Oct 03, 2017 CANADA (SUN)
As documented in "The Roots of Ritvik-vada", for a number of years after the July 9th Letter was released, Yasodanandana dasa, now a prominent Ritvik leader, understood that letter to be Srila Prabhupada's appointment of 11 diksa gurus who would be initiating their own direct disciples. It was not until 1981-82 that he changed his position, after reading transcripts of the May 28th and July 7th, 1977 Room Conversations. Based on the content of those two conversations between Srila Prabhupada and his senior disciples, Yasodanandana concluded that the July 9th Letter meant something entirely different than he first believed.
Those two conversations now serve as the essential evidence upon which Yasodanandana's Ritvik-vada philosophy rests, and from which it was conflated. But as we have explicitly documented in "Defeat of Ritvik-vada" (DOR), neither of those conversations – either in and of themselves, or by direct reference to the July 9th Letter, is evidence of the establishment of a system of post-samadhi ritvik diksa initiations.
In the unabridged version of DOR, on pages 16 and 105 (pdf version), respectively, we present a forensic examination of the July 7th and May 28th Room Conversations. While the content is too lengthy to include here, the reader will find on these pages inarguable facts about the content of these conversations.
For many years now, the Ritvik-vadis' constant refrain has been: "July 9th Letter… ritvik acaryas… initiating diksa disciples of Prabhupada…henceforward". Many unfortunate newcomers have been convinced that this is actually truth. It is not. For years, even Yasodanandana dasa didn't accept the July 9th Letter to be evidence for such claims.
What Yasodanandana eventually did, and what essentially all Ritviks do, is draw a longevity inference from the July 9th Letter's 'henceforward' by bridging it over to the May 28th Room Conversation reference to 'initiations after departure'. But they drop the term acarya from May 28th, and only carry the word ritvik across that bridge, completely distorting Srila Prabhupada's actual statements.
They do this because the July 9th Letter alone does not support their post-samadhi ritvik diksa thesis. The letter itself contains a statement contrary to their wished for longevity factor -- in the last sentence, it says:
"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."
The Ritviks rely on a bent interpretation of this sentence, supposing that the disciples were "accepted to" Srila Prabhupada. Doing so, they avoid having to accept the instruction that names were to be sent to Srila Prabhupada (still a present and active part of the initiations system) for his book.
An interpretation that acknowledges him being still physically present and part of the initiations system obviously goes against their post-samadhi ritvik thesis. But you can be sure that in the years immediately following Srila Prabhupada's departure, no one ever thought the statement meant such a thing. Neither the notion, nor the language of someone being "accepted to" the guru was ever heard – not until years later, when the Ritviks fabricated it.
And as we have detailed in Defeat of Ritvik-vada, the July 7th Conversation greatly emphasis the point that Srila Prabhupada was an active participant in the system for initiations. In that conversation, which took place just two days before the July 9th Letter, Srila Prabhupada was clearly making the point as he gave instructions to solve the problem of a backlog of candidates for initiation, that he was present and a participant in the system. Again, this defeats the Ritviks' attempt at proving longevity by connecting henceforward up to the July 7th conversation.
Yasodanandana dasa changed his position on the July 9th Letter based on the May 28th and July 7th Room Conversations – but a careful study of the two conversations clearly shows that no evidence exists to support a post-samadhi ritvik diksa conclusion.
There is no evidence that the officiating acaryas/ritvik acaryas Srila Prabhupada referred to in the May 28th conversation are one and the same as the eleven rittik representatives of the acarya named in the July 9th Letter. No matter how you argue it, you cannot make an acarya, and a representative of the acarya, out to be one and the same thing. To do so is actually offensive.
In the May 28th Conversation, Srila Prabhupada is very clearly talking about diksa gurus who will initiate after his departure – not representatives who will assist him while he is present. Again, no matter how badly the Ritvik-vadis may wish it to be so, the officiating/ritvik acaryas mentioned on May 28th cannot be made to be one and the same as the 11 rittik representatives of the acarya mentioned in the July 9th Letter.
Just as you cannot control the Supreme Personality of Godhead, you cannot control his pure devotee. You cannot take away from Srila Prabhupada the right to decide, as he did via the July 9th Letter, that the 11 men he appointed were not to be themselves acaryas, but simply to be representatives of the acarya.
Based on these facts, let us carefully consider the notion that Yasodanandana dasa had an epiphany of truth upon reading transcripts of the May 28th and July 7th Conversations, and suddenly gained a whole new realization of what the July 9th Letter said – now understanding it to be the complete opposite of what he and his associates understood it to be for years prior.
There is nothing at all in either of the two room conversations that enables the July 9th Letter to be transfigured into an instruction for post-samadhi ritvik diksa initiations.
Aside from the contrived longevity bridge between the May 28th Conversation and the July 9th Letter, we should again call to attention the fact that the word 'henceforward' in the July 9th Letter refers specifically to actions on the part of the Temple Presidents – an optional action that they may take, not an action the rittik representatives would take.
It was only during the July 7th Conversation that Srila Prabhupada named specific men who would assist him – he did not list specific names during the May 28th Conversation, so clearly, the July 9th Letter refers, at least in part, to the July 7th Conversation, not just the May 28th Conversation.
In the July 7th Conversation, Srila Prabhupada instructed the devotees on how to solve the problem of a backlog of candidates for initiation. He offered various adjustments to the process, and he acknowledged that he was part of that process: "India, I am here". Following that conversation, just two days later we see that one of the adjustments described in the July 9th Letter uses the term 'henceforward', and 'henceforward' is stated as an optional step, not as an absolute-only step. The term 'henceforward' is specifically used in reference to an action the Temple Presidents may take – not an action that the Temple Presidents should, or shall, or must take – but an action that they may take. And certainly, it is not a reference to an action that the 11 rittik representatives of the acarya would forever after take.
So even if the July 9th henceforward is married to the May 28th and July 7th conversations, the Ritvik-vada conclusion is simply a fabrication.
The foundation of Ritvik-vada, as concocted by Yasodanandana dasa, and as later memorialized by Krishna Kant Desai in The Final Order, is contrivance and apa-siddhanta.
The Ritvik-vadis have performed their slight of hand by:
dropping the word acarya from the officiating/ritvik acarya in the May 28th Conversation,
marrying that ritvik up with the rittik in the July 9th Letter, without the acarya;
co-opting a longevity factor in the May 28th Conversation (initiations after Srila Prabhupada's departure); and
marrying that longevity factor up with henceforward in the July 9th Letter for the post-samadhi element.
In doing so, they have:
ignored the fact that the May 28th officiating acaryas/ritvik acaryas were to be diksa gurus initiating their own disciples after Srila Prabhupada's departure;
ignored the problem-solving connection between the July 7th Conversation and the July 9th Letter;
ignored the fact that on July 7th, Srila Prabhupada said he would participate in the initiations system ("India, I am here");
ignored the word may, that refers to an optional action on the part of the Temple Presidents (not the rittik representatives); and
ignored the fact that Srila Prabhupada was part of the system described in the July 9th Letter.
Kindly read "Defeat of Ritvik-vada" for a detailed presentation of all relevant evidence establishing these points.