Dear Srimati Kundalata Devi dasi,
Please accept my humble obeisances in remembrance of our Divine Masters.
I have felt troubled ever since reading this reply from you some months ago (3/30/18) to a post on my Facebook wall: “Who am I? I am a complete nobody… “ I began an immediate response on March 31 but, unfortunately, could not complete it to my satisfaction. But this phrase “I am a complete nobody” is one that does not sit well with me with respect to you; because it is not true. Expressions like this automatically establish the glories of Srila Guru Maharaja. He is so great that compared to him, even someone qualified in many ways, as you are, feel as if they are “nobody.” It also shows that Srila Guru Maharaja has instilled the quality of humility in his disciples, something that is very difficult to do in this Kali Yuga and a thing (humility) that is rare to see in this age.
You were expressing the natural humility found in a disciple of His Divine Grace, Srila Sridhara Maharaja. But I could never say, nor did I mean to imply, you are “a complete nobody.” What I meant was simply that the final decision of all things connected with Srila Sridhara Maharaja were entrusted by him to Srila Govinda Maharaja after his disappearance. They are not entrusted to you or to anyone other than Srila Govinda Maharaja, except so far as he is agreeable. That was Srila Govinda Maharaja’s position during the time of Srila Sridhara Maharaja and that is his position afterwards.
You wrote: “I accept my Srila Guru Maharaja appointed Srila Govinda Maharaja as successor acharya.” Of course, there is no other possibility.
The successor acharya inherits all the rights and responsibilities of his predecessor acharya. Your Guru Maharaja, Srila Sridhara Maharaja, made this crystal clear with respect to his appointment of Srila Govinda Maharaja as his successor acharya:
Dr. Asthana: Some do not consider him as a direct successor; they consider him only as a ritvik.
Srila Guru Maharaj: More than ritvik.
Dr. Asthana: Eh?
Srila Guru Maharaj: More than ritvik. Whatever it may be, I am giving power. Just as “yauva-raja”. When the King installs his son as King and retires himself, what will be the result? As Dasarath wanted to do with Ramachandra. The King gives all the authority of a king to the son and retires to go to the jungle although he is living with full power and glory.
Dr. Asthana: Many people I have talked to do not consider the ritvik to be the direct Guru. They say the ritvik is ritvik.
Srila Guru Maharaj: ritvik is ritvik, but if such transfer of power is done then what harm? For those that have got no sraddha, they may go away. They may not accept. I do not care. I don’t accept them.
Dr. Asthana: Does ritvik mean the direct successor?
Srila Guru Maharaj: ritvik means the representative. It may be temporary or it may be permanent. It may be partial or it may be full, as empowerment is there.
Dr. Asthana: Is the empowerment to Govinda Maharaj now temporary or permanent?
Srila Guru Maharaj: Permanent. Wholesale—both property and the function—transferred. If anyone has no recognition of this opinion of mine, I do not want them to live in the Mission. I drag them out.
—Srila Sridhara Maharaja, 29th April, 1987
God-brothers, God-sisters, God-uncles and God-aunts, etc. of their acharya brothers, nephews and so forth, may see them more from the absolute point of view, having become familiar with the Absolute via the media of their guru. All these God-relatives of an acharya will naturally compare the said acharya to their own guru, who they see as Absolute. In a comparative analysis, the God-relative acharya may not fare so well in the eyes of the God-brother, God-uncle, etc. In that case, the God-relative may vociferously disagree that the successor acharya is qualified. In point of fact, he may not be qualified. Nevertheless, one should let nature take its course. The Divine Will will manage everything as He deems best.
As I have said more than once, SCSM Navadwip is now Sripada Acharya Maharaja’s Math. He may take it to heaven or to hell. That is in his hands and I will not interfere with that, except to support his position as acharya of that Math because it was rightfully given to him by Srila Govinda Maharaja. I urge you to do likewise. “[A]charya of that Math” does not necessarily mean acharya in the most meaningful sense of the word (acharyam mam vijaniyam, etc.). What I mean by “acharya of that Math” is that he is the ultimate authority of that Math and all those who reside there, or visit there, must accept him as the final authority. That is our system. Presumably, no one would reside in the Math of an acharya if they did not also have faith that he is acharyam mam vijaniyam, etc.. So the system should be followed along those lines and, outsiders should not interfere.
Srila Govinda Maharaja did not demand everyone place their full faith in the acharyas he selected to succeed him, as Srila Sridhara Maharaja did with his selection of his sole successor, Srila Govinda Maharaja. Thus, no one is demanding (or should demand) you accept Acharya Maharaja (or any of us) as Absolute, as one to whom you must swear your allegiance or faith, or direct newcomers to for initiation, etc. Your spiritual conscience will be your guide in those matters.
Likewise, no one should demand you be silent if you disagree with some policy, action, behavior or ideas propagated by any of us. You are free in all these respects to do as your conscience dictates to follow the Divine Guidance of your Divine Master as far as you are able to do. For the most part you seem to be doing that and are happy doing so.
Referring again to the matter of SCSM trustees; Srila Sridhara Maharaja, Srila Swami Maharaja and others, seeing their function as managerial and not spiritual did not accept the trustees appointed by Srila Saraswati Thakura as the spiritual heads of Sri Gaudiya Math, even though they had been directly named to serve as trustees by Srila Saraswati Thakura. Nevertheless, they did not try to overthrow the trustees or depose the acharyas established by the trustees or GBC of Gaudiya Math. Even when they saw the acharya of Gaudiya Math and Gaudiya Mission to be unqualified and even fallen (respectively), they made no attempt to remove him or replace him.
Following Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s disappearance, Srila Govinda Maharaja, with Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s “empowerment” that is “Permanent. Wholesale—both property and the function”, is to be respected as possessing all the powers and functions reserved to his predecessor acharya. These were the clear directions of Srila Sridhara Maharaja. Those that have faith in him will have faith in his direction.
As Srila Sridhara Maharaja could, as the acharya of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, appoint his chosen successor and trustees to serve at his pleasure, Srila Govinda Maharaja was empowered to make the same appointments to serve at his pleasure.
Srila Govinda Maharaja appointed six successor acharyas with defined regions of authority and preaching fields. The acharya Srila Govinda Maharaja appointed for Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math of Navadwipa and others within the “Indian Group” is Sripada Acharya Maharaja. Now he, like his predecessors, has the right to choose and appoint anyone he sees fit for any post whatsoever up to his successor acharya. He also has the right to veto any decision made by others and remove any trustee. This is our spiritual system.
If you want to argue with this system, you may do so, but then, to the extent you do, you are accepting the mundane system over the spiritual one.
What is a “trustee”? Is that a spiritual term describing a position like kanistha, madhyma, uttama, paramahamsa, etc.? No. Does it even refer to a sevaite? No. “Trustee” is a term describing a function of one with a particular position for the purposes of the laws of a particular government within the material world. You would do better to not insist on giving it so much importance except so far as it indicates those who have faith in, and whose contribution has been recognized and appreciated by, the current acharya of a given Math, Mission, etc.
I suspect my reply above is still lacking in some respects. If so, I will try my best to answer to your satisfaction any questions you may have..
I pray this finds you well in all respects.
Sincerely and respectfully yours,
Swami B.K. Giri