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It has now been more than a year since I first confronted the International Acharya Board (IAB), urging them to resist Sripada Goswami Maharaja’s appeal to depart from the instructions left by Srila Govinda Maharaja in his Will, with respect to the Acharyas he named. I warned them that departure from the Will was to invite disaster. They have consistently persisted in ignoring the Will and we have already seen the resulting disturbances in various forms.
Although receiving much encouragement from a number of devotees, I would have preferred not to publish this article. I have held it back for many weeks. But through their continued disregard for Gurudeva’s Will and by other means, the members of the IAB continued to urge me on. I even went so far as to plead with them to give me a reason not to publish this article. They were silent.
Sripada Goswami Maharaja provided a powerful impetus for this article in an email he sent me, which reads, in part:
“In light of the aforementioned, I am unable to look upon the will with tunnel vision. I don’t think instructions given to myself and others by Srila Guru Maharaja or Srila Gurudeva should be dismissed out of hand because they are not in the will. Rather I view the will in consonance with the expressed “will” of Srila Govinda Maharaja and Srila Guru Maharaja, over the last thirty years.
After the disappearance of Srila Saraswati Thakur, Srila Guru Maharaja recalled a similar instance, “There were many amongst our group, they heard Prabhupada’s advices, words, but partly. One day some Aranya Maharaja told, he was a senior man, “Saraswati Thakur told only this thing,” a provincial remark, he wanted to utilize in a universal way. I gave some objection, “Prabhupada told this, it’s all right but this is not the whole thing, he told “this” also.”‘ I believe the same holds true now. The implication that myself and others must consider a lifetime of instructions cancelled because they are not in the will is preposterous.”
Perhaps Goswami Maharaja has forgotten a remark he previously used as a preaching point which he credited to Srila Sridhara Maharaja, (paraphrasing) “A specific instruction takes precedence over a general one.” I take this to mean that specific directions given in Srila Govinda Maharaja’s “Last Will and Testament” are of higher priority than casual or passing remarks made during his physical presence, and then withdrawn, and, in particular, when the latter explicitly conflicts with the former.
An example that comes to mind is Srila Govinda Maharaja’s previously expressed desire that Sripada Paramahamsa Maharaja succeed him as the Acharya of Sri Chaitanya Saraswata Math [Navadwipa]. He made many remarks to this effect during his physical presence. They were later withdrawn and his Will clearly states his final preference, that Srila Acharya Maharaja assume that station.
Be that as it may and, in consonance with Sripada Goswami Maharaja’s direction, let’s take a look at some of the highlights of his activities “over the last thirty years” remembering, when his positive activities are thrust upon us, as justification for dismissing Srila Gurudeva’s direction in favor of his, “it’s all right but this is not the whole thing.”
_ _ _ _ _
All glories to Sri Sri Guru Gauranga
A few weeks ago I was having a brief discussion with Srila Janardana Maharaja about my opinions regarding the Acharya Sabha. He posed this question to me “Maharaja, I don’t understand what dragon it is you are trying to slay.” It was a good question.
The dragon is deviation from the order of Sri Guru.
keha ta’ acarya ajnaya, keha ta’ svatantra
sva-mata kalpana kare daiva-paratantra
“Some of the disciples strictly accepted the orders of the acarya, and others deviated, independently concocting their own opinions under the spell of daivi-maya.”
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. — Bhaktivedanta Swami, CC Adi 12.9
This dragon is always present, ready to attack the inattentive or undisciplined practitioner and carry him away from the proper and safe path leading to shudha bhakti.
Srila Swami Maharaja once told his disciples “‘Obedience is the first law of discipline.’ So unless there is obedience, there cannot be any discipline. And unless there is discipline, there is no question of disciple. Disciple means one who follows the discipline.”
We recently published an article by Sriman Jagabandhu dasa for which I offered the title “Guru siksha – reflection, refraction, restoration.” The article begins:
“In his beautiful Bhagavata Speech, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur explains that when God’s Holy Words first are expressed as the Scriptures, They are, no doubt, Pure. However, through the influence of time and misunderstanding they receive the tincture of the nature of the receiver.”
One may think that Bhagavad Gita As It Is would be the self evident and obvious outcome of any translation of Bhagavad Gita. It is not. The tendency to imbue it with “the tincture of the nature of the receiver.” is almost irresistible. That Srila Swami Maharaja presented this great scripture “As It Is” is a testament to his extraordinary dedication to preserving the purity of the text and his obedience to his guru. You cannot have one without the other.
As I asked in an email to one of our readers, referencing a statement from Srila Gurudeva’s Will, “Sriman Yudhamanyu and Srimatis Jivana and Kumkum ‘are always obedient towards me.’ Is there a higher distinction than this?”
The real test for our progressive development in Krishna Consciousness is not our ability to innovate, but to obey. Obedience to the Guru is the only hope for a disciple’s progress and the only position of safety.
As soon as we begin to manufacture something new, substituting our own idea for the instructions of Sri Guru, we have left the proper track. If that happens, we are not lost. We must get back on the right track and continue our progress.
The five member “Acharya Board” have left the proper track, following the direction of Sripada Bhakti Sudhira Goswami Maharaja instead of the direction given by His Divine Grace Srila Govinda Maharaja.
Those of you who have followed my articles are aware that I differ sharply with the members of the International Acharya Board (IAB), now calling themselves simply “Acharya Board”, four of which were named by Srila Gurudeva as Acharyas to succeed him, and the other, Sripada Goswami Maharaja, a highly respected preacher in our Mission.
I do not know Sripada Acharya Maharaja very well, but I have known the others for a long time. They are my friends and I have the highest regard for the service and dedication they have shown to preaching Krishna Consciousness in all corners of the world. Additionally, they have all distinguished themselves as very dedicated and loyal followers of Srila Govinda Maharaja. These things are well known to everyone.
They are, in the phraseology of Srila Sridhara Maharaja, my worshipable friends.
“and if Vasudeva Prabhu not will change his mood, I shall not stay with him. That is, Mahaprabhu is, Mahaprabhu and Prabhupada [BSST], they are my worshipable, and Vasudeva Prabhu is worshipable friend. But, I cannot ignore Mahaprabhu and Prabhupada. For them I come out from my home, and taken sannyasa. If Vasudeva Prabhu not change with his mood, I leave this Math, peacefully.”
— Srila Govinda Maharaja (quoting Srila Sridhara Maharaja), “The Disappearance of Srila Saraswati Thakur (12/31/93)” @ 48:00
To take a stance, as I have, in direct opposition to these sannyasis is not a matter I take lightly. It has arisen as a matter of necessity because I cannot ignore the directions given by my gurus and especially the last instructions given by Srila Govinda Maharaja to his followers.
Each of us who want to be recognized as Srila Govinda Maharaja’s followers, disciples and so forth are charged with the same responsibility, na hi kalyana-krit kascid, durgatim tata gacchati
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 kalyanakrt kascid durgatim tata gacchati). We must be true to our own selves, and true to the Supreme Lord. We must be sincere.
— Bhakti Rakshaka Sridhara, Sri Guru and His Grace
Since April of last year I was puzzled as to why the five members of the International Acharya Board were so resistant to accepting, on an equal basis, the six Acharyas named by Srila Gurudeva and following the direction given in his Will to form an Acharya Sabha, “composed of initiating Acharyas.”
Why are these items, parts of Srila Gurudeva’s “Last Will and Testament”, which are so simple and straightforward, not being accepted and followed? One reason would be that they cannot be understood. Another reason is to get something that Srila Gurudeva did not intend them to have.
After several communications with Sripadas Janardana Maharaja and Goswami Maharaja, as well as others on the International Acharya Board (IAB), I am convinced that all these men are very intelligent and could easily understand the intended purpose of Srila Gurudeva’s Will and the directions given therein.
Understanding was not the problem. They wanted things that Srila Gurudeva did not give them.
A single world-wide Acharya.
The International Acharya Board’s continued existence instead of being supplanted by the Acharya Sabha of Gurudeva’s Will.
A seventh Acharya, Sripada Goswami Maharaja.
After failing to get a single world-wide Acharya, an Emperor Acharya stationed to reign over some lesser king acharyas.
While they could not get these things by following Srila Govinda Maharaja’s Will, they could get them by following the direction of Sripada Goswami Maharaja who has insisted on each of the above items.
Enter, The Pied Piper of San Jose
As dangerous as the dragon of deviation is for every practitioner in the line of Krishna Consciousness, there are so many of these dragons that each practitioner will have to slay his own.
More dangerous are spiritual leaders who misguide their unsuspecting, perhaps innocent or naive, followers, encouraging their deviation from the instructions of Sri Guru. I’m going to call one such leader the Pied Piper of San Jose, after the tradition of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. I think you’ll see many similarities between these two Pipers.
The dragon feeds himself by attacking his prey. The Pied Piper earns his livelihood through charm and persuasion, collecting followers and then leading them in a direction that benefits him. A dragon is a giant beast that uses brute force to get what he wants, the Piper uses cunning and magic. He’s much more difficult to detect.
And, “Please your honours,” said he, “I’m able,
By means of a secret charm, to draw
All creatures living beneath the sun,
That creep or swim or fly or run,
After me so as you never saw!
And I chiefly use my charm
On creatures that do people harm,
The mole and toad and newt and viper;
And people call me the Pied Piper.”
— The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Robert Browning
The Piper is a colorful, harmless looking figure, a merry musician with a special talent for playing the flute. Through his magic flute playing, he can solve people’s problems, if they will just promise to pay the price he asks.
We have such a Pied Piper among us. Although he does not entice with the sweet tune of a flute, he has some powerful charms which he pipes to others via, his erudition, his beguiling memory and ability to recall scriptural and historical references with the ease of one doing a “Vedabase” search and, a personality possessed of the dual qualities of charm and intimidation.
Another potent feather in this Piper’s cap are the famous laudations our revered masters bestowed upon him. He thus became the self-styled “protégé” of Srila Sridhara Maharaja. This appears to be the most difficult barrier to cross when confronting any peculiar behavior that could be expected to arouse sharp and immediate criticism when displayed by others, but is tolerated, or ignored, when exhibited by the Piper.
His name? The Pied Piper of San Jose seems a fitting allusion for our purposes. Some also know him as Sripada Bhakti Sudhira Goswami. By either nomenclature, he proposed a problem in our Mission, and then offered to solve it, for a price.
He set out to convince the Acharyas, the adults, of our Mission “‘Please your honours,’ said he” that it could not remain united as it had been during the presence of Srila Govinda Maharaja unless we had a central unifying figure guiding it. The Mission also needed to drive away the constraints (the rats) of Srila Gurudeva’s Will. He then offered to rid us of these problems if we would just pay the fee he asked.
“Will you give me a thousand guilders?”, asked the Piper of Hamelin.
What fee did Goswami Maharaja demand? Things that Srila Gurudeva did not give him.
A seventh Acharya, Sripada Goswami Maharaja.
A single world-wide Acharya, Srila Acharya Maharaja.
The International Acharya Board’s continued existence with Goswami Maharaja as a member instead of a newly formed Acharya Sabha, as directed in Gurudeva’s Will, that would not include him.
After failing to get a single world-wide Acharya, the attempt was made to transform Acharya Maharaja into an Emperor Acharya, willing to follow the Piper’s direction.
Four of the Acharyas agreed to give him what he wanted. While they could not get these things by following Srila Govinda Maharaja’s Will, they could, in theory, get them by following the direction of Sripada Goswami Maharaja who insisted on each of the above items.
The four Acharyas, headed by Sripada Acharya Maharaja, must have thought they were getting a bargain.
“One? fifty thousand!”—was the exclamation
Of the astonished Mayor and Corporation.
Now all are happily following the scheme of the International Acharya Board. When it’s time to pay the Piper, however, the Acharyas will come up short because the capital needed to make a seventh Acharya is not being held by them. It was held by Srila Govinda Maharaja who already invested it in the other six Acharyas, never naming a seventh.
You should have heard the Hamelin people
Ringing the bells till they rocked the steeple.
“Go,” cried the Mayor, “and get long poles!
Poke out the nests and block up the holes!
Consult with carpenters and builders,
And leave in our town not even a trace
Of the rats!”—when suddenly, up the face
Of the Piper perked in the market-place,
With a, “First, if you please, my thousand guilders!”
A thousand guilders! The Mayor looked blue;
So did the Corporation too.
We all admire Goswami Maharaja’s bold and energetic service to Srila Sridhara Maharaja. He acquired a great stock of assets during the time he developed his own preaching mission in San Jose, the “Krishna Consciousness Movement.”
As the guru of that mission he attracted many persons by his preaching. Some became his disciples, some the disciples of Srila Sridhara Maharaja. He purchased a building, established Deities, one of Them Srila Govinda Maharaja’s personal Deity of Sriman Mahaprabhu. Goswami Maharaja asked Govinda Maharaja to give the Deity to him. Govinda Maharaja happily agreed thinking “Goswami Maharaja has given us five Deities (Sridhara Maharaja’s books), I can give him one Deity.”
Goswami Maharaja acquired many recordings of Srila Sridhara Maharaja and printed many books and other literatures based on those recordings. He then took the grievous decision to block access to the recordings to all except a very few lucky ones who, he demanded, could hear them, but not distribute them to anyone else. This was a glaring deviation from Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s expressly stated intent.
He would not even hand them over to one of Srila Gurudeva’s disciples that he knew had just received Gurudeva’s special dispensation to listen to the recordings. “He [Gurudeva] said you could listen to them, he didn’t say I had to give them to you.” was Goswami Maharaja’s cleverly crafted response to the disciple requesting the recordings from him. Yes, he is very clever in getting the outcome he wants.
As Srila Govinda Maharaja once commented (paraphrasing),
“He was very clever, he got Guru Maharaja to sign the paper.” [Granting publishing rights to Goswami Maharaja, which he later sold.]
Goswami Maharaja had a temple filled with devotees enlivened to serve under his direction and a loyal congregation offering their time and money to help him with his noble preaching work.
But Goswami Maharaja was not content. He thought temples and ashrams inhabited by sannyasis, brahmacaris and brahmacarinis were outdated relics of the past. He had a vision for the future that required a break with this past. Those of us, such as myself, who did not agree with this, were dispensed with as simple minded, old fashioned antique-like creatures, too old and odd to fit in with the next wave of preaching.
He sold the temple for a downpayment on a fashionable house in an exclusive neighborhood named Crystal Springs. He left the sacred sannyasa vesha given him by Srila Sridhara Maharaja in favor of black clothing, and long hair. The irony of the similarity to Sripada Bon Maharja’s (disciple of Srila Saraswati Thakura) appearance, that was criticized by Srila Sridhara Maharaja when he returned to India from London, did not seem to bother him.
Having sold the temple, most of its residents became homeless. The congregation could visit him in his classy new home but only by invitation, which was rarely issued, and they were not to show any outward signs of their “vaishnavata”, no dhoti, sari, tilaka, sikha, etc.
What does Goswami Maharaja have to sell now, as compensation for services rendered? He offered to sell me a seat on the “Acharya Board” (IAB) if I would just pay his price.
What was the price? I must abandon my exhortations for the formation of the Acharya Sabha. Of course I refused. What is directed in Srila Gurudeva’s Will is not my property to bargain with, it is the property of Srila Gurudeva. It should not be used as a bargaining chip to negotiate deals, no matter how appealing the deal may appear to be.
Not surprisingly, his break with the past didn’t lead to the ushering in of a brilliant new age of preaching, but to ruin. He sold everything. His new house, the Deities and the Guardian of Devotion Press along with the supposed “rights” to the books and recordings of Srila Sridhara Maharaja.
It didn’t matter that the people purchasing these items, including the “rights” to Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s recordings, were “out of favor” with his Mission or showed disregard for his chosen successor, Srila Govinda Maharaja, or that they would stand to profit from what was rightfully the inheritance of Srila Govinda Maharaja. They were the highest bidders in this auction of spiritual paraphernalia and the intellectual property of, in Goswami Maharaja’s words, “the modern day rupanuga-acharya Bhakti Rakshak Sridhar Dev-Goswami.”
No stranger to irony, Goswami Maharaja felt fully justified in denying Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s recordings to one who Srila Govinda Maharaja wanted to have them, but could not deny them to those acting as an anti-party to Srila Gurudeva.
He behaved then, as he does now, as if he was the only one who could understand the true value of the sacred words from Srila Guru Maharaja’s recordings. Were they not, thereby, his personal property to dispense to others as he saw fit to do?
He knew better than his Godbrothers. We were mere mortals, incapable of appreciating the higher spiritual concepts that were constantly percolating in his wonderfully creative brain.
He thought he could better utilize Srila Govinda Maharaja’s Mahaprabhu Deity and was, therefore, not shy to ask He be given to him. But nothing was so highly valued or sacred that it couldn’t be sold for some cold hard cash. When the sannyasa vesh is no longer valued, is anything?
All the objects he instructed us to worship were sold to the highest bidder, and the few devotees that had the privilege of living with him in his grand house had to find their own accommodations when that was also disposed of.
He then all but disappeared for about nine years. I don’t want to mention his activities during these years. Let me just say that Sri Prahlada Maharaja advised us that we must refrain from punah punas carvita-carvananam or what Sripada Goswami Maharaja himself euphemistically described as “The life of an artist.”
Somehow the erudition, uncanny memory, knowledge of scripture, personal association and talks with his gurus and even their laudations that were, for the most part, already given to him, did not prevent his, headlong plunge into, shall we say, alokika dharma or uncommon practices.
I have concluded that then and now his aforementioned qualities of charm and intimidation coupled with the well known accolades of our gurus caused almost everyone to behave as they are behaving now, tolerating and ignoring his peculiar behavior, which is, as it was before, divergence from the instructions of our guru varga, in favor of his own newly formulated doctrine for unity and progress.
As history repeats itself, for better or worse, I confronted him then, as I have in the matters currently under discussion. In both instances shallow excuses were offered as justification for his aberrant behavior.
If you do not know the path our gurus implored us to follow, if you cannot discern reality from illusion, or if you are content accepting half truths, innuendo, shallow explanations and intimidation as motivation for your progress in Krishna Consciousness, then you may cower in fear before the great Oz, or the magical Piper. But will you not feel yourself to be a hypocrite to your own cause? And, will you “give the same adulterated thing to others?”
We have to scrutinize more accurately what we thought we understood. Everyone must ask himself, “Where am I? What is my real need? And how much am I hankering for the real thing?” All these things will be expressed, and made public. So, this is the real field of sadhana, or practice. Our practice, our advancement needs all these difficulties. Otherwise, we may not know what is progress, and we will become hypocrites, and give the same adulterated thing to others.—Sri Guru and His Grace
To his credit and glory he returned to the Mission he had discarded. Picking up a little ahead of where he left off, he found the Temples and ashramas of the brahmacaris and sannyasis weren’t such bad places after all. They afforded him shelter in the company of devotees who still welcomed him and his preaching with eagerness.
Srila Govinda Maharaja also greeted him with great happiness and affection and restored all the honor previously bestowed upon him by Srila Sridhara Maharaja. We all did.
Then why mention the unpleasant history referred to above?
One who overcomes such events is not to be scorned, but to be praised for his humility, perseverance and determination.
“Forget the past that sleeps” is the advice of Srila Bhakti Vinoda Thakura.
That is welcomed advice for the past that sleeps.
Unfortunately, Goswami Maharaja will not let it sleep. He is again deviating from the instructions of the Acharya, Srila Govinda Maharaja, and he has persuaded four other Acharyas to follow him.
“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.”
A simple straight forward direction. But he, and they, insist it be ignored. They know better than Srila Govinda Maharaja. The old way must be abandoned, follow the innovator. Goswami Maharaja’s time has come once again to usher in the new direction for the Mission to follow.
I wonder if someone would care to tell me, which Goswami Maharaja is it that is ushering in the current “New Age?”
Is he the Goswami Maharaja of (L-R) Crystal Springs, the sannyasi with the dyed orange hair, the “Philip Murphy” in “Take me to the Pilot”, or the International Acharya Board member? Perhaps it is an even newer and more creative Goswami Maharaja we have not yet seen. Time may tell us, but do we dare wait? I advise against it.The Itihasas, such as the Mahabharata, are histories, additions to the original Vedas, but they are considered by Srila Jiva Goswami to be as good as the Vedas. History is also important for education. Not only should we be familiar with theoretical knowledge but also practical example.
And what is the example we should take away from Goswami Maharaja’s history? Do not deviate from the predecessor Acharyas, it will lead not to fame, but infamy.
Acaryavan puruso veda (Chandogya Upanisad 6.14.2): one has full knowledge about life when one is acaryavan, controlled by the acarya. But when one is conducted by rajo-guna and tamo-guna, one does not care about anything; instead, one acts like an ordinary foolish animal, risking his life (mrtyu-samsara-vartmani [Bg. 9.3]) and therefore continuing to go through suffering after suffering. Na te viduh svartha-gatim hi visnum (SB 7.5.31). Such a foolish person does not know how to elevate himself in this body. Instead, he indulges in sinful activities and goes deeper and deeper into hellish life.—SB 10.10.10
Our four Acharyas, who know Goswami Maharaja’s history, want to ignore it. They prefer only to remember the kind remarks made about him by Srila Govinda Maharaja which lend support to their insistence that he be regarded as the seventh Acharya. Srila Govinda Maharaja did mention the possibility of Goswami Maharaja being the Acharya of London. But, just as the suggestion was made, it was also withdrawn. Perhaps he thought better of the idea after recalling the history.
But, I digress. I was about to tell the next part of our Piper’s tale, the joyous, dancing children.
Once more he stepped into the street;
And to his lips again
Laid his long pipe of smooth straight cane;
And ere he blew three notes (such sweet
Soft notes as yet musician’s cunning
Never gave the enraptured air)
There was a rustling, that seemed like a bustling
Of merry crowds justling at pitching and hustling,
Small feet were pattering, wooden shoes clattering,
Little hands clapping and little tongues chattering,
And, like fowls in a farmyard when barley is scattering,
Out came the children running.
All the little boys and girls,
With rosy cheeks and flaxen curls,
And sparkling eyes and teeth like pearls,
Tripping and skipping, ran merrily after
The wonderful music with shouting and laughter.
The children, the newcomers and young disciples cannot be expected to know all the histories. Their eyes are always open wide with excitement about the next fad, trend or innovation. Why shouldn’t they? The life of Krishna Consciousness is all new to them. It is the nature of children to be excited by new things. It is our duty as guardians, men of age and experience, to protect them, to anticipate the harm that can come when the flute sound they are enlivened to follow is not that of Krishna.
The Mayor was dumb, and the Council stood
As if they were changed into blocks of wood,
Unable to move a step, or cry
To the children merrily skipping by—
And could only follow with the eye
That joyous crowd at the Piper’s back.
Like the Pied Piper of Hamelin, I doubt our story will have a happy ending.
When, lo, as they reached the mountain’s side,
A wondrous portal opened wide,
As if a cavern was suddenly hollowed;
And the Piper advanced and the children followed,
And when all were in to the very last,
The door in the mountain-side shut fast.
What I am writing here are not predictions. I do not pretend to know the future. This is a cautionary tale. There is still time to reverse course and accept Srila Gurudeva’s directives. If that is not done, however, we should expect the Piper will demand his payment. And when his demand is not met, as it cannot be, what will remain of our town, our Mission?
My concern is not so much with the adults in this analogy, it is the children, the newcomers and younger disciples. We, who are supposed to be adults, have a responsibility to look after them. I take that job seriously.
In the 1990’s Sripada Goswami Maharaja’s deviation burned down one temple and a great deal of spiritual paraphernalia were also lost from our Mission. Now he’s deviating again, while holding four of our Acharyas under his spell. He’s already started the fire. How much of Srila Gurudeva’s Mission will be burned before the fire is put out?
In an accusatory tone Goswami Maharaja inferred that I must have fallen victim to insanity by coining a common expression, “Insanity is writing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.”
Since I have made public my views that differ so starkly from those of Sripada Goswami Maharaja I have been referred to by many unkind terms.
In various places I have been compared to an “anti-party”, “traitor to Srila Govinda Maharaja”, “heretic” and so on.
But, as if to demonstrate their unique qualifications for membership on the International Acharya Board (a position I declined), some of its members have turned in the most original slurs against me.
Besides his own insanity remark, Goswami Maharaja was kind enough to pass on to me a comment made by a fellow acharya about my humble self, “Acharya abhiman can eat the brain and turn into an unhealthy obsession.”
Perhaps Sripada Janardana Maharaja provided the most critical comment to me with his remark comparing me to the best known offender of Sri Guru, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His devotees, “There must be here some hidden Ramachandra Puri conception.”
When Sripada Janardana Maharaja spoke, immediately following Srila Govinda Maharaja’s disappearance, he reminded us “Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakura said ‘You’re a Vaishnava, there’s never any offense among Vaishnavas.'”
I agree. I accept these men as Vaishnavas and I personally feel no trouble in my heart with their observations about this humble soul.
I am left to wonder, however, if in an environment where even the leaders of the highest rank seem to be willing to walk on pins and needles to avoid comments that might be regarded as critical of Goswami Maharaja, are there two standards we must follow, one for Goswami Maharaja and one for the rest of us? Did I miss the sloka addressing this dichotomy?
While insanity does not run in my family, Goswami Maharaja’s remarks are the first I’ve heard that suggest I need professional help. I will admit, however, to being foolish in the manner suggested by the following passage:
Out of ignorance one commits lawbreaking. So ignorance is not bliss, but it is folly to be wise where ignorance is bliss. That is the difficulty. The whole world is enjoying ignorance. And when you talk about Krsna consciousness, they do not very much appreciate it. If I say, “Krsna is the proprietor; you are not the proprietor,” you will not be very much satisfied. [They laugh.] Just see — ignorance is bliss. So it is my foolishness to say the real truth. Therefore it is folly to be wise where ignorance is bliss. So we are taking the risk of offending people, and they will think we are fools.—Perfect Questions, Perfect Answers, Chap. 7
Is the truth unpleasant? Compared to what? Ignorance of the truth is more harmful. If hearing the truth averts disaster perhaps its unpleasantness should be overlooked.
Let us remember:
acaryera mata yei, sei mata sara
tanra ajna langhi’ cale, sei ta’ asara
“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.” — CC Adi 12.10
I again urge, as I have done consistently, that the other Acharyas ignore the enticing offers of the colorful Piper. Accept your adult responsibilities. Be the Acharyas Gurudeva expected you to be, follow his instructions, and form an Acharya Sabha in accordance with the direction and spirit of his Will.
Praying for the mercy and protection of the Lord’s devotees I invoke the following passage for our mutual instruction and benefit:
“How shall I preach to the world the pure message of Sri Caitanya and establish the heart’s desire of my gurus? I have no support of people, no support of wealth and I do not have any learning or intelligence which can attract the common people.” — Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati
Swami B.K. Giri
I expect some of our readers will be inclined to react to my observations, put forth above, as if I am the worst type of offender to the Vaishnvas. It is my humble request to these readers to thoughtfully consider the following:
“It is not such an easy thing to commit Vaisnava-aparadha. It is aparadha if some offence is made to a Vaisnava, but if a clash comes with an anartha in a middle-class Vaisnava causing him to become angry, that will not produce any offence. A cent-percent Vaisnava may have some anartha, and if some opposition comes to the anartha, he may be enraged. In such a case it is not strictly the Vaisnava but his mind – the mental system of the Vaisnava and not his spiritual element. It will not be so much of an aparadha if the cause of his anger was only that his material interest is disturbed.“We can make so many calculations and assessments, but we also see in the Scripture: “Na hi kalyana-krt kascid, durgatim tata gacchati – any person engaged in virtuous actions does not go down to hell or become ill-fated.” If one is sincere and does not want to deceive himself, none can deceive him. We must be true to our clear spiritual conscience. We must be truthful to that in our quest, then the Lord within will come to help us. He will always help the sincere souls. He is everywhere and He is the helper.”—Holy Engagement
I do not make any pretense to knowing the adhikara of Sripada Goswami Maharaja or my fellow Acharyas. I know them as my Godbrothers and Godnephews. I also know that sannyasis and acharyas are to act on the platform of the madhyama-adhikara, “a middle-class Vaisnava” as referred to in the above quotation. It is to these middle-class Vaishnavas that I address my critical remarks.