Bogus Guru System – 7 Myths

By the IRM (ISKCON Revival Movement)

1) “The Guru must be ‘living’.”

  1. a) Srila Prabhupada never states this. b) Srila Prabhupada never physically met the vast majority of his disciples, yet they were initiated. Thus initiations can not require the physical presence of the Guru. c) Neither have the very persons claiming we must accept them as Gurus, simply because they are ‘living’, had a ‘living’ (physically present) Guru for over 25 years. So if they have not needed a ‘living Guru’ for more than 25 years, why do their disciples?

2) “The ritvik system has never happened before.”

  1. a) Srila Prabhupada never states that if something has not happened before it must be rejected. b) If we rejected something simply on the basis that it has not happened before, then the first thing we must reject is the GBC’s Guru system, with its voted-in, non-Indian Gurus; a system which has never been practised before. c) There is no historical precedent for a disciple to reject an order of his Guru purely on the basis that it has no historical precedent, therefore the argument is self-contradictory.

3) “Srila Prabhupada said that everyone must ‘become Guru’.”

Yes, he did, many times. But we should “become guru” in the way he asked us to, not in the way we want. When asking us to “become Guru”, Srila Prabhupada would invariably invoke Lord Caitanya’s instruction from the Caitanya-caritamrta “amara ajnaya guru hana”. Explaining this most famous verse, Srila Prabhupada instructs: “It is best not to accept any disciples.” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, 7.130, purport). Also, in describing this type of Guru Srila Prabhupada said:“‘How can I become guru?’ There is no need of qualification… Whomever you meet, you simply instruct what Krsna has said.” (Lecture, 21/5/76); and also: “Anyone can do. A child can do.” (Conversation, 11/5/77). So clearly he was not ordering his disciples to accept their own disciples, but merely to preach, act as siksa or instructing Gurus and initiate on his behalf.

4) “The ritvik system will stop the disciplic succession (parampara).”

  1. a) Conducting initiations with Srila Prabhupada as the diksaGuru cannot stop the disciplic succession, otherwise it would have already stopped when Srila Prabhupada was initiating from 1966 to 1977. It didn’t stop then, and therefore it will not stop now, unless it is stated that initiations can only be conducted in the physical presence of the Guru for theparamparato continue. But Srila Prabhupada never states this. b) Srila Prabhupada never defined the disciplic succession in terms of physical bodies. He has defined the disciplic succession (parampara) as follows: “Parampara means to hear the truth from the spiritual master.” (Srila Prabhupada Room Conversation, 20/12/76)  So clearly this “hearing the truth from the spiritual master” is continuing even today with Srila Prabhupada in the same manner as it did from 1966 to 1977.

5) “How can Srila Prabhupada not have made even one pure devotee to succeed him?”

There is no connection between the number of pure devotees made and whether or not Srila Prabhupada established a ritvik system. Since it is not compulsory for all pure devotees to act as diksa Gurus, Srila Prabhupada may/could have made many such pure devotees who would humbly serve him under theritvik system he established. For if they were pure devotees, they obviously by definition would not deviate from the order of their spiritual master.

6) “So this means then we can even take initiation from Rupa Goswami?”

No. The ritvik system was set up specifically to connect new devotees joining ISKCON not to Rupa Goswami but to Srila Prabhupada, who is the current link or representative in the chain of disciplic succession. Initiation can only be taken from the current link. One cannot jump over that current link and try and take initiation from a predecessor acharya:

“As already stated, Brahma is the original spiritual master for the universe, and since he was initiated by the Lord Himself, the message of Srimad-Bhagavatamis coming down by disciplic succession, and in order to receive the real message of Srimad-Bhagavatam one should approach the current link, or spiritual master, in the chain of disciplic succession.”  (Srimad-Bhagavatam, 2.9.7, purport)

That current representative is Srila Prabhupada (since he did not authorise any successors) and he established the ritvik system to enable all devotees to continue connecting to him in ISKCON as theirdiksa Guru. Rupa Goswami has not given us a ritvik system to connect newcomers in ISKCON to him.

7) “It is the “law of disciplic succession” that in the presence of the Guru one does not take disciples, but in his disappearance, the disciple can accept his own disciples without limitation.”

  1. a) But the GBC themselves do not accept this “law” since they allow the disciples to initiate in the presence of their Guru. b) Srila Prabhupada merely states that it is only possible to be Guru in his absence, and not in his presence. Srila Prabhupada never states that in his absence all his disciples will automatically succeed him or that they are being ordered to become Gurus as soon as he departs. Hence the statement of when it is possible for a disciple to be Guru is not the same as an order for the disciple to actually be Guru at that time.


  • Shruti

    Very true. Agreed

  • Dattatreya

    “The ritvik system has never happened before.”

    I beg to disagree !!!

    The Ritvik system has been used in the Gaudiya math Sampradaya on occasion before , throughout 5000 years of history , when there were gaps between Maha-Bhagavata Diksha Gurus …

    And successfully mind you , at least up to Prabhupada’s time ( I’m not insinuating that Prabhupad was a ritvik but rather that everything went downhill after his leela on this sorry ass planet … again … I’m not insinuating that there is anything wrong with Mother Bhumi , but rather with the jackasses populating it )

    I’ve learned over the years to justify my position / arguments constantly … as in second nature … which pretty much has to come with the territory when you’re dealing with Kali-Yuga trash …

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