Pandu on 17. December 2008 at 2:41 am said:
Srila Prabhupada’s Ritvik Initiation System
Some time back I was reading and article on the Prabhupadanuga News and I ran across this comment posted by Pandu Prabhu. I thought it relevant today, so I am posting it. It is some good information on the word “ritvik”. Also enclosed at end of post is the link to original article.
Since Srila Prabhupada himself Coined the term “Ritvik”, it is very offensive to Srila Prabhupada, to denounce this term. The attempt of certain persons to degrade the transcendental Vedic term “rtvijah” or “ritvik” to a derogatory word is one more example of offenses that have entered Iskcon due to our neglect of Srila Prabhupada’s advice.
In Vedic culture, a ritvik is an exalted priest. Such priests were often endowed with siddhis and respected as gurus, yet they never pretended to be as good as Lord Hari. By the order of the Acarya, the rtvijah recites the mantras that request the presence of Lord Visnu in the fire of Vedic sacrifice (agni-hotra), and he then makes offerings to the Supreme Lord according to Vedic sastra. The rtvijah performs an exalted function. He is a pure brahmin or Vaisnava who is never concerned about the political correctness or convenience of his stance.
Srila Prabhupada’s Ritvik statements can be found in his Supporting Instructions as well as in the Srimad Bhagavatam:
“…continue to become ritvik and act on my charge.” (July 19th)
“…continue to become ritvik and act on my behalf.” (July 31th)
“…the process for initiation to be followed in the future.” (July 11th)
Srila Prabhupada to Hansadutta: “You are a suitable person and you can give initiation to those who are ready for it. I have selected you among eleven men as “rittvik” or representative of the acharya, to give initiations, both first and second initiation, on my behalf.”
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. I shall recommend some of you. After this is settled up I shall recommend some of you to act as officiating acarya(s).
Tamal Krishna: Is that called ritvik acarya?
Srila Prabhupada: “ritvik. Yes”.
In these documents we find words such as “ritvik”, “continue” and “future” which, along with the word “henceforward”, all point to the permanency of the ritvik system. There is no statement from Srila Prabhupada that even hints that this system was to terminate on his departure.
SB 9.1.15 adhvaryuna–by the rtvik priest;
SB 4.5.7 rtvijah–the priests;
SB 4.5.18 rtvijah–the priests
SB 4.6.52 rtvijam–of the priests;
SB 4.7.16 rtvik–the priests;
SB 4.7.27 rtvijah–the priests;
SB 4.7.45 rtvijah–the priests;
SB 4.7.56 rtvigbhih–with the priests;
SB 4.13.26 rtvijah–the priests;
In Srimad-Bhagavatam (8.16.53), Srila Prabhupada defines “ritvik” (rtvijah) as “the priests recommended by the spiritual master”. In this instance ritviks are defined as the deputed priests of the spiritual master. They preside over a Vedic ritual meant for the worship of Lord Visnu (visnu-aradhana). The initiation ritual observed in ISKCON is a standard Vedic ceremony, and it may be performed by ritviks, who officiate on behalf of the Acarya.
This understanding and practice was clearly established by Srila Prabhupada personally, and there should be no controversy regarding the definition or function of the ritvik priest. The new initiates offer dakshina and service to the mission of the guru, and the priests may also receive some token honor or reward for their services, according to Vedic custom. (In ISKCON Srila Prabhupada would either receive the guru dakshina personally and use it for a global ISKCON project or for his traveling expenses, or he would give money to the BBT or some other important or needy branch of his preaching mission. He never said that priests representing ISKCON should receive money or expensive gifts for their services. Nor did he say they should assume positions of absolute authority and accept worship as gurus.)