The Process for Carrying Out Srila Prabhupada's Desires for Future Initiations
BY: SUN EDITORS
Oct 09, 2017 CANADA (SUN)
The following scanned manuscript and audio file was given to us some years ago by a New York (now ex-) disciple of Satsvarupa das Goswami, Bhakta John Jagannatha. The paper, one of many items from Satsvarupa's archives, is entitled:
"The Process for Carrying Out Srila Prabhupada's Desires for Future Initiations
(A paper prepared by the GBC in consultation with higher authorities … Mayapur, March, 1978)."
There are many aspects of this paper, and the lecture that followed it, that are of great historical interest. First and foremost, the paper represents the official position by which the GBC launched the Zonal Acarya System. This paper was released by the GBC just five months prior to the famous response letter written by Pradyumna das Adhikari to Satsvarupa on August 7, 1978. Six months later, a group of 21 senior devotees at the Vrindavan temple presented the GBC with the Zonal Acarya challenge paper, recently presented here in the Sun.
Shortly after "The Process for Carrying Out Srila Prabhupada's Desires for Future Initiations" was adopted by the GBC during the 1978 GBC Annual Meetings in Mayapur, Ramesvara then-Swami returned to the ISKCON Los Angeles temple to introduce devotees to the new Zonal Acaryas, reading the paper from the vyasasana. The scene was described by a devotee in attendance, quoting Ramesvara:
"This was the first time the Governing Body Commission has met since Prabhupada's passing. It was the first official GBC meeting." He spoke in a heavy New York accent:
"The mood was very, very grave. All of us could feel the weight of responsibility. All the GBC men felt Krishna's and Prabhupada's guidance in the holy land of Mayapur. The GBC members, Prabhupada's designated heirs, have endorsed a policy to explain how the process of initiation will go on in Prabhupada's absence. You may ask what is the qualification of those empowered by Srila Prabhupada to act as gurus? Let me answer with a story: Once during the war, there was a patriotic advertisement that showed a picture of a military uniform. It said, "just take this uniform and the dress will show you what you have to do." Eleven senior disciples have been given the sacred charge to become gurus, and now they must learn to execute the duties of that post. Krishna will help and guide them from within the heart."
It's interesting to note that although the paper's byline states: "A paper prepared by the GBC in consultation with higher authorities … Mayapur, March, 1978", the paper itself is not mentioned in the 1978 GBC Annual Meeting Minutes. The only related reference is from the March 19th session minutes, which state:
"1. A committee of Tamal Krsna Goswami, Harikesh Swami, Kirtanananda Swami, Satsvarupa Goswami, Rupanuga Prabhu, and Jayapataka Swami will report to the GBC as soon as possible regarding the six questions on the GBC agenda concerning the initiations. Definite statements on this subject will be made available to all the devotees after the GBC considers this committee's report."
Scans of the original manuscript from Satsvarupa's archives, along with an audio file (mp3) of him reading the same version of the paper, can be downloaded here:
"The Process for Carrying Out Srila Prabhupada's Desires for Future Initiations" (5 pages):
Satsvarupa das Goswami Lecture – April 1978, during which he reads the paper, essentially verbatim from the scanned pages above. (The relevant portion of the lecture ends at 21:30, and is followed by a separate lecture.)
Copies of "The Process" paper have been available online for a number of years, on Ritvik websites and at www.Gosai.com. In fact, it appears that most, if not all copies of the paper distributed by the Ritvik-vadis have been borrowed from the Gosai.com website. This version of the paper is of particular interest, because it differs significantly from the original version we are presenting today.
Gosai.com dates "The Process" paper to March 1, 1978, although that specific date is not in the original manuscript. Gosai.com adds this title byline: "A paper prepared by the GBC (in consultation with higher authorities) ~ Mayapur, March 1978". The higher authority, of course, is Srila Sridhara Maharaja.
On January 19, 2015, we contacted B. G. Narasingha Swami at Gosai.com, asking a number of questions about his differing version of the paper: where he acquired his copy, whether it bore the March 1, 1978 date, etc.? We never received an answer.
A copy of the paper is included below, marked-up to show the places where the Gosai.com version differs from the original manuscript. Items in red indicate the differences between the Gosai version and the original manuscript. The [red content in brackets] indicate changes found in the Gosai version.
While a number of differences between the Gosai and manuscript versions are minor, we notated them to make future efforts to compare document versions easier. We have also included page notations in brackets, for ease of comparing the online version of the document to the image scans of the five-page manuscript.
Some of the variations are quite significant. For example:
his mantra guru."
In the 2nd paragraph, "initiates" in the original manuscript has been changed to "initiators" in the Gosai.com version.
In the last paragraph of the section, "FIRST AND SECOND INITIATIONS", the word "be" in the manuscript is changed to "see" in the Gosai.com version: "If one has received first initiation from Srila Prabhupada and then second initiation from one of Srila Prabhupada's disciples, that disciple will be [see]
In the section, "ACCEPTING KARMA", the Gosai.com version adds a sentence at the end of the paragraph: "It is to be understood that the initiating spiritual master accepts karma at both harinama initiation and diksa (mantra) initiation." This is a serious change. A full sentence has been added that does not appear in the original manuscript, was not read from the vyasasana (by Satsvarupa dasa), and is not in brackets that would denote added text. We hope the devotees at Gosai.com will make a careful study of the situation, and let it be known how this sentence came to be here. As it stands, the statement is attributed to the ISKCON GBC, as an official philosophical statement.
Another very serious change is found in the "WORSHIP OF THE GURU" section, where the Gosai.com version omits "then Srila Prabhupada" in the statement: "…first worship the picture of his own guru, then Srila Prabhupada
[ ] then the Deities, and then he may offer worship to the other gurus."
In the "PRANAMA MANTRA" section, the Gosai.com version omits the underscore for emphasis in: "…the nama om visnu padaya mantra with the new guru's name inserted should not [not] be sung.
In the section, "UNDERSTANDING ABSOLUTE FAITH IN ONE'S GURU", the text mirrors a section of comments made by Srila Sridhara Swami to the ISKCON devotees:
"Our faith in our guru is being disturbed by this. Now my guru is not absolute." … In Krsna's camp also Radharani and Candravali and others contended. So we must prepare for that."
The editor at Gosai.com, in their version of the paper, added this statement: "[Note that the balancing statement of Srila Sridhara Maharaja following the above, "this will not be possible practically" was eliminated from this paper].
Actually, the phrase "this will not be possible practically" preceded the reference quoted above, it didn't follow it. (See Gosai version)
Finally, we would like to comment on the GBC's spelling of the word "rittic". Over the years, we have made a point of the fact that the July 9th Letter uses the term "rittik" – not the term "ritvik" commonly used today. In fact, the Ritvik-vadis have propagated a great many copies of the July 9th Letter, boldly altering it to change the spelling of this word from the original to their own preferred spelling… even as they demand everyone accept (their interpretation of) the absoluteness of that letter. (See "Evidence Tampering: Rtvik Sleight of Hand", Part 1 and Part 2.
While Tamal Krishna Goswami is credited with actually writing the July 9th Letter for Srila Prabhupada's signature, and thus has been presumed to be the one to include the word "rittik", it's interesting to note that throughout "The Process" paper, written eight months after the July 9th Letter, the GBC also do not use the word "ritvik" – not even once. Clearly, this was more than a single incidental typo in the letter. The GBC paper mentions the word "rittic" three times. And like the Ritvik-vadis, the Gosai.com version changes the spelling, to "ritvic" in all three instances.
While the July 9th Letter refers to "rittik" representatives of the acarya (emphasis added), here we see that the GBC are making the same egregious error the Ritvik-vadis continue to make: they refer to the 11 appointees as "rittic acaryas". As we have said so often, the July 9th Letter actually appoints 11 representatives of the acarya – not 11 acaryas. Please see "The Acarya Bridge" to understand the flawed logic by which the "ritvik acaryas" have been transformed from the eleven rittik representatives of the Acarya appointed on July 9th.
In the case of all these variations in text, it is interesting to consider the fact that the Ritvik-vadi websites have been proliferating the version from Gosai.com, which differs significantly from the original manuscript. (A statement confirming that the IRM's archived version of the paper came from Gosai.com is found in their Back to Prabhupada magazine, No. 6, 2004/5.)
In the alternate version of "The Process" found on the IRM website, we see that the 2nd paragraph states:
"When asked this question, Srila Prabhupada replied that he would name some persons who could initiate disciples after his disappearance. We then asked him who the spiritual master of such disciples would be. He replied that the new initiators would be the disciples of those whom he empowered to initiate and that he, Srila Prabhupada, would be their grand spiritual master."
Considering the massive churn that has gone on over the years in the Great Ritvik Debate, e.g., about the semantics of the May 28th Room Conversation, it is fascinating that not one member of the Ritvik community, including IRM publisher Krishna Kanta, ever raised a question, to our knowledge, about this odd reference to "new initiators" (who in the original manuscript are actually "new initiates").
Following is a copy of the original manuscript of the GBC paper, as found in the above scans of the five-page document and as read from the vyasasana by Satsvarupa, along with red notations showing variations found in the Gosai.com version.
"The Process for Carrying Out Srila Prabhupada's Desires
for Future Initiations
(A paper prepared by the GBC in consultation with
higher authorities … Mayapur, March, 1978)."
In May 1977 His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada felt that his days in this material world were almost at an end. He traveled to Vrndavana and asked that his leading disciples come and join him. Specifically, he called for the members of the Governing Body Commission, who manage the worldwide preaching activities of ISKCON [Iskcon]. Within a few days they gathered, in fear of the imminent departure of His Divine Grace. At that time many last affairs of His Divine Grace were put in order. He wrote his last Will [will], entrusting everything to ISKCON [Iskcon], and assigned his disciples as trustees of the various ISKCON [Iskcon] properties in India and around the world.
The GBC members met together in Vrndavana and prepared a few last questions to put before Srila Prabhupada. One very important question was how disciples would be initiated in the parampara after the departure of His Divine Grace. When asked this question, Srila Prabhupada replied that he would name some persons who could initiate disciples after his disappearance. We then asked him who the spiritual master of such disciples would be. He replied that the new initiates [initiators] would be the disciples of those whom he empowered to initiate and that he, Srila Prabhupada, would be their grand spiritual master. Then he said [that] he would name the initiating gurus later. Srila Prabhupada appeared [seemed] to recover somewhat in his health and he dispatched the GBC men back to their preaching missions around the world. He stayed on in Vrndavana, but his disappearance still seemed imminent.
Then one day in June he gave his secretary the names of eleven disciples [who] would be the initiating disciples. Their names were:
1. Kirtanananda Swami 7. Harikesa Swami
2. Jayapataka Swami 8. Ramesvara Swami
3. Tamal Krsna Goswami 9. Hansadutta Swami
4. Satsvarupa das [ ] Goswami 10. Bhagavan dasa
5. Hrdayananda Goswami 11. Jayatirtha dasa [.]
6. Bhavananda Goswami
Because of his illness, Srila Prabhupada had not awarded any initiations for months. On naming these disciples, he ordered that they become "rittic acaryas," ["ritvic acaryas",] which means that they were to initiate disciples on his behalf. He indicated, as he had said in May, that these rittic [ritvic] acaryas named by him would, after his disappearance, continue as initiating spiritual masters. He named eleven but said that the number could be increased in the future.
Now it is March[,] 1978, the annual international gathering of ISKCON [Iskcon] devotees at Sri Dhama Mayapur [Mayapur] on the occasion of Gaura Purnima. After meeting and consulting with senior Vaishnavas [Vaisnavas [Srila Sridhara Maharaja]] and taking sastric evidence, the GBC members have prepared the following statement of principles for carrying out the orders of Srila Prabhupada.
FIRST AND SECOND INITIATIONS
Devotees ask, "If I received first initiation from Srila Prabhupada but now, after his disappearance, I receive second initiation from one of his appointed initiator gurus, what is my relationship with each of the spiritual masters?"
[ page 2 ]
In coming to an answer, we must first know that harinama (first initiation) is the main initiation. The harinama is the main thing, and the second initiation is only to help the harinama. This is mentioned in Jiva Goswami's writings. Harinama diksa is bhagavati diksa, and initiation with the gayatri mantra is pancaratriki-diksa. The mantra is only to help harinama, so that one can reach the siddhi of harinama. Mantra's jurisdiction (pancaratriki diksa) is up to salvation, liberation, and after libertation harinama continues. The harinama circle is the greater circle and the mantra diksa is a smaller circle within the harinama circle.
Those who have taken first initiation from Srila Prabhupada are his disciples mainly, and they will take help from the diksa guru, the guru who awards second initiation. There are a nama guru and [a] mantra guru. If one has received first initiation from Srila Prabhupada and then second initiation from one of Srila Prabhupada's disciples, that disciple will be see] his mantra guru. The new disciple must offer respect both to his mantra guru and to Srila Prabhupada. The guru is one in many forms. Therefore we say, "vande'ham sri guru sri yuta padakamalam sri gurun." Thus we address the guru as plural.
HOW TO CHOOSE A GURU
How does one know who is to be his guru? One must choose according to his sraddha, his faith. A newcomer should be given some time. He should consider to whom he will submit, based on his faith in him. There are five stages in successfully approaching a spiritual master, and the first is to hear (sravanam). The second stage is acceptance both by the preceptor and the disciple. Then sadhana, the attempt for realization, will begin. In the beginning, it is an open field : the candidate hears, and then the connection should come between guru and disciple. One should take help from senior Vaishnavas [Vaisnavas] so as to avoid error.
SIKSA AND DIKSA GURUS
Sometimes devotees ask what the difference is between a siksa guru and a diksa guru. The answer is found in the Caitanya Caritamrta [-caritamrta]: ["]siksa-guru kevata yani krsnera svarupa.["] Both gurus are extensions of Krsna. Guru is Krsna. Acaryam mam vijaniyam. Krsna has come to liberate us in His different appearances, or representations. Thus there is oneness in a variety of forms. Actually, whoever sincerely helps me go forward towards Krsna is a siksa guru. Vaisnavas are also siksa gurus There is the vartma-pradarsaka guru (the one who first shows one the path of spiritual life), the siksa guru, nama guru, mantra guru and sannyasa guru. Whoever helps me the most in my spiritual progress is the main guru. If one is accepted by a nama- guru, then as long as the nama- guru is present, one has only one guru. The nama- guru and mantra guru will be the same, and no other guru will be present. Only the vartma- pradarsaka guru may be present before the real guru. Thus during Srila Prabhupada's presence the rittics [ritvics] he appointed were actually vartma-pradarsaka gurus. But if after the nama-guru's departure one accepts a mantra guru or sannyasa guru, one should [also] offer full regard to him, seeing him as the representative of the previous guru.
[ page 3 ]
When the guru first accepts the disciple, then the guru takes charge. There is an explanation of diksa, spiritual initiation, in The [the] Nectar of Instruction, page 51. At the time of both first and second initiations [initiation], the guru accepts the disciple as he is and accepts charge of washing away the disciple's sins by his instructions. This can be done by the mercy of Srila Prabhupada. The main thing is that the new gurus must be transparent. The medium is so transparent that by guru parampara everything goes to Krsna in no time. He who has wholly given himself to his ownguru, Srila Prabhupada, is actually a guru. The fully surrendered servant of Srila Prabhupada is guru. This is the criterion. [It is to be understood that the initiating spiritual master accepts karma at both harinama initiation and diksa (mantra) initiation.]
SEVERAL GURUS IN ONE TEMPLE
A delicate situation may arise when in one ISKCON [Iskcon] temple there are disciples of different gurus. The natural way to avoid this is for a guru to perform diksa in his own zone. Srila Prabhupada deliberately chose gurus in different parts of the world to arrange for this. But this is only a general principle, and there may also be special arrangements.
WORSHIP OF THE GURU
When a disciple of Srila Prabhupada's disciple performs worship, he will worship the portrait of his own guru. His guru's picture may be placed to the left of Srila Prabhupada's. If there are disciples of other gurus present in the temple, then the portraits of those gurus may also be put on the altar to the left of Srila Prabhupada. They should all be dealt with as Vaisnavas. In such a situation, the devotee performing worship-[-]arati for example-[-]will first worship the picture of his own guru, then Srila Prabhupada [ ] then the Deities, and then he may offer worship to the other gurus. He worships his own guru as guru and the other guru[s] as Vaisnavas. Of course, we are all experiencing awkwardness and growing pains in the new procedures. But we have to appreciate that new disciples in the future will want to worship their own spiritual masters, and this is proper. We may start in this way, and time will gradually help us.
Srila Prabhupada's vyasasana should not be occupied by any of his disciples or by the picture of any disciple. The disciple of Srila Prabhupada who is now initiating will always regard His Divine Grace as his superior and cannot occupy that seat. A second seat, however, a little below Srila Prabhupada's vyasasana, should be given to the initiating guru. Thus the new disciples will see their guru is giving honor to His Divine Grace. This will impress the disciples: "Even my guru is also giving respect to his own guru, Srila Prabhupada, and in this way I must follow." This system of maintaining Srila Prabhupada's vyasasana as the main center of guru worship should be maintained not only in the present ISKCON [Iskcon] temples but in any temples established in the future. Whatever we are creating is from the impression received from him. In this way we will all come within the same administration.
During guru-puja, disciples of Srila Prabhupada's disciples may offer respect to their guru and then to Srila Prabhupada.
[ page 4 ]
As far as a pranam mantra to be used by new disciples to offer respect to the initiating gurus, this common mantra may be used: om ajnana-timirandhasya jnananjana-salakaya/caksur unmilitam yena tasmai sri-gurave namah. Or nama om visnupadaya with the new guru's name inserted; that is also a general mantra. Visnupadaya means "unto the representative of Visnu." It means that the guru is at the feet of Krsna by virtue of his being at the feet of Srila Prabhupada.
These pranam mantras may be used unless and until a guru's disciples compile a special mantra for him. The guru should not arrange his own pranam [Pranam] mantra. But when the disciples make a mantra for guru-puja, with his special characteristics, then they may recite that mantra. The pranam mantra should be composed in perfect Sanskrit. In kirtana in ISKCON [Iskcon] temples the nama om visnu padaya mantra with the new guru's name inserted should not [not] be sung.
HOW WILL MORE GURU' S BE ADDED
Those who are already empowered to initiate will extend the number by their consideration. In this way it will have spiritual characteristics. The eleven picked by His Divine Grace will extend themselves. The area of initiating gurus should spread from this point, bigger, bigger, bigger.
UNDERSTANDING ABSOLUTE FAITH IN ONE'S GURU
Our process is extremely autocratic. The guru is all in all. The submission to the guru is unconditional. This we find in all Srila Prabhupada's books. There is an expression, "If anyone marries, then a separate room is necessary." As long as one is not married, he doesn't need a separate room. But as soon as one marries, he wants a separate house. Similarly, as long as a Vaisnava does not initiate, he does not want any special place or special respect. But when he initiates he is absolute in the eyes of his disciples. The sisya will not tolerate any other Vaisnava's coming 'to disturb the absolute position of his guru. This is the heart's feeling or proper Vaisnava sentiment, and disciples of Srila Prabhupada should be sensitive to this and careful not to disturb the relationship between the new gurus and their disciples. Therefore there may be at least one place where the disciple can have his guru exclusively, where he will find, "My guru is absolute here." For example, on the birthday of the guru the disciples may gather and worship him exclusively with all their devotion. They will worship him exclusively as the representative of God, of Krsna. But other disciples may not feel very much encouraged by their behavior. They may feel, "Our faith in our guru is being disturbed by this. Now my guru is not absolute." It is a very subtle point of sentiment. In Krsna's camp also Radharani and Candravali and others contended. So we must prepare for that.
[Note that the balancing statement of Srila Sridhara Maharaja following the above, "this will not be possible practically" was eliminated from this paper].
An example is given that every mother is most affectionate to her own son. The affection of each mother is absolute. But if one were to compare the affection of two mothers and try to determine who is more affectionate, one would see according to relative judgement.
[ page 5 ]
In this way there are both relative and absolute calculation[s]. But the absolute realization is supreme. In our ISKCON [Iskcon] dealings, these two conceptions have to be harmonized. Although one of the gurus may be a Godbrother to me, he is the worshipable guru of his disciple. Harmony of absolute and relative is seem in Krsna. He whom we think the supermost is being chastised [chastized] by Yasoda. He is the Supreme Deity, but He is carrying Nanda's shoes on His head. In this way we can learn to adjust absolute and relative.
In conclusion we humbly request all devotees to keep uppermost one of Srila Prabhupada's last instructions to us : "Your love for me will be demonstrated by how you cooperate amongst yourselves after my disappearance."  Let us deal with each other in love and trust. ["] It is unfortunate that His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada did not stay with us another 100 years in his physical presence.
That was not Krsna's desire. Therefore we have to see how his departure is a blessing. Now more than ever we must cooperate amongst ourselves. Let us not make the tragic mistake of the disciples who break into factions over party disputes and disobey the order of the spiritual master.
The carrying on of the Krsna Consciousness Movement means we must have new disciples. Therefore Srila Prabhupada has given us new gurus. Let us heartily welcome them in our midst. In this way we will find increased union even in separation from His Divine Grace.
 Betrayal of the Spirit by Nori Muster (2001), p. 30
The Acarya Bridge
Sun Editors – Oct 3, 2017
The Roots of Ritvik-vada
Sun Editors – Oct 1, 2017
Proposed Topics of Discussion for 1979 Mayapura Meeting
Letter from Yasodanandana to Satsvarupa, Jan 1, 1979
Challenging the Zonal Acarya System
Sun Editors – Aug 22 to Sep 27, 2017
Letter from Pradyumna das Adhikari to Satsvarupa das Goswami – Aug 7, 1978
The July 9th Letter
The Defeat of Ritvik-vada
The Writings of Rocana dasa: