Some of the ritvik-vadis’ criticisms dealing with facts and practical matters are valid, although they do exaggerate a great deal. Their arguments regarding our Gaudiya Vaishnava guru philosophy, however, are by and large useless, when held under the clear light of GSS, guru, sastra, and sadhu. The improper application of a philosophical principle, (guru-tattva), is no reason to adjust the principle. Rather we should show our faith in Krishna, in the parampara, and in sastra, by applying the principle properly.
Ritvik-vada is not our philosophy. It emerged or evolved as a reaction to the wicked, and sometime evil excesses of some ISKCON gurus. The implicit assumption in the ritvik stance is that the philosophy as it stands, is impractical, and we need to adjust the application. This is not Krishna consciousness; it is not the principle of parampara. There are matters of taste in our philosophy, which may be adjusted according to time, place, and circumstance, but philosophical core principles, such as guru-tattva cannot be adjusted. Trying to adjust the pillars of the philosophy is a cheating mentality stemming from deficient faith in the sastra.
The basic statement of ritvik-vada would be:
“No one can be a guru unless he is a pure devotee, and not just a pure devotee, but a pure devotee like Srila Prabhupada. Since no one is like Prabhupada, (and implying that no one will ever be like Srila Prabhupada), ISKCON is cheating people by presenting unqualified gurus. In reality the best ISKCON can do, is make ritviks, officiating priests, who will initiate newcomers on Prabhupada’s behalf, for Prabhupada is the only guru. As such all these new initiates are disciples of Srila Prabhupada.”
So, someone joins the movement in 2022, takes initiation, and becomes my godbrother. This is strange, but ritvik-vadis think that only those who have a problem with humility will think it strange. If I were a newcomer, I would still think it strange after reading Srila Prabhupada’s books, and finding not one sentence supporting this practice. Out of fear, however, that one will surrender to a nontransparent via medium to the parampara, a growing number of people prefer to accept this ill-founded concept, as if avoiding one wrong, (unqualified guru), and accepting another wrong, (ritvik-guru), puts one in the right. It DOES NOT.