Our Affectionate Guardians, Chapter Four, Part One
In the first portion of chapter 4, Swami B. B. Visnu presents Srila Prabhupada’s instructions regarding his disciples’ relationship with Srila Sridhara Maharaja. These directions are further verified by quotes from leading members of Iskcon during the period under discussion.
Read previously published sections here.
Shortly before he left us in 1977, Srila Prabhupada advised his disciples to see Srila Sridhara Maharaja if they had questions about philosophical matters. This instruction was accepted by the entire GBC at that time, and from 1977 to 1981 they did approach Srila Sridhara Maharaja with many important questions.
A substantial portion of the GBC’s Guru Position Paper of March 1978, the GBC’s official statement published after their initial question-and-answer session with Srila Sridhara Maharaja, is taken directly from Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s instructions to the GBC, with a few noteworthy additions and subtractions.
That it was actually the instruction of Srila Prabhupada that we should approach Srila Sridhara Maharaja for spiritual instruction is corroborated by taped statements of Jayapataka Maharaja, Satsvarupa Maharaja, Bhakti Caru Swami, Tamala Krishna Maharaja, and many other GBCs (some of whom later changed their minds regarding the validity of their previous statements), as well as by Tripurari Maharaja who was personally massaging Srila Prabhupada’s lotus feet in the midst of several senior devotees when he heard this instruction from Srila Prabhupada. The instruction came in response to a question from Tamala Krishna Maharaja as to whom we could approach for advice after Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance. Bhakti Caru Swami related the following to Srila Sridhara Maharaja on August 19, 1980:
Prabhupada gave us an instruction that if we have any difficulty then we should come to you, but they are deliberately neglecting that instruction of Srila Prabhupada.
In addition, official GBC recognition of this instruction of Srila Prabhupada was given in the GBC’s March 1981 publication, “The Descending Process of Selecting a Spiritual Master.” Giriraja Maharaja, in a letter of September 16, 1978 addressed to all GBC members, wrote,
According to Sridhara Swami, who Srila Prabhupada said we should consult about philosophy and practical points, there is relative and absolute consideration and we must give Sridhara Swami the highest regard. At one time, Srila Prabhupada said that apart from himself only Sridhara Swami was qualified to write the Bhagavatam purports. When we approached Srila Prabhupada before his departure about our writing books after his disappearance, Srila Prabhupada replied, “You can write when you are realized, but now none of you are realized.”
So both in terms of relative rank and absolute realization, Sridhara Swami is far beyond any of us. Recently, I have heard statements to the effect that we have now surpassed Sridhara Swami and that we are in the position where we can improve upon Sridhara Swami’s conception. In this connection, I am simply reminded of the words of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, svami na mane yei jana vesyara bhitare, tare kariye ganana, that we must remain faithful to our Swami (otherwise we will be prostitutes).1
In regard to Srila Sridhara Maharaja, Srila Prabhupada’s disciples said:
[Prabhupada said] If there was question we should approach you. (Jayapataka Maharaja, tape, March 1978)
We should go to his godbrother Sridhara Maharaja for guidance. So this talk of October 21, 1980 certainly showed the GBC doing this, and Srila Sridhara Maharaja fulfilling this role, as Prabhupada requested he do for the disciples of Srila Prabhupada. (Satsvarupa Maharaja, tape, December 22, 1980)
Srila Prabhupada’s leading disciples also greatly appreciated Srila Sridhara Maharaja. A historic series of darsanas during the Gaura Purnima of 1981 were attended every day by many leading Iskcon devotees, including Tamala Krishna Maharaja, Ramesvara Maharaja, Kirtanananda Maharaja, Giriraja Swami, Jayadvaita Swami, Bhakti Caru Swami, Atreya Risi Prabhu, and many other GBCs.
Our Guru Maharaja was kind upon us, so you are kind upon us. I find no difference at all in how you are blessing us. When I used to come every year to Mayapur, my whole purpose in coming was fulfilled when I would be in his association. So similarly, now I am feeling that as I have come here, that my purpose is being fulfilled, whenever I am in your association. (Tamala Krishna Maharaja, tape, February 26, 1981)
I take it that Prabhupada is speaking to us through you. (Ramesvara Swami, tape, March 5, 1981)
Additionally, other disciples stated:
Sridhara Maharaja’s instructions are nondifferent than Prabhupada’s. (Autobiography of a Jewish Yogi, Acyutananda dasa)
Prabhupada told me twice, “Everything I know, I learned from Sridhara Maharaja.” (Hamsaduta dasa)
Maharaja, time will prove that they [Iskcon leaders] are wrong, and you are right. (Bhakti Caru Swami, tape, February 1982)
Srila Prabhupada himself spoke highly of Srila Sridhara Maharaja:
…who is the most highly competent of all my godbrothers. This is B. R. Sridhara Maharaja, whom I consider to be even my siksa guru . If you are serious about the advancement of your spiritual life, I advise you to go to Sridhara Maharaja and I will feel that you are safe. You can also make arrangements for your other godbrothers to go there in the future.2
What Sripada Sridhara Maharaja has directed, I take it on my head.It is appropriate that I should accept his direction.3
What Govinda Maharaja has said is true. I consider his guru as my siksa guru .4
Those who are intelligent, they are making something, Sridhara Maharaja and others.5
One of my important godbrothers [Sridhara Maharaja] says. He’s sincere. He says, “The prediction of Caitanya-caritamrta, prthivite ache yata nagaradi-grama, so you have done it.”6
Our relationship is very intimate. After the breakdown of the Gaudiya Matha I wanted to organize another organization making Sridhara Maharaja as the head.7
Over the years, various facts have mysteriously changed, according to the political climate. Statements included in this book are substantiated with hard copy and tape recordings. Understandably, one may change his opinion regarding certain things, but this does not change the essential facts, the actual truth, satyam param dhimahi.
- Cc. Antya-lila 7.115 [↩]
- Srila Prabuphada Letter to Hrsikesa, January 1, 1969 [↩]
- Srila Prabhupada Letter to Govinda Maharaja, December 9, 1969 [↩]
- Prabhupada, Iskcon Mayapur Candrodaya Mandira opening ceremony 1974 [↩]
- Prabhupada Conversation, Allahabad, January 13, 1977 [↩]
- Srila Prabhupada LA Morning Walk, December 11, 1973 & Srila Prabhupada Letter to Bon Maharaja, July 7, 1975 [↩]
- Prabhupada Conversation, March 17, 1973 [↩]