This is a response by Syamananda prabhu to three of the many good points raised by Balabhadra Prabhu in comments to recent posts on this blog.
1. How can you expect senior devotees (diksa disciples of Srila Prabhupada who have taken shelter of Srila Narayana Maharaja) to take lessons from junior devotees (the preachers of KBM)?
2. Why would disciples of Srila Narayana Maharaja support their views by quoting Srila Tripurari Maharaja, when it is a fact that Srila Narayana Maharaja had Srimati Syamarani Didi oppose the points of Srila Tripurari Maharaja earlier on?
3. How can this statement of Srila Narayana Maharaja be explained to be a preaching strategy: “Any Acarya who is a follower of Sri Rupa is never in sakhya rasa. An Acarya who is in sakhya rasa will come in another line from Sri Nityananda Prabhu”.
Dandavats to my Guru and every other vaishnava, according to their position. May they all be pleased with this presentation.
Response to point 1:
To answer the first point I attempted to step into the shoes of those senior devotees by looking at myself in relation to a junior godbrother of mine, Kishore Krishna Prabhu. He joined the ashram just last year whereas I have been here for four years. He chants more japa than I do, does more service and he has corrected me a number of times, for which I have sometimes borne a grudge. Today I had the opportunity to render menial service to him, by the mercy of Sri Sri Gaura Nitai. That service gave me the blessing to be able to respond to points 2 and 3.
Response to points 2 and 3:
Shortly before passing away from the world, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura Prabhupada rested his feet on the chest of Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara-Deva Goswami as the latter sang to him the song Sri Rupa Manjari Pada. The other disciples of Srila Saraswati Thakura saw this as a sign that Srila Sridhara Maharaja had been admitted as the protector of the Rupanuga-varga. Srila Sridhara Maharaja humbly commented on this: “They say that I am the protector, but I think that I am a gatekeeper. Who will go in, he wants to see. So, I am not giving passport or visa to anyone and everyone.” After this several godbrothers, some of them senior, came to Srila Sridhara Maharaja for siksa and some of them sannyasa, reasoning that if they get the sannyasa mantra from him, it will be their entrance to Radha dasyam. Among them were Srila Bhakti Prajnana Keshava Maharaja, the diksa and sannyasa guru of Srila Bhakti Vedanta Narayana Goswami Maharaja, and sannyasa guru of Srila A. C. Bhakti Vedanta Swami Prabhupada.
After the passing of Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, some of his disciples took shelter of Srila Sridhara Maharaja. Among them were Srila Prabhupada’s diksa and sannyasa disciple, Srila Bhakti Vedanta Tripurari Maharaja. Srila Sridhara Maharaja considered Srila Tripurari Maharaja to belong to what he called the maha-mandala, meaning the followers of Srila Prabhupada that desired to be under the guidance of Srila Sridhara Maharaja but were in no need of joining his institution for stability. Srila Sridhara Maharaja instructed several of them to start their own missions, including Srila Tripurari Maharaja. Srila Sridhara Maharaja knew that Srila Tripurari Maharaja was aspiring for sakhya-rasa and encouraged that.
So there we have the very Rupanuga-varga-raksaka making an acharya out of a follower of Subala. Srila Tripurari Maharaja has among his followers devotees who aspire for madhurya-rasa, and because of his connection to Srila Sridhara Maharaja he is empowered to help them. He even helped his godbrother and co-acarya, Sripad Bhakti Gaurava Narasingha Maharaja, to compose a stotra glorifying Srila Prabhupada as a gopi, despite being aware of Srila Prabhupada’s actual rasa.
This Sripad Narasingha Maharaja attended a lecture of Srila Narayana Maharaja in the early 90’s that he afterwards transcribed and published on his own initiative. This was the first publication in english of Srila Narayana Maharaja’s hari-katha. Srila Narayana Maharaja complemented Sripad Narasingha Maharaja for having done real vaishnava seva.
Not long after this, Srila Narayana Maharaja attracted a greater following and set out for his first world tour. His life airs were charged with instructions from two of his siksa gurus: Srila Swami Maharaja Prabhupada and Srila Bhakti Jivana Janardana Maharaja. The instruction from Srila Prabhupada was to help his disciples and the instruction from Srila Janardana Maharaja was to boldly declare the supremacy of manjari bhava. In the United States, many temple authorities were unsettled by this revolutionary force, and not being ready to embrace it, they banned him from their temples. Only one temple showed vaishnava hospitality, and that was the temple of Srila Tripurari Maharaja in Eugene, Oregon.
During his days there the two Maharajas had private discussions. In one of them Srila Tripurari Maharaja acknowledged the main emphasis on madhurya-rasa in our lineage, but stated that there is also sakhya-rasa. Srila Narayana Maharaja agreed and said that Srila Akincana Krishna Dasa Babaji had personally told him of his affinity for sakhya-rasa. He then added that he does not emphasize sakhya-rasa. Another day they were walking along the river near the temple and Srila Narayana Maharaja started telling the pastime of Balarama killing Dhenukasura. At one point he stopped, looked at Srila Tripurari Maharaja and said: “What happened next, Maharaja?” Srila Tripurari Maharaja then told the rest of the pastime, delighted at Srila Narayana Maharaja’s encouragement of his sakhya-rati.
After this, in Vrindavana, Srila Tripurari and Narasingha Maharajas were approached by devotees who felt unhappy behind the wall of an institution that had banned Srila Narayana Maharaja from their temples. They asked the two Maharajas to come and try to convince the authorities. The two Maharajas did go, but were not allowed to present their case. Another time Srila Narayana Maharaja called Srila Tripurari Maharaja to his temple. When Srila Tripurari Maharaja arrived, Srila Narayana Maharaja expressed a concern that some of the western devotees had problems with his presentation that sambhoga and vipralambha are equally important. Srila Tripurari Maharaja replied that he did not see any controversy.
After the debate between Srimati Syamarani didi and Srila Tripurari Maharaja regarding the rasa of Srila Prabhupada, Srila Narayana Maharaja expressed to Srila Tripurari Maharaja that although he maintains his own view, he was satisfied with Srila Tripurari Maharaja’s conviction.
Some months after Srila Narayana Maharaja had passed away, Sripad Bhagavata Maharaja posted a quote about manjari bhava on facebook without citing the author or source. Srila Tripurari Maharaja, who is friends with Sripad Bhagavata Maharaja pointed out that the siddhanta in the quote contradicted the siddhanta of Srila Rupa Goswami. Sripad Bhagavata Maharaja then revealed that Srila Narayana Maharaja had written it and edited his post, adding author and source. Srila Tripurari Maharaja then said that it must be an editing mistake, because Srila Narayana Maharaja, being a Rupanuga vaishnava, would never contradict Srila Rupa Goswami. Sripad Bhagavata Maharaja appreciated the discussion which became to 408 comments. One of the main debaters were Sriman Prem Prayojan Prabhu.
Four years later Sriman Prem Prayojan Prabhu admitted that Srila Tripurari Maharaja was right. Having thus sharpened his understanding of Srila Rupa Goswami’s siddhanta he soon after took part in the discussion between KBM and the rest of Srila Narayana Maharaja’s sanga, by presenting two articles about the relationship between priya-narma-sakhas and madhurya-rasa. In those articles, he made the point that the sthayi-rati of a priya-narma-sakha is not a sankula of sakhya and madhurya. Srila Tripurari Maharaja acknowledged that that was a good point.
So, Srila Tripurari Maharaja and Sriman Prem Prayojan Prabhu both learned from each other about their own rasas. This is what the Bhagavad-gita calls bodhayantas parasparam kathayantas ca mam nityam. Krishna says that his devotees always talk about him and enlighten one another about him. Let’s continue that.
Syamananda dasa, Audarya monastery.
Reference: The above mentioned FB thread of Sripad Bhagavata Maharaja