Prabhupada Disappearance Pastimes
VNN Editorial 10/25/1998 - 2409
USA (VNN) -- by Gauridasa Pandita Dasa
Dear Prabhus, please accept my respectful obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada! Srila Prabhupada always said that the appearance and disappearance of the great devotees are both reasons to celebrate. We like the appearance pastimes more of course, but in the disappearance pastimes our faith and determination can be tested and strengthened. Srila Prabhupada followed the instructions of his Guru Maharaja and performed the miracle of spreading Krsna Consciousness all over the world. Srila Prabhupada always felt the presence of his Guru Maharaja and we can also feel the presence of Srila Prabhupada; if we want and try. It is not that he is dead and gone. His disappearance is our chance to realize his eternal presence. As he himself said, he will live on in his books and we should utilize them and perfect our lives and go back home, back to Godhead.
The following stories about Srila Prabhupada's disappearance are taken from my website the Haribol Home Page, and will be part of an upcoming book about Srila Prabhupada called, "Memories Of A Pure Devotee". May Srila Prabhupada's mercy flood the world with love of God!
"Better To Die In Vrindavan!"
(May 15th 1977 Hrishikesh India)
Srila Prabhupada was staying in a nice two story house, donated by a life member, on the bank of the Holy Ganges in the Holy town of Hrishikesh, India. He had come there to try to regain his failing health on the advise of Mahadevia Kartikeya, one of the leading life members of Bombay. I had arrived in Hrishikesh a day after Srila Prabhupada. He was giving darshan. I was told to stand at the door and give the guests a piece of sweet prasadam when they left. Srila Prabhupada noticed someone waiting outside the screen door and told me to let him in. I opened the door and as he entered another guest went out. Srila Prabhupada asked me if I had given the guest prasadam. I replied that I hadn't and Srila Prabhupada turned to his secretary, Tamal Krishna Maharaja and said, "This boy is incompetent".
Tamal K.G. then sent me out saying that he would talk to me later. I was crushed. I had given my life to Srila Prabhupada and now I had displeased him. Heartbroken and embarrassed I left the room. I waded out into the Ganges River and thought of committing suicide. I thought of my first mentor Visnujana Swami. Tamal.K.G. came down a little later half laughing and told me not to take it so seriously. He told me to go up and clean Srila Prabhupada's room. I was surprised to get another chance. I pulled myself together and marched up to Srila Prabhupada's room. Upendra Prabhu handed me a broom and I began to sweep. I glanced shamefully over at His Divine Grace and to my surprise he smiled very nicely. All of my anxiety disappeared instantly like I entered Vaikuntha.
Things were ecstatic in Hrishikesh until that stormy night when Srila Prabhupada sat up all night. At about 2:30am we were awoken by Upendra Prabhu who told us that Srila Prabhupada had said, "Tomorrow we will go to Vrindavan. Better to die in Vrndavan." We were shocked to hear this statement from Srila Prabhupada. It was the first time Srila Prabhupada said he was going to leave the planet. Pradyumna Prabhu and I headed out to make arrangements for the arrival of His Divine Grace in Vrindavan.
"Arrival In Vrindavan"
(May 17, 1977)
Pradyumna Prabhu and I arrived in Sri Vrindavan Dhama at about 4am. We informed the temple President, Akshayananda Maharaja, of Srila Prabhupada's upcoming arrival and statement that he was coming to Vrindavan to 'leave his body'. We were all shocked at the news. The Maharaja didn't tell the devotees right away why he was coming, just that he was coming soon and the devotees started ecstatically cleaning Srila Prabhupada's quarters during the morning program. The Holy dust of Vrindavan had blown about everywhere and there was a lot of mercy to deal with.
Srila Prabhupada arrived at the temple at about 7am. At this point Srila Prabhupada's health had deteriorated so much that he could no longer walk on his own. The devotees in Vrindavan, and around the world, were unaware of this. We brought a rocking chair out to the car to carry Srila Prabhupada in. He asked, as usual, to see the Deities first. We carried him into the temple and placed him before Sri Sri Gaura - Nitai. Srila Prabhupada stood up offering his respectful obeisance's. At this point someone took the chair away. Srila Prabhupada stood there gazing at Their Lordships for a few moments with tears decorating his face. Then he moved to sit in the chair that wasn't there. We had to catch him. The devotees looked at each other with wonder and concern. We brought the chair back and carried Srila Prabhupada over to Sri Sri Krishna and Balarama. Again Srila Prabhupada stood up with tears in his eyes. (This time the chair stayed!) We then moved over to Sri Sri Radha Symasundara and Sri Lalita and Sri Visaka's alter. Again Srila Prabhupada rose up and gazed lovingly at the Deities. After a few moments he turned to us and said that he wanted to see all of the devotees in his room.
We carried Srila Prabhupada to his room and he took his seat at his desk. The devotees filled the room quickly and were crowded around the doors and windows trying to see and hear our divine master. When all the devotees settled in as much as possible Srila Prabhupada began to speak:
"So I cannot speak. I am feeling weak. I was to go to other places like Chandigarh, but I canceled the program because the condition of my health is very deteriorating. So I preferred to come to Vrindavan. If death takes place, let it take here. So there is nothing new to be said. Whatever I have to speak, I have spoken in my books. Now you try to understand it and continue your endeavor. Whether I am present or not present, it doesn't matter. As Krsna is living eternally, similarly, the living being also lives eternally. But kirtiryasya sa jivah: 'One who has done service for the Lord lives forever.' So you have been taught to serve Krsna, and with Krsna we'll live eternally. Our life is eternal. Na hanyate hanyamane sarire. A temporary disappearance of this body, it doesn't matter. Body is meant for disappearance. Tatha dehantara-praptih. So live forever by serving Krsna. Thank you very much."
At this point most of the devotees were crying. To me it still hadn't sunk in that Srila Prabhupada was about to depart this world leaving us to grieve in his absence. Srila Prabhupada told us to discuss amongst ourselves and we talked about the future of ISKCON without Srila Prabhupada. It was unthinkable actually, but we were forced to think about it due to the time factor. Philosophically we understood that Srila Prabhupada would live with us in his books etc. but we would so miss his physical presence. The devotees began to wonder how the movement would go on without Srila Prabhupada to personally direct it. How would the BBT operate? How would the GBC act? Would someone else become the next acharya? Srila Prabhupada answered all of these questions in the next few weeks and months.
Vrindavan & Srila Prabhupada's Personal Service
VNN EDITORIAL May 13, 2002 VNN7327
by Gauridasa Pandita Dasa
Pujari Gauridasa Pandita Dasa Vrindavan India 1975
VNN World 01/19/98 - 1517
USA (VNN) -- Srila Prabhupada's Initiation System
by Gauridasa Pandita Dasa
Srila Prabhupada arrived in Sri Vrindavan Dhama on May 17th 1977 to prepare to 'leave his body.' He started making arrangements to secure the future of his movement. He formed his will, the temple property trusts, gave instructions for the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust and GBC and established his initiation system.
Due to some unseen good fortune I got to be with Srila Prabhupada at this time. On May 28th a committee of the GBC met in Srila Prabhupada's room and asked various questions for the future of ISKCON. Regarding initiations Satsvarupa Maharaja asked Srila Prabhupada, "Our next question concerns initiations in the future, particularly at that time when you're no longer with us. We want to know how first and second initiations would be conducted." Srila Prabhupada answered, "Yes; I shall recommend some of you. After this is settled up, I shall recommend some of you to act as officiating acaryas."
Then Tamal K.G. asked, "Is that called ritvik-acarya?" Srila Prabhupada replied, "ritvik yes." (R.C. 5-28-77) I mentioned this to Yasodanandan Prabhu, who entered into his diary at that time. I'm using that diary to help compile this information. Yasodanandan Prabhu had a conversation with Bhavananda Maharaja on May 31st where he asked, "What's this I heard from Gauridasa about [the] nomination of ritvic acaryas?" Bhavananda said, "It just means on behalf of Prabhupada. That's all. I can't wait until we start to do this."
One of my services for Srila Prabhupada was to take care of his garden and fan him with the camara while he was there. At these times he would chant japa or listen to devotees chant bhajans or read. Sometimes the secretary, Tamal K.G., would read letters from the devotees. Srila Prabhupada would dictate a response, then the secretary would type it and bring it back later to read it again to Srila Prabhupada who would approve and sign it.
On July 5th Tamal asked Srila Prabhupada about some devotees who wanted to get initiated. This was in the garden as I fanned him. Srila Prabhupada said, "Tomorrow I will I will announce some ritvik acaryas who will initiate disciples on my behalf when I leave the planet."
It was actually two days later on July 7th when Srila Prabhupada named the first eleven ritvik acharyas. Again this occurred in the garden as I fanned Srila Prabhupada. Here is the transcription of the tape:
Tamal K.G.: We're receiving a number of letters now, and these are people who want to get initiated. So up until now, since your becoming ill, we asked them to wait.
Prabhupada: The local senior sanyasis can do that.
T.K.G.: That's what we were doing... I mean, formerly we were... the local GBC, sanyasis, were chanting on their beads, and they were writing to your Divine Grace, and you were giving a spiritual name. So should that process be resumed, or should we...? I mean one thing is that it's said that the spiritual master takes on the... you know, he takes on the... He has to cleanse the disciple by... So we don't want that you should have to... Your health is not so good, so that should not be... That's why we've been asking everyone to wait. I just want to know if we should continue to wait for some more time?
Prabhupada: No, the senior sanyasis...
T.K.G.: So they should continue to...
Prabhupada: You can give me a list of sanyasi's. I will mark who will...
Prabhupada: You can do. Kirtananada can do, and our Satsvarupa can do. So these three, you can give, begin.
T.K.G. : So supposing someone is in America; should they simply write to directly to Kirtananda or Satsvarupa?
Prabhupada: Nearby, Jayatirtha can give.
Prabhupada: Bhagavan... Bhagavan and he can also do. Harikesa.
T.K.G.: Harikesa Maharaja.
Prabhupada: And, five six men, you divide who is nearest.
T.K.G.: Who is nearest. So persons wouldn't have to write to your Divine Grace. They could write directly to that person?
T.K.G.: Actually they are initiating the person on your Divine Grace's behalf. Those persons who are initiated are still your...
Prabhupada: Second initiation we shall think over; second initiation.
T.K.G.: This is for first initiation, okay. And for second initiation, for the time being they should...
Prabhupada: No, they have to wait. Second initiation, that should be given...
T.K.G.: Should... Some devotees are writing you now for second initiation, and I'm writing them to wait a while because you're not well. So can I continue to tell them that?
Prabhupada: They can do second initiation.
T.K.G.: By writing you?
Prabhupada: No; these men.
T.K.G.: These men, they can also do second initiation. So there's no need for the devotees to write to you for first and second initiation. They can write to the man nearest them. But all these persons are still your disciples. Anybody who gives initiation is doing so on your behalf.
T.K.G.: You know that book I'm maintaining of all of your disciples names? Should I continue that?
T.K.G.: So if someone gives initiation, like Harikesa Maharaja, he should send the person's name to us here and I'll enter it in the book. Okay. Is there anybody else in India that you want to do this?
Prabhupada: India, I am here, we shall see. In India, Jayapataka.
T.K.G.: Jayapataka Maharaja.
Prabhupada: You are also in India.
Prabhupada: You can note down these names.
T.K.G. Yes, I have them.
Prabhupada: Who are they?
T.K.G.: Kirtanananda Maharaja, Satsvarupa Maharaja, Jayatirtha Prabhu, Bhagavan Prabhu, Harikesa Maharaja, Jayapataka Maharaja, and Tamal Krishna Maharaja.
Prabhupada: That's nice. Now you distribute.
T.K.G.: Seven. There's seven names.
Prabhupada: For the time being, seven names, sufficient. You can make Ramesvara.
T.K.G.: Ramesvara Maharaja.
Prabhupada: And Hrdayananda.
T.K.G. Oh, yeah. South America.
Prabhupada: So without waiting for me, wherever you consider it is right... That will depend on discretion.
T.K.G.: On discretion.
T.K.G.: That's for first and second initiations.
Prabhupada: Hm [yes]
T.K.G.: Okay. Shall I send a kirtana party, Srila Prabhupada? (break)
Later on Hansadutta Maharaja was added and Tamal Krishna Maharaja drafted the following letter:
Vrindaban July 9, 1977
To All G.B.C., and Temple Presidents
Dear Maharajas and Prabhus,
Please accept my humble obeisances at your feet. Recently when all of the GBC members were with His Divine Grace in Vrndavana, Srila Prabhupada indicated that soon He would appoint some of His senior disciples to act as "ritvik-representative" of the acarya, for the purpose of performing initiations, both first initiation and second initiation. His Divine Grace has so far given a list of eleven disciples who will act in that capacity:
His Holiness Kirtanananda Swami
His Holiness Satsvarupa dasa Gosvami
His Holiness Jayapataka Swami
His Holiness Tamala Krsna Gosvami
His Holiness Hrdayananda Gosvami
His Holiness Bhavananda Gosvami
His Holiness Hamsaduta Swami
His Holiness Ramesvara Swami
His Holiness Harikesa Swami
His Grace Bhagavan dasa Adhikari
His Grace Jayatirtha dasa Adhikari
In the past Temple Presidents have written to Srila Prabhupada recommending a particular devotee's initiation. Now that Srila Prabhupada has named these representatives, Temple Presidents may henceforward send recommendation for first and second initiation to whichever of these eleven representatives are nearest their temple. After considering the recommendation, these representatives may accept the devotee as an initiated disciple of Srila Prabhupada by giving a spiritual name, or in the case of second initiation, by chanting on the Gayatri thread, just as Srila Prabhupada has done. The newly initiated devotees are disciples of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad, the above eleven senioe devotees acting as his representative. After the Temple President receives a letter from these representatives giving the spiritual name or the thread, he can perform the fire yajna in the temple as was being done before. The name of a newly initiated disciple should be sent by the representative who has accepted him or her to Srila Prabhupada, to be included in His Divine Grace's "Initiated Disciples" book. Hoping this finds you all well.
Tamal Krsna Gosvami
Secretary to Srila Prabhupada
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
(Letter Signed by Srila Prabhupada)
I told some of the devotees what I heard about this and Yasodanandan wrote it down in his diary. On July 8th Yasodanandan Prabhu wrote, "Tamal Krishna Maharaja was talking about [with Prabhupada] rtvik gurus to initiate on behalf of Prabhupada after he leaves the planet." On July 9th Yasodanandan wrote, "I heard from Tamal Krishna Maharaja in the afternoon that Srila Prabhupada had told him to send a letter to 'all the temples' to explain the ritvik initiation system for the future." On July 10th Yasodanandan wrote, "Tamal Krishna Maharaja comes out of Prabhupada's room. TKG: "Haribol, Yasoda, did you see this?" Yasoda: "No, what is it?" TKG: "This is signed by Prabhupada." Yasoda: "What does all this mean?" TKG: "Devotees have been writing to Prabhupada asking for initiations and now Prabhupada has named eleven ritviks who can initiate on his behalf. Prabhupada said others can be added." Yasodanandan: "And when Prabhupada departs?" TKG: "They'll be ritviks. That's what Prabhupada said. It's all on tape."
(R.C.5-28-77 & 7-7-77etc.)
These arrangements were for after Srila Prabhupada's departure.
The next few days after the ritvic appointments I heard more instructions from Srila Prabhupada. Tamal K.G. asked him the next morning, July 8th, if there should be vyasasana's for the ritviks in the temples. Srila Prabhupada said, "No; that would create enmity among my disciples. You can make another room for that, but not in my temples." The way I understood it was that the ritviks could be shown respect and even worshipped privately; but the devotees guru would/will be Srila Prabhupada and they should offer their prayers and obeisances to him. The new devotees should continue to offer the prasadam to Srila Prabhupada with the standard mantras. Only Srila Prabhupada should be worshipped by all of the devotees in ISKCON.
Tamal K.G. also asked Srila Prabhupada if there could be more ritviks in the future. Srila Prabhupada said that more could be appointed by the GBC at Mayapura. Tamal K.G. asked Srila Prabhupada what to do if a ritvik falls down and Srila Prabhupada replied that the GBC could remove them. Srila Prabhupada said that his temples were for his worship only and if we become diksa gurus we should only accept worship in our own temples. That way the movement would be united under Srila Prabhupada. The new devotees are junior God-brothers and sisters and if we become a pure devotee, diksa guru, those initiates would be 'grand disciples' of Srila Prabhupada. But this will be rare and must be done outside of ISKCON. For ISKCON we are all Godbrothers and sisters, junior and senior. Of course all respect is to be given to the senior and all devotees. Srila Prabhupada wanted one big happy family built on love and trust. That's why he established the ritvik system with him in the center. That's why he spent days and nights writing the lawbooks for the next ten thousand years.
When I informed Yasodanandan about Srila Prabhupada's instructions Tamal K.G. called me into his office and said, "I told you never to say anything about what Prabhupada says to anybody without clearing it through me first! You'll never do anything for Prabhupada again!" He told me to 'get out.'
I was thunderstruck! He had the authority to 'fire me' and he did. I retreated to my room and lamented like anything. Upendra Prabhu came to see me and tried to encourage me. He said he was working on Tamal K.G. to try to get me back. They had tried out a couple of other devotees to do my services. The next day Upendra returned and said that the devotees were 'spacing out.' He said Tamal K.G. didn't realize how much service I was actually doing and they needed me back. I was going to get another chance. It was the one of the happiest days of my life! I relished my service even more and thought that the ritvik initiation system would be continued indefinitely.
After Srila Prabhupada actually left the planet and I noticed the first vyasasana's appear in the temple rooms I was shocked. I returned to Vrindavan in early 1978 and met Tamal K.G. in his room. I asked him why vyasasana's were being put in the temple rooms when we both heard Srila Prabhupada say not to. He asked me if I thought Srila Prabhupada could of said anything else after I had left. (I had to leave at the end of July 77 because my visa had expired.) I said I'm sure he could have but I don't know why he would have when he'd talked about the ritvik system for months before his departure. Tamal K.G. said, "Well he did, and if you don't believe me you can ask Kirtanananda Swami." I asked if there was a tape or letter to that effect and he responded by slamming his fist down on he desk and said, "I don't want to hear another word about this Gauridasa!" I retreated out of his room disappointed.
A few years later, on Dec. 3rd 1980, Tamal Krishna Maharaja told the real story at the Pyramid House inTopanga Canyon, California. Here are some key quotes: "Actually, Prabhupada never appointed any gurus. He appointed eleven ritviks. He never appointed them gurus. Myself and the other GBC have done the greatest disservice to this movement the last three years because we interpreted the appointment of ritviks as the appointment of gurus."... "You can't show me anything on tape or in writing where Prabhupada says, 'I appoint these 11 as gurus.' It doesn't exist because he never appointed any gurus. This is a myth."
My plea is to the GBC, to meet and study the final days of Srila Prabhupada in this regard. Now the movement is splintered with each of the 100+ guru's having a little group of his own. Vaisnava etiquette is lacking in most cases. Devotees that would of joined ISKCON are joining other groups. Intelligent people are rarely coming as before. Where are all of the 'stars' these days? The ritvik initiation system will bring more souls to the shelter of Srila Prabhupada and his Hare Krishna Movement. The ritvik initiation system will reunite Srila Prabhupada's family and make his temples a place where the whole world can live again!
Srila Prabhupada said we will show our love for him by how we cooperate after his departure. What can a bunch of splinter groups accomplish? If we do learn the art of cooperation and the ritvik initiation system gets reenacted it will be a great day in the history of ISKCON. The preaching mission will expand just like it did in 'the good old days' with Srila Prabhupada in the center as our common denominator. Sometimes it takes years and sometimes lifetimes to fulfill the order of the spiritual master. Better late than never! All glories to our Jagat Guru, the sakta-vesa avatar, Srila Prabhupada! He is still approachable through his teachings and he can and will deliver us all back to Godhead if we just take proper shelter. Let's give real peace a chance!
Gauridasa Pandita Dasa
Account of The Last Days
VNN World 01/09/98 - 1482
USA (VNN) -- 'Forming The Property Trusts'
(May 27, 1977)
by Gauridasa Pandita Dasa
Srila Prabhupada had come to Vrindavan to leave his body and was very concerned about securing the future of his movement. Today he had the leading devotees form the main Temple property trusts. At about 9am Srila Prabhupada had met with some of the leading devotees and a few guests. Afterwards Srila Prabhupada commented that there was a conspiracy to take over the properties. He then ordered the secretary, Tamal Krishna Maharaja, to meet with some of the GBC members and form a trust to continue the management of the movement. Srila Prabhupada said to form three trustees for each of the properties and model it after the BBT Trust. Srila Prabhupada got a little upset that the devotees were taxing his brain over managerial matters.
Srila Prabhupada said that of all of the devotees there were no strong men.
He said we were all like children. Later he said he was just waiting for the day
when he could sit down under a tree and simply talk about Krishna with one of
his disciples, but none of us were ready. We just want to talk about politics.
The secretary said that they would meet and discuss the matter and Srila Prabhupada
said I have already discussed this; just do it! Srila Prabhupada said that the
trustees for each temple should consult an advisory board before doing anything.
He intelligently organized everything so nicely. Srila Prabhupada showed his genius
again by how he oversaw everything. He oversaw the construction of Sri Sri Krishna
Balarama Mandir in all details. He directed the installation of the Deities and
performed the first arati. Vrindavan was 'his home' and he wanted to make sure
everything would be maintained nicely after his upcoming 'departure'.
The devotees gathered in Srila Prabhupada's room, later in the day, and read their first draft of the trusts to Srila Prabhupada. When Ramesvara was reading it he said that none of the properties could be sold. Srila Prabhupada asked if he said stole. Sold; answered Ramesvara. Srila Prabhupada said that the trustees had to be his initiated disciples. The trusts were never to have less than three or more than five trustees.
After hearing of all of the arrangements Srila Prabhupada was very pleased and said, "Now I can die happily! " Srila Prabhupada had gone to Vrindavan to leave his body and this trust was a major factor for the welfare of his movement.
Krsna Das Babaji and Govinda Maharaja from the Chaitanya Math in Mayapur came to see Srila Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada asked them to turn over some of the Math's to ISKCON. Srila Prabhupada said to keep something that one doesn't use is like keeping knowledge concealed; it doesn't come out. Then Srila Prabhupada told a joke. A man has some puffed rice that he is keeping for himself. Then the wind comes and blows it off and he says, 'Govinda bhoga oh Govinda'. Now You can have it. This was in reference to the fact that they wanted to keep something that they could not use.
Later Ramesvara came and Srila Prabhupada started talking about ambition and America. He said, "our only ambition is we live among devotees and execute the mission of our predecessors, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Krsna if one fourth of America becomes Vaisnava, the whole world will change. They are the leading nation. Krsna has given them all facility - good land, good intelligence, good education, good facilities, good prestige. Is it not? They are fortunate! Yes. Be doubly blessed. Yes. I say, America is my fatherland." Srila Prabhupada was very happy with the preaching work that was going on.
Then Srila Prabhupada started to talk about his departure again saying to the devotees : "You are my body. So you live on. There is no difference. Just like I am working, so my guru Maharaja is there, Bhaktisidhanta Sarasvati. Physically he may not be, but in every action he is there! One who has done something substantial, he lives forever."
Srila Prabhupada was as brave as Grandfather Bhisma. He continued, "Kirtan should go on. That is the panacea of all troubles. If you always continue kirtan, there is no danger. You are above all danger! That is life. Eat sumptuously nutritious food. Chant Hare Krsna. Bas. What is this nonsense life, from five o'clock in the morning driving big, big trucks, 'whoosh, whoosh, whoosh! ' Is that life? And they are compensating by drinking, by illicit sex and meat- eating. Soul killing civilization."
Srila Prabhupada always got ecstatic talking about the books. Ramesvara mentioned how the distribution was increasing and Srila Prabhupada said, "it will increase more and more. People will be inquisitive. Yes, everything is there. What is the wrong? We are talking of Krsna, and all of the sudden I collapse. Oh, that is the greatest profit. Greatest profit! in the kirtan if we die, oh, it is so successful! Injection, operation! Who needs it?! Please accept my request. Chant Hare Krsna, bas, and let me die peacefully. Never be disturbed, call doctor-no. Chant Hare Krsna. Go on chanting. Chanting, hearing, chanting. You've got so much material. Read."
In the evening Srila Prabhupada talked about leaving his body again. "just see how to become a man of character like Narada, Vyas. That is our goal! Don't care for maintaining body. "Whatever Krsna will bring, I take. If He does not mind, don't mind." So discussing all this twenty-four hours and death takes place. Death, if it takes place, then where is the wrong? Where is the lamentation? There is nothing! you are not permanent. You have to die. But if you die discussing all these things, that is your glorious death. Death is sure. You cannot avoid it, today or tomorrow or a hundred years after. But die a glorious death. That is wanted! So I have called you for that purpose. So if death is to take place, let me die in your association and chant Hare Krishna. There is no harm That is glorious." Srila Prabhupada is serious about leaving his body and we all are sad. Srila Prabhupada mentioned that one of the devotees had asked him for his blessings to 'find another guru' The devotee associated with some 'pseudo guru' and ended up falling down. Srila Prabhupada said, "Again become a mouse" This same devotee had said previously in a class in Vrindavan that even Lord Brahma had 'fallen down'. Srila Prabhupada heard about it and said he was a 'rascal' for speaking like that. I believe he is the only devotee that Srila Prabhupada ever 'kicked out.'
Talk of some court cases came up and one guest mentioned that the high court judge in New York had said that Srila Prabhupada was the 'greatest guru of the age' and all of the devotees shouted 'Jai! '.
Then at the end of the evening Srila Prabhupada talked about his mission again with some of the devotees:
Srila Prabhupada: Just now everything is going on, but after my demise it may be taken away from your hand! I understood it long ago. It has been stayed, (?) Bombay, Vrindavan. So how are you going to guard yourself? That is the problem.
Tamal K.G.: Your order that it be a trust property with lifetime trustees!
Srila Prabhupada: So now you are all here. Very cautiously and everything agree.
T.K.G.: That will protect it. At least the property will be protected.
Srila Prabhupada: You should be very much determined, strong-minded. Otherwise it will slip. Such huge property!
T.K.G.: Actually these properties are the envy of all of India. They're the best properties in each place.
Srila Prabhupada: Not only property. Our prestige, our position! Everything is envied. Everywhere we are first class.
T.K.G.: Yes, there is no rival. Bhavananda: There will be men, I know. There will be men who want to try to pose themselves as guru.
T.K.G.: That was going on many years ago. Your Godbrothers were thinking like that.
Bhavananda: Oh, yes. Oh, ready to jump.
Srila Prabhupada: Very strong management is required and vigilant observation.
(Background whispering, T.K.G. & Bhavananda)
I finished putting Srila Prabhupada's translating materials on his desk and that was my service for the day. I retreated to my room in the guest house where I could see Srila Prabhupada translating all night long. It was amazing what Srila Prabhupada accomplished in just one day!
Gauridasa Pandita Dasa
(Story compiled from my memory, Yasodanandan's diary & tapes)
Not Change My Words
VNN Editorial December 16, 1998 VNN2690
BY GAURIDASA PANDITA DASA
HEALTH, Dec 16 (VNN) -- Srila Prabhupada And His Books (VRINDAVAN JUNE 1977)
Srila Prabhupada used to like to sit in his garden in Vrindavan especially in the mornings and he would usually chant on his japa beads. I would put his three bead bags on the pillow of his Vyasasana. He had small, medium and big beads to choose from. He usually picked the bigger beads. It was my duty to prepare the garden for his arrival after his morning bath upstairs. I would clear and clean everything and put fresh cloth on his seat and on the carpet where any devotees would sit. I would turn on the fountain and lite his favorite incense which was Kesar Chandan,
(saffron / sandalwood). Then I would get to fan Srila Prabhupada all the while he was in the garden. This is the time that I got most of the mercy from Srila Prabhupada.
Hearing his direct instructions for the future of the movement; especially the ritvik representative appointments personally was very important because only the secretary was there taking dictation from Srila Prabhupada. The secretary typed up the now famous July 9th 1977 letter and read it back to Srila Prabhupada who then signed it and ordered it to be sent to all Temples and GBC's. After Srila Prabhupada's departure these instructions were covered by the secretary who played dumb saying he didn't know what Srila Prabhupada wanted us to do! He knows very well what he said to do because he admitted it at Topnaga Canyon when the GBC kicked him out in 1980.
Seeing the charm and great Vaisnava wit of Srila Prabhupada in action even to the last moment was and is my inspiration. You had to be quick quiet and clean and clever to be one of Srila Prabhupada's servants; especially since a few of the devotees tried to take my service away. Srila Prabhupada was totally observant of the devotees and constantly showing how to do everything the right way. We need to share this wealth of knowledge with each other and the world and make good advancement towards our ultimate goal, Love of God.
Srila Prabhupada is an ocean of mercy that the world's most fortunate souls will benefit from for even beyond the Golden Age of Lord CHAITANYA MAHAPRABHU, because a lot of the devotees will have gone back to Godhead by then and will be getting the eternal bliss of service to KRSNA! It is to our good fortune to help make this happen.
99.999% of the time Srila Prabhupada was as gentle as a lamb; but when he got angry he became like the hungry lion. We servants would cower out of the room if possible when Srila Prabhupada was upset about anything which was usually the preaching work or improper practices of the devotees. He would only chastise the devotees if the devotee could take it and benefit from it.
He liked to have his books read to him every day. One time Yasodanandan Prabhu was reading Sri Isopanisad when Srila Prabhupada stopped him and asked him to reread the last paragraph. After hearing it again Srila Prabhupada said, "Those are not my words! They are changing my words! Is my English not good enough?" Srila Prabhupada became very angry and continued, "This is the worst thing a disciple can do! Do not become like a leap frog and try to jump over the spiritual master thinking you know better than him. Tell them immediately [the editors] do not change my words!"
Srila Prabhupada was very upset about the changes in his books. I never saw him get so angry any other time. I wouldn't' want to be the recipient of that anger of the spiritual master! So dear editors; please reconsider every and any change you make to Srila Prabhupada's books.
When Srila Prabhupada was asked by Revatinandan Prabhu if we could read Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati's books; Srila Prabhupada said not the ones that were edited by his disciples.
Srila Prabhupada also told him that we really couldn't understand Bhaktisidhanta's books. He said not even his Godbrothers could understand them. Then Srila Prabhupada said, "Actually, he wrote those books for me."(Memories of Srila Prabhupada)
Srila Prabhupada translated the spiritual law books for the next 10,000 years, day and night, until his dying day. He translated constantly despite his busy preaching schedule. He did this to live on in the books. He said before he left the planet that he had given us everything in his books. He said if we read his books and cooperated together, every thing would go on nicely. To edit his books without his sanction is risky business to say the least. Some of the reasons given to justify the modern day editing are that the new edition is closer to what Srila Prabhupada said on the original tapes. Srila Prabhupada lectured on many verses many times and never said to change them. He authorized about three changes, not the 800+- we have in the new Bhagavad Gita. We need Bhagavad Gita As It Was! There is a nicer vibration to the original Srila Prabhupada approved version. I'm sure more devotees would be inspired to distribute the original. It would be nice if we could at least have both versions available. Now with the BBT Settlement that will happen! To each his own! That's cooperation!
When a new book came out Srila Prabhupada would be in total bliss. I remember when he was so sick he could hardly sit up. When he heard that the new Srimad Bhagavatam had arrived and he asked to be propped up on his bed. He asked for his glasses and more light. As he marveled over the quality of the book and the excellent artwork tears came to his eyes. This gave him life.
Another time when Srila Prabhupada asked a devotee to read in the garden the devotee asked him why he liked to hear his own books so much. Srila Prabhupada said, "I did not write these books. Krishna wrote these books!" When Srila Prabhupada came into the room and caught me reading the Srimad Bhagavatam, he smiled nicer than ever and told his secretary, "He's reading in his spare time; this is very good!" I was surprised to see how happy Srila Prabhupada was because I was reading the books. Srila Prabhupada put everything into his books and we would be better off to accept them as is/was. They made so many devotees in the past and will in the future. They are tried and true!
Another important publication is the 'Back To Godhead' magazine. Srila Prabhupada said the BTG and Hari Nama Sankirtan are 'the backbone of our movement.' We need a mass distribution BTG. So many of us became devotees by getting a BTG one way or another. It should be say 25 to 50 cents so we can distribute it for a dollar or so. The old BTG's are great. We could update the calendar and presto, the all-attractive 'Back To Godhead!'
Srila Prabhupada said the disease of the Americans is that we want to change everything. Let's get rid of this disease and maintain what Srila Prabhupada has worked so hard to give us; without adulteration or change.
Thank you,Your servant,
Gauridasa Pandita Dasa
*** Well now KRSNA has intervened and the original printings will become available again soon. So this should increase the sankirtan yajna and please Sri Sri Guru & Gouranga! Transcendental competition is what it is all about! I hope the ritvik initiation system will be at least allowed to co-exist within the walls of ISKCON some day soon, afterall, it is the order of His Divine Grace and KRSNA will make it happen, as He is!
To The GBC
VNN World 07/17/98 - 1917
USA (VNN) -- by Gauridasa Pandita Dasa
Dear GBC Members,
Please accept my respectful Obeisances. All glories to Jagat-Guru Srila Prabhupada!
With the recent news from India regarding the Temple President's Meeting and
their vote to accept the Ritvik Initiation System as ordered by His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada on July 9th 1977; I hereby request you
the GBC members to have an open meeting on this matter as soon as possible.
I would like to be present to give my testimony as I personally heard Srila Prabhupada as he spoke to his secretary, Tamal Krishna Maharaja in his garden in Vrindavan.
We can communicate here on the E-mail if you prefer; but communication as soon as possible is needed.
I would also like to request you that if you refuse to discuss this most important matter openly then you at least allow say the Bangalore Temple to function as a Trial Ritvik Initiating Center for at least one year. Then you can check the results I say that we will make more 'fired up' devotees than 90 of the other ISKCON Temples. We will train the devotees up in proper Vaisnava etiquette. They will show all respect to their Temple authorities and all devotees. Let us prove our case. We have and are doing this on a small scale already but the devotees are not officially accepted by ISKCON. Let us prepare a nice batch of Bhaktas & Bhaktins for the pleasure and service of Srila Prabhupada and his great mission. There is no harm in the Ritvik system as many have said. Fear is used when knowledge is lacking. This is not all of the leaders faults. The whole problem can be traced back to Tamal Krishna Maharaja and the original 11 for 'living a lie''. T.K.G. has already admitted this in his famous Topanga Talks of 1980. Actually the system Srila Prabhupada ordered will build this great movement back up to the way it was when Srila Prabhupada was 'physically present'.
I know most of you are 'gurus' and you are very attached to the current system. You may keep your disciples if they choose; after hearing all of the information, but any worship should be done 'outside the walls of ISKCON' officially.
No pictures except Srila Prabhupada's and up the Sampradaya should be placed on any ISKCON Alter. All foods in ISKCON should be offered only to Srila Prabhupada with the proper mantras.
Those who choose to accept Srila Prabhupada as their guru should not be discouraged from doing so as has been the case so far. Srila Prabhupada said that he has many disciples; some are knowing and some are not. Actually we are all his disciples! Let's start acting like it. I hope I get at least some response to this request. Hoping this meets you in an inspired and cooperative spirit.
Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada,
Gauridasa Pandita Dasa
Response From The GBC
VNN World 08/21/98 - 2050
USA (VNN) -- By Gauridasa Pandita Dasa
I would like to respond to the story "Questions
about Bangalore, Bombay Meetings" by my old Radha Damodara buddy, Sri
Rama Prabhu. Sri Rama mentions in his article on VNN, that I had my chance at
the San Diego GBC Guru debate of 1990 to tell what I personally heard Srila Prabhupada
say in regards to future initiations in ISKCON. Not really! If you watch that
debate [banned; but still available] you will see that I was cut off and the whole
debate ended too soon; within three hours time. Everyone agreed we needed more
time and another debate. This resolution for another debate at Mayapur was voted
on and passed by the 200+- GBC's and devotees that were present and who acted
very nicely. Instead of following that resolution and allowing another debate/discussion
on the guru issue, the GBC at Mayapura passed a resolution banning any such debate
and talk in any ISKCON Temple. This is offensive to Srila Prabhupada who gave
those very instructions that they 'banned' and the Vaisnava tradition of debate.
I just read Narasimha Prabhus' "Response To Sri Rama" on VNN and I am very impressed. So I don't need to respond to the points already made therein. Please read the article! It gives me hope to see such common sense writing among all of the speculative writings out there. Devotees like Narasimha Prabhu should replace some of the stubborn and insensitive members of the GBC. Then honest communications and real reform can take place. The 'good old boys club' will be no more and 'the Blue Boys club' will lead the Sankirtan Movement and uplift the world.
To this date no GBC has responded to my repeated requests for more discussion on the guru issue. Tamal Krishna Maharaja has not responded to my open letter to him that was posted on VNN and sent all over the internet. My intention is not to blaspheme anyone by any means. My intention is only to follow the orders of Srila Prabhupada. And those orders are for ISKCON to follow the ritvik initiation system. If we would have done this from the beginning we wouldn't be having the problems we are having today. Devotees are threatening mass suicide and revolution from ISKCON. etc. There are so many camps because of this deviation of not following Srila Prabhupada's orders of July 9th 1977. If the Russian devotees do commit a mass suicide it would be the darkest day in ISKCON's history. We will be branded with the 'Cult' label and even less people will want to join. This would be a major disaster. We must try to stop this by all means. We need open communications with the GBC now!
In the last year I have visited the San Diego Temple a few times and had bad experiences with Badrinarayana, the GBC, every time. On Sri Radhastami last year I went and was sitting taking the feast when Badrinarayana Prabhu came in from the other side. Seeing me he put his hand on his head and proclaimed, "Oh no! What are you doing here!" This was from all the way across the packed temple room. Then he walked up to me and said it again. I explained that I had simple come to the festival to honor Srimati Radharani. I explained that I used to come to the Radhastami Festivals in San Diego with Visnujana Swami who was very fond of the San Diego Radharani. Besides his own Radha~Damodara Radharani; this was his favorite Radharani. He commented on how beautiful and merciful this Radharani was/is. Badri then said that we don't want any talk of ritvik. I said ok; but that just sparked the interests of many devotees around who invited me to their homes to hear the facts of the matter. On another visit I was asked to step outside with Badri where he got nose to nose with me and said that I could come to the temple but if I mentioned 'that word' [ritvik] I would be kicked out so fast my head would spin. On my last visit I was tapped on the shoulder and told the GBC wants to talk to me on the phone within minutes of being in the Temple room. He repeated the same thing and said we don't have time to discuss the guru issue and if I tried I'd be finished. I hope he/they can find the time before it's too late! It's been hard to try to be Krishna conscious with this type of intimidation. I haven't returned to that temple since and will not attend Sri Radhastami there this year.
Even though I am a witness to the events in 1977 wherein Srila Prabhupada made his departure plans no GBC even cares to hear what I have to say. Last week Guru-Prasada Swami was here in LA and I gave him my report, "On My Behalf" to read. I asked a devotee who was traveling with him days later if he had read it and he said no. He said the Swami said that I was "the low man on the totem-pole" among Prabhupada's servants. That's true but I still heard what I heard and my lowly position doesn't change the truth. I actually had hope for this Swami because in the past he was very humble and open-minded, but now again, I am disappointed.
I have discussed the guru issue with Hridayananda Maharaja; Navayogendra Swami and Bhakti Tirtha Swami. Hridayananda got very angry after two hours and became intolerable. He would not let me speak and said ritvik was for only while Prabhupada was present. When I quoted the May 28th conversation where Satsvarupa Maharaja asked Srila Prabhupada how initiations would go on 'after his departure' and Srila Prabhupada said he would, and did, appoint officiating acharyas or ritvik's, Hridayananda Swami went ballistic. At that point I decided I was wasting my time and left. Navayogendra Swami met with Krsnakant Prabhu and I for 3 hours and accepted the fact that Srila Prabhupada wanted the ritvik system and said he would be a ritvik if the GBC didn't kick him out. Since they have banned ritvik initiations he is holding off but has his initiates offer their foods to Srila Prabhupada with the traditional mantras. This is an important step forward. Bhakti Tirtha was very open and nice. I met with him last November in LA and he patiently listened to the facts of the matter. After which he commented that he thought that Srila Prabhupada had sent me to him. He sent me a letter later saying the same thing and he promised me 'major changes within ISKCON within a year'. Major changes are happening but I don't see the GBC being anything but reactive. They seem to have their collective heads in the sand. And it's not the 'dust of Vrindavan' unfortunately! If our President can be called to task why can't Tamal K.G. and the GBC? In time we all will get our karma; from Lord Brahma down to the Indra-gopa germ. But why let Srila Prabhupada's mission suffer just so we can enjoy a little profit, distinction and adoration; by claiming ourselves diksa gurus for a short while? Prabhupada is our Lord birth after birth. From him comes ecstatic Prema; by him ignorance is destroyed!
So now it is more urgent than ever that the GBC meet and discuss this matter for the betterment of ISKCON. It would be better to continue the San Diego format with an open debate for those concerned who can behave in a Vaisnava fashion. Will the GBC finally respond? Will it take a 'mass suicide' to get them to talk? I hope not!
This guru issue will not be resolved in one meeting; but let us start to communicate openly and honestly and let all of the assembled Vaisnavas judge the results. Let us do what Srila Prabhupada said and nothing more or less! What have we got to lose?
Your servant, Gauridasa Pandita Dasa
Click here for the Haribol Home Page
Another Open Letter to Tamal Krishna Maharaja
Dear Tamal Krishna Maharaja, July 9, 1998
Please accept my respectful obeisances. All glories to Jagat-Guru Srila Prabhupada!
I have been thinking of communicating with you for quite some time now. The last letter I sent you some 7 years ago was returned unopened by the Dallas Temple President along with a note that you no longer wish to communicate with me. Therefore I have no other choice but to write you an open letter since the matter is crucial to Srila Prabhupada's mission.
First of all I would like to have a friendly relationship with you. I have been hoping to meet you personally in LA or wherever; but you don't come around much anymore.
We go way back to 1974. Although Visnujana Swami was my main inspiration your preaching made me join the Sri Sri Radha-Damodara Traveling Sankirtan Party. I'm sure you have as good of memories as I do of all of our preaching pastimes. You mentioned some of these in your book, Servant of the Servant. I have always been a 'small' devotee and you have always been a 'big' devotee. I don't want to be preachy with you because you are always my senior; still I am dutybound to serve the orders of Srila Prabhupada and let the other devotees know what happened back in 1977.
When Srila Prabhupada decided to leave the planet in Hrisikesh we were shocked. When he went to Vrndavan to 'leave his body' he made all proper arrangements for the future of this great movement. When Srila Prabhupada appointed the ritvik representatives to initiate after his departure he was dictating a letter to you. I stood there as I did every morning fanning him with the camera. He spoke about this for weeks. We both know what he said to do. It was very clear until he left the planet. Then you acted like you didn't know what he said to do. The result has been a disaster. You admitted this in your famous Pyramid Talks of 1980. Is your profit distinction and adoration of your 'disciples' really worth deviating from Srila Prabhupada's instructions for a ritvik system to continue for ISKCON? You will be happy when you tell the truth again.
I hope and pray that you reconsider your position and life and the life of ISKCON.
You have been accused of many things. I don't think you poisoned Srila Prabhupada; but I did see you try to control him. You must atone for this before you leave your body. You have the power to change the world if you do this. The sooner the better. I know it will be the hardest thing in your life to do; but you must! If you do I and many of my God-brothers are ready to serve you and work with you to spread this great mission of Sri Sri Guru and Gouranga. To forgive and forget is a Vaisnava quality.
The heat is on and it's only getting hotter. We all want peace. The only way to have peace is to tell the truth and let the healing begin. This is supposed to be a happy movement; not a divisive group of devotees with some of the most aggressive competing for the new disciples and the assets of ISKCON. The guru has been made a cheap thing as a result of not following Srila Prabhupada's instructions. This issue will not go away as you and hundreds of others wish it would. You can be a hero before it's too late.
Please respond to this as soon as possible. If you refuse then will you at least be present for a GBC discussion on this matter? I'm sure we can act nicely for Srila Prabhupada.
I just realized that this letter is dated July 9th; the same date as the letter Srila Prabhupada dictated and you typed up to all Temple Presidents and GBC's. I think Krishna is making me write this to you. My only interest is to help the mission. I have no intention of defaming you. Do you remember when I got electrocuted in front of Srila Prabhupada and I left my body for awhile? Well; I think Krishna saved me then just so Srila Prabhupada's instructions for a ritvik initiation system would not be lost in time. So although I am a small devotee I have a big service. I have been through the ringer trying to defend Srila Prabhupada's instructions while many of the leaders of the movement have condemned these instructions for a ritvik system. Unless they repent and atone they will be very sorry in the end. I don't want a big fight. Srila Prabhupada asked us to cooperate. I am asking you to cooperate. Can we do this for him?
I have been waiting for 21 years now and will continue to wait until the day I die. The happiest day in my life will be when ISKCON accepts the ritvik system as ordered by Srila Prabhupada. Then the movement will grow just as it did in the 60's and 70's. Hundreds of devotees understand this now but until the GBC understands Srila Prabhupada's instructions in this matter and implements them we will continue to have disunity and factionalism all over the movement. Let us communicate and cooperate.
Let us swallow our ego for this one lifetime and follow the orders of His Divine
Then we can chant Hare Krishna nicely; and be happy.
Thanking you in advance,
I know you have a soft heart.
I hope this meets you well.
Gauridasa Pandita Dasa
VNN World 01/05/98 - 1462
USA (VNN) -- by Gauridasa Pandita Dasa
Recently the Chakra 'news' website printed an article called, Who Plotted the "Great Ritvic Cover-up?" The article was prepared by Vipramukhya Swami using an article from Suhotra Swami from the 1990 ISKCON Journal. Since 'Chakra' has printed this 'mis-information' it's my duty to respond to the points made.
Firstly, I must point out that I have already received an apology from Suhotra Swami for his 'article'. I asked him how he could have written such a piece when he had not been there during the time I was serving Srila Prabhupada. He wrote back that he was pressured by Tamal Krishna Maharaja to write something so he did. This was years ago.
The first bit of 'mis-information' in the 'Chakra' article is that I was present to a 'secret meeting' with Srila Prabhupada and Tamal Krishna Maharaja. There were no 'secret meetings'. Srila Prabhupada met with a committee of the GBC, on May 28, 1977. Satsvarupa Swami asked Srila Prabhupada: "Our next question concerns initiations in the future, particularly at that time when you're no longer with us. We want to know how first and second initiations would be conducted." Srila Prabhupada said, "Yes, I shall recommend some of you to act as officiating acharyas." Then Tamal K.G. asked, "Is that called ritvic acharya?" Srila Prabhupada said, "Ritvic, yes." That was not a secret meeting. Later on July 7, 1977 Srila Prabhupada did appoint the ritvics to initiate the devotees after his physical departure. He dictated a letter to this effect to Tamal K.G. who typed it, dating it July 9th 1977, and reread it to Srila Prabhupada, who then signed it and said to send it to all of the temples. This was not a 'secret' at that time. I was fanning Srila Prabhupada in his garden during this most important conversation and others. I had told Yasodanandan Maharaja, the headmaster of the Gurukul, about the ritvic appointments and he noted it in his diary which he still has available today. It is also on the tape of July 7th 1977 and documented in Srila Prabhupada's letter of July 9th 1977.
Suhotra Swami then asks why I didn't speak up sooner about this information. It's hard to speak when the leaders don't want to listen! I've have been speaking up since I saw the first 'vyasasana' appear in an ISKCON Temple. After hearing Srila Prabhupada say specifically not to put them in his temples I was shocked to see this happen. I returned to Vrindavan just after Srila Prabhupada's departure and met with Tamal K.G. in his room. I asked him why there were vyasasana's appearing in the temples when we both heard Srila Prabhupada say not to put them in. He said in an angry tone, "Gauridasa, don't you think Srila Prabhupada could have said anything else after you left?" (I left at the end of July 77 because my visa had expired) I said that I'm sure he could have but I don't know why he would of when he was so clear about it for months before I left. He said, "Well he did, and if you don't believe me you can ask Kirtanananda Maharaja." I asked if there was a tape or letter to that effect and hitting his hand down on his desk, he proclaimed that he didn't want to hear another word about this. I left the room, disappointed.
I also sent this initiation information etc. to Satsvarupa Swami for his book,who later said that it 'burned up'. I've been speaking up all along. It's the GBC members that have tried to suppress this discussion. The resolution of the GBC meeting on the guru issue in San Diego in Jan. 1990 was to continue with another meeting in Mayapur of 1990. Instead of allowing the meeting they printed 'The ISKCON Journal' declaring it to be the final response to the debate and even made it 'ISKCON Law' that any devotee who even discusses it, in a temple is to be 'banned'. So much for free speech and the house where the whole world can live.
I continue to plea to the GBC to open up and allow a cordial meeting on the guru issue again. What harm could it do?
Suhotra Swami then quotes 'letters' from devotees who allege that I was only T.K.G.'s servant. Most of the stories were fabricated. I'm sure if you ask many others they'd remember my service to Srila Prabhupada. Even if I were, only 'Tamal's' servant, as they like to allege, would that change anything? I heard what I heard, and it is backed up by tapes and letters signed by His Divine Grace. What more do you want?
Suhotra S. then mentions my apparent 'contradictions' on dates I heard things. I didn't keep a daily diary with dates but I know what I heard which is supported by tapes and Yasodanandan's diary. Let's take a quick look at Tamal K.G.'s contradictions. Even in the ISKCON JOURNAL he says that he never heard Srila Prabhupada mention the word 'ritvic' until the May 28th GBC meeting. In another story, in the same Journal, he said he heard Pradyumna mention it earlier than May 28th and that's why he asked Srila Prabhupada if an officiating acharya was a 'ritvic' at the meeting.
In 1980 Tamal K.G. was banned from 'guruship' for saying that even his Godbrothers had to 'go through him' to get to Prabhupada. He went to the Pyramid House in Topanga Canyon, California and made the following statements:"Actually , Prabhupada never appointed any gurus. He didn't appoint eleven gurus. He appointed eleven ritvics. He never appointed them gurus. Myself and the other GBC have done the greatest dis-service to this movement the last three years (20 now!) because we interpreted the appointment of ritvics as the appointment of gurus" T.K.G. quoting Srila Prabhupada, continued, "In order to continue the process of people joining our movement and getting initiated, I have to appoint some priests to help me because just like I cannot physically manage everyone myself, I physically cannot initiate everyone myself." T.K.G. cont. : "And that's all it was, and it was never any more than that. If it had been more than that, you can bet your bottom dollar that Srila Prabhupada would have spoken for days and hours and weeks on end about how to set up this thing with the gurus, but he didn't because he already said it a million times. He said, 'My guru maharaja did not appoint anyone. It's by qualification.' We made a great mistake!" Ö"You can't show me anything on tape or in writing where Srila Prabhupada says, 'I appoint these eleven as guru.' It doesn't exist because he never appointed any gurus. This is a myth." Concluding his talk T.K.G. says, "There's one thing I have to say, that in this discussion there should be no fear of repercussions. I have no fear of anything and that's why I can say anything because everything that could of happened has happened." After hearing of these words from Tamal K.G. the GBC didn't want to lose their 'guruships' so they reinstalled Tamal as a 'guru' and tried to hide the tape recording from the Pyramid House. Talk about contradictions!
Suhotra says that I am pretending that I was Srila Prabhupada's servant and I was just tagging along as a 'mercy case'. I'll accept that. I hope I can continue to be his 'mercy case'! Without his mercy my life is useless.
As far as the statement by Pradyumna that he didn't hear Srila Prabhupada talk about ritvic much, that was because Pradyumna would only come periodically with questions about the editing work he was doing. He spent most of the time in his room. I was his roommate in a room that overlooked Srila Prabhupada's rooftop. He was absorbed in his Shalagram worship and editing.
Suhotra S. says, 'Explain Gauridasa, Explain' three times in his article. I've been trying to! Thanks for giving me a chance! He asks why didn't Srila Prabhupada let anyone else know about this matter. He did! The letter of July 9th, 1977 'to all temples and GBC's' is the evidence. He set up the ritvic initiation system for the last three years before his disappearance and for the last six months that's all he talked about. A little research into the last six months would be fruitful to clarify this most important issue. Suhotra S. asks why I'm so nice to Tamal K.G. regarding the circumstances. I think regardless of one's opinions we should always show respect to others, especially our senior Godbrothers and Godsisters. Srila Prabhupada had some differences with some of his Godbrothers but always treated them very respectfully. This is needed now more than ever.
I agree that Srila Prabhupada wants us all to be shiksa gurus and ritvics within the walls of ISKCON. Srila Prabhupada said that if you want to be a diksa guru you should do so in your own temples. He said these things the days after the ritvic appointments to Tamal K.G. in the garden. Recordings were made of these talks but the tapes have mysteriously disappeared. Srila Prabhupada didn't return to the Gaudiya Math and claim 'guruship'. He showed it like Bhaktisidhanta Sarasvati said. The self-effulgent acharya would come out and he would 'do everything' in time. And with that pure potency he attracted so many followers and the rest is history.
Suhotra S. mentions my ritvic initiation for my wife back in 1987 when I was the head pujari at the Seattle temple. Jagadish Maharaja, our GBC, came along and said that her initiation could not be accepted. That if she wanted to do Deity worship, as she did, she would have to have an ISKCON initiation. I knew it was wrong but saw a higher purpose and allowed her to be initiated by Jagadish M. He promised me that he would keep her name, Goura-Nitai DD, and performed a fire sacrifice at the Sunday feast. A month later he called her into his private room and told her he wanted to change her name to Gourangi and she should leave me because my 'ritvic' philosophy was off! Later I came home to find her gone with my 1 year old son, Damodar! This was one of the sadest days of my life! He was seen alone with her many times after that and I believe he had a special interest in her. Where's he now? Suhotra S. wraps up his story by calling me a 'chronic liar'. No, I have told the truth all of the way through and will do so to my dying day. Why do you have to resort to the character assassination and name calling that you, Ravindra Swarupa and others have done up to this date? When will we become gentlemen and women and deal with each other in a respectful way? Where is the love and trust?
I'm sorry for the long reply but the mis-information that Vipramukhya Swami's Chakra is putting out is dividing the movement even more. He has pretty much declared 'war' on the 'ritvics' because he might not get his socks worshipped anymore, if the truth comes to light. (true story from Seattle) V.S. says that they are Krishna's army. We have Krishna! We have Srila Prabhupada, the general. Chakra people say Srila Prabhupada is 'not available'. I say he is. Prabhupada said he is. For those who follow him; he's there. As my letter of 1989 resulted in the 1990 GBC guru debate; I hope and pray that this writing may result in some positive communication's and hopefully another GBC meeting for fulfillment of Srila Prabhupada's instructions and a better ISKCON where the whole world can live again.
Thank You, your servant,
Gauridasa Pandita Dasa
VNN World 01/13/98 - 1498
USA (VNN) -- By Gauridasa Pandita Dasa
When I first read Suhotra Swami's letter recently in the VNN, I thought it was kind enough and didn't need a response. After reading the 'VAST Reveals Strategy' article on VNN I had to rethink Suhotra's remarks.
Suhotra Swami says that it was possible that he did apologize to me for his articles in the ISKCON Journal. I appreciate that. Then he says he accepted letters from Tamal K.G. but didn't seek my side of the story. This has been the case all along. In the last 20 years only 2 GBC have offered to even talk to me about this the ritvic guru issue. Those were both recent. Bhakti Tirtha Swami was very interested, pleasant and understanding at our recent meeting in LA. He said he believed me by studying me carefully and he said twice that he thought that Srila Prabhupada sent me to him. He promised me 'major changes' in ISKCON within the next year. But what can one man do against the whole GBC? If all of the GBC's were as open and concerned as B.T.S. appeared to be, we wouldn't be having the problems we are having today!
Suhotra S. says he believes I'm suffering from FMS. (False Memory Syndrome) The fact of the matter is that what I am saying, that Srila Prabhupada ordered a ritvic initiation system for ISKCON for after his departure, is also documented on tape and in the July 9th 1977 letter to all GBC's and Temple Presidents. My memory is backed up by evidence, facts! How can you say it is false?! What is false is that Srila Prabhupada appointed gurus, as you say. Tamal K.G. said the interpretation of a ritvic appointment as a guru appointment has done the 'greatest dis-service' to our movement.(T.K.G. Dec.3,1980) I do however have a vivid memory of the time you dumped a full bucket of cold water on me to wake me up from my much needed nap. I jumped up shocked and banged my head on the shelve above me and collapsed hurt inside and out. Do you remember Suhotra Maharaja?! Or is this another case of FMS?
You say you would like to take me away from the media and talk to me privately about my 'differences' with ISKCON. That's a problem right there! Why private? My problem is the GBC refuses to discuss the guru issue in an open honest debate as recommended by the 1990 GBC meeting in San Diego. This is the root of all of ISKCON's problems. I love ISKCON! I want it to be successful! That's the only reason I'm still actively trying to communicate with you/us all. I will be glad to meet you in private if the chance arises, because I do have some fond memories of you when we traveled together on R.D.T.S.P. I have forgiven you for my 'bath'.
It wasn't only Tamal K.G. and I who heard Srila Prabhupada say these things. There was a committee of the GBC, headed by Satsvarupa Maharaja, who met with Srila Prabhupada on May 28th 1977 wherein Srila Prabhupada said that he wanted ritvic initiations after his departure. How many times do I have to repeat this before it sinks in?
As far as my friendly letters to Tamal K.G.; why not? He wrote to me kindly also such as, "visions of you fanning Srila Prabhupada are ever present in my mind." And "When I told Srila Prabhupada you had written the letter, he remembered you very fondly." (TKG letter 9-77 London) Srila Prabhupada had differences with some of his godbrothers but he still treated them respectfully. This example should be followed now by all of us to solve our problems and grow nicely into the new century. After the 1990 ritvic debate Tamal K.G. returned my letter unopened and requested that I no longer write to him.
So my final request to you Suhotra Swami, and all of the GBC's, is to study the 'factual history' and leave the psychology for when the truth comes to light. It might come in handy!
"Enemies of ISKCON"?
VNN - IVC 12/22/97 - 1415
USA (VNN) -- Letter from Gauridasa Pandita Dasa:
I am offended by Ravindra Swarupa's article in VNN. He alledges that
the poison issue is being perpetuated by the 'ritvics'. He predicts that someone
like myself will be put forward and admit my involvement and maybe say that TKG
made me do it. It's a shame we have 'leaders' like this in our movement and on
our GBC. He calls the ritvic believers 'the enemies of ISKCON'. etc. I have not
pushed the poison issue and I am a 'ritvic' devotee.
Krishnakant Prabhu the editor of Back to Prabhupada etc. is not pushing the poison issue and many others of us that understand that Srila Prabhupada wanted a ritvic initiation system in ISKCON are not pushing this idea. I personally heard Srila Prabhupadda say he wanted the ritvic system in ISKCON AFTER HIS DEPARTURE in May, June and July of 1977. The GBC refuses to comply with the resolutions of the 1990 GBC guru debate calling for another open forum discussion on the matter. At the same time there are ('non-ritvic' ) regular devotees that believe that Srila Prabhupada probably was poisoned. Many More than there are ritvics. Ravindra is trying the divide and conquer strategy. It won't work!
The devotees who understand that Srila Prabhupada wanted a ritvic initiation system are not the 'enemies of ISKCON' as Ravindra alledges. We are the friends and family of ISKCON. We want to cooperate and communicate; but it's the GBC who keep stonewalling any constructive communications in this matter. This non-cooperation is the real 'enemy of ISKCON'.
WHY CAN'T WE GET TOGETHER AND TALK ABOUT ALL OF THIS AND TRY TO WORK THINGS OUT FOR THE PLEASURE OF SRI SRI GURU & GAURANGA ?
At the 1990 GBC debate Ravindra said with an attitude that shocked even his own side, "If Srila Prabhupada is still alive why don't you write him a letter and tell us what he says when he writes back! Obviously he's not with us anymore." Why do you bother writing a Vyasapuja letter every year then Ravindra?
I propose that the GBC undergo a major overhaul. Most of the members should be replaced at least for a year. We should vote in a new GBC and define clearly it's function. I know Srila Prabhupada wanted it to be a life long appointment but he also almost disbanded the GBC before. There needs to be a check and balance system. We need communications not allegations.
Gauridasa Pandita Dasa
To Bhakti Tirtha Swami
VNN World 12/24/97 - 1425
USA (VNN) -- by Gauridasa Pandita Dasa
After all these years, 20 to be exact, I'm surprised to see three articles appear in the Priti-laksanam on the ritvic issue. As a personal witness to Srila Prabhupada's instructions in this regard I feel it's my duty to respond to some of the points made. The article 'Quiet the Ritvik Rhetoric' really didn't say anything so I'll skip to Bhakti Tirtha Swamis'speech to the GBC from the 1997 meetings. First I would like to commend the Swami for being the only one to respond to my request for a GBC meeting on the guru issue in Volume 21 of P.L. We met in L.A. in November of 97 and had a very nice discussion on the guru issue. I'm sure his speech to the GBC will be different regarding the ritvic issue in the future. It's inspiring to know that we have a few ISKCON leaders that are willing to discuss these delicate issues with a cool head and the honest concern that I experienced from B.T. Swami. Now with all due respect I would like to respond to the Swamis' speech to the GBC that appeared in the last issue of P.L.
The Swami said that Srila Prabhupadas' house was being burnt down by the ritvic philosophy. He said That the ritvic philosophy is like a monster we've created due to not taking proper care of the devotees and that if Srila Prabhupada came back he would say, "What is this ritvic philosophy?" I am far from a great pandita but would like to respond in a simple way. I was one of Srila Prabhupada's personal servant's in the summer of 1977. I was there in Hrishikesh when he first decided to leave the planet on the night of May 15, 1977 and went to Vrndavana with him where he gave his final instructions for the future of ISKCON. I heard Srila Prabhupada say that he wanted the devotees to initiate new devotees in the ritvic system after his departure. I told Yasodanandan Swami at the time who wrote it in his diary and confirmed it with Srila Prabhupadas' secretary at the time. This is also documented on the May 28th tape wherein Satsvarupa Swami asked Srila Prabhupada how initiations would go on after his departure. Srila Prabhupada responded that he would appoint some officiating acaryas, ritvics, that would initiate new devotees as his disciples. He named the ritvics on July 7,1977 and sent out a letter on July 8th to all Temple Presidents and GBC's that this ritvic initiation system was to continue henceforward in ISKCON. As we all know this has never happened. This is what needs to happen to fulfil the order of the spiritual master.
If there is a fire in ISKCON it is due to not following the order of the spiritual master to continue the ritvic initiation system that he started. Remember this system had been in place years before his departure and hundreds of his disciples never saw him personally but were recommended and initiated by the temple presidents etc. on behalf of Srila Prabhupada. The monsters that were created were not the ritvic philosophy but those who tried to replace Srila Prabhupada instead of represent him. If Srila Prabhupada reappeared he would not ask what is the ritvic system because he ordered it. He would say, " can't you see that most of our problems were caused by disobeying my orders to continue the ritvic initiation system for my movement?"
Srila Prabhupada said that you should not try to be a diksa guru in your gurus' temple. He wanted us all to become qualified gurus' and preach. He wanted us to become siksa gurus within ISKCON and if we wanted to give diksa on our own it should be done in our own temples. I hope and pray again that the GBC will meet on this most important issue. It will not hurt but will help ISKCON more than most of us can imagine. We will show our love for him by how we cooperate. Can we work together to understand this issue and please His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada, the Jagat Guru.
Your menial servant,
Gauridasa Pandita Dasa
VNN Editorial February 16, 1999 VNN3072
EDITORIAL, Feb 16 (VNN) -- It's 2am and I have been tossing and turning all night. I can't sleep because I read the GBC resolutions against Srila Prabhupada's Ritvik Initiation System on VNN before taking rest. I kept thinking I'll try to go back to sleep and respond to the article later, but I couldn't. The Truth is more important than sleep, and the GBC are 'sleeping at the switch'!
Vipramukya Swami's article, "GBC Repudiates Ritviks" is very disheartening to say the least. The first sentence is very telling of the whole matter; "The GBC Body has passed a strong and admittedly unhappy series of resolutions concerning putting seven [Ritvik advocates] leaders of ISKCON on probation." These resolutions are 'admittedly unhappy' because they are wrong and based on biased and incomplete information. These resolutions go against Srila Prabhupada's direct orders and therefore are doomed for failure; and all those GBCs who voted for these bogus resolutions are a Guilty Bunch.
I will try to keep this response as short as possible and to the point.
I'm sorry to have to use such harsh words but I can find no others to describe this unfortunate situation. Sometimes the Truth hurts. How can we or Srila Prabhupada be happy when the GBC engage in such mismanagement? Chanaki Pandit says that a mismanaged assembly 'burns like fire' and by these actions the GBC are burning down more of Srila Prabhupada's House and chasing away it's rightful tenets. Instead of doing their duty of expanding the movement they are guilty of decreasing it by their mismanagement and should be removed from their positions for the good of the mission. They obviously won't consider the Truth of this matter because most of them are 'ISKCON gurus' and probably won't let go of their improper positions until their dying days. They have offended Srila Prabhupada by decrying his instructions of July 9th 1977 etc. to continue the ritvik initiation system after his departure and have offended thousands of others in so many ways by this root problem in ISKCON.
I would like to respond to the following GBC statements in brackets:
["RESOLUTIONS CONCERNING THE DOCTRINE OF RITVIKISM
WHEREAS: In 1990 the GBC ruled that the doctrine called the "posthumous ritvik theory" or "post-samadhi ritvik theory" (hereinafter called "ritvikism") is a "dangerous philosophical deviation" and prohibited its teaching and practices in ISKCON"]
The GBC have never proved that this conclusion and can't! That's why they avoid fair and open debate or discussion. In fact what they have done all along has been a 'dangerous philosophical deviation' by putting unqualified men in the post of zonal acharyas and 'diksa gurus' in ISKCON. This has caused deterioration and hundreds and thousands of devotees to leave and countless others not to join ISKCON.
Another important point here is that in the North American GBC Meeting of January 1990 in San Diego there was a debate on the guru issue. The resolution of that meeting was to have another meeting at the Mayapur Festival. Instead of allowing the meeting to occur the GBC behind closed doors made these bogus resolutions against Srila Prabhupada's initiation system and banned further discussion on it in ISKCON and any devotees engaging in such discussion. Is that fair? Is that proper?
["WHEREAS: The GBC has again carefully examined the case for ritvikism as currently presented, having had representatives meet at various times and places with its advocates to hear them make their case, and has, as a body sitting in plenary session on 9 February, 1999, carefully heard the case personally advocated by Madhu Pandit Prabhu, president of Bangalore temple, Adridharan Prabhu, president of Calcutta temple, and Sattvik Prabhu, vice- president of Calcutta temple, and
WHEREAS: The GBC has given the current versions of ritvikism careful attention and all due deliberation to the best of its ability:]
I and Tamal Krsna Maharaja were the ones present in the garden when Srila Prabhupada appointed the first batch of ritvik representatives of the Acharya.
I am one of the only witnesses to the facts and I have not been consulted by the GBC on this matter. I have even prepared a report on the facts in chronological order for easy understanding called 'On My Behalf' which the GBC continue to ignore. Therefore the above statement is false. In fact the GBC members have avoided me and the facts in this matter 'to the best of their ability'! Badrinarayana Prabhu has told me that he doesn't have time to discuss it and if I even mentioned it I would be "thrown out of the temple so fast my head would spin." The resolutions made from these faulty findings should be throw out until we can fulfill the 1990 GBC resolution to continue the debate in an open gentlemanly Vaisnava fashion.
The devotees mentioned above give a nice presentation of the facts but are somewhat new to this issue. The direct witnesses and all evidence should also be presented to the GBC members before any resolutions are made.
["126.96.36.199 "Ritvikism" AKA "Posthumous Rtvik Theory," "Post-Samadhi-Ritvik Theory," "Proxy Initiation Theory," "No Change Theory," etc.
The doctrine that Srila Prabhupada desired to continue to act as diksa guru after his departure from this world and did not desire any of his disciples to give diksa in succession after him is a dangerous philosophical deviation.
Ritvikism directly goes against the principle of parampara itself (of successive diksa and siksa gurus), which sustains the pure teachings and practices of Krishna consciousness."]
This is another incorrect assumption by the GBC. Srila Prabhupada does remain the Siksa and Diksa guru for ISKCON through the ritvik system. I don't believe anyone says that Srila Prabhupada did not desire his disciples to give diksa. He did; but only on his behalf. The disciples are Srila Prabhupada's.
If and when a disciple is completely pure and can deliver his/her disciples back to Godhead and have been ordered by Srila Prabhupada, they can act as diksa gurus in their own temples. This is what Srila Prabhupada did. This is how the Sampradaya continues. For ISKCON Srila Prabhupada will always be the guru now, in 100 years, in 1,000 years, and beyond, just as Sri Ramanuja is now in the Sri Sampradaya and Christ is now in Christianity! The rest of us will be mostly forgotten in time.
["This principle has been established by Krishna and is upheld by all Vaisnava acharyas. Indeed, it is accepted by all followers of Vedic culture. Ritvikism is thus an extreme deviation. It is utterly erroneous to espouse it, deluding and misguiding to teach it, and blasphemous to attribute it to Srila Prabhupada. No one who espouses, teaches supports in any way, or practices ritvikism can be a member in good standing of ISKCON."]
We have Srila Prabhupada on tape saying he wanted Ritviks to initiate disciples for him 'after his departure'. We have the July 9th Newsletter to all temples and GBC's! For the GBC to have the audacity to call it an extreme deviation is a slap in the face of His Divine Grace. They should be ashamed of themselves! They better see the light before they die or they will be sorry in the court of Yamaraja! This is the mad elephant offense Srila Prabhupada warned us against. All in the desire for profit, distinction and adoration the GBC are holding on to a sinking ship without a captain! Let us pray for their full recovery or removal if necessary.
["2) The GBC hereby makes known its strong determination to enforce ISKCON law in the matter of ritvikism, and it enjoins upon all its members and on other official bodies, officers, and other authorities in ISKCON, such as Regional Governing Boards, regional secretaries, GBC ministers, sannyasis, initiating gurus, temple presidents, and temple officers, the responsibility to take every appropriate action, according to ISKCON law, to enforce the prohibition against ritvikism in ISKCON."]
Here is a case of the blind leading the blind. All devotees who get involved in this are just as guilty as the GBC for creating this disaster of mismanagement. Let us pray for the return of Love and Trust and cooperation.
Let us pray for istagosthis at all levels to resolve our problems and not fall prey to Vaisnava aparadha.
["WHEREAS: The GBC wishes to empower the Executive Committee of 1999-2000 to deal with these members appropriately, through as much dialogue and negotiation as possible, and, at the same time, it wishes to empower the committee with the ability to provide a system of rectification or to expel any of these members from ISKCON if it deems necessary because of developments during the course of the year."]
Let's hope that 'as much dialogue and negotiation as possible' is really used. Let's propose have an open discussion with the GBC and sincerely try to solve this matter in a respectful way. To ban devotees will only create more problems and probably spill out into the public court system. The GBC should try by all means to avoid this. But unless the future discussions are genuine, this is inevitable. This is not what Srila Prabhupada wanted. He wanted the GBC to figure these things out. But if they won't then Krsna may do it in the karmi courts. Then the facts will be ruled on and Srila Prabhupada's supreme position in ISKCON will be established once and for all.
Srila Prabhupada wanted a GBC to manage his society and it should be. But what to do when they are incompetant or incorrect? There must be a way to deal with it. It would be better if the GBC members were elected to limited terms.
Then real reform could take place and they would be more responsive, accountable and respectful to all of the devotees.
Srila Prabhupada wants us all to be spiritual masters and preach Krsna Consciousness all over the world. This principle we all agree on, but it's the details that need to be worked out. To do this in a dynamic way we must first cooperate with all due respect and clean our house. Then it will be an attractive place where the world will want to live again.
Hoping this meets you all well and in a cooperative mood, Yours in Srila Prabhupada's service,
Gauridasa Pandita Dasa
Note: The report 'On My Behalf' is available upon request.
It is on my Website and the IRG website at firstname.lastname@example.org
It is also available in German and is being translated into French, Russian, Spanish and other languages. Once all of the devotees are aware of the facts around the world reform will be inevitable. In spite of the above mentioned bad news from the GBC time is on our side.
Challenge To 'The Ritvik Heresy'
VNN Editorial January 3, 2000 VNN5210
EDITORIAL, Jan 3 (VNN) -- Open Letter To LA President Svavasa Das
Dear Svavasa Prabhu, January 1, 2000
Happy New Year ! Please accept my respectful obeisances.
All glories to Jagat Guru Srila Prabhupada
I am writing you to beg a bold request. Please remove the paper, 'The Ritvik Heresy' from the alter of Sri Sri Rukmini and Dwarkadish in the temple room. If you won't remove it and you still think the paper is philosophically sound and should remain there, then please prove it and allow Yasodanandan Prabhu and myself to debate the author of it and anyone else you think would be appropiate. You can invite devotees from around the world or just a few and videotape it. It can be done sooner or later at Rathayatra time when so many devotees come to LA.
The last debate we had was at the GBC meeting in San Diego in 1990, 10 years ago! The resolution of that meeting was to have another meeting and discuss this most important issue further. That meeting has not happened to date. Please allow a meeting to happen and help us to resolve this matter, so we can cooperate more and more again as Srila Prabhupada wants.
The new anti-ritvik video, 'Disciple of my Disciple' was played in the temple room on Srila Prabhupada's disappearance day. The Producer of the video says it is an uncensored video. How come it is only one sided? How come I was not asked to contribute? I being one of the direct witnesses to these instructions. It's just politics again! How long will this go on? It's time to work to resolve this matter and stop offending devotees, especially Srila Prabhupada!
Both sides of this issue need to meet in a nice Vaisnava fashion and stop throwing booms over the fence hoping that it ends the controversy. It won't! Only the Truth will prevail! And that is that Srila Prabhupada is still the Guru of ISKCON and can and will deliver any and all who take shelter of him and follow his instructions. Our duty is to help people take shelter of Srila Prabhupada, not ourselves. We should inspire the devotees to take shelter of Srila Prabhupada as Visnujana Swami did.
We need to have open communications with all honesty to resolve our problems and then we can work together to push on this great movement in this new century. Let the Golden Age of Lord Chaitanya continue without politics and then it will attract so many more souls to cooperate and spread the Sankirtan mission of Sri Sri Guru and Gouranga.
Guests are coming to get some mercy and nectar from the temple and they are getting politics. Just yesterday a devotee came up to me and said that he didn't know what initiation system Srila Prabhupada wanted after his departure, but whatever it may be, that Ritvik Heresy paper should not be in the temple room. Please do your duty as a leader and give us the nectar, not politics.
I can say with all certainty that the paper in question is in direct opposition to what Srila Prabhupada said regarding ISKCON Initiations. I personally heard these instructions and they are on tape and documented in the July 9th 1977 Newsletter to all GBC's and Temple Presidents. The Ritvik Heresy paper is an insult and an offense to His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada. I have written a response to that paper called 'Dr. Frog Philosophy' (attached at end) and there is another response called 'The GBC Heresy' (available upon request) but I don't pass these out to the innocent guests. Don't you care about being implicated in the reactions as the local leader? Don't you think a further study and discussion would be appropriate? I hope so!
You are doing a great job with the temple with book distribution and the restaurant and so many things. But you also need to improve in certain departments. Your support of that paper being one of them. I hope that istagosthi's are performed regularly with all well behaved devotees invited. We all have ideas on how to improve our services and so many more would like to be involved with the temple and devotional service in general.
I would like to give a little more advice now and that is we need more Kirtan! Srila Prabhupada wrote that if the temple has problems we should have a big Kirtan. Kirtan is our medicine! All of the Kirtans are rather short compared to the 'good old days'. I think more would join also if they got a good taste of the nectar of Kirtan rasa. Class could be rescheduled to before the greeting of the Deities and then the Kirtan could go on and those who had to leave could and those who want more nectar could stay. The evening arati is short also, and so many interested guests are sometimes rudely turned away. Can the temple room stay open later and have someone else lock it up? Another point I would like to raise is that you should preach to the devotees to respect eachother regardless of our individual opinions. There is too much impersonalism due to the politics. Love, trust and respect is lacking.
Please excuse me for being so direct but I speak only out of duty and because I do respect you a lot. I am advising you for your and the communities benefit. My only desire is to follow Srila Prabhupada's instructions and help spread the Sankirtan Mission. I am ready to cooperate and I hope you are too.
Hoping this meets you well!
Gauridasa Pandita Dasa
Pournima Ritvik Initiations
VNN USA 03/14/98 - 1692
L.A. - USA (VNN) -- Gauridasa Pandita Dasa
Two devotees were initiated today on Sri Goura-Pournima. The ceremony was conducted
by His Holiness Yasodanandan Prabhu on behalf of Srila Prabhupada. He also gave
a potent lecture on the history of our sampradaya and important Vaisnava principles
such as humility. He also explained the ritvik initiation system as Srila Prabhupada
The fire was fed a lot of ghee and grains by the blissful gathering of devotees. The fire leaped up in an awesome display and it appeared to some of us that Lord Visnu was indeed appearing in the sacrificial fire. The sacrifice was held outside and was well attended. A neighbor boy named Johnny, 7yrs, also came over and played kartalas and the mridanga for the first time. He had fun offering the grains into the sacrificial fire and asked if he could wash Srila Prabhupada's' plate after the offering. He must have been a devotee before by the way he was so attracted. The mercy of Sri Sri Guru and Gouranga were flowing like anything.
The new devotees that were initiated were Bhakta Bob and his wife from New Mexico and who are now situated in San Diego. The spiritual names given by the ritvik priest are Bir-Nasringa Dasa and Jahnava Devi Dasi, respectively. The feast was of course ecstatic. The Gouranga potatoes were running with ghee and spiced very nicely. The eggplant subji was loaded with nice hunks of curd and the halava melted in our mouths. Madhavananda Prabhu, (who got initiated on Sri Janmastami), came up with a group of new devotees from San Diego. He made an excellent nectar and helped with the cooking of the feast. Many mantras and bhajans were chanted. It was also nice to see all of the devotees cooperate to clean up after the great sacrifice and feast.
Srila Prabhupada always said that a little bit of a pure thing is much better than a whole bunch of adulteration. Only a minority of the devotees know, and follow Srila Prabhupada's teachings in regards to current initiations in ISKCON. The good thing is that more and more devotees are understanding. More information is available on the guru issue in ISKCON, especially on the internet. Let the debate continue on the internet, and hopefully in the near future with the whole GBC body, in a respectful Vaisnava fashion. Then the predictions of Lord Chaitanya and Bhaktivinoda Thakur will manifest more and more and the golden age will usher in just in time for us, and the generations ahead.
We hope that the GBC will enter into a serious dialogue with us, and fulfil their own resolution for a debate from the GBC meeting in San Diego in January of 1990. When that is finally figured out, by the honest devotees, the movement will go through a cleansing, healing and a reuniting. Then it will grow again like wildfire, just as when Srila Prabhupada was personally here our undisputed guru.
Today we also chanted the 108 Holy Names of Lord Chaitanya by Sarvabhouma Bhattacharya for Lord Chaitanya. The benedictions are that all of the devotees pure desires will be fulfilled and we would get relief from any reactions to past offenses. Love for Lord Hari would awaken and whoever chants the mantras in glorification of Lord Chaitanyadeva would remember Him at the time of death. There are more benedictions also. Lord Chaitanya is an ocean of mercy. It is His mercy, the mercy of Guru and Gouranga, that we need to cooperate and push on this great mission. Everything else is secondary.
Thank you Srila Prabhupada for giving us the 'matchless gift'! You gave us Krishna and Lord Chaitanya, and They have given us you. I pray that your mercy will continue to shower all of the devotees, knowing and not knowing, (but I hope more are knowing!); directly and indirectly, inside and outside of ISKCON. May your mercy come to the new people and the old ones. May the old devotees be inspired to come back. Let us restore the house where the whole world can live!
ALL GLORIES TO SRI SRI GURU AND GOURANGA!!!
Gauridasa Pandita Dasa
Maharaja's 'Final Order'
VNN Editorial January 8, 1999 VNN2811
EDITORIAL, Jan 8 (VNN) -- Dear Prabhus, Please accept my respectful obeisances. All glories To Srila Prabhupada and the Gaudiya Vaisnavas!
I was asked to reply to Tripurari Swami's statements regarding the ritvik appointments and I obliged. I did not intend to get into a big debate with the Gaudiya Math Vaisnavas on this issue, but I feel it is Krsna's desire that the air be cleared once and for all; so I will make a humble attempt. I got a few responses that did not address the actual facts of the matter. In fact the responses I received were in direct opposition to Sridhara Maharaja's instructions; the one they are supposed to be quoting as their authority!
Tripurari Swami and the other respondents claim that the ritvik initiation system is bogus and they quote Sridhara Maharaja as saying so; but they must not be aware that just before his passing from this world Sridhara Maharaja's final order was for a ritvik initiation system !
In one of Sridhara Maharaja's last speeches before he left the planet he appointed Govinda Maharaja as his ritvik representative. This is documented in the Book, "Sermons Of The Guardian Of Devotion" which I will quote below. The devotees have charged that I have misunderstood Srila Prabhupada and that he couldn't of appointed ritviks to initiate disciples for him after his physical departure saying it is apasiddhanta or an apa-sampradaya; but the pure devotees can make adjustments according to time, place and circumstances and his is exactly what Srila Prabhupada and Sridhara Maharaja did. They had the authority to do so and for us and to say they couldn't make those adjustments and didn't, is offensive to Srila Prabhupada and Sridhara Maharaja. After all, it is documented in the July 9th 1977 letter to all GBC's and Temples Presidents and in one of Sridhara Maharajas last speeches.
Since the devotees who responded to me did not use any quotes to back up their claims I did the research and came up with the exact quotes from Sridhara Maharaja. We must remember that the final instructions supersede the previous ones.
Here are the exact quotes from His Holiness Sridhara Maharaja: "With this
I transfer these beads; from now he [Govinda Maharaja] will do so on my behalf
as ritvik. The ritvik system is already involved both here and in the foreign
land. The ritvik is the representative, so if you want to take [initiation] from
me and you take from his hand then it will be as well and as good as taking from
me. In the maha mandal [earth] Sargar Maharaja [formerly Akshayananda Swami] and
many others, they are also ritviks of Swami Maharaja [Srila Prabhupada] and also
myself and they may do so. But in this Math he, Govinda Maharaja will be the representative.
Henceforth he will represent me in this affair beginning from today's function.
Now I shall go from here, [depart the material world] he will do the necessary on my behalf. He will give Hari Nama diksa, sanyasa and everything." [Sridhara Maharaja Sermons Of The Gaurdian Of Devotion]
So it is due to a lack of knowledge that the devotees still decry the bonafide ritvik initiation system. This system is also used in the Ramanuja Sampradaya. Ritvik priests are also mentioned in the Srimad Bhagavatam and the Krsna book contrary to so many claims of the uninformed sentimentalists.
Sridhara Maharaja did appoint 'regular gurus' in the Gaudiya Math and it proved a failure. Also seeing the condition of the guru system in ISKCON after Srila Prabhupada's departure he made the right adjustments according to the circumstances just before his departure. If the devotees would follow his and Srila Prabhupada's final orders we would be a lot better off and could even cooperate to push on Lord Chaitanya's movement. Srila Prabhupada wanted to cooperate with the Gaudiya Math; but with so many gurus fighting over the maths and disciples cooperation is not possible. When the devotees learn the actual instructions of our acharyas and follow them to the letter we will be a dynamic preaching force again.
At this point I would like to respond to the latest article against me and the ritvik system posted on VNN called "No Living Guru, No Living Sadhu, Nor Living Shastra" By Syamasundara Dasa.
First of all he says that I am not aware of Srila Prabhupada's books. I don't have every word memorized but I have read all of Srila Prabhupada's books at least twice and continue to read them daily. I wonder if Syamasundara Prabhu has even read the whole Bhagavatam and Chaitanya Caritamrta? They have oceans of information regarding the history of the Gaudiya Math and ISKCON, it's problems and the solutions. We have to read and understand them with a pure heart and then practice them. Syamsundara Prabhu says we need a 'good dose of common sense' and here is some: First read before you write!
Syamasundara Prabhu quotes a letter from 1969 authorizing a devotee to stay with Sridhara Maharaja. But later Srila Prabhupada wrote to all of his disciples forbidding any association with his Godbrothers after he saw the confusion it caused. Again the final instructions supercede the previous ones; that's simple logic.
The next point in contention is the common statement made by Symasundara, " Furthermore, in the end Prabhupada did tell his disciples they could consult Sridhara Maharaja for philosophy. This fact has been documented by others." If this is 'documented' please let us see it! We need to start talking facts and end the confusion.
Next Symasundara says, " Unfortunately most ritvik followers, while advocating the idea that everything is in Srila Prabhupada's words, don't have the ears for hearing all of them, resolving what appears to be contradictory, and arriving at a spiritual understanding of them."
Srila Prabhupada himself said that everything we need to know is in his books and if we simply read them the answers will come. Yes we advocate this. Again things must be taken into context and not twisted to suit our own philosophies and desires. I couldn't make out what he meant in the last part of his sentence. Maybe he can clarify?
Next Syamasundara says, " Rather than drawing from Prabhupada's words that Sridhara Maharaja is the senior Vaisnava that Swami Tripurari suggested he was, Gauridas Pandit corrects "Tripurari", informing the Swami that the ritviks do respect and take the advice of senior Vaishnavas. He says that Vishnujana Swami is a senior Vaishnava whom he respects (of course, for those who didn't know, he passed away over 20 years ago)."
Yes Sridhara Maharaja is a senior Vaisnava; but isn't he also 'passed away' as you say about my spiritual mentor Visnujana Swami, who continues to inspire me and others? Why make a distinction here? The Vaisnava dies to live! He reasons ill who says that Vaisnavas die! And please be nice to the departed Vaisnavas! Whether he passed away or not has nothing to do with it. Both remain an inspiration to many of us. They are living still in sound. I'm listening to Visnujana Swami right now chant Gopinath and it is ecstatic. I play it constantly.
We all know Hansadutta Prabhu has had his problems in the past. That's because he tried to be the guru instead of being the ritvik representative of the guru, as ordered by His Divine Grace. I lived with him recently for almost a year and can say that he follows a strict sadhana rising early, bathing outside despite the cold and performing Mangala aratika for his beautiful Deities. He also chants his rounds. It says in the Harinama Cintamani that if we hold a rectified Vaisnava to his past mistakes we are guilty of blaspheming that devotee. To forgive is the first Vaisnava quality. Look at Jagai and Madhai and Sri Sri Goura Nitai's mercy upon them! Do you think the mercy should be stopped? I hope not!
Syamsudara continues, " The fact that one could propose someone like Hamsaduta prabhu as comparable with Srila Sridhara Maharaja in terms of being a senior Vaishnava makes clear to me that, as Tripurari Maharaja concluded, these people are not very interested in spiritual life, which involves understanding what terms like "senior Vaishnava" are all about. I was not comparing them! We are interested in spiritual life. Why would I sacrifice my time and effort to respond to all of this if I wasn't interested in rectifying the situation. This goes beyond my selfish interests and addresses the interests of all of the Vaisnavas now and into the future. Believe me, I'd rather be chanting blissfully with Visnujana Swami or someone like him than having to answer every bogus allegation made against me, the ritvik initiation system and most of all Srila Prabhupada.
Syamasundara then makes this statement which really ruffles my feathers, "
Not only do the ritviks not want a living guru, they don't want a living sadhu,
nor living sastra."
We have a living guru, Srila Prabhupada! The senior devotees are 'sadhus' and also 'living representatives' of the guru. There is life where the orders of the spiritual master are followed. For those who don't follow there is a spiritual 'death'. The Sastra is always living except for those who twist it to suit their own material desires. So we do want the living guru, the living and departed sadhus and the living Sastra. You're the one's who say that Srila Prabhupada is 'not available anymore' and that we need a new 'living guru'! Are all of the devotees initiated by Sridhara Maharaja in the past going to get re-initiated now?
In conclusion I would like to request all of the devotees from all camps to seriously study this matter with an open mind and heart for the benefit of all. Please come to the LA meetings or meetings in the future and discuss the philosophy like the six Goswami's of Vrindavan did. This is in our tradition, to debate philosophical matters and churn out the Truth for the benefit of the mission of Sri Sri Guru and Gouranga and the fortunate souls of the world.
Hoping this meets you well,
Gauridasa Pandita Dasa
Narayana Maharaja Meets An L.A. Ritvik
VNN USA May 31, 1999 VNN4001
USA, May 31 (VNN) -- I met with His Holiness Narayana Maharaja today to discuss his position on the Ritvik initiation issue. I attended his class yesterday and today to see and hear for myself. At the end of yesterdays class he mentioned ritviks so I felt inspired to meet with him privately and discuss what I heard from Srila Prabhupada about it.
I had to come to his apartment twice and read his article on ritvik before I finally got to speak with His Holiness. He came out of his room and motioned for me to sit on the floor in front of him. I was introduced by one of the devotees and he asked what services I performed for Srila Prabhupada. I told him about my services in Vrindavan and then he asked if Srila Prabhupada joked with me. I told him that I wasn't that intimate with Srila Prabhupada and he joked with me a few times but mostly with the other devotees. (At this time he was sick and didn't joke so much.)
At this point I said that I heard Srila Prabhupada say that he wanted ritviks to initiate after he left the planet and it is recorded on the May 28th 1977 tape. Narayana Maharaja then said that ritvik gurus were not in our sampradaya and we should follow our sampradaya. He asked why I don't follow this. I said I follow the sampradaya through Srila Prabhupada and I said I don't want to jump over my guru. He said, "You have to."
He asked me if I give ritvik initiations and I said no. He said why and I replyed that I was never ordered by Srila Prabhupada or the GBC to do it. He said that the GBC were fallen and have no potency. I said we need a GBC but it needs to be reformed. I said that Srila Prabhupada is still present in his books and the books are the lawbooks for the next 10,000 years. Maharaja said that Srila Prabhupada never said that.
Narayana Maharaja said there is no such thing as a ritvik guru and I replyed that we don't say the ritivk is the guru, Srila Prabhupada is the guru, and the ritvik is his representative. He said the ritivk only does the sacrifice and I agreed. He said the ritvik is not mentioned in the scriptures and asked me to show him one quote. I said that the ritivk is mentioned in the Srimad Bhagavatam and he said that was only for performing sacrifices and I said I agreed.
He asked me who made Srila Prabhupada a guru and I said Bhaktisidhanta Sarasvati Maharaja did. He said no. I said Srila Prabhupada told a reporter who asked him that Bhaktisidhanta Sarasvati appeared to him in a dream and ordered him to be the guru and he did. Maharaja said, "that is nothing." I said Bhaktisidhanta Sarasvati said that he would do everything in time and he also objected to that. I said that I was not trying to say that He should be a ritvik but that was the system Srila Prabhupada ordered for ISKCON. My intention was not to challenge His Holiness but just to make sure he heard what Srila Prabhupada really said for ISKCON in particular. I am writing a follow up letter and left my On My Behalf report for him to read.
I never thought I would change the Maharaja's mind after reading his position but I thought I should at least state the facts and leave the result to Krsna. I feel that his position will change after he hears all of the historical evidence left by Srila Prabhupada.
At that point Maharaja had to leave for the evening program and I asked for forgiveness if I made any offenses to him. He put his arm around me which was nice. I attended his lecture and found it very nice. He lectured from Srila Prabhupada's Sri Chaitanya Caritamrita. The devotees were many and they seemed more sincere and interested than most ISKCON devotees today. So I do give Narayana Maharaja credit for keeping those devotees fired up in the mission of Sri Guru and Gouranga. He also stated at the beginning of class that Srila Prabhupada was his siksa guru and that was nice to hear. He asked Manjari (Bhagavan's daughter) to sing both days and she was enlivened. The women especially feel special, more than they seem to in ISKCON and that is also nice.
I think we could learn alot from each other and hope the lines of communication and respect for eachother opens up between all parties so we can become a united and dynamic preaching force again.
Gauridasa Pandita Dasa
Bill Of Rights
VNN World 03/26/98 - 1713
USA (VNN) -- from Gauridasa Pandita Dasa
It is time for a devotee's BILL OF RIGHTS. I hereby propose to the GBC to form, or allow another body of devotees to form, a BILL OF RIGHTS for the devotees. This is important as even the regular citizens have rights which are protected by the law. The GBC has made so many ISKCON laws and it is time to review these; modify them and form a BILL OF RIGHTS to protect all of the devotees now and in the future.
One of our basic rights should be freedom of speech and freedom of expression. The right to debate any controversy in a Vaisnava fashion should be allowed. The protection of the women, children and elders should be ISKCON law. The right to an education free from abuse of any kind should be available. The right to die in the Holy Dham for all of the devotees should be there with facility for such. The rights could be drawn up by a group a devotees after careful consideration. The GBC have made so many resolutions and laws for the institution and now it's time to formulate some legislation for the rights and protection of the devotees. Srila Prabhupada asked us to cooperate and a BILL OF RIGHTS would be a great way to facilitate our cooperation and protect the devotees.
Thank you for consideration on this matter,
Gauridasa Pandita Dasa