Sridhara Maharaja


devam divya-tanum suchanda-vadanam-balarka-celancitam
sandrananda-puram sad-eka-varanamvairagya-vidyambudhim
sri-siddhanta-nidhim subhakti-lasitam sarasvatanam varam
vande tam subhadam mad-eka-saranam nyasisvaram sridharam

I fall at the feet of Srila Sridhara-Deva, who with charming expression sings his songs of sweet nectar. Dressed with fine garments like sun newly-risen, he's the true saint the devotees have chosen. His detachment and knowledge are just like an ocean, the treasure-house of complete, perfect conclusion. Radiant in pastimes of loving devotion, the abode of pure ecstasy, bestower of good fortune; foremost true follower of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, foremost great general of the whole renounced order, my lord and my master, my only shelter, I worship his feet, Srila Sridhara-Deva.

His Divine Grace Sri Srila Bhakti Rakshaka Sridhara Deva Gosvami Maharaja, the founder of the Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Matha, was born in India in 1895, in a respected Brahmana family of the Bhattacarya order, at Hapaniya, District Burdwan, West Bengal. He received his education at Baharamapur University.

Having taken his pious birth in Sri Gauda-Mandal, the holy lands where Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu exhibited His divine pastimes on this earth, Srila Sridhara Maharaja, from his very childhood, had a natural affinity for the mission of Sri Chaitanya Sankirtana, the Grand Congregational Chanting of the Holy Names of the Supreme Lord.

In 1926, Srila Sridhara Maharaja joined the Sri Gaudiya Matha, and became an initiated disciple of its founder, the illustrious Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakura Gosvami Prabhupada (1874-1937). He later accepted the holy order of Sannyasa [monkhood] in 1930. Recognizing him as a faithful stalwart preacher of the perfect precepts of Gaudiya Vaishnavism, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Prabhupada conferred upon him the name "Sri Bhakti Rakshak, " which means "Guardian of Devotion." And further echoing the statement of the great Vaishnava Preceptor, Srila Jiva Gosvami - who referred in his Sanskrit writings to the renowned Srimad Bhagavatam commentator, Sri Sridhara Swami, as bhakti-eka-raksaka [Supreme Guardian of Devotion] - Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Prabhupada gave him the Tridandi-Sannyasa title of "Sridhara." Thus, he became Srila Bhakti Rakshak Sridhara Maharaja.

As a prominent preacher in the Sri Gaudiya Matha 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 Sankirtana festivals.

Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Prabhupada also expressed high appreciation of Srila Sridhara Maharaja's Sanskrit composition, Sri Bhaktivinoda Viraha Dasakam, considering it an omen of assurance that the grand ideals and dignity of the Sri GaudiyaSampradaya would be perfectly upheld and preached by such a learned and sensitive devotee as Srila Sridhara Maharaja.

As a testimony to this fact, just prior to Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakura Prabhupada's departure from this mortal world, Srila Prabhupada had Srila Sridhara Maharaja sing, in his presence, the holy prayer most venerated by the entire Sri Gaudiya Vaishnava community, Sri Rupa Manjari Pada.

After the passing of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur Gosvami Prabhupada, Srila Sridhara Maharaja's Godbrothers, associates, and the public, naturally revered him as the senior-most representative of the Sri Gaudiya Sampradaya. In particular, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja, who was at that time in householder life, assigned a large portion of his house in Calcutta to be used by Srila Sridhara Maharaja as his preaching hearquarters. Thus these two great personalities, Srila Sridhara Maharaja and Srila Swami Maharaja were intimately associated for many years in the early days and remained intimate friends throughout their lives.
Although Srila Sridhara Maharaja was more inclined to anonymity as a humble Vaishnava he, nonetheless, by the call of divine duty and divine inspiration, established the Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Matha at Sri Navadwip Dhama, hinting in a short Sanskrit poem that the Matha -- as a sanctuary where the holy message of his Gurudev, Sri Rupa, and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was preached -- would inevitably become renowned throughout the world amongst the sincere and pious seekers of Unalloyed Truth and Divinity.

Srila Sridhara Maharaja is the composer of numerous classical prayers and commentaries in Sanskrit and Bengali. His works are hailed as gems of pure Vaishnavism by scholars, philosophers, and devotees worldwide. He authored Sri Sri Prapanna Jivanamrtam, a Sanskrit devotional treatise on the subject of divine surrender, which has become a standard text-book for devotees everywhere.

Upon reaching his eighties, not only Indians, but persons from America, Europe, and the world over, became attracted by Srila Sridhara Maharaj's teachings and personality. He 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.

A vast library of Srila Sridhara Maharaja's taped discourses has been compiled by his disciples, and from such recordings, the exquisite English books "Search for Sri Krishna - Reality the Beautiful","Sri Guru and His Grace","The Golden Volcano of Divine Love", "Loving Search for the Lost Servant", and Srila Sridhara Maharaj's unique commentary and interpretation of "Srimad Bhagavad Gita - The Hidden Treasure of the Sweet Absolute", and many other books have been published. Many more publications are also anticipated.

On August 12th, 1988, His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Rakshak Sridhara Deva-Gosvami Maharaja departed from this world, to enter into his eternal pastimes. His departure did not herald the departure of one of the great stars of the Sri Gaudiya Vaishnava firmament, but that of the moon itself. Even the Earth herself trembled on two occasions, forecasting and punctuating the event. A divine temple, "The Temple of Unionin Separation," was erected at his holy shrine at Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, Navadwip, and worship will continue throughout the generations.