Srila Giri Maharaja – “Outside the sampradaya.”

Date: 3/28/18, the day of Srila Govinda Maharaja’s avirbhava observance.

From a Facebook comment—
Kundalata Dasi: I accept my Srila Guru Maharaja appointed Srila Govinda Maharaja as successor acharya, and I accept Srila Guru Maharaja appointed a number of trustees, the only remaining ones now being Sripad Bhakti Nandan Swami and Sripad Bhakti Chaitanya Giri. These two ‘acceptances’ – actually facts – are not mutually exclusive.

My response—
“These two ‘acceptances’ – actually facts – are not mutually exclusive.” That is correct. And yet, one lives in the shadow of the other. The position of successor acharya is supreme above all others. He is the spiritual successor and spiritual head who directs all aspects of the mission. Every other appointment by the previous acharya, be it bookkeeper, Math commander, cook, pujari, cleaner or trustee is subservient to the successor acharya. All other Math servitors serve at the behest and pleasure of the successor acharya, just as they served in that way in relation to the predecessor acharya.

Srila Guru Maharaj: [Govinda Maharaja is] 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.

—Srila Sridhara Maharaja, 29th April, 1987

“These two ‘acceptances’ – actually facts – are not mutually exclusive.” The position of acharya is exclusive, he “is all in all”:

“But ours is a autocratic thing, extremely autocratic. Guru is all in all.” —Srila Sridhara Maharaja with ISKCON GBC, March 1978

The position of trustee is not exclusive. Trustee is an advisor or assistant to the acharya for the management of the mission. A trustee is replaceable. There is no replacement for an acharya except his successor. Trustee is not a spiritual function. A trustee has the power to vote. The acharya has the power to veto. His veto can cancel any vote by one or even a hundred or more trustees.

The acharya can appoint or remove a trustee. A trustee cannot appoint or remove an acharya. If you believe otherwise, your faith is not in our spiritual sampradaya but in some mundane system of organization or laws.

“I accept my Srila Guru Maharaja appointed Srila Govinda Maharaja as successor acharya” Good, that is settled. That is the only relevant point, for the guru and acharya are supreme in every way in our sampradaya.

Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada, the acharya of ISKCON, appointed GBC members to serve on that board. Their position was like that of trustees. By voting they could decide any matter put before them for the management of ISKCON. But even a unanimous vote by the GBC could be vetoed in an instant by Srila Prabhupada, the acharya. By this example you should be able to understand the difference between an acharya and a trustee.

The acharya directs everything. The trustee’s work is to implement the direction of the acharya.

Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Those who are not fit for guru, who are not considered to be fit for guru, he will come to guide the guru? So many gurus, is it? So, it would be better that the Governing, all the members of the Governing Body were guru, and they are all acaryas.

Tamal Krsna Maharaja: They are all acaryas.

Srila Sridhara Maharaja: The assembly of acaryas, they will consult with each other.

Tamal Krsna Maharaja: And make rules.

Srila Sridhara Maharaja: The Acarya Sabha, the assembly of the acaryas, they will perform the function about all the spiritual matters. Acarya board. There should be an Acarya Board to guide the whole thing from behind, without non-acarya within the meeting. Then if anybody within the meeting, then if anybody is considered to be the most expert for the management, he will work under the Acarya Board.

—Srila Sridhara Maharaja with ISKCON GBC, March 1978

“I accept my Srila Guru Maharaja appointed Srila Govinda Maharaja as successor acharya.” Yes; that means he was the guru for Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math and “Guru is all in all.”

Who were the “trustees” you refer to? They were (according to Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s consideration) “Those who are not fit for guru, who are not considered to be fit for guru.” They were the “non-acharya(s)” who should not even be present in the meeting of the acharyas who will “guide the whole thing from behind.”

Srila Govinda Maharaja occupied the position of acharya and guru. Srila Sridhara Maharaja did not select a second or third person to be guru or acharya. So there could be no acharya board. Thus, just as it was during the time of Srila Sridhara Maharaja, there was one single acharya after him, one guru, Srila Govinda Maharaja. No one else was seen as being fit for that position. Then what? “The King gives all the authority of a king to the son”, that son, in this case, was Srila Govinda Maharaja. All of Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s authority was transferred to him.

When speaking to the GBC (above), Srila Sridhara Maharaja was giving direction on how to manage an organization with many acharyas. But the same principals apply to SCSM, where Srila Govinda Maharaja was the only acharya. Thus, the same system was followed. Srila Govinda Maharaja was the one with the sole power to decide if a particular person would be “the most expert for the management [trustee]” and then that person “will work under the Acarya [Board]”, Srila Govinda Maharaja. Srila Govinda Maharaja, as the sole acharya for SCSM was the one charged with the responsibility “to guide the whole thing from behind.” No other person had that responsibility. The same principal applies now. Having been selected by Srila Govinda Maharaja as his successor acharya for Navadwipa and the Indian Group, no person other than Sripada Acharya Maharaja, the current acharya, the guru who is “all in all”, is in a position “to guide the whole thing from behind.”

Srila Govinda Maharaja named others to serve as acharyas and even instructed the six of us to form an “Acharya Sabha.” Due to the influence of illusion that was never done. Even if it had been done it was only to serve the following purposes: “to consult with one another regarding all spiritual matters and to give guidance to all Trust Boards.” There is nothing in these directives that suggests the Acharya Sabha was empowered to depose or remove an acharya from his position, even if the acharyas named by Srila Govinda Maharaja had the inclination to do so.

Srila Govinda Maharaja spoke directly to all the pertinent points in this talk “93 GB Meeting 1A 1B 2A”:

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 we make Kṛṣṇānuśīlana Saṅgha, and there is governing body and āchārya [Srila Sridhara Maharaja]. All the ruling like Chaitanya Sāraswat Maṭh, but there is one governing body, but showing to the government. This is our for showing. 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, 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. Then, for the showing of the government, we have one committee, that is, governing body.

—Srila Govinda Maharaja, recording- “93 GB Meeting 1A 1B 2A”

Anyone who tries by force—via legal tactics, or any other means—to remove Sripada Acharya Maharaja from the post of acharya given to him by Srila Govinda Maharaja is apa sampradaya, outside Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s sampradaya.

Srila Sridhara Maharaja and Srila Prabhupada Swami Maharaja never attempted the forceful removal of any acharya, even those they considered to be guru-bhogi and guru-tyagi.

If you want to look after, preserve and propagate the teachings of your Guru Maharaja, Srila Sridhara Maharaja, you will never be successful by turning your energy to fighting over the bricks and mortar he utilized for his preaching. Neither will you gain anything by supporting those engaged in such fights.

Even if those persons fighting for control of the properties—rightfully given to the charge of Acharya Maharaja by your Guru Maharaja’s successor acharya—are successful through some scheme in getting control of them, they will be as empty handed as they are now. They left Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s sampradaya to join Srila Puri Maharaja’s sampradaya. But I am certain Srila Puri Maharaja would never sanction their attempt to depose Srila Govinda Maharaja’s chosen successor acharya. Thus, by making this attempt, they are acting outside of both sampradayas, that of Srila Guru Maharaja and that of Srila Puri Maharaja.

You like to preach, print and distribute the books, recordings and transcripts of His Divine Grace Srila Sridhara Maharaja. He has offered that property and facility to everyone to use for their highest benefit and the benefit of all others. These are the guru vani of Srila Sridhara Maharaja. These are his greatest treasures. They should be seen as the real treasures and spiritual property of His Divine Grace. “A man is known by his ideal.” To know Srila Sridhara Maharaja we must come to know and possess his ideal, not the physical properties (vapu) he left behind.

If you can fight on the battlefield of ideas and ideals, where Guru Maharaja’s spiritual precepts are propagated, discussed and debated, there is no doubt you will one day be successful in achieving the highest goal. His real mission is to be found there, not in the bricks and mortar of the buildings being fought over by those using the courts and other means to depose the rightful acharya of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, Navadwipa and elsewhere.

Swami B.K. Giri