Proof FOR the Ritvik System's Continuity

by Krishnakant

Having demonstrated previously (see 'The GBC Must Prove Their Case') that the Burden of Proof lies with the GBC to prove that the ritvik system must terminate, and having seen that they have no such proof, we will now present for completeness, two proofs demonstrating that the ritvik system DOES continue after Srila Prabhupada's departure.

1. Proof by Terms of Reference

The whole discussion about the ritvik system terminating on Srila Prabhupada's departure only arises because an assumption is made: That the departure of Srila Prabhupada has some relation to the letter. An example is given to illustrate this point: If a man signs a contract to 'henceforward have a newspaper delivered everyday', legally in this circumstance the word 'henceforward' would deem to only be applicable whilst the originator of the contract was alive. This is because the instruction had a DIRECT CONTRACTUAL relationship to the originator of the contract. However the circumstances for the July 9th letter are as follows:

  1. The RECIPIENT of the instruction is an institution (via the trustees/managing officers of the institution) set up SPECIFICALLY to exist after the departure of the Founder.
  2. The instruction is communicated by the SECRETARY of the Institution. (Though it does have the ASSENT of the Founder).
  3. The nature of the instruction relates to activities to be conducted ONLY by the institution's managing officers in the future.
  4. The PURPOSE of the instruction as given at the outset of the document, is given in GENERIC not SPECIFIC terms - "the purpose of performing initiations, both first initiation and second initiation." Though the rest of the document makes it clear that those initiated will definitely belong to the Founder only, the fact that the purpose is stated generically, establishes that the instruction would therefore remain in force in that institution for as long as that PURPOSE needs to be fulfilled. In this case that purpose would be the need for 'performing initiations, both first initiation and second initiation'. This purpose of course will need to be fulfilled as long as the institution exists. The fact that those initiated belong to the Founder is merely a by-product that will always arise after the fact and not integral to the purpose. This follows from the way the document is worded.

Thus the recipient, the communication, the executors and purpose of the instruction all ties its applicability to the institution. In such a circumstance only the demise of the INSTITUTION would have any legal or logical effect in determining the longevity of the instruction, not the Founder who assented to the instruction. It is from this that not only do we get the case for a ritvik system to continue into the future, but more importantly the case that it will remain in force as the system for the institution as long as the institution remains.

An example will make this point amply clear. Assume the founder of IBM issued a memo to be sent to all managers via the personnel officer regarding some policy he desired to be operated in IBM from that time on. Imagine that 4 months later the Founder passed away. The memo issued by the personnel officer to all managers would not in anyway be affected, and the company policy outlined in that memo would remain the company policy.

(Arguments relating to the inoperabilty of the instruction due to sastric injunctions against post-samadhi diksa (injunctions which in any case do not actually EXIST), would not be applicable if they did not originate from Srila Prabhupada, since legally they are outside of the institution. Only instructions issued by the institution can have any effect in the running of the institution.)

2. Proof by Ontology

Continuity is the ABSENCE of CHANGE. This follows from definition. If there is no evidence for change then evidence for continuity is not required nor can the notion of change even arise. Doubts, reasons, notions or any sort of opinion, which is NOT based on evidence, is the definition of SPECULATION - Oxford Dictionary. Continuity by definition is the 'uninterrupted succession of things' or CONTINUOUS. Thus you cannot and do not need to provide evidence for the 'uninterruption' of that which by definition is 'uninterrupted'. You can only provide evidence for the 'interruption' of that which is ALREADY 'uninterrupted'. Thus the continuity of the ritvik system does not in any case require to be proven. It is the natural state of affairs in the absence of evidence to the contrary, and will ALWAYS be proven by the absence of evidence for change.

Thus the continuity of the ritvik system will be determined only by the proof available for ITS termination. Until such evidence is put forward, its continuity is ALREADY proven.

3. Proof by Extension

The above proof can also be in a different way mathematically:

Let the ritvik system be a system S.

Let that system S be known to have existed continuously between times (T-1) and T.

System S could only have existed continuously at time T and time (T-1), if here was no termination of the system S between times (T-1) and T. (1)

Thus by (1) above, if a system S is shown to be existing at time T, it will also exist at time (T+X), as long as the system is not terminated between times T and (T+X).

Since T above can = November 14th, 1977 (the date of Srila Prabhupada's departure).

Then the ritvik system will also exist at all times in the future (T+ X) unless evidence for its termination can be given.


Appendix 2 - Common Fallacies

Having now conclusively demonstrated that the burden of proof lies with the GBC. They have no proof, further there is actually proof that demonstrates the ritvik position. We will round off this presentation by exposing the arguments that have been presented to try and avoid accepting the above conclusions.

1. That the Departure of the Guru Naturally Calls the Ritvik System into Question?

In order to even DISCUSS the legitimacy of the use of ritviks after the departure of Srila Prabhupada one has to first ASSUME the following:

  1. That the departure of the Diksa Guru is a time, at which a Guru must stop initiating.
  2. That the departure of the Diksa Guru is a time, at which disciples may begin initiating.

The July 9th letter, which sets out the ritvik system, is about the use of assistants to facilitate Srila Prabhupada's role as Diksa Guru for ISKCON. However this letter does not need to be presented as evidence for Srila Prabhupada being ISKCON's Diksa Guru until there is evidence that the termination of his Diksa Guru status is even in QUESTION. Without any evidence for propositions a) and b) the need to terminate the ritvik system does not even ARISE. Before we even NEED to DISCUSS the JULY 9TH letter there has to be some basis for questioning that the Diksa guru must stop functioning. Otherwise there is nothing to discuss since Srila Prabhupada REMAINS the Diksa Guru for ISKCON - ritvik or no ritvik.

If a) and b) have no basis, the departure of the Guru has no relevance to the operation of the ritvik system. Further this evidence must have been publicly available at the time of the departure of the guru, which is the time period under consideration. Whether or not we should abandon the application of ritvik system as outlined in the July 9th letter, is a discussion that can take place and have any meaning once the basis for the departure of the Guru having any significance on initiation is established.


Until evidence for propositions a) and b) is first produced, there is no basis for even DISCUSSING if anything should have changed after Srila Prabhupada departed.

2. Debating the Wrong Issue

Up until now the debate has been dominated by trying to determine the answer to the WRONG QUESTION viz., 'Does the ritvik system continue after departure'. This is because, in order to even ASK this question, the answer must already be known. This follows from the fact that the question can only be asked if one first assumes that the ritvik system existed AT departure. (You cannot ask about something existing BEYOND a point, if it does not even exist AT that point.) At this point, departure, the ritvik system will HAVE to either be terminated or left to continue.

If it is terminated, then the above question is meaningless since the answer is already known -it does NOT continue after departure since it was terminated at departure.

If it is not terminated at departure, the answer to the above question is also known since if the system has not been dis-continued (terminated) it must CONTINUE.

Thus you can only know what happens AFTER departure if you KNOW what happens AT departure. This follows logically from chronology. Thus if anybody even tries to ASK the above question they MUST FIRST answer the question - 'What happened AT Departure'? It's like asking - 'Did Mr Smith live AFTER the holocaust'. Well that depends on whether or not he DIED DURING the holocaust. If you do not know the answer to this question asking the other question is meaningless. Similarly before asking for proof of what should have happened AFTER departure you have to first prove what should have happened AT departure.

3. July 9th Letter does not satisfy 'Guru, Sadhu and Sastra'

One common objection is that since everything must be in line with 'Guru, Sadhu and Sastra', we can not use the July 9th letter alone to understand the ritvik issue, but must have evidence from many other sources. Further it is argued that the use of representatives to initiate disciples on behalf of a Guru who is no longer on the planet at the time such initiation takes place (the ritvik system) MUST be wrong since it is "against Guru-Sadhu-Sastra".

  1. Guru is always in line with Sadhu and Sastra:
  2. "Sadhu sastra guru-vakya, tinete kariya aikya. Sastra is never changed. And the sadhu... Sadhu means who follows the sastras. He is sadhu. He also does not change. Sadhu, sastra. And guru? Guru means who follows the sastra and sadhu. So there are three, the same." (Lecture 30/11/76,Vrindavana)

  3. We all agree that Srila Prabhupada is Guru.
  4. Thus anything Srila Prabhupada orders is already in line with Guru Sadhu and Sastra.
  5. Thus IF Srila Prabhupada did order a ritvik system of initiation that was NOT supposed to terminate with Srila Prabhupada's departure from the planet then we know it is automatically in line with Guru, Sadhu and Sastra.
  6. Did he do so?

  7. It is claimed that the July 9th letter orders such a system. Others claim however that ONLY a pre-samadhi ritvik system is ordered.
  8. The answer to which of the above is correct must lie in the letter itself, AND MUST BE ONE OR THE OTHER. Otherwise Srila Prabhupada would have deliberately sent out an instruction that no one was meant to even understand, what to speak of follow and apply.
  9. If we do not accept the above then any further discussion about ritvik etc. is meaningless since we do not even have any evidence that Srila Prabhupada ordered ritviks AT ANY TIME.
  10. Thus a study of the July 9th letter ALONE will tell us what system Srila Prabhupada ordered. WHATEVER this system is, it will be in line with Guru, Sadhu and Sastra.
  11. Thus the July 9th letter order (Whatever it states) will be in line with Guru, Sadhu and Sastra. So in order to demonstrate that the post-samadhi ritvik system is in line with Guru Sadhu and Sastra one simply needs to show that the LETTER supports it.
  12. And conversely if one wishes to show that the post-samadhi ritvik system is NOT in line with Guru, Sadhu and Sastra, one must simply show that the letter does NOT support it. IF ONE CANNOT DO THIS THEN THE POST-SAMADHI RITVIK SYSTEM MUST BE IN LINE WITH GURU, SADHU AND SASTRA (since the letter can only support either a pre-only or pre-&-post-samadhi ritvik system). Otherwise we have to assume that Srila Prabhupada normally sent instructions to the whole movement which were not in line with Guru, Sadhu and Sastra; or that, even more bizarrely, that least on this occasion he suddenly decided to do so, even though that was not his normal practice.
4. 'Henceforward' is Not Sufficient Proof

It is challenged that the case for the ritvik system to exist indefinitely past departure must be made through 'direct proof' with POSITIVE statements. To the effect that this system will run for after departure/as long as ISKCON exists etc. - a statement that it has been set up to run `henceforward' without an order for termination is not enough. However in order to ask this question at all, the questioner has already accepted the very proof that is being rejected as not being 'direct'. This is because the questioner has already accepted that the ritvik system exists at all points up until departure. Unless he accepts this point he cannot even ask the question since the question assumes the existence of a ritvik system that exists at least UNTIL departure. (You cannot ask about something existing BEYOND a point, if it does not even exist AT that point.) He has accepted that this is the case NOT because of the existence of any `direct' statements to that effect, but only by virtue of the fact that the system was set up to run `henceforward' from July 9th and not terminated before departure - the very proof that is being rejected!

5. Proof must require the Exact Time Period Specified

An argument commonly put forward is: "Why on the July 9th letter didn't Srila Prabhupada simply add the words 'this system will continue after my departure'. This would have solved everything." At first this sounds reasonable. However:

  1. By specifying a time AFTER which the system should run, we are assuming that the letter would be different to how it is composed now. Unfortunately we ALREADY have this situation. The word 'henceforward' means AFTER 'this point now'. Thus Srila Prabhupada HAS stated the time AFTER which the ritvik system is applicable. The problem has arisen due to speculating when it should STOP. There is nothing that would have stopped this speculation over termination even if the letter had said 'It continues AFTER my departure'. It's just that the termination point for speculation would be different.
  2. Thus specifying that Srila Prabhupada should have stated 'the system continues after my departure' as a solution to the way the letter is currently worded is a circular argument:
The letter currently says 'After X' (where X = July 9th).
  1. We would like to stop it at Departure.
  2. Therefore the letter should actually have said "After Departure."
  3. Now 'Departure' would become X, and we would thus have a new 'After X' statement and an objection can still be raised as before.
  4. Thus the statement 'After X' can ONLY stop termination at point X, and points in the vicinity of X. This is what happened when 'X' was 'henceforward'. This allowed the system to function for 4 months until the next contentious point.

Thus the current argument over the termination has not been generated because there is not an instruction stating the point AFTER which the system should be followed, but due to a desire to terminate. The argument that the statement 'the system should continue after departure' would have stopped any attempts at termination is nonsense since the letter would STILL NOT give the actual termination point. Thus one could easily speculate another time for termination - such as 'when a disciple becomes qualified as guru' - and then use the same argument that is used NOW to justify this termination - that the letter does not explicitly state that the system should continue AFTER THIS point.

In other words, it is argued that what the letter SHOULD have said is determined by whatever we decided to do regarding what the letter DID say. This is not how instructions are given. Instructions specify what we are supposed to DO. Not try to counter what we may decide to do INSTEAD.

6. Rejecting proof by Tautology

The lack of any instruction modifying the July 9th letter is rejected as evidence for a post-samadhi ritvik system on the basis that if the system had originally only been set up until departure, then there would not be any modifying instruction anyway, as there is nothing to modify. This is true. It also true that if the system HAD been set up to run past departure it would ALSO have been evidenced by the lack of a modifying order. Thus the rejection of the lack of any modifying instruction as evidence for the post-samadhi ritvik system can only be valid IF the proposition on which it rests - that the system was set up to run pre-samadhi only, is proven first. Until this assumption is not first proven, we can not reject that the absence of a modifying order is evidence for a post-samadhi ritvik system. Otherwise we are rejecting evidence for a post-samadhi ritvik system, and thus simultaneously substantiating the validity of a pre-samadhi-only ritvik system, simply by ASSUMING the existence of a pre-samadhi-only ritvik system. In other words we are in effect simply assuming the antithesis of the proof we are rejecting. This is a circular argument: -

Since a pre-samadhi-only ritvik system was set up, the evidence does not support a post-samadhi ritvik system. Since the evidence does not support a post-samadhi ritvik system, a pre-samadhi-only ritvik system was set up.

Saying the same thing in different words is known as a tautology, and is a classic fallacy that cannot be used to prove or reject anything.