This paper is a response to a book called “100 Deviations of Ritvikism” (referred to henceforward as ‘the book’), which was published under the inspiration of HH Jayapataka Swami. When a devotee within ISKCON becomes curious about the ‘ritvik’ position, he is often given this book to try and dispel his interest, and to convince him that the ritvik position is incorrect. However as soon as the devotee in question reads the IRM’s position paper, “The Final Order” (TFO), he realises the ‘100 Deviations’ book was absolutely of no help to him in determining whether or not the position represented by the TFO was correct or not. This is because the ‘100 Deviations’ book does not generally quote from the TFO, nor specifically and systematically address the arguments presented therein, and the few times it does, the arguments were answered long ago on our website: www.iskconirm.com Thus we have titled our rebuttal “100 Deviations ABOUT Ritvikism”, because the book in question is therefore basically a collection of ‘straw-man’ arguments and already answered papers (a straw-man’ argument is an argument made against an imaginary position which is NOT held by the person one is attacking. This is done because what one’s opponent actually says cannot be defeated and instead one takes recourse to defeating irrelevant arguments, and then falsely attributing to them to whomever one’s opponent is.) Indeed many times the book gives a so-called ‘deviation’ on ‘ritvikism’, it will say ‘ritviks say’ or ‘some pro-ritviks say’ instead of quoting what TFO actually says. Hence the book does not actually expose any deviations in so-called ‘ritvikism’, but rather presents deviations about WHAT Ritvikism itself really is – and thus the paper mainly addresses everything except what the ISKCON Revival Movement (IRM) actually says in its paper “The Final Order” (TFO). The TFO, and the IRM’s position, rests entirely on the lack of evidence for two modifications which ISKCON made right after Srila Prabhupada physically departed, and which gave rise to the beginning of the guru system we have in ISKCON. These are Modifications are that:
Modification A) : That the appointment of representatives or ritviks was only temporary, specifically to be terminated on the departure of Srila Prabhupada.
Modification B) : Having ceased their representational function, the ritviks would automatically become diksa gurus, initiating persons as their own disciples, not Srila Prabhupada's.
We will see if the book gives any evidence to support these modifications.
The book is split in to 12 chapters, and we will first give an over-view of these chapters:
Introduction: This recycles a paper by HH Jayapataka Swami called “Ritvik Theory – Out of the Question”, which is already answered and the rebuttal can be found on our web-site: www.iskconirm.com/docs/webpages/ritvik_srila_prabhupadas-way.htm"
Chapter 1 – 21 is quotes from Srila Prabhupada which are supposed to show that Srila Prabhupada did not want a ritvik system for ISKCON.
Chapter 2 – Comparing ritvik philosophy with Maya-vada.
Chapter 3 – This recycles sections from one paper by Hari Sauri Das on the “GBC’s Minutes Book”, and another from the GBC on the May 28th conversation, called “Disciple of My Disciple”. Both these papers were already answered, and the rebuttals can be found on our web-site
Chapter 4 – This recycles sections from the GBC paper “Prabhupada’s Order”, and a paper by Drutakarma Das called “Krishnakant Desai: All Bluff, No Stuff”. Both these papers are already answered, and the rebuttals can be found on our web-site
Chapter 5 – This recycles a section from a paper by Jayadvaita Swami called “Where The Ritvik People Are Wrong”, which is already answered and the rebuttal can be found on our web-site http://www.iskconirm.com/docs/webpages/a_reply_to_jayadvaita_swami.htm
Chapter 6 – Many of the arguments here are based on what “Some rtvik-vadis want/say”, rather than direct quotes from TFO and are therefore just ‘straw-man’ arguments.
Chapter 7 - This recycles a section from a paper by Jayadvaita Swami called “Where The Ritvik People Are Wrong”, which is already answered and the rebuttal can be found on our web-site http://www.iskconirm.com/docs/webpages/a_reply_to_jayadvaita_swami.htm
Chapter 8 – This recycles a section from a paper by Jayadvaita Swami called “Where The Ritvik People Are Wrong”, which is already answered and the rebuttal can be found on our web-site http://www.iskconirm.com/docs/webpages/a_reply_to_jayadvaita_swami.htm
Chapter 9 – Again many of the arguments are based on what “pro-ritviks say/claim”, rather than direct quotes from TFO and are therefore just ‘straw-man’ arguments.
Chapter 10 – Again many of the arguments are based on the what “ritviks say/proclaim/resort”, rather than direct quotes from TFO and are therefore just ‘straw-man’ arguments.
Chapter 11 – This chapter ALREADY assumes that ‘ritvikism’ is bogus, and deals with the consequences of this supposed evil. Thus the chapter is irrelevant since ‘ritvikism’ has yet to be shown as incorrect.
Chapter 12 – Again this chapter gives many arguments not actually stated in TFO, and they are therefore just ‘straw-man’ arguments.
Thus we can see that most of the book is either irrelevant, or already answered. Here I will go through chapter by chapter, answering any arguments which are not answered elsewhere and which bear some resemblance to the actual position of TFO.
This section presents 21 quotes which are presented regarding the issue of ‘becoming Guru’. These quotes have all been covered many times in other IRM papers, but we shall cover them again for completeness. Each quote is presented in the book as evidence of one ‘deviation’.
a) Quotes 2, 5, 6, 8, 11, 13, 14 and 18 all refer to the QUALIFICATION to become a Guru. This is not relevant to our position as we clearly say that the key is to be AUTHORISED by one’s own Guru before one can become a Diksa Guru:
“One should take initiation from a bona fide spiritual master coming in the disciplic succession, who is authorized by his predecessor spiritual master.”
Simply being qualified is not enough. So we see immediately those famous ‘straw-man’ arguments already in action.
b) Quotes 1, 4 (second part), 7, 9, 15 and 16 all refer to Srila Prabhupada ordering Siksa not Diksa Gurus. This fact can be proven as follows:
The book itself presents as quote 10, an argument that by the ‘law of disciplic succession’ one cannot initiate in the presence of one’s spiritual master. Hence any quote where Srila Prabhupada does not refer to his disappearance for the Guruship to take effect, but rather is given in the present tense, cannot be referring to a Diksa Guru, otherwise Srila Prabhupada would be breaking the same ‘law of disciplic succession’ which the book claims he preached. (Subsequent to the printing of the book, the GBC no longer even believe this, having opened up initiating to all disciples of the Gurus in their presence)
The quotes make reference to Lord Chaitanya’s instruction to become Guru, ‘amara ajnaya’. However in the purports explaining this verse Srila Prabhupada states that: “It is best not to accept any disciples.” Note this instruction is C C, Madhya 7:128 and is different to the quote given under no. 14, which is C C, Madhya 8:128, and states that anyone if they are qualified can become a Diksa Guru.
Thus please note that quote 1 falls under category i) above, quote 15 falls under category ii) above, and quotes 4 (second quote), 7, 9, 16 fall under both categories.
Extra points can also be made regarding quotes 9 and 15. Quote 9 states:
“every one of you should be spiritual master next.”
(Lecture, Hamburg, September 5th, 1969)
Now it has already been pointed out that this must refer to siksa guru due to the instruction being given in the present tense and the presence of the ‘amara ajnaya’ verse. However a point is made that the word ‘next’ precludes it from referring to siksa gurus because the devotees were already acting as siksa gurus. However this argument is easily defeated as follows:
The full quote also goes onto says:
"Whatever you are hearing from me, whatever you are learning from me, you have to distribute the same in toto without any addition or alteration. Then all of you become the spiritual master.”
Thus by the same token it can also be argued that the devotees were already doing this as well, yet Srila Prabhupada is still telling them to do this ‘next’. Thus the word ‘next’ can refer to the devotees doing something they were already doing.
Also at this time, Sept, 69, the movement in Germany as very young, with the movement hardly having been established there, and this was Srila Prabhupada’s first visit. Thus it would not be illogical for Srila Prabhupada to exhort his new followers to actually rise to the platform of acting even as Siksa Gurus.
c) Quote 3 – This is not even from Srila Prabhupada but from Hari Sauri’s diary!
d) Quote 4 – First quote. This refers to Srila Prabhupada using the EXAMPLE of his disciples having their own branches in the future, IN ORDER to illustrate the answer to a completely different question about the disciplic succession coming from Arjuna.
e) Quote 10 – These quotes state that one cannot be a Diksa Guru when Srila Prabhupada is still physically present. It does not state that as soon as Srila Prabhupada departs all his disciples are automatically ordered to become Diksa Gurus. Yet this is what would be required to disband the ritvik system established for ISKCON by Srila Prabhupada on July 9th, 1977.
f) Quote 12 – This mentions that we cannot just accept the supersoul as guru, but rather the supersoul will send us an external embodied physical guru. Srila Prabhupada was such a ‘physical’ guru – he did not come as pure spirit, without an external body. However this does not state in anyway that to CONNECT with such a physical guru, we need to be in physical contact with him; and indeed it could not, for the majority of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples never physically met him without having contacted him physically.
g) Quote 14 - kiba vipra – not refer to amara and also speaking of smarta and qualification.
h) Part of quote 15 (not produced in the book), states the following:
“Then, in future... Suppose you have got now ten thousand. We shall expand to hundred thousand. That is required. Then hundred thousand to million, and million to ten million.”
(Lecture, Mayapura, 6/4/75)
Here Srila Prabhupada is referring only to making followers for ISKCON and specifically disciples for himself, since at the time of this lecture Srila Prabhupada did have thousands of disciples. If he was ordering Diksa Gurus, it would make no sense to refer to the number of disciples of Srila Prabhupada which have already been made – “Suppose you have got NOW ten thousand” - as the reference point for what these future ‘acaryas’ should be expanding.
i) Quote 21 – This is the same as quote 15 just covered above.
j) Quote 17 – This refers to trying to prove that a ‘request’ from Srila Prabhupada is the same as an ‘order’. Since this is not a point that has ever been disputed by us this yet again another ‘straw man’ argument’.
k) Quote 19 – This refers to the fact that Srila Prabhupada states, that WHEN he orders, THEN one becomes Diksa guru. But, he never ordered Diksa gurus, only ritviks.
l) Quote 20 – Here Srila Prabhupada refers in 1967, in a private letter to one disciple, that he would like his disciples to become gurus in his ‘absence’. We do not need to speculate how this instruction was meant to be applied 10 years later when Srila Prabhupada physically departed. For 10 years later, shortly before his physical departure, Srila Prabhupada only ordered ritviks and not Diksa gurus.
In summary there is nothing here which provides evidence for Modifications A and B as set out in “The Final Order”, that Srila Prabhupada wanted the ritvik system which he set for ISKCON shortly before his departure, to be disbanded on his departure, and the ritviks to metamorphose into Diksa gurus. The quotes speak only in general about the qualifications of a guru, or refer to Siksa guru.
This chapter presents 6 ‘principles to try prove that the ritvik idea is similar to mayavada philosophy.
Principle 1: This argues that Srila Prabhupada did NOT say that the ritvik system should continue after his physical departure. However this begs the question, that Srila Prabhupada was giving a time-bound system, based on his physical presence. But this is the very presumption, which needs to be PROVEN, in order to demonstrate Modification A. Only IF Srila Prabhupada wanted the operation of the ritvik system tied to his physical presence would such a statement giving the applicability of the directive in terms of his physical presence even be relevant. Whereas the Ritvik system was established via the July 9th directive, as a system to be followed by ISKCON, not as a system that was time-bound dependent on Srila Prabhupada’s physical presence. Thus since the ritvik order is for a system to be implemented in ISKCON, it requires another counter-directive to ISKCON to prevent its operation within the society. An institutional directive by definition means it should be followed for the institution. The absence of any requirement tying the operation of the directive to any specific time-period, which is further tied to the activities of a person, in this case Srila Prabhupada, is in itself the strongest evidence that the directive is not so tied. Yet it is this linkage which is required in order to prove Modification A.
Principle 2: This refers to the supposed nefarious activities of RITVIKS, and has nothing to say on the validity of the July 9th directive establishing the ritvik system
Principles 3 and 6: These ASSUME that ritvik has already proven to be incorrect.
Principle 4: This states:
“We have seen that since time immemorial when the spiritual master physically departs, then one or more of his disciples take up the responsibility of initiating and accepting disciples.”
As a basis that the burden of proof must be on the ritviks to give a specific statement from Srila Prabhupada sanctioning the guru to accept disciples in his physical absence. But nowhere is the above stated by Srila Prabhupada, that the guru accepts disciples only in his presence. Srila Prabhupada only states that the guru initiates disciples. And this is exactly what Srila Prabhupada does via the July 9th directive. Thus it is a RESTRICTION to this principle, LIMITING a guru to ONLY accepting disciples he physically meets, which must explicitly be mentioned by Srila Prabhupada. Yet no such principle is stated by Srila Prabhupada.
Further it is interesting to note, that even the above statement regarding a disciple initiating when the spiritual master physically departs, is not even accurate. For a look at our parampara shows that the FIRST 3 links:
Brahma, Narada and Vyasa are still living, and therefore do not follow this principle, and the last 3 links before Srila Prabhupada:
Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Gaura-Kisora Babaji and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, did not follow this principle either, with Bhaktivinoda Thakura not departing before Gaura-Kisora initiated Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati.
So with the beginning and end of the current parampara not being ‘regular’, how can such a ‘regular’ system be considered ‘regular’ at all!
Principle 5: Basically states that Srila Prabhupada cannot continue to accept unlimited disciples, because how will Srila Prabhupada ever be able to give his assent to future disciples, that he wishes to accept them and take their karma? This is covered in TFO, since Srila Prabhupada gave full power of attorney to the ritviks to accept disciples on his behalf without reference to him:
So without waiting for me, wherever you consider it is right. That will depend on discretion.
(Srila Prabhupada Room conversation, 7/7/77, Vrindavan)
Not only don’t the deviations in this chapter even come close to giving any evidence for Modifications A and B of TFO, but they just recycle in a different form the already covered argument from chapter 2, regarding Srila Prabhupada having NOT said he wanted to continue the ritvik system. As already explained, since Srila Prabhupada gave a ritvik system to be followed in ISKCON shortly before his departure, such a system cannot be DISBANDED just because we feel like it. The burden to stop such an institutional directive has to be on those wishing to stop it. Simply saying it does not specifically say it must be followed after Srila Prabhupada’s departure makes no sense, for the directive does not say it should be followed AFTER ANY time period relating to Srila Prabhupada’s body, which means according to this logic, the directive should never have been followed, that is not even begun! As explained, this is the nature of a institutional directive – it will NOT be tied to ANY specific time-period, as it is meant to be applied by an institution. Therefore one cannot stop following such an institutional directive without a counter-directive, otherwise any instruction for ISKCON to follow could be stopped whimsically and arbitrarily.
Completely irrelevant chapter based on the authority of the GBC. But the authority of the GBC comes FROM following Srila Prabhupada. And this is the very question which needs to be answered – are they following Srila Prabhupada in having applied Modifications A and B without any evidence for the same.
This chapter is completely devoted to the ‘straw-man’ argument that TFO depends on the qualification of the Guru. We saw the same straw-man argument take up almost half of chapter 1, and as explained there, the IRM’s position is based on the Guru being authorised, not just qualified. And this translates into evidence being required for Modifications A and B. Hence this chapter has no relevance to the actual subject before us.
Again this chapter relies entirely on ‘straw man’ arguments, claiming things which are never stated in TFO. And of course nowhere does it even come close to even offering evidence for Modifications A and B.
As noted at the outset, devotees reading this book, find no connection with rebutting TFO (except in some recycled already rebutted sections). For having read TFO they will eagerly read this book hoping to find some evidence for Modifications A and B. Yet the best the book can offer on this is to argue that such evidence is NOT EVEN NEEDED! Which merely confirms the TFO’s central premise that such evidence does not exist, and therefore Modifications A and B, on which the disbanding of the ritvik system and supplanting it with the ISKCON guru system is based, are illegal. Or they provide quotes that speak of gurus in general, but specifically to how they can emerge in the context of Modifications A and B, which is what actually happened in ISKCON, and therefore is the subject before us. Because obviously if Modifications A and B cannot be proven, then the ritvik system remains as the initiation system for ISKCON, which is the IRM’s position. And the rest of the book as we have seen, either recycles already defeated old arguments or a non-stop barrage of ‘straw man’ and other irrelevant arguments (assuming ritvik already proven wrong). In short as we said at the outset, everything except trying to provide evidence for Modifications A and B of TFO. This is only to be expected, since to date NO SUCH EVIDENCE HAS BEEN PROVIDED, even though the GBC and the gurus and their supporters have written many dozens of papers to try and defeat the TFO. Such failed attempts are all documented on our web-site: www.iskconirm.com, where this book will take its place as yet another umpteenth failed attempt.