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|The Ritviks' FAKED Final
by Ajamila dasa
The controversy the ritvik people are virulently pushing is this:
On 9 July 1977, only months before his impending departure, Srila Prabhupada approved a letter addressed to all ISKCON leaders worldwide. In that letter, considering his rapidly deteriorating health and the hundreds of devotees eagerly awaiting initiation, Srila Prabhupada increased to eleven the number of ritvik priests initiating disciples on his behalf. Let us not forget that this ritvik initiation system was a 'temporary' method by which our immensely powerful Founder-Acarya could 'practically' cope with the fast-growing worldwide demand during his deteriorating health.
Otherwise, the ritvik system is not normally practised, as was the case in ISKCON's early days. The ritvik system Srila Prabhupada implemented was simply a temporary arrangement according to kala, desh, patra, time, place, and circumstances. And more importantly, such a ritvik system is never practised posthumously, i.e. one can never take diksa from a guru after his physical departure.
The ritvik people nevertheless argue vociferously that the GBC should not have stopped that 'temporary' system because Srila Prabhupada did not personally stop it. They insist that the temporary system should continue now as if Srila Prabhupada were still 'physically' present, and this is where the ritvik controversy begins.
The idea of ritvikism, however, audaciously ignores much unequivocal evidence. For example, six months before Srila Prabhupada's departure he instructed that the temporary ritvik system would automatically discontinue after his departure. This fact is verified herein.
Over the past ten years the GBC have listened patiently and studied carefully all the arguments for ritvikism. The GBC engaged ISKCON's best scholars to conduct a thorough research of Srila Prabhupada's relevant instructions. Subsequently the GBC 'unanimously' concluded in a definitive paper entitled 'Prabhupada's Order' (downloadable from CHAKRA) that ritvikism is a dangerous and devious concoction.
Having failed while working within Srila Prabhupada's system, the Ritviks now hope to impose their views on ISKCON through ruthless external means. They hope to force ritvikism on ISKCON's 80-plus gurus, many thousands of their disciples, hundreds of other leaders and tens of thousands of congregational members. These ISKCON leaders and members are disinterested in ritvikism and disgusted by the Ritviks' misbehaviour which Srila Prabhupada strictly prohibited. In spite of the fact that Srila Prabhupada said the GBC must be followed in 'all circumstances', and in spite of the fact that Srila Prabhupada said philosophical disputes must only be settled within ISKCON the Ritviks flagrantly disobey both these instructions. Not co-operating with the GBC on this issue when nearly the entire ISKCON reject ritvikism is indefensibly wrong as Srila Prabhupada instructed in a letter to Bali Mardan, 18 September, 1972 as follows:
Given that Srila Prabhupada affirmatively said "all circumstances", are the Ritviks not guilty of defying Srila Prabhupada's direct instructions?
Headed by Adridharan from Calcutta and Madhu Pandit from Bangalore, the Ritviks have now taken their push for ritvikism to a state of formal rebellion and rejection of the GBC. By the use of 'external' influences, the Ritviks may gain a slim chance of bulldozing their unwanted ideas on ISKCON.
Greater than the problem of Ritviks' rebellion, however, is the dangerous ritvik 'theory' itself. The biased selection and dismissal of evidence, the desperate juggle of words, the mayavada coverings of unwanted direct meanings with glossy 'purpose-made' indirect meanings, and defeating one's own mis-interpretations of sastra are some of the techniques that ornament a shallow theory. We provide some classic examples herein. We also attempt to study carefully Srila Prabhupada's relevant instructions in their entirety, in a completely unbiased way so that readers can make a properly informed decision about ritvikism.
At the heart of this controversy/debate created by the Ritviks are a 28 May '77 discussion and a 9 July '77 letter, the latter being the Ritviks' main 'evidence'. The Ritviks are trying to convince everyone that their 9 July 'evidence' proves that Srila Prabhupada wanted to break the law of disciplic succession, he wanted to stop the parampara with him, and that he wanted to ignore the examples set by Lord Krishna, Lord Caitanya, and all the acaryas in our line by implementing a system of posthumous initiations for 'himself' after his departure.
Are these not very serious unproven accusations that the Ritviks are inadvertently levying at Srila Prabhupada?
A system of posthumous diksa initiations is so outrageously controversial and radically different it is inconceivable that Srila Prabhupada would have introduced such a system and 'forgot' to explain why! Surely, the Founder-Acarya of Lord Caitanya's brilliant-as-the-sun ISKCON would not have made such a mistake as the Ritviks would like us to believe. Had Srila Prabhupada actually wanted ritvikism he would have certainly left his disciples and future generations with a very detailed explanation. But the Ritviks in their recklessness imply that Srila Prabhupada on this issue acted irresponsibly! And they also insinuate that Srila Prabhupada 'didn't know' that a posthumous diksa system is not mentioned anywhere in the entire history of Vaisnavism .
It is obvious that had Srila Prabhupada actually wanted ritvikism he would have explained it in great detail. Srila Prabhupada's consistent meticulousness did not take leave of him even towards the end: He was still translating Srimad-Bhagavatam with perfect clarity after 9 July. Is it not therefore dangerously foolish of the Ritviks to disgrace Srila Prabhupada's name in the parampara with this 'unheard of' posthumous ritvikism? Is not ritvikism simply an 'invention' of Kali to cause quarrel among ISKCON Vaisnavas? Even Lord Krishna Himself and Lord Caitanya needlessly took diksa from a 'living guru' just to teach us by example not to concoct a posthumous system.
To uncover some of the deceptive curtains the Ritviks use to bewilder everyone's eyes, let's examine two important pieces of evidence:
The clear purpose of 28 May conversation was to solve the problem of initiations AFTER Srila PrabhupadaÕs departure.
And the clear purpose of the 9 July letter was to solve the problem of mass initiations DURING his presence.
In other words Srila Prabhupada wanted 'regular guru initiations' for post-samadhi and 'ritvik priest initiations' for pre-samadhi.
These are the self-evident meanings the GBC unanimously derived from evidences 1. & 2.
Now lets examine how the Ritviks try to cover the GBC's evidence.
Watch how in the upcoming texts the Ritviks' interpretation methodology exactly resembles mayavada. The ritvik people consider 9 July letter as their only evidence. Their dubious interpretation of that evidence and their mayavada way of interpreting many other pieces of evidence is revealed herein. We'll demonstrate how the Ritviks try to 'cover' the clear purposes of evidences given in 1. & 2. with 'indirect' meanings. This is a hallmark of mayavada, as confirmed in this following verse from Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya 6.135:
We will illustrate how the Ritviks try to cover the direct 'after departure regular gurus' meaning of the 28 May conversation with their indirect 'after departure continue ritvik' meaning. And how they also try to cover the direct 'until departure ritvik priests' meaning of the 9 July letter with their imaginative interpretation 'continue the emergency circumstantial ritvik system for the next 10,000 years' meaning and in so doing accuse our beloved Srila Prabhupada of 'breaking the law of disciplic succession'.
It is clear that during the 28 May conversation Srila Prabhupada was talking about initiations 'after his departure'. This is confirmed at the very beginning of the conversation when H.H. Satsvarupa Maharaja asked:
There is absolutely no doubt here that the 'topic' of this entire conversation was 'future initiations' after Srila Prabhupada's departure. This is the clear direct meaning.
Here is the indirect meaning or the wool that the Ritviks try to pull over everyone's eyes. In the middle of the conversation Srila Prabhupada talks about the transition from a 'ritvik priest' to a 'ritvik acarya' or 'officiating acarya' or 'regular guru'. This is the bit the Ritviks have eagerly distorted and isolated to make it look like 'their' evidence. Here is what the Ritviks say in TFO (The Final Order) including 'their' quotation marks:
Notice how the Ritviks use the mayavada tactic of trying to 'cover' the meaning of the word 'officiating acarya' with 'Literally a priest who conducts some type of religious or ceremonial function' and then falsely conclude that it is 'absurd' to think otherwise. The Ritviks conveniently try to overshadow the meaning of a post-samadhi 'acarya' and 'guru' with the meaning of a pre-samadhi 'ritvik', but it is blatantly obvious they are fudging.
Srila Prabhupada added 'acarya' to the word 'ritvik' because during his presence they are 'ritviks' and after his departure they are 'acaryas'. This point is proved again by Prabhupada's statement that the ritvik priest after his departure becomes quote "a regular guru" and that the devotees receiving initiation become quote "disciples of my disciples" and "they're his grand disciples". The covering techniques used here by the Ritviks precisely emulate the mayavada interpretation methodology as defined in Caitanya-caritamrita.
If Srila Prabhupada actually wanted to continue the very same ritvik system after his departure, would he have added the word 'acarya' and then defined that acarya as a 'regular guru'? Never. The Ritviks' attempt to inflate the word 'ritvik' and smother the clear meaning of 'acarya' and 'regular guru' is nothing but a mayavada interpretation.
The Ritviks' use of mayavada tactics becomes even more obvious when they interpret Srila Prabhupada's conclusive statements from the 28 May conversation. Srila Prabhupada summarises the conversation in answer to Satsvarupa Maharaja's initial question about "initiations in the future". He clearly said that those taking initiation from the Ritviks after his departure will be his "grand disciples" and "disciples of my disciples" and that the ritvik priests themselves would become quote "regular gurus".
But here is the outrageous distortion of that point we found in TFO:
Is this not a very desperate attempt at 'cognitive distortion'? This is exactly what the Ritviks printed in TFO, including their parentheses and incorrect grammar.
Here the Ritviks are 'literally' putting words in Srila Prabhupada's mouth, implying that Prabhupada would initiate his 'grand disciple' posthumously which is simply ludicrous. If Srila Prabhupada actually intended to make all future generations his direct disciples which is what the Ritviks keep bashing into everyone's ears he would certainly not have used the words 'grand disciple' would he? He would have needed to specify and say I am initiating 'my disciple' or 'my direct disciples' but he didn't because it was never his intention to give diksa posthumously in the first place.
Here is what was said in the actual conversation:
Again, if Srila Prabhupada actually wanted a posthumous ritvik system he would have definitely said: 'They're my disciple.' But he didn't. And if he really wanted those disciples as his own direct disciples why would he even mention the words 'grand disciple'? Srila Prabhupada never ever made such mistakes as the Ritviks unthinkingly postulate. 'Grand disciple' has no meaning within the ritvik ideology because all would be direct disciples of Srila Prabhupada. Thus the ritvik understanding could not be true. Whichever way you look at it the ritvik theory simply does not add up.
Tamal Krishna Maharaja asks a very direct question, "The people they give diksa to, whose disciple are they?close quotes" This question "giving diksa to" is exactly to the point, and Srila Prabhupada answers it clearly, "They're his disciple". He didn't say 'my disciple'.
The Ritviks further argue that none of Srila Prabhupada's disciples were authorised to give diksa to anyone after his departure since he didn't give anyone the order. If that is the case then why did Srila Prabhupada say "They're his disciples" in response to Tamal Krishna Maharaja's direct and clear question "give diksa to"? Is Prabhupada's answer not a direct order? Rather than a 'FAKED ritvik final order' is that not the REAL final order that Prabhupada kept reminding us about so often?
Furthermore, since the Ritviks refuse to accept our sastra evidence on this issue, here is some 'living proof' evidence that Srila Prabhupada 'directly ordered' some of his disciples to give diksa to their own disciples.
In 1977, H.H. Radha Govinda Swami took some devotees to Vrindavana to get initiated but Srila Prabhupada directly told the Maharaja to initiate them himself. Knowing the Maharaja's excellent character, I and many others have no doubts that this is true. Srila Prabhupada also gave a similar direct order to H.H. Jayapataka Maharaja, Bhavananda, and a few others. The Ritviks' response to this is that all these devotees banded together to tell the same lie!! When we challenged the Ritviks to meet with some of those devotees they declined. Is this dubious behaviour from those who profess to propound 'the truth' not contradictory?
That 'living evidence' as well as all the solid evidence from sastra and Srila Prabhupada's corroborating with sastra as presented in 'Prabhupada's Order' has been dubiously twisted and rejected by the Ritviks. If we look closer at the Ritviks' main evidence in the 9 July letter it is clear that Srila Prabhupada's sole intention was to authorise eleven ritvik priests to initiate on his behalf 'only up to his departure' to meet the increased worldwide demand for initiations. There is not even a hint of a posthumous ritvik system in this following full version of the 9 July letter:
That letter contains no evidence whatsoever that Srila Prabhupada wanted posthumous ritvik initiations after his departure. Previously the Ritviks were claiming that the word "henceforward" in that letter was conclusive proof that the temporary ritvik system was to continue permanently after Srila Prabhupada's departure. But when we recently disproved that idea the Ritviks withdrew that claim and are now desperately presenting another misleading argument.
Their new goalpost is this: Nowhere in the 9 July letter does Srila Prabhupada tell us to 'stop the ritvik system after his departure'. This so-called 'evidence' conveniently ignores the very fact that only five weeks earlier on 28 May the discussion about initiations 'after his departure' had already been settled. That, along with the sensitivity of Prabhupada's imminent departure, is why 'initiations after his departure' was not mentioned again only five weeks in the 9 July letter.
The Ritviks affectionately call the fallacious logic they apply to the 9 July letter 'no change'. Insulting our intelligence they postulate that because Srila Prabhupada didn't say we should stop using the circumstantial temporary ritvik system therefore he must have intended it to continue for the next 10,000 years. The Ritviks define their 'no change' logic to mean that we should not change or add 'anything' that Srila Prabhupada set up. The childishness of this logic becomes glaringly apparent when we try to apply it not selectively as do the Ritviks in defiance of their very own standard but as a general rule as the Ritviks insist we should.
If Srila Prabhupada didn't want us to change or adjust anything at all then why did he set up GBCs and mangers whose inevitable duty is to change things as and when required? While it is true that there are things in ISKCON that cannot be changed for the next 10,000 years such as following the four regulative principles, chanting 16 rounds daily, and so on there are many other things that MUST change and that's why we have GBCs and so many managers to deal with all the changes. Even a child can understand this. So why is it that in a constantly changing world the Ritviks impose a system of 'no change'? Is this not the logic found only in a fools paradise?
Here is another example that proves the Ritviks' idea of 'no change' is ludicrous. There were no computers available to devotees in 1977 but now the Ritviks use them constantly to promote their 'no change' ideas. Formerly the Bangalore temple was built up under loyalty to Jayapataka Swami. Now all that is changed, in the name of 'no change'. Prabhupada said not to go outside ISKCON to resolve a philosophical dispute. The 'no change' people have changed that order in the name of 'no change', and so on. So which is it, change or no change?
If the Ritviks really believe in 'no change' then why are they trying to change Srila Prabhupada's instruction in his final will that the GBC authority must be accepted in ALL circumstances? First the Ritviks make a rule but then break it when their whims dictate!
The rock solid proof that nobody takes diksa posthumously from a departed guru is 'Vaisnava tradition'. This is solid evidence according to sastra. And in our line of disciplic succession no one has ever changed that tradition which was upheld even by Lord Krishna Himself.
Here is our challenge to the ritvik people: Show us just one example of such a change! If not, then why change the unchangable 'Vaisnava tradition' in the name of 'no change'?
The right conclusion on 'no change' is that sastra instructs us that 'no change' means don't change major principles like the law of disciplic succession. The 'no changes' the Ritviks have proposed are simply frivolous. This will be explained further in the penultimate section on guru, sadhu, and sastra. In their TFO the Ritviks made 'ONE HUNDRED' blunders. This is verified in a book entitled '100 Deviations of Ritvikism' available through CHAKRA or Bhadra Balarama Prabhu in ISKCON Mayapura. This book is an absolute must for those who think ritvikism has any validity.
Here is an example of a classic blunder speculation found in TFO:
Lord Krishna says the disciplic succession "was broken" and the Ritviks say "there is no question of it stopping". Who are we going to believe? Consume ritvikism at your own peril. The Ritviks want to be siksa-gurus for the entire ISKCON but the fact that they constantly speak untruths, half-truths, and mayavada totally disqualifies them.
In typical mayavada prose the Ritviks haphazardly conclude from the 9 July letter 'no diksa-gurus in ISKCON'. They speculate that until a self-effulgent acarya comes and re-kindles the parampara the ritvik system should remain in place.
By this logic the Ritviks have not only assumed but have openly stated that the eighty-plus gurus current in ISKCON are all bogus, and yet the Ritviks rarely have any contact with most of those gurus. The Ritviks pass an absolute judgement on humble, strict, peaceful, and long-serving Vaisnavas who are completely dedicated to selflessly spreading the holy name over the last thirty years. (We are not referring here to gurus who have fallen; we are speaking about gurus who have remained faithful.) The Ritviks will not retract such claims in spite of the fact that such gurus and leaders inspire and nurture the growing spiritual lives of their 10-15,000 disciples worldwide. Much good is being done in spite of many problems. To this the Ritviks react angrily, declaring that the ISKCON regular guru initiation system is bogus and therefore they have a right to take over the GBC by hook or by crook, unlawfully rejecting all Srila Prabhupada's relevant instructions.
No matter how many mistakes the GBC has made, is making or makes in the future; no matter how many gurus have fallen down, are falling now or will fall in the future; no matter what other side issues may come to pass, none of it gives actual meaning to, nor establishes as a viable true option a concocted posthumous ritvik initiation system.
Let's ask ourselves this question: Would genuine knowers of the truth be desperately trying to enforce their unanimously-rejected opinions on ISKCON as do the Ritviks or would they go out and prove themselves in a gentlemanly way?
Here is a short list of the many unresolvable lunacies we would encounter if ritvikism were implemented within ISKCON:
The Ritviks also argue that the present regular guru system in ISKCON is just as bad because some gurus have fallen down and that this proves the system is bogus. They speculate that nowhere in sastra can an example be found of a guru falling down. But they overlooked a relevant verse in Srimad-Bhagavatam. In the Eleventh Canto, Chapter 28, Text 29 Srila Sukadeva Goswami says:
This verse clearly demonstrates that "sometimes", and going back 5,000 years ago, a sannyasi or guru with disciples falls down in his immaturity owing to his disciples sent by demigods to bewilder him. Therefore the Ritviks' argument that fallen gurus is a reason to reject the whole regular guru system is totally invalid.
To this the Ritviks counter argue that one 'must' take initiation from an uttama adhikari guru, since this is 'strongly recommended' by Srila Prabhupada. But what the Ritviks fail to accept is Srila Prabhupada's instruction that a madhyama adhikari can also take on disciples and that accepting disciples is the main duty of a sannyasi. At best our eighty-plus current gurus are uttamas and at worst they are madhyamas. And since an uttama will come down to madhyama to preach how can the Ritviks say for certain there are no uttamas in ISKCON when they hardly have any direct contact with most of them?
The conclusive rule when speaking on major principles of Vedic philosophy is that sadhus, gurus, and even founder acaryas must always strictly adhere to sastra, as verified in the Caitanya-caritamrita Madhya 20.352 purport as follows:
Sastra is the centre for all. This is clear. But the Ritviks assume that Srila Prabhupada wanted to contravene the rules on guru, sadhu, and sastra and that unfortunately is their great mistake.
Guru, sadhu, and sastra simply means that gurus and sadhus must always refer to sastra when applying the 'principles' of Krishna consciousness. Gurus and sadhus need not refer to sastra when instructing 'certain' time, place, and circumstance details. An example is Srila Prabhupada's instruction that all ISKCON initiates for the next 10,000 years must chant a minimum of 16 rounds daily. This detail cannot be found in sastra. As a 'changeable detail' he could have made it 8 or 20 rounds. But in the ISKCON, because this detail was introduced by the Founder Acarya, the 16-round minimum detailed instruction is as good as sastra. Although the detailed 16 rounds instruction cannot be found in sastra the principle of that instruction to chant Hare Krishna is in sastra.
The main point here is that even a Founder Acarya cannot instruct that which contradicts the principles of sastra. For example Srila Prabhupada or any other acarya cannot instruct 'don't chant any rounds' because that is against a major principle given in sastra. Everyone is bound by the major principles of sastra.
Lets have a closer look at some of sastra's major unchangeable principles on one side and changeable details on the other with a view to understand the validity of the Ritviks' proposal.
On one side a guru and sadhu can never change any major principles of Vedic philosophy given in sastra. Examples of major 'unchangeable' principles are Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna's favourite planet is Goloka Vrindavana, and so on.
On the other side there are certain details in the application of the Krishna consciousness philosophy that can change such as the time, place, and circumstance adjustments.
The question here is this: Could Srila Prabhupada as a guru and sadhu change a major principle of Vedic philosophy? The answer is no. Srila Prabhupada or any other acarya would not and could not change a major principle like Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and so on. Thus we reach the critical question: Is the acceptance of a living diksa-guru a major principle in Krishna consciousness? The answer is yes. The proof is the unbroken 'Vaisnava tradition' given in sastra which was followed not only by every single acarya in our line but also by Lord Caitanya and Lord Krishna. Sastra c