The GBC’s False Dichotomy-1: Guru v Ritvik


Back to Prabhupada, Issue 20, Summer 2008

By Krishnakant

If you start with the wrong question, you will get the wrong answer. The GBC guru hoaxers and their supporters deliberately frame the issue before us incorrectly to thereby reach an incorrect conclusion. They present the guru hoax as being a choice between “guru v ritvik”. Naturally, faced with such a prospect, people are easily swayed to choose the tried and trusted “guru” option over the “new” ritvik option. But, of course, this is not the choice before us, as much as the GBC would like us to believe.

What’s the choice?

We are actually choosing between guru v. guru, whether we choose Srila Prabhupada as guru or the GBC’s voted-in hoaxers as guru. The guru hoaxers may concede that this is the actual choice, but that it should be more accurately represented as:

Guru + Ritvik (Srila Prabhupada)


Guru (GBC)

since ritviks are necessary in order to accept Srila Prabhupada as one’s Guru.

The real choice

The reality is actually the opposite. The correct choice before us is:

Guru (Srila Prabhupada)


Guru + Ritvik (GBC)

This may seem strange, but as we will now see the above description is indeed accurate. Those who became the first 11 gurus under the zonal acharya system (The Great Guru Hoax, Part 1) were accepted as being duly authorised bona fide gurus, and the system was expanded so more gurus could be added to the original 11. These original 11 gurus (or more precisely those from the 11 who were still left, having not left the movement) were therefore involved in authorising the system (as well as individual gurus) that would allow new gurus to be added to their own number (The Great Guru Hoax, Part 2 - the basis of the current ISKCON guru system). The status of the 11 zonal acharyas as being bona fide gurus therefore underpins the current ISKCON guru system. The current ISKCON guru system was merely an expansion of the first 11 gurus. Remove them as gurus, and you have no gurus from which to expand into more gurus, and therefore no gurus at all today. Hence the root of the GBC’s current guru system is the previous guru system, the zonal acharya system. And this zonal acharya guru system in turn depends entirely on the fact that they were authorised as ritviks, as the following statements prove:

Actually, Prabhupada never appointed any gurus. He didn’t appoint eleven gurus. He appointed eleven ritviks. He never appointed them gurus. Myself and the other GBC have done the greatest disservice to this movement the last three years because we interpreted the appointment of ritviks as the appointment of gurus. After Prabhupada’s departure, what is the position of these eleven people? Obviously, Srila Prabhupada felt that of all the people, these people are particularly qualified. So it stands to reason that after Prabhupada’s departure, they would go on, if they so desired, to initiate.”
(HH Tamala Krishna Goswami, 3/12/80)

Prabhupada’s ritvik appointment therefore indicated, those whom he hoped would be able to become actual gurus; but he did not appoint them gurus.”
(Under My Order, Ravindra Svarupa Das)

The ritvik tree

So two things are very clear:

a) The first 11 “gurus” were never appointed as gurus, but only as ritviks.

b) Rather, they attained their guru status by virtue of having been appointed ritviks; the ritvik selection allegedly somehow being an indication that these persons should go on and become diksa gurus, with the GBC speculating that appointment as ritviks means that Srila Prabhupada “felt” and “hoped” that they should go on and become diksa gurus.

The status of the first 11 gurus depends entirely therefore on their selection as ritviks. And the current ISKCON guru system in turn depends on the validity of the first 11 gurus, who acted as the root of the current expanded system. This is illustrated in the “Ritvik Tree” diagram, shown opposite.

The use of ritviks, however, in accepting Srila Prabhupada as the Guru is merely for ceremonial purposes – they are required to help conduct the formal initiation ceremony, accepting a disciple on behalf of Srila Prabhupada and giving a spiritual name. Srila Prabhupada’s status as ISKCON’s Guru, the Guru of us all, does not depend on ritviks, as ISKCON’s guru system does. Rather, ritviks depend on Srila Prabhupada’s status as ISKCON guru for their position. Ritviks merely facilitate the taking of a ceremony.


Hence “guru v. ritvik” is a false dichotomy, if “guru” is applied to the GBC’s gurus, and “ritvik” applied to accepting Srila Prabhupada as Guru. If, however, it is reversed where “guru” applies to accepting Srila Prabhupada as Guru (the IRM’s position), and “ritvik” applies to accepting the GBC’s current gurus, then it is actually accurate. For ISKCON’s current guru system is indeed tied up inextricably with Srila Prabhupada appointing ritviks.

The irony, therefore, is that it is the GBC that requires Srila Prabhupada to have set up a ritvik system to justify their guru system, whereas Srila Prabhupada’s status as ISKCON’s Guru does not depend at all on ritviks; but rather the ritviks’ status depends on Srila Prabhupada being the Guru of ISKCON.

Thus, whenever one hears the guru hoaxers dismissing the ritvik system, they are simply dismissing themselves!

The Ritvik Tree diagram

Srila Prabhupada – Guru
Facilitate initiation ceremony to accept
Srila Prabhupada

  ↓                            ↑

Appoints ritviks

Ritviks become guru because they are ritviks

These gurus part of authorising expansion of guru numbers


Current ISKCON guru system





   Srila Prabhupada

Srila Prabhupada:
ISKCON's only diksa guru

Therefore, the reality is that Srila Prabhupada only appointed ritviks as a consequence of his position as the diksa Guru of ISKCON. Imagining that the appointment of ritviks means that Srila Prabhupada actually wanted those ritviks to transmogrify into diksa gurus as soon as he departed, is just that – imagination.

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