By Mahatma Das
A devotee’s faith is an advanced devotee is the most important proof of the qualification of his prospective guru. Faith allows him to know, understand, and measure the standard of a
person’s qualification. This explains why those who lack the faith that Prabhupada wanted his
disciples to be gurus cannot understand that advanced disciples of Prabhupada are qualified to
be guru (despite the fact that he said that one who says that guru only means siksa guru is
foolish, one should not perpetually remain a student, and what will please me most is when all
my disciples become guru).
Srila Prabhupada once asked the devotees, “How do you know Krsna is God?” They gave all the
right sastric answers but he rejected all of them. Then a devotee said, “Because you can feel it,”
meaning you can feel His presence through bhakti. Prabhupada said, ‘This is the real answer.”
This means, then, that the sastras are not the ultimate proof. The sastras describe the
qualifications of a guru, but ultimately the devotee must hear from his heart to know who is his
guru. Your heart will say, “When I hear from this person, I feel closer to Krsna, inspired to serve,
and willing to sacrifice myself for service. I trust this person. I want to serve this person. I have
deep affection for this person. I trust this person can take me back to Godhead.” In the end, this
is why you choose a particular person as your guru.
Of course, you are not just choosing anyone sentimentally. You know where to look for a guru,
you know the symptoms and qualifications of a guru. But ultimately your heart will speak to you
saying, “This person inspires me to such an extreme degree that I want to dedicate my life to
him.” In other words, the disciple will understand from the inner core of his heart who is his
Ritviks suppress these natural emotions. They don’t want these sentiments to rise; if they do,
devotees will naturally want to find shelter in a living guru. They thus they preach about guru
tattva in a way that suppress the essence of bhakti, the natural deep affectionate relationship
between guru and disciple.
Ritviks don’t understand – or refuse to recognize – the subjective nature of guru/disciple
relationships. They despise the affection that disciples show to present day gurus. Thus, they
despise the essence of Krsna consciousness, faith in guru, and guise such feelings in so called
devotion to Prabhupada. This is a travesty to our sampradaya. To preach in a way that does not
allow love to develop for a potential living diksa guru is a criminal act.
Because selecting a guru is subjective, no one can say that a strict and dedicated follower of
Srila Prabhupada is not your guru. The disciple makes his own informed decision. He studies
sastra, he learns the qualities and qualifications of the guru, he studies a prospective guru, and
then he decides.
The person who inspires one devotee will not necessarily inspire another in the same way. That
is the nature of guru tattva, and this is why it is said that guru tattva is inconceivable. It may be
inconceivable for one devotee that another devotee takes full shelter in their guru because that
guru’s effulgence is not seen equally by all. Just look at how many godbrothers did not see
Prabhupada’s effulgence, yet his effulgence was obvious to us. So when we say a guru is a pure
devotee, it doesn’t mean he will be viewed as a pure devotee to everyone. But certainly his
disciples will see him this way.
Ritviks, have permanently blinded themselves, by their own philosophy, from seeing the
effulgence of any guru other than Srila Prabhupada. And their mission, unfortunately, is to
Krsna Himself reveals the guru to a prospective candidate. Ritviks harden devotee’s hearts to
such a degree that they cannot see who is a guru. But worse, they have hardened their hearts
in a way that causes such devotees to criticize gurus. A philosophy that produces so much
criticism of others must be viewed with suspicion, since criticism has nothing to do with
vaisnavism. If you have to base a philosophy upon criticizing devotees to win converts,
obviously that philosophy is not Krsna conscious.
The Back to Prabhupada magazine, the main preaching arm of the ritvik movement, is
grounded in criticism. Vaisnava philosophy is grounded in appreciation. The hypocrisy is
obvious. A doctrine which needs to gather its power and authenticity from criticism of
Prabhupada’s disciples has nothing to do with the standards of Vaisnavism.
Krsna chooses who will be guru and for whom. It is not a matter of voting a man to the post of
guru, nor is the position of guru, as I mentioned, understandable by those who have no faith.
The qualifications to understand the position of guru depends on sraddha, an individual’s
faith. If one has faith then the truth is revealed in their heart. There is no greater proof than
The ritiviks therefore, to be successful, must break faith. They teach that no devotee in Iskcon
has the qualifications and abilities to be diksa guru. They also break faith in Prabhupada’s
instruction that he wanted his disciples to be diksa gurus. If they can break this faith, through
gross manipulation of Prabhupada’s words and intentions, and through criticism of devotees,
then devotees will buy into their ideas. In the name of faithfulness to Prabhupada, they destroy
When this faith is lost, ritvikism appears to makes sense, and it also appears to be the real
solution to Iskcon’s problems. Yet it proposes to do so at the cost of undermining the very core
of bhakti, faith. Thus, it is poison disguised as nectar.
It also attempts to separate faith in Prabhupada from faith in his senior disciples, something
that Prabhupada never did, and something that Prabhupada continually preached against.
When one drinks this poison, the result is obvious: lack of faith in Prabhupada’s senior disciples
and criticism of their intentions in serving Prabhupada, both of which are characteristic
attitudes of non-vaisnavas.
Ritvik philosophy reflects a complete misunderstanding – and negligence of – guru/disciple
dynamics, dynamics which are at the heart of bhakti.
Ritvik is a heart hardening process. If ritviks do not hardened hearts, then the devotees they are
trying to influence will naturally get much inspiration from Prabhupada’s disciples and will
want to take shelter and surrender to them. Otherwise, why is it that all over Iskcon devotees
see the qualifications of gurus and desire their shelter and guidance, whereas in the ritvik camp
this never happens. It cannot happen because the devotee’s hearts have been so hardened by
the ritvik philosophy that the natural love, inspiration and affection that should develop for the
senior disciples of Prabhupada, devotees who are inspiring and guiding thousands of devotees
back to Godhead, does not develop. Not only does it not develop, it often causes such
devotees to make offences to those acting as guru. Is this not proof that ritvikism is is
Many do not see this poison because it has been expertly packaged as love of Prabhupada. It is
insidious. Unfortunately, those who drink ritvik philosophy don’t realize how hard their hearts
I suggest that anyone who has been exposed to ritvikism look at the condition of their heart to
see if they have been affected in the ways I describe above.