The Letter is Complete  

by Krishnakant

  1. The July 9th letter is not just a letter but a DOCUMENT:

“ ... am 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 initiations for His Divine Grace.” 
(Letter from Ramesvara to all GBC’s

Please note how Ramesvara regards the July 9th directive as a document on par with the will.  

Also Srila Prabhupada specifically countersigned it, giving two signatures, which again is what is expected in a document as opposed to just a personal letter. This is significant because other letters that H.H. Tamala Krishna Maharaja sent out which Srila Prabhupada had even dictated (see July 31st letter to Hamsaduta), Srila Prabhupada saw no need to authorise through his signature. Yet the July 9th directive he made a special point of ‘approving’.  

2)   Other references to the July 9th directive subsequently as well as the will do not add or subtract anything from the substance of the directive. Thus the directive must be complete instruction, for had Srila Prabhupada ‘forgotten’ to include any other details, such as the fact that the ritviks were ‘guru’ or had ‘disciples’, then there was other opportunities to clarify this. But rather every instruction is simply consistent with the content of the July 9th directive. 

3)    The directive itself makes no reference to the fact that it is incomplete, or that some other documentation must be used to add to the contents of the directive in order to make it complete. 

4)    Though the directive does make reference to an earlier meeting, it simply states that the directive is the output of that meeting - not a partial output, or that the meeting must be referred to again to obtain more information: 

“ Recently when all of the GBC members with His Divine Grace in Vrindavana, Srila Prabhupada indicated that soon He would appoint ...”

Thus the contents of the directive are simply the contents of the meeting in a written form. Thus any attempts to use the contents of the meeting to modify the letter make no sense, for then the directive would be trying to modify itself WITH itself.  

5)    The May 28th tape is NOT referred specifically to in this directive. The directive does not mention any details of the meeting that took place, nor the fact that it exists in a taped form. Thus how can it then be expected that the May 28th tape was to be referred to when no details are provided? Further every subsequent discussion on the ‘ritvik’ arrangement mentions ONLY the July 9th directive, NEVER the May 28th tape. 

6)    Since the directive is the OUTPUT in a written form of the conversation held in Vrindavana, one cannot refer to the tape to clarify the directive. Rather the directive is the clarification of the conversation, since the conversation was simply a series of different questions and answers often with interruptions and the intentions of the parties not immediately clear to each other; the directive was the written record sent to the whole society as a directive to be immediately implemented. 

7)    The directive makes it clear what the position of the disciples, Srila Prabhupada and the ritvik is: 

“The newly initiated devotees are disciples of His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the eleven senior devotees acting as his representitive.”

The idea therefore that any of these details were either omitted or not referred to by Srila Prabhupada is incorrect.    



1)   The conclusion that the directive can be modified by any source is not supported, but the idea that this modification should be done by the May 28th tape, is the most absurd proposal since: 

a)    The letter IS a record of the output of the taped conversation in a written form. So how can the directive modify itself by itself?

b)   Further the taped conversation is itself suspect with 5 different transcripts, and a forensic evaluation that throws doubt on its authenticity.

c)    The parties that are attempting to apply the modifications are the one’s who are also proposing and have demonstrated that more than one interpretation of the tape is possible. How then can evidence, which itself is open to interpretation be the basis for trying to give the correct understanding to the directive, so as to free it from being interpreted, especially when the meanings of  NONE of the phrases used in the directive have ever been disputed by any party anyway?



Reconciling the Letter with the Tape  

Underlying all the above attempts to turn the ritviks into some sort of gurus, is an unsupported premise that somehow there is information contained on the tape that Srila Prabhupada somehow ‘forgot’ to put in the letter. This is the tactic used by the GBC to avoid modifications A & B, even though the beginning of the letter clearly states:  

“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 ...”

Even though the letter clearly states that what follows is a written record of the tape, the GBC want us to believe that Srila Prabhupada made two mistakes:  

2)    He forgot to state that the letter contained some key omissions and therefore is not actually a complete record of what happened ‘Recently when all of the GBC members ...’.

3)    Further the key omissions that Srila Prabhupada left out were that he had just appointed some diksa gurus ... 

It is strange to see that people from our own camp have fallen into the same trap. Thus we are now claiming variously that Srila Prabhupada ‘forgot’ to mention in the letter the ‘guru’ nature of the ritvik - that he is an ‘acarya’, that he has ‘disciples’, that Srila Prabhupada has ‘genealogical’ grand-disciples etc. Instead we have to accept that Srila Prabhupada gives us CONTRARY information to what he really meant. Thus he does NOT state that there is ANY relationship AT ALL between the ritvik and newly initiated disciples. Thus he only states that they are his ‘disciples’ with no mention of ‘grand-disciple’. Thus he states ONLY that the ritvik is a humble name-giving priest etc.  

And why have we been forced into stating effectively that Srila Prabhupada either didn’t know what he was writing when he wrote the letter, or that he ‘forgot’ key details? Because we are sure that the tape and letter are not totally consistent, and we must use our ‘intelligence’ to ‘enhance’ what is in the letter. This despite the fact that the Final Order and other papers have already demonstrated that the tape and letter ARE fully consistent - arguments which by the way have yet to be rebutted either by the GBC or anyone else.  

To expand on these points I will use certain passages of M’s latest paper, which are enclosed in “ ”:

  “The principle that is being applied is to combine the evidences of the July 9th letter and the May 28th conversation to support each other and show that they are not contradicting each other and they constitute one clear unambiguous understanding of how initiation should continue in ISKCON.”


1)    Srila Prabhupada states in the letter, as M has admitted, that the letter is an account of the MAY 28 th conversation. Yet M’s whole thesis rests on the idea that Srila Prabhupada somehow ‘forgot’ to include information in the letter that is on the tape. Not only is this a speculation but the letter itself makes no mention of the fact that it is only a incomplete record of the May 28th conversation. Unless M can demonstrate that SP ‘forgot’ to include some details in the letter from the tape that are RELEVANT then M’s whole thesis has no basis.   
We have two conclusions:  

a)    That Srila Prabhupada wrote the letter including all the information that was necessary in order to FOLLOW it.

b)   Srila Prabhupada was absent-minded, and instead he gave some key information in a 30 second room conversation with 5 people, that he ‘forgot’ to mention in the letter. And therefore what was required was that in the future, 21 years later, we are required to re-construct Srila Prabhupada’s real intentions. This means that we understand Srila Prabhupada’s desire better than he does, since he ‘forgot’ to include information in the letter that was necessary for us to understand in order to follow the letter. 

Can we follow the letter by reading the letter itself - YES or NO:  

If yes, then M’s whole thesis is redundant and unnecessary since the letter clearly tells us what is required. It makes no mention of the relationship between the ritvik and the disciple. Instead 3 times it only mentions the relationship between the Srila Prabhupada and the disciple. If the letter makes NO mention of the relationship between the ritvik and the disciple, then why would SP ‘forget’ to tell us about this. By trying to increase the ‘understanding’ of the letter this is exactly what is being implied.

“The May 28th conversation has the additional information, which is not contained in July 9th letter, on the relationship of the officiating acharyas with those who are getting initiated under this arrangement. Also it throws light on the role of the officiating acharya and on the relationship of Srila Prabhupada with those who are getting initiated.”

M has contradicted himself here by calling this section ‘mutually supporting’. The letter makes no mention of any relationship AT ALL between the name-givers and the disciples. Yet M says the tape DOES. Again two conclusions:  

1)     Srila Prabhupada ‘forgot’ to mention the relationship between the ritvik and the disciple.

2)     On the tape, when Srila Prabhupada is speaking of guru relationships, he is actually referring to himself. 

Now you could excuse 1) by saying that the relationship between  the ritvik and guru was not important and that’s why Srila Prabhupada left it out. But then if these things are IRRELEVANT we are back to square 1 - everything that we need to follow the letter is given IN the letter -  and therefore M’s paper becomes irrelevant and why are we are spending so much time discussing something that is irrelevant, and instead why not do what Srila Prabhupada actually wanted us to do - follow the letter - which makes no mention of any relationship between the ritvik and disciple. If Srila Prabhupada had wanted us to attribute any relationship between the ritvik and the disciples, he would have told us. Why are we attempting to do something that SP has not authorised us to do?  And if 1) is irrelevant then we are unnecessarily ADDING to SP final instructions.  And of course if 1) is relevant then Srila Prabhupada was absent-minded, and isn’t it good that we are here with our big brains to help him out, and explain to everyone what Srila Prabhupada ‘forgot’ to put in the letter. 

Ultimately this desire to ‘enhance’ our understanding of the letter is actually just a lack of faith in Srila Prabhupada’s perfect arrangement. For instance R has indicated correctly that to state that the letter is not ‘self-contained’ is so uncharacteristic of Srila Prabhupada. And the idea that the ‘time-period’ is not clear or ‘vague’ in the letter is nonsense as the two proofs - ‘By terms of reference’ and ‘By Ontology’ make clear - both by the way which are not complex, and simply take account of the way Srila Prabhupada issued PERMANENT instructions to his society.  

There are two ways to reconcile the letter and the tape:  

1)    One is to keep them consistent and mutually supporting - this is what the FO does.

2)    The other is to assume that SP said something in the letter that is different to the tape, or that the letter is incomplete. 

Do you think Srila Prabhupada directed his society by:  

a)    Sending out a written letter to the whole movement;

b)   Or by inviting us to ‘enhance’ the understanding of a) by eavesdropping on a conversation he had with 5 people, a conversation by the way he never even indicated should be DISTRIBUTED. Ask yourself why in the many subsequent references to this issue - July 11, 19, 31, etc., the taped conversation is never referred to ONCE. 

How can the tape then contain any ‘extra’ information that is relevant to following the letter? And if it doesn’t then why not just follow the letter AS IT IS, without any addition or speculation?  

We are not discounting the tape. We are saying what M has already conceded - that the letter is a RECORD of the tape - which means that the letter is nothing but the tape in a written form, mentioning the actual details that Srila Prabhupada wanted us to know.

“On the other hand the July 9th letter contains additional information, which is not contained in May 28th conversation. This additional information is simply a result of  implementation of some acts contemplated in May 28th conversation. Thus we see that May 28th conversation is the more fundamental evidence, more primary evidence on the subject matter at hand. However having established the time frame of July 9th letter any interpretation of the tape should not contradict any thing contained in the July 9th letter.”

M has given no evidence for this assertion that the tape is ‘more fundamental evidence’. As R has so nicely explained the second half of the tape ONLY arises because of confusion and motivation on the parts of the questioners. If they had, as R explained, simply gone off to finish their rounds, what M considers such ‘more fundamental and primary evidence’ would not even EXIST.  

Thus we are now emphasising parts of a conversation which only exist because of whatever questions the questioners happened to ask, regardless of the questions relevance or sanity, over what *Srila Prabhupada* actually WANTED us to know. When we read Srila Prabhupada’s purports do we try and see the previous acharyas purports, the ‘primary’ evidence to understand better? Or do we accept that Srila Prabhupada’s purports are what he wanted us to know and stick with that? Similarly there were MANY conversations on this subject - the May 28th tape is simply the ONLY one that the GBC wanted us to see. This can be proven form the Topanaga Canyon talks where TKG mentions that Srila Prabhupada had mentioned BEFORE the May 28th conversation about appointing ritviks, and from the questions the GBC had written down to ask Srila Prabhupada - see the reply to Hari Sauri prabhu - “Hari Sauri’s minutes turn back the clock”.

By including in the letter ONLY the parts of the tape that Srila Prabhupada wanted us to know does not mean that the tape contains ‘additional’ information. To think this means that we are trying to be more intelligent than Srila Prabhupada. No, it simply means that Srila Prabhupada has decided what is relevant, what makes sense, what is correct, and told us.  

“Also  the July 9th letter is clearly a follow up of the May 28th conversation . Since there is mutual reference in terms of the same subject and the same time frame, it is logical to use freely all the information contained in both of them to arrive at a clear understanding of the issue of future initiation.”

M is therefore implying that the letter in itself is not ‘clear’. If it is, why does M need to go to other information to arrive at a ‘clear understanding’, especially when Srila Prabhupada has already decided for us what we need to know? Also ‘mutual reference’ again is a contradiction according to M’s current thesis - WHERE is the ‘mutual reference’ in the letter to the ‘genealogical discipleship’ that M claims exists between the ritvik and disciple on the tape’?


This attempt to give the ritviks some ‘guru’ status is not only unsupported by the evidence, either on the tape or in the July 9th letter, but it also implies that we have to ‘assist’ Srila Prabhupada in overcoming his absent-mindedness. Further this attempt, though serving some political purpose in that it may ‘accommodate’ some other people’s views and make it ‘easier’ for the society at large to accept, because it is not based on the truth, will actually lead to chaos. It was a similar attitude of compromise and politics that led to the totally watered down ‘reform’ of 1986. We can see that this accommodation for 'guru' status is actually what is at the ROOT of the current guru disease in ISKCON. Trying to think of ways to unnecessarily give them sort of guru title will only perpetuate the very disease we are trying to cure.  

As Adri Prabhu has so nicely explained in his last e-mail when you take ALL the evidence together in terms of how Srila Prabhupada described the ritvik entity you get:  

the word representative 6 times;
the word ritvik at least 4 times;
the word ‘deputy’ 3 times
the word ‘officiating acharya 1 time;
and the word guru 0 times; 

Now taking all this together one can only conclude that Srila Prabhupada was appointing priests to officiate and discharge duties expertly (acharya).  

One is not going to conclude that SP was appointing any sort of acharya/guru entity AT ALL.  

So all the evidence shows that there is nothing to indicate that the ritviks duties will confer upon then any EXTRA ‘guru’ status over and above what any qualified brahmin priest would get. Thus we should simply settle the issue by following the July 9th letter, and accept that the ritviks are highly qualified and expertly competent REPRESENTATIVES.