From Now Onwards
Posted February 6, 2006
[Editor's note: With the posting of these two articles by Visnurata and Niscala Prabhus, Chakra closes the current discussion of ritvik initiations. Those who are interested in reading more on the topic are encouraged to visit Click Here for many relevant articles, including the 1999 debate between Adridharan and Ajamila Prabhus, or the many cyber discussion forums where this discussion is still ongoing]
In the second part of her article, Niscala prabhu accuses me of "not trying to avoid conflict but in seeking it out". Yet it was Niscala who attacked both the ritviks and the GBC in her first article. She wrote:
"The ritviks spread the darkness of the belief that there can be no gurus after Srila Prabhupada" (Niscala dd) "Unfortunately, this is prominent in ISKCON- gurus who take daksine and their annual quota of glory and honour but who do very little to actually train their disciples to see their various illusions, anarthas, weaknesses of heart and so on, as Krsna did with Arjuna. ISKCON has become so superficial that a clean track record and blind obedience to the GBC has become all that is required to stay "in good standing", regardless of how many of their disciples are being lost to the illusory energy. I doubt they even keep count." (Niscala dd) If this isn't seeking conflict, I don't know what is. Niscala then puts forward the following statement:
"Srila Prabhupada also gave numerous directives in his books, conversations and lectures that his daughters and sons should "initiate disciples and carry on the family tree of Lord Chaitanya". Although Niscala does not give a precise reference for this apparent quote from Srila Prabhupada, I assume she is referring to the following statement:
"Regarding your question about the disciplic succession coming down from Arjuna, it is just like I have got my disciples, so in the future these many disciples may have many branches of disciplic succession. So in one line of disciples we may not see another name coming from a different line. But this does not mean that person whose name does not appear was not in the disciplic succession." (SPL to Kirtanananda, 25 January, 1969). Here Srila Prabhupada is obviously giving an analogy to illustrate a point. He is merely giving an example to clear up a question raised by one of his disciples - whom he later appoints to act as a ritvik, not a diksa guru. Srila Prabhupada is not saying that this will happen or should happen. He uses the word "may". This letter can not be used to displace the July 9 th directive, since, aside from Kirtanananda, the recipients of the directive never saw the above letter. And we all know what happened to Kirtanananda. Niscala then states: "Srila Prabhupada also directed that examinations should be held in ISKCON for the purpose of qualifying his disciples to be gurus". Here she seems to be referring to the following letter:
"By 1975, all of those who have passed all of the above examinations will be specifically empowered to initiate and increase the number of the Krsna Consciousness population." (SP Letter to Kirtanananda, 12/1/69) This point is answered in "The Final Order" by Krishnakant:
"Does the above statement validate the termination of the final order on initiation?
Since this is an attempt to terminate the ritvik system through the use of personal letters, we shall invoke here Srila Prabhupada's 'law of disciplic succession'. The first part of the 'law' states that a disciple must not act as initiating acarya in his own guru's physical presence. Since this was the 'law', clearly the above letter could not be referring to Srila Prabhupada's disciples initiating on their own behalf: *Srila Prabhupada was still on the planet in 1975.* We can therefore only conclude that he was already contemplating some sort of 'officiating' initiation system as early as 1969. By 1975, Srila Prabhupada had indeed 'empowered', or authorised, devotees such as Kirtanananda to chant on beads and conduct initiations on his behalf. The above letter appears then to be predicting the future use of representatives for the purpose of initiation. Later he called these representatives 'ritviks', and formalised their function in the July 9th order. Again, it would be foolhardy to suggest that Srila Prabhupada was actually authorising Kirtanananda to act as a sampradaya initiating acarya as long as he passed a few exams."
Niscala prabhu then refers to a "sastric edict" that "one who knows the science of Krsna consciousness can become a spiritual master"."
Of course, anyone can become a siksa, or instructing, spiritual master. To become an initiating, or diksa, guru however requires much more stringent qualification: one must be both a mahabhagavat and also authorised by the predecessor spiritual master. Srila Prabhupada makes this clear:
"When one has attained the topmost position of maha-bhagavata, he is to be accepted as a guru and worshipped exactly like Hari, the Personality of Godhead. Only such a person is eligible to occupy the post of a guru."
(C.c. Madhya, 24.330, purport)
"On the whole, you may know that he is not a liberated person,
andtherefore, he cannot initiate any person to Krsna Consciousness. It
special spiritual benediction from higher authorities."
(SP Letter to Janardana, 26/4/68)
"One should take initiation from a bona fide spiritual master coming in the disciplic succession, who is authorised by his predecessor spiritual master . This is called diksa-vidhana."
(S.B. 4.8.54, purport)
"Try to understand. Don't go very speedily. A guru can become guru when he
is ordered by his guru. That's all. Otherwise nobody can become guru ."
(SP Bg. Lecture, 28/10/75)
"Self made guru cannot be guru. He must be
authorised by the bona fide guru. Then he's guru. This is the
fact...Similarly, bona fide guru means he must be authorised by the superior
(SP NOD Lecture, October 31. 1972)
"Vallabha Bhatta wanted to be initiated
by Gadadhara Pandita, but Gadadhara Pandita refused, saying, "The work of
acting as a spiritual master is not possible for me . I am completely
dependent. My Lord is Gauracandra, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. I cannot do
anything independently, without His order."
(CC, Antya 7:150-151)
Niscala then analyses the July 9th order on ritvik initiations and states that in this letter:
"there is no mention that ritvik initiations should continue on after Srila Prabhupada's departure".
There is no mention in the letter that ritvik initiations should stop at Srila Prabhupada's departure either, so why did they stop? It is the duty of the disciple to simply follow the order of the spiritual master, not stop or change the order:
"Therefore Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu says that "I accept the order of My spiritual master in toto, without any interpretation, without any argument, without any understanding. Whatever he has said, it is all right." This is acceptance of spiritual master. "Oh, I accept spiritual master, but I don't accept your order"-this is not acceptance of spiritual master [...] the process is that you cannot change the order of spiritual master. You cannot argue. " (SP Lecture Feb 2, 1967) Niscala then attempts to interpret the word "henceforward" in the letter. "Henceforward" only has one meaning: "from now onwards". So we should follow Srila Prabhupada's ritvik order - it's really that simple. Even if you remove the word "henceforward" from the letter, nothing is changed in respect of the letter's instruction - you still have an order to follow the ritvik system! Finally, Niscala prabhu then interprets the following statement from Nectar of Devotion:
"The spiritual master must never be carried away by an accumulation of
wealth or a large number of followers. A bona fide spiritual master will
never become like that. But sometimes, if a spiritual master is not properly
authorized and only on his own initiative becomes a spiritual master, he may
be carried away by an accumulation of wealth and large numbers of
(NOD, chapter 14)
She states: "Therefore logically, one can fall down, even if authorized, due to other causes, some of which are indicated -- 'accumulation of wealth and followers'."
Srila Prabhupada states the opposite. He says only one who is "not properly authorized" may be carried away by an accumulation of wealth and followers. An authorized spiritual master can never fall down in this way:
"There is no possibility that a first class devotee will fall down."
(C.c . Madhya, 22.71)
"A bona fide spiritual master is in the disciplic succession from time
eternal and he does not deviate at all from the instructions of the Supreme
(Bg. 4.42, purport)