FLAWS IN THE RITTVIK CONCOCTION

by Kailasa Candra dasa

The rittviks--although they may, for their own purposes, say that a spiritual master could emerge in the future--in fact consider that all of Srila Prabhupada's disciples are only, at most, capable of being rittviks. Such "stand-ins" cannot be advanced devotees, obviously. In practical terms, the rittviks consider all others to be, more or less, perpetual kanishta-adhikaris, like themselves.

The rittviks confuse a madhyama-adhikari as the equivalent of a rittvik. A madhyama-adhikari can be a diksa-guru or regular guru and can initiate his own disciples. The regular guru or monitor guru is a spiritual master, but he still sits at the feet of the uttama-adhikari guru ("Prabhupada"), just as a bona fide teacher in a college still works under the ultimate directions and guidance of the tenured professor.

But the rittviks believe otherwise and do not properly understand the ceremony of diksa or the etiquette that initiation must go through the direct stewardship of their own guru, if he is still physically manifest. If he approves, during his manifest activities, any of his initiated disciples can actually initiate disciples on their own (rather than on his behalf). In that case, the etiquette is transcended.

So, it's both bona fide and conceivable that a madhyama-adhikari (brahma-nistham) could remain a rittvik, out of deference to his mahabhagavat spiritual master while he is still present on Earth. Such a madhyama-adhikari does not remain a rittvik after his guru departs, however.

Now, the rittviks obviously believe that there are no madhyama-adhikaris amongst Srila Prabhupada's remaining disciples. Or they think that madhyama-adhikari is attained at a level that is still below the threshold of diksa-guru qualification, or that it's the (so-called) madhyama-adhikari that automatically converts to a rittvik (rittvik-for-perpetuity?) after the mahabhagavat enters nitya-lila pravishtha.

None of Srila Prabhupada's directly initiated disciples is obligated to believe that there was even one legitimate madhyama-adhikari amongst his flock after he departed. The track record strongly indicates otherwise. But, if there was one--or even more than one--that devotee or those devotees could become diksa-guru (and not merely a rittvik) after Prabhupada departed. This, of course, would be contingent upon their having received the order from Srila Prabhupada to initiate new disciples, and those new disciples would then become "the disciples of my disciple."

For the many of Prabhupada's disciples who have concluded that no one was qualified to even be a regular or monitor guru, your conviction looks more accurate every passing year. But those in this category who then jumped the gun and changed the philosophy and the initiation procedure get no such kudos.

Of course, not all the rittviks are Srila Prabhupada's initiated disciples. Some of them are new devotees, who initially accepted Prabhupada as their siksa-guru. That was a devotionally admirable decision of the highest order, but then they spoiled it by grafting on to their faith this unauthorized rittvik idea.

In one sense, it's difficult to come down too hard on any of them. Many of them underwent the humiliating rigors of even up to three separate "re-initiation" ceremonies, dedicating themselves to conditioned rascals who pretended to be spiritual masters. After so many guru falldowns and "re-initiation" ceremonies, these new people have concluded that all of Srila Prabhupada's disciples must be nothing better than kanishtha-adhikaris. Actually, that's a liberal perspective. There's very possibly any number of sahajiyas, covert impersonalists, atheists, and non-devotees in the mix as well. Why? Ask yourself this question: How can any honest devotee of the Lord have the audacity to pretend that he is a spiritual master?

The rittviks attract burned out people, who become completely disenchanted with the ACRONYM. They are angry and resentful, prone to be hurt again on the rebound. Always remember that a genuine madhyama-adhikari enters the palace of guru through the front door. This is also the case with the uttama-adhikari, even though he comes down to the (apparent) platform of madhyama-adhikari in order to carry out the duty of initiating new disciples into the bhakti cult.

The rittvik-in-absentia acharya, however, becomes a surreptitious spiritual master, entering the façade of the house of guru through the back door. He says that he's initiating you on Prabhupada's behalf, but you need him to perform the fire sacrifice and to give you all another name.

DECEPTION PLUS DECEPTION EQUALS GREATER DECEPTION

On one side, you have the camp with cheap gurus and cheap disciples. On the other side, you have the faction that grants mass initiations on behalf of a non-manifest acharya, more or less automatically to anybody who wants one. On one side, you have gurus who are supposed to be Absolute when they are not, and, on the other side, you have initiations that are considered formalities carried out by a new Eastern version of priests. On one side, you have a manifest hierophant who is not self-realized but pretends to be. And, on the other side, you're told that there are no more manifest gurus to be found and the non-manifest sampradaya-acharya initiates into perpetuity.

Each side represents dogmatic ideologies that are not authorized by either Vedic or Vaishnava injunctions. These polarized positions obviously create binaries in the minds of the new people, and they are not competent to resolve them. They remain torn and conflicted. They are inclined to make offenses to the other side, because they correctly intuit that the inimical party is deceptive. One camp allows kanishthas (and lower) to be spiritual masters or, to be more specific, allows a non-liberated person to be guru. And the other party opines that the only acharya manifest here must be the rittvik-acharya. Deception plus deception produces exponentially greater deception.

The new people get busted down in consciousness, they become more and more internally disintegrated and degraded, their faith deteriorates, and many if not most of them become non-devotees, in due course of time.

DEPUTIES FUNCTION ONLY WHILE THE ACHARYA MANIFEST

A rittvik is defined as a brahmin, himself initiated by a self-realized Vaishnava, who sits in at the execution of the diksa ceremony, in order to assist the performance of the ritual sacrifice. This is the definition in the context of the Vaishnava initiation rite. There is no scriptural evidence of rittviks performing Vaishnava diksa yajnas for an acharya who is non-manifest. A Kali-yuga version of this goes on in other non-Vedic lines, obviously.

Srila Prabhupada was not personally present at most of the initiation ceremonies in his later preaching years, but he was on Earth preaching somewhere in a form visible to conditioned humanity. Except at the very end, all such rittvik rites were only conducted after he first sanctioned them. At the very end, he gave a blanket sanction and empowered his re-constituted rittvik contingent to conduct the ceremonies with whomsoever they deemed fit at whatever location and time they chose.

Rittviks are mentioned rarely in the Spiritual scriptures. In the Eighth Canto, in chapter sixteen, the verse, in part, reads: tosayed rittvijah: "One should satisfy the acharya's assistant priests." No big thing. The sampradaya has never hinged on rittviks. If they were essential to it, they would be mentioned far more often in both the Shastras and Srila Prabhupada's purports. All mention of them is in the context of their conducting Vedic or Vaishnava sacrifices (yajnas). Prabhupada sometimes utilized them. Sometimes he did not. Assistants are never the foundation of anything Absolute.

The rittvik adjustment in his final days with us did not have any shattering ramifications and repercussions. It did not have a secret underlying meaning. It was a pragmatic adjustment, that's all. It was common sense, considering the circumstances, and any sane person will not read anything more than that into it. Srila Prabhupada was very ill, so he authorized his rittviks to make some decisions that normally he would have made. This did not create the basis for a post-samadhi rittvik concoction nor did it create the basis for rittviks automatically converting into diksa-gurus after he departed.

Srila Prabhupada's leading secretary at the time of his departure confirmed, three years later, that the only appointments Prabhupada ever made were rittvik appointments. With this rare breath of fresh air from that camp, we still concur. But these appointments were never explained by Prabhupada to be the basis of a rittvik-in-absentia movement. Srila Prabhupada was talking about deputies in the last days, because that may well have been all he had--no one qualified above that status. The diary entries by the other personal assistant reflected the innovation only in terms of the rittviks determining person, time, and place for rittvik rites of initiation.

The rittviks have no Shastric evidence to back up a system of rittvik-in-absentia, and they also can't derive it, in any definitive way, from Srila Prabhupada's statements during the last days. He was present and physically manifest then. Ceremonies were conducted while he was manifest. As such, without clear and definitive proof otherwise, all the statements he made concerning rittvik must be interpreted in that context. The sistacara of all Vaishnava disciplic successions throughout history bear out the tradition that rittvik ceremonies are only authorized when the diksa guru--on whose behalf they are being conducted--is physically manifest. Srila Prabhupada never countermanded this important principle.

ARGUMENTS AND COUNTERPOINTS

ARGUMENT: There was obviously no successor named by Prabhupada, so he must have created some kind of rittvik system. Since he did not name a successor, this should have been done. Since it should have been done, then, somehow or other, he did it. So we have to figure out how and where he did it and then implement the rittvik system.

ANSWER: This is the psychological projection of a conditioned desire born of flawed and illogical rationalizations. It is indicative of covert resentment against Prabhupada for appearing to have made things so difficult after his departure. Both camps use the emotional and insincere question: "BUT WHO WILL INITIATE THEM?!?" and this is where that argument comes from ultimately.

ARGUMENT: Since so many gurus have blooped, there will never be any final solution that relies upon a physically manifest diksa guru. As such, only the rittvik system can deliver us from this quandary.

ANSWER: Generally, gurus who bloop were never gurus in the first place. The emotive and insincere question is still not answered by this reactionary feeling, born of wishful thinking.

ARGUMENT: A prominent sannyasi of Prabhupada's (at the time) in Vrindavan made an entry in his diary during Prabhupada's last days. He records the leading Secretary as having revealed to him (the sannyasi) that rittvik was going to continue after Prabhupada's departure.

ANSWER: It can be called some kind of evidence. It's not strong evidence, because it more or less falls into the realm of hearsay. It is certainly not proof, and it has some other weaknesses. The leading Secretary vehemently denied later that he said any such thing to the sannyasi. Their conversation was obviously not recorded. Also, this former sannyasi became a leading rittvik proponent in the early Nineties. Do you want to base an unprecedented rittvik-in-absentia system on such ultra-weak and very limited evidence? Is his diary entry enough for you to make that leap of faith?

ARGUMENT: Two commissioners are rumored to have each performed one rittvik initiation, even though all their other initiations were not of this kind.

COUNTERPOINT: Even if this was a fact, everything they were already doing was an unauthorized concoction, so it would lend no credence to the rittvik idea.

ARGUMENT: Prabhupada enacted many new innovations during his preaching activities, primarily in the Western countries. A rittvik system would not contradict his established tendency to create unprecedented ways and means to spread Krishna consciousness.

COUNTERPOINT: None of Srila Prabhupada's adjustments or innovations were of this magnitude. Also, he was personally present when he made them, so he could also reverse them if they proved counterproductive.

ARGUMENT: So many of Srila Prabhupada's disciples had little or no contact with him personally on Earth. For them, whether he was physically manifest somewhere else did not make any real difference. Why all the fuss about him having to be physically manifest during rittvik initiations?

COUNTERPOINT: That the guru must be physically manifest for a rittvik to conduct an initiation on his behalf is a Vedic process, and its practical application is demonstrated by the sistachara of the Vaishnava lines throughout history. It's the standard. The bone of the conchshell is pure, despite its being a bone. All such Vedic teachings and processes are to be accepted without argument. When a spiritual master is physically manifest, he can be specifically consulted about any candidate, who is about to be initiated on his behalf by a rittvik. This was the case up to mid-November of 1977. That Prabhupada didn't reverse any decisions by his rittviks to assign person-place-and-time at the very end doesn't mean that he was unable to do so. If he received dictation from the Lord to reverse any of those planned rittvik initiations, he could have, and would have, called it off.

ARGUMENT: The rittvik system had to be enacted, and continues to need to be acted upon, because we have been in an emergency situation since Srila Prabhupada disappeared. (Or, in other words, "THEN WHO WILL INITIATE THEM?!?")

COUNTERPOINT: The same insincere mentality buttressed the successor acharya worship, as well as the zonal acharya hoax. It's prime fodder for concoction, because neophytes too attached to the golden shackles of their particular society, friendship, and love suspend disbelief in order to convince themselves that, somehow or other, their movement must go on. Message to all such japa-chanters: The big problem after Srila Prabhupada's departure has not been solved yet.

ARGUMENT: In Prabhupada's will, it states that the trustees of his properties must only be his "initiated disciples." Who will protect these properties as trustees in the long-term?

COUNTERPOINT: First of all, were all of the trustees for every center initiates of Prabhupada just after his departure? If not, did this cause any kind of problem? Whether it was or was not the case, that wording of "initiated disciples" was grafted on to the document at the very end. It was not thoroughly considered by those who put it in the document just before Prabhupada signed the will. The two words were added at the end in order to keep certain factions (mundane family relations, as well as previous devotional affiliations that later turned negative) from prevailing in court on any takeover bids. It served its purpose, and such effort(s) were thwarted. Its inclusion was not an obtuse quasi-legal method by Srila Prabhupada to establish the rittvik-in-absentia movement

ARGUMENT: Vyasadeva remains physically manifest. Our sampradaya stems from him. His being physically present on the Earth makes the whole argument concerning that null and void.

COUNTERPOINT: If you are pure enough to search him out and consult him about this--if you can speak the language he speaks and can receive enlightenment from him about this argument--then we can entertain the potential relevancy of this argument. It's a nifty argument, to be sure, although it's ultimately absurd.

ARGUMENT: The Advisor established a rittvik system in his will before he left his body.

COUNTERPOINT: The Advisor also fertilized the ground for the zonal acharya seeds. Rittvik in the West emerged within a year of the Advisor's will coming to light, and this is probably not a coincidence. Didn't the Advisor back Ananta Vasudeva way back when, also? He seems to have a peculiar history of seeding innovations that prove to greatly disturb various Vaishnava missions. His mentioning rittvik in his will does not mean that it's something Prabhupada's disciples are obliged to follow.

ARGUMENT: A latter-day sannyasi said he heard, in 1968, Srila Prabhupada say that there would be no more acharyas after him.

COUNTERPOINT: Was this conversation recorded? If so, why hasn't there been a verbatim transcript of it produced? Seems the rittviks would have created just such a transcript if the alleged conversation had been recorded. It flies in the face of Prabhupada's statement to the reporter from Newsday magazine in 1976. If there was some kind of private room conversation like this, what was the context of the statement? Could he have been referring to his special place in the line? There will almost certainly not be another shaktyvesh-avatar like him preaching in the Western world with the effect that he had here. The interpretation of this conversation currently is subject to the realm of hearsay--on the presumption that there was even any kind of conversation like this in the first place. You certainly can't base a dispensation on it.

ARGUMENT: The spiritual Shastras give some examples of embodied devotees receiving initiation from a spiritual master who is not physically manifest. So, this is possible. Therefore, rittvik-in-absentia has a Shastric basis.

COUNTERPOINT: Not really. None of those devotees went on to institutionalize the process of initiation from that non-manifest guru. Also, the initiation itself, in their cases, was always direct, i.e., there were no rittviks involved. Over and above these counterpoints, all of those special initiated devotees were already very advanced souls, much more advanced than the West's disturbed neophytes. Such rare and ancient examples of special initiation do not create a precedent to institutionalize a rittvik-in-absentia movement in the heart of decadent Kali yuga.

RADICAL CHANGE REQUIRES UNAMBIGUOUS PROOF

There are different degrees of offense. Changing the fundamental principles or processes of the sampradaya would have to rank high on the list. Tinkering with the sampradaya in that way is a grave business. The uttama-adhikari, with unimpeded access to paramatma, may be able to create a major adjustment or innovation. Frankly, the rittvik concoction may even be beyond what he is empowered to create.

The rittviks consider the regular guru to equate to the rittvik-acharya, but that's an assumption nowhere substantiated in Srila Prabhupada's preaching or writing. That's indicative of the chief problem with the whole rittvik proposal: Where are the details? If Prabhupada authorized this system, considering how unprecedented it is, why would he have not made everything clear? Why didn't he speak for hours and even days in an unequivocal and unambiguous manner as to why this rittvik-in-absentia was already indicated in his books. Why wouldn't he have said that a rittvik-acharya is a regular guru or a monitor guru?

Here's something he did say: "They did not even consider with common sense that, if Guru Maharaj wanted to appoint somebody as acharya, why did he not say? He said so many things. And this point he missed? The real point? And they insisted on it."

If Prabhupada wanted an unprecedented rittvik innovation, why he did not say? He said so many things. And this point he missed? The real point of how to carry out initiations after his departure he missed? But the rittviks keep insisting on it.

FLAWS IN THE RITTVIK CONCOCTION

The rittviks reject the Vedic tradition, as well as the sistacara Vaishnava tradition, because they want to have their temple society, friendship, and love unimpeded by those traditional restrictions. They know that temple environments are almost impossible to establish without initiation ceremonies. At the same time, they don't believe that there's anyone qualified to be an initiating guru. We agree with them on both of these latter views, but such an awkward position does not give anyone a right to concoct an unauthorized solution.

Of course, they are following in the footsteps of the leaders of the ACRONYM. Those powerful personalities decided that they would concoct an unauthorized system of initiation that is condemned in the Vedic and Vaishnava teachings. Anyone who is still influenced by anarthas and vasanas cannot become an initiating spiritual master. They whimsically overrode that restriction for any number of reasons. The rittviks are now following in their footsteps. The Advisor helped to encourage both of these camps in their deviations.

But severe damage is being done to all the newcomers in rittvik. We are not going to divert our attention to the damage being done to the new people who enter Neo-math. That movement has no connection to the Krishna consciousness system given to us by Srila Prabhupada. On the contrary, that movement has an underlying antipathy towards Srila Prabhupada. It was also spawned by the Advisor, a little more directly. We are primarily, in this article, concerned about the damage being done to the newcomers entering the sphere of the rittvik concoction. Advancement of any transcendentalist is dependent upon his or her attitude, and the impatient attitude of the newcomers who opt for a rittvik initiation could lead to excruciatingly painful predicaments.

The rittvik newcomer is taught that he can have a connection to Srila Prabhupada. We do not dispute this. Any sincere and faithful devotee can establish a siksa-guru connection with Srila Prabhupada via his books, lectures, etc. The rittvik leaders then teach the newcomers that, if they can have that connection, then Srila Prabhupada can deliver them from nescience both during their lifetimes and at the end (anta-kale). We do not dispute that faithful viewpoint, either. As such, the rittvik proponents then make the big leap: If you can have a connection to a guru who you hope will be your deliverer, then why not formally connect to him and make him your diksa guru?

The simple answer to this question: It's unauthorized. Can a female devotee become a completely self-realized soul during her lifetime? It's a rare attainment for anyone, but certainly it is not impossible. If that were to take place for her, can she then wear a brahmin thread? Negative. Can she then carry a tri-danda? Negative. Why? The reason is that such actions are unauthorized according to Vedic and Vaishnava teachings.

There's a reason why initiations are not to be institutionalized from a diksa guru who is non-manifest. If he is accepted as a siksa guru, then he will help his disciple advance in spiritual life. As the disciple advances, if there is a genuine Vaishnava diksa guru present somewhere, he will help to lead his disciple to that diksa guru.

But if there's a genuine diksa guru manifest on the Earth, and someone has taken an unauthorized diksa initiation from a non-manifest guru, then that so-called initiated person is disqualified from taking advantage of the authorized process. Even if he wants to renounce the unauthorized rittvik initiation, the genuine diksa guru will probably not accept him as a disciple, seeing how cavalier he had been about the process and responsibilities of initiation into spiritual life. Over and above that, persons who have accepted rittvik initiations may be prone to offend a genuine diksa guru or his disciples. These are some of the pitfalls that loom on the horizon for the unfortunate people who have been duped by the rittvik scam.

What started out as a very good thing--faith in Srila Prabhupada as a siksa guru--winds up as a very bad thing when they impatiently demand to be initiated by him. And the cheaters are there to take advantage of them. The rittvik leaders don't want the burden of guru, but they do want their semi-devotional congregation. They do want to have some influence and control within that sphere of society, friendship, and love. They want to have their Deity worship and their classes, too. They want to be able to have some congregational chanting. They want it to be the way it used to be, but such retro arrangements are only good if they do not include concoctions.

The rittviks know that they cannot create these environments without the diksa guru-in-absentia arrangement. So they have the arrogance and audacity to just do it.

By proclaiming Srila Prabhupada made such a drastic rittvik-in-absentia change to the teachings and processes of Vaishnava initiation, it makes him to be something that he is not. When the deviant sannyasis, in 1970, proclaimed Prabhupada God, technically that gave him a higher status then he had before. But he condemned such false glorification. Similarly, making Prabhupada the initiating guru for the foreseeable future, or even for the whole of the Golden Age, covers him with a glorification that he never asked for--and which he does not accept.

However, the rittvik system does have a couple of precedents, and these can be found in asampradaya sects. The Kartabhaja sect, listed by Srila Bhaktivinoda as one of the thirteen sahajiya cults, was founded by Anukula Candra Thakur. After he died, he was proclaimed to be an incarnation of God. It was also proclaimed that only he could initiate new followers into the line. Later on, there was another precedent for rittvik. When Ramakrishna died, his wife Saradia proclaimed that no one would ever be qualified enough to initiate after his death. Entrance into his cult was via a process similar to rittvik.

RITTVIK AS COVERT CHRISTIANITY

Since Christianity predominates in the West, and since many of Prabhupada's disciples came from that background of mleccha-dharma, it should be no surprise that it has rebounded to influence the Krishna consciousness movement.

Srila Prabhupada was sardonic and contemptuous of the concept of Christ taking on the sins of his modern-day so-called disciples ("very good idea"). He considered it nothing more than a convenient rationalization. But the Christians put together congregations based on massive baptisms (initiations). It's an easier gig then facing the hard reality, so the rittviks copy the Christian way, although they don't admit to this.

Rittvik is very centrifugal at the present moment. So was Christianity in the first few centuries. The rittviks do not have a commission or a hierarchy, as does the ACRONYM, but time changes things. Nevertheless, like the ACRONYM, the rittvik movement is based on a kind of "ecclesiastical convention" and that tends toward dogma, in due course of time.

The rittvik system indirectly encourages its followers to concoct that they are hearing Prabhupada speak to them in their hearts, just as the followers of the mleccha-dharmas, supposedly hearing Christ. The bona fide system urges neophytes to control their minds.

Although Prabhupada slightly favored the mleccha-dharma over the atheist decadence it opposes, that should be seen as nothing more than a slight encouragement. All such statements should never be interpreted to mean that he wanted his devotees to become like the Christians or to copy their initiation system.

A dvija brahmin, making advancement in Krishna consciousness, is a representative of the spiritual master. Although not yet self-realized, he can still help any newcomer to understand the Absolute Truth, as long as he represents what the spiritual master has told him. In this sense, he could be compared to the ideal of a priest in Christianity, who has accepted Christ as his siksa-guru (without using that term, of course).

Such a priest would have to be free from illicit sex, meat eating, intoxication, and gambling. Such a priest could help a bewildered person in a crucial situation by reminding him about God. Is that currently being done anywhere? No one can say for sure, unless he or she has witnessed it. Nevertheless, one or two statements by Prabhupada in this context should not be blown out of proportion. Such a statement should not be wrangled into a justification for any kind of rittvik system.

In the mid-Eighties, one of the most virulent critics of the ACRONYM revealed a dream he had with Srila Prabhupada. In the dream, Srila Prabhupada shouted at him: "It's church! It's church! It's church!" The meaning of this shocking revelation in his dream state was that the ACRONYM had become just like the church scheme--it had degenerated that far. Prabhupada was expressing how abhorrent this was to him.

Ironically, a half-decade later, this devotee jumped on the rittvik bandwagon, despite the fact that he was warned against this very thing! Such is the deluding potency of the material energy.

SHORT-TERM DISINTEGRATION

Tinkering with the fundamental principles of the sampradaya, or its teachings, philosophy, and process, will cause newcomers to encounter contradictions that they are unable to resolve. They will be assailed within themselves by doubts, causing eventual loss of faith. This is conducive to chaos and anarchy, in the short term.

The rittviks have watered down the process. The newcomers will eventually water it down even more. Once the hurdle of accepting a manifest diksa guru is avoided, they will question the need for any kind of formal fire sacrifice. They will consider themselves initiated by Prabhupada without one, and, for the short-term, this will accelerate the centrifugal momentum.

When two deviations struggle, the lower deviation generally prevails. The war between the ACRONYM and the rittviks will lead to a general acceptance of the rittvik notion. That will be conducive to an increase in deviation, chaos, and anarchy in what eventually degenerates into quasi-Krishna consciousness. This low-boil revolution is still in the incipient stages. The situation will undoubtedly disintegrate further, in the short-term. But disintegration cannot go on indefinitely, because it always invites a strong reaction.

That reaction may be genuine Krishna consciousness. Or it may not.

PHALENA-PARICIYATE

Let's take a look at the "argument-from-results" criterion (phalena-pariciyate). Srila Prabhupada would sometimes defy former associates by saying: "What have they done? Look at what I have done." So, there's validity in the proper understanding of the argument-from-results criterion, no one can deny. The issue actually is how to understand the results in terms of perspective and timing.

The eleven pretenders scored phenomenal short-term results after they came in with a bang in the late Seventies. All kinds of initiations. Some really big picks. Fantastic. The movement appeared bigger than ever. Judge by the results?

Prabhupada had previously been relegated to a kind of rubber-stamp figurehead, and the powerful contingent--who would eventually have the audacity to proclaim themselves uttama-adhikaris--had bottle-necked many of the candidates for initiation. Even many of Prabhupada's own disciples had become de facto followers of these eleven great leaders.

The Scholar convinced the other ten to adopt the uttama-adhikari profile, and there was an explosion of new initiations and surrendered worshippers. Many of them went out in full fury to scam the public at large for money, and the coffers filled up, almost like never before. IT WAS BIG!

But did it prove that their system of pretend uttama-adhikari and zonal-acharya was bona fide? Negative, if we judge from the results with today's perspective. If we judge by the results through the eyes of the spiritual Shastras, we also come to the conclusion that the whole show was not authentic.

Sure, some of the rittviks have clean temples with attractive Deities, etc. That doesn't make the rittvik idea any less of a concoction. Whether or not the rittviks wind up increasing the number of Krishna devotees, or decreasing the number, can be determined and judged in due course of time. There's no need to accept the cult simply because they can show some short-term results. How things actually are may not be how they appear to be, because such apparent results can be deceiving.

"NO CHANGE"

Srila Prabhupada is not available to us in every way that he used to be, but the formatory thinking of the rittviks demands that we accept something very similar to that. The argument is simple: "No change!" Simple for the simple. Also, simple for the simpletons. It's the rittviks most potent argument, however, so it needs to be analyzed threadbare.

Srila Prabhupada had a rittvik system in place when he left us. He said: "No change." Therefore, no changes means just that: Do everything exactly the way it was being done just before he departed. This is the essence of the argument.

Simple.

The rittviks generally try to keep it simple, also, and they are most successful when they stay on message. Of course, since it's Kali-yuga, when people are lazy in understanding spiritual truths, easily misguided, argumentative at the drop of a hat, unfortunate, and always disturbed, any simple message can appeal to them. They can accept anything if they don't have to actually think about it too much.

The real issue here is the ACTUAL CRITERION OF NO CHANGE, especially in the context of Srila Prabhupada's statements concerning spiritual master and initiation. Let's look at some of those:

"I wish that, in my absence, all my disciples become the bona fide spiritual master."

"They are helping me in this missionary work. At the same time, I shall request them all to become spiritual master. Every one of you should be spiritual master, next."

"Every student is expected to become acharya . . . I have given you sannyasa with the great hope, that, in my absence, you will preach the cult."

"Just adhere yourself to the lotus feet of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Then you become spiritual master. That's all. So, I hope that all of you men, women, boys, and girls become spiritual master and follow this principle."

" . . . it is distinct that, although he was a conditioned soul in his previous life, there was no impediment of his becoming the spiritual master. This law is applicable not only to the spiritual master, but to every living entity."

"Maybe, by 1975, all of my disciples will be allowed to initiate and increase the number of generations. That is my program."

"By 1975, all of those who have passed all of the above examinations will be specifically empowered to initiate and increase the number of the Krishna conscious population."

" . . . just like I have got my disciples, so, in the future, these many disciples may have many branches of disciplic succession . . ."

"I am very much hopeful that my disciples, who are now participating today--even if I die--my movement will not stop. I am very much hopeful. Yes. All these nice boys and girls who have taken so seriously . . . You have to become spiritual masters."

None of these quotes can be considered as working against the principle of no change, because they all came directly from His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada. As such, they also represent the criterion of no change. They represent Prabhupada's perspective, or hopes, for the continuance of his movement after he left the scene. You cannot be selective about what does and does not constitute no change. Anything Prabhupada said about the future of his movement constitutes an essential element of no change. All of the above-mentioned quotes contradict strongly against the concept of no change forwarded by the rittvik concoction.

If no change meant the continuance of a rittvik process after Prabhupada's departure, why didn't he SPECIFICALLY mention that somewhere. By specific, we are referring to some mention that does not rely on a far-out interpretation of a cryptic utterance. There is certainly no mention of the rittvik concoction in the context of the above-mentioned quotes.

Just as an example, Prabhupada could have easily said: "Even if you do not become spiritual master, then continue initiating disciples on my behalf, like now, and they will continue to be my disciples, even after I die." But he never specifically said anything like that. The so-called appointment tape does not say that, although the rittviks try to wrangle out an interpretation favorable to their arrangement. It involves very convoluted and twisted conclusions along with dubious logic. It is anything but simple.

But Prabhupada said: "I wish, in my absence, all my disciples become bona fide spiritual master." This is a self-evident quote, and this is what he wanted (and still wants). This is what is authorized, and it's not complicated. He said: "Every student is expected to become acharya." Simple. And we should not change this.

This constitutes the no change principle.

The rittviks descend into formatory thinking when they preach that "no change" means "continue the rittvik system of initiations." As Prabhupada said, the dull-witted must be cheated.

Prabhupada remains present in his books (where the ACRONYM's editors have not changed them). The Book Bhagavat is the very means of deliverance. Nevertheless, while he was manifest, his physical presence had meaning. Message to all rittviks: There has been a change--Prabhupada is no longer physically with us.

But he did not leave us entirely, because he left us writings, his tapes, and his hopes and expectations for the movement. All of that constitutes the platform of no change.

Simple sometimes is considered the same as easy. That's not always the case, however, A devotee may simply refuse to stop chanting on the street, and he may be arrested. Your life may become complicated for awhile, because you simply decided to continue your assigned duty. All devotees have experienced this.

But the rittvik system is an easy way out or a simple way out from having to face the big problem after Srila Prabhupada's unexpected disappearance. The self-proclaimed appointment of eleven uttama-pretenders was another easy way out. The declaration of eleven zonal popes was another easy and simple way out. But none of these simple and easy ways out of the mess actually got anyone out of it. The waters are more muddied than ever, and the situation gets murkier every passing year.

The no change mentality entails sincerity. The sincere devotee must return to square one, abjure the easy but unauthorized alternatives, and confront the difficulties and controversies simply for what they are. In doing so, any sane person will conclude that the rittvik system is actually a change from Srila Prabhupada, the Vedic tradition, and all previous and current Vaishnava lines.

The rittvik system was not in place during the early years of Prabhupada's preaching in the West. Those years were entirely bona fide, and, as such, how things went on then could very easily be considered the platform of no change. Prabhupada also disbanded rittvik initiations from time to time during his later preaching mission. He also personally performed some initiations without rittviks assisting him. It was initiation that was special, not the rittvik assistance.

No doubt, Srila Prabhupada is transcendentally available now to the same degree he was while he was manifestly active amongst us. That vani is more important than vapu does not make vapu unimportant, nor does it make it meaningless. Transcend formatory thinking for a moment, and consider these questions:

  1. Can you write Prabhupada a letter and get a written and signed response from him?
  2. Can you talk with him in a room and have him directly speak in response to you?
  3. Can you book him for an appearance on a television interview or to speak during a radio interview?
  4. Is he able to appear at an auditorium, receive specific questions from the audience and then specifically answer those questions?
  5. Can you arrange a meeting for him with a big politician, a big university professor, a big religious leader, or a big cult leader?
  6. Can you ask him to give a specific answer, on tape or in writing, to a legal problem based upon a new law that is inimical to Krishna consciousness?
  7. Can you introduce a new devotee to him in his room and listen to them exchange verbal communication?
  8. Can you greet him as he is now arriving at an airport?
  9. Can you have him personally select, in writing, the spiritual name of a new devotee? Can you have him personally reverse a name given to a new devotee by one of his secretaries?

We used to be able to watch and hear him do all of these things. That was then. This is now. THERE HAS BEEN A CHANGE.

AN UNPRECEDENTED RISK

You cannot prove a negative. If someone claims that Prabhupada was a priest in Atlantis seventeen lifetimes previously, how can you disprove that wild speculation? If he never made any statement about it either way, you can't prove that he was not such a priest.

Similarly, the rittviks claim that Prabhupada never said rittvik initiations could not proceed after he departed, so you can't prove that he didn't want that system to continue. But that kind of logic turns the argument upside down. The rittvik system cannot be accepted simply because it was not specifically forbidden. Instead, the rittvik-in-absentia system is so unprecedented that it requires an unequivocal sanction by the sampradaya acharya before it can be institutionalized.

It can't be legitimately institutionalized merely because some devotee concludes "it's still not that far of a stretch." The leap to unprecedented rittvik requires a resolution from the acharya himself, otherwise the leap is a very long one, with a dangerous chasm below.

The rittviks say that there's no proof that Prabhupada did not establish the system, i.e., there's no unequivocal statement from him in that context. However, there is an overwhelming body of Shastric evidence and his own statements that logically and practically indicate that it should never have been instituted after his departure.

Over and above that, there's no proof that he did want it to be institutionalized. It is unprecedented. The unprecedented stuff belongs to the category of God, Siva-tattva, shaktyavesh, and sampradaya-acharya. It's not for conditioned souls to mess around with at whim.

But the rittviks have introduced sour tamarind into the initiation process and have taken it upon themselves to concoct and employ an unprecedented means to achieve some congregational arrangement. Who amongst us wants to take the possible credit for implementing this system but, if it turns out to be wrong, also face the risk of vikarmic reactions for pushing it?

The situation in both camps is far beyond the stage where reform could bring things back to normal. You cannot reform the rittvik movement. Rittvik has altered the very essentials of the initiation process. It is a retrograde and reactionary movement, harboring the same resentment and exasperation as the ACRONYM. They both use their ultimate dissatisfaction as fuel to promote their opposed initiation arrangements. Just as you cannot convert yogurt back into milk, neither of these disparate organizations can be converted back to genuine Krishna consciousness.

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