Prabhupada is still the Guru in ISKCON
Dear G.B.C.’s and leading devotees,
Please accept my respectful obeisances. All glories to our jagat guru Srila Prabhupada!!!
It is time again for the annual international GBC meetings in Sridam Mayapur. The purpose of the meetings is to improve devotional service in Srila Prabhupada’s mission, the International Society for Krsna Consciousness, ISKCON. The most important unresolved ever-changing issue is the guru issue. There continues to be a lot of speculation about the guru issue within ISKCON.
One of Srila Prabhupada’s last requests to us was to show our love for him by cooperating to push on the movement. To cooperate we need to communicate openly and honestly and give up the excommunicating mentality if someone disagrees with your opinion.
What we need to do is stop speculating and start trying to understand what Srila Prabhupada said to do regarding initiations in ISKCON after his physical departure. We need to do what he said not what we think would be best. I was with Srila Prabhupada when he first decided to leave the planet in 1977 and I heard him say that he wanted us to initiate on his behalf when he left the planet.
I have been trying to convince the senior devotees about the truth in this matter for over 30 years now to not much avail. I have tried to speak to the GBC members and requested time to address them at the Mayapur meetings. I have been refused with excuses that the GBC did not have time for me, a personal witness to testify to the truth which is also documented on tape and in writng. If it came before a court the evidence would support the fact that Srila Prabhupada ordered that a ritvik initiation system to continue in ISKCON after his departure. But since Srila Prabhupada did not want us to resort to the karmi courts as did/does the Gaudiya Math, I am trying to avoid that last resort. If the GBC continues to avoid communication on this matter for the good of the movement what else could we do? We need to fulfill the orders of the spiritual master in our lifetimes or suffer after for not doing the right thing.
We had a debate on this matter in 1990 in San Diego temple with the North American GBC’s. It was voted on that another meeting with the International GBC would happen in Mayapur. Instead of allowing another meeting on the matter the GBC made anti-ritvik resoulutions banning the discussion of ritvik within ISKCON and anyone who would discuss it would be kicked out of ISKCON. This is an offense to Srila Prabhupada and so many of his devotees including my own son, Damodar Prasada who dared to take shelter of Srila Prabhupada in L.A. but was asked to leave since he accepts Srila Prabhupada as his guru, siksa and diksa. Instead of giving Srila Prabhupada as guru they have put a patent on Prabhupada, saying he is no longer available for initiation. This is like saying Christ is no longer available; you must accept a ‘living’ Christ. This idea was smashed by Srila Prabhupada in Seattle way back in 1968. (See BTG article ‘Function of the Soul”)
It is never too late to do the right thing. Good things take time. After Sri Advaita left the planet there was chaos for quite some time. So it is time for change in ISKCON. Change is needed. Change is good.
In a nutshell here is what I witnessed: On July 5th 1977 I was attending to Srila Prabhupada in his garden in Sri Vrindavan Dham. The secretary, Tamal Krsna Maharaja was reading letters from some of the temples asking for initiations for some of the devotees. Srila Prabhupada said, “Tomorrow I will appoint some ritvik acharyas who will initiate disciples on my behalf when I leave the planet.” He also mentioned this back in May a few days after arriving in Vrindavan from Rishekesh in mid may. It was actually 2 days later on July 7th 1977 that Srila Prabhupada dictated a letter about future initiations in ISKCON. There is a recording available of this conversation. The secretary then typed up the newsletter addressed to all temples and GBC’s dated July 9th 1977. This letter was read to Srila Prabhupada who approved the final version and signed it. That letter is ‘the final order’ on initiations in ISKCON for the future.
The ritvik representative is not a bad thing as he has been made out to be to date. He or she is doing a great service by linking devotees up to our great sampradaya. They and others can act as siksa gurus and help the devotees, but Srila Prabhupada is the one diksa guru. The representatives are respectable, even lovable. We need a reality check. So many devotees have left after their gurus fell down. They felt frustrated and cheated. (which they have) With Srila Prabhupada’s all intelligent practical ritvik system that would not happen. More and more devotees would cooperate and strengthen Srila Prabhupada’s mission and get back to what we are really here for: To develop Love of God and spread that love to society at large.
I hope that I see this most needed change in ISKCON before I leave the planet. I feel that is the reason I was sparred by Krsna to live after being electrocuted on Srila Prabhupada’s roof in Sri Vrindavan Dham in 1977. I was shocked with 220 volts and Srila Prabhupada yelled out to Upendra to save me. He came running and pulled the plug that was shocking me. The lights went out and I was unconscious for 2 hours. Premana Swami continued to pound on my heart and I started to see faces above me. Srila Prabhupada called me into his room and asked if I was alright. I said I was and then Srila Prabhupada looking compassionately like a father, said, “So you should take this as a good lesson that death can come at any time; and you should always be ready.” I said Thank you to Srila Prabhupada and left the room. It would of been nice to leave my body in the service of Srila Prabhupada in Sri Vrindavan Dham. The ritvik issue had been swept under the rug in 1977/78 to date, but I and others have kept it alive as Srila Prabhupada is still alive. I feel I was saved by Srila Prabhupada to help save his mission just as the spider kicked the sand to help build the bridge to Sri Lanka for Lord Rama.
Dear GBC members please don’t let my life purpose go in vain. Actually I am already linked up and am only pursuing this for the benefit you and all the devotees past, present and future. I am always available and at your service. I will never give up this mission because it will save and expand Srila Prabhupada’s mission and do real good to us and the world.
Thank you so much for you attention in this most important matter,
Hoping this meets you in best of health and Krsna Consciousness,
Gauridasa Pandita Dasa
Letter to: All G.B.C., All Temple Presidents
9 July, 1977
To All G.B.C., and Temple Presidents
Dear Maharajas and Prabhus,
Please accept my humble obeisances at your feet. Recently when all of the GBC members were with His Divine Grace in Vrndavana, Srila Prabhupada indicated that soon He would appoint some of His senior disciples to act as “ritvik–representative of the acarya, for the purpose of performing initiations, both first initiation and second initiation. His Divine Grace has so far given a list of eleven disciples who will act in that capacity:
- His Holiness Kirtanananda Swami
- His Holiness Satsvarupa dasa Gosvami
- His Holiness Jayapataka Swami
- His Holiness Tamala Krsna Gosvami
- His Holiness Hrdayananda Gosvami
- His Holiness Bhavananda Gosvami
- His Holiness Hamsaduta Swami
- His Holiness Ramesvara Swami
- His Holiness Harikesa Swami
- His Grace Bhagavan dasa Adhikari
- His Grace Jayatirtha dasa Adhikari
In the past Temple Presidents have written to Srila Prabhupada recommending a particular devotee’s initiation. Now that Srila Prabhupada has named these representatives, Temple Presidents may henceforward send recommendation for first and second initiation to whichever of these eleven representatives are nearest their temple. After considering the recommendation, these representatives may accept the devotee as an initiated disciple of Srila Prabhupada by giving a spiritual name, or in the case of second initiation, by chanting on the Gayatri thread, just as Srila Prabhupada has done. The newly initiated devotees are disciples of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad, the above eleven senior devotees acting as His representative. After the Temple President receives a letter from these representatives giving the spiritual name or the thread, he can perform the fire yajna in the temple as was being done before. The name of a newly initiated disciple should be sent by the representative who has accepted him or her to Srila Prabhupada, to be included in His Divine Grace’s “Initiated Disciples” book.
Hoping this finds you all well.
Tamala Krsna Gosvami
Approved: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
[Srila Prabhupada’s signature appears on the original]
The Function of the Soul — Published in Back to Godhead 1968
Disciple: Srila Prabhupada, is there any way for a Christian in this age — without the help of a spiritual master — to reach the spiritual sky through reading the words of Jesus Christ in the Bible and trying to follow his teachings?