(Hinduism: ISKCON)

Before the death of Srila Prabhupada in 1977, hundreds of his disciples had received intiation from him through ritvik priests, ritual gurus who chanted on disciples' beads (japa-mala) and performed the fire ceremony on Prabhupada's behalf when he was too weak to travel. Yet, he remained his disciples' diksha-guru, or "initiating" guru. After his death the official position was that Prabhupada appointed eleven men(*) ritvik-gurus on Prabhupada's behalf while he was living, and that after his passing they were allowed to initiate disciples of their own, hence becoming diksha, or "initiating" gurus. Some of the GBC, in particular Rameshvara Swami, felt that this position was untenable, removed vyasasanas from their temples, and forbad their disciples to worhsip them on the basis as Prabhupada. However a broad interpretation of the following passage, whilst seemingly against the ritvik situation, leads me to believe that diksha and ritvik are merely two sides of the same coin. It is not what kind of a guru one is that is the problem, merely the expression thereof:

"Anyone following the order of Lord Chaitanya under the guidance of His bona fide representative, can become a spiritual master and I wish that in my absence all my disciples become bona fide spiritual masters to spread Krishna consciosuness throughout the whole world."

Prabhupada to a disciple, courtesy
of the Bhaktivedanta Archives

(*) the Governing Body Commission

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