Srila Prabhupada: The Prominent Link

 


Book Review by Dravinaksa das ( Feb 5, 2002)

 

Srila Prabhupada: The Prominent Link

by Dhira Govinda das

52 Pages, 6-3/4" x 8-1/2", soft cover, staple bound, $4.95 from Dhira Govinda das, P.O. Box 1694, Alachua, FL 32616-1694, U.S.A.

 

A refreshing new entry in the discussion of the process of initiation, Srila Prabhupada: The Prominent Link examines how many members of Srila Prabhupada’s movement who did not receive formal initiation from him experience Srila Prabhupada as the primary giver of direct transcendental knowledge. The book begins with a foreword by Ambarisa Dasa, who characterizes the ideas as “common sense” and urges us to read the essay “with an open mind, and readiness for investigation and discussion.” Next, Balavanta Dasa, in the Preface, provides an overview of the issues and encourages intelligent, mature discussion. He writes, “If intelligence is suppressed, then ISKCON will not attract intelligent people and will not flourish.”

After an introductory chapter, the second chapter discusses the process of initiation and the importance of divya-jnana, transcendental knowledge, coming directly from Srila Prabhupada. Chapter Three examines the disciplic succession as described in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, with relation to the meaning and essence of initiation. A chapter titled “Additional Perspectives on Srila Prabhupada’s Position” describes the potency of transcendental sound, and looks at the unique and primary role that Srila Prabhupada plays in the lives of many members of his movement. Then, a section surprisingly entitled “Srila Prabhupada is Qualified to be Worshiped” furnishes an exposition on honoring great Vaisnavas and suggests possibilities and considerations regarding worship practices in Srila Prabhupada’s movement. In the next three chapters, entitled “Terms of Relegation”, “Responsibility”, and “Scenarios”, the author brings the philosophy to a practical level, then ties it together and further clarifies concepts in the Questions and Answers section.

Srila Prabhupada: The Prominent Link is concise and easy reading, and offers fresh realizations and perspectives on a topic as old as Time Himself.


In Defence of “The Prominent Link”


By Bhaktin Miriam (Aug 15, 2002)

 

A reply to the GBC’s Preliminary Response to Srila Prabhupada: The Prominent Link

 

On March 12, 2002, the GBC wrote a “Preliminary Statement” concerning a newly published book entitled “Srila Prabhupada: The Prominent Link”, written by Dhira Govinda dasa. I feel the GBC interpretation of this book is erroneous. Instead of having an intelligent and open discussion, they opted to write a public statement with quotations carefully chosen to conjure up negative emotions.

I did something which, apparently, the GBC would frown upon. Instead of having them tell me how to interpret the book, I bought and read it, thereby becoming “unprotected” and having to run the risk of submitting to my intelligence to discern things for myself. I believe the GBC is misleading devotees concerning what they say “Srila Prabhupada: The Prominent Link” is really about.

The book never says that Srila Prabhupada’s disciples are unqualified to be initiating spiritual masters, that Srila Prabhupada is the only initiator, that the disciples of disciples are not his grand disciples, or that no member of ISKCON is or should be the servant of the servant of the servant of Srila Prabhupada. It does not say that our gurus are not our link to the disciplic succession, are unworthy of worship, or are initiating on behalf of Srila Prabhupada, who serves as diksa guru. GBC gurus presumptuously conclude that the book is about them and their initiating ceremonies; the book is only about Srila Prabhupada and his relationship with the members of his movement.

The GBC’s preliminary statement on the book seems to me to be deceptive. Many would not read the book
and, were they to do so, they would still prefer the interpretation of others to their own, and independent thinking gets lost. We should all have the opportunity to discern for ourselves, and not have other people’s views imposed upon us. As the psychologist Nathaniel Branden says, we should not “value a delusion in someone else’s mind above our own knowledge of the truth.” Let us not disown what we know to be the truth out of fear of reprisal; to do so would be to go through life as an impostor.

The members of the GBC body rejected the book “to protect the devotees from being misled.” The GBC offered seven “deviations” from Srila Prabhupada’s teachings and instructions, but it is the GBC who is misleading devotees.

Terminology of Diksa and Siksa

GBC reason #1: “The paper begins by improperly dismissing the standard terminology of siksa and diksa guru — terminology established by Lord Caitanya Himself and followed by all prominent acharyas. Srila Prabhupada uses siksa and diksa — essential words to define functions of specific gurus. The author, by contrast, calls them ‘appellations’ and discards them.”

My response #1: The author does not discard terminology, but  asks readers to put aside present understandings and listen to another important definition that Srila Prabhupada gives; he describes diksa as the transmission of transcendental knowledge (Madhya-lila, 4:111, Purport). In a lecture on July 29, 1968, Srila Prabhupada said, “Diksa means the initiation to begin transcendental activities. Di, divya-jñanam, transcendental knowledge, and iksa means darsana, to see or ksapayati, explain. That is called diksa.” (p. 5). Srila Prabhupada had a broader definition of the word “diksa” than ISKCON teaches. The GBC would have us believe that Srila Prabhupada uses siksa and diksa only to define functions of specific gurus.

Diksa is not merely the initiation event, but a process, which includes “receiving and implementing the instructions to wear kanti mala and Vaisnava tilak, and receiving a Vaisnava name. The most essential aspect of initiation is receiving transcendental knowledge from a realized spiritual master.” (p. 5) Many devotees give us transcendental knowledge; thus, many are involved in our diksa process; however, Srila Prabhupada’s influence is greater than all others. The diksa guru in the essential, transcendental sense is the guru who imparts transcendental knowledge. Thus Srila Prabhupada may be considered the diksa guru, at least transcendentally, though not necessarily formally. Srila Prabhupada is our primary siksa guru. In the transcendental sense, he is also our diksa guru because he is giving us transcendental knowledge; in the formal sense, the guru who performs the initiation ceremony is the diksa guru.

Because misconception exists concerning the word diksa, the author emphasizes, “Many devotees, including many who were officially initiated after Srila Prabhupada’s departure, and many for whom the Vaisnava who performed the initiation ceremony is in good standing in ISKCON, received more direct divya-jñana from Srila Prabhupada than from any other Vaisnava. For these devotees Srila Prabhupada is performing the most essential part of the initiation process, as he is the primary giver of divya-jñana” (p. 7).

Functions of Diksa and Siksa

GBC reason #2: “Having discarded the terms, the author attempts to merge the functions of siksa and diksa gurus. Noting that Srila Prabhupada is ISKCON’s pre-eminent instructing guru, he writes, ‘it is questionable whether the devotee performing the initiation ceremony can unambiguously be termed ‘the diksa guru.’ Srila Prabhupada, by contrast, states unambiguously in the Krishna book, Chapter 80, (and elsewhere): ‘Siksa gurus may be many, but diksa guru is always one.”

My response #2: The GBC falsely accuses the author of merging the functions of “diksa” and “siksa”. Srila Prabhupada’s definition of “diksa” is broader than ISKCON devotees are taught. “Srila Prabhupada said ‘From 1922 to 1933 practically I was not initiated, but I got the impression of preaching Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s cult. That I was thinking. And that was the initiation by my Guru Maharaja. Then, officially, I was initiated in 1933, because in 1923 I left Calcutta.’ Thus, it seems that the essence of initiation is the acceptance of divya-jñana, and not the formal ceremony” (p. 10).

The Prominent Link framework “accommodates definitions of diksa that rely on the formal component of the initiation process. . . . Whether the transcendental knowledge that Srila Prabhupada gives is called diksa or not, and whether Srila Prabhupada is referred to as the diksa guru, is immaterial. . . . Srila Prabhupada is the direct, primary, and current link to the disciplic succession by virtue of being the main Vaisnava through whom Sri Krsna imparts transcendental knowledge to the initiate.” (p. 40-41)

Furthermore, the author states: “Some may assert ‘If transcendental knowledge is given by someone other than the Vaisnava who performs the initiation ceremony, then … it cannot rightly be said that Srila Prabhupada is giving diksa. He is giving siksa.’ In the framework of the Prominent Link, the essential focus is on the process of initiation, founded on the transmission of transcendental knowledge. . . . “Even if ‘diksa guru’ is defined solely in terms of the performance of the initiation ceremony, one’s prominent and current link to the disciplic succession is delineated at the beginning of the Bhagavad-gita As It Is,” (p. 8) where Srila Prabhupada lists our disciplic succession, comprising 32 members, starting with Lord Krsna. Not all members in that disciplic succession list were initiating gurus; several were siksa gurus. The criterion for inclusion is not that that performed formal initiation ceremonies, but that they were the main deliverers of transcendental knowledge to the Vaisnava who followed them. “Srila Prabhupada, following Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami’s song Sri Guru-parampara, lists a disciplic succession wherein several of the spiritual masters did not receive formal initiation from their spiritual masters. . . . Srila Prabhupada uses the word initiated to describe parampara relationships where no official initiation occurred, in reference to the relationships between Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji and Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, and between Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji.” Srila Prabhupada listed Vaisnavas who were not initiating gurus as part of our disciplic succession.

Continuing the Disciplic Succession

GBC reason #3: “Srila Prabhupada exhorted his disciples hundreds of times to be the next gurus in disciplic succession by simply repeating what they heard and avoiding concoctions. Why would he do so if he intended to be directly responsible for initiating future generations? ‘One’s guide must be a spiritual master who is strictly following the instructions of the previous acarya.’ (CC Madhya 10.17, purport).”

My response #3: Nowhere in Srila Prabhupada: The Prominent Link does it say that Srila Prabhupada will be “directly responsible for initiating future generations.” On page 11, the book does state: “Srila Prabhupada is transmitting transcendental knowledge, and we are confident that he will continue to do so for many generations. In this transcendental sense, Srila Prabhupada is initiating sincere followers. In fact, we propose that accepting divya-jñan, or initiation, from Srila Prabhupada, and thereby directly connecting with him, is the qualification for one to become formally initiated in Srila Prabhupada’s movement — formal acknowledgment that the devotee has directly connected with Srila Prabhupada. . . . In the essential sense of the term initiated, Srila Prabhupada is initiating the devotee by directly delivering to him transcendental knowledge.” In both instances cited, the word “Initiate” is used strictly in the essential, transcendental sense.

The author says that Srila Prabhupada is the primary, but not the only, link to the parampara. Whoever teaches us about Krishna connects us to the parampara but, without Srila Prabhu-pada, we would not be linked, because he brought the science of Krishna consciousness to the Western World.

Disciples of Disciples of Srila Prabhupada

GBC reason #4: “The Prominent Link” specifically contradicts Srila Prabhupada’s own description of his relationship with initiates of those he initiated. In a conversation with the GBC in Vrindavan, he said those devotees would be his ‘grand disciples’ and ‘the disciples of my disciples.’ Disciples of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples are, in fact, directly connected to him through initiation as his grand-disciples. Srila Prabhupada commented that the grandfather is more kind to his grandchildren than is their father. There is nothing lacking in the connection between Srila Prabhupada and his grand disciples. Some may choose to emphasize their diksa guru and others their siksa guru. Such affairs of the heart cannot be legislated by anyone.”

My response #4: How does the book specifically contradict Srila Prabhupada’s description of his relationship with initiates of those he initiated? Nowhere does the book say they are not Srila Prabhupada’s grand disciples. The book does claim that devotees could neither receive the benediction of Krsna nor make advancement without the mercy of Srila Prabhupada. “The mercy and grace of other Vaisnavas may be withdrawn, and the former recipient of that mercy continues to make advancement in Krsna consciousness and to receive benedictions from Krsna. This is possible because Srila Prabhupada continues to bestow his mercy and grace.” (p. 16).

The GBC gurus want to be recognized as the only link to the parampara, but Srila Prabhupada is also our link — our primary link. The GBC falsely asserts that The Primary Link is saying that our initiating gurus are not initiating gurus.

Grand disciples are also directly connected to Srila Prabhupada through the process of initiation. “If the devotee has not already directly linked with Srila Prabhupada at the time of the formal initiation, then he shouldn’t be participating in the initiation ceremony. The Vaisnava conducting the initiation ceremony does not become the connection between the initiate and Srila Prabhupada. The direct link between the initiate and Srila Prabhupada already exists.”

“Srila Prabhupada: The Prominent Link” says that, for many members of his movement, including those he did not formally initiate, Srila Prabhupada is the primary deliverer of transcendental knowledge and the direct and prominent link to the parampara. If devotees choose to worship Srila Prabhupada in such capacity, why is the GBC rejecting it? After all, the GBC says, “such affairs of the heart cannot be legislated by anyone.” If one is willing to make someone else the primary siksa or diksa guru, the GBC will not interfere but, if one says that Srila Prabhupada is his/her primary guru, and his/her primary link to the parampara, then they will step in with legislation. They reject Srila Prabhupada as the main giver of transcendental knowledge, whether it is siksa or diksa, and call this “protecting” devotees.

No Support for Posthumous Initiation

GBC reason #5: “Srila Prabhupada described those who would be taking on the service of initiating disciples as ‘regular gurus.’ The Prominent Link terms them ‘Vaishnavas who perform the initiation ceremony.’ Further, the work fails to offer a single statement by Srila Prabhupada in support of the implication that His Divine Grace would serve — in any respect — as a diksa guru in posthumous initiations.”

My response #5: The book does not say or imply that those taking the service of initiating disciples are not “regular gurus.” It does say that Srila Prabhupada is the main guru for ISKCON. The book offers not a single statement to imply that His Divine Grace would serve as the diksa guru in posthumous initiations.

Unity and Serving the Servant

GBC reason #6: The Prominent Link suggests that if every member of ISKCON makes Srila Prabhupada the ‘sole object of unconditional surrender,’ ISKCON will be more united. Srila Prabhupada’s teachings suggest that ISKCON will be more united  — and Srila Prabhupada more pleased — if every member of ISKCON serves the servants of the servants of Srila Prabhupada: ‘You have to learn how to become servant of the servant of Krsna. The more you become in the lower position — servant, servant, servant, servant, servant, hundreds times servant, servant — the more you are advanced. Here in this material world everyone is trying to be master of the master. In the spiritual world, the endeavor is to become servant’s servant; this is the secret. yasya deve para bhaktir yatha deve tatha gurau/tasyaite kathita hy arthah prakasante mahatmanah. This is Vedic instruction’ (London, 8/3/73).”

My response #6: The author does not discourage anyone from serving the servant of the servant: “All who instruct others in the tenets of bhakti-yoga are spiritual teachers. In this sense, each devotee has many gurus who . . . are directly guiding devotees and establishing important, direct relationships with them that are invaluable in helping the devotees on their path back to Godhead.” (p. 3). “Through submissive service to Srila Prabhu-pada and Srila Prabhupada’s followers the devotee receives transcendental knowledge” (p. 11). “This is not a position of negativity. There may be Vaisnavas in Srila Prabhupada’s movement who are pure devotees, mahabhagavatas, and worthy of worship.” (p. 21). “Devotees in Srila Prabhupada’s movement who conduct initiation ceremonies have made tremendous sacrifices to guide and direct others in Krsna consciousness. These devotees deserve great commendation for their efforts” (p. 32). “The [Prominent Link] model encourages devotees to serve and accept guidance and shelter from Vaisnavas who are physically present. These Vaisnavas to whom the devotee subordinates himself, and with whom the devotee develops close relationships, are spiritual teachers, though none of them replace Srila Prabhupada as the most prominent direct link to the disciplic succession.” (p. 45).

The phrase, “sole object of unconditional surrender” does not exist in the book, and the GBC should not have attributed it as a direct quotation. The book does say: “Of all the gurus in Srila Prabhupada’s movement, Srila Prabhupada is the one in whom implicit faith must exist in order for the imports of Vedic knowledge to be automatically revealed. . . . Many devotees in Srila Prabhupada’s movement, including many who were formally initiated after Srila Prabhupada’s physical departure, experience him in this capacity, as the primary guru who inspires full surrender.” (p. 16). “Not all gurus are expected to be the Vaisnava to whom the newcomer fully surrenders. For example, the book distributor is serving as a type of guru for the newcomer, as is the senior devotee giving Srimad-Bhagavatam class and the bhakta leader. We don’t expect, however, that the newcomer will fully surrender his life to all of these Vaisnavas, though of course they should always have a place in his heart.” (p. 17).

Srila Prabhupada is, and will always be, the driving force of the movement, the primary guru and primary deliverer of direct transcendental knowledge, and the most important link to the parampara for devotees initiated by him or not. He lives in his vani not only for those he initiated but also for those who came after he passed away.

The GBC suggest the author is dictating his understanding on others, but here is what he actually says: “Many of the contentions herein, in regards to Srila Prabhupada’s relationship with members of his movement, may not apply to everyone in Srila Prabhupada’s society. They do, however, apply to many and are legitimate in terms of sastra, philosophy and precedent.” (p. 1). “We do not maintain that other understandings, such as the understanding that the devotee who performs the formal initiation ceremony is automatically the primary direct link to the parampara, must be rejected.” (p. 39)

Pre-eminence of Srila Prabhupada

GBC reason #7: “ISKCON Law establishes Srila Prabhu-pada as the ‘pre-eminent and compulsory siksa guru for all members of ISKCON.’ Further, it says that grand disciples may find more inspiration from Srila Prabhupada than from their diksa guru. The Prominent Link asserts that such understandings of Srila Prabhupada are offensive to His Divine Grace (p. 26). The GBC Body finds such remarks and their public circulation wanting in scholarship, philosophy, and Vaishnava etiquette.”

My response #7: The 1999 GBC resolution states that Srila Prabhupada is the pre-eminent and compulsory siksa-guru for all Vaisnavas (gurus and disciples) in the Society, but the 2000 GBC resolutions changed Srila Prabhupada’s 1999 status in ISKCON as follows: A duly initiated disciple in ISKCON can accept Srila Prabhupada, the founder acarya of ISKCON, as his principal siksa-guru. During his devotional life, he may experience that he derives more spiritual inspiration from Srila Prabhupada’s books and vani than from his own diksa-guru.

According to The Prominent Link, “The 2000 GBC resolution implies that the default position for a duly initiated disciple is to derive more spiritual inspiration from ‘his own diksa-guru’ than from Srila Prabhupada’s books and vani, though it is acknowledged that the disciple ‘can’ accept Srila Prabhupada as his principal siksa-guru, and ‘may’ experience more spiritual inspiration from Srila Prabhupada’s books and vani than from his diksa-guru. This resolution appears to be a regression from the 1999 GBC descriptions of Srila Prabhupada as ‘the preeminent and compulsory siksa-guru for all Vaisnavas (gurus and disciples) in the Society’, ‘the preeminent siksa guru for every member of the institution’, and the first and foremost object of faith, trust and allegiance. Describing Srila Prabhupada with qualifying terms such as ‘preeminent siksa guru’ obfuscates his position as the primary guru and the most essential, active spiritual force for all members of his movement. . . . Srila Prabhupada’s rightful and natural place in the society of Vaisnavas is arrogated by others, as evidenced in the practices and conceptualizations of devotees in many sectors of the organization.” (pp. 29-30).

Character of the GBC response

It is insulting for the GBC to say that the book has fundamental inconsistencies with Srila Prabhupada’s teachings; that it presents his pre-eminence in a concocted way; that it misleads devotees; or that it creates something new. The book is filled with direct quotations from Srila Prabhupada, whose words are clear and to the point. It is the GBC who is concocting false impressions; they are using quotes out of context to evoke emotions of anger and fear; they are quoting a phrase that doesn’t exist in the book; they are discouraging devotees from reading the book; and they are refusing to have meaningful philosophical discussions with the author.

The GBC Body acknowledge “with appreciation the clarification offered by Dhira Govinda Prabhu in a letter (March 2002) in which he states that he did not intend to teach ritvikism nor support the ritvik agenda through The Prominent Link and say that “he also expressed his eagerness to enter into further discussion with he GBC and its Sastric Advisory Council.” The GBC create the impression that Dhira Govinda Prabhu offered his letter of clarification after reading the statement, when in fact his letter was dated two days prior. Even though the GBC read Dhira Govinda prabhu’s letter of clarification, they still accused him of encouraging disrespect for initiating gurus, discarding and merging terminology, and discouraging devotees from being the servant of the servant of Srila Prabhupada, while claiming that the book is saying that Srila Prabhupada will be “directly responsible for initiating future generations.” Indirectly, the GBC is also accusing him of teaching ritvik philosophy. Here is an excerpt from Dhira Govinda prabhu’s letter:

I would like to clarify a few points regarding the booklet Srila Prabhupada: The Prominent Link. I am not in any ritvik camp and the essay was not written to support any ritvik agenda. One hope I had in presenting the essay was that the ideas therein would serve as a platform for resolving the ongoing conflict between advocates of the GBC position and advocates of ritvik ideas.

In presenting the ideas of The Prominent Link I have no intention of disrespecting or encouraging others to disrespect the Vaisnavas who serve as initiating gurus in ISKCON. I understand and fully support the prime importance of properly respecting all members of our Vaisnava family. By describing Srila Prabhupada as the prominent link to the parampara for members of his movement, I am in no way minimizing the fundamental principle of being a servant of the servant of the servant of the devotees.

Concerning terminology, in the essay I decided not to employ some of the usual terms that are commonly used in discussions on these topics, because these terms, from my perception, have tended to cloud issues more than clarify them in the current environment of the movement. Instead, I used terms that describe observable behaviors, such as the devotee who conducts the initiation ceremony, for purposes of precision and to assist in extracting and identifying essential concepts, such as the transmission of transcendental knowledge from guru to disciple. The approach is that after clarifying essential concepts, we can then apply appropriate terminology.

All of Srila Prabhupada’s followers have a mandate to give Krsna consciousness to others, and in this way to expand the sankirtana movement and continue the disciplic succession. We are all meant to be instruments in carrying on the parampara, and I am not advocating that the parampara ends with Srila Prabhupada.

There is a section in Srila Prabhupada: The Prominent Link entitled Terms of Relegation. In that section I point out what appears to me to be apparently contradictory connotations in GBC resolutions from 1999 and 2000. I did this because I believe that it is important for GBC statements to be clear and consistent. I humbly ask that the GBC takes the opportunity to elucidate their meaning in a way that explains the relationship between those resolutions.

Whilst Dhira Govinda prabhu did express his eagerness to do so, neither the GBC nor its Sastric Advisory Council has entered into substantive philosophical discussions with him; instead, they issued the preliminary statement rejecting the book. Does anybody from the GBC have any desire to discuss the content of this important book? If so, please speak up. Do not let fear of reprisal be a reason to disown what you know to be true; do not let others speak, on your behalf, views that are contradictory to yours; to do so would be to go through life as an impostor.

Whatever the GBC comes up with in the future, it will likely not be about what the book discusses, but about another topic — the gurus in ISKCON. Of course, the gurus should be respected and they are indeed very important, so they should be discussed, written about, and talked about. Nevertheless, that is not the topic of Srila Prabhupada: The Prominent Link. In fact, the GBC’s preliminary statement concerning the book was mostly about our gurus and what Srila Prabhupada said about our gurus, but the book is about Srila Prabhupada and his relationship with the members of his movement.

The community of devotees, as their natural right, will decide what kind of role Srila Prabhupada plays in their lives. As Balavanta prabhu writes (preface), “Why another paper on the process of initiation when the GBC has already spoken definitively on the matter? Isn’t this now a non-issue in ISKCON? The answer is that the GBC has spoken definitively on the process of initiation on so many occasions that we cannot rationally conclude that its voice on such matters is absolute. The GBC is a managerial body. Spiritual matters of the Society must be resolved by conscious consensus of conscience by reference to open and frank discussions amongst mature devotees whose voices are not suppressed.”

 


Srila Prabhupada is The Only Link


 


By Krishna Kant Desai,

ISKCON Revival Movement (IRM)

 

Dhira Govinda Prabhu, a prominent member of ISKCON, has written a booklet entitled Srila Prabhupada: The Prominent Link (henceforward PL), ostensibly aimed at promoting a deeper understanding of the issue of ‘guru’ in ISKCON. The author admits that his thesis does not directly deal with the initiation controversy within ISKCON, which centres around the issue of whom Srila Prabhupada authorised to perform initiations: Ritvik priests, who would merely act as agents, initiating newcomers on Srila Prabhupada’s behalf; or Srila Prabhupada’s disciples, who would initiate newcomers as their own disciples. The author wishes to side-step this polarising issue: “While not minimizing the importance of the relationship between the devotee who conducts the initiation ceremony and the initiate, this paper does not primarily address that topic.” (p. 49) What value can come from a thesis that deliberately avoids an issue that needs urgent attention?

Srila Prabhupada stated that if an initial calculation is wrong, such as saying that two plus two equals five, then, no matter how accurate the rest of the calculation is, the conclusion will always be wrong.

The author’s thesis rests on the idea that there are two types of Diksa — Transcendental Diksa and formal Diksa: “Srila Prabhupada is directly giving transcendental knowledge to members of his movement, regardless of when they joined or who performed their initiation ceremony. Therefore, it may be asserted that he is giving diksa, in the transcendental sense of the term.” (p. 40)

But what other sense of the term is there? If Srila Prabhu-pada is giving diksa, then clearly those performing the ceremony are not: “A devotee must have only one initiating spiritual master because in the scriptures acceptance of more than one is always forbidden.” (Caitanya-Caritamrta, Adi Lila 1:35) The author, however, posits the existence of another possible ceremonial Diksa Guru: “The devotee performing the initiation ceremony [cannot] unambiguously be termed the ‘diksa guru’.” (p. 8) Srila Prabhupada had a term for those who merely perform the initiation ceremony: Temple President.

The author contends, using the same quotes used in the IRM’s position paper, that diksa is defined not in terms of the formal ceremony, but as transmitting divya jnana, itself a transcendental process: “Diksa is the process by which one can awaken his transcendental knowledge and vanquish all reactions caused by sinful activity.” (C.c. Madhya, 15.108, purport) The author, however, writes, “The PL framework accommodates definitions of ‘diksa’ that rely on the formal component of the initiation process” (p. 40), thereby leading to more confusing notions such as the ‘primarily’ initiated disciple: “In the essential sense of the term “Initiated’’, Srila Prabhupada is initiating the devotee by directly delivering to him transcendental knowledge. The initiate is primarily a student and disciple of Srila Prabhupada, in that he is embracing, and assisting to spread, the teachings of Srila Prabhupada.” (p. 11) In Srila Prabhupada’s teachings there is no mention of being only ‘primarily’ a disciple of the Guru who initiates you, just as there is no mention of ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ Diksa Gurus. The author’s initial miscalculation leads to more mistakes.

The GBC Position

In July 1998, a meeting was held in Mumbai between leaders of the IRM — Madhu Pandit Das, Adridharan Das, and myself — and leading members of the GBC — Ravindra Svarupa Das, Badrinarayana Das, Giridhari Swami, Gopal Krishna Maharaja, and Radhanatha Swami, to arrive at compromises, which came to be known later as the ‘Bombay Proposals’. The IRM rejected these proposals because they were not in line with what we believe was the order of Srila Prabhupada.

Some of these GBC proposals are almost identical to ideas of the author: “For all generations of ISKCON, Srila Prabhu-pada is the pre-eminent and perpetual link to the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya sampradaya.” (Bombay Proposals) The author states: “Srila Prabhupada is the prominent link to the param-para” (p. 4) The IRM’s position is that he is the only authorised link for ISKCON members to the parampara, not merely a ‘prominent’ link amongst other less prominent ones.

The Bombay Proposals state: “Any initiated devotee in ISKCON who is sincerely following the teachings of Srila Prabhupada should be understood and respected as having a relationship with His Divine Grace as a direct and indirect disciple.” The author concurs with the GBC in putting forward the theory that a devotee in ISKCON is both a direct disciple and grand-disciple (indirect disciple) of Srila Prabhupada (p. 48).

The GBC state: “As the spiritual life of the candidate develops, he becomes further and further incorporated into the body of ISKCON. An essential element is the acceptance of a diksa guru. This acceptance is enjoined by Srila Prabhupada and by sastra as essential for further spiritual development. This diksa strengthens, enriches, and enlarges the direct connection with Srila Prabhupada.” (Bombay Proposals) The author states: “The PL framework supports a wide latitude of relationships, the litmus test being whether the relationship assists the initiate to strengthen his direct link with Srila Prabhupada.” (p. 49) The author and the GBC agree that the relationship between Diksa Gurus and their disciples strengthens the connection with Srila Prabhupada. In this way the author has made ‘room’ for the current Guru set-up in ISKCON to continue, at least in principle.

Having concurred with the essence of the GBC’s proposals, the author goes on: “The PL model does not maintain that worship of others as the connection to Srila Prabhupada should be prohibited in the movement.” (p. 22) He agrees that the current GBC Gurus are also Diksa Gurus, at least in the ‘formal’ sense, and that they should continue specifically to be selected by the initiate (p. 31). Contrast this with Srila Prabhupada’s practice, if he could not be present, of having the temple president conduct the initiation ceremony.

The author agrees with the GBC that the GBC Guru can be a link to the parampara; those initiated by Gurus are their disciples, and grand-disciples of Srila Prabhupada; current relationships between Gurus and their disciples strengthen the ‘direct connection with Srila Prabhupada’; Gurus can be worshipped; Gurus are Diksa Gurus; and the Gurus should be selected by the initiates to conduct their initiation ceremony. This means that, according to the author, nothing tangible needs to change in any way with regards to gurus and initiation.

The author had written to the GBC when presenting his paper that he had no intention of “disrespecting or encouraging others to disrespect the Vaisnavas who serve as initiating gurus in ISKCON.” (March 10, 2002) We concur that the author has tried not to upset current arrangements in ISKCON. His proposals would allow what we characterize as the current ‘self-made Guru deviation’ to carry on unhindered.

The IRM Position

The author, however, also concurs with the IRM position: “We contend that Srila Prabhupada will continue to serve as the prominent link at least for the duration of his movement.” (p. 9) “Specifically, Srila Prabhupada is, or at least, ideally, should be, the direct and current link to the parampara and the prime deliverer of divya-jnana for all devotees in his society.” (p. 38)

This is the ‘hard-core’ ritvik position espoused by the IRM, that Srila Prabhupada alone is the direct link to the parampara, and which precludes the existence of other Diksa Gurus now or in the future: “We suggest that once someone has [accepted] Srila Prabhupada in his heart as his spiritual master and [is] following Srila Prabhupada’s instructions, the newcomer does not need to search for another Vaisnava. . . . The newcomer is already directly connected with Srila Prabhupada, who is his current link to the parampara.” (p. 9)

Initiations conducted in ISKCON today are, or should be, Ritvik type initiation ceremonies, whereby it is understood that new initiates are connecting directly to Srila Prabhupada, just as was being done pre-1977: “The formal initiation ceremony is an official acknowledgement that the devotee has established a direct link with Srila Prabhupada. . . . The connection does not become indirect at the time of the ceremony. Again, the official initiation ceremony is a formal acknowledgement that the devotee has directly connected with Srila Prabhupada. (pp. 10-11)

The author encapsulates the whole approach by explicitly agreeing with the IRM: “Consider the situation in the mid-1970s, when Srila Prabhupada was physically present. A devotee who joined at that time accepted Srila Prabhupada as his spiritual master and link to the parampara, though he did not expect to receive personal training from Srila Prabhupada. . . . [Temple leaders] were his gurus, though he understood that Srila Prabhupada was his connection to the parampara and primary guru.” (pp. 43-44)

Both Positions Simultaneously

The author has put forward two contradictory, mutually exclusive positions. The author also makes statements supporting the idea that all positions can be valid and equally acceptable: “While this model should be accepted in Srila Prabhupada’s movement, it is not necessarily the only model that is sastrically and philosophically valid. . . . Our firm recommendation is simply that the ideas and practices be validated and accepted, perhaps alongside other systems and understandings.” (p. 2) “While we claim that this is the preferred model for the movement, we do not maintain that other understandings . . . must be rejected. If necessary, a plurality of models may coexist.” (p. 39)

In his desire to please everyone, the author has simultaneously put forward three contradictory positions: that someone other than Srila Prabhupada can be the current link, that he alone is the current link, and that both he and someone else can be the current link. Having started with a faulty premise, the author has ended up with a miscalculation. The author’s ‘Prominent Link’, resting on unsubstantiated speculation, leads us into the incoherence of supporting three contradictory positions simultaneously.

The basis of the author’s thesis is the term ‘prominent link’ (PL) and other similar qualifying appellations: “Srila Prabhu-pada is the prominent link to the parampara by virtue of being the prime deliverer of transcendental knowledge.” (p. 1) “He is the primary link to the parampara for those who contact his movement.” (p. 2)

These qualifying terms imply that Srila Prabhupada is merely the most pronounced link amongst many such links acting simultaneously, for he can only be a prominent link if there are other authorised links relatively less prominent. Yet “the current link” is a term that Srila Prabhupada only ever described unambiguously in the singular: “. . . in order to receive the real message of Srimad-Bhagavatam one should approach the current link, or spiritual master, in the chain of disciplic succession.” (S.B. 2.9.7, purport)

Srila Prabhupada also ensured that his was the only name in the Bhagavad-gita as the current link. Even though the author cites Srila Prabhupada as the current link, by basing his thesis on terms such as ‘prominent’, ‘primary’, etc., he obfuscates Srila Prabhupada’s position as our singular current link to the param-para. These terms open up potential ‘back doors’ via which other hopeful ‘links’ might pop up to convince us that they too can ‘link’ us either to Srila Prabhupada or to the parampara.

Siksa Guru’ Title Not Material

The author states: “It is important not to become distracted by appellations such as ‘diksa guru’, ‘initiator’, and ‘officiating acarya’, though of course for communicative purposes such designations are sometimes necessary.” (p. 2) If the subject of his paper is Srila Prabhupada, how will it be a ‘distraction’ to mention this? The author happily uses terms such as ‘primary Vaishnava’ and ‘prominent link’, never used by Srila Prabhupada, yet claims terms such as ‘diksa guru’, which he did use, might distract us! If anything, it is the author’s own invented terms that may ‘distract us’.

The author proposes that labelling Srila Prabhupada as only the ‘Siksa Guru’ is not a matter of ‘concern’, since whatever title is given to Srila Prabhupada does not detract from the essence of his thesis: “Terminology and labeling is not a chief concern. Whoever is labeled ‘siksa guru’, ‘initiator’, or ‘diksa guru’, the PL understanding is that Srila Prabhupada is the primary Vaisnava directly giving transcendental knowledge.” (p. 7)

However in other places the author clearly states that titles involving ‘siksa guru’ matter very much: “Describing Srila Prabhupada with qualifying terms such as ‘pre-eminent siksa guru’ obfuscates his position as the primary guru and the most essential, active spiritual force for all members of his movement.” (p. 29) “There are many definitions of ‘guru’ and ‘spiritual master’ and, by some definitions, all members of Srila Prabhupada’s movement have many gurus and spiritual masters. Qualifying appellations for Srila Prabhupada convey the perception of relegating him to something less than the main guru for all ISKCON members.” (pp. 26-27)

Here the author recognises that Srila Prabhupada’s title is a matter of ‘concern’, even though he also states the contrary, and he uses qualifying terms such as ‘prominent’ and ‘primary’, which obfuscate Srila Prabhupada’s position (in the view of IRM) as the current link/Diksa Guru for ISKCON. The author has blurred the Diksa issue and missed an opportunity to use his respected status to help establish a system of initiation which we believe was set out by Srila Prabhupada in 1977.

I’m Not A Ritvik’

To gain acceptance within ISKCON the author distanced himself from the ‘ritvik’ issue, as reported in the GBC resolutions for 2002: “The GBC Body acknowledges with appreciation the clarification offered by Dhira Govinda Prabhu in a letter (March 2002) in which he states that he did not intend to teach ritvikism nor support the ritvik agenda through The Prominent Link.” This was to no avail, since the GBC rejected his paper, over his use of the terms diksa and siksa, and over the May 28th conversation: “Unfortunately, the paper fails in its attempt to glorify Srila Prabhupada, owing to an incomplete consideration of his teachings or, worse, a willingness to take a little from here, and little from there, and create something new.” (GBC resolutions 2002)

Seemingly to appease the GBC, the author claimed he was not a ‘Ritvik’ and watered down his presentation of what we believe was Srila Prabhupada’s actual position by also supporting the GBC-Guru philosophy, but it achieved zero breakthrough with the GBC.

Conclusion

The author had sought “a deeper and more precise understanding of the essence of the guru-disciple relationship” (p. 52). In an attempt to please everyone, the author has, however, presented an imprecise thesis. The author admits: “Most of the ideas in this composition have come from others, shared with me in the course of dialogue.” This is accurate, for he includes views of the GBC, the IRM and some of his own invented terms.

The author hopes that his paper will: “serve as a platform for resolving the ongoing conflict between advocates of the GBC position and advocates of ritvik ideas.” (Letter by the author, March 10th, 2002) In his attempt to accommodate both the-ories, however, the author has only ensured that he is satisfying neither party. The GBC has rejected his paper since it also puts forward the IRM position; the IRM has rejected his paper since it also puts forward the GBC position; whilst those who were undecided have been presented with three mutually exclusive positions and told that each is correct.

The author’s thesis was doomed because of his incorrect premise that two types of Diksa Guru can act simultaneously; however, the PL has a more fundamental flaw: “This paper presents a framework . . . derived from a comprehension of Srila Prabhupada’s direct and personal relationship with the members of his movement.” (p. 1) The author admits that his thesis will be based not on a presentation of Srila Prabhupada’s instructions, but on what he ‘comprehends’ is going on between Srila Prabhupada and the members of ISKCON. There is nothing to be gained in trying to bypass Srila Prabhupada’s instructions based on our limited ‘comprehension’ of what we think is going on. If we simply repeat Srila Prabhupada’s instructions, not only will we be 100 per cent accurate, but we will also be immune from challenge. The author’s booklet has already been rebutted by both the GBC and the IRM.

The author tried to gain acceptability for his ideas, but  failed with one key target audience, the GBC, to whom he submitted his booklet for review. We sincerely hope he reconsiders his position since, in many ways, he is close to our position. He need only delete the sections in his booklet that support the GBC’s current de-emphasised Diksa Guru philosophy, which we consider to be a deviation, add some instructions quoted directly from Srila Prabhupada on the subject of Guru and initiations, and the major flaws in his paper would be eliminated.


Our leaders are bad enough; save us from our reformers!


 


By Madan Mohan Das (Jan. 14, 2003)

 

 I read with interest the article on Guru Tattva by Dhira Govinda dasa published on the new Chakra website. I appreciate the author’s intelligence and willingness to bring up delicate subjects that affect the lives of sincere followers of Sri Krishna. Dhira Govinda prabhu’s position is, basically, ritvik philosophy, presented in a different bottle — same substance, different presentation. He admits as much by his statement: “The PL (Prominent Link) framework supports a wide latitude of relationships, the litmus test being whether the relationship assists the initiate to strengthen his direct link with Srila Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada, not the devotee who conducted the initiation ceremony, should be the center of the relationship.”

Ritvikism is political, not spiritual

Let’s call a spade a spade. Ritvikism, is, at its core, a political philosophy, and has nothing to do with spiritual advancement. Ritvikism started with some temple presidents in India, who felt that they needed more power, and that the GBC man and the Guru (the same person, in most cases) were too powerful and were hindering development of their projects. (In this, they may have been quite right; the power-grabbing mentality of one or two of the GBC-Gurus was simply astounding.)  Thus, they came up with the theory that Prabhupada was the only initiating Guru, and that the diksha gurus were merely officiating priests.

By removing Gurus from the picture, they, the temple presidents, would become both the managerial and spiritual authority over the devotees in their temples. In this, they found widespread support amongst devotees betrayed by institutional gurus who, though, unqualified, were “rubber stamped” as Gurus by the GBC. If there is any doubt as to its political nature, one has only to mark Dhira Govinda prabhu’s timing in the release of the second edition of his book, just in time for the annual Mayapur meetings.

Loving Guru-Disciple relationship

It seems that Dhira Govinda sees a personal, spiritual relationship between a disciple and a living Guru as a threat. He feels that a relationship with a Guru within Srila Prabhupada’s parampara somehow diminishes Srila Prabhupada himself. He thus creates a division between Srila Prabhupada and his parampara. Quite frankly, my observation has been the exact opposite. By associating with someone who truly loves Srila Prabhupada, one develops love for Srila Prabhupada. There is much about a person that cannot be transmitted by books — things of great spiritual significance, such as mood, bhava and rasa. Devotees who have been with, spoken to, and received instructions from such a guru can fill in the spaces of life and teachings with many small loving exchanges with disciples, and with uniquely spiritual responses to circumstances in life.

Even in ordinary life, one recognizes different types of knowledge: intellectual, emotional, practical, etc. Spiritual knowledge is not just intellectual, or should I say, philosophical. There are spiritual emotions that also need to be transmitted. A purely intellectual transmission of the philosophy is not sufficient; rather the mellows of devotional service, i.e. the spiritual emotions, being a purely experiential phenomena, can be transmitted only within the scope of a living relationship with a self-realized spiritual master. This has been the strength of the Vedic model of spiritual transmission: that it transmits the whole message, the philosophical, the emotional, and the practical, in a holistic way from one generation to the next. This holistic transmission is the reason why Vedic knowledge has withstood the test of time and successfully transmitted itself over the centuries with little deviation. In other words, the “preferred model” for the transmission of full spiritual knowledge, as Dhira Govinda prabhu calls it, is already described in the scriptures: it is called the parampara.

By legislating, or by relegating the Guru-Disciple relationship to a meaningless status, proper transmission of spiritual knowledge becomes defeated. It also becomes easier for the institutional authority to control its members. By getting the living Guru out of the picture, the institutional authority (the GBC, of which Dhira Govinda is a member) will more easily control its membership.  Quite frankly, most devotees look towards their Gurus as a counterweight against excesses and exploitation by ISKCON managerial authority.

The Guru, or the Institution?

Dhira Govinda asks a lot when he asks us to accept his model. Basically he appears to be asking us to devalue, or dismiss, our relationship with our Gurus, and instead accept a GBC resolution (again the political base of this ritvik philosophy) which would drastically change a living personal relationship. The first lesson of trust is knowing whom to trust: on one hand, we have Dhira Govinda das, whom we don’t know personally, and on the other, we have our Gurus, with whom we have developed, over the course of many years, by the process of submissive inquiry and service, a loving and trusting relationship.

On a practical level, I really have no idea how this PL model is supposed to work. Dealing with a living spiritual master is so easy: if one has a spiritual problem or question, one just needs to ask it. However, the PL model asks us to concoct within our minds a mental relationship with Srila Prabhupada and then use it to advance in our spiritual lives. Please don’t tell me that I can develop a proper relationship with Srila Prabhupada through the reading of his books. If you give the same passage from the same scripture to ten different people, you may get ten different interpretations. This is called confusion, not edification.

Dhira Govinda prabhu’s attempt to change a natural relationship built up over the years, by way of a resolution passed at an organizational meeting, reflects an institutional mentality. It is an attempt to legislate and institutionalize what should best be left to develop naturally. Can you legislate love, or legislate against it? What next, a “preferred model” on how to love my children or other family members?

Don’t mix Spiritual and Managerial

Sannyas is an ashram, not an institution; ISKCON has had some disastrous results when the sannyas ashram has been mixed with managerial authority. The worst of these was the “zonal acharya” system, where individuals took on managerial authority (along with their spiritual authority), divided the world into zones and forced initiates in those zones to accept them as Gurus. I see Dhira Govinda’s proposal as another attempt to mix spiritual authority with managerial authority, of the institutional with the ashram. For that reason alone it should be opposed.

Most devotees really do want a genuine spiritual master who will care for them, and lovingly guide them in their spiritual lives. Unfortunately, a vast number of devotees do not have this kind of deep, personal relationship with Guru. ISKCON has tolerated unqualified gurus, who don’t really care about the spiritual advancement of their disciples, and mixed the sannyas ashram with the managerial role, leaving everyone, Gurus and disciples, unsatisfied; in some cases, leading to falldowns and apostasy.

A real solution would call for final separation of the managerial, institutional authority in ISKCON from the sannyas ashram, for the GBC only to police the sannyas ashram against deviant Gurus, and for Gurus freely to advance in their Krishna consciousness and to preach Krishna Consciousness. We don’t need the “Guru-GBC” combination anymore. In other words, what is needed is GBC reform, as much as Guru reform. At present, no body in ISKCON is more distrusted and, in some quarters, even despised, than the GBC. Lord knows our leaders are bad enough; God save us from our reformers!

From the spiritual perspective, Ritvikism is a spiritual disease. I really do not see much spiritual realization in any of Dhira Govinda prabhu’s proposals; rather they seem to be a product of material intelligence and political positioning.


A Preliminary Statement from

ISKCON’s Governing Body Commission

 


By Drutakarma das, Hridayananda das Goswami,

Kalakantha das & Ravindra Svarupa das

(Mar. 12, 2002)

 

Srila Prabhupada: The Prominent Link, written by Dhira Govinda Prabhu, has fundamental inconsistencies with Srila Prabhupada’s teachings. Although the work encourages Srila Prabhupada’s pre-eminence in ISKCON, it does so in a concocted way. As disciples of Srila Prabhupada, we cannot endorse anything different from what he taught, no matter how it may appeal to sentiment. Out of respect for the author, the GBC Body requests its Sastric Advisory Council to review the paper and comment on it more deeply. For now, to protect devotees from being misled, the GBC Body offers these specific examples of how The Prominent Link deviates from Srila Prabhupada’s teachings and instructions.

• The paper begins by improperly dismissing the standard terminology of siksa and diksa guru — terminology established by Lord Caitanya Himself and followed by all prominent acharyas. Srila Prabhupada uses siksa and diksa as essential words to define functions of specific gurus. The author, by contrast, calls them “appellations” and “labels” and discards them.

• Having discarded the terms, the author attempts to merge the functions of siksa and diksa gurus. Noting that Srila Prabhupada is ISKCON’s pre-eminent instructing guru, he writes, “It is questionable whether the devotee performing the initiation ceremony can unambiguously be termed ‘the diksa guru’.” Srila Prabhupada, by contrast, states unambiguously in the Krishna book, Chapter 80, (and elsewhere): “Siksa gurus may be many, but diksa guru is always one.”

• Srila Prabhupada exhorted his disciples hundreds of times to be the next gurus in disciplic succession by simply repeating what they heard and avoiding concoctions. Why would he do so if he intended to be directly responsible for initiating future generations? Srila Prabhupada explains, “One’s guide must be a spiritual master who is . . . strictly following the instructions of the previous acarya . . . .” (CC Madhya 10.17, purport).

The Prominent Link specifically contradicts Srila Prabhupada’s own description of his relationship with initiates of those he initiated. On May 28, 1977, in a conversation with the GBC in Vrindavan, he said those devotees would be his “grand dis-ciples” and “the disciples of my disciples.” Disciples of Srila Prabhupada's disciples are, in fact, directly connected to him through initiation as his grand-disciples. Srila Prabhupada commented that the grandfather is more kind to his grandchildren than is their father. There is nothing lacking in the connection between Srila Prabhupada and his grand disciples. Some may choose to emphasize their diksa guru and others their siksa guru. Such affairs of the heart cannot be legislated by anyone.

• In the same conversation, Srila Prabhupada described those who would be taking on the service of initiating disciples as “regular gurus.” The Prominent Link terms them “Vaishnavas who perform the initiation ceremony.” Further, the work fails to offer a single statement by Srila Prabhupada in support of the implication that His Divine Grace would serve — in any respect — as a diksa guru in posthumous initiations.

The Prominent Link suggests that if every member of ISKCON makes Srila Prabhupada the “sole object of unconditional surrender,” ISKCON will be more united. Srila Prabhupada’s teachings suggest that ISKCON will be more united — and Srila Prabhupada more pleased — if every member of ISKCON serves the servants of the servants of Srila Prabhupada: “This is called parampara system. You have to learn how to become servant of the servant of Krsna. The more you become in the lower position — servant, servant, servant, servant, servant, hundreds times servant, servant — the more you are advanced. Here in this material world everyone is trying to be master of the master. Just opposite. And the spiritual world, the endeavor is to become servant’s servant. This is the secret. yasya deve para bhaktir yatha deve tatha gurau/ tasyaite kathita hy arthah prakasante mahatmanah. This is Vedic instruction” (London, 8/3/73).

ISKCON Law establishes Srila Prabhupada as the “pre-eminent and compulsory siksa guru for all members of ISKCON.” Further, it says that any grand disciple may find more inspiration from Srila Prabhupada than from their diksa guru. The Prominent Link asserts that such understandings of Srila Prabhupada are offensive to His Divine Grace (p. 26). The GBC Body finds such remarks and their public circulation wanting in scholarship, philosophy, and Vaishnava etiquette.

Since Srila Prabhupada entered samadhi, his disciples have struggled properly to establish guru-tattva in ISKCON, and there is more to be done. In that respect, the GBC Body acknowledges the overt intent of The Prominent Link. Unfor-tunately, the paper fails in its attempt to glorify Srila Prabhupada owing to an incomplete consideration of his teachings or, worse, a willingness to take a little from here, and little from there, and create something new. The result is aviddhi-purvakam — an improper method of worshipping Srila Prabhupada.

The GBC Body acknowledges with appreciation the clarification offered by Dhira Govinda Prabhu in a letter (March 2002) in which he states that he did not intend to teach ritvikism nor support the ritvik agenda through The Prominent Link. He also expressed his eagerness to enter into further discussion with the GBC and its Sastric Advisory Council. Thus the GBC Body encourages Dhira Govinda Prabhu to give serious consideration to the discrepancies mentioned here — and others that can be raised — and discuss them with its Sastric Advisory Council.