Spiritual Master / Guru

Published on May 19th, 2023 | by


Srila Prabhupada’s July 9th. Letter.

An important point is that Srila Prabhupada’s final written instruction on initiations is a system whereby new devotees are initiated by a ritvik priest on his (Srila Prabhupada’s) behalf. Many new devotees are not aware of this nor have they read the letter that Prabhupada sent out to all temples on July 9th 1977. This letter very clearly states that henceforward all new devotees would be initiated in this way.

The GBC argue that the ritvik system was a temporary measure Prabhupada put in place until he left his body. If this is the case then why didn’t Srila Prabhupada issue any other instructions on this point? Surely His Divine Grace would have had the foresight to clarify the most important issue facing the devotees following his departure.

Srila Prabhupada would certainly have put something in writing to the effect of “After I leave my body my disciples can become diksa gurus.” But no such quote or reference can be found in ANY of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings.

Actually when he refers to becoming a guru it is almost always in the sense of becoming a ‘siksa’ or instructing guru. See the purport to the ‘amara ajnaya guru haya tara ei desa’ verse in CC. Prabhupada actually says it is best NOT TO ACCEPT ANY DISCIPLES but rather to simply repeat the words of Sri Krishna in Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam. On the few occasions when Srila Prabhupada speaks of his disciples becoming diksha gurus it is coupled with the phrase “on my order . . . ”

From what i have seen most new devotees are happy to accept the party line – whatever the leaders tell them they accept. They quickly label ‘ritviks’ as demons and believe that Prabhupada intended for his disciples to become diksha gurus following his departure.

It is unfortunate that most have not read Srila Prabhupada’s actual instructions on this matter. He says that all his leading disciples should become ‘ritvik acharyas’ and initiate devotees on his behalf. There is no time factor mentioned in this letter – in other words it is not described as a temporary measure to be instituted until Prabhupada’s departure.

Hare Krishna

Sudama 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.

Your servant,
Tamala Krsna Gosvami

Approved: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

[Srila Prabhupada’s signature appears on the original]

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10 Responses to Srila Prabhupada’s July 9th. Letter.

  1. Kashyap says:

    Hare Krishna Prabhuji
    But Prabhupada sent that letter when he was in this world… At that time he appointed some of his senior disciples as his representative, as it was impossible for him to be physically present everywhere

    Nowhere Prabhupada mentioned that ritvik process will go on after he leaves his body

    • Ritvik is the only process of initiation that Prabhupada ever mentioned would go on in ISKCON after he left his body. Prabhupada only appointed “Ritvik representatives of the acarya” in the July 9th letter, it is very, very clear that the disciples are Prabhupada’s disciples and the ritvik representatives of the acarya are acting on his behalf and accepting his disciples.

      The July 9th letter is a result of a converstaion started by Satsvatrupa with the question, “We want to ask you Prabhupada about initiations, particularly when you are no longer physically present.” So July 9th letter was particularly composed to describe the process of initiation in ISKCON when Prabhupada was no longer physically present.

      That is the whole point of ritvik initiation, to enable Prabhupada to accept disciples when he is no longer physically present…

      Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

      Madhudvisa dasa

  2. Bhakta Sky says:

    Did no one read this in 1977?

    • Actually this letter appears to have been hidden from the devotees in 1977.

      It was supposed to be sent to all GBCs and Temple Presidents. That was Prabhupada’s order. But somehow it got lost and the devotees did not see it in 1977 unfortunately…

      • Bhakta Sky says:

        Hare Krishna Madhudvisa dasa prabhu
        Please accept my feeble attempt at offering you my obeisances. All glories to His Divine Grace, Srila Prabhupada. This situation is so unfortunate. I am currently staying in temple ashram and I don’t know whether to stay or leave because of this issue. Also when we go on book distribution we don’t distribute Prabhupadas original books. Ive brought it up before to senior devotees, direct disciples of Srila Prabhupada and they always say the same thing, basically “The old books were full of errors, so editors are just bringing them closer to what Srila Prabhupada would have wanted”. I’m not sure if this is correct due to so maany changes. How would they know what Srila Prabhupada would have wanted if hes not physically present to approve such changes? Most devotees are careful to associate with me, especially the newer ones because they know about my views on ritvik and book changes, so they are always trying to tell me that the current way of ISKCON is the way Srila Prabhupada wants it and the way I see things is a polluted understanding but I’m not so sure because of so much evidence pointing to the contrary. I just want to associate with devotees who have similar mentalities and I cant find that much here in the temple I am currently at. Do you know of any ritvik ashram in LA? I am anxious to serve Srila Prabhupada in a way that would please him absolutely, in the association of those devotees who know the truth.

        • Hare Krishna Bhakta Sky

          The problem is over the years the ritvik devotees have tried to start many temples but almost all of them have failed. Generally they can not work together. It is a very difficult situation we all find ourselves in. As far as the book changes it is obvious Srila Prabhupada forbid such changes and would never approve of what the BBT has done with and continues to do with his books.

          The truth is in Prabhupada’s books. We need to read them and find the truth there. That is the real point. We need to hear from Srila Prabhupada through reading his books and follow the instructions he gives us as we read his books. The idea is we have to become constantly engaged in serving Srila Prabhupada according to his instructions and in reality that may put us at odds with many so-called ‘devotees’ in ISKCON and out of ISKCON.

          So my suggestion is that you just concentrate on becoming a pure devotee of Krishna yourself. Very strictly follow the four regulative principles, chant at least 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra every day and read Srila Prabhupada’s books at least 1-2 hours a day. In this way your consciousness will become purified, you will be able to perceive that Krishna is present in your heart and that Srila Prabhupada is present in his books and you will be able to take the guidance from Srila Prabhupada and Krishna and in this way you will know what to do in any difficult circumstances.

          The main thing is we have to be engaged in devotional service ourselves. Chanting Hare Krishna is a prayer to Krishna, “Krishna please engage me in Your service.” So we have to use our body, our mind, our money, our everything in the service of Srila Prabhupada and Krishna. Srila Prabhupada was always very careful to see that all the devotees were constantly engaged in Krishna consciousness. Because an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. So we have to organize our lives so we are always engaged in serving Srila Prabhupada and Krishna 24 hours a day…

          There is nothing stopping us from being fully engaged in Krishna consciousness and if we are fully engaged in Krishna consciousness we will be able to clearly understand what is the correct position on all these issues.

          Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

          Madhudvisa dasa

        • Hare Krishna Prabhu
          Please accept my humble obeisances, All glories to srila Prabhupada.
          Prabhu now ISKCON Bengaluru group is following the Ritvik System as per the direction of Srila Prabhupada As It Is. Now all over india the ISKCON Bengaluru group is spreading the teaching and original book of Srila Prabhupa by a new institution name “HARE KRISHNA MOVEMENT”. all over india almost in evry state there is one center is there. and now in abroad also there are some temples are opening. and for more details you can check the ISKCON Bengalure group site on google.
          Your servant
          Satvata priya dasa

  3. Balgopal das says:

    Hare Krsna
    I accept the rtvik order as given by Srla Prabhupada, it is a settled fact, accepting a guru today is a high risk, something devotees who came in the earlier days won’t experience because there was Srila Prabhupada for all, so nowadays the choice of a guru is as good as a gamble. By the way at the Durban Ratha Yatra two weeks ago Jayadvaita Swami told a devotee that rtvik devotees are not against Iskcon, so I told that devotee that Jayadvaita Swami should give that in a written statement and print it in the BTG magazine. It is surprising since Jayadvaita Swami presented Plain Vanilla…now melting.

    Balgopal das Durban South africa

  4. Lalita says:

    It seems to be only for the time when Srila Prabhupada was alive. How can “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”. How can “the name of a newly initiated disciple” be sent to Srila Prabhupada after his departure?

    • Ganesh says:

      The book was held by his secretary, at that time Tamal Krishna Goswami. It was his secretary who includes the name into this book.

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