Srila Sridhar Maharaj:
His Divine Grace Om Vishnupad
When Srila Sridhar Maharaj was eighty years old, he would sit in one place (in Sri Gupta Govardhan, Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math) and so many foreigners, so many seekers of truth would come to meet with him. Those who wanted to find the original source would all come to Srila Sridhar Maharaj's lotus feet. In his turn, Srila Sridhar Maharaj told our Gurudev (Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj), "I am an old man, I do not know their culture so much, I am not habituated with their culture, so you manage and harmonise with them. You must take care of them." In this way, Srila Sridhar Maharaj placed our Gurudev in charge of the devotees.
Many great senior personalities, like Srila Bhakti Saranga Goswami Maharaj, Srila Keshav Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Alok Paramahamsa Maharaj, Srila Narasimha Maharaj, Srila Acharya Maharaj, Srila Madhusudan Maharaj—they were all disciples of Srila Prabhupad, but they all later took sannyas from Srila Sridhar Maharaj and became great gurus. Srila Sridhar Maharaj did not want to be a big guru, he did not want to be a king, but he made so many kings in his life.
After Srila Prabhupad's disappearance, Srila Sridhar Maharaj did not want to expand his mission, he did not want to preach large-scale. Instead, he made a small thatched house and stayed there, on the bank of the Ganges, thinking, writing, etc. Others see a thatched house, but there was a great personality living there, and his mahima (glories) spread all over the world. How did it happen? It happened through our Gurudev, Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj. Srila Gurudev spread his Guru Maharaj's glories all over the world. Like, who knew Srila Lokanath Goswami before? Srila Lokanath Goswami made only one disciple, Srila Narottam Das Thakur, but through Srila Narottam Das Thakur's glorification we all know now Srila Lokanath Goswami. Similarly, how do we all know Srila Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj's glories now? We know it from our Gurudev and from his Guru-varga (his godbrothers) also. Because they spoke about his glories and spread his glories everywhere, we also know about it.
For example, Srila Bhakti Saranga Goswami Maharaj would every year come to the festival in honour of Srila Sridhar Maharaj's appearance day. One time, Srila Sridhar Maharaj's appearance day was celebrated in Vrindavan because everybody had gone there for niyom-seva month, Kartik month parikrama. Many of Srila Sridhar Maharaj's godbrothers were present at that festival, and many of Srila Bhakti Saranga Goswami Maharaj's disciples were there, but Srila Goswami Maharaj declared, "I may be senior to him, but he is my sannyas guru, and I must give him respect! I will do the arati!" And Srila Bhakti Saranga Goswami Maharaj offered a full arati worship to Srila Sridhar Maharaj that day, in presence of many godbrothers and disciples.
This is what happened, and we should know this.
One time, Srila Madhusudan Maharaj asked his audience in his class, "Do you want to hear Hari-katha from Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur?" Everybody said yes, and he said, "Then go to Srila Sridhar Maharaj. He tells it exactly like Srila Prabhupad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur did." So many scholars, so many godbrothers, Sakhi Charan Prabhu Bhakti Vijay, so many householder devotees, everybody would come to hear Hari-katha from Srila Sridhar Maharaj. Even Srila Sridhar Maharaj's godbrothers wanted to hear his Hari-katha because only he could explain Srila Prabhupad's teaching authentically. Srila Sridhar Maharaj distributed only what Srila Prabhupad distributed.
As you know, Sri Vyasadev is a saktya-vesa-avatar of the Lord, he is the mul-guru. Who completes the work of Vyasadev now? Sri Gurudev. Sri Guru always completes the work of Vyasadev to please the Lord and please his own guru.
So, if somebody says they are a disciple of Srila Guru Maharaj (Srila Sridhar Maharaj) but they do not give respect to Srila Gurudev (Srila Govinda Maharaj), how can they be considered Srila Guru Maharaj's disciple then? Srila Guru Maharaj himself said many times, "I reject, I kick out, I drag out those who do not give respect, who do not follow Srila Govinda Maharaj." So, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur considered Srila Sridhar Maharaj a Gaudiya Acharya, a guardian of Sri Rupa-Raghunath-katha, so we have to give respect to Srila Sridhar Maharaj. In the same way, if somebody considers themselves a disciple of Srila Sridhar Maharaj but does not give respect to our Gurudev (Srila Govinda Maharaj), I cannot appreciate that—I cannot consider that this is a disciple of Srila Guru Maharaj.
Sripad Saurindranath Bhakti Varidhi said about Srila Sridhar Maharaj, "I have seen Srila Sridhar Maharaj's mood. He is
krpalu, akrta-droha, satya-sara, sama
"Vaishnavs are merciful, never aggressive, always truthful, equal to everyone, faultless, magnanimous, soft, clean, have no material desires or possessions. They want good for everyone, they are peaceful, exclusively surrendered to Krishna, have no desires, indifferent towards the mundane, composed, control the six bad qualities (lust, anger, greed, illusion, pride, envy), they do not overeat, are never intoxicated, respectful to others, desire no respect for themselves, grave, compassionate, everyone's friends, poets, experts, and silent."
These are the symptoms of a Vaishnav, and Srila Sridhar Maharaj possesses all of them.
Sripad Saurindranath Bhakti Varidhi also refers to the sloka that Mahaprabhu heard from King Prataparudra in Sri Puri Dham,
tava kathamrtam tapta-jivanam
"My Dear, bestowing the greatest fortune that is attained after so many births, exalted souls come to this world and live here by singing and spreading Your nectarean glories that are life and soul for those suffering in this material world being devoid of Your divine love; that are the gist of all poets' songs; that are the destroyer of all sins; that benefit anyone who hears them; and that possess universal attraction."
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Madhya-lila, 14.13)
Who is the 'burida', greatest donor, or benefactor? The greatest donor is he who can distribute the Holy Names, who can distribute the message of Mahaprabhu, of the Lord in this world. And Sripad Saurindranath Bhakti Varidhi says, "I see that Srila Sridhar Maharaj is that greatest donor in this world." He also says: just as it says in Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita (2.12.101),
chaitanyera prema-patra jagadananda dhanya
"All glories to Jagadananda Pandit! He is so favoured by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu that anyone who meets him thinks, 'Now I have got the association of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu directly.'"
We see that when we get the association of Srila Sridhar Maharaj, we think,
prabhupada priyatama pandit sridhara
"Pandit Sridhar is the dearmost associate of Srila Prabhupad. Anyone who meets him thinks, 'Now I have got the association of Srila Prabhupad directly.'"
At the end of his glorification of Srila Sridhar Maharaj, Sripad Saurindranath Bhakti Varidhi says,
গুরু কৃষ্ণরূপ হন শাস্ত্রের প্রমাণে ।
guru krsna-rupa hana sastrera pramane
"The scriptures confirm that Guru is a form of Krishna. In the form of Guru, Krishna bestows His mercy upon the fortunate."
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, 1.1.45)
Also, we can remember Srila Gurudev's article submitted at the appearance day of Srila Sridhar Maharaj where he writes,
কি গাহিব প্রভু মহিমা তোমার
ki gahiba prabhu mahima tomara
"O master! How shall I sing your glories? My consciousness is covered by the net of ignorance. Liberated souls know your glories and sing your praises in the land of Goloka."
(Srila B.S. Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj)
"তাঁহার করুণা কথা সাধব-ভজন-প্রথা
tahara karuna-katha, madhava-bhajana-pratha
"There is no comparison within the three worlds to His merciful teachings of the practice of devotion to Krishna. No one has ever assumed a human form and distributed the wealth of Krishna-prema like him."
(Anubhasya on Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta)
Srila Gurudev compares Srila Sridhar Maharaj to Srila Sanatan Goswami quoting a verse in his glorification,
govindabhidham indirasrita-padam hastastha-ratnadivat
"Sanatan Goswami shows Krishna to this world the way one takes a jewel in hand and shows its facets to others. When a jeweller shows someone a diamond, they turn it over in their hand to show its top, bottom, front, back, and sides. Similarly, Sanatan Goswami shows us Govinda. Indira, Laksmi Devi, is sheltered at Govinda’s feet and always serves Him. So, Govinda is the proprietor of all wealth, of all jewelry, yet Sanatan, like a jeweller, shows us that proprietor of all jewelry, Govinda, like a jewel in his hand."
antar-bhakti-rasena purna-hrdayo bahye 'vadhutakrtih
"Although he externally appeared to be a mendicant who had renounced everything, he was filled with the pleasure of devotional service within his heart. Thus he can be compared to a deep lake covered with moss. He was the object of pleasure for all the devotees who knew the science of devotional service."
uchalila prema-vanya chaudike vedaya
"The flood of love of Godhead swelled in all directions, and thus young men, old men, women and children were all immersed in that inundation."
hena avatare yara rati na janmila
"Lochan Das says of one who has not developed attachment to this Avatar, 'Such a sinner simply came and went.'"
Srila Gurudev says, "The appearance day of Sri Gurupadpadma Srila Guru Maharaj is a very auspicious tithi, but I have no quality, no qualification to worship this tithi." This is Kali-yuga when all our senses are our enemies (we are suffering from the five diseases, erc.), how can we ever glorify or understand the glory of this day? Our only hope is Gurudev's mercy.
Jay Srila Guru Maharaj ki jay.
I am giving now my full obeisance at the lotus feet of my Param Gurudev Om Vishnupad Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj. On this tithi, on his holy appearance day, I pray—wherever he may be now, may he engage us more and more in the service to Gurudev, his associates, and all his followers, all his well-wishers. I pay my full obeisance to them all and pray that they may engage me as their servitor. I am always at their service, I am always waiting—any time they engage me in some service, I will be very happy. I am giving my full obeisance to my guru-varga and you all. Please forgive my offence.
Jay Srila Guru Maharaj ki jay.
Jay Om Vishnupad Jagad-Guru Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami
Maharaj ki jay
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