Navadwip, India — Friday, March 11th

A loving relationship

We all know that it was Srila Gurudeva, Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Maharaj's desire that after his departure, Srila Bhakti Nirmal Acharya Maharaj be the next acharya of our Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math.

Srila Gurudeva told us why he chose Srila Acharya Maharaj to be our leader and guide when he publicly declared Srila Acharya Maharaj to be the future acharya of our Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, but since most of His Divine Grace's talk was in Bengali, I wanted to highlight this translation by Sripad Bhakti Kamal Tyagi Maharaj.

In this short (movie) excerpt from Srila Gurudeva's last Vyasa Puja address in December 2009, we hear Srila Gurudeva speaking in Bengali, and then say, in English,

"Sripad Bhakti Nirmal Acharya Maharaj... is highly qualified and I have chosen him as next Acharya of this Math..."

but what most of us don't hear (because Srila Gurudeva reverts to Bengali) is what Srila Gurudeva says next. And what Srila Gurudeva says in his next sentence is remarkable:

apnara sakale mile mise tara anugatye chalben,
tara anugatye thakben — ara take bhalobasben

"All of you should unitedly proceed under his guidance, serve under him faithfully — and love him..."

We all know that Srila Gurudeva had so much affection for Srila Acharya Maharaj, but it is truly astonishing to see just how much love His Divine Grace had for his dearest disciple and friend that he not only asked us all to be united under the guidance of, and faithful in our service to our new acharya, Srila Acharya Maharaj, but beseeched us to "love him" (take bhalobasben) as much as he loved him!

Thanks to Sripad Tyagi Maharaj who understood the implication of this Bengali segment and brought it to our attention by translating the context of this endorsement, we can now better appreciate why Srila Gurudeva chose to anoint Srila Acharya Maharaj as his successor:

"Sripad Bhakti Nirmal Acharya Maharaj... is highly qualified and I have chosen him as next Acharya of this Math. All of you should unitedly proceed under his guidance, serve under him faithfully, and love him..."

Because the disappearance of the acharya is always followed by turmoil and strife, Srila Gurudeva tried to minimize that disturbance by choosing a successor that he had the most faith and confidence in — that he had the most loving relationship with — so that our service would continue without interruption.

Still speaking in Bengali, Srila Gurudeva praises Srila Acharya Maharaj's dedication to our Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math and mission:

"...[A]nd love him. His love for the Math is his greatest quality. That the Math should not lose even one inch of its land, even one inch of its property — he is continuously working towards this end. I am now asking him to speak hari-katha as my representative..."

After Srila Acharya Maharaj speaks, Srila Gurudeva says:

"Math secretary, Math manager, future Math Acharya, Sripad Bhakti Nirmal Acharya Maharaj ki — jaya! After me, all of you should continue as his followers. Everyone makes mistakes, but I very rarely see anyone with a sincere, heartfelt service mood like him. The type of profound vision and attentive care he has for every matter cannot be seen anywhere. I pray the Lord will bring him all goodness and auspiciousness."

[Download the short video clip and/or PDF translation of this Bengali declaration from the Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math web site.]

Just as he was bound by affection to Srila Guru Maharaj, Srila Gurudeva was "bound by affection" to Srila Acharya Maharaj — and we see this clearly in his candid endorsement of our new acharya, Srila Bhakti Nirmal Acharya Maharaj.

Tags: Gurus & Guardians

Navadwip, India — Monday, March 14th

Visakha's whiteboard

One of Visakha Devi Dasi's many services here at our Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math in Sri Navadwip dham is to update the whiteboard outside the book room. I've written about Visakha's whiteboard before (when it was Damayanti's whiteboard :)

She has a knack of choosing the pithiest quotes from our guru varga for the edification of the hundreds of pilgrims who come here every year to celebrate all the major festivals. I am often so inspired by what I see on the whiteboard that I go into the book room to read the entire chapter of the book that the excerpt is taken from.

This passage from Srila Guru Maharaj's Centenary Anthology (an under-appreciated book, IMHO) is currently on the whiteboard:

Some dirt may enter someone, but by the grace of the gurus the dirt will be cleansed in no time and he will return to the real path. Don't disturb yourself with these tiny little filthy things. Don't go away in this way.

Many immature and unfit persons may join the mission, so it is not impossible that some sort of anarthas may come again to attack. It is like a fight: sometimes one party gains ground, and sometimes that same party is losing. And ultimately the real party will win the battle.

It is a battle. In everyone's heart there will be a battle because we are sadhakas not siddhas — we are not fully realized souls, but we are following the process to realization.

Sometimes the devotees may feel defeated, and sometimes may even go mad. But on the whole they shall have to make progress. Therefore some sort of consideration and generosity should be allowed.

—Srila Sridhar Maharaj: Centenary Anthology (Chapter 5)

Such sage advice right now, with hundreds of pilgrims from all over the world attending this Gaura Purnima festival... perhaps naïvely expecting to be surrounded by sadhus and saints!

As the next two paragraphs in this chapter show, if we think of this institution as more of a hospital than an ashram, we will be more sympathetic to the plight of others and not so discouraged if we discover that some of our old friends have fallen by the wayside:

We should think that we are in a hospital where there are so many diseased persons. This is not a place where all the healthy people live; it is not possible. We are also patients and there are so many other patients. Patients are of different types: some may have a relapse, and some may even die. But ignoring all these facts, with real interest for my own health I must go on with the help of a doctor. Taking his help by following the proper prescribed medicine and diet, I will be cured. Just because so many others are getting worse or dying, does not mean that my own health must also deteriorate.

Another example is that in a school, all may not pass the examinations. Many will fail, but still a determined student must go on. We should not be discouraged from following the path of our eternal benefit just because of some unsuccessful candidates...

So thanks, Visakha, for always inspiring us. When are you going to start a "Visakha's whiteboard" blog? :)

Tags: Don't Lose Hope! | Godsisters

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