Crypto-Rittvik: Initiation by Sound Vibration
By: Ernest Dras & Michael Garner
The article, “Clarification and Statement to Date” by Dusyanta prabhu is proof of how far one can go from Srila Prabhupada’s standards, all the while claiming to act in his name. The result of enacting the recommendations in the article would be a kind of pseudo-Vaishnava-neo-Christianity that would only further muddy the name of His Divine Grace. Dusyanta prabhu very well describes the flaws of “ISKCON” and the rittviks. However, the conclusion he derives is misleading and ultimately falls into the same category as the groups he criticizes. It is somewhat shocking that no one has yet written something to counter his assertions.
This is not to say that all of Dusyanta prabhu’s points are dangerous. He makes a very nice argument regarding the necessity of the spiritual master’s vapuh (physical manifestation) in maintaining a rittvik system of initiating new disciples. He also made a very nice exposition and cited a number of wonderful quotes in praise of transcendental sound vibration.
Dusyanta prabhu makes the case that one can become initiated simply by hearing the transcendental vibration of the spiritual master. In Kali yuga such an assertion is as absurd as saying that anyone who reads a few pages of Srila Prabhupada’s books will become a devotee. Undoubtedly there will be some isolated advanced souls who will take to the process sincerely and seriously after simply reading those books or hearing a Srila Prabhupada recording. When we review the pastimes of the Lord’s associates in Sri Caitanya-caritamrita we may not find many descriptions of “ceremonial-diksa.” However, these great souls do not require any kind of fire sacrifice formality to become dedicated to serving the Lord. They are mostly eternally liberated nitya-siddhas, after all.
On the other hand, four virtues are described regarding the four ages and spirituality – austerity, cleanliness, mercy, and truthfulness. In Kali yuga, there is only a little truthfulness left in the inhabitants. This means it is very difficult for the people of this age to stick to the vows that are expected of an initiated devotee. Srila Prabhupada, therefore, engaged everything at his facility, including “ceremonial diksa,” to keep his disciples serious about their responsibilities:
“So this is the process of bhakti-yoga. You surrender and, in the past, whatever sinful activities you have done, that is squared up, now account closed. Now you begin a new life, devotional life, and if you stick to the principle as it is instructed, that do not have illicit sex life, do not have intoxicants, do not eat meat, do not play gambling, speculate, you promise before Krsna and before the spiritual master, before the Vaisnavas, so many witnesses, and if you violate, then you can understand what you are doing. You promise with…, before the Deity. Krsna is not different, so when the initiation takes place we promise so many things. But if we do not follow, if we do not keep our promise, that is a great fault.”
(Lecture on Bhagavad-gita 7.1 — Melbourne, June 29, 1974)
This assertion of Dusyanta prabhu that “ceremonial diksa” is an invention of the Zonal Acaryas or the “ISKCON” institution is patently false. If anything, in this regard they tried to copy every aspect of Srila Prabhupada’s practices so that their deluded followers would think nothing had changed. Dusyanta prabhu completely misleads the reader by giving the impression that Srila Prabhupada had actually been following his “initiation by sound vibration” process when he writes, “In other words, the philosophy that abounded in ISKCON in 1978 was that to receive initiation and the process of diksa, there had to be a physically present Diksa Guru to administer it. So at that time, the ‘living guru’ theory was borne, that a Guru had to be corporeal to be functional.”
If Srila Prabhupada had actually been implementing Dusyanta’s sound vibration initiation concept all along, why did he make repeated statements like these:
“Krishna is the first spiritual master, and when we become more interested, then we have to go to a physical spiritual master.” That is enjoined in the following verse:
tad viddhi pranipatena
upadekshyanti te jnanam
(Bhagavad-Gita Lecture 4.34—New York, August 14, 1966)
“Because Krishna is situated in everyone’s heart. Actually, He is the spiritual master, caitya-guru. So in order to help us, He comes out as physical spiritual master. And therefore saksad-dharitvena sama… Spiritual master is representative of Krishna. Krishna sends some sincere devotee to act on His behalf, and therefore he is spiritual master.”
(Srimad-Bhagavatam Lecture 1.2.4—Rome, May 28, 1974)
“This means that the conditioned souls are being reclaimed by the Lord both ways, namely by the process of punishment by the external energy of the Lord, and by Himself as the spiritual master within and without. Within the heart of every living being the Lord Himself as the Supersoul (Paramatma) becomes the spiritual master, and from without He becomes the spiritual master in the shape of scriptures, saints and the initiator spiritual master.”
(Srimad-Bhagavatam, 1.7.5, purport)
O’Grady: The problem is to find this friend. The problem is to find this spiritual master.
Srila Prabhupada: No, there is no problem. The problem is if you are sincere. Yes. That is stated. Because actually you have got problems, but God is within your heart. Isvarah sarva-bhutanam hrid-dese arjuna tistahati. God is not far away. God is within your heart. So if you are sincere, then God will give you spiritual master. If He knows that now you are sincere, then He will give you a spiritual master.
O’Grady: O.K. Thank you. That I know.
Srila Prabhupada: Therefore God is called caittya-guru, the spiritual master within the heart. And the physical spiritual master is God’s mercy. If God sees that you are sincere, He will give you a spiritual master who can give you protection. He will help you from within and without, without in the physical form of spiritual master, and within as the spiritual master within the heart.
(Room Conversation with Irish Poet, Desmond O’Grady—May 23, 1974, Rome)
In the Srimad Bhagavatam and Sri Caitanya-caritamrita we always find disciples approaching a physical person as their guru. There may not always be a formal fire sacrifice, but there is never the idea that, “I can be initiated by Srila Vyasadeva by virtue of his sound vibration instead of this physically manifest person standing before me.” If we follow Dusyanta prabhu’s philosophy to its logical end, Srila Prabhupada should have humbly requested his disciples to become initiated by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta through the pure sound vibration of reading his books aloud. Or is Dusyanta prabhu’s great benediction only available to those who have taken birth after the divine intervention of recording equipment?
Dusyanta’s attempt to turn the teachings of Srila Prabhupada on end is ludicrous. He is saying that when His Divine Grace spoke about approaching a spiritual master, he was actually only talking about hearing from him. When Srila Prabhupada said these things he meant to follow the very procedures he had implemented for someone to become his formally initiated disciple.
Nevertheless, Srila Prabhupada’s instructions on this topic were meant to be applied by anyone at anytime. This means now also. New people should find a genuine spiritual master. What formalities, or the lack of them, that such guru implements to initiate is his business. The key word here is genuine spiritual master. The “ISKCON” institution has deviated from the parampara by virtue of its “guru by GBC” nonsense, so anyone who claims to be authorized by their mandate proves him or herself to be actually outside the parampara. Similarly, those coming from Srila Prabhupada’s godbrothers have, thus far, only provided proof of their envy of Srila Prabhupada by virtue of belittling him to the level of “swamiji.” These so-called gurus either directly refer to him by this title or count among their associates people who do.
Finding a physically manifest spiritual master, surrendering, serving, and inquiring is the standard process. This doesn’t change because the GBC or the Zonal Acaryas turned Srila Prabhupada’s mission into a mockery. Dusyanta prabhu should be honestly repeating what Srila Prabhupada said and did about initiation, not trying to put words into his mouth. Srila Prabhupada’s own pure sound vibration does not say what Dusyanta does.
Another aspect of following this standard process is what Dusyanta prabhu derides when he facetiously quotes such disciples, “We need security in formality, three dimensions, and anybody who will give us a name, and lastly the power and the glory.”
In answer, security is a good thing in spiritual life! Why? – because in Kali yuga virtually everyone takes everything very cheaply. Today someone may be convinced by Dusyanta prabhu’s presentation that they have become initiated by Srila Prabhupada’s pure vibration. Tomorrow some post-modernist convinces them that absolute philosophies are a thing of the less-evolved superstitious past – end of devotional life. Today’s flickering fallen people very much need security and external confirmation to remain serious.
The word disciple means someone who acts under discipline. That discipline comes from associating with those who are more advanced, especially a self-realized soul. The genuine guru is a shelter – asraya. Finding such a person should be our life’s mission and gaining such association is real security. Even initiates of Srila Prabhupada should endeavor for this.
Dusyanta’s insecure process is mostly a drive on the mano-rathena, the chariot of the mind. Outside of this rudderless criterion, he provides no real confirmations that one has actually become initiated. Again, the rare advanced devotee has no problem knowing that they have received the bhakti-lata-bija, but the standard residents of Kali yuga will flicker between their deluded “I’m very spiritually advanced” imaginations, and doubt. He makes no requirement that Srila Prabhupada manifest before the disciple (on either the physical or subtle plane) and inform him what his spiritual name is, etc. Under his system, how does the disciple know that he or she has actually been admitted into the parampara?
Dusyanta prabhu employs a very flawed argument to establish his “initiation by Srila Prabhupada’s sound vibration” dispensation. We find this:
“The problem that has arisen in ISKCON is that if we take Srila Prabhupada as the Siksa Guru through His books by receiving His transcendental sound, how does that later on translate as Him being our Diksa Guru? How can we accept His Siksa in absentia, but not His Diksa in absentia? If we distinguish between the functionality of the Siksa Guru and Diksa Guru then we fall into the trap of committing an offense in devotional service due to discriminating between them both. The dealings are different, but the functionality is the same. ‘They are identical because both of them are phenomenal manifestations of the Supreme Truth.’ (Caitanya-caritamrta – Introduction)”
Here we see the main current of his deviation. What he appears to be saying is that it is an “offense” to differentiate the siksa-guru from the diksa-guru, but what he fails to recognize is that this injunction is in relation to their levels of realization – at least, the stage where one can actually be guru. It is not correct to state there isn’t any difference between the diksa-guru and siksa-guru at every single level of consideration and in every single way. Such an imposition is a mistake, and this error can be very easily noticed, i.e., why do they have different titles if they are exactly the same thing? He says that a person falls into a trap when he discriminates between them. In terms of level of realization – the basic or fundamental level of where guru starts (and where, before this realization, it cannot start) – this would be an accurate statement. In terms of their external activities, however, there are definite differences.
Ironically Dusyanta dasa cites the above quote from the Sri Chaitanya-caritamrita that diksa-guru is a phenomenal manifestation of the Supreme Lord. He is apparently unable to see that he blatantly contradicts his “non-corporeal” point by wrongly using this “phenomenal” reference from the Sri Chaitanya-caritamrita Introduction. He appears to be starting a brand new variant of “rittvik,” – make the connection and get your initiation by just hearing from and chanting the glories of the personality you accept as siksa-guru.
Nevertheless, we automatically discriminate between the siksa and diksa guru when we refer to them by different titles and recognize their different functions. If this was what was offensive, why have our predecessor spiritual masters utilized these different names? Therefore, this assertion by Dusyanta prabhu that it is offensive to distinguish the siksa guru from the diksa guru on the basis of dealings or function is both fallacious and counter to the parampara. Dealings and function are, for all practical purposes, synonymous. He is wrangling by claiming that these two words refer to something different.
So once one accepts this mistaken thinking of Dusyanta prabhu, anything that is added must, almost certainly, also be wrong. His next proposition is that, since it is offensive to discriminate between the two types of guru, that the siksa guru is automatically also diksa guru. To follow this to its logical conclusion, we should, therefore, stop using the two separate terms. His assertions are actually offensive to the previous acaryas who have employed these different terms and taught the meanings to us. Besides, what if a guru doesn’t want to initiate? That is certainly his prerogative. According to Dusyanta’s proposition, such a guru is automatically initiating just by opening his mouth. How absurd! This is word jugglery and wrangling at its best.
Perhaps the main problem with Dusyanta prabhu’s conclusions is that he has confused the post-samadhi GBC and their distortion of Srila Prabhupada’s movement with real Krishna consciousness. Because the Zonal Acarya rascals and the succeeding “reformed” institutional so-called gurus have hypocritically exploited innocents and Srila Prabhupada’s good name, Dusyanta prabhu has erroneously concluded that there is now some flaw in having physically manifest gurus. The problem is not in the process the cheaters expropriated from Srila Prabhupada. The problem is that Dusyanta prabhu has confused these men and their institution with real gurus and genuine Krishna consciousness.
What he says about “ISKCON” is true. They have a flawed system of “corporeal” voted-in, rubber-stamped, ecclesiastically approved so-called diksa gurus. However, one should not become blind out of disgust and anger and then, influenced by all this, reject the real thing. This is just like impersonalists — because they are disgusted with material shapes, they reject any shape and say that ultimately there are no shapes. Similarly, because somebody is angry and disgusted with “ISKCON,” Gaudiya Matha’s so called gurus, or so-called rittvik post-mortem representatives, one should not reject the need to contact a bona fide PHYSICALLY manifest spiritual personality and receive initiation from him. The initiating spiritual master is a phenomenal manifestation of the Absolute Truth. This was quoted above.
Some will argue that we need some process of initiation to continue Srila Prabhupada’s mission. This was, of course, one of the supposed justifications for the Zonal Acaryas creating their makeshow. Similarly, the rittviks have done their mis-deeds with much the same reason.
Others will say that if you want people to surrender to a physically manifest guru, then show us one. Otherwise we are going to stick with Srila Prabhupada. They say that waiting for the next genuine guru could go on for decades. What do we do until then? They say that real Krishna consciousness must be practical and have some means to initiate.
The results of such expedient posturing and concoction should be obvious. Why do yet another wrong thing? We should believe Dusyanta prabhu’s conclusions about the power of transcendental sound vibration and pray that it can clean our hearts to the point where we deserve the association of a real spiritual master. As Srila Prabhupada said above, “The problem is if you are sincere.”
In all humility, we should conclude that we are not sincere and that this is the reason Krishna has not seen fit to put us in touch with such a guru. It is a great mistake to jump up like monkeys and think, “I have been chanting for x years, understood so much from the books, and that I have, therefore, surely been initiated by Srila Prabhupada through his pure sound vibration.”
The point is that we are so polluted due to association with “ISKCON”, what is left of the Gaudiya Matha, and with rittvik that we are no longer capable of contacting someone bona fide. So, the only solution seems to be to separate ourselves from these bogus groups and engage ourselves in association with pure devotees. But where to find such saintly personalities? There are many of them in Srila Prabhupada’s books, devotees like Prahlada Maharaja, Narada Muni, Jada Bharata, Lord Rsabadeva, or Haridasa Thakura, and, of course, Srila Prabhupada. If somebody is seriously reading about all these souls, without simultaneously being in poisonous contact with the previously mentioned deviant groups, then his power of discrimination will become stronger. If you will then wear these advanced personalities within your heart, then you will have a gauge with which you will be able to measure things that cross your way. You will know the taste and the characteristics of a spiritually advanced person, and you will not be cheated so easily by all the word-jugglers pretending to be spiritually elevated.
This is also in accordance with Srila Bhaktisiddhanta’s teachings. He says that if somebody is serious about contacting a bona fide spiritual person, he should first get the idea from the scriptures:
“The plain meaning of the Shastras should, therefore, be our only guide in the search of the good Preceptor, when we actually feel the need of his guidance.”
(Initiation Into Spiritual Life)
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada can be, and should be, accepted as siksa-guru by everyone who wants to take advantage of the teachings and process that he has given — to make genuine advancement in Krishna Consciousness. If anyone has the sincerity to accept him as such, then that level of sincerity needs to be developed further and encouraged. The process, if and when it is followed, accomplishes that. When it is accomplished, then the aspirant devotee will have developed enough sincerity to be able to contact a diksa-guru on the phenomenal or manifest plane. After they carefully study one another, then that diksa-guru will initiate that aspiring devotee into a connection with the parampara – and Srila Prabhupada will remain the siksa-guru for that disciple throughout the whole process. But ignoring this and advocating Dusyanta’s philosophy will never accomplish anything like this, because the whole thing is rooted in ignorance and insincerity. We should believe Srila Prabhupada when he says that if somebody is sincere he will come in contact with a bona fide physical spiritual master by God’s arrangement. This was nicely explained in the O’Grady conversation above.
Regarding the apparent lack of genuine spiritual masters at the current time, we find this quote from Krsna Book:
“Sometimes in autumn the falls come down from the top of the hill to supply clean water, and sometimes they stop. Similarly, sometimes great saintly persons distribute clear knowledge, and sometimes they are silent.”
(Krsna Book Ch. 20, Description of Autumn)
It is obvious that we are now in a period of such drought. In this present drought, we can still find some clean drinkable water in the shape of Srila Prabhupada’s books. He left these for us to use for our advancement.
The great disservice that Dusyanta prabhu does to his uninitiated readers is that some of them will actually become convinced by him. As a result, they will think that simply by reading Srila Prabhupada’s books or hearing his recordings they have done all that is required to be initiated. They will then, like the rittvik followers, abandon the sastric process and stop looking for the real physically manifest spiritual master. This is a type of spiritual death and murder. In turn, this makes their position at the time of death all the more doubtful.
In conclusion, Dusyanta prabhu is opposed to the formal process of so-called initiation being advocated by the rittviks, but the results of following his assertions is much the same. One could, therefore, call his process a type of anti-rittvik/crypto-rittvik. Despite it’s lack of authorization, rittvik at least provides the formality of the fire sacrifice to keep the followers honest and a bit guilty if they consider giving up chanting and the four principles. The result of following Dusyanta’s recommendation, however, gives the fertile brains of Kali yuga the same delusion as rittvik, but with practically no external socially witnessed commitment to permanently change their degraded characters. The end product is something that is even more like the Christians than the rittviks. This is just the latest dilution whereby Srila Prabhupada’s movement is being transformed into yet another Kali yuga religion. All the concocted stages of this watering down – “ISKCON,” rittvik, the envious Gaudiya Matha so-called gurus, and this non-manifest siksa/diksa nonsense – should be completely rejected.
“So change means imperfect knowledge. No change means that is perfect knowledge. So we follow that no change policy. No, not that because I think I have become now advanced, I change this to that. That means I am not advanced. My knowledge is imperfect. Therefore I am changing.”
(Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.3.15 — Los Angeles, September 20, 1972)