Srila Giri Maharaja “Editing The Acharya: An Email Exchange”

Sripad B.K. Giri Maharaja

The following email exchange took place between Srila Giri Maharaja and Sriman Krishnachandra Prabhu. Within this exchange the question of editing the words of the Acharya in order to avoid clashes with other spiritual organizations or to “protect” secret information from the public is addressed.

Sri Krishnachandra Prabhu Writes:

Dear Srila Giri Maharaja,

Please accept my dandavat pranams Maharaja. I hope you are well. I don’t know if you will remember me, I am from the UK, we spent sometime together in India during the times i have been there. I was trying to help you with the missing gas heater. Do you remember?

I have just discovered your many video and audio files on your scsmathnj site and I am amazed. I never knew they were here. What a treasure to discover them. Many thanks to whoever spent the time to upload all these, was it your self?

I was just watching the one where Srila Sridhar Maharaja was explaining Gayatri, it has subtitles too which is good. I was wondering Maharaja, just recently I opened a You Tube page, the link to it is here:

(now deleted)

I have just tried and I can see that I can download the videos on your site and I was wondering if I could put some of them on my You Tube page so that a lot more people may share some of these beautiful lectures. I thought it only polite to ask first, so would that be possible Maharaja? I hope it will be.

I am thinking that as they are already in the public domain that they have already been checked for ‘suitability’ as I know that some things might not be so suitable for public distribution. Especially those occasions from the early 80’s where Srila Guru Maharaja was often discussing the affairs of ISKCON etc.

But, I will listen again before uploading as I know that You Tube is a very open kind of forum and I wouldn’t want to upload something that will be misused by others.

I very much would like to begin with adding this meaning of Gayatri video to my page, I am downloading it as we speak.

I hope to hear back from you soon.

Again with my dandavat,

Aspiring to serve,
Krishnachandra das

Sripad BK Giri Maharaja Replies:

Dear Sriman Krishnachandra Prabhu,

My dandavat pranams.

By the grace of the vaishnavas I am in good health and spirits. We heard recently that Srila Gurudeva may visit us on His next tour so we are very enthusiastic, hearing that good news. Of course I remember you. Many before you attempted to find that heater, but only you were successful. I think you may also have given me an LED light that has proved very useful when traveling about. I am very happy to hear from you and doubly happy to hear your kind words regarding the “treasure” you found on our website. It is perhaps one of the “hidden treasure[s]” of the Sweet Absolute.

sri-bhagavan uvaca
jnanam parama-guhyam me
yad vijnana-samanvitam
sarahasyam tad-angam ca
grhana gaditam maya

“The Personality of Godhead said: Knowledge about Me as described in the scriptures is very confidential, and it has to be realized in conjunction with devotional service. The necessary paraphernalia for that process is being explained by Me. You may take it up carefully.”
– SB 2.9.31

In the Gita Krishna also tells us that knowledge of Himself is raja guhyam, the king of secrets. So, although we are trying our best to make the treasure of our Acharyas available to uplift the conditioned souls and as a service to the devotees, it may still remain hidden except to those who, like yourself, are able to realize it “in conjunction with devotional service”.

In a recent report to Srila Gurudeva, telling him about our website, I mentioned that through it, anyone, in any part of the world with access to the internet, has the opportunity for a full education in the precepts of our line, not only through reading the books of our Acharyas, but also seeing and hearing Their direct presentation of our siddhanta. Considering this, it seems to me, the internet has become the brhad mrdanga amplified, with volume set at 11.

While it has been my desire for a long time to do the things mentioned above, I could do nothing until Sriman Gokulananda Prabhu took an interest in developing our website. He has worked tirelessly to format the video and audio files, in many cases transferring them from analog to digital, as well as developing the website itself and preparing other types of content such as the eBooks, etc., so that they can easily be viewed and downloaded.

You may also be happy to know that all 108 of our video and audio files are available for download through the iTunes store and that, as of the last count, there have been over 13,000 downloads of these files.

I appreciate your asking to present the files on your website. You are welcome to download and use them as you see fit. I would prefer you offer them via a link to our website so that people can see what we have to offer, but it is only a request, not a requirement. It may also be to your advantage. I believe most host sites, such as YouTube, have limitations on file size. Most of our videos far exceed those limits and would have to be segmented to conform to those limits or you may have to considerably lower their resolution.

We have chosen to offer high quality files aimed at the users of iPods, computers, Apple TV and so forth. All our videos are at home on these devices and able to be viewed at full screen size. As such, a family, for example, can download them and sit in their living room and watch them on their television in their full length, uninterrupted versions. They might also be used in this way for various presentations in our temples. (We hope in the future to have a viewing room for this purpose.) A person can also keep them on an iPod, as I do, and take them wherever he goes.

As far as “suitability” of content is concerned, I don’t think there is any problem there, but it is always possible that something can slip by us. If you notice anything questionable I would appreciate your telling me. For the most part, Srila Guru Maharaja knew when he was being recorded and rarely strayed outside the bounds of public discourse. There were times when he asked for the recorders to be turned off. Knowing it was still possible he may have strayed from his own self imposed censorship, he asked us to observe some caution before distributing everything wholesale in the marketplace.  Now, twenty years after his disappearance, I think there is little to be guarded, as his talks, public or confidential, have become part of the historical record. At this point, it is hard to imagine who would be harmed, or what harm could come from, hearing the words of one who is such a preeminent Gaudiya Vaishnava sadhu.

Srila Rupa Goswami’s words in his verse beginning krsneti yasya giri tam manasadriyeta provide a means by which to understand the words and behavior of Srila Guru Maharaja. There he says, in part, susrusaya bhajana-vijnam ananyam anya-nindadi-sunya-hrdam ipsita-sanga-labdhya “one should associate with, and faithfully serve a pure devotee who is undeviated in his devotional service and whose heart is completely devoid of the propensity to offend others”. Srila Guru Maharaja is the personification of anya-nindadi-sunya-hrdam ipsita, he never held any ill will in his heart towards anyone but was always intent on helping others.

When approached by a Godbrother from a group showing some hostility towards Srila Sridhar Maharaja’s group, Srila Sridhar Maharaja asked why that man would seek advice from him. To this he responded it was due to his (Srila Sridhar Maharaja’s) highly developed intelligence, strong common sense and disinterested nature. In other words, Srila Sridhar Maharaja would offer good advice even to his enemies and, even his apparent enemies sought his advice.

If there are any comments of Srila Guru Maharaja that appear harsh towards any particular person or group, we hope they will be accepted in the spirit they are offered, that is, for correction, development and spiritual upliftment. To take them otherwise is to artificially insert a sectarian line of demarcation where none exists naturally.

The disciples and followers of Srila Bhakti Vedanta Swami (Swami Maharaja) will remember these words of instruction delivered by him on the occasion of the appearance of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur in the year 1936.

“Gentlemen, the offering of such an homage as has been arranged this evening to the Acaryadeva is not a sectarian concern, for when we speak of the fundamental principle of gurudeva, or acaryadeva, we speak of something that is of universal application. There does not arise any question of discriminating my guru from yours or anyone else’s. There is only one guru, who appears in an infinity of forms to teach you, me, and all others.”

In a Bhagavatam lecture in Japan in 1972 Srila Swami Maharaja makes the following points:

“A spiritual master has the right to chastise. Father, spiritual master, they are advised to chastise. Putram ca sisyam ca tadayen na tu lalayet. So father and teacher is advised by Canakya Pandit that “You should always chastise your son and disciple. Chastise.” Tadayet. Tadayet means “Simply chastise. Always find out mistake.” Don’t be angry, but it is the business of the teacher and the father simply to find out your mistakes, not to find out your good things. Tadayen na tu lalayet. Lalayet means patting: “Oh, my dear son, my dear boy, you are so nice. You have done…” Sometimes it is done, but it is the business of the teacher and the father to chastise. Never recognize the disciple’s business or son’s business as very good. Then they will spoil. That is the injunction of Canakya Muni. Lalane bahavo dosah: “If you simply pat, then there will be so many faults.” Lalane bahavo dosah. Dosah means faults. Tadane bahavo gunah: “And if you chastise, oh, they will be very much qualified.” Tadane bahavo gunah, tasmat: therefore, putram ca sisyam ca tadayen na tu lalayet, “simply chastise. Don’t pat.” This is the injunction, moral injunction. So, so far we are concerned, when our spiritual master used to chastise, we took it as blessing. That was very nice. And he would chastise like anything. “Damn rascal, foolish, stupid,” anything, all good words. (laughter)”

In a similar vein, Srila Govinda Maharaja told us that many Godbrothers of Srila Sridhar Maharaja would visit the Math and the disciples of different Gurus would regularly mix with each other. If a Guru saw some misbehavior, he did not hesitate to chastise a disciple of another Guru. Srila Govinda Maharaja said Srila Guru Maharaja’s Godbrothers would sometimes grab his (Govinda Maharaja’s) ear with their hand and twist it to drive home a point. Srila Govinda Maharaja accepted this treatment as an act of affection meant to keep him on the proper path.

At this point in time it is difficult to imagine anyone taking umbrage at, or being aggrieved by, the remarks of Srila Sridhar Maharaja (the Guru) unless they were predisposed to do so, in which case there is little that can be done.

We are more cautious presenting the words of Srila Govinda Maharaja because they may sometimes concern persons or events more immediate to us which we feel require more sensitive dealings. As such, we have edited out those sections, when we find them, leaving the balance of the talk intact. Again, if you think something has slipped past us, please let us know.

You said, “But I will listen again before uploading as I know that You Tube is a very open kind of forum and I wouldn’t want to upload something that will be misused by others.”

It is impossible to prevent misuse. Srila Krishna Das Kaviraja knew this when writing the Chaitanya Charitamrita but he continued writing it for the benefit of those who could genuinely appreciate it. We are trying to proceed in that fashion.

You also said, “I very much would like to begin with adding this meaning of Gayatri video to my page, I am downloading it as we speak.”

Yes, you see here the difficulty. Our one secret mantra which Srila Guru Maharaja offers with so much intimate detail as to its meaning, that will be put up on YouTube. And, the Krishna Karnamrita, which we are afraid to read ourselves, due to its intimate descriptions of Krishna’s pastimes, was printed at the instruction of Srila Guru Maharaja. Why do we do these things? So that the content may be preserved and will be available to nourish those who have a true appreciation of its value.

For those who cannot appreciate it properly, it will remain raja guhyam.

I pray this finds you well in health and spirits.

With affectionate regards,
Giri Maharaja

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