World Vaishnava Association

Why do we need a World Vaisnava Association?

Let me first offer my most humble obeisance's to my Diksa and Siksa-Gurus and to all the wonderful Vaisnavas in this world.
As Century 21 approaches, it is a very happy reality that many Vaisnava Acaryas, sannyasis and other devotees have come forward making an unified effort to revive the true spirit of the Visva-Vaisnav Raj -Sabha (World Vaisnava Association).
Let us dwell for a moment on the many advantages such an association has to offer to all of us. After careful consideration, we will realize that the Association envisioned by Srila Jiva Goswami and our founding fathers is actually a necessity from many angles of vision. We cannot really go on well without it. Here are a few points to highlight this thesis.


  1. We must all try to fulfill the prediction of Sriman Mahaprabhu, which is that His Holy Name will be chanted in every town and village throughout the world.
  2. According to Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur, in this age all the other sampradayas will align themselves with the teachings of Sriman Mahaprabhu and the Brahma-sampradaya.
  3. The character and magnitude of the Vaisnava teachings are supposed to be so pure and great that the whole world can find shelter there.
  4. We accept the Founder-Acaryas of all four Vaisnava-sampradayas and thus need to find a common ground from which we can relate to their present-day leaders and adherents.
  5. Different rasas and expansions of the Lord are all accomodated within the broad view of pure devotees. Similarly, we need to make room for the free flow of different services and relationships between the many Vaisnava branches all connected to the same one Vaisnava family tree, the Sri Chaitanya tree.
  6. Party Spirit is the enemy of truth. We need a forum which is devoid of enmities and petty quarrels. Such a forum can convince all devotees and even non-devotees of the true greatness of the Vaisnava message.
  7. We need the identity of a Vaisnava to go beyond the affiliation to a particular institution. Even the connection to our Diksa-guru and his personal mission may be insufficient after his departure (Bhag. 11.9.31,CC Adi 1.1) because in every mission substantial changes cause some disciples to continue their spiritual life outside of their Gurudev's original mission. Recent examples of this include Srila Bhaktisaranga Gosvami Maharaj, Srila Bhaktidayita Madhava Maharaj, Srila Bhaktiprajnana Kesava Maharaj, Srila Bhaktiviveka Bharati Maharaj, Srila Bhaktiraksaka Sridhar Maharaj, Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaj P., Srila Bhaktipramoda Puri Maharaj and many others.
  8. There are Tirthas, holy places, in every mission and in our Vaisnava religion in general. This means we have to take care of such holy places connected with the descent of the Lord and His devotees. Tirtha caretakers must be free from quarrel and party spirit. Tirthas must be held sacred by everyone who shares this happy faith in the Lord and His devotees. Private property concerns and Guru monopolies destroy the peaceful atmosphere necessary for a Tirtha to bestow its blessings on one and all. We have to find a way to introduce the principle of unity in diversity in the Tirthas of each and every developing Vaisnava family, generation after generation.
  9. We need to know more about each others' capacities and to prepare answers for the problems of a confused, developing world. Everyone is searching for relief from the onslaught of the mayik influence, kali-yuga. Vaisnavas have to carefully research their own resources and subsequently propose Vaisnava solutions to those problems in order to be taken seriously by the world at large.


How can we reach every town and village with Mahaprabhu's message?

  1. In order that the prophecy of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu be fulfilled we need an Army of pure preachers. If we desire that the Holy Name be chanted everywhere, we will need countless Gurus guiding countless disciples in their spiritual life. All of them will regard their Gurus as transparent, capable representatives of our Guru-Sastra-Sadhu principle. Since we may never offend a Vaisnava without spoiling our own spiritual life, we have to adjust our darshan-vision to allow for neighboring temples, Gurus and disciples.
  2. No matter how beloved one particular Guru was, his disciples will not all be able to transfer that same love to any successor-Acarya, whose relative position may be that of a godbrother. New choices have to be made concerning how a mission shall run after the Acarya disappears. Each individual devotee has to determine how to continue his own life of surrender and preaching, and the mission should try as far as possible to accommodate him. How sad is it otherwise, for a Vaisnava mission, if valuable members withdraw due to unfortunate conditions which are beyond their control.

    It is hard to conceive of, and neither in the past has it been shown, that a spiritual master who inspired a growing mission with the help of many disciples could just be substituted by any single successor. Firstly, the godbrothers are not surrendered to him in the same way they were to their Guru. Secondly, he may not have the same drive or capacity as his Guru had, and thus, his failure to maintain things will go to his discredit, what to speak of expanding the mission. Individual devotees are capable of doing wonderful things and those who were expecting all wonderful things to manifest only within their own jurisdiction will again and again be reminded of the all-pervading nature of Transcendence. All the disciples of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur were taken by surprise to see one of their godbrothers, Abhay Babu, Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj (Srila Prabhupad) almost single-handedly fulfill the prediction of Sriman Mahaprabhu.

    The WVA shall accept as members all those who preach the gospel of Krsna-Prema, Krsna-kirtan and Vaisnav-seva in as much as they represent the pure doctrine and share the common goals of the WVA. Therefore, the WVA cannot exclude from membership anyone just on the basis of a dispute he has with some other member. As a matter of fact the WVA shall provide such a happy and broadminded view that many such disputes will naturally be set aside to concentrate on our real business which is: Sri KRISHNA Sankirtan.


    The WVA will not interfere with the internal affairs of its affiliated missions nor with conflicts arising between those missions. This is not the purpose of WVA. Instead, WVA publications may address general conflictive topics and situations, so that our senior-most writers can shed their light on all pertinent issues. Let us not forget that many problems are recurrent and have already been addressed by some previous Acarya. But other problems are new, arising from technological developments in the modern world and growing Vaisnava communities.

    This is all a very happy situation. Nevertheless, it can become quite complicated sometimes. Depending on Krishna's descent to enlighten us on this path, we have no doubt that the WVA will provide some help in this regard.


  3. At this point it may almost sound ridiculous to invite other sampradayas to join the WVA because our own Brahma-Gaudiya Sampradaya's growth is recent, mostly after Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur, whereas some of the other sampradaya traditions are older, though not as widespread.
  4. But we have faith in our Acarya's words and in our Yuga Avatar Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. He Himself went to South India and saved the souls. We can clearly see the nature of Mahaprabhu's message is sweetness turned into absolute magnanimity. Who could resist that? Also, our Guru-varga is giving full respect to the principle Acaryas of the other sampradayas. They do not have the same missionary spirit as Mahaprabhu, but they do preach and publish Vedic literature.Seeing so many similarities, naturally they too will appreciate the opportunity to join the WVA Melas and to contribute to our publications. But first we have to get our own fold of Srila Prabhupada followers organized in a wonderful way. In other words, we will not make a special effort to invite those other Vaisnavas until we feel secure that they will be favorably impressed by seeing our Vaisnava Unity and world-wide service.

    The same is true for other vaisnava groups who we are not so close with, due to some differences in Siddhanta. On a mission by mission basis, the senior members of the WVA will study if such groups and their work will actually benefit the goals of the WVA. Nevertheless, all will benefit by the chance to associate with qualified devotees from around the world through the WVA Melas and publications. Just as Srila Svarup Damodar tested-screened any literary offering before allowing it to be heard by Mahaprabhu, it will be the duty of senior Vaisnavas to study the eligibility of anyone wishing to expose his own views through the channels of the WVA. Such studies will naturally be reported in the WVA publications, so that all members may participate to safeguard the highest purity for this noble cause.


  5. My spiritual master founded his own Vaisnava mission called ISKCON. One astrologer in Navadvipa predicted upon seeing his photograph and handwriting: "This man can build a house in which the whole world can live peacefully." At that time, many of his disciples thought that his institution was that house in which the whole world could find shelter. All Vaisnavas in "one house". How wonderful. And he wanted all to become Vaisnavas. No limitations due to caste, color or creed, age or sex. Nobody was excluded. He asked his disciples to unite all Vaisnavas. He declared in his last days in this world that all misgivings with the Gaudiya Math were over and that he desired all to cooperate with each other. No surprise. Srila Yajavar Maharaj had declared him to be a Saktyavesh Avatar. That was also declared by Srila B.R. Sridhar Maharaj and many others, what to speak of his disciples, who gladly saw that their Gurudev was being appreciated even by his godbrothers in such a unique fashion. He had left the Gaudiya Math and had become successful by his spiritual masters grace, but he regretted any bad feelings amongst his disciples and the Gaudiya Math. That is also confirmed by his repeatedly asking all of his godbrothers to forgive his offenses he had sometimes spoken in a endearing human way to protect the faith of his newborn Vaisnava babies.
  6. But we should never become too proud or arrogant because we have our great Guru. He is great, but what about us? Practically none of the sannyasi disciples of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada fell down. Sannyasis of western origin have not had such a service record. And Iskcon has lost so many senior devotees who today are connected with other Vaisnavas in the Gaudiya line and continue preaching.

    Therefore, the WVA is actually a forum which is much more adequate to provide access to all Vaisnava individuals and missions. Actually our spiritual masters did give us such a house in spirit, where we can live all together happily. So far neither Iskcon, nor any other Vaisnava mission has been able to provide such a forum. The members of some missions even struggle to fully comprehend the meaning of being connected to the family of Vaisnavas through their own branch of the Chaitanya tree. Many Vaisnavas feel uncomfortable with such limited conceptions and are trying hard to penetrate the institutional darkness to go deeper and to reassure their own inspirational connection with the Chaitanya tree. Every great Vaisnava institution ought to recognize their sincere efforts and appreciate how large the membership of sincere Vaisnavas is outside and in between of some of the traditional institutions. Rather, they prohibit their members to associate with Vaisnavas outside of their mission, especially after the founding spiritual master has left this world. This creates an offensive mentality that cannot be backed by Guru, Sastra or Sadhu, thus obliging their members to either go along with institutionalized apasiddhanta or to reject the institution. Both situations displease all well-wishing Vaisnavas.

    There is no reason to fear anything because we can happily unite all together again in the spirit of the WVA, the house which all of our Acaryas have given to all their disciples and to the whole world.
    Such an association is more symbolic in the sense of institutional connection, because it offers members the opportunity to associate as much as they desire. Everything is voluntary and based on sharing with others what has been revealed to us. Voting to elect leaders, such as the senior-most Vaisnava as president, is a formality required to legally function as an entity. The by-laws permit this and outline the basic principles.
    This is the vision of the six Goswamis who happily lived together in Vrndavan in the company of their followers. The Visva-Vaisnav Raj-Sabha was mentioned by Srila Jiva Goswami at the end of each of his Sandarbhas.
    Nobody can conceive of one mission totally merging into another mission within our sampradaya, and what to speak of missions of other sampradayas. Our Gurus have not advised us to join any other mission, even though they very liberally gave individual missions to many of their disciples.

    What does this mean? We can only come closer to each other if we follow the vision and plan of Srila Jiva Goswami, Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada. They were chosen to give the outline of the WVA and all of us have the opportunity to build up this forum of World Sadhu-Sanga. It was the most wonderful and auspicious moment when 28 Acaryas and Sannyasis from 17 Vaisnava Missions (please request the by-laws and first foundation report) jointly founded the WVA and chose the senior-most Vaisnava, Parama Pujyapada Srila B.P. Puri Maharaj to be the first president.


  7. - 5. Since there are distinct differences between the teachings of the Acaryas, we can only go as far as to apply the same philosophy which our Supreme Lord and Savior in the present age has given to us. Inconceivably, simultaneously one and different. Unity, no doubt is there in our theistic world view, and difference is there in the variety of divine plans of the one Supreme Lord. Even in His abode Goloka He manifests his different pastimes which cannot even be fully harmonized in the minds of some particular devotees, but are fully harmonized within the sweet will of the Lord. And there are other Vaikuntha planets with unlimited varieties of Aisvarya feelings and relationships. From Srila Prahlad Maharaj to Lord Shiva. We follow the Mahajanas and thus the WVA lets all the members reveal their particular feelings and revelations they have received from their Acaryas or particular Gurus and Group leaders.
  8. We do not think that someone, upon meeting a devotee of Lord Narasingha deva has to leave his service to the Pancha Tattva, but neither can we conceive of a gopi meeting Lord Visnu and ignoring his presence.
    It can only be good for the world to broadcast the divine sweet invitation of Srila Rupa Goswami, through every possible means. Let this WVA become a new Brihat Mridunga, so that the World and also all the devotees may hear the blissful sound of Mahaprabhus World Samkirtan Party.
    Let us not forget that one of our duties is to remove the cloud of impersonalism from this world. If we do not join hands, but rather think only of our "own" maths, we will loose a lot of important time and space.

    World first, my temple second. That statement was often heard from Srila Prabhupada Jun.. Mayavada groups have world publications and held mayor world gatherings on a regular base. We can do the same and should do it much more enthusiastically, since our Bhakti- or Divine love-mission is concerned with every suffering soul, which does not really leave space for envy amongst us.
    It is this mission of the WVA, where we really need each other, because neither of us could accomplish this service alone. And Krishna has provided us with so much energy and so many great capacities. And this is just the beginning. What will be next? Will there be Judges with tilak consulting the Vedas to give truth? That was envisioned by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur. But which judge would respect Vaisnavas quarreling in courts over the properties given by the Lord for preaching without personal interests?

    Whatever the solutions to the many problems of a growing Vaisnava culture in the world will be, the WVA will provide so many opportunities and associations, free from any institutional imposition, that no Vaisnavas can complain, that not enough opportunities existed and that he withdrew from active involvement due to such reasons.


  9. The doctrine of universal love must therefore stand opposed to all sectarian ideas. A sectarian missionary preaching universal love is but a great inconsistency.
    Bhaktivinode Thakur in the Hindu Idols Jan. 1899.
    This quote really says enough to understand the high expectation coming towards each one of us. In the same spirit the Bhaktivedanta Charity Trust was founded by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada to "bring unity amongst the Gaudiya Vaisnavas, especially the followers of his divine grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura".
    How can we become free from all this party spirit? That is one big challenge we all face in order to start the WVA with full strength.
  10. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada said that we should preach in Europe, America. That was his desire. And his other desire was that we all work together jointly to preach.

    Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami P. speaking to Srila Bhakti Vedanta Narayana Maharaj:
    "It will be done, there is no other way. Either we will try to accomplish it, or it will be done in the future by other Vaisnavas."
    Nobody can stop the plan of Krishna and his pure devotees. Whatever obstacles appear, they are only their to increase our enthusiasm to fight against Maya. And love means to forgive all the time. What to speak of the offenses done by children. Mother in the form of advanced Vaisnavas will not even consider those mistakes. We have to be generous with one and all to not lose ourselves in endless stories of the past in order to find reasons, why we do not want to participate in the WVA. If only one Vaisnava Mission, Sannyasi, Prabhu or didi is missing in the spirit of the WVA, we will not really have accomplished Srila Jiva Goswami's goal. Mahaprabhu has come. Let the whole world know of this. let us bring everyone to the shore of the Nectar ocean and pray that the thirst will make them drink.


  11. The sacred relationship of the Guru with his disciple is the lifeline of all Sampradayas. That should not be intruded upon. It is complex, because there is the Guru as the inspired representative of Krishna, the Guru as the servant of his Guru, the godbrother of his godbrothers and then there's the personal aspect of his Vaisnava life. To bring all of these together symphonically is quite a challenge, if not impossible. Only a mutually magnanimous relationship filled with love and trust can afford two or more Gurus and their disciples cooperating in one joint effort. Generally, a Guru and his disciple require a private place to allow for the development of the exclusive-servitorship-mood in the new disciple. It is difficult enough to place one's faith in a particular Vaisnava Guru in order to get out of the material existence under the present conditions of the world. God brothers of the Guru should not be expected to subsist under pressure to favor such a relationship. Let us be realistic. Love reigns supreme. And if that love does not exist in both directions between Gurus and their Godbrothers, then for all, including the disciples, the situation becomes awkward, detrimental and unhappy. Lastly, there will be a split and the mission will suffer. Why not provide from the very beginning (meaning the disappearance of the spiritual master) a free forum for senior members of the mission to freely choose how they want to go on serving the Samkirtan mission, taking into consideration what Mahaprabhu said when he told Kurma Brahmana to become a Guru and save his people by delivering Krishna Upadesa to them? Precisely what all of our Gurus have preached and what history has shown. What we consider today as Gaudiya math is so many temples founded by so many disciples of Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta, but actually they were started rather independently and often not approved by other more established godbrothers. Now, years later, we see that they were quite empowered to create great missions, while those who stayed with the previously, established Maths did have to live with many oppositions from within. Let us learn from the past as much as possible. Srila Sridhara Maharaj gave us three golden formulas:
    1. Everybody must be happily accomodated within the mission of his Guru.
    2. Everyone has the sacred right and duty to give to others to his fullest heart's content what he has received from his Guru.
    3. Never expect anything from anyone if he's not able to do it or if he doesn't offer to do it voluntarily.

    The Identity of any Vaisnava as servant of his Guru and of the Sampradaya, free of restrictions put on by someone he may not have faith in, is a necessity for an inspired life in Krishna Consciousness. The WVA provides such an identity, because it accepts all those who participate in the noble task of saving others, be it as initiating Acaryas, or as humble servants of any Vaisnava or Vaisnava mission.


    Even though the WVA does not provide any Guru-disciple relationships in it's structure, still there are many opportunities to participate in the preaching of Mahaprabhu's movement, for those who have not yet found their permanent preaching service after the disappearance of their Diksa or Siksa Guru. General service to the WVA should also be highly appreciated by their Acaryas and will turn out to be a link to further services with more personal responsibilities in the preaching field. And it does not take much to accomplish that. The WVA is already existing with its offices in Vamsivat, Vrndavan (from where Krishna plays his flute to call all the gopis) and it holds two meeting per year in which senior Vaisnavas encourage all visiting devotees to participate. In addition, there is a yearly Maha Mela in Sridham Mayapur to exhibit all preaching activities of the WVA members. Lastly, the WVA has world communication on the Computer Internet making it an open forum with equal opportunities for all members of the WVA. This will increase the respect all members will feel for each other just in accordance with their heart's command.


  12. Holy places and festivals play an essential role in every Acarya's mission. Generally he will reunite his Vaisnava Group on holy days such as Janmastami, Gaura-Purnima etc., after they have been out preaching and serving worldwide. That meeting becomes the renewed spiritual charge, the happy festival to look forward to, to see dear friends, and to hear from outstanding performers in the service world. What sweet memories come to us when we recall how our Gurudeva united all of us!! Even the antagonists amongst us were dancing together and believe it or not, offering obeisance's to each other. Tirthas are holy places where great devotees reside and an ever-increasing number of faithful souls are traveling to such tirthas, ultimately to catch a glimpse of the promised darshan of that soul who has totally surrendered to God and whom God has chosen to make His representative in this dark world. Such saintly persons verily make a place worthy of being titled -- tirtha.
  13. But after Gurudev's departure we have seen many changes. Previous feelings are very hard to find. Secret meetings are held to lament the fate of not feeling inspiration for supporting the new Acarya(s). New disciples cannot tolerate their Guru's godbrothers. Depending who gives the class, a group of devotees withdraw. Prasadam time: who is getting the privileges. Every moment something wrong is discovered. Some think: maybe I should no longer attend this festival? The group of new disciples augments, the elders diminish. What is the solution? Take Sannyas? Try to follow your Gurus path?

    Well that depends on who would agree to give it to you, and under what conditions? In one way or another such things take place in every mission. Some Tirthas belong to the whole world; others belong to the disciples and grand disciples of a particular Guru. Both must be maintained without encroachment. Good devotees who themselves do not accept disciples can perform the priestly functions. All Acaryas and their disciples are welcomed and expected to give their support to these "impartial" tirthas. Other Gurus and their disciples can further increase the glories of certain tirthas by making their Mandiras and Dharmsalas there, such as was done after Lord Chaitanya again revealed Vrindavan-dham to this world.

    No more personal misuse of Tirthas, no faulty regulations or unfriendliness from one group to another. The WVA could help in the future to coordinate that the Dhamas get sufficient attention. The Acarya is most prominent no doubt, but that prominence is most appreciated in the presence of his disciples and in the places he himself established.
    It is logically not admissible that any one Acarya privatize a Tirtha neglecting other pilgrims' feelings simply because he has captured that location.
    The WVA is not interested in becoming the judge of any situation. Subjects like this can be discussed by senior Vaisnavas through WVA publications. The idea is to create an auspicious atmosphere for all Vaisnavas while simultaneously providing proper protection for each mission's favorite Tirthas.


  14. This proposed goal of the WVA is very broad and general. It gives us the chance to penetrate the world with Vaisnava creativity in all fields like art, business, communications, sciences etc. Already many devotees are taking part in ecological efforts and social concerns. Involved in the professional world, many devotees have chosen to apply the wisdom given by their spiritual masters in their daily occupational duties.
  15. We all have to be very humble to actually take full advantage of the great gift Krishna and our Gurudevas have given us. The WVA wants to help all devotees to communicate with each other and to join hands in so many fields of common concern. Networking is the most natural thing to do, when you have friends and contacts in other parts of the world. Any mathematical discovery is immediately made available to other scientists around the world. We have an unlimited field which until now we have not made good use of. Since preaching is the revolutionary plan of Sriman Mahaprabhu, we will see how He will act through each and every one of us. The basic ingredient of that networking is information, and then again more information. By everyone giving us his or her information we can establish this communication worldwide. You can ask to be sent the registration forms for membership if you plan to actively interface with other members of the WVA.

    And as we mature we will develop our own solutions to the world's problems.
    Such everyday health questions as sewage waste disposal , chemical vs. organic farming and proper diet must be addressed by those who actively organize communities, as many Vaisnavas do. Ignoring such points under the plea that only KRISHNA-kirtan is important will not gain us the respect we would like to have when we address the public with our deeper message. Besides that, our Vedic-Vaisnav-tradition wholistically encompasses every aspect of material life as well, offering natural remedies for all the evils facing the world today.

    Or do we prefer to be embarrassed again and again when confronted by non-devotees who challenge that our so-called "simple living & high thinking"-ideal is actually very shallow? No doubt, we can justify our actions in many ways, but lastly we are supposed to establish the mood of beautiful Vrindavan and Mayapur through our preaching and attract all jivas back to the spiritual world. The WVA has a great task to perform -- to connect all the visionaries in our Sampradaya with each other and thus prepare ourselves for the day when masses of people come to us for guidance in their spiritual as well as their material life.


We have barely scratched the surface of the many services the WVA can do and why it is indispensable for all of us to play an active role in its development. But, like a little baby, it needs the care of all of us.
It will require some time and your merciful participation to make it a reality. Please participate in the yearly Maha Mela in Mayapur and send us your proposals and articles to be included in future WVA-publications.
Please take advantage and let the whole world hear the teachings of your Gurudeva. Simply send us the text, preferably in English, Hindi and Bengali, or at least in one of those languages. Always also include a short life biography of the author.

The dignity of our preceptorial line.
Our Acaryas have brought us divine love. Their dignity can only be detected fully in a Vaisnava World with the Unity in Diversity characteristic the WVA can provide. Even ourselves, we cannot preach with full enthusiasm if every time one of our Acaryas leaves this world all his efforts and accomplishments become subject to dispute. We have to create such a spirit that all Vaisnavas happily take part. We have to see how Vaisnavism is going to evolve to meet the challenges of an ever-changing world. We must question our own activities and concepts. Do they promote a unified loving mood amongst Vaisnavas in general? If not, we shall strive to remove all misconceptions transcend those difficulties.
Needless to say, our spiritual masters will be very happy and the world will see that Vaisnavism is the most unique contribution to guide the fallen people of this age. Hoping this meets you in good health. Awaiting your quick reply.

Your very fallen servant,
Svami B.A. Paramadvaiti, WVA-Secretary

Written in 1995

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