A Brief Response to "Ratha Yatra in Navadwip"

Nov 2 2000 - Krishna Talk 9
Ratha Yatra
Srila B. R. Sridhar Dev Goswami

By the request of our readers and immediate group of associates we present a brief response to the response paper to our Ratha Yatra in Navadwip article recently written by His Holiness Bhaktivedanta Madhava Maharaja of the Sri Keshavaji Gaudiya Matha in Mathura. For the article by B. V. Madhava Maharaja see VNN: Ratha Yatra

Our original article available at Ratha Yatra in Navadwip

In our original article there were some details regarding dates and such that were corrected by B. V. Madhava Maharaja in his article. I thank B. V. Madhava Maharaja for this information although these additions to our original article do not change the main issues at hand.

B.V. Madhava Maharaja has stated in his third objection that the whole crux of our article was that we had unlawfully assumed that Sripad Narayana Maharaja had implied Srila Sridhara Maharaja in his statement as follows:

"When our Gurudeva started Ratha-yatra in Navadvipa, no one criticized him. When he left this world, however, a very highly advanced devotee spoke something against Ratha-yatra in Navadvipa. The day I heard it I could not sleep at night. I was restless and so much agitated. Soon after that I wrote an article in our magazine, and that article created chaos, havoc and very great agitation on the other side."

However until B. V. Madhava Maharaja tells us who that "very highly advanced devotee" is we will continue to assume that Sripad Narayana Maharaja was surely referring to Srila Sridhar Maharaja who was the acharya of the Matha that Sripad Narayana Maharaja later referred to in an article as, "an enterprise of milling wheat, or a business involving coal and fish." This is indeed calling Srila Sridhara Maharaja a "fish seller and a coal merchant", this is indeed an offense.

B.V. Madhava Maharaja makes his argument early on in his article that Sripad Narayana Maharaja never offended Srila Sridhara Maharaja but on page eight, comment eight, of the same article B. V. Madhava Maharaja writes in quite a condescending way and again calls Srila Sridhar Maharaja a merchant by saying,

"Although those opposing the Ratha-yatra festival in Navadvip were unable to recognize its practical value as a method of preaching to the local villagers, they were adept in recognizing an opportunity to take their money by renting their pond to the fishermen and selling coal."

So not only was the offense to Srila Sridhara Maharaja made in 1970, but they have repeated the same offense again in the article by B. V. Madhava Maharaja. That Srila Sridhara Maharaja was indeed offended in 1970 will be shown by his own statement below in this essay. Of course throughout this controversy B.V. Madhava Maharaja maintains that Srila Sridhar Maharaja is not the one to have authorized his disciples at Sri Caitanya Saraswata Matha to have arranged the coal, etc. but such is only their speculation.

What also becomes evident as this controversy unfolds is that Sripad Narayana Maharaja and his followers are unable to sense when they have grieved the heart of a pure Vaishnava. Again this will be shown by Srila Sridhara Maharaja's own statement below.

However, the question of an offense to Srila Sridhara Maharaja or whatever Sripad Narayana Maharaja actually meant in his statement regarding attacking a "very highly advanced devotee" is not the primary issue in this controversy. An offense to an advanced devotee is indeed regrettable but the real issue at hand is even more encompassing.

Therefore we would like to bring this present essay into focus on the main issue and that being whether or not Sripad B.V. Narayana Maharaja is actually a siksa-disciple of the revered Guardian of Devotion, Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Deva Goswami Maharaja. On page eleven of B.V. Madhava Maharaja's article he has boldly put forth a conclusive question as follows:

"Therefore, on what tangible grounds can Sripad B.G. Narasingha Maharaja deny the siksa connection of Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja with Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Maharaja as he has done in his article."

Our answer to the above question is simple and direct---there are no examples stated in B. V. Madhava Maharaja's article wherein he has shown that Sripad Narayana Maharaja follows the instructions of Srila Sridhar Maharaja, particularly those instructions regarding Ratha Yatra in Navadwip---not to mention Srila Sridhara Maharaja's many instructions to his disciples and siksa-disciples not to discuss the madhurya-lila in public or in the assembly of unqualified devotees (for more information our readers are requested to read the newly published book Follow the Angels, available in Vrndavan and by mail order from Mandala: http://www.mandala.org/ or 1-800-688-2218). Follow the Angels is also available for reading online and for download.

On the contrary B. V. Madhava Maharaja has supplied us with ample proof that Sripad Narayana Maharaja has no actual regard for the teachings of Srila Sridhara Maharaja whatsoever despite his saying that Sripad Narayana Maharaja had listened to the lectures of Srila Sridhara Maharaja for many years. Since we have not been shown even one single thread of evidence that Sripad Narayana Maharaja follows the instructions of Srila Sridhara Maharaja it is only logical that he not be accepted as a siksa-disciple of Srila Sridhara Maharaja until he proves otherwise. After all disciple means discipline-so what specific disciplines from the teachings of Srila Sridhara Maharaja does Sripad Narayana Maharaja embrace?

Possibly His Holiness B. V. Madhava Maharaja will remember when we hosted Sripad B. V. Narayana Maharaja at our temple/ashram in Eugene, USA several years ago. During those friendly days I brought to Sripad Narayana Maharaja's attention the Gayatri commentary of Srila Sridhara Maharaja known as Gayarti Nigudhartha wherein Srila Sridhara Maharaja states, "gayatri-muralista-kirtana-dhanam radha-padam dhimahi-the flute of Sri Krsna exclusively sings the glories of Srimati Radharani." When mentioning this to Sripad Narayana Maharaja I was utterly dismayed at his reaction---flipping his hand in the air and wrinkling his nose he said in a disdainful voice, "That is already there in many places."

I could not accept that this is the proper appreciation of the Gayatri commentary of Srila Sridhara Maharaja especially coming from someone who professes to be a siksa-disciple of Srila Sridhara Maharaja. Frankly speaking that was the start of my great doubts about Sripad Narayana Maharaja.

In contrast to the lack of appreciation shown by Sripad Narayana Maharaja for the gayatri commentary of Srila Sridhara Maharaja we have heard the following from Srila B. P. Puri Goswami Maharaja:

"I am bereft of the proper language to elucidate the profound meaning of Sri Gayatri as expressed by Pujyapada Maharaja in the depth of realization, which is that sublime Sri Radha-dasya or Sri Radha-pada-dhyana, the exclusive devotional servitude to Srimati Radharani. Therefore, it can only be presented and understood through his own illustrious transcendental language and by his exclusive divine grace. This deepest meaning of Sri Gayatri has been nobly established by the message emanating from his lotus lips and by the exultant mood radiating from the core of his heart..."

Srila Puri Maharaja's entire commentary is available online:
Exalted Glorification of Srila Sridhara Maharaja

Does Sripad Narayana Maharaja teach the Gayatri Nigudhartha, which is the essence of the teaching and instruction of Srila Sridhara Maharaja, to his disciples? Does Sripad Narayana Maharaja teach his followers anything from the books of Srila Sridhara Maharaja, or does he just teach them to "respectfully" belittle Srila Sridhara Maharaja as B. V. Narayana Maharaja has artfully done in his article?

The many thousands of disciples and grand disciples of Srila Sridhara Maharaja, associated with Sri Caitanya Saraswata Matha around the world, are quite adamant about this issue.

Furthermore B. V. Madhava Maharaja makes the following statement on page seven of his article:

"Does Sripad B.G. Narasingha Maharaja seriously expect any discerning person to believe his account of this incident when: He does not supply us with the name of even one witness. Failing that, neither does he inform us from whom he heard this account."

This question is like asking for trouble. His Holiness B. V. Madhava Maharaja apparently assumes that I am prone to listen to any rumor blowing in the wind and then put my neck on the line when I am unable to substantiate what I have written. B. V. Madhava Maharaja has apparently been informed by his associates that I may only have spent a limited time with Srila Sridhara Maharaja during the last year of his manifest pastimes on this planet. That may be true but I am happy to say that Srila Sridhara Maharaja gave his full blessings as did his many intimate disciples who had his association for a lifetime, such as Sripad B. S. Govinda Maharaja, Haricharan Prabhu, Krsnacharan Prabhu, Bhakti Sudhir Goswami Maharaja, and others who were all very kind to bestow there unlimited blessings on me on numerous occasions. But what B. V. Madhava Maharaja has not been told is that shortly after the disappearance of Srila Sridhara Maharaja I became heir to one thousand one hundred hours of audio recordings of Srila Sridhara Maharaja and one hundred and twenty hours of his recorded videos. These audio and video recordings are the evidences that B. V. Madhava Maharaja is wondering about and more.

So rather than quote the many references to my information from the followers of Srila Sridhara Maharaja which are certainly valid I will simply quote here Srila Sridhara Maharaja directly. Thus we allow our readers to read what Srila Sridhara Maharaja had to say in summary about the Ratha Yatra in Navadwip (this tape and transcript is in our possession and available for any of our readers upon request).

Srila Sridhara Maharaja (Feb. 4, 1982):

"Only what I know I can say to them, this is my position. No physical risk of any war or any fight. I am the last man to accept. I never did it in my life and now also it is so. Always standing in my own fight, alone. I may be alone, but not fighting with the environment, circumstances. I had to fight with Kesava Maharaja some principle of Rathayatra and when they abused me I left my propaganda for the same. The paper was abolished. But I still hold my position, principle there. That they are doing wrong. They have placed not only Jagai Madai, but even Vasudeva and Devananda figures as gatekeepers, I opposed. And so many acarya's figure, that should be worshiped and not a matter of play, as I understood from the teachings of Prabhupada. So I opposed and I still oppose. And the Ratha-yatra, that it is not a matter of play to show to the public."

"In any day you may put on the chariot for the play of the Deity or for Their satisfaction. But in the Ratha-yatra day when Mahaprabhu is taking from Kuruksetra to Vrndavana, with this attitude, that day, that idea should be overlapped. And by our whim we shall do anything and everything, especially in Navadwip dham. This is also Gupta Vrndavana. And Gaurasundara has got his nitya-lila. And against that current I shall create another current opposite to that, in collision. That is not desirable. Who will like it, they may follow. What I am, I am. That is my position. And if anyone comes to me then I shall try to say what I know. But I am not going to risk to any physical war. I have no such capacity. If anyone wants to continue physical war, they may do separately. But I am not there. I was not there and I am not there, and I won't be there, physical war."

What Srila Sridhara Maharaja clearly states above is that he is definitely opposed to the Rathayatra in Navadwip, and after he was abused he dropped the issue, but that he remains opposed and considers that those persons conducting such in Navadwip are doing wrong. He is also strong on his point that those who want to follow him may do so but that he will not fight with anyone.

The article of B. V. Madhava Maharaja goes into many details and side information in an attempt to prove that I have no backing for my statements but this is simply his attempt to avoid the main issue---does Sripad Narayana Maharaja follow the instructions of Srila Sridhara Maharaja? From Srila Sridhara Maharaja's statement above our conclusion is that Sripad Narayana Maharaja does not represent Srila Sridhara Maharaja and to mislead devotees in western countries to believe that he does so is tantamount to cheating the innocent.

The arguments in the article of B. V. Madhava Maharaja may be suitable for the in house devotees of their Matha, or for those who have wondered from the grace of Srila Sridhara Maharaja and are now treading in dangerous waters where angels fear to tread. However, B. V. Madhava Maharaja's plea to establish Sripad Narayana Maharaja as a siksa-disciple of Srila Sridhara Maharaja is not suitably convincing for us.

His Holiness B. V. Madhava Maharaja wants to push this issue by asking us to prove how Sripad Narayana Maharaja is not a follower of Srila Sridhara Maharaja but such a demand is quite audacious since the majority of the Vaishnava world far and wide already understands and accepts this point. The reality is that for canvassing purposes throughout the world Sripad Narayana Maharaja claims to be the only true disciple of all of our gurus; Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada, Srila B. R. Sridhara Deva Goswami Maharaja, and Srila B. P Puri Goswami Maharaja. Thus Sripad Narayana Maharaja candidly becomes the guru of everyone else's disciples. But without adhering to the instructions of Srila Sridhara Maharaja regarding Navadwip and to his many instructions concerning the intimate topics of the madhurya-lila of Sri Sri Radha Govinda such a proposal is in the very least farcical-especially so in the eyes of Srila Sridhara Maharaja's bona fide followers.

In the words of Srila Bhakti Promoda Puri Goswami Maharaja,

"One who does not accept the siddhanta of Srila Sridhara Maharaja can not be counted among the follower of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura."

How then does B. V. Madhava Maharaja expect us to hold such a person in high regard?

My concluding statement in this matter is that it would be greatly appreciated by the followers of Srila Sridhara Maharaja if Sripad Narayana Maharaja and his followers would simply conduct their preaching mission within the merits of their own accomplishments and kindly desist from canvassing in the name of being a siksa-disciple of Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Deva Goswami Maharaja.