by Krishnakant

In response to ‘The Ritvik Heresy’ by Drutakarma Dasa

On July 9th, 1977, four months before his physical departure, Srila Prabhupada issued a directive via his secretary to all the leaders of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) which set in place a system of initiations employing the use of ‘ritviks’, or representatives of the acarya. Srila Prabhupada instructed that this 'officiating acarya' system was to be instituted immediately, and run from that time onwards, or 'henceforward' - (to read this letter please see reverse). The ritviks were to act on Srila Prabhupada's behalf, new initiates all becoming disciples of Srila Prabhupada from then on.

Immediately after Srila Prabhupada's physical departure, on November 14th 1977, the Governing Body Comission for (GBC) ISKCON disbanded this ritvik system.

The GBC have just released ‘The Ritvik Heresy’ paper in an attempt to persuade supporters of ISKCON that they were justified in stopping a system that Srila Prabhupada never asked to be stopped.

In place of this ritvik system, whereby the perfect Acarya - Srila Prabhupada -was the sole worshipful initiating guru, the GBC set up a system in which they and their supporters could accept worship as though they themselves were as pure as God. This unauthorized guru system has been such an embarrassing disaster that even as we write the GBC are desperately trying to concoct a new one. Even the author of ‘The Ritvik Heresy’ himself cautiously admits the shaky history of these self-proclaimed gurus:

‘Not all of these gurus have lived up to their responsibilities as gurus, and this has naturally caused some disturbance.’
(Drutakarma das ‘The Ritvik Heresy’)

The above has to be the understatement of the century. The editor of ISKCON’s very own BTG magazine, His Holiness Jayadvaita Swami, was somewhat less circumspect when he wrote the following:

FACT: ISKCON gurus have opposed, oppressed and driven out many sincere Godbrothers and Godsisters.
FACT: ISKCON gurus have usurped and misused money, and diverted other ISKCON resources for their own personal prestige and sense gratification.
FACT: ISKCON gurus have had illicit sexual intercourse with both women and men, and possibly children as well….’ etc, etc 

('Where the Ritvik People are Right, Jayadvaita Swami, 1996)

We demonstrate below how the GBC attempt to justify their insubordination through a mixture of misrepresentation and lies.

GBC heresy number 1

In order to explain away such disgusting behavior the GBC have for many years taught that members of the sacred disciplic succession, descending from Lord Sri Krishna Himself, can sometimes fall down from their elevated position. This is a serious philosophical heresy. Srila Prabhupada states the precise opposite:

"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 Lord."
(Bg. 4.42, purport)

Srila Prabhupada taught that a guru would only fall down if he were not properly authorised to initiate:

"...sometimes a spiritual master is not properly authorised to initiate and only on his own initiative becomes a spiritual master, he may be carried away by an accumulation of wealth and a large number of disciples."
(NOD p116)

Thus the very fact that many ISKCON gurus have deviated badly proves they were never authorised to initiate in the first place. They were only ever authorised to act as ritvik's.

GBC heresy number 2

The GBC maintain that the July 9th order, which originally set in place the ritvik system, was only temporary, specifically meant to stop on Srila Prabhupada’s departure: 

‘This temporary measure, put in place because of Srila Prabhupada's ill health, was designed to take care of a specific situation during his presence.’
(Drutakarma das ‘The Ritvik Heresy’)

Merely reading the order itself easily disproves this assertion. Nowhere does it state the ritvik system was ‘temporary’, or was only set up because of Srila Prabhupada’s ‘ill health’. Nowhere did Srila Prabhupada ever say or write any such a thing. Neither does the order say it is to terminate on departure; indeed the author himself admits that departure is not even mentioned in the letter: 

‘The July 9 letter does not directly mention Prabhupada's departure…’
(‘The Ritvik Heresy’)

The obvious question then is -

It is an axiom of spiritual life that the order of the guru cannot be whimsically ignored or stopped.

GBC heresy number 3

The GBC teach that the spiritual master must be present on the same planet as the disciple in order for initiation to take place. Yet nowhere is the principle stated. Indeed there is one famous example in the Bhagavad Gita, verse 4.1, where interplanetary initiation * took place:

"So there was no difficulty in communicating with Manu or Manu's son, Iksvaku. The communication was there, or the radio system was so nice that communication could be transferred from one planet to another." 
(SP Bg. Lecture, 24/8/68)

Over and over again the GBC teach that the physical presence of the spiritual master is vital to the guru-disciple relationship:

‘… a student approaches for initiation a spiritual master who is physically present.’
(Drutakarma das ‘The Ritvik Heresy’)

And yet Srila Prabhupada taught the exact opposite over and over again: 

‘So we should associate by vibration, and not by the physical presence. That is real association’. 
(Lectures SB, 68/08/18)

‘Such association with Krsna and the Spiritual Master should be association by vibration not physical presence. That is real association’. 
(Elevation to Krsna Consciousness, (BBT 1973), Page 57)

*(Initiation or diksa (Sanskrit) is defined primarily as the transmission of transcendental knowledge from guru to disciple).

Thus it is clear the GBC along with supporters like Drutakarma think it is fine to terminate important instructions and just invent their own philosophy. Recently however there has been a ground swell of devotees wanting to put things straight. Although the author pretends that only a few fringe devotees have become supporters of ritvik, in reality many have, including ISKCON’s biggest temple in Bangalore.