Prākṛta-rasa Āraṇya Chedinī – Cutting the Jungle of Misconception
Chapter 13 – Ṛtvikism
‘Ṛtvikism’ is an article from 1998 that was adapted from a discussion that Swami Narasingha had with a Ṛtvik proponent. Narasingha Maharaja shows in this chapter how the concocted Ṛtvik philosophy is akin to māyāvāda.
Devotee: Have you read Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Final Order? And if so then how can you say that the ṛtviks are the 14th sahajiyā sampradāya?
Narasiṅgha Mahārāja: Actually the ṛtviks are not a sampradāya. By saying so I am simply using the word loosely. The ṛtvik conception is in the apa-sampradāya category or the anti-party section. Apa-sampradāya means to preach against the principles and practices of pure devotional service and sahajiyā means to imitate the real process of pure devotional service. In this way the ṛtviks have become both sahajiyā and apa-sampradāya —their process eliminates the real thing and tries to establish an illusory standard under false pretenses.
In the same way one could consider the ṛtviks as Māyāvādīs. Māyāvāda means the philosophy of illusion. There is no actual Māyāvāda philosophy mentioned in the scriptures nor is there any ṛtvik system mentioned in the scriptures. So to establish either of these two conclusions is illusory.
It is a symptom of Kali-yuga that many concocted methods of devotional service will emerge, but these will not be accepted by the intelligent class of devotees.
Śrīla Prabhupāda (A. C. Bhaktivedanta Svāmī Mahārāja) has said, “The next symptom of the age of Kali is that principles of religion, which are spotless white, like the white lotus flower, will be attacked by the uncultured śūdra population of the age. They will declare themselves as adherents of no religious principles and many ‘isms’ and cults will spring up in Kali-yuga only to kill the spotless bull of religion.”
Instructions regarding the actual science of Kṛṣṇa consciousness and the process of pure devotional service have been passed down from guru to disciple in the paramparā from the most ancient times until the present day. When we are connected with the paramparā system, we do not feel the necessity for concocted methods of devotional service because all our anticipations are met by Kṛṣṇa, guru and Vaiṣṇava.
Devotee: That’s true but there are no pure devotees present and therefore seeing the situation Śrīla Prabhupāda has introduced a new system of paramparā.
Narasiṅgha Mahārāja: What you say is all concoction. Have you seen all the devotees of Kṛṣṇa and Mahāprabhu present on this planet? No. But you condemn everyone to your own level of consciousness. Like Duryodhana— he could not see any qualified person anywhere. Whereas Yudhiṣṭhira saw that everyone was more qualified than himself. Persons with the mentality of Duryodhana can never understand who is a pure Vaiṣṇava— yet those like Yudhiṣṭhira always find the company of pure devotees.
The fact is that there are pure Vaiṣṇavas on this planet (always have been, always will be) but you have not taken the time to search them out. Secondly, what you have said about Śrīla Prabhupāda not seeing any qualified person is also not true. He did not see a disciple fit to become the head of his ISKCON society and therefore he requested everyone to work in cooperation with each other (with a GBC at the head). He said, “Together I have some hope that you will do something.” But he did not say that his disciples were unfit to carry on the paramparā.
One who introduces new systems, not authorized by the śāstra and previous ācāryas only creates a disturbance in society.
śruti-smṛti-purāṇādi pañcarātra-vidhiṁ vinā
aikāntikī harer bhaktir utpātāyaiva kalpate
“Devotional service to the Lord that ignores the authorized Vedic literature like the Upaniṣads, Purāṇas, Nārada-Pañcarātra, etc., is simply an unnecessary disturbance in society. (Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu.1.2.101.)
Śrīla Prabhupāda never created or concocted new systems. He simply said, “Do as I am doing.”
Devotee: Actually Śrīla Prabhupāda was the first sannyāsī to perform the marriage function ceremony for his disciples so that is at least one example of his starting a new system.
Narasiṅgha Mahārāja: That is a foolish argument. Performing marriage or not performing marriage ceremonies has nothing to do with the paramparā or the process of pure devotional service. That simply comes within ‘ways and means’ to spread Kṛṣṇa consciousness —it is not a valid example of what we are talking about.
Devotee: Nonetheless, I think it is safe to say that since none of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s disciples are pure devotees that no one should initiate.
Narasiṅgha Mahārāja: This is another one of your concocted statements. Show me even one place where Śrīla Prabhupāda has said or written that none of his disciples are pure devotees. You cannot.
On the contrary Śrīla Prabhupāda many times stated the qualifications to become a pure devotee and insisted that this was the only business of his disciples. He did not say, “None of my disciples are pure devotees.” He actually stated many times just the opposite. First we should know what pure devotional service is.
anyābhilāṣitā śūnyaṁ jñāna-karmādy-anāvṛtam
ānukūlyena kṛṣṇānu-śīlanaṁ bhaktir uttamā
“First class devotional service must be devoid of all material desires, knowledge obtained by monistic philosophy, and frutive action. The devotee must constantly serve Kṛṣṇa favorably, as Kṛṣṇa desires.” (Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.1.11)
Devotee: Yes. But…
Narasiṅgha Mahārāja: But what? Do you believe in Śrīla Prabhupāda and what he says or do you think he spoke nonsense? What is your position?
Śrīla Prabhupāda has stated on many occasions that his disciples were pure devotees to the extent that they follow his instruction. The key is there —in your hand— simply follow his instruction. In 1975 Śrīla Prabhupāda commented that he wanted disciples who would follow his instructions and become pure devotees. He said that he would have been satisfied if even one of his disciples had become a pure devotee but that he was fortunate because Kṛṣṇa had sent many pure devotees to become his disciples.
Śrīla Prabhupāda told,
“I want one student who follows my instruction. I don’t want millions. Ekaś candras tamo hanti nā ca tārāḥ-sahasraśaḥ. If there is one moon in the sky, that is sufficient for illumination. There is no need of millions of stars. So my position is that I want to see that at least one disciple has become pure devotee. Of course, I have got many sincere and pure devotees. That is my good luck. But I would have been satisfied if I could find out one only.”
Devotee: But the final order of Śrīla Prabhupāda is there.
Narasiṅgha Mahārāja: Yes, the final order is there, the first order is there and the second order is there. All the orders are there and all these orders are the same, “Become pure devotee.”
If not even a single disciple (as you are proposing) becomes pure devotee then the mission of the spiritual master is a failure. If no disciple has become a pure devotee then people will begin to rumor that the spiritual masters’ teachings have no potency or that he has no mercy to bless his disciples, etc. So when you say that no disciple of Śrīla Prabhupāda is qualified to become guru then in effect you are saying that Śrīla Prabhupāda and his mission have failed. It is intolerable to hear such nonsense —I cannot agree with you.
Devotee: They can become śīkṣā-guru but not dīkṣā-guru.
Narasiṅgha Mahārāja: Where do you find such statements in the authorized śāstra? You are simply speaking without any śāstric context. And what you say is only confused logic. The śīkṣā-guru is categorically in a higher position than the dīkṣā-guru. The śīkṣā-guru is the manifestation of Śrī Govinda-deva, the Lord of abhidheya-tattva and the dīkṣā-guru is the manifestation of Madana-mohanaji the Lord of sambandha-tattva. The śīkṣā-guru is categorically higher than the dīkṣā-guru.
In Caitanya-caritāmṛta the position of dīkṣā and śīkṣā-gurus are mentioned. Categorically it is such, but to make discrimination between different gurus is an offense. Both are equal manifestations of Kṛṣṇa. If one is a pure devotee according to the measure of the śāstra then he is fit to become either śīkṣā or dīkṣā-guru or both.
Devotee: But so many, what you are calling pure devotees, have fallen down —a pure devotee cannot fall down.
Narasiṅgha Mahārāja: Oh. This is very interesting point that you are making. On one hand you say that a pure devotee cannot fall down but on the other hand you are of the opinion that all living entities in the material world have fallen from eternal līlā with Kṛṣṇa in Goloka or Vaikuṇṭha, is it not?
Devotee: Yes. But…
Narasiṅgha Mahārāja: So, in the spiritual world, were these fallen souls pure devotees or not? If they are not pure devotees, then how can they be with Kṛṣṇa in eternal līlā? Therefore, by your own admission a pure devotee can fall down, is it not?
Narasiṅgha Mahārāja: Why many of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s disciples have fallen down you do not know. Despite spending hours together discussing and gloating over their fall down, you still do not know why they have fallen. You do not know the secrets of devotional service. How can a faithful disciple fall from Kṛṣṇa consciousness, especially after having rendered so much valuable and intimate service to the spiritual master? You should stop to consider. You should consult the senior Vaiṣṇavas and the scripture and then you will come to know that such disciples can fall down only due to aparādha and particularly Vaiṣṇava-aparādha.