“…Generally, in his own zone, he will perform diksa, generally.” – Srila Sridhara Maharaja
I offer my humble dandavat-pranamas to His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Sundara Govinda-Deva Goswami Maharaja, to the lotus feet of his selected acharyas and to all the devotees and followers of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math.
I recently received a question from one of our devotees asking if I had faith that Srila Acharya Maharaja would be able to guide the world wide mission of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math. I suspect this sort of question may be on the minds of many. This is my response
On his last appearance day celebration in our main Math in Sri Navadwipa Dhama, Srila Govinda Maharaja stated publicly, regarding Srila Acharya Maharaja, “He is highly qualified and I have chosen him as next acharya of this Math.”
Many devotees took this statement to mean something different than what was said.
By “acharya of this Math” Srila Govinda Maharaja meant the Math where he was sitting and speaking, our main Math in Navadwipa. Based on other statements, one may also reasonably extend the scope of this declaration to include our other Maths in India.
Unfortunately many devotees interpreted this statement to mean Srila Acharya Maharaja should be the acharya of all the Maths, not only in India, but all over the world.
This interpretation is wrong because in his will, from 2004 onwards, Srila Govinda Maharaja directed six devotees to serve as acharya in different parts of the world.
I have read the will of His Divine Grace which not only refers to Srila Acharya Maharaja as the acharya for our Maths in India but to five other acharyas named to serve in that position in various parts of the world. In each case he stated, regarding the named devotee, that he “will be the acharya” of the respective locale.
Srila Avadhuta Maharaja, Russia
Srila Trivikrama Maharaja, Brazil
Srila Janardan Maharaja, Soquel
Srila Ashram Maharaja, Mexico
and, myself, Giri Maharaja, New York, New Jersey and Detroit.
Srila Govinda Maharaja further directed that an Acharya Board should be established consisting of “those who are initiating”. Again indicating that there would be several initiating gurus within our mission and they would direct the spiritual affairs of our world wide Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math.
With knowledge of the above facts, it is clear that we need not be burdened with the sort of question that was asked of me regarding whether or not I had faith in Srila Acharya Maharaja’s ability to lead the world wide mission. Neither should we expect him to undertake that responsibility by himself. Srila Govinda Maharaja expected, as do I, that Srila Acharya Maharaja will faithfully manage the Maths in India, initiate sincere seekers there and guide the spiritual lives of the devotees under his care. To this end he has my full support.
I also pledge my full support to each of the other acharyas named by Srila Govinda Maharaja and expect the devotees working in each of their respective areas will follow them with full faith and a willingness to support them as initiating gurus knowing that to be the expressed desire of His Divine Grace.
Some of us have now survived the disappearance of three very exalted gurus, Srila Bhakti Vedanta Swami Maharaja, Srila Bhakti Rakshaka Sridhara Maharaja and now His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Sundara Govinda Maharaja. We have been the beneficiaries of many instructions from these great gurus as to how to proceed in the face of such a disaster. Following these instructions we may avert some of the difficulties that have followed the disappearance of our predecessor gurus.
That said, we should not expect an easy transition. Even if our mission continues to run smoothly, there will be many individual questions and doubts that will arise for the purpose of testing our faith
Such examinations should not be avoided. They are necessary. Those who pass the exam will be promoted to a higher level. Those who fail will need to apply themselves with increased diligence and renewed energy or fall away in disappointment until they have gained sufficient sukrti to begin anew.
Should any doubts arise in us, we should reveal our minds to those who have been recognized as stalwart and faithful followers of our Gurudeva. Through submission and inquiry to those who have firm faith, our own faith will be nourished and enhanced.
I will address another matter of concern regarding initiations.
It is clear to me that Srila Govinda Maharaja expected each of the acharyas he named to be the initiating gurus in their respective areas. For this reason my photo was added to the photos of the parampara here in our New Jersey Math and it is my intention to accept sincere seekers from this area as my disciples. In India Srila Acharya Maharaja’s photo was added to the parampara and he has already begun accepting disciples.
For their own reasons the other acharyas named by Srila Govinda Maharaja have refrained from taking this step. It is my hope they will soon do so as I believe Srila Govinda Maharaja will be happy to see his desire fulfilled.
In a recent email to one of my friends I also addressed this point.
Of course, from the time of my first visit with you and your family it was obvious that you were deeply rooted in our philosophy and precepts and showed the behavior of a vaishnava. I should have recognized, or remembered, that these qualities are the obvious symptoms that show themselves in the disciples of Srila Janaradan Maharaja. You are certainly very fortunate to have a vaishnava of such a high standard as your guru and it is obvious that he has been very merciful to you by imparting his qualities to you.
There is a saying in the Bible, “You cannot hide your light under a basket.” Time will tell what happens regarding Srila Janardan Maharaja initiating in Soquel but I think he cannot hide his light for very long. For now he and Srila Ashrama Maharaja are behaving as we always know them to behave, as the humble servants of the devotees and therefore they are awaiting the decision of the devotees in their area rather than implementing their own measures.
The devotees around the world, knowing that Srila Gurudeva named Srila Acharya Maharaja as his successor for our main Math in Navadwipa, may feel they should first look to him. My idea is different. I do not see one “successor” but all six that Srila Gurudeva said “will be the acharya” in their respective zones. After many discussions on this subject I have not yet heard a substantive reason why Srila Gurudeva would have named six acharyas for six separate parts of the world unless he intended each of them to be the initiating gurus for those particular regions.
Of course the other five acharyas are free to disagree with my idea for their own reasons and, as I said yesterday, I will honor their decision. They are all highly qualified and will decide for themselves what is best.
I have included below the transcript of Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s talks with the ISKCON GBC I was referring to yesterday. I think there are some imperfections in the transcription but they do not interfere with a clear understanding of the topics.
In particular I found these sections to be relevant to our discussion:
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: …Generally, in his own zone, he will perform diksa, generally. But there should be special arrangement.
Tamal Krsna Maharaja: But, explain. In one temple, in one of our Maths, the disciples may have many different gurus, just like there are eleven persons now. So, say three of those eleven persons may be the gurus of the disciples in that Math, then how to know whose picture to put on the …
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: So, to get out of this difficulty, the zonal preference should be maintained.
Assembly (Background): The zonal preference should be maintained to get out of this problem.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: To get out of this difficulty, as much as possible, but what I’m saying is, that may be applicable easily in the branch Maths. But in the main Maths, Mayapur, Vrndavana, where all is interested keenly, difficulty will arise there.
Srila Govinda Maharaja has avoided the “difficulty” for the main Maths by naming Srila Acharya Maharaja as acharya for the “main Maths” while naming others as acharya for their respective zones.
It has been a short time since our most beloved Srila Govinda Maharaja has passed from our midst. The heavy responsibility to lead the world wide mission of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math has now been transferred to those he trusted to continue the line of Srila Sridhara Maharaja.
As Srila Sridhara Maharaja said, time and experience will come to help us.
We must also feel that Srila Govinda Maharaja’s vigilant eye is always upon us, he is always with us and he will continue to guide his sincere servitors intent on continuing the preaching of Sri Chaitanya Saraswati that is so dear to him.
I welcome any comments or questions.
A lowly servant of the Lord’s devotees,
Swami B.K. Giri