Srila Giri Maharaja “Please look after them…”


Dear Srimati Lilavati Devi dasi,

Please accept my humble obeisances.

Your generous service donation has been received and is gratefully acknowledged.

I’m very glad you sent me this email because I did not recognize the PayPal email notice of yesterday which showed the sender as “Natural Art Paintings” and almost marked the notice to go to my Junk Mailbox. Luckily, my curiosity got the better of me and I opened the email and saw it was from you, thus saving me from the offense of “casting it to the dustbin.”

You may say it is a small service donation you sent, but I certainly do not see it as such. Sriman Uddharan Prabhu has told me how much you are struggling to maintain our Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math Global — UK Centre and he has caused me to remember Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s admonition “First self preservation, then propagation.”

I also remember this direction from Srila Prabhupada which was sent during one of his visits to England:

Regarding incorporation of our ISKCON centers, we want to run all our centers as nonprofit religious organizations; that is the main point. Keeping this point in view too much official control is not good in spiritual life. The centers should remain spiritually fit and independent. Some control must be there as is now. Too much control means so many vouchers. Gradually it will become a mundane institution. All our managers should be spiritually advanced simple and honest in carrying out the orders of the spiritual master and Krsna. That will be a nice standard. Democracy in spiritual affairs is not at all good but breeds power politics. We should be careful about power politics. Our only aim should be that each and every devotee is full dedicated to Krsna, then things will go on nicely. As it states in the Vedas:

yasya deve para bhaktir
yatha deve tatha gurau
tasyaite kathita hy artha
prakasante maha twanah

[ŚU 6.23]

I am afraid of taxing my brain about this Corporation of ISKCON so you and Bali Mardan Maharaja do the needful that will be a relief to me.

(Letter to: Karandhara — Bhaktivedanta Manor, 19 July, 1973 — 73-07-19)

From the USA a similar lesson has come: “The power to tax is the power to destroy.”, which  derives from an 1819 Supreme Court ruling wherein Chief Justice John Marshall, writing the majority opinion, held “That the power to tax involves the power to destroy[… is] not to be denied.”

And your Lord Acton proffered this idea: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” with the twist “Great men are almost always bad men.”

These statements illustrate an interesting alignment between some great material thinkers and our much greater spiritual teachers.

Great men are never bad men. Those corrupted by power are never absolute; nor do they have absolute power. Absolute Power is incorruptible. “He is by Himself and for Himself.” means there is no possibility of corruption. He is all-good and His every act is benevolent and beautiful to the absolute and unlimited degree. Those who are absolutely surrendered to the Absolute are also absolutely free from any possibility of corruption, but such souls are very rare in this world. Therefore, it is good for us to remember always that we are their servants and never think ourselves to be the master of anyone.

Our gurus had great faith in the power of surrender, and faith, as Srila Prabhupada noted above with:

yasya deve parā bhaktir yathā deve tathā gurau
tasyaite kathitā hy arthāḥ prakāśante mahātmanaḥ

“Only unto those great souls who have implicit faith in both the Lord and the spiritual master are all the imports of Vedic knowledge automatically revealed.”

He saw his disciples as faithful to Sri Sri Guru and Krishna and allowed that their own sincere faith would guide them in their service and expansion of the “Krishna Consciousness Movement.” Krishna would guide them from within their own hearts and he (Srila Prabhupada) would intervene himself only on an “as needed” basis. Our gurus are our teachers and their instructions are full and complete, for anyone with the faith and devotion to carefully follow them. At the same time, we are ever aware of our own faults and constantly pray for their Divine Intervention to correct them.

Some of our Godbrothers could not grasp the wisdom of the great material thinkers, much less our great spiritual teachers, and demanded a tax from us that was far too great, and far in excess of their power to collect. What they wanted to take from us was not our money, but our position as surrendered servants of Srila Gurudeva. They thought they could substitute their “Democracy” vote for his Divine Dictums. They ignored the admonition, and the obvious:

“All our managers should be spiritually advanced simple and honest in carrying out the orders of the spiritual master and Krsna. That will be a nice standard. Democracy in spiritual affairs is not at all good but breeds power politics. We should be careful about power politics. Our only aim should be that each and every devotee is full dedicated to Krsna, then things will go on nicely.”

Thus, as Srila Prabhupada warned, “Too much control means so many vouchers. Gradually it will become a mundane institution.”, and the society under their jurisdiction, in the style of ISKCON, descended into the same status as ISKCON, that of a mundane institution.

I want to be very careful to avoid such mistakes.

Once, while with Srila Gurudeva in Navadwipa, he saw my behavior with Srimati Lila Sundari Devi (I was heavily chastising her.) and asked me “You have faith in her?” I said “Yes, Maharaja.” My idea was, that she has faith in Srila Govinda Maharaja, therefore, I have faith in her. I may chastise her, but her faith will not allow her to run away, she will remain as a faithful servant of His Divine Grace, in all circumstances.

I am of a similar mind with you and Sriman Uddharan, only in your case the situation is a little different. Srila Gurudeva showed faith in you, therefore I also feel sure you will act as his instruments in carrying out His Divine will.

Please continue to bestow your blessings of friendship upon me and also bless my disciples that they may proceed with us to our supreme destination, eternal service to Sri Rupa Raghunatha under the guidance of our Sri Guru Pada Padma.

Srila Gurudeva once said the Navadwipa Math is like a baby, always crying, in need of attention, so his attention was always being drawn there. At the same time he wanted to spread Srila Guru Maharaja’s Krishna conception all over the world, so he was always looking for someone to take the responsibility for Navadwipa, which would allow him to preach everywhere.

Every Math is like that. They are like our babies, always crying for attention, and we must give it, preserve what we have. At the same time, there is a great need to propagate, and we must try our best to do both; preserve and propagate. To propagate we must have more babies. They are coming gradually in the form of disciples. Please look after them also, as far as you are able.

I have attached below another letter I think you will appreciate.

I pray this finds you well in health and spirits. Please convey the same to His Grace Sriman Uddharan dasa.

Affectionately yours,

Swami B.K. Giri


Letter to: Brahmananda
15 November, 1967

My Dear Brahmananda,

Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your letter dated Nov. 9, 1967 and have noted the contents very carefully. The Kirtanananda incident is certainly very unhappy and your dealing with the situation is quite appropriate. Lord Caitanya composed the verse that one should be humbler than the straw and more tolerant than the tree for chanting the Holy Name of Krishna, but the same Author learning the insult committee. upon the person of Lord Nityananda became furious and the Lord wanted to immediately kill the insulter. The idea is that personally, one should be very meek and humble even in the presence of greatest provocation, but a slight insult to Krishna and His Representative should at once be taken seriously and appropriate measures should be taken. We should never tolerate any insult or blasphemy to Krishna or His Representative. So your action was quite all right, but because we are in the public eyes we have to act cautiously so that people may not misunderstand. Anyway, forget the chapter, there is nothing to be lamented. If thousands of Kirtananandas or Hayagrivas come and go. We have to prosecute our real program being sincere to Krishna and Krishna-Caitanya. I am just ready for starting for America but as you know our competent government is very slow in action. The P-form was submitted almost a month ago, but still it is going under red tapism. The visa was granted to me within half an hour. The passage money was deposited within two days but unfortunately the Reserve Bank of India is delaying the matter unnecessarily. I expect the P-form at any moment and as soon as I get it I shall start for your country. I understand that you want Subala to go to Amsterdam but who will take care of the Sante Fe Temple? I think Subala and his wife should take care of the Sante Fe Temple, as much as Dayananda and Nandarani should take care of the Temple at Los Angeles. Once a center is opened it must be maintained. A responsible man for each center must be found out before opening. In your previous letter you wrote something about difficulties in our different centers, therefore you should be cautious before opening any further centers. Regarding Gargamuni and Karunamayi’s problem, I have already replied and if required, you can see his letter.

On Dec 14, 2015, at 5:10 AM, Srimati Lilavati Devi wrote:

Dear Sripad Giri Maharaj,

Please accept my humble obeisances,

Last night we sent a small service donation on behalf of your new disciples Sriman Jagadananda & Srimati Malini Devi

I hope all is well

Your servant,

Lilavati DD