Rtvik Order Splits ISKCON Leaders
into Two Factions


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 67, Vol 3, 2020

We have 3 facts which are not disputed:

Fact 1: On May 28th, 1977, Srila Prabhupada was asked by a delegation of the GBC how initiations would continue when he would be "no longer with us":

Satsvarupa: "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."

Fact 2: Srila Prabhupada answered that he would name some persons to act as "rtvik" to conduct them:

Srila Prabhupada: "Yes. I shall recommend some of you. After this is settled up, I shall recommend some of you to act as officiating acaryas."
Tamala Krsna: "Is that called rtvik-acarya?"
Srila Prabhupada: "Rtvik, yes."

Fact 3: Subsequently, Srila Prabhupada did just this via a directive sent out to the whole Society on July 9th, 1977, wherein he named 11 persons to act as rtviks, who would conduct initiations to ensure Srila Prabhupada remained ISKCON's diksa or initiating guru.

These 3 undeniable facts have forced ISKCON's leadership to divide into two opposing factions which contradict each other and Srila Prabhupada in their attempt to deny this undeniable rtvik order for ISKCON.

The "Rtvik-Diksa Guru" Faction

One faction of ISKCON leaders claims that Srila Prabhupada appointed 11 diksa gurus. So, for example, ISKCON guru HH Hridayananda Dasa Goswami ("HD") claims:

"Prabhupada chose 11 people to be diksa gurus, when he left".
(HD talk, published 7/8/20)

Another example is ISKCON guru HH Bhakti Vikasa Swami ("BVKS"), whom we quoted agreeing with this diksa guru appointment theory in the BTP 52 article "Zonal Acarya Hoax Revival Continues!". Another member of this faction is ISKCON guru HH Sivarama Swami ("SRS"), and he explains the basis for this faction's theory as follows. First, he quotes facts 1 and 2 mentioned above by quoting the May 28th, 1977 conversation. He then quotes the final line from this conversation by stating:

"Prabhupada interjects:
Prabhupada: When I order, "You become guru", he becomes regular guru. That's all. He becomes disciple of my disciple."
[May 28th, 1977 conversation - Ed.] [...]
Now in the ensuing days Srila Prabhupada named 11 of his senior devotees, not all GBC men, and he named 11 men, not women, to act in the capacity of
diksa guru."
(SRS talk, published 14/10/20)

a) SRS quotes Srila Prabhupada stating in the May 28th, 1977 conversation what will happen when he gives an order for one to become a diksa or initiating guru, because Srila Prabhupada states the person so ordered will create a disciple who will become a disciple of Srila Prabhupada's disciple. He refers to this diksa guru as a "regular" guru.

b) SRS then claims that Srila Prabhupada did give such a diksa guru order by subsequently naming 11 devotees to act "in the capacity of diksa guru".

c) However, the only time Srila Prabhupada ever "named 11 of his senior men" in the "ensuing" days was on July 9th, 1977, where 11 "senior men" were named as rtviks. Thus, SRS is referring here to fact 3 mentioned above.

d) But this directive only states that those named would be acting in the capacity of making disciples for Srila Prabhupada:

"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 [...] The newly initiated devotees are disciples of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad, the above eleven senior devotees acting as His representative."
(July 9th, 1977 letter, emphasis added)

It is therefore a clear fact that these persons are not being named to "act in the capacity of diksa guru", but that rather they are being named to keep Srila Prabhupada as the diksa guru for ISKCON.

e) Thus, remarkably, it is claimed that the supposed order naming 11 diksa gurus was given as an order naming them as rtviks. So Srila Prabhupada stating, "When I order, 'you become guru,' he becomes regular guru" actually means, according to this appointment theory faction: "When I order 'you become rtvik,' he becomes regular guru"!

Hence, Srila Prabhupada supposedly gave a "rtvik-diksa guru" order, and we can denote persons who believe in such a theory as being the "Rtvik-Diksa Guru" Faction.

Too ridiculous for even the GBC

The above "rtvik-diksa guru" theory was accepted by all of ISKCON's leadership until 2004, since the GBC stated in GBC Resolution 66, 1995, that their "final siddhanta" was given in the GBC paper On My Order Understood, which made similar claims to the above.

However, The Final Order, the IRM's foundational paper, had specifically defeated this "rtvik-diksa guru" theory, even referencing this GBC paper in its Introduction. Later on, even the GBC accepted that it was ridiculous to claim that when Srila Prabhupada ordered rtviks he was actually ordering diksa gurus. Otherwise, one could simply claim Srila Prabhupada ordered whatever one wanted regardless of what he actually ordered. The GBC was thus forced to pass a resolution admitting that:

"The paper "On My Order-Understood" contains assumptions and assertions that, in numerous places, do not match the available evidence from the statements of Srila Prabhupada"
(GBC Resolution 409, 2004)

i.e. "when I order" diksa gurus does not mean "when I order rtviks"!
And thus the resolution continues:

"RESOLVED: "On My Order-Understood" is replaced as official GBC policy by the following statement. [...] Srila Prabhupada said that his disciples would become "regular gurus" [...] the GBC concludes that Srila Prabhupada intended his disciples to become "regular gurus" after he physically departed."

a) Srila Prabhupada only ever used the term "regular guru" in the "when I order" statement from the May 28th, 1977 conversation which SRS quotes in the previous section. The GBC therefore claims that this "when I order" statement from Srila Prabhupada referred to all of his disciples, and is thus only a general statement which means that he supposedly "intended" for all of his disciples to become diksa gurus ("regular gurus").

b) Thus, this understanding rejects the conclusions of the "Rtvik-Diksa Guru" Faction. This GBC resolution does not claim that the "when I order" statement from Srila Prabhupada is referring specifically to the 11 individuals who were to soon be named as rtviks, or that it refers to them being named as diksa gurus via being named as rtviks.

"Can't Answer Rtvik Order" Faction

However, when we examine what exactly the GBC is replacing the "rtvik-diksa guru" theory with, their alternative "explanation" for Srila Prabhupada's rtvik order proves to be no less ridiculous.

a) As just noted in the previous section, the GBC agrees with the IRM that the statement –

"When I order, "You become guru," he becomes regular guru. That's all. He becomes disciple of my disciple."

– is a general statement of principle rather than a specific order referring to those individuals mentioned in the earlier part of this May 28th, 1977 conversation, who would soon be appointed as rtviks as established by facts 1 and 2 given at the outset of this article.

b) This means that according to the GBC's new understanding:

i. The 11 individuals appointed as rtviks were not ordered to turn into diksa gurus on Srila Prabhupada's physical departure, since no "rtvik-diksa guru" order, as the other faction proposes, was given.
ii. Nor is the GBC claiming that these rtviks should have automatically become diksa gurus on Srila Prabhupada's physical departure just because he physically departed.
iii. Consequently, there was no authority for the 11 individuals to instantly stop acting as rtviks the moment Srila Prabhupada physically departed, by turning into diksa gurus.

c) Hence, in principle this would mean the rtviks would continue as rtviks even after Srila Prabhupada's physical departure, at least for some time, since this GBC resolution does not even attempt to challenge facts 1 and 2. But these facts mean that the rtviks were appointed to act "particularly" at that time when Srila Prabhupada would be "no longer with us".

d) In essence, unlike the "Rtvik-Diksa Guru" Faction, the GBC's resolution just acts as if facts 1 to 3 given at the outset of this article do not even exist. Thus, the resolution does not even attempt to offer a mechanism by which those appointed as rtviks were supposed to stop acting as rtviks on Srila Prabhupada's physical departure. Instead, the GBC hopes that just giving a general statement that Srila Prabhupada supposedly "intended" for all his disciples to become diksa gurus will suffice. But, as just shown, it does not suffice, because facts 1-3 still remain intact, and in principle the rtvik system was not magically terminated the second Srila Prabhupada physically departed. Hence, in theory those appointed as rtviks would have to continue to act as such until they all supposedly somehow turned into diksa gurus. Therefore, since facts 1-3 and Srila Prabhupada's rtvik order do not go away just because you do not address them, we can denote those who accept the theory given in this GBC resolution as the "Can't Answer Rtvik Order" Faction.

Rtvik system remains

The full GBC resolution states:

"Srila Prabhupada consistently said that his disciples would themselves become spiritual masters (1). Guru, sadhu, and sastra all support this standard way of continuing the disciplic succession. Srila Prabhupada said that his disciples would become "regular gurus" and that each of their disciples would thus be a "disciple of my disciple." (2) On the strength of our Vaisnava tradition and the statements of Srila Prabhupada (3), the GBC concludes that Srila Prabhupada intended (4) his disciples to become "regular gurus" after he physically departed."

We have added the numbers in brackets for ease of reference to the different parts of the resolution.

a) In regards to statement 1, Srila Prabhupada never made those "consistent" statements with a proviso that his disciples first wait until he physically departs before acting as such spiritual masters. This proves that these statements were not referring to one becoming diksa guru, since Srila Prabhupada prohibited his disciples from becoming diksa gurus in his physical presence. The handful of times Srila Prabhupada did refer to his disciples acting as diksa gurus, he did so simply to prevent them from acting as diksa gurus by stating the condition that they could not do so in principle until after he had physically departed. But he never subsequently ordered them or anyone else to actually replace him as ISKCON's diksa guru since he ordered that he continue to remain ISKCON's diksa guru via facts 1-3 above.

b) Statement (2) is a lie since Srila Prabhupada only states this "would" be the case if "when I order". Consistent with pretending that facts 1-3 do not exist, the resolution also pretends that the words "when I order" spoken by Srila Prabhupada do not exist – because Srila Prabhupada never gave such a diksa guru order.

c) In statement (3) they refer again to the "statements of Srila Prabhupada", but we have already addressed this in point (a), that such statements ordering diksa gurus do not exist.

d) In statement (4) the GBC is forced to say they "conclude" Srila Prabhupada "intended", rather than simply state 'he ordered diksa gurus', because no such order exists. Whereas we can produce facts 1-3 above and state clearly this is what Srila Prabhupada ordered.

In the previous section, we showed that according to the GBC's own statement they would have to accept that Srila Prabhupada's rtvik system is not automatically terminated on his physical departure. Now, by analysing the rest of their statements, we have shown that actually they have to accept that the system is not to be terminated at all.


1) ISKCON's leaders cannot even agree with each other on how or why Srila Prabhupada's rtvik system suddenly stopped on his physical departure, and therefore why should anyone else agree with them?!

2) Neither faction is actually able to produce an order from Srila Prabhupada terminating his rtvik order. One faction engages in magical contradictory thinking and claims that an order for rtviks is the same as an order for diksa gurus. Whilst the other faction does not even offer a termination order. Thus, Srila Prabhupada's rtvik order remains intact.


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