Spring 2004

The main justification used by the GBC for stopping the ritvik system of initiation is the May 28th 1977 conversation. The GBC have so far presented four different transcripts of this brief conversation, and a world-renowned forensic expert hired by them said the tape exhibited "strong signs suggestive of falsification" (Norman I. Perle, American Board of Recorded Evidence, September 22,1997).
Still, we reproduce below the most commonly used transcript of the conversation, and then answer the most common myths that have arisen from it:

Satsvarupa: Then our next question concerns initiations in the future, particularly at that time when you are no longer with us. We want to know how first and second initiations 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 acarya.
Tamal Krsna: Is that called ritvik acarya?
Srila Prabhupada: Ritvik . Yes.
Satsvarupa: What is the relationship of that person who gives the initiation and ...
Srila Prabhupada: He's guru. He's guru.
Satsvarupa: But he does it on your behalf.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. That is formality. Because in my presence one should not become guru, so on my behalf. On my order, amara ajnaya guru hana, be actually guru. But by my order.
Satsvarupa: So they may be considered your disciples?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, they are disciples, but consider ... who
Tamal Krsna: No. He is asking that these ritvik acaryas, they are officiating, giving diksa, their ... the people who they give diksa to, whose disciples are they?
Srila Prabhupada: They are his disciples.
Tamal Krsna: They are his disciples.
Srila Prabhupada: Who is initiating ... his grand disciple ...
Satsvarupa: Then we have a question concerning ...
Srila Prabhupada: When I order you become guru, he becomes regular guru. That's all. He becomes disciple of my disciple. Just see.
(Room Conversation, May 28th 1977)

1) "In the May 28th conversation Srila Prabhupada appoints diksa Gurus for after his departure."

In the above conversation Srila Prabhupada appoints nobody to do anything. He mentions that he WILL be appointing ritviks, and that regular (diksa or initiating) Gurus shall only emerge if he so orders (i.e. "when I order", "on my order", "but by my order"). The actual appointment takes place on July 9th 1977, and that was only for ritviks.

2) "Srila Prabhupada must have been appointing diksa Gurus since he says the words "grand-disciple" and "disciple of my disciple".

In the above conversation Srila Prabhupada uses the terms 'grand-disciple' and 'disciple of my disciple', which both mean exactly the same thing, sandwiched between the phrase "when I order". This 'order' has never been produced by the GBC in nearly thirty years of asking.

3) "Srila Prabhupada said the ritviks could become initiating, diksa Gurus on his 'departure'."

Srila Prabhupada never says this. He only links the possibility of future diksa Gurus to his giving an "order", not to his 'departure'. The July 9th order says nothing about the representational function of the ritviks ever changing, not to speak of on Srila Prabhupada's physical departure.

4) "When asked how initiations would continue after his departure, Srila Prabhupada answers that he will be appointing diksa Gurus."

As anyone can see, when asked by Satsvarupa about: "initiations in the future, particularly at that time when you are no longer with us", Srila Prabhupada says: "I shall recommend some of you to act as officiating acarya." When asked if officiating acaryas are the same as ritviks, Srila Prabhupada answers: "Ritvik. Yes."
Therefore it is clear he wanted initiations to be carried out by "ritviks", "particularly" for after his departure, not successor diksa Gurus.