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Srila Bhakti Rakshaka Sridhara Gosvami Maharaja Disappearance



Today is super excellent and auspicious, as in our guru-parampara it is the disappearance day of nitya-lila-pravishta om vishnupada ashtottara-shata Sri Srimad Bhakti Rakshaka Sridhara Gosvami Maharaja. 


āvirbhāva’ ‘tirobhāva’ mātra kahe veda


Chaitanya-bhagavata (Adi-khanda 3.52)


[The Vedas say the pastimes of Vaishnavas never know interruption, they only appear and disappear to our vision.]


Our Vedas explain the importance of the appearance and disappearance days of Vaishnavas. Krishna Himself, in Bhagavad-gita tells Arjuna:


janma karma ca me divyam evaṁ yo vetti tattvataḥ tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma naiti mām eti so ’rjuna 


Bhagavad-gita (4.9)


[“One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.”]


Krishna says, “He’ Arjuna, My janma – My birth and My activities are transcendental. One who realises My transcendental activities, after his death, will attain My abode, and never come back to the material world.” 


In the same way, those who are pure devotees of the Lord, shuddha-bhaktas, their appearance and disappearance days are also transcendental. Thus today, we are going to celebrate nitya-lila-pravishta om vishnupada ashtottara-shata Sri Srimad Bhakti Rakshaka Sridhara Gosvami Maharaja’s disappearance day. The Sanskrit word for this day is tirobhava-tithi. Avirbhava and tirobhava. Avirbhava means appearance and tirobhava means disappearance. 


So we are feeling separation from him, that is called viraha, this day is a viraha-tithi. Viraha normally means separation, however another meaning for the Sanskrit word viraha is: vi – means special, and raha – means meeting. Thus, the inner meaning of viraha is special meeting. That means today we glorify his life history, his contributions and through this remembrance, we can associate with him today.


The Inspiring Life Story of Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Gosvami Maharaja

His divine grace, Srila Bhakti Rakshaka Sridhara Gosvami Maharaja is the founder of Sri Chaitanya Sarasvati Matha. He was born in 1895 in the district of Barddhaman, West Bengal, in a respected high-class brahmana family, also called Bhattacharya family. He received his education at the Berhampura University. 


Then, he arrived in Mayapura and met Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada, and noticed how in the temple, all the brahmacharis were very highly educated. In those times, in India, especially in Bengal, there was so much blasphemy spoken about Vaishnavas. Many people generally thought that being a Vaishnava meant being a low-caste person: one who was very poor, illiterate, could not maintain their life and had completely abandoned society. The common conception of Vaishnavas was that they would just go to the crematoriums or cemeteries to play mridanga while they cremated a dead body to get some money and maintain their lives. However, when Bhakti Rakshaka Sridhara Gosvami Maharaja arrived at the temple, he noticed how all of the brahmacharis were very highly educated, learned and scholarly persons. 


Now, Maharaja thought, “I still have to complete law school.” At the time, he was a law student, so he returned and finished law school. He then returned to Mayapura and stayed with Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada. Actually, from his childhood, Srimad Bhakti Rakshaka Sridhara Gosvami Maharaja had so much faith with Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. 


My First Meeting with Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Gosvami Maharaja

When I first arrived in Sri Devananda Gaudiya Matha in Navadvipa-dhama, all the sannyasis had left to collect some rice and dal for Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s Navadvipa-dhama parikrama. Only a few brahmacharis and babajis remained behind in the Devananda Gaudiya Matha that day. For this reason, at that time my mind became somewhat disturbed as there was not so much hari-katha being spoken.


My nature causes me to always hanker to listen to Vaishnavas speak hari-katha. Except that day, our Devananda Gaudiya Matha did not have many sannyasis present. One brahmachari mentioned to me, “If you want to hear hari-katha today, you must go to Sri Chaitanya Sarasvata Gaudiya Matha.” So I went from Sri Devananda Gaudiya Matha to Sri Chaitanya Sarasvata Gaudiya Matha everyday.

 

During my visits there I saw nitya-lila-pravishta om vishnupada ashtottara-shata Srila Bhakti Rakshaka Sridhara Gosvami Maharaja, and he would be speaking hari-katha to his Western devotees. He was a little sick in those days, so he would sit in his chair and speak hari-katha on Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu, composed by Srila Rupa Gosvamipada. 


I remember when Srila Bhakti Rakshaka Sridhara Gosvami Maharaja gave this hari-katha, he very nicely explained shuddha-bhakti, pure devotional service to Lord: 


anyābhilāṣitā-śūnyaṁ jñāna-karmādy-anāvṛtam ānukūlyena kṛṣṇānu-śīlanaṁ bhaktir uttamā


Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu (1.1.11)


[The cultivation of activities that are meant exclusively for the pleasure of Sri Krishna, or in other words the uninterrupted flow of service to Sri Krishna, performed through all endeavours of the body, mind and speech, and through the expression of various spiritual sentiments (bhavas), which is not covered by jnana (knowledge aimed at impersonal liberation) and karma (reward-seeking activity), and which is devoid of all desires other than the aspiration to bring happiness to Sri Krishna, is called uttama-bhakti, pure devotional service.]


Srila Bhakti Rakshaka Sridhara Gosvami Maharaja also very nicely gave an explanation on the commentaries of Srila Vishvanatha Chakravartipada and of Srila Jiva Gosvamipada. He also explained all the deep philosophies within this verse. I especially recall how he spoke on avyapti-dasha and ativyapti-dasha— the underextension and overextension rule. When I heard this philosophy, I became very surprised as I had previously never heard this philosophy, tattva, regarding the overextension, underextension rule.


Mother Yashoda would chastise Krishna when He would break the butter pot. Then, Krishna would not be happy with Mother Yashoda. While baby Krishna was sucking the breast of Mother Yashoda, for some reason she stopped feeding her breastmilk to Him, then Krishna would become very angry. For this reason, Krishna breaks the butter pot. 


Thus, Krishna is not happy with Mother Yashoda and He breaks a pot— so we may say, how can this be bhakti? Bhakti should be that which is meant only for the exclusive pleasure of Krishna. And now, we clearly see that Krishna is not pleased with Mother Yashoda. However, in another pastime Chanura and Mushtika wrestle with Krishna in Kamsa’s courtyard. Here, we see that Krishna is very happy to wrestle with them— yet this is not bhakti.


Why am I saying this? Because pujyapada Bhakti Rakshaka Sridhara Gosvami Maharaja clearly explained this philosophy. There are two aspects: one is avyapti-dasha and the other is ativyapti-dasha, the underextension and overextension rule. According to this philosophy, all of your endeavours should be for the exclusive pleasure of Krishna, krishnarthe akhila cheshta parayana. Also, krishnarthe akhila bhoga-tyaga, you must give up all of your happiness for the exclusive pleasure of Krishna. 


So now, Krishna is not pleased with the activities of Mother Yashoda, so why do they say this is bhakti? And in the other lila, Chanura and Mushtika attack and wrestle with Krishna in the arena of Kamsa, causing Krishna to become very happy— except this is not bhakti. Do you understand? In the first instance, Krishna is not pleased with Mother Yashoda, still, this is bhakti. The other time, Chanura and Mushtika attacked Him, and Krishna was very pleased by wrestling with them. But, this is not bhakti. In this way, when I came to Srila Bhakti Rakshaka Sridhara Gosvami Maharaja’s temple, he gave this vast explanation of this verse describing shuddha-bhakti, ‘anyābhilāṣitā-śūnyaṁ…’.


After hearing his nectarian hari-katha I became so charmed with Srila Bhakti Rakshaka Sridhara Gosvami Maharaja. Maharaja was always chanting gaura-nama, “Gaura, Gaura, Gaura, Gaura.” I was so impressed by his character and qualities. For this reason, I would come every day from Sri Devananda Gaudiya Matha to Sri Chaitanya Sarasvata Gaudiya Matha to listen to hari-katha, and pujyapada Srila Bhakti Rakshaka Sridhara Gosvami Maharaja was so pleased with me. 


I remember how one day he asked me where I had come from. After answering him, he told me, “You can stay in our temple.” I simply replied, “No, no, I will stay in Devananda Gaudiya Matha, my uncle is there,” who was Srila Bhaktivedanta Madhusudana Maharaja, and at the time, was named Krishna-kripa Brahmachari. Last year, Srila Madhusudana Maharaja departed from this material world, his full name is now nitya-lila-pravishta om vishnupada ashtottara-shata Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Madhusudana Maharaja. He was a very high-class, exalted Vaishnava, and also a very learned Sanskrit scholar, pandita. He was also appointed by the government to teach Sanskrit. Despite being a very learned scholar, he was very humble. Because of this, Srila Gurudeva, Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja had so much love and affection towards him. 


Living a Life of Devotion: The Legacy and Contributions of Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Gosvami Maharaja

I remember how Srila Bhakti Rakshaka Sridhara Gosvami Maharaja’s hari-katha, tattva-siddhanta, and conclusion of all of scriptures and shastras were very deep. Just like Sri Jiva Gosvamipada, who was very learned and scholarly, and he deeply analysed all the verses of our Gosvamis’ granthas. Bhakti Rakshaka Sridhara Gosvami Maharaja also had so much guru-nishtha. Gurudeva would always say: 


guru-pāda-padme rahe jāra niṣṭhā-bhakti jagat tārite sei dhare mahā-śakti


Ashraya koriyo vando (11)


[One who thus clings to guru‘s lotus-feet with firm devotion, carries with him the great power to deliver the world.]


One who has guru-nishtha can deliver the whole universe. Nishtha means steadiness, and guru-nishtha is one-pointedness towards Gurudeva. Guru-nishtha, guru-bhakti is called the backbone of our bhajana and sadhana


When he accepted sannyasa from Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada, he was given the name Srila Bhakti Rakshaka Sridhara Gosvami Maharaja. What is the definition of the word Sridhara? Sri means Lakshmi; sarva-lakshmi Srimati Radhika. Dhara means holder, meaning, one who keeps all the divine love of Srimati Radhika in his heart— this is the perfect meaning of Sridhara. Bhakti Rakshaka denotes that he protects bhakti in the heart of all the living entities.


Bhakti Rakshaka Sridhara Gosvami Maharaja also composed many Sanskrit shlokas and granthas. He especially glorified nitya-lila-pravishta om vishnupada ashtottara-shata Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada in eleven shlokas, known as Sri Prabhupada-padma-stavaka. Every day, early in the morning, after Sri Gurvashtaka, we sing this and glorify Prabhupada in Prabhupada-dasakam.


sujanārbuda-rādhita-pāda-yugaṁ yuga-dharma-dhurandhara-pātra-varam varadābhaya-dāyaka-pūjya-padaṁ praṇamāmi sadā prabhupāda-padam 


Sri Prabhupada-padma-stavaka (1)


[His two lotus feet are worshipped by an unlimited number of saintly persons, and he is the most competent personality to lead the process of realisation for this age, nama-sankirtana. His adorable lotus feet grant all kinds of benedictions and fearlessness. I forever offer pranama unto the feet of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada.]


In these very nice and beautiful Sanskrit verses, according to Sanskrit poetic metre, chanda, he glorified Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada by comparing him to a very nice and beautiful full moon, and all of his disciples are like the many stars around the moon. For this reason Srila Bhakti Rakshaka Sridhara Gosvami Maharaja composed this verse:


nija-sevaka-tāraka-rañji-vidhuṁ vidhutāhita-huṅkṛta-siṁha-varam varaṇāgata-bāliśa-śanda-padaṁ praṇamāmi sadā prabhupāda-padam 


Sri Prabhupada-padma-stavaka (4)


[He is the pleasing moon for his servitor stars, and with the excellence of a roaring lion he removes inimical persons [causing them to flee in fear]. Choosing the shelter of his feet, the innocent attain auspiciousness. I forever offer pranama unto the feet of Srila Prabhupada.]


There are eleven shlokas in total, but this fourth shloka number is especially beautiful as it very nicely glorifies Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada and all of his disciples. 


Srila Bhakti Rakshaka Sridhara Gosvami Maharaja also composed the very nice and beautiful Sri Prema-dhama-deva-stotra. Krishna descended from Goloka Vrindavana to Navadvipa-dhama to relish three things from Srimati Radhika. What were those three things? Srila Bhakti Rakshaka Sridhara Gosvami Maharaja would also glorify this.


śrī-rādhāyāḥ praṇaya-mahimā kīdṛśo vānayaivā svādyo yenādbhuta-madhurimā kīdṛśo vā madīyaḥ saukhyaṁ cāsyā mad-anubhavataḥ kīdṛśaṁ veti lobhāt tad-bhāvāḍhyaḥ samajani śacī-garbha-sindhau harīnduḥ 


Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita (Adi-lila 1.6)


[Desiring to understand the glory of Srimati Radhika’s love (pranaya-mahima), the wonderful sweetness in Him that She alone relishes through Her love (adbhuta-madhurima), and the happiness (saukhyam) She feels when She realises the sweetness of His love, the Supreme Lord Hari, richly endowed with Her emotions, appeared from the womb of Srimati Saci-devi, as the moon appears from the ocean.]


Krishna wondered, “What are the glories of divine love of Srimati Radhika?” Then He thought “What is it about My beauty that Srimati Radhika is always relishing?” And, “When Srimati Radhika relishes My beauty, what realisation or feelings come into Her heart?” 


For this reason, Krishna descended from Goloka Vrindavana to Navadvipa-dhama in the form of Sacinandana Gaurahari. And Krishna took two things from Srimati Radhika: Her mood and complexion. However, pujyapada Srila Bhakti Rakshaka Sridhara Gosvami Maharaja explained that when Krishna descended from Goloka Vrindavana, Srimati Radhika Herself completely covered His body. 


Srimati Radhika’s complexion is actually non-different than Srimati Radhika Herself – deha dehi bhida nasti. Why did Srimati Radhika completely cover Krishna’s entire body? Srimati Radhika was thinking, “Only I can tolerate the stage of maha-bhava-dasha, but My beloved cannot tolerate.” Because of this Srimati Radhika completely covers the body of Krishna with Her bodily complexion.


In this way, Srila Bhakti Rakshaka Sridhara Gosvami Maharaja, gave conclusions on many tattva–siddhantas, philosophies and always provided evidence from shastras and Puranas. 


Similar to Srila Gaura Govinda Gosvami Maharaja who gave conclusions on tattva-siddhanta by citing evidence from other shastras


Srila Bhakti Rakshaka Sridhara Gosvami Maharaja also composed a very beautiful grantha called The Golden Volcano of Divine Love. Everybody has to read this book, then you will fully understand why Krishna descended from Goloka Vrindavana into this material world in the form of Sri Sacinandana Gaurahari.


Following in the Footsteps of a Saint: The Beloved Disciple of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada

When nitya-lila-pravishta om vishnupada ashtottara-shata Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja departed from this material world, many of his disciples took shelter of Bhakti Rakshaka Sridhara Gosvami Maharaja’s lotus feet and would listen to hari-katha from him. I do not believe that he ever travelled to Western countries, however thousands and thousands of Western devotees still took shelter at his lotus feet. When a lotus blossoms, honey bees will automatically come. Do you understand? 


A lotus does not go towards honey bees, yet the honey bees still come. In the same way most of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada’s disciples are very learned and scholarly, and preach all over the world. Such as Srila Bhakti Pramoda Puri Gosvami Maharaja, I think he also did not come to Western countries, but he had thousands and thousands of disciples and many temples all over the world. Who has come or not come to Western countries, this is not our subject. Our subject is how these people are attracted by their hari-katha and tattva-siddhanta


Another thing is Bhakti Rakshaka Sridhara Gosvami Maharaja always had so much love and affection to all the devotees. Vaishnavas never discriminate by saying, “This is your disciple or my disciple.” Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada would say, “I did not make any disciples.” He was very humble when in his hari-katha he would say that all of the audience were his vipat-tarana bandhus meaning they were his friends who protected him from danger.


Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada very humble said, “The audience is coming, so I am speaking hari-katha. And when I speak hari-katha, I am protected from maya.” This is his humility, dainya. Whenever a pure devotee of the Lord speaks hari–katha, maya will not appear. When no hari-katha is being spoken, maya-katha will automatically come. Is this right or wrong? 


In this regard, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada said, “When you listen to hari-katha and have association with a sadhu, you will be protected from maya.” Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada would also always say, “Guru never makes disciples, guru makes gurus.” 


When you are a teacher or a professor in college, you give students lessons, then one day those students will also become teachers or professors. In the same way, a guru makes other gurus. And Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada made many bona fide gurus who preached all over the world and spread the message of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. In a lecture, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupāda once said, “If I have money, I can buy one aeroplane.” Then someone asked, “Why? Why do you want money to buy an aeroplane?” Prabhupada replied, “Then I will spread the message of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu from one corner of the world to the other. ” Mahaprabhu Himself predicted, “One day, My name will spread all over the world, and everybody will chant My Holy names.”


pṛthivīte āche yata nagarādi grāma sarvatra pracāra haibe mora nāma 


Sri Chaitanya-bhagavata (Antya-khanda 4.126)


[“In as many cities, towns and villages as there are on the surface of the earth, My holy names will be preached and chanted.”]


We can say that all the disciples of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada are very qualified, and are nitya-parikaras, eternal associates of the Divine Couple, Radha and Krishna. This verse explains our Gaudiya parampara:


kṛṣṇa hoite catur-mukha, hoy kṛṣṇa-sevonmukha, brahmā hoite nāradera mati nārada hoite vyāsa, madhva kohe vyāsa-dāsa, pūrṇaprajña padmanābha gati


Sri Guru-parampara (1) by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Prabhupada


[In the beginning of creation Sri Krishna spoke the science of devotional service to Lord Brahma. He in turn passed these teachings on to Sri Narada Muni, who accepted Sri Krishna Dvaipayana Vyasadeva as his disciple. Sri Vyasa transmitted this knowledge to Sri Madhvacharya, who is also known as Purnaprajna Tirtha and who is the sole refuge for his disciple Sri Padmanabha Tirtha.]


And where does our guru–parampara come from? From Madhavendra Puripada, who is the sprout of divine love, called premankura. Then comes Srila Ishvara Puripada, then Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, then Srila Rupa Gosvamipada, Srila Sanatana Gosvamipada, Srila Lokanatha dasa Gosvami, Srila Narottama dasa Thakura, Srila Shyamananda Prabhu, Srila Shrinivasa Acharya, and Srila Jiva Gosvamipada. In this way, all of our guru-parampara has manifested. 


Then Srila Gaurakishora dasa Babaji Maharaja, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Prabhupada appeared. Then in our guru-varga, Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja, Srila Bhakti Rakshaka Sridhara Gosvami Maharaja, Srila Bhakti Pramoda Puri Gosvami Maharaja, Srila Bhakti Vaibhava Puri Maharaja and Srila Bhakti Prajnana Keshava Gosvami Maharaja have appeared. In this way, many branches and sub-branches have manifested.


And also, Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja, and all of our guru-varga have spread the message of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. And Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has invested the highest prema from Goloka Vrindavana in the heart of Rupa Gosvami. 


anarpita-carīṁ cirāt karuṇayāvatīrṇaḥ kalau samarpayitum unnatojjvala-rasāṁ sva-bhakti-śriyam hariḥ puraṭa-sundara-dyuti-kadamba-sandīpitaḥ sadā hṛdaya-kandare sphuratu vaḥ śacī-nandanaḥ


Vidagdha-madhava (1.2) by Srila Rupa Gosvami


[“May the son of Srimati Saci-devi, Sri Gaurahari, forever manifest spontaneously within the innermost core of your heart. Adorned with the radiant splendour of molten gold, He has descended (avatirnah) in the Age of Kali by His causeless mercy to bestow upon the world that which has not been given for a long time – the beauty of His own brilliantly radiant ujjvala-prema-rasa bhakti, service in the highest mellow of amorous love.”]


Sri Rupa Gosvami composed this verse. And this highest prema, they are giving to everyone. Mahaprabhu Himself said, “I cannot give this alone”. So His associates are helping distribute this highest love to everybody. Mahaprabhu Himself spread this prema. Where does it come from? Not from Vaikuntha, Ayodhya, Dvaraka or Mathura. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu distributed Goloka Vrindavana prema–dhana. Try to understand that this prema is the highest divine love. 


Brahmāra durlabha prema sabākāre jāce. That prema which is even rare for Brahmaji, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has distributed. A question may arise: What was this so very rare and secretive prema which Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu gave? This prema is called manjari-bhava— this is very confidential. You see, before Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, very few knew about this philosophy. 


And Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His eternal associates spread this manjari-bhava prema. You can see in all of our guru-varga, in krishna-lila Srila Rupa Gosvami is eternally Rupa Manjari, Srila Jiva Gosvamipada is Vilasa Manjari, Srila Sanatana Gosvamipada is Lavanga Manjari, Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami is Rati Manjari. In this way, all of our Gosvamis, all of our guru-varga are the nearest and dearest of Srimati Radhika.


Also, Srila Bhakti Prajnana Keshava Gosvami Maharaja is Vinoda Manjari, and Srila Gurudeva, Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja is Ramana Manjari. In this way, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu distributed the highest prema, which was previously never distributed by any incarnation of the Lord.


Thus today, I pay my unlimited obeisances to Srila Bhakti Rakshaka Sridhara Gosvami Maharaja and pray that he gives us the blessing that one day we will realise this highest philosophy in our hearts and serve his lotus feet. 


Jaya nitya-lila-pravishta om vishnupada ashtottara-shata Sri Srimad Bhakti Rakshaka Sridhara Gosvami Maharaja ki jaya! Jaya jaya Sri Radhe!



Date: 8 August 2021 Location: Mexico

 

Transcriber: Shyamapriya dasi (Holland) Editor: Sanatana dasa (USA) Proofreading: Chandrika dasi (UK) Integrity check: Divya-premamayi dasi (Slovakia), Sanatana dasa (USA) Image: Narasimhananda dasa (Russia)

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