Srila Prabhupada, His Movement & You

Questions and Answers

QUESTION: Could you please clarify the statement, “When the rittvik matures and understands his everlasting subordination to his spiritual master, then he is seen as a full guru,” taken from Srila Prabhupada, His Movement and You (“Letter to New Initiates”)?

YASODANANDAN: When a devotee “matures,” this means when a devotee fully matures in terms of actual realizing and manifesting the symptoms of love of Godhead (bhava and prema ). These are fully described in the Nectar of Devotion and in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. This is not achieved by some rubber-stamping or some so-called appointment. Neither is this achievement of love of Godhead an automatic push-button process. It is a lifetime of constant surrender to the order of the bona fide acharya (Srila Prabhupada), dedication and service. Then the devotee will be seen in that light, not artificially, but really on account of his devotional accomplishment. The above statement should be understood in the proper context of the other points which have been made in the same letter and in the same magazine.

QUESTION: Hansadutta das is just trying to be a guru. He tried to be a guru in ISKCON; he could not make it. He tried again a few years ago, and now he is just trying to be a guru with a different label, rittvik.

HANSADUTTA: That’s right. I tried to be a guru. I tried to be a guru in ISKCON. Fortunately, I saw the errors of my ways, realizing the only guru and acharya is Srila Prabhupada, and therefore now I am trying to become the servant of the guru, Srila Prabhupada. If this is objectionable, then you have to take up the matter with Srila Prabhupada.

Even if a devotee failed to actually fulfill the order of the spiritual master, as in my case I failed to properly act as a rittvik acharya representative of His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada in the immediate aftermath of his departure in 1977, this does not mean that a devotee is condemned or destined to perpetually fail. One must try again to fulfill the order, because THE ORDER OF SRILA PRABHUPADA STILL STANDS—”Act as rittvik of the acharya.” As such, I am only trying to fulfill his order.

YASODANANDAN: There is a confused and insensitive mentality behind this kind of accusation. If a devotee—whether it be Hansadutta or any kind of “dutta“—is sincerely trying to chant the prescribed number of rounds (which the said Hansadutta does), follow the regulative principles (which he also does), preach Krishna consciousness to the innocent, go out and chant Harinama in public, organize Vaishnava festivals and make devotees, why should anyone object to these activities?

The proponents of the GBC’s “Anyone can become a guru” philosophy object if another devotee sincerely tries to present the message of Krishna consciousness on behalf of the bona fide acharya (Srila Prabhupada) without personal ambition, thus truly fulfillling the real order and duty of a bona fide devotee. They simultaneously criticise another devotee for trying to be a guru, which is not a fact in this case, since Hansadutta has already admitted that he is simply trying to be a humble representative of the acharya, Srila Prabhupada.

QUESTION: But this rittvik idea which you are proposing is against the tradition of Vaishnavism, which clearly stipulates that a living, physically present guru must be there to initiate and guide the prospective candidate.

YASODANANDAN: The rittvik-acharya, or officiating representative, is also a living spiritual guide, whose function is to initiate on behalf of the acharya, Srila Prabhupada and to actually train and teach the devotees.

Do the critics of the original arrangement which Srila Prabhupada made for his society for continuance after his departure (the rittvik-acharya system), know more about the Vaishnava tradition than Srila Prabhupada? From whom have we learned the tradition of Vaishnavism? FROM SRILA PRABHUPADA!

The proponents of “We are all automatically gurus after the physical departure of the acharya” claimed for more than ten years that they had been appointed by Srila Prabhupada. Where is the proof for this claim? There is no record of any appointment or selection of successor acharya or appointed diksha gurus by His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada during the last few months of his manifested presence. There is only one document from Srila Prabhupada’s hand (July 9th, 1977) addressing the question of who and how initiations will continue. It is clear and final. No other document regarding initiations and gurus exists. It is his last will and testament.

It should be mentioned that Srila Prabhupada is the acharya of his movement, and he is (and was) perfectly entitled to make whatever arrangement he saw fit to continue his movement in a united way.

Srila Prabhupada never contradicted shastra. He established the real purports of the shastra.

He took into consideration:

  1. the relative level of advancement of his disciples. He obviously did not see that they were ready and fit as of 1977 to occupy the full-fledged position of diksha guru and acharya; otherwise, why did he not indicate so directly?
  2. the grievous mistake of the post-1937 Gaudiya Math acharyas, whom Srila Prabhupada appropriately called “self-appointed acharyas“.

    Because in our mission, our Guru Maharaja never appointed anyone as acharya. (Srila Prabhupada, lecture on Chaitanya-charitamrita, New York, 1967)

    He was trying to avoid the very same mistake made by the disciples of Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur. Why would he repeat the same mistake that he had criticized earlier?

  3. By 1977, he had already established in his society a system of management with an international GBC to oversee the affairs of the society and keep the teachings of Srila Prabhupada in their pure and original form. The function of initiation was already established by Srila Prabhupada during his manifested presence. He did not change it; he merely adjusted some minor details, such as allowing the new officiating acharyas to ascertain the new candidates’ eligibility on their own, the choice of the names, etc. This system was never changed by Srila Prabhupada. He never indicated in his will (June, 1977), or in his last letter to all the temple presidents, which he signed, that the arrangement should ever be changed upon his physical departure.
  4. Srila Prabhupada very intelligently arranged so that the system of initiations (rittvik system) would be a perfect plan for keeping his society united. The rittvik-acharyas were meant to emphasize: a) Srila Prabhupada as the worshipable acharya for everyone and b) initiate newcomers on his behalf as humble representatives of his movement and properly train them and teach them Krishna consciousness. Therefore he said, “I wish that each and every center shall remain independent, keeping the acharya in the center.”

QUESTION: But still, would this not contradict the shastras?

YASODANANDAN DAS: There are four distinct possibilities that can be concluded here:

  1. Srila Prabhupada did not make any kind of arrangement for initiations for after his physical departure. He left it to the speculation of his disciples, or he left it to the GBC to vote in or elect acharyas. However, there is no verifiable evidence for this theory. Srila Prabhupada very carefully established and nurtured a society. All the major programs of deity worship, book publishing, book distribution, gurukula program, devotee training, etc. were very specifically described in his books, letters, etc. Especially on major decisions he made it very clear in writing. The theory that Prabhupada “left us insufficient guidance” is rejected by all sincere disciples of Srila Prabhupada. It is unacceptable.
  2. Srila Prabhupada made arrangements for his leading disciples to go to Gaudiya Math advisors who were supposed to clarify the statement of Srila Prabhupada. This theory has yet to be supported with appropriate, verifiable evidence. This theory would be a major contradiction of numerous statements by Srila Prabhupada about the Gaudiya Math, its leaders and their role in the disobedience of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati’s order by unauthorisingly “appointing one acharya, who subsequently failed, and by having everyone else artificially occupying the position of acharya and thus breaking down the whole united preaching mission of Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur.” This theory is also rejected by the sincere disciples of Srila Prabhupada.
  3. A third possibility exists. Srila Prabhupada did in fact “appoint or select” diksha gurus or acharyas prior to his departure for Goloka. This choice, regardless of the various slanted interpretations which would be required to establish it, was allegedly done in the last few months prior to Srila Prabhupada’s departure. He allegedly chose eleven acharyas or “his best men,” according to some apologists of the GBC official party line. These men, upon the departure of Srila Prabhupada, then assumed their acharya appointment. This is the gist of the acharya appointment theory of the GBC.

    The problem with this interpretation is that there is no written, verifiable proof that Prabhupada appointed or selected the original eleven as diksha gurus or successor acharyas or zonal acharyas, as claimed by them. The only capacity in which these original eleven had been chosen is that of rittvik-acharya, or officiating acharyas, as per the July 9th, 1977 letter. Six of the original “chosen acharyas” have fallen. The integrity of the other five has been called into question after numerous philosophical deviations and openly supporting other deviant persons.

    The question comes up: “Did Srila Prabhupada actually know who was qualified and who was unqualified to be acharya? And if he did appoint acharyas, did he make a wrong choice? Did he know how to recognize another pure devotee?” The proponents of this “acharya appointment” theory would have to explain whether or not the fully realized pure devotee makes mistakes or is subject to the four defects of conditional life. DID THE GBC MAKE A MISTAKE? OR DID PRABHUPADA MAKE A MISTAKE? We are firmly convinced that Srila Prabhupada was beyond making mistakes. The true followers of Srila
    Prabhupada reject the “acharya appointment” theory, because it contradicts the statements and teachings of Srila Prabhupada.

  4. The only other possibility, which is now being accepted as the only clear, self-evident, logical choice by almost all of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples and followers, is that Srila Prabhupada rejected the above three theories. That is, he did not want to send his disciples to the Gaudiya Math for inconclusive advice, he did not forget to make a proper arrangement, and he did not make a mistake by appointing unqualified men to the position of acharyas. Instead, he made a very workable arrangement to continue initiations after his departure by selecting rittvik-acharyas whose primary function was to initiate new devotees as they did in his presence for years a) on behalf of Srila Prabhupada and b) on behalf of his glorious movement.

Thus Srila Prabhupada made a most practical arrangement which could have easily carried his society through the difficulties of his eventual physical absence. The new devotees would thus be his students (studying his books and teachings and thus getting initiated into transcendental knowledge by His Divine Grace). The new devotees would simultaneously be his followers (by following the rules and regulations and the discipline laid out by the Sampradaya Acharya, Srila Prabhupada), and thus, in fact, the new students would be his disciples under the care and guidance of senior devotees, who would thus act as guides and representatives of the Sampradaya Acharya, Srila Prabhupada.

Srila Prabhupada did not contradict the tradition. He established a very practical, simple plan by which everything could go on very nicely, despite his physical absence from the scene, which is the duty of the great Sampradaya Acharyas. HE ACTED PERFECTLY ACCORDING TO TIME, PLACE AND CIRCUMSTANCE.

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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

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  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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