Please accept my humble obeisances in remembrance of my Divine Masters.
I appreciate your questions and will answer them as best I can with reference to background and context.
First, you wonder why I have not commented on “the current situation in Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s Navadwipa Math.” The word you use, “situation” is very broad and can encompass many, many things. If you will present your question in a more specific way I will try to give a proper answer. Until then I will answer in the following way.
As you noted I “was so vocal after Srila Govinda Maharaja left” and you wonder “why such silence now?” The explanation is this: Srila Govinda Maharaja gave specific instructions in his Last Will and Testament (“LWT”) as to those he selected to be acharyas of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math after him and how they should conduct themselves and guide the Mission after his disappearance. He named six acharyas who were to form an Acharya Sabha as follows:
“An Acharya Board (Acharya Sabha) shall be formed, composed of initiating acharyas, to consult with one another regarding all spiritual matters and to give guidance to all Trust Boards.”
One gentleman who was not selected to be an acharya (Sripada Goswami Maharaja) made a proposal that a plan he had concocted should be followed in place of the instructions given in Srila Gurudeva’s Will.
Five of the acharyas named in Gurudeva’s Will enthusiastically accepted and promoted that gentleman’s plan to ignore Srila Govinda Maharaja’s Will and followed the plan proposed by that non-acharya. I alone, following Gurudeva’s Will, refused to follow their decision to contradict it.
The plan proposed was twofold: first, instead of six acharyas there would be only one “worldwide acharya”, Sripada Acharya Maharaja. The other acharyas named by Srila Govinda Maharaja would not accept the position of acharya or initiate their own disciples as Srila Gurudeva had directed. They would, instead, act only as rtviks for Acharya Maharaja, directing all newcomers to him, the singular acharya for the worldwide Mission, for initiation. In all the temples where Gurudeva had named an acharya other than Acharya Maharaja, his photo, rather than the photo of the acharya Gurudeva selected, would reside on the altars in the parampara after the photo of Srila Govinda Maharaja, with no photo present on the altar of the acharya selected by Srila Govinda Maharaja.
In these ways they created an artificial system that directly opposed the expressed desires and Will of Srila Govinda Maharaja.
The first anti-party thus emerged, an anti-party to Srila Govinda Maharaja’s Will, consisting of five of the six named acharyas (all except me), plus Goswami Maharaja. Combined they comprised the anti-party of six. All of them, as with me, had been entrusted in various ways to execute Srila Govinda Maharaja’s Will. To my great dismay and disappointment they acted in opposition to it and supplanted it with their own ideas, following the plan laid out by Goswami Maharaja. As one of Srila Gurudeva’s named successors I was obliged to resist their deviant actions. In doing so they considered me to be an enemy of theirs and expressed publicly their opinion that I was an offender, acting “without authority”, and so forth:
“We must inform the devotees that Giri Maharaj is acting offensively, independently and without authority. We do not recognize him as a bonafide leader of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math. We advise all faithful followers of Srila Govinda Maharaj to avoid his association, personally, or through email and the internet.”
—“Censure of Sripad BK Giri Maharaj”
Acting “without authority” meant their authority. It is true I did not accept their authority. They had never been given any authority over me. I did, however, accept the authority of my predecessor guru, Srila Govinda Maharaja, whose authority is above all others and, following his direction:
“Sripad Giri Maharaj is a very good person and my respect is also with Giri Maharaj. He will be the Acharya of New York, New Jersey and Detroit.”—LWT
I have carried out the duties of acharya as he instructed me to do.
Contacting me by email, as you have, means you also do not accept their authority and they, in turn, do not accept you as a “faithful follower of Srila Govinda Maharaj”:
“We advise all faithful followers of Srila Govinda Maharaj to avoid his [Giri Maharaja’s] association, personally, or through email and the internet.”
I suppose that is the reason you do not want your personal details made public. And yet, I doubt you consider yourself as one who is not a “faithful follower” of our Divine Master. You must believe, as Srila Sridhara Maharaja has instructed us, that Krishna is the supreme authority and the call to surrender to Him supersedes any societal restrictions put forth by lesser authorities. The self-proclaimed authorities have barred you from contacting me. Yet, you do so anyway. You must believe your spiritual conscience has directed you to do so, and you will not ignore your conscience or the supreme authority personified in His Divine Grace, Srila Govinda Maharaja.
Society consciousness is a relative consideration which must be given up when it comes to clash with the absolute consideration, God consciousness. Srila Govinda Maharaja represents the Absolute. We must follow him even if doing so goes against the decision of the anti-party of six.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Krsna says, “It is better to die while performing one’s own duty than to try to do another’s duty.” That is one stage of understanding: the relative consideration. The absolute consideration is also given in the Bhagavad Gita: sarvadharman parityaja mam ekam saranam vraja. Krsna says, “Give up everything. Come to me directly.” This is the revolutionary way. This is absolute. And this is relative: “Stick to your own clan. Don’t leave them.” That is the national conception. There is nation consciousness and God consciousness; society consciousness and God consciousness. God consciousness is absolute. If society consciousness hinders the development of God consciousness, it should be left behind.
. . .
We need society only to help us. If our affinity to the society keeps us down, then that should be given up, and we must march on. There is the absolute consideration and the relative consideration. When they come into clash, the relative must be given up, and the absolute should be accepted. If my inner voice, my spiritual conscience decides that this sort of company cannot really help me, then I will be under painful necessity to give them up, and to run towards my destination, wherever my spiritual conscience guides me. Any other course will be hypocrisy, and it will check my real progress. If we are sincere in our attempt, then no one in the world can check us or deceive us; we can only deceive ourselves (na hi kalyana-krt kascid durgatim tata gacchati). We must be true to our own selves, and true to the Supreme Lord. We must be sincere.
—Sri Guru and His Grace
And, just after the above, something very relevant to our situation:
Student: After the disappearance of the spiritual master, how should the disciples continue his mission?
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: You must not neglect your conscience. You may go to fight as a soldier, to save your country, or your people, or your honor. Your environment does not depend on your whim. It may appear extremely perplexing, but you will have to face that. However complex the battlefield may be, as a soldier, you will have to fight. Otherwise you have no faith in your own cause.
There may be disturbances. Rather we say there should be, there may even be fighting amongst devotees, but we should not leave the preaching of Mahaprabhu, despite all differences. Disturbance must come, because our most beloved guru has withdrawn from amongst us. Such a great curse has been thrown on our heads; should we like to live peacefully? In its wake, disturbances must come, and we must undergo them. Still, we must remain sincere; we must face the difficulty in a proper way. It has come to train us to go in the right direction.
What we received from our spiritual master we understood only in a rough estimation. Now, things have come in such a way that we have to scrutinize ourselves in every position. We have to analyze ourselves. Atma-niksepa, self analysis has begun. We are under trial. What we received from our spiritual master, in what way have we received it? Properly, or only showingly? The time has come to purify us, to test whether we are real students, real disciples, or his disciples only in face and confession. What is the position of a real disciple? If we live in the society, what is the depth of our creed? In what attitude have we accepted his teachings? How deep-rooted is it within us? The fire has come to test whether we can stand. Is our acceptance real? Or is it a sham, an imitation? This fire will prove that.
—Sri Guru and His Grace
The second part of the plan of the anti-party to Srila Gurudeva’s Will was to refuse to form an “An Acharya Board (Acharya Sabha)” in accordance with his direction. To hide their deviation on this point they renamed a previously formed board, the “International Acharya Board” (“IAB”), calling it simply “Acharya Board”, so as to make it appear to be the actual “Acharya Sabha” described in Srila Gurudeva’s Will.
The difference between these two Acharya Boards is that the Acharya Sabha “composed of initiating acharyas” could only be comprised of the six acharyas Srila Gurudeva named in his Will as successors. These acharyas were: Sripada’s Acharya Maharaja, Janardana Maharaja, Ashram Maharaja, Avadhuta Maharaja, Trivikrama Maharaja and myself. The International Acharya Board, on the other hand, had been formed prior to the date Srila Gurudeva’s Will was to take effect (the day of his disappearance) and consisted of only five members: Sripada’s Acharya Maharaja, Janardana Maharaja, Ashram Maharaja, Avadhuta Maharaja and Goswami Maharaja. Thus, it (International Acharya Board) could not be the same “Acharya Board (Acharya Sabha)” mentioned in Gurudeva’s Will, which would have to include all six of the named acharyas and would not include Goswami Maharaja, who was not named as an acharya or successor by Srila Gurudeva.
Srila Gurudeva’s Will was the final expression of his desires as to those who would succeed him as acharyas of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math and superseded any and all previously expressed statements or opinions on these points (emphasis added):
“I Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev Goswami Maharaj (also known as Srila Govinda Maharaj, Swami B.S. Govinda, G.S. Vidyaranjan, Gourendu Brahmachari, Dharmadas Chatterjee) presently residing at 491 Dum Dum Park, Kolkata 700055, declare and state that this is my last will, notwithstanding any will made by me at any previous time. I revoke all wills and codicils that I have previously made.”—LWT
It should be noted that we accept Srila Govinda Maharaja as a non-different manifestation of Srila Sridhara Maharaja, the founder acharya of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math. As such, standing in opposition to his direction is an affront to Srila Sridhara Maharaja, as well as to Srila Govinda Maharaja.
Nevertheless, the anti-party of six (five of the named acharyas plus Goswami Maharaja) were united in their decision to follow the plan hatched by Goswami Maharaja and immediately enacted it in all the temples and among all the devotees who would follow them.
This was a serious deviation from the direction of our predecessor acharya, Srila Govinda Maharaja, which I saw as comparable to a historic deviation mentioned in Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta with respect to Sri Advaita Acharya’s followers. In addition to the verses below, the Purports are particularly on point to the situation that occurred with respect to Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math after Srila Gurudeva’s disappearance:
CC Ādi 12.8
prathame ta’ eka-mata ācāryera gaṇa
pāche dui-mata haila daivera kāraṇa
Word for word:
prathame — in the beginning; ta’ — however; eka-mata — one opinion; ācāryera — of Advaita Ācārya; gaṇa — followers; pāche — later; dui-mata — two opinions; haila — became; daivera — of providence; kāraṇa — the cause.
At first all the followers of Advaita Ācārya shared a single opinion. But later they followed two different opinions, as ordained by providence.
The words daivera kāraṇa indicate that by dint of providence, or by God’s will, the followers of Advaita Ācārya divided into two parties. Such disagreement among the disciples of one ācārya is also found among the members of the Gauḍīya Maṭha. In the beginning, during the presence of Oṁ Viṣṇupāda Paramahaṁsa Parivrājakācārya Aṣṭottara-śata Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda, all the disciples worked in agreement; but just after his disappearance, they disagreed. One party strictly followed the instructions of Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, but another group created their own concoction about executing his desires. Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, at the time of his departure, requested all his disciples to form a governing body and conduct missionary activities cooperatively. He did not instruct a particular man to become the next ācārya. But just after his passing away, his leading secretaries made plans, without authority, to occupy the post of ācārya, and they split into two factions over who the next ācārya would be. Consequently, both factions were asāra, or useless, because they had no authority, having disobeyed the order of the spiritual master. Despite the spiritual master’s order to form a governing body and execute the missionary activities of the Gauḍīya Maṭha, the two unauthorized factions began litigation that is still going on after forty years with no decision.
Therefore, we do not belong to any faction. But because the two parties, busy dividing the material assets of the Gauḍīya Maṭha institution, stopped the preaching work, we took up the mission of Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura and Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura to preach the cult of Caitanya Mahāprabhu all over the world, under the protection of all the predecessor ācāryas, and we find that our humble attempt has been successful. We followed the principles especially explained by Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura in his commentary on the Bhagavad-gītāverse beginning vyavasāyātmikā buddhir ekeha kuru-nandana. According to this instruction of Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura, it is the duty of a disciple to follow strictly the orders of his spiritual master. The secret of success in advancement in spiritual life is the firm faith of the disciple in the orders of his spiritual master. The Vedasconfirm this:
yasya deve parā bhaktir yathā deve tathā gurau
tasyaite kathitā hy arthāḥ prakāśante mahātmanaḥ
“To one who has staunch faith in the words of the spiritual master and the words of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the secret of success in Vedic knowledge is revealed.” The Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is being propagated according to this principle, and therefore our preaching work is going on successfully, in spite of the many impediments offered by antagonistic demons, because we are getting positive help from our previous ācāryas.One must judge every action by its result. The members of the self-appointed ācārya’s party who occupied the property of the Gauḍīya Maṭha are satisfied, but they could make no progress in preaching. Therefore by the result of their actions one should know that they are asāra, or useless, whereas the success of the ISKCON party, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, which strictly follows guru and Gaurāṅga, is increasing daily all over the world. Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura wanted to print as many books as possible and distribute them all over the world. We have tried our best in this connection, and we are getting results beyond our expectations.
CC Ādi 12.9
keha ta’ ācārya ājñāya, keha ta’ svatantra
sva-mata kalpanā kare daiva-paratantra
Word for word:
keha ta’ — some; ācārya — the spiritual master; ājñāya — upon His order; keha ta’ — some; sva-tantra — independently; sva-mata — their own opinions; kalpanā kare — they concoct; daiva-paratantra — under the spell of māyā.
Some of the disciples strictly accepted the orders of the ācārya, and others deviated, independently concocting their own opinions under the spell of daivī-māyā.
This verse describes the beginning of a schism. When disciples do not stick to the principle of accepting the order of their spiritual master, immediately there are two opinions. Any opinion different from the opinion of the spiritual master is useless. One cannot infiltrate materially concocted ideas into spiritual advancement. That is deviation. There is no scope for adjusting spiritual advancement to material ideas.
CC Ādi 12.10
ācāryera mata yei, sei mata sāra
tāṅra ājñā laṅghi’ cale, sei ta’ asāra
Word for word:
ācāryera — of the spiritual master (Advaita Prabhu); mata — opinion; yei — what is; sei — that; mata — opinion; sāra — active principle; tāṅra — his; ājñā — order; laṅghi’ — transgressing; cale — becomes; sei — that; ta’ — however; asāra — useless.
The order of the spiritual master is the active principle in spiritual life. Anyone who disobeys the order of the spiritual master immediately becomes useless.
Here is the opinion of Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī. Persons who strictly follow the orders of the spiritual master are useful in executing the will of the Supreme, whereas persons who deviate from the strict order of the spiritual master are useless.
I had long discussions privately with the six anti-party members (Sripada’s Acharya Maharaja, Janardana Maharaja, Ashram Maharaja, Avadhuta Maharaja, Trivikrama Maharaja and Goswami Maharaja) during which I tried my utmost to persuade them to follow Srila Gurudeva’s Will with regard to the acharyas he named to succeed him. During these discussions I strenuously urged each of the four acharyas who refused to accept the position of acharya, as directed by Srila Govinda Maharaja, to accept their posts as Srila Gurudeva wanted. They stubbornly refused, preferring the imaginings of Goswami Maharaja to the Will left by Srila Govinda Maharaja. Thus, only myself and Acharya Maharaja were left to serve as initiating acharyas within Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math.
These private discussions went on for many months. But the anti-party of six lost no time in acting publicly to undermine Srila Gurudeva’s Will and create the illusion that the plan they had manufactured was actually the one Srila Govinda Maharaja wanted the devotees to accept. Some examples of their public propaganda may be seen in the following letter I wrote about a year ago to a young sannyasi:
21 July 2015
Dear Sripada Tyagi Maharaja,
Please accept my humble dandavat pranams in remembrance of my Divine Master.
I admire your bold adherence to the truth as you understand it and your openness about that. Indeed, Srila Gurudev recognised this quality in you, though perhaps with some indication that you were a little extreme in this regard (080913) [Sria Govinda Maharaja]: “Giri Mahārāj is very good person, but very open.”
Yes, Maharaja, I am very open, and will remain so, for better or worse.
Am I “a little extreme” in my openness? Let us consider something Srila Gurudeva told us about Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s appreciation of a unique quality in him:
“But Guru Maharaja has seen…, that this boy, boldly can tell truth, he is not fearful.” — Srila Govinda Maharaja, “Soquel Talk (8/20/94)”, @23:00
I saw those qualities of openness, boldness and fearlessness in our gurus and, sooner or later, they always worked in their favor by instilling the faith in others that our gurus harbored no duplicity or deficiency of faith. They were out for one thing, and one thing only; the service of the Absolute Truth. My aim is to follow in their footsteps.
Very conspicuous by its absence, is what you excluded immediately following the quote you offered above. The full quote is this, as you know:
(080913) [Sria Govinda Maharaja]: “Giri Mahārāj is very good person, but very open. And my respect also with Giri Maharaj. And Giri Maharaj as an Acharya in New York and New Jersey. Detroit. Giri Maharaj, Detroit also will be suitable for him.”
The full quote makes it clear Srila Gurudeva was naming me as an acharya to succeed him.
However you try to twist those words to make them say whatever it is you want them to say, you will never escape the fact that their real purpose was to ensure that I would be recognized as an acharya to succeed His Divine Grace within his Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math. I assume you know the meaning of acharya.
Those for whom you are gathering disciples effaced Srila Gurudeva’s Will in the same manner you effaced the quote regarding Gurudeva’s intention that I be recognized as an acharya after him.
Where they erased five acharyas, leaving only one so-called worldwide acharya, you erased only me. The numbers are different, the deviousness is the same.
From where I sit, openness reached its zenith, not with anything I have said or done, but with the open defiance of Srila Gurudeva’s Will by the International Acharya Board (“IAB”). They openly and publicly mocked Srila Gurudeva’s direction to accept six acharyas. They openly declared there shall be one worldwide acharya instead. They openly and publicly announced in a letter of 4/8/10 that the function of the other five “acharyas” was, in essence, to service the one supreme acharya and pledge their allegiance to the IAB (aka “AB-5”).
They (IAB) openly resisted all my efforts, made both privately and publicly, to persuade them to follow the unambiguous direction of Srila Gurudeva who stated in his Will:
An Acharya Board (Acharya Sabha) shall be formed, composed of initiating acharyas, to consult with one another regarding all spiritual matters and to give guidance to all Trust Boards.
My privately distributed appeals to the IAB on all the matters of vital concern to me were either ignored or opposed. Seeing that endeavor as ineffectual, I made my views known publicly so that all those affected would be informed on these issues. The IAB became enraged that I dared to act as a vociferous advocate for Srila Gurudeva’s Will.
In their rage they openly declared me a vaishnava-aparadhi in their letter of censure and advised “all faithful followers of Srila Govinda Maharaj” to avoid associating with me in any way whatsoever [See: “Censure” and “Censure of Sripada B.K. Giri Maharaja“. They openly stated, in the same letter, “that Giri Maharaj is acting offensively, independently and without authority. We do not recognize him as a bonafide leader of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math.” In other words, in just over a year since Gurudeva’s passing, they publicly announced with great openness that they had ousted me from the very mission for which Srila Gurudeva had said I will be an acharya.
Their openness continued by openly making a new acharya in order to correct what they saw as Gurudeva’s mistake of not naming Goswami Maharaja as the seventh acharya.
The members of the IAB demonstrated their extreme openness in many individual ways also. For example Avadhuta Maharaja dared me to post his email, wherein he said I was a sahajiya, on our website. Showing my own openness, I printed the email. (See: BBA | “Srila Gurudev has accused you of being sahajiya.” You may quibble over the fact that what he actually wrote was slightly different:
“You like to publish different personal letters but you did not have strength to publish that Srila Gurudev have accused you of being sahajiya and told you not to come back to Russia.”
But if Gurudeva had actually accused me “of being sahajiya”, would I not have been one? And wouldn’t BBA [Bhakti Bimal Avadhut] accept it as true? In which case, why wouldn’t he believe it, and thus say I was a sahajiya?
Unfortunately, like so many things BBA says, his accusation that I was a sahajiya was not true, whether he said it or Gurudeva [supposedly] said it.
I know this for a fact because after Janardana Maharaja came to my room and informed me of this supposed statement “Gurudeva said you are a sahajiya”, I went immediately to Srila Gurudeva and asked him if it was true that he had said that. To my question, he replied “I did not say you are a sahajiya.”
As to the second charge that Gurudeva told me “not to come back to Russia” that is also untrue and I know that for a fact because I am the one Gurudeva spoke to privately about the matter. What he actually asked me to do was not stay for the rest of my scheduled tour, another month or so, and instead return to the USA and return again to Russia at another time. A year and a half later Gurudeva expressed his desire to me that I return to my preaching in Russia and said he would talk to Avadhuta Maharaja about it. I assume Avadhuta Maharaja raised some objection since it was never arranged.
Since I obviously did “have strength to publish… “, BBA’s assertion to the contrary was false. In short, everything BBA said in the quote above was false except that I do like to publish “different” personal letters, such as the one discussed above which, I will admit, is “different.”
I posted BBA’s email to me without any rebuttal from me. It remains to this day on our website, unopposed by me. Perhaps you will find my reasoning for this of interest. My thinking was this, any real vaishnava will see that his letter says more about him than it does me.
Consider this: although Srila Gurudeva had not actually called me a sahajiya; suppose he had. Suppose I actually was a sahajiya, as Avadhuta Maharaja wants (then & now) everyone to believe. Then Gurudeva knowingly selected a sahajiya to be an acharya in his mission. I cannot accept that premise. I doubt any genuine vaishnava would.
Avadhuta Maharaja does not appear shy to display a high degree of openness, even when he’s dead wrong. Am I right?
In another instance his “extreme” openness was demonstrated on his website with this tidbit:
… I consider after Srila Sridhara Maharaj and Srila Govinda Maharaj the most qualified and possessing knowledge of vaisnava-siddhanta is Srila Gosvami Maharaj. Therefore, remembering that our parampara is siksa-parampara, “I invoke all devotees, irrespective of their position, to follow his [BSG’s] spiritual leadership. I declare that I consider Srila Gosvami Maharaj as the preceptor of all members of our Mission, both disciples of Srila Govinda Maharaj , and disciples of all the other Acaryas of our Mission.”—from harekrishna.ru, July 21, 2011
I suppose the “acharyas” of SCSM were so enamored with BBA’s declaration that they should all follow BSG’s [Bhakti Sudhira Goswami’s] spiritual leadership “irrespective of their position” and that he should be the “preceptor of all members of our Mission, both disciples of Srila Govinda Maharaj, and disciples of all the other Acaryas of our Mission” that they were very happy to accommodate something I never thought I would see in this lifetime [Goswami Maharaja giving initiations in Acharya Maharaja’s Math].
During the time of Srila Sridhara Maharaja it happened that Sripada Sagara Maharaja was approached by a boy in Navadwipa seeking initiation from him. He agreed to accept the boy as his disciple. It came to the notice of Srila Guru Maharaja that the initiation was to take place within his SCS Math. Immediately that plan was stopped and the initiation was carried out some distance away at what was known as “The Land of Nectar.” The plan was purely innocent, but it violated an etiquette that Acharya Maharaja is very much aware of. That etiquette is, that only the acharya of SCSM Navadvipa and, by implication, only the acharya of any Math, will initiate in that Math.
Everything I have read in Srila Gurudeva’s Will makes this point crystal clear.
Sripad Bhakti Nirmal Acharyya Maharaj, the aforesaid nominated President of the said Primary Trust Board, will manage all affairs of all the Maths and Temples and give initiations as the Acharya of this Math and Sangha.
If anyone wishes to give initiation outside Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, they can do that, but will be considered an outsider from Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math. There will be one single Acharya, Sevaite and President of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math. That will be Sri Bhakti Nirmal Acharyya, because he has been rendering service, taking all trouble and responsibility upon himself. No one else will be entitled to do the same.
Instead of following the direction of Srila Gurudeva’s Will, establishing six SCSM acharyas in their six respective territories, they [IAB] implanted the failed ISKCON model into the very heart of Srila Gurudeva’s Mission. They justified this on the basis of Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s advice in 1978 to the ISKCON GBC.
But why didn’t they follow Srila Gurudeva’s direction to us? The obvious direction to follow was Srila Govinda Maharaja’s direction to us for the continuation of SCSM, not Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s direction on how to manage the affairs of a very different Mission, ISKCON.
According to the ISKCON model any guru can initiate disciples in the Temple of any other guru. Was that Srila Gurudeva’s direction? Clearly it was not.
“Sripad Janardan Maharaj will become the Acharya and Sevaite of the Soquel Math.”
Gurudeva didn’t say Acharya Maharaja should be the absentee acharya for Soquel, as Janardana Maharaja made him, acting as his rtvik. But that wasn’t enough, all the other acharyas, except me, did the same foolish thing. They all fell in line, except me. For this I was threatened and excoriated. I was told “We’re sending a note home to your mother informing her that you don’t play well with the other children. You’re spoiling everything. Why don’t you just go along to get along? You’re creating a disturbance in the Force. Why are you doing something different?”
They might just as well have said to me “Hey, stupid. What’s wrong with you? Didn’t you get the ‘International Acharya Group-Think’ memo?” That’s what they were thinking, after all, and that’s what they wanted; group-think. So they all followed the Pied Piper and were very disturbed that I didn’t care for the tune he was playing; a tune that was telling them “Don’t follow Gurudeva’s Will. Follow me.”
Why was I marching to a different tune, the tune that told me to follow Srila Gurudeva’s Will, instead of the tune the Pied Piper was playing that was droning on ‘One worldwide acharya. One worldwide acharya, etc., etc.”? My answer is the very essence of simplicity. It was this: “I don’t know why Srila Gurudeva selected six acharyas. But he did. We must follow that.”
They never stopped for a moment to think, “Oh, maybe that’s what Srila Gurudeva expects of his acharyas. Maybe he expects them to be like he was, one who agreed to follow Srila Gurudeva’s mind, instead of their own [minds].”
So, I alone never placed Acharya Maharaja’s photo in Srila Gurudeva’s parampara on our Math’s altar. My photo was placed there exactly as Srila Govinda Maharaja said it should be. For doing this some accused me of arrogance, a few credited me with fealty to Srila Gurudeva. My very good friend, Sriman Gokulananda was the leader in the latter group.
Anyway, Gurudeva never said there shall be two acharyas for Soquel, Acharya Maharaja and Janardana Maharaja. He didn’t say there should be two acharyas anywhere. Only one single acharya for each of the Maths and territories he named.
But the giant brains came, believing they could outthink Srila Gurudeva. They thought “What if this, what if that, what if another thing?” They thought, and they thought and they thought. But they never thought for even a moment “What if we simply follow Srila Gurudeva’s direction?”
That’s what I did. I tried to follow his direction. I came back to our small Math with our small group of devotees and tried my best, in my small way, to be obedient to the direction given by my Divine Master. Very simple. Perhaps too simple, too straight; perhaps a little too open for your taste.
I know Acharya Maharaja is keenly aware of the etiquette that only the established acharya of a Math will initiate disciples there. I know this because it came up during a phone call I made to him warning him a couple years ago that I suspected BSG would try to supplant him as the acharya of the Navadwipa Math. It was just after BSG was made a new acharya of SCSM by the IAB and had been invited by BBA to initiate disciples in his Maths. At that time BBA was still refusing my urging that he accept the position of acharya as Gurudeva had directed in his Will. So first it seemed only BSG would be initiating in BBA’s Maths. Then, at the last minute, BBA decided he would also begin accepting disciples.
Anyway, I saw this as a dangerous precedent. BBA had already installed Acharya Maharaja as the initiating guru for all his Maths. Now he wanted to add another outsider, so to speak, to the list. When I expressed this concern to BNA [Bhakti Nirmal Acharya] he dismissed it completely and said, with reference to the new acharya (BSG), “I am very broad minded. There can be many acharyas.” I moved on to say “But they shouldn’t initiate disciple in the territories Gurudeva designated for one particular acharya.” To this he responded “No, that is no problem.”
I then asked BNA “Then you believe it is acceptable for other acharyas to initiate disciples in your Math in Navadwipa?” Now, how do you think he responded to that question? I can tell you. He said this, “No Maharaja Gurudeva wouldn’t want that.”
I continued, “But once the precedent has been set in the jurisdiction of one acharya it will be thought to apply to all the acharyas. If Goswami Maharaja can initiate in Russia why shouldn’t he be permitted to initiate in Navadwipa?”
Acharya Maharaja was quick to respond “He (BSG) would never do that.”
Wrong, wrong, wrong. Within a short time he had done it. And it was done with extreme openness, on Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s veranda, when BSG gave initiation to his sannyasa disciple, Sripada Madhusudana Maharaja. Thus I was witness to something unimaginable to me, something I never thought I would see in this lifetime, someone other than the “acharya of Navadwipa” initiating his own disciples in that Math. And, it was done publicly and very open(ly).
Not long after that BSG with, extreme openness, began issuing ultimatums, even to “the acharya of Navadwipa” [See: The Goswami Blogs — “Vaporized”, BSG’s First “Vaporized” Posting: ULTIMATUM | TO BN ACHARYA MAHARAJA]. A fair minded person would think this should call for another censure letter from the IAB, this time against BSG. BSG’s Ultimatum, after all, went far, far beyond any criticism I had ever made of Acharya Maharaja. But no censure was forthcoming. That unique privilege seems to be reserved exclusively for me. My rather slight unfavorable remarks, by comparison to BSG’s, are pronounced as the cause of my being assigned to the category of aparadhi, while BSG’s extremely belittling assertions are countered with a photo op of BNA’s embrace [of BSG].
Maharaja, I could go on and on with other examples of extreme openness like BSG’s “FOR MY DISCIPLES | BHAKTI SUDHIR GOSWAMI” [The Goswami Blogs — “Vaporized”, BSG’s Fourth “Vaporized” Posting: FOR MY DISCIPLES | BHAKTI SUDHIR GOSWAMI], etc. but it’s a bit tiresome to keep pointing to the obvious, which very few seem to have the capacity to grasp. More specifically, that I am doubtful you will grasp. Ah, but hope springs eternal, so let us see.
Somehow these instance of others showing themselves to be “very open” are obvious to me but apparently not to you. Or maybe you just don’t attach the same significance to these public outrages as you do to my opposition to them. Perhaps they have become so much a part of your daily fare that only opposition to them seems out of place to you.
If you read my writings closely you will see I was very careful to avoid doing what you and Avadhuta Maharaja did with me. I never referred to any past behavior of any of the acharyas named by Srila Gurudeva, or his past comments about them, to imply that they indicated some defect in the acharyas he named. In fact, I wrote an article wherein I made it clear I did not believe Srila Gurudeva decided to give the devotees in one region a perfect acharya and in another region a defective one. The position I took was this: immediately upon Srila Gurudeva’s disappearance we were to accept each of the six acharyas he named as his designated successors [See: Srila Giri Maharaja “Srila Govinda Maharaja did not choose a single Acharya”].
In my mind they all assumed their acharya duties with a clean slate. It was only after this, when their slates were quickly accumulating dirt, that I criticized those actions I believed were antithetical to Gurudeva’s written Will and his intentions for the continuation of his Mission in his absence. Did I, as an acharya, have the right to criticize my acharya bothers and nephews? You know the answer.
When they made their misbehavior public, as they did immediately [After Srila Govinda Maharaja’s disappearance], I first addressed the issues with them privately. When they were unresponsive, I informed the devotees, using the only medium available to me for such purposes, that I believed the “acharyas” were acting in violation of our predecessor acharya’s directions. I believe that was not only my right, it was my fiduciary responsibility to my Divine Master. I was bound by honor and my allegiance to him to take any steps possible to set his ship, which had gone astray, back on its proper course.
Any derogatory opinions I have made public about the acharyas named by Srila Gurudeva were based solely on their words and deeds (such as their disregard for Gurudeva’s Will) after Gurudeva’s disappearance and, for the most part, before they began accepting disciples. Remember, immediately after Gurudeva’s disappearance, only Acharya Maharaja and myself were accepting disciples. As I am to you, I am to Acharya Maharaja, I am in the category of his spiritual uncle or, as he told me himself, his “Guru-pada-padma.” In addition, I was informed by BSG & others that Acharya Maharaja would perform his duties “with the other Acharyas as his advisors, guides and mentors” (BSG [email], 1/28/11).
Apparently my attempts to advise, guide and mentor were interpreted as offensive to Acharya Maharaja, which invoked this response in the letter of censure:
This directive applies to Giri Maharaj. He is publicly criticizing the present Sevaite Acharya of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, Srila Bhakti Nirmal Acharya Maharaj, and the Acharya Board that he heads. He has also declared that –
blah, blah, blahbadi blah, blah
We must inform the devotees that Giri Maharaj is acting offensively, independently and without authority. We do not recognize him as a bonafide leader of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math. We advise all faithful followers of Srila Govinda Maharaj to avoid his association, personally, or through email and the internet.
LoC Note: I seriously doubt the Letter of Censure [“LoC”] against me had much at all to do with retaliating against me for my supposed offenses to the Acharya of the Navadwipa Math. It was sold that way, as a means to protect the dignity of that sevaite, but I believe it was really Goswami Maharaja’s retaliation for my “Pied Piper of San Jose” article. If BSG was so concerned about protecting the dignity of the sevaite of the Navadwipa Math, why did he deliver such a blistering public belittlement of that sevaite? One must wonder, mustn’t one?
Can I ask a bad question? Ok, I will. What if Sripada Paramahamsa Maharaja were to win a court case that resulted in the ousting of Acharya Maharaja, who is then replaced with Paramahamsa Maharaja. Would it be offensive, in that scenario, to be found “publicly criticizing the present Sevaite Acharya of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math”?
In other words, shouldn’t we consider the stature of the person occupying that position (Sevaite, etc.) first, before judging someone’s comments regarding that person?
What if the remarks made about the Sevaite, etc. are accurate. Are they offensive in that case? Was Srila Sridhara Maharaja “acting offensively, independently and without authority” when he immediately agreed to sign a statement declaring the Acharya of Gaudiya Mission to be a womanizer, etc. At that time Guru Maharaja was an active member of that Mission. Was he wrong to do what he did and then very soon afterwards leave the Mission to work “independently and without authority”?
In my case, whose “authority” was I without? Was it Srila Govinda Maharaja’s authority? No. I was following his authority. What the IAB meant by authority was their authority, an authority that was no authority, not only for me, it was not the authority for any of Srila Gurudeva’s disciples or followers. Gurudeva’s Will makes not even the slightest mention of any authority granted to the IAB.
Even if you construe the IAB to be the Acharya Sabha of Gurudeva’s Will, what authority would that have given to them? Would it grant them the power to make new acharyas or eliminate existing ones? No, it would not. Here’s the entire sum and substance of the whole range of authority granted to the Acharya Sabha of Srila Gurudeva’s Last Will and Testament:
An Acharya Board (Acharya Sabha) shall be formed, composed of initiating acharyas, to consult with one another regarding all spiritual matters and to give guidance to all Trust Boards.
What is the almighty power that has been designated to them? Here it is in a nutshell: to consult with one another about spiritual matters and to give guidance to all Trust Boards. Isn’t that something any group of two or more devotees could do?
Why might these powers be so limited and sketchy? The answer may be found here:
The idea of an organized church in an intelligible form, indeed, marks the close of the living spiritual movement. The great ecclesiastical establishments are the dykes and the dams to retain the current that cannot be held by any such contrivances. They, indeed, indicate a desire on the part of the masses to exploit a spiritual movement for their own purpose. They also unmistakably indicate the end of the absolute and unconventional guidance of the bonafide spiritual teacher.— Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati, Organized Religion (Putana and Kamsa), from a collection of his lectures.
It is one thing for a spiritual master to establish a spiritual institution for the spreading of Krishna Consciousness, where he is the head of the institution and it is operating under his direction. It is quite a different thing to replace the power and authority of the spiritual master with overseers, such as a board of trustees who hold all the power and believe it is their duty to control the acharya.
A board that has the power to make and eliminate (make or break) acharyas is a board that has greater authority than any of the acharyas that might make up the board. This is a point that would become obvious to disciples. Where then, is sakshad Hari? Where will they repose their full faith and devotion, to an impersonal Board of Acharyas?
Did Srila Gurudeva live under the control of such a board? Did Srila Sridhara Maharaja? How about Srila Swami Maharaja or Srila Saraswati Thakura? No. None of them lived under the control of such a board and Srila Gurudeva never introduced such an idea into his Mission nor did he ever give even the slightest hint that I, or any of the acharyas he named, was subject to such control.
Does that make such an Acharya Sabha useless? Absolutely not. If they value each others opinion, and have a genuine respect for each other, then of course they will benefit from each member’s age and experience, and so on. They will have authority over each other insofar as they mutually agree. They will have authority over others in proportion to the spiritual faith of those inclined to accept their guidance. However, the “Board” will always be an “it”, an impersonal entity. Such an entity can never substitute for the personal guidance and nourishment of a sat guru. I can’t imagine any qualified disciple choosing to accept the authority of an Acharya Board over that of his guru. But that is the rule established by the ISKCON GBC and the IAB is following suit. It is due to such rules that the disciples of the gurus in Missions operating under the control of such bodies cannot possibly flourish in that environment of Putana and Kamsa.
It is for the reasons stated above that I am very certain Srila Gurudeva never intended such a fate for those who take shelter of the acharyas he hoped to establish. He laid out the whole system to be followed, which I am following, in a talk to the “Governing Body” of Sri Govinda Dhama in Australia.
Listen to the following 3 files of Srila Govinda Maharaja:
I encourage you to listen to them. I still believe, despite BSG’s objections, that after Srila Gurudeva’s disappearance his naming of six acharays meant there would be, or should be, six sampradayas and six missions. The six acharyas, sampradayas, and missions may cooperate with each other on some level, but they will ultimately be distinct from each other as each will follow their particular acharya who, by the way, will have his particular successor(s) and so on. That was the preference of Srila Guru Maharaja. Srila Govinda Maharaja followed that and so should we.
Unfortunately, as with my appeals to the IAB, Acharya Maharaja never gave heed to my private supplications to come into conformity in various ways with what I believed were Srila Gurudeva’s desires and the best interests of SCSM. And, as with the IAB, I thought the other devotees in Gurudeva’s Mission should be informed on matters I felt to be of paramount importance with regard to Acharya Maharaja’s deviation from Gurudeva’s Will, a matter every disciple of Srila Govinda Maharaja has a right to examine and question. In that matter I didn’t single him out in any way as a special case. He was the subject of my criticism because he was the supposed head of the IAB, the board to which my objections were aimed.
The only event I can recall where I voiced any public criticism expressly directed to Acharya Maharaja was when, once again, the IAB failed to fulfill their responsibilities in dealing with another issue, the young lady from Brazil who bore the brunt of the blame for Acharya Maharaja’s extremely inappropriate advances towards her. And, there again, my private email to Acharya Maharaja, telling him I thought he should stop initiating disciples for six months to a year, etc. went unanswered. Only Trivikrama Maharaja and Sriman Mahananda reacted in ways I found somewhat satisfactory. Avadhuta Maharaja, as he is prone to do, lied to me, telling me it was only an unsubstantiated rumor, or words to that effect.
Having had enough of all the runaround, inaction and silence. I posted an email on our website describing what happened exactly as it had been described to me by Prabhu Mahananda. I expressed my opinion therein that Acharya Maharaja should not initiate disciples for a period of six months to a year during which time he should be carefully observed by senior members of our Mission. If all was well after that time and upon the recommendation of those senior members, he could resume giving initiations. All of this was exactly in line with what I have heard from Srila Sridhara Maharaja and Srila Govinda Maharaja. Why shouldn’t our other devotees also be entitled to hear those same instructions within the context of these current events?
Before posting my public opinions, I called the young lady’s family in Brazil to console them and show my support for them in what I knew had to be very troubling times. I learned from them that the entire family was being shunned by the local group of devotees, disciples and followers of Acharya Maharaja. They blamed the young lady for everything and would not allow anyone in the family to take part in any programs.
After personally speaking with the family via Skype, they were very moved to know I was sympathetic to their plight and would do all I could to help remedy the situation. One of the principal reasons I addressed the issue publicly was to help vindicate the young lady who had done nothing wrong but was being blamed as the instigator, temptress, etc. There was no reason why she and her family should be made to suffer for the terrible misbehavior of a sannyasi and “acharya”, be he of Navadwipa or any other dwipa. I made it clear in my public post that it was the duty of the fifty year old sannyasi to protect the seventeen year old girl from these very events, not inflect them upon her. Maybe that was my unpardonable offense to “the Acharya of Navadwipa.” Anyway, I continued to follow up with emails to the family who, thankfully, were very, very gratified I had done my best to clear the name of their innocent daughter.
Now, Maharaja, I would like to address my interactions with you and my thoughts about you personally. I feel obliged to say I really feel very sorry to see you in your present state. I find your demeanor to be not only unpleasant but inauspicious. Checking my openness, I won’t say anything more about these matters at this point except that it is very sad to witness the change that has taken place in you who, at one time was a beautiful disciple of His Divine Grace, but has become something different.
I will not indulge your childish games and manipulations as you try to provoke me to do.
As I see you, you are “the disciple section” you referred to here: “But these things as much as possible should be kept away from the disciple section.” As such, I have no interest in your attempt to instruct me as to how I should deal with you, or others of your rank. Nor am I interested in any further banter with you, as you offer various quotations in an effort to incorporate me into your whimsy.
While I appreciate the obvious effort you have made to draw upon our gurus’ teachings for points of reference, there is nothing new to me in the evidence you cited. I have considered such things a thousand times already from different angles of vision and proceed, as I must, as my experience and conscience dictate, along the path I believe I must follow, if I am really to satisfy Srila Gurudeva’s expectations for me.
If you think I missed something, you are welcome to ask me about it. But you are not seeking my advice or even my opinion. You are simply using various bits and pieces of this and that to convince me to adopt your mindset; the very mindset I am trying my utmost to avoid, the mindset of those who are devious; specifically, those who deviated from Srila Gurudeva’s direct instructions on the most vital points regarding the acharyas he named, and hoped, would succeed him.
Evidence; I can cite so many. I am confident you can as well. The shastras, the instructions of our gurus, etc. are replete with many, many statements that can be understood in many different ways. ISKCON pandits have done a good job of citing so many reasons why disciples of our Srila Prabhupada should not associate with Srila Sridhara Maharaja or follow his direction. Tripurari Maharaja, and others like him, will make the novice believe they [Tripurari, etc.] are really following Srila Sridhara Maharaja and can cite many references to make it appear they were right to ignore Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s only successor, Srila Govinda Maharaja.
Likewise, the IAB’s principal pandit, Sripada Goswami Maharaja, can make the foolish believe that his (and those of similar mind) mumbo jumbo and mirror illusions have really transformed the deviation from Srila Gurudeva’s Last Will and Testament into actual adherence to it.
I am a fan of magic. But I detest deception being used in that manner; against the real interest of Srila Gurudeva’s disciples and followers. It’s place is with the illusionists and those who can appreciate it for its amusement value. It is not for the serious students and practitioners of Krishna Consciousness, the sincere seekers of the Absolute Truth who will find Him through a substantial connection with Srila Gurudeva’s sampradaya.
The shastras, and similar evidentiary sources, are insufficient in themselves to achieve our goal. For that we must submit ourselves to the guidance of one who has actual realization of the Absolute Truth. Only a personality of that quality and qualification can resolve all the contradictory statements from various authoritative sources and direct us in understanding their proper conclusions. That personality to whom we should submit is Sri Guru and, he is one, found in many.
Actually I do not have time to read the Scriptures. If we read the Scriptures we must be misguided through the books, but if we get the association of a good Vaiṣṇava who is a master, then there is no chance to be misguided. Scriptures themselves give the advice of Krishna, Vyāsadev, and so many others: “Try to get good Vaiṣṇava association and render them service.”
If you try to read, you must be misguided, otherwise why did Mahāprabhu say, “You go and read Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in front of a Vaiṣṇava who knows its meaning.”
If you think you are sufficiently realized in the knowledge distributed by your guru, Srila Govinda Maharaja, then, confident you have properly assimilated that knowledge and accepting the position of guru yourself, you may try to distribute that to others, establishing your own sampradaya.
Otherwise, you will seek to continue your progress under the guidance of a higher vaishnava, which seems to be your present position.
Maharaja, I think you are really the student of Sripada Goswami Maharaja, whose methods and conclusions seem to have found their expression in you. Perhaps you will find it flattering to know that you even seem to have assimilated his personality traits.
While I have severe differences with him on the points under discussion, I have no desire to debate them with his students. As you have rightly pointed out: “these things, as much as possible should be kept away from the disciple section.”
If I am correct in my view, then again, I cannot understand why you are contacting me. Whether you consider yourself to be under the jurisdiction of the IAB (that declared me to be a vaishnava-aparadhi), your sannyasa guru [BNA] or a siksha guru; all of them agree on this point: I am one who will cause the downfall of anyone so unfortunate as to have even the slightest touch of my association.
I am not persuaded by your argument favoring secrecy. I also do not believe my public discussions of these points, in the manner I have chosen, has done anything less than what I intended: to share the wisdom collected from our Divine Masters with those who are most urgently in need of it.
I told you I am open to all and I have a special sympathy for the disciples of our Srila Gurudeva. I know you are his disciple by diksha, but beyond that there is a great deal of haziness in my vision of you being in the line of Srila Govinda Maharaja.
I understand your difficult situation after Gurudeva’s disappearance. I know very well how the fire burns to improve the purity of the stalwart disciples and eliminate the ostentatious from their midst. It is an exam that everyone must pass to go to the next level. It may come now, or it may come later but it will surely come:
Swami B.R. Sridhara Maharaja:
And the common sense also about the history proves like that. Visvanatha Cakravarti pada, somewhere in Bhagavat-bhasya, also mentioned, and in this country in the varnasrama system also it is mentioned that when Maha Guru, that anyone’s father or mother disappears, then with that crisis accompanies many disadvantages with them. And it is also common sense, when the extreme misfortune is to lose the company of Gurudeva. And that misfortune never comes alone. It brings in its retinue many small incidents that are detrimental to our progress. And progress means, presupposes progress, and progress, hindrances for a man of real character, hindrances are like some examination. Its purpose is to promote us. So the sincere student, real student, he will pass the examination. Others will fall prey to the failure. So misfortune comes to enhance the beauty of the bona fide and to eliminate the ostentatious attempt. So it is a fact that after the disappearance of Gurudeva many undesirable things will come, will happen. And sudhi(?), a period of sudhi(?), the purification, that will actually take place. And those that are sincere they will be victorious. Such movement is almost sure to come, to befall on the followers. (80.08.18. A_80.08.19)
Sad to say your demeanor is not very inviting of my sympathy or help. There was a time when I could easily deal with you on a much more friendly basis. I am still friendly towards you but see you much more as one who needs guidance than friendship.
Notwithstanding any of the above, as time permits, I will try my best to satisfy any inquiries you may have, but not on your terms. If you want to avoid publicity, I suggest you call me with any actual questions you may have for me. It would be very unusual for my phone conversations to find their way into any sort of public forum.
I intend to post my emails to you on our website. If you like, so that you are properly represented, I make the same offer to you that I previously made to the IAB when I posted my objections to their ideas and practices; I will post the emails you have sent to me [in addition to the ones from me to you].
Should there be any repercussions to you resulting from public awareness of our conversations thus far, I feel confident you have an ample supply of tools in you diplomacy tool chest to enable you to build a sound wall of plausible deniability around you. You are expert at manipulation. I doubt there are many you cannot outmaneuver.
Lastly, you are a soldier in Gurudeva’s army. Do you duty as a soldier and you will see your way to victory.
Devotee: Some of our devotees feel that in a similar way we’re in a similar situation of Gaudiya Math previously due to the activities and behaviour of äcäryas. They don’t feel that they can preach to the public on their behalf.
Srila B.R. Sridhara Swmi: You have come to fight as a soldier, to save your country, or whatever, or your people, or you own honour. War, your environment, does not depend on your whim, it will appear like anything. You are to face it. Whatever complex may be the war field, the battlefield, as a soldier you are to approach them. Otherwise you have no real faith in your own cause. There are so many, so much fight amongst us, but we have not left the real field, left preaching the creed of Mahäprabhu, in spite of all the differences.
I wish you well in every respect.
Swami B.K. Giri
The dissertation above explains something of why I “was so vocal after Srila Govinda Maharaja left.”
End of Part I