Rittvik: Weak Evidence . . . or Bad Logic?
'No Change' in the Face of a Big Change
by Kailäsa Candra däsa
Imitating its elder brother—but mostly in a different way--Rittvik attempts to bamboozle people into joining its factions by various methods. However, these verbal and written tactics should not actually be categorized as persuasion (säma), because they are almost entirely in one of the other three categories, viz., däna, bheda, and a covert form of daëòa. Rittviks learned these tactics from the fabricated “ISKCON” misleaders.
All Emphases Added for Your Edification and Realization
It turns out to be not all that difficult to ascertain which “persuasive” tactic is most effectively employed by Rittvik devotees. Basically, in the name of persuasion, “ISKCON” employed (and still employs) argumentum ad hominem, argumentum ad baculum, and reductio ad absurdum as weapons when it came to spreading its movement via untenable propositions. While one Left Coast rittvik specializes in argumentum ad hominem (although he is no stranger to the other tactics), on the whole, Rittvik boasts polemicists who are masters at reductio ad absurdum. This article will take a look at that by analyzing the bad logic that almost all of the Rittvik factions promulgate.
Weak Evidence Far Overblown
We must have some perspective concerning evidence, but evidently (pun intended) rittviks do not have that perspective. Let us employ a mundane example to illustrate this. Two men are courting the same woman, and thus they become rivals and bitter enemies. They both live in a metropolitan area. One of them is murdered, and the time of his murder coincides with his rival being seen in a park nearby the murder scene.
That is called evidence, but it cannot be called conclusive evidence. Unless the prosecution has more than that, it cannot be considered strong evidence, i.e., it is in the category of merely evidence. In and of itself, it would never lead to a conviction, as much more evidence—strong evidence--would be required in order to pin the deed on the man seen in the park.
Rittviks, lacking this perspective, emote on weak evidence, and they grasp for straws when it comes to whatever they think allegedly confirms Çréla Prabhupäda creating a new Rittvik dispensation just before he left the scene in November of 1977. There is no greater example of weak evidence than the enigmatic diary entry.
As was discussed in our previous article, T.K.G. ruled access to Çréla Prabhupäda during the last months that he remained physically manifest. Undoubtedly, T.K.G. had various discussions with Prabhupäda during that relatively long time-frame. Now, the rittviks claim that there is an important diary entry made by another sannyäsé, who was there at the Kåñëa-Balaräm mandir during this period. He was the Headmaster of the Gurukula, and he, along with the temple president (also a sannyäsé), more or less were the authorities at that time for the mandir.
According to the Diary Entry Argument, T.K.G. came up to the Gurukula Headmaster one day in a frustrated mode, informing him (the Headmaster) that Prabhupäda had decided not to appoint any gurus to initiate after he departed. Instead, Prabhupäda allegedly wanted that rittvik initiations were to continue, and the other sannyäsé jotted down a note after this brief meeting with T.K.G. in his (the Headmaster's) diary.
That note can be called evidence, but it cannot be called strong evidence by any stretch of the imagination. There are some problems with it. First of all, this sannyäsé, although disgruntled by how the zonals were conducting the mission after Prabhupäda departed, never spoke up about this note until after the initial Rittvik movement surfaced in 1989. He made no mention of it during the February, 1979 confrontation with the zonals at the Kåñëa-Balaräm mandir, and he was heavily involved in that.
This implicitly indicates—both in that meeting and in the position paper that he had authorized protesting their actions—that he believed that they had been appointed as initiating spiritual masters by Prabhupäda. If he actually believed that T.K.G. had said otherwise in the summer of 1977, why was not this brought up during the aforementioned confrontation? Why was not Pradyumna informed? Why was it not mentioned in the position paper?
Secondly, why did not that sannyäsé insist on speaking directly to Çréla Prabhupäda as soon as T.K.G. (allegedly) informed him about the new dispensation? This Rittvik idea was foreboding an incredible change to the standard system or process of carrying on Vaiñëava initiations. The Headmaster of Gurukula had a great deal of weight at that complex, and he was well-known to be a pet disciple of Çréla Prabhupäda. If he had insisted that he required a clarification, it would have been extremely difficult for T.K.G. to have thwarted him in this connection. T.K.G. ultimately could not have done so, but if this diary entry carried such import, then why did the sannyäsé sit on it for over a dozen years without a peep?
Third, your author had (sometimes daily) regular association with this particular sannyäsé—both in India and America—from January, 1979 through September of that year. He never mentioned this diary entry to your author at any time during this period, but the ongoing zonal scam was talked about repeatedly. Your author ran his party, was in regular contact with him, lived with him in the same apartment, and was also an opponent of what “ISKCON” was doing. Yet, no mention whatsoever of this crucial diary entry.
The enigmatic diary entry certainly does not come up to the standard of even remotely approaching conclusive evidence. At most, without disparaging the character of the scribe who entered it, this diary entry can be compared to the tail of a dog. You cannot cross the ocean of irrational philosophy by clutching the tail of a dog. The diary entry is overblown—far overblown—in terms of its power to authorize a new bhakti dispensation that is, at its root, both anti-Vedic and anti-Vaiñëava in terms of process, as well as unprecedented in the history any of the four Vaiñëava sampradäyas.
The Bhaktisiddhänta Quote
There is a quote from a room conversation, undated (as far as our research has uncovered), in which His Divine Grace Çréla Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvaté Gosvämé Prabhupäda talks to an admirer about guru, the madhyama-adhikäré, the uttama-adhikäré, and dékñä. This quote has surfaced quite recently, i.e., it was not amongst the repertoire of evidence—alleged or otherwise—that the rittviks pushed in their formative years.
Upon superficial reading, it appears to be an indicator for Rittvik, but we must analyze it more deeply in order to see whether or not it really justifies Rittvik. We must consider it in the context of what Çréla Prabhupäda has presented, as well. In this section of our article, we shall attempt to do just that. The quote culled from the aforementioned conversation is as follows:
Rajen Babu: Can a madhyama-adhikäré give dékñä?
The first question: Is anything about a rittvik or rittviks even mentioned? Negative. So, utilizing this quotation to support Rittvik is doing so in terms of indirect logic. It is not as powerful as direct evidence, and there is nothing directly supporting Rittvik to be found in it.
The second question: Who is that person who is performing the initial duties? Is he a rittvik? No, because he is performing the initial duties of dékñä. Thus, he is a dékñä-guru performing the duties of a dékñä-guru. This indicates the madhyama-adhikäré, who is not perfect, who is not fully realized, but is, nevertheless, authorized to initiate as a dékñä-guru.
He is a dékñä-guru at the initial stage or stages of strictly following in vidhi-sädhana bhakti (a regular guru) or in rägänuga-sädhana bhakti. If he was only a rittvik, he would have been called a rittvik in the exchange, and he would thus only have been conducting the ceremony of the fire yajïa on behalf of the actual dékñä-guru. That is what rittviks do, but to say that conducting the fire sacrifice alone is what is meant by “the initial duties of dékñä” is to read something into the quote that is not there.
The third question: Does Çréla Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvaté inform Rajen Babu that the madhyama-adhikäré is not a dékñä-guru? Negative. He says no such thing. He could have distinctly and definitely said that, but he did not say that. He said the madhyama-adhikäré performs the initial duties of dékñä. Logically, that would establish him as a dékñä-guru at a lower level than the uttama-adhikäré or mahäbhägavata dékñä-guru. The Vaiñëava Foundation has always preached this, beginning with one of our very first articles, entitled On Sufficient Guidance, which can be consulted to advantage.
These are the three rather obvious questions, and they have been answered. However, the most important point to be culled from the quote is invested in but one word from it: The adverb actually. The mahäbhägavata is actually the dékñä-guru, in the true sense of the term. Çréla Prabhupäda confirms this:
“The äcärya in the true sense of the term, who is authorized to deliver Kåñëa, enriches the disciple with full spiritual knowledge and thus awakens him to the activities of devotional service.”
This is not the first time that we have reproduced this particular quote. Having more deeply analyzed and considered the quotation from Çréla Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvaté, we can see that this element of it has been adequately covered, in his purport, by Çréla A. C. Bhaktivedänta Swämi Prabhupäda, the actual Äcärya in the true sense of the term. As far as specific quotes from Prabhupäda establishing the madhyama-adhikäré being eligible to give dékñä to his initiated disciple, there are some:
“A person who is liberated acharya and guru cannot commit any mistake, but there are persons who are less qualified or not liberated, but still can act as guru and acharya by strictly following the disciplic succession.”
The madhyama-adhikäré fits this description. The uttama-adhikäré is liberated and is perfect (siddha). The madhyama-adhikäré is not, but he can be authorized to “act as guru and acharya” by his liberated spiritual master. Earlier in that same letter, Çréla Prabhupäda commented as follows:
“The statements of Öhäkura Bhaktivinode are as good as scriptures, because he is liberated person. Generally, the spiritual master comes from the group of such eternal associates of the Lord, but anyone who follows the principles of such ever-liberated persons is as good as one in the above-mentioned group.”
These are strong, definite, and very specific. They do not at all indicate rittviks. They instead indicate a bona fide dékñä-guru, but a dékñä-guru who, nonetheless, can only give insufficient guidance, because he is not yet fully realized and perfect (siddha). He can give dékñä. He can initiate. He can connect a new bhakta to the Holy Name coming in the line of disciplic succession. Thus, his initiation is as good as the initiation received from the uttama-adhikäré, because the bhakti-latä-béja is one.
Rittvik: Dispensation by Default
Rittvik and “ISKCON,” although they have significant differences between them, nevertheless have the same pulse. In no small part, that is due to a shared misconception, discussed in our previous article. This root misconception is the unfounded idea that Çréla Prabhupäda had to have left an institutional arrangement for initiation of new people into his movement after he departed physical manifestation. There is no definitive statement by him to be found anywhere that he did so, and, as your author has pointed out, branches of disciplic succession have a history of becoming scattered over time.
The institutional misconception, held by both groups, is similar to another one that has been bandied about over the years, yet different. That other misconception is the idea that there is always a cent-per-cent pure devotee, fully God-realized, present somewhere on the planet at all times. Although Vyäsadeva certainly is such a divine personality, the overall majority, if not the totality, of human beings today are not qualified to seek him out and contact him. They also would not be able to speak his language.
The fact is, as pessimistic as it may seem, branches of disciplic succession sometimes break, and a completely God-realized spiritual master is not always incarnate on the face of the earth at a given time. Reality supersedes naive and unfounded optimism for the intelligent, and false projections of so-called reality, fostered by both “ISKCON” and Rittvik, must be seen for what they are: Self-serving rationalizations not founded upon Vaiñëava history, not based on a definitive statement from Prabhupäda, and not constituting reality. A given branch of disciplic succession sometimes needs to be kept alive and functioning by madhyama-adhikärés, often sannyäsés, initiating newcomers until the next uttama-adhikäré manifests.
Here and there, His Divine Grace Çréla Prabhupäda made statements that could be interpreted as optimistic or hopeful about the future of his movement. In the same vein, he sometimes made statements to the exact opposite effect. Most, if not all, of these were of a generic character, plain vanilla, and without any specific elements. We have now seen, very specifically, just what the “good hands” people, allegedly Prabhupäda's “best men,” did to his movement, so first-hand experience trumps any undue optimism concerning how things would turn out after he departed.
Although, as aforementioned, both “ISKCON” and Rittvik preach that Prabhupäda willed an institutional arrangement for new initiations after his departure, they have very opposite interpretations as to what that institutional arrangement was. There are reasons for this. One of those is that His Divine Grace made no definitive statement concerning it. Where are the details? That he stated in his Will the G.B.C. is the ultimate managing authority cannot be considered any kind of detailed explanation, because, for all practical purposes, it already had that status before he left physical manifestation.
The rittviks contend that Prabhupäda created a Rittvik dispensation, because there would be no more uttama-adhikärés after he departed. As has already been mentioned, rittviks reject madhyama-adhikärés as being fit to initiate newcomers with the bhakti-latä-béja. So, the Rittvik contention is basically a dispensation by default, although “Soft Rittvik” makes a concession that, if an uttama-adhikäré were to emerge in Prabhupäda's branch of disciplic succession, there would no longer be a need for their system(s).
Yet, “Hard Rittvik” rejects this, adamantly maintaining that there are no more dékñä-gurus after Prabhupäda in his branch of disciplic succession, and, as a result, the Rittvik system of initiation continues throughout the remainder of the Golden Age. No more gurus after Prabhupäda? Ever heard of something like that? Actually, it's not all that new. Most followers of the Sikh religion believe that there are no more gurus after Guru Gobind Singh, and, something much more familiar to us, a long-gone Iesos Kristos is said now to be the only savior in virtually every Christian sect.
The logic of the rittviks is: “Your way was dirty, so we must accept Rittvik.” Certainly, the “ISKCON” way has proven to be a filthy method of allegedly carrying on the disciplic succession, but just because my shirt is dirty doesn't automatically mean that your shirt is clean. It is but another example of the bad logic promulgated by rittviks. In no small part, they have picked it up from elder brother “ISKCON,” which engaged in similar self-serving rationalizations when it implemented the zonal äcärya scheme.
Both groups claim that there must be an institutional paradigm that was put in place prior to Prabhupäda departing. Both groups are wrong. Both groups push systems and initiations that are bogus, effectively working to prevent the real system of guru and disciple—which is highly personal and beyond the oppression of any and all institutional delusions—from manifesting. Cheap gurus, cheap disciples--and cheap institutional arrangements.
“Henceforward” and “My Initiated Disciple”
“Now that Çréla Prabhupäda 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.”
“In the event of the death or failure to act for any reason of any of the said directors, a successor director or directors may be appointed by the remaining directors, provided the new director is my initiated disciple . . .”
There are a number of considerations concerning these two excerpts, culled from the initiation recommendation “letter” and the Will, respectively. Most of you already know that rittviks push the highlighted word and phrase (from each of these documents) as conclusive evidence proving their concocted dispensation. Emphasis on legal documents—as in over-emphasis of them—has been standard fare in “ISKCON” for decades, e.g., “ultimate managing authority” and how it was misinterpreted for self-serving purposes. The rittviks followed suit with the same mentality. Although, technically, the initiation recommendation letter is not a legal document, it still functions like one. The Will is certainly a legal document.
Neither of them was dictated by Çréla Prabhupäda, i.e., both of them were drafted by either one of his leading secretaries or by committee. He simply signed them after they were presented to him. To what degree he actually read either of them before affixing his signature is unknown, but what is known is that he was in debilitated health during the summer of 1977.
The rittviks assert that he was fully aware of every word and phrase in both of them, and that all such words or phrases had and have meaning and were intentionally approved by him for a purpose—the Rittvik purpose. Really? Such was not the case with his letters.
For those of you who have studied his letters, as drafted and signed, His Divine Grace allowed numerous spelling and syntax errors to remain in many of them when he signed them, i.e., he simply had confidence that what he dictated had been represented, and his time was too valuable to consider details in terms of corrections. There were egregious errors in a few of those letters, but he still signed them anyway. Did he merely skim them (at most) before affixing his signature? Your author has never heard of a letter being sent back to his personal secretary in order for it to be corrected for typos.
The vast majority of said letters were signed by him when he was completely healthy, which was not the case in the summer of 1977. For the rittviks to make a big deal out of “henceforward”--which, by the most fanatical of them, is said to mean henceforward throughout the rest of the Golden Age—is to lose the perspective that T.K.G. created this “letter” and, as such, himself signed it. It was T.K.G.'s letter to the G.B.C.s and temple presidents. At the lower left, there was a line for Prabhupäda to sign under “Approved.”
That's all there was to it. Yet, we are to conclude that Prabhupäda had the intention of giving his first authorization to the Rittvik scam in it? We are supposed to believe that he intentionally knew what the (concocted) ramification of his leaving the word “henceforward” in it would mean in terms of the alleged dispensation? It is not at all strong evidence for the alleged dispensation. Instead, it is but one of the more prominent examples of bad logic repeatedly promulgated by the rittviks.
Then we come to the Will. The Rittvik logic here is that any new director must be an initiated disciple of His Divine Grace, ergo, since all of Prabhupäda's initiated disciples would die off within eighty years from the signing of the Will, and since new directors will have to be appointed after that time, then rittvik-in-absentia must be the way.
Once again, we are to surmise—according to Rittvik logic—that Prabhupäda intentionally left the phrase “my initiated disciple” in this Will in order to establish, in this legal document, how he wanted his movement to conduct initiations after he departed. Since the Will is so important, allegedly, why did he not simply declare in it that he wanted Rittvik? He could have easily done so in but one or two clear sentences, but he did not.
Over and above that, for those of you who have read this document, it is almost entirely about directors of his various properties around the world, particularly those in India. Why? Because, after he departed, there could be claims of inheritance of those properties by not only his sons but even by the Gauòéya Mutt. Such claims would almost certainly be beaten back in court, but the legal process in India has its share of corruption and, even more relevant, things drag on and on in the courts there.
Why even give that a whiff of a chance to transpire? The Will thus makes it crystal clear that none of Prabhupäda's sons could make any claims on ISKCON properties nor could the Gauòéya Mutt, because none of his sons were his initiated disciples and no one in the Gauòéya Mutt was his initiated disciple, either. Inclusion of “my initiated disciple” in the document was logically and practically for this purpose, since all such inheritance claims would only be considered by a given legal system (anywhere, but particularly in India) within the first year or two of Prabhupäda having left the scene, with the Will serving as his final testament. He would still have plenty of initiated disciples representing him at that time, and he did.
Again, if he had wanted or willed rittvik-in-absentia to be put into place upon his disappearance, the Will would have been the best document to have inserted such a mandate for his movement. He could have done so. When the committee presented its first draft of the Will to him, he told them that Guru Kåpä Swämé had to be a director in it (that particular sannyäsé was thus made the G.B.C. for the dhäma where His Divine Grace spent his last days). He then, in the second draft, could have also said that he wanted a rittvik system to be inserted in the final draft of his Will, which had to be amended by the committee before it was again presented to him.
His Divine Grace used the word “henceforward” forty-three times in his letters. Let us simply consider five excerpts from those “henceforward” letters. These will be from letters dictated within the first years of his preaching mission in the West, previous to the creation of the G.B.C.
“I shall restrain my moving, and my main business will be henceforward to train you all my disciples for preaching work.”
How long did he up close and personal train disciples after this letter was created? As of February, 1972, he was hardly doing that anymore. Indeed, he no longer even wanted new disciples to contact him by letter, what to speak of personally training them. Did he wind up restraining his moving throughout the world after November of 1968? Hardly. He more or less made a world tour every year following 1968. In other words “henceforward,” in the context of this letter, was time-sensitive.
“Yes, henceforward, as I have already told you, that Çrémad-Bhägavatam will be ultimately seen by you, before being printed.”
By the mid-Seventies, Hayagréva was no longer involved at any stage in the production of any of Çréla Prabhupäda's books, including Çrémad-Bhägavatam, and none of the editors of those books at that time would have bothered to contact him for his approval before proceeding to publication.
“Regarding B.T.G., I am so glad that you are printing 50,000 copies henceforward. I have received also your press management report, so the only thing to be amended there is that all books especially must be twice edited, once by Satsvarüpa and once by Hayagréva.”
By even the early Seventies, fifty thousand copies of B.T.G. were sometimes distributed worldwide within a month, and they were thus being printed in increments in excess of fifty thousand. Hayagréva was not involved in the magazine editing whatsoever. After Satsvarüpa took charge of the Library Party, it is doubtful that he devoted much (if any) time to book editing. After all, he was engaging one of his godbrother's in editing his own book at that time, so his attention, in terms of literature, was elsewhere.
“I am so glad that henceforward B.T.G. will be published 50,000 per month and very soon, 100,000 per month.”
Fifty-thou just got henceforwarded into one hundred thou!
“Henceforward, the books and magazines should be distributed properly and money collected and spent for again reprinting the books.”
This was specifically changed in later years, wherein monies collected from distribution were also mandated for temple construction.
Time changes things. Henceforward can be time-sensitive, and, in most cases, when Prabhupäda employed the term, it was time-sensitive. When those changes came, they did not always do so via his dictation or in violation of his desire, i.e., he did not always have to override—and he did not always and specifically override--a previous “henceforward” he had stated in order for a common sense improvement to be implemented.
Common sense is what rittviks lack. When they put such emphasis on rather unimportant (and heavily misinterpreted) excerpts from the initiation recommendation letter (authorizing the eleven rittviks in July, 1977) and the Will, it underrates logic and overrates the significance of those excerpts.
'No Change' in the Face of a Big Change
“When I order, 'You become guru,' he becomes regular guru. That's all.
His Divine Grace Çréla Prabhupäda authorized the principle of regular guru (“Regular guru, that's all”), but he did not officially recognize any regular gurus. A regular guru is not a rittvik. The rittvik-äcärya conducts the ceremonials of the fire sacrifice on behalf of the dékñä-guru; during the Seventies, that meant on behalf of Çréla Prabhupäda. A regular guru is a dékñä-guru. He initiates new people with the Holy Name (first initiation) and then with the Gäyatré mantra (brähminical initiation). It is not that the rittviks Prabhupäda appointed were to be considered regular gurus, either before he departed or after he left us. The regular guru initiates disciples (“He becomes disciple of my disciple”), but the rittvik-äcärya, by both definition and duty, does not do this.
The rationalization that Prabhupäda was referring to rittviks--when he mentioned the principle of regular guru during the room conversation at Våndävan in May of 1977—must be rejected. It must not be accepted based upon the “no change” argument, because there was a significant change after Çréla Prabhupäda departed physical manifestation.
The wrong application of the “no change” idea necessitates the belief that His Divine Grace must have created an institutional arrangement for initiation of newcomers after his departure. As aforementioned, both “ISKCON” and Rittvik share this belief, but they differ as to its particulars. The no change mandate applies to the tattva, the siddhänta, and the basic process of chanting the mantra and performing authorized sevä. It applies to Çréla Prabhupäda's written works as well, although that does not preclude correcting obvious errors in those works—such errors due primarily to previous poor editing.
Did Çréla Prabhupäda change his own spiritual master's system when he began to initiate disciple in the early Fifties? Did he change it when he began to initiate Westerners in the mid-Sixties? These things were not being done while Çréla Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvaté Gosvämé Prabhupäda was manifest, but, after he departed, there was a change in circumstances. A bona fide spiritual master such as Çréla Prabhupäda, having received the order to do so, could and did himself initiate new disciples, injecting the bhakti-latä-béja into them, thus allowing that devotional seed to be nourished and to grow.
There was nothing unprecedented about Prabhupäda initiating new bhaktas and bhaktins, as that is what is to be expected of a qualified disciple after his spiritual master leaves the scene. It is not an innovation neither is it in the category of changing anything. The rittviks labor under a major contradiction of their own making when they say that Prabhupäda devised many new innovations during his preaching activities, primarily in the Western countries. They go on to then claim that Rittvik would not contradict his tendency to create unprecedented ways and means to spread Krishna consciousness. Yet, in the same breath, they push “no change.”
None of Çréla Prabhupäda's adjustments or innovations were of this magnitude, as Rittvik completely transforms, topsy-turvy, the established tradition of the Vaiñëava sampradäyas. Also, Prabhupäda was personally present when he formulated his rather insignificant time-place-and-circumstance innovations, so he could also reverse them if they proved counterproductive.
Since there was an emergency situation created after Çréla Prabhupäda disappeared--and especially after the zonal-äcärya debacle ran its dreadful course-- the rittviks generate but another contradiction when they maintain that “somehow or other, initiations must go on.” This is the same mentality that buttressed the false äcärya worship.
It's prime fodder for concoction, because neophytes--too attached to the golden shackles of their particular society, friendship, and love circle (often a Rittvik faction)--suspend disbelief in order to convince themselves that, somehow or other, it all must go on just as it did before. It cannot go on exactly like it did before, because the Äcärya is no longer physically present to personally direct it, i.e., neither “ISKCON” nor Rittvik has solved the problem.
The rittviks postulate that Prabhupäda's movement expanded wonderfully when rittviks conducted initiations on his behalf, so we should continue that system, because of its results (phalena-paricéyate). This viewpoint, embedded in the “no change” cliche, is basically an American, pragmatic approach: Accept as truth whatever proves to have the best cash value in terms of measurable results--çästra, logic, and tradition be damned.
Let's take a look at this "argument-from-results" proposition. Çréla Prabhupäda 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. The issue is epistemological, i.e., how to understand the results--or to even know what the results actually are.
Prabhupäda had, by the mid-Seventies, been relegated to a kind of figurehead, and a powerful contingent—many of whom would eventually have the audacity to proclaim themselves, and be worshiped as, uttama-adhikärés--had candidates for initiation in their zones. Most of these people were already adoring the prominent leaders of those zones far more than they were adoring Çréla Prabhupäda. Before he departed in late 1977, even many of his own disciples had become followers of the big guns.
Let us not forget that the environment so created before he departed is the environment that the “no change” rittviks are alluding to, whether they recognize that or not. The men who would soon become zonal äcäryas had amped-up their own godbrothers, godsisters, and newcomers to go out full throttle in order to scam the public for money, and the coffers filled up, like never before. IT WAS BIG! Is that the “no change” environment we should now want rekindled throughout the world?
Some rittviks have clean temples with attractive Deities, etc. “ISKCON” and Neo-Mutt have those things, as well. Attractive Deities and enthusiastic proselytizers doesn't make the rittvik idea any less of a concoction. Whether or not the rittviks wind up increasing the number of devotees, or decreasing the number, will be determined and judged in due course of time. There's no need to accept Rittvik simply because it shows some short-term results. How things actually are may not be how they appear to be. Apparent results can be deceiving. They certainly have been in the past.
Çréla Prabhupäda is not available to us in every way that he used to be, but Rittvik formatory thinking demands that we accept their simple argument: "No change." Simple for the simple, but also simple for the simpletons! It's the rittviks' most potent argument, however, so it needs to be analyzed. It goes something like this: Çréla Prabhupäda had a rittvik system in place when he left us. He said: "No change." Therefore, no change means just that: Do everything exactly the way it was being done just before he departed. This is the essence of the argument. Simple.
As aforementioned, the words “no change” are found in the Will in connection to the directors of the various ISKCON properties, i.e., the Will does not contain a mandate for “no change” over and above that. Even in relation to that, the Will stipulates how directors can be removed and replaced. Yet, the rittviks never bring this out in their writings. Instead, they cast the “no change” net over anything and everything—they do this, in no small part, because 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, a simple message appeals to the many blockheads. It is mind-boggling how anti-rational and anti-intellectual the rittvik leaders are, and thus their followers accept almost anything, as long as they don't have to actually think about it too much.
The real issue here is the ACTUAL CRITERION OF NO CHANGE, in the context of Çréla Prabhupäda's statements. Let's look at some of those:
"Every student is expected to become Äcärya.”
"I wish that, in my absence, all my disciples become the bona fide spiritual master."
"Maybe, by 1975, all of my disciples will be allowed to initiate and increase the number of generations. That is my program."
" . . . just like I have got my disciples, so, in the future, these many disciples may have many branches of disciplic succession . . ."
“Whatever we hear from the bona fide spiritual master should be practiced in life and the same message delivered to whomever we meet. In this way, you become spiritual master.”
None of these quotes can be considered as working against the actual principle of no change, because they all come directly from His Divine Grace Çréla Prabhupäda. As such, they represent Prabhupäda's perspective or hopes for the continuance of his movement. You cannot be selective about what does and does not constitute no change. Anything Prabhupäda said about the future of his disciples or his movement constitutes an essential element of no change. All of the above-mentioned quotes contradict the misconception of “no change” forwarded by the rittviks.
While he was manifest, his physical presence had meaning. There has been a change--Prabhupada is no longer physically with us. He did not leave us entirely, because he left us his writings, his tapes, and his orders. All of that constitutes the actual platform of no change.
The no change mentality entails sincerity. The sincere devotee must return to square one, reject easy but unauthorized alternatives, and confront the difficulties and controversies for what they are. In doing so, any sane person will conclude that Rittvik is itself a change from what Çréla Prabhupäda authorized, a change from the Vedic tradition, and a change from the tradition of all previous and current Vaiñëava lines.
No doubt, Çréla Prabhupäda is still transcendentally available. That väëé is more important than vapu does not make vapu unimportant, nor does it make it meaningless. Consider these questions:
Can you write Prabhupäda a letter and get a signed response from him?
Can you talk with him in a room and have him directly speak to you?
Can you book him for an appearance on a television program or to speak during a radio interview?
Is he able to appear at an auditorium, receive questions from the audience after his lecture, and then specifically answer questions?
Can you arrange a meeting for him with a big politician, a university professor, a religious leader, or a cult leader?
Can you ask him to give a specific answer, on tape or in writing, to a legal problem facing his movement?
Can you ask him to be the final arbiter of a major controversy?
Can you introduce a new devotee to him in his room and listen to him communicate with that new bhakta?
Can you greet him as he arrives at an airport?
Can you have him personally select the spiritual name of a new devotee?
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. Deal with it.
OM TAT SAT
Quotes from the books of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada are copyright by the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust