© 1998 VNN


December 30, 1998   VNN2759   See Related VNN Stories

Spiritual Vitality


EDITORIAL, Dec 30 (VNN) — Question: Are you in any position to comment on the prevailing ritvik argument? There are so many viewpoints that I am confused. - Mahapurusa dasa

Tripurari Swami: The problem with the ritvik debate is that the ritvik advocates are averse to hearing from senior Vaisnavas. So, too, unfortunately, are those on the right side of this argument, who represent the current Iskcon. As I have a strong tendency to hear from senior Vaisnavas, I am clear on the topic. The ritviks are wrong.

This was pointed out by Sridhara Maharaja in 1981, long before the ritvik advocates emerged. The opportunity for Sridhara Maharaja to address this issue arose when Ramesvara prabhu expressed his own desire to initiate only on behalf of Prabhupada, owing to his own perceived lack of qualification. While Sridhara Maharaja appreciated the natural humility behind this sentiment, he explained that such a policy was inconsistent with our siddhanta.

Iskcon understands this, but cannot silence the ritvik advocates because they themselves are weak in spiritual character owing to Vaisnava aparadha. Neither side can fully understand the solution because neither side is objective enough to realize that the solution lies outside of Iskcon (or the narrowly defined parameters of ISKCON defined by the GBC, which, for example, does not include the philosophical advice of Sridhara Maharaja which Prabhupada introduced in his final days with us).

Ritviks insist (nowadays) that theirs is a solution only for ISKCON, as (they construe) Prabhupada has ordered. Their conclusion is strongly influenced by their bias against accepting any Vaisnava outside of Iskcon, regardless of his obvious spiritual character. This bias stems from a kanistha adhikari conception of guru. It is not in concert with the dictum of Caitanya Caritamrita regarding the principle of siksha guru, nor with its conception of a plurality of gurus (vande gurun).

Iskcon leaders insist that even unqualified gurus are somehow qualified within Iskcon based on their understanding of Prabhupada's desire for Iskcon. They, too, are overwhelmingly influenced by the same bias they share with the ritvik advocates - aversion to hearing from senior Vaisnavas - resulting in this less-than-spiritual conclusion.

The problem in all of this is that both sides, while concerned for Iskcon, are not very concerned about spiritual life, having misconstrued the institution and its preservation as the final word in determining what is spiritual.

No doubt, Prabhupada wanted his institution to prevail, but not without essential spiritual vitality, what to speak of common sense. Common sense dictates that we take spiritual help from wherever it appears, as we did when we joined Iskcon in the first place. Such a policy will preserve our spiritual vitality.

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