Auto-biography from
Srila Bhakti Aloka
Paramadvaiti Maharaja

For the last 23 years I have been involved in spiritual community life. After living for some time in different communes and in a Yoga ashram, in 1971 I moved into the Hare Krishna Ashram in Düsseldorf, Germany. I met my spiritual master Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in 1972 in Paris, which confirmed for me that I had found what I had been searching for. At the age of eighteen I had little idea of what was going to happen with me. Initially I thought that by accepting my spiritual master all the problems of my life would be finished. After some of the first years as a Hare Krishna monk I started realizing that this movement requires more then just enthusiastic street preachers. Gradually I became involved in managing different aspects of my spiritual masters movement such as the training of new members, the management of the publications, temple accounting, the establishment of rural communities, college preaching, the secret mission behind the iron curtain, the leadership of temples and many other varieties of services.

In many instances of these services I looked for guidance on how to act properly. As one of my god brothers expressed "As a Temple President or leader of devotees in general you are expected to be expert in everything. You are supposed to be a great manager, expert in human relationships, expert in public relations, never become angry, be expert in getting funds to maintain the temple, be a good example in spiritual practices such as rising early, singing, lecturing and book distribution, and being a great husband and father if you are married, etc.etc."

Sometimes, especially after my spiritual master left this world, we were faced with problems we never expected to meet and had divided opinions on how to act. Well, this is a long story and not so important now. The important thing is to try to serve your spiritual master and your own spiritual ideals faithfully, trying to surrender more every day than the day before. To continue the loving family of one's spiritual master is the duty of every disciple, whether he does that by helping some advanced Vaisnava or more advanced god brother after the physical departure of one's Guru. Or, if one feels the urgent need in one's heart to personally take full responsibility in the lives of new devotees whom he personally attracts to take up the devotional life, then he must continue the growth of the tree of Lord Chaitanya, as requested by all Gurus and Krishna himself. This is called Guru Parampara.

Taking personal responsibility I began opening more Ashrams in 1984. I had been sent to South America by Srila Prabhupada. Gradually the ISEV (Instituto Superior de Estudios Vedicos) and VRINDA (The Vrindavan Institute for Vaisnava Culture and Studies) which I had founded under the inspiration of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Sridhar Maharaja, my Sannyas Guru, started expanding to many countries. Fortunately some of my dear god brothers came forward to help me. Traveling from one Ashram to another and counseling the respective leaders and their Vaisnava Boards, I gained deep insight into the majority of the problems they were facing and how to resolve them. Humility is definitely the key to all success. This book was heavily delayed due to my extensive traveling, but it is a service I have desired to render to all those valiant preachers who, despite the advancement of the age of Kali, are willing to help others by creating a spiritual oasis. Regardless of any shortcomings you may have due to lack of experience, I beg you to continue and to become a better guardian every day. This will make you happy as it will all those who come into contact with you. Shortly before leaving this world, Srila Prabhupada advised us: "If you do not continue to preach, you will all become Hippies again." Please bless me so that this attempt to serve my spiritual masters may be successful and that I may reach the stage of pure Bhajan of Sri Hari Nama Prabhu.
Mexico 22-2-95 B.A. Paramadvaiti

This auto-biography was written for the book "The Temple President".