The Root of Our Fortune
(On the appearance day of His Divine Grace
His Divine Grace Om Vishnupad
Today is a very auspicious day in our spiritual life: today is the appearance day of our Param Gurudev, the Founder-Acharya of Sri Chaitanya Saraswata Math, Om Vishnupad Jagad Guru Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj.
Today the day of Guru-puja. If Srila Param Guru Maharaj had not come on this day in this world, we would not have been able to get our Gurudev. Srila Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj came in this world to rescue us, and he created our Guru—by his grace we have got shelter of our bona fide Guru. So, we must worship his lotus feet.
Our Param Guru Maharaj, Srila Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj, distributed Srila Rupa Goswami's line, the pure conception all over the world, and he recognised and showed to us who the great Vaishnav, the preacher is, and who we shall worship. We do not have the real eyes and cannot recognise who is a great Vaishnav, who is a preacher, who is a devotee. Only a great Vaishnav, a great scholar, and a great bona fide Guru can show us who our real, bona fide Guru is, who can give us the real conception. Whom did Srila Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj show us? He showed Gurudev—Srila Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj told us that Srila Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj would be the Guru, so we surrendered to him.
Our consciousness is always under the illusory environment, so we cannot know and we do not know who is the Guru, who is a sadhu, who is a Vaishnav, but Srila Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj showed us, "Srila Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj will be your Guru." So, we have got a bona fide Guru from Srila Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj.
Srila Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj was born in Hapaniya, about twenty-five kilometres away from Nabadwip, in the Bardhaman district. He was born into a Sanskrit family: his family did not speak Bengali, English, or any other language—they talked to each other in Sanskrit.
In his childhood, when everybody did Durga puja, Kali puja, or some other demigods' puja, Srila Sridhar Maharaj, a young boy of 12-13 years at that time, started sankirtan in his village.
JOINING GAUDIYA MATH
Later, after he graduated from university, he got admitted into a law college in Kolkata, and at that time he heard about a great sadhu, a great Vaishnav—Bhagavan Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur—who lived near Sita Kanta Banerjee Lane, Ultadanga, in Kolkata, and Srila Sridhar Maharaj went there to meet his Guru.
When he came there, he only listened to what Srila Prabhupad said, he did not ask any questions, and some temple brahmachari thought, "That boy comes and only listens without asking any questions. What kind of boy is he?" They became suspicious because at that time India was not liberated, it was under the British control, so they thought that maybe he was a British spy. So, the temple manager told Srila Sridhar Maharaj (at that time he name was Ramendra Prabhu) not to come there any more.
Srila Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj was a little sad. He left that place and went to the bank of the Ganges. He thought, "What do I go there for? Not for food, not for material enjoyment, not for my own self... I only go there for my spiritual benefit. So, even if they beat me, if they kick me, or if they oust me, I must still go there..."
One or two days later, Srila Prabhupad asked the devotees, "That new boy came, why did he suddenly leave?" Somebody said that maybe some disturbance had happened, but Prabhupad understood what had happened and told them, "Why did you stop him? Do not disturb him, do not stop him again. Let him come."
On the next day, Srila Sridhar Maharaj again came to Prabhupad—he had a strongest faith, that is why even though somebody told him not to come, he did not listen, he still came. Srila Prabhupad asked him why he had not come for two days, and because Srila Sridhar Maharaj was a sadhu and had a humble mood, he did not tell it was anybody's fault, that somebody had stopped him—he only said, "It must be my bad karma, my bad fortune that I could not hear your Hari-katha for two days."
SERVICE AND SANNYAS
After that, within a few days he joined Prabhupad's mission, Chaitanya Math (the main temple was in Mayapur). He was a great scholar, he always chanted the Holy Name, always did service, preached, and also wrote so many slokas. He wrote Bhakti Vinod Viraha-dasakam and the slokas like "Sri Gauranumatam..."—it made Srila Prabhupad happy.
You know that there were many brahmacharis, many senior devotees in the mission, but crossing them Srila Prabhupad gave sannyas to Srila Sridhar Maharaj within only six years. Many devotees could not get sannyas, but within only six years after Srila Sridhar Maharaj joined the temple Srila Prabhupad gave him sannyas and the name Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj.
'Bhakti-raksak' means 'one who can protect devotion', and 'Sridhar' is the name of a famous and main scholar and pandit—Mahaprabhu said, "Those who do not obey Sridhar Swami, are like prostitutes." So, Srila Prabhupad gave him the name Sridhar Maharaj (the main leader) and Bhakti Raksak (who can protect devotion, our line).
By choosing this name Prabhupad showed that the name of he who is in our main line, the perfect line, and who can protect it will be Bhakti Raksak Sridhar.
Srila Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj did so much service—he established the Madras temple, he went preaching in Kashmir, Bangladesh, and many other places. Whatever service Srila Prabhupad gave him, he tried to fulfil his desire.
Then, it was 1936. Srila Prabhupad and Srila Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj both lived in Bagh Bazaar Gaudiya Math, Kolkata, and at that time Prabhupad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur showed some sickness. During his last moments he wanted to hear the kirtan "Sri Rupa manjari-pada, ei mora kirtana, ei mora bhajana, pujan." He wanted to hear this kirtan, but he could not hear it from anybody except Srila Sridhar Maharaj. When somebody wanted to sing that song, Srila Prabhupad stopped him—he became angry and said, "I want to hear this song from Sridhar Maharaj." So, Prabhupad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur heard it from Srila Sridhar Maharaj's mouth. After hearing that "Sri Rupa-manjari-pada" kirtan, Prabhupad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur left his body...
RETIRING FOR BHAJAN
After that, many problems came to Chaitanya Math, the main temple, and Srila Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj left the temple—he did not like to fight and quarrel. He secretly went to Vrindavan to do bhajan. Sometimes he lived in Nandagram in Vrindavan, Govardhan, and sometimes in Kadamkandi (it is the place where Radharani made sweet rice for Rupa Goswami and Sanatan Goswami, and also the place where Krishna brings all cows and plays His flute).
When he was staying there, suddenly he heard some daiva-vani, like a sound coming from the sky, from above—Prabhupad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur told him, "I have kept you in this world instead of myself for preaching the pure conception, the pure line of Rupa Goswami, but you left it and came here for your own self! Your duty is not only to eat yourself and relish the taste yourself—you must distribute the taste all over the world, I want that. You cannot stay here, it is not your place. You must go back to Nabadwip, to the aparadh-bhanjan-pat." Srila Prabhupad gave such an order to him. When he heard that message from the sky, got that kind of inspiration, Srila Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj immediately left Vrindavan and came to Nabadwip.
You must understand from this what our line is. Somebody can think, "Oh, I will not go to Parama Karuna. What is there?" But there is everything! The sankirtan movement, the preaching—everything is there! Somebody can say, "I can stay in my own house and live there in seclusion, chanting the Holy Name and giving a flower to the Guru," but it is not our line! Our line is gostha bhajan: we will do sankirtan, maha-sankirtan together—together we will chant and dance.
Srila Prabhupad said that somebody may go alone to Vrindavan, stay there privately, doing bhajan, maybe somewhere in the mountains, but it is not our line. You must understand what Srila Prabhupad wants, what Srila Sridhar Maharaj wants. Even Srila Sridhar Maharaj did something wrong, but Prabhupad make it clear for him—he said to him, "It is not your line. You must come back to Nabadwip, and distribute all over the world what I have given to you."
RETURN TO NABADWIP
In this way, Srila Sridhar Maharaj came back in 1940, and together with some of his some godbrothers, they made a new temple—the Devananda Gaudiya Math in Nabadwip—with Srila Sridhar Maharaj as its president.
They made Srila Sridhar Maharaj the president, but some of them could not tolerate him—they did not follow him, did not follow the conception and the pure line that he was giving; so, some of them made problems and Srila Sridhar Maharaj did not like it—he left that place.
One year after he came out of there, he made his own mission—Sri Chaitanya Saraswat in Koladwip, aparadh-bhanjan-pat. Later, many of his godbrothers came there and took sannyas from Srila Sridhar Maharaj (Srila Bhakti Kamal Madhusundan Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Saranga Goswami Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Prajnan Kesav Maharaj, and many others).
SRILA BHAKTI SARANGA GOSWAMI MAHARAJ
You know also that after Srila Prabhupad's disappearance, Srila Bhakti Saranga Goswami Maharaj left the mission and went back to his house. Srila Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj came to his house and asked him, "You are a great preacher, a very big personality, why did you come back to your home?" Srila Goswami Maharaj said then, "If you give me sannyas, I can come back and join the mission again." Srila Sridhar Maharaj did that, he gave him sannyas, and Srila Goswami Maharaj came back to the temple.
Srila Bhakti Saranga Goswami Maharaj made a temple in Mayapur, at Nandan Acharya Bhavan, the place where Nitai and Gaura met for the first time (we visit it during the Mayapur parikrama), and every year he invited Srila Sridhar Maharaj for his Vyasa Puja celebration. Srila Sridhar Maharaj would come there every year, and whatever presentation—whatever pranami, daksin—Srila Goswami Maharaj got on that day, he would always give everything to his sannyas Guru, Srila Sridhar Maharaj. He would also say, "My sannyas Guru has come to give me mercy, and every year I get one more year of life."
One year, because of his poor health, Srila Sridhar Maharaj could not attend the celebration, and Srila Goswami Maharaj said, "This year my Gurudev, my sannyas Guru, could not come, so next year I will not be alive, I will die." And that happened.
SRI HAPANIYA DHAM
You know also that Srila Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj's birthplace is Hapaniya, and every year all of his godbrothers—Jajavar Maharaj, Goswami Maharaj, Madhusundan Maharaj, Bhakti Pramode Puri Maharaj—went to Hapaniya to see his birthplace.
Srila Krishna Das Babaji Maharaj (you may have seen his photo in the Kirtan Guide books in old editions) was a good kirtaniya and a good singer, and that Krishna Das Babaji Maharaj would walk from Nabadwip to Hapaniya and chant Srila Sridhar Maharaj's song,
Later, the Supreme Lord travelled to the holy places of pilgrimage in South India with the clever intention of delivering the 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 the 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, Gaurangasundar, the divine form of Krishna prema.
(Sri Sri Prema Dhama Deva Stotram, 22)
Walking to Hapaniya, he would singing all Prema Dhama Stotram—all seventy-two slokas. Do you know what he did in Hapaniya? You should know it. When he came to Hapaniya, he would search the pond where Srila Sridhar Maharaj bathed, the playground where Srila Sridhar Maharaj played football, the school where Srila Sridhar Maharaj studied, and so on. He would visit these kinds of places.
Srila Sridhar Maharaj asked him, "Maharaj, you are my godbrother, it is not a problem that you go to my birthplace, but why do you look for my playground, for the pond where I bathed, the school where I studied?" Srila Krishna Das Babaji Maharaj replied, "Maharaj, the slokas that you wrote are nondifferent from Rupa Goswami, that is why I am remembering Srila Rupa Goswami—that is why when I visit your childhood places, I take the feet dust from those places."
Srila Jajavar Maharaj also said, "I consider Hapaniya nondifferent from Varshana, the birthplace of Srimati Radharani."
So, we must pay our full obeisance to our Param Guru Maharaj Srila Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj. You must read about his pastimes—there are so many pastimes that even if I spoke the whole day I could not finish that. I have only told you some small things that I heard from my Gurudev. When I get more time, I can explain more and tell you more about his qualification, about his qualities.
You should know what Srila Sridhar Maharaj told, what he taught us. Prapanna-jivanamritam is his main book, there is also the Guardian of Devotion, Search for Sri Krishna Reality the Beautiful, etc.—read these books, scriptures, and you can understand easily what he wanted to teach us.
Srila Sridhar Maharaj gave us our Guru—we are very fortunate souls to have got a bona fide Guru from him.
You know that before Srila Sridhar Maharaj's disappearance Srila Gurudev had chosen a place for his samadhi (it is the same place where it stands now), and before there used to be a big mango tree in that place. Srila Sridhar Maharaj told not to cut it, but when Srila Sridhar Maharaj left his body, that same day the mango tree died... Then you can understand what a maha-purush he was—do not think that he had a mundane body.
Today is also Virachandra Prabhu's appearance day (Virachandra Prabhu is the son of Nityananda Prabhu). Srila Sridhar Maharaj is actually nondifferent from Virachandra Prabhu. Virachandra Prabhu captured Nityananda Prabhu, and Nityananda Prabhu distributed His mercy through him.
So, today I am finishing here.
Jay Om Vishnupad Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj ki jay!
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