What is the Name of Our Mission?? (06/03/02)
Actually, I am wondering what we should call you. I have heard both you and Śrīla Gurudeva refer to your śikṣā-guru, Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja, as ‘Guru Mahārāja.’ Of course, that is simple because you do not refer to Śrīla Prabhupāda by that title. But how do we convey to others that you are our śikṣā-guru, if we use the term ‘Guru Mahārāja’ for our dīkṣā-guru? This is a real issue, because by calling you simply ‘Mahārāja’, we are involuntarily placing you in the same category as any other sannyāsī.
Although there are no hard and fast rules (nor do we want to create such) in our movement, a disciple refers to his dīkṣā-guru as ‘Guru Mahārāja’ and he refers to all others (śikṣā-guru, sannyāsīs etc) by the honorific title ‘Śrīpāda’ or ‘Śrīla’ and then the name – Śrīpāda Narasiṅgha Mahārāja, Śrīla Purī Mahārāja, Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja, etc. The use of ‘Śrīpāda’ or ‘Śrīla’ is up to the discretion of the disciple. The śikṣā-guru may also be addressed as Guru Mahārāja if the relation is actually one of deep affection and surrender. Again, there are no hard and fast rules, nor do we want to create such.
Perhaps we can agree to call our dīkṣā-guru ‘Śrīla Gurudeva’, and refer to you as Śrīla Guru Mahārāja, although it may be difficult to make the transition for some disciples. Alternatively, we could revive ‘Śrīla Tridaṇḍipāda’ for Śrīla Gurudeva, or, to avoid the ‘pāda’ connotations, Śrīla Narasiṅghācārya.
This is not necessary. The system we follow is already in effect in our mission since 1987 as I have described it above.
These are issues that must be addressed as soon as possible. They may seem unimportant, but already there is some level of confusion in our mission. Devotees do not know what to call the mission itself, or the various sites. Is the mission Śrī Narasiṅgha Caitanya Maṭha, Caitanya Charitable Trust, Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava Society, Nature’s Guardian, Mission of the Guardian of Devotion, or something else altogether? We should choose one name, and make it clear to everyone what the overall mission is called, and then change all documents if necessary to reflect that.
About the sites, there is also much confusion. In South India, is the maṭha Govindaji Gardens, or Śrī Narasiṅgha Caitanya Maṭha? Is it Gaura-Gadādhara Ashrama in Vermont, or Nava Badarinātha? About the only place that has only one name is the Guardian Sevaite Ashram. But we say that GSA is affiliated with Śrī Narasiṅgha Caitanya Maṭha. Does that mean that it is part of that mission, or that it is affiliated with a particular āśrama in India?
The ‘mission” is the Brahma-Madhva-Gauḍīya-sampradāya, and each āśrama/temple has a specific name, or even two names such as ‘Śrī Narasiṅgha Caitanya Maṭha’ which is also known as ‘Govindajī Gardens.’ This has been in effect for about eight years and nobody in India or here in Vermont is ‘confused’. We do not follow the ‘system’ in Iskcon of ‘one size fits all.’ We have legally registered non-profit organisations in India and Vermont, but the names of those registered establishments are not used in preaching and are to be of no concern to new devotees who have no management responsibilities.
In the Vaiṣṇava world there are many institutions and ācāryas. Iskcon and all its branches are more or less ‘unisex’ – that is to say that the ‘ācāryas’ within Iskcon have no specific identity. For them, everything belongs to Iskcon and the ācārya is secondary. As for the rest of the Gaudiya Vaiṣṇava world, each group has its legal name and its preferred name (the name particular to each āśrama/temple) but moreover, these groups are known as the followers of Śrīla Govinda Mahārāja, the followers of Śrīla Tripurāri Mahārāja, the followers of Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja, the followers of Śrīla Purī Mahārāja, and so on and so on.
But if any one is ‘confused’ then you can refer to our camp as the ‘Śrī Narasiṅgha Caitanya Maṭha’ (the mother-maṭha where our main Deities are served).
We are not for ‘institutional consciousness’ – we are for ‘Kṛṣṇa Consciousness’ and we are known as Rūpānugas” under the guidance of a particular ‘current’ ācārya. That is the way it is in the real sense and we do not want to change that by designating names or positions. We have no temple presidents and we never ‘vote’ on anything. We work on the ‘autocratic’ principle. The guru is in charge of everything and his word is final - he is assisted by numerous aspiring servants (no temple presidents etc).
Any more questions just let me know.