Srila Prabhupada, His Movement & You

Need a Living Guru?

From Riktaharshan (formerly Vrindaban Chandra das of Mt. Kailash, aka Eric Johanson),
Beaverton, Oregon
13 January 1994

Dear Hansadutta Prabhu:

Please accept my most respectful obeisances. All glories to your diksha guru Srila Prabhupada, who I pay dandavats to as my shiksha guru.

I have just read the following excerpt in the “Merry Krishnas” issue (#6) of the PADA newsletter:

Hansadutta Prabhu now initiates newcomers as Prabhupada’s disciples, and a Prabhupada initiation ceremony was given by him recently in the Philippines [sic]. Simultaneously, he has advised all his former disciples to consider Srila Prabhupada to be their actual guru. They should consider the initiation [newsletter’s italics] he gave them formerly as a rittvik initiation, done on behalf of Srila Prabhupada.

I was surprised to read that you are (allegedly) pushing this new philosophy. As you may remember, in 1988, we mutually agreed to annul my 1978 initiation by you. Did I also receive a “rittvik initiation” from you at that time? I certainly don’t consider Srila Prabhupada to be my diksha guru.

In that 1978 ceremony, as well as all the others you performed back then, you never spoke of this rittvik initiation. You instead preached strongly against anything like it, emphasizing that all genuine disciples must be initiated by a living guru.

The rittvik people attack this phrase, saying it’s an offense (in effect, calling Srila Prabhupada a dead guru). Srila Prabhupada is still gloriously living, no doubt. Using the phrase “living guru” is just a common way of referring to a guru who is constantly manifest in what appears to be a physical body, that’s all. Prabhupada has chosen not to do that since November of 1977.

Actually, Srila Prabhupada himself used the phrase “physical spiritual master.”

O’GRADY: The problem is to find this spiritual master.

PRABHUPADA: No. There is no problem. THE PROBLEM IS IF YOU ARE SINCERE. Yes. That is stated. Because actually you have got problems. But God is within your heart. Isvarah sarva-bhutanam hrd-dese arjuna tisthati. God is not far away. God is within your heart. So, IF YOU ARE SINCERE, then God will GIVE YOU SPIRITUAL MASTER. If He knows that now you are sincere, then He will give you a spiritual master.

O’GRADY: O.K. Thank you. That I know.

PRABHUPADA: Therefore, God is called chaitya-guru, the spiritual master within the heart. And the PHYSICAL spiritual master is God’s mercy. If God sees that you are sincere, He will give you a spiritual master who can give you protection. He will help you from within and WITHOUT—WITHOUT in the
PHYSICAL FORM of spiritual master and within as the spiritual master within the heart. (Srila Prabhupada speaking with Desmond O’Grady, Rome, May, 1974)

As far as “initiating on behalf of Srila Prabhupada” goes, Prabhupada also used that phrase. Does that mean that you and your god-brothers have all actually been initiated by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta (with Prabhupada as a mere rittvik on his guru’s behalf)?

You are all helping me in pushing forward this mission of Lord ChaitanyaMahaprabhu, coming down by disciplic succession to my Guru Maharaja. So, whatever you have spoken, it is simply due to them. I am simply the via medium to receive them, ON BEHALF of my Guru Maharaja, His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja Prabhupada. (Srila Prabhupada, 21 August 1971)

As one of the devotees who knew you (to some extent), despite your personal problems, I was often impressed with your strength in speaking out against rationalized concoctions like rittvikvada. Generally, you had a very good understanding of the philosophy and preached it in clear terms, without compromise.

In the Christian community, Jesus was initiated by a spiritual master, John the Baptist. The initiation process is essential… necessary in order to be recognized by God. A medical student has to follow the standard course under a recognized professor. Then he will get his degree. However, if the student goes to the library and reads all the books on his own, he will never be recognized as bona fide. (Hansadutta das, 14 January 1969, Berkeley)

How many students do you know who study under a departed and non-manifest professor on campus and still get their degree from that college?

This rittvikvada is following the path of modern-day institutionalized delusions posing as religions. PADA hints this is the case:

The priest is called a rittvik in Sanskrit. So PADA heartily applauds… an end to the need for re-initiations. Hey! Once you have your baptismal initiation, how many more do you need anyway? Do you need a new marriage certificate when the priest changes? No. So this soft approach to re-initiation is good. (PADA, issue #4)

Diksha, however, is a personal affair, not something to be decided by across-the-board proclamations. Srila Gaura Kishora das Babaji and his sole disciple, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, set the example—the guru and the disciple have to both formally accept one another.

Yet, with what they say is absolute authority, the rittvik party spirit waves a new flag. Anyone who picks up a bead bag and chants, “Jaya Prabhupada” soon becomes a formally initiated disciple of His Divine Grace. And Srila Prabhupada automatically takes his karma? And Srila Prabhupada will return to the physical plane to deliver him if he doesn’t reach perfection?

It’s not hard to believe that Srila Prabhupada left, at least in part, because he didn’t wish to accumulate any more of that.

Wouldn’t you have branded this rittvikvada as sahajiya at one time? It’s setting up a kind of First Church of Prabhupada, the Redeemer. And ironically, the man who is now spearheading the campaign received a very clear warning from Prabhupada himself: “IT’S CHURCH! IT’S CHURCH! IT’S CHURCH!” Ask him.

The real process is to become completely sincere. Then Krishna will descend to such a person in the form of the self-realized, pure devotee spiritual master. There is no substitute for this.

Neither the ecclesiastically appointed, voted-in, non-vetoed, post-holder, musical-chairs gurus nor the rittvik-Churchianity material arrangements will work. They cannot deliver the goods.

If someone is not insane and finds that he has not been directly accepted by a manifest guru, then he should honestly draw but one conclusion: he has not yet become sincere enough in spiritual life! Any other conclusions are delusions. The rittvik arrangements discussed by His Divine Grace with his leading secretaries were meant to facilitate world-wide initiations during his manifest presence. Those instructions were no longer applicable after his disappearance. All these post-1977 initiations were and still are a sham and a mockery of the parampara. We should clean house, go back to square one and start over. We shouldn’t propose some new, further-flung falsity that will only create more factions.

Why can’t we encourage and facilitate people to become spiritually sincere? Are we frightened that they may actually find out a pure devotee? Are we frightened that Paramatma may then dictate in our hearts that we should also approach such a pure devotee for shiksha? Instead, with rittvikvada we give the babies a mirror, get a reflection in it and then tell them they’ve actually captured the moon in their hands.

This is an open letter, so you can print it in PADA or elsewhere, if you choose to do that. I assume the afore-mentioned annulment applies to any new conception of initiation you may hold. I hope so. Kindly contact me if that is an incorrect assumption. Most of the things PADA is hammering down on I also despise. So I find the newsletter to be doing some good work and exposing things that fully require to be exposed. But this rittvik philosophy it pushes will spoil it.

Your eternal servant,

P.S.”Even a slight change will spoil it. That is why I have always been so careful to give you only those things which I have heard from my Guru Maharaja.” (Srila Prabhupada to Hansadutta, Vrindaban, 1967)

From Hansadutta das,
Cloverdale, California

Dear Eric Johanson:

Please accept my humble obeisances. If we simply accept Srila Prabhupada’s last directive in the matter of who will initiate without interpretation, then all the confusion and speculation will vanish, as fog vanishes with the appearance of the morning sun. I hope you are well.

Your servant,
Hansadutta das

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22 Responses to Srila Prabhupada, His Movement & You

  1. I shall be including sections of this very intelligent, but flawed, commentary in an upcoming article that will be posted on one of our websites. As I told you in 1988, I would read the book that you gave me. I have read, more than once, both of your books, as well as this article. You are close. The quote from Vaikunthanatha, as potent as it appears to be, is still evidence not conclusive proof. Indeed, and somewhat ironically, you have prominently posted in another section of your website, that famous letter you received from His Divine Grace wherein he said that his movement may have gurus given the title of Bhaktivedanta (for their advanced learning and realization in the supreme science) by 1975. This was not realized, however, as we all know. Instead, eleven men–yourself one of them–went, in your own words to me back in the Eighties “way too far.” Nevertheless, misuse of a great science does not render it useless. The rittvik process (and I spell this word exactly as you do, so we have something in common there) in relation to Srila Prabhupada ended on November 15, 1977; the last genuinely initiated disciple of Prabhupada was Mahapurana das, an African-American devotee, at (again, somewhat ironically, although Nityananda prabhu was already in Mississippi by that time) the New Orleans yatra just hours before Prabhupada departed us in manifest form. The real issue here is not rittvik; the real issue is “regular guru, that’s all.” What did that mean? I ask this rhetorically, as I am confident that I know what it means. Similarly, as was revealed in your presence at Topanga Canyon in early December of 1980, the eleven men named on July 9-10, 1977 where not to create any kind of exclusive monopoly based upon their having been given the renewal of the service of rittvik, which had been suspended for a period of time before that summer. I think that you would agree that close is not good enough here. We may put together the pieces of the puzzle in a different chronological order–and that is to be expected–but, when it is finished, all the pieces fit together in one way and one way only. There is one perfect way, and we both agree that the vitiated GBC has not established, nor does it represent, that way. Yet, there arguments have some power to them, especially in terms of pragmatic considerations–Western pragmatism, that is. Indeed, I pick up no dearth of pragmatism in your presentations both in your books and on your website. The issue is not pragmatism itself, as Prabhupada was very results oriented. The issue is the difference between Western pragmatism and Vedic or Vaishnava pragmatism. There is one essential difference between them, and a hint of what that is can be found in Nityananda prabhu’s favorite slogan: Satyam eva jayate.
    One other thing to keep in mind. Kindly do not misread anything personal into this, because it is not intended for any specific initiated devotee (1966-1977) of Prabhupada. We both agree that the GBCs of Prabhupada and his guru deviated in egregious ways. What was the ultimate result thirty years after the first such deviation? Or, rather, how did Lord Chaitanya choose to rectify that situation? It wasn’t via any kind of rittvik arrangement, was it.
    So, I am being stimulated to some extent by what I am reading on your website and in reviewing your books (I have both of them) once again. In due course, it should produce an article that goes into detail on all of these spiritual raw nerve topics. Obviously, I had very little association with His Divine Grace in comparison to your good self; I was only alone with him once for about four minutes. So, you are very blessed, and I admire your spiritual good fortune. It empowers you to carry on, no doubt. Still, you and I have another thing in common that is certainly rare amongst Prabhupada’s actually initiated disciples, viz., neither of us was preached to before coming to the temple and deciding to surrender. I have read your historical account, it was impressive, and I could relate to it. Mine was different, obviously, but the principle was the same. As such, we each stand for something and push something independent of mass opinion and negativity of the enforced conformity. Your version of rittvik–and there are quite a number of them–is different from the others, and that is to be expected, also.
    Once I produce the above-mentioned article (for the first time, I am seriously considering employing the A & A format in doing so), would you like me to notify you of its posting along with a hyperlink? I shall not be offended if you answer this specific query in the negative nor shall I be offended if I do not hear from you at all. We are all meant to reach the stage of sthita-prajna, in which it is certain that His Divine Grace would order us to become diksa-guru, not rittvik. Until then, we are meant to preach to newcomers, stress Prabhupada as their siksa-guru, and keep them in the process at the level of sadhu-sanga. It is an impetus to get very sincere and serious and reach the stage of mahimni sve mahiyate, i.e., drsta evatmanisvare. If we could not or cannot reach even this stage, which is prior to bhava, then what was the meaning of Srila Prabhupada coming here in the first place and training us to become gurus? And he certainly wanted this, as you well know, and as evidenced, if not indeed proved, by his letter to you in 1975.
    Hoping that this meets you and your good wife in good health and cheerful mood, I beg to remain . . .
    Your eternal servant,

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  3. Suvarna says:

    Thank you for this book Hansadutta Prabhu. Very wonderful writing. I am very grateful. Thank you. Your servant Suvarna

  4. Suvarna says:

    is this book available to purchase?

  5. I have no motre copies for saler, you can download the whole text from Nama Hatta, or write to…… perhaps they have a copy,
    Thank you nfor appriociating my realizations. I do not write for money, or noteriety. I have written according to my experience and heart felt love for Prabhupada

    Your humble servant,
    I shaould have done better,
    But I fell. failed and am very repentant about that, and still working to get up and do the right thing.

    • tarunkrishna das says:

      Haribol ji, may i say Hansdutta ji at least you have said you made mistakes , been open about what went wrong for you, not many from that time have or ever will, bless you ji ,..haribol

    • Nilesh Dalal says:

      Hare Krishna prabhuji,
      Please consider to reprint your book not for fame or for glory but to help other innocent jivas from following the bogus gurus. I just discovered your website. But there are others where this message has to be reached. Please help to redirect Prabhupada’s vision in it’s true direction. Senior true devotees like yourself is our only link to the truth.
      Hari Bol.

    • dhaval moradiya says:

      hare krishna
      i want to purchasse of this book …

  6. Martin says:

    Hare Krishna. Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

    For many years I have been searching for the audio of the so-called appointment tape of May 28, 1977. Do you have the audio file, and if so, could you please email it to me or post it to YouTube? I have read the transcript and understand that Srila Prabhupada appointed ritviks, but I would like to hear the audio for myself.

  7. William Regular says:

    Hare Krishna!!
    Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!!

    Thank you very much for your profound realizations. i really felt indebted.. it gives me more light since you personally advice me to read first before i come to visit any ISKCON temple. i will write you someday in regards of this book.
    Again, thank you very much Hansadutta Prabhu

  8. Pingback: Disappearance day of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada « Srila Prabhupada

  9. Lou says:

    Dear Hansadutta Das,
    I remember you in Berkely in 1976 or so. I used to frequent the temple there often. I have not been to an ISKCON temple since then although I occasionally try to keep up on ISKCON news. I am a devotee of Avatar Meher Baba. I have no qualifications to judge but the letter you’ve shared seems to clearly spell out Srila Prabhupada’s wishes. It makes it very clear: “The newly initiated devotees are disciples of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada …” It is truly a shame that ISKCON has been divided all these years and I pray your efforts are helpful. Congratulations on your honesty and sincere work.

  10. Probir saha says:

    Jay radha!! I love “krishna” but i love you too.,’prabhupada’

  11. Vishnujana says:

    Hansadutta please accept my humble obeisances as a older Godbrother. I would like to talk to you about the ritvik system and where do you stand with post 1977 ISKCON. I would also like to know if you yourself know about the poisoning of our Spiritual Master A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada by your Godbrothers (perhaps you were aware but did not do anything) as well as your Godbrothers and the heinous acts they have done such as kirtananda and bhakti thirtha and many others. Please write back to me as soon as possible. If you truly following Srila Prabhupada you would allow for us to start a conversation to help this poor lost soul find some happiness. You are one of the last Ritvik Representative of Srila Prabhupada who was chosen by HIM. do not let this go to waste. Rise up Hansadutta and fight for Srila Prabhupada if you are sincere. Do not become clouded by illusion like arjuna at the battle of kurusetra with his family members. Just because they are your Godbrothers does not make it right to let them destroy Prabhupada ISKCON and take so many to hell with them. there are many scattered sects of the ritvik camp around the world with some truly devoted to Prabhupada and others for some materialistic purposes. Are we to let our faith become like the christian faith which is scattered from protestant to catholic to coptic orthodox to Pentecostal? Why do you sit and do nothing? Become a true ritvik and defend Prabhupada order and stop this second poisoning which is being done to Prabhupada Books. They are new devotees that are coming in this movement and many are lost because of the so many ritvik camps as well that they do not want to associate with ISKCON example my self and few friends. All I ask of you from my self is to write back to me so we may talk with my friends on your place and what we can do. Hare Krsna Jai Prabhupada.

    • Vishnujana says:

      Srila Prabhupada: Keu bole je keu poison kore diyeche. Hoy to tai.
      Translation: Someone says that I’ve been poisoned. It’s possible.

      Balaram Mishra (?): Hmm?

      Kaviraja: Kya farma rahe hain?
      Translation: What is he saying?

      Srila Prabhupada: Koi bolta hai je koi mujhko poison kiya gaya hai.
      Translation: Someone says that someone has given poison.

      Kaviraja: Kisko?
      Translation: To whom?

      Srila Prabhupada: Mujhko.
      Translation: To me.

      Kaviraja: Kaun bolta hai?
      Translation: Who said?

      Srila Prabhupada: Ye sab friends.
      Translation: These all friends.

      Bhakticharu: Ke boleche, Srila Prabhupada?
      Translation: Who said, Srila Prabhupada?

      Srila Prabhupada: Ke boleche.
      Translation: They all say.

      Tamal Krishna: Krishna das?

      Kaviraja: Ao ko kaun poison dega? Kis liye dega?
      Translation: Who would give you poison? Why would anyone do that?

      Tamal Krishna: Who said that, Srila Prabhupada?

      Srila Prabhupada: I do not know, but it is said.

      Exchange 1 – Mixture of English, Hindi and Bengali (9/11/77)

      Jagadisha: Srila Prabhupada, can you tell us why you want to go on the parikrama? (travelling to visiting holy places)
      Prabhupada: …good paddy.
      Tamala Krsna: This seems like suicide, Srila Prabhupada, this program. It seems to some of us like it’s suicidal.
      Prabhupada: And this is also suicidal.
      Tamala Krsna: Hm. Prabhupada said, “And this is also suicide.” Now you have to choose which suicide.
      Prabhupada: The Ravana (A great demon) will kill and Rama (God) will kill. Better to be killed by Rama. Eh? That Marica–if he does not go to mislead Sita, he’ll be killed by Ravana; and if he goes to be killed by Rama, then it is better.
      [Room Con. Nov. 10, 1977, Vrndavana, India]

      Prabhupada: All right. You take Babaji Maharaja. That will be my going. (“devotees” laugh)
      Krsna dasa Babaji: Jaya. (laughter)
      Tamala Krsna: Yes, the bullock cart will go tomorrow
      Prabhupada: Yes.
      Tamala Krsna: To Govardhana.
      Prabhupada: Yes, other devotees can go. I cannot go.
      Tamala Krsna: No, they’ll go on your behalf, but you will go one day. That we promise you. (“devotees” laugh)
      “Devotee ?”: (under breath) Sati (other “devotees” laugh)
      Prabhupada: All right.
      Tamala Krsna: Our greatest pleasure will be to take you on tirtha-yatra, Srila Prabhupada. We wanted so much to go with you on that.
      Prabhupada: Thank you very much.

      (Vrindavana, India – 10th November 1977)

      here is the conversation of his final days. You were there werent you? therefore if you knew of this publicly repent and work to fight against your “Godbrothers” and if you sincerely and honestly did not know then research and hear what they did to our Guru Maharaj and understand what you must do.

  12. Krishna Tungal says:

    All Glories to Srila Prabhupada,
    Hare Krishna to all the devotees.

    What Vishnujana Prabhu said is 100000% true. Hansadutta Prabhu, you can do it, we all here to support you..


    Your servant
    Krishna Tungal

    • Aaca says:

      Dear Jagaddharta Prabhu Thank you for your comments. I beelive that you are correct in your appraisal that we have underestimated world affairs as a causative influence. Srila Prabhupada has given us all the knowledge and perspective to understand the complexities of modern life and how we are entangled in the modes and more importantly how to get disentangled. Srila Prabhupada gives us the tools it is up to us how or when or if we employ them. He nor Krsna will do this as this is our duty to free ourselves. The Demon Kali has his agents both outside and inside of FISKCON. To have them inside ISKCON is impossible for inside ISKCON is where Srila Prabhupada’s vision lies illuminating the absolute truth. FISKCON adherents do not have this vision and so they will cheat us. It is only when we can understand this difference, that is between ISKCON and FISKCON that we can begin to free ourselves. Yes no one comes close to Srila Prabhupada! Nor are they meant to. He is the Acharya of ISKCON no one else. We have to all come together by aligning our visions to his and in order to do this we must understand our predicament within the Geopolitical sphere and to know where the Krsna Consciousness Movement is being compromised, where our own vision has been affected and obscured. Yours in the service of Srila PrabhupadaAdmin

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  16. Hansadutta Prabhu, you are in an excellent position to understand the ritvik issue because you were an ISKCON temple president, a member of the GBC body, a BBT trustee, an “appointed guru,” and a “zonal acharya.” Your booklet is what convinced me, even before “The Final Order” was published.

    Also, no ISKCON leader dares to debate with you. All that they ever do is resort to low-class name-calling!

  17. hansadutta das says:
    September 12, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    I have no motre copies for saler

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