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“He simply writes crudely of Dravinaksha prabhu, calling him a ‘GBC-delinquent.”

Pancha Tattva dasa   

An Opponent of Ritvik Doctrine Defends Dravinaksha
By Pancha Tattva dasa

Dear CHAKRA readers,

Please accept my humble obeisance’s. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

I am writing to take strong exception to an editorial titled “Undying Ritvikism In Alachua,” which was published recently on the VNN Web site. The author, Bhakta dasa (Is this his real name?), writes very critically of the temple board of ISKCON New Raman Reti, Alachua, for allowing a devotee named Dravinaksha dasa to give Srimad Bhagavatam class.

I am disturbed with the mood of the author, who would rather grind his axe than try to understand the difficulties that the temple board of Alachua faces in dealing with a very sensitive situation. I wonder if he has even bothered to talk with members of the temple board, or for that matter, with Dravinaksha himself. He simply writes crudely of Dravinaksha prabhu, calling him a ‘GBC-delinquent.’ He then refers to his wife as the ‘reigning “temple president,”‘ putting ‘temple president’ in quotes as if to mock her position because she’s a woman. And he refers to another very senior female Prabhupada disciple as “an unprotected, middle-aged woman.” I suggest that he come here and try to misbehave again in this way. He might find out that she is much more protected than he realized. She has hundreds of sons in New Raman Reti who do not take kindly to her being insulted, and I’m one of them.

Don’t get me wrong - I’m staunchly opposed to ritvik doctrine. It is a gross deviation from the authorized, time-honored Gaudiya Vaishnava guru-parampara, and it is something that Srila Prabhupada never authorized, no matter what the ritviks say. There is not a single place in Prabhupada’s books where ritvik doctrine is defined or promoted. As far as I’m concerned, I don’t think ritviks should give Srimad Bhagavatam class, simply because they have a stubbornly wrong understanding of the disciplic succession, which they often try to promote to the devotees and congregation. Along with Premananda Gaura and Prabhupadacharya prabhus, I helped organize a grand disciples meeting in which we pledged our support for the correct understanding of the parampara: that is, for spiritual initiation (diksha), one must approach and humbly serve and surrender to a bona fide spiritual master who is physically present. However, after all of this, I’ve gradually come to the realization that we must always try to temper our actions with compassion.

It is true that Dravinaksha prabhu is a ritvik, but it must be acknowledged that he is a senior disciple of Srila Prabhupada. He’s done much, much service over the years for His Divine Grace. He chants his rounds, goes to the morning program very regularly, and only occasionally gives Bhagavatam class. Whatever his misunderstanding of the philosophy, he is an intelligent, hardworking devotee who has dedicated his life to Srila Prabhupada. He is a Vaishnava devotee of the Lord.

His wife, Mother Nanda, is also a senior Prabhupada disciple. She’s trying her best to be a good temple president, and as a result we’ve had a fairly stable atmosphere for cultivating Krishna consciousness. Unlike some less fortunate temples in North America, we’re not deep in debt, our community is growing, and most of the devotees are happy with the way things are going. We will soon be installing Radha Krishna Deities.

I cannot speak for the temple board, but let me convey what I think is their rationale for letting Dravinaksha give class. I’ll sum it up: They don’t want to lose him. He does a lot of devotional service, he’s someone they’ve served with in ISKCON for many years, and if he goes, his wife goes. Every devotee is special. In this day and age, after all ISKCON has been through with guru fall-downs, child abuse, and various mistaken applications of the philosophy (the zonal acharya system comes to mind), I think the temple board wants to give devotees like Dravinaksha a little time to come around to the understanding that ritvik doctrine is a mistake. Perhaps they feel that he’ll calm down once the gradual changes and adjustments that have been going on in our society start to give positive results.

When I think about the devotees on the temple board who are allowing him to give class, and when I think about how senior they are to me in every aspect of devotional service, I have to accept that they are trying to do what is best under the circumstances. I hold the highest respect for devotees such as Nagaraja prabhu and Mother Laxmimoni. If they think it acceptable for Dravinaksha prabhu to give class once in a while, I have to give their judgment some consideration.

There are quite a few devotees in ISKCON that are disturbed and bitter over the upheavals that have taken place. Sometimes, out of desperation and bitterness, they take shelter of doctrines like ritvik, hoping they’ve found the magic formula for solving all of ISKCON’s problems. Should we automatically respond to them by shoving them out the door? Would Srila Prabhupada be pleased? There may be an instance or two where such heavy-handed action is necessary, but only if the person is creating a serious disturbance.

You can be sure that, in New Raman Reti, no one will be allowed to preach ritvik doctrine in Bhagavatam class. If someone did, they would be barred from ever giving class again. Furthermore, the usual Bhagavatam class crowd in New Raman Reti is overwhelmingly opposed to ritvik doctrine. Trying to espouse that bogus belief in class would be foolish indeed.

What we need now is a cooling-off period in which devotees take the time to understand each other and work together for the spreading of the glories of the Holy Name of Krishna. All this infighting is terribly destructive. I hope ‘Bhakta dasa,’ whoever he is, thinks twice before again putting his meanminded words to print. And, although my words may be a little strong, let him be especially careful not to denigrate the mothers of our community, unless he wants to be punished for it by their sons.

Your servant,

Pancha Tattva dasa

© CHAKRA 30-Jan-2000

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