Who is your Mother? | Ritvik vs Guru

by . Average Reading Time: about 4 minutes.

Please accept my dandabat pranam.

My first reaction to your email is “I’d have to write a book to answer your questions”. Then I realized, “I did”. Its called Sri Guru and His Grace.

“It may be my thought, but that was scattered, the slokas etc. But to organize that — analyze and adjust — to harmonize them, your systematic presentation; that is a very rare quality.—Srila Sridhar Maharaja

“They are all your books. What I spoke, was in a random sort of way. But like Vyasadeva, you compiled what I said and gave it structure; samasa and vyasa.”—Srila Sridhar Maharaja

So please read Sri Guru and His Grace: the answers to all of your questions are right in front of your nose; if you’re reading Sri Guru and His Grace.


You proposal is that the current generation of children view their Grandparents as their parents and see their mother and father as representatives of their parents (ṛtvik).

I remember your divine children. Can you imagine telling your children that you are not really their mother, but their ба́бушка, grandmother is actually their mother? You are just her ṛtvik (representative). And when it comes to motherhood, she is a real mother, and you are nothing; just a phony substitute? Not to be taken seriously. Do you think that will help them grow in a healthy way? She may have been the greatest mother ever but still you will mother your children as their mother, as best you can, not as a ṛtvik [representative].

“A boy must put his whole faith in his primary school teacher, otherwise his progress will be hindered. He should not think that what his teacher teaches him is all false, or of a lower type. When he grows up, he will accept another teacher for higher education, but that does not mean that the primary teacher is neglected or insulted.”—Srila Sridhar Maharaja

“The guru should be recognized by impartial judgment. Everyone thinks that his own mother is the most affectionate. But when a comparison is drawn between two mothers to see who is more affectionate, an impartial criterion will be applied. This is called tatastha-vichar: an impartial comparison of relative and absolute considerations. When the two are weighed, the absolute calculation will always have the greater value.”—Srila Sridhar Maharaja

“The position of Acharya is very intricate. It is very difficult to bring an Acharya under rule. You see, that is our practical experience. You please hear and note this. The position of Acharya is a relative thing, and the position of the disciple is also relative, just like the relationship between mother and child, father and son, wife and husband. Although to his godbrothers a guru will be seen in a relative position, to his disciple, the guru is absolute. So to adjust between the relative and absolute is a difficult thing; it is an eternal problem. Even in Krishna-lila there is enmity between madhura-rasa and vatsalya-rasa, but when the absolute consideration comes, both rasas must be included within the fold.”—Srila Sridhar Maharaja

Simple. Common sense. Srila Sridhar Maharaja said repeatedly, “I take my stand on spiritual common sense”. Why do we refuse to use common sense in dealing with spiritual issues? Why do we not take shelter of Srila Sridhar Maharaja and his conceptions?

If you have some interpretion of Srila Govinda Maharaja’s will, then quote Srila Sridhar Maharaja, and Sri Guru and His Grace for corroboration. Then I will consider your proposal. If you want me to take you seriously, quote my Guru Maharaja: OM Vishnupad Sri Srila Bhakti Rakshak Sridhar Dev-Goswami, and his book on all things Guru: Sri Guru and His Grace (edited and published by me). Then I will seriously consider any proposal you suggest.

As for his mention of ṛtvik in his will, if anything, Srila Govinda Maharaja is cancelling the misconception you propose.

“But if one becomes ṛtvik of his own, then it’s a different matter. I will not take their responsibility.”

This should be understood as follows [my paraphrase in modern context]

“But if one wants to become my so-called ṛtvik after my departure from this world, like the bogus, apasiddhantic nonsense of IRM (The ISKCON Reform Movement) then it’s a different matter. I will not take their responsibility.”

In other words, he rejects this idea and will not accept those so-called disciples as having a legitimate connection with him.

According to Srila Sridhar Maharaja I am not your Godbrother. I am the Godbrother of your Guru, Srila Govinda Maharaja and as such to be revered as Guru Varga. We are both co-disciples of Srila Sridhar Maharaja. I am trying to help you properly conceive your guru’s teachings. In fact, that is what Srila Govinda Maharaja asked me to do, particularly for Russian speaking people.

I have always admired you for your seva, constant support, and faithful adherence to the teachings of Srila Govinda Maharaja. Be careful not to allow any other conception, not coming from our guru varga to rob you of the real wealth of your soul. And that nityaṁ rūpānuga śrī-kṛtamati-guru-gaurāṅga-rādhā-jitāśā (Rādhā Dāsyam) is what is being given exclusively by Srila Sridhar Maharaja and Srila Govinda Maharaja and is the real wealth of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math.

Still, you are free to conceive as you wish:

vimṛśyaitad aśeṣeṇa yathecchasi tathā kuru

“Consider the case I make and do what you wish to do”. Bhagavad Gita 18.63


Bhakti Sudhir Goswami