Brief History

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 2

 

Soon after Prabhupad Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur's disappearance in 1937, Srila Sridhar Maharaj also left Chaitanya Math in Mayapur, empty-handed, wearing only his clothes. Feeling very sad, he went to Vrindavan and stayed in Pavan Sarovar, near Nanda-gram at one bhajan kutir (we come to pay our obeisance there every time we go on Vrindavan parikrama; Srila Sanatan Goswami's bhajan kutir is also at the same place). One day, while Srila Sridhar Maharaj was staying there, doing bhajan and chanting on his beads, he got a message from the sky from Srimati Radharani and his Gurudev, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur, saying, "What are you staying here for? I have not given you sannyas for your own self so that you could stay here—I have given you sannyas so that you preach and rescue all fallen souls. This is what I have kept you here for. You must spread the message of Srila Rupa-Raghunath Goswami all over the world. That is my wish." When Srila Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj heard that message, he immediately left Vrindavan and came here in Sri Nabadwip Dham.

At first, all his godbrothers approached him and convinced him to start a temple. That temple was where Devananda Gaudiya Math is now. It was 1940. Srila Sridhar Maharaj had taken sannyas from Prabhupad Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur. Later, Bhakti Prajnan Keshav Goswami Maharaj (formerly, Vinod Bihari Brahmachari) took sannyas from Srila Sridhar Maharaj, and Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj Prabhupad (formerly, Abhay Charan, or Abhay Babu) took sannyas from that Keshav Maharaj. You all know what happened. So, when all godbrothers came and Srila Sridhar Maharaj started his temple, there appeared some serious contradiction in the following year. The problem was that they had made Srila Sridhar Maharaj the president of that temple, but Bhakti Prajnan Keshav Goswami Maharaj had not been able to follow Srila Sridhar Maharaj's instruction. (I do not want to explain this publicly, I know this because Srila Gurudev had told me about it.) So, in the end, Srila Sridhar Maharaj left that temple and came to Kolerganj where, with the help of Sakhi Charan Ray Bhakti Vijay (a householder disciple of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur), he started a new temple—our Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math. Sripad Nayananda Babaji Maharaj, another disciple of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur, lived in a house behind the area where the Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math temple is now, and he possessed much of the land here at that time. At first, Nayananda Babaji Maharaj did not give any land for permanent use, but, having got some money from Sakhi Charan Babu, he allowed Srila Sridhar Maharaj to make a house there. In this way, Srila Sridhar Maharaj made a thatched house there in 1941 and declared that it was the temple of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math.

Many godbrothers continued coming to Srila Sridhar Maharaj—Srila Bhakti Saranga Goswami Maharaj, Srila Prabhupad's private servitor Srila Bhakti Aloka Paramahamsa Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Kamal Madhusudan Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Vichar Jajavar Maharaj, and many others. Almost all of them also took sannyas from Srila Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj and would stay with Srila Sridhar Maharaj. Such was the situation.

Several years later, in 1947, Srila Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj sent a preaching party to a nearby area, and that preaching party came to Nadanghat. Our Gurudev was staying there at that time, working as a doctor's assistant. The preaching party would go on collection during the whole day, and in the evening they would make a programme at the house of the local zamindar ('Singha Rao bari'). Gurudev also came to that house to hear the kirtan. (He knew how to sing kirtan and play the mridanga because his father Nitaipada Adhikari was an expert kirtaniya.) When he heard the brahmachari play the mridanga, he thought, "This brahmachari does not play so well. If I could take the mridanga, I would show him how to play it." But Gurudev was very shy and also afraid to say it to him. He hesitated, but having thought about it again and again, he suddenly asked that brahmachari, "Can you give the mridanga to me?" When Gurudev started playing the mridanga, everybody was surprised, "Oh, this boy can play the mridanga very well!" Later, the devotees of the preaching party (it was Bhutavit[?] Prabhu, Narasimha Prabhu, and two other brahmacharis) asked Gurudev if he wanted to come to the temple with them, and Gurudev agreed. This is how, on the Nrisingha-chaturdasi day that year, Gurudev left Nandaghat and, crossing the Khari River, came to the temple and joined the Mission.

From the day Gurudev came, Srila Sridhar Maharaj had been watching him and seven days later he decided, "This boy's brain is very good, and he also wants to learn, so he will be my next successor!" This was the express desire of Srila Sridhar Maharaj from 1947 (when Gurudev had just come) until 1988 (the day when Srila Sridhar Maharaj left his body). Srila Sridhar Maharaj made a will in 1985 stating that Gurudev was the next acharya from that day, and on 12 August 1988, on the amavasya tithi (a dark moon day, as today), Srila Sridhar Maharaj passed away.

After that, Gurudev started preaching abroad from 1992. Before that, Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj had left many disciples with our Mission—he had told the foreign devotees, "If you want to learn something, I have a siksa-guru, his name is Om Vishnupad Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj. He is my senior godbrother and my siksa-guru. If you want to go to India and learn something, you can come to him." So, starting from 1979, many foreign devotees began coming to Srila Sridhar Maharaj, and Srila Sridhar Maharaj would give very good lectures for them. Many foreign devotees also joined at that time. Before Srila Sridhar Maharaj passed away, he had declared to all those foreign devotees that the person who could take care of them, who could look after them was only Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj. Prior to that, Gurudev had been helping Srila Sridhar Maharaj the secretary of the temple from Kolkata where he had been staying, and from time to time he would also come to Nabadwip, but from 1985 he stayed at the temple of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math in Nabadwip permanently as a sannyasi and as the guru.

Following the order of his Guru, our Gurudev had been looking after all foreign and Indian devotees. After I took shelter of Gurudev in 1992, Gurudev had told me many times, "I always travel abroad and cannot give time to the Indian devotees. Please, give some time to the Indian devotees." Since that time (almost from the very beginning when I joined the temple), I have been taking care of so many Indian devotees. Over this time, thousands and thousands of devotees have been joining many of our programmes—Gurudev's appearance, Srila Sridhar Maharaj appearance, Srila Sridhar Maharaj's disappearance, even Gaura Purnima also. And Gurudev was very happy with that. That is why, as you all know, Gurudev declared me as his next successor in 2009...

 

 

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