Devotee Writings etc.

Rittvik is a New (Apa) Sampradaya

by bhakta Eric Johanson


In recent years the rittvik advocates have come up with a new philosophical term for those who disagree with them. They call them “living guru” devotees. Take for example this characterization of Kailasa Candra dasa, a longtime opponent of rittvik, as found on p576 of book 1 of Srila Prabhupada’s Hidden Glories: “By 1989 he had become a living guru radical who had become an apologist for the living guru argument. He remains antagonistic to the rittvik order of Srila Prabhupada.”


The thing is, and this also spotlights a big dishonesty of most rittvik advocates, in 1989 most devotees had never heard of rittvik, including them. Previous to that virtually all followers of Srila Prabhupada assumed that when one talked about getting initiated by a guru, it meant approaching a person who was physically manifest, what they now call a “living guru.” That’s because that is how Srila Prabhupada always framed it in his books and talks.


“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 next verse.
tad viddhi pranipatena
pariprasnena sevaya
upadekshyanti te jnanam
jnaninas tattva-darsinah” Lecture on Bhagavad-gita 4.34, New York, August 14, 1966


Rittvik advocates often get dodgy when you ask if they had this same physical “living guru” conception before 1989 or whenever they first heard of rittvik. In any case, that’s because the “living guru argument” is the rule in all the sastras. There we don’t find any instances of disciples surrendering to or taking initiation from gurus who are physically departed. And there certainly are departed devotees who are at least on the same level as Srila Prabhupada, like Srila Rupa Goswami or Lord Chaitanya Himself.


It was Lord Chaitanya who established our Gaudiya Vaishnava sampradaya, and it was He who ordered everyone therein to become a physical “living guru” themselves.


yāre dekha, tāre kaha ‘kṛṣṇa’-upadeśa

āmāra ājñāya guru hañā tāra’ ei deśa
“Instruct everyone to follow the orders of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa as they are given in the Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. In this way become a spiritual master and try to liberate everyone in this land.” Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya 7.128


The fact that rittvik advocates have no use for this order means that they are following something else. They think it is wrong to follow this order because then one would be trying to replace Srila Prabhupada as the only diksa guru. This means they aren’t any longer in the Gaudiya Vaishnava sampradaya. They reject one of the big orders of its founder, who is also the supreme Lord. They also reject the example of all the previous acaryas who were all “living guru” advocates.


Categorically rejecting such an order in such a manner is completely different from someone who is just too weak or fallen to be guru. It means you are creating a new siddhanta or philosophy. You are then in a different or new sampradaya.


The idea of becoming a guru entails completely transforming oneself by getting beyond all ones anarthas, or materialistic habits, and becoming fixed in Krishna thought. One of those bad habits is the ambition to be guru. One thus becomes dhira or brahma-bhuta, self-realized.


“Those who are dhira – dhira means sober, thoughtful – they are not bewildered. But those who are not dhira, adhira . . . There are two classes of men: dhira and adhira. Dhira means one who is spiritually situated. He is called dhira or brahma-bhutah prasannatma, dhira.” Lecture on Sri Chaitanya Charitamrta, Madhya-lila 20.101-104, Bombay, November 3, 1975


When Srila Prabhupada was physically manifest it was a common conception among his followers that they were in the process of transforming themselves to become pure devotees so that they could fulfill the above order of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and follow in Srila Prabhupada’s footsteps by taking disciples. That’s why so many, including many current rittvik advocates, believed it in 1978 when the zonal acaryas lied that they had become so qualified.


So what happened to cause so many to give up this key pursuit of following the above order of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu? It was all the cynicism generated by the faithless bad example, the pretence, of the zonal acaryas. Of course, those zonals also ran the lion’s share of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples out of the temples and the crucible purifying environment that previously was enabling their transformation.


Anyway, faithlessness is contagious. The zonals didn’t believe the process Srila Prabhupada gave us would eventually produce a self-effulgent pure devotee, so they jumped up like monkeys and lied about their level of advancement. The cynicism of seeing “the best” devotees fall so quickly to such a level engendered more faithlessness in those who served them in their mischief after 1978. Part of that faithlessness manifested in the en-mass giving up of the above order that is rittvik.




It is pointless to go through any more of the rittvik rationalizations and “proofs.”  Their renunciation of Mahaprabhu’s order puts them all “outside of the sampradaya.”


“In the parampara system, the instructions taken from the bona fide spiritual master must also be based on revealed Vedic scriptures. One who is in the line of disciplic succession cannot manufacture his own way of behavior. There are many so-called followers of the Vaishnava cult in the line of Caitanya Mahaprabhu who do not scrupulously follow the conclusions of the sastras, and therefore they are considered to be apa-sampradaya, which means ‘outside  of the sampradaya.’” Purport, Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita, Adi 7.48


Absolutely nothing herein is intended to be an apology for what has been done by the corrupt ISKCON institution since 1978 along with their sudra-like ecclesiastical “gurus.”


  • mayesvara dasa

    The book “Srila Prabhupada’s Hidden Glories” is authored by Nico Kuyte who has proven himself to be completly dishonest, deranged and delusional. Anyone who wastes their time reading ANYTHING he authors must also be of the same catagory to not realize that he has an agenda to destroy ISKCON any way he can. He was instrumental in starting the RtVIk charade as well as the Poison Conspiracy fraud which has been completley debunked. For those wanting to understand these points please review the material catalogued at:


      Mayesvara prabhu, Pranams, Jaya Srila Prabhupada! My takeaway from the Hidden Glories books is that the rittviks want to use the poisoning to take over the GBC and institute their so-called initiation method. It’s the usual power struggle all under the cover of serving Krishna. However, the current GBC is little more than the same thing – devotion dovetailed with the modes of nature.
      your servant,
      bhakta Eric

  • Kailasa Candra dasa

    This brief article is both hard-hitting and accurate. One word that was not mentioned, however, is H-E-R-E-T-I-C. All of the leaders of Rittvik are HERETICS. As pointed out in the article and the headline, they have created their own apa-sampradaya based upon a sahajiya heresy that was introduced centuries ago (kartabhaja) in West Bengal. So, there is that precendent, but it is an apa-sampradaya.
    These rittviks are rascals, and, by introducting this heresy (when “ISKCON” was faltering in a big way in the late Eighties and early Nineties), they served (read, disservice) to allow that deviant cult to regroup via getting amped up against what they called “a major deviation” (namely, Rittvik). “ISKCON” could well have cratered, otherwise. As stated in Bhagavad-gita: ksharo-bhavah. Maya is endlessly mutable. Maya wins again via the Rittvik heresy, and the sincere and serious devotees are, once again, the losers . . . as the host Western culture takes great delight in the disintegration of Prabhupada’s branch of the Hare Krishna movement.

  • David Nollmeyer

    Bhakta Eric,

    I have some basic arguments or observations that you may help with.

    It appears that Madhavacarya was the person who started the ritvik guru system. It appears that disciples are initiated directly to him from ritvik priests.

    If this were true would you consider such an apa sampradaya?

    If ISKCON has had no valid initiations since November, 1977 then Siksa to Prabhupada is only available. Theoretically is this possible for the remainder of material time?

    Was Sridhara’s giving sanyasa to Kesava Maharaj valid? Kesava Maharaj gave sannyasa to Srila Pranhupada and Narayana Maharaj.

    Narayana in his will gave order for his sannyasas to initiate. Syanmarani devi was not given permission despite her seniority with both Prabhupada and Narayana. Their sanga has granted her female diksa guru.

    As such we are about 500 years into Mahaprabhu’s Golden Age. Is diksa initiation available anywhere?

    How can the entire world’s population now at 8.3 billion become Krishna Conciousness to fulfill the prophecy?

    This appears cataclysmic. It appears maybe a smaller amount of population survives some event and Vaishnavism continues from them?

    Thank you for consideration.
    Radhe Radhe!!!
    Bhakta David


      Dear Bhakta David, Pranams, Jaya Srila Prabhupada! We are currently in the period of chaos after Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance. Maya reigns and has captured most devotees. Sectarian party-spirit conflict is the rule among Srila Prabhupada’s followers/factions. However, Krishna is in everyone’s heart, and the spiritual sky is full of uttama adhikaris. Eventually sincere souls will attract Krishna’s mercy in the form of a mahatma guru. In the meantime there is still, as you wrote, Srila Prabhupada’s siksa as well as the book bhagavata.

      These other questions I am not versed in but at least one sounds like a common rationalization often given by the rittvik faction of Srila Prabhupada’s followers to give weight to their utter concoction and deviation from Lord Chaitanya and Srila Prabhupada.
      your servant, bhakta Eric

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