Who Shall We Accept as Senior? (06/24/06)
Dear Śrīman B____ Prabhu,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Śrī Guru and Śrī Gaurāṅga.
We read your latest email carefully. We welcome your proposals and we sympathize with your position completely.
As regards the issue we are discussing you are right, I don’t know because I wasn’t there, and you don’t know because your were not there either. I have heard from Śrīla G____ Mahārāja and others from Śrī Caitanya Sārasvata Maṭha about these matters, and you have heard from your dear Guru Mahārāja about the same. They were both there, but each has a different version of what actually happened. Both you and I trust what we have heard from those whom we consider to be our guardians, and by nature we accept that to be wholesome and true.
We happily stand corrected to the fact that Śrīla X___ Mahārāja has indeed visited Śrī Caitanya Sārasvata Maṭha annually for the past so many years to pay his humble respects to the samādhi of Śrīla Śrīdhara Deva Goswami Mahārāja. At the same time, it is sadly regretted that during those many visits that Śrīla X___ Mahārāja could not meet with Śrīla G____ Mahārāja. For as I have already said, seeing such a meeting would certainly inspire the junior Vaiṣṇavas and without a doubt, many misunderstandings on both sides might be resolved. Therefore, on your next visit to Śrī Caitanya Sārasvata Maṭha we humbly request you to please seek a meeting with Śrīla G____ Mahārāja to discuss these matters. Śrīla G____ Mahārāja is on this planet and is also accessible for all.
Your words however at one point are a little difficult for an uneducated man like myself to follow, but I have struggled to catch the meaning of what you are saying.
It is common understanding that those who are inviting agitation, they should retract. In this particular case whoever has written the first
article should write a retraction but you are referring to do the opposite. The first article was the cause for agitation and the fact that the rebuttal was worded strong and straight forward, – to use your own words – should this imply that the latter should write a retraction? Very strange.
What you have said is certainly true unless whoever has written the first article (Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja - pen name Bhakti Kovida) is right and whoever wrote the second article was wrong - then in that case, the later should retract, as was requested.
As a point of current information on this matter, H.H. N___ Mahārāja, a disciple of Śrīla Śrīdhara Deva Goswami Mahārāja who took sannyāsa from Śrīla Bhakti Pramoda Purī Mahārāja, went to stay with Śrīla X___ Mahārāja at Mathurā several years ago. During his stay he discussed this old incident with Śrīla X___ Mahārāja and requested him to write and publish a retraction as initially requested by Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja. N___ Mahārāja was also present at Śrīō Caitanya Sārasvata Maṭha when the incident first occurred, and he had personally heard Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja express his disappointment with the articles from Śrī Devānanda Gauḍīya Maṭha and that he was expecting a retraction if they were indeed sincere. The topic was discussed between Śrīla X___ Mahārāja and N___ Mahārāja on his visit and according to N___ Mahārāja, Śrīla X__ Mahārāja agreed to the proposal of writing a retraction. N__ Mahārāja stayed at the maṭha in Mathurā for several more days, but as the days passed and when N___ Mahārāja would raise the question Śrīla X___ Mahārāja would say, “Yes, yes, we will do.” However, after some more days. N__ Mahārāja observed that Śrīla X___ Mahārāja was avoiding him and that he had no intention of writing any sort of retraction. Thus disappointed N___ Mahārāja went away from the maṭha. Thus the matter remains unresolved.
You have written;
Why not give senior Vaiṣṇavas the benefit of the doubt?
Therein lies the problem ° who is a senior Vaiṣṇava and which ‘senior’ Vaiṣṇava’s version of the story shall we accept? The fact is that at present there are three Vaiṣṇavas on this planet that according to their disciples and their own opinions of their humble selves are pure devotees, paramahaṁsas, rasikas, and rūpānuga-ācāryas. According to the camp of Śrīla G____ Mahārāja, he is the sole ācārya of the rūpānuga sampradāya. According to the camp of Śrīla X___ Mahārāja, he is a rasika-guru. And according to the camp of Śrīla P___Mahārāja, he is the only real pure devotee, paramahaṁsa, on the planet.
Well, my dear B_____ Prabhu, we have met and discussed with all three of these ‘senior’ Vaiṣṇavas at different times over the years, and they are each of the opinion that the other two are completely bogus. So who shall we accept as senior?
In the meantime, we will try to speak with Śrīpāda V_____ Mahārāja on these and other issues and, if Kṛṣṇa arranges, I will be happy to meet your Guru Mahārāja, possibly during Gaura Pūrṇimā.
For the present however, unless Śrīla X____ Mahārāja wants to continue this discussion with me personally via email (and I doubt that he wants to spend his time in that way), then I suggest that we let this matter rest until a future date.
Wishing you well,
Swami B. G. Narasingha