Interview with Swami Revatikaanta during opening of Shree Giridhar Dham ashram in Vrindavan in December 2016.
Why is the Bhakti Marga temple in Vrindavan dedicated to Giridhari?
This is because among many other reasons, Guruji possess the original Giridhar Gopal deity of Mirabai to whom he serves daily and has a great affection for. The leela of Giridhari is also very relevant to the Guru-disciple relationship, a hugely important cornerstone of Bhakti Marga.
Why is Yamuna the deity next to him?
There is no temple in all of Vrindavan dedicated to Yamuna and Krishna so Guruji wanted to establish the worship of Yamuna Maiya as an example to all bhaktas of service to the Supreme Lord.
Sri Sampradya is not prominent in Vrindavan. Why do you build your first ashram in Vrindavan and not in Sri Rangam. And why is Krishna the main deity and not Lakshmi Narayan?
First of all we must understand that Paramahamsa Vishwananda is a reformer of the Vaishnava world and does not unecessarily confine himself to dogmas or traditions. He preaches a practical, uniting brand of Vaishnavism that he feels is best suited to today’s world.
Although Sri Rangam would be the traditional choice of location for our first Indian Ashram, Vrindavan was chosen for a variety of reasons. First of all it is far more accessible for travellers from around the globe. Secondly, the temples and bhakti culture of Vrindavan is more friendly and accepting of westerners as opposed to the stricter guidelines in place in southern India. Third, it was simply Guruji’s wish as Vrindavan is a magical land where so many of Krishna’s wondrous leelas took place. He is a central figure of our brand of worship and having an ashram in Vrindavan gives our devotees a platform from which to experience the love of Krishna more closely and intimately, immersed in ‘His’ land.
Who gave Swami Vishwananda the Paramahamsa title?
His Guru, Mahavatar Babaji, in 2002.
What is Bhakti Marga all about? What is the focus and purpose of your mission?
The missions main focus is to support Paramahamsa Vishwananda in his quest to awaken as many hearts to the unconditional Love of God as possible.
Do you plan to collaborate with other temples in Vrindavan? And are you connected to the Sri Rangam Mandir in Vrindavan?
Whilst there are no agendas in place for that currently, we are always open to collaborative efforts to unite the Vaishnava world. After all, Paramahamsa Vishwananda is a reformer who actively works to diminish the boundaries established between the various Vaishnava Sampradayas.
What is your relationship with Satyanarayandas Babaji of Jiva Institute?
Paramahamsa Vishwananda and Satyanarayandas Babaji are very dear friends who regularly visit each others ashrams to connect and support each other in the best way they can. Babaji has always helped Paramahamsa Vishwananda’s mission in Vrindavan grow from the moment he decided to open an Ashram in Vrindavan.
Why is your main ashram in Germany and so many of your followers are Western?
As Gurudev has always said, India is a blessed land and its lands hold many Gurus and ashrams. He wants to give help to as many souls as possible but more importantly, souls that need spiritual guidance that is otherwise unavailable to mankind. Germany is a country that holds a heavy karmic burden and Guruji’s work is helping to relieve a lot of that whilst providing a very central base for which all spiritual seekers in Europe can access easily.
Why is a woman in charge of your Vrindavan ashram?
As a reformer, Guruji wants to see equality not only in the material world but also in the spiritual world. He believes the world has moved in to a phase wherein we must do away with all forms of jugment. Not seeing women as inferior to men in any spiritual capacity whatsoever, the decision to put Swamini VishwaMohini in charge of the ashram then becomes one of merit and the qualities she possesses and it’s nothing about her gender. In that regard, she is highly qualified and is clearly the best suited for the duty.
Why have you initated Swaminis into your spiritual order, even though this is not the tradition of the Sri Sampradaya?
Why does Radha and Sri Chaitanya seem to have such a prominent place in Bhakti Marga, even though the Sri Sampradaya does not acknowledge them?
Guruji’s aim is to unite us all around the Love of God. The fact that traditionally speaking the Sri Sampradaya rejects the worship of Radha and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is irrelevant to the stance and work of Paramahamsa Vishwananda. Wherever he finds the true Love of God, he is there to glorify it and Radha and Chaitanya are perfect symbols of that love.
Why is your tilak different from a traditional Sri Sampradaya tilak?
Although we maintain all of the traditional elements of the Sri Sampradaya tilak, Gurudev has additionally added two new elements, the tulsi asan symbolising devotion and the kumkum dot symbolising the Guru Himself.
In your main ashram you have a Christian church, and some of your Swamis are also Christian priests, how does Christianity fit into Vaishnavism?
With regards to the Christian side of the mission, the answer is simple. Gurudev is preaching truly unconditional Love. To connect to a western audience and to show them that the love that religion and spirituality unlock is no different to that which is experienced within us regardless of our practices.
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