Navadwip, India — Thursday, April 15th

Getting to know Srila Acharyadev

Every morning, after the mangala aratis, we go up to the stairs of the Centenary building where Srila Bhakti Nirmal Acharya Maharaj has his rooms, and assemble in the long living room/hall to get his darshan.

Just as Srila Guru Maharaj and Srila Gurudeva used to give a morning darshan on their respective verandas, to meet and greet the devotees, Srila Acharyadev, by continuing this tradition, is giving us a similar opportunity to interact with, and get to know him better.

Many of us know very little about Srila Acharya Maharaj. We know that it was Srila Gurudeva's wish that he should be the next acharya of our Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math and Mission worldwide, so we want to develop a relationship with him in that capacity. But we also want a relationship that is more than simply one of respect and honor; we want to establish the same kind of affectionate connection that we had with Srila Gurudeva.

And for those of us who have known Srila Acharya Maharaj for some time, especially in his capacity as the manager and maintainer of our Math in Navadwip, that familiarity will make it a little harder for us to change our perception of him: to begin to see him in his new role as the acharya of our mission.

But it shouldn't be too difficult. One of the things that you have to like about Srila Acharya Maharaj (besides his jovial nature and natural sense of humor) is his innate humility. He is always saying publicly, in his lectures, that he cannot manage this mission without the help of all his senior godbrothers and godsisters, that he is unqualified, and that we sannyasis especially, should correct him when he makes any mistakes and chastise him when he does anything wrong, but as Kelikadambanana Devi Dasi reminded me the other day, because he has the blessings and the divine backing of Srila Gurudeva, for us to think that we are helping Srila Acharya Maharaj (or that he needs our help) is like the cowherd men depicted in the mural at the entrance to our Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math thinking that they are helping Krishna to hold up Govardhan Hill with their little sticks!

Soon Srila Acharyadev will embark on a series of world tours to introduce himself to all our devotees, just as Srila Gurudeva did after the disappearance of Srila Guru Maharaj, to give us a chance to get to know, love, and serve him as we did (and in accordance with the desire of) the predecessor acharya...

Tags: Gurus & Guardians

Siliguri, India — Sunday, April 18th

To Siliguri

Yesterday Srila Acharya Maharaj took about twenty-two devotees from our Math in Navadwip to our Math in Siliguri. After an early breakfast, we all piled into the Tata Sumo (SUV) and bus for the two-hour ride from Navadwip to Burdwan, where we caught the 10:30 train to the New Jalpaiguri station in Siliguri.

Siliguri is far to the north, at the base of the Himalaya mountains, near the borders of Nepal, Bangladesh and China. It is supposed to be an eight-hour train ride, but of course, since this is India, the train had to make a couple of unscheduled stops in the middle of nowhere, which meant that we arrived in Siliguri two hours late. It took us a while to find taxis large enough for our party, so we only got to the Math at a little after ten, about fifteen hours after we started out...

After the class this morning, Srila Acharya Maharaj's picture is installed on the altar of this temple, to update our guru parampara to show the latest living acharya in our disciplic line of succession.

Tags: India

Siliguri, India — Wednesday, April 21st

Friendly city

Every day for the last four days here at our Math in Siliguri, Srila Acharya Maharaj has been giving an English class in the mornings and a Bengali class in the evenings. The evening lectures are packed, with the locals crowding into the small nat mandir to participate in the rousing kirtans and to hear Srila Acharyadev speak.

For those of us traveling with Srila Acharyadev on these mini-tours (he plans to go to Midnapur, Bamunpar, Hapaniya, and perhaps even Jagannath Puri in the next few weeks), the experience has been exhilarating. Srila Acharyadev inspires everybody. Indeed, he says that the purpose of these visits to all our West Bengal Maths is to "give energy" to the local devotees.

The people here are very friendly — and generous. Srila Acharyadev wanted to send the devotees out every day to beg for bhoga at the local market, but in two days, going out for just an hour a day, they collected more fresh produce than we could possibly eat during our four-day stay.

After lunch, we get three taxis to the New Jalpaiguri station to catch the 3:30 p.m. overnight train to Navadwip. We should arrive at the Navadwip Dham station at about 3:30 tomorrow morning...

Tags: India

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Layout by iMonk — April 21st, 2010.