The Gravity of the Post of Ācārya
Śrīla Mahārāja used to mention, “Prior to performing every significant activity, Guru Mahārāja would first call upon different devotees in private to seek their opinions and only later reveal his personal verdict on the matter. Once, Guru Mahārāja called for me and said, “With the objective that the functioning of Śrī Caitanya Gauḍīya Maṭha carries on uninterruptedly after my departure, my god-brother Śrī Bhakti Vicāra Yāyāvara Mahārāja has recommended appointing four ācāryas [as my successors]. Because, in his opinion, he cannot pinpoint any one particular qualified individual whose command will be obeyed by everyone. He also mentioned that he himself is about to appoint four ācāryas for his own maṭha. I have sought and heard the opinions of other devotees on this matter. What is your opinion on this subject?”
I replied, “Although I am unqualified to offer any opinion on this matter, and besides, you haven’t yet disclosed the opinions of others with whom you have already discussed this matter, even still, it seems to me that appointing one ācārya, will allow for smooth functioning of Śrī Caitanya Gauḍīya Maṭha for some time to come. Otherwise, I feel that eventually a discord would arise amongst the disciples of the four ācāryas residing together in one place.”
Guru Mahārāja further inquired, “Would you accept the responsibility of being the ācārya after I leave [this world]?”
I replied, ‘“I have never contemplated whether I would accept this responsibility or not. But one thing I can say with certainty is that I have not yet developed so much affection for the living entities, as Śrī Prahlāda Mahārāja or Śrī Vāsudeva Datta, such that I would be prepared to go to hell for the sake of delivering them. For this reason, I am not keen on carrying out this responsibility at present.”
“Secondly, I have heard from your lotus lips that when bhakti-latā, or the creeper of devotion, progressively grows, it eventually takes shelter of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet, which are compared to a kalpa-vṛkṣa (wish-fulfilling tree). Then, under the protection of this kalpa-vṛkṣa alone, fruits of prema begin to appear on that creeper. The sādhaka then personally relishes these ripened fruits. But as those fruits increase in number, there comes a time when the sādhaka is unable to consume them all by himself. Thus, fearing wastage, the desire to distribute those fruits of prema manifests in his heart. I have not yet attained this elevated position and hence I am presently not very enthusiastic to undertake this service of being ācārya.”
śāstra paḍāiyā sabe ei karma kare śrotāra sahite yama-pāśe ḍubi’ mare
Śrī Caitanya-bhāgavata (Ādi-khaṇḍa 2.68)
Although a person may teach the scriptures, he and his students will be punished by Yamarāja, the king of death, if he, [not understanding the purport of those scriptures,] performs worldly activities [or spiritual activities without understanding their import].
Having heard me out, Guru Mahārāja replied, “In order to gain considerable expertise on this subject, you should minutely study and deliberate upon the section in the second part of Śrī Hari-bhakti-vilāsa that describes the symptoms of a guru and a disciple, as well as the relevant parts of Śrī Vedānta-sūtra. When the need arises, you will also have to accept the role of ācārya. Previously, I also had no intention to accept the responsibility of becoming guru-ācārya. However, due to the need of the hour, and for the sake of service, I was required to serve in this role as well.”
The ‘Remembrance in Separation’ series, dedicated to Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Vijñāna Bhāratī Gosvāmī Mahārāja, was first published in Sri Sri Bhagavata Patrika in Hindi in the year 2018. The series unfolded over three volumes (Year 14, Volume 9-10, 10-11, 11-12).
Now, we are presenting the English translation of this in the form of a series of articles released in www.vcvani.com.
Since it covers a brief sketch of Śrīla Mahārāja’s life and precepts from childhood to his final pastimes, this series will be unfolded from now until his tirobhava tithi.