Srila Giri Maharaja “Quid pro quo seva, asat sanga—other vital topics.”

Satya Hari dasa Adhikari

For a full chronological account of the events leading up to this email see: “The preceding chronology of our correspondence:” that follow the first email just below.

 

From: BK Giri
Subject: Interpreted?
Date: August 4, 2015 at 8:54:44 AM EDT
To: Sriman Satya Hari dasa

Dear Sriman Satya Hari dasa,

Please accept my blessings and well-wishes in remembrance of my Divine Master.

[SHd wrote] It Does me great sorrow that you interpreted my email the way that you did.

Do you mean where I wrote “Prabhu, I’m sure you meant no harm with your request… “?

In other words, I interpreted your inappropriateness as being harmless, meaning innocent; but in actuality it was not innocent, you intended something harmful in the way you expressed yourself to me? Is that what caused you “great sorrow”, I interpreted your words as being innocent, when they were not?

Then you wrote:

By me it was just an attempt to clarify confusion about the proper pronunciation of the diksha mantras that I have developed over the years.

Do you think I interpreted something wrong when I responded:

“The mantra is not mundane. He does not reveal Himself to one who chants it with perfect pronunciation. He reveals Himself to those who are perfectly genuine in their appeal that He guide them in the service of Sri Sri Guru Gauranga.”

Is that not precisely how we are to conceive of the chanting of the Divine Mantras?

Harinama is transcendental vibration non-different from Krishna. We are chanting the Hare Krishna Mahamantra, but in which way shall we chant? The Mahamantra manifests Himself by appearing in your heart and dancing on your tongue, but if Harinama is transcendental, then I cannot chant with my mundane tongue. This is the truth, the mundane cannot play with the transcendental. Only when the mundane becomes itself transcendental can it come in touch with the transcendental Name. (Srila Govinda Maharaja, Affectionate Guidance)

Was I wrong when I offered to help you by providing a text version with diacritics:

“You already received the mantra from me as Srila Govinda Maharaja’s rtvik.

At that time I recited it for you, instructed you on the proper method of chanting it and gave you a printed copy of it to refer to until you had memorized it. I believe the paper I gave you has diacritics to help with the pronunciation. If not, I may have a text version I can send you with diacritics, if you think it will be helpful.”

I would also have offered my personal help with the pronunciation by suggesting you call me. But, as I have heard nothing at all from you for the last twelve years or so, it seemed you may be trying your best to avoid me. Even when you made your recent book purchase from us it seems you were hoping to go unnoticed. You did not even offer a “Hello from Satya Hari dasa.” as a gesture of courtesy. Only because I happened to remember your legal name was I able to know the book order was coming from you and respond accordingly by communicating with you as a disciple of Srila Govinda Maharaja, rather than the manner by which business is customarily transacted, the impersonal way you used to approach the matter.

Whether you have tried your best to avoid me, or it comes so naturally that no effort was needed, you have been successful in entirely avoiding me until now, when I had something you needed, the books of Srila Guru Maharaja.

After getting those, you contacted me again for something you thought you needed, and could get from me; the recording you began to bargain for, the opening bid being $200.00:

If you would be so kind as to provide me with a copy of such recording I would gratefull reciprocate with a $200.00 donation by way of thanks through your sites paypal feature.

To which I replied:

“If you want to give a donation for the service of Sri Sri Guru Gauranga Gandharvika Giridharijiu that will be good for you but I cannot attach any quid pro quo to that.

I am a servant of the devotees. You need only ask for my help on any matter and I will try my best to give it.”

Again, I did not give any interpretation to your words, I took them exactly as they were written, in the form of a quid pro quo: if I send you the recording, you will send me $200.00. That is exactly the meaning of quid pro quo: “a favor or advantage granted or expected in return for something.”

You said the “donation” was “by way of thanks.” Yes, that certainly seems to be what you intended. But Srila Sridhara Maharaja did not like the use of “thanks” and I appreciate his points, which are these. Thanks indicates separate interest. I give you something to serve your interest and you respond with “thanks”, and with that, your debt is cleared for what you’ve taken from me to serve your interest. But Srila Guru Maharaja’s idea was this. That we are both serving the interests of Mahaprabhu, therefore, there should be no separate interests. And Srila Govinda Maharaja said something more. He said Srila Sridhara Maharaja never liked the word “thanks” because it was not sufficient to repay him for what he was giving. Many devotees would come to Srila Sridhara Maharaja and question him and, when their questions had been answered, they would say “thanks” and go away. And Srila Sridhara Maharaja wanted, and expected, something more from those devotees. He thought, what I am telling them is something very highly valuable. Instead of giving “thanks” they should give their service. What I am giving, that is worth a lifetime of service.

Since I don’t recall seeing any donations from you in the last decade or so, and since none was forthcoming recently, after I advised you “If you want to give a donation for the service of Sri Sri Guru Gauranga Gandharvika Giridharijiu that will be good for you”, it is hard to avoid the obvious; that your “donations’ will come only “by way of thanks” and, if I do not agree to the proposals you make to me, there is nothing to thank me for. Thus, no donation. What then am I to conclude, except that you believe I am supposed to be ruled by the prospect of receiving some pittance from you in exchange for performing the service you desire, in the manner you desire it?

If I were to accede to such requests, I would be encouraging you to engage in karma kandha rather than devotion. I always try to resist such temptations, regardless of how tempting the proposal may be or, how much it may seemingly cost me to do so. I do not like such cheating practices, “that dollar, diplomacy and despotism in the name of devotion, dedication and Divinity” (82.05.15.C_82.05.16.A):

“The ISKCON, according to me, are busy with dollar, diplomacy and very daring action in the name of devotion and dedication. But the brahmanic way of approaching the truth, that is of higher conception. This dollar and diplomacy, this maybe utilised for the purpose, but the more higher basis must be on brahmanic, on character, on realisation, to fullness, all these things. That will have real hold over the other theological conceptions. There are so many theological conceptions in the world and we are to deal with them and that cannot be purchased only by money and grandeur.” (Srila Sridhara Maharaja, 82.5.1-2-3)

And this tendency is not confined to ISKCON. It has also entered into the branches of SCSM that are now separated from the main trunk line and are running halter-skelter into the distance. While the initials for the two organizations are different, the infection that has entered them is the same.

You know Srila Govinda Maharaja selected me as his successor acharya specifically for New York, New Jersey and Detroit. And yet, since that time, I may have seen you only once at a program at the house of Sriman Rasa Raj dasa during the summer of 2010, almost exactly five years ago. Unfortunately, the organizers of the program, some devotees from the Soquel Ashram including Prabhus Vidura Krishna and Kamala Krishna had not originally intended to invite me. They organized the event to advertise what they had hoped would be an event in Soquel to promote Sripada Acharya Maharaja as the “worldwide acharya” of SCSM. It was only due to the kind intervention of Srimati Divya Shakti Devi, who felt it would be an insult to me if I were not invited, that I was invited, after she spoke to the organizers. Well, invited in theory. I say in theory, because a real invitation would include providing for my transportation to and from the event, which was not done. An oversight Sriman Gokulananda generously took upon himself to correct.

What I have written directly above is true for all of Srila Gurudeva’s disciples in the New York area. They all know Srila Gurudeva named me to serve the chair of the acharya after him, and yet they have all carefully avoided me.

Just prior to his appearance day celebration in 1999 Srila Gurudeva spoke this:

“I think that easily I can give something to them only if they will follow me and if they will try to follow me. The first thing is that I must say to everyone that this will be very good for all the practitioners. Bhaja durjana sunsargum bhaja… First it is necessary to remove the obstacles from the path of the devotion. The obstacle is asat-sanga, bad association. Bad association, how much it can do wrong we cannot conceive.”—Srila Govinda Maharaja, 22 December 1999

Now I have been charged with serving the chair of Srila Gurudeva as his successor acharya for New York and New Jersey. That means I must try to do good for all the devotees of Srila Gurudeva. I must give them good advice and instruction, but I can only give it the same way Srila Gurudeva could give it, “only if they will follow me and if they will try to follow me.”

And next, “First it is necessary to remove the obstacles from the path of the devotion. The obstacle is asat-sanga, bad association.” If Srila Gurudeva’s disciples in our area are not associating with me, the New Jersey Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math or those who are faithfully helping me carry out Srila Gurudeva’s desire, then what kind of association do they have? I cannot imagine it could be very good association.

You said you felt “great sorrow” and blamed me for causing it. But I cannot imagine any more sorrowful condition than the one you created for yourself; the condition of having no identifiable service connection with our SCS Math, and the Deities and devotees of this Math. Unfortunately, it is a sorrowful condition you share with many other disciples of His Divine Grace.

To speak frankly, I think your behavior, attitude and so forth towards me is very unfortunate, inappropriate and abusive towards the chair of the acharya Srila Gurudeva assigned to me. You and many others, who I assume you choose as your associates, have become so accustomed to these ways that you assume them to be the norm, rather than the abnormal. Thus, when I give you good advice you object; find fault with it, and blame me for causing you “great sorrow.”

Notwithstanding any of the above, while I think your inappropriate behavior with me was not intentional, it was, nevertheless, by your design. Each of us is entitled to choose our associations, good or bad. By removing yourself from, or avoiding the association of, those who have shown themselves to be the most faithful followers of Srila Govinda Maharaja, only bad association is left for you. As such, it would be difficult for you to behave any differently than you do.

Should you decide to give any serious thought to what I have written, I hope you will keep this in mind as you do:

“If the Sadhu turns into my flatterer then he does me harm, he becomes my enemy. If he gives us flattery then we are led to the road that brings enjoyment but no real well-being.”—Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur

I pray this finds you well in health and spirit.

Swami B.K. Giri

 

The preceding chronology of our correspondence:

July 23, 2015

On July 23, 2015, we received an order through our online “Shop” for four copies of Sri Guru and His Grace from Kevin H. who lives in the Bronx, New York.

Jul 25, 2015

I happened to remember Kevin had been initiated by Sirla Govinda Maharaja, during his visit here in 1994, as Satya Hari Dasa and, after sorting out some confusion about his shipping address, I sent him this email:

On Jul 25, 2015, at 1:32 PM, BK Giri wrote to Sriman Satya Hari dasa Adhikari:

Dandavats,

Ok, all squared away [Re. the shipping address].

I included an extra book for your son as a gift from us.

The title is Perfect Questions Perfect Answers. We are just about to add it to our books for sale online. Here’s a brief description:

“Lovingly written and published by Sriman Suresh Durgam dasa, this book was originally undertaken as a teaching tool for his regular Sunday school classes taught in his home to the children of his Indian “Hindu” friends. The book took on a life of its own and is now replete in a hardbound edition with eight color plates and charts, diagrams and tables to simplify complex concepts. Adults will find it as useful as children.”

You may remember Prabhu Suresh and his wife Malati Devi an Indian man and his wife that were here during one of Gurudeva’s visits. They did a lot of the cooking.

The package is now scheduled for pickup on Monday. You should have it on Wednesday.

Hope all is well.

Swami B.K. Giri

Jul 29, 2015

After receiving the books, Prabhu Satya Hari wrote to me on Jul 29, 2015. He told me he wanted to refine his pronunciation of the Gayatri mantra and asked me to send him an mp3 file of Srila Govinda Maharaja chanting it, assuming I had such a file or could make one.

In exchange for doing this he offered to send a donation to Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math:

If you would be so kind as to provide me with a copy of such recording I would gratefull reciprocate with a $200.00 donation by way of thanks through your sites paypal feature.

I responded:

On Jul 29, 2015, at 9:01 PM, BK Giri wrote:

Dear Sriman Satya Hari dasa,

Please accept my blessings in remembrance of my Divine Master.

Prabhu, I’m sure you meant no harm with your request, but my natural reaction is this: “I am not in the business of selling mantras.”

You already received the mantra from me as Srila Govinda Maharaja’s rtvik.

At that time I recited it for you, instructed you on the proper method of chanting it and gave you a printed copy of it to refer to until you had memorized it. I believe the paper I gave you has diacritics to help with the pronunciation. If not, I may have a text version I can send you with diacritics, if you think it will be helpful.

As far as I am concerned you received everything you need to chant the mantra and receive the maximum benefit from doing so. There is nothing I can sell you for $200.00 that will be of any help to you with that.

If you want to give a donation for the service of Sri Sri Guru Gauranga Gandharvika Giridharijiu that will be good for you but I cannot attach any quid pro quo to that.

I am a servant of the devotees. You need only ask for my help on any matter and I will try my best to give it.

The mantra is not mundane. He does not reveal Himself to one who chants it with perfect pronunciation. He reveals Himself to those who are perfectly genuine in their appeal that He guide them in the service of Sri Sri Guru Gauranga.

I pray this finds you well in all respects.

Swami B.K. Giri

Jul 30, 2015

Sriman Satya Hari wrote back to me saying (in part):

It Does me great sorrow that you interpreted my email the way that you did. By me it was just an attempt to clarify confusion about the proper pronunciation of the diksha mantras that I have developed over the years.

August 4, 2015

I responded with the first email above dated August 4, 2015.