As indicated the following is a reply to the above conversation from Sivarama Maharaja (SRS). As usual statements from SRS shall be enclosed in speech marks thus " ", with our comments following underneath.

"When someone accept disciples, it is not just a matter of giving initiation but it is also a matter about taking responsibility for ensuring that devotee's spiritual progress. It may be done directly, it may be done indirectly just like Shrila Prabhupada you know at a certain stage wasn't directly dealing with disciples at a certain point he couldn't even answer letters any more but he ensured that there was a system in place that would do that. There would be Temple presidents and GBC's, so that's the guru's business, his responsibility. [... ]

so that's why Lord Chaitanya also said that one shouldn't accept too many disciples because if you can't give them attention, then what's the point? But then as I mentioned there can be some arrangement made through others. Something should be there."
  1. SRS here refers to the ritvik system set in place by Srila Prabhupada, where after July 9th, 1977, he was not involved at all in the process of initiating a disciple, whereby a Temple President would recommend a candidate for initiation, and a ritvik would accept the disciple on behalf of Srila Prabhupada by giving a spiritual name. All this was done without reference to Srila Prabhupada. SRS accepts that the use of such a system, where Srila Prabhupada does not personally interact with a disciple is bona fide. Consequently, Srila Prabhupada's departure and hence his inability to personally interact with a disciple, cannot be a reason for why Srila Prabhupada must suddenly cease acting as ISKCON's initiating guru, because as SRS has just admitted, he can still continue to take responsibility for ensuring a disciple's spiritual progress, even if it is done 'indirectly'. Therefore since the relationship Srila Prabhupada would have with prospective disciples post-departure would remain identical as the "indirect" relationship he had with disciples pre-departure, his position as ISKCON's initiating guru would also remain identical.

  2. SRS speculates that such an arrangement was made because Srila Prabhupada couldn't even answer letters. However since Srila Prabhupada had secretaries to whom he dictated letters, and there is no record of Srila Prabhupada ever losing the use of his vocal chords, as the many taped conversations attest, the ritvik arrangement was not put in place because of Srila Prabhupada's incapacity to speak.
"Certainly in terms of the person whom he is offering his devotions is no longer there and the natural question becomes, well how does his devotional service continue? Of course Krishna is there Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is there and ............. so the devotee is not particularly abandoned but in order to facilitate the meditation of one's spiritual master. In order to have a strong connection which is that everything that is there in shastra becomes applied to one not that one is always in a qualified state not that one has to be an exception rather than following the rule in order for devotees to not be burdened by the sin of the guru that it is not there in their mind.
I have received the mantra from someone and then so I can't separate the mantra from the person, it is certainly beneficial to have that re-initiation. So therefore that initiation is relevant for practitioner's particularly devotees who really are still connected with ashram, and the ignorance if that is also there. So i think it's a good practice and if I go on the basis of what I have observed in terms of result I see that it really makes for clarity in someone's spiritual life. You know, when someone asks who is your spiritual master, you know, you cant sort of, .. well Prabhupada! But not Prabhupada, I am not a ritvik! But it's not him because he left. So devotees should not be placed in a situation like that.
It is like, you know, someone asks you who is your father and if you cannot immediately say, then immediately people start looking at you like, you know, well where did he come from? [....]
He has faith in Krishna and other things certainly but this aspect of his life is missing unless he is advanced it may seriously impede his Krishna consciousness."

SRS here makes a very forceful case for the need for re-initiation, stating:

  1. It allows devotional service to continue via providing a spiritual master one can mediate on.
  2. It is required to have a strong connection so that everything which is there in sashtra becomes applied.
  3. It is "certainly beneficial", "relevant", "good practice".
  4. It provides clarity in spiritual life so its clear who your spiritual master is and where you come from, because you cannot say Srila Prabhupada is your spiritual master, otherwise that would be "ritvik"! So one must get re-initiated and take a substitute spiritual master.
  5. Without it one's Krishna consciousness may seriously be impeded unless one is already advanced.

Thus it is very clear that Maharaja here is stating that re-initiation is a necessity for spiritual life.

However let us contrast these statements with what the same Sivarama Maharaja said about the same subject less than 12 months earlier:

"This morning we had a ..- I'm thinking of a name to give it because I didn't want to call it a reinitiation but it was to facilitate the previous or ex-disciples of Balabhadra prabhu his story is, probably most of you who are listening here have seen on the dandavats.com site, if not you can read it on there. [....]
I'm not calling it a reinitiation ceremony because really I didn't think that it was doing it justice to the devotees to say that they needed to be reinitiated and I am going to propose that even that terminology. Sort of, is dropped at least in official ISKCON circles. The reason I say that the word reinitiation is not so suitable is because these devotees they didn't do anything that required them to be reinitiated or even for that matter to retake their vows of initiation they got abandoned by their spiritual master but they had made a commitment to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, to Srila Prabhupada, to ISKCON. They maintained faith in the holy name of the Lord, they continued on with the regulative principles, chanting 16 rounds a day. So somehow or other, I really wanted to separate that from what we generally view as an initiation because reinitiation means you just do the same thing that happens when you first got initiated. Jiva Goswami says [...] That if necessary one may hear the mantra again but this word reinitiation I haven't found as a, at least in a traditional scriptural statement."

(SRS podcast, September 27th, 2007)

Here SRS states the exact opposite, that:

  1. There is no need for re-initiation.
  2. The devotees of fallen gurus did not do anything that requires them to be re-initiated.
  3. Indeed there is not even any word such as re-initiation!

So this stunning flip-flop reveals that SRS does not have any idea what he is talking about. If he does not even know whether or not devotees should be re-initiated, how is able to act as a self-realised guru offering such re-initiation, or indeed initiation?! The literal meaning of the word 'guru' is 'heavy with knowledge', not heavy with contradiction!
Regarding those who contradict themselves, Srila Prabhupada states:

"That is the defect of the speculators: they contradict themselves. Yes. So contradiction mean imperfect knowledge. Perfect knowledge means who sticks to his principles. That is perfect knowledge. One who does not stick to his original proposal, his knowledge is imperfect."
(Srila Prabhupada, Immanual Kant discussion)

And a person who contradicts himself does not know something perfectly, as stated above, and in regards to such persons, Srila Prabhupada states:

"Just see how rascaldom. You do not know something perfectly, and still, you are talking about it."
(Lecture, Bg 1.45-46, Aug 1, 1973)