}

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Ritviks Preaching at Kumbha Mela
By Name withheld at the request of the author

Recently while staying at the Kumbha Mela festival in Allahabad I went over to visit the Ritvik camp as I had heard about their 15 metre high deities of Gaura Nitai. They were very impressive. I couldn't get in to the site without buying a book for 10 rupees. "Do you have one in English" I asked. I was handed a copy of "The Laws of Nature" by HDG Srila Prabhupada. Back in my homeland as I read through the book I came to a paragraph that reads, "As you progress in bhakti-yoga, you may eventually want to accept initiation. Before he left this world in 1977, Srila Prabhupada authorized a system in which advanced and qualified devotees would carry on his work by initiating disciples in accordance with his instructions. At present there are many spiritual masters in ISKCON. To learn how you can get in touch with them for spiritual guidance, ask a devotee at your nearby temple, or write to the president of one of the ISKCON centers listed at the end of this book.” So, what am I to do? Surely they must be aware that Srila Prabhupada's books contain many instructions like this. Should I believe what is written here? It doesn't seem to fit in with the Ritvik idea. Certainly if I go to a nearby temple or write to the president of one of the ISKCON centers listed at the end of the book, they aren't going to suggest that I "head for the nearest Ritvik temple" because they seem to be so few and far between. Personally, I can accept the fact that "Srila Prabhupada authorized a system in which advanced and qualified devotees would carry on his work by initiating disciples in accordance with his instructions,” and I can also accept that sometimes things didn't go at all according to that plan. Still, there are advanced and qualified devotees in ISKCON. So many. And they're not all gurus either. You find them cooking in kitchens, cleaning the hallways, emptying the garbage bins, distributing books, performing hari nam sankirtan, worshipping the deities or doing a whole host of services for Krishna. Services that, were it not for the divine touch and guidance of Srila Prabhupada, would have us all acting as slaves to our minds and senses. Chewing the chewed and toiling uselessly for mundane pleasures which are readily available to even the hogs and dogs. So thank you my Ritvik friends for giving me Srila Prabhupada's mercy. I need it badly.

© CHAKRA 27 February 2001

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