BEYOND CONTRADICTORY RELIGIONS

By Kailasa Candra dasa

"Unfortunately, the so-called followers deviate from the orders of the master and sometimes create their own concocted religious system. Otherwise, there can't be different religions. . . The present religious and spiritual systems in varieties come into existence on account of imperfect leaders . . ."

Letter (76-4-4/April 2, 1976)

"I have given all of my disciples instructions to follow for making advancement, but, if they do not have the desire to follow, then what can I do?"

Letter (75-2-6/ Feb. 3, 1975)

This article covers Srila Prabhupada's will, the July letter of 1977, a key word (made into a controversial word over the years) in that letter, as well as the essence of what that letter did and did not authorize. The rittviks and corporate ISKCON are proposing contradictory religious and spiritual systems. Both of their systems are ultimately concocted, but, as the saying goes, "God is in the details." When the details are not presented properly, something other than God is in them. The July letter and the will require to be understood in proper context and in some detail. Our treatise provides some of that needed clarity.

This paper will seek the blessings of parampara and paramatma not by offering some flowery preface or wordy invocation. Those are nice, of course, but this article will only help devotees who are eligible for such help, who are receptive to its clarity. Most of those prabhus would be turned off by having to wade through lengthy invocations and the like. Digging through this complex topic is cumbersome enough. As such, let's proceed straight to the preaching.

Confirmation of one thesis results in the logical exclusion of all others which oppose and contradict it. This exclusion creates spiritual ramifications, and these force dynamic changes in intelligence. When the logic and authority is bona fide, those changes are evolutionary. When something is both sastric and logical, it automatically shatters and constrains anything which has previously covered it.

SECOND-HAND TESTIMONY IS NO PROOF

" . . . it is not handed down as it is. They might have made some changes. Or they did not hand it down."

Room Conversation 5-9-75

If there was a clear and unambiguous recorded statement by Srila Prabhupada—wherein he made it known that rittvik-for-posterity was his order for the continuation of his Hare Krishna movement—then second-hand testimony verifying that order could be accepted as evidence. We have, however, no clear order by Prabhupada creating the rittvik dispensation. Supposedly, he is said to have said something like this to his leading secretary’s servant in the garden at Vrindavan on July 8th . . . or was it July 6th . . . or was it earlier in May?

There are some problems with that "Prabhupada said" contention. Primarily, the conversation was not recorded. If it was, we could know whether that servant handed it down or unwittingly changed it or did not hand it down correctly. Another problem is that there was a third person present: the aforementioned leading secretary. He does not agree that Prabhupada said anything substantiating rittvik-for-posterity during this conversation.

Ah, but the secretary went to a different devotee (was it during the same day?) and told that devotee about this dispensation. Trouble is, the secretary says that he never said anything about a rittvik-for-posterity order during that conversation either.

Prabhupada is said to have said something. A secretary who was there says something to someone who wasn’t there. That devotee records it in his diary—and interprets the entry (twelve years later) to mean rittvik-for-posterity. Evidence? Maybe it could be some kind of distant secondary or tertiary-level evidence if first there was a clear statement from Prabhupada verifying the rittvik dispensation.

Now, let us here briefly consider a relevant tangent. Prabhupada supposedly created the rittvik dispensation in this private garden conversation, which was attended by two of his initiated disciples. The date is unsure, because the diary entry was for May of 1977. Originally, the conversation was supposed to have taken place just a day or so before the issue of the July 9th letter (which would make more sense, wouldn’t it?). However, the "conversation in the garden" was later modified, because the diary entry required it to have taken place in May.

Then, there was the letter (which we shall discuss subsequently in this article). Then there was a four-month interlude before Prabhupada left us. Why no unambiguous verification of such an important dispensation during these four months? If Prabhupada had actually established himself as the diksa guru for the remainder of the Golden Age (one of three chief varieties of rittvik belief) then why didn’t he, at least once, clearly say so?

After all, he remained manifest for another third of a year. He was recorded regularly during that time. He also dictated two more letters during that period. Why isn’t there a recorded verification for this dispensation? How could a God-realized pure devotee like His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada not foresee that his movement would require such documentation in order to carry out this unprecedented system? Couldn’t he have at least once enunciated this alleged dispensation in an utterly unambiguous fashion? Too difficult to do? Not really:

"After I leave all of you, only I shall be giving initiation to all new devotees (until the next uttama adhikari is sent by Krishna or for the remainder of Lord Caitanya’s Golden Age). Even after I leave, all of you who are now initiated will only act as rittviks, initiating new devotees on my behalf with the understanding that I am their actual diksa guru."

In just two sentences, we have presented but one example of how His Divine Grace could have clearly established this dispensation. If he had actually said something like this, he would have left no doubt. He could have done it in one clear and unambiguous sentence . . . or he could have spoken on it for a couple of hours with thousands of words (which would have been far more likely). There’s no record of him having done anything like this in order to establish rittvik. Who could have possibly questioned the rittviks’ contention if Prabhupada had made some kind of clear statement establishing their proposed siddhanta?

Later, in 1989, the personal servant at the garden came out with this "revelation." Why such a long wait? How can he then claim that rittvik-for-posterity is "clear as air" when there’s been no unambiguous documented proof of it anywhere? Stone silence for twelve years by both himself and the devotee who made the diary entry. And we’re supposed to accept this as evidence?

There’s much more that could be discussed on this subject, but, in a gesture of friendship for and deference to these prabhus, we see no need to get into any of that. The evidence presented by them is second-hand, and it’s very weak. It’s not at all enough. It is most insufficient.

" . . . just like in our ISKCON, there are so many false things: ‘Prabhupada said this. Prabhupada said that.’ "

Letter (72-11-14/Nov. 7, 1972)

THE JULY LETTER

"The reason why there is difficulty and competitive spirit is that everyone wants to be supreme. That is the difficulty."

Letter (74-1-1/Jan. 1, 1974)

The fact that the July letter was not directly dictated makes it unlike an overwhelming majority of Srila Prabhupada’s other letters. It was written and signed by one of his leading secretaries—but was only co-signed by His Divine Grace. It is not an ambiguous document. It appears to be a time, place, and circumstances directive. The rittviks, of course, do not at all accept this view:

"The July 9th order proves that Srila Prabhupada definitely set up a ritvik system of initiation. We also know that he issued no countermanding order for it to be terminated. Therefore it should still be running. . . this is Srila Prabhupada’s final order on how initiations were to run within ISKCON. Thus we have no choice but to follow it if we want to follow Srila Prabhupada. That’s the bottom line."

The ‘Unprecedented’ Objection, p. 4

In effect, the author is saying that the July 9th letter must be considered a virtual maha-vakya for Srila Prabhupada’s orders and teachings. However, the letter appoints rittviks (in most cases, simply re-appointing men who were performing this service less than a year before) to once again take up the ceremonials and fire yajnas. The backlog of uninitiated devotees would now receive harer nama and diksa, after a longer wait than usual. How can such a directive be considered the essence of Prabhupada’s directives for the remainder of the Golden Age? Such a misconception diminishes the glory of His Divine Grace.

Srila Prabhupada was only the co-signer of this document. Does this letter actually contain the secret for carrying out Prabhupada’s movement for the next 9,500 years? The rittviks ask us to check it out:

"Even if he did not compose it, if Srila Prabhupada signed it, what does it matter? It means he checked it and agreed with every word in it."

Respecting the Guru’s Order, p. 3

Every word? Every word in the context of which interpretation? In particular, the rittviks are infatuated with one word ("henceforward") contained in this letter. How Prabhupada checked the directive he co-signed in the second week of July of 1977 cannot be very easily understood by conditioned souls. What can be understood is that many adherents to this new rittvik juggernaut are prone to interpret Prabhupada’s so-called checking of this document in an extreme way.

Nevertheless, in relation to the proper understanding of this July letter, we do concur with the rittviks on a number of key points:

" . . . and, in the July letter, based on the July 8th garden conversation, Srila Prabhupada describes proxy initiation as a system to be followed during his physical presence. . . but taken in the context of the May 28th conversation, the July 9th letter can only be the recommendation of proxies who would later start the process of post-samadhi initiation by Srila Prabhupada’s disciples."

Disciple of My Disciple,
a document commissioned by the GBC (emphasis added)

The letter never makes reference to anyone becoming guru. It never makes mention of anyone assuming the role of diksa guru after Prabhupada’s departure (Prabhupada’s departure is also not mentioned in the document). Instead it says, "The newly initiated devotees are disciples of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the above eleven senior devotees acting as His representative." Indeed, the word "representative" is found seven times in the letter; the word "guru" is not found at all.

There is no need to use this straightforward letter as a means for supremacy. The letter establishes neither the rittvik nor the corporate ISKCON ideology. The truth of it is not found in competition between these two apasiddhantas. This temporary order, which is neither ambiguous nor cryptic, appoints eleven men to act as rittviks while Prabhupada remains physically manifest. Instead of trying to "win", we should try to understand the letter with some common sense.

ONLY RITTVIKS WERE APPOINTED

". . . if you manufacture your ideas, then you are not guru."

Room Conversation 1-7-77

From the July letter, corporate ISKCON has manufactured the controversial idea that Srila Prabhupada created rittviks who immediately became diksa gurus after his disappearance. Manufacturing an idea such as this sows the wind. Now, almost three decades later, everyone is going to reap the whirlwind in the form of the rittvik hurricane. Many devotees are going to be bent by that storm; some will even be broken.

There appeared to be a progression towards guru status for some of Prabhupada’s senior men. First, they were appointed as rittviks, when His Divine Grace decided that he no longer wished to perform all of the fire yajnas for his fast-growing and ever-expanding movement. Then, they were given the assignment of chanting one round on each initiated person’s beads. They did this chanting on behalf of Prabhupada, in lieu of his directly chanting on the beads.

By 1972, some of Prabhupada’s secretaries began to select names for his disciples, and the new initiates were then called by those spiritual names. In 1977, Prabhupada authorized eleven of his senior men to make the decision as to whether or not a new person should receive initiation from His Divine Grace. So, we see a progression of duty and responsibility in all of this. Prabhupada was training leaders to become gurus, but the training was not yet complete—and no gurus were appointed or recommended:

"Srila Prabhupada did not appoint anyone to be guru for the future. He appointed rittviks to continue in his presence. That much is accepted by everyone."

Jayadvaita Swami, San Diego Debate, 1990

Wish that it were, but, unfortunately, it’s not:

"When Srila Prabhupada was asked who would be initiating after his physical departure, he stated he would ‘recommend’ and give his ‘order’ to some of his disciples who would initiate on his behalf during his lifetime and afterwards as ‘regular gurus’ whose disciples would be Srila Prabhupada’s grand-disciples. . . Subsequently, Srila Prabhupada named some disciples to initiate on his behalf, as he had previously stated. Although Srila Prabhupada did not repeat his earlier statements, it was understood that he expected these disciples to initiate in the future. . . Srila Prabhupada repeated use of the phrase ‘on my order’ makes it abundantly clear that those who would be ‘selected’ were simply to strictly carry out His Divine Grace’s ‘order,’ and, as long as they did so, they would be bona fide spiritual masters. . . Srila Prabhupada’s use of the words like ‘appoint’, ‘recommend’ or ‘select’ was . . . a conditional mandate dependent on the follower’s ‘strictly following’ the ‘order’ of the spiritual master."

On My Order
An Official ISKCON GBC Paper (emphases added)

Some corporate ISKCON pundits have conveniently chose to replace the term "rittvik" with the term "proxy" in recent writings. This has served to confuse the whole issue even further, and you wonder if there’s not a method to such madness. Prabhupada didn’t use the term "rittvik" very much, either in his letters or his books. When Prabhupada was using the term "rittvik" referring to the initiations of his disciples, it was always used in the sense of devotees who performed the ceremonials as proxies on behalf of Prabhupada.

When the term "rittvik" is infrequently found in Prabhupada’s books, it does not have exactly this same meaning. So some of the pundits have made a big thing of the use of "rittvik" in the books. It doesn’t matter what "rittvik" means in the books when referring to Prabhupada’s initiations in his movement. The book usage had little or nothing to do with how Prabhupada used the term in regard to initiations. Whenever "rittvik" was used in the context of initiation, it automatically meant "proxy". In that context, it never meant anything more than proxy.

This brief reminder about the extraneous rittvik-cum-proxy controversy is necessary because of the next quote:

"How can the proxy be the guru? One may say, of course, that the proxy and the person who gives the initiation are not the same, but Satsvarupa Maharaja is referring to them as the same person. The proxy-initiation adherents would have to say, then, that Srila Prabhupada either is not answering the question or does not understand it."

Disciple of My Disciple, p. 5

This commentary is in reference to the May conversation, of course. Actually, rittvik and "giving initiation" were joined in the same sentence primarily by TKG, although SDG’s statements in that conversation reflect the same misconception. You can consult to advantage our article entitled The Proof of One Tooth, wherein an in-depth analysis of the May conversation is presented.

The above quotation raises the question of a potential contradiction, because any proxy or stand-in certainly cannot give initiation. However, the apparent contradiction is entirely predicated upon corporate ISKCON’s disingenuous separation of "rittvik" from "proxy", and then presenting tangential arguments from the point of that separation. Corporate ISKCON is trying to say that the only cogent understanding for the May tape was in the context of the rittviks (who were officially appointed in the letter on July 9th) not actually being proxies as of their appointment. The citation claims "it was understood" that they received "a conditional mandate" to be actually gurus while initiating disciples on behalf of Prabhupada.

What must be remembered is that TKG is integral to this whole controversy. He presented the key statement or question marrying rittvik with initiating during the May conversation. The above-mentioned quotation form Disciple of My Disciple is refers to that. If it’s so "abundantly clear" (as the authors of On My Order would have us believe), why was it not very clear to TKG himself? Here’s what he had to say about it in 1980:

"Actually, Prabhupada never appointed any gurus. He appointed eleven rittviks. He never appointed them gurus. Myself and the other GBCs have done the greatest disservice to this movement the last three years, because we interpreted the appointment of rittviks as the appointment of gurus. . . Srila Prabhupada said, ‘All right. I will appoint so many’, and he started to name them. He made it very clear that they (the to-be-initiated devotees) are his disciples. At that point, it was very clear in my mind that they were his disciples. . . that’s all that it was, and it was never anything more than that. . . You cannot show me anything on tape or in writing where Prabhupada says, ‘I appoint these eleven as gurus.’ It does not exist, because he never appointed any gurus. This is a myth."

Pyramid House Talks in Topanga Canyon, 12-3-80

The ramification is stunning. The claim that the July letter was actually an appointment of diksa gurus is completely dependent on the May room conversation. In that conversation, the key question supposedly verifying this controversial contention comes from TKG, yet, he later admits that he never came to any such conclusion that Prabhupada appointed gurus.

If the July letter actually appointed gurus, why didn’t Prabhupada verify that idea somewhere else before he left us? Instead, he spoke in terms of "deputies", because that was always the context with which he used rittvik. There is little or no difference between the words "proxy" and "deputy". Less than one month before he left us,

Here’s what Prabhupada said in connection to his eleven rittviks:

PRABHUPADA: So, I have deputed some of you to initiate.

TKG: Yes.

PRABHUPADA: So, I think Jayapataka can do that. If you like, I have already deputed. Tell him (the person Prabhupada is agreeing to initiate) some deputies—that Jayapapataka’s name was there. So, I depute him (Jayapataka) to do this at Mayapur, and he (the person Prabhupada is agreeing to initiate) may go with him (Jayapataka). I have stopped (performing initiation ceremonies) for the time being. Is that alright?

TKG: What, Srila Prabhupada?

PRABHUPADA: This initiation. I have deputed my disciples. Is it clear or not?

TKG: It’s clear.

Room Conversation in Vrindavan, October 18, 1977

It was also clear to TKG—at least by 1980--that Prabhupada never appointed any gurus. Interestingly enough, corporate ISKCON uses this October 18th conversation to substantiate its claim that Prabhupada actually made rittviks into gurus during his manifest presence.

Corporate ISKCON’s pundits cannot have it both ways. They constantly harp about the all-important etiquette, viz., that a disciple can never initiate if his own spiritual master is still physically manifest. Well, here they make a self-serving accommodation to that all-important injunction by claiming that Prabhupada actually authorized initiating gurus on October 18th. Supposedly he did this, because he no longer wanted to make any more disciples. It’s an interesting study, and we shall discuss it in greater detail very soon in another article.

What should no longer be at all controversial to anyone is the fact that only rittviks were appointed by Srila Prabhupada in the July 9th directive. He only authorized rittviks, and that was bona fide. Some recent concoctions about the July appointment are not as bona fide, and we should reject those manufactured ideas.

"HENCEFORWARD"

"Maya will give us all facility to find any small thing and make it very big. That is maya."

Room Conversation 11-14-72

We have pointed out how corporate ISKCON makes a big thing out of the May conversation, claiming that it substantiates an appointment of diksa gurus in the July letter. Their argument is sophisticated. Following in their footsteps, the rittviks make a big thing out of the July letter, but they do it via a very different style. Citing the letter with a simplistic argument (in order to claim that the July letter appoints rittviks to continue initiating even after Prabhupada’s disappearance), they target one word: "henceforward."

We should never forget that the rittvik conclusion entails the end of the disciplic succession, and this is especially the case for the hard-line faction of that movement. There is not only one variety of rittvik, however. Another offshoot claims that a pure devotee will probably come in due course of time, and, at that time, rittvik should be abandoned. Prabhupada should then no longer be a non-manifest diksa guru. Yet another rittvik camp modifies this proposal. It claims that both ways are good, i.e., if another pure devotee manifests, you can either take initiation from him or from Prabhupada. However, the most popular rittvik camp takes the hard line: Prabhupada is the diksa guru for the remainder of the Golden Age.

Herein we see a major problem. Since the mechanics of this so-called dispensation are unclear—and since it is completely unprecedented and against the grain of all Vaishnava tradition—which rittvik variety actually represents what Prabhupada supposedly created? When he said "henceforward" in the July letter, was he only referring to hard-line rittvik?

The corporate ISKCON vs. rittvik binary is in full play now. However, if and/or when rittvik prevails, that will not be the end of schism. The FIRST CHURCH OF PRABHUPADA THE REDEEMER may take a "traditional" approach, (although its congregation will eventually have to face the issue of who is and isn’t a pure devotee). The BHAKTIVEDANTA UNITY CHURCH, in the reform mode, will present the mixed doctrine. The RITTVIK REVIVAL CHURCH will insist on Prabhupada diksa for the next 9,500 years.

Such are the repercussions for following the "simple" logic of the rittviks:

"Just as Lord Jesus is present in his words today and can hear the prayers of his followers and save them, in the same way Srila Prabhupada, the Lord’s beloved agent, is also present today, and under his instructions has appointed representative priests to initiate disciples on his behalf when he is not physically present. Thus, Srila Prabhupada can save us just as Lord Jesus Christ can save his disciples today."

A Prospectus for Scholars, p. 2

The dispute now is between corporate ISKCON and the generic rittvik camp. Later up the road, the dispute may well be between and amongst various rittviks. Today’s schism is fed by "henceforward" in the July letter. If and/or when generic rittvik prevails, later binaries will be fed also by "henceforward." So, in order to understand the Orwellian logic of the rittviks, let us proceed to the July letter and read that now famous sentence:

"Now that Srila Prabhupada has named these representatives, Temple Presidents may henceforward send recommendation for first and second initiation to whichever of these eleven representatives are nearest their temple."

To All G.B.C., and Temple Presidents, 7-9-77 (emphasis added)

Here’s how one prominent rittvik explains that sentence:

"It is also stated that this system is to be applied ‘henceforward’, confirming the May 28th conversation, where Srila Prabhupada indicated that the ritvik system would be for when he was ‘no longer with us’. Under no possible twisting of the English language can ‘henceforward’ mean ‘another four months’ or ‘until Srila Prabhupada leaves his body’. It only has one meaning—‘from now on, indefinitely’. . . The word ‘henceforward’ is particularly used when one wishes to indicate no cessation or discontinuation. . . If there was an intention that the ritvik system was to be discontinued at any point at all in the future, why not give an indication? Why state the exact opposite since ‘henceforward’ indicates no cessation?"

Become Prabhupada’s Disciple, p. 6

Sounds simple enough. Nevertheless, there are problems with this kind of interpretation. The word ‘henceforward’ is being interpreted in its most extreme sense. All other aspects of the sentence must match the context of such an interpretation. In other words, if that word is going to be interpreted in such an extreme (some would say fanatical) fashion, then every other concept in the sentence must match that style. As such, let us consider the clause "to whichever of these eleven representatives are nearest", because it’s part of the sentence.

Only these eleven devotees (named in the letter) are henceforward authorized to give rittvik initiation for all new disciples for the remainder of the Golden Age. Can they be replaced? Can they be removed? The letter does not specifically authorize that. Can the list be changed? The letter does not specifically authorize that, either. The sentence says that "henceforward" all names of persons aspiring for initiation must have their requests forwarded to one of these eleven representatives.

Actually, we can take the fanaticism even further. Since one of the eleven is no longer able to be a rittvik (he was forced from his body in the mid-eighties), there can be no more rittvik initiations—because the order has now been rendered unworkable. Temple presidents can no longer forward names to one of these eleven (because there are only ten now). Utilizing extreme logic within the context of the sentence, the "order" for rittvik has been null and void for over a decade.

The problems with the fanatical interpretation don’t stop there. Generally, henceforward is defined as "starting from this particular moment in time." All processes in the universe eventually run the course of their duration. As such, henceforward almost never actually means forevermore.

Temporary time place and circumstances orders from the spiritual master should never be interpreted in a fanatical manner such as has been applied to this word "henceforward". Prabhupada did not personally dictate this letter. With the word "henceforward" placed in the document by another writer, Prabhupada co-signed a letter presented to him. Was he really expected to foresee the furor created by such an unnecessary word having been put in that directive?

Consider a fanatical interpretation of "henceforward" in the following letter—and what such an interpretation would have entailed:

"I have no objection if this (money) is collected in the way of advertisements from New York, but charges will be increased, because we are going to print 20,000 copies HENCEFORWARD."

Letter (69-2-55/Feb. 20, 1969) emphasis added

So, according to the hard-line interpretation, Back To Godhead was supposed to be printed only in 20,000 increments forevermore. Perhaps the presses would be changed or modernized, allowing for printing increments of only three-thousand copies. Perhaps the movement would increase exponentially during the next five to six years after 1969—and sometimes 20,000 copies of the magazine would not even cover one day’s worth of distribution worldwide. But we cannot disobey the order of the spiritual master . . .

. . . and the order said "henceforward": 20,000 . . . 20,000 . . . 20,000 . . . 20,000 . . . 20,000 . . . 20,000 . . . 20,000 . . . 20,000 . . . 20,000 . . . 20,000 . . . (on 2-2-2000) 20,000.

That Maya was even able to give facility to make a big thing out of such an insignificant word displays the wonderful potencies vested in her by the Lord. But why, in order to appreciate the apara-prakriti of the Lord, do we have to pollute the Hare Krishna movement with such rittvik fanaticism? This is not the purpose of the Krishna consciousness movement.The purpose of the movement is to supply spiritual medicine meant for curing our material disease. Where?s that medicine? It?s not to be found in the rittvik movement. It can, however, be found in Prabhupada?s books, which should be authoritatively appreciated and read with concentrated scrutiny, logic, and common sense. Those literatures are the milk that swan-like men seek out, because such empowered writings give us transcendental food for thought.

THE WILL

". . . it should be done so there is not legal implication. And aggressiveness is not good. That should be checked." Letter (76-2-49/Feb. 16, 1976)

What was the real purpose of Prabhupada's will? Was it meant to concisely concentrate the essence of his transcendental desire and teaching? Was it meant to create a clear and detailed framework for the spreading of his mission for the next 9,500 years. Or was it, instead, a utilitarian document meant primarily (in effect, almost solely) for one purpose?

Corporate ISKCON sometimes resorts to quoting "the ultimate managing authority" from the will in reference to the GBC, but what is the context of that authority? Obviously, it's a bit of a two-edged sword for their pundits to emphasize this authority clause, because the addition of that adjective ("managing") is a qualifier. It limits the scope of their franchise, which is already limited by their own resolution of 1975 (see our article EVERYWHERE THE FOLLOWERS MAKE THE WHOLE THING BUNGLED, for a more detailed explanation of this point). However, aside from their tempered proclivity to pull out the "ultimate managing authority" card, corporate ISKCON generally has a more accurate perspective of the will than do the rittviks:

" . . . the will deals almost entirely with provisions for safeguarding ISKCON's properties."

Where the Rittvik People Are Wrong, p. 8

The rittviks, however, tend to emphasize another sentence in the document: "The system of management will continue as it is now, and there is no need of any change."

In other words, the rittviks use the "no change" card, and corporate ISKCON uses the "ultimate managing authority" card—each for their own purposes. The actual purpose of the will is different from both of these purposes. Each of these statements ("no change" and "ultimate managing authority") were there to fully dovetail into the overriding purpose of the will: to protect the properties (particularly those in India) from takeover either by the Indian government or the Gaudiya Math or by one or more of Prabhupada's sons.

By utilizing the term "no change", Srila Prabhupada was giving his disciples a potent weapon in case their was a legal assault. In court, they could very obviously argue that any kind of takeover by a government or by another sect constituted a major change. Similarly, by vesting "ultimate managing authority" in the GBC in the will, another potent defense could be made in court: Both the will and the by-laws vest all final decisions for control of these properties with the entire GBC in general and any and all local GBC or GBCs in particular.

The rittviks, however, emphasize another part of the document: the will directed that each property director would have to be one of "my initiated disciples". The rittviks claim that Prabhupada in effect ushered in rittvik-for-posterity after his physical departure. They claim that he intended in his will that rittvik must be enforced by including this clause "my initiated disciples" in connection with the directors of his properties.

"In this document, Srila Prabhupada indicates that the directors for his permanent showpiece projects must be his initiated disciples. Srila Prabhupada was most meticulous in everything he said or did. Why then, in a most important document like his Will, would he state something that can only mean one thing? That for a long time to come, everyone would continue to be his disciple."

Become Prabhupada's Disciple, p. 9 (emphasis added)

Like the July letter, Prabhupada did not use the Dictaphone to create the will. It was written up by one or more of his disciples and then presented to him for his signature. Notice the fudge "for a long time to come" in the above-mentioned quote. Well, how long? One generation? Two? The remainder of the Golden Age? Just like they do with the July letter, the rittviks blow the will all out of proportion. Certainly it was an important document, but not in the concocted context the rittviks would have us believe.

Prabhupada knew that some of his relatives (who were never very appreciative of his Krishna conscious activities) could make an effort to claim some his properties, so it was important that he protected those properties from being materially squandered and misused in that way. This was not the only potential misuse of his properties, of course. However, in the short-term, it had the potential to be a profound threat. As such, the will extends a stipend to his wife, also. The will was predominantly a short-term utilitarian document, because, in Krishna consciousness, utility is the principle. The will is spiritually saturated with pragmatic considerations that comprise its totality. In combating the misleading conclusions of the rittviks, corporate ISKCON pundits do point out rittvik foibles:

"To suppose his use of the term 'my initiated disciples' is referring to something not mentioned in the Will . . . is an indirect supposition. In reality, no mention of the process of future initiations is mentioned anywhere in the (will) . . . Therefore, it is indirect evidence."

Prabhupada's Will, p. 2

In the short-term, Prabhupada's initiated disciples could very conceivably be fending off legal takeover attempts of his properties by outsiders. This kind of attempt, by its very constitution, could only be a short-term threat from his relatives. After the generation of Prabhupada's initiated disciples (initiated by His Divine Grace between 1951-1977) runs its course, if competing sects or envious governments are still in any kind of position to wrest away the properties, then the movement would have to be in a completely emaciated state. No will written in 1977 could save it in such circumstances at that time. As such, Prabhupada approved "my initiated disciples" with the same pragmatism that permeates the document.

GIRIRAJ: So, we drafted a will, including the trust for the properties of India and some of the other . . .

PRABHUPADA: Will? Will. There will be direction that 'management should be done like this'. That's all.

Room conversation 6-2-77

Giriraj prabhu was one of the architects of the will. There were at least two drafts. Originally, the phrase "executive directors" was used in the initial draft. In the final draft, this phrase was replaced by "my initiated disciples". That change led to added fodder for the rittvik argument over a decade later. In late January of 1996, when asked why he didn't foresee this potential discrepancy, Giriraj replied: "We weren't used to thinking like that. In retrospect, it's very naïve."

Not as naïve, however, as thinking that Prabhupada mandated the rittvik-for-posterity system with these three words in his will. Such naivete must be checked. Is this the way that His Divine Grace chose to give us conclusive proof of his so-called desire for rittvik-in-absentia? Does anybody really believe that this phrase has any connection to the crowning glory of Prabhupada's legacy? In summation, the will is a utilitarian document meant for one obvious purpose, and it should never have been misused for personal aggrandizement by either of the competing polarities.

OM TAT SAT. HARE KRISHNA.

Tell a Friend

Quotes from the books of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada are copyright by the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust