Only Srila Prabhupada’s Words Count


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 73, Vol. 2, 2022

GBC voted-in guru Mahatma Dasa ("MAD") was challenged on social media regarding his unauthorised diksa guru position. His responses to this challenge were given on 6/3/22 and 11/3/22, and are in the shaded boxes below. Emphases added.

No evidence from Srila Prabhupada

"I have spoken to numerous devotees that were present when Prabhupada gave his instructions, that from ritviks they would go, and after his departure they would be gurus. So, for the reform movement, they are sincere devotees but ill-informed. None of them were there. [...] The people who were there affirmed it."

1) Srila Prabhupada was also present when he gave his instructions. And it is only his words that matter – not the claims of others.

2) Srila Prabhupada's instructions were recorded, and so the world can know what they were. Hence, we do not need to rely on others who were there to know what Srila Prabhupada's instructions were – we can just hear or read them directly from Srila Prabhupada. These recorded instructions from Srila Prabhupada are presented in every BTP issue, The Final Order and our other books and papers.

3) And Srila Prabhupada did not affirm that the "rtviks" would turn into diksa gurus. If Srila Prabhupada had actually stated this, then MAD would be able to produce Srila Prabhupada stating this. But MAD does not. Rather, very tellingly, lacking this evidence, MAD is instead forced to rely on claiming he has spoken to others, and that these others have merely claimed that Srila Prabhupada states this. The reality however, as proven by his directly recorded words, is that Srila Prabhupada only stated that the "rtviks" would be rtviks!

Not clear at all

"I have spoken to numerous devotees that were present when Prabhupada gave his instructions [...] Everyone who was there, to them, what Prabhupada said was clear that Prabhupada had appointed 11 devotees to initiate on his behalf, who would then become gurus, and then that number would expand."

MAD states that at the time when Srila Prabhupada gave his instructions for how initiations would continue in ISKCON, "everyone" who was there understood that Srila Prabhupada ordered two things:

1) the 11 devotees appointed to initiate on Srila Prabhupada's behalf ("rtviks") should automatically turn into diksa gurus on Srila Prabhupada's physical departure;

2) the number of diksa gurus should be expanded from these 11.

However, in regard to point 1), one of those present when Srila Prabhupada gave his instructions and also one of the original "11 devotees" appointed, HH Tamala Krsna Goswami ("TKG"), stated just 3 years after the instructions were given that it was a huge mistake to interpret the appointment of 11 rtviks as the appointment of those who should also become diksa gurus:

"Actually Prabhupada never appointed any gurus. He appointed eleven rtviks. [...] Myself and the other GBC have done the greatest disservice to this movement the last three years because we interpreted the appointment of rtviks as the appointment of gurus."
(TKG, GBC and Guru, Topanga Canyon, 3/12/80)

Not clear at all – 2

In regard to point 2) from the previous section, Satsvarupa Dasa was also present when Srila Prabhupada gave his instructions, and he was also another one of the original "11 devotees" appointed. And both he and TKG stated that the leaders who were there at the time insisted that Srila Prabhupada only appointed those specific eleven people to be diksa gurus, and not that the number should "expand":

"Unfortunately, the GBC did not recognize this point. They immediately supposed these eleven people are the selected gurus. I can definitely say for myself, and for which I humbly beg forgiveness from everybody, that there was definitely some degree of trying to control [...] This is the conditioned nature, and it came out in the highest position of all, ‘Guru, oh wonderful! Now I'm a guru, and there is only eleven of us'"
(TKG, GBC and guru, Topanga Canyon, 3/12/80)

"In 1978, the concept began that only eleven persons should be initiating acaryas. [...] I was not the one to see a defect in the procedures"
(Satsvarupa Dasa, "ISKCON in the 1970s")

Consequently, it was only a decade later that the devotees who were there when Srila Prabhupada gave this instruction reversed their stance to approve the general expansion of gurus from the original eleven. Indeed, the GBC has repeatedly flip-flopped on its position regarding guru-tattva since 1977 – see for example the BTP 64 article "The GBC's 10 Contradictory Guru Systems" for evidence of this.

Thus, it is just an historical fact that the two points claimed by MAD as being "clear" to "everyone" were not actually "clear" at all to "everyone" at the time.

Abandoning order

"The fact is, according to sastra, that the ritvik who does the initiation is actually the diksa guru of the devotees being initiated because one cannot initiate on behalf of a deceased guru"

But MAD presents no evidence that "sastra" states that "one cannot initiate on behalf of a deceased guru", and thus his claims have no value, being nothing more than MAD's unsubstantiated allegations.

"there's nothing in Prabhupada's books about initiation by proxy of a guru who has passed away. So the ritvik idea is neither supported by Prabhupada's direct words nor supported by shastra"

There is also ‘nothing in Prabhupada's books about initiation by a guru who has passed his 70th birthday' either!? But he can initiate! Because the books do state that the spiritual master can initiate disciples, but they do not then add that the spiritual master is forbidden from initiating due to material restrictions, whatever they may be. Thus, Srila Prabhupada initiated disciples in ISKCON via his July 9th, 1977, directive – which he signed – which stated that ISKCON should follow the rtvik system of initiation. Therefore, Srila Prabhupada initiating in ISKCON in this way without restriction is supported by Srila Prabhupada's books and order.


Due to not having an order from Srila Prabhupada for the 11 rtviks to turn into diksa gurus, MAD has tried to get around this lack of an order by claiming that we can instead just rely on the claims of others. But we follow Srila Prabhupada by following Srila Prabhupada – not anyone else!

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