More remembrances of Sridhara Swami
Posted March 22, 2004
MAYAPUR. Monday, March 15, 2004.
RAMAI PRABHU: I was doing management studies in Indore [India] and sometimes I used to go to the Radha Rasabihari temple to go and chant (not 16 rounds). My sister is Malati and she asked me to go and meet Maharaja. He told me, "Pay obeisances to him." But I was frightened. Still, one day I went to him and offered him obeisances. He immediately told me, "You look just like Malati!" and made me feel so comfortable. This was one of his characteristics, that he made people feel so comfortable with him. Actually, many people have been touched by him.
He was aware of many things around. He was also very forgiving and kind to neophytes like me. I am very grateful to him for that. For the last one year, my services were not up to the mark, and he noted that. I then promised him that I will raise up to the standard.
Mayapur Prabhu at Mira Road [Bombay, India] and Radha Rasabihari Mandir has always given us a chance to serve Guru Maharaja. Also Adbhuta Hari Prabhu and Acyutananda Prabhu were kind to engage us. It is nice and reassuring for us that they are around as we need their guidance in our spiritual life.
JANAKA MAHARAJA PRABHU: I met Guru Maharaja in Ljubjana temple. He was lecturing on the Bhagavad-gita, and he was calling us to wake up spiritually. When I asked for a darsana with him and spoke to him, he told me to write to him every month. I didn't want to take his time, so I didn't write every month. Then finally I wrote to him that I didn't write every month as I thought I was taking his time. I found out from one of my Godbrothers that he was talking about this all the time. I was only getting spiritually better.
When I asked him for initiation, he asked me, "Why do you want me as your guru? There are so many senior devotees. You can take from them!" I saw that he didn't take the credit for himself. Even when he was in great bodily pain, he showed to me and all others he met unconditional love. I ask all of you to please bless me.
SANATANA GOSVAMI PRABHU: I have been emotional for the whole month. In Bombay, he once gave me a difficult instruction. I was crying one day when he screamed, "Don't cry, be a man!" [all laugh] In Slovenia, before I took initiation, he told me, "Let's be jolly, and go back to Godhead!"
SACIPRIYA MATAJI: I came in contact with Krsna consciousness in 1996. The first day, I saw Sridhar Maharaja in the [Radha Rasabihari] temple room and he was giving a lecture. I was so shocked to see an American reciting Sanskrit slokas! After the lecture, I went to speak to him. I spoke to him in English, and I was more shocked to hear him reply in Hindi! And I was even more shocked when I received a letter from him in Hindi!
I gave a lot of services in temple, but everyday I used to get chastisement. People would complain all the time. I was crying to Maharaja, "I have so many shortcomings. I am not a devotee." He told me, "There are no devotees here, we are all sadhakas here. Distribute my Guru Maharaja's books." So I did that.
One day, I made some juice for Maharaja and offered it to Srila Prabhupada and then gave it to Maharaja. Maharaja drank half and gave half to Mayapur Prabhu. He told me that it was horrible. I am sorry for the mistakes in the cooking. I came before everyone, but I am poor in my spiritual life. I am praying to all, especially my Godbrothers and Godsisters, to please help me and engage me in service. I would also like to thank Mayapur Prabhu, he never complained about me to Guru Maharaja.
IRAVAN PRABHU: I am one of the youngest disciples. I was initiated in Pula, during the Summer Camp. I saw him in 1999 in the Croatian Summer Camp and I was attracted to his humorous style of preaching (he was giving a seminar on the Bhagavad-gita and he was joking about the Croatian President) and yet strict on executing Srila Prabhupada's mission. This combination was good for me.
He also once came to a preaching center in Croatia. At that time, one lady reporter came to interview him, and he required an interpreter. He asked me if I can translate, and I said, "Yes" when actually I couldn't understand much. When he saw that I didn't know how to translate properly, he asked some devotees, "Who is this confused person?"
A few years back, I tried to improve my character, and he encouraged me. I tried to cook for him, but it was so bad. I was here for the last few days. I was there at the time he passed away. Actually, some time before he passed away, Mayapur Prabhu was in the bathroom. Guru Maharaja asked, "Can I go now?" I didn't understand what he meant, whether he was asking if he can go to the bathroom, or if he can go back to Krsna. I didn't understand. He was looking at Srila Prabhupada.
RADHA KUNDA PRABHU: Myself, Manik Prabhu and Jaya Sacinandana Prabhu are from Radha Gopinatha temple, Bombay. We were instructed by Radhanatha Maharaja to stay here from March 8th to do kirtana for Sridhar Maharaja whenever he wanted. In addition, Manik Prabhu had a medical background and so he could help with medical care; Jaya Sacinandana Prabhu was to sing, and I was to run around for errands.
First, some remembrances of Maharaja since before. During the Silver Jubilee celebration of the Radha Rasabihari temple, Mumbai, I was in-charge of Maharaja's car. One day, he wanted to go to the Ratha-yatra grounds, and he was sitting at the lobby of the ISKCON Guest House. I had kept his car ready, but the car driver was hungry and wanted to eat. So I sent the driver to eat. Just at that time, Maharaja wanted to go to the Ratha-yatra grounds. I told him that the driver has gone to eat and will come back once he was finished. Maharaja asked me to immediately arrange another car. So I arranged another car, but then so many other devotees also got into this car. I couldn't control them, and Maharaja was angry with me. He told me, "You're stupid!" I didn't know what to say. Then he started to walk towards the Ratha-yatra grounds. I became frightened and immediately got the driver of Maharaja's car to drive along the way where Maharaja was walking. Then I begged forgiveness from Maharaja, and he got in. Sometimes he would come to Radha Gopinath temple. Palika Mataji used to tell us to give him cakes. I would give him cakes, and also pack and give him some.
On the day of abhiseka of Panca-tattva, I was helping him to lift the pots to do abhiseka for Lord Nityananda. He just embraced me. I was so surprised.
I was there when he came to Mayapur, after the reception. He was so happy to be among his Godbrothers. When he arrived at his room, he said, "Now I don't have any fear of a falldown!" He was teaching how important it is to be with the devotees.
He didn't like his diet. Once while he was on phone with Sivarama Maharaja, he joked, "If I'll die, it will be because of my diet!"
In the morning just before he passed away, Pankajanghri Prabhu [who was mistaken for Jananivasa Prabhu, his twin-brother] came and gave tulasi leaves and Ganges water. He also told Maharaja that it was Srivasa Thakura's appearance day. When the kirtana was going on, I was also singing loudly at that time. Maharaja was very much conscious and looking at Srila Prabhupada when he passed away.
We can learn from Sridhar Maharaja that Srila Prabhupada's process is perfect. He has shown us, if we follow Srila Prabhupada's teachings sincerely, we can go back to Godhead. We can also learn from Mayapur Prabhu, Acyutananda Prabhu and Adbhuta Hari Prabhu how to serve one's spiritual master.
BHAKTA MANIK: My strong impression is that Maharaja's departure was like a pastime arranged by the Lord. I would pray to Maharaja's Nrsimhadeva Deity for guidance so that I can properly serve this great Vaisnava.
He was very jovial. He once tapped Acyutananda Prabhu's head and said, "Fluid inside." When he saw Bhaktavatara Prabhu [a devotee who often dances in the temple room], he began dancing, as if in imitation.
He told me, "If you come to Mayapur, you can get a little taste of the holy name. And that is success." Once when I was dealing with a technician, he asked for a discount. He told me to always ask for a discount.
I would sit with him and talk sometimes. He was always enlivened about preaching, just as we read in the Lilamrta, Prabhupada used to become enlivened to hear about the preaching results. One day, after the Bhagavatam class, I came to him and told him, "Maharaja, today's class was on preaching." He used to become so fired up. He told me which countries he had gone for preaching.
He would also discuss with me about Mayavada. He said that one day when he was giving a class, one person started telling all these things, "We are all one", etc. Then Maharaja told him, "If we are all one, just give me your watch! You and I are one, so what difference does it make?" And he had to give his watch! [laughter] He also said that one day one Ramakrishna Mission sannyasi had for meeting with Srila Prabhupada. Somehow he had lost the way in the building, and enquired Sridhar Maharaja, "Which is the way? How do I go places here?" Sridhar Maharaja replied, "Any way is alright. Whichever way you go is alright. All paths lead to the same goal! Yata mata, tata path!" [laughter]
He would embrace his Godbrothers tightly, and say "We all can go back to Godhead!" He used to say, "Just serve your spiritual master and clean the heart."
Once he wanted to go to the Ganges. So we fixed a plan. He said, "Let's go at 3 o'clock." Unfortunately, I remembered that 3 o'clock was lunch time [at the brahmacari prasadam hall], and I told him about that. But he kindly said that prasadam can be arranged for me. Then we went to the Ganges. He saw some people there who didn't offer obeisances to Mother Ganga, nor sprinkle Ganges water on their heads before entering in. He said, "Since they have seen Ganges since childhood, they have no appreciation for the Ganges." Since Maharaja's belly was big, he was wearing a kaupina to take bath. But then people passed some rude remarks. He then told them in Hindi, "Since hundreds and thousands of years, sadhus have been wearing kaupinas." Then they objected to his talk of "sadhu", and he said, "Do you know who a sadhu is?" and quoted from the Bhagavad-gita on who a sadhu is.
He encouraged me a lot in spiritual life. When I told him that I have joined the asrama after leaving home, he said, "Then you're finished!" He talked about Srila Prabhupada.
I have a strong feeling that his departure was arranged by Lord Krsna. At about 1:45 AM that morning, I was feeling tired and I went into some kind of dream. I saw that Maharaja's room was very bright and shining. A celestial being came and just took away Maharaja, who was lying like a baby. May be this was a dream, but I sensed a certain auspiciousness at that time. It is my strong feeling that Krsna picked him up.
His spirit will always be there with me. After serving him, I have developed the desire to preach until my last breath.
PADAYATRA PRABHU: When Mayapur Prabhu joined the Bhaktivedanta Academy, I became Sridhar Maharaja conscious. Once in a while he would go to speak with Maharaja on phone from the STD booth. And they would talk for a long time.
It was such a challenge for Mayapur Prabhu, who is from military background, to do the needful regarding Maharaja, who was just the opposite in nature.
One the day of Panca-tattva installation, both of them came behind Lord Nityananda and kneeled down. Maharaja was overwhelmed with emotions. He was crying. It is very difficult to pick up 5 liters of water in those big silver kalasas, but he was picking up. He was also swinging those heavy peacock feathers.
One day, I brought the young students of the Bhaktivedanta Academy to him for darsana. He wanted them to be properly trained as brahmacaris. He told them, "Don't tell anyone this. There is no better place than here to become trained as good brahmacaris."
I think that these events have made the bonds between him and the disciples stronger.
After this, Radha Sundari Mataji read out an excerpt from a talk given by
Radhanatha Maharaja on Sridhar Maharaja, and that concluded the remembrance
celebration of HH Sridhar Maharaja.