RITVIK INITIATION (DIKSHA) AND LIVING GURU INITIATION – DIFFERENCES!
A male devotee (name hidden) asked like this:
“Hare Krishna Prabhu, pamho, dandavthpranam, please give detailed explanation regarding Hare Krishna’s Ritvik followers n our ISKCON followers. Why we have many Gurus? What is the need of writing of other books when we have Srila Prabhupada books already which has got perfect Knowledge? I’m begging you to give detailed explanation. Please let us know the facts. All glories to sri Guru Gauranga n all Vaishnavas!!”
Since I am getting such questions more, I am replying this question.
Already, I have replied a question on living gurus. Read that HERE.
The Ritvik initiation means initiating on behalf of another guru when that guru is unable to visit the places mostly due to old age/ diseases, etc.
When a guru (or Acharya) is alive but very old to move here and there, he himself appoints some devotees to offer initiation to the selected candidates ON HIS BEHALF.
If that diksha guru (say, an Acharya) leaves this world, except his direct disciples, he can be considered by other devotees as a siksha guru who will be guiding and blessing the chain of disciples created by the deceased guru’s disciples.
This is called Guru Parampara.
Guru Parampara is a spontaneous and non stop process. Today’s disciple can become a guru after the demise of his guru and if he has all the eligibilities.
This is called Guru Parampara.
A diksha guru (say, an Acharya) is the diksha guru only for his direct disciples even after he leaves this world. He will remain as a siksha guru to all other devotees.
A guru Parampara will continue only if a disciple takes charge as a guru if he is qualified. If the same person (Acharya/ guru) is acting as a guru even after his demise for hundreds of years, that will stop the continuity of guru parampara.
It is said that a guru lives through his books even after his demise. But, he will be guiding the devotees through his books. That means, he will be guiding as a siksha guru through his books.
There are two types of leaderships. In a few sampradhayas, there will be only one guru/ Acharya whereas in some sampradhayas, there will be many gurus/ acharyas. In SRI SAMPRADHAYA, there are many gurus offering diksha to the disciples. Every guru has a mutt and guide a group of devotees. In advaida, mostly, there will be a single Acharya for entire sampradhaya and he will select and appoint his successor Acharya even while he is alive.
However, in all the sampradhayas, there are only living gurus giving diksha for the devotees/ followers. Ritvik diksha is followed only if the guru appoints a representative to offer diksha beause of his inability and that too will be valid only until the guru is alive. After that, that arrangement naturally comes to an end.
For a sampradhaya to grow widely, the devotees should be given facilities or choices to accept a guru of his choice in his nearby localities or as per is natural choice. A single person can not properly guide the entire world giving diksha. So, the multi guru system is understandably recommended for the expansion of sampradhaya.
Those who are not willing to accept the living gurus function as a separate forum having the prominent Acharya as their guru even after his demise. They too follow all the recommended rituals and practices. But, this system prevents even a genuine, competing person to become a guru. Every disciple should be given chance to become eligible and become a guru later. If all are the just followers/ disciples of a deceased guru, even a very efficient and qualified person can’t become a guru.
Only those sampradhayas that are following living guru system are existing sizably now a days.
In any sampradhaya or a spiritual organization, the founder remains the siksha guru for the entire group of followers. There will be many gurus guiding the devotees by initiating them.
Krishna Himself says in Bhagavad Gita to surrender to a guru and enquire him submissively. He does not direct one to a representative of a guru.
Why should we prevent a qualified and efficient person to become a guru? Everyone should be given opportunity to qualify and become a guru. But, the conditions should be very tight and he should be thoroughly reviewwd before accepting him as a guru.
Most importantly, a guru should follow his guru and sastra strictly.
In general, when a guru is alive, the disciples do not offer initiation to anyone. A disciple, if qualified, can become a guru and offer diksha only after the demise of his guru.
The benefit of multi guru system is, even if one or two gurus become ineligible to continue as a guru later other gurus will run the sampradhaya/ organization.
In any group of thousands of people, such issues will be there. Krishna Himself recommends living guru only in Bhagavad Gita. So, let us not destabilize the system of allowing any competent disciple to become a guru.
Writing new books means expanding the knowledge base. An Acharya will write a certain topics. A single person can’t handle all the topics. So, if the writing of a qualified Vaishnava is good and not violating the concepts of sampradhayas, they can be read. Krishna may use anyone to spread the knowledge about Him. For example, in ISKCON, Srila Prabhupada could not write Mahabharatha and Ramayana. So, His disciples are doing those topics.
And, giving explanation based on the acharya’s books is essential because the devotees will raise many new questions/ doubts. So, a preacher/ guru may give explanations to that enquiry without violating the concepts of the sampradhaya and the bonafide scriptures.
See, we should not restrict anyone from conveying useful contents. The only expectation should be that he is not violating the concepts of bonafide scriptures. That’s all.
Hope this helps you.