their spiritual life is complete. No, one must follow the instructions, the discipline of the guru. Such instructions/discipline are compared to water and diksa to the seed. Without diksa how will you get the mantra?

          As I have commented earlier, to avoid taking initiation from a bonafide guru in the parampara that is currently representing the lineage and think that one can proceed on the bhakti marg constitutes gurur avajna, disrespect of the guru, one of the nama aparadhas. To take shelter of a guru and receive diksa and siksa from him or her are the first three limbs of sahdana bhakti listed by Sri Rupa Goswami. Such gurus are Sri Krsna’s ambassadors and our coming in contact with them is Krsna’s arrangement, guru krsna prasade pai bhakti lata bija. Krsna sends us such a guru and the guru gives the us seed of the bhakti lata. So, again, to disregard such an ambassador is to offend Krnsa, who is non-different from his name.

          Guru is the giver of the name and mantra and the name and mantra are the gifts. First the giver, then the gifts. To have not understood this after reading so many books is evidence of my point. Go to any Gaudiya lineage and this position will be confirmed. Opposition to it exist only in small numbers in and around Iskcon and is tied to the sect’s spiritual failures in the realm of understanding guru tattva, failures that when comprehensively analyzed are themselves tied to Vaisnava and guru aparadha.

          Ask yourself if you would take initiation from SP of SSM if they were here today. Would you? If you would, then you can understand that your resistance to initiation today is not rooted in a philosophical point of the teaching, but rather mistrust of present acaryas that has been generated by Iskcon’s failures and subsequent mundane reasoning and philosophical distortion aimed at addressing these failures. While the clear spiritual and philosophically correct solution is to wade through this present unfortunate environment of suspicion and the suspension it fosters and and find a true representative of the land of faith and go there. In the words of SSM, “Home going requires a home knowing person–sri guru.”

          • Alex

            Such instructions/discipline are compared to water and diksa to the seed. Without diksa how will you get the mantra?

            Srila Prabhupada gave me the maha mantra. He told me the words and he told me how to chant it. From the books, I also have the instructions to water the seed.

            My understanding is that diksa is a process – it starts when someone hears the guru’s advice and instructions. Anyone who has faith in the advice and follows the instructions, or the discipline, outlined by the guru – this person is a disciple.

            Initiate just means to start. The guru who starts you on the path is the initiating guru.

            Ask yourself if you would take initiation from SP of SSM if they were here today. Would you?

            Maharaja – I feel like I already have been initiated by them. It happened years and years ago. If someone tells me this connection isn’t real, I can’t believe it because my experience says different. Experience is more powerful proof than any intellectual position.

            SP and SSM’s influence has completely transformed my life. It’s not something insubstantial that can be disregarded or disrespected. SP once said “My spiritual master was no ordinary spiritual master – he saved me.”

          • Really? Was it Srila Prabhupada who gave it to you or one of his disciples? Who gave you his book? By your logic that person is your guru. Furthermore I was referring to the diksa mantras, not the holy name of Krsna. Prabhupada taught that those who receive the diksa mantra are his initiated disciples. The teaching is that without this mantra one cannot take full advantage of the holy name, krsna mantra haite habe samsara-mocana. krsna name haite pabe krsnera carana.. So there is nama and mantra, and mantra and diksa involves receiving the mantra. Furthermore the guru who starts one on the path is the vartmapdarsaka guru, not the initiating guru. You missed that during your reading. Otherwise you have avoided my question. You are not an initiated disciple of anyone, but these two purvacaryas may be active in your spiritual life in helping you to find a guru and become initiated. That is the teaching, the siddhanta. You are not free to make it up as you go along no matter how it feels to you and this is clearly taught int he books you read. It is not my opinion. You have faith but it is not sastriya sraddha. You simply give your opinion but cannot support it from sastra and no sadhu supports it either.

          • madan gopal das

            Alex:

            Srila Prabhupada gave me the maha mantra.

            Well, technically Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu gave everyone the maha-mantra. Prabhupada was following in Mahaprabhu’s footsteps and liberally distributing it everywhere. In many ways it can be said that the maha-mantra is for everyone and therefore does not require initiation. That is why in Gaudiya matha’s and sometimes in Iskcon you will hear that the real “diksa” is second initiation.
            What you are implying is incorrect. You were not initiated because you received the maha-mantra, you were just a merciful recipient of the maha-mantra’s great expansive outreach. This says nothing about diksa initiation.
            You must be aware of the ancient system of gurus passing on sacred mantra’s by whispering the sound into the right ear of the disciple. Prabhupad also did this for “second” initiation and it requires a living guru. One cannot receive the mantra from the guru after his disappearance. Even when Prabhupada gave “first initiation” he handed people japa beads after chanting the maha-mantra on their beads, thereby giving mantra from his living person. Nevertheless, it is expected that when one shows dedication to chanting maha-mantra, the next step is in taking diksa-mantra initiation. Read Sri Guru and His Grace for a nice description of how harinama and diksa mantra work together. Diksa mantra must be received through diksa, the guru physically reciting mantra to disciple. This diksa definition can’t be construed to just mean “beginning”.
            In our lineage, because the maha-mantra is available to everyone and there are “no hard and fast rules” for chanting it, the giving of diksa mantras (gayatri’s) constitutes the more traditional diksa. But again, even in Prabhupada’s system your argument doesn’t work. The maha-mantra is given at initiation by a living person. One is not initiated just because they hear the maha-mantra. It requires a guru to agree that you are accepted as a disciple and you will cultivate that mantra according to the instructions of gurudeva.

    • Citta Hari dasa

      If you’ve read Prabhupada’s books then you must certainly have come across this verse:

      sruti-smrti-puranadi-
      pancaratra-vidhim vina
      aikantiki harer bhaktir
      utpatayaiva kalpate

      Devotional service to the Lord that ignores the authorized Vedic literatures like the Upanisads, Puranas, Narada-pancaratra, etc, is an unnecessary disturbance in society.
      (BRS 1.2.101)

      All these source texts are what inform us about the path of bhakti; they informed both Prabhupada and Srila Sridhara Maharaja, both of whom took initiation from a guru and later initiated disciples themselves, and both of whom taught that one must surrender to a qualified guru in order to actually tread the bhakti-marga.

  • Syamasundara Dasa

    Funny, I got into a conversation with a rtvik devotee who is somehow friends with me on Facebook about the same time this comic appeared, and while writing him, I got a bit of an epiphany to the fallacy of rtvikvada and how it is a Christian cultural superimposition.
    Here it is:

    I don’t see this conversation going very far. I was speaking of our Gaudiya siddhanta and you keep talking about Iskcon and its problems. Take out the fact that iskcon has unqualified people who served as gurus and we are back to the parampara system, the “uninterrupted disciplic succession” that SP hammered on so much during his whole preaching life that many file and rank devotees really think that our acaryas are one disciple of the other (which is a different point, but proves that SP hammered on the parampara a lot), the one he stems from and the one he meant to perpetuate. Certainly one who is not liberated should not give diksa, who is objecting that? But why should none of Prabhupada’s disciples achieve perfection after receiving his mercy, association, teachings, etc, and perpetuate the parampara, when there are tons of quotes where Prabhupada expresses this desire? It’s nonsense to think: “I am not qualified, don’t think you are either, no one can be qualified ever.” Well, then that is in contrast with saying that by following SP’s teachings without a mutual loving relationship you can achieve salvation and even prema and go back to Krsna. When is that going to happen? Do you think you are going to die still unqualified and then go to heaven, like Christians think, or you are going to become a pure devotee in this body first? Well then you can take disciples at that point!! It’s called parampara.
    As for the other points you wish me well in my endeavors to find an Iskcon guru, so you haven’t even noticed my spiritual name or read my profile to see who my guru is, a disciple of Prabhupada who got 3 initiations from him, read his books many times over, lectures from them and hasn’t fallen down.
    By the way, a pedophile is someone who cannot control his senses, a homosexual can or cannot control his senses as well as a heterosexual and if he can and corresponds to the description of the Upadesamrta, he or she can become guru. You are young and from a developed country, you should understand that. If you feel like debating, you can read this thread where most of the points have been raised already. You will read all kinds of quotes in favor and against rtvikvada, and toward the end, even this conversation. The tone is not the most correct on either side, but you might come out enriched, especially if you read the post by Swami Tripurari about purvacaryas and current acaryas on Aug 2nd.
    http://harmonist.us/2010/07/nectar-of-deviation/comment-page-1/#comment-5981

    • KB das

      That is your opinion, but I would like to point out that you have used no authoritative statements to support your position apart from your personal feelings.
      Are you so sure that you so fully grasp all Vedic and spiritual knowledge that you can with certainty say that the ritvik concept is bogus?
      Well, good luck with that. I think that much confidence is very dangerous and well beyond your personal level of realization.

      I don’t believe that anyone can say with certainty that Mahaprabhu would not honor a ritvik system established by his pure devotee Srila Prabhupada.
      Many respectable Vaishnavas (I am not included) believe in that. I am not so sure that so many devotees can all be that misguided and confused.
      Anyone with that much confidence in themselves is missing something critical to spiritual realization – humility.

      I say that none of these critics are such masters of Vedic knowledge and spiritual knowledge that any of them can claim that a ritvik system is absolutely unacceptable to Sri-Sri Gaura-Nitai.
      Nobody has that much mastery of all things spiritual to say that.
      I call their bluff.
      They only have an opinion.
      It’s not absolute. It’s just the understanding they have based upon the little bit of knowledge they have which is always partial and incomplete.

      Do these people know the entire history of the universe to say that such a ritvik system has no precedent? No, they don’t.
      They only have a small snapshot in time and they want to make absolute proclamations based on that.

      Impossible is a word in a fool’s dictionary said Srila Sridhar Maharaja.

      There is no shastric prohibition against a ritvik system for an acharya. Show me if there is.
      Otherwise, your opinion is not all that authoritative.

    • Gaura-Vijaya

      I agree with you Syamasundara, but I feel that a pedophile may also be able to control his senses as much as homosexual or a hetrosexual can. Only difference is that for pedophiles (like for homosexuals before) unfortunately there is no room to satisfy the push of the senses because they are not in the Gaussian curve of society. I as a hetrosexual male can get away with so many things because my sensual desires conform to the societal and legal norms, but I feel each time I fail to control the senses I am as guilty as a pedophile. A pedophile or homosexual is dealing with their material conditioning and failing to cope with it and I am doing the same. So apart from social conventions, giving into hetrosexual, homosexual or pedophile desires seem similar. The pedophile desires cannot be fulfilled because children cannot have consensual sex and that needs punishment while we hetros and homos can have multiple affairs without breach of law because we can find consensual adult partners. But the problem remains the same, the need to enjoy the senses and everyone needs help to recover from this disease irrespective of sexual orientation.

      • Syamasundara Dasa

        Yes, I take it back. This is not even the right thread for that. I agree with you on pedophilia, but I guess I fell into the same trap and lumped up those who resort to children because they can’t tell on them, and use all kinds of psychological tricks or violence, and those who are simply attracted to very young people.

      • Gopakumar das

        “But the problem remains the same, the need to enjoy the senses and everyone needs help to recover from this disease irrespective of sexual orientation.”

        It is possible that you are correct and that the pedophilic desire might be coming from the same origin, sense enjoyment or sexual hedonism. However, there might be a question as to the intended aim of that pedophilic sexuality. Whereas some sexual aims are linked in with reproduction, intimacy, and regulating a sense of self-in-time, the pedophilic desire may be more linked up with aggressive aims such as being bound to another through abusive and uneven power differentials, and the binding power of sadism rather than love.

  • KB das

    Perhaps the biggest problems with the anti-ritvik position is that it reduces the murtis of Srila Prabhupada in the temples down to plastic statues of no spiritual significance.

    Does anyone here understand what it means when an acharya installs his own murtis in the temples of his mission?
    Obviously not. It appears that nobody understands that the murtis in the temples are functional murtis and they are non-different from Srila Prabhupada.

    The anti-ritviks are iconoclasts. They want to break the Prabhupada icons and put up their own picture in place and say that Prabhupada is dead and gone.

    When Srila Prabhupada authorized murtis to be installed in ISKCON, that established him as the permanent acharya of ISKCON and opened the doors for the perpetuation of his mission after his physical demise.

    Anti-ritviks deny Srila Prabhupada the authority he clearly established in ISKCON with the installation of his living form there as the murti.

    These murtis are not just plastic idols.
    They are living, breathing forms of Srila Prabhupada.

    I feel sorry for the anti-ritvik iconoclasts who decry the power of the Srila Prabhupada Murti that was duly installed in all the majors temples of ISKCON.

    Nope, they say “Prabhupada is dead and gone”.
    We are the gurus now.
    We hold the secret mantras of immortality.
    (bunk)

    • Gopakumar das

      KB, this is the most materialistic understanding of this issue. What you are calling the anti-ritvik I will call the pro-siddhantic. The pro-siddhantic followers who have a murti installed of Sri Guru worship him as the embodiment of Guru-tattva –like the deity– as a merciful manifestation manifested for us to render service. The way you are imagining the murti is that we should utilize it as a wish fullfilling instrument where we yank what we want out of him without his ability to consent or protest. You have created a paralyzed guru instead of an embodiment of Sri Guru for our surrender and service. Furthermore, it is a manifestation and representation of the perfected sadhaka-deha of the guru that help keep us oriented in our highest goal and ambition in the service of Gaura lila.

      I say this for both of us KB, you and I (and anyone else for whom this may apply):
      I know abstract reasoning is not easy for everyone, but we must try to push ourselves to understand more nuanced and sophisticated truths… especially if we know we are prone to more concrete and simplistic understandings of things.

      • I know abstract reasoning is not easy for everyone, but we must try to push ourselves to understand more nuanced and sophisticated truths… especially if we know we are prone to more concrete and simplistic understandings of things.

        If anywhere you would think the vapor would have helped here. But alas.

        • Gopakumar das

          Vapors just make thinking more vague and circumstantial; not abstract. Abstraction requires much capacity for making connections between nuanced dimensions of reality. Potheads; even those who vaporize instead of smoke… are going to make less connections and be more scattered. Albeit with better lungs.

        • KB das

          Maharaja, my experience has been that the intoxication of position, prestige and worship is much more deluding and bewildering than a smoking weed or having a beer.
          Cheers!!

          • Gopakumar das

            KB spews, “Maharaja, my experience has been that the intoxication of position, prestige and worship is much more deluding and bewildering than a smoking weed or having a beer.
            Cheers!!”

            I am not sure at who you are directing this…. I will generously assume not at Swami B.V. Tripurari.

            For some we can see how prestige and position –unearned and unwarranted– can be deluding and bewildering. However, we would never accuse Prabhupada’s power & prestige as a delusion or bewilderment because we consider him to have earned that position and the power & position in his case was earned in regards to his realization and potency. We should be very careful that we do not mistake rasa for a delusion or bhava as a bewilderment in those who possess these. This error would be Vaisnava-aparadha and that is far more unforgivable and bewildering than ganja vapors or LSD.

            Furthermore, how do you explain those who seem deluded by position and prestige who absolutely have no bhava or significant advancement? I think we see plenty of that in us posters.

    • Kula-pavana

      KB: “Does anyone here understand what it means when an acharya installs his own murtis in the temples of his mission?
      Obviously not. It appears that nobody understands that the murtis in the temples are functional murtis and they are non-different from Srila Prabhupada.”

      What is a shastric justification for such murtis? I have never seen even a hint of scriptural backing for this innovation. Yes, there are all kinds of departures from recognized Vaishnava practices in Iskcon, and that is one of them.

  • KB das

    Maharaja, you have translated parampara as “one after another” on a number of writings. I have also looked up the term in the Sanskrit dictionary and this is returns:

    Cologne Digital Sanskrit Lexicon: Search Results
    1 parampara mfn. one following the other , proceeding from one to another (as from father to son) , successive , repeated MBh. Sus3r. ; (%{am}) ind. successively. uninterruptedly VPra1t. ; m. a great great-grandson or great-grandson with his descendants L. ; a species of deer L. ; %{-tas} ind. successively continually , mutually W. ; %{-bhojana} n. eating continually L.
    2 paramparA f. an uninterrupted row or series , order , succession , continuation , mediation , tradition (%{-rayA} ind. by tradition , indirectly) MBh. Ka1v. &c. ; lineage , progeny L. ; hurting , killing L. ; %{-prA7pta} (Bhag.) , %{–yAta} (%{-rA7y-} Var.) mfn. received by tradition [587,2] ; %{-vAhana} n. an indirect means of conveyance (e.g. the horse which draws a carriage) L. ; %{-sambandha} m. an indirect conjunction Pa1n2. 8-1 , 24 Sch.
    3 pArampara mfn. further , future (world) Ka1d.

    So, if we look at the principal and initial meanings it says “one following another” amongst other things.
    So, parampara does not strictly mean “one after another” but “one following another”.

    So, the parampara is about following the right line of thought. If the right line of thought is there, then the connection to the parampara and the Holy Name is legitimate.
    Srila Sridhar Maharaja talked himself blue in the face about the siksha guru parampara. The Saraswata Gaudiya parampara is about substance of the ideals.
    We can’t rob future devotees of their ideal to follow and serve Srila Prabhupada. That would be a big mistake. It is exactly like telling a Christian they can have no connection to Jesus because they didn’t know him directly as a disciple. True or not true, we are not allowed to disrupt the minds of the neophytes struggling along with their limited understanding.

    You don’t have to be an initiated disciple to go back to Godhead.
    That is required if you want to become the next generation of career preacher, but not if you just want simple spiritual devotion in your own life.

    Let me demonstrate:

    This is the result of sādhu-sańga — consequent association with Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and promotion back home, back to Godhead. This result is possible even for a dog, by the mercy of the Vaiṣṇava. Therefore, everyone in the human form of life should be induced to associate with devotees. By rendering a little service, even by eating prasādam, what to speak of chanting and dancing, everyone can be promoted to Vaikuṇṭhaloka. It is therefore requested that all our devotees in the ISKCON community become pure Vaiṣṇavas, so that by their mercy all the people of the world will be transferred to Vaikuṇṭhaloka, even without their knowledge. Everyone should be given a chance to take prasādam and thus be induced to chant the holy names Hare Kṛṣṇa and also dance in ecstasy. By these three processes, although performed without knowledge or education, even an animal went back to Godhead.

    Antya 1.32 purport

    So, I like this idea. Everybody doesn’t have to join the cult and become the next acharya and jagat guru. Some of us are just simple bystanders to the whole cult spectacle.

    • Now you need to look up the word “following” in the English dictionary and put the correct meaning of it together with the definition of parampara. You have misunderstood what “one following the other” means. Here “following” means coming after. But I can’t believe I would have to write this out. The rest of you post is equally absurd. Good luck.

      • KB das

        Maharaja, you have given the definition of “following” as it is used as a noun. But, in “one following another” the word “following” is used as an adjective and therefore your definition technically does not apply.

        Let’s look it up….

        fol·low·ing
           /ˈfɒloʊɪŋ/ Show Spelled[fol-oh-ing] Show IPA
        –noun
        1.
        a body of followers, attendants, adherents, etc.
        2.
        the body of admirers, attendants, patrons, etc., of someone or something: That television show has a large following.
        3.
        the following, that which comes immediately after, as pages, lines, etc.: See the following for a list of exceptions.
        –adjective
        4.
        that follows or moves in the same direction: a following wind.
        5.
        that comes after or next in order or time; ensuing: the following day.
        6.
        that is now to follow; now to be mentioned, described, related, or the like: Check the following report for details

        So, one following another means:
        4.
        that follows or moves in the same direction

        That is how I read it.
        But, I know you disagree.

        • Syamasundara Dasa

          You are either desperate or you plain don’t know grammar. You sound like you are not American, but this level of grammar is common to many languages.

          It’s neither a noun, nor an adjective, but a verb in the gerund. It just means “one that follows (comes after) another.”

        • Babhru

          Jeez, you’ve embarrassed yourself again. Good grief–even if your adjective reading were correct, you deliberately picked the one that defies the plain meaning. Keep trying, Sparky.

        • Babhru

          You seem to be picking at imaginary nits. Let’s look again at your assertion that parampara means “one following another,” rather than “one after another.” That claim betrays either limited intelligence or limited honesty. In fact, the two are synonymous, and you may even find “one after another” in another dictionary, such as Monier-Williams or Apte. (My M-W is elsewhere, or I’d look it up.) After all, “one after another” is the translation used by other scholarly devotees elsewhere.

          Moreover, let’s take a look at the definitions you give from the Cologne online dictionary. It gives “one following the other, proceeding from one to another (as from father to son), successive” as meanings. Proceeding from one to another and successive mean precisely one after another.

          One more thing: If we examine the transitive verb follow, we find the following (ahem!) definitions: “1. to come after in sequence, order of time, etc2. to go or come after; move behind in the same direction.” (Emphasis added.) These comport exactly with the plain meaning of “one after another” or “one following another.”

          Any honest understanding of the word parampara, especially by a disciple who claims to have accepted the guru-paramapara, should follow the understanding given by the previous acharyas. Plain and simple.

          • Babhru

            It just struck me that the fourth sentence is ambiguous and may mean that limited intelligence and limited honesty are synonymous. They’re not, and that’s not the point I intended to make. I meant, of course, that “one following the other” and “one after another” are synonymous. I apologize for any confusion.

  • KB das

    Another deviation I see in ISKCON has to do with the failure to observe proper Vaishnava etiquette as outline in Hari-bhakti-vilasa of Sanatan. ISKCON blatantly disobeys Srila Sanatan Goswami who established that in the Gaudiya order the junior Vaishnavas always defer to the senior Vaishnavas when it comes to the matter of diksha within the sect. Srila Sridhar Maharaja elaborated on that and explained it as planting an inferior seed when better seed is available.
    So, ISKCON violates all sorts of Gaudiya law as codified by Sanatan Goswamin in Hari-bhakti-vilasa.
    In ISKCON junior sannyasis are accepting disciples while senior Vaishnavas are available.

    Srila Prabhupada stated “senior sannyasis can initiate”.
    So, along with the ritvik system he said “Senior sannyasis can initiate”.

    So, that should be the ISKCON standard. Senior sannyasis could be determined as those sannyasis who took sannyasa directly from Srila Prabhupada and junior sannyasis are the ones that took from them.

    So, when it comes to ISKCON, Srila Prabhupada clearly limited the taking of disciples to the senior sannyasis. ISKCON has a free for all of gurus now. Many junior devotees are taking disciples in the presence of senior sannyasis.

    So, ISKCON’s bogus, aparadhi guru system that violates the mandates of Srila Prabhupada and the Goswamis is worse than useless it is very harmful to ISKCON and putting the institution in further jeopardy of total loss of credibility.

    • Citta Hari dasa

      Seniority in terms of time as a practitioner and in terms of realization are not the same. One can be a long-time practitioner and still be a complete neophyte. As we see. And one can come later but with much deeper samskaras and progress rapidly and so become qualified; i.e., senior, to those who are senior from a formal perspective. This point has been illustrated by Mahaprabhu himself when he asked the father and son which one was the senior and the father replied that his son was.

  • KB das

    Swami says:

    So by our own admission there are two systems (although I do not agree). But only one is functioning. It of course is functioning while ritvik is not for all of the reasons cited against rivikvada, but even if for argument sake I accept the two systems, only one is in place. therefore sincere devotees should follow the parampara system. And furthermore, why should we argue about the credibility of a system that does not exist anyway?

    Well said.
    But, you should understand that there are a class of individuals out there who will be promoting ritvik and fighting to get ritvik back in ISKCON as long as ISKCON exists and there are any remaining Prabhupadites left on the planet.
    It’s their duty to fight for ritvik.
    So, therefore they keep doing it.

  • KB das

    Well, it just seems to me that if we are going to make this Pancaratrika-vidhi the absolute rule with it’s formal diksha program, then we must also follow it’s dictum that only grhasta brahmins can then give out diksha, because according to Srila Prabhupada that is the actual standard of Pancaratrika-vidhi.

    So, why are these fancy silken Swamins all over ISKCON giving diksha?
    Why does Swami Tripurari give diksha when in fact the Pancaratrika-vidhi states that only the grhasta brahman can give diksha?

    So, there again, the whole Gaudiya tradition is unique and does not strictly follow Pancaratrika-vidhi but only takes that which is useful for it’s purposes.

    Anyway, Panactrika-vidhi says only grahasta brahmins can initiate.
    So, all you strict follower of that system need to obey that now.

    These formal temple initiations are all part of the Pancaratika-vidhi system that was not even used during time of Mahaprabhu. The spiritual diskha of Mahaprabhu did not involve temple ceremonies. Mahaprabhu and many of his followers initiated many millions of people into the Holy Name of the Lord simply by their chanting.

    These fancy formal temple initiations is another new invention. This was not the standard of the Goswami tradition. It it all evolved later as the Gaudiya cult developed an orthodoxy as a response to the smarta dominance in Hindu society.

    We can get back to the real thing and leave out all these modern inventions that were oriented towards the smarta society of the time.

    • Let me make one point to you. There is nothing more important in one’s spiritual life than receiving initiation form a realized guru other than subsequently following his or her instructions. Your gate crashing distortions of the precepts of the Goswami’s is a product of your disillusionment with Iskcon’s failures and your pot smoking. You are not helping anyone with these distortions. Get your head on straight and encourage others to find a proper guru like you did.

      adiksitasya vamoru krtam sarvam nirarthakam
      pasu-yonim avapnoti diksa-virahito janah

      “‘Unless one is initiated by a bona fide spiritual master, all his devotional activities are useless. A person who is not properly initiated can descend again into the animal species.” (Visnu-yamala cited in Hari-bhakti-vilasa 2.6)

      ato gurum pranamyaivam sarva-svam vinivedya ca
      grhniyad vaisnavam mantram diksa-purvam vidhanatah

      “‘It is the duty of every human being to surrender to a bona fide spiritual master. Giving him everything—body, mind and intelligence—one must take Vaisnava initiation from him.'”(Hari-bhakti-vilasa 2.10)

    • Babhru

      KB:

      Well, it just seems to me that if we are going to make this Pancaratrika-vidhi the absolute rule with it’s formal diksha program, then we must also follow it’s dictum that only grhasta brahmins can then give out diksha, because according to Srila Prabhupada that is the actual standard of Pancaratrika-vidhi.

      So, why are these fancy silken Swamins all over ISKCON giving diksha?
      Why does Swami Tripurari give diksha when in fact the Pancaratrika-vidhi states that only the grhasta brahman can give diksha?

      Once again you’ve embarrassed yourself with either a paucity of honesty or a paucity of intelligence. (Then again, maybe it doesn’t embarrass you.) You should know quite well Mahaprabhu’s dictum on accepting Ramananda Raya (not a brahmana) as a siksa guru:

      kiba vipra, kiba nyasi, sudra kene naya
      yei krsna-tattva-vetta, sei ‘guru’ haya

      Regardless of one’s status in varnashrama, someone who actually understands the science of Krishna consciousness, even if he’s a sannyasi (which we see from reading Srila Prabhupada’s purport), is fit to serve as guru.

      Such disingenuous “argument” does nothing to advance the discussion or to advance anyone’s understanding of the issue at hand. Your perspective is no doubt clouded by your own history of deviating from the practices and conclusions given by our acharyas, indeed by Mahaprabhu himself. The process of sadhana bhakti he describes to Srila Sanatana Goswami has as its very foundation taking shelter of the spiritual master, accepting initiation from him, serving him, and inquiring from him about spiritual life:

      guru-padasraya, diksa, gurura sevana
      sad-dharma-siksa-prccha
      . . .

      Again, you should know this. But you’d rather bicker. How tiresome. Heck, even Pandu seems to have withdrawn, apparently having lost either interest or patience, or simply because he has other things to do.

      • Gaura Vijaya

        That is his idea that you keep on responding to him and waste your energy and time on him.

        • Babhru

          I think he just likes attention. 😀

          • Kula-pavana

            That may be so, but I have seen over the years that he takes to heart good arguments and modifies his views accordingly. I have seen him change and evolve for the better. He is serious and sincere. I can respect that.

          • madan gopal das

            I have seen over the years that he takes to heart good arguments and modifies his views accordingly.

            Don’t tell me we’re going to have to wait years for him to modify! This has officially gotten old for me. I pray that he’s just playing a last chance desperation game of devil’s advocate, because the stuff he’s coming up with lately is certifiably WEAK and when direct quotes what to speak of sastra-yukti (scripturally guided logic) are offered in response it doesn’t penetrate that stubborn front. It is ridiculous, and I’m personally bored.

        • Pandu

          KB has made a lot of very good arguments and a few weak or poor ones. What it seems to come down to in my view is whether one thinks Srila Prabhupada had the ability to institute a system whereby he could continue accepting disciples, or not. If you think not, then you’re going to take the evidence with that prejudice. KB has given proof from Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur that Srila Prabhupada could do it, so as far as I’m concerned the matter is settled. I just don’t have the time to go over it again and again.

          • Well I could not disagree with you more, but at any rate the ritivk system you so desire does not exist. You seem to have neglected this point.

          • Babhru

            Pandu:

            What it seems to come down to in my view is whether one thinks Srila Prabhupada had the ability to institute a system whereby he could continue accepting disciples, or not.

            What it comes down to is whether Srila Prabhupada did institute a system for perpetual ritvik initiations. There is no compelling evidence, nor even any good evidence, that he did. Some of KB’s arguments seem good to those who already agree with his conclusion (whatever that may be). Some here have pointed out their weakness with a clarity only the blind could miss.

      • KB das

        Actually, you are comparing apples and oranges. Nice try, but it won’t work.
        The diksha that Mahaprabhu was referring to was the Bhagavat diksha obviously because a sudra cannot give anyone Gayatri mantras.
        You are trying to say that Mahaprabhu was referring to Pancaratrika-diksha and saying than any sudra devotee can give Gayatri mantra.
        You guys have the most lame arguments.
        Come back when you have a real argument. That one won’t fly.

        Mahaprabhu was saying that any sudra who can tell you the science of Krishna is a Bhagavat siksha guru.
        He wasn’t saying that sudras can give Pancaratrika-diksha.

        • Mahaprabhu was saying that any sudra who can tell you the science of Krishna is a Bhagavat siksha guru.
          He wasn’t saying that sudras can give Pancaratrika-diksha.

          Your statement contradicts Prabhpada’ purport on the verse you refer to:

          “Srila Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvati Thakura also states that although one is situated as a brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya, sudra, brahmacari, vanaprastha, grhastha or sannyasi, if he is conversant in the science of Krsna he can become a spiritual master as vartma-pradarsaka-guru, diksa-guru or siksa-guru.”

          Your entire position here is nonsense. We follow Prabhupada. I don’t know who you are following. The diksa we give is the same diksa that Prabhupada gave, the same diksa that Sridhara Deva Goswami gave etc. Call it whatever you like. It’s the one you say people don’t need. The one you received and cherish. Again, you are not helping anyone here and there is something very real at stake.

          • KB das

            Wait a minute here. That was wrong. There is no way a sudra can give anyone Pancaratrika-diksa or gayatri mantras. You are totally wrong in your assumption.
            No sudra can give Pancaratrika-diksha as a Brahmana because the sudra is a sudra unless the sudra becomes a brahmana and then he is not sudra anymore and then can give Pancaratrika-diksha only after the sudra becomes a brahmana.
            You keep trying have it both ways.
            If the sudra is giving Pancaratrika-diksha then he is not a sudra anymore and thus does not apply to what Mahaprabhu said about a sudra becoming guru.

            Good Lord Babhru. Mahaprabhu was talking about siksha-guru being the sudra not Pancaratrika-diksha.
            He can’t give it if he doesn’t have it.

            You guys will do anything to try and win an issue with false arguments devoid of siddhanta.

        • Babhru

          KB:

          Mahaprabhu was saying that any sudra who can tell you the science of Krishna is a Bhagavat siksha guru.
          He wasn’t saying that sudras can give Pancaratrika-diksha.

          Okay–now you’re just making stuff up. It may be possible to infer that Mahaprabhu meant only siksa guru, except that the evidence shows otherwise. In fact, Mahaprabhu does not qualify guru in any way. Moreover, as Swami points out, Srila Prabhupada explicitly says that it is inclusive of all kinds of gurus. Did you miss that?

          You’re the one who’s trying to have it both ways (or any number of ways) by constantly shifting the focus of the discussion. We’ve argued the same point without wavering. Now you try to assert it’s about pancaratrika diksa, or silken-swami diksa, or whatever. But cuteness is not persuasive, except from toddlers. I’ve been trying to figure out whether you’re engaged in arguing from ignorance, or in equivocation. Maybe it’s just some sort of fusion that results in nonsense. Get back to me when you actually have an argument.

  • KB das

    I teach that in Srila Prabhupada’s Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita, that it says that the siksha and the diksha gurus are equal manifestations of Krishna.
    So, if one does not have his all-official diksha guru but has a real acharya siksha-guru, then that siksha guru is equal to any diksha guru. He can worship the acharya and attain all qualification in an institution based upon service to the acharya and his chain of authority and chain of command.
    One must have guru. But, that guru can be a siksha guru because the siksha guru is equal to the diksha guru and equally capable of delivering spiritual salvation to the follower.

    This is my level of teaching.
    Politics do not own me.

    • You need to read more or under good guidance. The two are equally manifestations of the Godhead but their functions differ. But if one has a qualified siksa guru to guide him, no problem. That siksa guru will become his diksa guru as well. But enough. Again, you are not helping anyone and your arguments are disjointed and not in pursuit of siddhanta.

  • Gopakumar das

    Gurumaharaja & other posters,

    You are all being very generous. I wish that my patience continued to allow my generosity to flow like yours does. Unfortunately, I am not advanced and I say, ‘the hell with it’.

    I think Alex is making his point very clear and everyone who agrees with him as well. He wants to chart his own course, do it himself with his fictionalized initiations, submissive to a generalized guru principle rather than submissive to a living sadhu (with all their “you must change” stuff). This is a dynamic that paradoxically needs to be dealt with by him alone… allowing himself to surrender to a current sadhu. He will have to see how his own system (not an uncommon one in the bigger institution) will help him advance. Of course, many people in the contemporary Gaudiya Vaisnava world consider anartha-nivrrti the highest ideal for a “pure devotee”. I cannot tell you how many times i’ve heard it. So in that sense… he might become advanced.

    It is also possible that some devotees are not intelligent enough to understand siddhanta…so they may ignore it. Remember, the average IQ is 100, because it is the most frequent IQ. Unfortunately, resisting siddhanta causes distortion.

    • KB das

      My experience here is that there is too much anti-ritvik mentality for this web site to be called “Harmonist”.
      With all this vitriol and vengeance on here I think that maybe you should change the name to “Disharmonist”.
      You people don’t want to live and let live.
      You have a Holy War going on against the “ritviks” and it looks really silly.

      • madan gopal das

        “Vitriol”? “Vengeance”? “Holy War”?
        zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Please, wake me up when KB tries a technique other than silly argument or “the anti-ritviks are meanies”. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

      • Nitaisundara

        KB, this discussion would have been long finished were it not for your unending ground-shifting and convoluted arguments.

        But more importantly, you miss the idea of the Harmonist. True harmony only exists on the basis of reality, that is why it is said everything is harmonized in Vrindavan, the ultimate reality. What that means for a Gaudiya practitioner is that harmony should be made on the basis of siddhanta. You tell us to “live and let live.” Does that mean we should not speak out against the philosophy of Advaita-vada, or against other religious people who refuse to “live and let live”. I don’t think you mean that. Did Bhaktisiddhanta’s original Harmonist publication have as its goal “live and let live”?What you are really saying is that this site should have the same opinion as you do regarding rtvik (but really, regarding everything) and then it would be ok to not let certain groups “live” because we would be doing so in accordance with your own view point.

        Sure, we can “let live”, but first we must understand what it means to live and how to do it, and in the process of doing so, imaginary doctrines such as rtvik will have to be discarded. So really, a site like this could be thought of as one that “lives and helps live” through the propagation of Gaudiya siddhanta and its dynamic application in our lives. If you don’t want to live here, there are no locks on the door.

      • Gauravani dasa

        Oh, c’mon KB! You’ve admitted to heavy usage of LSD in the past and have a surprisingly large amount of knowledge about current cannabis usage trends. You also misread and misunderstand what has been written and are unable hold a strong line of reasoning. You discredited yourself long ago.

      • Gopakumar das

        We will NOT HARMONIZE with RITVIK pseudophilosophy! It is a boil on the body of our tradition, born of toxicity, and its poison needs to be drained!

        Those who support it will always consider themselves above the designated system and it is just another example of the mistaking of something temporary for something eternal! You claim faith in god and Sri Guru, maybe even more than others, but you spit on the teachings of all the manifestations of Sri Guru of our line and twist whatever meaning you want out of their words. If this falsity thrives it will destroy the exalted reputation of Srila Prabhupada!

        • Yes, unity for what is the question—rupanuga viruddhapa siddhanta dhvanta harine.

        • Pandu

          The GBC representatives probably thought the same thing when they asked Srila Prabhupada how initiations would be conducted after his disappearance, and he replied that he would appoint rtviks.

          But you guys can keep putting up articles picking fights by mocking the rtviks along with others poking at other religions for being sectarian, and thinking yourselves transcendental to the quarrel and hypocrisy influences of Kali Yuga. lol.

          • There are no ritviks. The ism does not exist, nor did it ever. At no time after SP’s departure has this ideology been in place as it is conceived of by its advocates. Granted one may continue to hope it will one day be alive, but there may be good reasons why it has not been to date. If it were Prabhupada’s will, that does not ay much for the power of his will. Whereas if it were his will that he would be succeeded by another acarya, there is every reason to believe that this desire of his, one that he made well known and is indisputable, has been realized. Pujyapada Sridhara Deva Goswami is of course the first in the line of those who in substance succeeded him in terms of tendering spiritually to the international community he spawned. He has quite and endorsement from SP as well:

            We are very fortunate to hear His Divine Grace, Om Visnupada Paramahamsa Parivrajakacarya Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Maharaja. By age and by experience, in both ways, he is senior to me. I was fortunate to have his association since a long time, since perhaps 1930. At that time he had not accepted sannyasa, but had just left home. He went to preach in Allahabad, and on that auspicious occasion we were connected. Sridhara Maharaja lived in my house for many years, so naturally we had very intimate talks. He has such high realizations of Krsna that one would faint to hear them. He was always my good advisor, and I took his advice very seriously because from the very beginning I knew that he was a pure devotee of Krsna. So, I wanted to associate with him. Krsna and Prabhupada, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, liked him to prepare me. Our relationship is very intimate.
            After the breakdown of our spiritual master’s institution I wanted to organize another institution making Sridhara Maharaja the head. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura told me that Sridhara Maharaja is one of the finest preachers of Krsna consciousness in the world, so I wanted to take him everywhere. This was my earnest desire. But since he could not go around the world and preach, at least the people of the world should come to hear from him.
            For spiritual advancement of life we must go to someone who is actually practicing spiritual life. So if one is actually serious to take instructions from a siksa guru, or B.R. Sridhara Maharaja. I consider Sridhara Maharaja to be even my siksa guru, so what to speak of the benefit that others can have from his association.

    • Pandu

      Gopakumar Prabhu,

      If you’re going to talk about IQ, it may be a good idea to look up the terms you’re using to make sure they’re correct. The average IQ is 100 by definition. It has nothing to do with whether or not it is the most frequent score. Also, the most frequent score is called the mode, not the average (mean), though in a standard bell curve they would be the same value or close.

      • madan gopal das

        uh oh, you done mess with the wrong psychologist…

      • Gopakumar das

        I do psychological assessment for a living and am a doctor of psychology. The average IQ is such because it falls in the middle of a normal curve (meaning the most frequent scores) and is differentiated by standard deviations from the norm. Thanks for the ‘education’ which I am sure you are qualified to give me.

        • Paul Howard

          Doctor or not, your statement about IQ was wrong on two fronts, which came across as somewhat of a blunder.

          “Some researchers believe that modern education has become more geared toward IQ tests, thus rendering higher scores, but not necessarily higher intelligence.[80] As a result, tests are routinely renormalized to obtain mean scores of 100, for example WISC-R (1974), WISC-III (1991) and WISC-IV (2003). This adjustment specifically addresses the variation over time, allowing scores to be compared longitudinally.”
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligence_quotient

          In other words, the 100 score is the arbitrarily assigned mean score, and happens to also be the mode due to the measurement following a normal bell curve.

          Also, in case you were suggesting that I cannot understand siddhanta due to a low IQ, I’ve tested at about 142 a few times. Of course, that’s material intelligence. I let my Mensa membership lapse a few years ago because I was tired of so much atheistic association with them.

          • Gopakumar das

            You do not understand your own quote. This is turning out to be a pattern here. But what is the point in explaining anything to you? You have no desire to change your mind. You just become more entrenched the more someone discusses with you.

            So basically, you do not need guidance on all fronts. No sadhu can give you more than you can give yourself with books, no education renders someone more knowledgable than you, and you will be chanting yourself into transcendence. It sounds like you’ve got it all under control. Good luck.

            These debates are petty and they only breed more pettiness. I am clearly not above it. I used to think I was, but I was able to realize my limitations and accept further guidance. Now I know…for a fact… that I know very little.

          • Gauravani dasa

            Also, in case you were suggesting that I cannot understand siddhanta due to a low IQ, I’ve tested at about 142 a few times.

            Too much intelligence is also an impediment to sudha-bhakti. It’s called jnana-misra-bhakti.

          • Pandu

            “You do not understand your own quote.”

            I call B.S. Proove your point; don’t just claim you know. Now Gauravani is suggesting I may be too smart to get bhakti. You guys are obviously just sticking to your conclusion and trying to support it by throwing out anything that comes to mind whether it makes sense or not.

            The quote I gave yesterday said that IQ results are typically adjusted to achieve a mean score of 100.

            I could just as easily have taken the same fact from numerous other sources. For example:

            “It compares people of the same age or age category and assumes that IQ is normally distributed, that the average (mean) is 100 and that the standard deviation is something like 15 (IQ tests sometimes differ in their standard deviations).” (http://www.iqcomparisonsite.com/IQBasics.aspx)

            That one says an IQ test “assumes” the average (mean) to be 100, which is practically the same idea I presented before.

            Or we could go here: http://iq-test.learninginfo.org/iq04.htm

            “The average IQ is by definition 100…”

            These are all statements taken from pages ranking near the top of a search for “IQ 100” (without quotes) on Google. Before you presented the “most frequent IQ” as the basis for the 100 score (which doesn’t even make sense), I’ve never heard anything other than 100 as an arbitrary number defined as the average IQ.

            How can we ever hope to get anywhere on the rtvik subject when you can’t even admit a mistake or give support for your idea (beyond boasting a PhD) on such a simple, mundane topic?

  • Babhru

    Vitriol and vengeance? What a silly remark. You say that those who maintain this site don’t want to live and let live. But what are they doing? They’re giving you a platform for garnering attention and sharing whatever is passing through your mind. Your complaint really boils down to the uncomfortable fact that not many who participate here are impressed by your illogical prattling.

    Live and let live does not mean “it’a all good,” as some people are prone to say. As Nitaisundara says, the site has a specific purpose, and there was never any secrecy about that. If it doesn’t suit you, perhaps you would be well served to find some place where you’re more comfortable.

  • Paul Howard

    I just saw that the IRM web site has a new rebuttal to one of Swami Tripurari’s articles:

    http://www.iskconirm.com/docs/webpages/tripurari_speculations.html

    I see that Krishnakant has exposed several fallacies in Swami Tripurari’s arguments. I wonder if there will be any reply on those points.

    The issue of “begging the question” comes up a lot with Swami Tripurari’s arguments. He says “It’s against siddhanta,” but that has not been proven at all.

    He says, “Everything guru says has to be supported by sastra,” but of course what that really means is that the self-appointed gurus should compare what Srila Prabhupada said against their view of sastra, and if they disagree with him then their idea is the siddhanta because dead gurus can’t argue. “Sastra is what I say it says, not what my guru said.” On the other hand, the ‘rtviks’ leave it to the Founder-Acarya to say what sastra means or does not mean.

    • It’s not “new” by any stretch. It’s many years old and it has been refuted herein again and again.

      On the other hand, the ‘rtviks’ leave it to the Founder-Acarya to say what sastra means or does not mean.

      They do? I think it has been demonstrated here gain and again that they interpret his words to suit their premise. Now you consider yourself a bright person. Perhaps you could reflect on that at get back to us. Otherwise I think others may doubt you intellectual abilities. I do not say this to insult you, but rather because it just seems that you are missing things that have already been addressed and speaking as if they have not.

      • Gopakumar das

        That rebuttal is a sad, sad, distraction from proving their position. It is a whole page of, “I’m rubber, you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you”. Like little children that have been told, “you do this” and they say, “No you do it”.

        It has become blatantly clear: the ritvik group is entrenched and immovable. Rather than prove their alteration, they ask others to disprove their alteration. But the evidence is that when one does so from sastra and Srila Prabhupada’s words, they manifest more bravado and have an anorectic relationship to nourishment. The want no care or guidance unless it is under their control. Maybe we should let them wither away from their malnourishment.

        Is anyone else finding this debate utterly boring, yet addicting? Most debates have a referee who can say, “enough!” and judges who can assess the winner with the best arguments. Short of that… how about we call it? TOD: today? Or maybe I can just regulate my own addiction and stop posting. Postahaulics Anonymous.

        • Paul Howard

          What alteration? Srila Prabhupada established a rtivk system that operated for several years in his presence. When asked how to do initations after his disappearance, he replied that he would appoint rtviks. He then had a letter sent to all the GBC and temple presidents listing 11 rtviks and establishing their duties to cover the whole process. He never said to change that system, but the GBC changed it, nay, outlawed it! How dare you say we’re trying to change what Srila Prabhupada ordered!? That’s just dishonest.

      • Paul Howard

        “It has been refuted…”

        Link?

        “It’s against sastra…”

        Citation?

        “It has been demonstrated…”

        It has?

        Maharaj,
        Srila Prabhupada was directly asked in 1977 how initiations should be conducted after his disapperance, and he replied that he would appoint rtviks. Srila Prabhupada told us of certain restrictions for who can initiate disciples and who cannot, such as that the initiator guru must be authorized by his predecessor guru (which you’ve practically dismissed), but he never said that a guru could not give initiation from beyond the grave. Any ordinary man can give things after his death by making some arrangement beforehand, but you say it’s against sastra for a guru to give initiation after his disappearance, despite his having made suitable arrangements. Please at least cite the sastric references for your claim, or give it up.

        • Gopakumar das

          “It has been refuted…”

          Link? (see discussion thread)

          “It’s against sastra…”

          Citation? (see discussion thread)

          “It has been demonstrated…”

          It has? (see discussion thread)

          My name is Gopa and i’m a postaholic. It’s an addiction sir!

        • I give up on you, and I have a 140 IQ. And if you have a 142 IQ then what is laking here on your part is sumedhasa, sukritivan, or that which contributes to the ability to comprehend finer Gaudiya theology/philosophy. I really do not know how you can ask these questions as if nothing has been said or cited on this thread in support of my position. Please feel free to tell your friends that you have defeated Swami B.V. Tripurari’s opposition to ritvikvada on his own site with the provision that you then send them here to see for themselves how well you have fared.

          In the meantime don’t hold your breath for ritvikvada to become functioning reality any time soon. I find it absolutely mind boggling how you can ignore this state of affairs.

    • madan gopal das

      The issue of “begging the question” comes up a lot with Swami Tripurari’s arguments. He says “It’s against siddhanta,” but that has not been proven at all.

      You just seem to pop in this argument every once in a while that no proofs have been given. The ritviks here are constantly hounded for answers to claims they make but just cover their ears, close their eyes and scream “I’m not listening!”
      Have you read any of the previous 275 comments? “It’s against siddhanta” is a summary of likely hundreds of sastric references confirming that the ritvik idea is indeed against siddhanta. So maybe sastra is not what you want for siddhanta. Maybe you want guru and sadhu (siddhanta=concensus of guru, sastra, sadhu) without the sastra. So you can also read hundreds of references to guru (the one you say you follow) as well as the opinions of sadhus. You cannot just start from scratch and act like you are new to this thread. Go look up the evidence! Scroll your mouse up to the top and actually read the references. Notice the lack of evidence for ritvik into eternity? We’ve got volumes of quotes from the acarya, thousands of opinions from sadhus both present and departed and millions of references from sastra as well as corresponding tradition and histories. What have you got? Nothing. A sentence in a conversation that hinges on interpretation. What a bleepin’ joke.

  • Alex

    “Otherwise you have avoided my question.”

    A book would not have pointed that out to me 🙂

    I can tell you that I definitely wouldn’t take ritvik initiation. I’d actually like to disassociate myself from the ritviks here who are not being very respectful towards you. I respect your opinion, your siksa – which is why I am here inquiring.

    I cannot say if I would become initiated if SP or SSM were here today. It depends on what this commitment means – what is required of me – what I am promising the guru. I’d take a commitment like that very seriously. If the initiation meant I had to become a part of Iskon in the 1980’s – then I can’t do it. I believe if I had tried to stay in the association of Iskon at that time it would have destroyed my faith. As it was, I lost a lot of my faith in SP at that time, but then SSM came to the rescue. His instructions helped me understand what was happening, and restored my faith in SP.

    My caution would definitely be partly due to Iskon’s guru fiasco, but I have other reservations. The system (in the west anyway)seems to promote sectarianism – with devotees from one math not associating with other devotees. It seems to stifle the spirit of co-operation. It also seems to foster fighting amongst devotees as is evidenced from the ritviks here having this discussion/argument. Philosophical differences don’t seem very serious to me – but fighting amongst the devotees – now that’s a problem.

    “You simply give your opinion but cannot support it from sastra and no sadhu supports it either.”

    My opinion is based on my understanding of SP and SSM’s words. I admit my opinion may be wrong, but I need to satisfy my conscience. Here are some quotes regarding initiation. How can I understand these if the teaching is that one needs to be formally initiated by a personally present representative?

    CC Madhya 15.108 “One does not have to undergo initiation or execute the activities required before initiation. One simply has to vibrate the holy name with his lips. Thus even a man in the lowest class can be delivered.”

    CC Madhya 15.110 “Chanting the holy name does not depend on initiation, pious activities or the purascarya regulative principles generally observed before initiation. The holy name does not wait for any of these activities. It is self-sufficient.”

    “The teaching is that without this mantra one cannot take full advantage of the holy name”

    I have trouble accepting this idea. How can any restrictions be placed on the holy name?

    • Philosophical differences can be very important. So much so that they help to determine who is a Gaudiya Vaisnava devotee and who is not. For example, Thakura Bhaktivinoda identified a number of sects that considered themselves followers/devotees of Sri Caitanya but in his estimation were not so. They were not so because of the heterodox positions they took in relation to the siddhanta of the Goswamis. Ritvikvada is a similar deviation in our times that needs to be identified as such. We were instructed in this matter by Srila B.P. Goswami, who labeled it “very dangerous.”

      The verses you cite glorify the holy name. They tell us that he holy name of Krsna being non different from him is not dependent upon anything. Krsna is independent and thus his name is as well. His name is not dependent upon any ritual purification for it to have an effect, neither does it need to be activated by anyone. Krsna mantra is actually the same in this regard because it consists primarily of Krsna’s names.

      The holy name in the thirty two syllable nama mantra is in the vocative case, whereas the same holy name in the diska mantra is in the dative case. This dative case fosters saranagati, surrender, and until saranagati is in place the nama mantra will not yield its full fruit. Thus the diksa mantra helps us to take advantage of the nama mantra by fostering saranagati. It also helps us to develop a particular relationship with the holy name/Krsna. As Sri Jiva explains in his Bhakti-sandarbha, “Awareness of one’s specific relationship with Bhagavan is transmitted through the diksa mantra.”

      Now the difference between the Krsna nama mantra and the Krsna diksa mantra and other mantras is that other mantras are not independent. In order to be effective some form of purification is required on the part of the recipient and the mantra has to be activated by the guru. This then is the point the verses you cite are making. They seek to differentiate Krsna nama and arguably Krsna mantra as well from other names (Siva, Durga, Brahma, etc.) and mantras. Krsna nama and Krsna mantras are thus both independent of initiation. However, of their own accord they choose to reveal themselves to those who have received them through initiation from the agent/guru who distributes them and explains their significance and how to serve them. Thus the name and mantra are independent of initiation but the baddha jiva suffering from bodily and mental aberrations is not. This is the teaching given to us by Sri Jiva Goswami in his Bhakti-sandarbha.

      Notably Srila Prabupada has dedicated the vast majority of his lengthy purport on the first verse you cite to stressing the necessity of diksa, both nama and mantra diksa.

    • I don’t get how the rtviks get blamed for fighting here. The folks running this website went on the offensive by publishing cartoons ridiculing and insulting ‘rtviks.’ A few of us noticed and have been speaking up, defending ourselves, and asking that they stop making such attacks. However, they are unrelenting and unapologetic. Yet we’re called disrespectful. How did that happen?

      Maharaj says the rtvik view is dangerous, but the historical record says that when Srila Prabhupada was asked about how to conduct initiations after his disappearance, he said he would appoint rtviks. If it is so dangerous, then why did Srila Prabhupada answer that way? Why did he never say to stop that system at any time?

      The central question here is what did Srila Prabhupada order, and the rtviks answer it by looking to Srila Prabhupada’s direct words on the subject, especially in 1977 when it was most relevant. Doesn’t that make sense?

      • I don’t get how the rtviks get blamed for fighting here. The folks running this website went on the offensive by publishing cartoons ridiculing and insulting ‘rtviks.’ A few of us noticed and have been speaking up, defending ourselves, and asking that they stop making such attacks. However, they are unrelenting and unapologetic. Yet we’re called disrespectful. How did that happen?

        This seems to be how others are responding to the discussion. So you have to reflect on that. Otherwise, if the cartoon had made fun of Bauls and thier deviation as explained by BVT, would you be complaining? Ritvikavada is a deviation from siddhanta that has spawned more Vaisnava aparadha than any other ism in the history of the sampradaya. It is a tearful departure from tradition that casts SP in a poor light. Sometimes comic relief can be helpful. At the same time we also acknowledge that those who have proved themselves unqualified to serve in the capacity of guru have done equal harm. We reject both. Instead we turn to Pujyapada Sridhara Deva Goswami, the siksa guru of SP who in SP’s own words was senior to him in age and experience, and we do so at the suggestion of SP himself.

        Maharaj says the rtvik view is dangerous, but the historical record says that when Srila Prabhupada was asked about how to conduct initiations after his disappearance, he said he would appoint rtviks. If it is so dangerous, then why did Srila Prabhupada answer that way? Why did he never say to stop that system at any time?

        When Prabhupada was asked how initiations would be conducted after his departure he answered that those who initiate after his departure initiate their own disciples who are thus his grand disciples. This interpretation of the conversation you interpret differently is an interpretation that conforms with tradition and siddhanta regarding succession. It has been defended adequately by Iskcon in the link I posted earlier.

        The fact that SP instituted a ritvik initiation system in his presence is of no consequence regarding succession. Why? Because the traditional role of the ritvik does not extend beyond the life of the guru. After his departure the parampara system takes effect. SP never told us to stop the ritvik initiations after his departure because that was a given, given the philosophy and a proper understanding of the two terms parampara and ritvik. But furthermore he did in effect tell us to discontinue it by telling us that after his departure that those initiating would initiate their own disciples who would be his grand disciples.

        The central question here is what did Srila Prabhupada order, and the rtviks answer it by looking to Srila Prabhupada’s direct words on the subject, especially in 1977 when it was most relevant. Doesn’t that make sense?

        No it does not, given the above explanation. Now you disagree with this explanation. But yours is at least as questionable as ours, if not more so since it is such a departure from the norm for one—from sadhu, sastra, and guru—and two because your interpretation has never seen the light of day in the 33 years since SP departed. Add to this the fact that its proponents by and large are known primarily by their penchant for Vaisnava aparadha, disrupting Ratha yatras, etc. They have not quietly sat on the sidelines but rather attacked practically every senior Vaisnava, including Srila Sridhara Maharaja. So you have aligned yourself with a minority fringe group that is known by as much bad character or more than those they critique. After all, Vaisnava aparadha is a sin of the soul, whereas the moral lapses on the part of Iskcon gurus is a lesser offense by far, a sin of the flesh At the same time I acknowledge that some of the Iskcon gurus have are also guilty of Vaisnava aparadha but not to the same extent. Meanwhile we find no aparadha on our side of the discussion because rather than vilify ritviks we merely challenge their philosophy and make light of it at times.

        So let’s leave it at that. We disagree with your interpretation of what you see as the core issue. I won’t bother to ask you if you think that makes sense. I think we should end the discussion here.