Kṛṣṇacandra Dāsa – Śrī Vṛndāvan Dham: The term ṛtvik has been bandied around ISKCON as if it is a dirty word. The pejorative use of the term ṛtvik is not dissimilar to the way politically correct people use the term Anti-Semite which has no bearing on the direct or literal meaning of the term but is used to describe a person who hates Jews. Rtvik is a misnomer as the term is a noun that Śrīla Prabhupāda has given in his books for a priest who performs ceremonies for the various Vedas and most certainly has never been used, as far as I have researched, for someone who officiates on behalf of another. The proper use of the term in relationship to the Initiation process would be to refer to the ṛtvik priest or Brahman who conducts the fire yajña or any Vedic ceremony or rite. Śrīla Prabhupāda describes its meaning as:
“Acting as Supersoul, the Lord gives inspiration to a suitable person to perform the Vedic ritualistic ceremonies. In this connection, four classes of priests, known as ṛtvik, are required.”[SB.7.3.30]
We have no idea why the term ṛtvik was introduced by Tamal Krsna Goswami and others to describe the title and function the way they did, in the various conversations that they had about the future of the initiation process within ISKCON, but somehow or other this term got mixed up and confused. No matter what happened in those talks where ṛtvik was brought up, the talks culminated in Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Mandate: Otherwise known as -The July 9th Document. We can only speculate why Śrīla Prabhupāda allowed the term ṛtvik to be used in these discussions but we must understand that the main point is “Representatives of the Ācārya”
“…representative of the acarya, for the purpose of performing initiations, both first initiation and second initiation…” [July 9th Document]
The term ṛtvik is superfluous as Śrīla Prabhupāda mainly used the term as a priest who performs ritualistic ceremonies. In our case this would mean the priest or Brahmin who conducted the fire yajña or sacrifice in the Temple under the direction of the Temple President.
After the Temple President receives a letter from these representatives giving the spiritual name or the thread, he can perform the fire yajna in the temple as was being done before. [July 9th Document]
What must be understood is that Śrīla Prabhupāda established a system for initiation where a devotee is appointed by the GBC to act in an official capacity in the initiation procedure by representing him as the Ācārya; which is specified in the Initiation Procedural Document also known as the July 9th Letter or document. Nowhere in this document does Śrīla Prabhupāda specify or instruct that his representatives act as ṛtvik gurus who initiate their own disciples.
“…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 name of a newly initiated disciple should be sent by the representative who has accepted him or her to Srila Prabhupada, to be included in His Divine Grace”s “Initiated Disciples” book…” [July 9th Document]
The procedure and function of the Representative of the Ācārya is clearly detailed in this document however the GBC and their various Apologists have refused to obey Śrīla Prabhupāda and have purposefully discredited this document as being a useless exercise.
We have to remember that everything that the Ācārya does is not limited to the devotees present at the time. This is very small minded or parochial to think that a Vaiṣṇava Ācārya and his activities are limited to a small band of GBC men who ultimately betrayed him. The works of a Vaiṣṇava Ācārya of the status of His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda are meant for humanity and should not be limited to the wicked minds of the GBC, Rubber Stamped Gurus, FISKCON apologists and their disciples.
We must understand that Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa dictates who He sends to enlighten mankind and what role and function His representative will play in mankind’s history. Such a vital role in human society cannot be interfered with by the puerile minds of kali yuga men who should in actual fact prostrate themselves in full dandavat obeisance to such a divinely empowered personality such as His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda.
Yet the GBC would have us believe that Śrīla Prabhupāda had no idea that he would leave his body in a few months time, when he signed an unprecedented official mandate, on ISKCON Letterhead on July 9th, making it a legally binding document for his ISKCON society to uphold, thinking that it would be for only a few months! To think that the suddha bhakta would not know exactly when he would leave his body is outrageous to say the least!
This is such a preposterously offensive idea that it is very surprising that any sincere disciple of Śrīla Prabhupāda would not be totally offended by hearing such rascaldom.
The historical facts are that the then GBC who were appointed as Representatives of the Ācārya by Śrīla Prabhupāda as detailed in the July 9th Document did not perform that role given to them by His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda but instead took control of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s ISKCON society and appointed themselves as Ācāryas / Dīkṣā gurus.
The term ṛtvik needs to be removed from our vernacular as a way to describe any devotee who opposes the Rubber Stamped Guru system of the GBC.
I am not a ṛtvik I follow Śrīla Prabhupāda. It is as simple as that.
The fact that we don’t have functioning representatives of the Ācārya in our ISKCON society is due to the fact that the GBC Rubber Stamped Gurus, their disciples and the multitude of Apologists do not represent His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda but represent some other interest.
The GBC, Rubber Stamped Gurus and their apologists would like to think of those who oppose them as having left Śrīla Prabhupāda’s ISKCON society but they could not be further from the truth. It is they who have left Śrīla Prabhupāda and his institution and superimposed their own institution where they live and serve. In fact they are the most heinous offenders of Śrīla Prabhupāda, the paramparā and Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa. They make a mockery out of our glorious Vaiṣṇava tradition and offend, vilify and abuse Śrīla Prabhupāda’s loyal followers.
The disciples are of course the worst offenders in some ways. They get aggressive and vitriolic when their gurus are being exposed for cheaters and rascals and they project their anger, frustration and the fact that they cannot – according to social convention, common decency, moral values, legally or sastrically – defend their exposed guru. They feel completely justified in calling us pigs, vultures etc or labeling us as offenders, aparadhis and so on. They would act on their anger and rage by physical assaults up to the point of premeditated murder for exposing, discussing or rebuking their morally depraved and outright criminal gurus.
For example many of Prabhavisnu’s former disciples still offer puja to him as if his betrayal and rejection of them as disciples does not interfere with his uttma adhikāra status. They refuse to think that as they are offering puja to him he is probably in the arms of his lover in Thailand. But of course this does not matter to them… At the same time these people are vitriolically calling us ṛtvik rascals and Vaiṣṇava aparadhi pigs and demanding that their guru is none of our business. Such is the raw state of denial and ignorance that the GBC and Rubber Stamped Gurus of FISKCON have acculturated into our society.
They would be ‘none of our business’ had their guru left ISKCON and established his own math like Śrīla Prabhupāda’s god brothers did but these reprobates clung to mother ISKCON and leeched of it for decades. So we have every right to expose and rebuke them for ruining Śrīla Prabhupāda’s ISKCON and disrespecting and offending the pure devotee His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda.
So we must educate the devotees in general that the term ṛtvik is a misnomer and misleading and should not be used to describe the loyal followers of Śrīla Prabhupāda.