An elucidation of conflicting dispensations:
the May 1977 conversation with Srila Prabhupada

"The meanings contain clear purports in themselves, but these other purports you are presenting simply cover those meanings like a cloud. You do not explain the direct meanings. Indeed, it appears that your business is to cover the real meanings." Lord Caitanya to the Bhattacharya Cc. Madhya 6.131-132 (adapted)

On May 28, 1977, two leading secretaries went to Srila Prabhupada with questions concerning future initiations. The taped transcript of that conversation has been erroneously called "the appointment tape." Nobody was appointed to anything at anytime during this conversation. Forty-two days later, on July 9, 1977, a letter written by one of these secretaries was co-signed by Prabhupada and issued throughout the movement. This letter directed eleven of Prabhupada's disciples to once again take up initiating newcomers on his behalf. This letter, in effect, documented the re-establishment of the rittvik system of initiation, which had been in place for many years previously in the Hare Krishna movement.

The details of this May tape require sober analysis. Misunderstandings about its meanings have given rise to much controversy for over two decades. In one sense, there are almost as many variations of these two events (the room conversation and the issuance of the letter) as there are interpreters. Nevertheless, the controversy is basically perpetuated by two camps: corporate ISKCON and the rittviks. The interpretations pushed by these two parties continue to this day to dissemble the truths of Prabhupada's Krishna consciousness movement.

There is a consistent, tenable, and even rather obvious understanding ("interpretation") of the May conversation, and this paper will present that. Quotations by Prabhupada will be used in presenting these understandings, and logic will also be employed. As far as source documents are concerned, there are many of them. Both camps have any number of articles on this subject either in print or online. Corporate ISKCON has Disciple of My Disciple, On My Order, and, most recently, Prabhupada's Order, which is a rather lengthy treatise. The rittviks have a plethora of documents which spell out their most cherished concepts, and we've consulted many of them.

Despite inevitable subdivisions within each of these two factions (and, naturally, the minor philosophical disagreements such subdivisions are prone to engender), there are constructs or proposed siddhantas which are accepted by all within each group. These are the fulcrum points upon which each polarity hinges its justification and seeks momentum for spreading its influence. This treatise will carefully look at these chief fulcrum points, but it will not be written for the purpose of satisfying intellectuals who require painstaking adherence to Western literary conventions before they will accept anything.

Similarly, 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.

An objective of this article is to demonstrate that certain popular interpretations of the tape are seriously flawed. These differing interpretations work at cross-purposes and feed the binary. The respective loyal following of each group (corporate ISKCON and the rittviks) unquestionably accepts their own popular interpretations as rock-solid facts and truths. In other words, both camps push specific falsities as self-evident truths, despite the fact that each sect does interpret sections of the tape accurately. That's how each of them receives power and justification when it exposes the fallacy of its foil.

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

Based in no small measure upon deductions rooted in Prabhupada's teachings, this document will work to concentrate the mind. The big lies will be broken down. Once you are awakened from their intoxicating influence, the dismantling of the bogus philosophies underpinning them will inexorably proceed via the domino effect. The psychic shackles will fall off, and you will experience a natural freedom of mind and intelligence conducive to the development of genuine Krishna consciousness.

Let's begin by analyzing the May room conversation. One thing requires immediate clarification: Prabhupada could have gone into much greater detail than he did in answering the questions posed that day--but he didn't. He answered only in a general manner, and his answers were almost cryptic. Over the years, there has been an inordinate amount of quibbling and wrangling in connection to his responses that day. One reason why this has ensued is the obvious fact that Prabhupada was rather ambiguous in his answers. This may be an apparent contradiction, but a spiritual master of Prabhupada's realization can be both truthful and ambiguous at the same time. Human reason can only partially comprehend this opulence of the mahabhagavat.

What was his reason for this ambiguity? Was it to allow the warring factions of today ample fodder for their arguments? Some rittviks allege that the tape has been tampered with and altered. Was it to leave the tape of this transcript open to alteration? Was it to give those who would later on use the tape for their own purposes enough rope with which to hang themselves?

Phalena-pariciyate. An uttama-adhikari knows the motives of anyone he contacts, particularly if they are his disciples. Here come two of his leading disciples, who, within less than a year, will join nine others in falsely claiming themselves to be mahabhagavats. In the process, they will create specific (concocted) divisions of the world in which they are absolute authorities and incredible enjoyers. Tri-kala-jna is a minor mystic power, as far as a real mahabhagavat is concerned.

A genuine guru can answer questions and deal with his disciples in any way in which he sees fit. He is even free to mislead someone, if that person's question is tainted. He can choose to answer equivocally or ambiguously when uncomfortable with certain questions. If he does not want to be pinned down about something, no one can pin him down--although he is so expert that the questioner may conclude that the guru was indeed pinned down and forced to answer. The bona fide spiritual master need not tailor answers to nonsense questions in order to fit the matrix of someone's personal ambitions. Yet, with transcendental genius, he can answer concisely, truthfully, ambiguously, and even open Pandora's box--all at the same time during the same conversation.

Using nominal acronyms for the leading secretaries, here are the essential excerpts from that famous conversation of May, 1977:

SDG: Then our next question concerns initiations in the future, particularly at that time when you're no longer with us. We want to know how first and second initiation would be conducted.

Why should a disciple be asking this kind of a question? It is the guru who should bring up this topic--the thought that he would soon leave--in order to clarify what is to be done after that. At this time (May, 1977), everyone (most everyone) was hoping and believing that Prabhupada would recover and remain with us. He had made statements that he would do so, and he had recovered from serious illnesses before. If such a topic is to be brought up by anyone, it should be brought up only by the spiritual master. And they "particularly" want to know about initiations after he is no longer us(!)

The question contains two mutually exclusive aspects. One of those divisions is in relation to the backlog of potential initiates who have had their initiations delayed due to Prabhupada's illness. The other is the touchy and inappropriate topic about an uncertain time when Prabhupada will no longer be physically manifest. These two questions should not have been fused into one. At the very least, there is rasabhasa present in such (con)fusion. The question appears to be legitimate, but it has an inappropriate and insidious nature to it. As such, Prabhupada deals with the appropriate aspect of it--in connection to the backlog:

PRABHUPADA: Yes, I shall recommend some of you. After this is settled up, I shall recommend some of you to act as officiating acharyas.

"After this is settled up" refers to something previously discussed. It is some kind of management arrangement, which requires a little time for implementation. This indicates why the names (the recommendations) were released later, in July. This also belies the rittvik contention that the May conversation and the July letter were not related. They were.

Prabhupada is going to recommend some officiating acharyas; he's going to name some rittviks. Nothing earth-shattering in this. It had been the standard for carrying out the formalities of initiation for years previously. The system had remained dormant for awhile. Now, Prabhupada was going to select some of his senior men to re-institute it. This was only a fantastic development as far as the newcomers (desperately waiting for their initiations) were concerned.

The term "rittvik-acharya" had also been used for years within the movement. "Officiating acharya" is just a slightly different term for the exact same thing. Often Prabhupada was present on the vyasasana when rittviks performed the ceremony on his behalf. No one considered those rittviks to be acharyas at that time, not in the sense that they were actually giving any form of diksa when they performed the fire yajna and some of the chanting. It is disingenuous to put any emphasis on the inclusion of the word "acharya" (as in "officiating acharyas") in Prabhupada's answer. It is absurd to make this word (in the context his using it) into something which it never was while Prabhupada was with us--and which he never meant it to be.

He answers only the first part of the question, which could also be summarized as asking: "What should we do about initiations in the immediate future, in the next few months?" Answer: "I'm going to name some rittviks to again perform the initiation ceremonies." The simplistic contention of today's rittvik movement that Prabhupada answered both of SDG's questions completely and simultaneously is without foundation. His answer makes far more sense when considered from the perspective that he is only answering the first question--which is the only appropriate one within SDG's fused query. SDG may say that he is "particularly" interested in having the second part of his question answered, but Prabhupada is under no compulsion to satisfy that desire.

TKG correctly understands that Prabhupada is answering only the first part of the question and is referring to rittviks. As such, it is clarified:

TKG: Is that called rittvik-acharya?

PRABHUPADA: Rittvik, yes.

The officiating-acharya is the same as the rittvik-acharya. For short, both can be, and have often been, called rittvik. The rittvik had been part of the fire yajna ceremony during initiation for years in Prabhupada's movement. This system had been operational less than one year previously. The question and the answer are both succinct, but some heavier maya now enters:

SDG: Then what is the relationship of that person who gives the initiation and the . . .

PRABHUPADA: He's guru. He's guru.

Prabhupada nips the question. This is fitting, because it contains the clause ". . . that person who gives the initiation. . ." If someone actually "gives initiation," then he's a genuine diksa guru. The guru gives diksa, simple thing.

Corporate ISKCON uses this section, as well as what follows, to push their assertion (admittedly no more than an "assumption") that Prabhupada made rittviks--and, at the same time, empowered them (recognized them) as genuine diksa gurus. This is the fulcrum of legitimacy and justification upon which corporate ISKCON's implementation of this May tape pivots. The question (which, remember, was cut off) leaned in this direction. Further commentary on the part of the two leading secretaries shows that this is what they were thinking. However, it is not what Prabhupada says. Nowhere in this tape does he say such a thing. Neither does he imply it. He is dealing with a certain kind of question, from particular disciples.

There is no specific reference--at any time or at any place--to Prabhupada having established a rittvik-in-absentia system during the eleven years of his preaching to the West. As such, that dispensation has had to rely upon ultra-weak (practically non-existent) circumstantial and indirect evidence. Similarly, there is no specific evidence in this tape that Prabhupada recommended and simultaneously empowered rittviks as self-realized souls, diksa gurus (at the same time, appointing them to the positions and duties of rittvik, with diksa to be activated only after Prabhupada's disappearance).

Anyone can jump to an assumption, but there are inherent contradictions in assuming this dispensation (rittviks made diksas simultaneously) on only circumstantial evidence. A dispensation always requires much more than assumption and shaky circumstantial evidence; it requires clear evidence, clear proof.

The next question is influenced by pramada, inattentive hearing:

SDG: But he does it on your behalf.

Due to the inclusion of the preposition ("but"), it's obvious that SDG is mixing rittvik with diksa. All of Prabhupada's disciples at this time knew that rittviks were not diksa gurus. Due to misapprehension, SDG now seeks confirmation for this new idea. There can be no confirmation forthcoming, because the justification for the question is only present in his own mind (and TKG's mind, as will be shown subsequently). It is not what Prabhupada has been either thinking or saying.

Instead, Prabhupada hears SDG's implied question only in terms of its direct context, i.e., ". . . on your behalf." When "on your behalf" is used, it can only be in reference to rittvik. Rittvik was asked about previously, rittvik has been discussed in all of Prabhupada's answers thus far, so Prabhupada answers the interrogatory (despite the fact that most transcripts do not add the question mark) in terms of rittvik. This does add to further confusion on the part of the secretaries, but Prabhupada cannot be blamed for that.

PRABHUPADA: Yes, that's a formality, because in my presence one should not become guru. So, on my behalf, on my order--amara ajnaya guru hana--be actually guru. But on my order.

It should be noted here that becoming a genuine diksa guru (far above the status of a mere rittvik) cannot be done by the disciple during the presence or physical manifestation of his guru. It can be done during the guru's presence if the guru orders it:

'I want that all of my spiritual sons and daughters will inherit this title of Bhaktivedanta, so that the family diploma will continue through the generations. Those possessing the title of Bhaktivedanta will be allowed to initiate disciples. Maybe by 1975, all of my disciples will be allowed to initiate and increase the numbers of the generations. That is my program."?Letter. 68-12-11.4

As early as 1968, Prabhupada planned for his disciples to reach the realized purification and qualification and initiate disciples with him. There is no indication that he had a program to leave his body before this time (1975). The direct interpretation of this letter is that he would still be physically manifest while these initiations, by his own disciples as diksa gurus in their own right, was taking place. This direct interpretation is buttressed by the fact that Prabhupada did remain with us during all of 1975.

Any and all of Prabhupada's disciples were eligible to realize brahman, paramatma, or bhagavan at any time while he was physically manifest. Indeed, these were the goals, as far as consciousness was concerned. As per the above-mentioned 12-4-68 letter, if any of his disciples reached a level of purification affording them the status of diksa guru, Prabhupada could (and wanted to) order them to be diksa guru and initiate disciples directly. He never did this, however. The order never came. Why not?

Was it simply due to the formal etiquette (mentioned in the May tape, as well as in some other letters) that disciples should not initiate in his presence? A general etiquette (such as this one) may have been used by Prabhupada in order to discourage unfit disciples from prematurely jumping to the platform of perfect men, but it would have never restricted him from ordering someone to be guru. The guru must be self-realized, he must be a perfect man. The etiquette argument flounders in the face of the 12-4-68 letter. There's a more direct and obvious explanation. A mere five weeks previous to this May conversation, Prabhupada was having a private chat with TKG in Bombay (4-22-77). Here are some excerpts:

PRABHUPADA: What is the use of producing some rascal guru?

TKG: Well, I have studied myself and all of your disciples, and it's a clear fact that we are all conditioned souls. So, we cannot be guru. Maybe one day it may be possible . . .

PRABHUPADA: Hmmm . . .

TKG: . . . but not now.

PRABHUPADA: Yes. I shall produce some gurus. I shall say who is guru: 'Now, you become acharya. You become authorized.' I am waiting for that. You become--all--acharya. I retire completely. But the training must be complete. (emphases added)

"I retire completely" is not the same as nitya-lila-pravistha. This also confirms that Prabhupada wanted his disciples to be initiating--if they were qualified to do so--during his physical presence.

Later in this same conversation, TKG confirms, in connection to the chief topic discussed, what Prabhupada had warned about many times previously, viz., that manufacturing a guru from an unqualified man was a bogus prescription for spreading Krishna consciousness:

TKG: No rubber stamp.

PRABHUPADA: Then you'll not be effective. You can cheat, but it will not be effective.

So, what's the obvious and logical interpretation? What's the mukhya-vritti (as opposed to so many superfluous gauna-vrittis) as to why Prabhupada never recognized any of his disciples as diksa gurus? What's the direct explanation why he never ordered any of them to begin initiating during his presence? It was because the training was not complete. No one was advanced and purified enough to give diksa. The order to be actually guru was discussed, but it was never given. It was certainly not given during the May conversation of 1977.

In that room conversation, Prabhupada is only discussing, in a generic and somewhat ambiguous way. general principles, already well established. He is not saying that the rittviks to be named a little later (as it turned out, on July 9th) will already, at that time, be fully trained up and automatically set to explode as diksas after he departs. Not only is there no solid evidence or proof for such an idea, it also makes no sense.

Prabhupada was quite ill in May of 1977. If he saw even one disciple actually fit to give diksa, why would he not encourage him to immediately do so? There was a backlog of newcomers, with so much vikarma to unload. They all were eagerly anticipating becoming initiated. If one, or, better yet, eleven or so of his disciples were fit to take on the responsibility of guru, it is only reasonable that Prabhupada would have been delighted for them to have done so at that time. It couldn't hurt in the matter of his convalescence.

Although it is nowhere definitively stated, corporate ISKCON maintains that, nevertheless, it is "reasonable" to assume that Prabhupada's appointment of rittviks was simultaneously an empowerment and recognition of bona fide diksa gurus:

"Obviously, Srila Prabhupada felt that of all the people, these people are particularly qualified. So it stands to reason that, after Prabhupada's departure, they would go on--if they desired--to initiate." ?TKG. 1980. Topanga Canyon Talks


". . . (T)here can be no doubt that the said conversation (of May 28, 1977) took place, and that Srila Prabhupada did in fact state categorically that the disciples whom he would name would accept disciples of their own, who (such accepted disciples) would be his grand disciples after his departure. . . (the) opening statement (of the July 9th letter) establishes, without a doubt, that the appointment of the eleven ritviks stood within the context of the previously established desire of His Divine Grace on May 28th that his disciples would accept disciples of their own after his departure." ?Prabhupada's Order, page 15.

They are holding up three fingers to your face and telling you that you should be seeing four. Categorically, it should be four. Without a doubt it should be four. It stands to reason that it is four, so you are encouraged to assume that it is indeed four, despite the fact that it is obviously only three. That the leading secretaries are now convinced the appointment of rittviks will be a simultaneous appointment of diksas is all the more evident as the conversation proceeds:

SDG: So they may also be considered your disciples?

PRABHUPADA: Yes, they are disciples. Why consider? Who?

Due to a false premise, the question cannot be answered. As such, Prabhupada picked up on the last words ("your disciples") that the people about to be initiated are his disciples--just like every other devotee initiated by rittviks on his behalf has been, and continues to be, his disciple. A contradictory question is prone to create a breakdown in communication, and that is apparent here. Prabhupada is interrupted as he tries to understand just where this question is coming from, so the answer given by His Divine Grace is ambiguous, due to the interruption. TKG thinks that he can clarify SDG's question:

TKG: No. He's asking that, these rittvik-acharyas, they're officiating, giving diksa. The people who they give diksa to, whose disciples are they?

TKG directly joins rittvik with diksa here, and Prabhupada chooses not to dispel the ignorance. After all, he was just starting to ask them some questions and was unceremoniously interrupted. Why, therefore, should he be inclined to go out of his way and enlighten these people?

Prabhupada would remain for over five more months. Many newcomers would be initiated during that time. They all correctly believed that Prabhupada was their diksa guru. That correct understanding is verified in the July 9th letter, as well as in another room conversation. If the rittviks of this time period (July-November, 1977) had actually been giving diksa, then their status as diksa guru would be predominant, automatically. Hridayananda Swami's argument that a rittvik-acharya is anyone who performs the ceremonials of the initiation would then have its proper application.

In the early years, Prabhupada himself directly performed the fire yajna. As such, he was a rittvik-acharya, but only in the formal Vedic sense that a rittvik is anyone who performs the ceremony, lights the fire, and chants the appropriate mantra--whether its done on his own behalf or on the behalf of someone else. Prabhupada's status as diksa guru was transcendentally far superior to his also being, technically, a rittvik-acharya. As such, he was never called nor considered a rittvik, because his status as diksa guru was predominant.

Similarly, if Prabhupada was indeed appointing rittviks who were now qualified diksas, every initiation ceremony they would perform from that time onward--including while he was physically present--would entail that they were initiating disciples themselves, giving diksa. Technically being rittviks, performers of the ceremonials, would not demote their true status, i.e., they could not actually be called rittviks--not in the Hare Krishna sense of the term (in the sense of how it was used during Prabhpada's time in the movement).

As such, the only evidence for corporate ISKCON's "reasonable assumption" becomes one small (and previous) part of this May conversation. Prabhupada had said: ". . . because in my presence one should not become guru." That's it! That's all they've got. Is this, without a doubt, any kind of strong evidence? Can this be said to constitute a place where Prabhupada stated categorically, confirmed in no uncertain terms, that the rittviks were simultaneously appointed to diksa guru status? Should we believe that it stands to reason that Prabhupada made rittviks into diksas? But only they could be activated as diksas . . . sometime in the uncertain future after he departs . . . because of that all-encompassing and overriding etiquette.

Archaeologists who push Darwinism really need that missing link in order to prove their case. There have been a couple of such missing links apparently discovered over the decades. Piltdown man was proven a hoax, a fabricated skeleton made in someone's back yard. But then there was "Nebraska Man."

Nebraska Man supposedly established the missing link. Almost nobody believes that anymore, but you can find mention of him in older biology and history books still circulating in secondary schools today. Now, you may imagine that some well-preserved gorilla-cum-human skeleton was dug up in Nebraska, and this was the basis for Nebraska Man. However, that's not how Nebraska Man was discovered. Actually, what archaeologists discovered in the cornfields of Nebraska was one tooth, and from that one tooth, Nebraska Man--in his full glory--was constructed as proof of the missing link. It was the proof of one tooth.

The missing link between July, 1977 and the glorious appointment of mahabhagavat uttama-adhikaries in March of 1978 was the so-called creation of the rittvik-cum-diksa guru. This creature is said to have functioned on the rittvik side of the equation from July of 1977 to November 14th of that year. Then, there was a four-month interlude or so, where he didn't do anything at all. Ah, but realizing his actual status as a full blown diksa guru, that side of this creature manifested in the spring of 1978.

And the proof for this? One clause in one sentence: ". . . because in my presence one should not become guru." This must categorically be accepted as the proof, despite the fact that Prabhupada both approved and wanted his disciples to become diksa gurus in his presence--as long as the training was complete. It must be accepted without a doubt, despite the fact that such a creature would in fact automatically be giving diksa himself whenever he performed the initiation ceremony. This creation still must stand to reason, despite the fact that Prabhupada would have every transcendental motive (especially in light of his ill health) to have qualified disciples take charge and initiate these new people (after first taking on all of their many lifetimes of vikarma).

Still, since the GBC says (now, although how many of us even heard about this concoction. . . errr . . . creation, until rather recently?) that there is proof for it. This must be accepted, despite the fact that such a thing is unprecedented in the known history or tradition of the Gaudiya-Vaishnava-sampradaya. Where is the established precedent for this rittvik/diksa-guru-activated-in-the-future idea? Which line has done like this? Now, maybe some sahajiya-sampradaya has done something like this, but that should never even be presented as evidence, what to speak of proof.

The seeds needed the soil, and they found some very fertile soil indeed in Navadvipa. There was that infamous advice: "Rittvik-acharya--then it becomes as good as acharya." There was so much advice. There was: "My guru, he is jagat-guru." There was: "Just put on the uniform, and automatically you will know how to be a soldier." There was the advice to create the zonal acharya.

So, on the basis of that Navadvipa advice in the spring of 1978, we are to "reasonably assume" that Prabhupada manufactured rittviks who were simultaneously diksa-gurus--but, in good taste and Vaishnava etiquette, had to wait until he departed before actively initiating their own disciples. "Rittvik-acharya--then it becomes as good as acharya." If that advice constitutes the Gaudiya Vaishnava justification for this so-called hybrid initiator, then it amounts to the proof of one tooth--one very sharp tooth, considering what we have reaped from all of that Navadvipa advice over the last two decades.

Corporate ISKCON rightly dismisses the rittviks emphasis of the word "henceforward" in the July 9th letter as not being nearly enough to justify and prove the rittvik-in-absentia dispensation. We shall be discussing this in a subsequent article but concur with corporate ISKCON on this point completely. However, it does the same thing!

It creates a convenient hybrid on ultra-weak and, for all practical purposes, non-existent evidence. Corporate ISKCON claims that this concoction justifies its own process for continuation of the disciplic succession. The only thing that is clear about all of this is that Prabhupada's disciples who want to avoid the anomalies of rittvik are forced to accept a different kind of wacky dispensation--if they want to remain in good standing with corporate ISKCON, that is.

Both dispensations are shaky, to say the least. Both have no precedent in Vaishnava tradition and history, and that's why they are (or must be considered to be) dispensations. Both create immeasurable ramifications and consequences--especially after they have been accepted and pushed for over twenty-five years (in rittvik's case, only fifteen). Neither of them can be even compared to Prabhupada's well-documented adjustments, like his personal performance of marriage ceremonies, etc.

Sweeping declarations about the process for carrying out the mission amount to far more than those minor adjustments. Ways-and-means preaching adaptations are not overly consequential. They are not changes having an all-pervasive quality. Also, those minor adjustments were both clearly and directly authorized by Prabhupada while he was with us. These new dispensations--in diametrical opposition to one another--are very different from mere adjustments. This is all the more so, because they rely on indirect evidence, as well as faulty interpretations of that "evidence." Neither can indisputably establish their siddhantas by presenting even one clear statement by Prabhupada in order to verify them--although each of them actually requires just such a definitive declaration in order to be accepted, what to speak of institutionalized.

TKG says, ". . . these rittvik acharyas, they're officiating, giving diksa." Prabhupada is going to reply, but this reply must be understood in context of the whole conversation. Proper understanding of Prabhupada's specific reply here is really the essence of the whole study. Corporate ISKCON has chosen to understand it in one way, but there are so many contradictions and inconsistencies in their explanation.

Over and above this, that explanation is blatantly self-serving, allowing all "diksa gurus" appointed by the GBC to claim an initial legitimacy for what directly led to the holocaust of 1978. Such an initial legitimacy card, combined with error conditioning, can then be used to explain away all of the severe illnesses and spiritual deaths (resulting from the cold drafts within the corporate ISKCON aham-car) since the halcyon days of the zonal acharyas.

Corporate ISKCON interprets the question and reply in the following sophisticated way. TKG combined the rittvik and the diksa by saying that the rittvik is "giving diksa." He does not directly say this, but both concepts (rittvik and diksa) are in the same sentence. So the missing link is, at least in TKG's mind, established. Since Prabhupada does not directly tackle that potential linkage, clarify it, or correct it, he must have accepted it. Prabhupada's answer clearly deals only with diksa, so the rittviks must now be considered simultaneously diksas.

Any logical person, when reading this part of the exchange between TKG and Prabhupada, would readily admit that there is no obvious interpretation. It is open to any number of interpretations. As such, the direct interpretation is that, in and of itself, it is ambiguous. The direct interpretation can be further expanded to mean that this specific section can only be accurately interpreted in context of the conversation as a whole.

For example, let's analyze in this way:

TKG: No. He's asking that, these rittvik acharyas, they're officiating, giving diksa. The people who they give diksa to, whose disciples are they?

PRABHUPADA: They're his disciples.

Here's a different sophisticated logic. It has already been shown that a technical interpretation of the rittvik-acharya is anyone who performs the ceremonials of the fire yajna. Technically, even Prabhupada was that kind of rittvik-acharya in the early years. As such, a diksa guru can also be a rittvik-acharya during the half-hour or so that he conducts the fire yajna and chants the mantras. He is then a "rittvik acharya, officiating, giving diksa." The logic does hold up. And, as a bona fide diksa guru, the initiated disciples are, of course, "his disciples."

Now, is that how we interpret this specific part of the conversation? No, but it can't be dismissed as a possibility. Our interpretation: Prabhupada chooses not to dispel the ignorance of mixing apples and oranges. Some of Prabhupada's disciples are approaching him and asking about giving diksa. They obviously have some aspirations in this area. Prabhupada does want his disciples to become qualified and become guru, to give initiations. He also has such an aspiration for them (such as in "one day it will come to that" in a letter to Hansadutta). So, he begins to talk about it, in general terms.

The actual question centers around someone who is "giving diksa." The fact that both SDG and TKG fused rittvik and diksa is simply neglected by Prabhupada. If any of his disciples eventually become qualified to be diksa guru, there's certainly a significant chance that some or most of them may have once performed some rittvik service for His Divine Grace. As such, some of the rittviks Prabhupada is going to appoint may, one day, actually become diksa gurus.

So Prabhupada does not predicate the mind of TKG here by clarifying for him what he should already well know. The essence of what Prabhupada is being asked is: "When we become diksa gurus, whose disciples will those new initiates be?" The answer is obvious, and that's the answer Prabhupada gives. He completely centers on the diksa aspect of the question, and it makes perfect sense that he would do so.


If someone is actually giving diksa, he's guru. If someone is giving you money from behind the counter of an authorized bank, he's a bank clerk. Prabhupada is laying the groundwork for again appointing some rittviks. While there are rittviks, he will be the diksa guru. The question, nevertheless, has gone from the subject of rittvik to the subject of diksa. Prabhupada's answer is fundamental: "If someone is giving diksa, he's guru, and those initiated by that diksa are his disciples." As aforementioned, this could be done even while he was physically manifest, but only on his order.

Up to this point in the conversation, he has only dealt with the topic of continuing initiations while he is still present, in context of the backlog. Until now, he has not even touched upon (and we believe that he was uncomfortable with it even having been brought up) the subject of initiations after he is no longer with us.

PRABHUPADA: They're his disciples.

TKG: They're his disciples.

PRABHUPADA: Who is initiating. He is grand disciple.

Oh, how the rittviks detest that last sentence! In many of their transcripts, they write it as "His grand disciple." Of course, "he is" and "he's" and "his" all sound pretty much alike on tape, and this is particularly so if that sound has the Bengali flavor of English to it. It was the rittvik's tremendous aversion to this last sentence which led to all the brouhaha about dubbing, tampering, and the like. It also led them to the childish argument that Prabhupada must have been speaking in the third person throughout the whole conversation-- simply because, in one brief sentence, he (according to their transcripts) speaks in the third person.

The conversation has now gone into the area of future (with either Prabhupada manifest or not manifest) initiations by qualified disciples, who have become genuine diksa gurus.

For greater elucidation, the last sentence could be read: "He (the person receiving diksa) is (my) grand disciple." This part is not difficult to comprehend. If summarized in a different way, it would read: "If you are diksa gurus, when you initiate, those are your disciples. Any disciple you thus initiate, he will not be my direct disciple. He will be my grand disciple, and I will be his grand (grandfather) guru." It should have been clear.

SDG: Yes.

TKG: That's clear.

SDG: Then we have a question concerning . . .

PRABHUPADA: When I order 'You become guru,' he becomes regular guru, that's all. He becomes disciple of my disciple.

They say it's all clear, but Prabhupada sees further need for clarification. So, very concisely, he attempts to clear things up a little more. There are only eighteen words in his reply, but it contains a very profound message and covers a quite an area. Let's look at the first word: "When."

When was anybody ordered to be a rittvik-cum-diksa-for-after-departure? Private and unverifiable room conversations are of very little value here, particularly since the person who may claim that he received that order may not be a disinterested party. However, that aspect of the controversy is somewhat tangential. The real issue is "When was the clear and specific order given that rittviks automatically became diksa gurus after Prabhupada's disappearance." Answer: never. There's no proof of it. This conversation doesn't establish it, except if you use obtuse gauna-vritti and circumstantial evidence via a sophisticated mode of Alice In Wonderland logic.

"Regular guru" means a guru still under regulation or sadhana-bhakti. That's all. This status (regular guru) is achieved at brahman realization, which is the beginning of the madhyama-adhikari platform of devotion. At raga-bhakti, spontaneous devotion, a guru is no longer a regular guru, what to speak of at the uttama platform.

The guru must be self-realized. He must be a perfect man. Then, he receives the order--not that he dons the uniform and thus, through the mystic school of hard knocks, learns how to become a perfect man. If Prabhupada saw that any of his disciples were realized souls (and, just five weeks previously, he was commenting on how he was waiting for the training to be complete), he would not have said "when." He would have said: "Now." There would have been no need for rittviks, either.

And notice how he speaks in terms of "regular" guru. Less than a year later, eleven dishonest individuals would falsely claim that they were uttama-adhikaris, far beyond any connection to the restrictions of sadhana. Prabhupada was not waiting for his disciples to become God-realized in May of 1977, however. He was simply hoping that maybe one or two of them may become anartha-nivritti, then realize brahman, and then receive the order and become regular gurus.

"He becomes disciple of my disciple" really bothers the rittviks, but is there any real difficulty in understanding that sentence? When (if and when) one of Prabhupada's disciples "becomes guru," anyone initiated by that direct disciple of Prabhupada becomes the disciple of Prabhupada's disciple. Just see.

The July letter (7-9-77) goes on to appoint rittviks. It makes no mention whatsoever of appointing diksa gurus. It makes no mention whatsoever that these rittviks will automatically become diksa gurus after Prabhupada departs physical manifestation (nitya-lila-pravistha).

That rittviks only is the topic of the July letter is verified elsewhere at that time in the summer of 1977. We shall elucidate all of this in a subsequent article.

Have we presented the positive alternative to all of this here? Not really, but we've given some hints. Actually, uprooting and exposing negatives (disguised as transcendental positives) is a preliminary, and very necessary, part of the process toward the positive alternative. Look for further articles on this essential topic, but we shall leave you with a bit of a hint about it--before summarizing the contents of this treatise:

"You have taken the right view of the importance of my books. Books will always remain . . . I started my movement with my books . . . and if there are no more temples, then the books shall remain."?Letter. 73-11-9.8

The May conversation is dealt with differently by the promulgators of the two great dispensations. The rittviks deal with it in a childish and primitive manner. They sledgehammer it. They are unscrupulous in using two tactics which cannot mutually co-exist. By the first tactic, they say that the initial question and answer is the only real important section of the tape. SDG says "particularly" he wants to know what is to be done after Prabhupada is no longer manifest, but the question is in two parts. Prabhupada answers the part connected to the backlog of potential initiates and confirms that he will soon name some rittviks again to initiate those people on his behalf. Prabhupada says, "Rittvik, yes."

For the rittviks, that means case closed: Prabhupada appointed rittviks for posterity, because SDG says that he (SDG) is particularly interested in knowing how initiations are to be carried out after Prabhupada's departure. They wipe out the substance of the whole conversation in one fell swoop. Can there be any real sincerity in such simplistic thinking? As Prabhupada said in the Honolulu airport: "Dull-witted must be cheated." The rittviks go on to use contorted arguments in order to explain away the rest of the tape.

They also employ another device. Just in case all of the holes in their logic are exposed (to the point that some of their potential followers begin to have doubts), they wipe out those doubts with another fell swoop: the tape was tampered with!!! Those sections which are difficult to explain away? Dubbed. If the tape was tampered with, then why make any comment about it at all? If such was the case, then it has no authoritative value. However, they like that first part of it, because Prabhupada says, "Rittvik, yes." So, just like children, they want to have their cake and eat it, too.

The rittviks use a similar tactic in abolishing most of the May tape connection to the July letter. They love this letter, because it appoints rittviks and nothing more. They say that there's little if any connection between the May conversation and the July letter, but we've already showed evidence which casts considerable doubt upon that view. The key ingredient in the July letter--as far as the rittviks are concerned--is another proof of the tooth, viz., the inclusion of "henceforward" in it.

Corporate ISKCON also cites the July letter, but they emphasize its relation to the May conversation. The July letter is really only important to corporate ISKCON in one sense: it names the rittviks. Since these are the men who are now supposedly both rittviks and (dormant on automatic pilot) diksas, the arrangement is now complete. The GBC and its loyal apologists thus analyze both the May conversation and the July letter in a sophisticated (and somewhat insidious) way. Via a polar opposite style of the rittviks, corporate ISKCON comes to a polar opposite siddhanta. This siddhanta justifies their unprecedented--and unproven--claim that Prabhupada appointed eleven joint rittviks and diksas.

Have we covered the full range of arguments for both dispensations? Of course not. Such an impossible attempt at discovery would require a callous psychic disposition completely practiced to the endlessly mutable layers of devious siddhanta arguments. If any devotee wants to get into doing that, viz., exploring this whole web of "logic" and sophistry, he may first need a tune-up.

We have only touched the outskirts here. We've only analyzed the big lies up to a point. Devotees who want to get fully into such missing link maya may first have to seek out Nebraska Man.


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