Srila Giri Maharaja: Analyzing Self-Analysis & “The Duties of An Acharya.”

initiation 3

The following are excerpts from an email to Sriman Uddharan dasa Adhikari dated October 23, 2016 followed by some additional comments.

Atma-niksepa

“What we received from our spiritual master we understood only in a rough estimation. Now, things have come in such a way that we have to scrutinize ourselves in every position. We have to analyze ourselves. Atma-niksepa, self-analysis has begun. We are under trial. What we received from our spiritual master, in what way have we received it? Properly, or only showingly?”

—Swami B.R. Sridhara, Sri Guru and His Grace

For years I have been troubled by the transcription of Srila Guru Maharaja’s words used in that text. I’m sure it is taken from this recording: 81.08.12-13 aka 12/13-8-81

For comparison, here is the relevant text from Sri Guru and His Grace (emphasis added):

What we received from our spiritual master we understood only in a rough estimation. Now, things have come in such a way that we have to scrutinize ourselves in every position. We have to analyze ourselves. Atma-niksepa, self-analysis has begun. We are under trial. What we received from our spiritual master, in what way have we received it? Properly, or only showingly? 

Here is the similar text found in Sriman Paramananda’s (UK) transcript of 81.08.12-13 aka 12/13-8-81 (emphasis added):

What I have received from him I understood in a rough estimation. Now the things have come in such an order that I am to scrutinise me in my every position, within me to analyse, ātma-samhika. Self-analysis has begun. What I have got from him, I am under trial in what way I have received it – properly or only showily? 

I have heard this recording enough times to know that Paramananda has come closer to the proper transcription. But I believe he is also mistaken. He got the sound almost right as “ātma-samhika”, but not quite. What I hear is this: “atma-samikha.” Everyone agrees on “ātma.” But I believe I am correct that neither “niksepa” (nikṣepa) nor “samhika” are correct. What Srila Sridhara Maharaja is actually saying is this: ātma-samīkṣya, which may be pronounced by a Bengali as atma-samikha or, perhaps, atma-samika, to my/our ears.

There is a fairly well-known verse in which ātma-nikṣepa is used:

Madhya 22.100

ānukūlyasya saṅkalpaḥ
prātikūlyasya varjanam
rakṣiṣyatīti viśvāso
goptṛtve varaṇaṁ tathā
ātma-nikṣepa-kārpaṇye
ṣaḍ-vidhā śaraṇāgatiḥ

SYNONYMS

ānukūlyasya—of anything that assists devotional service to the Lord; saṅkalpaḥ—acceptance; prātikūlyasya—of anything that hinders devotional service; varjanam—complete rejection; rakṣiṣyati—He will protect; iti—thus; viśvāsaḥ—strong conviction; goptṛtve—in being the guardian, like the father or husband, master or maintainer; varaṇam—acceptance; tathā—as well as; ātma-nikṣepa—full self-surrender; kārpaṇye—humility; ṣaṭ-vidhā—sixfold; śaraṇa-āgatiḥ—process of surrender.

TRANSLATION

” The six divisions of surrender are the acceptance of those things favorable to devotional service, the rejection of unfavorable things, the conviction that Kṛṣṇa will give protection, the acceptance of the Lord as one’s guardian or master, full self-surrender and humility.

I suspect Prabhu Mukunda Mala Vilasa, who was most likely the one to make the editorial decision to use ātma-nikṣepa in Sri Guru and His Grace, was familiar with this verse and wrongly assumed nikṣepa was the word Srila Guru Maharaja used, rather than the less familiar samīkṣya.

Are you ready to have some fun? If so, please continue.

Besides the sound of Srila Guru Maharaja’s speaking, as heard by the transcribers, we can also look at the context and meaning, both of which, being spoken in English, are very clear. Here, again, there is no dispute as to the clear meaning Srila Guru Maharaja intended: we are to analyze our selves (our souls)—”self-analysis has begun.”

Does “ātma-nikṣepa” mean “self-analysis”? No. It means “self-surrender.”

Can “ātma-samīkṣya” be used to convey the meaning of what Srila Guru Maharaja was speaking about: “Now the things have come in such an order that I am to scrutinise me in my every position, within me to analyse, ātma-samīkṣya. Self-analysis has begun.”? Yes, it is right on the money. Samīkṣya means “by observing.” Observing what? Atma, one’s self. Thus, “ātma-samīkṣya” is the correct term.

A more careful construction of the same passage in question from Sri Guru and His Grace would lead us to make a change to these sentences also:

Now, things have come in such a way that we have to scrutinize ourselves in every position. We have to analyze ourselves.

Strictly speaking, “ourselves” is not what Srila Sridhara Maharaja was referring to. He was referring to “our self”, actually “my self.” Note this passage (from 81.08.12-13 aka 12/13-8-81) (emphasis added):

What I have received from him I understood in a rough estimation. Now the things have come in such an order that I am to scrutinise me [my self] in my every position, within me to analyse, ātma-samhika. Self-analysis has begun. What I have got from him, I am under trial in what way I have received it – properly or only showily? 

He never refers to “our” anything. His references are all to “I” and “me”, first person singular pronouns. He is not instructing us to scrutinize our collective selves our even two selves, for which the plural “ourselves” would still be incorrect (definitions are from American English Dictionary):

ourselves: …the subject is the speaker and one or more other people considered together

“Ourselves” means two or more people (human beings considered together). Our self means our essential being:

self: a person’s essential being that distinguishes them from others, especially considered as the object of introspection

Atma means “self”, one’s essential being, which is one’s spiritual being or soul. Atma does not mean human, human being, or people, which are all references to types of material bodies.

Again, comparing the transcription to the edited text of Sri Guru and His Grace:

What I have received from him I understood in a rough estimation. Now the things have come in such an order that I am to scrutinise me in my every position, within me to analyse, ātma-samhika. Self-analysis has begun. What I have got from him, I am under trial in what way I have received it – properly or only showily?

—81.08.12-13 aka 12/13-8-81

What we received from our spiritual master we understood only in a rough estimation. Now, things have come in such a way that we have to scrutinize ourselves in every position. We have to analyze ourselves. Atma-niksepa, self-analysis has begun. We are under trial. What we received from our spiritual master, in what way have we received it? Properly, or only showingly?

Sri Guru and His Grace

I have no idea how “I” and “me” in the transcription became “our” and “we” in the book. Srila Sridhara Maharaja was very exacting in his word usage, carefully matching singular forms of the pronouns “I” (first person singular), “me” (first person singular) and the singular form of “self”: “Self-analysis has begun”, which is the only instance in this passage where the editors of the book got the singular form right (i.e. “self-analyisis has begun”). But to get it wrong they would have to have changed Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s words “self-analysis” to “selves-analysis”, which has an odd sound to it. Unfortunately, getting this right meant, to some degree, getting it wrong as it would, in one sense, been more correct to use “selves-analysis” than “self-analyis” because the plural form of “selves-analysis” would more closely match with their use of “ourselves”; both being plural.

“Showily” is, of course incorrect, while “showingly” is the actual word(?) Srila Sridhara Maharaja pronounced, although I cannot find it in any dictionary. Should we change the dictionary?

If you were ever to wonder why I have lived almost entirely alone since receiving sannyasa, reading the above should make it clear. I seem to have an uncanny sense for detecting and analyzing errors and faults with almost anything. Some appreciate it, most do not. Srila Sridhara Maharaja told us of his amazing ability to read carefully and detect mistakes:

Guru Maharaja: There was another, similar in Madras. In “Gaudiya“, the Gaudiya Maths leading weekly paper, there was published one wrong siddhanta. Sundarananda was the editor, perhaps with the advice of Vasudeva Prabhu because he was used to always consulting Vasudeva Prabhu. He wrote, he mistook the birthday of Visnu-Priya Devi and the birthday of our Guru Maharaja. Both panchami (fifth lunar day). Prabhupada is Krsna panchami and Visnu-Priya Devi is sucra panchami, one is dark moon and one is bright moon. Visnu-Priya Devi is in the bright moon and Prabhupada dark moon, panchami. But he arranged just the opposite, he took Prabhupada as in the bright moon, fifth, and Visnu-Priya Devi in the dark, fifth. But what I read I read carefully, I caught it here, what is this anomaly? The basis is wrong and he’s philosophising, why Krsna sakti has come in the bright moon and why Gaura sakti He has come in the black moon? I found just the opposite, I showed it to Bon Maharaja. “What is this? He’s committed diabolically wrong.” 

 And then Bon Maharaja suddenly took the pen and wrote letter. “What is this, we thought Sundarananda Prabhu has got some touch with the reality. So what he says, what he writes, that has come in connection with the real sentiment. But how this sort of error can be possible from him? He has got no srauta connection, all concoction?” So he found that yes it is such and then they tried to correct that in another issue. He showed that has been erroneous and it should be this and that, that printers mistake, but that cannot really be substantiated. 

—83.07-25 autobiog – Guru 4

Further comments

Sri Guru and His Grace has been scrutinized by several persons—Goswami Maharaja, Janardana Maharaja and Mukunda Mala Vilasa dasa, to name a few. I won’t go as far in speaking about them as Bon Maharaja did with his remark about Prabhu Sundarananda:

“What is this, we thought Sundarananda Prabhu has got some touch with the reality. So what he says, what he writes, that has come in connection with the real sentiment. But how this sort of error can be possible from him? He has got no srauta connection, all concoction?” 

“Every endeavor is covered by some fault, just as fire is covered by smoke.” (Bg. 18.48) For this reason I assume all our books have errors regardless of how carefully they are prepared. That does not mean they are useless or that “they have no shrauta connection” or, are “all concoction.” Those, such as the one under discussion, Sri Guru and His Grace, that convey the intent and goodwill of the sadhus from which they have been derived are highly valued treasures. Sri Guru and His Grace was one of the “five Deities” Srila Govinda Maharaja remarked had been wonderfully bestowed upon us by Sripada Goswami Maharaja as fitting representations of Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s Krishna Conception. Where we find errors we should try our best to correct them. At the same time, honest men will appreciate the spirit of the thoughts and ideas conveyed, even in works that are known to contain flaws:

I must admit my frailties in presenting Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, but still I am hopeful of its good reception by the thinkers and leaders of society on the strength of the following statement of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.5.11):

tad-vāg-visargo janatāgha-viplavo
yasmin prati-ślokam abaddhavaty api
nāmāny anantasya yaśo ’ṅkitāni yac
chṛṇvanti gāyanti gṛṇanti sādhavaḥ

“On the other hand, that literature which is full of descriptions of the transcendental glories of the name, fame, form and pastimes of the unlimited Supreme Lord is a transcendental creation meant for bringing about a revolution in the impious life of a misdirected civilization. Such transcendental literature, even though irregularly composed, is heard, sung and accepted by purified men who are thoroughly honest.”

Oṁ tat sat

A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

—BVS, Srimad Bhagavatam, Preface.

In an email dated March 18, 2009, Sripada Goswami Maharaja related some thoughts he and Sripada Trivikrama Maharaja had regarding my sometimes troublesome tendency to scrutinize points of philosophy in a very exacting fashion. From what I believe to be one of their “thoroughly honest” (sādhavah) moments the following was related to me:

giri mj — you are kindly, most affectionately keeping me honest (if that’s possible) trivikram mj and i were praising u like anything at lunch prasad the other day

one could think, “giri mj is a little argumentative” and be that as it may t mj and i both agreed,  you [are]an acute listener and observer and very often reveal (to he and i) the gaps (when speaking fragmentally) the flaws in our theory or proposal and natural questions that arise if one is following the implications of what is being said (and much much more)

. . .

you know i want my arguments to be unassailable — i asked jayadvaita mj to preview the “17 page paper” to assess its flaws, his response, “it is philosophically unimpeachable.” and giri mj i simply take it that u are (and at a modest fee, i might add) [m]y ontological spotter — and i am really thankful for that — i might get a little annoyed at the time — but [“]u make me think” [(]t mj’s words and i agree) and in the that reflection i hone my reasoning and my presentation becomes more structured, gaps are filled, sequence is better structured and my argument becomes more tenable.

so giri mj u r helping me in the the most valuable way and if i get credit for bogtv [blogtv] u get credit for people more readily acepting my arguments because of the improved order and structure achieved by factoring in ur reasonable considerations.  

My eternal dandabats to ur Holiness as always,

Goswami

We are followers of His Divine Grace Srila Govinda Maharaja. He showed us the standard for acharya and, while we are not capable of reproducing his exact nature and being in every detail, it is not our purpose to do so, any more than it is our purpose to reproduce in exact measure, to perfect form, the shastras; while overlooking the spirit conveyed by them. We are to reproduce the spirit, the goodwill of our predecessor acharyas, as far as we are able to do so, with the hope that “purified men who are thoroughly honest” will appreciate our efforts and catch hold of that eternal spiritual knowledge and substance we are attempting to convey.

In the above example Goswami Maharaja and Trivikrama Maharaja appreciated my efforts in revealing the flaws in their “theory or proposal.” Later they mistakenly assumed my efforts to do the same were of the nature of what Srila Govinda Maharaja termed “abusement”, and what they regarded as offense. Neither was intended. My only intentions were to protect our Mission so that our devotees would not be “misguided”, as Srila Govinda Maharaja explains below:

“Srila Govinda Maharaja _1996 World Tour Documentary_”

@44:30

Srila Govinda Maharaja: . . .they asked why you told? I told yes, what I cannot prove that I cannot tell. And what I can prove, and hundred percent, that, I must tell it. And I am not telling for abusement for anyone. I told this for protection of our Guru Maharaja’s Mission and it is my duty, I have got that charge. For our devotee, they not will be misguided. And for their assistance, I told it. And I can prove. . .

@45:35 . . .Then they told “Then which way harmony will come with you?” I told, very easy to get the harmony. Not to disturb our Mission. If you not will disturb our Mission, I am always slave of you all. But I am the gatekeeper of Chaitanya Saraswat Math. I must resist, and I give good nourishment to the members of this Math. And this is my duty. I am not guru actually. I am, what is my position? I am gatekeeper, and that is my position. And Bhakti Vinoda Thakura said [Bengali] “Who is against our Mission, I shall not give entrance to them, in our jurisdiction.”

Whatever I have said, I have proven. I even offered to debate all the points of disagreement publicly in a meeting of the acharyas, as Srila Govinda Maharaja urged (later in the above cited recording) for those who wanted to challenge him. I am still prepared to do so. It is not with the idea to abuse any person; as Srila Govinda Maharaja said, “I am always slave of you all”; if you will not disturb our Mission. But perverting Srila Gurudeva’s Will, to make it appear he intended something different than what he said and, while doing so, polluting the stream of our acharyas’ siddhanta, is a great disturbance to our Mission; “I must resist” following Srila Govinda Maharaja’s example:

“I told this for protection of our Guru Maharaja’s Mission and it is my duty, I have got that charge. For our devotee, they not will be misguided. And for their assistance, I told it.”

These are the duties of an acharya. One who has accepted the position of acharya must perform the duties of an acharya.

Swami B.K. Giri