July 9th Letter/May 28th Conversation

July 9th Letter

This is the last written instruction we have on initiations. It is a very important letter that all members of ISKCON should be familiar with, regardless of your position. It was adressed to All G.B.C., and Temple Presidents. This is where the first eleven names originated, and how initiations were to be carried out. This letter was based on the equally important May 28th Conversation between the GBC and Srila Prabhupada, as regards to how initiations in the future, will go on, particularly at that time when Srila Prabhupada is no longer with us.

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.

Very important history!

The full text is as follows:

July 9th Letter

To All G.B.C., and Temple Presidents
July 9th, 1977

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 “rittik”-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 senior 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.

Your servant,
Tamala Krsna Gosvami
Secretary to Srila Prabhupada

Approved: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
[Srila Prabhupada’s signature appears on the original]

Srila Prabhupada in New York

May 28th Conversation

Creating the Post of Officiating Acarya

Srila Prabhupada’s intentions with regard to how initiations should be conducted in his physical absence was clearly stated in the May 28th, 1977 discussion with the GBC:

Satsvarūpa: …Then 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 initiation would be conducted.

Prabhupāda: Yes. I shall recommend some of you. After this is settled up, I shall recommend some of you to act as officiating ācāryas.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Is that called ṛtvik-ācārya?

Prabhupāda: Ṛtvik, yes.

Satsvarūpa: Then what is the relationship of that person who gives the initiation and the…

Prabhupāda: He’s guru. He’s guru.

Satsvarūpa: But he does it on your behalf.

Prabhupāda: Yes. That is formality. Because in my presence one should not become guru, so on my behalf, on my order… Āmāra ājñāya guru hañā [Cc. Madhya 7.128]. Be actually guru, but by my order.

Satsvarūpa: So they may also be considered your disciples.

Prabhupāda: Yes, they are disciples. Why consider? Who?

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: No, he’s asking that these ṛtvik-ācāryas, they’re officiating, giving dīkṣā. Their… The people who they give dīkṣā to, whose disciple are they?

Prabhupāda: They’re his disciple.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: They’re his disciple.

Prabhupāda: Who is initiating. He is grand-disciple.

Satsvarūpa: Yes.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: That’s clear.

So it is plain to see that those giving diksa would be acting as officiating acaryas, and those receiving diksa from them would be counted as their disciples in terms of the formalities of initiation. It is the duty of the GBC to create the post of “Officiating Acarya”, as per Srila Prabhupada’s May 28, 1977 instructions, so that we may all be properly connected to the disciplic succession.

In the above conversation “Who is Initiating” refers to the Officiating Acarya who is giving diksa, and those who receive diksa from him are his initiated disciples and Srila Prabhupada’s grand-disciples.

That’s clear. (However that instruction was never followed).

The GBC must create the post of “Officiating Acarya”, and those ISKCON gurus who meet the standard would be considered as such, as it should have been since the time of the famous July 9th Letter. This I think, would be the beginning of a much needed reconciliation, and cure many of the ills of our society.

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