It is essential for devotees to understand that all ISKCON members are first and foremost followers of Srila Prabhupada and that it is by his blessings that we advance in Krishna consciousness. The eternal spiritual master is a resident of Vaikuntha and is our ever well-wisher. It is he who is preparing a place for us in the spiritual world.
Nearly Everyone Is Ritvik
Bhaktisiddhanta Dasa – Vrndavan:
Has everyone forgotten what happened in the past? In the early ‘70’s Srila Prabhupada started his own ritvik system, surprise! At some point it became too much to chant on everyone’s beads and give the new spiritual names so what to do? He appointed some of his senior men to cover these details so he could go on with his writing and management of a world organization.
My wife and I were initiated in 1975 in Los Angeles, Srila Prabhupada had left the day before to go to San Francisco, by this time he deputed his personal secretary and Sanskrit scholar to look up the names; and then he would approve or disapprove.
During the fire sacrifice it was Hridayananda Maharaja that was standing next to the Vyasasana and handed out the beads and asked for the four regulative principles. Each time a new name was given there was a loud HARIBOL and everyone applauded.
In our group there was a Gaur Kisori das which opened a few eyes, and generated a loud response then I was called. I paid my obeisances to Srila Prabhupada’s picture on the Vyasasana and stumbled through the four regs. Then Maharaja handed me my beads and gave my name;
“Your name is Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati das!”
The temple exploded, what a name who is this rascal getting such a name? I was shocked I still have no idea what it meant, also in our group there was a devotee whose new name was ‘great kirtan leader’ this fellow was so shy he didn’t speak much to anyone let alone lead a kirtan or look like a great kirtan leader; so I thought my name was also the antithesis of my foolish character.
The point is – forget the political connotations and let us all remember it is Srila Prabhupada who is always in the centre and the force behind everything at all times. So it is understandable that if anyone is now taking the role of Acharya and not handing his initiates over to the source then, what is the fate of both the new guru and their initiates?
This movement would undergo a drastic change if all the new gurus who are initiating on behalf of Srila Prabhupada would recognize this fact and not take glorious worship and stand down to allow all new comers to this society full access to Srila Prabhupada who sweated blood and tears for each one of us who joined this movement. This is how it was in the beginning when Srila Prabhupada was physically with us and was not able to directly attend the initiation ceremony.
I am not a political antagonist but most of all my god brother’s and god sister’s like myself are all ritvik. Most of us were initiated when Srila Prabhupada was not physically present. This was not such a big deal to us we were all disciples of His Divine Grace.
Srila Prabhupada didn’t hand me my beads or give my name directly; so what is the difference today? Let’s make this movement a better place for all who have joined and will join in the future how we can deny anyone the right to take Srila Prabhupada as their life and soul.
I am told there are over 90 gurus now acting as diksa gurus instead of allowing Srila Prabhupada that privilege. To actually put Srila Prabhupada in the centre means to not stand in his way and to allow everyone unrestricted access to Srila Prabhupada like it was in the early days.