Chakra Announcements

"Jolly Swami" left this world praying to Srila Prabhupada

by Vidvan-Gauranga das

Posted March 15, 2004

MAYAPUR, Sunday, March 14, 2004 (Auspicious appearance day of Srivasa Pandita) -- As reported on Chakra earlier, His Holiness Sridhar Maharaja, long known as the "Jolly Swami", departed from this world at 6:10 a.m., to the lotus feet of his most dear Srila Prabhupada. He had arrived in Mayapur during mid-February and desired to stay in Mayapura when the doctors in Canada informed him that his body was too infected to be cured. He was staying in a first-floor room at the Conch Building guest house.

At about 8:00 a.m., Hari Sauri das prabhu, while repeatedly sobbing, announced the news to the devotees in the temple hall, adding that Maharaja's body would be brought before the Deities, would remain until the abhiseka of Srivasa Pandita's Deity finishes, then be taken to Srila Prabhupada's Bhajan Kutir to circumambulate his Puspa-samadhi and brought before the Srila Prabhupada murti and then placed in samadhi near His Holiness Tamal Krishna Maharaja's samadhi-tomb.

Senior disciples of Srila Prabhupada were coming to Mayapura before Sridhara Maharaja was to be placed in samadhi. HH Bhakti Caru Maharaja, HH Gopal Krishna Maharaja and HH Lokanath Maharaja were arranging to come to Mayapura immediately. Bhadra Balaram das prabhu, who assists HH Jayapataka Maharaja with travel arrangements, informed me that Jayapataka prabhu could not come to Mayapura on time for placing Sridhar Swami in samadhi, so he requested his disciple HH Bhakti Purusottama Maharaja (who was in Kolkata) to come to Mayapura immediately.

In Sridhar Maharaja's room, his body was bathed with Ganges water, decorated with tilaka, etc. While some devotees were fanning Maharaja's divine body, kirtana continued. In the inner section of this room where Maharaja used to rest, on the walls were several Deity photographs and photographs of Srila Prabhupada. In the outer section of this room, I noticed a giant blow-up of Sri Sri Radha Madhava and Their eight sakhis on the wall.

Mayapura das prabhu, one of his personal servants, informed us that Maharaja was serenely gazing at a photograph of Prabhupada and was praying to him when he opened his mouth and passed away. He also told us that a few minutes before this Jananivasa Prabhu had brought tulasi from the altar for Maharaja as today was the appearance day celebration of Srivasa Thakura and that Maharaja had taken it.

Several devotees came to offer obeisances and flowers at the lotus feet of this great Vaisnava personality who was dear to Srila Prabhupada and to whom Srila Prabhupada was so dear. A few days back I had noticed Maharaja wearing a cap with the boldly printed words: "I am Prabhupada's dog".

In the Panca-tattva temple hall, the darsana-mandapa was prepared for an abhiseka of the smaller deity ("utsava-vigraha") of Srivasa Thakura. HH Bhakti Purusottama Maharaja arrived from Kolkata to help in the samadhi arrangements.

At 11:10 a.m., Sridhar Maharaja's body was brought inside the temple. Two bamboo rods were tied to the chair on which he was seated, and some of his disciples and other devotees carried the rods on their shoulders as people would carry a palanquin. Maharaja's body was first brought before Srila Prabhupada, and then Sri Sri Prahlada Nrsimhadeva, and then Sri Sri Radha Madhava. The pujaris also put on a piece of Sri Nrsimhadeva's and Sri Sri Radha Madhava's remnant cloth on Maharaja's body, which was then brought to the Panca-tattva temple hall for Srivasa Thakura's abhiseka.

On a smaller, portable metal platform usually used for performing abhiseka ceremonies here, Srivasa Thakura was brought and bathed in a variety of auspicious items. After this abhiseka, when the curtains were closed, Maharaja's sanctified body was placed in the darsana-mandapa, and one of Maharaja's servants led the Gurvastaka prayers. At about this time, HH Bhakti Caru Maharaja and Braj Hari das prabhu (one of the managers of the ISKCON temple at Juhu, Mumbai) offered obeisances and garlands. After Gurvastaka kirtan, devotees offered flowers while one of his disciples chanted the pranama mantras of Srila Prabhupada and of Sridhar Maharaja.

At about 1:30 p.m., Maharaja's body was taken on a parikrama around Sri Sri Panca-tattva and Sri Sri Radha Madhava, and then out of the temple. (All the time, devotees were performing kirtana of Krsna's holy names.) The party was heading towards Srila Prabhupada's Bhajan Kutir, used by Srila Prabhupada as his residence when ISKCON first purchased land in Mayapur.

After a brief darsana of Srila Prabhupada's deity inside the Bhajan Kutir, Sridhar Maharaja was taken around Srila Prabhupada's Puspa-samadhi Mandir (on the "Ring Road"), and then was taken inside the Puspa-samadhi Mandir before Srila Prabhupada. Bhakti Caru Maharaja led bhajanas, sweetly and slowly singing the song ye anilo prema-dhana. He then sang samsara-davanala prayers, the Hare Krsna mantra, etc.

After 3:15 p.m., Sridhar Swami's body was then brought near the site of his samadhi, which was west of HH Tamal Krishna Maharaja's samadhi-tomb. Beginning about 7:00 a.m., Giri Govardhana das and Sadbhuja das prabhus had started working out measurements for a samadhi-tomb for Sridhar Maharaja at this site.

For the time being, Maharaja's divine body was placed to the west of HH Gaur Govinda Maharaja's samadhi. Devotees were crowded around a large square pit (several feet deep) excavated to the west of Tamal Krishna Maharaja's tomb, for placing Sridhar Maharaja's body. HH Lokanath Maharaja and HH Gopal Krishna Maharaja come and offered their obeisances, having just arrived. Mayapura das prabhu, one of Sridhar Maharaja's personal servants, offered bhoga and then performed arati while Lokanath prabhu led the guru-puja kirtana. I saw Gopal Krishna prabhu fanning Sridhar Maharaja. After the kirtana, Bharata Maharaja das prabhu took imprints of Sridhar Maharaja's feet.

Disciples then placed Sridhar Swami's cadaver at the bottom of the pit. Some devotees, including Bhakti Caru prabhu, had gotten down to help perform the final arati, while the crowd at ground level were continuously singing the Hare Krsna maha-mantra. After the arati, devotees filled the pit with several sacksful of salt, then started throwing flower petals and garlands from ground level, and finally filled the pit with earth. A long stick had been placed on top of Maharaja's divine body which was now fully buried in accordance with the rites prescribed by the Gaudiya Vaisnava acaryas for sannyasis; the top portion of this stick could be seen above ground level, even after the pit was filled.

The devotees were so eager to render services to HH Sridhar Maharaja that they were showering flowers like rain. And when it came to filling the pit, several devotees, including Bengali women and young children, participated in this hard work with devotion and respect for Maharaja. By the time burial was complete, it was about 5:15 p.m. Hari Sauri das prabhu announced that Lokanath prabhu would lead kirtans at the room where Sridhar Maharaja used to stay, and that Sridhar Swami will be glorified at 8:00 a.m. tomorrow in the Radha Madhava temple hall in place of the usual Srimad-Bhagavatam class.