July 9th, 1977 Document



Founder-Acharya: His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

July 9th, 1977

To All G.B.C., and Temple Presidents

Dear Maharajas and Prabhus,

Please accept my humble obeisances at your feet. Recently when all of the GBC members were with His Divine Grace in Vrndavana, Srila Prabhupada indicated that soon He would appoint some of His senior disciples to act as "rittik"-representative of the acarya, for the purpose of performing initiations, both first initiation and second initiation. His Divine Grace has so far given a list of eleven disciples who will act in that capacity:

• His Holiness Kirtanananda Swami

• His Holiness Satsvarupa dasa Gosvami

• His Holiness Jayapataka Swami

• His Holiness Tamala Krsna Gosvami

• His Holiness Hrdayananda Gosvami

• His Holiness Bhavananda Gosvami

• His Holiness Hamsaduta Swami

• His Holiness Ramesvara Swami

• His Holiness Harikesa Swami

• His Grace Bhagavan dasa Adhikari

• His Grace Jayatirtha dasa Adhikari

In the past Temple Presidents have written to Srila Prabhupada recommending a particular devotee's initiation. Now that Srila Prabhupada has named these representatives, Temple Presidents may henceforward send recommendation for first and second initiation to whichever of these eleven representatives are nearest their temple. After considering the recommendation, these representatives may accept the devotee as an initiated disciple of Srila Prabhupada by giving a spiritual name, or in the case of second initiation, by chanting on the Gayatri thread, just as Srila Prabhupada has done. The newly initiated devotees are disciples of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad, the above eleven senior devotees acting as His representative. After the Temple President receives a letter from these representatives giving the spiritual name or the thread, he can perform the fire yajna in the temple as was being done before. The name of a newly initiated disciple should be sent by the representative who has accepted him or her to Srila Prabhupada, to be included in His Divine Grace's "Initiated Disciples" book.

Hoping this finds you all well.

Your servant,

Tamala Krsna Gosvami

Secretary to Srila Prabhupada

Approved: A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
[Srila Prabhupada's signature appears on the original]

Srila Prabhupada's Last Will and Testament:


I, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder-acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Settlor of the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, and disciple of Om Visnupada 108 Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaj Prabhupada, presently residing at Sri Krsna- Balarama Mandir in Vrndavana, make this my last will:
1. The Governing Body Commission (GBC) will be the ultimate managing authority of the entire International Society for Krishna Consciousness.
2. Each temple will be an ISKCON property and will be managed by three executive directors. The system of management will continue as it is now and there is no need of any change.
3. Properties in India will be managed by the following executive directors:
a) Properties at Sri Mayapur Dhama, Panihati, Haridaspur and Calcutta: Gurukrpa Swami, Jayapataka Swami, Bhavananda Gosvami and Gopal Krsna das Adhikari.
b) Properties at Vrndavana: Gurukrpa Swami, Akshoyananda Swami, and Gopal Krsna das Adhikari.
c) Properties at Bombay: Tamala Krsna Gosvami, Giriraj das Brahmachary, and Gopal Krsna das Adhikari.
d) Properties at Bhubaneswar: Gour Govinda Swami, Jayapataka Swami, and Bhagawat das Brahmachary.
e) Properties at Hyderbad: Mahamsa Swami, Sridhar Swami, Gopal Krsna das Adhikari and Bali Mardan das Adhikari.
The executive directors who have herein been designated are appointed for life. In the event of the death or failure to act for any reason of any of the said directors, a successor director or directors may be appointed by the remaining directors, provided the new director is my initiated disciple following strictly all the rules and regulations of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness as detailed in my books, and provided that there are never less than three (3) or more than five (5) executive directors acting at one time.

Above we reproduced the final directive (July 9th, 1977 directive) issued to ISKCON by Srila Prabhupada on the matter of how initiations were to be conducted in his Society. This directive stated that Srila Prabhupada would remain as the initiating Guru for ISKCON, with his representatives conducting the initiation ceremony on his behalf.

Now we have further evidence confirming this state of affairs. Above we also reproduce the Last Will and Testament of Srila Prabhupada. Please note the following:

  1. In 1970 Srila Prabhupada established a managerial body, the GBC (Governing Body Commission), specifically and exclusively to implement his orders in ISKCON. In Clause 1 of the Will, we see that Srila Prabhupada did not hand over management of ISKCON to another Guru or acarya, but rather he mandated that there was to be no change in the way ISKCON was run - the GBC would just continue implementing his orders in a purely managerial capacity. (The fact that the GBC decided to unauthorisedly abandon their executive responsibilities, and instead become a legislative and judicial body, appointing themselves and others as successor Gurus, is of course what has necessitated this campaigning magazine BTP).

  2. Clause 2 of the Will reiterates that the system of management will stay as it is, there being no need of any change. Again, the emphasis is - no change. One of the systems of management in place within ISKCON at the time the Last Will and Testament came into effect was the July 9th directive mentioned above. This was the ritvik system of initiation which Srila Prabhupada wanted for ISKCON.

  3. Clause 3 speaks of how future executive directors for ISKCON's permanent projects in India, which were meant to last for thousands of years, would be chosen. It states that these executive Directors for the next thousands of years could only be "initiated disciples" of Srila Prabhupada. This obviously could only occur if the first two clauses of the Will were followed, and there was "no change" to the system of management of ISKCON, i.e.:
a) No change in Guru systems or who is the Guru; the GBC existing only to execute the orders of Srila Prabhupada just as they had been doing since 1970.
b) All other systems of management, such as the system for initiation etc, to also remain unchanged

Only if the above two clauses were satisfied could there even exist, long into the future, a pool of initiated disciples of Srila Prabhupada from which future executive directors could be selected.

Letters issued on behalf of Srila Prabhupada.

Supporters of the ISKCON Guru hoax claim that the representational initiation system instituted by Srila Prabhupada on July 9th 1977, whereby he would initiate all future eligible members of the institution via the use of priests (ritviks) acting on his behalf, was only set up as a temporary measure. Above we reproduce the original directive, signed by Srila Prabhupada, where there is no mention that the ritvik system was just a temporary measure for ISKCON. The only indication of the directive's duration is the word 'henceforward', which simply means 'from now onwards'. It is interesting to note that at around the time of the July 9th directive, several other letters concerning the ritvik system
were issued by Srila Prabhupada's leading disciples whilst acting in an official capacity on his behalf, and not one of them gave any hint that the ritvik system was only a temporary, stop gap measure.
Below is a transcribed conversation between Srila Prabhupada and his Secretary Tamala Krsna Maharaja wherein he is dictating a letter to one of his selected ritvik initiators, Hamsadutta Das:

Tamala Krsna Maharaja: Upendra and I could see it for the last... [break]
Srila Prabhupada: "And nobody is going to disturb you there. Make your own field and continue to become ritvik and act on my charge. People are becoming sympathetic there. The place is very nice."
(Room Conversation, July 19th, 1977)

Above Srila Prabhupada says: "continue to become ritvik". He does not say "continue to become ritvik until I depart, and then become an initiating Guru"; nor does he say "continue to become ritvik for the time being only." He just says "continue". This same word ends up in the final letter:

"Now you have a very good field. Now organize it and it will be a great credit. No one will disturb you there. Make your own field and continue to become ritvik and act on my behalf."
(July 31st 1977)

Although Hamsadutta was one of the original eleven Guru hoaxers, he has since capitulated, admitting he was only ever authorised to act as a ritvik. A similar letter was sent by Srila Prabhupada's secretary to Kirtanananda Maharaja (another of the original deviators) on July 11th 1977:

"A letter has been sent to all the Temple Presidents and GBC which you should be receiving soon describing the process for initiation to be followed in the future. Srila Prabhupada has appointed thus far eleven representatives who will initiate new devotees on His behalf. You can wait for this letter to arrive (the original has been sent to Ramesvara Maharaja for duplicating) and then all of the persons whom you recommended in your previous letters can be initiated."

Above we see the ritvik system described as: "the process for initiation to be followed in the future." It does not say "the process for initiation to be followed for now", nor "for the time being", nor "until the ritviks turn into diksa Gurus."

We also have no words in any letter or document of that time that give any notion that the ritvik system was just a short term measure. There is no statement from Srila Prabhupada that even hints that this system was to terminate on his departure.
Rather, as we saw in the last issue, Srila Prabhupada's Last Will and Testament stated that whatever was running in ISKCON at the time of Srila Prabhupada's departure "will continue as it is now" and "there is no need of any change".

So we have the following words being used by Srila Prabhupada and his most senior men in relation to the applicability of the newly instituted ritvik system of initiation:

"continue", "future", "no need of any change"

Hence the convergence of all the evidence says just one thing: the ritvik system should still be running within ISKCON.  

What do the books say?

Having examined Srila Prabhupada's written directive, his Last Will and Testament, and instructions sent out by Srila Prabhupada's Secretary, we will now turn to examining what Srila Prabhupada's books state regarding what initiation system should be followed in ISKCON.
Srila Prabhupada's books of course are applicable for the lifetime of ISKCON. It is not that they were applicable only BEFORE Srila Prabhupada departed or they became applicable only after Srila Prabhupada departed. No, they are applicable for the lifetime of ISKCON, both for whilst Srila Prabhupada was physically present, and for after he departs.
This means that any instructions we find in his books would have been applicable whilst Srila Prabhupada was present, and will ALSO be applicable for the lifetime of ISKCON following Srila Prabhupada's physical departure, unless the books themselves state otherwise of course.

Srila Prabhupada's books DO state the specific initiation system to be followed in ISKCON.

"In our Krsna consciousness movement, the requirement is that one must be prepared to give up the four pillars of sinful life: illicit sex, meat eating, intoxication and gambling. In Western countries especially, we first observe whether a potential disciple is prepared to follow the regulative principles. Then he is given the name of a Vaisnava servant and initiated to chant the Hare Krsna mahamantra, at least sixteen rounds daily. In this way the disciple renders devotional service under the guidance of the spiritual master or his representative for at least six months to a year. He is then recommended for a second initiation, during which a sacred thread is offered and the disciple is accepted as a bona fide brahmana."
(C.c., Madhya 24:330)

"Due to the necessity of these activities, we do not immediately initiate disciples in the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. For six months, a candidate for initiation must first attend arati and classes in the sastras, practice the regulative principles and associate with other devotees. When one is actually advanced in the purascarya vidhi, he is recommended by the local temple president for initiation. It is not that anyone can be suddenly initiated without meeting the requirements. When one is further advanced by chanting the Hare Krsna mantra sixteen rounds daily, following the regulative principles and attending classes, he receives the sacred thread (brahminical recognition) after the second six months."
(C.c., Madhya 15:108)

"Thus in the beginning the students of our Krsna consciousness movement agree to live with devotees, and gradually, having given up four prohibited activities illicit sex, gambling, meat eating and intoxication they become advanced in the activities of spiritual life. When one is found to be regularly following these principles, he is given the first initiation (harinama), and he regularly chants at least sixteen rounds a day. Then, after six months or a year, he is initiated for the second time and given the sacred thread with the regular sacrifice and ritual."
(C.c., Adi 17:265)

These references are given in the box above.

No other initiation system to be followed specifically in ISKCON is mentioned in Srila Prabhupada's books.

On each occasion the following identical arrangement is described:

  1. The candidate must follow 4 regulative principles and chant 16 rounds for 6 months.
  2. If these requirements are met, he is automatically recommended for initiation by the Temple President.
  3. Then the candidate will automatically become initiated by Srila Prabhupada.

Interestingly the above arrangement is identical to the ritvik system.
Step c) follows from the fact that the books are describing the exact system that was in place when Srila Prabhupada was on the planet the system in which he was the sole initiator. We already covered the point, that whatever the books state will have to be applicable for BOTH Srila Prabhupada's physical presence and for after his physical departure. Hence the books describe the initiation system which was in place when Srila Prabhupada was on the planet, and also the system which should be followed for the lifetime of ISKCON.
This system involved a person being recommended for initiation by the Temple President, and then automatically receiving initiation from Srila Prabhupada. The FORMALITIES of receiving this initiation right from the early days of ISKCON were in most cases given by senior devotees on behalf of Srila Prabhupada, who would chant on beads, conduct the fire sacrifice, play the Gayatri tape etc., and in the latter days would also accept the disciple on behalf of Srila Prabhupada by giving a name.

The books mention only one initiation system, which applies continuously during and after Srila Prabhupada's presence.

The Books do not state that in ISKCON one system is to be followed whilst Srila Prabhupada is present, and then another system will be followed once Srila Prabhupada departs.

Hence clearly the books do not describe an initiation system with someone as the Diksa Guru other than Srila Prabhupada.

We will now also demonstrate conclusively that the same quotes also prove that ISKCON's current multiple Guru system was never meant to be followed in ISKCON.

In dissecting ISKCON's current multiple Guru system we find a two stage, multi-step process that differs radically from the system Srila Prabhupada sanctioned for ISKCON in his books:

Stage 1
  1. New bhaktas first accept Srila Prabhupada as their principal siksa Guru for the first 6 months.
  2. Srila Prabhupada's pranama mantra will be by chanted during this initial induction period.
  3. During this trial period the bhakta must demonstrate his ability to follow the 4 regulative principles, chant 16 rounds and attend the morning programme.
  4. By the end of these 6 months he must pass an examination.
  5. Having passed these hurdles satisfactorily, the local temple authority will give a recommendation to that effect.
  6. The candidate is now qualified to enter stage 2.
Stage 2
  1. Entry to stage 2 signifies that one is ready and qualified to choose a Guru.
  2. However, the selection can only be made from a list generated through the GBC's elaborate majority vote "no objection" procedures.
  3. When ready, the candidate will make his choice and inform his local authority.
  4. The candidate then requires the formal acceptance of his chosen Guru.
  5. Once this approval is obtained, the candidate will change the pranama mantra of Srila Prabhupada being chanted to that of his newly chosen Guru.
  6. The purpose of stage 2 is for mutual testing between Guru and disciple to determine each other's qualifications.
  7. One will then have to follow strictly for at least another 6 months.
  8. At any time during stage 2, both the prospective disciple and Guru can reject each other.
  9. At the end of the second 6 month period, the local authority must give his formal approval for the initiation to take place.
  10. Even at this stage the Guru, if he so wishes, can reject this recommendation and not proceed with the initiation.

(All the above details are taken from official GBC papers on the subject).
Given a multiple-Guru system as present in ISKCON, the elaborate procedural arrangements of stage 1 and stage 2 are absolutely essential.

The far more streamlined system alluded to by Srila Prabhupada in the above quotes can only be applicable within a single-guru system, where there is just one Guru in the movement who is known to everyone, and who will automatically initiate anyone who is willing to follow strictly.
This is why Srila Prabhupada makes no mention of the disciple needing to choose a Guru and then obtaining permission from the chosen Guru before aspiring to him, or of the disciple needing a period to "test" the Guru; steps which would be essential in a new multi-Guru system, and without which the system could not function.
These stages could only be omitted if there was only one initiating Guru, who was always the same person, and who was already known to be bona fide. It should be obvious that since such a singular system is described in Srila Prabhupada's books, descriptions which perfectly mirror the system in place when Srila Prabhupada was on the planet (and meant to be continued throughout ISKCON's lifetime), that Guru being referred to must be Srila Prabhupada. Thus Srila Prabhupada's prescribed system differs completely from the current GBC Guru system in both essence and detail.

Bringing together all the evidence we have presented thus far, we have established an irrefutable case regarding Srila Prabhupada's status as the only diksa Guru for ISKCON. We will summarise this evidence in one page, which can be used to convince anyone in simple jargon-free language that Srila Prabhupada is the sole diksa Guru for ISKCON.

  1. Srila Prabhupada sets out shortly before his departure the system of initiation to be practised in ISKCON for the "purpose of performing initiations, both first initiation and second initiation." This is the PURPOSE of the July 9th 1977 directive - to allow initiations to be conducted in ISKCON - not to allow initiations only for whilst Srila Prabhupada is sick, or while he is on the planet etc. Thus the purpose of the directive sets out right at the beginning for what, where and for how long the directive is to be applicable. It is to be applicable in ISKCON to allow initiations to be performed, and there is NO RESTRICTION given on when or how these initiations are to be performed. Rather, the directive mentions NO SPECIFIC TIME PERIOD for its applicability because it is not a temporary directive. The very absence of a time-period is in itself the proof that the directive is a permanent directive for ISKCON. Just like whenever Srila Prabhupada issued a directive for ISKCON, if no time-period is mentioned, it is understood to be applicable for ISKCON, and not some temporary time-period or circumstance that is not even mentioned. The directive states three times that those initiated via this system will be disciples of Srila Prabhupada only, with those named as ritviks acting as "his representative."

  2. This is confirmed by other letters issued at the same time as the above directive, by the same person who issued the directive on Srila Prabhupada's behalf: Srila Prabhupada's secretary. These letters state that the system of initiation mentioned in the directive is the system for the "FUTURE" and those conducting the initiations, should "CONTINUE" to do so.

  3. With the system established as the system by which initiations are to be managed in ISKCON, Srila Prabhupada's Last Will and Testament makes it doubly clear that this system should not be changed. The Last Will and Testament states:

    "The system of management will continue as it is now, and there is no need of any change."

Clearly the system by which initiations are to be managed in ISKCON just set up by Srila Prabhupada, shortly before his departure, is part of the system for managing ISKCON.

  1. Srila Prabhupada's Last Will and Testament also makes it clear that ISKCON was only ever meant to be comprised of disciples directly initiated by Srila Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada states that Executive Directors for all the permanent ISKCON properties in India, which are to remain for the lifetime of ISKCON, will always be "MY INITIATED DISCIPLE".

  2. Srila Prabhupada's books contain information and instructions which are applicable for the lifetime of ISKCON. They were not issued to be applicable either ONLY for whilst Srila Prabhupada was on the planet, or for AFTER he left the planet. They were applicable for BOTH time periods. And in these books Srila Prabhupada mentions, without restriction or qualification, that the initiation system used in ISKCON is that which was in place whilst he was on the planet - in other words, he speaks of the same system being in operation throughout ISKCON's lifetime - he does not speak of any fundamental CHANGES needing to be made to accommodate his physical departure.

  3. Following on from this, it can also be shown that the initiation system described in the books can NOT possibly be describing the multi-Guru initiation system which ISKCON currently practises.

So Srila Prabhupada's final, signed directive regarding initiations to the ISKCON society; other letters issued by his secretary at the same time; his Last Will and Testament; and his books all say exactly the same thing - that ISKCON should practice a system of initiation which was the same as established by Srila Prabhupada when he was on the planet. This system, of course, has Srila Prabhupada as the Guru, with initiation ceremony formalities and rituals carried out by others. NOTHING ANYONE CAN SAY TO YOU CAN CHANGE THE ABOVE FACT.

Hence for those who wish to actually just FOLLOW Srila Prabhupada's orders, there is nothing to debate or discuss. It should also be noted that the July 9th, 1977 directive, is not just another "letter", but actually a DOCUMENT, for the GBC charged with circulating it states he is:

"enclosing herein two documents 
1) Srila Prabhupada's final version of his Last Will; and
2) Srila Prabhupada's initial list of disciples appointed to perform initiation for His Divine Grace."
(Letter to all GBCs, Ramesvara Swami, July 21st, 1977, emphasis added)

So just as the Last Will and Testament cannot be revoked or changed, neither can the July 9th directive or the other evidence we have presented.