In this paper we will be responding to selected comments that Kundali prabhu has made in chapters 9-11 in his book ‘Is Discrimination Jnana-Yoga’? These chapters deal with Kundali’s views on the so called ‘ritvik philosophy’.
The first point to note about his treatise is that most of it is based on his speculations of what the so-called ‘ritvik’ theory is, rather than what it really is. He never quotes from any ritvik source but simply takes a stab
as to what this philosophy is supposed to say. In particular his comments do not in any way deal with the points brought out in the ‘Final Order’, the definitive ritvik position paper. This is only to be expected since his book was written before the ‘Final Order’ was
released. This does however make his chapters on the ritvik issue largely redundant, since they do not deal with the actual ritvik position, but his supposed speculations on the subject.
The comments that Kundali prabhu makes will be boxed, and from now on Kundali prabhu shall be referred to as the author.
Immediately the author has displayed his ignorance on the subject. The ‘Final Order’ nor Srila Prabhupada ever use the term ‘ritvik-guru’. So the points the author makes above may well be correct but they have no relevance at all to the actual ritvik position that makes no reference to a ‘ritvik-guru’. It DOES make reference to ‘ritvik's’ who are priests who administer aspects of the initiation ceremony on behalf of Srila Prabhupada, similar to what was being done when Srila Prabhupada was on the planet. Thus in this situation, the ACTUAL situation, there IS a functional difference between the diksa guru, and the ritvik, who is a name-giving priest.
Since the ‘Final Order’ does
NOT say this ever, again this objection is totally irrelevant.
Since the ‘Final Order’ is 100% in agreement with the above statements, again this has nothing at all to do with demonstrating the supposed flaws in the ritvik position. The ‘Final Order’ advocates, to use the author’s words, ‘have a bona fide guru coming in disciplic succession who is fixed in the absolute truth, srotriyam brahma-nistham’. They share this person with the author himself. His name is Srila Prabhupada.
Since the ‘Final Order’ does no such thing, this is just another unsubstantiated allegation from the author. The author is unable to state which aspect of the ‘parampara philosophy
about guru’ we are advocating should be abandoned. We uphold the parampara philosophy about guru, which is that one must accept a guru coming in the line of disciplic succession. The author must demonstrate why he can accept Srila Prabhupada as a guru in the parampara, and nobody else can, even
though Srila Prabhupada ordered his continued role as an initiator through the July 9th letter, sent to all GBC’s and temple presidents.
Again we do not see the relevance of the above comment to the position of the ‘Final Order’, since there is no
dis-agreement. However for ISKCON, he only authorised a ritvik system, and did not authorise any of his disciples
Since the application of the system as outlined in the July 9th letter, requires no change in the philosophy of guru-tattva, the author has again either not understood the ritvik position. In which
case, in future he should find out what it is BEFORE he attacks it, (he has received the ‘Final Order’, but refuses to read it claiming it is ‘offensive to the trees’). - Or just deliberately mis-represented the true position, which is cheating. Either way we have been asking for years, if
anyone could please locate which principle in Srila Prabhupada’s teachings, the application of his July 9th letter, ‘adjusts’. To date, no one including the author, has been able to locate such a principle.
Since the books stress again and again, that one must approach a bona fide guru in the disciplic succession. How can the author state that there is no such support for taking initiation from Srila Prabhupada. Unless he claims that
Srila Prabhupada is not a bona fide guru in the disciplic succession. The books give no restriction that the Bona Fide guru must be physically on the planet. If such a restriction exists the author must produce it. Srila Prabhupada satisfies all the requirements that the books give for the bona
fide guru who must be approached. The Bhagavad Gita actually gives a list of the parampara in the front, and Srila Prabhupada is listed as the most current representative. On the back cover of the same book, Srila Prabhupada is mentioned as the ‘current representative’ of the disciplic
Please see the answer above. Srila Prabhupada’s books
DO support the notion that he can be approached as a bona fide guru in the disciplic succession.
Since the ‘Final Order’ actually states that there could be many maha-bhagavatas in ISKCON right now, this is another irrelevant point. The issue is simply to follow whatever system Srila Prabhupada has left for us. In this case he authorised only the ritvik system as given in the July 9th letter.
Since again this does not in anyway deal with or contradict any of the points made in the ‘Final Order’, this is again more irrelevancy. (As regards the qualifications of a guru, we simply repeat what Srila Prabhupada states in Madhya Lila, 24:330 - that one MUST be a
The fact that there is no precedent for an activity does not make it un bona fide. There is no precedent for accepting a vaisnava guru who is not Indian? So what. The issue is does it contravene a sastric principle?
The tad viddhi pranipatena verse
CANNOT be speaking of a ‘living’ guru, since it speaks of the DISCIPLE inquiring submissively. Since the author is a disciple of Srila Prabhupada, maybe he can tell us whom HE has been
inquiring from submissively for the last 21 years?
Since the word ‘ritvik’ actually MEANS priest, the author is rather stuck here. And since the ritvik system is in line with parampara, the author is correct that the above quote does endorse the parampara system.
We have already answered this point earlier. The process of accepting Srila Prabhupada as a bona fide guru in the parampara is fully supported by sastra.
This is another mis-representation. We NEVER say the above. We state that we must follow Srila Prabhupada’s last instructions on how initiations would proceed, which were given on July 9th. We also state that there maybe many uttama adhikaris in the movement. But Srila Prabhupada only authorised the ritvik system. He never authorised this system to be disbanded, and replaced with other diksa gurus.
The author then gives many quotes trying to show how ‘simple’ it is to be an uttama adhikari, and how it does not require any ‘mystical qualifications’. Again this is irrelevant to the topic at hand, since we have never claimed that someone is not, or never will be, an uttama adhikari. We simply state that we must follow whatever Srila Prabhupada authorised. This simple following of Srila Prabhupada’s orders is also not a ‘mystical’ qualification, but quite easily achieved. We are sure all the legions of uttama adhikaris will have no problem following the July 9th directive issued to the whole movement, instead of trying to remove Srila Prabhupada as the initiating guru for ISKCON.
The author also repeatedly alleges that Srila Prabhupada stated that anyone who passed some examinations was supposed to be an initiating guru in ISKCON once Srila Prabhupada had left:
To support these allegations he offers the following letters:
However a close look at these letters reveal that these exams were not intended to certify ‘initiating gurus’ but simply to improve the philosophical understanding of the devotees, who are supposed to be Brahmins:
Thus the author’s allegation that these exams certify ‘initiating gurus’ is completely false. Below we present a more elaborate explanation that is taken from the ‘Final Order’ and ‘Best Not To
“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)
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 1968. 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.
The above letters cannot be used to replace, supplant or modify the July 9th policy document since the vast majority of the recipients of that directive would not even have known of the existence of the above letters.
The argument is made that the phrase ‘increase the number of generations’ in the letter to Hamsaduta proves that Srila Prabhupada was talking about disciples in the future having their own disciples. However in using the term ‘generations’ Srila Prabhupada may have been talking in a physical sense, i.e., future generations of humanity. This is supported by the fact that in the letter to Kirtanananda, the phrase ‘Krsna Conscious population’ is used instead of ‘generations’. ‘Krsna Conscious population’ merely means all future participants of the Krsna Consciousness movement - not only future members of the disciplic succession. The dictionary definition of the word ‘generations’ is not ‘disciplic succession’. In any case the whole argument falls flat since nothing even approaching a M.A.S.S. type system was ever set up by Srila Prabhupada before, during or after 1975.
What did happen by 1975 is that Srila Prabhupada had empowered various individuals to carry out initiations and chant on beads etc., but on his behalf. This system was later formalised on July 9th 1977 and left to run henceforward. Perhaps it was this system that he was alluding to in the above two letters.
We can see that the author’s comments on the so-called ‘ritvik’ issue are at best ill-informed and complete mis-representations. They offer no evidence to terminate Srila Prabhupada’s own instructions that the system
should continue, nor does the author offer a SINGLE quote from sastra demonstrating the ritvik system is unauthorised or breaks any sastric injunctions. In fact the author’s chapters on the ritvik issue are noticeable for the almost complete absence of quotations of any kind. We would strongly
suggest that the author first study the ‘Final Order’ to correctly ascertain what the ritvik position actually is.