Remembering Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Dev-Goswami Maharaja
With the setting of the sun of the manifest pastimes of our beloved preceptor, Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the world became dark. He had with the intensity of the sun’s direct rays illuminated the entire world with the truth of the Supreme Personality of Godhead: Krsna “As He Is,” krsnas tu bhagavan svayam.
With his disappearance, the reality of the personality of Godhead remained, yet in the shadows of the night, the reflected light of the moon-like discourse of Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Maharaja focused for a few on another reality—sweet Krsna, lover of the gopis, Krsna “As He Feels.”
Certainly our Srila Prabhupada had this sweet Krsna in mind when he named his Deities “Radha-Londonisvara,” “Radha-Parisisvara,” and so on. He wanted that the people of the world would know that Krsna was the adi-deva, the original, all-powerful God, as well as the playful (deva) lover of Radha. As Londonisvara, Krsna was to be understood first as the Lord of London (aisvarya), and eventually as the Brits’ “own” Krsna (mamata/madhurya).
That Prabhupada wanted the people of the world to think of Krsna as “theirs,” the ultimate reality of Vraja as seen through the eyes of Radha, was to a large extent the emphasis of Sridhara Maharaja, the moon of reflective light. Thus he taught us to reflect deeply upon the light of Srila Prabhupada’s teaching.
Hidden in the selfless garb of disinterested nature, he shared his inner passion for the highest ideal with others only with considerable coaxing. As Sri-dhara, he bore the love of Sri (Radha) within, and as Bhakti-Raksaka, he kept that love hidden from those who were unfamiliar with love’s ways, guhyam akhyati prcchati. Only to those whom the saints reveal their hearts is the secret truth of paro dharma known: dharmasya tattvam nihitam guhayam mahajano yena gatah sa panthah. Our beloved Sridhara Maharaja is such a mahajana, a mahatma.
Mahatmanas. . .bhajanty ananya-manaso . . . and budha raga-samanvitah. Those who are great souls worship Krsna without deviation, and moreover, with the knowledge (budha) that leads to feeling (bhava). This bhava is raga-samanvitah.
Our Sridhara Maharaja served Sri Sri Radha Krsna with such feeling, the feeling that develops after knowing definitively that Krsna is the source of everything, in whom the fullest potential for loving reciprocation lies. Bhagavan svayam is akhila-rasamrta-murtih. It is this Krsna, his potency, that comes to us as Sri Guru. There is no more dear friend than her, the servant-friend of Radha.
Oh, for the day when that inner wealth will be mine, to realize the import of the appearance of Sri Guru in my life. It is said in the kavya (poetry) that if one sees a humming bird fly into the lotus, one will become wealthy. Such is our goal, yugala-milana, to see to the union of the divine couple, as taught by Sri Rupanuga guru-varga, and thereby reap the inner wealth of Sri Radha’s love for Krsna.
Who could speak of these things were it not for His Divine Grace? With towering stance and eyes of love, blind only to the faults of others, our Sridhara Maharaja lived in the reality of the poetry of the absolute, in the mythic reality of Vraja.
In poetry, one can do anything. Such is Vraja, where water turns to land and land into water at the sound of Krsna’s flute, tejo-vari-mrdam yatha vinimayo. This Vraja is not a fixed place, rather one that moves following the cowherds’ need for pasturing ground. And so our Sridhara Maharaja moved, never static, always dynamic, a great harmonizer of contradictions, a resident of that land of love.
In love all contradictions are resolved. In love one sees the faults of the object of one’s love as virtues. Such is the spirit of Vraja, and our Sridhara Maharaja exemplified the implication of the appellation “Vraja,” —that land in which “all things are completely appropriate.”
Sri Vraja-dhama, the heart of religion, is in the language of Saraswati Thakura, “Proper adjustment,” that which Srila Sridhara Maharaja personified. May he graciously grant us residence therein, in the friendly service of the sweet Absolute.
Republished from The Moon of Reflective Light, Sanga, Volume 1, Number 2, 1999