The Ball is in Their Court (06/22/06)
Dear B______ Prabhu,
Please accept our humble obeisances. All glories to Śrī Guru and Gaurāṅga.
I am in receipt of your email below and have read it carefully. Please pardon me for this late reply. Thank you for your many kind words.
Yes, it is a fact that in personal meetings much more clarification can be achieved and differences between individuals can sometimes better be resolved.
Your request for me to show how to reconcile my KrsnaTalk article #56 is certainly not an easy task. What is written there is straightforward and strongly put. What I have written there is the same opinion as that of many other Vaiṣṇavas on this planet at this time (B.S. Govinda Mahārāja, B.S. Goswami Mahārāja, B.V. Tripurari Maharaha, to name a few). It is also their opinion that what I have written in article #56 accurately represents the conception of Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, Śrīla Śrīdhara Deva Goswami, Śrīla B.P. Purī Goswami, my Guru Mahārāja, and many other senior disciples of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura.
It seems to me that apparently your saṅga and your Guru Mahārāja (my old respected friend) have a different conception than those mentioned above. So, I think the only way you can reconcile this issue is with the suggestion of Śrīpāda V_____ Mahārāja who once put it to me in a letter thus, “One thing though is that even pure devotees have different visions or opinions on some transcendental subject matters.”
That is the only ‘reconciliation’ that I can offer you. Of course, I do not consider myself a pure devotee but I do consider my spiritual masters to be pure devotees, and I do consider their stalwart followers to be pure devotees.
As it is difficult for many devotees in your saṅga to reconcile some of my writings, it becomes similarly difficult for many devotees in our community (and in the communities of other Vaiṣṇavas) to reconcile some of the statements of Śrīla X___ Mahārāja and the writings of your devotees. For example, Śrīla X___ Mahārāja has said many times that Śrīla Śrīdhara Deva Goswami Mahārāja was his śikṣā-guru, but it is also openly known that Śrīla X___ Mahārāja has criticized the honorific title ‘Deva’ being used and accepted by Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja. How are devotees to reconcile that?
There are other statements of Śrīla X___ Mahārāja that could use some reconciliation as well. For example, Śrīla X___ Mahārāja, although claiming to be a disciple of Śrīla Śrīdahara Mahārāja, has openly boasted of having created “chaos, havoc and very great agitation” in the maṭha of Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja for one year. He also eludes to having ‘defeated’ Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja. The quote I am speaking of is given below:
“If someone is criticizing one’s Gurudeva and the disciple remains quiet, then he is not more than an impotent eunuch. When our Gurudeva started Ratha-yātrā in Navadvīpa, no one criticized him. When he left this world, however, a very highly advanced devotee spoke something against Ratha-yātrā in Navadvīpa. The day I heard it I could not sleep at night. I was restless and so much agitated. Soon after that I wrote an article in our magazine, and that article created chaos, havoc and very great agitation on the other side. Hence there was a fight, and that fight lasted for an entire year. If we do not do these things, we are not doing manobhiṣṭa sevā, service to the inner heart’s desire of Śrī Gurudeva. We should establish our Gurudeva’s principles and, when any opposition comes, we should defeat it.” [Vrndavana, August 15, 2000]
This statement is what has brought some distance between Śrīla X____ Mahārāja and myself. The attempts of members of your maṭha and even those of Śrīla X___ Mahārāja to reconcile his above words have all fallen short.
After the above incident took place sometime in 1969, Śrīla X____ Mahārāja went to speak with Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja and Śrīdhara Mahārāja requested him to publish a retraction for what he had written in his magazine. However, Śrīla X____ Mahārāja went away and no retraction was ever published. Nor did Śrīla X____ Mahārāja (up to this date) ever return to Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja’s maṭha. So how are we to reconcile these types of dealings when Śrīla X____ Mahārāja claims to be a śikṣā disciple of Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja?
My opinion is that any reconciliation on the above issue has to begin with a reconciliation between Śrīla G____ Mahārāja and Śrīla X____ Mahārāja. Behind each of these Vaiṣṇavas are large numbers of devotees spread around the world, but unfortunately these two personalities have shown no potential for reconciliation for the past 36 years. Both of the personalities that I am speaking about often speak of harmony and proper Vaiṣṇava relations, but the fact is that these two have a grievance with each other that runs deeper that any other that I have seen in the Vaiṣṇava world.
As Lord Kṛṣṇa says, “yad yad ācarati śreṣṭhas tat tad evarato janaḥ – What great men do the common people follow.” So, therein lies the potential for reconciliation. Let these two contemporary senior Vaiṣṇavas show us the path. Let them sit and talk and let them resolve the deep-rooted differences between our camps. This would be for the greater benefit of the Vaiṣṇava world and for future generations to come. It would indeed be historical. Unfortunately, knowing these personalities as I do, I don’t expect to see that happen any time soon.
Thus, our conclusion is that these are difficult times and that differences between our camps do exist on many levels, so we will simply have to live with that knowing that Vaiṣṇavas sometimes heartily disagree.
Or we can all go on doing our ‘guru-manobhiṣṭa sevā’ until we are finally at each others throats and Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s movement becomes known as just another “fighting Hindu schism.” That would be a sad day indeed. So, as I see it, the ball of reconciliation is in Śrīla X____ Mahārāja’s court and in the court of Śrīla G____ Mahārāja. Let them set the example and others will certainly follow.
Wishing you well,