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.
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]