Bhakti Charu Swami’s ritvik initiations


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 32, Summer 2011

Following his humiliating exposure in the book 100 Contradictions: The life and teachingsof His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami (see some reader reaction to the book on page 7), Bhakti Charu Swami (“BCS”) has adopted the IRM’s position with even more vigour. On 22/7/2011, BCS conducted an initiation ceremony at the ISKCON temple in Wiesbaden, Germany. Below we compare the initiation ceremony he conducted with how a ritvik initiation ceremony on behalf of Srila Prabhupada would be conducted. All the information and quotes provided regarding the BCS ceremony is taken from a transcript of the initiation ceremony, which can be checked here [also archived here].
Quotes from BCS will appear in tinted panels below.

Initiation rituals

BCS initiation

a) BCS states that initiation is being given on behalf of Srila Prabhupada:

“And I am giving you initiation on behalf of ISKCON, on behalf of Prabhupada. […] On behalf of Srila Prabhupada I give you your spiritual name, Parama Karuna Dasa, […] So, your name on behalf of Srila Prabhupada I am giving as Nama Chintamani dasi,"

b) No mention is made of mak-ing any vow to BCS, and BCS speaks of only making a commitment to Srila Prabhupada, but never to himself:

“And your commitment to Srila Prabhupada will be shown by how sincerely you are practising the process.”

c) The ceremony consisted of chanting of Brahma-samhita, lecture about initiation and surrender, acamana (preparation for fire sacrifice), fire sacrifice, explanation of and making vows for chanting 16 rounds, giving of spiritual names, and explanation of avoiding the ten offenses while chanting.

Ritvik initiation

The initiate would go through the same procedure above and become initiated by Srila Prabhupada. One can verify this by checking the Bhaktivedanta Vedabase – for example “Lecture and initiation, Seattle, 20th October, 1968”. In most initiations, especially in later years, the ceremony was not conducted by Srila Prabhupada personally, but by a representative such as a temple president, just as BCS is doing here. In this latter case the spiritual name would be first received via a letter from Srila Prabhupada, or after July 9th, 1977, from one of the 11 appointed ritvik priests, who would accept the disciple and give the spiritual name on behalf of Srila Prabhupada, just as BCS has done here.

Role in life of initiate

BCS initiation

“You want to take initiation from me, but how often we will meet? I think I came to Germany after four years? The Prabhupada installation was? Five years, okay, yes, five years. So, if I come after five years, what will you do for those five years? The question naturally arises, then Maharaja, why are you giving initiation? […] I agreed with one confidence. That ISKCON is there to take care of you. […] And you stay fixed up in ISKCON. Because, you see, you will hardly have my association. What is going to happen to your spiritual life, if you are simply depending upon me?”

Ritvik initiation

As above, when one got initiated on behalf of Srila Prabhupada via his representative during Srila Prabhupada’s physical presence, the initiate may or may not see or take guidance from that representative, but rather would depend on the physical association of all the other devotees in ISKCON.

BCS initiation

“Actually what attracted you to spiritual life is Srila Prabhupada. The devotees you met, they are Prabhupada’s devotees, ISKCON devotees means Prabhupada’s devotees. The books that you read are Prabhupada’s books. You are being sheltered by Prabhupada’s arrangement, in the form of ISKCON. […] The point is: Always try to remember that Srila Prabhupada is your main spiritual shelter.” […] And read Prabhupada’s books every day. Why is reading Srila Prabhupada’s books so important? When you read Prabhupada’s books, Prabhupada is guiding you. And Prabhupada’s vani is manifest in his books. Did you ever try this? You have any difficulty, you are in a difficult situation and you just opened Prabhupada’s books to direct you as if Prabhupada is directing you, giving you the answer. Prabhupada is still here in the form of his vani. Prabhupada’s vani is manifest in the form of his books.”

Ritvik initiation

As above, those initiated by Srila Prabhupada during his physical presence, whether via a representative or not, would have had their main association with Srila Prabhupada via his books, since, most of his disciples never met him.

Relationship with initiate

BCS initiation

BCS states he is not acting as the diksa guru, who connects the disciple to Krishna, but is connecting the initiate to Srila Prabhupada.

“And then you decided to accept me as your Guru. Then what is my duty as your Guru? To connect you to Srila Prabhupada. […] And Guru’s business is meant to be your transparent via-medium. And generally the Guru acts as a transparent via-medium between the disciple and Krishna. But here I am acting as a transparent via-medium between you all and Srila Prabhupada.”

Ritvik initiation

When one got initiated by Srila Prabhupada during his physical presence via his representative, this representative was not the diksa guru, since he did not connect one to Krishna. Rather, the representative merely helped the initiate to connect formally to Srila Prabhupada via the medium of the formal initiation ceremony. And as noted, this is how BCS has defined his relationship with the initiate (even though he has used the word “guru” for this.)


If BCS had agreed to obey Srila Prabhupada’s orders, and become authorised by the GBC to become his ritvik representative, and carry out initiations according to the procedure given in Srila Prabhupada’s July 9th 1977 directive, he could have carried out the ceremony as he did here. Conversely, someone wishing to become initiated by Srila Prabhupada could have participated in this ceremony, and think he was initiated as Srila Prabhupada’s disciple! Hence, due to the efforts of the IRM, with the battle having been won philosophically, the ISKCON gurus are being forced to effectively concede defeat by reinventing themselves as glorified ritviks. However, they continue cheating by ensuring the benefits of being treated as diksa gurus stay intact. This is all part and parcel of the evolution of ‘The Great Guru Hoax’, from Part 1 - labelled as acaryas – to Part 2 - labelled as “humbler” diksa gurus - to Part 3 – even acting and being labelled as ritviks. In this way the guru hoax has continued to mutate and survive, with each new version merely offering a different vehicle by which to achieve the same goal of controlling men, money and properties, with such control either remaining intact or merely changing hands.

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