Dispute Between ISKCON Bangalore and ISKCON Mumbai/Letter by Sriman Madhu Pandit Prabhu

Letter from President, ISKCON Bangalore Society

Dear Patrons,

This communication is aimed at bringing into focus the core issue behind the current dispute between ISKCON Bangalore and ISKCON Mumbai. As a patron of ISKCON Bangalore Society, we believe you should be informed about the factual position of both disputing parties and be reassured about the safe guard of your interest in your relationship with ISKCON Bangalore.

From the time His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, reverentially addressed as Srila Prabhupada, founded ISKCON in New York in 1966, ISKCON grew into a large, transnational organization spanning many countries, having 108 centers and more than 10,000 members, in a matter of 10 years. This was due to the immense spiritual stature and vision of our Founder Acharya, Srila Prabhupada.

While the growth of the organization was impressive, in 1977, just prior to Srila Prabhupada’s leaving this world, it was still a young organization and most of the members and devotees, mainly westerners, had not developed the required spiritual stature, knowledge, realization, immense purity
and gravity that is required to occupy the post of his spiritual successor, as an “Acharya”.

Keeping this in mind, Srila Prabhupada appointed 11 disciples to act as Representatives of Acharya (and not as Acharyas) or ritviks. He issued an institutional directive that these ritviks would also officiate during the initiation ceremony of devotees who would join the movement. It was amply
clear that these individuals would be his representatives only, and would not replace him as the Spiritual Master or Acharya of ISKCON. In other words, Srila Prabhupada was to remain, for all time, the Founder and only Acharya or Diksha guru of ISKCON.

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Ritvik Defined


Ritvik Defined — By Narasimha Das
November 13, 1998 VNN2498

Srila Prabhupada never created any special status for “officiating acaryas.” Their function as ritivks is to assure that Srila Prabhupada requirements are met before a student is formally accepted for initiation in ISKCON. Like all senior initiated disciples, they are meant to be teachers by their practical example. They have accepted an added responsibility, an added burden on behalf of Srila Prabhupada. Their burden is to assure that Srila Prabhupada’s standards for initiation are preserved in ISKCON. (Srila Prabhupada’s July 9th directive sent to every leader in ISKCON mentions three times that all devotees are Srila Prabhupada’s disciples and that the deputed ritviks offer initiation on behalf of Srila Prabhupada. This same instruction was repeated by Srila Prabhupada several times additionally after July 9th in letters, documents, and instructions.) Ritviks are the priests authorized by the spiritual master or his institution to accept students on behalf of ISKCON and Srila Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada made this perfectly clear. This understanding of the procedure Prabhupada prescribed is consistent with references to ritviks mentioned in Srila Prabhupada’s books.

EDITORIAL, Nov 13 (VNN) — Currently the term “ritvik” is used to refer to 1.) devotees of a particular camp, 2.) the ideas and convictions of “ritvik” devotees, and 3.) the “officiating acarya” who initiates on behalf of the spiritual master. I will try to offer guidelines for understanding the word “ritvik” according to Srila Prabhupada and the current usage among devotees.

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