Reply to Drutakarma Prabhu’s Ritvik Lecture 


On the 18th July, 2008, His Grace Drutakarma Prabhu (DKP) delivered a lecture at the Budapest temple on ‘ritvik’. We respond here to the statements made by DKP in this class, categorized by the subjects that he covered. His statements from this lecture shall be enclosed in speech marks “  “ thus, with our responses to these statements following underneath in bold. 

The Personal Relationship with Srila Prabhupada 

“The relationship between spiritual master and disciple is a very personal one, and it’s entered into in a personal way.  The disciple studies the spiritual master, the spiritual master studies the disciple, and if the spiritual master accepts the disciple then the relationship is contracted.  And this is the system that’s been there since time began in the Vedic culture.” 

But how can this be an argument against not currently accepting Srila Prabhupada as our spiritual master, when His Holiness Sivarama Swami himself did not follow the above system, having NEVER MET Srila Prabhupada before he got initiated: 

“That was the first personal contact with his Divine Grace, although I had been an initiated devotee for two years.”
(His Holiness Sivarama Swami, “Meeting Srila Prabhupada”) 

Why then do Maharaja and his spokesman DKP, insist that everyone else must meet their spiritual master before they get initiated? And similarly many disciples of Srila Prabhupada never met Srila Prabhupada at all, either before, or after, they got initiated. 

“So, um, the, I mean no member of ISKCON is without a relationship to Srila Prabhupada.  And we have his guru puja everyday, we study his books everyday, we’re all living in the Society he created – so every member of ISKCON has a connection with Srila Prabhupada.” 

So we have guru-puja everyday to Srila Prabhupada, and we get spiritual knoweldge from his books, and follow the rules of his society, EXACTLY as was done by every ISKCON member when Srila Prabhupada was on the planet, which resulted in Srila Prabhupada being everyone’s diksa guru. But now, even though the process followed by every ISKCON member is identical to that followed when Srila Prabhupada was on the planet, Srila Prabhupada has suddenly ceased to be ISKCON’s diksa guru! This is illogical since if the process remains the same, so will the result, especially since diksa itself is a PROCESS: 

"Diksa is the PROCESS by which one can awaken his transcendental knowledge and vanquish all reactions caused by sinful activity. A person expert in the study of the revealed scriptures knows this process as diksa."
(C.c. Madhya, 15.108, purport)  

The ‘law of disciplic succession’ 

“Spiritual master can authorise his disciples to start initiating when he’s still present. Um, the, sometimes, there are one or two cases when Srila Prabhupada was present when some of his disciples were desiring to have their own disciples.  But he thought they weren’t qualified to do that, so he gave them some instructions.  So the normal system is that when the spiritual master’s alive you bring prospective disciples to him.  And then after the spiritual master departs, then you can accept disciples on your own.” 

Here DKP admits two things.  

1) That what he claims is the ‘normal system’ of NOT initiating whilst the guru is on the planet, can be circumvented if the spiritual master so orders. By the same logic, one cannot insist that Srila Prabhupada was forced to follow what DKP claims is the ‘normal system’ and therefore HAD to be succeeded by his disciples as soon as he departed. According to DKP, just because something is the ‘normal system’ does not mean that this is what had to happen, or did happen. What matters only is what the spiritual master ORDERS, and therefore if Srila Prabhupada ordered ‘ritviks’, so be it.  

2) That in order for disciples to initiate they still require to first be authorised and qualified. Hence the following quote, often used by His Holiness Sivarama Swami, stating a ‘law’, does not itself mean any disciple is permitted to initiate after his spiritual master departs - authorisation and qualification are still required (just as it is required when the spiritual master is still on the planet): 

“But as a matter of etiquette it is the custom that during the lifetime of your Spiritual master you bring the prospective disciples to him, and in his absence or disappearance you can accept disciples without any limitation. This is the law of disciplic succession.”
(Letter to Tusta Krishna, 2/12/75) 

The quote merely states what ‘can’ happen, and when it can happen, but what actually happened will depend on what Srila Prabhupada actually ordered. And for that we need to see what he ordered before his departure, and this was the July 9th directive (see later). 

“And sometimes, by the order of the spiritual master, a disciple can accept disciples, but first he has to have this order.  […] But the other authorised system is when the spiritual master departs, the disciples begin to accept disciples.  So that’s what happened in the history of ISKCON after Srila Prabhupada departed his disciples began to initiate. And that’s the normal system.” 

The ‘normal system’ DKP claims in his first sentence is that that disciple must first have the ‘order’ to do so from his spiritual master before he initiates. And in the history of ISKCON, DKP is correct that after Srila Prabhupada’s departure his disciples began to initiate, but this was done without the ‘order’ to do so, that DKP admits is first needed: 

“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.”
(HH Tamala Krishna Goswami, 3/12/80) 

The order given on May 28th, 1977 

“And (in May in Vrindavana) Srila Prabhupada very clearly said that there will be gurus, you will become gurus, and you will accept disciples. “ 

DKP here presents three concoctions in one sentence, by claiming that in the May 28th conversation, Srila Prabhupada states: 

“there will be gurus”

“you will become gurus”

“you will accept disciples” 

These statements have just been fabricated out of thin air by DKP. Srila Prabhupada actually states: 

“When I order you become guru he becomes regular guru.”
(May 28th, 1977 conversation) 

But such an order to become “regular guru” or ‘diksa guru was never given. Only an order to become ritvik was given, as His Holiness Tamala Krishna Goswami Maharaja has admitted: 

“Actually, Prabhupada never appointed any gurus. He didn’t appoint eleven gurus. He appointed eleven ritviks. He never appointed them gurus.”
(HH Tamala Krishna Goswami, 3/12/80) 

So the ritviks turned into diksa gurus without any order to do so. 

“When the devotees, the GBC devotees, asked Srila Prabhupada this question, ‘Are they your disciples?’, Srila Prabhupada said, ‘Yes, my grand-disciples’.” 

DKP continues with his concoctions, fabricating another imaginary conversation Srila Prabhupada was supposed to have had. Srila Prabhupada actually states the exact opposite of what DKP claims here: 

Satsvarupa Das Goswami: So they may also be considered your disciples.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, they are disciples. Why consider?
(May 28th, 1977, conversation) 

So when asked if they are Srila Prabhupada’s disciples, Srila Prabhupada clearly states “yes”, they are his disciples, not his “grand-disciples”! 

 “And the devotees specifically asked him, the GBC specifically asked: ‘Whose disciples will they be – yours or ours?’ And Srila Prabhupada very clearly said, ‘They’ll be your disciples, my grand-disciples’.  He said, ‘That’s it’.” 

Yet again another concoction from DKP where he again fabricates out of thin air some imaginary conversation which Srila Prabhupada never had. Here is what is actually stated: 

Tamala Krsna: No, he’s asking that these rtvik-äcäryas, they’re officiating, giving diksä. Their... The people who they give diksä to, whose disciple are they?
Srila Prabhupada: They’re his disciple.
Tamala Krsna: They’re his disciple.
Srila Prabhupada: Who is initiating … His grand-disciple - When I order you become guru, he becomes regular guru - That’s all. He becomes disciple of my disciple. That’s it.
(May 28th conversation, 1977) 

1) Notice how nowhere does Srila Prabhupada say “They’ll be your disciples”, even though DKP claims Srila Prabhupada “very clearly” said this. How can Srila Prabhupada “very clearly” say something he never said!

2) Rather, Srila Prabhupada states that the disciple belongs to the person who is initiating- “they’re his disciple … who is initiating”.

3) This owner of the disciples – “they’re HIS disciple” – is the same person who is the owner of the grand-disciple – “HIS grand-disciple”.

4) The owner of the disciple and grand-disciple – the “HIS” – therefore clearly refers to Srila Prabhupada, since as DKP himself admits here, only Srila Prabhupada could also possibly have grand-disciples.

5) However Srila Prabhupada’s grand-disciple – ‘HIS grand-disciple’ – emerges only when Srila Prabhupada first gives the order for diksa gurus  –  “His grand-disciple - when I order you become guru he becomes regular guru  - He becomes disciple of my disciple (grand-disciple)”. An order which as His Holiness Tamal Krishna Maharaja has admitted, was never given.

(Note: In the transcript for this conversation, ‘checked and edited’ by His Holiness Jayadvaita Swami Maharaja, in the 1985 paper “Under My Order”, His Holiness Jayadvaita Maharaja has correctly rendered the phrase used above as “HIS grand-disciple”. Subsequent GBC transcripts have changed this phrase to “HE IS grand-disciple”, even though on the tape only one word, rather than two words, are spoken by Srila Prabhupada right before he states the word “grand-disciple”. We have therefore used His Holiness Jayadvaita Maharaja’s correct transcript here).  

“So Srila Prabhupada very clearly said what the system was going to be after he’d departed.  And there’s just no doubt about it.” 

Yes Srila Prabhupada does clearly state “what the system was going to be after he’d departed”, but its just not what DKP’s imagination has concocted out of thin air. This is what Srila Prabhupada actually states is the system for initiations after Srila Prabhupada departs: 

Satsvarüpa: By the votes of the present GBC. Then our next question concerns initiations in the future, particularly at that time when you’re no longer with us. We want to know how first and second initiation would be conducted.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. I shall recommend some of you. After this is settled up, I shall recommend some of you to act as officiating äcäryas.
Tamäla Krsna Maharaja : Is that called rtvik-äcärya?
Srila Prabhupäda: Rtvik, yes.
(May 28th, 1977, conversation) 

Ritviks, not diksa gurus, will be appointed to conduct initiations for when Srila Prabhupada departs. And the July 9th directive makes clear 3 times, those initiated by the ritviks will be Srila Prabhupada’s initiated disciples, just as was the case when Srila Prabhupada was on the planet, where most initiations were also carried out by representatives and not by Srila Prabhupada personally. 

The order given on July 9th, 1977 

“But it’s only in this Kali-yuga that we see among a few people some different idea, namely that a guru can continue to initiate even after his physical departure. This is a complete concoction.” 

But there is no order from Srila Prabhupada stating that the guru is prohibited from initiating after his physical departure, and hence there is nothing here to ‘differ’ from, and thus to ‘concoct’. The only concoction here is concocting a prohibition that Srila Prabhupada himself never gave – that the spiritual master cannot initiate once he has departed. Srila Prabhupada has never once stated this prohibition, and therefore whoever states this prohibition IS ‘differing’ from what Srila Prabhupada stated, and thus by definition is ‘concocting’ the idea.  

“The supporters of this idea have only kind of evidence that they try to use to support their idea, and that comes from a letter that Srila Prabhupada signed in 1977, July of 1977.” 

As just explained, we have no ‘idea’ we need to support. It is those who seek to impose a prohibition on Srila Prabhupada, that Srila Prabhupada himself never taught, who must support this concocted ‘idea’ of theirs with evidence. 

Because at that time Srila Prabhupada was very ill and he wasn’t able to read or write letters anymore.” 

This is another concoction. Where is the evidence that in the month of July, 1977, when this initiation directive was sent to the whole society, Srila Prabhupada was unable to read and dictate letters (Srila Prabhupada dictated his letters to his secretaries, he did not physically sit and write them)? On the contrary Srila Prabhupada WAS able to speak and hear at this time, since he was having lengthy conversations all throughout the month of July in 1977, as anyone who consults the archives will see. So we are to believe that Srila Prabhupada WAS able to speak, and WAS able to hear, but by some magic if initiation letters were read to him he would suddenly lose his power of hearing, and if he tried to dictate initiation letters, his power of speech would suddenly disappear!  

“I think there were a lot of letters from devotees requesting initiation, so Srila Prabhupada made a temporary arrangement while he was still on the planet.” 

Yet another concoction. Where is the evidence it was a “temporary arrangement”? Srila Prabhupada never said it was a “temporary arrangement”. The July 9th directive in question never said it was a “temporary arrangement”. Therefore since DKP is stating an idea which is not given by Srila Prabhupada, by definition he is giving a “different idea”, which is a concoction. 

“But that letter was written in response to a particular situation: what to do while Srila Prabhupada was still present.” 

Yet another concoction. Where is the evidence the directive was written specifically to deal with what to do for only whilst Srila Prabhupada “was still present”? Srila Prabhupada never said it was only for whilst he “was still present”. The July 9th directive in question never said it was only for whilst Srila Prabhupada “was still present”. Therefore since DKP is stating an idea which is not given by Srila Prabhupada, by definition he is giving a “different idea”, which is a concoction. 

“Earlier that year, the GBC met with Srila Prabhupada in May in Vrindavan, and there they asked Srila Prabhupada another question; not what will we do while you’re here with letters that are coming, but what will we do when you’ve left this world – how will initiations go on then.” 

But the July 9th directive references this conversation at the outset, as the source for the directive: 

“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 “ritvik” - representative of the acarya, for the purpose of performing initiations, both first initiation and second initiation.”
(Opening sentences of July 9th, 1977 directive) 

Therefore according to the statement DKP just made, this directive must then be addressing “what will we do when you’ve left this world – how will initiations go on then”, since the directive states that it is the record of the conversation between Srila Prabhupada and the GBC in Vrindavan. And the directive, as admitted earlier by DKP. only appoints ritviks to carry out initiations – which therefore must be the process to be followed for initiations for when Srila Prabhupada has “left this world”. 


Anyone who consults the recorded statements of Srila Prabhupada will easily be able to verify for themselves that virtually everything DKP has stated on the ‘ritvik’ issue in this lecture has been fabricated out of thin air. On the contrary, as demonstrated above, his words inadvertently end up supporting the contents presented in the ‘Back To Prabhupada’ magazine. DKP is able to engage in such blatant fabrication and misrepresentation since he is relying on the ban imposed on the Hungarian devotees from checking for themselves what Srila Prabhupada actually states on this subject, as it is repeated verbatim, in ‘Back To Prabhupada’ magazine. 

Thank you for reading. 

The Publishers,
Back To Prabhupada,
London, England 

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