Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Srila B.R. Sridhar Maharaj 
(Presentation, links, blog posts) 





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  Presentation
(On Srila Sridhar Maharaj's appearance day 2012)
  
By Sevananda das

Today is the appearance day of one of the greatest Vaishnavas of recent time, the sannyasa guru of our guru Srila B.A. Paramadvaiti Maharaj, and a great favourite in Nimaihuset: Srila Bhakti Rakshak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj. 

Srila Prabhupada himself maintained the highest respect and confidence in Srila Sridhar Maharaj (at one time he wanted him for president of Iskcon but Srila Sridhar Maharaj declined), and there is a famous quote by Srila Prabhupada to one of his disciples, recommending him to take direction from Srila Sridhar Maharaj when his own direct guidance was not possible: "I consider Srila Sridhar Maharaj to be my siksa guru, so what to speak of the benefit that you can have by his association." He sang the glories of Srila Sridhar Maharaj by saying "Jaya Om Vishnupad Paramahamsa Srila Bhakti Rakshak Sridhar Maharaj ki jay!" – a glorification that is only ever offered to one's guru.

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His Divine Grace Sri Srila Bhakti Rakshak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj, the founder of the Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, was born in India in 1895, in a respected Brahmana family of the Bhattacarya order, at Hapaniya in West Bengal, the very lands where Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu exhibited His divine pastimes on earth.

The pastimes of his youth were spent in learning, and he naturally excelled in every subject that he took up. From his childhood, his tendency was towards the culture of faith in God and the study of the VedasUpanisads, and other scriptures. He received the sacred thread according to his family tradition when fourteen years old, and his affinity for the divine world kept on increasing. In his early years he was especially attracted to Lord Rama, but later, when he came in contact with the doctrine of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, he began to read Bhagavad-Gita and developed an attraction for Lord Krishna.

After completing his primary and secondary education, Srila Sridhar Maharaj entered Krishnanath College in Berhampore, Bengal. After four years of study, he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy.  This period is also where his initial conversion to Chaitanya Vaishnavism took place, described as a big turn in his life. In his own words:


When I was a student of the fourth year in Krishnanatha college, I came into the connection of a younger boy. One day when we two were going on a morning walk, he referred to his father with the expression “that gentleman”.  I took exception to that.

“Why do you use this expression for your father?”

“He is a gentleman, and in this life I came to him and he has protected me for some time, and in the next life I shall go to some other place; in this way we are moving hither and thither, coming to some gentleman and from there to another gentleman…

That point hit me very hard. “Yes, it is true. We are in the midst of father, mother, brother, or, as he said, ‘that gentleman’. What real connection have I with them, or they with me? We are all almost like strangers!” Thinking and thinking on this point the whole world became as vacant. I felt a furious atmosphere, with no shelter to take anywhere. A chaotic position, and no position of stability. “Wherefrom am I coming, where to go, how long am I to stay here — this is a point in the infinite. I am an uncertain point in the whole of the infinite.” A great shock came to me in this way.

And that was the great turn in my life. The worldly achievement has no value.

At that time, my friend gave me some literature on Mahaprabhu’s life and teachings, and I devoured it like nectar. I found some position there — it is not that I am nowhere. Here is the support — the basis, the foundation; I found here the sustenance, hope and shelter I needed.


For some time Srila Sridhar Maharaj was searching for a sadhu from whom he could take initiation, but could not find anyone to his liking, until he met his eternal guide and preceptor Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura (1874-1937), the founder of the Sri Gaudiya Math. In 1926, Srila Sridhar Maharaj joined the Sri Gaudiya Math and became his initiated disciple. In 1930 he accepted the holy order of sannyasa. His Spiritual Master Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura saw in Srila Sridhar Maharaj a faithful, reliable and unrelenting preacher of the pure precepts of Gaudiya Vaishnavism with the ability to perfectly protect it from misrepresentation and misconception, and gave him the name "Bhakti Rakshak," which means "Guardian of Devotion”. He also gave him the Tridandi-Sannyasa title of "Sridhar", echoing the great Vaishnava preceptor Srila Jiva Goswami, who in his Sanskrit writings referred to Sri Sridhar Swami, the renowned commentator of Srimad Bhagavatam, as bhakti eka raksaka (Supreme Guardian of Devotion). Thus, he became Srila Bhakti Rakshak Sridhar Maharaj. 

As a prominent preacher in the Sri Gaudiya Math mission, he travelled extensively throughout India and preached fluently in Bengali, Hindi, Sanskrit, and English, spreading the teachings of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu on many levels in universities, public seminars, and sankirtan festivals.

Sridhar Maharaj was recognized for his vast understanding and realization of the scriptures, and thus his guru also awarded him the title sastra-nipuna, meaning one who is very expert or intelligent in understanding the meaning of sastras (scriptures).

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura also expressed high appreciation of Srila Sridhar Maharaj's Sanskrit composition Sri Bhaktivinoda Viraha Dasakam, glorifying Bhaktivinoda Thakura, and considered it an omen of assurance that the grand ideals and dignity of the Sri Gaudiya Sampradaya would be perfectly upheld and preached by such a learned and sensitive devotee as Srila Sridhar Maharaj. After reading it he remarked, “Now I am satisfied that after I leave, there will be at least one man who can represent my conclusions.” As a testimony to this fact, just prior to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura’s departure from this mortal world, he had Srila Sridhar Maharaj sing, in his presence, the holy and by the whole Gaudiya Vaishnava community most venerated prayer Sri Rupa Manjari Pada.

Not only was Sridhar Maharaj recognized by his guru for his advancement in Krishna consciousness, but he was also recognized by many of his affectionate godbrothers for his seniority. Many of them, such as A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Maharaj, Bhakti Promoda Puri Goswami Maharaj and others, considered him to be their siksa guru.

After the passing of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura in 1936, Srila Sridhar Maharaj's godbrothers, associates and the public naturally revered him as the senior-most representative of the Sri Gaudiya Sampradaya, although Srila Sridhar Maharaj himself was more inclined to anonymity as a humble Vaishnava. Nonetheless, by the call of divine duty and divine inspiration, he established his own temple, Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, on the banks of the sacred Ganges in Navadvip Dham, the holy land of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Having deeply assimilated the teachings of Sri Chaitanya, Srila Sridhar Maharaj began composing original texts. His first work, Sri Sri Prapanna-jivanamrita (Life-nectar of the Surrendered Souls), was a comprehensive scriptural study of saranagati, divine surrender, which has become a standard text-book for devotees everywhere.

Srila Sridhar Maharaj composed numerous songs, prayers, and commentaries in Bengali and Sanskrit. Among these important works are his commentaries on Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s Saranagati, Bengali translations of Bhagavad-Gita and Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu, and his own original Sanskrit poem summarizing Chaitanya lila, Prema-dhama-deva-stotram. His works are hailed as gems of pure Vaishnavism by scholars, philosophers, and devotees worldwide. An outstanding contribution to the Rupanuga Gaudiya Sampradaya is his commentary on the Gayatri-mantra, Gayatri-nigudhartha, following the philosophy of Srimad Bhagavatam

Often thought even more amazing was his special ability to represent his thoughts in the international language of English. Upon reaching his eighties, not only Indians, but persons from America, Europe, and the world over, became attracted by Srila Sridhar Maharaj's teachings and personality. At this advanced age, in his fully matured stage of realization, Srila Sridhar Maharaj spoke extensively before the devotees who had come from around the world to hear the teachings of Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura and the great predecessor acharyas from him. These discourses and talks were recorded on audio and videotape, and a vast library has been compiled by his many disciples and affectionate followers and admirers. From such recordings many exquisite English books have been published, such as Search for Sri Krishna – Reality the BeautifulSri Guru and His GraceThe Golden Volcano of Divine LoveLoving Search for the Lost Servant, Srila Sridhar Maharaj's unique commentary and interpretation of Bhagavad-GitaThe Hidden Treasure of the Sweet Absolute, and many more. More publications are also anticipated.

During the last days of his manifest pastimes, Srila Sridhar Maharaj remained always absorbed in deep moods of devotional separation and hankering for the divine service of Sri Sri Radha-Govinda.

On August 12th, 1988, His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Rakshak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj departed from this world to enter the eternal pastimes of the Supreme Lord. A divine temple, "The Temple of Union in Separation”, was erected at his holy shrine at Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, Navadvip. Srila Sridhar Maharaj selected his most intimate and senior sannyasi disciple, Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Maharaj, as his successor, blessing him with the position of Acharya-President of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math and its affiliated branches worldwide.

Srila Sridhar Maharaj was known as a pure saint of the most simple living habits. He was respected and loved for his saintly simplicity, and his affectionate nature and dealings. He was revered by his godbrothers, disciples, other devotees and the general public, and was unanimously venerated for his formidable encyclopedic command of the revealed scriptures, and his unique and unprecedented style of casting newer and newer light upon the most internal philosophical and revelatory purports of pure Sri Gaudiya Vaishnava Siddhanta.

As acharya, Srila Sridhar Maharaj is an erudite philosopher and a sensitive poet; both deep-diving and high-flying, yet practical and down to earth. Speaking and writing, he is very soft and low-voiced, yet intense, concentrated, and exacting. His main teaching is surrender, unconditional, often expressed in radical phrasings (in spiritual consciousness language) such as “Die to live” and “Divine slavery”. Main focus is on beauty, with topics like “Search for Sri Krishna – Reality the Beautiful”,Beauty is the Autocrat”, and Slave to the Beauty.

Srila Sridhar Maharaj on the basis of his angle of vision:

My nature is non-interfering, from the beginning. So much so that I am called an ease-lover. I am not aggressive in a preaching mood, but only to know. The knowing aspect, the listening aspect, the aspect of inquisitiveness, predominates within me: to find new light from the scripture, from the words heard from my Guru Mahārāj. Every day, I can see, I can feel, new colour. Everything is infinite. Every word, every letter, is of infinite characteristic. I am internally busy with that in my last days.

My expressions (...) present an ontological conception based on pure chit-vilās [spiritual play]. That is, whatever I see, whatever I have in view, must cross the level of Brahmaloka [the highest material dimension]. I see things to be not of this world, but of the other world, as chit-vilās-lakṣaṇ [expressions of spiritual play]. The smallest things that we mention here are placed above renunciation and liberation. They are not of that side. Rather, they are śuddha-sattva, viśuddha-sattva [the quality of pure existence]. They are not related to liberation or emancipation, or to sattva-guṇa [the highest material quality]. They are viśuddha-sattva, nirguṇa, chit-vilās [pure, nonmaterial, spiritual play]. Every word, every syllable that I express and give out is from the plane of viśuddha-sattva. That is the special characteristic of my sayings. [–] They are ever-new. They are not a stereotyped thing. Whenever I approach, whenever I give an explanation of a particular verse, every time some new thing will come — not any mere repetition but something coming with some touch of the Infinite. Whatever I say must have some touch with conception of the Infinite. That is their peculiarity, and they are to increase faith. Faith, śraddhā, the basis, the foundation, always that will be more consolidated by my sayings. 



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Blog posts 
 
A drop of nectar (Audio)  

Absolute Harmony (Transcript) 
Absolute Harmony (Video) 
Approaching the spiritual master 
Awakening to the Absolute (Video)  
Beauty is the Autocrat 
Beyond immortality, beyond liberation, beyond oneness 
Bhakti begins there 
Cast yourself to the Infinite's whim  
[Chanting the Maha Mantra] (Audio)
Devotion and Knowledge 
Die to live (Quote)
Even a slight regard (Quote)
Everything is sweet 
Everything will be purified  
Faith can see, faith can feel it  
Floating world of consciousness 
Go straight there, don't break your journey anywhere 
Guru – simultaneously absolute and relative  
I can go up to somewhere higher 
In a particular direction that cannot be traced by any loss or gain of this world 
Live under the sky, not under a shed to protect you  
Love (Quote) 
My inner guide (Quote)  
Neither poetry nor imagination
No other business  
Played by God
Progress  
Reject your "knowledge"  
Serve – connect – feel – experience  
Service, Beauty 
Service is self-giving 
Service, service, service 
So the real current is His pastimes 
Taste will take us there 
The advent of Sri Advaita acharya (Audio)  
The education system (Quote)
The 4 principal verses of Bhagavad Gita 
The only price is earnest desire  
The right vision 
There is no non-Krishna 
Transcendental vision  
Waking from the dream
We have no rights (Quote) 

What is Maya?  
What we came into connection with  
Whatever you are attracted to 
You are facing Him 

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