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A Reply to
Sri Rama das

by Narasimha das

I just read Sri Rama das's VNN article #2004. This type of irresponsible and ignorant talk from senior devotees in ISKCON continues to astonish me. When will they wake up? I can only conclude that due to their vested interests and other material motives, Sri Maya Devi herself has stolen the intelligence of persons polluted by association with the deviant leaders of the gbc. Thus they repeatedly expose their foolishness in public forums. Srila Prabhupada warned that anyone who misuses "even a farthing" of the Movement's assets for personal sense gratification is immediately captured by Maya.

Sri Rama das predicts that his four brief points mentioned below will somehow make Srila Prabhupada's direct order obscure and irrelevant. His very suggestion is a direct offense to Srila Prabhupada. He also offends many senior temple presidents of ISKCON India, who on a daily basis must tolerate difficult conditions and preach the Vaisnava siddhanta to those who are not easily convinced by mere sentiments. When asked how initiations would continue after his departure, Srila Prabhupada himself replied, "I shall recommend some of you to act as officiating acarya." When asked if these representatives could be called "ritviks", Srila Prabhupada replied, "Ritvik. Yes." A few days later Srila Prabhupada issued a formal order, his very directive, confirming and detailing the ritvik system for initiations.

Yet incredibly, Sri Rama das writes:
    1) I chaired the 1990? San Diego debate between both parties. I believe everyone felt I did a fair job and all had time to express their points of view. Gauridas Pandit das complains no one has ever been interested in what he heard from Srila Prabhupada. He certainly had his chance. After careful listening to both sides, I heard no scriptural, historic, or "Prabhupada said" that supported the ritvik point of view.
First thing to note here is that he can't even remember what year the debates took place. So what else will he remember? But what's the point, anyway? These debates are not the issue. At the conclusion of those meetings, the vast majority of all devotees attending voted in favor of the continuance of the discussions. Yet Sri Rama does not agree with all those devotees. For him the issue was already settled in favor of the gbc deviation. Sri Rama das mentions the "ritvik point of view" or "ritvik program" three times in his brief article but he never even briefly defines this "point of view."  He simple rejects it blindly and expects his readers to do the same. He fails to consider that Srila Prabhupada himself set up the original ritvik system of initiation in 1972. Years later, just four months before his departure, Srila Prabhupada formalized the system and made one final adjustment that would allow the system to continue without his physical involvement. He did this with an official letter sent to all leaders in ISKCON. In that signed letter, he uses the term "ritvik" and clearly defines the "ritvik point of view." Yet Sri Rama das thinks he can discredit this point view. He thinks he can defy Srila Prabhupada's command that this system should continue in ISKCON "henceforward" or indefinitely. He seems to think he understands Vedic tradition better than Srila Prabhupada.

Next Sri Rama das writes:
    2) How many times in a century or millennium can we expect the earthly presence of a self-effulgent acharya. Is it any surprise that ISKCON gurus can't come up the standard of Srila Prabhupada? It's just something we're going to have to deal with. And it could be dealt with by more regularizing the initiation process and emphasizing Srila Prabhupada as siksa guru. Just because the normal parampara is not working as well as when Prabhupada was physically present doesn't give ISKCON devotees the right to go against thousands or millions of years of sastra and Vaishnava sampradaya tradition.
The issue of accepting or changing Srila Prabhupada's instructions has nothing at all to do with other gurus coming up to Srila Prabhupada's standard. We are talking here of persons who insist that they have become Vaisnava acaryas by a vote or by their own self-promotion, yet instead of representing Srila Prabhupada and the Gaudiya Sampradaya, they fall into illicit activities, hide it from their followers, and do such abominable things that even ordinary rascals can't imagine. Yet Sri Rama das says we shouldn't be surprise becasue these men are not on Srila Prabhupada's level. If no one should expect these self-appointed gurus to come up to Srila Prabhupada's standard, why does iskcon policy insist their followers accept such gurus absolutely? What does Sri Rama das mean when he says we should "regularize the initiation process"? He alludes to a system that would make the diksa-guru less important. This is in direct contradiction to Caitanya-Caritamrita and all Vedic sastras that say the diksa-guru must be worshiped as equal to the Supreme Lord, Hari. It is further enjoined in sastra that the diksa-guru and siksa-guru must be viewed equally. Sri Rama das's proposal is very interesting. Regarding the decades of sinful madness created by those who were supposedly ISKCON diksa-gurus, he merely suggests, "It's just something we're going to have to deal with."

That's a profound realization. Where has this guy been for 21 years? Now we finally have the answer to this great dilemma of Vaisnava gurus falling into horrible perversions and changing the siddhanta. The usual gbc tactic has been to hide the deviations of their party members. When that fails, they go around reinitiating the fallen guru's disciples--or those who still want to be devotees even after learning that the person they were trained to accept as good as Sri Krsna and Srila Prabhupada is a pervert and cheater.

Sri Rama das says that if devotees initiate on behalf of Srila Prabhupada, this goes against the scriptures and Vedic tradition, but he offers not one reference to substantiate this claim. There is, in fact, nothing in Srila Prabhupada's books to substantiate this claim. There is nothing in the Vedas or Vaisnava tradition to substantiate this claim. The sannyasis of the Madhva and Ramanuja traditions consider themselves as representatives of their Acarya. Srila Prabhupada often spoke of himself in this way, considering sometimes even his own disciples as direct represenatives of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati. This is the parampara tradition-- to represent the Acarya. According to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta only an animal will claim he is a guru and, without any direct order from higher authorities, try to assume the exalted role of Spiritual Master. Has Sri Rama das even read Srila Prabhupada's books? Has he read any of the extensive philosophical papers written by devotees in support of Srila Prabhupada's system for initiations? Obviously not.

Sri Rama das writes:
    3) You are Christianizing Lord Caitanya's parampara.
What does Christianity have to do with anything? This is just foolish name calling. More political rhetoric without meaning. Srila Prabhupada never condemned Christ, Christians or Christianity. Vaisnavas never fault genuine gurus or their followers. Srila Prabhupada several times affirmed that Christians could still accept Jesus Christ as guru and make spiritual advancement. He only faulted Christians for disregarding and perverting the actual orders of Christ--the way Sri Rama das and the gbc try to do with Srila Prabhupada's orders.
    4) These are difficult times, and the only solution is personal improvement by our leadership. The Ritvik program is attractive because it provides an easy way out from our dilemma. But Krishna will send us help before every speculative group tears its teeth into and chews another piece away from Prabhupada's ISKCON-- for what appears to be good reason, but just turns out to be another castle in the air.
What is Sri Rama das's idea for the "personal improvement" of iskcon leaders? A police state in the monastery? Video cameras in the guru quarters? How about mandatory drug testing for all gurus? DNA samples from the polluted clothing of molested women and children? Law suits and legal action? Psychological testing, psychotherapy, and personal development seminars for guru canidates? A gurus' crisis hotline? They will propose any nonsense just to avoid admitting they are not qualified to be gurus and that they have deviated. To preserve their own prestige, they will change the philosophy of Krsna consciousness and make a mockery of the position of Spiritual Master. (They will never even consider a vow of poverty, but this alone would solve many problems in iskcon leadership.)

Why doesn't the gbc and their supporters agree to discuss the guru issue philosophically, point by point? Why are they afraid to meet the so-called "ritviks" in an open assembly? Why are times so difficult if the gbc is following Srila Prabhupada's instructions? How did we get into this dilemma if it was not due to the gbc's deviation from Srila Prabhupada's order? Why do sincere devotees need to get reinitiated two, three, four, or more times due to fear that they can have no substantial connection with Srila Prabhupada, or fear they will be discriminated against in iskcon? Devotees are being deliberately manipulated and controlled. Why does Sri Rama das insist such sinful cheating is the parampara system?

The so-called "ritvik program" would at least assure that Srila Prabhupada's system for initiations is followed and that unqualified persons can't so easily cheat uneducated devotees. Srila Prabhupada's orders on initiations are very important for ISKCON, but external acceptance of this order will never alone provide the panacea. The panacea is appreciating Srila Prabhupada and accepting all his instructions unequivocally. Unless leading devotees agree to follow Srila Prabhupada, hear from him constantly, and accept his orders without argument, there can neither be a genuine ISKCON nor unity among devotees.

Sri Rama das's article is both foolish and offensive. To this day, the opponents of Srila Prabhupada's order have found no evidence against it in scripture, yet they often talk irresponsibly in defense of the gbc's concocted system of ordaining gurus, or they propose the latest idea that anyone can be guru without any authorization at all. They never seem to consider that we have no document from Srila Prabhupada authorizing any of his disciples to initiate their own disciples in ISKCON. Nor did Srila Prabhupada authorize the GBC to ordain diksa-gurus. Srila Prabhupada obviously set up a system for ritvik initiations, but those whose motive is to exploit Srila Prabhupada's mission find this system unacceptable. They desparately cling to their positions of exploitation, but they would be far better off committing suicide or retiring for a life of austerity and devotion at a secluded holy place. Or, as Srila Prabhupada told some deviant sannyasis in Hawaii, "In regular dress, like ordinary gentlemen, go enjoy all nonsense. Be at least a little honest. Don't pretend to be Vaisnavas."

If one is determined to remain ignorant, better he says nothing at all. Otherwise he compounds his delusion with offenses. What is the use of so many opinions? The Krsna consciousness movement is not a political movement or a democratic system. It is meant to revive our full consciousness and pure love for Sri Krsna by a systematic and scientific process. Those who can understand and preach this science are gurus by qualification, and they gladly accept Srila Prabhupada's orders for continuing his mission. They don't need politics and intrigue or an illegal position to manipulate others. If they find a deviation from siddhanta, they can answer every argument elaborately, point for point. The so-called gbc leaders of iskcon, however, can only hide behind foolish supporters and meaningless political rhetoric aimed not at defending Srila Prabhupada's ISKCON but at defending their illicit power structure.

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