Swami Tripurari’s Speculations Exposed


By Krishnakant

The following is a response to an article called “Ritvik Exposed” by Swami B.V. Tripurari (ST), which is published on a Gaudiya Matha related website. Statements from ST’s article will be enclosed in speech marks “ “ thus, with my comments following underneath.

Philosophically it is not what Prabhupada taught, that after the spiritual master leaves people continue to become his disciples.”

ST here presents a logical fallacy known as “begging the question”. Unless Srila Prabhupada has taught that the bona fide guru is restricted in accepting disciples due to considerations of time and place, there is no requirement for Srila Prabhupada to speak out against restrictions that do not exist in the first place. Rather, Srila Prabhupada teaches that the Bona fide spiritual master accepts disciples – which is the IRM’s (ritvik) position. It is up to those who wish to restrict this system, to prove their restrictions. For example, one restriction is that the bona fide spiritual master should be authorised by his own Guru, and this can be proven by reference to statements from Srila Prabhupada stating this. And so on. But there is no statement from Srila Prabhupada restricting an authorised bona fide spiritual master from accepting disciples due to considerations of time and space.

“and then you go on with the ritvik system, which is the system as you say, as you interpret it, was his instructions even though it contradicts the philosophy and everything else he (Srila Prabhupada) taught in his books about guru.”

Another “begging the question” fallacy. ST needs to first demonstrate that the “ritvik system contradicts the philosophy and everything else Srila Prabhupada taught in his books about guru”.

“All you can say is that he didn't appoint anybody. We know that he appointed people to initiate on his behalf. That was going on whether he made those statements or not. People were already doing that in the society for years. I chanted on beads for people in Prabhupada's presence. Names weren't picked by Prabhupada in most cases. So that was already going on. But it's not the philosophy that it should go on afterwards.”

Another “begging the question” fallacy. ST claims that “it’s not the philosophy” that a ritvik system (whereby the Diksa Guru has no involvement in the initiation ceremony), can continue after the Diksa guru’s physical departure. This assertion can only be true if ST can show that Srila Prabhupada taught “it is the philosophy” that a ritvik system can only exist where the physical absence of the Diksa Guru is restricted to being within the diameter of the planet.

“So I have no need to concoct some idea that you can initiate on behalf of Prabhupada as ritvik in his absence.”

The ritvik system by definition operates in the absence of Srila Prabhupada. The  question therefore is on what basis can it be assumed that this absence must be of one type but not another? ST presents no evidence from Srila Prabhupada for his assumptions regarding the different types of absences under which the ritvik system can and cannot operate.

“The standard has always been in the presence under the function of priest.”

There is a difference between what may have historically occurred and what is prohibited. Unless ST can demonstrate that a ritvik priest is authorised to only operate under one type of absence of the Diksa Guru, but prohibited under other types of absence, ST cannot make any statements regarding how the ritvik system can and can not operate.

“The will of the Vaisnava must be there in the background.”

Yes, Srila Prabhupada willed that the ritvik system operate in ISKCON. He made this clear by establishing a ritvik system, via a directive sent to all temples, to operate in ISKCON for all initiations. Some have claimed that this system must terminate on Srila Prabhupada’s departure, but they have presented no evidence that Srila Prabhupada willed this.

“So, it seems then, if you are pushing on this thing, this ritvik thing, idea must be extended after Prabhupada's absence into the future for the reason that we haven't met anybody qualified. Therefore this must be continued in this way, and this is what is implicitly implied in Prabhupada's talking about ritviks at that time, that until there is a qualified person that comes this should go on. Now, I don't agree with that, but even if you say that is the case, then the whole thing is over when there is a qualified person.”

ST here responds to the notion that the ritvik system was only a stop gap measure until a qualified guru came along. This is not the IRM’s position. Our position is that Srila Prabhupada is a qualified spiritual master, and he will remain ISKCON’s qualified spiritual master, regardless of the qualifications of others within ISKCON.

“Well, it hasn't happened so because it hasn't happened you just continue the ritvik because in his presence people were initiating on his behalf and now we will just continue it until someone comes along. But someone could equally make the argument, “No, you just extended something beyond it's limitations. What gives you the right to do that?”

Referring again to the stop-gap ritvik option, ST argues that continuing the ritvik system after Srila Prabhupada’s departure is extending it beyond its limitations. Again this is the logical fallacy of “begging the question”. Before one can speak about the limitations of a system, we first need evidence clearly delineating what these limitations of the system are.

 “No, Prabhupada said to look for a self-effulgent acarya. You have heard that right?”

There is no record of Srila Prabhupada stating that one should go and look for a self-effulgent acarya. The term “self-effulgent acarya” is recorded as only ever being used once by Srila Prabhupada, and it refers only to what should have happened in the Gaudiya Matha 80 years ago:

“His idea was acarya was not to be nominated amongst the governing body. He said openly you make a GBC and conduct the mission. So his idea was amongst the members of GBC who would come out successful and self effulgent acarya would be automatically selected.”
(Letter to Rupanuga, 28/4/74)

“I think if you are not going to be open enough to discuss the fact that those tapes could be construed in that way but what they directly say is that they will initiate their own disciples. I have seen it so many times. You must have read it, "on my behalf". And then he says, they will be the disciples of my disciples, just see.”

Srila Prabhupada actually states:

“When I order you become guru he becomes regular guru … that's all … he becomes disciple of my disciple.”  
(May 28th conversation, 1977)

But where is the order for anyone to become Diksa Guru? ST himself in this same article also does not argue that Srila Prabhupada ordered any successors:

ST: “Where I would say, to be in concert with the philosophy, that the tapes are conclusive that he didn’t appoint anybody, then I would wait for somebody to emerge who was qualified.”

“when you want to force it there, that no, we should continue to initiate on Prabhupada's behalf in his absence, that contradicts his books, that contradicts the teachings of all the acaryas, that the guru will continue to accept disciples after he has left the world.”

The statement that “we should continue to initiate on Prabhupada’s behalf in his absence”, could only contradict Srila Prabhupada’s books, if in his books he had made a statement which said that one can only initiate on his behalf in his physical presence. But Srila Prabhupada has never made such a statement.


ST’s statements about the ritvik system’s continued application are primarily based on simply assuming such an activity must be wrong. But no statements from Srila Prabhupada supporting such assumptions exist.

Srila Prabhupada is not obligated to follow historical examples, and it is a fact that he set up a system of initiations on July 9th, 1977, which would apply in ISKCON regardless of his physical presence, and this system means that Srila Prabhupada remains as the Diksa guru in ISKCON. ST avoids direct discussion of this fact.

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Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama, Rama, Hare, Hare.
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