01/19/98 - 1517
On My Behalf
USA (VNN) - Srila Prabhupada's Initiation System
by Gauridasa Pandita Dasa
Srila Prabhupada arrived in Sri Vrindavan Dhama on May 17th 1977
to prepare to 'leave his body.' He started making arrangements
to secure the future of his movement. He formed his will, the
temple property trusts, gave instructions for the Bhaktivedanta
Book Trust and GBC and established his initiation system.
Due to some unseen good fortune I got to be with Srila Prabhupada
at this time. On May 28th a committee of the GBC met in Srila
Prabhupada's room and asked various questions for the future of
ISKCON. Regarding initiations Satsvarupa Maharaja asked Srila
Prabhupada, "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 initiations would be conducted."
Srila Prabhupada answered, "Yes; I shall recommend some of you.
After this is settled up, I shall recommend some of you to act
as officiating acaryas."
Then Tamal K.G. asked, "Is that called ritvik-acarya?" Srila Prabhupada
replied, "ritvik yes." (R.C. 5-28-77) I mentioned this to Yasodanandan
Prabhu, who entered into his diary at that time. I'm using that
diary to help compile this information. Yasodanandan Prabhu had
a conversation with Bhavananda Maharaja on May 31st where he asked,
"What's this I heard from Gauridasa about [the] nomination of
ritvic acaryas?" Bhavananda said, "It just means on behalf of
Prabhupada. That's all. I can't wait until we start to do this."
One of my services for Srila Prabhupada was to take care of his
garden and fan him with the camara while he was there. At these
times he would chant japa or listen to devotees chant bhajans
or read. Sometimes the secretary, Tamal K.G., would read letters
from the devotees. Srila Prabhupada would dictate a response,
then the secretary would type it and bring it back later to read
it again to Srila Prabhupada who would approve and sign it.
On July 5th Tamal asked Srila Prabhupada about some devotees who
wanted to get initiated. This was in the garden as I fanned him.
Srila Prabhupada said, "Tomorrow I will I will announce some ritvik
acaryas who will initiate disciples on my behalf when I leave
It was actually two days later on July 7th when Srila Prabhupada
named the first eleven ritvik acharyas. Again this occurred in
the garden as I fanned Srila Prabhupada. Here is the transcription
of the tape:
Tamal K.G.: We're receiving a number of letters now, and these
are people who want to get initiated. So up until now, since your
becoming ill, we asked them to wait.
Prabhupada: The local senior sanyasis can do that.
T.K.G.: That's what we were doing... I mean, formerly we were...
the local GBC,
sanyasis, were chanting on their beads, and they were writing
to your Divine
Grace, and you were giving a spiritual name. So should that process
resumed, or should we...? I mean one thing is that it's said that
master takes on the... you know, he takes on the... He has to
cleanse the disciple by... So we don't want that you should have
to... Your health is not so good, so that should not be... That's
why we've been asking everyone to wait. I just want to know if
we should continue to wait for some more time?
Prabhupada: No, the senior sanyasis...
T.K.G.: So they should continue to...
Prabhupada: You can give me a list of sanyasi's. I will mark who
Prabhupada: You can do. Kirtananada can do, and our Satsvarupa
can do. So
these three, you can give, begin.
T.K.G. : So supposing someone is in America; should they simply
directly to Kirtananda or Satsvarupa?
Prabhupada: Nearby, Jayatirtha can give.
Prabhupada: Bhagavan... Bhagavan and he can also do. Harikesa.
T.K.G.: Harikesa Maharaja.
Prabhupada: And, five six men, you divide who is nearest.
T.K.G.: Who is nearest. So persons wouldn't have to write to your
Grace. They could write directly to that person?
T.K.G.: Actually they are initiating the person on your Divine
Those persons who are initiated are still your...
Prabhupada: Second initiation we shall think over; second initiation.
T.K.G.: This is for first initiation, okay. And for second initiation,
time being they should...
Prabhupada: No, they have to wait. Second initiation, that should
T.K.G.: Should... Some devotees are writing you now for second
I'm writing them to wait a while because you're
not well. So can I continue to tell them that?
Prabhupada: They can do second initiation.
T.K.G.: By writing you?
Prabhupada: No; these men.
T.K.G.: These men, they can also do second initiation. So there's
no need for
the devotees to write to you for first and second initiation.
They can write
to the man nearest them. But all these persons are still your
Anybody who gives initiation is doing so on your behalf.
T.K.G.: You know that book I'm maintaining of all of your disciples
Should I continue that?
T.K.G.: So if someone gives initiation, like Harikesa Maharaja,
he should send
the person's name to us here and I'll enter it in the book. Okay.
anybody else in India that you want to do this?
Prabhupada: India, I am here, we shall see. In India, Jayapataka.
T.K.G.: Jayapataka Maharaja.
Prabhupada: You are also in India.
Prabhupada: You can note down these names.
T.K.G. Yes, I have them.
Prabhupada: Who are they?
T.K.G.: Kirtanananda Maharaja, Satsvarupa Maharaja, Jayatirtha
Bhagavan Prabhu, Harikesa Maharaja, Jayapataka Maharaja, and Tamal
Prabhupada: That's nice. Now you distribute.
T.K.G.: Seven. There's seven names.
Prabhupada: For the time being, seven names, sufficient. You
can make Ramesvara.
T.K.G.: Ramesvara Maharaja.
Prabhupada: And Hrdayananda.
T.K.G. Oh, yeah. South America.
Prabhupada: So without waiting for me, wherever you consider
it is right... That will depend on discretion.
T.K.G.: On discretion.
T.K.G.: That's for first and second initiations.
Prabhupada: Hm [yes]
T.K.G.: Okay. Shall I send a kirtana party, Srila Prabhupada?
Later on Hansadutta Maharaja was added and Tamal Krishna Maharaja
Vrindaban July 9, 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
named these representatives, Temple Presidents may henceforward
recommendation for first and second initiation to whichever of
representatives are nearest their temple. After considering the
recommendation, these representatives may accept the devotee as
disciple of Srila Prabhupada by giving a spiritual name, or in
the case of second initiation, by chanting on the Gayatri thread,
Srila Prabhupada has done. The newly initiated devotees are disciples
Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad, the above eleven
devotees acting as his representative. After the Temple President
letter from these representatives giving the spiritual name or
the thread, he can perform the fire yajna in the temple as was
before. The name of a newly initiated disciple should be sent
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.
Tamal Krsna Gosvami
Secretary to Srila Prabhupada
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
Prabhupada (Letter Signed by Srila Prabhupada)
I told some of the devotees what I heard about this and Yasodanandan
wrote it down in his diary. On July 8th Yasodanandan Prabhu wrote,
"Tamal Krishna Maharaja was talking about [with Prabhupada] rtvik
gurus to initiate on behalf of Prabhupada after he leaves the
planet." On July 9th Yasodanandan wrote, "I heard from Tamal Krishna
Maharaja in the afternoon that Srila Prabhupada had told him to
send a letter to 'all the temples' to explain the ritvik initiation
system for the future." On July 10th Yasodanandan wrote, "Tamal
Krishna Maharaja comes out of Prabhupada's room. TKG: "Haribol,
Yasoda, did you see this?" Yasoda: "No, what is it?" TKG: "This
is signed by Prabhupada." Yasoda: "What does all this mean?" TKG:
"Devotees have been writing to Prabhupada asking for initiations
and now Prabhupada has named eleven ritviks who can initiate on
his behalf. Prabhupada said others can be added." Yasodanandan:
"And when Prabhupada departs?" TKG: "They'll be ritviks. That's
what Prabhupada said. It's all on tape."
(R.C.5-28-77 & 7-7-77etc.)
These arrangements were for after Srila Prabhupada's departure.
The next few days after the ritvic appointments I heard more instructions
from Srila Prabhupada. Tamal K.G. asked him the next morning,
July 8th, if there should be vyasasana's for the ritviks in the
temples. Srila Prabhupada said, "No; that would create enmity
among my disciples. You can make another room for that, but not
in my temples." The way I understood it was that the ritviks could
be shown respect and even worshipped privately; but the devotees
guru would/will be Srila Prabhupada and they should offer their
prayers and obeisances to him. The new devotees should continue
to offer the prasadam to Srila Prabhupada with the standard mantras.
Only Srila Prabhupada should be worshipped by all of the devotees
Tamal K.G. also asked Srila Prabhupada if there could be more
ritviks in the future. Srila Prabhupada said that more could be
appointed by the GBC at Mayapura. Tamal K.G. asked Srila Prabhupada
what to do if a ritvik falls down and Srila Prabhupada replied
that the GBC could remove them. Srila Prabhupada said that his
temples were for his worship only and if we become diksa gurus
we should only accept worship in our own temples. That way the
movement would be united under Srila Prabhupada. The new devotees
are junior God-brothers and sisters and if we become a pure devotee,
diksa guru, those initiates would be 'grand disciples' of Srila
Prabhupada. But this will be rare and must be done outside of
ISKCON. For ISKCON we are all Godbrothers and sisters, junior
and senior. Of course all respect is to be given to the senior
and all devotees. Srila Prabhupada wanted one big happy family
built on love and trust. That's why he established the ritvik
system with him in the center. That's why he spent days and nights
writing the lawbooks for the next ten thousand years.
When I informed Yasodanandan about Srila Prabhupada's instructions
Tamal K.G. called me into his office and said, "I told you never
to say anything about what Prabhupada says to anybody without
clearing it through me first! You'll never do anything for Prabhupada
again!" He told me to 'get out.'
I was thunderstruck! He had the authority to 'fire me' and he
did. I retreated to my room and lamented like anything. Upendra
Prabhu came to see me and tried to encourage me. He said he was
working on Tamal K.G. to try to get me back. They had tried out
a couple of other devotees to do my services. The next day Upendra
returned and said that the devotees were 'spacing out.' He said
Tamal K.G. didn't realize how much service I was actually doing
and they needed me back. I was going to get another chance. It
was the one of the happiest days of my life! I relished my service
even more and thought that the ritvik initiation system would
be continued indefinitely.
After Srila Prabhupada actually left the planet and I noticed
the first vyasasana's appear in the temple rooms I was shocked.
I returned to Vrindavan in early 1978 and met Tamal K.G. in his
room. I asked him why vyasasana's were being put in the temple
rooms when we both heard Srila Prabhupada say not to. He asked
me if I thought Srila Prabhupada could of said anything else after
I had left. (I had to leave at the end of July 77 because my visa
had expired.) I said I'm sure he could have but I don't know why
he would have when he'd talked about the ritvik system for months
before his departure. Tamal K.G. said, "Well he did, and if you
don't believe me you can ask Kirtanananda Swami." I asked if there
was a tape or letter to that effect and he responded by slamming
his fist down on he desk and said, "I don't want to hear another
word about this Gauridasa!" I retreated out of his room disappointed.
A few years later, on Dec. 3rd 1980, Tamal Krishna Maharaja told
the real story at the Pyramid House inTopanga Canyon, California.
Here are some key quotes: "Actually, Prabhupada never appointed
any 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."... "You can't
show me anything on tape or in writing where Prabhupada says,
'I appoint these 11 as gurus.' It doesn't exist because he never
appointed any gurus. This is a myth."
My plea is to the GBC, to meet and study the final days of Srila
Prabhupada in this regard. Now the movement is splintered with
each of the 100+ guru's having a little group of his own. Vaisnava
etiquette is lacking in most cases. Devotees that would of joined
ISKCON are joining other groups. Intelligent people are rarely
coming as before. Where are all of the 'stars' these days? The
ritvik initiation system will bring more souls to the shelter
of Srila Prabhupada and his Hare Krishna Movement. The ritvik
initiation system will reunite Srila Prabhupada's family and make
his temples a place where the whole world can live again!
Srila Prabhupada said we will show our love for him by how we
cooperate after his departure. What can a bunch of splinter groups
accomplish? If we do learn the art of cooperation and the ritvik
initiation system gets reenacted it will be a great day in the
history of ISKCON. The preaching mission will expand just like
it did in 'the good old days' with Srila Prabhupada in the center
as our common denominator. Sometimes it takes years and sometimes
lifetimes to fulfill the order of the spiritual master. Better
late than never! All glories to our Jagat Guru, the sakta-vesa
avatar, Srila Prabhupada! He is still approachable through his
teachings and he can and will deliver us all back to Godhead if
we just take proper shelter. Let's give real peace a chance!
Gauridasa Pandita Dasa
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