ISKCON India’s “Rtvik” Preaching


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 78, 2023

n the article on page 5, we noted the non-existence of a sastric injunction prohibiting a physically absent person from acting as a diksa guru. Such an injunction, if it had existed, would have established the supreme primacy of the absolute necessity of the physical presence of the spiritual master. However, anyone who has even the slightest familiarity with Srila Prabhupada's teachings would know that such a sastric injunction could not exist when Srila Prabhupada has continually taught the exact opposite – that the physical presence of the spiritual master is irrelevant:

"So we should associate by the vibration, and not by the physical presence. That is real association."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 18/8/68. All emphases in article added.)

"No physical barrier is there in the case of spiritual affairs."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 14/10/73)

"Physical presence is not important."
(Srila Prabhupada, Room Conversation, 6/10/77)

And so on. There are many more such quotes in the Appendix to The Final Order – the foundational document of the IRM (available for free on request). Yet there is not one quote emphasising the necessity of the physical presence of the diksa guru.

The "Bureau" is the legal entity that controls the whole of ISKCON India, and HG Rasaraja Dasa ("RRD") has been a senior member of this body, and thus a Trustee of ISKCON India, for a long time. He is also a GBC deputy. All quotes in the shaded boxes are from a video discussion held with RRD on 12/5/23, in which he explains Srila Prabhupada's position in ISKCON today.

Srila Prabhupada is here in person

Srila Prabhupada states that the physical presence of the spiritual master is not required (as quoted above) because the explanations given by him in his books are enough:

Paramahamsa: "a pure devotee, when he comments Bhagavad-gita, someone who can never see him physically, but he just comes in contact with his commentary, explanation, is this the same thing?"
Srila Prabhupada: "Yes."
(Morning Walk, 11/6/74)

RRD fully agrees with these points since he explains that Srila Prabhupada's physical departure is completely irrelevant due to him still being personally present on the planet right now, and thus:

1) He can actually further personally explain what he has written in his books:

"the person Bhagavat who is extraordinary and he [Srila Prabhupada] can explain things that are in his books, you know, better than we can understand from his books [...] for example, the particular scientific work I'm doing, which was not done before [...] Prabhupada just made me understand and do that"

2) He can do this and more, because Srila Prabhupada can personally talk to us and "tell" us things:

"he has given all the instructions we can read. But he can also tell. We shouldn't discount that. He is here. [...] It's not a sentiment, it's not sahajiya, it's not imagination."

3) He is here running the movement:

"Prabhupada is sitting there in murti form in the temple and he is actually here running the movement."

4) He can do all this because he is here in person, literally:

"he is here, I mean, for me is very real. [...] Prabhupada is more real to me than my own body. [...] I'm saying that he is personally present"

Preaches "rtvikism"

Thus, RRD accepts that Srila Prabhupada is:

1) For all intents and purposes, present right now on the planet personally just as he was when he was physically on the planet;

2) Still running ISKCON and personally instructing its members.

RRD was not initiated by Srila Prabhupada, but he explains how he is practically interacting with and receiving personal instructions from Srila Prabhupada in a manner that is no less and no different to being Srila Prabhupada's initiated disciple. Hence, RRD is clearly "not seeing any difference" between Srila Prabhupada's physical presence and departure, in regard to Srila Prabhupada being able to function as ISKCON's diksa guru. Especially since RRD explicitly states that the lack of Srila Prabhupada's physical body is so irrelevant that despite such a lack, Srila Prabhupada is still more present and real than our own physical bodies!

GBC voted-in guru HH Bhakti Vikasa Swami ("BVKS"), who is very active in ISKCON India, calls such a belief "rtvikism" (his term for the IRM's position):

"I'd given a talk in which I'd compared that rtvikism, in one sense, it's not seeing any difference between the prakata and aprakata, [...] when the spiritual master is present, and when he's not present"
(BVKS, Lecture, 20/1/22)

Bhakti Vikasa Swami ISKCON India

BVKS made this statement to defend his claim that Srila Prabhupada is like a rotting corpse, and that one who accepts rtvikism cannot see that Srila Prabhupada is now "dead" (documented in BTP 71, "Attacking Srila Prabhupada's Transcendence" and BTP 72, ""Psycho" Attack on Srila Prabhupada Continues"). Thus, by BVKS's understanding, RRD's preaching would also be "rtvikism" because:

a) RRD accepts that Srila Prabhupada is still "here" and can "tell" us things, "explain" his books and run the movement. And thus, if it is accepted that Srila Prabhupada is still here doing everything, one cannot claim – yes, he is here doing everything but for some reason he cannot accept disciples! That would be absurd.

b) It was possible for Srila Prabhupada to become one's diksa guru when he was physically present, and RRD states that Srila Prabhupada is still functioning as if he is physically present – which means he can also become one's diksa guru now in the same way.


We thus have two diametrically opposed visions given by ISKCON India's leaders:

a) BVKS opposing "rtvikism" on grounds that one cannot claim Srila Prabhupada is still present spiritually in exactly the same way as when he was physically present.

b) RRD claiming Srila Prabhupada is still present here now and acting in the same way spiritually as when he was physically present.

We sincerely hope the rest of ISKCON India's leaders are convinced by RRD's vision about Srila Prabhupada's spiritual potency rather than BVKS's vision, as then the dispute between ISKCON and those who accept the IRM's conclusion would be over.

Subscribe for FREE to Back To Prabhupada Magazine - Click Here

Return to Bhakti Vikasa Swami Index

Return to ISKCON India Index

Return to "Physical Presence" Index

Return to IRM Homepage

Please chant: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna, Krishna, Hare, Hare,
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama, Rama, Hare, Hare.
And be Happy!