Архив за апреля, 2014

Answering some questions

Воскресенье, апреля 6, 2014

Dear Prabhu,

thanks for your sincere inquiry. I understand your concerns about our Indian Mission as well as world situations and I would like to answer your questions one by one.

1. Regarding the situation with Srila Acharya Maharaj in India. It’s true that Acharya Maharaj was arrested due to the pressure from the opposition, but finally he has been released from the jail and have attended Gaura Purnima festival and we had our yearly Acharya Board meeting, which was attended by myself, Srila Janardan Maharaj, Srila Ashram Maharaj and Srila Acharya Maharaj. On the meeting Srila Acharya Maharaj convinced us “NOT TO WORRY ABOUT INDIA” and reminded us that Gurudev did not recommend our involvement in the situation. He assured us that “he is managing everything” and, according to him, every mission has it’s own way to manage local situation. So, technically speaking, it was understood that every mission has it’s own program, management, development and spiritual management.

2. Answersing your second question, about Acharyas and Acharya board, it’s clear that devotees in other missions worldwide can connect with different Acharyas of our mission. Of course, recognisions of local management should be obeyed. In the previous letter I clearly mentioned that besides recognized acharyas and Gurus in the last will, our world Mission has many strong and experienced devotees and I hope they will take active leading role. They can invite and consult with other Acharyas, including Acharya Maharaj. Or, according to their vision, recognize one Acharya as leader, or, ideally, accept someone who will take leading role and in the future even become initiating Guru.

Now covering your third question. When Srila Govinda Maharaj spoke with us before His departure, He was considering future growth of our misson and accepted that in the future others will take the leading role. We can see similar situation in ISKCON: several Acharyas were recognized by Prabhupad and several leaders and Gurus appeared after His departure. Many times Gurudev mentioned Saraswati Thakur who said that Acharya is self-effulgent, but what does it mean? It means that when someone surrenders to Krishna and his preaching inspires others, he can be recognized as a Guru. Or, even if someone has the recognition from above but is not following his duty, he can easily loose his position. We should remember Srila Guru Maharaj’s statement that jiva doesn’t have his own capital and lives exclusively on credit. Spiritual capital is faith. Krishna can increase or reduce our credit line, therefore noone can exist without the mercy of Guru and Vaishnavas. Guru is actually a relative position: he is only Guru to his disciple, but for his teacher he is a disciple himself. But Vaishnava is an absolute position. He exists only in the service plane. So we should try to find our proper place in the service world.

Your next question is why are we not having news from Acharya Board. It’s a very good question. Technically speaking, it has two functions: first, it controls internal situation of the Mission and second is to answer the questions of devotees. On spiritual questions Acharyas can have individual understanding and they can be answering according to their spiritual vision. And on managerial matters, they can give recommendations and consultations, which means sometimes this information is open for everyone and sometimes it’s internally discussed between themselves. So since Acharya Board has very little to do with Indian situation which is exclusively managed by Acharya Maharaj, we really have very little to comment, due to lack of information about the Indian situation.

Your next question about the position of Srila Goswami Maharaj. I can only give my impression. I think he feels that at this stage of his life he wants to dedicate himself towards his own spiritual publishing projects and want to be involved in politics as little as possible. It’s true that he has publically chastised Srila Acharya Maharaj. But, according to Srila Goswami Maharaj, he did not mean to commit any offenses, but rather to bring attention of Acharya Maharaj and of the world community to the Indian situation, as well as to express his concerns about Srila Acharya Maharaj’s relationships with other senior devotees. I personally believe that Srila Goswami Maharaj has the right to chastise people like myself, since he belongs to the senior devotees group. I have my own individual opinion regarding our situation in mission and I definitely don’t have right to chastise anyone publically, since I’m the most junior member of Acharya Board, both by age and experience. Therefore I prefer to deal with what’s possible for me. However, I’m expressing my opinions and concerns to Acharya Maharaj and other Acharyas and I believe they can extract what is valuable and apply that in practice. I understand that any opposition is good because it makes us to analyze our actions and breaks a full sense of monopoly. I’m admiring spiritual competition, both inside our Mission and outside. I don’t think it’s bad. I wish we had more of the spiritual competition. I don’t recognize black PR and offenses, public humiliation, but I don’t see any problem with healthy criticism and open discussions. Of course, vaishava humility should be our main principle.

So, your last question: what should we do? It has an absolute and relative considerations. In the absolute way Gurudev said: we are supposed to preach and practice. In a practical world we should see how we can apply this in reality. Some devotees in our mission are preaching through yoga and other activities, some devotees are preaching very directly. So we understand: something exists for external connection with public and there are internal missionary ideals, and there are steps how we can try to bring people into the world of our Gurus. I can only say about our experience in Russia, China and Europe. We do different cultural and spiritual programs using various ways of connecting with public: concerts, yoga events, festivals, cooking courses, and gradually, one by one, collecting people who are interested in deep spiritual life. But we understand very clearly that one of the millions can become a devotee of Krishna. To me, it means that we should have very broad and open approach before we target our audience. As far as myself, from one side, I’ve been always experimenting, but from another side, we also have substantinal preaching programs in our centers in Russia and worldwide: kirtan, arati, prasadam. Lately we’ve realised the power of the internet and audio and video-preaching and that could be supported by many devotees who do not live in the temples, they can do online service, online media and book distribution.

With your permission, I will publish this letter, because I believe many devotees of our mission have similar questions. Ashutosh Prabhu can post this on the facook and if devotees have questions I will try to asnwer them according to my level of understanding and faith. Sorry for mistakes, because English is not my first language, but I like English for it allows very clear and direct expression. So please don’t hesitate to write me. I will try to answer as my time will allow me. I’m not looking for arguing about this, but rather to share my understanding, especially when it helps devotees to continue their service life.

Your servant,
Swami B. B. Avadhut