|5 years ago :: Jun 22, 2009 - 10:35AM #1|
|5 years ago :: Jul 05, 2009 - 3:01PM #2|
|5 years ago :: Jul 05, 2009 - 3:11PM #3|
This is a term paper I wrote. Much of it is based on their internet postings.
Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math
It was an early evening and I had just left the San Jose State library. It was then that I heard chanting accompanied by drums and small cymbals. The chant that they were singing was the Krsna mantra. I followed them thinking that they might be ISKON members. But the way they dressed seemed wrong. They looked a bit too mainstream for it to be ISKON. One of the trio gave me a small card that read ‘Dive Deep Into Reality. Reality is Beautiful. ‘ In the middle of the card appeared an Indian temple. On the reverse side appeared an emblem and the title ’Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Seva Ashram.’ It also provided me with the times of their open services.
The following Saturday I decided to go to one of their services expecting to find a congregation of South Asians. It actually turned out to be a group formed out of Western converts. They at first were fairly friendly but generally left me alone until the puja started. The first portion was chanting praises to Krsna and to ‘Gurudev.’ A guest speaker who discussed the importance of having faith in Krsna followed this. The ceremony was concluded by a prasad that was vegetarian in content.
The disciplic succession of the Sri Chaitanaya Saraswat Math is a succession is the passing on of specific doctrines from guru through disciple. This succession is seen as the passing on of these doctrines from Krsna himself.
The first persona of the lineage was Sri Chaitanya Mahaprebhu who is seen as inseparable from Krsna. His place in the order is referred to as the Brahma Gaudia Sampradeya. His title refers to the fact that as founder of the lineage he received the doctrines directly from Krsna. His followers are known as the Gaodiya Vaisnavas.
This lineage continued to include Srila Bhaktivinada Thakur who first appeared during the nineteenth century. He prayed that these teachings would be continued through his son Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswasti Prabupad. It is the son who was responsible for spreading Krsna consciousness throughout India.
The two primary disciples of Srila Siddhanta Saraswasti Prabhupad were Srila Bhakti Rakshak Sridar Maharaj and Srila A.C. Bhaktivendanta. He also was the great inaugurator of Krsna consciousness into the western world. He also is the founder of the Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math.
After his departure in 1988 Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Maharaj took the disciplic succession.
The Sri Chatainaya Saraswat Math is a society of Vaisnavas of whom Srila Govind Maharaj is the spiritual guardian. He is the most prominent disciple of Srila Bhakti Ralshaka Sridhara Deva. The headquarters is in Nabadwip, India. It was founded id 1941 by Srila Sridhar Maharaj. Currently there are more than fifty branches worldwide.
His Divine Grace Sri Srila Bhakti Ralshaka Sridhara Deva founded the Sri Chaitaniya Saraswat Math. He was born in the year of 1895 in India. He was born of the Brahmana caste of the Bhattacrya order at Hapaniya in West Bengal. He received his education at Baharamapur University.
His birth was considered to have taken place in the Sri Gauda-Mandal where Krsna as Sri Chaitanaya Sankirtana spent his childhood. There he was drawn as a child to the Chanting of Krisna’s name.
In 1926 he joined the Sri Gaudiya Matha and became a disciple of Srila Bhakti Thakura Goswama Prabhupada. (1874-1937). In 1940 he took the order of Sanyasa and became a monk. Upon being recognized as a preacher he was given the name Sri Bhakti Raksak. This means ‘Guardian of Devotion. He was also given the title of ‘Sridara.’ Thus he became known as Srila Bhakti Rakshak Sridhara. As a prominent preacher of the Math he traveled throughout India teaching fluently in Bengali, Sanskrit, Hindi, and English. This included universities, public seminars, and at festivals.
His composition, a Sanskrit text entitled Sri Bhaktivinoda Viraha Dasakam, received high praise. He also composed the prayer Sri Rupa Manjara Pada which was sung at the death of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswasti Thakur. He also was responsible for the composition of several Sanskrit and Bengali texts. Among these are included the Sri Sri Prapanna Jivamrtam, a devotional treatise on the concept of divine surrender.
He generally preferred the anonymity that was typical of a humble Vaisnava. Yet it was through divine duty and devotion that he established the Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math at Sri Navadwip Dhama in 1941. Thus became a sanctuary for the teachings of his guru along with Sri Rupa, and Sri Chaitanaya Mahaprabhu.
By the time that he reached his eighties he attracted not just Indian devotees but also persons from Europe and America. He was considered to be a pure saint due to his simplicity and affectionate nature. He was also known for his encyclopedic knowledge of scripture and his ability to cast light on the most philosophical and reflector texts.
From his vast collection of teachings several English books were compiled. These include:’ Search for Sri Krsna- Reality the Beautiful,’’Sri Guru and his Grace.’ ‘The Golden Volcano of Divine Love,’’Loving Search for the lost Servant, and Srimad Bhagavad Gita- The Hidden Treasure of the Great Absolute.’
On August 17, 1988 he died, A divine temple was erected at Navadwip in order for his teachings to continue.
Srila Bhakti Govinda Maharaja was selected as his successor. His disciples also know him as Guru Dev.
Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswani Maharaj was born on December 17, 1929 at Bamunpara a small village in Western Bengal. He joined the Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math in 1957 when he was seventeen. A few weeks later it was announced that he would succeed Srila Bhakti Ralshaka Sridhara Deva as head of the organization. He lived another forty-two years in association with his guru. During this time he became Srila Sridhar Dev-Goswani’s closest disciple. He saw to it that Srila Govind Maharaj was properly trained in Sanskrit and Bengali. This also included the Shastras. Srila Govind Maharaj developed a good memory and could learn by hearing. He also developed great insight and the ability to capture what was not apparent to others.
In 1941 it was announced that the Math would go worldwide. At the time the Math was a simple straw house, but under the supervision of both gurus the current complex was created.
Un 1986 he took over control of the Math. Two years later Srila Sridhar Maharaj died. Today there are over 100 temples and ashrams worldwide with more than 20,000 followers. In this Srila Govind Maharaj has fulfilled a prophecy of Srila Sridhar Maharaj.
Since then he has traveled more than twenty world tours visiting various countries around the world. He has also appeared on both radio and television. In Vera Cruz Mexico the mayor honored him with the key to the city. Today there are prominent centers in London, America, South America, Europe, South Africa, and Mauritius. In Russia there are five centers with thousands of disciples. In St. Petersburg a large Jagarnath temple is being built. Today there are 64 temples within India, and 50 centers worldwide.
More than two hundred books have been published in twenty different languages. The are also several magazines such as Gaudiya Darshan, Sadhu Sanga, and Vaisnava Toshani have been published and distributed worldwide.
A question is posed ‘Why does happiness elude us?’ Because the search is done from a purely materialist perspective then happiness cannot be found. It is only through the spiritual realm can happiness be found.
Krsna is said to be there even during the worst periods of life. He is waiting to help us. By seeking out that which is found inside can Krsna be found. Instead of becoming the master one needs to become a servant. The true master is Krsna. By taking him as master then the individual will be lifted up to a higher realm. By being a master then the individual will enter a lower zone. But by preparing for a higher position then the individual can come into contact with the higher self. By sacrificing the individual goes up. This is through the purity of that which is divine.
Superficial satisfaction can be found in robbing others. But the results of this will not be good. Some enjoyment does come from stealing, but greater happiness comes from giving. There are different forms of happiness depending on the plane that it is found. The qualities of these happiness’s are also dependant on the plane that they are found. The best happiness can be found on the higher plane where the divine God exists.
What is God? He is not the mere supplier of individual desires. Relying on God in that way does not lead to a happier existence. it is better to desire God without the expectations of the mundane. God is the source of all love, beauty, ecstasy, and eternal fulfillment. The individual should not desire anything else. Desiring this is much better than desiring the mundane. Sacrificing the individual’s selfish interests does this. In order to find fulfillment the individual has to search for God.
True selflessness does not come from just renunciation. It comes from self-giving. This self-giving goes to Krsna who absorbs everything. Of this the only one to enjoy is Krsna. It is reserved for Him only.
Krsna is the master of money, wealth and energy. There all belong to Krsna. The credit for this belongs to the guru. All pleasure is reserved only for Krsna. If these three principles are reserved for Him then what is our position. Where and who are we? The position of the individual is secondary. As to the individual’s wealth, they are reserved for Krsna. The main capitalist in this position is the guru. The individual makes transactions with this. The individual is like a small industrialist who ankles big deliveries to the big industrialist, who then takes them to market for sale. Krsna consciousness spreads in such a way. The guru takes these to the market and sells them.
The individual belongs to the secondary subordinate position. Being by nature potency the individual has no freedom to enjoy. Only the master enjoys this, and the individual supplies this. The individual’s intrinsic identity is too subservient to Krsna.
Initially the individual has to both abandon enjoyment and renunciation. This is done through self-surrender. It is a difficult concept to understand and even more difficult to follow. Yet Krsna is present and because of this he is everything. Every thing is for him.
The metaphysics used by Sri Chaitanya Saraswast Math is based on the Sankhya system. The actions of the body and senses are supplied by prakrti (matter). The soul (purusa) is said to be the enjoyer of happiness and the sufferer of misery. This is because is misidentifies itself with the mundane. The pure soul does not conceive itself as the enjoyer . The conditioned soul cons considered to be crippled. Prakrti is like a blind man who possesses energy to move but is unable to guide. The guide is the soul who can see. The soul is consciousness and intelligence. Blind energy can move and work. It also possesses consciousness and is capable of feeling pain and pleasure. Yet this consciousness is passive and inert. Its activity is performed by the agency of another energy. This is the conception of the lower plain of activity; it is the conception of the lower plain of activity.
There is no necessity for the soul to move within the mundane world. It is indifferent, passive, and inactive in the lower enjoying plane. It does not participate in the lower plane of existence, as it was meant for the positive side of divinity. Matter works on behalf of the material nature of the soul.
A fallen soul is like a minor proprietor in a helpless situation. It is inactive but usurps everything on the name of the proprietor. The soul is a non-participant. But it manages the body, mind, and senses on its behalf, and is supported by it. But if the soul is connected to Krsna then the soul will achieve its unique position. It will control the senses and utilize them in the service of Krsna.
Krsna consciousness is the remembrance of the divine feet of Krsna. It is able to destroy the undesirable in the individual. It will be destroyed by the continuance of Krsna consciousness. It also promotes the inner goodness within the individual. The individual’s standpoint, aspiration, and understanding will be improved. The knowledge of Him will develop into a proper connection and will affect the apathy of the mundane world.
This consciousness is to me maintained. There is no other medicine that can produce Krsna consciousness.
Krsna consciousness is the cause of Krsna consciousness. Help for this comes from the other devotees of Krsna. It is like a candle that can only be lit by another candle. It is to come to the help of the sleeping Krsna consciousness within the individual. Thus the consciousness arises from its sleep and shows itself. The association of devotees is the root cause of Krsna consciousness.
Krsna consciousness is causeless. Faith is also said to be causeless. Krsna worship is also causeless and continuous. When it is awakened in the in the heart then the individual feels it. It also has no causes, cannot be checked, and cannot be opposed. Devotion comes from devotion, just as light comes from light. The individual is to trace it out, understand it, the original light that is eternal, self-existent, and is causeless. The cause is eternal and extending of itself.
Worship may be temporarily be opposed or apparently checked. But it will not leave the individual. For a bit of time it may be suppressed, but it cannot be finished. Its nature is eternal. It also has connection to the eternal nature of the universe. The individual is to come near to this sort of existence, the connection with the plane of life. This is only if the individual has connection with it.
The individual belongs to the second subordinate position. The individual is not the owner of potency, but a part of potency. Because of this the individual has no freedom to enjoy this. The master of potency, Krsna, enjoys it, and the individual is the supplier of it. The individual is to be enjoyed by the higher. This is the individual’s intrinsic identity. The individual is not the positive, but the negative. The individual is not the predominator, but the predominated.
At first the individual needs to abandon both enjoyment and renunciation. Then the individual enters the plane of service. This is done through self-dedication and self-surrender. This is difficult to understand and even more difficult to adopt and to follow. But Krsna is present. Because of this everything is possible.
The action of body and senses is supplied by prakrti. This is dominated by the conditional soul. Thought is marginal in nature, but thinks of itself as the enjoyer of happiness or the sufferer of misery. Yet the pure soul does not conceive as an enjoyer or purusa.
In Sankhya philosophy the logic is known as pangandha-nyaya. This is like the cripple that is seated on a blind man’s shoulder and directs the blind man to the desired direction. The purusa is considered to be crippled and the prakrti is like the blind man who posses full energy to move, but cannot guide. The guide is the purusa who can see, that is the guide of consciousness or intelligence. The blind energy can move or work. The purusa possess consciousness and the feelings of pain and pleasure that exist in the consciousness. Yet, his consciousness is inert and passive. It’s activity performed by the agency of another energy this is the conception of the lower plain of activity. Still the consciousness does not form from matter.
There is no necessity of the soul to move in the mundane world. It is inactive, indifferent, and passive to the lower plane of enjoying existence. It does partake of the lower plane of existence. It is meant for the positive side the divinity. Yet the admitting of the presence of the soul in the background, the prakrti works on it’s behalf.
Srila Govind Maharaj gave the example of a minor who became the proprietor of an estate, taking advantage of his youth, may loot and enjoy his estate. But he cannot control his rebellious managers. Yet he must make contact with a greater soul, and with that help he can subjugate his managers and regain control of his property.
A fallen soul’s position is just like that of a minor proprietor in a helpless position. It is inactive and the managers are conducting all the affairs. They are usurping everything in the name of the proprietor. The soul is inactive and non-participating. Yet his managers are working on its behalf as though supported by it. If the real interest is aroused in its heart by a major soul who is connected with the Supersoul or Paratma, Krsna , the soul will achieve its intrinsic position. It will control the senses and utilize them in the service of Krsna, realizing that ‘Everything is for Krsna, not for me.’
Krsna consciousness is the remembrance of the divine feet of Krsna. It will dissipate and destroy all that is undesirable and not good in the individual. Even in the earliest stages of development its slightest connection will any undesirable connection with the things of lower nature. It promotes goodness within the individual. The substantial character of the individual’s existence will be improved. The soul existence will be purified. The individual’s aspirations, understanding, and standpoint will be purified. The individual will attain devotion, attachment to the supersubjective realm, and knowledge will improve. The knowledge of Krsna will develop a proper connection and will develop apathy toward the mundane world.
Krsna consciousness must be retained. It is medicine there is no other medicine that can produce Krsna consciousness according to the Math. It can cure disease and discover the Krsna consciousness within the individual.
Krsna consciousness is the cause of Krsna consciousness. Help for this comes from the disciples who have Krsna consciousness within them. It is like a candle being lit by another candle. The candle cannot produce light from within. It needs another candle to be lit. thus the individual awakens the hidden Krsna consciousness within.
The term viraga has a twofold meaning. One is negative and the other positive. The negative meaning is that the individual will have no attachment to the ‘non-God.’ There is no attraction for the mundane necessity. With the positive the individual will have an excellent attachment through the process of selection and elimination. This attachment is located within its proper space. The attraction to Krsna will not be through raw or approximate estimation. It is a progressively eliminative attraction this adjusted attraction.
This knowledge is also supported by attraction. Also by experience of a system that knows how much attraction is necessary. Discriminative attraction, such as attraction for an eye or attraction for a hand, should not be equal; the adjusted attachment in a particular system. This attachment should also be well –adjusted: wherever and how much attention is necessary. The individual than is properly adjusted to the systematic whole. As much as the individual will come in connection with the object of attachment, in a systematic way then the individual will be able to realize Krsna.
In a general way the path of good attachment is given. The individuals understanding, in its progress, will have the undesirable portion eliminated. Conception will become clearer and clearer. With clarity individual things in the individuals conception will vanish, and progress will lead the individual to its perfect conception. In the beginning truth is understood is an approximate way. There will be gradual development to the individuals understanding. It will become more clear and pure.
So the development of Krsna consciousness is such. First, a mass of light, then the figure, then the potency, then the pastimes with the potency. In this way the individuals approach becomes closer and closer. Many things, even the closest and most minute, will come into view. The whole will also become very close to the individual. The individual will be led higher and higher, closer to the differentiated view of the plane. In this way there is the progressive development of devotion (Bhakti).
No consciousness can exist without individuality or personality. Consciousness is personnel and the two cannot be separated. What can be differentiated from personality is something like that.
Substance is of two kinds changing, that which is perishable, and the unchanging, that which is eternal.
True devotion is very rare,. Generally the fate of true disciples is to climb up to the highest position with great effort. And when they cannot grasp that consciousness or cross that understanding they have to revert back. They have to fall back. For those who can cross the line devotion begins. The relation between subordination to the lower to the higher comes into effect. Such a person among disciples is rare. The majority comes back. After much penance the reach for the higher mark but cannot accommodate that which needs devotion. So they come back.
Among those disciples that can reach for the higher goal of devotion their vision grows more and they find potency along side of their personal God. They become the devotees of Krsna. In that service they find reverence and become examples of higher developed souls.
If the soul does not find the whole of the innate nature having full engagement, there will be e certain thirst, some inner tendency, which it cannot satisfy itself. The individual has to search from within for a purer and friendlier service than the filial service.
Ultimately the urges go up. It urges the individual to go higher and deeper. As the individual first comes into contact with such agents the individual’s own heart blossoms. When the blossoming reaches the full extent then the heart moves toward Krsna.
The individual then can see what gradually comes to the individual as Krsna consciousness. The individual is awakened. The individual is awakened in the plane where all that is connected can be see. Krsna is seen as the all-harmonizing principle. The individual is fully awaked, and at the same time sees the environment and the object of search, and is fully equipped. This is full-fledged theism.
Full-fledged theism- where the theistic conviction receives its satisfaction in the fullest way. The movement there is spontaneous and all around. The environment is found to be friendly. It is simple and friendly: and the dealings of all with so much intimacy.
The individual finds that the nee for any higher environment has been quenched. The thirst fir coming to a closer relation with them is gone. There is no possibility of any higher change of environment. The only thing remaining is how to come to a closer relationship with the environment. The environment is eternal, but the intimacy of connection is there. And the guidance is given according to that.
In this way there is progress. The is some necessity were the service is moving. There is repetition but it is always fresh and new. In that plane there is the movement of time, but it is eternal.
Finally the individual will attain the fullest satisfaction of every atom of every constituent part of the spiritual body. The relationship with the environment will come to a stage where every atom of the spiritual body and mind will aspire to union with every other corresponding part of the environment. This the highest conception.
The individual’s thoughts are lost in Krsna consciousness . Krsna has captured every atom of the individual’s existence. this is only possible through a consorthood relationship, where every atom has been embraced and captured. It comes into the most intimate connection with Krsna.
Devotion has it’s beginning. The beginning of devotion is the primary mission of the devotional school. From there is the gradation: servitude, fraternity, par4enthood, and then conjugal love. In this way devotion is growing up. Systematically the individual is to understand and digest that which is devotion. But in the beginning the individual has a broad conception of the positive world of devotion.
The individual has many distracted and has many different interests. Yet the individual needs to put Krsna’s interests in the center. The individual deeds to find and read all the good news that are coming from all directions to that individual. Every vibration carries good news to that individual. A great readjustment is necessary; religion is that readjustment. If the individual is incorrectly adjusted and concerned with different type of special interests, then the individual will find difficult. The individual needs to change, and find the universal interest. The universal way is the most universal concern.
The highest submission to the universal way is the highest duty for everyone. The original vibration of this exists forever. It is self-existent, having none to have created it. It is eternally existing. None can oppose it, as there is none that can resist it. This is the definition of devotion. It is the highest duty of everyone. The interest of the individual should be diverted to the infinite, the unknown. It has no cause as it is causeless. It can never be stopped. None can oppose it. There is none who can oppose it. It its so forceful that none can oppose it.
Such is the original vibration.. It is all sweet, all accommodating, and all0ebracing. From there the individual will find the way to love. Fulfillment is given in this way: devotion-love. Without love there can none be. Everything else is defective. Only love is perfect. Justice is imperfect, as it divides things between the many. There is no unity. This is the position of justice. Above that is the land of love. Love is the most comprehensive of all causes.. It can accommodate and harmonize everything. It is there that the individual can find love, beauty, affection, mercy, and charm. The all have the same taste.
This is the ripe fruit of the Vedas. It is the revealed truth. It does not originate from the experience of lost souls. It comes from the land above; the land of the eternally extended truth. As recipe fruit it is in its full-fledged position.
The ashram is a converted Victorian that they have used for seven years. Apparently the house was fairly run-down when they acquired it. They spent a lot of time remodeling the place into an ashram. Inside the main room is the shrine room. The altar was positioned were there once was a fireplace. In the center of the altar is a statue of Krsna. It is painted flesh and has one hand raised. His clothing is routinely changed. The wardrobe is placed in a cabinet next to the altar. Also on the altar is a picture of Krsna playing his flute, and pictures of the various gurus. There are additional pictures of the gurus on one wall in the room. On the opposite wall is a picture of the temple complex at Nandagram. This is a women’s ashram. The male membership lives elsewhere.
The pattern for their Saturday night service is fairly simple. They usually start by chanting praises in Sanskrit to Krsna, Radha, and Guru Dev. This is usually accompanied with a drum and small cymbals. A chanter leads and the rest repeat. The actual chants are found in a service book. Most of the celebrants have memorized the chants, and the book is only used by a few. A teenage girl acts as an officient standing by the altar. From there she offers fire, a chowry, and a peacock feather fan to Krsna. During the ceremony she carried the fire around the congregation, and each celebrant touched the fire and then their heads. Having a guest speaker usually follows this. Often the speaker will continue the chanting for up to a half hour. The actual talk follows. The topics are usually about Krsna consciousness. Often they are part of a question and answer session. References to the Bhagavat Gita and the Puranas occur. One exception to this was once a couple arrived from Brazil. They mostly spoke on the different centers that they had visited, most notably Russia. During this time the altar is sealed off with a curtain and an offering is made to Krsna. As this is being done the congregation prostrates. Once the offering is concluded the curtain is removed. The evening service ends with a prasad of vegetarian food.
The clothing worn by the membership varied. Much of it was casual wear. Some of the women did wear fairly plain saris. among the men there were a few who would wear orange outfits such as a Vaisnava sadhu would wear. Among the men, several wore their hair like that of a Brahmin.
During the third week of observing the group Srila Govind Maharaj visited Northern California. Because of this there was much excitement around the ashram. The amount of disciples that came to the Saturday night program swelled. At times there was barely room for all attending. The nature of the ceremony remained the same. There only night that there was a change happened on the day of ‘Gurudev's' birthday. A sacred cake was included. This consisted of a dome of brown dough in which several cow images were inserted. Stalks of broccoli then surrounded this, with a few sprigs on the mound that represented trees. This cake was intended to represent Go-Loka, the heaven of Sri Krsna. These celebrants then surrounded the mound chanting. The cake was eventually taken away to the kitchen and was served later during prasad.
The group is mildly evangelical. They do not spend that much time promoting themselves. At most the will walk through downtown San Jose with a drum and cymbals chanting the Krsna mantra.
Often the membership that shows up at the Saturday puja is from outside, mostly the East Bay and Santa Cruz groups. The actual San Jose group tends to be small. The actual membership to the Math is very dedicated.
Because of my faithfulness at being there many of the members have assumed that I was a disciple. I have had to remind them that I am a visiting Buddhist.
The group is basically made up of a solid but small core that attends all the functions, and a larger periphery. The membership is highly devoted to the guru and to Krsna. This includes the periphery.
The Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math in conclusion is an orthodox Vaisnava group operating out of Navadwip, India. There is a strong Indian following with 64 temples within the country. It also has a large following with centers inside Brazil, Russia, Poland, Czech Republic, Canada, and the US. There are 50 centers worldwide. The leader is Srila Govind Maharaj from Bengal. Their primary focus is open the doctrine of Krsna consciousness. Their metaphysics is based on the Sankya system, were Krsna is equated to Purusa. Their goal is to become united to Krsna by devotion.
|5 years ago :: Jul 06, 2009 - 3:30PM #4|
|3 years ago :: Oct 12, 2010 - 3:44AM #5|
Gauranga: Love Incarnate
(In 2007, Sri Chinmoy was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev)