A Response To H.G. Bhadra Balarama Das


By Krishnakant

Feb 17, 1999

A large part of your paper consists of nothing but insults and ranting. We shall give these parts the attention they deserve by completely ignoring them. The remaining sections dismally fail once more to address any of the key issues, you merely refer us to previous GBC papers which;

1. Have already been comprehensively answered by the IRM.

2. Frequently contradict each other on key issues such as how when and where gurus were authorised, and are thus impossible to be taken seriously since that is the very issue under discussion.

On the subject of contradictions, you absurdly assert that there is nothing wrong with His Holiness Jayapataka Maharaja directly contradicting the GBC paper "DOMD' (which you also do- and then simultaneously recommend it):

"Jayapataka Swami is writing his own paper which has not referred to either the TFO or the GBC paper. He is sharing his own realization which may bring a new insight to the whole discussion".

How can Jayapataka Swami write something which contradicts the GBC? He is a member of the GBC and is supposed to be defending their position!! If he does not take their papers seriously why in the name of heaven should we? You say:

"Jayapataka Swami wasn't professing to be arguing against points made in TFO."

If he is not trying to defeat "The Final Order" then who exactly is he trying to defeat? Some phantom army of imaginary straw ritviks perhaps? The vast majority of ritviks supporters around the world support TFO, plus it was commissioned by the GBC themselves in order to have the issue clarified in one comprehensive document, so they could answer its concerns. If Jayapataka Swami is not answering TFO, along with all the other papers written subsequently to defend it, then he really is wasting his time. You say:

"Besides TFO has already been thoroughly refuted in "The Point By Point Refutation Of TFO", a paper issued by the Ministry For The Protection Of ISKCON."

The so-called refutation you refer to is so bad that even the GBC did not publish it under the advice of their embarrassed senior supporters. If they ever do release it they can rest assured a response will go on the world wide web within the time it takes to press the send button on our E-mail.

May 28th conversation

As in the above mentioned paper, yours also relies heavily on the May 28th conversation as the main justification for suspending the ritvik system, and the transformation of the ritviks into fully fledged diksa gurus:

"It seems that the authors of RSPW are in complete darkness as to the conversation that took place on May 28 between Srila Prabhupada and members of the GBC. Here Srila Prabhupada explicitly and emphatically stated that after his departure his disciples were to initiate their own disciples, who would then become his grand-disciples."

We would be very interested to see where exactly in the conversation Srila Prabhupada "explicitly and emphatically' stated any such thing. Could you please give us the exact lines since we must have missed them. Even ardent supporters of the MASS, such as Ravindra Svarupa prabhu and Hari Sauri das, feel the conversation is confusing and perplexing. At least the beginning is clear, ritviks particularly for after departure, and yet this is the one point you wish to ignore.

You rather wish Srila Prabhupada had said "I shall be appointing diksa gurus for after my departure". Sadly for you he said no such thing, ever. Still don't let that stop you fantasising that he did if it makes you happy. In the meantime you will see IRM support simply increase and your position appear increasingly absurd and unsupportable. You say:

"The RSPW simply assumes that there is no time limit set forth in the July 9 letter, and that the instructions therein were to be permanently implemented in ISKCON. But they have offered no evidence of this idea."

There is no time limit set in the letter. This is a fact. It just says "henceforward", which the IRM have never claimed means "forever", but just "from now onwards". "From now onwards" could have meant "from now until my departure", we have never denied this. All we have ever asked for is evidence that it did. Without such clear and explicit evidence, which is certainly not present in the May 28th conversation, the system must continue. The order of the guru MUST be obeyed; not whimsically abandoned for spurious irrelevant reasons such as physical departure, which has absolutely no spiritual significance to the process of diksa. You say:

The July 9th order

"That the July 9 letter was stating an emergency arrangement due to the backlog of disciples waiting to get initiated, and thus of a temporary nature, is clear from the July 7th, 1977 conversation on which basis the July 9th, 1977 letter was written."

Once more could you please tell us where Srila Prabhupada says the system was "an emergency arrangement" only? Or that the system was only set up to deal with some "backlog" or that it was only "temporary"? H.H. Tamal Krishna Maharaja may have assumed such things, as he has assumed many things over the years, but where did Srila Prabhupada ever state them? Certainly the July 9th order itself gives no indication whatsoever that it was only to deal with some "temporary" "emergency" "backlog". And earlier on May 28th, when there was no mention of any backlog, Srila Prabhupada first mentions the ritvik officiating system as a means of dealing with initiations, both first and second, "particularly" for when he was no longer present. Unless you are saying that all initiations for up to ten thousand years constitute some sort of "emergency".

You say:

"In fact, although the initial question asked by Satsvarupa Swami during the May 28th conversation deals with post-samadhi, a subsequent question he asks Srila Prabhupada about initiations being on behalf of Srila Prabhupada is replied clearly by Srila Prabhupada who stated that "on his behalf" was only meant for his physical presence as a "formality" to conform with the standard etiquette".

This is where both you and His Holiness Jayapataka Swami contradict the GBC paper "DOMD". There it is asserted that the phrase "on my behalf" refers to the ritviks (who are somehow simultaneously diksa gurus) initiating their own disciples- on Srila Prabhupada's behalf !?!
According to the GBC, proxy initiations are not referred to at any stage of the conversation.

"In the present conversation (May 28th) Srila Prabhupada does not refer to proxy initiations at all, not even in connection with the word ritvik"

"So on my behalf, on my order... Amara ajnaya guru hana. Be actually guru, but by my order."

"Srila Prabhupada answers here that "on my behalf" does not mean acting as a post-samadhi proxy but means becoming an actual guru."

"One becomes a spiritual master on behalf of his own spiritual master, on the order of his spiritual ma ster, carrying on the disciplic succession. Srila Prabhupada is telling his disciples to become spiritual masters, but as his servant, in the same way that Srila Prabhupada himself became a spiritual master on behalf of His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur."
(pages 5, 9 and 10 from the GBC paper DOMD)

Before you attack us you really should first sort your own ideas out. Otherwise you will simply appear foolish if you are all contradicting each other. How can we take you seriously? Once more you miss the entire point where you say:

"Where has Srila Prabhupada ever stated that a guru gives initiation after his physical departure or that His Divine Grace wanted to continue giving initiations after his departure?"

Srila Prabhupada stated over and over again that physical appearance and disappearance are irrelevant to the guru disciple relationship (please see appendices to TFO). Thus your objection is spiritually and sastrically meaningless.

It is as meaningless as asking "where did Srila Prabhupada say he could continue initiating even after someone had eaten an orange?" What is the relationship between departure and diksa? This you must first establish in order to lend weight to your objection. Srila Prabhupada ordered the ritvik system to run from July 9th onwards, on what basis have your GBC arbitrarily decided that it should have ceased on his physical departure? Please ask them and let us know.

We said: "1) Since we are simply stating the STATUS QUO that existed in 1977, by definition we do not need to provide any proof, since we are not PROPOSING any change or alteration to substantiate."

Then you said:

"The status quo in 1977 was that Srila Prabhupada had not disappeared yet. How can this status quo be maintained after the disappearance of His Divine Grace? Are the rtvik-vadis trying to say that it doesn't make any difference whether Srila Prabhupada is here with us or not? How is it status quo in one situation when Srila Prabhupada is present and in another when he is not?"

Please read the quotes in the appendices of TFO. Appearance and disappearance are completely immaterial. How is it you have never read Srila Prabhupada's teachings on guru tattva? What is important is the agreement of the guru, and this we have, subject to the strict standards Srila Prabhupada left the ritviks in charge of maintaining. You say:

"Physically present"

"Srila Prabhupada has said that the idea of receiving initiation in the heart without the physical presence of the guru is simply nonsense"

Above you are misquoting Srila Prabhupada, and misrepresenting us. Please show us where the guru must be "physically present". Certainly the guru must have manifest physically, we cannot rely purely on supersoul in the conditioned state, that is why Srila Prabhupada came physically and left physical books, murti's, temples and ritivks. You add:

"and as there are many, many places where Srila Prabhupada has asked his disciples to become gurus and continue the parampara, sufficient relevancy has been demonstrated."

Siksa gurus maybe, remember - "it is best not to accept any disciples". If there really was abundant generally applicable instruction for all his disciples to initiate on departure then we would obviously not be having this argument would we? If it exists let us see it.

We said: "It is significant to note that such 'vast evidence' is NOT provided by the author in the rest of the paper, even though he claims here that he will do so."

You said:

"You are liars. There is vast evidence to be found in Srila Prabhuda's books, lectures, letters, and conversations and it has been presented again and again in numerous papers and quotes from the GBC."

Please indulge us. Give us just one quote from Srila Prabhupada's books, which explicitly states that "disciples can automatically initiate their own disciples on the departure of the guru". Just one, go on. It must of course mention either the words "initiate" or "diksa" and the word "departure". If you are right then the quote must exist since Srila Prabhupada said that all essential spiritual principles are given in his books. Or why not give us just one policy directive to the entire movement, like the July 9th letter, which says anything like this. If you cannot do this then perhaps it is you who are the liars. There are many many more faults with your paper but they are just variations on the above misconceptions.

In conclusion

The controversy centres around why a system personally put in place by Srila Prabhupada was ever stopped. In this regard we would ask you once more to consider the following points, and try to answer them with more than just insults and references to papers which have already been refuted.

1. Srila Prabhupada authorised a system of initiation employing the use of representatives or ritviks. Nowhere did Srila Prabhupada ever order this system to be stopped. Nor did he ever explicitly state that the function of the ritviks was to change.

2. At the beginning of the May 28th conversation segment, when asked what was to be done about initiations "particularly" for after departure, Srila Prabhupada clearly and emphatically stated that he would be appointing officiating acaryas which he agreed meant ritvik. He appointed them on July 9th in a letter which said nothing about their function ever changing.

3. In the middle of the conversation, on line 14, when asked a first person question by H.H. Satsvarupa Maharaja as to whether the disciples would be his, he answered "Yes". Third person questions he answered naturally in the third person which has led to your, and the GBC's confusion.

4. At the end of the segment Srila Prabhupada explains that when he "ordered" there could be gurus and then there would be disciples of his disciples.

5. Srila Prabhupada never ordered anyone to be a diksa guru. If he did then we need to know who, when, where and how? Let's get specific.

6. There is not one single GBC resolution, policy directive or generally applicable letter, authorised by Srila Prabhupada, which says anything about his disciples initiating their own disciples on his departure.

7. There is not one single statement in any of Srila Prabhupada's books or lectures which explicitly states that he wishes his disciples to start initiating after his departure. If such explicit clear statements do exist let us see them.

8. There are a handful of letters to ambitious deviant disciples like Tusta Krishna urging them to stay strictly trained up, and at least wait till he leaves before they start initiating. None of this private correspondence was available until 1986; long after the ritvik system was stopped, and is thus not directly relevant to the issue at hand. Why would Srila Prabhupada only seriously promise diksa guruhood to his most unqualified troublesome disciples

9. The only reason such evidence has been dug up is because the May tape is at best ambiguous, and at worst (for you) completely supports ritvik for "particularly" after departure.

10. All the papers quoted by you such as "DOMD", "PO" and "TO" have already been thoroughly dealt with. If you do not think so then you will need to explain where our rebuttals are wrong. You will find them on the IRM web site.

11. The GBC's strongest piece of evidence by far (more so than the May 28th conversation) is the conversation with Mohsin Hassan, a one-off student visitor to the temple. Yet this tape was only discovered last year, and is thus not directly relevant to why the ritvik system was stopped in 1977. There are other problems with it which the IRM address in our response to "PO".

12. In spite of the fact that you constantly assert that post-samadhi ritvik violates guru sadhu and sastra, whenever we ask for specifics you say something like: "To demand proof that rtvik-vada is against guru, sadhu, and sastra, is the same as demanding proof that the deities of Radha-Krishna cannot be allowed to bungy-jump at Julan yatra." Until you can substantiate your objections we suggest you stop making them.

13. Srila Prabhupada taught consistently in his books, lectures and conversations that physical presence was irrelevant to spiritual life, and yet you teach it is essential. How do you justify your corruption of Srila Prabhupada's teachings on guru tattva.

14. You constantly argue that we are preaching against the principle of parampara yet this is a lie. Srila Prabhupada IS in the parampara. Unless you can prove otherwise, he is also still the current link. Thus it is perfectly legitimate scripturaly to accept him as the diksa guru for ISKCON, especially since he set up a system allowing this to continue, and taught that physical presence was irrelevant.

The fact that it has not been done before is also irrelevant since it is the prerogative of the acarya to set precedents, albeit in harmony with sastric injunctions (which you appear to admit do not directly prohibit it).

If you are able to answer the above 14 points then you will have achieved more than any ISKCON guru or the combined power of all the GBC. As far as eating people like us for breakfast, you are more than welcome to come to Bangalore to debate the issue, and then we shall see who eats whom.

Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada

Please chant: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna, Krishna, Hare, Hare, 
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama, Rama, Hare, Hare.
 And be Happy!