The following is a reply to the above Podcast delivered by His Holiness Sivarama Maharaja (SRS). As usual excerpts from Maharaja shall be enclosed in speech marks “ “ thus, with our comments following.

“While the ritviks say that anyone can be near and dear to Srila Prabhupada, that is not a false statement of the ritviks and it's not just they who say that.  There are GBC resolutions to that effect, it's the philosophy of the Krishna Consciousness movement.  Anyone can be near and dear to Srila Prabhupada because Srila Prabhupada is the founder-acarya.  He is the siksa guru for those who follow him and he does set the standard of spiritual master, devotional achievement by his personal example and also by his instructions. So the argument is not with this part of ritvik’s statement. 
But rather ritvik's statement which is false is that Srila Prabhupada can be a devotee's diksa guru and only connection to the guru-parampara.”

The above is what SRS claims. Let us now see what Srila Prabhupada stated:

“The GBC should all be the instructor gurus. I am the initiator guru, and you should be the instructor guru by teaching what I am teaching and doing what I am doing. This is not a title, but you must actually come to this platform. This I want.”
(Letter to Madhudvisa, 4/8/75)  

The above is the situation that Srila Prabhupada established for ISKCON. So SRS is claiming the exact OPPOSITE of what Srila Prabhupada wanted. SRS wanted that ISKCON’s leading devotees work to come to the platform of Siksa Guru, while he remains as the Diksa Guru. So unless Srila Prabhupada reversed what he established and suddenly taught that:

“I am only the siksa guru and you should be the initiator guru”,

SRS’s claim above simply remains his mental speculation. Unless one is able to substantiate any claim made with a quote from Srila Prabhupada, one by definition would simply be offering their own mental speculation.

“That he is a connection is not a subject of argument.  That he is the connection and one through diksa, unless Srila Prabhupada actually chose to give diksa to his follower, that is what's wrong.” 

We know that Srila Prabhupada chose to give Diksa to any person who joined ISKCON, chanted 16 rounds and followed the 4 regulative principles, and was recommended for initiation by the Temple President to the nearest ritvik:

“Now that Srila Prabhupada has named these representatives, Temple Presidents may henceforward send recommendation for first and second initiation to whichever of these eleven representatives are nearest their temple. After considering the recommendation, these representatives may accept the devotee as an initiated disciple of Srila Prabhupada by giving a spiritual name, or in the case of second initiation, by chanting on the Gayatri thread, just as Srila Prabhupada has done. 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, directive sent to all Temple Presidents and GBCs, approved by Srila Prabhupada)

This was the system Srila Prabhupada established for ISKCON, and “what’s wrong” is SRS speculating that this system should have been abandoned on Srila Prabhupada’s departure, even though Srila Prabhupada did not give any order for this to happen.

“And clearly not only here, but everywhere else, Srila Prabhupada states that the qualification of a guru is that yad yad acarati sresthas, is that he follows, he - excuse me - he teaches his followers by his example.  And his example is that he chants sixteen rounds, follows the regulative principles, he preaches and strictly follows the orders of his spiritual master.”

SRS here confuses the qualifications of a Guru, who is supposed to be a Uttama Adhikari resident of Krishna-loka (see SRS himself declaring this in his podcasts dated 8.1.09 and 11.01.09) with that of a newly initiated neophyte. A neophyte will chant 16 rounds, follow the regulative principles, preach and strictly follow the orders of his spiritual master. Of course a Guru will ALSO do this, but just because a $100 note also contains the value of $1 note, does not mean that a $1 note is the same as a $100 note. Otherwise by SRS’s definition, it is impossible to distinguish between a Guru and the neophyte he has just initiated!    

“Yes, following Srila Prabhupada means that you're near and dear but it doesn't exclude that you have to take diksa initiation.  Since there is no statement anywhere in sastra that one can take initiation from a personality who's departed from this world, which means that one can receive the mantra.”

1) There is no statement anywhere in Sastra that one can take initiation from a personality whose physical presence he has never experienced. Yet SRS took initiation from such a personality:

“That was the first personal contact with his Divine Grace, although I had been an initiated devotee for two years.”
(SRS, Meeting Srila Prabhupada)

So by SRS’s own argument we must reject him as a bona fide disciple of Srila Prabhupada.

(And of course if you do not require to experience the physical presence of the Guru in order to take initiation from him, why does he have to be physically present?)

2) Sastra does state that one can receive Diksa from the current link bona fide spiritual master in the parampara. Everyone agrees that for ISKCON this person was Srila Prabhupada. It is SRS who decided that Srila Prabhupada was unable to function as the bona fide current link from whom we can all take initiation after his departure. Yet sastra has never stated this prohibition, so from where did SRS come up with it?

3) And SRS’s point that physical presence is necessary in order to “receive the mantra” makes no sense since previously the mantra was delivered usually without Srila Prabhupada’s physical’s presence via his tape recording. And other times he even said that his disciples themselves could whisper the mantra on his behalf! So again this idea that the mantra can only be received via a physically present Guru is just SRS’s mental speculation.

Therefore not only is SRS’s speculation here not supported by Srila Prabhupada but it is also contradictory.

“That the mantra you're chanting is not bona fide unless it's received in disciplic succession.  Receiving means someone is giving it to you, it's not something that you take.”

SRS is here stating something which is not in contention. What is in contention is SRS’s idea that Srila Prabhupada ceased to be the current representative of the disciplic succession due to his departure. Unless SRS can produce a quote from Srila Prabhupada to support this idea of his, it remains nothing more than his mental speculation.

“So yes, one can be near and dear to Srila Prabhupada but that doesn't absolve you from having to accept diksa from Srila Prabhupada's living representative since that is the example that's found, and the only example that's found, anywhere within sastra and Srila Prabhupada's teachings.  Other ideas or other examples are really a product of mental speculation.”
  1. Unless SRS can produce Srila Prabhupada teaching that only activities with a historical precedent can be bona fide, HE is simply mentally speculating that only activities with a historical precedent can be performed.
  2. The only example that is found anywhere in sastra and Srila Prabhupada ‘s teachings is of Indian-born Diksa Gurus. So by SRS’s own argument we must reject him as a Diksa Guru.
  3. Srila Prabhupada has never taught that we must take Diksa from someone else other than himself after he departs who must be “living”. He only established himself as the Diksa Guru for ISKCON. So from where is SRS deriving his speculation that Srila Prabhupada must cease giving Diksa on his departure and be replaced by a “living” representative voted in by the GBC?

Therefore not only is SRS’s speculation here not supported by Srila Prabhupada but it is also contradictory.

“And we have many statements of Srila Prabhupada that do state that such Vaisnavas also can and must take the role of guru.  Kiba vipra kipa nyasi sudra kene naya.

SRS here refers to the following verse:

kiba vipra, kiba nyasi, sudra kene naya
yei krsna-tattva-vetta, sei 'guru' haya


"Whether one is a brahmana, a sannyasi or a sudra--regardless of what he is--he can become a spiritual master if he knows the science of Krishna."
(C.C., Madhya Lila, 8:128)

As anyone can read for himself, it is not stated here that one “must take the role of a guru”. Rather it simply states that the qualification to be a Guru is simply that he must know the science of Krishna.

“So yes, a devotee is connected in the guru-parampara by  receiving  instruction.  But still he must be properly intitiated. Just because the main emphasis of our disciplic succession is siksa coming through the Bhagavat parampara, that does not meant that the pancaratriki diksa can be ignored.  A diksa that Narada Muni as well as Rupa Goswani emphasized and that all of our acaryas also personally accepted  by example.”

But in order to be properly initiated one first needs a properly authorized Diksa Guru:

“One should take initiation from a bona fide spiritual master coming in the disciplic succession, who is authorised by his predecessor spiritual master. This is called diksa-vidhana.”
(Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.8.54, purport)

And SRS admits that he only became Guru due to the prompting of a young girl and the GBC, rather than the due to an order from Srila Prabhupada:

"At this time I also was asked to take up the role of initiating spiritual master.  I didn't consider that this would be very conducive to my personal spiritual life and I was satisfied for others to do that service and that I would stay in the role of sannyasi, a preacher, siksa guru, GBC, and probably it was at Gaurangi's* repeated prompting that ultimately I began to think seriously of that service and took it up."
(HH Sivarama Swami, Podcast, October 4th, 2006) *at the time a young female devotee, and now a disciple

Indeed not only SRS, but no one in ISKCON can produce any evidence of having received authorization from Srila Prabhupada to succeed him as the Diksa Guru for ISKCON, since Srila Prabhupada only gave authorization for ritviks.