His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
the Hare Krsna movement)
His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
the Hare Krsna movement)
Although Srila Prabhupada clearly expressed that the initiations on his behalf through priests (rtviks) should continue even after his physical departure, many devotees find it difficult to accept and insist that one must have a so-called "living" guru besides Srila Prabhupada. What is the need of another guru, if the teachings left by Srila Prabhupada in his books, audio recordings, letters, videos are complete and perfectly understandable? The following is a collection of testimonies and statements from early disciples of Srila Prabhupada that shed light on this matter.
(On the left is the "July 9th Letter signed by Srila Prabhupada, settig up the rtvik system of initiations for ISKCON)
TAMAL KRSNA GOSWAMI
Actually, Prabhupada never appointed any gurus. He didn't appoint eleven gurus. He appointed eleven ritviks. He never appointed them gurus. Myself and the other GBC have done the greatest disservice to this movement the last three years because we interpreted the appointment of ritviks as the appointment of gurus. What actually happened, I'll explain. I explained it, but the interpretation is wrong. What actually happened was that Prabhupada mentioned that he might be appointing some ritviks, so the GBC met for various reasons and they went to Prabhupada - five or six of us. We asked him, "Srila Prabhupada, after your departure, if we accept disciples, whose disciples will they be, your disciples or mine?"
Later on there was a piled-up list for people to get initiated, and it was jammed-up. I said, "Srila Prabhupada, you once mentioned about ritviks. I don't know what to do. We don't want to approach you, but there's hundreds of devotees named, and I'm just holding all the letters. I don't know what you want to do." So Prabhupada said, "All right. I will appoint so many...," and he started to name them and he did name them. He made it very clear that they're his disciples. At that point it was very clear in my mind that they were his disciples. Later on I asked him two questions: 1) What about Brahmananda Swami? I asked him this because I happened to have an affection for Brahmananda Swami. I don't know, I asked him because somehow he's...I asked him, whatever. So Prabhupada said, "No, not unless he's qualified." Before I got ready to type the letter, I asked him: 2) "Srila Prabhupada, is this all or do you want to add more?" He said, "As is necessary, others may be added." Now I understand that what he did was very clear. He was physically incapable of performing the function of initiation physically; therefore, he appointed officiating priests to initiate on his behalf. He appointed eleven and he said very clearly, "Whoever is nearest, he can initiate." This is a very important point, because when it comes to initiating if it isn't whoever is nearest, it's wherever your heart goes. Who repose your faith on, you take initiation from him but when it's officiating, it's whoever is nearest, and he was very clear. He named them. They were spread out all over the world, and he said, "Whoever you're nearest, you just approach that person, and they'll check you out. Then, on my behalf, they'll initiate." It's not a question that you repose your faith in that person - nothing. That's a function for the guru."In order for me to manage this movement," Prabhupada said, "I have to form a GBC and I will appoint the following people. In order to continue the process of people joining our movement and getting initiated, I have to appoint some priests to help me because just like I cannot physically manage everyone myself, I physically cannot initiate everyone myself." And that's all that it was, and it was never any more than that. If it had been more than that, you can bet your bottom dollar that Prabhupada would have spoken for days and hours and weeks on end about how to set up this thing with the gurus, but he didn't because he already had said it a million times. He said, "My guru-maharaja did not appoint anyone. It's by qualification." We made a great mistake.
(as written for his Vyasa Puja 1982)
You are alive, Srila Prabhupada. You are the truly living guru who lives in your transcendental preaching, in your ever-fresh writings, in your pure temples, in your dedicated devotees, and in my heart. If I ever thought you were dead, then I would immediately fall down dead. I dare anyone to stand in front of me and declare that you are no longer living. The dead are buried by those who are also dead. We have been prepared by you how to deal with the unexpected onslaughts. We shall deal with them accordingly, but the principles set forth by you shall not be compromised. No one is exempt from following, not even myself. We shall ignore the scholars who pursue your books in order to create self-interested impressions to confuse the faith of the devotees. They are proud of their inch-by-inch study, but we consider them to be merely lopsided, useless sophists. There is nothing hidden in your books that has to be ferreted out by moist-nosed pedants. The Caitanya-caritamrta gives an interesting account of followers who became faithless, and what happens to them.
"After the disappearance of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, some of the branches, for unfortunate reasons, deviated from His path. Some branches did not accept the original trunk that vitalized and maintained the entire tree. When they thus became ungrateful, the original trunk was angry at them. Thus Lord Caitanya did not sprinkle upon them the water of His mercy, and they gradually withered and died. A person without Krsna consciousness is no better than dry wood or a dead body. He is understood to be dead while living, and after death he is punishable by Yamaraja. Not only the misguided descendants of Advaita Acarya, but anyone who is against the cult of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu should be considered an atheist subject to be punished by Yamaraja. Be one a learned scholar, a great ascetic, a successful householder, or a famous sannyasi, if one is against the cult of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, he is destined to suffer the punishment meted out by Yamaraja." (Cc. Adi-lila 12.67-72)
I therefore implore all naive-hearted followers of Srila Prabhupada's ungrateful sons: Don't follow leaders who minimize Srila Prabhupada. They are cheating Srila Prabhupada, and they will also cheat you. There is no one equal to Srila Prabhupada, and there never will be. To try to nominate someone as being equal to Srila Prabhupada means one has to reduce Srila Prabhupada to fit alongside the less-important person. They are so envious of Srila Prabhupada that they cannot even utter his befitting name. If you allow yourselves to be misled, then it will be too unfortunate for you, because your chance for perfect spiritual life in this birth will have been spoiled.
(a passage taken from his diary as written on July 10 1977 )
Tamal Krishna Maharaja comes out of Prabhupada’s room.
TKG: “Haribol, Yasoda, did you see this?”
Yasoda: “No, what is it?”
TKG: “This is signed by Prabhupada.”
[Yasoda looks at the July 9th “appointment” letter]
Yasoda: “What does all this mean?”
TKG: “Devotees have been writing to Prabhupada asking for initiations and now Prabhupada has named eleven ritviks who can initiate on his behalf. Prabhupada said others can be added.”
Yasodanandan: “And when Prabhupada departs?”
TKG: “They’ll be ritviks. That’s what Prabhupada said. It’s all on tape.”
GAURIDAS PANDIT DASA
One of my services for Srila Prabhupada was to take care of his garden and fan him with the camara while he was there every morning from about sunrise until about 9am. At these times he would chant japa or listen to devotees chant bhajans or read the books to him. Sometimes the secretary, Tamal K.G., would read letters from the devotees. Srila Prabhupada would dictate a response, then the secretary would type it and bring it back later to read it again to Srila Prabhupada who would approve and sign it.
On July 5th Tamal asked Srila Prabhupada about some devotees who wanted to get initiated as he was getting many requests from the Temple presidents. This conversation occurred in the garden as I fanned him.
Srila Prabhupada said: “Tomorrow I will I will announce some ritvik acharyas who will initiate disciples on my behalf when I leave the planet.”
(statement made after seeing the fall down of the first gurus - a memory by Hansadutta Prabhu)
"This is why I suggested so strongly that ISKCON should adopt the rtvik process of initiation for the new Gurus."
(Hansadutta Dasa is the only devotee who stepped down from the guru position admitting the rtvik conclusion)
Although I see everything in a sane, sober and proper perspective now, it has taken me more than 10 years of painful, anguished and repentant soul searching to understand my problem-a problem which to you and many sincere disciples of Prabhupada was obvious from the moment (and even before that) Prabhupada left this mortal world in 1977. Being completely overwhelmed with the fever of pratistha (desire for name and fame), obsessed with the ambition to be a guru, in short to be the lord and master of the devotees, I consequently became completely blind to the order of Srila Prabhupada, which he clearly expressed in his letter to the GBC and Temple Presidents, dated July 9,1977. In that letter he named 11 devotees and made it clear that they are to act as his rittvik representatives (deputies) for initiating new disciples on behalf of the Founder Acharya A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada never sent any other directive, newsletter or written document thereafter indicating that any one of his disciples should be an acharya or guru in any way. His letter of July 9, 1977, naming 11 senior disciples or rittvik representatives stands alone as the only order Prabhupada ever issued before his disappearance (four months later) in November of that year, 1977.
For years since, falling down from the standard of devotional service, I have suffered grievously, knowing I caused the spiritual ruin of hundreds and thousands of sincere, aspiring devotees, whom I stole away (kidnapped) from Srila Prabhupada (the Founder Acharya) by presenting myself as a bona fide acharya, spiritual master, when in fact I was not even able to control my senses any more than an ordinary karmi.
Why has it taken me so long to write this frank and honest letter? Because the hankering and ravenous hunger for honour and prestige as a guru, acharya and holy man is so strong in my heart it is only in the last year that by the grace of Prabhupada and the attentive chanting of the Holy Name that the fever of pratistha has subsided to the point where I can clearly see and express myself in this regard honestly.
I am humbly prostrating myself before you, Urdhvaga, and all the devotees everywhere, especially those who were subjected to the unhappy relationship of accepting me as their Guru and thereby being completely broken in their faith and enthusiasm to perform devotional service.
I know that simply writing a letter of apology is not enough. I shall spend the rest of my life doing everything I can to re-establish Srila Prabhupada as the Founder Acharya and modern-day Vyasadeva of the Brahma Gauidya Vaishnava Sampradaya, as expressed in the enclosed paper, “Prabhupada, His Movement and You.”
I suggest that those new devotees who have been erroneously initiated by ISKCON Gurus who like myself have fallen down or who present themselves as anything more than rittvik representatives of the Founder Acharya Srila Prabhupada, can be properly initiated once and for all simply by accepting Srila Prabhupada as their guru and sampradaya acharya by sitting in on a rittvik initiation performed by a devotee who is properly situated in the order of Srila Prabhupada, as per his July 9, 1977 letter authorising rittvik representatives to initiate on his behalf.
The bottom line is simply this: The senior disciples should have continued to do after the disappearance of Srila Prabhupada what they were already doing for years while Prabhupada was present-act as Srila Prabhupada’s menial servants in the matter of initiations. They were rittviks while he was present, and they should have continued to be rittviks in his absence. Anything more than this is nothing more than the ambition to be guru, which is one of the two last traps of maya-the other being the desire to be Krishna.
Now an actual problem for most devotees is, "Well, Prabhupada isn't always here to ask about so many details. Then how do we make any decision? Are our hands tied that we can't do anything?" But we should understand this from the letters of our spiritual master, that he may give us a general instruction: "You manage nicely." He'll say like that: "You manage this nicely." So the details of how to manage he may not have given. And by inquiry of some older Godbrothers, he may not be able to find out in detail how it was done properly in the past.But you have to think like this: "Since my spiritual master has ordered me to manage nicely, therefore the details will be revealed to me if I carry out this organization on his instruction, without any other motive. Simply I have to make decisions in order to manage nicely on his instruction." Prabhupada says in his letter that along with the order of the spiritual master comes the ability to carry it out. So we should know with faith and conviction that if we carry out a general instruction from our spiritual master, without any other motive except to satisfy his order, then the details of that instruction will be revealed to us. This is the beauty of Krishna consciousness, that you actually get a tangible experience in this way of the transcendental relationship between yourself and the spiritual master that, "Even though he is not there personally giving me detailed instruction, I know what to do because I am acting only on his instruction. Therefore I know what decision to make." So even this may not come at first, because after all there are so many personal motives that enter in many times. But if we keep association with older Godbrothers, older devotees, then we'll be able to see their example, how they are carrying it out nicely. Although they may not know so many details, they are not perplexed -- they are making decisions, hundreds of decisions daily, with faith and conviction. Therefore, I simply have to align myself with their activities and I will also become engaged and learn this art -- how to carry out the order of the spiritual master with faith and conviction -- and that along with his order comes the ability to carry it out. That the Krishna-sun will rise in my heart if I simply act on his order without any other motive, and the details of all relative and absolute truth will be revealed to me.This is confirmed in the Srimad-Bhagavatam and Bhagavad-Gita: that even if the spiritual master does not instruct the disciple, Krishna Himself from within will give this disciple full instruction -- if he is sincere to carry out the order. Sincere means to carry out the order with faith and conviction that everything will be revealed to me if I simply do this. And the order is not very difficult: chant Hare Krishna, eat Krishna-prasadam, go on street sankirtan, preach, spread Krishna consciousness, go on pushing forward.
GARGA MUNI DASA
Prabhupada had so many rtviks all over the world. They were doing the fire sacrifices, doing the first and second initiation so rtvik is not a bad word. Some unscrupulous people have made it a bad word. It's a good word because Prabhupada started it in 1972. It's a good word. In fact the system worked perfectly. This rittvik system he introduced worked perfectly all over the world. Every devotee stayed in the temple where they were initiated. There was no problem, no politics and then a month before Prabhupada left he mentions in a conversation: "You keep the system. This is a perfect system. If you keep the system, everything will go on as it is going on now." But what did we do? We changed the system. That's another story. And that's why a havoc came in the eighties. It was a havoc, fire in the institution, because we changed the system. Prabhupada said you keep the system, because it was working perfectly.
GURU KRPA DASA
In 1977 during the months of May, June, July 1977 I was in Vrindaban with Srila Prabhupada, giving him his massage in his bed between 1 AM and mangala aratik. During the day, many letters would arrive. Satsvarupa Swami was the secretary and we decided that only letters that would give joy to Srila Prabhupada would be read. Like numbers of books sold, etc. A maximum of five letters daily were read to Srila Prabhupada.
After some weeks like this, there were stacks and stacks of letters, all relating to initiation. Hundreds of people were panicking that Srila Prabhupada would leave the planet before they were given initiation. At this time, this situation was brought before Srila Prabhupada in his room by Satsvarupa, Tamal, myself, and maybe some others.
Up until this time it was a very simple matter that we were doing the initiations, but we first had to ask permission. Srila Prabhupada NEVER refused any recommendation from his senior men. And personally, I would sometimes argue with some GBC that they were giving it too easily. At this meeting, Srila Prabhupada basically said, “From here on, if you feel they are ready, then you may give the initiation on my behalf.” I understood this for what it was, simply extending the authority a little further than it had been. Tamal Krsna Swami, began to say, “But who will do it?. Which devotees will do this?” Srila Prabhupada said, “The nearest one will do it. Whoever is closest.” Tamal said, “Can Bhavananda do? Can Jayapataka do?” Thus these eleven names came out.
Question: Why were you not on the list of eleven?
Answer: Because it did not matter. Srila Prabhupada said whoever was closest. I was already doing and Srila Prabhupada never told me or anyone else not on the list to stop.
One time in Berkeley, Prabhupada talked about to me about his leaving, and I didn't deal with this well. I didn't want to hear this. As far as I was concerned, he was living forever, which he does. But he was talking about siksha diksha guru and the position therein and thereof. I was totally confused. I said, "Srila Prabhupada, all I know is you. Now you are saying there is another kind of guru. What is this?" "Wait, wait," he said. "No, no, no, no," he chuckled and he explained it to me, and he told me at that time, "When you do not see me here physically, always listen for me. I will instruct you through the bodies of others from time to time. Always listen for me." Well, I didn't want to discuss death, although ninety-nine percent of our process is chanting Hare Krishna and preparing for the moment of death so that we can become liberated and go on, he said: "Always listen for me. " I said, "What does that mean, Srila Prabhupada -- if a dog barks?" He said, "Just what I said -- anyone, it can be anyone."
Hayagriva said. "But what would happen to the movement if he was to die?"
"What?" My mouth hung open.
"All I'm saying is that he's going to leave his body some time," Hayagriva said. "Maybe you should ask him if someone should take over when he dies."
"Maybe you should ask him," I said. I thought he was being a bit too pragmatic about such a sensitive issue.
"No, it should be you," Hayagriva insisted. "You're the one he talked to about it."
"Well, actually, no, he didn't," I clarified. "I was the one who started thinking about this stuff because of his comment about his body."
"Whatever the case, we need to know how we should continue our Krishna consciousness education if he's not here, shouldn't we? And how we'd keep his movement alive, right?"
I thought for a few seconds. As blunt as Hayagriva was being about the issue, I had to admit that deep down I wanted to know the answers to these questions for myself too.
"OK, I'll ask him," I said. "I guess somebody has to ask about it eventually, and I guess it may as well be me."
I knocked on his door again.
"Yes?" the Swami said from within.
"Swami, can I ask you a question?" I asked. "Yes." He sat down on his bed again.
I took a deep breath.
"When you die, what will happen to the movement?" I asked. "Will you have a successor who will continue your work and look after our spiritual education?"
As I heard myself say the words, I realized it had been a mistake to ask this. I saw suddenly that I had been put forward to ask this delicate question on someone else's behalf. The Swami sat silently, looking out the window at the sand dunes and the mountains. It was high tide and I could hear the waves pounding the beach. Gulls shrieked. I could feel two sets of ears straining from the kitchen to hear his answer.
The Swami muttered something quietly.
"I couldn't hear what you said, Swami," I said carefully. "Can you repeat it?"
"Actually, it is an insult to the spiritual master," he said a little louder.
He turned away from the window and looked at me pensively, as if he was hurt by my question.
"I'm sorry, Swami," I said. I felt like shrinking into the carpet. He closed his eyes. Outside a dog barked. A shallow stream of tears appeared below each of his eyes and flowed over his cheeks.
He slowly wiped them away.
"My spiritual master ..." he said, and his voice choked to gravel. I was stunned. What had I done?
"My spiritual master," he said, "he was no ordinary spiritual master." He paused again, and then whispered falteringly, "He saved me."
"I'm sorry," I said. "I'll go now." I was too overcome myself to say more.
Hayagriva and Kirtanananda looked furtive when I came back into the kitchen. I pushed past them and went and sat out on the porch by myself. The Swami's answer was crystal clear to me. There was no question of replacing the spiritual master. His potency to teach would not end with his death but would continue even in his physical absence. What struck me the most was the way the Swami taught me this. He didn't just tell me with words; he showed me through his spiritual emotion toward his own spiritual master.
Ah, we were so young and bright, so alive, and we gave our all to our beloved Master, our Senapati Bhakta! We danced to his tunes and sang our hearts out! We experienced love, real love, for the first time in eons! We fell at his feet and offered our hearts to him--not only our hearts, but our minds, our bodies, our time, our everything! And we were happy, so happy! Then suddenly, he left us. He left our mortal vision. And the trials began. Salem’s witches’ trials are eclipsed by the intrigues that gripped our movement. Ambition, pride, and desire gave way to cruelty, deceit and even murder. Iskcon became a no-man’s land, a landscape of manipulation, with Kali’s chiefs jockeying for power, prestige, and position. We fled away to the caves, holding tight to our memories of what was. And from a safe vantage point, we watched Kali systematically destroy everything Srila Prabhupada built -- but keep the same label on it, hoping no one would notice. And use the attractive features -- the temples, the Deities, the wealth, even the Holy Names -- to gather followers and carve out their feudal empires. And when those unfortunate “disciples” discovered the ruse, they were thrown away like flashlight batteries, only to be replaced by more. They said they were the “Chosen.” But where are they now, these “Chosen?” The “Chosen” are gone, because they were never chosen by anyone but themselves! Handpicked by the cruel fingers of Kali. But then, I ask, had they not taken this role, and fallen away, and failed in their guru masquerade, would anyone have even remembered our Acharya, Srila Prabhupada, our Senapati Bhakta?
He was so quickly pushed aside, shoved under the carpet, and his disciples driven away. The so-called “Chosen” had to be exposed so that innocent people would not be misled. Those few disciples who remained in Iskcon suffered miserably, sometimes losing their faith and leaving completely. Those who watched the horror from afar suffered with feelings of anger and helplessness. And guilt. They continue to suffer, even now. And now, nearly 40 years have passed. We are becoming old. Many of us have left this earth realm. Our children flounder in the world, searching for jobs in a materialistic society. Few survived the Spiritual Holocaust of 1978. Even Srila Prabhupada’s books were burned by the fires of the Holocaust, and are now mere charred remains of what they were. And it continues. The changes, the edits, the “improvements.” The Kali’s fingers of destruction. There is no need for names. They know who they are. The Judas’ amongst us will be tried at the time of death, and they will enter hell worlds far worse than we can imagine. And we will all lament with compassion, “Oh, Prabhu, if only you could have served Srila Prabhupada without the cruel ghost of false ego, and the putrid stench of power and prestige!”But we cannot save them from their fate. Only Mahaprabhu can do that. The tragedy of torment sits on their heads: Kali’s Chela-- the children of Kali, Her sentries and chiefs.
...Srila Prabhupada could clearly see that none of his disciples were mature enough to set up shop as gurus, so he ordered them to be “ritviks” after his departure. There is ample evidence of this.
(in his book Srila Prabhupada Uvaca)
August of 1973 Srila Prabhupada stayed at Bhaktivedanta Manor for over a month. Most evenings there was a lively darshan. Srila Prabhupada would speak to various guests. George Harrison, Donavan, Ravi Shankar and others came one night after the other.Politicians and other dignitaries were on the list. Syamasundar knew if he invited important people Srila Prabhupada would stay there. The unabridged version of the “Bhagavad-gita As It Is” was now available and Prabhupada was delighted, especially with the Sanskrit Index in the back of the book. During these evening darshans he regularly would say the first line of a verse and then look at me and say, “Find that verse!” It wasn’t easy for me not being scholarly but that was the point, Even a dullard like me could easily find the verse he was referring to. He then had me read the Sanskrit verse, translation and purport. Almost daily he made the point that we didn’t speak from our imagination. but we spoke from authoritative sources. He often said how these books were our law-books. He used the analogy how the lawyer in the courtroom would get his information from the law books. At that time I was still using the Uher reel to reel tape recorder. The morning class was always recorded with it if the temple did not have a recording system. Because of this not all of the room darshans were recorded as we never seemed to have enough reels of tape. Night after night I was told to quote from the Bhagavad-gita As It Is. It was during one of these evening darshans Srila Prabhupada clearly said, “These books are the law-books for the next ten thousand years.”
The idea that one must have a living diksa guru to understand Krsna consciousness from Srila Prabhupada appears to be a scam. The fact is that reading or hearing from Srila Prabhupada is associating with the most bonafide spiritual master, the best spiritual master, at whose pada (lotus feet) all other prabhus pay obeisances. And reading his books is directly associating with him and equal in power to hearing in his physical presence.
BHAJA HARI DASA
Srila Prabhupada did not 'personally' tend to every one of his thousands of initiated disciples. Many disciples never met Srila Prabhupada even once, what to speak of receive individual instruction. The whole reason Srila Prabhupada set up ISKCON was to train up devotees in spiritual life. This 'personal', 'warm' one-on-one training would be done by Temple Presidents, Sankirtan Leaders, Pujaris, Bhakta leaders etc etc. As long as a disciple strictly followed, Srila Prabhupada promised to take personal responsibility for taking him back to Godhead. To my knowledge that offer still stands. There is absolutely no reason why this system could not have continued to this very day.
In 1972, when Prabhupada gave a series of lectures on The Nectar of Devotion for one month in Vrindavan, a thought was plaguing me. When I first joined, I’d been taught that the parampara system is like a chain, and if you’re not initiated, if you’re not linked up to this chain, then you can’t go back to Godhead. I thought, “We’re distributing so many books, but if the people who read them are not initiated, then they can’t go back to Godhead.” So, one day I followed Prabhupada from Rupa Goswami’s samadhi, where he lectured, and just before Prabhupada stepped onto his courtyard, I said, “We’re distributing so many books but if people aren’t initiated, then they can’t go back to Godhead.” Prabhupada turned, looked at me right in the eyes and said, “Just by reading my books they are initiated.” I thought, “That is an incredible example of compassion.
The point is – forget the political connotations and let us all remember it is Srila Prabhupada who is always in the centre and the force behind everything at all times. So it is understandable that if anyone is now taking the role of Acharya and not handing his initiates over to the source then, what is the fate of both the new guru and their initiates? This movement would undergo a drastic change if all the new gurus who are initiating on behalf of Srila Prabhupada would recognize this fact and not take glorious worship and stand down to allow all new comers to this society full access to Srila Prabhupada who sweated blood and tears for each one of us who joined this movement. This is how it was in the beginning when Srila Prabhupada was physically with us and was not able to directly attend the initiation ceremony.I am not a political antagonist but most of all my god brother’s and god sister’s like myself are all ritvik. Most of us were initiated when Srila Prabhupada was not physically present. This was not such a big deal to us we were all disciples of His Divine Grace.Srila Prabhupada didn’t hand me my beads or give my name directly; so what is the difference today? Let’s make this movement a better place for all who have joined and will join in the future how we can deny anyone the right to take Srila Prabhupada as their life and soul. I am told there are over 90 gurus now acting as diksa gurus instead of allowing Srila Prabhupada that privilege. To actually put Srila Prabhupada in the centre means to not stand in his way and to allow everyone unrestricted access to Srila Prabhupada like it was in the early days.
"The principal definition of the word “initiate” in the dictionary is “to begin or set going”. Is there any question that the primary personality who initiated our reception of transcendental knowledge is Srila Prabhupada? Will this position of Sriia Prabhupada ever change for ISKCON devotees? We think not."
(in a letter to Satsvarupa Goswami 1978)
At the time of Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance, it was most clearly understood by all of us present that Srila Prabhupada MADE NO SUCCESSOR. Everyone admitted that fact and understood it clearly. Instead, the GBC was to jointly manage ALL affairs of ISKCON just had been the case previously. This was the same solution as desired by Om Visnupada Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, who also had not made any successor, although his wishes were NOT followed. In addition to the GBC management, Srila Prabhupada also selected 11 somewhat advanced disciples to grant initiation to newcomers. However, it was never mentioned at any time by His Divine Grace that these 11 were to be known as ACARYAS. He simply instructed that they may now accept disciples. Otherwise, as it was understood and practiced at that time, there was NO SPECIAL POSITION given to these 11, either in the society as a whole, or in relation to their Godbrothers. Management would depend on the joint GBC, and among godbrothers and sisters, all are on the same level, with the exception of some special regard and respect shown to older (senior) disciples by these Godbrothers & Godsisters who are junior.
"Prabhupada had so many rtviks all over the world. They were doing the fire sacrifices, doing the first and second initiation so rtvik is not a bad word. Some unscrupulous people have made it a bad word. It's a good word because Prabhupada started it in 1972. It's a good word. In fact the system worked perfectly. This rittvik system he introduced worked perfectly all over the world. Every devotee stayed in the temple where they were initiated. There was no problem, no politics and then a month before Prabhupada left he mentions in a conversation: "You keep the system. This is a perfect system. If you keep the system, everything will go on as it is going on now." But what did we do? We changed the system. That's another story. And that's why a havoc came in the eighties. It was a havoc, fire in the institution, because we changed the system. Prabhupada said you keep the system, because it was working perfectly.
Most devotees never really understood who Srila Prabhupada is. The initiation means to begin on the path of Bhakti, each one must figure out how to take that first step. Srila Prabhupada made it perfectly clear to me that we are not his only disciples. His instruction was,"I have given you everything, don't change anything... I will have millions of disciples." These are the most important instructions Srila Prabhupada ever gave us for the future of his Movement...In my discussions with Prabhupada the subject of adding to and changing the books and philosophy came up frequently, but the question of what to do regarding initiations after he was no longer with us was very difficult to ask, it was almost unthinkable at the time that he would not always be with us. Myself and Brahmananda Swami were in Srila Prabhupada's room one morning in Nairobi, Kenya in 1975, at first he seemed surprised at the question, as if he had already made it very clear. We were performing initiations on his behalf all over the world for some years, so he said to simply continue as he had been training us, "on my behalf " was not just for then, it is for always. His answer was clear and simple."
ROHINI KUMAR SWAMI
At our center at 26th Second Ave., Srila Prabhupada, when asked who would be the next acarya after him stated, “There will not be any more acaryas.”