Guru in ISKCON

Published on August 14th, 2004 | by


Srila Prabhupada Guru Tattva

It is widely known that Srila Prabhupada instituted a ritvik or representative (proxy) initiation system throughout ISKCON as early as 1971 in order to meet the growing need to initiate his disciples worldwide. However what is not widely known is that he instructed his disciples to continue initiating new disciples on his behalf even after his physical disappearance.

He called those disciples who performed the initiation ceremonies ritvik representatives of the acharya (officiating acharyas). Below are quotes directly from Srila Prabhupada for the evidence of these instructions as well as explanations, philosophical insights, and historical background.


            A. Srila Prabhupada’s May 28, 1977 ISKCON Governing Board Commission (GBC)  meeting. Notes enclosed in [ ]

Satsvarupa: By the votes of the present GBC. 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.

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

[Srila Prabhupada clearly did not state “diksa-guru” nor “acarya” which is a direct repudiation of the successor diksa-guru accepting their own disciples senario in ISKCON.]

Tamala Krsna Is that called ritvik-acarya?

Prabhupada: Ritvik, yes.

[Srila Prabhupada equates “officiating acarya” with “ritvik” which is the second direct repudiation of the successor diksa-guru senario in ISKCON.]

Satsvarupa: Then what is the relationship of that person who gives the initiation and the…

Prabhupada: He’s guru. He’s guru.

Satsvarupa: But he does it on your behalf.

Prabhupada: Yes. That is formality. Because in my presence one should not become guru, so on my behalf, on my order… Amara ajnaya guru haia. Be actually guru, but by my order.

[This is the third direct repudiation of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples accepting their own disciples in ISKCON.]

Satsvarupa: So they may also be considered your disciples.

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

[This is the fourth direct repudiation of the successor diksa-guru senario in reply to Satsvarupa’s question.]

Tamala Krsna: No, he’s asking that these ritvik-acaryas, they’re officiating, giving diksa. Their… The people who they give diksa to, whose disciple are they?

[Here Srila Prabhupada ends his conversation with Satvarupa and replies to Tamal’s misunderstanding. Tamal’s misunderstanding is clearly evident as he repeats Satvarupa’s same question which was already clearly answered by Srila Prabhupada. Further, Tamal’s misunderstanding is clear in his saying that ritviks and officiating acaryas give diksa which they clearly don’t, as they merely are representing the uttama-adhikari diksa-guru. Tamal’s misconception of “diksa” and “diksa-guru” is that both diksa-guru and disciple must be physically present for diksa which clearly contradicts Srila Prabhupada’s teachings as pointed out in Part III “Philosophical Basis”.]

Prabhupada: They’re his disciple.

Tamala Krsna: They’re his disciple.

Prabhupada: Who is initiating. He is grand disciple.

Satsvarupa: Yes.

Tamala Krsna: That’s clear.

[Here Tamal draws his own conclusion and foolishly accepts only the sentence (“There’re his disciple.”) which he likes or understands. He ignores Srila Prabhupada’s clear answers to Satvarupa’s previous questions which repudiated the “disciples accepting their own disciples” senario in ISKCON four times and thus Tamal misses Prabhupada’s concluding statement as follows.]

Satsvarupa: Then we have a question concer…

Prabhupada: When I order, “You become guru,” he becomes regular guru. That’s all. He becomes disciple of my disciple. That’s it.

[Here Srila Prabhupada clearly concludes his reply to Tamal and says that his disciples can become regular guru and accept their own disciples only when he orders them to. This clearly indicates that he did not yet give the specific order for his disciples to become regular (diksa) gurus and accept their own disciples in ISKCON in this meeting. He already repeatedly confirmed this fact with his prior repudiation (four times) in reply to Satsvarupa’s original question on what the GBC were to do for 1st and 2nd initiations “when you no longer are with us” as already pointed out. So it is inconceivable that he changes his mind in replying to what is essentially the same question from Tamal vis-a vis, “Whose disciples are they?”. Tamal’s misunderstanding of this crucial meeting was later confirmed in the 1980 Topanga Canyon guru meeting detailed in subsection II.A. Unfortunately as secretary, his deviation was also written into the minutes of the May 28, 1977 meeting.

Furthermore, if someone tells you, “When I order, you jump off the cliff” would you jump? OF COURSE NOT! Clearly, Srila Prabhupada’s use of the word “when” indicates that he did not yet give that order. A month later in his July 9, 1977 worldwide communique (given below) he gave his final orders on future initiations for Iskcon wherein he named 11 disciples to act as “ritvik representatives of the acarya” to initiate future disciples on his behalf “henceforward”.]

            B. June 5, 1977 will

Section 3: The executive directors who have herein been designated are appointed for life. In the event of 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 following strictly all the rules and regulations of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness as detailed in my books, and provided that there are never less than three (3) or more than five (5) exeutive directors acting at one time.

(In order to carryout this section of Srila Prabhupada’s will, there must be his initiated disciples present for as long as Iskcon exists, thus necessitating a ritvik system initiating new disciples on his behalf henceforward which was stated in his July 9, 1977 letter to all GBC and temple presidents. This will also confirms the no change status of the ritvik system for after his physical disappearance in his use of the word “henceforward” meaning from now on).

            C. July 9, 1977 worldwide final order to all GBC and TP

July 9th, 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 “rittik”-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.

Your servant,

Tamala Krsna Gosvami

Secretary to Srila Prabhupada

Approved: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

[Srila Prabhupada’s signature appears on the original]

(Note: There is a reference to the May 28, 1977 meeting in Vrindavan in which Srila Prabhupada replied to a specific question from the GBC on what to do for iniitiations after his physical disappearance. “After this is settled up, I shall recommend some of you to act as officiating acharyas.” This July 9, 1977 worldwide order sent to all GBCs and temples presidents IS that order of recommendation. Also note Srila Prabhupada states three times that the new initiates are his disciples and that there is no mention of any future contingency that would modify, countermand or terminate this order whatsoever in any way. What was stated is “henceforward” which means from now on. Further this is the only order that actually names individual disciples to officiate the initiation ceremony, gives them their title/tells who’s disciples the initates are, and when they would begin their service.

Srila Prabhupada’s letters to his ritvik representatives up until his physical disappearance also do not indicate any change in this ritvik instruction. (“Now you have a very good field. Now organize it and it will be a great credit. No one will disturb you there. Make your own field and continue to become ritvik and act on my behalf.” July 31, 1977). This July 9, 1977 worldwide order to all GBCs and temple presidents specifically on future initiations in ISKCON is the only one given by Srila Prabhupada. Thus it is rightfully called the final order.)


            A. In the Topanga Canyon guru meeting (December 1980) Tamal Krishna confirmed these misconceptions: “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.” (ISKCON Journal 1990 page 53). Unfortunately, Tamal Krishna also wrote the minutes of that May 28, 1977 meeting and true to form his imperfect senses, mistakes, illusion, and cheating propensities were unfortunately confirmed.

            B. Pita das, Gauridas Pandit das and Bhakti-siddhanta das personally witnessed Srila Prabhupada explaining his ritvik system for after his physical disappearance.

            C. Yasodanandan’s May 1977 diary quotes Tamal Krishna and Gauridas Pandit stating they had just heard Srila Prabhupada explaining his ritvik system for future initiations.

            D. HH BV Puri Maharaja recollected a conversation (memories#26) Where Srila Prabhupada declared to him that He had appointed 11 Ritviks. HH BV Puri Majaraja said,”You should have appointed only one…..when You are gone, they will not be satisfied as Ritviks, and will declare themselves as “regular” Gurus, and they will fight.”…..Srila Prabhupada replied…”What can I do….IT IS UP TO KRISHNA!”

            E. Some of the 11 ritviks named by Srila Prabhupada (Hamsadutta, Kirtanananda, Ramesvara) also have said they were appointed as ritviks only.



            A. Definition of diksa does not require physical presence of the diksa-guru

                        1. Prabhupada’s definition of diksa

                                    a. “Diksa actually means initiating the disciple with transcendental knowledge by which all material contamination is destroyed.” Caitanya Caritamrta Madhya 4:111 purport)

                                    b. “In other words, the spiritual master awakens the sleeping living entity to his original consciousness so that he can worship Lord Visnu. This is the purpose of diksa, or initiation. Initiation MEANS receiving the pure knowledge of spiritual consciousness.” (C.C. Madhya, 9.61, purport)

                                    c. “The spiritual master can be compared to the lower kindling stick, the disciple to the upper kindling stick, and the instruction given by the guru to the third stick placed in between. The transcendental knowledge communicated from guru to disciple is compared to the fire arising from the contact of these, which burns the darkness of ignorance to ashes, bringing great happiness both to guru and disciple.” (SB 11.10.12)

                        2. Jiva Goswami’s definition of diksa “Diksa is the process by which one can awaken his transcendental knowledge and vanquish all reactions caused by sinful activity. A person expert in the study of the revealed scriptures knows this process as diksa.” (Bhakti-sandarbha 283; C.C. Madhya 15:108 purport)

                        3. Sri Krishna’s explanation for approaching a bonafide spiritual master is to acquire transcendental knowledge:

O chastiser of the enemy, the sacrifice performed in knowledge is better than the mere sacrifice of material possessions. After all, O son of Prtha, all sacrifices of work culminate in transcendental knowledge.

Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized souls can impart knowledge unto you because they have seen the truth.

Having obtained real knowledge from a self-realized soul, you will never fall again into such illusion, for by this knowledge you will see that all living beings are but part of the Supreme, or, in other words, that they are Mine.

Even if you are considered to be the most sinful of all sinners, when you are situated in the boat of transcendental knowledge you will be able to cross over the ocean of miseries.

As a blazing fire turns firewood to ashes, O Arjuna, so does the fire of knowledge burn to ashes all reactions to material activities.

In this world, there is nothing so sublime and pure as transcendental knowledge. Such knowledge is the mature fruit of all mysticism. And one who has become accomplished in the practice of devotional service enjoys this knowledge within himself in due course of time.

A faithful man who is dedicated to transcendental knowledge and who subdues his senses is eligible to achieve such knowledge, and having achieved it he quickly attains the supreme spiritual peace.

(Bhagavad-gita As It Is 4-33-39)

            B. Srila Prabhupada’s ritvik system was used worldwide for at least 5 years from about 1972 up until his physical disappearance in 1977 without him ever physically seeing many of his disciples which proves that his physical presence is not necessary for him to give diksa to his disciple even after his physical disappearance.

                        1. “My Dear [Disciple 1], Please accept my blessings. Just now I have received some more requests for giving first initiation… and now I am receiving weekly not less than ten to fifteen such requests from new students. So it is becoming very expensive to send so many sets of beads such a long distance, and it has become a little bothersome for me also, so I think now you may be appointed by me to give first initiations to new disciples by chanting on their beads on my behalf. In America [Disciple 2] is doing that. So now if there are two of you, that will give me great relief. [Disciple 2] will chant on the beads for new devotees in America, Canada, like that; you can chant on the beads for the European continent, new disciples. They shall, of course, still be considered as my disciples, not that they shall become your disciples, but you will be empowered by me to chant their beads and that is the same effect of binding master and disciple as if I were personally chanting.”

(Letter, January 4, 1973)

            C. Diksa or transcendental knowledge by which all sin is destroyed can be acquired from reading Srila Prabhupada’s books and following his sadhana-bhakti program:

“So utilise whatever time you find to make a thorough study of my books. Then all your questions will be answered.”
(Letter to Upendra, 7/1/76)

“If it is possible to go to the temple, then take advantage of the temple. A temple is a place whereby one is given the opportunity to render direct devotional service to the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna. In conjunction with this you should always read my books daily and all your questions will be answered and you will have a firm basis of Krishna Consciousness. In this way your life will be perfect.” (Letter to Hugo Salemon, 22/11/74)

“Every one of you must regularly read our books at least twice, in the morning and evening, and automatically all questions will be answered.” (Letter to Randhira, 24/01/70)

“All questions will be clarified if you simply read our books very thoroughly and follow the simple process of devotional service as we have given it to chant regularly and rigidly observe the rules and regulations. This is our principle that the spiritual science becomes revealed to the devotee from within the heart according to the degree of his surrender to Krsna.” 70-07-25

“In my books the philosophy of Krsna Consciousness is explained fully so if there is anything you do not understand, then you simply have to read again and again. By reading daily the knowledge will be revealed to you and by this process your spiritual life will develop.”
(Letter to Brahmarupa Dasa, 22/11/74)

“There is nothing new to be said. Whatever I had to say, I have already said in my books. Now you must try to understand it and continue with your endeavours. Whether I am present or not does not matter.” (Vrindavan, 17/5/77)

“One should not partially study a book just to pose oneself as a great scholar by being able to refer to scriptures. In our Krishna consciousness movement we have therefore limited our study of Vedic literatures to Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, Caitanya-caritamrta, and Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu. These four works are sufficient for preaching purposes. They are adequate for the understanding of the philosophy and the spreading of missionary activities all over the world. If one studies a particular book, he must do so thoroughly. That is the principle. By thoroughly studying a limited number of books, one can understand the philosophy.” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya 22.118, Purport)

“Simply read my books and repeat what I have written. Then your preaching will be perfect.” (Letter to Ksirodaksayi dated 9-4-75)

“Whatever is to be learned of the teachings of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura can be learned from our books. There is no need whatsoever for any outside instruction.” (Letters 73-12-25)

“There is no need by any of my disciples to read any books besides my books–in fact, such reading may be detrimental to their advancement in Krishna Consciousness. All reading of outside books, except in certain authorized cases such as for example to read some philosopher like Plato to make an essay comparing his philosophy with Krishna’s philosophy–but otherwise all such outside reading should be stopped immediately. It is simply another botheration. If my students cannot even read my own books thoroughly, why they should read others? I have given you TLC, what need is there to read Caitanya Caritamrta translated by someone else. You are right to stop such reading.” (Letter to Sri Govinda, 20 January, 1972)

His (Brahma’s) acceptance of the sound was due to his pure vision of the absolute nature of the Lord. And due to his correct vision, he made no distinction between the Lord and the Lord’s instruction. There is no difference between the Lord and sound vibration coming from Him, even though He is not personally present. The best way of understanding is to accept such divine instruction, and Brahma, the prime spiritual master of everyone, is the living example of this process of receiving transcendental knowledge. The potency of transcendental sound is never minimized because the vibrator is apparently absent. Therefore Srimad-Bhagavatam or Bhagavad-gita or any revealed scripture in the world is never to be accepted as an ordinary mundane sound without transcendental potency. (Srimad Bhagavatam 2.9.8 purport)

            D. Reading his spoken (audio taped) translations and purports is equal to hearing directly:

“Why distinguish between chanting and book distribution? These books I have recorded and chanted, and they are transcribed. It is spoken kirtanas. So book distribution is also chanting. These are not ordinary books. It is recorded chanting. Anyone who reads, he is hearing.” (74-10-19)

“That is the difference, hearing from devotees, the sound vibration coming from the realized person. Reading the book is the same thing . . . tattva-darsana–hearing from one who has seen the truth. Reading or hearing from the realized person there is no difference, but hearing the sound vibration from the realized soul is still more effective, better.” (Letters 76-04-16)

Paramahamsa: My question is, a pure devotee, when he comments on Bhagavad Gita, someone who never sees him physically, but he just comes in contact with the commentary, explanation, is this the same thing?

Srila Prabhupada: Yes. You can associate with Krsna by reading Bhagavad-Gita. And these saintly persons, they have given their explanations, comments. So where is the difficulty? (Morning Walk, Paris 11/6/74)

“Here is the remedy for eliminating all inauspicious things within the heart which are considered to be obstacles in the path of self-realization. The remedy is the association of the Bhagavatas. There are two types of Bhagavatas, namely the book Bhagavata and the devotee Bhagavata. Both the Bhagavatas are competent remedies, and both of them or either of them can be good enough to eliminate the obstacles. A devotee Bhagavata is as good as the book Bhagavata because the devotee Bhagavata leads his life in terms of the book Bhagavata and the book Bhagavata is full of information about the Personality of Godhead and His pure devotees, who are also Bhagavatas. Bhagavata book and person are identical.” (SB 1.2.18 purport)

This Srimad-Bhagavatam is the literary incarnation of God, and it is compiled by Srila Vyasadeva, the incarnation of God. It is meant for the ultimate good of all people, and it is all-successful, all-blissful and all-perfect.” (Srimad Bhagavatam 1.3.40)


Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu declared that Srimad-Bhagavatam is the spotless sound representation of all Vedic knowledge and history. There are selected histories of great devotees who are in direct contact with the Personality of Godhead.

Srimad-Bhagavatam is the literary incarnation of Lord Sri Krsna and is therefore nondifferent from Him. Srimad-Bhagavatam should be worshiped as respectfully as we worship the Lord. Thereby we can derive the ultimate blessings of the Lord through its careful and patient study. As God is all light, all bliss and all perfection, so also is Srimad-Bhagavatam. We can have all the transcendental light of the Supreme Brahman, Sri Krsna, from the recitation of Srimad-Bhagavatam, provided it is received through the medium of the transparent spiritual master. Lord Caitanya’s private secretary Srila Svarupa Damodara Gosvami advised all intending visitors who came to see the Lord at Puri to make a study of the Bhagavatam from the person Bhagavatam Person Bhagavatam is the self-realized bona fide spiritual master, and through him only can one understand the lessons of Bhagavatam in order to receive the desired result. One can derive from the study of the Bhagavatam all benefits that are possible to be derived from the personal presence of the Lord.

It carries with it all the transcendental blessings of Lord Sri Krsna that we can expect from His personal contact.


            E. Understanding Srila Prabhupada’s books (Vedanta-sruti) is more important than having his physical presence:

I thank you very much and all the devotees for offering me a garland daily as you were doing when I was physically present. If a disciple is constantly engaged in carrying out the instructions of the Spiritual Master he is supposed to be constantly in company with hs Spiritual Master. This is called Vaniseva. So there are two kinds of service to the Spiritual Master One is called vaniseva and the other is called vapuseva. Vaniseva means as above mentioned, executing the instructions, and vapuseva means physically or personally rendering service. So in the absence of physical presentation of the Spiritual Master the vaniseva is more important. My Spiritual Master, Sarasvati Gosvami Thakura, may appear to be physically not present, but still because I try to serve His instruction I never feel separated from Him. I expect that all of you should follow these instructions.” (70-08-22)

“I understand that you are feeling my absence. Krishna will give you strength. Physical presence is immaterial; presence of the transcendental sound received from the spiritual master should be the guidance of life. That will make our spiritual life successful. If you feel very strongly about my absence you may place my pictures on my sitting places and this will be source of inspiration for you.” (Letter to Brahmananda and other students, 19/1/67)

“So although a physical body is not present, the vibration should be accepted as the presence of the Spiritual Master, vibration. What we have heard from the Spiritual Master, that is living.”

(General lectures, 69/01/13)

“Such association with Krsna and the Spiritual Master should be association by vibration not physical presence. That is real association.” (Elevation to Krsna Consciousness,(BBT 1973), Page 57)

“If there is no chance to serve the spiritual master directly, a devotee should serve him by remembering his instructions. There is no difference between the spiritual master’s instructions and the spiritual master himself. In his absence, therefore, his words of direction should be the pride of the disciple.”

(CC Adi 1.35 purport)

“There are two ways of association-by vani and by vapu. Vani means words, and vapu means physical presence. Physical presence is sometimes appreciable and sometimes not, but vani continues to exist eternally. Therefore we must take advantage of the vani, not the physical presence. Bhagavad-gita, for example, is the vani of Lord Krsna. Although Krsna was personally present five thousand years ago and is no longer physically present from the materialistic point of view, Bhagavad-gita continues.”

(CC, Antya 5 Conclusion)

“To answer this argument, it is described here that one has to associate with liberated persons not directly, physically, but by understanding, through philosophy and logic, the problems of life.”

(SB 3:31:48)

“Just Krishna can be present simultaneously in millions of places. Smililarly, the spiritual master can be present wherever the disciple wants. A spiritual master is the principle, not the body. Just like a television can be seen in thousands of places by the principle of relay monitoring.”

(Letter to Malati, 28/5/68)


            A. Other vaisnava acaryas support the ritvik system.

                        1. Sri Bannanje Govindacarya: “You have a temple of Prabhupada, and before Prabhupada himself, no others can give diksha and these people provide name and mala. The diksha should be in the presence of Prabhupada’s vigraha. That will be better. That would be better. There will be no problem. Just to avoid problems, see so many gurus, they will leave peeta (the sacred seat), they are falling down. Just to avoid this, you take initiation before Prabhupada’s vigraha.”

                        2. HH Rangapriya Swami: “By this system we do not have to fear that the parampara may stop. The rtviks belong to his parampara. The new disciples also belong to his parampara. Who ever follows his instructions also belong to his parampara. His books will represent him; his peeta (the sacred seat) will represent him; his sandals will represent him; his murtis will represent him.”

                        3. Lakshmi Tatachar: Again I have to stress that the letter makes it amply clear that the disciples thus initiated by the representatives of Srila Prabhupada are only the disciples of Srila Prabhupada only, not of the representatives. I also want to confirm that this system can continue perpetually even in the physical absence of HH Srila Prabhupadaji as it has continued in Ramanujas tradition as any person initiated by any acharya has dasyanama like Lakshmittathacharya Ramanuja Dasa though Ramanuja passed away long ago. Hope, Madhupandit Dasaji, I have made my point clear.

            B. Due to over one hundred years separation, there was no physical meeting between Narottamadas Thakura and Vishvanath Chakravarty Thakura in our disciplic line.

“Regarding parampara system: there is nothing to wonder for big gaps […] we find in the Bhagavad-gita that the Gita was taught to the sungod, some millions of years ago, but Krsna has mentioned only three names in this parampara system – namely, Vivasvan, Manu, and Iksvaku; and so these gaps do not hamper from understanding the parampara system. We have to pick up the prominent acaryas, and follow from him […] We have to pick up from the authority of the acarya in whatever sampradaya we belong to.” (SP Letter to Dayananda, 12/4/68)


            C. First time in known history the complete Vedanta-sruti (Bhagavad-gita, Srimad Bhagavatam, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu) of an uttama-adhikari in Lord Chaitanya’s disciplic succession was tape recorded in English (and translated into other languages), making the knowledge by which all sin is destroyed (diksa) available at anytime anywhere. Thus there is no need for any other translator nor translation of the original sanskrit verses.


            D. Invention of the printing press allowed words to be mass duplicated on paper and distributed worldwide for anyone to read (hear) which necessitates a ritvik system for initiations to keep up with demand.

            E. Invention of the audio tape recorder allowed the spoken words of the uttama adhikari diksa-guru to be recorded live directly (no misinterpretation) which does not necessitate his physical presence for hearing the Vedanta-sruti from the diksa-guru and thus the transference of  transcendental knowledge (diksa).

            F. In this most fallen age of Kali-yuga, the uttama adhikari diksa-guru is very rare thus the presence of the above technological inventions makes the ritvik system most practical in a worldwide sankirtan organization, which allows the uttama adhikari diksa-guru’s comprehensive instructions (vedanta-sruti) to be uniformly present everywhere in the world for all time, as opposed to the ever changing physically present diksa-guru system. The continuity of keeping the founder-acarya in the center via the ritvik system saves time, labor, and money in the organization.


“In this verse Srila Rupa Gosvami advises the devotee to be intelligent enough to distinguish between the kanistha-adhikari, madhyama-adhikari and uttama-adhikari. The devotee should also know his own position and should not try to imitate a devotee situated on a higher platform. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has given some practical hints to the effect that an uttama-adhikari Vaisnava can be recognized by his ability to convert many fallen souls to Vaisnavism. One should not become a spiritual master unless he has attained the platform of uttama-adhikari. A neophyte Vaisnava or a Vaisnava situated on the intermediate platform can also accept disciples, but such disciples must be on the same platform, and it should be understood that they cannot advance very well toward the ultimate goal of life under his insufficient guidance. Therefore a disciple should be careful to accept an uttama-adhikari as a spiritual master.” (Nectar of Instructions 5 purport)

“When one HAS attained the topmost position of maha-bhagavata, he is to be accepted as a guru and worshipped exactly like Hari, the Personality of Godhead. ONLY such a person is eligible to occupy the post of a guru.”(Emph.added) (C.c. Madhya, 24.330, purport)

The guru must be situated on the topmost platform of devotional service. There are three classes of devotees, and the guru must be accepted from the topmost class. The first-class devotee is the spiritual master for all kinds of people. It is said: gurur nrnam. The word nrnam means “of all human beings.” The guru is not limited to a particular group.

(C.C. Madhya 24.330)


“Because on the night before he passed away he (Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati) talked of so many things, but never mentioned an acarya. His idea was acarya was not to be nominated amongst the governing body. He said openly you make a GBC and conduct the mission. So his idea was amongst the members of GBC who would come out successful and self effulgent acarya would be automatically … and his two associate gentlemen unauthorizedly selected one acarya and later it proved a failure. The result is now everyone is claiming to be acarya even though they may be kanistha adhikari with no ability to preach. In some of the camps the acarya is being changed three times a year. Therefore we may not commit the same mistake in our ISKCON camp.” (74-04-28 Letter to Rupanuga)

“I wish that each and every Branch shall keep their independent identity and cooperate keeping the Acarya in the centre. On this principle we can open any number of Branches all over the world.

The Ramakrishna mission works on this principle and thus as organization they have done wonderfully.” (Letter to: Kirtanananda 67-02-11)

750716pc.sf Conversations
Reporter (2): What will happen to the movement in the United States when you die?
Prabhupada: I will dever die.
Prabhupada: I shall live from  my books and you will utilize.

“I am the Spiritual Master of this institution, and ALL the members of the Society, they’re supposed to be MY disciples. They follow the rules and regulations which I ask them to follow, and they are INITIATED BY ME spiritually” – (Srila Prabhupada Radio Interview, 12 March 1968, San Francisco)

April/22/1977 Bombay India

Tamala Krsna: Well, I have studied myself and all of your disciples, and it’s clear fact that we are all conditioned souls, so we cannot be

guru. Maybe one day it may be possible…

Prabhupada: Hm.

Tamala Krsna: …but not now.

Prabhupada: Yes. I shall choose some guru. I shall say, “Now you become acarya. You become authorized.” I am waiting for that. You become all acarya. I retire completely. But the training must be complete.

Tamala Krsna: The process of purification must be there.

Prabhupada: Oh, yes, must be there. Caitanya Mahaprabhu wants that. Amara ajnaya guru hana. “You become guru.” (laughs) But be qualified. Little thing, strictly follower

Tamala Krsna: Not rubber stamp.

Prabhupada: Then you’ll not be effective. You can cheat, but it will not be effective. Just see our Gaudiya Matha. Everyone wanted to become guru, and a small temple and “guru.” What kind of guru? No publication, no preaching, simply bring some foodstuff… My Guru Maharaja used to say, “Joint mess,” a place for eating and sleeping. Amar amar ara takana(Bengali): “Joint mess.” He said this.

(Note – Did this fact changed in one month?)


The desire to possess disciples and enjoy being served/worshiped attracted all of the 11 original ritvik representatives appointed by Srila Prabhupada. Their ambition to imitate the diksa-guru/uttama-adhikari caused them to disobey their spiritual masters order to continue the ritvik system henceforward in ISKCON. This soon led to the corruption of ISKCON’s pure guru-tattva, the GBC mismanagement and the spiritual difficulties of the entire society.

77.02 VERY DANGEROUS. Srila Prabhupada: “Our mission is to serve,

bhakta vishesha, and live with devotees. NOT THAT YOU TAKE THE PLACE

OF GURU. That is all nonsense. Very DANGEROUS, then everything will

be SPOILED. As soon as you become ambitious to take the place of guru-

gurusu narah matih. That is material disease.” (4/21/77)

As the absolute central authority of guru-tattva became contaminated the pure transcendental knowledge was gradually replaced by false philosophy and deviation from Srila Prabhupada’s pure teachings. These are as follows:

1) zonal acaryas/the 2/3 voted in or out rubber-stamped (uttama-adhikari) diksa-gurus

2) the “fallen diksa-guru” syndrome (that Prabhupada appointed 11 fallen souls to be diksa-gurus or it is okay for the diksa-guru to be fallen)


3) reinitiations or the acceptance of more than one diksa/initiating spiritual master

4) definition of diksa as a formal ceremony performed by the physically present diksa-guru, not the knowledge by which all sin is destroyed

5) minimizing the words of the pure devotee (vedanta-sruti) as insufficient for transmitting transcendental knowledge by which all sin is destroyed (diksa) and minimizing the authority of the spiritual master and the Vedas (sruti and smriti sastras).

6) neglecting the orders of the spiritual master

(Note: These are all gross deviations from Srila Prabhupada’s teachings and vaisnava philosophy manufactured by conditioned souls who want to enjoy the title and worship of the diksa-guru which is the cheating propensity. There cannot be the pure manifestation of Srila Prabhupada’s mission and his teachings without following his guru-tattva.)


            A. The worldwide sankirtan movement grows exponentially under the guidance of the uttama-adhikari spiritual master and founder-acarya (pure via media to the parampara). Worldwide sankirtan is not hampered by the temporary physical presence of the diksa-guru.

            B. The ritvik system allows Srila Prabhupada’s disciples to advance harmoniously from kanistha to madhyam and finally uttama-adhikari with no discrepancy in qualifications due to posing as guru immaturely; and, the resulting corruption, division, and chaos within the society on the ontological question of who is a pure devotee.


            Srila Prabhupada’s specific instructions for carrying out initiations in Iskcon after his physical disappearance as asked directly of him by his Governing Board Commissioners on May 28, 1977 was that he would soon recommend some of his disciples to act as officiating acaryas or ritviks representatives. In the following week on June 4, 1977 he wrote in his will that Iskcon directors would have to be his duly initiated disciples. This also confirms his no change “henceforward” order sent to all GBCs and temple presidents the following month (July 9, 1977) proclaiming his 11 chosen ritvik representatives that would initiate future disciples on his behalf even after his physical disappearance. These three seperate instructions are Srila Prabhupada’s actual replies to the direct question from his GBC disciples in charge of ISKCON management on how they should carry on initiations. Over the next 4 months until his physical disappearance, Srila Prabhupada never changed these orders either written or spoken.

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6 Responses to Srila Prabhupada Guru Tattva

  1. Nishikanta says:

    Prabhuji,is guru considered a shaktyavesa avatar.I know the shaktyavesa avatar is a jiva empowered by Krsna,and guru is also empowered by Krsna to deliver the jivas in the material world.So what is the difference between the guru and a shaktyavesa avatar.

    • Hare Krishna Nishikanta

      Depends on which guru you are talking about. There are so many bogus gurus who are demons trying for fame, profit, adoration and followers in the dress of a holy man.

      But real guru, qualified guru, pure devotee guru like Srila Prabhupada, he is non-different from Krishna. That is why we sing every morning saksad daritvena samasta sastar… “guru is worshiped as directly Krishna.” So real guru, qualified guru, is non-different from Krishna. Certainly he is an empowered incarnation of Krishna.

      But do not make the mistake of confusing today’s bogus gurus with the bona fide guru…

      Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

      Madhudvisa dasa

      • Nishikanta says:

        Hare Krsna Prabhuji
        All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
        Why do you think i am talking about bogus gurus?Obviously i am talking about pure devotees in the parampara. May be i should make my question more clear.
        I do understand that guru is to be honored as good as Krsna.
        SB 4.23.31, Purport: There is no duality between Viṣṇu and the Vaiṣṇava, and this is called advaya-jñāna. A Vaiṣṇava is as important as Viṣṇu, and therefore Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura wrote in his Gurv-aṣṭaka:
        sākṣād-dharitvena samasta-śāstrair
        uktas tathā bhāvyata eva sadbhiḥ
        kintu prabhor yaḥ priya eva tasya
        vande guroḥ śrī-caraṇāravindam **
        “The spiritual master is honored as much as the Supreme Lord because he is the most confidential servitor of the Lord. This is acknowledged in all revealed scriptures and is followed by all authorities.
        But my question is about Vishnu tattva and jiva tattva.Is jiva when empowered by Krsna considered Vishnu tattva.Is shaktyavesa avatar considered Vishnu tattva.
        I have heard some initiated disciples of Srila Prabhupada say that he was a shaktyavesa avatar.But every incarnation of Krsna is described in the Vedic literature,including future incarnations.So how can we consider Srila Prabhupada to be an incarnation Krsna himself?
        Please forgive me if i have committed an offence.

        • Shaktyavesa avatar is empowered incarnation. So it is not visnu tattva. It is jiva tattva who has been empowered to act on behalf of Krishna. So we consider Srila Prabhupada to be Shaktyavesa avatar, that is a pure devotee who has been sent to this material world specifically by Krishna with a mission to reestablish Krishna consciousness. He is a devotee of Krishna. But he is empowered by Krishna to act in a way that is non-different to Krishna. So we worship Srila Prabhupada as directly Krishna [sakshad hari]. Because he is a pure representative of Krishna.

  2. Gaurasundara Dasa says:

    The acceptance of a spiritual name is just One of Five steeps in the Pancaratrika diksa stablished by the Acarya.

    The Pancharatrica system of initiations founded by Srila Prabhupada under Srila Bhaktisiddhanta´s order makes him the Acarya (bonafide spiritual master) of ISKCON, and is not that the executor of the ceremony is the master, as illegally is assumed by the cheaters of Fiskcon.

    Srila Rupa Goswami writes:

    sruti smrti-puranadi-pancaratra-vidhim vina
    aikantiki harer bhaktir utpatayaiva kalpate

    “Devotional service of the Lord that ignores the authorized Vedic literatures like the Upanisads, Puranas and Narada-pancaratra is simply an unnecessary disturbance in society. (Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhuh 1.2.101)”

    Initiation is just an inscription and physical presence of the Acarya is not required. Srila Prabhupada is the giver of knowledge (jñana) through his books, and “depends on your surrender for practical realization of knowledge (vijñiana.)” Channakya Niti 13-17.

    Vedic civilization has two main traditions: Smartha (by birth) and Bhagavata or Vaisnava by qualification (adhikara). In Kali Yuga Smartha tradition is not accepted since according to Skanda Purana: “Kalau sudra sambavah” In Kali Yuga everyone is Sudra by birth.

    So to become a civilized person in Kali Yuga, to assist in the purification and to allow the Deiti worship, followers of bhagavata tradition must be qualified by the purificatory process called Pancaratrica vidhi (five steeps of knowledge.)

    Initiation in the pancaratrika system requires a sadhaka to undergo the process known as panca-samskara. This panca-samskara consists of panca (five) stages of samskara (purification) mentioned as follows:

    tapah pundram tatha nama mantro yagas ca pancamah
    ami hi panca-samskarah paramaikanti-hetavah

    “Tapah, pundra, nama, mantra, and yaga; these five items comprise panca-samskara. They are the cause of intense devotion to Lord Hari.”

    Tapah: Austerity. (4 principles.)

    Pundra: Tílaka. (Devotional dresses.)

    Nama: Baptism. (The aceptance of a holy name.)

    Mantra. Chanting. (16 Rounds.)

    Yaga: Deiti worship. (Prasadam.)

    The Vaisnava system of pancaratrika-diksa, has existed since ancient times, and was directly taught by the Supreme Lord.

    pancaratrasya krtsnasya vakta tu bhagavan svayam

    sarvesu ca nrpasrestha jnanesvebhesu drsyate

    “Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself, spoke the Pancaratra literature. It is considered that Pancaratra, (especially the Narada Pancaratra) is supernaturally excellent among all revealed scriptures.” Paramatma Sandarbha, annucheda 18, and Mahabharata.

    The Narada Pancaratra specifically deals with the topic of bhakti and therefore it is the most important for all devotional aspirants in the Gaudiya Vaisnava sampradaya.

    jnanam paramatattvam ca janma-mrtyu-jarapaham
    tato mrtyunjayah sambhuh samprapa krsnavaktratah

    “The knowledge contained here (Narada Pancaratra) puts an end to birth, death, old age and disease – and reveals the Supreme Truth. Krsna also spoke this knowledge to the supremely fortunate Sambu (Lord Siva).” (Narada Pancaratra 1.2.25 and Gaudiya Kanthahara 2.46)

    drstha sarvam samalokya jnanam samprapya sankarat
    jnanartam pancaratram cakara narado munih

    “Narada Muni, after studying all the scriptures, heard this unparalled knowledge from the lotus mouth of the best of devotees, Lord Siva, who heard it from Krsna. At that time Narada compiled the Pancaratra, which is the essence of nectar.” (Narada Pancaratra 1.2.56 and Gaudiya Kanthahara 2.47)

    Lord Chaitannya has accomplished this information with another 5 angas:

    sādhu-saṅga, nāma-kīrtana, bhāgavata-śravaṇa

    mathurā-vāsa, śrī-mūrtira śraddhāya sevana

    “One should associate with devotees, chant the holy name of the Lord, hear Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, reside at Mathurā and worship the Deity with faith and veneration. (C.c.Madhya-lila 22.128).

    Definition of Diksa (Pancharatrika)

    Diksa is defined in the Visnu Yamala as that process by which divine knowledge is given and papa (sins) are destroyed:

    divyam jnanam yato dadyat kuryat papasya samksayam
    tasmad-dikseti sa prokta desikais tattva-kovdaih

    “The process by which divine knowedge (divya jnana) is given and sins are destroyed is called diksa by highly learned scholars who are expert in spiritual affairs.” (Hari-bhakti-vilasa 2.9, from Visnu Yamala)

    • Harinamdas says:


      In 1936, just on the 13th, December, I wrote him one letter. Not 13th. I think by the beginning of December, 1936, I wrote one letter to Guru Mahäräja. I knew he was little kind upon me, so I wrote that, “Guru Mahäräja, you have got many disciples. I am also one of them. But they are doing direct service to you. Some of them are brahmacärés, some of them sannyäsés, but I am a householder. I cannot…”

      Of course, I was giving sometimes some monetary help, but I could not give any direct service, so I asked him that, “If there is any particular service I can do for you?”

      So that letter was replied in 13th December, dated 13th December, from Puré. And he passed away on the 31st December. Just a fortnight before. So the reply was the same as he wanted me to do this preaching work in 1922, when I first met him that,
      “You try to preach whatever you have learned from me to the English-knowing people in English. That will do good to you and to the people to whom you shall preach. That is my instruction.”

      So I took up, direction. And then he passed away in 1936, 31st December.
      Bhakti-siddhanta Appearance Day Lecture Los Angeles February 7, 1969

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