Queries and Replies
A Christian Idea?
Singapore, 4 November 1993
Dear Rahugana Prabhu:
Please accept my humble obeisances.
I faxed you a number of pages, mostly regarding Srila Prabhupada as the Sampradaya Acharya and his rittvik representatives directive for continuing the disciplic succession. I shall also forward you by mail Srila Prabhupada, His Movement and You, plus another publication consisting of a collection of letters.
The primary purpose of publicizing these two controversial issues is not to convert or contend with my god-brothers and others; rather, for the purification and confirmation of my own heart. I was compelled to formulate these realizations as I have done. The second reason for publishing the above-mentioned material is to address all the devotees who were unfortunate enough to have come into my orbit of egocentric madness, thereby having suffered the devastating pain, frustration and loss of faith that comes with the betrayal of responsibility and confidence.
I beg you to forgive me for all the disappointments, insensitive, harsh, arrogant, disgraceful and deceitful behavior I heaped upon you and Nada. Till now I could not understand how grievous and destructive my activities have been. I am too proud, arrogant and foolish, so it has taken so many years to come out of the long, dark tunnel of lust, envy and greedy desires. Especially the desire to “BE THE GURU.” But by the mercy of Srila Prabhupada, Krishna and many well-wishing devotees, this long, dark journey into night has come to an end. Where is that end? At the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada (where else?!), as his insignificant, menial servant, nothing more today than the day I was accepted by Srila Prabhupada at my initiation ceremony in 1967 in New York. “Simply add ‘Dutta,'” Srila Prabhupada said. I was disappointed. I thought I would (should) have received a more noble, high-sounding name like Hanuman or Haridas.
Thinking back now to 1977, when I received the July 9th, 1977 letter of Srila Prabhupada’s rittvik appointments, I was enlivened to read my name there, but disappointed to note that we were only to “be rittvik representatives of the Acharya.” We were simply to continue to initiate on Srila Prabhupada’s behalf. Srila Prabhupada had written and spoken so many times about the simplicity of being guru. “Simply repeat what your guru said, simply follow, the perfect follower becomes the leader.” But now the moment of truth had arrived, and we were not going to be full gurus with our own disciples, we were being restricted. Srila Prabhupada said, “Act as my representative, continue to become rittvik of the Acharya.” It was disappointing. We expected more.
Therefore, when Srila Prabhupada actually left the planet, this desire to be a guru like Srila Prabhupada, the ambition and hankering for more than merely acting as an official rittvik priest, accepting disciples on his behalf, burst forth like a tidal wave, which swept over the whole ISKCON and caused devastation everywhere. And it has not yet stopped its destruction. That wave continues to roll. Presently it is rolling through New Vrindaban.
Somehow or other, I have survived this devastation, although I thought I would not survive. Indeed, I wanted to die, commit suicide. But intelligence told me of the futility of such an act. Many years have rolled past me. But Srila Prabhupada mercifully has opened my eyes. The solution to all this chaos and confusion is simple. Srila Prabhupada is the Acharya for everyone, and everyone can act as his representative, thus keeping “a house the whole world can live in” peaceful, happy and in perfect harmony.
For a long time I wanted to write you or speak with you, but not till now have the words and conclusions been forthcoming. Everything has its time and place.
Sometimes devotees think rittvik representative is something like the Christian system of priests or apostles and find this repulsive and vehemently object to it (although in fact ordered by Srila Prabhupada). In fact, the rittvik representative arrangement is exactly like the system the original apostles (disciples) of Lord Jesus followed, especially Paul, who personally never had any physical connection with Jesus. It was in fact the other apostles, like Peter, who fell into the trap of assuming titles and postures of divinity and holiness, much like Srila Prabhupada’s so-called guru-acharyas have after his disappearance.
The reason our devotees recoil at the thought of being compared to the Christian system of worshipping Christ as the central figure is not because there is anything wrong with this arrangement, but because the so-called priests, popes, bishops and worshippers actually do not worship or represent Jesus Christ and those precepts and examples he taught.
The system of keeping the Founder-Acharya in the center as the worshipable servant (Acharya) of the Lord is practiced by all religious schools. The Buddha is worshipped as the Founder-Acharya, Jesus is worshipped as the Founder-Acharya, Mohammed is worshipped as the Founder-Acharya and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is worshipped as the Founder-Acharya. But in each case we find that the worship is hypocrisy, or in name only, without real inquiry, submission and service—without which the whole show is a farce. “Faith without works is dead.”
But on the other hand, unqualified (not liberated) men posing as guru-acharyas is simply pretension or misrepresentation—so how is it better? At least in the former system (rittvik), the neophyte follower has a standard (the Acharya and his commentaries) by which to judge the actual spiritual substance of his spiritual leader or representative of the Acharya. In the pretentious guru-acharya system, the disciple is intimidated to think of the so-called guru as infallible and perfect, as good as God and therefore not subject to examination or doubt, for fear of committing Vaishnava aparadha.
Anyway, the bottom line is what the Acharya actually ordered or prescribed, not what we foolishly speculate or concoct in our attempt to satisfy our imperfect mind and intellect.
I doubt that my god-brothers will find much use for the ideas expressed in my publication, but they were not written to please them; they were written to please Srila Prabhupada, whom I have so displeased for so, so long a time. If he is pleased with my attempt to correct my mistakes and offenses at his lotus feet, then my life is whole, healthy and spiritually successful.
With this in mind, I humbly request you to go through the enclosures with an open mind and heart and give me your blessings and most of all forgive me for all my offenses. I look forward to seeing and speaking with you in Vrindaban. Yes! Two-way conversation, not one way, like “one hand clapping.” Hari bol.
With your blessings, I remain your humble servant,
P.S. The guru is the representative of Krishna (or Krishna is manifested as the guru), so no one ever becomes “The guru.” But one can become the surrendered SERVANT of the guru. In that way, Krishna makes use of such a 100% transparent, surrendered soul to TEACH the conditioned (rebellious) souls how to surrender to him by performance of pure devotional service.
Only a pure devotee can act as a guru, or that is to say, Krishna reveals Himself through the pure devotee. Others are pure in that degree that they act under the direction of such a pure devotee guru.
I think it is for this reason Prabhupada indicated his disciples “act as rittvik,” expecting if they would do so, in due course of time the ambition to be “guru” would be dissolved and thereby be fit instruments for Krishna and the parampara as “full gurus” or pure devotees.
The important difference between the Christian tradition and the Brahma-Gaudiya-Vaishnava Sampradaya is that we have an unbroken chain of disciplic succession, whereas Christians have no such unbroken line of Acharyas whose commentaries on the Bible are all in agreement. Therefore, when Srila Prabhupada ordered, “Act as rittvik of the Acharya,” it will work for us, where it has failed for Christians. This is an important point.