Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur Prabhupada gave a beautiful description on the history of the Vishva Vaishnava Raj Sabha. Taking the dust of his lotus feet upon my head as well as the dust of the feet of all our readers I compile this continuation of his description of the Vishva Vaishnava Raj Sabha.
Vaishnava missions are spreading around the globe. The prediction of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu that in every town and village the holy name will be heard is being fulfilled more and more every day. Nowadays you can find persons chanting the holy names of Krishna or reading the transcendental literatures of the Vaishnavas everywhere, from the Amazon river to the arctic areas. Especially the internet has made Vaishnava homepages of many different missions in many different languages available to every place a telephone line runs.
No doubt such a vast expansion must be accompanied by certain difficulties. Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada who pioneered to take the message of Lord Krishna into the home of everyone gave the practical example that the word impossible cannot be applied to the activities of the Vaishnavas. In the words of Srila B.R. Sridhar Maharaja: “What had been predicted by Mahaprabhu was strategically planned by Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur. Then it was started by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur Prabhupada and then it was fulfilled beyond anybodies expectations by Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.” He paved a road from Vrindavan to the entire world. Now it is easy to travel on that road and meet people everywhere who are already familiar with the Vaishnava tradition and by bringing western born Vaishnavas to India he re-ignited the pious desire in India's leading community. Those who had almost given up on the value on their own tradition and who were more concerned with entering the enterprise world with the potency of India's production and intellectual capacity, start to realize that the Indian treasure is far more valuable then simple economical development. Clearly, the influence of the west has already done great damage to India, and it will probably take a lot more damage before the entire India administrative system and intelligentsia becomes aware that loosing the tradition of dharma, vegetarianism and family protection will create detrimental effects. But this seems to be the nature of this material world, there has to be a period of suffering before there comes the period of awakening.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is solely responsible for the message of divine love to reach everybody in this world. He revealed the real meaning of the Vaishnava's love by opening the doors to anyone in the whole world regardless whether they where born in Brahmana families or mleccha & yavana families and offered them the highest service one can achieve through their surrender to the holy names of Krishna. The holy name of Krishna is the most powerful divine intervention to uplift the conditional soul to a loving relationship with the Supreme Lord. In this particular contribution He showed His divine mercy and the generosity of His audarya lila since both Madhvacarya and Ramanujacarya in their respective schools maintained many restrictions to the active participation from the people of lower birth. Great devotees like Narottam das Thakur and my own spiritual master, Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada have been outstanding examples of this magnanimous projection of Mahaprabhu.
The influence of Mahaprabhu's plan is spinning around the globe. Some missions may loose prominence after their founders depart and some renounced preachers may fail to uphold the flag of Mahaprabhu continuously. Even those who have accepted the responsibility of spiritual leadership over others may go down due to offending other Vaishnavas, huge sandstone temples may turn into archeological sites rather than dynamic temples, and entire parts of scriptures may be lost, but the spirit of Mahaprabhu and Bhaktivinoda Thakur will never be lost. To serve that spirit, to protect its vision is the sacred duty of everyone who has been captured by the universal love of Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
The World Vaishnava Association reignited that vision of the previous acaryas of the Vishva Vaishnava Raj Sabha. After the disappearance of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur Prabhupada the Vishva Vaishnava Raj Sabha was almost forgotten for 70 years as his disciples started their diverse efforts to establish Vaishnava missions in India and around the world, that is a rather well-known history and for those who want to find out more details I collected them in the book Our Family the Gaudiya Math.
One of the foremost disciples of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur Prabhupada in charge of publications and deity installations from the beginning of the Gaudiya Math, Srila Bhakti Pramod Puri Goswami Maharaja, accepted (in a combined effort of western and eastern devotees) the presidency of the revived Vishva Vaishnava Raj Sabha with the more modern name World Vaishnava Association. Together with leading members of 17 other leading Vaishnava missions.
The WVA entered a new era. With the incredible help of the communication through the Internet new dimensions of the activities of the sabha can be achieved. Srila Bhakti Pramod Puri Maharaja invited the meeting to his own math and so also did many other missions like the Sri Caitanya Gaudiya Math, the Sri Krishna Caitanya Mission, the Vrinda Institute, Goloka dhama and the Prabhupada Institute for Culture, to mention just a few.
After the president entered into his eternal lila with Krishna at the advanced age of 102 years, another noble disciple of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur Prabhupada accepted the responsibility to continue as the new president, Srila Nayananda das Babaji Maharaja, famous for his life-long seva to Gaura-Gadhadara at Champahata in Mayapur, who had been with the WVA from its very beginning in the Modi Bhavan in Vrindavan. He inspired us to continue with the publications and the Internet websites and the yearly meetings. Fortunately gradually the Vaishnava missions in India are also opening their own web-domains and start to communicate with us via the Internet which facilitates the future plans very much. You see, reaching many Vaishnavas in different Bengali villages is extremely difficult and to organize meetings during those main festivals like Gaura purnima or the niyama seva month where quite a lot of Vaishnavas are present in the holy dham, is also quite a task. Many missions which initially doubted that the WVA would reemerge are also now connected and are interested how to modernize their own preaching mechanism.
In kartik 2002 Srila Nayananda das Babaji Maharaja came to the last meeting of the WVA where he humbly requested to be relieved from his president duty due to his physical incapacity. The assembled sannyasis and secretaries of different missions humbly approached the vice-president Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaja to accept the responsibility of the president.
Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaja is one of the senior members of the Gaudiya Math, who had been living with his Guru Srila Bhakti Dayita Madhava Maharaja and Srila Bhakti Vilas Tirtha Maharaja in those original days after the departure of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur Prabhupada and he has been the leader of the Sri Caitanya Gaudiya Math for many years. His own broadminded vision and generosity has earned him the love and the trust of many devotees, both from the east as well as from the west.
A Vaishnava forum which goes beyond the concern of each and every Vaishnava mission is a great tool and will proof increasingly important as the people in the world will realize more and more the universal values of the teachings of Mahaprabhu. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur did not invite the world to get to know a Bengali folk tradition. He was the surrendered soul to the yuga-dharma, the prescribed process for self realization in the current age. Personally I am so grateful that over the many years that I was able to participate in the activities of the World Vaishnava Association, I got to meet many beautiful Vaishnavas which otherwise would be very difficult to meet. The more we realize how great our common interests are the deeper rooted our friendships will become.
Srila Jiva Goswami Prabhupada ki jay!