The Importance of Being Honest and Attentive

The following was an email sent to Gokulananda das on September 22, 2011

Dear Sriman Gokulananda Prabhu,

Please accept my humble obeisances.

By the grace of Sri Guru I was correct on a calendar point I mentioned to you. I had heard it once or twice before without understanding the point. My brain didn’t work fast enough to digest it before I had to concentrate on the next points of the talk.

Anyway, what I told you about Krishna-caturdasi, etc. and Gaura-caturdasi, etc. was correct. Srila Guru Maharaja also considered the point an important one.

Guru Maharaja: There was another, similar in Madras. In “Gaudiya”, the Gaudiya Math’s leading weekly paper, there was published one wrong siddhanta. Sundarananda was the editor, perhaps with the advice of Vasudeva Prabhu because he was used to always consulting Vasudeva Prabhu. He wrote, he mistook the birthday of Vishnu-Priya Devi and the birthday of our Guru Maharaja. Both panchami (fifth lunar day). Prabhupada is Krsna panchami and Vishnu-Priya Devi is sukla panchami, one is dark moon and one is bright moon. Vishnu-Priya Devi is in the bright moon and Prabhupada dark moon, panchami. But he arranged just the opposite, he took Prabhupada as in the bright moon, fifth, and Vishnu-Priya Devi in the dark, fifth. But what I read I read carefully, I caught it here, what is this anomaly? The basis is wrong and he’s philosophising, why Krsna shakti has come in the bright moon and why Gaura shakti He has come in the black moon? I found just the opposite, I showed it to Bon Maharaja. “What is this? He’s committed diabolically wrong.”

And then Bon Mahäräja suddenly took the pen and wrote letter. “What is this, we thought Sundarananda Prabhu has got some touch with the reality. So what he says, what he writes, that has come in connection with the real sentiment. But how this sort of error can be possible from him? He has got no srauta connection, all concoction?”

So he found that yes it is such and then they tried to correct that in another issue. He showed that has been erroneous and it should be this and that, that printers mistake, but that cannot really be substantiated.

I know the attention to detail I sometimes stress with our calendar may seem troublesome or unnecessary. It is troublesome for me also as it seems every year there is some new mistake. Not only in our calendar, but the calendar supplied by the Navadwipa Math. Now their mistakes seem to be increasing. Thus, if I do not examine every single day I may miss something. As we’ve discussed, I simply do not have the time to look at every day of the year and check and then make so many changes and corrections as would be required to make our calendar perfect. I believe there are more important uses of our time at present.

Still, Srila Guru Maharaja and Srila Govinda Maharaja gave considerable attention to the accuracy of the Math calendars, so I am trying to follow them as much as possible. They had the distinct advantage of actually knowing astrology, which I do not. Those creating the Navadwipa Math calendar have also studied astrology and are supposed to be familiar with it. So why am I, a simple man, uneducated in astrology able to detect mistakes which they do not see? I don’t believe it is due to some extraordinary qualification of mine, but that they are not giving proper attention to their job.

I have seen Srila Govinda Maharaja especially disturbed upon seeing mistakes in the calendar. As with a few other incidents, he commented that we are supposed to be the ones setting the standard. Other Maths (Gaudiya Maths) also look to our calendar to be authoritative, how will it look if we publish something that is wrong?

Mistakes cannot be avoided. It was there in the publications of Srila Saraswati Thakura, Srila Sridhara Maharaja, Srila Swami Maharaja, Srila Govinda Maharaja, and we will also not be able to avoid mistake.

As we recently discussed regarding the transcriptions, it is better to produce something to our best capacity, even if it is flawed, than to be paralyzed into inaction, producing nothing out of fear that some mistake is present.

We must preach according to our realization, understanding and capacity, depending on the statements of the shastras and our gurus that the sincere attempt will be appreciated by honest men.

And why worry about those who are not honest? Not honest means they are cheating themselves. As a result, they will try to cheat others, if not intentionally, then unintentionally, because it is their nature to be involved with cheating in one way or another. We have no need for the company of such persons.

Srila Govinda Maharaja often praised the “simple hearted Vaishnava” and one who is “very straight.” Srila Gurudeva attracted many such persons because that was also Srila Gurudeva’s nature. He never liked diplomatic dealings or fakery.

Diplomacy cannot be avoided entirely, that is not possible, but he avoided it as much as possible. I know you are trying to follow that idea, as am I.

CC Adi Lila 7, TEXT 72
murkha tumi, tomara nahika vedantadhikara
‘krsna-mantra’ japa sada,—ei mantra-sara

murkha tumi—You are a fool; tomara—Your; nahika—there is not; vedanta—Vedanta philosophy; adhikara—qualification to study; krsna-mantra—the hymn of Krsna (Hare Krsna); japa—chant; sada—always; ei—this; mantra—hymn; sara—essence of all Vedic knowledge.

“‘You are a fool,’ he said. ‘You are not qualified to study Vedanta philosophy, and therefore You must always chant the holy name of Krsna. This is the essence of all mantras, or Vedic hymns.

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja comments in this connection, “One can become perfectly successful in the mission of his life if he acts exactly according to the words he hears from the mouth of his spiritual master.” This acceptance of the words of the spiritual master is called srauta-vakya, which indicates that the disciple must carry out the spiritual master’s instructions without deviation. Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura remarks in this connection that a disciple must accept the words of his spiritual master as his life and soul.

Mahaprabhu is speaking for us in our position, or at least I can say He is speaking for me. I am not very qualified. I know very little about Vedanta, nothing about Sanskrit, Bengali or astrology and even my knowledge of the shastra of our own Mission is very limited.

Therefore I fit the description perfectly, nahika vedanta adhikara I am not qualified to study Vedanta.

murkha tumi, Gurudeva never told me this, he did not have to. I knew he knew it, and he knew I knew he knew it. I am a fool. Before him I am “fool number one” a phrase Srila Swami Maharaja often used. Once in London Gurudeva looked to me to lead kirtan and he said “Chant Hare Krishna Mantra, that is simple.” He knew I was not familiar with many songs. Indirectly, or directly, he was saying “You are foolish, just chant Hare Krishna, that you can do.”

Yes, that I can do. And what he tells me to do I can also do that. These two things, all of us can do. And they are the most vital. Follow our guru, what he directs us to do, we must follow. Perfectly or imperfectly is not the question. We must try. And if we see our attempt is imperfect, then we must try to perfect it. But, we must not interpret his instructions to make our imperfect attempt appear to conform with his directions.

That is for the cheaters and the cheated. That will never help us.

We are not required to be perfect, but we are required to be perfectly sincere and honest, and these are attainable by all of us.

I see you have made the last corrections we discussed about the calendar. Very good. I am always encouraged to see your serious attitude towards service. It makes me hopeful about my own prospect.

I pray this finds you well in all respects.

Affectionately yours,

Giri Maharaj