At Ultadanga and Godavari

His Divine Grace Om Vishnupad
Srila Bhakti Nirmal Acharya Maharaj
Srila B.R. Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj's
Disappearance festival, Dum Dum Park, Kolkata
1 August 2019, part 4

 

When Srila Sridhar Maharaj joined in 1926, Srila Prabhupad was staying at Ultadanga. There was no temple at that time—no Bagh Bazar Gaudiya Math, no Chaitanya Math, there was only some place, not even a temple, in Kolkata. Everybody who came asked Srila Prabhupad, "Prabhupad, but why? There is so much pollution and dirt in Kolkata, and there are so many naughty bad people here—why do you come to preach in Kolkata?" Srila Prabhupad would reply, "Yes, I have started preaching in Kolkata first because I want to rescue these kind of bad people—I want to convert them to the movement of Lord Sri Krishna!"

(Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj also joined at that time—he was a businessman running a shop in Kolkata, and he also joined when Srila Prabhupad was staying at Ultadanga.)

Anyhow, Srila Sridhar Maharaj had passed his Bachelor degree and got admitted to a law college, when one day he suddenly got some message that one great sadhu was giving lectures at Ultadanga every day. This was the British period in Indian history—India was not liberated at that time; and Srila Sridhar Maharaj was something like an Indian soldier, he was a member of the gandhiwadi andolan (the non-cooperation party of Gandhi), trying to help the revolution. Srila Sridhar Maharaj's name was Ramendra Bhattacharya at that time. So, he came to hear that lecture one day, and he saw Prabhupad Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur was giving the lecture. He sat at the back and listened. He came there again the next day and after that—he would only sit at the lecture and listen without asking any questions, he did not take prasadam there or anything. After a while, everybody started doubting, "Maybe that man is a British spy!" So, one day the temple president told him that he could not come there any more. Srila Sridhar Maharaj did not go there the next day, and he was sad, thinking, "What do I go there for? I only go to hear the lecture, I do not disturb anyone, I do not take any food (prasadam) there, I am not staying there and taking a room. I only come to hear the lecture from that personality because I never heard that kind of lecture before." Then, he decided the next day, "Even if they beat me, even if they throw me out, I will still go there!" The day when Srila Sridhar Maharaj did not come to the lecture, Srila Prabhupad asked devotees, "Why did that boy who came yesterday not come today?" Somebody explained why, and Srila Prabhupad replied, "Oh, I understand, but if he comes tomorrow, do not stop him again." The next day, Ramendra Bhattacharya (Srila Sridhar Maharaj) came again. Srila Prabhupad asked him, "Why could you not come yesterday?" Srila Sridhar Maharaj said he had some personal problem—he did not complain about anyone. Srila Prabhupad said, "OK, I understand, but come every day." Srila Sridhar Maharaj was very happy, "Yes, I can come every day! Srila Prabhupad gave me an order to come every day." Then, he came for seven next days, but he still did not ask any questions. In the end, Srila Prabhupad asked him, "Do you have any questions? Can you understand what I am telling?" Srila Sridhar Maharaj replied, "I have no questions." He only kept coming and listening to every lecture.

This is what happened. Then, in 1930 Srila Sridhar Maharaj was sent to Godavari. We have been there this year with all the devotees. This is the place where Sriman Mahaprabhu showed to Raya Ramananda His Rasa-raj Maha-bhav Chaitanya-svarupa. When Srila Sridhar Maharaj went there, there was no temple in Godavari. There, Srila Sridhar Maharaj gave such a good lecture that Sripad Bhakti Hriday Bon Maharaj, a senior devotee, told Prabhupad, "You should not wait to give him sannyas." That kind of excellent lecture he had given explaining the Rasa-raja Maha-bhav pastime from Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita. That year, Srila Sridhar Maharaj took sannyas from Srila Prabhupad and got the name Om Vishnupad Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj.

You all know the story of Vallabha Acharya. There is one Sridhar Swami who wrote 'Sridhar tika,' a famous commentary on Srimad Bhagavatam, but Vallabha Acharya did not follow it, and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was very unhappy about it—He actually called Vallabha Acharya a prostitute. Why? Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said, "Those who do not follow their husbands are prostitutes!" 'Swami' means 'a husband' and 'swami' can also mean Sridhar Swami, so, indirectly, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was saying, "Those who do not follow Sridhar Swami are prostitutes!" Vallabha Acharya got very sad and shy to hear this, and in the end he took shelter of Mahaprabhu. You have all heard that story, I have told it many times.

 

 

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'You do not know but Krishna Himself has come to this world, appearing in Nabadwip under the name of Sri Krishna Chaitanya. He came to rescue us—to rescue the souls like you and me!'

 

Ki-rupe paiba seva
'My mind is endlessly engrossed in maya, and not even a trace of attachment to the Vaishnavs is born within me.'
কিরূপে পাইব সেবা

We are practitioners; we are not big devotees or great Vaishnavs.

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