In 1980, HH Tamal Krishna Goswami, the personal secretary of Srila Prabhupada during his last days in Vrindavan in 1977, admitted in what has come to be known in ISKCON circles as the famous Pyramid House confessions:
"So the ritvik initiation system is nothing new. It is the system Srila Prabhupada was using when he was personally present and the system he intended to continue in ISKCON after his physical departure. The whole thing has been explained by Tamala Krishna Maharaja, who drafted the July 9th. letter [on Srila Prabhupada's behalf]. On December 3rd., 1980 before a group of devotees at Pyramid House CA. Tamala Krishna Maharaja explained Srila Prabhupada's desire for initiations in ISKCON as follows:
"I've had certain realizations a few days ago... There are obviously so many statements by Srila Prabhupada that his Guru Maharaja did not appoint any successors... Even in Srila Prabhupada's books he says GURU MEANS BY QUALIFICATION...
"The inspiration came because there was a questioning on my part, so Krishna spoke. ACTUALLY PRABHUPADA NEVER APPOINTED ANY GURUS. HE APPOINTED ELEVEN RITVIKS. HE NEVER APPOINTED THEM GURUS. Myself and the other GBC have done the greatest disservice to this movement the last three years because we interpreted the appointment of ritviks as the appointment of gurus.
"What actually happened I'll explain. I explained it but the interpretation is wrong. What actually happened was that Prabhupada mentioned that he might be appointing some ritviks, so the GBC met for various reasons, and they went to Prabhupada, five or six of us. We asked him, 'Srila Prabhupada, after your departure, if we accept disciples, whose disciples will they be, your disciples or mine?'
"Later on there was a piled up list of people to get initiated, and it was jammed up. I said, 'Srila Prabhupada, you once mentioned about ritviks. I don't know what to do. We don't want to approach you, but there's hundreds of devotees named, and I'm just holding all the letters, I don't know what you want to do.'
"Srila Prabhupada said, 'All right, I will appoint so many...' and he started to name them. HE MADE IT VERY CLEAR THAT THEY ARE HIS DISCIPLES. At that point it was very clear in my mind that they were his disciples. Later I asked him two questions, one: 'What about Brahmananda Swami?' I asked him this because I happened to have an affection for Brahmananda Swami... So Srila Prabhupada said, 'No, not unless he is qualified.' Before I got ready to type the [July 9th.] letter, I asked him, two: 'Srila Prabhupada is this all or do you want to add more?' He said, 'As is necessary, others may be added.'
"Now I understand that what he did was very clear. He was physically incapable of performing the function of initiation; therefore HE APPOINTED OFFICIATING PRIESTS TO INITIATE ON HIS BEHALF. This is very important because when it comes to initiating, it isn't whoever is nearest, it's wherever your heart goes. Who [you] repose your faith on, you take initiation from him. But when it's officiating, it's whoever is nearest, and he was very clear, He named them. They were spread out all over the world, and he said, 'WHOEVER YOU'RE NEAREST, YOU JUST APPROACH THAT PERSON, AND THEY'LL CHECK YOU OUT. THEN, ON MY BEHALF, THEY'LL INITIATE' It is not a question that you repose your faith in that person--nothing. That's a function for the guru. 'In order for me to manage this movement,' Prabhupada said, 'I have to form a GBC and I will appoint the following people. IN ORDER TO CONTINUE THE PROCESS OF PEOPLE JOINING OUR MOVEMENT AND GETTING INITIATED, I HAVE TO APPOINT SOME PRIESTS TO HELP ME BECAUSE... I CANNOT PHYSICALLY MANAGE EVERYONE MYSELF.'
"AND THAT'S ALL IT WAS, AND IT WAS NEVER ANY MORE THAN THAT. You can bet your bottom dollar that Prabhupada would have spoken for days and hours and weeks on end about how to set up this thing with the gurus, because he had already said it a million times. He said: 'MY GURU MAHARAJA DID NOT APPOINT ANYONE. It's by qualification.' We made a great mistake...
"I feel that this realization or this understanding is essential if we are to avoid further things happening, because, believe me, it's going to repeat. It's just a question of time until things have a little bit faded out and again another incident is going to happen, whether it's here in LA or somewhere else. It's going to continuously happen until you allow the actual spiritual force of Krishna to be exhibited without restriction... I feel that the GBC body, if they don't adopt this point very quickly, if they don't realize this truth. YOU CANNOT SHOW ME ANYTHING ON TAPE OR IN WRITING WHERE PRABHUPADA SAYS: 'I APPOINT THESE ELEVEN AS GURUS.' IT DOES NOT EXIST BECAUSE HE NEVER APPOINTED ANY GURUS. THIS IS A MYTH..."