Dear Sriman Devashis dasa,
Please accept my humble obeisances in remembrance of our Divine Masters.
I recently had a conversation with someone who seems to have some knowledge of the internal affairs of Acharya Maharaja’s London Math, of which, you are the president.
I have no right to interfere with such matters. However, as a matter of friendship, I would like to relate some of my thoughts to you.
Whether it is true or not, I do not know, but I heard that due to some improper behavior on the part of Sripada Acharya Maharaja, actually a lengthy history of such behavior, you were considering removing his photo from the parampara on the altar there. I strongly urge you not to take such an action. I base this advice on the following, among other things (emphasis added):
When I visited with Srila Govinda Maharaj in February, one of the reasons for my visit was because I wanted to clarify with His Divine Grace, his statement made in regards to Srila Acharyya Maharaj (at his Vyasa puja festival). Previously when I had last spoken with Srila Govinda Maharaj regarding this in 2004 he had told me then that he wanted Sripad Goswami Maharaj to be the Acharyya in London after him. I reminded His Divine Grace about this and he said to me, “It was the desire of Srila Guru Maharaj that London Math will run directly under the Nabadwip Chaitanya Saraswwat Math so Acharyya Maharaj will be the Acharyya in London after me.
“When I posted the text you refer to with Acharyya Maharaj’s photo, I believed that this was the consensus of all the heads of our mission and it is true that it is not from a direct quote of Srila Govinda Maharaj.
“Now after hearing your views I may change this but I hope you will understand that I am still considering my own position in this regard. I am satisfied however that Srila Govinda Maharaj wanted Srila Acharyya Maharaj to be the Acharyya for London as he personally told me so.”
—email: Devashis dasa to bkg, Jul. 24, 2010
“Sripad Bhakti Nirmal Acharyya Maharaj shall succeed me as President Sevaite Acharya of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, including Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math and Mission, Sree Chaitanya Saraswata Krishnanushilana Sangha and all other Maths mentioned herein. From this point on these aforementioned Maths as a group shall be referred to as “Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math et al”. [i.e. the Indian Mission]”
. . .
“And the Math in London will be run under the control of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, headquarters in Nabadwip, as per the instruction of Srila Guru Maharaj.”
Srila Govinda Maharaja’s Last Will and Testament, annotated
An acharya should be considered supreme in every respect. The above points to two acharyas whose opinion must be considered. The first is Srila Govinda Maharaja. He alone can name the acharya of any Math for which he is the predecessor acharya. Having once named such a person to act as his successor, that act is irrevocable: (emphasis added)
but Guru Mahārāj, told only one man with āchārya will be quorum. Here is very important things we are looking. One man with āchārya if there is quorum, then all power going to āchārya actually. If he can get one man, then mission will run. And what is … I ask this answer to Guru Mahārāj, what you have done it? Guru Mahārāj said actually who is the trustee, actually their position as an advisor. . . .
Then, service to the Deity, it is when running under guidance of āchārya, and āchārya position is unique and supreme in our mission.
. . .
yasya prasādād bhagavat-prasādo
yasyāprasādāt na gatiḥ kuto ’pi
Then, what is the desire of āchārya, that will be rule practically. That is the rule if āchārya not faulty person. Faulty means he is interested with other interest. You know what is fault. He is illegal, doing many things illegal, mundane things. And when it is, then all the trustee, they will be together, and other senior Vaiṣṇava, they will call and they will make meeting and they can tell against something āchārya. And there must be other senior Vaiṣṇava, two Vaiṣṇava must be present there, and all committee together, then they can tell something against of āchārya. And they will try to rectify the āchārya. They cannot remove.
. . .
Āchārya must be who is strict and good character man. If his character is bad, gone, and illegally he is using money of the Deity and selling the Deity’s property. He have right to sell, that is, one man with him and he can sell. One man with him, he can call meeting, and meeting will be passed, and one man giving bribe, he can do that. “Also 50% I shall give you side.” Like that, this is all illegal matter. But anyway they cannot remove the āchārya, but if his character is very loose and he is loosing the property, selling property, etc., then they can call meeting. Otherwise, cannot tell anything against āchārya. That is, āchārya’s position is guru’s position, and guru nondifferent with Kṛṣṇa. This is our consideration.
. . .
That way you will choice āchārya: whom you can give your full respect about religious matter. He is perfect man. His direction can give us kalyāṇ, maṅgal, auspiciousness. Under his guidance we will be benefitted. This way you will choice your āchārya. But when one you choice, then cannot say very easily anything against him. And he will try to run the sevā and everything, and governing body will give advice to them.
. . .
That is, we must expect our friends who will be in the governing body, he have full faith to his āchārya. Otherwise, he not will come to the governing body. When we will choice someone in the governing body, we can believe he has full faith to the āchārya. And what will past [pass], āchārya has veto power. And why that is veto power? Āchārya what will say, that they will follow happily and respectfully. That is our activity of Vaiṣṇavism.
—93 GB Meeting 1A
The second acharya to be considered is Acharya Maharaja.
Since Acharya Maharaja headed the rebellion against Srila Gurudeva’s Last Will and Testament (joined by other prominent leaders) my position has been clear with regards to all of them, I do not consider any of them to be qualified as an acharya. Only one who follows the previous acharya is qualified to be an acharya. Neither did I, even for a moment, ever believe the IAB or any other “Acharya Board”, Board of Trustees, Trust Board or any other group, be they devotee or non-devotee, had any right or mandate to exercise control over any acharya, especially one named to be so by Srila Govinda Maharaja.
Be that as it may, Srila Gurudeva distributed his legacy to six persons he named in his LWT [Last Will and Testament] to succeed him as acharyas. As part of their legacy (both spiritual and managerial) those acharyas inherited the veto rights mentioned above: “And what will past [pass], āchārya has veto power. And why that is veto power? Āchārya what will say, that they will follow happily and respectfully. That is our activity of Vaiṣṇavism.”
You previously swore allegiance, if not explicitly, then implicitly, to Acharya Maharaja; even to the point of accepting him as the only successor to Srila Govinda Maharaja, [and as] the worldwide acharya, and head of the worldwide Mission.
If, for any reason, you now see him in a different light, you may do so. It was Srila Gurudeva’s hope that all those he named as acharyas would rise to the occasion and, in so doing, garner the respect deserving of an acharya. However, he did not demand we place our faith in any of the acharyas he named.
If anyone concludes an acharya is unfit for the position, the way is clear. Following the guidance given by Srila Sridhara Maharaja and Srila Gurudeva, he can try to rectify the acharya. Failing that, he should seek out a higher vaishnava to serve and, in the event that is unfruitful, humbly continue his devotional life following the directions he has imbibed from his gurus or, begin his own preaching mission.
This is my friendly, admittedly, unsought, advice. It is my advice to everyone. You may withdraw from the situation, but you should not attempt to overthrow, or remove the acharya placed there personally by Srila Govinda Maharaja. I only mention these things to you because I heard you were considering a course of action I believe would be detrimental to yourself and others.
If I may, I’ll take this opportunity to address some other points that personally interest me.
It’s now been almost seven years since you wrote the above email to me wherein you said:
And briefly Maharaj, I’m sure you must appreciate that my reason for saying your article was badly timed is due to the great crisis that our mission is currently facing in India. It is my profound feeling that solidarity is what is needed at this time if we are to avoid a great calamity which I think must outweigh everything else. It is unthinkable to me that these few rogue elements will take possession of our Guru Maharaj’s place of Bhajan and our spiritual home. and declare themselves masters there. I just think you should have waited at least until some stability was established there before publishing your article. I may be wrong but I personally feel it is just another bombshell which many will not be able to cope with at this time.
Perhaps now, with the ability to look backwards through the past many years; you can tell me when there was sufficient “stability” that I could have published my article without your being critical of the timing?
Has “the great crisis” ended? If so, when was the cutoff date?
Is there stability now?
With the benefit of hindsight, can you tell me where I mischaracterized the instructions given by Srila Govinda Maharaja in his Last Will and Testament? If I did so, then I could understand you apprehension. Otherwise, if my statements were true to Srila Gurudeva’s LWT, I hope you will explain how urging devotees to follow his Will would be the cause of instability.
I am prone to expect the very opposite effect. That is, only the following of Srila Gurudeva’s Will, especially by the leaders, could ensure stability. Whereas, deviation from his Will would be the cause of instability and crisis.
[Devashis] It is my profound feeling that solidarity is what is needed at this time if we are to avoid a great calamity which I think must outweigh everything else.
Perhaps you will also tell me how insisting that Srila Gurudeva’s Will be followed would be considered antagonistic to “solidarity” or, as you implied, a contributing factor to “a great calamity”?
I have never understood your reasoning on these points and look forward to your contemplative reply.
I pray this finds you well in health and spirits.
Swami B.K. Giri