Srila Sridhar Maharaj:
His Divine Grace Om Vishnupad
কনকসুরুচিরাঙ্গং সুন্দরং সৌম্যমূর্ত্তিং
kanaka-suruchirangam sundaram saumya-murtih
"I am always worshipping with great joy within my heart Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj, whose limbs are of the radiant golden colour and form is beautiful and moon-like gentle; Sri Guru who excels among the most learned and who is filled with all perfections; who is adorned by the garments the colour of the rising sun and who is engaged in the joyful Pastimes of bestowing bhakti, devotion."
"I bow down unto the Guru of the entire world, my Divine Master Om Visnupad Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj. He is the gracious carrier of the Conception of Sri Swarupa, Sri Ramananda, Sri Rupa and Sri Jiva; He is the Saviour of all, regardless of caste or creed; He is the most beloved intimate servitor of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Prabhupada. He is the Supersubjective Potency (asraya-vigraha) of the Sweetest Transcendental Devotion (Parama Madhuryamaya Bhakti) and the only shelter of Sri Bhakti Sundar Govinda Maharaj."
Jay Srila Guru Maharaj ki jay
Today is a very auspicious day—the appearance day of our Temple's Founder-Acharya, Om Vishnupad Jagad Guru Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj. This year, because of the pandemic situation there is much restriction for gatherings and also the trains have not started running in Bengal, so we cannot make a big festival. Still, all temples are making a festival today, as much as they can. All branches, all temples of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math are having a festival today.
I was explaining something yesterday about our Param Gurudev, Srila Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj's glorification. Actually, I am very unfortunate, very unqualified—I do not have any qualification to speak about our Srila Guru Maharaj.
vaisnavera guna-gana karile jivera trana
"Singing the glories of the Vaishnavs rescues and protects the jiva soul. I heard this from the mouth of sadhus and my Guru."
Even though I have heard about this a hundred times, it is still my bad fortune—I am a fallen soul—I still have no quality, no qualification to glorify Srila Guru Maharaj, Srila Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj. Despite this, I will try, by the mercy of Gurudev and by the mercy of devotees, to describe something that I did not mention yesterday.
As I have told you, Srila Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj joined Gaudiya Mission in 1926. At first, he came to the temple at Ultadanga Road (there was a rented house at this place). He had already finished college and had been admitted to a law college in Kolkata when he first met with Srila Prabhupad (Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur). When Srila Sridhar Maharaj heard Srila Prabhupad's lecture, he was very charmed—he thought, "I have never before heard this kind of lecture, this kind of topics that Srila Prabhupad is telling!"
After coming to Gaudiya Math, Srila Sridhar Maharaj had to deal with very much bondage in his family life. He told about this himself in his autobiography. He said that his parents were pressing him very strictly and had a very hard determination that he had to get married. He got married, but kept no connection with his wife, and she died very soon of some illness. When he joined Gaudiya Math in 1926, his mother thought, "If my son becomes a sannyasi, who will make the sraddha ceremony after my death?" Soon after that, his mother died. Srila Sridhar Maharaj finished her sraddha ceremony; in the meantime, his two younger brothers also had finished their studies and started working. At that time, Sripad Bharati Maharaj and other Vaishnavs told Srila Sridhar Maharaj, "Ramendra Sundar Bhattacharya, Krishna has taken your wife and now your mother also. A good opportunity has come to you now! Krishna has arranged what you wanted, He has arranged this opportunity for you—what are you waiting for now? You must come now, join full time. Surrender fully, leave everything. Your mother has left, your wife has left, Krishna has taken them from you. Now is your chance. Do not wait any longer. Come and join Gaudiya Math full time." Then, Srila Sridhar Maharaj came to live in the Mission of Srila Prabhupad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur full time, along with his two brothers who were living with him in a hostel (when Srila Sridhar Maharaj told them that he had decided to come to the temple and join Krishna consciousness, they came with him). After a few days, Srila Sridhar Maharaj told his brothers, "Go back to work, I will not come back from here. I am staying." His brothers cried and tried to persuade him, but they could not, so they left the temple and went back to work, etc.
After that, Srila Sridhar Maharaj stayed in the temple in Kolkata for a rather long time, and because he was an educated person, he was given the service at the printing press (Gaudiya Math had its own printing press for printing book). Srila Sridhar Maharaj said that he was not very happy with that service because he wanted to preach—to hear Hari-katha, to give lectures, speak Hari-katha, or do some kirtan, etc. He liked preaching. He thought, "When somebody goes preaching, I could help them. I want to listen to Hari-katha. I do not like to sit in one place at the printing press. I do not like this kind of work..." Soon after that, Srila Prabhupad started sending brahmacharis for preaching and Srila Sridhar Maharaj was sent to accompany them.
The first place he visited was Dumurkonda temple in Bengal, after that he went to Benares, and then to Vrindavan. After that, there was much sankirtan (preaching) happening in Delhi, and Srila Sridhar Maharaj was taken there. There, devotees told him to start preaching door to door. In this way, Srila Sridhar Maharaj started preaching and distributing books door to door.
After a while, Srila Prabhupad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur opened a temple in Kuruksetra. (We went to that temple last year when we were visiting Kuruksetra.) Srila Guru Maharaj (Ramendra Bhattacharya at that time) was made the math-in-charge there. It is a very quiet place—only once in several years thousands of people come there at the time of sun eclipse to bathe in the kunda. Srila Sridhar Maharaj stayed there for two-three years and after that he was transferred to Delhi and took charge of the temple there. After that, he went to Simla and many other places.
In this way, Srila Sridhar Maharaj passed his life preaching in various places, and once a year, every August, they would all come back to the temple in Kolkata for a month-long festival.
One time, Sripad Bon Maharaj and Sripad Hayagriv Prabhu (later Sripad Bhakti Dayita Madhav Maharaj) took Srila Sridhar Maharaj to Madras. They wanted to establish there pada-pith, footprints of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. When they came back from Madras, the Baghbazar Gaudiya Math was established. Before that, the temple was at Ultadanga Road, nearby, but it was in a rented house. Now they were establishing their own temple and there was a very nice festival held on this occasion, with the Deities being brought to the temple in a chariot, etc.
After that, Srila Sridhar Maharaj went again to Madras. This time, they rented a house and started preaching. Sripad Bon Maharaj was the senior manager of their team at that time. Sripad Bon Maharaj always called Srila Sridhar Maharaj 'Sripad Ramendra Sundar Bhattacharya B.A.' because Srila Sridhar Maharaj was a graduate and a bachelor of arts (we usually never use such titles, and Srila Sridhar Maharaj found it somewhat embarrassing to be called so). Sripad Bon Maharaj said also, "Ramendra Sundar is a very nice preacher, rather than a canvasser. He can speak good Hari-katha. He is a perfect person for newcomers. When new people come and want to see the temple, they should be first introduced to Ramendra Sundar Bhattacharya B.A. After he talks to them and gives them primary Hari-katha, they can be taken to a senior sannyasi, and then to Srila Prabhupad or be recommended for initiation." Then, in 1930, Srila Prabhupad gave to Sri Ramendra Sundar Bhattacharya sannyas and the name 'Bhakti Raksak Sridhar.'
Following that, Srila Sridhar Maharaj joined Vrindavan parikrama. Then, Sripad Bon Maharaj went to England, and Srila Sridhar Maharaj became in charge of the Mission in Madras and opened a temple by the mercy of Srila Prabhupad and with the help of many devotees. After that, Srila Sridhar Maharaj opened another temple in Mumbai also—one more branch was started there. After that, Srila Sridhar Maharaj returned from Mumbai and stayed mostly with Srila Prabhupad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur...
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