Letter To B.V. Bhāgavata Mahārāja

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by Swami B.G. Narasingha

"Letter To B.V. Bhāgavata Mahārāja" was an open letter written by Śrīla B.G. Narasiṅgha Mahārāja to Swami B.V. Bhagavata and published on VNN on November 18th 1998. Narasiṅgha Mahārāja's letter was in response to an offensive article that B.V. Bhāgavata had written against Śrīla A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda.

Dear H.H. Bhakti Vidagdha Bhāgavata Mahārāja,

Daṇḍavats.

We have heard the news that you have gone to western countries for preaching the message of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu following in the footstep of Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura who through his disciple Śrīla A.C.Bhaktivedānta Swami Mahārāja Prabhupāda spread Kṛṣṇa consciousness throughout the world.

I do not remember that my Guru Mahārāja had ever gone to Costa Rica where you are presently preaching, so it is very nice that a representative of the Gauḍīya tradition is now there. Costa Rica is not actually what we call ‘fully in the western world’ although it is certainly far, far away from Mother India. The western world proper means New York, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angles, London, Paris, Berlin, Rome etc. – possibly you will come to these centres of western civilization in the future for preaching Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

As you might have heard—Ramesh Prabhu has distributed your reply to Ravindra Svarūpa Prabhu by the box full while he was in India. The paper was greatly appreciated by the followers of H. H. Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja at Govardhana. However I beg to inform you that the paper was not appreciated by one and all. I, for one, take exception to your statements regarding my Guru Mahārāja. You may have your personal/private thoughts about my Guru Mahārāja and I do not have any jurisdiction over that but you have now made your conception public by posting your paper on VNN. It is also a fact that your paper was greatly disliked by your senior godbrothers of the Gopinātha Gauḍīya Maṭha here in India – nor was the paper appreciated by your own illustrious Gurudeva, Śrīla Bhakti Pramoda Purī Gosvāmī Mahārāja. The reason for this is that your paper has inadvertently criticized Śrīla A.C.Bhaktivedānta Swami Mahārāja Prabhupāda as not being a strict follower of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura.

I will not take the liberty to represent what has been communicated to myself from your central maṭha here in India because you will hear of that from them soon enough.

The purpose of my letter to you is to request you to kindly write a heartfelt apology to my Guru Mahārāja (Śrīla A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Mahārāja Prabhupāda) for having suggested that he was not a strict follower of Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura.

It is certainly not a happy situation which has arisen to now have to approach your holiness in this regard. It is also unfortunate that the good name of Gopinātha Gauḍīya Maṭha has been dragged into the controversy between H.H. Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja and Iskcon.

Your letter to Ravindra Svarūpa Prabhu does contain some valuable Gauḍīya siddhānta. And certainly you are due some respect for your learning in the scriptures and also for your service to your Gurudeva. It appears that you have silenced Ravindra Svarūpa Prabhu or possibly he just feels disgusted with your letter and simply does not like to reply. In any event your comments and questions raised regarding the standards and practices of our Guru Mahārāja are certainly demeaning his position as an empowered Vaiṣṇava and thus whatever siddhānta you have presented in your paper has become jaded. Here too your name as a scholar is also tarnished – for scriptural learning that cannot recognize the divinity of a pure Vaiṣṇava is no better than ignorance.

You may say that I do not understand your letter to Ravindra Svarūpa but let me mention again that even the senior members of your central Maṭha have considered your paper offensive to Swami Mahārāja Prabhupāda and this has been communicated to me in writing.

I might also remind you that such venerable personalities of the Gauḍīya Maṭha such as Śrīla Yāyāvara Mahārāja and Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja have accepted Śrīla Swami Mahārāja as an empowered incarnation. In their own words, “Swami Mahārāja was a śaktyāveśa-avatāra.” They saw all that he did (practices and standards) in the matter of spreading Kṛṣṇa consciousness all over the world but they did not see the necessity to raise doubts as you have done and thus commit an offence to a senior most empowered Vaiṣṇava.

I have also never heard that your revered Gurudeva has ever questioned the wisdom of Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja or Śrīla Yāyāvara Mahārāja—how then have you come to see all these apparent defects in the mission of my Guru Mahārāja?

Your twelve points raised against my Guru Mahārāja concerning nāma, yatrī to women, arcana, bhajana, kīrtana, japa etc., all have intelligent and bona-fide answers but without a submissive attitude how will you understand? First, a humble apology from you at the lotus feet of our revered Guru Mahārāja is required and then all things will be forthcoming.

I have known you for a number of years—at least well enough to know that the twelve points that you have raised in your letter to Ravindra Svarūpa Prabhu are indeed your own doubts and criticisms of my Guru Mahārāja.

It is my experience in talking with a number of devotees who have come in your association in India (at Daujī Temple in Vṛndāvana) that you consider all the preaching of my Guru Mahārāja as simply ‘pratiṣṭhā.’ We have personally observed and also tolerated such lack of appreciation and negative comments about our Guru Mahārāja from you for a long time simply for the sake of harmony with the Gauḍīya Maṭha—but now my dear friend you have crossed the line and frankly speaking it both pains me and saddens me to read your remarks about my Guru Mahārāja who has made it possible for millions of conditioned souls to come in connection with Mahāprabhu. The extent of the mercy and grace of my Guru Mahārāja is even marvelled at by such great personalities as Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva. Did you know that these transcendental personalities used to attend the evening saṅkīrtana in the London Iskcon temple in the time of my Guru Mahārāja? Seeing Brahmā, Śiva, and Narada present in the kīrtana Guru Mahārāja requested us to establish permanent seats in the temple room for them.

You have said that you know my Guru Mahārāja better than we do but are you prepared to accept that he was an eternally liberated soul or will you argue that his mission was successful only because he was a good manager?

Actually yourself and many persons like yourself have only ever come in contact with the burnt remnants of the mission of my Guru Mahārāja in the post-Iskcon days. Due to your many negative experiences and having witnessed so many fall downs and displays of nonsense by some of the disciples of my Guru Mahārāja you may be thinking that he was a conditioned soul and that his success was only due to his karma—if so nothing could be farther from the truth. In conclusion I would say that you do not know my Guru Mahārāja in truth and thus you are not qualified to comment about him.

Unfortunately, whatever little you do know about my Guru Mahārāja is primarily hearsay—and from quite dubious and unreliable sources at that. In my opinion it would be better for you to stick to matters that concern you directly such as the orders of your Gurudeva. In other words your preaching will be better appreciated and more beneficial to others if you keep it within a jurisdiction where you have some standing and realization. Instead of commenting about my Guru Mahārāja why not just glorify your Gurudeva and bring fortunate souls to his lotus feet? I am sure Kṛṣṇa would be satisfied with that.

I might also mention that your letter to Ravindra Svarūpa Prabhu has led numerous devotees to believe that your letter was written under the authorization of your Gurudeva, Śrīla Bhakti Pramoda Purī Gosvāmī Mahārāja. But the fact is that your senior maṭha members have directly informed me that you were not authorized to write that letter and that the letter also does not represent the position and authority of your Gurudeva regarding H.H. Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja and his conflict with Iskcon, as he himself has stated in writing.

Considering the above I do not feel that my request for you to humbly apologize for your criticisms of my Guru Mahārāja is inappropriate or unjustified. I do hope you will regard this matter with the utmost urgency.

Hoping this meets you well.

Praṇāmas,

Swami B.G. Narasiṅgha

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