Srila Giri Maharaja, “Aparadha- Bhanjana-Pat: Shelter for the Outcastes”

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Due to their sensitive natures, the content of the correspondent’s email, and Srila Giri Maharaja’s response to it, were edited to maintain the correspondent’s anonymity.

Please accept my full dandavat pranams.
Your Holiness,

I have a question that I hope is not offensive. I was initiated by HH Srila Bhakti Nirmal Acharya Maharaj. At the time of my initiation I was unaware of many things. I have come to certain realizations and become aware of some discussions here among devotees that I have found inappropriate. I will remain brief and vague for now as not to create any offense.

My plan is to build a center here. There are not many followers here and there is so much turmoil among the few that are here, and a struggle for power; I wish no part of. I have decided to distance myself from SCS Math Nabadwip. Yet, I still need shelter. Are you accepting outcasts such as myself, my wife _______ devi dasi and my children? If I have created an offense please forgive me.

 

Srila Giri Maharaja’s reply of June 28, 2015

Dear Sriman _______,

Please accept my humble obeisances in remembrance of my Divine Master.

My plan is to build a center here. There are not many followers here and there is so much turmoil among the few that are here, and a struggle for power I wish no part of, that I have decided to distance myself from SCS Math Nabadwip.

Prabhu, about a year and a half ago I was contacted by Prabhu _______ who was of the same mind then as you describe yours to be now. We had some communication and then he stopped writing to me.

I don’t know his present position, but he may be sympathetic to your concerns.

Yet, I still need shelter. Are you accepting outcasts such as myself, my wife _______ devi dasi and my children?

Yes prabhu, I am accepting outcasts. I am also an outcast and all my associates and friends are outcasts.

When I went to Srila Sridhara Maharaja I became an outcast from ISKCON. He gave me shelter. I would be a traitor to him if I did not try my best to follow his example.

I came to Srila Swami Maharaja as an outcast from “civil society.” Srila Sridhara Maharaja noted that Swami Maharaja has some special relationship with Sri Nityananda Prabhu. It is Prabhu Nityananda who mercifully gives shelter to the outcastes, even those that Sriman Mahaprabhu cannot accept.

But in the case of Sriman Devananda Pandit, even Mahaprabhu forgave all his offenses. The place where that occurred is known as aparadha-bhanjana-pat, as described in Jaiva-dharma. When we came to Srila Sridhara Maharaja he said we had come to that place, aparadha-bhanjana-pat, therefore, all our offenses would surely be forgiven.

This pastime of Sriman Devananda Pandit is described in brief in Chaitanya-charitamrta:

bhagavati devananda vakresvara-krpate
bhagavatera bhakti-artha paila prabhu haite

WORD-FOR-WORD MEANINGS
bhagavati devananda — Devananda, who used to recite Srimad-Bhagavatam; vakresvara-krpate — by the mercy of Vakresvara; bhagavatera — of Srimad-Bhagavatam; bhakti-artha — the bhakti interpretation; paila — got; prabhu haite — from the Lord.

TRANSLATION
Devananda Pandita was a professional reciter of Srimad-Bhagavatam, but by the mercy of Vakresvara Pandita and the grace of the Lord he understood the devotional interpretation of the Bhagavatam.

PURPORT
In the Caitanya-bhagavata, Madhya-khanda, Chapter Twenty-one, it is stated that Devananda Pandita and Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya’s father, Visarada, lived in the same village.  Devananda Pandita was a professional reciter of Srimad-Bhagavatam, but Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu did not like his interpretation of it. In the present town of Navadvipa, which was formerly known as Kuliya, Lord Caitanya showed such mercy to him that he gave up the Mayavadi interpretation of Srimad-Bhagavatam and learned how to explain Srimad-Bhagavatam in terms of bhakti. Formerly, when Devananda was expounding the Mayavadi interpretation, Srivasa Thakura was once present in his meeting, and when he began to cry, Devananda’s students drove him away. Some days later, Caitanya Mahaprabhu passed that way, and when He met Devananda He chastised him severely because of his Mayavada interpretation of Srimad-Bhagavatam. At that time Devananda had little faith in Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu as an incarnation of Lord Krsna, but one night some time later Vakresvara Pandita was a guest in his house, and when he explained the science of Krsna, Devananda was convinced about the identity of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Thus he was induced to explain Srimad-Bhagavatam according to the Vaisnava understanding. In the Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika (106) it is described that he was formerly Bhaguri Muni, the sabha-pandita who recited Vedic literatures in the house of Nanda Maharaja.

Cc, Adi 10.77

As an outcast I tried my best to faithfully serve Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s successor, Srila Govinda Maharaja. He kindly accepted my meager attempts and instructed me to give shelter to all sincere seekers. I am trying to follow that direction of his.

In doing so, I became an outcast once again, being “censured” by a group of five men proclaiming themselves to be the “Acharya Board.”

Prabhu, I am in a long line of outcasts. Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada and Srila Sridhara Maharaja, after Srila Saraswati Thakura’s disappearance, became outcasts from Sri Gaudiya Math and Gaudiya Mission when they could no longer tolerate the activities of the acharyas of those missions and spoke out against them.

Even our Nama Acharya, Srila Haridasa Thakura was regarded as an outcast and heretic by the Muslim leader who ordered him to be killed by whipping in many marketplaces. Likewise, Sri Rupa and Sri Sanatana Goswamis were regarded as outcasts from the brahmin community.

The question then, it seems to me, is not whether I will accept an outcast, but rather, “Can you tolerate being known as one who associates with such persons as myself, an outcast?”

I pray this finds you well in health and spirits.

Swami B.K. Giri