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[Posted September 20, 2006]

Srila Prabhupada's usage of the term "ritvik"

Vishoka das
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Srila Prabhupada and Tamal Krishna and other GBCs and Vaishnavas used the term "ritvik" frequently. The word "ritvik" is also found in many passages in the Srimad Bhagavatam.

Here are about 16 instances of the use of the term "ritvik" as used by Srila Prabhupada and the GBC, and other Vaishnavas, and many times in the Srimad Bhagavatam:

1. As said in the 7/9 letter—"Recently when all of the GBC members were with His Divine Grace in Vrndavana, Srila Prabhupada indicated that soon He would appoint some of His senior disciples to act as "rittvik"-representative of the acarya..." [letter of July 9, 1977]

This Vrindavana meeting referred to above is the 5/28 [May 28, 1977] meeting - when all of the GBCs were with Srila Prabhupada in Vrindavana and asked him about "initiations in the future, particularly at that time when you are no longer with us".

2. May 28, 1977 conversation: "Officiating acarya". "Ritvik. Yes."

3. July 10th - (Tamal Krsna Gosvami [TKG] quotes Srila Prabhupada in letter to Hansadutta): "I have selected you among eleven men as "rittvik" or representative of the acharya, to give initiations, both first and second initiation, on my behalf."

4. July 12th- (TKG to Sucandra and Avinas Chandra cc-ed to HARIKESA): "[handwritten] P.S. Information on the process for conducting initiations is contained] in a letter already sent to Ramesvara for xeroxing. Prabhupada] has named 11 persons, including] yourself, to act as 'rittik', H[is] representatives for initiating." - THIS IS ON FOLIO

5. July 19th: "Make your own field and continue to become ritvik and act on my charge."

6. July 31st: (TKG quotes SP in letter to Hansadutta): "Make your own field and continue to become rittvic and act on my behalf.'" [letter to Hansadutta, dated July 31, 1977]

7. Srimad-Bhagavatam:
  • Ritvik : 4.6.1 / 4.7.16 / 5.3.2 / 5.3.3 / 5.4.17 / 7.3.20 / 8.20.22 / 9.1.15
  • Rtvijah : 4.5.7 / 4.5.18 / 4.7.27 / 4.7.45 / 4.13.26 / 4.19.27 / 4.19.29 / 5.3.4 / 5.3.15 / 5.3.18 / 5.7.5 8.16.53 / 8.18.21 /8.18.22 / 9.4.23 / 9.6.3
  • Rtvijam : 4.6.52 / 4.21.5 / 8.23.13 / 9.13.1
  • Rtvigbhyah : 8.16.55
  • Rtvigbhih : 4.7.56 / 9.13.3

The following statements by TKG, in his Topanga Canyon admission, show that Srila Prabhupada said there would be more ritviks added later in the future:

8. "Later on there was a piled up list of people to get initiated, and it was jammed up. I said, 'Srila Prabhupada, you once mentioned about ritviks. [...] Srila Prabhupada said, 'All right, I will appoint so many...' and he started to name them. He made it very clear that they are his disciples. [...] I asked him two questions, one: 'What about Brahmananda Swami?'. I asked him this because I happened to have an affection for Brahmananda Swami. [...] Srila Prabhupada said, 'No, not unless he is qualified'. [...]Before I got ready to type the letter, I asked him, two: 'Srila Prabhupada is this all or do you want to add more?'. He said, 'As is necessary, others may be added.'" (TKG, December 3rd, 1980)

This statement from Srila Prabhupada, as recorded by TKG, of more ritviks being added in the future is strongly supported by other written documents as well: "His Divine Grace has so far given a list of eleven disciples who will act in that capacity". (July 9, 1977 letter)

9. "Srila Prabhupada has appointed thus far eleven representatives who will initiate new devotees on His behalf." (TKG's letter to Kirtanananda, July 11, 1977)

10. "Srila Prabhupada's initial list of disciples appointed to perform initiations for His Divine Grace. This initial list is also being sent to all centers." (Ramesvara's letter to GBC, July 21st, 1977)

Other statements of the term 'ritvik' made by Tamal and others:

11. Some of the original 11 gurus have said that Srila Prabhupada ordered ritviks only, and for the future. Tamal Krishna Gosvami confessed this at a Topanga Canyon meeting, saying "Actually Prabhupada never appointed any gurus. He appointed eleven ritviks. He never appointed them gurus."

12. Hansadutta told a room full of devotees, "I'm sorry I did this to you. Srila Prabhupada didn't order me to be a guru, he only made me an officiating priest." Also devotees tell that Ramesvara and Kirtanananda both said they were ordered ritvik only.

Other instances where the term 'ritvik' is used by elder Vaisnavas, and senior disciples:

13. HH BV Puri Maharaja recollected a conversation (memories#26) Where Srila Prabhupada declared to him that He had appointed 11 Ritviks.

HH BV Puri Maharaja said,"You should have appointed only one.....when You are gone, they will not be satisfied as Ritviks, and will declare themselves as "regular" Gurus, and they will fight.".....Srila Prabhupada replied..."What can I do....IT IS UP TO KRISHNA!" [here Srila Prabhupada agrees with HH BV Puri Maharaja, about the ritvik system intending to be after "when you are gone."]

14. Bhaktisiddhanta dasa was in a room with Srila Prabhupada and Tamal-Krsna, 1977, and the explanations of the order [ritviks for the future] was given by Srila Prabhupada himself to Tamal, and Bhaktisiddhanta dasa witnessed the whole conversation. He said that neither did Tamal understand, nor would he accept this adjustment made by the spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada.

15. There is the documented evidence of the diary of Yasodanandana das, with its original entries made directly after conversations with TKG. This diary quotes the secretary, Tamal, to say, (after departure) "they'll be ritviks, its all on tape."

16. Another diary entry records how Gauridas Pandit das heard Srila Prabhupada say, "Tomorrow I will I will announce some ritvik acharyas who will initiate disciples on my behalf when I leave the planet."

Thus we see that Srila Prabhupada and other Vaisnavas used the term 'ritvik' many times, at least 16 times by our count on record, and so it is simply amazing how the GBC has banned this term, 'ritvik,' somehow thinking this prohibition pleases Lord Krishna and Srila Prabhupada and their many godbrothers, and the Vaisnavas, even though our founder acharya, Srila Prabhupada, used it to implement a system of initiations after "he is no longer with us."

Srila Prabhupada's usage of the term "rittvik"/ Inside Nam Hatta
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