Friday, January 01, 2010

An Appeal to Vaishnava Leaders Around the World

The Yamuna Vrindavan Heritage Foundation has been set up in Vrindavan with Padmanabha Goswami and K.P.S. Gill as its principal officers. The constitution is in the course of being written and a website is being set up.

The first task of the Foundation is to mobilize efforts to stop the Keshi Ghat Flyover, but it is an attempt to rally all the various organizations in Vrindavan behind the concept that Vrindavan and the Yamuna are heritage sites that need special protection. There have been some very encouraging developments lately which we will hopefully be able to report soon.

The website will contain a discussion board, plenty of background information, official petitions and links to related petitions and other organizations doing similar or related work.

An important upcoming event is preoccupying the leaders of the YVHF and that is the Supreme Court hearing on January 10. More information about that will be posted soon, but Sri Chandan Goswamiji already made a report about this
earlier. The main purpose of the hearing is to decide whether the moratorium on construction will be upheld.

Now this is very short notice, but Chandan Maharaj proposed a goal of 100,000 signatures before the Supreme Court hearing. Let me remind everyone that when the Friends of Vrindavan protested the paving of the Parikrama Marg in 1998, they collected 10,000 signatures on their petition, mostly local, and it had no effect whatsoever.

That does not mean the effort is hopeless. It just means that we have to try harder.

I have thought about this, and though I am encouraged by the participation on this page and the response that we have had to the online petitions and so on, we have clearly only just begun. The only way I see us achieving the goal of 100,000 signatures is if the big international Vaishnava samsthas participate.

ISKCON and H.H.Srila Narayan Maharaj have large followings around the world. H.H. Indradyumna Swami and H.H. Govinda Maharaj in particular have many dedicated followers in the former Eastern Block. But all of Iskcon's stalwart preachers have made their mark in their own specific territory.

And now the Ritvik movement is also accumulating strength and numbers in various part of the globe, most notably Bangalore.

H.H. Paramadvaita Maharaj has a large following in South America and Europe. H.H. Srila B.S. Govinda Maharaj has many disciples around the world, especially in Russia.

There are also many disciples of H.H. B.V. Puri Maharaj, H.H. B.B. Tirtha Maharaj, H.H. B.B. Bodhayan Maharaj, H.H. Tripurari Maharaj, H.H. Nrisingha Maharaj, etc.

As Devakinandan Das says, "With grass between my teeth, I bow down to all these Vaishnavas, to all those who have been or will be servants of the Lord."

If these influential individuals and their organizations throw their weight behind this effort, simply by telling their disciples of its importance, I am sure that 100,000 signatures could easily be collected and thousands of letters would flood the offices of the government officials.

If those organizations gave official support to this protest and sent out their disciples and well-wishers on a one-day marathon for signature collecting, they could surpass these goals with ease.

Even if they simply asked everyone at their Sunday feasts or satsanga programs to sign such a petition, it would no doubt immediately number in the five figures.

H.H. Paramadvaiti Maharaj is already more closely involved with the YVHF. He was present at the demonstration on Dec. 25. I must say that I appreciate Paramadvaiti Maharaj as one of the most non-sectarian liberal and constructive Vaishnavas in the entire Gaudiya Math. He has worked hard and long for a unity in the Vaishnava world through the WVA-VVRS movement. His VINA website was one of the first to post news about this issue and raise awareness about it around the world.

I have seen a letter from H.H. Bhakti Charu Maharaj of Iskcon in which he shares his concern about these developments in Vrindavan. His Grace Deena Bandhu Dasji and Her Grace Nirguna Dasi at MVT and several other longstanding Vrindavan Iskcon devotees and Prabhupada disciples have all responded with shock and dismay at these events and expressed their desire to help.

Several of the hardest-working and dedicated people helping Sri Chandan Goswami prepare the Supreme Court deposition are from Srila Narayan Maharaj's sangha.

I mention these groups primarily, but the traditional paramparas and parivaras are also extending their presence and building followings around the world, and I do not exclude them or minimize their importance, for the Goswamis of Sri Sri Radha Raman are taking the lead here, so I offer them my special obeisances. Goswamis of the Nityananda Vamsa, the Vallabha sampradaya, and so many others are now preaching Hari-katha from one end of the globe to the other.

But there are now worldwide movements of the Nimbarka Sampradaya with Goloka Dham, Kripaluji, Barsana Dham in Houston and so on and so on. Please forgive me for not mentioning them all.

All this preaching has increased the attraction of Vrindavan to people from every corner of the planet. But this has not just had the positive effect of making more Vaishnavas, it has also resulted in so much pressure on Vrindavan's infrastructure that it has made this project necessary in the eyes of the government. Since we have all helped contribute to the problem, we must now participate in finding solutions. That begins with stopping the bridge, by making the government officials aware that any solution must be based on an awareness of the sacred character of Braj.

This effort has already brought together Vaishnavas from so many different groups, showing that we all have a deeply held common interest. Despite the differences of approach, Radha, Krishna, the bhaktas and Vrindavan, are our
prana-dhana, our life and soul. Vrindavana ramya sthan, divya chintamani dham...

At this point, we can no longer afford slow, gradual action. We must mobilize as quickly as possible, and for this we need as much top-down direction as possible. If the leaders of these worldwide organizations could organize some kind of official signature and letter writing campaign, we could guarantee making a significant impact.

Please do not make any political calculations. Despite the encouraging signs made by those already mentioned above, others, even those who have worked in Vrindavan environmental issues for decades, have withheld their unconditional support due to personal or longstanding differences with others who are involved, suspicion of others' motivations, the desire to lead or get credit, or sectarian concerns, etc.

But when the problem becomes as acute as this one, there are no more strange bedfellows, my friends. Let us put all these trivial considerations aside and respond to this call for action, which--make no mistake--is coming from Yamuna Devi herself, from Vrinda Devi herself, from our Prana Thakurani herself.

So I ask all of you. If you are already a leader, put aside your misgivings and throw your weight behind this endeavor by holding signature collecting marathons and letter writing parties.

If you are not a leader, please solicit your leaders and beg them to order all disciples and well-wishers to support this campaign.

Humbly, praying at your lotus feet, I make the above submission.

Jai Radhe!!


kesavananda said...

Dear Jagat-ji,
From my part, I have sent emails to all my godbrothers and godsisters as well as all iskcon GBCs, Nimbarkis that I know, Gaudiya missions that I know and even family relatives. just this morning we were able to get about 40 signatures on the petition on line.

I noticed that on that site there was a petition about some defamation against Asaram Bapuji - it had over 46,000 signatures!

If devotees cannot get it together to overlook differences and unite to save Vraja-bhumi, it is a very sad outlook for the future...


Jagat said...

Good idea. We don't just have to approach devotees. Anyone will do. Get people to write to the addresses on the list also.

Reminds me, I have to add some more.

Kesavananda said...

BTW - I also wrote to a bunch of Hindu Organizations including Rajesh Zed - perhaps we can get some help from them too. If anyone knows of any Hindu organizations they should try to contact them also!

Is it just me or did I not see even one ISKCON sannyasi/guru's name on the petition...?

Kesavananda said...

"Get people to write to the addresses on the list also."

Can you post some of the addresses that we can also write to?

Hanuman das said...

Indeed Paramadadvaiti Maharaja started a mission to united the Vaisnava World many years ago. He was succesfull in a modest way, he was also not taken seriously by many. Some considered his mission noble, but impossible and not even necessary since the divisions were founded in a correct sense of right (we) and wrong (they).

So there we are now.... not united but divided in our struggle against steal and concrete buildings and bridges to facilitate materialism and Common Wealth Games. We Vaisnavas have no power, no voice............ INCONCEIVABLE DIVERSITY WITHOUT UNITY !

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