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Remembering Srila Guru Maharaj (3)

His Divine Grace Om Vishnupad
Srila Bhakti Nirmal Acharya Maharaj
Sripat Hapaniya Dham, Anniversary Festival,
2 April 2021, part 3, translated from Bengali


When Srila Sridhar Maharaj was young, his mother would cry when she fed him. She lamented, ‘I have cooked so many things for my son, but he only takes a plate of plain rice with some cooked neem leaves (neem-patar jol).’ Srila Sridhar Maharaj punished his tongue in this way, ‘You have been eating opulent dishes for many lives, but now you must eat rice with neem water!’ He boiled some neem leaves and took rice with that water and salt. His renunciation was so strict! After his father died, he did not wear shoes or use an umbrella for one year, and he would sometimes go all the way to Katwa on foot, walking bare feet in the scorching sun.

I am telling you some things that I remembered from his biography. I do not remember everything, but I am telling you what comes to my mind now.

There are many great things written about Srila Sridhar Maharaj. Many great goswami acharyas (Srila Bhakti Saranga Goswami Maharaj, Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Vichar Jajavar Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Kamal Madhusudan Maharaj and many others) wrote about him, ‘If you want to hear Hari-katha, you must go to Srila Sridhar Maharaj. You must come to him if you want to hear the Hari-katha of our Guru Maharaj (Srila Prabhupad).’

Srila Sridhar Maharaj was a great speaker, and nobody could defeat him in Hari-katha. Many great scholars and knowledge-seekers came to his lotus feet from all over India and also abroad. Even ISKCON’s founder-acharya Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj told his disciples, ‘You must come to India and hear Hari-katha from my siksa-guru, Srila Sridhar Maharaj.’

Before leaving this world, Srila Prabhupad indicated Srila Sridhar Maharaj’s position through the kirtan ‘Sri Rupa-manjari-pada’. He also said, ‘I can leave being confident that one person will stay in this world who can preach what I have told.’

Srila Sridhar Maharaj wrote many beautiful things. If you read his holy books, you will learn much. There is Loving Search for the Lost Servant, Sri Guru and His Grace, Sri Sri Prapanna-jivanamritam and many other books. Sri Sri Prapanna-jivanamritam is the highest scripture. Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj Prabhupad took Sri Sri Prapanna-jivanamritam and Srimad Bhagavatam with him when he first went abroad. Sri Sri Prapanna-jivanamritam is a very beautiful book.

All Gaudiya Vaishnavs appreciated and respected Srila Sridhar Maharaj. He composed a kirtan in glorification of Srila Prabhupad:

যুগধর্ম্মধুরন্ধর-পাত্রবরম্ ।
প্রণমামি সদা প্রভুপাদপদম্

pranamami sada prabhupada-padam

‘I offer my obeisance to Prabhupad (Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur), whose holy lotus feet are worshipped by millions of pious souls, who is the establisher of the religion of the age (Krishna-sankirtan), who is the presiding divine successor (at the Visva-Vaishnava-Raja Sobha, the assembly of Vaishnavs of the whole universe), who fulfils the desires of the dispellers of all fears. I eternally offer obeisance to the radiance emanating from the toenails of my master.’

(Sri Sri Prabhupada-padma Stavakah, Srila B.R. Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj)

Srila Jajavar Maharaj often came here to Hapaniya, and he would say that this place is non-different from Sri Varshana. Srila Bhakti Kamal Madhusudan Maharaj would enter our Nabadwip temple and come to Srila Sridhar Maharaj’s veranda paying sastanga-dandavat, getting up, paying sastanga-dandavat again, and so on. Srila Krishna Das Babaji Maharaj would come here also, walking all the way from Nabadwip, and as he walked, he would chant the whole Sri Prema-Dhama-Deva Stotram:

রাম-রাম-গান-রম্য-দিব্য-ছন্দ-নর্ত্তনম্ ।
যত্র তত্র কৃষ্ণনাম-দান-লোক-নিস্তরং
প্রেম-ধাম-দেবমেব নৌমি গৌর-সুন্দরম্ ॥

rama-rama-gana-ramya-divya chhanda-nartanam
prema-dhama-devam eva naumi gaura-sundaram

'Later, the Supreme Lord travelled to the holy places of pilgrimage in South India with a clever intention of delivering fallen souls. Appearing as a beautiful young renunciate, He distributed the sweet Names of the Lord, singing: "Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna he", as He strolled down different pathways, entered temples and visited homesteads during the sacred pilgrimage. Infused with an inconceivable type of divine inspiration, the Lord freely chanted ‘Rama Rama’ and joyfully danced with the most charming gestures. Irrespective of time or personal qualification, the assembled bystanders were delivered by the Lord, who inspired them to chant Krishna’s Holy Names. I offer my obeisances to that beautiful Golden Lord, Gauranga Sundar, the divine form of Krishna-prema.'

(Prema-dhama-deva Stotram, 22, Srila B.R. Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj)

He remembered the entire poem by heart. Srila Krishna Das Babaji Maharaj compiled our Gaudiya Gitanjali. He would walk here from Nabadwip chanting kirtans. When he came here, he would search where Srila Sridhar Maharaj studied, in which pond he bathed and other places of Srila Sridhar Maharaj’s early pastimes. He went to Okorsa High School. Srila Sridhar Maharaj told him, ‘You are my godbrother. You go to Hapaniya, it is all right, but why do want to know which school I went to, where I went to toilet and bathed?’ Srila Krishna Das Babaji Maharaj replied, ‘Maharaj, you composed great slokas. When I read your verses, I remember Srila Rupa Goswami, and I consider you non-different from Srila Rupa Goswami and Srila Sanatan Goswami. I feel Srila Rupa Goswami himself came to compose these slokas.’

When Srila Sridhar Maharaj wrote ‘Sri Bhaktivinod Viraha Dasakam’, in particular:

শ্রীগৌরানুমতং স্বরূপবিদিতং রূপাগ্রজেনাদৃতং
রূপাদ্যৈঃ পরিবেশিতং রঘুগণৈরাস্বাদিতং সেবিতম্ ।
জীবাদ্যৈরভিরক্ষিতং শুক-শিব-ব্রহ্মাদি-সম্মানিতং
শ্রীরাধাপদসেবনামৃতমহো তদ্দাতুমীশো ভবান্ ॥

srigauranumatam svarupaviditam rupagrajenadrtam
rupadyaih parivesitam raghuganairasvaditam sevitam
jivadyair abhiraksitam sukasivabrahmadi sammanitam
sriradhapadasevanamrtam aho tad datum iso bhavan

'O wonder of wonders! That which, on the order of Sri Gaurachandra, Sri Svarup Damodar knows the internal purpose of; which is adored by Sri Sanatan Goswami; which is distributed by the preceptors, headed by Sri Rupa Goswami, who teach transcendental mellows; which is tasted and enhanced by Sri Raghunath Das Goswami and his followers; which is carefully protected by the votaries headed by Sri Jiva Prabhu; and which (from a respectful distance) is venerated by great personalities, such as Sri Suka, Lord Siva, the chief of the demigods, and Lord Brahma, the grandfather of all beings – you are capable of giving us that treasure of the nectarine rapture of servitude to the holy feet of Sri Radha.'

(Sri Bhaktivinod Viraha Dasakam, Srila B.R. Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj)

Srila Prabhupad said, ‘You did not write this. Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur himself came and wrote this.’ This is how much Srila Prabhupad praised and appreciated Srila Sridhar Maharaj and his writing.


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