I Wonder What You Mean by ”Friend”

Dear Sripada Jayadvaita Swami,

Please accept my humble obeisances.

You wrote:

I see no reason to terminate our friendship.

Previously, on May 17, 2023, you wrote this to me:

When we correspond, I naturally assume we are writing to one another personally because of our being godbrothers and friends. Now it has come to my attention that you have posted your reply to me on the internet. (And without telling me.)

This is not what I expect from my friends.

Maharaja, I wonder what you mean by ”friend.”

When you use that word, what is your meaning?

Is a ”friend” someone you control and who accepts your control; or something else?

I understand friend to mean ”benefactor and well-wisher”, something along these lines: suhṛdaṁ sarva-bhūtānāṁ. That is how Krishna defines His relationship with all living entities. I believe His devotees are of a similar mindset, a ”benefactor and well-wisher” of everyone. As such they are naturally a friend to all.

Because I believe you to be a devotee you must be my friend, even if we disagree. That’s what I expect of my friends, I expect them to be my well-wisher, as I’m sure you are. I believe I am your friend because I want good for you. Therefore, I don’t understand your very narrowly defined expectation of your ”friends” as being those who behave only as you would demand they behave.

Krishna maintains His position of friend to all even when they act with outright animosity towards Him. He is very tolerant, the most tolerant. Again, His devotees are of a similar mind, they are very tolerant (trinad api sunichena…).

Because my thinking runs along those lines I can’t understand your usage of the word friend which, the way you use it, implies I must be submissive to you or you will not be my friend. I don’t understand that idea.

Devotee has a different meaning than friend. Mahaprabhu describes the thinking of a devotee in this way:

CC Antya 20.47

āśliṣya vā pāda-ratāṁ pinaṣṭu mām
adarśanān marma-hatāṁ karotu vā
yathā tathā vā vidadhātu lampaṭo
mat-prāṇa-nāthas tu sa eva nāparaḥ

“Let Kṛṣṇa tightly embrace this maidservant who has fallen at His lotus feet, or let Him trample Me or break My heart by never being visible to Me. He is a debauchee, after all, and can do whatever He likes, but still He alone, and no one else, is the worshipable Lord of My heart.”

A devotee is submissive to his master and his master has the right to demand such submission from him. That is what I understand a ‘devotee’ to be.

I believe I can be your friend without being your devotee.

When we correspond, I naturally assume we are writing to one another personally because of our being godbrothers and friends.

Yes, we are Godbrothers and friends, but those are more tangential reasons for my carrying on correspondence and discussions with you. The central reason is the hope that my understanding of our siddhanta will be improved through our correspondence and conversations. As that understanding develops I expect my seva to improve, helping me to become of greater value in the service of our Divine Masters. That’s my motive.

I hope this finds you well in all respects.


Swami B.K. Giri

PS I expect to post this letter. For better or worse, I believe it is essential to my preaching and the education of others. I will happily post your response if you so desire.


On Jun 13, 2023, at 2:37 PM, Jayadvaita Swami wrote:

Dear Sripada Giri Maharaja,

My dandavat pranamas.

I see no reason to terminate our friendship. But knowing that what I might think of as a personal letter is likely to wind up on the internet saps my interest in writing.

Since I’m back in the States, I hope we’ll get an opportunity to meet again in person.

I hope all’s well on your side.

Your servant,
Jayadvaita Swami


From: BKG @ Gvssanga

Sent: Tuesday, May 30, 2023 at 11:07 AM

Subject: Proposed amicable settlement to disagreement.

You have told me twice now to accept your terms for discussion or go pound sand, so to speak. In addition you have strongly intimated that if I do not agree to your terms you will terminate our friendship. I don’t like that. Excuse me for saying so but it seems childish, like telling me you’ll take your ball and go home because something didn’t go your way. If that reflects the depth of our friendship it may be best you take your ball and go home. That will not be my choice, but yours.