The proponents of the “Only-the-Super-Vaisnava -as-Guru-Theory”, tend to insist on defining the first-class devotee by mystical criteria, perhaps not having a clear or realized understanding of the terms themselves. For example, typically, they insist that the paramahamsa, maha-bhagavata, uttama-adhikari must see Krishna.
However, what do they mean by “see”?
Does it mean literally see Krishna? If so, who will decide?
Srila Prabhupada once said,
“Why such an emphasis of seeing Krishna; it is better to hear Krishna”.
Sri -Nam, the Holy Name, is equal to Sri -Krishna. This is a wonderful revelation. One cannot physically see Krishna unless it is Krishna’s sweet will.
However, anyone can hear Krishna because in this particular kali-yuga Lord Caitanya has appeared and has taught that the perfection of human life is available to one and all; simply by the chanting of Krishna’s Holy Name and revealing that Sri -Nam is equal completely, 100 percent, to Sri Krishna. The sound vibration of His Holy Name contains all of the potencies of Sri Krishna.
Everyone can chant His Holy Name and therefore anyone can hear His Holy Name.
Therefore, “Hearing Krishna is the Same as Seeing Krishna.”
Despite their insistence, they themselves cannot say who sees or does not see. If they could see, they could be guru, according to their own criteria. In which case, they can be guru themselves and the ritvik theory is invalid. Moreover, if they cannot see, why insist on that as criteria for everyone else? Then we are on the dogmatic platform, which is supposed to be shunned by preachers of Krishna consciousness.
For that matter, what is meant by maha-bhagavata, pure devotee, or any other similar term?
Indeed, without clearly defining our terms, we cannot be certain that the speaker and audience both have the same ideas in mind. They often sling these words back and forth, without appreciating the possibility, that no participant in the discussion, necessarily has the same thing in mind when they say ‘pure devotee’, ‘maha-bhagavata’, and so on.
Nevertheless, ISKCON devotees, have been swindled by the practice of rubber-stamped gurus. However, they should not be blind to the fact that they can be swindled, to no end, in finding a bona fide guru, when they follow criteria that they have no personal capacity to verify. For example,
“Even if you have a mystical experience of Krishna walking with you daily on the banks of Radha-Kunda.”
How can your private mystical revelations carry any authority for others, when they have no basis for certainly? You could be cheating, putting on a show. Similarly, you could be telling the truth. Nevertheless, who will decide?
Thus, swindle is no less a possibility when they try to ascertain the uttama adhikari by symptoms other than the quantifiable ones given in Sastra, and in the works of our acharyas. Nowhere, are we advised to decide arbitrarily, that a particular Vaisnava walks with Radha and Krishna on the banks of the Yamuna. Unless one can present proof. How can anyone make this superlative criterion, the basis for recognizing who can be guru? How can you know for sure that this criterion applies to the person that Krishna is providing for you right now? That is impossible. You will find yourself on the dogmatic platform, the blind faith platform, which is simply heretical. You become a guru fanatic, rather than a scientific practitioner of bhakti-yoga. You fall into the abyss of dogmatism and fanaticism, which is symptomized by passionate intensity and not supported by authentic logic and reason, which is based on sastra. This simply becomes nothing more than compensations for a realized understanding. This indicates blind faith pretending to be rational faith.
Rather than a verdict reached by mature deliberation of the sastric injunctions, dogmatism indicates the person has made an emotional investment up front, and then tries to employ logic and philosophy in the service of their foregone conclusion. This approach is always a mistake in Vaisnavism. We search the sastras to find the conclusion, not to find support for our foregone conclusion, as the ritvik advocates tend to do.
Our principle is that of parampara, (disciplic succession), as stated in Bhagavad-gita As It Is 4.1,
“This supreme science was thus received through the chain of disciplic succession …”
Srila Prabhupada references, the sentence from Bhagavad-gita 4.2, forty-five (45) times in his Veda-base,
so it would be kind of hard for a sincere disciple of Srila Prabhupada, to not know this fact.
When we focus exclusively on guru, and ignore the principle of parampara, then it is easy to concoct the ritvik foolishness, or be seduced by it. Once again, out of sentiment, we find that people develop a philosophy which is devoid of sastric support. Once again, they find themselves mired in heresy.
Yet the ritviks, cite so much sastra, that those not adept at our philosophy, get impressed. They think,
“Yes, this makes sense. If the guru is not walking arm in arm with Krishna, like Srila Prabhupada, then I should be initiated as Prabhupada ’s disciple, by a ritvik guru. Brilliant!”.
However, where do we find a single one of our acharyas establishing their right to take disciples because of their:
- Walking arm in arm with Krishna.
- Declaration that they are an internal associate of Krishna or Lord Caitanya.
- Declaration that they are a pure devotee?
- Declaration that they are an Uttama
- Declaration that they are a Maha-bhagavata
- Declaration that they are a Paramahamsa.
- Declaration that they have been rubber-stamped by some ecclesiastic group of other Vaisnavas.
We accepted Srila Prabhupada primarily on the basis that he came in parampara, and his conduct was exemplary. In addition, in fact, we have evidence in Prabhupada ’s own words, that what the ritviks claim to be “the solution”, to the guru issue, is in fact nothing but the standard principle of parampara. The difference is that the ritvik version minimizes the responsibility of the initiator to be an example for the disciple.
However, in this 1970 letter to Makhanlal Dasa, Srila Prabhupada wrote something amazingly close to the ritvik concept but he obviously thought it to be nothing but the standard principle of ‘parampara. He wrote:
“I can assure you that if you follow my instruction mentioned, there is no doubt about it, that through me my spiritual Master Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura will be pleased-Moreover, through His mercy Lord Nityananda will be pleased. In this way, Lord Caitanya [will be pleased. And ultimately Radha Krishna will be pleased, thus, your life will be successful. You are all intelligent boys. Please try to understand me and do the needful.”
What is the objection if a disciple of Srila Prabhupada initiates in the same spirit that Srila Prabhupada expresses in this letter?
Is that person a guru or a ritvik guru?
It follows that if Prabhupada is a bona fide guru, this disciple is also a bona fide guru, simply by following in his footsteps. Then, where is the need for the ritvik rhetoric, which adds to the confusion about the guru issue?
A Srila Prabhupada disciple, who once believed in the ritvik doctrine, wrote in a letter:
“That is his illusion and misunderstanding of our philosophy. My realization is this. Faith in ritvik stems from bitterness and anger, maybe over the leaders of ISKCON, but more likely, in their own anger and disappointment, in their own inability to fully surrender, and give up all gross & subtle sense gratification. They can think that because they did not obey the orders of our guru perfectly, no one has, or no one can, or no one will. They also may not accept that Sri Guru and Gauranga are extremely compassionate, forgiving, and merciful to us fallen Kali Yuga entities.”
To restrict Lord Caitanya, to only Srila Prabhupada. is a great limitation on Lord Caitanya, and is an insult to Srila Prabhupada, as it means that he is not able to bring anyone to Krishna Consciousness, to any degree where the disciple could pass on the science to others.
The implication of what this implies is of great importance to all followers of Srila Prabhupada. We have to look closely to see if ritvik philosophy serves something other than the truth. The description in this passage from the lips of a former ritvik believer opens up a significant possibility.
In the 1970 letter to Makhanlal, the last sentence quoted says,
“Please try to understand me and do the needful”.
Moreover, as Srila Prabhupada says in the quote that opened this presentation,
“Simply one has to become sincere soul.”
That is the way to understand Srila Prabhupada.
 Kali-yuga—the “Age of Quarrel and Hypocrisy ” The fourth and last age in the cycle of a maha-yuga. This is the present age in which we are now living. It began 5,000 years ago and lasts for a total of 432,000 years. It is characterized by irreligious practice and stringent material miseries. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam the age is personified as an evil black man who tries to kill a helpless cow and bull. The four legs of the cow represent the four principles of religiosity-namely, truth, cleanliness, mercy and austerity. The bull represents religion itself; The most recommended process of spiritual upliftment in this age is sankirtana, the congregational glorification of the Lord through chanting His holy name.