After Srila Govinda Maharaja’s disappearance, his Last Will and Testament was submitted to a court to be probated or “proved” valid. Sripada Paramahamsa Maharaja and his supporters immediately petitioned the court to find the Will invalid, although they certainly knew Srila Gurudeva’s desire was that Sripada Acharya Maharaja would succeed him as the Acharya and Sevaite (principle administrator) of the “Indian Group” of devotees and Maths:
Sripad Bhakti Nirmal Acharyya Maharaj shall succeed me as President Sevaite Acharya of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math…
Evidence was presented to bewilder the court, hoping it would believe Srila Govinda Maharaja’s Last Will and Testament, in its written form, was a hoax and did not represent his true desires for the spiritual succession and management of the Indian Mission. If successful in this attempt, the entire Will would likely be held invalid, not just the portion most offensive to Paramahamsa Maharaja, naming Acharya Maharaja as Gurudeva’s successor for the Indian Mission.
The International Acharya Board (“IAB”) took a different approach. They hoped to persuade the court that the Will was valid, while simultaneously attempting to bewilder the disciples and followers of His Divine Grace, causing them to believe his Last Will and Testament was a meaningless document.
This two pronged approach of the IAB was intended to gain managerial control of the entire Mission by having the court prove the validity of the Will while gaining spiritual authority and control over the devotees by convincing them that Gurudeva’s written Will did not mean what it said and that only they, the IAB, were capable of understanding Srila Govinda Maharaja’s real intentions that were not stated in the Will, but only known to Sripada Goswami Maharaja and those who accepted his “realizations.”
The members of the IAB, like Paramahamsa Maharaja, took the extraordinary position of portraying the written Will as a hoax by trying to convince the devotees that it did not represent Srila Govinda Maharaja’s final desires. According to them, his true desires for the continuation of the Mission were spoken, not written, and only to a few select devotees who where, thereby, the only ones who could know his real Will, the verbal Will.
Both Paramahamsa Maharaja and the IAB used the same tactic, to their own ends, in attempting to invalidate Srila Govinda Maharaja’s written Will by professing secret, private knowledge that should be accepted by the court, and/or the devotees, in defiance of the written document.
Will they next declare the text of Srila Gurudeva’s other writings, such as letters, prefaces and introductions to books, or the books themselves to be invalid?
They already have.
By “belittling”, “laughing away” and “ridiculing” Srila Gurudeva’s Last Will and Testament, they have called everything connected with His Divine Grace into question. If we cannot depend on the validity of the last formal document he left us, the IAB and Paramahamsa Maharaja will get what they really crave, devotees ignoring Srila Govinda Maharaja’s authority in favor of their authority.
In pursuance of this end, they had “no other alternative but to preach, go against him”, as Srila Sridhara Maharaja described below:
…Vasudeva Prabhu in a very hateful way, laughingly he told: “Oh the Rahu is capturing the moon.” All these things. “The shadow is covering the sun and moon, and the eclipse is coming, and the Bhagavat has said that Rahu has devoured.”What do you say? What has been used in Bhagavat, that has got some value. That is all consciousness and you belittle all these things. Whatever used by Shukadeva Goswami to support his highest theistic principle, that has got some relative value to support that. So not to belittle, not to laugh away, not to ridicule, whatever is there. That is to help that great structure of theistic building in Bhagavatam. Whatever has been drawn in to help that great structure of knowledge that has got some value and high value.Prabhupada supported me: “What he has told, it is right. Vasudeva is belittling.”
…But I think when he began the ruthless oppression against us, we’re innocent people, and he began to oppress us in a ruthless way, and Prabhupada withdrew from him. And when he withdrew, then what to [is] left? He had no other alternative but to go against Prabhupada. He became some sahujiya, his previous family culture, sahujiyaism. He came from sahujiya family, and because his offensive, repression towards us who are innocent followers of Prabhupada, he had, Prabhupada withdraw from him. That is my finding.
I had thought that he was really qualified. Prabhupada also told many times that: “In which way I shall go, one man can say, that is Vasudeva.” When he was speaking Hari-katha, Vasudeva Prabhu used to supply çloka that will be necessary in the next moment. Which way to go with that thought. He could supply the shloka. Afterwards I also could do, but in the beginning I, we saw that he used to supply the shloka, appropriate quotation from the scripture, and put before Prabhupada, and he was taking them and explaining and going further, we saw. Prabhupada told: “Which way I shall go, one man can say that.” That was remarked.
And also during his departure he told: “The Vasudeva may help professor and Sundarananda to preach what is rupanuga Vaishnavism.” The last word it is mentioned, “The Vasudeva to help Sundarananda and professor Rao [Sanyal]? to preach the real thing of Rupanuga.”
So rupanuga, what is rupanuga-bhajan, he had some idea, Vasudeva Prabhu. But anyhow my finding is this, that Prabhupada could not tolerate his oppressive nature towards us. We were innocent party, the second party. We had no greed for the property, as Kunja Babu had. But we had no greed for it, out of principle, for principle of the Math. But we were ruthlessly repressed, and for that Prabhupada withdrew from him, and he had no other alternative but to preach, go against him.—SSM, 83.07.25.D
Both Sripada Paramahamsa Maharaja and the members of the IAB were desperate to establish their position of spiritual and managerial control by persuading others that Srila Govinda Maharaja’s Last Will and Testament was not contained in the written document he executed, but in the mind of some elite devotee, or devotees.
By doing so, they joined the ranks of the renouncers known as guru-bhogi and guru-tyagi:
39. You have become renouncers, brothers, so renounce everything. But if you also renounce the order of your spiritual master, then what kind of renunciation is that?
40. The one who renounces his guru’s order (guru-tyagi) and the one who tries to enjoy the assets of his spiritual master (guru-bhogi) are two kinds of useless persons. First become a servant of your spiritual master (guru-sevi), and then you will understand all these things clearly.—”Vaisistyastakam”, Srila Bhakti Vedanta Swami, from Sri Sri Radha-Damodara temple, Vrndavana, 1961. For the occasion of the Avirbhava of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakura.
After Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakura’s disappearance two principle parties emerged. Srila Swami Maharaja identified the two leaders of these parties. One as guru-bhogi, the other as guru-tyagi. Srila Sridhara Maharaja concurred with this analysis.
Again we have two parties fighting for control of their guru’s Mission. However one may choose to categorize them, in order to get what Srila Govinda Maharaja did not give them, both “had no other alternative but to preach, go against him.”
They could only get what they wanted by “belittling”, “laughing away” and “ridiculing” Srila Gurudeva’s Last Will and Testament.
Swami B.K. Giri