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quinta-feira, 6 de janeiro de 2011

The Plan for Srila Gurudeva’s International Pure Bhakti Yoga Society

by Swami BV Vaikhanas

Dear Maharajas, Prabhus, Didis, Brothers and Sisters,

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

I have been asked by Sripad Tirtha Maharaja to write a report about the discussions that took place in Navadwipa during the Viraha Mahotsava of Srila Gurudeva. There were a number of meetings among the devotees to clarify how we will proceed in building Srila Gurudeva’s Samadhi mandira, how the process of initiations may take place, and how the day to day management of the International Pure Bhakti Yoga Society will proceed.

First of all, it is accepted that there will be a large inclusive series of meetings held in Navadwipa right after the parikrama. At that time, the pending issues will be discussed in depth among the Vaisnavas. In the next two months, devotees are invited to contact Brajanath Prabhu or other senior devotees with proposals or suggestions for discussion. These will be narrowed down to a pre-agreed upon fixed agenda so that the meetings can proceed efficiently. Most of the discussion that took place recently in Navadwipa is the beginning of an evolving organic process and will all be subject to the scrutiny of the community of Srila Gurudeva’s disciples.

Regarding initiations of new disciples, Srila Gurudeva had been instructing for the last few years that the sannyasis and other senior devotees could begin the process of harinama and diksa initiation. He was actually encouraging this. At the same time, he was also stressing that the qualification for the guru should be that they should be at least on the madhyama platform. He said that a kanistha devotee who accepts disciples will fall down.

For the past few years it has become apparent that aspiring devotees in many parts of the world naturally develop attachment for those who are preaching to them and nourishing their Bhakti. Many travelling preachers have been requested by new devotees to give them initiation because they had faith in these preachers. That was not necessary because Srila Gurudeva was able to give initiation by phone and often the disciple would later meet Srila Gurudeva personally at a festival or at parikrama.

The question now in the minds of many is who will give these devotees initiation. The most obvious answer is that those who they develop faith in may give that initiation to them. Some traveling preachers have stated that they have felt the pull of this obligation to help new devotees in their Bhakti. For this reason Srila Gurudeva approved the sannyasis to give initiation. However, he also stated clearly that the guru is in a risky position and must be an elevated madhyama devotee to be able to help the disciple and to be safe from deviation and fall down. A guru takes on the karma of the disciple. An uttama bhagavata devotee easily burns the karma of that disciple and is not touched by it. However a lesser devotee can be affected by this karma and must be careful to choose serious and qualified disciples, and not to take many disciples.

At the meetings that were held, it was concluded that those who feel inspired to take on the service to accept disciples may give harinama and diksa initiation. But the warning is there. It was also generally acknowledged that a moratorium on initiations will be in place until the Navadwipa parikrama to allow the issues to be clarified.

Regarding the management of the existing assets of the society such as properties that are in the name of the various trusts, Srila Gurudeva has left a Will designating certain devotees as executors. This information will be sent out by Brajanath Prabhu in a few days. This is a bit complicated and will require more explanation than I can give. There are other things in the Will that I do not know yet either which may affect some of the points that we are discussing.

A suggestion was made by Sripad Govinda Maharaja that an acharya and a vice-president be selected on the model of the Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti. He recommended Sripad Madhava Maharaja to act as acharya and Sripad Tirtha Maharaja as VP. Sripad Brajanath Prabhu objected and cited Srila Gurudeva’s explicit instruction to not adopt this model, that there should not be an acharya appointed. Brajanath Prabhu quoted Srila Gurudeva as saying that appointing an acharya would cause division in the society.

He said that instead, Srila Gurudeva wanted a small management board to oversee the affairs of the sanga with an elected chairman who will serve as titular head for a period of 2 to 5 years, as the devotees feel appropriate. He may then step down and be replaced, or even be reappointed if the devotees wish. He said that Srila Gurudeva’s preference was that Sripad Madhava Maharaja be the first chairman.

The management of services such as translation and publishing of Srila Gurudeva’s books in India and elsewhere will go on as usual. More discussions will be held after the Navadwipa parikrama to establish agreed-on procedures to continue these services.

Open communication and financial transparency were recognized as a necessary step if the devotees are to have faith in any management group that collects and oversees the distribution of funds within the society.

The most emotional issue was the plan for constructing the Samadhi Mandira for Srila Gurudeva. Sripad Madhava Maharaja explained that Srila Gurudeva had told him and Sripad Premananda Prabhu that he wished to be in his Samadhi Mandira in the association of his most beloved god-brothers, Srila Bhaktivedanta Vamana Gosvami Maharaja and Srila Bhaktivedanta Trivikrama Gosvami Maharaja. He had said many times how they were like one soul, bound together by eternal affection and service for each other and their Gurudeva.

Sripad Madhava Maharaja proposed that installed murtis of Srila Vamana Maharaja and Srila Trivikrama Maharaja and Srila Gurudeva be placed in the Samadhi building to be worshiped together.

This caused some concern among many devotees because they thought he was suggesting that Srila Gurudeva’s exalted god brothers be installed alongside Srila Gurudeva in the Samadhi itself. There was vigorous opposition to this idea with most devotees proclaiming that they want Srila Gurudeva’s Samadhi to be separate and exclusive.

Sripad Madhava Maharaja, Sripad Tirtha Maharaja, Sripad Premananda Prabhu and others carefully heard all the presentations of the Vaisnavas. They want to make sure that Srila Gurudeva’s wishes are carried out in a way that will satisfy him and preserve his legacy far into the future. At the same time they are very conscious of the spiritual needs and perspective of all the disciples of Srila Gurudeva.

The current idea is that the Samadhi Mandira will be two stories high and may be connected to Srila Gurudeva’s bhajana kutira. On the ground floor will be Srila Gurudeva in his Samadhi place alone. Then in another part of the building will be a place to worship all three personalities together. Or it may be that the three murtis will be placed at the feet of Srila Bhakti-prajnana Kesava Maharaja on the altar in the main temple building.

Another idea is to create a museum in Srila Gurudeva’s quarters and to have the three murtis worshipped there.

It is important to fulfill Srila Gurudeva’s desire to acknowledge his most intimate relationship with these god-brothers and provide for their honorable worship along with his own. This issue will be discussed in the upcoming months and devotees are invited to ask questions and share their understanding in an open manner. No final decisions have been made.

Sripad Padmanabha Maharaja made an eloquent presentation to the effect that Srila Gurudeva is known throughout the western world for his intimate relationship with his siksa guru Srila AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja, and for his dedication to helping the disciples of Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja. On behalf of the devotees around the world, Sripad Padmanabha Maharaja made a request that some area of the museum be dedicated to acknowledging that relationship and educating others about it.

If you were there in Navadvipa for the Samadhi Festival, you will have noticed the location of the Samadhi is in the area that is between the large pond, the side of the temple itself, and Srila Gurudeva’s quarters. Many devotees were dissatisfied with this location as it seems that it is in the back of the complex and not easily accessible. That is true for now. But this area is designated to become the main entrance to the entire campus.

The plan is that the lake will be reduced in size and a wide driveway will lead into the campus from the main road. There will be beautiful walkways and gardens surrounding the Samadhi mandira and the lake will be landscaped and cleaned, providing a splendid backdrop to the area. This will be the first place visitors come to and will be free from the crowding and noise that the interior area has, especially during parikrama when so many pilgrims are camped there.

The Samadhi mandira will be enclosed in a large hall, the length of the current temple and also quite wide. This is meant to accommodate large numbers of devotees for classes and kirtan, especially at times when pilgrims will be visiting the main temple and making a lot of noise. It will also remain free of all the campers that crowd into the temple during parikrama.

Different plans are being considered, such as making the building two stories high, like the Samadhi mandira of Srila Bhakti Pramoda Puri Maharaja in Mayapura. And funds will have to be raised. Currently, a small waterproof shed has been erected around Srila Gurudeva’s Samadhi. When the plan for the Samadhi is agreed on and conveyed around the world, there is no doubt that devotees will happily contribute to make it a very grand and inspiring edifice.

One last thing that was discussed was that now is the time to fulfill another chapter of Srila Gurudeva’s preaching. That would be the development of preaching centers and temples in the West. For so long most of the money we have raised has been spent to construct buildings and temples to accommodate pilgrims in the holy dhamas. Many senior devotees expressed that now is the time to focus on creating facilities and programs that will support all of the devotees in the countries outside of India that Srila Gurudeva gave so much of his time and energy to. This is a major part of his legacy and will be an important topic in Navadwipa.

I cannot end without saying one important thing. The mood of cooperation and affection in the meetings was quite wonderful. There was one large public meeting and many smaller meetings. Although some of the issues were discussed with strong feelings, the tone was respectful and serious.

There were small gatherings attended by Sripad Tirtha Maharaja, Sripad Madhava Maharaja, Sripad Premananda Prabhu and a handful of others. I was present for a number of these. The most satisfying thing to see was the genuine warmth and affection that these three had for each other. We all know that these are Srila Gurudeva’s most senior devotees and that their cooperation together is essential if we are to remain united as we currently are. Premananda Prabhu was especially enlivened and commented that if they always have this mood together, there will never be any problems for the society. This affectionate mood brought out the sweetness in all of them and was quite infectious and inspiring.

This is my report of the events that have transpired as I understand them. Some devotees may have a different perspective. That is fine and I invite you to share your insights. What I said is not etched in stone. We are in a period of historic transition and have a great opportunity to define how we will proceed as individuals and as a society. Our responsibility is to understand Srila Gurudeva’s mano-bhista and to make that our life and soul, and thus keep him permanently in our hearts.

Aspiring for the service of the servants of Srila Gurudeva,

BV Vaikhanas

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