As It Was


About the Author

126 Responses to As It Was

  1. You just get better Gurunishta! Lovin’ it!!!

  2. Love the diacritics!

  3. Personally, I find it a bit distasteful when anti-ritviks stoop to such petty antics. Nothing expresses doubt and lack of faith in one’s own guru as much as petty anti-ritvik gimmicks like this cartoon.
    There are many nice devotees who believe in the ritvik concept. This cartoon is an insult to them and their faith. Since when is insulting the sincere faith of others funny? How would you feel if someone insulted your faith and love?
    I don’t follow, promote or practice the ritvik concept, but I still find the cartoon very small-minded and divisive.
    Don’t insult devotees who have exclusive faith in Srila Prabhupada.
    Srila Prabhupada does not reject them and neither should we.

    Good lord, it’s hard to believe that more than 35 years after the passing of Srila Prabhupada that the neo-devotees of the movement are still insulting and abusing the faith of devotees who have their faith in Srila Prabhupada and his teachings.

    It’s not really that funny.
    I fully support Swami Tripurari Maharaja as guru and acharya, but I still find anti-ritvik jabs to be beneath the dignity of Swami Tripurari.

    • I am surprised by your seemingly generous view on this. Unfortunately this is not an issue to be so agreeable on. The “rtvik” idea is an anartha, period. Misconceptions about siddhanta are one form of anartha and no matter how appealing of a dress they might take (I do not find anything appealing about the rtvik operation) the foundation is false. It is faith in themselves, not Prabhupada, that fuels this group. But they have boxed Prabhupada in to conform with their views. Conveniently, there is no one around (whom they have faith in) to tell them they are wrong. What a quaint way to avoid surrender and yet think oneself fully surrendered.

      So, on the basis of the sambandha jnana I have received from my guru and the guru parampara, I call into question how “sincere” this faith of the rtviks really is. As Srila Sridhara Maharaja said, “sincerity is invincible”, thus if they were sincere we would not see such an adamant adherence to apasiddhanta and aparadha.

      This is the most important point: the entire idea is actually offensive. Offensive to Prabhupada and the entire guru parampara. It is not merely a distraction, it is a force by which people will be pushed away from Mahaprabhu. To disagree and yet sympathize with this school is simply sentimental.

      How come certain groups of devotees seem to have a very long leash with which to challenge and demean the faith of others, while other groups are expected to sit quietly and be “humbler than a blade of grass?”

      • I am not the defender of the ritvik faith, but I do respect their feelings – something you seem to feel a need to strike out at. If you really knew some of the wonderful devotees who advocate the ritvik authority you probably would not be as insensitive to their feelings. I know some of them and I have nothing but respect and love for anyone with such a devout feeling toward Srila Prabhupada.
        The cartoon is inflammatory, a bit insulting, a bit brash, a bit brazen and a bit harsh. It doesn’t ruffle my feathers a bit, but I am curious as to whether or not this cartoon is a challenge to the ritviks to come to this web site and argue their views? Or, is this just a one-sided insult that doesn’t allow for a response?
        I doubt seriously that anybody here wants to get involved in a ritvik debate. So, therefore, I say the cartoon is anything but humble and kind. But, maybe the younger generation of devotees have their right?
        It’s not a big deal. The cartoon is not a serious offense, but I just wanted to illuminate the idea that maybe not everybody who visits the web site think it is cute or funny.

        I would really like to see the disciples of Swami Tripurari above this kind of political mentality of some kind of struggle or battle with an enemy that are Anuvratanam of Swami Prabhupada.
        Maybe your spiritual master can teach you that acharyas have sisyas and anuvratanam?
        I think belittling the Anuvratanam of Swami Bhaktivedanta is not a very good idea.

        • KB, you are contradicting yourself on this issue. To appreciate Rtviks and at the same time believe any present acarya is qualified to be a guru is to take two incompatible stances. By very dint of their philosophy the rtviks are saying that all current gurus are illegitimate. It does not matter how kind they might be. There are plenty of kind Christians who think we are all going to hell. One cannot support an acarya in any meaningful sense and at the same time think the rtvik route is one of various viable spiritual paths. (Edit: I know there is the so-called “soft rtvik” that does accept certain gurus, I think they are wrong too, but the above arguments do not apply to them.)

          The “feeling” that you keep talking about is blind and, furthermore, detrimental sentiment. The important point that is being missed is that such people are anything but one-minded followers of Srila Prabhupada.

          We are not looking to incite a rtvik debate here, but you are yourself the strongest evidence of just how few comments we censor on this website. So if they come, we will accept that.

          • I am even more liberal than ritvik. I don’t even believe that any formal initiation is necessary at all. The ritual initiation that is popular today is a device that career gurus use to facilitate the financing of ashrams and temples where disciple gather and argue over who gets what room and who gets what position.
            The whole spectacle plays out poorly in the western world.
            I personally believe and feel that Global Leadership is the prerogative of Lord Jesus and that global unification of human society will eventually happen under the auspices of Lord Jesus.
            The Hare Krishna cult will always be a minor element of western social fabric, but Lord Jesus brought the global peace formula and it is his leadership that will take the modern world into a global theocracy.
            I support that mission 100%.

            The Krishna cult will never be eligible or able to lead the world into a global theocracy of representative government.

            The Hare Krishna Varnashrama ideology has no possibility of being the theological platform for global theocracy.
            Lord Jesus and his Kingdom of Heaven and Brotherhood of Man on Earth will usher in the era of light and life on Earth in the coming future.

            Lord Jesus is a special incarnation of Lord Brahma.
            I know that for a fact. I have been blessed with the real life and teachings of Lord Jesus.

            So, I am much worse than ritvik.
            I am Jesusonian now as well.
            I love Jesus and Srila Prabhupada.
            I don’t believe that the ritual initiation of the Hare Krishnas is anything more than an external formality.

            So, I have little fascination for all such cultural ornaments.
            I only seek substance. Rituals hold no charm for me.

          • Well said KBDas,

            That is the way I view the world as well in regards to Jesus eventually leading a world theocracy. I finally see a very small but very strong Christian remnant going back to a pure biblical foundation and rejecting the armies of false prophets, prosperity gospel types who usually end up engaging in behavior not suitable for holy men and leaving their followers dazed and confused.

            Atheistic secular humanism is dieing fast. The elements trying to control an emerging new world theocracy are trying to get people to bow down and take orders from their appointed henchmen but what is happening is the people that see through this are becoming very strong in their faith and connection to Jesus who I personally believe is Brahma as well. The ones who get fooled by the pretenders end up losing their money and their energy and either die, become atheists, or rebuild their faith from scratch.

            That is only point where I disagree with pure Biblical theology is their denouncement of Hinduism as a pagan religion. There clearly are very nasty pagan cults that have run the world with unclean spirits but Krsna is clearly divine and even the name Christ is similar to Krsna.

            Have followed these debates between living guru advocates and ritviks for years and have seen good arguments on both sides but ultimately all it has done on the world stage is leave Krsna Consciousness as an afterthought and of no real influence on the global stage. The world situation will revolve around the final battle between the pagan cult worshiping mystery religions of the forces of the Anti-Christ and the eventual return of Jesus whatever form that takes and the rule of his true kingdom of love and truth. A much needed break for humanity from the obnoxious governments and hierarchies of the Kali-yuga. No secret initiations required, just have to pass the tests of the spirit and not be fooled.

          • http://vamanadeva.wordpress.com/2011/10/19/eminent-madhva-sampradaya-scholars-support-srila-prabhupadas-ritvik-system/ . Other sampradaya scholars also are ok with the ritvik system. Some excepts:
            “Strictly speaking, in the spiritual field anybody can initiate who is siddha purusha and even if not entitled by guru. Traditionally this is not accepted. If I am a mantra siddha, I need not have a sanction from my guru or any tradition. I can initiate anybody. This is sastric. But there are two things – institutional systems is that only the peeta-adhipati (the person presiding over the peeta) guru can initiate. That is the system in the Madhva mutts. In fact only siddha purusa can initiate and he need not be a siddha purusa who has come in the traditional way in the peeta.”
            “According to sastra anybody can give mudra dharana. I can give mudra to my children. But according to the present practice in the mutts, sampradaya system, they do not accept it. They say, “Only we have the authority. Only we have the authority. We can give mudra dharana. But nobody else…” Some of our swamis say, “These people belong to Uttaradi mutt, they belong to Pejawar mutt..” and so on. Again there is division. “And you cannot take vaishnava diksha from some other swami. I am your mula vidya guru. You take diksha from me.” No it has become a social right. Spirituality has nothing to do with this. This is again the present plight of the muttas. “” In other sampradayas the diksha guru must be a living guru. He cannot give diksha with his spiritual body, non material body. He must give with his gross material body only – that tradition is there. This is not siddhanta or apasiddhanta. Tradition is a social system. It is nothing to do with the spiritual. Society accepted this just to have a control on disciples from the peeta or matha. Swami should have certain control of the disciples. So they have accepted certain rights – they are his copyrights! So that he can have certain control over the society. This is a social system presently accepted by the spiritual priests. Philosophy and practice have nothing to do with it.””You have a temple of Prabhupada, and before Prabhupada himself, no others can give diksha and these people provide name and mala. The diksha should be in the presence of Prabhupada’s vigraha. That will be better. That would be better. There will be no problem. Just to avoid problems, see so many gurus, they will leave peeta (the sacred seat), they are falling down. Just to avoid this, you take initiation before Prabhupada’s vigraha.”

          • 1. The Madhvas were misinformed concerning Prabhupada’s desire for succession.
            2. They bring up some valid points concerning how initiation can deteriorate into a means of social control. Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura also emphasized this.
            3. They validate ritvik without any scriptural reference or previous precedent to support it.
            4. Madhavas do not have a history of ritvik succession, nor do Gaudiyas.
            5. Gaudiya doctrine differs from Madhva doctrine on numerous points.
            6. When senior Guadiyas were asked the same questions they termed ritvik a dangerous deviation (B.P. Puri Goswami) and well intended but misinformed (B.R. Sridhara Deva Goswami).

          • Some quotes from big scholars:
            “The rtvik system propounded by Srila Prabhupada does not violate in anyway the shastras’ injunctions.”

            Signed. Rangapriya Swami.

            Sri Bannanje Govindacarya: No we cannot say that. Because what is sampradaya? Sampradaya is again a constitution- a spiritual institution. And it is followed by centuries and centuries by the sisyas. So any system that is in practice for more than 100 years, it becomes sampradaya!
            ISKCON devotee: Now since no acharya in the past has formed an international society…

            Sri Bannanje Govindacarya: Yes, that is why I have told you, sampradaya means also, it is a spiritual constitution, which should not go against the spirit of vedic teachings. That’s all.

            ISKCON devotee: So is the ritvik system, taking mala, name, etc from living ritviks and considering Srila Prabhupada as the diksha guru, violating vedic spirit?

            Sri Bannanje Govindacarya: No no nothing, nothing. That is not that…
            Anyway again when it is convenient Baladeva Vidyabhusana found the link to Madhava and now you reject the arguments of people from other two schools. Say that is your judgment and you don’t know for sure. Won’t it be better as other scholars disagree with you.

            Definition of what is siddhanta and what is not changes according to the sect you belong to. When BSST took sanyasa from the picture of his guru without a living guru, it was ok? Even if he goes against sastra, you will say look at the impact he made. Where is the sanction of sastra then? When it is convenient, look at the impact. When it is convenient, look at the sastra. We just accept BSST even though he went against sastra according to traditionalists. Any amount of Sastra itself it just realization of sages like Prabhupada in the past. Distinguishing between the detail and siddhanta is the subjective decision of each sect. It always has been. Trying to set it in stone is ignoring how whenever a new sect comes they look unorthodox and then eventually get their own following. Many traditionalists don’t consider BSST a legitimate line. Chandan Goswami for instance respects ISKCON as a separate system with differences from traditional Gaudiya school. In a recent Facebook note (he uses Facebook as some kind of discussion/preaching tool and general camaraderie for devotees) on the caste system, he wrote about how the correct understanding of BG 4.13 refers to caste by birth rather than qualification as ISKCON supposedly preaches, quoting Jiva Gosvami and others as authority . All traditional schools accept a birth based caste system apart from BSST;s time. This naturally led to a discussion in the comments about ISKCON’s “caste by qualification” understanding and he spoke quite openly (but somewhat naively) about the difference between ISKCON and the trad CVs and how their siksa-parampara isn’t understandable. So ritviks and non-ritviks can respect each other while acknowledging their differences. If you don’t have history, create it. There was no Gaudiya vaisnavism in history, it was created and not accepted by other orthodox schools. There was no earth in history, it was created.

          • We accept Baladeva Vidyabhusana as much as he has converted to GV. We accept Madhvas as Vaisnavas but do not go to them for clarification on our siddhanta. We have our own seniors to go to. Madhvas have their siddhanta and we have ours. The differences define our sampradayas. We say krsnas tu bhagavan svayam means one thing they say it means another. They speak from a Vaikuntha perspective and we speak from a Goloka perspective. No problem. Regarding the issue at hand, those who reject senior Gaudiyas’ opinions and solicit contradictory support from Madhvas after giving them false information are the ones who are picking and choosing and lacking consistency overall.

            You sight the example of BSST. However, we acknowledge that to any rule there may be exceptions but we do not agree that the exceptions can be made into the rule. Furthermore what he did in taking sannyasa from his guru after his departure is not analogous to the idea of Prabhupada’s succession becoming a so called ritvik succession. The two are quite different even though they bear one similarity. The stance of Chandana Goswami is unfortunate. GV has little if anything to do with caste at all and the fact that he cannot understand BSST’s Bhagavata parampara does not say much for his measure of dynamic spiritual understanding.

            And without a clear mandate from Prabhupada stating that he desired some kind of ritvik succession (which we do not have), the decision to pursue one is not something that even has his backing to begin with. So those that do pursue it are on their own. Yes they are creating history, but so did the many other sects claiming connection with Mahaprabhu, many that is that were considered apasampradayas by BVT.

            But I think we have been around the block with this. Do as you like and best wishes.

    • The comic is referring to the silly attitude the rtviks have taken with regard to Prabhupada’s books; i.e., that any and all editing is bad. You say anti-rtviks should not insult their faith, but in my view the regressive thinking of the rtviks insults the faith of the rest of us.

      • Not editing those books and adhering to Ritivik ideology are not necessarily one and same thing. I personally do not care for the Ritvik movement at all, but I disaprove of changing Srila Prabhupada’s original books. At least I disaprove of there not remaining reprints of the originals. The history should be kept intact and accurate.

      • No matter what you think about some of the people that believe in a ritvik initiation process, the concept of ritvik should never become an object of hatred or anger.
        If we take all the predecessor acharyas face value with what they have written, then we should all know that an shaktyavesha-avatar guru has special authority and certainly the ritvik idea is not outside the realm of what such an shaktyavesha-avatar guru could conceivably establish.

        Certainly, Srila Prabhupada did have the authority and power to appoint disciples to initiate on his behalf after his passing. Anyone who denies the shaktyavesha-avatar acharya guru Srila Prabhupada the authority to do so does not understand the powers possessed of such a shaktyavesha-avatara acharya like Srila Prabhupada.

        We cannot limit the unlimited authority of Srila Prabhupada who is the controller of Krishna.

        • What if we take Srila Sridhara Maharaja at face value? After all, he revealed Srila Prabhupadas status as a saktyavesha of Nityananda Prabhu.

          After Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta’s passing there was a meeting of his disciples. Therein one devotee proposed that they continue by simply printing and distrigbuting Bhaktisiddhanta’s teachings. He gave a nice talk full of “feeling” for his departed gurudeva and had the support of a number of the devotees in the assembly. The next person to speak was Srila Sridhara Maharaja. He said (paraphrasing), “this is all nice, but we cannot cheat the people. We are not Sikhs.” That is the rtvik conception: cheating its adherents. A parampara devoid of parampara cant even be considered a shell, it does not even follow the external form, what to speak of having no living spiritual substance to pass on. Unfortunately there are shades of rtvik everywhere, even in a number of prominent gurus.

          Saying Prabhupada could change the system of parmpara is like saying he could change rasa-tattva. Where is the scriptural evidence that an empowered devotee can change guru-tattva? It is a completely fabricated idea.

          • Guru-tattva is more complicated than some simplistic concept of a physical succession. Guru-tattva cannot be canned into a stale, dogmatic, ancient idea of knowledge transmission. Guru-tattva is not a physical succession.
            It never was and never will be.

        • I understand how some devotees may find the jab at the ritvik idea hurtful; as Prema Bhakti says, sometimes the truth stings. And Guru-nistha could certainly have censored himself with some sort of political correctness, but he’s an artist and a devotee of considerable conviction. The plain fact is that the ritvik idea was made up, apparently as a response to problems with ISKCON’s leadership. We just didn’t hear that idea before some time in the late ’80s. And why didn’t we hear it? because it’s contrary to the practice of guru parampara, contrary to everything Srila Prabhupada taught us throughout his preaching career.

          I have many friends who advocate the ritvik idea, and I discussed it with both an open mind and open heart when it was appropriate with devotees for whom I have regard and affection. I know what I’ve heard from Srila Prabhupada since I started hearing from him in 1969. He made it clear on countless occasions that it’s our duty to become qualified gurus, that he expects that of us. The ritvik advocates assert that he changed that at the end. As KB writes, a ” shaktyavesha-avatar guru has special authority and certainly the ritvik idea is not outside the realm of what such an shaktyavesha-avatar guru could conceivably establish.”

          But because such an innovation would be so clearly contrary to our parampara, if that were Srila Prabhupada’s intention, he would have established it clearly and unequivocally. And, frankly, those who advocate this change carry the burden of proving that is what he intended, as well as what he did. Frankly, they have presented no such evidence. Ever. Anywhere. If they had, that would be a different matter. The fact that they haven’t indicates to me that no such evidence exists.

          With regard to the book editing, I also have many dear, long-time friends among those agitating against the “changes.” I love them no less for the zeal of their campaign. However, as a writer, a writing teacher of many years, and someone who also has a lot of experience editing, I find their case unconvincing. I’ve spent many hours discussing this with my anti-“change” friends and with Jayadvaita Swami and Dravida. The case against the editing is not as compelling as many seem to think.

          The philosophy has not been changed by this work, and I don’t think there’s anything sacrosanct about a particular choice of words in most of the cases discussed. After all, if there were, why would we edit Easy Journey to Other Planets, and why not distribute the first canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam as it was presented in the original Delhi editions? After all, it was those original Bhagavatams that made me a disciple. I find them charming. But anyone who tries reading them aloud will hear why editing is important.

          Moreover, if the specific words, presented in a particular way, were the essence of the power of Srila Prabhupada’s writing, how do we account for the power of the translations? And if you were to read the original Spanish translations, for example, and compare them with more current translations, you’d find considerable difference in the language, but not necessarily the philosophy. And if the books are translated from English to another language, and from that language to a third, and perhaps from that to yet another, do they lose their potency? I don’t think so.

          Srila Prabhupada stated on several occasions that he wants his books edited to a standard that would elicit the respect of even all classes. And I see that this is the goal of the BBT editors’ efforts.

          The cartoon is indeed gentle, and it’s funny. And it makes the artist’s point in a way that gets people talking. That makes it a success.

          • How can you possibly say that?
            Even after Srila Sridhar Maharaja discussed the ritvik concept, explained it and implemented it in his own formal declaration of succession?

            This is what we know as selective amnesia.
            That is when devotees intentionally forget certain teachings of Srila Sridhar Maharaja and pretend as if he never said them.
            The whole Matha suffers from the same problem.

            Do we need to post Sridhar Maharaja’s final and formal declaration of succession here to prove the point?

            In fact anyone who says Sridhar Maharaja did not implement or approve of the ritvik system is simply a liar straight-up.

          • Babhru das, you attempt to make the case that editing is common practice in the publishing industry and therefore whats the problem if its done with Srila Prabhupada’s original texts? But the objection [from ritviks and other quarters as well] is not with the practice of editing in itself but by whom, and under whose order its being carried out. Whats questioned is the qualification of Jayadvaita Swami, Dravida das and such individuals, in the face of their many other failures such as instituting vaishnava aparadha, misconceptions in sidhanta and so forth. Who can blame the opposing of the editing of SP’s books by the GBC when that group has proven unable to carry out Srila Prabhupada’s mission even remotely to what was intended by the acarya?

    • Gurunistha dasa

      KB, you wrote:

      “Nothing expresses doubt and lack of faith in one’s own guru as much as petty anti-ritvik gimmicks like this cartoon.”

      I don’t know how you would substantiate this point, but it seems like a poorly thought-out attempt to try to make me look bad for having an opinion that you don’t share.

      you also wrote:

      “There are many nice devotees who believe in the ritvik concept. This cartoon is an insult to them and their faith. Since when is insulting the sincere faith of others funny? How would you feel if someone insulted your faith and love?”

      I want to raise the same point in this connection again that I raised in the Varnashrama thread: feelings and analysis/theoretical truths based on the shastra should be kept separate. The fact that there are nice people in the Ritvik camp says absolutely nothing about the fact whether their sambandha-jnana is correct or not. I’m surprised you would make such a simple mistake in your thinking.

      you also wrote:

      “Good lord, it’s hard to believe that more than 35 years after the passing of Srila Prabhupada that the neo-devotees of the movement are still insulting and abusing the faith of devotees who have their faith in Srila Prabhupada and his teachings.”

      See this is where it all breaks down: I really don’t believe that the ritviks have faith in Srila Prabhupada’s teachings, actually they are going head on against them when it comes to Guru-tattva. Srila Prabhupada is a bright luminary in the Gaudiya Sampradaya, but to pull him out of it and put him above all other acharyas is actually a huge disservice to his movement and what he wanted to accomplish. The Ritviks seem to be moving according to sentiment rather than clear sambandha and that’s a sure recipe for problems.

      • Gurunistha, you said : See this is where it all breaks down: I really don’t believe that the ritviks have faith in Srila Prabhupada’s teachings, actually they are going head on against them when it comes to Guru-tattva. Srila Prabhupada is a bright luminary in the Gaudiya Sampradaya, but to pull him out of it and put him above all other acharyas is actually a huge disservice to his movement and what he wanted to accomplish. The Ritviks seem to be moving according to sentiment rather than clear sambandha and that’s a sure recipe for problems.

        Prabhu, you have a serious problem with judging people, or you have met the wrong rtviks. I suggest you listen to KB prabhu carefully. The rtviks are not guided by sentiments, they are guided well by Guru and Shastra. Just because you disagree with them, it does not make them sentimental.

        I dont think anyone pulled out Srila Prabhupada and said he is better than anyone else. Having said that, there is absolutely nothing worng in doing so! Srila Prabhupada himself said that his spiritual master Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada was “not and ordinary spiritual master”, He said that he was extremely special. Speak to the Madhavas and they will tell you how Sri Madhvacharya is better than everyone and same goes to the Ramanujas. This is a quality of a disciple. We feel and know that our spiritual master is indeed the best and that makes us most fortunate.

        • The rtviks are not guided by sentiments, they are guided well by Guru and Shastra.

          Srila Prabhupada stated that his disciples should become gurus and write books. In addition, Krishna himself describes the guru parampara (one after another) in the Gita. Rtviks hold contradictory points-of-view on the above and therefore are not guided by guru or sastra on these points.

          We feel and know that our spiritual master is indeed the best and that makes us most fortunate.

          To glorify our gurudeva with the intention of discrediting other gurus is vaisnava aparadha.

          We should feel that our guru is the best for us personally and that others’ gurus are the best for them. In principle, guru is one but manifests himself is various forms.

          • Srila Prabhupada stated that his disciples should become gurus and write books. In addition, Krishna himself describes the guru parampara (one after another) in the Gita. Rtviks hold contradictory points-of-view on the above and therefore are not guided by guru or sastra on these points.

            Yes he did! he wanted us to become a guru. The kind that preaches the holy name in every town and village. Not the kind that takes on the position of a diksha guru and then promises Krishna to thousands of disciples, before running away with a pretty lady. Show me one place where Srila Prabhupada approves a successor. Why are you limiting Srila Prabhupada’s activities to your limited understanding of the Guru Parampara?

            To glorify our gurudeva with the intention of discrediting other gurus is vaisnava aparadha.

            We should feel that our guru is the best for us personally and that others’ gurus are the best for them. In principle, guru is one but manifests himself is various forms.

            What are you talking about? Who is discrediting whom?

          • Mahanada: “Show me one place where Srila Prabhupada approves a successor.”

            Mahananda Prabu, please show us one place where Srila Bhaktisiddhanta approves a successor.

            Srila Prabhupada BECAME the next link in the disciplic succession by his extraordinary qualities and deeds, not because he was appointed to that position by his guru. There is no evidence of such appointment. Still, by his qualifications he became a jagat guru. His disciples can do the same thing – they can also become a next link if they are properly qualified. There is nothing in SP writings that would indicate otherwise – actually, the opposite is true as pointed above.

          • Yes he did! he wanted us to become a guru. […] Show me one place where Srila Prabhupada approves a successor.

            The fact that Srila Prabhupada wanted his disciples to become qualified gurus means that he effectively told them to become his successor(s); by genuine spiritual qualification, not organizational appointment.

            Aside from that, Srila Prabhupada also told his disciples that they could see Pujyapada Srila Sridhar Maharaja if they needed further philosophical guidance. Several took this advice to heart and their practice has been very fruitful.

        • Dear Mahananda dasa,

          Thank you for your reply. I’m not interested in judging people, I’m more interested in coming to the truth, so let me bring up a point that I think makes my point clearer.

          You gave a perfect example of what I was talking about in your reply. You said,

          “Speak to the Madhavas and they will tell you how Sri Madhvacharya is better than everyone and same goes to the Ramanujas. This is a quality of a disciple. We feel and know that our spiritual master is indeed the best and that makes us most fortunate.”

          Here you equate Srila Prabhupada with Madhva and Ramanuja, but the comparison is not accurate. As far as I know, Madhva and Ramanuja intruduced new practices and theology to the traditions that they came in whereas Srila Prabhupada never did that. He always emphasized that he simply repeated the teachings of the Gaudiya Vaishnava lineage. Srila Prabhupada was a strict follower of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and the six Goswamis. They, and not Srila Prabhupada, are to Gaudiya Vaishnavism what Madhva and Ramanuja are to their traditions. This, however, doesn’t demean Srila Prabhupada in any way, quite to the contrary!
          My initial criticism was that the Ritviks seem to try to put Srila Prabhupada in a position that he would’ve not felt even comfortable himself (i.e. starting his own Sampradaya)and it lacks spiritual discrimination.

          • “. . . in this Age of Kali, the Lord whose name is Sri Krsna Caitanyadeva, tutelary deity (founder acarya) of thousands
            of his own lineages, like thousands of currents of the Ganga made of the nectar of that rare prema . . . ”

            Sri Jiva Goswami, Sarvasamvadini

          • Thank you for your reply. I’m not interested in judging people, I’m more interested in coming to the truth, so let me bring up a point that I think makes my point clearer.

            Good. This is a good start.

            Here you equate Srila Prabhupada with Madhva and Ramanuja, but the comparison is not accurate. As far as I know, Madhva and Ramanuja intruduced new practices and theology to the traditions that they came in whereas Srila Prabhupada never did that. He always emphasized that he simply repeated the teachings of the Gaudiya Vaishnava lineage. Srila Prabhupada was a strict follower of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and the six Goswamis. They, and not Srila Prabhupada, are to Gaudiya Vaishnavism what Madhva and Ramanuja are to their traditions. This, however, doesn’t demean Srila Prabhupada in any way, quite to the contrary!
            My initial criticism was that the Ritviks seem to try to put Srila Prabhupada in a position that he would’ve not felt even comfortable himself (i.e. starting his own Sampradaya)and it lacks spiritual discrimination.

            Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, though being the master of the senses, he would never speak to a woman or even look at one after sanyasa. Now speaking of new practices, Srila Prabhupada did not do that. Srila Prabhupada was the first sanyasi to condcut marriage ceremonies. Srila Prabhupada was the first to allow a woman during her menstrual period to worship the diety during an emergency. Srila Prabhupada was so powerful, that he would name Krishna as Londonishwara and Parisiswara (None of these names are mentioned in the shastras). Even though everyone in the parampara including his own spiritual master performed the chaturmasa period very ritualistically. Srila Prabhupada did not. He just wanted us to chant and gave basic instructions on the other rituals.

            Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada was the first sanyasi to wear the upavita and a shika, just to emphasize that a sanyasi should not be puffed up thinking that he is beyond varnasharama. He travelled in cars despite other GV’s insulting him. He once told that guests can be given meat if they want to eat it, as long as they accept the sankirtana movement and help.
            Look closely, our Acharyas are constant in introducing new trends in the parampara according to time and the people they are dealing with. They will never be caught within the ritualic expectaions of people. They always did what is important. You and I have very limited understanding to the Guru parampara and Guru Tattva. Let us not judge the Spiritual masters actions based on our limited understanding.
            Speaking of the great Ramanuja. The first time he met his spiritual master Yamunacharya, was when he was when Ymunacharya had just left his body. He only saw his ‘dead body’. He was however convinced that only Yamunacharya would be his ‘manasika’ spiritual master. rtvikvada is not a new introduction. Diksha is the transfer of knowledge from the Guru to the disciple. Let me not accept just someone I find, just so that I could be part of a ceremony called diksha. Srila Prabhupada has therefore set up a ritvik initiatior to do the ceremony ON HIS BEHALF.

            Why are you so sure Srila Prabhupada would be uncomfortable being treated as special by his disciples? that is just concoction.
            When a disciple told Srila Prabhupada that he is not going to read any book, not even Srila Bhaktivinoda thakura’s. He will just read Srila Prabhupadas books. Srila Prabhupada seemed so pleased and he said “this is my real disciple”
            Rtvikvada is an authorised method and it is well within the limits of Guru, Sadhu and Shastra.

          • Look closely, our Acharyas are constant in introducing new trends in the parampara according to time and the people they are dealing with.

            Acaryas alter details, not principles. New trends in the parampara is one thing, ending it is quite another. Pramapara literally means “one after another.” If there is no such succession, as the ritvik notion mandates, there is no parampara to introduce new trends into. Furthermore the essential idea of the paramapara is that it provides for “another,” a successor, for the very reason that details do need to be altered over time. Such alterations keep the spirit of the teaching alive as times change, and such alterations require someone of spiritual substance to make them—a successor living in the times that are with us.

            And no amount of misrepresentation of the required successor does away with the need for one. Indeed, such misrepresentation only serves to underscore the need for a successor. Hence ritivk itself is a misrepresentation, albeit of a different nature from the kind of misrepresentation (bogus sadhus) it is a reaction to.

          • Speaking of the great Ramanuja. The first time he met his spiritual master Yamunacharya, was when he was when Ymunacharya had just left his body. He only saw his ‘dead body’. He was however convinced that only Yamunacharya would be his ‘manasika’ spiritual master.

            Periya Nambi (Mahapurna Alvara) was the diksa guru of Ramanuja, not Yamunacarya, who was his param guru.

  4. Sometimes the truth stings. This is mild compared to the actual lengths much of these people will go to promote their agenda. As far as I am concerned from what I have experienced with rtviks this “poke” is gentle compared to the countless aparadha laced jabs perpetuated in the name of loyalty to our dear Srila Prabhupada.

  5. Audarya-lila dasa

    I think it’s funny – but one thing – I don’t think it is only the ritvik’s who disagree with editing Srila Prabhupada’s books. I believe there are devotees with all sorts of different conceptions regarding guru parampara who feel that editing Srila Prabhupada’s books after his departure without his say is wrong.

    I agree with Nitaisundara regarding the ritvik misconception. Srila Prabupada is responsible for so many people’s faith – that’s unquestionable – but it is only the ritvik people who think he wanted to stop the parampara and place himself as a Jesus figure.

  6. Its hilarious because its cruel and retaliatory… we are angry and annoyed at the triumph of apasiddhanta…ritvik thinking has permeated the non-ritvik groups and this is so aggravating since more progressive siddhantic thinking seems to meet with more resistance. We (Sri Caitanya Sanga) are not welcome to participate in ISKCON temples but ritviks are integrated into temple seva. I at least, am pissed off and sad about this. BUT, lets call this comic what it is… sadistic glee. Can we not admit it?

    • There is no apasiddhanta in the ritvik conception.
      Do you think Srila Sridhar Maharaja promoted apasiddhanta?
      Have you ever read his declaration of spiritual succession?

      Maybe I should post it here in case you have never had the opportunity to know the truth.

      Public Declaration
      by Srila Bhakti Rakshak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj
      [from a recording on Gaura Purnima, 26th March, 1986]

      According to the desire of my Divine Master, I have been maintaining this Disciplic Succession but it is no longer possible for me, as I am now too old and an invalid. You all know from long ago I have chosen Sriman Bhakti Sundar Govinda Maharaj and I have given him sannyasa. All my Vaishnava Godbrothers are very affectionate towards him and it is also their desire to give him this position. I have previously given to him the charge of the Math and now I am giving him the full responsibility of giving Harinam, diksha, sannyasa, etc., as an Acharya of this Math on behalf of myself.

      Those who have any regard for me should give this respect and position to Govinda Maharaj as my successor. As much as you have faith in my sincerity, then with all sincerity I believe that he has got the capacity of rendering service in this way. With this I transfer these beads and from now he will initiate on my behalf as ritvik. The ritvik system is already involved both here and also in the foreign land. The ritvik is the representative. So if you want to take from me, and you take by his hands, then it will be as well and as good as taking from me.

      In the Mahamandala, Sagar Maharaj and many others are also ritvik of Swami Maharaj and also myself. They may do so, but in this Math and in any Math under this Math, he will be the representative. If anyone cannot accept this, he may leave the Math rather than stay here and disturb the peace of the Math. With all my sincerity and good feelings to Guru-Gauranga, to the Vaishnavas and the Acharyas, Mahaprabhu, Pancha-Tattva, Radha-Govinda and Their Parshadas, with all my sincere prayers to Them, henceforth he will represent me in this affair beginning from today’s function.

      Now I shall go from here and he will do the necessary. On my behalf, he will give Harinama, diksha, sannyasa, and everything.

      I hope the truth will not be censored from this web site.

      • Ritvik system exists when the acharya is living and he appoints somebody else to initiate in his physical presence. Once, the acharya departs, the ritvik initiations don’t continue.

      • Audarya-lila dasa

        KB, the problem with what you have posted is that it is quite obvious that what Sridhara Maharaja is talking about and what the ‘ritvik doctrine’ is are two completely opposite things.

        The acharya always and necessarily represents his guru and acts on his behalf in all that he does. That is the very principal of guru parampara.

        The ritvik doctrine as it is presented by it’s vociferous adherents stops the parampara. It’s makes a mockery of Gaudiya Vaishnavism and starts a flow of misconception. Diksha is not a formality or a mere external function. It is the transmission of divine knowledge and faith and it requires both a good guide and a serious student to be effective. In order for a sadhaka to make tangible progress he/she needs good personal guidance. The paramapara contuniues on through the disciples of our predecessor acharyas.

        The best and honest advice to give any apsiring or serious vaishnava is to find an advanced vaishnava and serve and learn under his/her care and attention.

        That is what Sridhara Maharaja is saying in the quote you provided above. The preceptorial line continues on through his chosen respresentative – it doesn’t stop with him. If you have faith in Sridhara Maharaja he is saying you will have faith in Bhakti Sundara Govinda Maharaja.

      • Oh my Krsna… here we go. Life was so much simpler and happy when I could just enjoy the witty cartoon. Now I have to get all debatey. Ugh.

        KB: Please tell me that you understand Srila Sridhar Maharaj’s ritvik and Prabhupada’s ritvik are the same: both NOT suggesting the twisted message the current ritvik movement propounds. We all know this – the ritvik is the priest carrying out the function of the acarya when said acarya has declared himself unfit, unable, etc., to function as initiating guru while he is still present. For that amount of time, the designated ritvik will perform the function “on behalf” of the acarya. Without declaring it, Prabhupada was doing it many times just because of the masses of people wanting to become his disciple. His disciples chanted on beads, performed initiations, etc.
        While the acarya is present, such ritvik initiates will be disciples of the acarya. When the acarya departs, new initiates thenceforth are disciples of the ritvik, who by nature of the passing of the acarya is no longer ritvik. He/she is guru!!! As Prabhupada said, “disciple of my disciple, my grand-disciple.”
        Just as Srila Sridhar Maharaj here says that he has been maintaining the parampara on his guru’s order, from the time of this declaration B.S. Govinda Maharaj and the others of the “Mahamandala” (such as Swami B.V. Tripurari) will maintain the parampara as representatives.
        Sridhar Maharaj using the word ritvik here in reference to Prabhupada just means that they are representing. It would make absolutely no sense to suggest that Sridhar Maharaj endorsed ritvik in the current deviant thought, because he says that the “mahamandala” are already ritvik of “Swami Maharaj”. They weren’t initiating disciples and calling them Prabhupada’s disciples! If they would have, I can bet you Sridhar Maharaj would have corrected that. As far I know, some they initiated themselves as their disciples, and in special circumstances according to the faith of the person they may have brought to Sridhar Maharaj because they were serving under his guidance. He gave them all blessing to be guru’s in their own right though.
        Please don’t give credence to this apasiddhanta by suggesting the Sridhar Maharaj also endorsed it.

      • KB, quoting something is not the same as understanding something. Distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books is not the same as incorporating them.

        This quote is not a ritvik proclamation…it is a beautiful description of parampara… Srila Govinda Maharaja was to take on the role of guru from the hands and will of his guru, on his behalf, and for the sake of a living succession of Krsna sakti. There is no misconception in either Srila Prabhupada or Srila Sridhara maharaja about Guru-Tattva. A reading of Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s other books will make that clear (Sri Guru & His Grace: with forward by Srila Prabhupada). We cannot just haul out the words of the saints and use them as a weapon against their own bodies.

        If we truly found Srila Prabhupada and Srila Sridhara maharaja representing a significant departure from the siddhantic line of Mahaprabhu and the Goswamis… truly found… we would have to reject them as well. We should not then cling to them for dear life. It would mean the death of our living line of siddhas.

        • I know lots of devotees who don’t buy into that interpretation. It’s quite funny how devotees always read these particular political prejudices into all such important and monumental proclamations as Srila Sridhar Maharaja’s declaration of spiritual succession.

          Here is some more by Sridhar Maharaja, I don’t think your interpretation can be supported by such further explanations of Srila Sridhar Maharaja.

          First of all, I will make it clear that I don’t believe that anyone at SCS Matha obeyed Srila Sridhar Maharaja after his passing and that his wishes were not honored as the gaggle of neophytes encouraged Govinda Maharaja to disobey and reject the ritvik status of initiations he gave.

          Srila Sridhar Dev Goswami Maharaj
          Discussions about Srila Govinda Maharaj as Rtvik Representative
          with Doctor Asthana
          from a tape recording on 29 April, 1987

          Dr Asthana: I am a little worried about Srila Govinda Maharaj’s position.

          Srila Sridhar Dev Goswami Maharaj: I have given him, I have empowered him, to do all these things on my behlaf: Rtvik. I have appoited him to do all spiritual activity on my behalf.

          Dr Asthana: But this “Rtvik” word is misinterpreted by many people.

          Srila Sridhar Dev Goswami Maharaj: They may do so.

          Dr Asthana: Some do not consider him as a direct successor; they consider him only as a Rtvik.

          Srila Sridhar Dev Goswami Maharaj: More than Rtvik.

          Dr Asthana: Eh?

          Srila Sridhar Dev Goswami Maharaj: More than Rtvik. Whatever it may be, I am giving power. Just as “yauva-raja”. When the King installs his son as King and retires himself, what will be the result? As Dasarath wanted to do with Ramchandra. The King gives all the authority of a king to the son and retires to go to the jungle although he is living with full power and glory.

          Dr Asthana: Many people I have talked to do not consider the Rtvik to be the direct Guru. They say the Rtvik is Rtvik.

          Srila Sridhar Dev Goswami Maharaj: Rtvik is Rtvik, but if such transfer of power is done then what harm? For those that have got no sraddha, they may go away. They may not accept. I do not care. I don’t accept them.

          Dr Asthana: Does Rtvik mean the direct successor?

          Srila Sridhar Dev Goswami Maharaj: Rtvik means the representative. It may be temporary or it may be permanent. It may be partial or it may be full, as empowerment is there.

          Dr Asthana: Is the empowerment to Govinda Maharaj now temporary or permanent?

          Srila Sridhar Dev Goswami Maharaj: Permanent. Wholesale – both property and the function – transferred. If anyone has no recognition of this opinion of mine, I do not want them to live in the Mission. I drag them out.

          Dr Asthana: But can they still operate from outside and still operate as part and parcel of you?

          Srila Sridhar Dev Goswami Maharaj: As a revolt. That is a revolt – without sanction – anyone can do. I have deserted them. But they may do anything and everything as they wish and reap the results far from the spiritual world, from God. Unlawful.
          Power may be extended and withdrawn also – I want to withdraw myself from them. Those that won’t have faith in my decision. I withdraw from them. It is not a fashion but a question of faith. If they have no such faith in me, I withdraw myself from them.

          Dr Asthana: Some devotees may consider, “That power (of Rtvik) was given to me in 1982 or ’84, and he got that power in ’86 so I am more senior.

          Srila Sridhar Dev Goswami Maharaj: No position of seniority. No position of senior. That only seniority will be considered as the qualification – no.

          Dr Asthana: I was thinking of sending all the senior devotees a letter trying to make this thing clear so that later on no complication like that comes up because at that time we will be very insecure when other types of interpretation start.

          Srila Sridhar Dev Goswami Maharaj: According to their faith – what to think? What to say? Those that do not obey me after my departure means automatically they will be left by me. Only it is a transaction of faith. No right but faith. If no faith in my word, they are automatically rejected.

          Dr Asthana: Some people have no particular obligation of faith to anyone. They go to many persons to gather something. They are just interested in knowledge and position.

          Srila Sridhar Dev Goswami Maharaj: We have no concern with them. We hate them. We hate them: we don’t think that they have any religious line in life.
          In a very crude position maybe there will be some collecting (of knowledge) here and there when one cannot understand who is who.

          Dr Asthana: They are just like an encyclopaedia.

          Srila Sridhar Dev Goswami Maharaj: They are not fit (to see) that God is coming to him (and) through whom. If I am sincere in my search for God then God also will come to me from His side, and where we meet, he should be considered the Guru. Guru means representative of God Himself.

          Dr Asthana: Yes we all agree with it. There are many traps and loopholes in these types of things, Maharaj, and some will play on this their whole life. They will think out how to manipulate the situation.

          Srila Sridhar Dev Goswami Maharaj: The importance of life – life-giving and (life)-taking is not so important to them.

          Srila Sridhar Dev Goswami Maharaj: Govinda Maharaj has told some of them, “No, you are a disciple of Guru Maharaj, and I am your Godbrother.”

          Dr Asthana: He can leave that instruction and give new instruction. Or we can call the devotees here and ask you to tell them.

          Srila Sridhar Dev Goswami Maharaj: You may classify them into two (my disciples and Govinda Maharaj’s disciples). There are my disciples also, and if what they do Govinda Maharaj does not accept, they will be rejected.

          Dr Asthana: Although I have taken both initiations from you, under your instructions I am taking all instructions also from Govinda Maharaj. I am considering Govinda Maharaj as siksa-guru.

          Srila Sridhar Dev Goswami Maharaj: Yes, siksa-guru.

          Dr Asthana: So, they (the new initiates) should all consider him as diksa-guru. But I know that some people can twist each matter to their convenience and ultimately put (down) Govinda Maharaj.

          Srila Sridhar Dev Goswami Maharaj: The ambitious party and those who want name and fame rather than the substance itself.

          Dr Asthana: I want to make it absolutely clear once again. They will not oppose you and it will be beneficial.

          Srila Sridhar Dev Goswami Maharaj: I have told on many occasions, “If you cannot take from Govinda Maharaj and accept him as Guru, you are to go away.”

          Dr Asthana: It is advisable to write letters to all the people saying that whoever has taken initiation from Srila Govinda Maharaj will be considered as a direct disciple of Srila Govinda Maharaj.

          Srila Sridhar Dev Goswami Maharaj: Not to create havoc now. What will be – after me.

          [Srila Govinda Maharaj arrives and joins the conversation]

          Srila Govinda Maharaj: They are respecting me, no doubt, but I am thinking that everyone is Srila Guru Maharaj’s disciple. And that is good for me. But what you are saying, that also has some right.

          Dr Asthana: But Srila Guru Maharaj has made you the successor to run this Math.

          Srila Govinda Maharaj: Yes, that is correct –

          Dr Asthana: So, how will this Math run? Once Srila Guru Maharaj disappears they will go away, then what will you do alone? You will run the whole thing alone?

          Srila Govinda Maharaj: Not alone.

          Srila Sridhar Dev Goswami Maharaj: Whoever will support him, he will run the Math with them.

          Srila Govinda Maharaj: I am with my Godbrothers. I am not alone.

          Dr Asthana: This is what I am saying, you have to have a certain number who you can consider now as your disciples.

          Srila Govinda Maharaj: If anybody wants to take initiation from me, that is another thing, but everyone is coming from outside and they are asking for initiation from Srila Guru Maharaj and I am officiating by way of giving initiation on behalf of Srila Guru Maharaj. This is the position at present.

          Dr Asthana: So how to stop this position?

          Srila Govinda Maharaj: Yes, we can stop it immediately, that is no problem. The problem is that they have some special regard and respect for Srila Guru Maharaj.

          Dr Asthana: I may have some special regard and respect for Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, but that does not mean that I can ask Srila Guru Maharaj to give me initiation on behalf of Bhaktivinode Thakur.

          Srila Sridhar Dev Goswami Maharaj: That is not applicable in this case.

          Dr Asthana: Yes. I may have some special regard for Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur, but it is not that I can come to Srila Guru Maharaj and say, “Give me initiation on behalf of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur.”

          Srila Govinda Maharaj: No. You are to think this: they have a special regard for Srila Guru Maharaj therefore they are coming here. They are not coming for me.

          Dr Asthana: If they are not coming for you, they should not come here.

          Srila Govinda Maharaj: That is your desire maybe.

          Dr Asthana: I wish for Srila Guru Maharaj to express his desire. I feel that Srila Guru Maharaj should make this absolutely clear.

          Srila Govinda Maharaj: Srila Guru Maharaj said that those who cannot respect Govinda Maharaj, they cannot stay in this Math.
          If Srila Guru Maharaj will say, “If anyone wants to take initiation from me, then he must take initiation from Govinda Maharaj and that is enough for him (the devotee).” This statement is a correct statement as per your idea.

          Dr Asthana: My idea is that Srila Guru Maharaj has stopped giving initiations and anyone who wants to accept the disciplic succession of Srila Guru Maharaj should now come to Srila Govinda Maharaj. And all the grace of Srila Sridhar Dev-Gosami Maharaj will come more if you worship Srila Govinda Maharaj than if you try to worship Srila Sridhar Maharaj directly. It is like one trying to worship Krishna directly and another trying to worship Krishna through Radharani. I do not have any confusion.

          Srila Sridhar Dev Goswami Maharaj: Now please stop.

          Dr Asthana: There may be some chaos and confusion, so, Srila Guru Maharaj, please make this clear.

          Srila Sridhar Dev Goswami Maharaj: We do not want any quantity (large numbers of disciples), but quality.

          Dr Asthana: I am insisting upon this because I know what is going to happen later on.

          Srila Govinda Maharaj: The seed of initiation is only sraddha. Sraddha is the only seed of initiation. They have sraddha to Guru Maharaj – full faith – then they are coming here. Therefore it is very difficult to transfer them to another person. Later we can settle. Now Srila Guru Maharaj wants to stop.

          Dr Asthana: If they want to be Srila Sridhar Maharaj’s direct disciple, it is not good for them. Now they should go to Srila Govinda Maharaj. Therefore they should accept this decision.

          Srila Govinda Maharaj: Srila Guru Maharaj told it before.

          Dr Asthana: I have more mercy from Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur because I am a disciple of Srila Sridhar Maharaj. I have more mercy from him than a direct connection with Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur, because I have accepted his disciple as my Guru. It is the same way in your case, otherwise how will the disciplic succession run?

          Srila Sridhar Dev Goswami Maharaj: Parvati Devi asked Shiva, “Who is the highest Lord to be served” Shiva replied, “Narayana”. aradhananam sarvvesam visnor aradhanam param. Then Parvati Devi was a little mortified to think, “I am not serving Narayana”. tasmat parataram devi tadiyanam samarchchanam. – this next line came from Shiva, meaning, “Those who serve the servants of Narayana are greater devotees than those who serve Narayana directly.” This is because they serve both of them. Do you follow?

          Dr Asthana: I don’t understand the Sanskrit.

          Srila Sridhar Dev Goswami Maharaj: If anyone loves you, and if someone loves your son, the one who loves your son will be considered to love you more than those who love you directly and not your son. Do you follow that?

          Dr Asthana: Yes, I follow.

          Srila Sridhar Dev Goswami Maharaj: It is like that. Shiva said, “aradhananam sarvvesam visnor aradhanam param” – Of all the worshippers, the worshippers of Vishnu are the highest.” “tasmat parataram devi tadiyanam samarchchanam” – And even it is the case that those who worship the servants of Vishnu, – they are higher worshippers of Vishnu.” Hearing this, Parvati Devi was very much satisfied to think, “I am serving the servant of Vishnu, my Lord, Shiva”.
          “If you love me, love my dog.”

          • madan gopal das

            Thanks KB for referencing SSM’s instructions on ritvik. They make the fallacy of the ritvik-vada that much more apparent. Personally, I was clear on it the first 5 times SSM spells it out for Dr Asthana. You really didn’t get it the next 15 times he AND Govinda Maharaj explain it? Something is not clicking upstairs, because that reference contains much more evidence smashing your theory, and almost nothing to twist in substantiation of it. I’m sorry, but you are confused. It is quite possible that if nobody in SCSM followed the instruction correctly, maybe it is time to reconsider who got it wrong.
            Time to move on KB, time to move on.

  7. Like it or not but the ritviks are here to stay, at least for a while. We may not agree with them but we should treat them with respect since they are Vaishnavas. One can make a cartoon and ridicule just about anything but we should avoid ridiculing Vaishnavas and thus antagonizing them. There is enough needless friction among the various sangas – why add fuel to that fire?

    • Audarya-lila dasa

      We should treat all living entities with respect, but that doesn’t mean we can’t joke about things. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta build a diorama displaying a brahmana using a salagrama sila as a nut cracker as a critique on those who use devotion as a busisness. When he received complaints he put tilak on the brahmana showing that he wasn’t afraid to critique his own tradition. Whether in cartoon or a serious paper on guru-tattva, when a devotee says something about apasiddhanta those who hold that misconception will feel a pinch. That’s good – that pinch may wake them up. I for one certainly hope so.

      The other thing is that many who follow this ritvik doctrine use their tongues, pens and their keyboards to blaspheme devotees as part of their practice. The doctrine itself seems to oblige them to do so. In this case the cartoon and the comments about it are critiqueing a philosophical misconception and not attacking any person in particular. You may say that ridiculing the doctrine ridicules all those who adhere to it, but that isn’t actually a fact. There is good to be found everywhere.

      I think the cartoon is funny but I don’t think the ritvik misconception is a laughing matter. It’s actually heart breaking that this misconception is so widespread and that we even have to spend any time talking about it. A person steps forward with some faith and good intentions and then they are sidetracked by a doctrine that stops their progress. That may sound harsh, but the truth is that vaishnava aparadha does stop the progress of bhakti in a sadhakas heart. That’s why, as unpleasant as some may find the topic, it is important to speak the truth and stand up for the proper siddhanta. That can be done respectfully and without ridiculing or denigrating anyone.

      Cartoons have always been used as social commentary. They are funny and they also say something about the times at hand.

      • Audarya-lila-ji, I agree with a lot you say, but I find that disrespect breeds disrespect, and everything happens for a reason.

        Ritvik-vada is a reaction to other deviations, as Swami points out here as well. And IMO all of these problems manifest because our tradition has become much too guru-centric to be healthy. Instead of the guru issue being only helpful in spiritual life, it has turned to be the main source of divisions, criticism, and conflict. When you make guru to be as good as God and put him on the altar, a lot of people will want to be God while others will say that one guru-God is enough.

        Ritvik-vada persists because of the belief in superhuman abilities and superhuman knowledge of our gurus. Our gurus are not just some wise sages and great devotees – they are as good as, and sometimes better than – God. Our gurus can do no wrong, are always right, and never make a mistake or a wrong move. And to think otherwise is an aparadha for which the best punishment would be death, but since that can be a tricky issue – at least we can treat such person as worse than a leper.

        IMO ritvik-vada is a direct consequence of such thinking, or more precisely: one of possible consequences of such thinking. And it actually serves a purpose – to bring the tradition back on track – not directly (as it is the zig correcting the zag), but by forcing us to confront the truth about our gurus, their position in the transmission of knowledge from Krsna, and their function in the spiritual life of all of us.

    • That is all I ever intended to say about the cartoon.
      I probably should have just let it slide.
      I never take anything the new generations of devotees say or do that seriously as I know well that they are all a work in progress as i am as well.
      I am 57 and I still learn new things all the time and it has always been like that, Hopefully, they aren’t done with their studies and will someday be seniors instead of Freshmen.

      Some people seem to stop learning and stop growing in a holistic understanding of Universal Religion when they become Hare Krishnas.
      Maybe they are not meant to receive it?
      Give ’em time and these young’uns will grow out of this rebellious stage.

      When you are young you know it all and after you get old you don’t know anything.
      Maybe that is why wisdom is associated with age and not youth?

      • I know plenty of elders who are unwise, emotionally immature, and definitely not spiritually advanced. In Gaudiya Vaisnavism plenty of the ‘senior’ Vaisnavas are still chanting nama-aparadha and committing Vaisnava aparadha. There are several younger sadhakas who are chanting nama-abhasa and serving a living sadhu. This is just to say, age is not necessarily an automatic qualifier or an assurance of wisdom or achievement. In fact, I have found that sometimes old age brings wisdom & generosity and sometimes utter foolishness and condescension.

        • What you say is true, but no matter how smart and witty one might be he should try to be humbly respectful to his elders.
          In general it is always a bad idea to judge anyone by external appearances. We don’t know the hearts of others very well, so we really don’t have the ability to judge.

          To assess devotees upon a short track record of Krishna consciousness is also a mistake. Lots of the enthusiastic new devotees will be old, jaded and deflated in a few years.
          It is very immature and premature to presume that new sadhakas are more elevated than older devotees because they start out the race in good form. Many of them will fall by the wayside.
          I saw one of the most austere and learned devotees of the younger set recently abandon Gaudiya Vaishnavism and become a big offender of the faith after 8 years of great effort in Gaudiya Vaishnavism.
          So, a few good years in the beginning of the KC career is not enough to determine if the person actually has true attraction and affection for Krishna in his heart.

          Thousands of newbs have performed well for a couple of years but went on to reject the faith. Most often it is an unfit and unqualified guru at the bottom of these spiritual disasters that result in total loss of faith in KC.

          Such gurus are not done with their material sojourn quite yet.

  8. Funny comic. Sometimes you have to laugh to make up for all the tears and pain such apasiddhanta has caused (as a reaction to other equally painful deviations).

    • Srila Sridhar Maharaja explicitly stated that ritvik can be a permanent appointment.

      Srila Sridhar Dev Goswami Maharaj: Rtvik means the representative. It may be temporary or it may be permanent.

      So, I disagree with anyone who says it cannot permanent, including revered senior sannyasis.

      • That is good, I think it is better to support SP as the ritvik of Jesus Christ, who is lord Brahma himself. It will provide great merging of two traditions.

        • That would not be a good idea, because it was never explicitly stated by Srila Prabhupada as such. We shouldn’t attach anything to him that he didn’t approve.
          Srila Sridhar Maharaja explained that “ritvik” means “representative”. So, if we use that definition we could say that Srila Prabhupada was ritvik to the founder of the Saraswata Gaudiya Sampradaya – Srila Saraswati Thakur.
          All the successor acharyas in the line are ritvik to Saraswati Thakur – the Ray of Vishnu and Sampradaya Acharya.

          Lord Jesus only teaches to the level of Maha-Vishnu.
          Lord Jesus does not distribute Vraja-rasa. He actually teaches Supersoul realization and reverent devotion to Maha-Vishnu.

          So, we can’t say that Srila Prabhupada represents Jesus.
          Jesus has many angels and agents on Earth right now and they have actually made Earth a headquarters for some very important angelic services.

          The ritvik era should be dead now. None of the ritviks appointed by Srila Prabhupada or Srila Sridhar Maharaja ever functioned as ritvik after their passing, so the only authorized ritviks on the planet are either dead or not performing as ritvik.

          If some disciples choose to adopt the ritvik system apart from that it is their own choice. Whether or not it has divine backing is questionable.

          Gaudiya Vaishnavism is well-established in the western world now with a traditional concept of parampara.
          It would be counterproductive to try and regress back to those early days of 1977 at this point.

          At this point, I no longer consider the ritvik concept as either functional or viable in the face of all the popular resistance to the concept.

          Then again, we probably don’t need a top-heavy institution like ISKCON putting the ISKCON seal-of-approval on a mob of gurus who serve to splinter Mahaprabhu’s Sankirtan movement into hundreds of sects of differing gurus with hordes of neophyte disciples running around saying “my guru is better than your guru”.

          Traditionally, except under special circumstances, the senior Vaishnava of the Sampradaya is elevated to the acharya seat by the elders. Nowadays none of the elders respect the other elders and want disciples for themselves instead. So, instead of having a united Sampradaya with one acharya at the top we have a fractured, factional frenzy of guru madness that is running ISKCON into the dirt.

          Tripurari Maharaja made the right choice. He left the pandemonium and created another society with a single acharya at the top – just like Srila Prabhupada did.

          • Citta Hari dasa

            All the successor acharyas in the line are ritvik to Saraswati Thakur – the Ray of Vishnu and Sampradaya Acharya.

            Sorry, but BSST did not start his own sampradaya. The burden of proof is on those who think this to show us the following:

            What is the new metaphysic of the sampradaya called?
            Where is the commentary on the Vedanta-sutras?
            Where is the unique tilaka?
            Did he establish the mantras we chant?
            Did he establish the codes of conduct we follow?

            The only traction you will get is with number four above: BSST did adjust the guru mantra and gayatris (he changed the bija syllables) and added the Brahma-gayatri. But that’s all. He didn’t formulate a new interpretation of the Vedanta like Ramanuja, Madhva, Nimbarka, or Vallabha. The metaphysic the Goswamis formulated to explain Mahaprabhu’s prema-dharma was given the name acintya-bhedabheda by Sri Jiva Goswami. BSST didn’t invent a new tilaka, and he didn’t establish the codes of conduct we follow–that was done by the Goswamis and compiled by Sri Sanatana Goswami in the Hari-bhakti-vilasa.

            I’m afraid therefore that your claim will go to the junk heap of bad ideas, never to be resurrected.

      • So, I disagree with anyone who says it cannot permanent, including revered senior sannyasis.

        Even one you say is your siksa-guru?

  9. However, let me state that I certainly believe that all the disciples of Srila Prabhupada have the authority to accept disciples and perform the guru role. In fact ALL Vaishavas have that authority.
    Tripurari Maharaja certainly has all authorization and qualifications to perform as guru.
    However, he cannot perform as rtvik because Srila Prabhupada only empowered 11 original ritviks to initiate on his behalf.
    This was a good platform for ISKCON, but at the same time allows for disciples to accept their own disciples if anyone is desiring as such.

    Govinda Maharaja was THE ONLY ritvik appointed by Srila Sridhar Maharaja and as such was the only one who was every authorized to initiate on behalf of Srila Sridhar Maharaja after his passing.
    Sadly, he chose not to perform as ritvik and the whole world is the loser as is the case in ISKCON as well.

    • Govinda Maharaja was THE ONLY ritvik appointed by Srila Sridhar Maharaja and as such was the only one who was every authorized to initiate on behalf of Srila Sridhar Maharaja after his passing. Sadly, he chose not to perform as ritvik and the whole world is the loser.

      May Jesus/Brahma have mercy on his soul. May he varnish his ashram as well!

      • I am glad that Maharaja can maintain his humor in the midst of such a discussion.
        An angel told me that humor is a good thing.

        I know that Puranjana and some other froth-at-the-mouth ritviks have run the ritvik idea into the dirt.

        Ritvik is dead!!
        Long live the living acharya!!
        Tripurari Maharaja ki-jaya!!!!!

  10. Dr Asthana: Is the empowerment to Govinda Maharaj now temporary or permanent?

    Srila Sridhar Dev Goswami Maharaj: Permanent. Wholesale – both property and the function – transferred. If anyone has no recognition of this opinion of mine, I do not want them to live in the Mission. I drag them out.

    Sridhar Maharaja here clearly and unequivocally states that his appointment of Govinda Maharaja as rtvik is PERMANENT.
    Sadly, NOBODY cared to follow this after his passing.

  11. Bhaktikanda writes, “the objection [from ritviks and other quarters as well] is not with the practice of editing in itself but by whom, and under whose order its being carried out.”

    Please forgive me for pointing out that this is quite mistaken. Although there are those who personally attack Jayadvaita Swami and Dravida, the rallying cry of the anti-editors is “Don’t change one word!” Jayadvaita Swami was trained as an editor for BBT during Srila Prabhupada’s time with us. Dravida also worked with the BBT beginning in the mid ’70s. I look at their work as a disiple and as an editor, and, although I may not think every change is necessary or enhances the books, the work strikes me as generally professional and responsible.

    I have no interest in debating either the ritvik issue or the editing issue because it is, quite frankly, pointless. There are better ways for disciples to spend their time. I’m even less inclined to discuss things with pseudonymous correspondents. The fact that we too often don’t discuss with real persons is one of the flaws of what passes for public discourse on the internet. I addressed them only in the context of the complaints about Guru-nishta’s cartoon.

    • Well you did make a defense of the editing and editors in a public forum.

      • I explained why, and I stand by it.

        • You make a defense of the blatantly indefensible. i.e., the deviations of the GBC from the essence of Srila Prabhupada (you say the editing does not change the philosophy), and then want to dismiss a rejection of that defense because you find such “debate” “pointless”. If you stated all that as being just your opinion, then who would really care one way or another. But the technique of appropriating the truth in a situation like this because of being in a position of authority (in this case being in the position of being friends with those holding the power by force), is the technique of the bullies, to be sure. The issue really is the spiritual power of the books. Because these are being handled by deviatiors, there is every legitimacy in the complaint that the changes might be troubling. To say the least.

  12. Dear all,

    I find this comic very distasteful and it reflects much intolerance to the faith and opinions of others. I believe that in any ideology there is a continuum of conceive conscious realities and derived faith; that difference (in this topic: Ritvikism) is to be seen as Wonderful and we are to draw conclusions for oneself and thankful to the Universe for showing us that there is so much out there in domain of thought and notions concerning the Realm of God and how complex this Science of God can be.
    Today one school of thought is majority and perhaps that is not going to be always…

    • Ram, difference is only beautiful when it is rooted in reality. Difference based in falsity is an illusion and therefore true beauty cannot come from it. If we have two (or more) contradictory notions (in this case rtviks and guru-tattva as advocated in sastra and by guru parampara) how we can we say both are true? This is intensely sentimental to the point of being nonsensical. The sensible thing we must do in these situations is try to ascertain which (if any) school is correct. Pretending like everything simply enhances the beauty of life may help us maintain friendships with larger numbers of people, but it won’t endear us to Krishna. And majority has absolutely nothing to do with it.

      Tolerance is not inherently wonderful. Should we tolerate injustice or the abuse of those we love? Tolerance may even have a place in those scenarios, but it is not the final word. Similarly, humility and tolerance are spiritually beneficial when they are enacted on the basis of spiritual knowledge, which means they are not simply passive in all circumstances.

      • Pretending like everything simply enhances the beauty of life may help us maintain friendships with larger numbers of people, but it won’t endear us to Krishna.

        Is that fighting about Guru Tatva?
        Is that fighting about Ritviks?

        No, But it is about the ego and belief of one against the other. Also, i see this fighting a useless gain as No one will agree until Srila Prabhupada or other Acaryas descend again to clear this out.

        Ritviks has been a good watchdog but that disintegrated in faultfinding in Vaisnavas and that caused their ruin. Despite the fact that No one can say they were 100% wrong; this is to say that if even they were right for even 15% of their claims, their cause was justified. For e.g. changes in Books where even senior devotees are against.

        Now concerning Guru Tatva, If Spiritual People tend to fight and hate one another, then what will religious people do? This will disintegrate into perhaps what is for the Muslim case of sunni and shia

        My opinion is relative realities cannot take into account what can endear us to Krishna i.e. the Supreme Reality , the absolute truth except love, appreciation for everything and tolerance.

    • Thakura Bhaktivinoda identified 11 sects that while claiming to represent Mahaprabhu’s precepts were in fact deviant. He was not shy to speak out against them. This tradition should be followed by those who represent his line today.

      • Gurumaharaja, will you consider doing something like what Bhaktivinoda did by identifying deviant groups? I just think it is much needed again in the Western world of Gaudiya Vaisnavism as there is much misconception and most of us do not have the sophisticated understanding of siddhanta to navigate the terrain. I know you speak about these topics quite extensively in SANGA, but a treatise of a sort might be a more concise way of asserting this issue.

        What I imagine being helpful is a bold statement on the groups that are deviant in regards to the siddhanta of our lineage (representing the groups outside the circle) and then the groups within the siddhantic circle with whom there could be some significant concern about understanding of siddhanta or potential deviance. Then in addition to this an inner circle of groups that are well within the boundaries of siddhanta with whom there are some acceptable differences of opinion. And finally, an intimate circle within which slight variations are in harmony and therefore with whom we can feel in harmony (a much needed feeling).

        I just feel that this would help us all better understand and boldly hear which groups embody negative-siddhanta (what siddhanta is not), which groups embody marginal-siddhanta (siddhanta on dangerously ambiguous grounds) and which groups embody positive-siddhanta (what siddhanta is). Might you consider something like this?

  13. All I have to offer is my opinion. It’s the opinion of someone who has considerable experience as a devotee and as an editor. But if no one cares for it, that’s not my concern. You’re concerned about the books’ power; I have faith that Krishna has the power to protect the books’ potency from editors, translators, self-motivated book distributors, and people who give classes based on mistaken understanding.

    As far as deviations are concerned, I was speaking against them in the ’80s, perhaps before you were involved with Krishna consciousness. If you mean to imply that I have any position of power in ISKCON or elsewhere, and therefore am in a position to bully anyone, you’re sadly mistaken. If you knew anything about me, you’d know that my home is on Hawaii’s Big Island, where there is no ISKCON presence. I’ve had no connection with ISKCON since 1985, and I’ve never worked for the BBT. I have friends who still serve in ISKCON, some of them as temple officers, some in the BBT, and some as GBC representatives, but I don’t hold that against them. If there’s any bullying here, it’s your trying to bait me from behind the cloak of a pseudonym.

    It seems you have a strong opinion, and I’m delighted for you. It also seems you like to argue, and I’m sorry for that. If you want a protracted debate on the editing of the BBT books, I suggest you engage someone who has a vested interest in the issue. As I said before, I only mentioned the issue in connection with critcism of the cartoon. As I said: Pretty good cartoon. Have fun.

    • No I don’t like to argue, you are mistaken. And as strong as my opinion might be, still its only heard at convenience, if at all. What does it matter identities here then? The point I am making is not mine, its a very well known point that many have been trying to get across. Yet now you shift it to be an isolated “anonymous” bullying case. No I am not such thing. No I don’t like to argue. But if indeed you are one who understands the whole picture, and you understand the need of the moment, then you should know that, at this point, if we are to survive the power games and politics and give a real chance to this Krishna Consciousness movement, we, the nobodies, have to try and get our point across one way or another. We have had our golden days of submission and trusting. We were let down by leader after leader. Better count on a little call to accountability.

      • Bhaktikanda wrote, “And as strong as my opinion might be, still its only heard at convenience, if at all. What does it matter identities here then?”

        It appears you’re asking why would it matter who we are here, as best I can tell. (I’m still working on the meaning of the second clause of that last sentence. I’d be grateful if you could help me.) As I alluded to earlier, that’s one of the biggest problems I see in what passes for discourse on the internet, especially among devotees. The idea for coming here, I assume, is communication. That’s something that goes on among particular persons. In the classical analysis of communication, there are four elements, one of which is the character of the speaker or writer, his or her qualification for making a particular argument. The use of fake names makes that impossible, and perhaps that’s deliberate.

        Another problem is that, as strong as your conviction in your opinion may seem to you, it’s not strong enough for you to stand behind it with your good name. If I came on here using the name Karl Marx and accused you of all sorts of nasty things, who would be held accountable for my nonsense? Not I!

        One of my long-time concerns has been the way devotees conduct public discourse among themselves. It has for a very long time been simply toxic, and this is one of the ways that toxin continues to spread.

        As far as the problems with editing are concerned, all I’ve said is that my alarm has been tempered by my investigation of the issue, which has been informed by my long experience as an aspiring devotee and an editor. I’ve taken my concerns to the BBT editors, we have discussed them candidly, and my overall impression is what I’ve said before. If you hope to move me, you’d better try harder. Devotees whom I love dearly, and who love me, and who have stronger opinions (strong enough to attach their names to them) and better arguments than you have presented against BBT editing, have agreed with me that it’s more productive to find something more essential to discuss when we’re together. I fail to see how continuing to discuss it with a cipher can bear any fruit.

        As far as power dynamics in ISKCON go, if you can’t trust the institution’s leaders enough to submit as you think they demand, find other company. I’ve had problems with the GBC since my mission to Peru, commissioned by the GBC representative for South America and confirmed personally by Srila Prabhupada himself, was aborted by their politics almost 40 years ago. And, as I mentioned above, I haven’t been under the GBC’s control for 25 years or more. If you search your heart, you may find it’s time for you to move on, unless you feel it’s your mission to just throw rocks.

        • I am moving on, I am voicing my objections (if you don’t mind). If you are really concerned with my well being and like to help, my complaint is still the same: Our spiritual leaders have failed us decade after decade and we pretty much had enough. And for some self appointed referee in the matter to come and add insult to injury and say that our complaint is illegitimate and we just should go away because the name Bhaktikanda is not enough, believe me, it does not feel like being thrown roses at.

          • Um, referee? How so? I’m just participating in a conversation. And I’ve never said your complaint was illegitimate. Heck, I’ve gone there myself, and way before you. But I reached a different conclusion with regard to the editing than you did. So are you saying my opinion is illegitimate? I’m just saying you don’t help your case by not taking responsibiity for it. I’ve done what I can to effect changes, and I’m frank enough, apparently, that I was suspended from giving classes at the ISKCON temple. And I continue to speak out where it’s useful.

            And speaking of moving on . . .

  14. Citta Hari dasa says:
    July 18, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    All the successor acharyas in the line are ritvik to Saraswati Thakur – the Ray of Vishnu and Sampradaya Acharya.

    Sorry, but BSST did not start his own sampradaya. The burden of proof is on those who think this to show us the following:

    What is the new metaphysic of the sampradaya called?
    Where is the commentary on the Vedanta-sutras?
    Where is the unique tilaka?
    Did he establish the mantras we chant?
    Did he establish the codes of conduct we follow?

    I understand your point. However, Srila Prabhupada specifically stated and instructed that his disciples should think of themselves as “Saraswata” Gaudiyas.
    So, within the Brahma sampradaya there are certain acharyas who contribute something special to the sampradaya and the parampara.
    Therefore we have the Brahma-Madhva Sampradaya, Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya Sampradaya and finally the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya-Saraswata Sampradaya.

    That is the way it is and that is the way the acharyas have given it.

    Jesus being Brahma himself is certainly in the Brahma-sampradaya, but there again only a certain level of deity is revealed by him.

    We should also remember that Srila Prabhupada had no problem with the idea of people following Jesus even today, but what he had a problem with was the fact that they commit violence to animals in the act of meat-eating.

    Too much animosity towards the ritviks is just about as unhealthy as the promoting of an illicit ritvik system that operates outside of GBC authority.
    Srila Prabhupada didn’t instruct all his disciples to be ritviks.
    He instructed them to become gurus.
    The ritvik system was for the GBC to implement and oversee, not anyone else.

    The anti-ritvik propaganda going around today is every bit as ugly and irresponsible as is the unauthorized practice of the ritvik system.

    • I understand your point. However, Srila Prabhupada specifically stated and instructed that his disciples should think of themselves as “Saraswata” Gaudiyas.

      No, he taught us to think of his movement as the movement of Bhaktivinoda, and BSST taught his followers to think of themselves as the Bhaktivinoda parivara. The Sarasawata idea was more that of Sridhara Maharaja–Caitanya Saraswata.

      • Maharaja, I have based my statements off of these teachings of Srila Prabhupada:

        Adi 10, 84 purport –

        As members of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement we belong to the family, or disciplic succession, of Sarasvatī Gosvāmī, and thus we are known as Sārasvatas. Obeisances are therefore offered to the spiritual master as sārasvata-deva, or a member of the Sārasvata family (namas te sārasvate deve), whose mission is to broadcast the cult of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu (gaura-vāṇī-pracāriṇe) and to fight with impersonalists and voidists (nirviśeṣa-śūnyavādi-pāścātya-deśa-tāriṇe). This was also the occupational duty of Sanātana Gosvāmī, Rūpa Gosvāmī and Anupama Gosvāmī.

        The siksha is there in the teachings of Srila Prabhupada.
        Srila Prabhupada taught this when he was here and it is written in his books as well. This is obviously nothing to do with SCS Matha and is Srila Prabhupada’s own design for his institution.

        • Thanks for that citation.

          Acyutananda Swami: When I suggested writing down the songs of Bhaktivinoda and Narottama däsa in English translations, His Divine Grace (Srila Prabhupada) said, “Yes, we must push on this mission of Bhaktivinoda.”

          Bhaktivinoda paraivara ki jaya!

        • It is written once, in the reference you have cited. But I would not say that this reference speaks of something independent of the thinking of Sridhara Deva Goswami, who explained his idea of “Saraswatas” to Prabhupada before he wrote his books. I see it more as a reference in which SP shows deference to Sridhara Maharaja’s idea. Again, in my opinion it is not an idea he arrived at independently.

          • Maharaja, I have also suspected that possibly Srila Prabhupada originally came to know of the “Saraswata” conception from Srila Sridhar Maharaja considering their intimate relationship and Sridhar Maharaja being the senior Godbrother and sannyasi of the two.

            We can only guess at this time, we have no proof, but most anyone who knows the truth about the actual relationship between Srila Prabhupada and Sridhar Maharaja might speculate on this conclusion.

            There is a good chance that Srila Prabhupada originally learned the “Saraswata” conception from Srila Sridhar Maharaja – the Guardian of devotion.

            It might not be possible to trace back the first disciple of Srila Saraswati Thakur to come up with the idea, but it is very likely that too was Srila Sridhar Maharaja. If it was, then the fact that Srila Prabhupada taught his disciples the “Saraswata” conception also speaks of his great respect for Srila Sridhar Maharaja as a siksha guru.

          • Yes, my sense entirely as well.

          • Vrindaranya dasi

            It is humorous to see how the comment “Yes, my sense entirely as well” keeps attaching itself to different statements because of the threads within threads feature of the board. You are currently agreeing with yourself. 🙂

          • Yes, I agree with that! 🙂

          • I agree with Gurumaharaja’s agreement

      • As well, most devotees don’t know this but the “Saraswata” in SCS Matha derives from Srila Sridhar Maharaja’s heritage in the Saraswata Brahmana community.
        It of course has dual meaning, depending upon the audience.
        Sridhar Maharaja came from a family of Brahmins in the Saraswata community and he always honored that heritage as well.

  15. This is what I have long felt about why Srila Sridhar Maharaja adopted the ritvik system in his own mission in the same manner as Srila Prabhupada did:
    Srila Sridhar Maharaja came to see the ill-effects that the GBC guru system was inflicting upon ISKCON. He grappled with the ritvik conception and came to the conclusion that in fact the concept was viable and actually preferable to the unfortunate disasters that have befallen ISKCON with it’s liturgy of fallen gurus, corruption, crime and mischief.
    As such simply as an example to the world, ISKCON and everyone else he adopted the ritvik system exclusively for the purpose of backing and supporting what Srila Prabhupada had done in ISKCON with his ritvik system. It actually became necessary as well as Sridhar Maharaja himself was amassing a global following.
    Srila Sridhar Maharaja came to see the utility and wisdom of Srila Prabhupada’s ritvik system and in fact adopted it himself during his life even as the GBC had rejected it after the passing of Srila Prabhupada.

    So, at one time Sridhar Maharaja had several ritviks including Bhakti Sudhir Maharaja, Sagar Maharaja and maybe BKA Swami from Mexico. I can’t remember who all they were.
    But, in the last days as Sridhar Maharaja finalized his will and declaration of spiritual succession he withdrew ritvik powers from all but Govinda Maharaja and made Govinda Maharaja the sole ritvik representative for the post-samadhi period.

    I don’t think that Sagar Maharaja, Bhakti Sudhira Maharaja or any of the other senior western followers of Sridhar Maharaja ever understood the thinking and the desire of Srila Sridhar Maharaja.
    Therefore they never expected or encouraged Govinda Maharaja to follow the ritvik system. In fact they insisted that Govinda Maharaja be recognized as a non-ritvik acharya in his own right as if Govinda Maharaja was the founding acharya of the Matha.

    So, Govinda Maharaja was overwhelmed by this gaggle of screaming groupies who all insisted that the ritvik title be stricken from Srila Govinda Maharaja.
    The whole episode was simply sad and unfortunate because actually ISKCON is the big loser in all this and the whole purpose of Srila Sridhar Maharaja was defeated just the same way that the purpose of Srila Prabhupada was defeated shortly after his passing.

    I just wanted to go on the record as having made this clear so that if anyone out there really has an affinity for truth beyond all political and sectarian loyalties they can understand what really went down.

  16. The “Dev” in Sridhar Dev Goswami derives from the Saraswata Brahmana heritage of Sridhar Maharaja. In that community when a Saraswata Brahmana takes sannyasa they adopt the “Deva” as titular with the swami status.
    I think BS Goswami taught me that back in the early days of SCS Mandir in San Jose, Ca.
    If it is incorrect you can blame him.
    If it correct he gets the credit.

    • I am not sure this is correct. According to the Sri Caitanya Saraswata Matha Sridhara Deva Goswami was born in India in 1895, in a respected Brahmana family of the Bhattacarya order, not Saraswata.

      Here is an article on the suffix “Deva” in his name (http://gosai.com/writings/sridhara-deva-gosvami). It seeks to comprehensively deal with this issue and in doing do does not mention the point you raise. Also in the many explanations of the name of his matha (Sri Caitanya Sarawata Matha) Sridhara Deva does not mention the point you bring up. However, he does mention Saraswata brahmanas of Maharasta and refers to them as Gaura Saraswata brahmanas. He then identifies them with the aryan civilization mentioned in Manu-samhita and with Vyasa who resided on the banks of the Saraswati river that is represented in Nadiya as the Jalangi. So from Saraswati (the river) stemming from the Himalayas where the Bhagavata was written to Nadiya where Gaura appeared and the Caitanya Bhagavata was composed. He combines this idea with the idea of the Gaudiya linewage stemming from Sri Caitanya and coming down through Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati to arrive at his “Sri Caitanya Saraswata Matha.”

      Incidentally, it was BV Narayana Maharaja who objected to the use of the suffix “deva” being attached to Sridhara Deva Goswami’s name.

      • And the most curious thing is that the “Saraswati” in BSSG derives from his “Siddhanta Saraswati” title award of the astronomical society or whatever it was.
        How a title for astronomical achievement and contribution then becomes part of the Vaishnava honorific titles is another curious thing.
        Any clue?
        I guess when you add the “Bhakti” onto “Siddhanta” you get the spiritual Saraswati instead?
        There are always more questions than answers.

  17. But I reached a different conclusion with regard to the editing than you did. So are you saying my opinion is illegitimate?

    This is not a matter of opinion. In this, one conclusion has to be correct and the other incorrect. There is no other way. I sustain that the conclusion which I happen to embrace is the correct one because it is the one which concurs with the principles of properly honoring saints. It doesn’t matter how qualified materially the editors are for strictly editing a text. They are automatically disqualified to edit spiritual texts when they sit in Mayapur in a meeting with fellow administrators and do not raise any objection to the offensive words of Hari Sauri towards Srila Sridhara Maharaja.

    And if you don’t see the conneciton between that aparadha and the disqualification to be touching sacred texts, then you yourself don’t have a damned business boasting to know the mind and the heart of Srila Sridhara Maharaja either.

    • Bhaktikanda wrote,

      They are automatically disqualified to edit spiritual texts when they sit in Mayapur in a meeting with fellow administrators and do not raise any objection to the offensive words of Hari Sauri towards Srila Sridhara Maharaja.

      I’m not sure it’s true that they do not raise any objection. If you include Jayadvaita Swami in that “they,” I know for a fact that he objects strongly to such aparadha. I heard a class he gave in Mayapura, called “Don’t Badmouth Sadhus,” in which he says clearly that none of us has any business criticizing devotees, especially elevated devotees such as Srila Sridhara Maharaja, whom he specifically names. I have also heard him cite Srila Sridhara Maharaja by name in classes given at ISKCON centers. Even someone like me, who’s hardly an ISKCON insider by any imaginative stretch, is aware that there’s much about JS’s frankness that is not well appreciated among ISKCON’s leadership. As far as the other editors, none has said anything critical of SSM to me, or within earshot (either literally or figuratively). If they had, I’d take them to task for it, as I have a couple of GBC members and temple presidents.

      I should also make it clear, as I’ve already alluded, that I don’t necessarily endorse every change in the books. There are many things that I’ve checked out that I would not have recommended changing. However, I wasn’t given that responsibility; neither was I ever consulted. And I’m no fan of many of the philosphical misunderstandings supported by some of the editors, whatever their reason. That I’m friendly with them doesn’t mean that I’m one with them in all respects.

      And if you don’t see the conneciton between that aparadha and the disqualification to be touching sacred texts, then you yourself don’t have a damned business boasting to know the mind and the heart of Srila Sridhara Maharaja either.

      I certainly do see the connection, and I do agree that any complicity in such aparadha compromises them. But I also don’t think that Srila Prabhupada or his books are fragile enough that moving a dot here, a tittle there, or trying bring them more into conformity with modern publishing practice necessarily drains them of all potency, any more than what happens when they’re translated into Rumanian and edited by a Rumanian editor.

      And I’m a little mystified by your second clause here. When have I ever boasted about knowing the mind and heart of Srila Sridhara Maharaja? I’d like to, and I have discussed such things frankly with members of ISKCON as well as members of Sripad Narayana Maharaja’s sanga. I have a strong appreciation for the depth of his devotion and am very strongly influenced by his presentation of Krishna consciousness (and have been since the early ’70s). And I have chosen to associate most closely with devotees who at least have such appreciation. But I don’t remember when I’ve ever represented myself as you characterize above. If you could point out where I’ve done so, I’d consider it a favor.

  18. swami bv tripurari says:
    July 19, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    Thanks for that citation.

    Acyutananda Swami: When I suggested writing down the songs of Bhaktivinoda and Narottama däsa in English translations, His Divine Grace (Srila Prabhupada) said, “Yes, we must push on this mission of Bhaktivinoda.”

    Yes, the mission of Bhaktivinoda must be pushed on to spread KC all over the world.
    But, Maharaja, I am sure you would be the first to acknowledge that even Srila Saraswati Thakur was not a “Saraswata” rather the Saraswatas are Srila Prabhupada and Srila Sridhara Maharaja and the other wonderful disciples of Srils Saraswati Thakur?

    Saraswata as a principle means something however which is not purely or strictly delineated by Bhaktivinoda Thakur.

    We know that Srila Saraswati Thakur and Srila Lalita Prasada had their differences yet both were disciples and sons of Thakur.
    Saraswatas like Srila Prabhupada and Srila Sridhar Maharaja do not reveal their gopi or gopa names or identities as possibly did Thakur and his two sons. Prohibition of certain readings of certain Goswamis is also unique feature of the Saraswatas.

    So, really, a true Saraswata cannot and does not attempt to emulate or imitate the raganuga bhajan of Bhaktivinoda of BSST. The great Saraswata acharyas that we speak of are Srila Prabhupada and Srila Sridhar Maharaja prominently amongst others and they clearly have banned such practices from their branches of the Sampradaya.

    Of course not everyone will agree with this analysis.

    • My impression was never that things like not revealing one’s svarup or reading certain books were requirements of the followers of Bhaktisiddhanta. I have always thought it was rather that the former does not have much utility in the present day and could be misunderstood and used to justify an imagined bhajan on the part of others, and the latter is simply irrelevant (and therefore potentially harmful) to 99% of sadhakas’ lives, if we are being honest and introspective. A truly realized sadhu could certainly read whatever and remained chaste to Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta’s vision.

      • Srila Sridhar Maharaja helped define what is Saraswata.
        He explained that Srila Saraswati Thakur had issued a mandate that his disciples were not to read Ujjvala-nilamani and possibly Govinda Lilamrta. Yes, there are quotes from both in the books of Srila Prabhupada.
        Such strictures as this is what defines Saraswata from the rest.

        • Yes, there are quotes from both in the books of Srila Prabhupada.

          Does that mean he is not in the group, or that the group is not entirely defined by such strictures. I think the latter. BSST also did not allow his disciples to read the 4th chapter of CC adi-lila, but SSM read it and SP published it and sold it all over the world. So these strictures were aspects of his sect and they have a sprit to them that should be kept in place that my not always play itself out literally.

          • The quotes in Srila Prabhupada’s books taken from the prohibited reading material forbidden by Srila Saraswati Thakur were either within the texts of the CC for example or in the commentaries of the acharyas.
            These quotes were not inserted there directly by Srila Prabhupada. They were already in CC or TLC. So, there was nothing like Srila Prabhupada violating the stricture as he was not quoting directly in his own commentary. He was simply translating.

            So, I don’t think anyone can say that there is any evidence in Srila Prabhupada’s books that Srila Prabhupada made a personal study of any of those books or passages and referenced them in his preaching apart from what was in CC.

          • Kb,

            Prabhupada’s purports are full of references to Ujjvala-nilamani. Especially TLC (Prabhupada wrote this entire book!) and Cc. SSM also used to cite Gita-govinda and had studied the book. Prabhupada also introduced songs from Gita-govinda. But there is nonetheless a principle that should be adhered to regarding such texts that does characterize the approach of BSST and I understand and honor that.

          • So, I guess the idea they were trying to impress upon us was the idea that we are supposed to follow their advices and not imitate.

            Such dictums as this by Sridar Maharaja is my basis of understanding.

            Ujjvala-nilamani is a book where only madhurya-rasa has been dealt with in detail. And very shortly that is given here and there in Caitanya-caritamrta in a well-guarded way. We will approach from there [Caitanya-caritamrta] and whatever little we have heard from the lips of our Guru Maharaja. That is enough and one day we may be allowed to enter that domain in some life.

            In Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu the general science of devotion is given. There he takes the general development of bhakti and the highest position comes to madhurya-rasa, it is closed there — Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, first part. And then second part, Ujjvala-nilamani. There, only madhurya-rasa has been dealt with in detail. I have not gone through it, but only in Caitanya-caritamrta, and other literatures.

            We did not venture to enter into the details of madhurya-rasa. Our Guru Maharaja did not like it. But it will come irresistibly within you if you go on with sravana kirtana. Pujala raga-patha gaurava-bhange. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. It is so high. When it will come it will awaken within you. It won’t be awakened by any other person.

          • KB, be cautious when using the figure of speech, “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread”. You said, “it will come irresistibly within you if you go on with sravana kirtana”. For some of Prabhupada’s disciples (more and more of them as time goes on) including Swami Tripurari… this may have already happened, and thank goodness. Now you may have guidance in studying some of those scriptures under the guidance of someone who has experienced these topics ‘irresistibly’.

            You also said, “When it will come it will awaken within you. It won’t be awakened by any other person.” Let me add something to that…. We are taught very clearly by Gurumaharaja Swami Tripurari that it is not by our efforts that we acquire realization. It is a gift from above, and coming through the grace of a realized guru. This is a very relational mystical path… and again, thank goodness. (GV is placed squarely within the post-modern world…. not in the modern pioneering world of individualism.) It is not that we ourselves are powerful… but rather in touch with the source of all power. We do sadhana with the sense that harinama can change us… and with such an effort as to embarrass ourselves and get the sympathy of Sri guru and gauranga.

          • I should have cited Sridhar Maharaja on that last quote. That whole last post was a quote from Sridhar Maharaja.
            I never make such claims on my own authority. I was simply trying to refer to the “Saraswata” position on a few important issues.

            If you look at the post again maybe you can see that I was quoting Sridhar Maharaja and not making off-hand statements.

    • I am a Saraswata in the Bhaktivinode parivara.

      • There is of course a section of devotee that would like to have it the other way around. I am not one of them. I think the notion is misguided.

        Bhaktivinode didn’t mastermind Gaudiya Math or launch a supercharged version of the Gaudiya Sampradaya as did Saraswati Thakur. Therefore, if anyone prefers to sidestep the Saraswata innovations and attempt to imitate Bhaktivinode, they will be neglecting some important and inspired developments in the Gaudiya Sampradaya and defying the advice, guidance and leadership of great Saraswata acharyas like Srila Sridhar Maharaja and Srila Prabhupada etc.

  19. It just seems like the true Saraswata conception of Srila Saraswati Thakur as most perfectly preserved in the ideals of Srila Sridhar Maharaja is getting trampled asunder by the stampede of neophyte gurus flooding the Hare Krishna movement nowadays as some westernized deviant version of the Saraswata Gaudiya Sampradaya is being promulgated as the real thing.

    In fact Srila Sridhar Maharaja alone is the finisher of the Saraswata ideology as it is his teachings wherein the actual standards and definitions of “Saraswata” are most fully and completely delineated for the whole of the Krishna consciousness movement to know.

    Nowadays we see widespread violations of the Saraswata creedo being committed by many supposed devotees in the Krishna consciousness movement. The safeguards and protections initiated by Saraswati Thakur are being trampled on by a stampede of neophyte voyeurs looking to get a peep into the private affairs of Radha and Krishna by reading books that are banned in the Saraswata sampradaya.

    This was not what Srila Saraswati Thakur wanted or what Srila Prabhupada taught.

    The high and the holy is becoming all too accessible to the unfit who will harm themselves by premature dabbling in something that is way beyond their level of adhikar.

    The genie is out of the bottle and the offenses are reaching new heights as the Saraswata ideology gets lost and some American made version replaces it.

    • The genie is out of the bottle and the offenses are reaching new heights as the Saraswata ideology gets lost and some American made version replaces it.

      That’s what many Indian Gaudiyas said about Prabhupada’s movement. But never the less there may be some truth to what you have said in essence. However, if so, it is certainly not limited to American versions.

      • Mahraja,

        KB das mentioned how some of the Saraswata conception is not preserved properly by some of the contemporary followers and some other version has replaced it, and in certain ways you think there may be some truth in it.

        This idea may sound iconoclastic and in some sense naive, but is there any way to objectively scrutinize the changes and come up with a list of merits/demerits.
        Something like Gaudiya Vaishnava baseline Ver 0.0, Ver 1.0 , etc, and then come up with merits and demerits based on variety of factors.

        Most of the times in debating about ritvik and the traditional parampara model usually scripture/SP quotes are used. Using other factors, I guess would bring a new perspective. E.g. Which model would increase membership? Or maybe which is the best model for enhancing spiritual education, or devotee dedication, etc etc.

        Or maybe think of other potential models, say new model where there are no regulative principles. One subject all these models to the method of rational critique and then it will be clear which of them is the winner in a certain situations.

        • Bhushan, I think your idea of analyzing Gaudiya models with logic is not a bad one, but such endeavors can only apply in the realm of details, of which the rtvik system is not one. We may reassess what is ideal clothing, terminology, emphases, vows, etc., but we cannot ever seek to change fundamental aspects of siddhanta and then compare the different “models.” If you change the teachings of Gaudiya Vaishnavism, you are no longer speaking about Gaudiya Vaishnavism, you are speaking about something else. The siddhanta itself (which has a logic that adherents subscribe to) is our standard by which to assess the world and all other religious conceptions.

          Certainly many many adjustments to the teachings could result in increased membership and other “good” things, but all of them are useless or worse if they are built on a foundation of something that is not the teaching. As Srila Sridhara Maharaja said when a godbrother of his proposed a rtvik-like system in relation to Bhaktisiddhanta, “Your sentiment is nice, but we are not Sikhs.” If one is attracted to the format and ideal of Sikhism (or any other sect), that is fine, but we cannot try to turn Gaudiya Vaishnivism into something it is not.

          • Thank you for your comment. You mentioned that ritvikism is departure from siddhanta and I concur with that, but you also said that since it is a departure from siddhanta it cannot be considered an alternate model. Why not?

            There are so many forms of Christianity, Arianism, Diaphysite, Orthodox many forms of Protestantism, Calvinism etc. And they don’t simply differ by small details. Arian Christianity has different siddhanta compared to Catholic. There is an excellent book on this topic ‘A History of Christianity: The First 3000 years’. – Diarmaid MacCullough.

            I am unable to understand, why ritvikism is equated to Sikhism. Yes somethings are common, but Sikhs don’t worship Shri Shri Radha Krishna. They worship an impersonal form of God and the Granth Sahib which the ritviks don’t do.

            So would you consider ritvikism as some form of Vaishnavism? Maybe apasiddhantic Gaudiya Vaishnavism ? Or to be polite maybe we can call it ritvik Gaudiya Vaishnavism.

            I am not defending siddhanta of ritvikism here, but trying to promote multi-culturalism and pluralism of ideas.

          • The way I see it, ritvikism is a reaction to the acharya personality cultism that was fostered in ISKCON. When a singular acharya is hailed as more important than the entire sampradaya, all sorts of deviations become possible, because a single word or a sentence of that acharya supposedly trumps centuries of tradition practiced within that sampradaya.
            When you turn your guru into a legend, none of his disciples can ever be good enough to succeed their guru. Ritvikism makes sure that this ‘never good enough’ system is justified and perpetuated. Thus one fake philosophy follows another, poisoning the parampara and tradition it is supposed to represent.

          • Well said!

          • Another point is that ritvikism cannot be convincingly addressed in a debate without addressing the underlying issue of personality cultism which causes it to manifest itself. You can beat around the bush, so to speak, trying to combat that misconception by citing shastra or traditional practice, but for a person who thinks that one word from his guru is more important than 500 years of tradition, that is all irrelevant. And this is what we see in this discussion here as well.
            All gurus exist in the context of their parampara, not the other way around. A guru which substantially changes the way his parampara is carried out simply does not properly represent his lineage. I do not think Srila Prabhupada intended to create his own separate sampradaya but wanted his disciples and ISKCON to remain within Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya sampradaya.

  20. Dear Maharaja

    So much of this is over my head. Is there any chance that you can summarize the issues, contentions, dysfunctional applications you have observed, conclusions, and practical applications for the future – for those of us who are less informed? I would like to understand at least the appropriate conclusions.

    Your servant, Ishan das

  21. Pranams Bhushan,

    What I meant is that it cannot be considered an alternative model of Gaudiya Vaishnavism, no more than Christianity, or indeed, Sikhism, can be considered alternative models of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. They are alternative worldviews entirely. It is like saying that someone espousing that Mahaprabhu is the combined being of Krsna and Balarama as opposed to Krishna and Radharani is a “different model” of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. The Gaudiya Math in contrast to rural, relatively reclusive ashrams is a “different model of Gaudiya Vaishnavism,” for example.

    The comparison to Christianity is somewhat irrelevant. You see, just because all these different sects have followers does not mean they are viable models. The Devil also has worshipers. Similarly, just because any number of apasampradayas, from the Bauls to the Rtviks (if you want to call the latter a sampradaya), have some adherents, that does not mean they carry real weight. Gaining adherents is not the goal of a sampradaya, individuals’ attainment of Krishna-prema is. So yes, the only form of Gaudiya Vaishnavism that I think it would be appropriate to term rtvikism is “apasiddhantic Gaudiya Vaishnavism.”

    Pluralism is good and valid, but only as much as it is rooted in siddhanta. Gaudiya Vaishnavism is already pluralistic in a real way. It is externally pluralistic in that it acknowledges the reality of different spiritual goals, both impersonal and personal, and it acknowledges a variety of methodologies to attain those. It is further pluralistic in that Gaudiya Vaishnavism itself culminates in the beautiful diversity of rasas of Vraja, each of which is perfect and absolute. Pluralism is highly valued in our culture and considered beautiful, but something can only be as beautiful as it is true. Sastra teaches that one attains love of God via a direct guru-disciple relationship. To give a contrary idea credence for the sake of amicable dealings is to support a delusion, and that is never beautiful. This is how I understand this topic.

    The comparison to Sikhism by Srila Sridhara Maharaja was alluding to the idea of no longer needing a teacher, only the book. For the Sikhs it is the Guru Granth Sahib, for Rtviks it is the original, unedited books of Srila Prabhupada.

  22. The strongest argument is that I must become a pure devotee. Let me strive for that, apply my energy in that direction. Winning an argument on the basis of logic will provide only fleeting satisfaction. But becoming a pure devotee, that is the strongest argument – and still others may not accept or endorse that. But If I want to solve the problems of samsara, that confront me, how much time do I have for arguments? After all, we are not arguing against atheism. We are simply saying my way to Krishna is better than yours. So if we really believe that, then we should have the courage of our convictions, and prove the point to ourselves. Then with Krishna’s endorsement, we can hammer the podium with our shoes. A pure devotee argues also, but it is always a variegated expression of love. And Krishna kills demons. But that love is never eclipsed. When I argue, do I hold that love in my heart?

      • Respectful obeisances

      • Maharaja, how can you endorse this as a good “argument”? I realise Ishan das is nicely expressing good sentiments (and also commenting on a cartoon!) but how will the courage of our convictions be any help in avoiding the trap of ritvik, sahijiyaism or any other deviations from the path?

        Surely logical arguments are our only hope here, since the ritvik is well convinced of his conclusion and has proven the point to himself to his own satisfaction. The only tool we have is logical appeals to siddhanta to convince him he has embraced a inferior method.

        And it seems to me the conviction we must become a pure devotee is the conclusion rather than the argument and we reach this conclusion by considering the logical analysis presented by Gaudiya philosophy in the first place. So as an argument, I find no compelling reason to accept it unless I am already convinced it would be the best use of my time.

        I’d also like to know why we are not arguing against atheism since while we bathe in the ocean of nectar the world is being over-run by logical evangelical atheists and they are claiming all the territory. Doesn’t that disturb the devotees and seem like something urgently requiring counter-attack? Do we really have to wait until we become pure devotees before we can at least try to do something or other?

        • Dear Prue,

          I can understand that your expression is heartfelt. And I also acknowledge that your inquiry is placed before Swami Tripurari rather than myself, and he doesn’t require any help from me in answering you. Still, I feel tempted to address your concerns.

          One answer to consider is that those Christians who fought in the Crusades and those Muslims who ransacked the Vaishnav temples of India felt as strongly as you do about rectifying the way in which people approach God on planet earth. And in our own times there is so much “ethnic cleansing” in various geographical areas.

          When a man is inclined to put his whole life’s energy into such horrific activites, certainly we cannot doubt his sincerity. But we are prompted to ponder how much his inspiration is prompted by divine grace, and how much the influence of maya.

          It is not that I am comparing our mode of approach to these terrible expressions of aggression. But we have to be careful that the “shadows” in our hearts have not found “justification” for our personal ways of “acting out”. I believe that our jewel-like Nitaisundara has brought up the subject matter of the six pushing urges that drive all of us to act prematurely, in advance of our ability to change the face of the world with our preaching work.
          So perhaps we should be cautiously introspective.

          In other words, I’m not, as you suggest, commenting on the cartoon. But rather that our passion in this connection may be a red flag that some personal purification of heart is in order.

          The courage of our convictions will have utmost utility when we utilize all of that zeal in becoming a pure devotee of Krishna. Period. Consider. On one side of the scale, place all of our unlimited good arguments. On the other side, place Srila Prabupada’s influence in spreading Krishna consciousness over the face of the globe.
          The answer of course is self-evident. And that is the answer to your question as to how the right kind of courage and conviction can save all of us from “deviations”. We are already deviated. And a drowning man cannot save anyone else.

          There is an old saying that my athiest mother used to say, that “Nothing succeeds like success.” And I think that the jist of it is that when we become pure devotees of Krishna, that will trump all other arguments. It’s power will span the globe.

          Therefore “logical argument” is not our “only hope” or our “only tool” as you are postulating. Rather it is a vain hope and an ineffective tool. After all, a word to the wise is sufficient. So if our opponent is deficit in that kind of wisdom, what will be the utility of our pages of argument?

          “And it seems to me the conviction we must become a pure devotee is the conclusion rather than the argument and……”

          So I am begging you to consider that to actually become a pure devotee is both – the argument and the conclusion. Another way of saying the same thing is, were you drawn to Krishna primarily by logical argument or by the purity of presentation? What is it that inclined your heart to hear that presentation?

          “I’d also like to know why we are not arguing against atheism ………. Do we really have to wait until we become pure devotees before we can at least try to do something or other?”

          So as we have hinted, Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhupada has nudged us at the outset of his Upadeshamrita that our greatest power in taking up the good crusade that you are putting forward is to become a pure devotee. It is not, of course, that we should do nothing while we on that path. But we should approach the spiritual master, pure devotee, and he will say, “Do like this. Do like this.”

          I believe your heart is in the right place at the right time. And, Srila Prabhupada has written in his preface to the Nectar of Devotion,

          “We have failed to create peace and harmony, even by such great attempts as the United Nations, because we do not know the right method. The method is very simple, but one has to understand it with a cool head…….how to perform the simple and natural method of loving Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”

          Respectfully,

          • Dear Ishan das,

            Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Of course I would agree the goal is pure devotion, but for someone who wasn’t convinced of this, some logical justification is needed for them to commit their time and effort to that goal. We also need logical justification to combat ideas like ritvik if we decide the method is invalid and won’t produce the desired result. No one will be convinced by the courage of our conviction. Rational justification is also said to produce firm faith so this is beneficial in convincing ourselves to dedicate ourselves more fully to the path.

            Maybe someone is fortunate enough to bypass this by being zapped by love or something along those lines, and they become instantly convinced beyond doubt. But in general I’d assume it’s our purity of heart that enables us to perceive the zapping in the first place. So for someone unconvinced and whose heart is so dense light cannot penetrate, logic seems the best, and only, tool we have to convince them the goal is worth the effort involved to achieve it.

            I don’t know the answer to whether it’s purity of presentation or logical argument that draws people to Krishna. I’d have to assume both ingredients were essential and purity of presentation necessarily includes sound philosophical presentation combined with realisation of the meaning of the scriptures. Do you think Srila Prabhuapada would have been so successful if he was preaching ritvik philosophy? It also doesn’t need to be an all or nothing situation, some presentations are surely more pure than others, but we can still judge these impure presentations as superior or inferior to others.

            It’s not that I don’t appreciate the very nice points you’re making and the sentiments you express, only that I disagree we should ever relinquish logic or that arguments are of no value. This may be true for achieving prema itself, but the road to prema is long and full of many traps and we need something more than the courage of our convictions to guide us.

            There are so many people who are championing the value of logic and reason as our best tool to discover truth. They reject religion since they see this as a faith based position with no rational justification in support and preach atheism as the only respectable position. When it comes to logical expositions of reality, the Gaudiya perspective is profound and the greatest wealth we have to offer these rationalists. They won’t relinquish their reliance on logic and reason, nor apply their efforts to Krishna consciousness, unless we first use their own accepted methods to convince them.

            I’d also equate preaching, by arguing logically, or whatever method we deem most effective for the circumstances, to be the most dynamic form of chanting Hare Krishna. This is sankirtana, and this is the recommended practice. Should we not chant our japa because our chanting is impure? If you agree this would be mistaken, then on what basis will you decide impure preaching is invalid, but impure japa is recommended?

            Also, could you explain what you’re referring to when you say ” Nitaisundara has brought up the subject matter of the six pushing urges that drive all of us to act prematurely, in advance of our ability to change the face of the world with our preaching work.”

  23. Hi Prue! Hare Krishna!
    Looks we got a conversation going here.
    I don’t think that anything you are saying is incorrect. Logic is good. We could all probably use a bit more of it. And this addresses some of the considerations that you are placing before me as well. I want to feel assured that you will not feel negated by anything I am saying, because my main thrust is not about that. But before I elaborate on this I like to tell you that I met Srila Prabhupada in New York in 1968. But let me retrace my steps. My whole life has always been like the round peg in the square hole and I was pretty much at my wits end, when somehow or other, by Krishna’s grace, volume one of Srila Prabhupada’s original Bhagavatams came into my hands. I really couldn’t make much of it, especially the tanslation of the verses. But in his introduction, Srila Prabhupada wrote that one should not jump haphazardly through the text but should read it by installments in the order in which it was written. He also said that one should “hear” the text. At that time I was living quite austerely with a mat and sleeping bag in an empty room. I had just finished my yoga asanas and so I sat down in lotus posture to begin “hearing” from Srila Prabhupada’s book. And as I simply sat there and read his words aloud, I began to feel something in the area of my heart that I had never felt before. One could compare it to an orgasm, except that it was more subtle and very sweet. I knew nothing of Krishna or the philosophy, but there wasw instant conviction that I had to meet the man who wrote this book.

    I was in Canada. So off I went to New York, along with my wife. Somehow or other I got to be alone with Srila Prabhupada in his room behind the Matchless Gifts store front. We both sat on the floor and I asked Srila Prabhupada a question. He read to me from his abridged Bhagavad-gita. To this day I honestly don’t know how what he read to me had much to do with my question. But at the same time I knew that I understood all that he was saying, at some place inside me, that was deeper than my mind. It seemed to me that being in that room with Srila Prabhupada was like being on another planet in a rarefied atmosphere. Everything felt light and tranquil, causelessly happy – almost as if being with this person was like waking up from a terrible dream, and finding that all problems were solved.

    When I was in that room with Srila Prabhupada, someone had put a piece of banana prasadam in my hand. But I was so transfixed upon Srila Prabhupada that I didn’t notice the prasadam, which was squashed in my hand, until about 20 minutes later when I left the building. I had tried everything, but never had I experienced anything like this persons vibrations. There was no doubt in my mind. “I am going to be initiated by this man.”, I told my wife. “But”, she exclaimed, “he says that God is blue!” “I don’t care”, I said, “if he says God is made of green cheese. He has what I have been looking for, and I want it.” It wasn’t a question of philosophy, you see. It was his overwhelmingly beautiful presence. Nothing else mattered now. All other truckloads of considerations were irrelevant. There was nothing in life that had to done except to become a student of this man.

    Of course I came to love the philosophy in time. And to this day there are still many aspects that I don’t completely understand. And there is no logic that I can think of that will help me accept that God is blue. But I wasn’t convinced by logic. I convinced by my heart. So you can simply imagine that if Srila Prabhupda had said at that time “I am Ritvik!”, I would have said, “That’s great. Where do sign up?” I knew nothing of all these topics that we discuss today. There was no Krishna Book, no Nectar of Devotion. Just first cantoe the verses of which were beyond my comprehension and this little abridged Bhagavad-gita and the Hare Krishna mantra, which actually worked for me. You see, I didn’t care what the philosophy was. I simply knew that this man knew something, and I wanted a piece of the action. Subjects I had studied in university from all of those textbooks, two and three inches thick, all filled with “logic” took me nowhere, did nothing for me. Here was the answer I was searching for. I had already tried logic. But if someone hands you a million dollars, you don’t have to take a course in economics before you go out and spend it. If you are already at your destination, you don’t have to study a map to understand exactly how you got there? Some understanding is nice of course. But when the prasadam tastes wanderful, one will eat it with or without knowing the recipe.

    None of this is to counteract anything you are saying. It is only my experience. And tis brings us to your question as to what I was referring to when I mentioned those six pushing mechanisms. This is the first verse of Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhupda’s Nectar of Instruction. In his Preface to this book, our Srila Prabhupada writes,

    “Everyone in this material world is engrossed in the modes of passion and ignorance. One must promote himself to the platform of goodness, sattva-guna, by following the instructions of Rupa Goswami, and then everything concerning how to make further progress will be revealed.”

    Let us, just for a moment, really consider this statement. If I can just come to the platform of goodness, everything, evverything concerning how to make further progress – will be revealed. Surely this is some kind of secret or magic formula. How powerful this mode of sattva-guna must be, to provide so much clarity of vision!

    But we are a bit intellectually inclined. We want more information. We like to read translations of all the advanced literatures. However, Srila Prabhupada goes on in his preface to write:

    “Srila Rupa Goswami has given many other books, such as Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu, Vidagdha-madhava and Lalita-madhava, but Upadeshamrita constitutes the first instructions for neophyte devotees. One should follow these instructions very strictly. then it will be easier to make one’s life successful. Hare Krishna.”

    Signed: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

    So the first verse instructs us that:

    “A sober person who can tolerate the urge to speak, the mind’s demands, the actions of anger and the urges of the tongue, belly and genitals, is qualified to make disciples all over the world.”

    Let us note that among these qualifications, logic is not mentioned. Let us also note that when one possesses the qualifications mentioned in this first verse – he is qualified, he has the qualifications for making disciples – all over the world. Isn’t this wonderful? Isn’t this what you also want to see happen? And to do this, one doesn’t need to have vast comprehension of so many intellectual concepts. Even Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, the emperor of prodigious intellectual capacity, approached Srila Gaurkishore das Babaji, who was illiterate, and told him, “If you don’t accept me as your disciple, then my life has no value.”

    Therefore because you have the same goal in mind as is the purpose of instruction in this verse, we have to consider this formula for success. And although all of the qualifications are part and parcel of one package, I was thinking about the aspect of “the action of anger.” When we take a strong stand for or against one thing or another, are we still holding that straw between our teeth, being more tolerant than a blade of grass, or is there some subtle scent of “krodha-vegam”, the urge of anger? This is very important to us because, on the one hand, one who embodies the spirit of “trinad api sunichena….”, such a person can enter into the dimension of pure devotional service. It is like a rite of passage. And on the other hand, that person who possesses that kind of humility, being free from all traces of anger and aggression, will be able to implement just what you are firmly declaring that you want to accomplish – he can turn the hearts of people, in all areas of the world, to embrace the teachings of Krishna consciousness.

    Again, I say with sincerity, that all that you are saying is good. I also am trying to understand, even after some 40 plus years, the intricacies of these issues of parampara, etc. And at the same time I am saying that there are these very wonderful and gracious guidelines for monitoring our hearts, measuring our personal advancement, and qualifying ourselves for carrying the torch forward. I will tell you quite frankly, that no one needs to hear these things more than me. And perhaps that is why I am a bit preoccupied with these areas of concern.

    If this is helpful to you in any way, then there is no way that I can express my gratitude to you.

    • Hare Krishna Ishan das,

      I enjoyed reading your reply, especially your stories about meeting Srila Prabhupada and the blue God!

      I agree this power of bhakti has the capacity to convince us like logic never will. I had a less intense, but similar sort of experience when reading one of Prabhupada’s books for the first time. Although what he said was appealing because it made so much logical sense, there was an accompanying feeling of “rightness” that was the most intriguing thing and inspired my curiosity to enquire further. These periodic tastes of bhakti are what sustains me on the path and overrides any logical appeals against them. I doubt I’d still be here without them. But it’s dangerous to have only feeling to guide us, we need the solid logic of scripture as well.

      My point is if we propose such a justification to people with this popular rationalist mindset, it gives them the impression Gaudiya Vedanta is based on sentiment alone. They won’t stay to listen to anything else you say. So I’ve found it’s better to focus on the rational justification for that conclusion, since logic is the method they claim to accept as the best way to find truth. And the philosophy isn’t lacking in its capacity to do that. If nothing else, it weakens their faith in logic because most of them start out convinced all religion is irrational. At least they end up with a more open mind to consider what religion has to say.

      Although I find battle metaphors about preaching useful to communicate a point, I don’t really see preaching as an exercise in territory to be conquered or converts to be gained like some numbers game. To me, preaching is an offering we make to people on behalf of Sri Guru and Mahaprabhu. It’s an offering Mahaprabhu wants to make to everyone and anyone. If we want to offer something that will please someone, we’ll take the trouble to present it in a way that accords with their taste. So the preaching needs to be done out of respect to the person we are preaching to. A recognition they are a just a temporarily lost devotee and dear to Krishna, not from a desire to dominate them. Maybe that’s the same idea as what you’re saying about purity of presentation and the urge of anger not being helpful.

      Personally, I have no desire to make disciples all over the world, the idea freaks me out! So although I realise my preaching has no real impact, it’s my service, my sankirtan, and it’s the only thing I have to offer, meagre and impure as it is. I kind of like it that way, nothing showy or grand, just something heartfelt. Srila Sridhara Maharaja says if we have some medicine we should try and distribute it. On a battlefield we won’t be so concerned that we can’t fix it totally, we’ll just be inspired to do whatever we can since the need is so great. We can still do that while recognising we have no power to end the war. For me, preaching is the best method because it keeps me focused on all these things and feels like real chanting. My japa is just an exercise in counting beads, and I’d rather use a calculator for such mundane tasks.

      I do personally have an ongoing internal struggle with this question. I realise internal purity is necessary for effectiveness, but I can’t find the state of peaceful equilibrium necessary to keep my head when connected with that thing. This power of bhakti is something I don’t want, at least not here and not now. You can’t function under the influence of such a thing, it sweeps you off your feet and the next thing you know you’re standing there with squished bananas in your hands and a belly ache from eating all the skins! Logic is my way of keeping my head in control. It seems appropriate because I don’t think we should chant to enjoy the chanting, but to serve. If Mahaprabhu likes he can simultaneously zap them with bhakti while I outline the logic which supports it.

      From my position, I see no other solution. If you can show me a better way, I’m all ears.

      • Hi Prue! Hare Krishna! I am feeling satisfied that we have exchanged our views, with a little give and take, and that we are at peace with each other. I do understand that each of us is serving in terms of our current capacity and understanding with as much sincerity as we can muster. As I readily admit, I am a neophyte devotee, and most of what I have written is pretty much what I am focused on in my own practice. Perhaps one day we will meet and you can give me a logical presentation of Krishna consciousness. I would be very open to that. Best wishes in all ways, Ishan

  24. Hi Prue! Hare Krishna! I wrote you a fairly lengthy reply, but for some reason it is not present. Perhaps it was too long or not appropriate. In any case I can understand that you are sincere and I am confident (only because Srila Prabhupada taught us to think in this way)that this is what is important to Krishna – our sincere desire to be engaged in His service. If you get there before I do, save me a seat. Hare Krishna!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to Top ↑