Sunday, May 27, 2012


In 2002, Sridhar Swami visited the temple in Vodice, Croatia. My husband, Anenata-Sesa prabhu, and I took our children Sarasvati, aged 3, and Hari, who at the time was just a baby, to the temple. My daughter kept looking at Maharaja, shyly, and he told her, if she behaved nicely during the class, he would give her a garland. And it really happened! She kept quiet and got the garland. We never spoke about this incident again. Sometime later, my spiritual master Bhakti Vikasa Swami came to Croatia. I remember holding Sarasvati in my arms in front of my Guru Maharaja and happily asking her if he was her guru. She said, “No. My Guru is funny and fat and his name is Svidav Swami“. I was amazed that she actually remembered him at all. When she saw his picture, she said, „That's my Guru“. I told this to Acyutananda prabhu, who was Sridhara Swami's disciple, and he wrote in his letter to Maharaja:
„Maybe you remember little Sarasvati, you gave her a garland when you were in Vodice. So, she was staying in front of Bhakti Vikasa Maharaja and her mother Sukanthi, who is his disciple, asked her, “Sarasvati is this your Guru?“ and Sarasvati replied, “No my Guru is fat and funny...Svidav Swami!“. Since then she is always saying,“This is my Guru!“ and pointing to your picture, and she is only three years old.“
Sridhara Swami wrote back, “Sometimes disciples stay with their guru for many lifetimes. When I come the next time I will give her initiation.“

We have not met Maharaja until a year later. Sarasvati wrote him a letter once, and sent it to Ljubljana, Slovenia, during his stay there. She drew him a painting and, with her funny handwriting wrote, „Your disciple Zarasvati“. She did not know how to write, so she wrote a Z instead of an S. Devotees later said Maharaja found it very amusing and said it was a letter from his youngest disciple Zarasvati.
Next time we met it was at a devotee summer camp in Ostro, Croatia, in 2003. In was holding my daughter in my arms, when Maharaja approached us and pat her on the head. He was so nice to her and very gentle. He wanted to take her in his arms, but she was to shy. He said, „Don't be shy, Sarasvati, I'm your guru!“ Later he sent Acyutananda prabhu to invite her for initiation the following day, but she said she could not get up so early. Maharaja laughed.
After the camp, Maharaja visited us in Zadar on his way back. He stayed for lunch and we had a home program. There were about ten devotees and my daughter was really excited. Trying to tease her a little, we asked if she had any questions for her Guru Maharaja. She said she had three! As she was too shy to ask herself, she asked her daddy to ask in her name. Her first question was, „Will Mate and Paula also go to the spiritual world?“
„Who are Mate and Paula?“ asked Maharaja.
„They are some friends from the neighborhood.“
„Have you given them prasadam?“
„Yes, I have.“
„Then they will surely come to the spiritual world!“

Sarsvati's second question was, „Are there birthday parties in the spiritual world?“ Maharaja said, there is a birthday party every day and there is a chocolate cake, too.  „And if there isn't, I don't want to go either!“ We all burst into laughter. Her third question was, „Did Ramacandra feel sad when Ravana kidnapped Sita?“ Maharaja explained that Ramacandra was extremely sad, but that Ravana actually never took away the real Sita. I was amazed how seriously he would consider all those funny questions of a four-year-old. In the meanwhile Acyutananda was taking photos of devotees present, so he wanted to take a photo of Sarasvati as well. Being shy, she hid in a cupboard in the kitchen and refused to come out. Maharaja came to the kitchen, lay on his belly and, stretched on the floor started to persuade her to come out. It was like they were of the same age. He was really a very special person. Some time after that visit, Maharaja phoned my husband to ask if Sarasvati liked dolls, because he wanted to give her something. We had no idea what that was all about, and were completely surprised when, a couple of months later, the postman brought us a parcel from India with dolls of Sita and Lord Rama. Maharaja was not in India at that time, but he arranged that the lady who was making the dolls sent them by post when they were finished. My daughter was overjoyed. She kept on showing the dolls to everyone, explaining that it was her Guru who sent them. I helped her to make a nice altar for Sita-Rama, and she even put a picture of Sridhara Swami on it. Unfortunately, we never had a chance to met Maharaja again. He was already very sick and went to India. Most of his disciples were there with him in Mayapura. A few days before Gaura Purnima, my husband got a call from Acyutananda prabhu, who said Maharaja wanted to talk to him. Maharaja said he had been thinking about Sarasvati and that he wanted to give her a name if we did not mind. He asked us to call back in a few minutes, because he had some names that he liked a lot and wanted to choose one for our daughter. When we phoned him, he wanted to speak to Sarasvati. As she was again too shy to talk to him, Maharaja spoke to my husband and said, “Tell her that her name is Visaka devi dasi and ask her if she likes it!“. She smiled and nodded her head. He then said, „Visaka, you are now my disciple and you have to promise me you will listen to Mummy and Daddy and serve the Vaisnavas. Did you hear me?“ She again nodded her head.
After this conversation we were immersed in happiness and distress at the same time, since we knew, we will probably never hear from him again. Soon thereafter, Maharaja left his body.  Recently, I have heard from Parasurama prabhu, another disciple of his, that Maharaja, on his last journey to India, stopped in London to have darsan with his disciples. He asked if anyone knew how  his youngest disciple Sarasvati was doing. Parasurama prabhu said that she was surely fine, but was probably missing her Guru a lot, to which Maharaja replied, „I will have to get used to that!“
I am not sure if I have been successful in my attempts to describe what kind of personality Sridhara Maharaja really was. Even little children were completely attracted by his love, warmth, cheerfulness and sense of humor. Recently, my daughter, who is now 10, asked me, „Mum, is there any other Guru like Sridhara Swami, who is equally nice, funny and loves children a lot?“

These stories were written by Sukanthi devi dasi (Sanella Micic, 1969), a disciple of Bhakti Vikasa Swami, who currently lives with her husband Ananta Sesa Prabhu, and her three children, Visaka (Sarasvati), Hari and Nandi in a coastal town of Zadar, Croatia.

Monday, February 4, 2008

HH Sridhar Swami's Mission Statement

“My mission is to serve my spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C.
Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, with all my heart and soul. He saved me from drowning in the darkness of ignorance in this miserable material world. He brought the torchlight of knowledge that devotional service to Lord Krsna, the Absolute Truth, the Personality of Godhead, is the highest goal of human life. I was forced to open my eyes. To achieve this goal has now become my only reason for living. Out of a great sense of debt for his having shown me the path, I want to become a sharp instrument to be used by Srila Prabhupada in his mission of flooding the world with love of Krsna. I will strive to achieve excellence in all my activities, eternal and temporal. I will struggle to rise above my lower animal nature, my conditioning of the lowest of births, and my lack of cultural training. I will strive to become a perfect gentleman, as Srila Prabhupada desired of all his disciples. I will study his books regularly and thoroughly. I will do my best to follow his teachings perfectly and teach others with whom I come in contact according to my own level of realization. I will be forever loyal to his ISKCON, being always positive and ready to help in its development. I will be proactive as a preacher, teacher, facilitator, leader, and spiritual master (servant). I will always be ready to, as Srila Prabhupada put it, “do the needful,”curbing down my false ego, which may act as an obstacle. I will meditate upon and try to imbibe the twenty-six qualities of a pure devotee. I will manage my time to be always active in “Quadrant II” activities of devotional service. I will not over-endeavor but will strive for quality in my work and relationships. I will be constantly on guard against committing offenses to other Vaisnavas. Having realized that in previous years of association with devotees I must have committed so many offenses due to my gross and careless nature, I will sincerely try to recognize those offenses, beg forgiveness from those whom I have offended, and atone for these offenses as best I can.I will continually evaluate my progress, getting input from my peers.
Despite all obstacles, personal and incidental, I will not cease from struggling to improve my character and obtain his mercy, to be finally accepted by Srila Prabhupada as his humble servant.”

HH Sridhar Swami's classes

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Another dream....

"A devotee here just told me of a dream his wife had of Sridhar Swami--and she had never met him - nor even seen his photo before.Afterwards, she identified him from a photo and in a video.
In the dream, she saw him in Mayapur just before he left his world. He told her that he wanted to go with the devotees but he couldn't move his body. Then she saw Krishna come and grab him by the hand and lift him out of his body. He had a very beautiful form. She saw him in Goloka Vrindavana dancing around Krsna. He told her that Krishna had told him that he would never have to have a temporary body again. He told her that if she wants to come to the spiritual world she has to preach ; without preaching she will not get there.
The devotee who had that dream is a disciple of Jayapataka Swami,originally from Thailand."

from a letter by HG Urmila dasi(ACBSP)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Vyasa Puja 2007

Guru Maharaja's Slovenian / Croatian Vyasa Puja this year was being held at ISKCON Ljubljana, Slovenia on Saturday, September 15th.
Guru Maharaja spent a lot of time in this temple. We performed the ceremony in the sannyasi room, the same room Guru Maharaj would usually be staying, where he was giving us all a lot of his association, where he was answering our questions, cutting the knots. In this way, the atmosphere was very nice, brotherly and remebering Guru Maharaja was much easier.

Guru Maharaja on his Vyasasan.

The program started with bhajan and abhiseka. Everybody had a chance to take part.

After the abhiseka we listened to Guru Maharajas class "Take shelter of association", recorded at a Sunday Feast Program in Ljubljana in 96.
Reading the offerings followed, where everybody was welcome to read or say their offerings or words of praise.
We offered Guru Maharaja a feast (ofcourse including pizza, ice cream, cake and Cockta:) and performed arati along with the chanting of Sri Guru-vandana prayers.

After that, everybody who attanded and all the temple devotees and the guests moved to the temple room, to take prasad.

The altar we set by Guru Maharaja's side. Srila Prabhupada, Gaura Nitai and Radha Rasabihari of Juhu, Mumbai, Sthanu Narasimha and Karala Vadana.

A lot of devotees took part in making this festival as nice as it was. Thank you very much:

Bharat Das, Jyotir Maya Das and Margatita Das for cooking the feast
Gandharvika Dasi, Savitri Dasi, Lalita Dasi, Jayanti Dasi and Janak Maharaj Das for adding the "sweetness" to prasadam and for the garlands
Bhakta Darko, Bhakta Saso and Bhakta Dejan for helping the kitchen crew
Bhakta Rok, Bhaktin Sabina and Gauracandranana Dasi for decoration and garlands
Shyamarani Dasi and Jayananda for decorating the Vyasasan
Sindhukanya Dasi for donating the flowers
Lalita Govinda Das for the ice cream and the extra-cheese pizza
Ananta Das, teh TP of Ljubljana for kindly facilitating us(and offering tech support)
Sanatana Goswami Das for creating the wonderful VP web page
Mayapur Das for bringing Guru Maharaja's lotus feet

And ofcourse everybody else who took the time and offered any service or anything to Guru Maharaja and his disciples on this day.

Special thanks go to the devotees who donated any amount of Laksmi and made this event possible:
Janak Maharaj Das (with the family), Hanuman Das, Lalita Dasi, Hridayananda Das, Gargamuni Das, Savitri Dasi. (Kindly forgive us if we forgot to mention your name).

Savitri Dasi invited all of us to celebrate this event in their home in Bjelovar, Croatia next year!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

25th Reunion Festival Remembrances of Srila Prabhupada in Bombay

Sridhar Swami: In my time there was no books. There would be mimeographed magazines. Actually, we used to distribute mantra cards, that was our distribution, and beg for laxmi. Prabhupada said that Laksmi or Sita, "Her another name is Laksmi." That's the way he would say, "Her another name." He said that Ravana stole Laksmi, stole Sita, and Rama, of course, killed Ravana and got Sita back but He was helped by Hanuman. So he said that our business is to help Lord Rama or to get Sita from the hands of Ravana, meaning the materialistic men. Not to say that everybody in the world is Ravana, but maybe they're Ravana-like in some of their activities. We have to call a spade a spade, is an English expression. We have to say it as it is. So the fact is that people are using Krishna's resources, Krishna's money, for their sense gratification. So our duty was to go out and bring Laksmi back and Sita back and put Her in the service of Rama. So many of us, that was our first service was distributing mantra cards, inviting people to the temple, asking for donations, making the temple. We had very small temples, very sparse, oftentimes just…I remember in Vancouver we had a warehouse. On top of the warehouse, there is a kind of room or whatever, a few rooms, but a warehouse in an industrial area. Somehow we converted it into a temple and putting the Deity of Jagannatha there. He wasn't installed, but He was there and He was beautiful. It was a simple altar and some incense and some photos and voila, a temple, let there be a temple.
So then we got some books in '69. We had the Bhagavad-gita by Macmillan, it was a small abridged…small edition, but it was a famous book, blue cover, introduction by Thomas Merton and I think Allen Ginsberg was in there. Allen Ginsberg was a shaggy…well, he was a great soul but, apart from that, he had a huge head of hair; and he was a poet but he mixed with the lowest of the low, as Prabhupada would say. One time Prabhupada was in San Francisco and he was in the small temple, he was preaching, and somebody stood up at the back of the temple and started screaming that "I am God! I am God!" And this was not an uncommon happenstance in our temples. People drug-induced, crazy, hippies, they would think they were God and they would come to the temple, they liked the food. They really liked that Hare Krishna food. So one man stood up and started…a boy stood up and started screaming that he was God. Prabhupada just let him scream for a little while and then he said, "The lowest of the low." That's who we were. We had fallen that far. So anyway, this book came out with an introduction by one of the gurus of the lowest of the low, Allen Ginsberg, and Thomas Merton was a very highly respected Catholic scholar. Actually he was a Jesuit monk, he was actually a monk, and he wrote about the Bhagavad-gita very nicely and praised Prabhupada. Of course, they are all more or less Mayavadis. So we were distributing that for a while and we had Back to Godheads but they were in mimeographed form, means they weren't colorful like they are today at all. They were wonderful, and I can remember each new issue that came out. I was thinking, "This philosophy is so wonderful and, wow, we've got this new issue of BTG, now people will really take to Krishna consciousness!" But they didn't. We sold our magazines, or took donations and gave the magazines away. A few people would join.
Then 1970 in San Francisco, you heard the stories, the first Krsna books came out, and that was just a wonderful, wonderful thing. A beautiful golden-covered book, a golden jacket on the book. Silver, I'm sorry. Not golden, silver. I'm seeing silver in my mind and saying golden. My brains are a little scrambled. Beautiful silver, nice finish, printed at one of the best printers in the world practically at that time, Dai Nippon. And it had this beautiful, beautiful painting of Radha and Krishna with red and…who is that painting by? Was it Jadurani's painting? Beautiful painting. There were two volumes, I believe. So we got those books and it was ecstatic, and it was just about that time we heard that the Srimad-Bhagavatam was coming out but Prabhupada was also going to India and he wanted devotees to go. All up and down the West Coast of the U.S.A. and the East Coast of the U.S.A. devotees were being picked from every temple to be on that first group to go, and I was also one of the persons who was supposed to go. I was in charge of organizing a group of devotees, getting their passports and visas and everything together, but I was so much enjoying distributing books that I decided I wouldn't go. Anyway, I was distributing books for a couple of years in North America, and what can I say? I have a little bit of the gift of the gab. Good old Irish expression. Anyway, I was a good book seller. I was the first one to distribute 400 BTG's in a day, which was at a festival in Reno. I believe it was one of these big fairs where they have all kinds of rides and everything, and we would stand outside and hit up…that was the expression, we'd "hit up" everybody that went in. It was so funny, it was really funny. I was so ecstatic after that day of doing two full boxes of BTG's, 400 BTG's, that I thought I should have a little reward. So I was really thirsty, and so they had this juice that they were selling there called Orange Julius. So I thought, "All right, I'm going to have an Orange Julius." Generally devotees didn't buy anything outside, it was taboo. We had the fear of hell in us that if you had anything outside of Krishna prasadam in the temple you were doomed. I remember once, I was in…I opened the first temple in Salt Lake City with Jagat Guru and Narada Muni and a few other devotees. Something happened and I was hitchhiking back to L.A. and I went into a gas station. I was hitchhiking, and it was a long way from Salt Lake City back to L.A. So I went into a gas station and I had a Seven-Up, and then after drinking it I felt so guilty. I thought, "Oh, my God, I've broken the regulative principles," or something like that. So anyway, I had this Orange Julius and my thirst was quenched, I was feeling so good, and then I found out they had egg powder. So after doing wonderful service, I ate some eggs. Anyway, I pray Krishna will forgive me. Maybe that's why I'm suffering now, all my sins.
Anyway, Buddhimanta…right after that I had a party, a bus, a van. We had a big van, a Ford double cab. It had a double cab, and you see Mahindra has some of these. They have the front seat and then they have the back seat in the cab, and then in the back part there's a pickup, it's open, you can carry anything in it. So we had a big one, a Ford, and we had a camper on the back. There was me, Yogescandra, Buddhimanta, Vyala, Sharma, somebody else, Vyasatirtha, it was a big party. We were the big book distributors. Anyway, ultimately Buddhimanta and I emerged as two very very big book distributors, so we were sent to London to train the devotees up in book distribution there. Actually, Syamasundara was the president, I believe, at Bhaktivedanta Manor at that time. Do you remember that?
Syamasundara: We didn't have the Manor yet. Bury Place.
Sridhar Swami: Oh, Bury Place, OK, but I remember you were in charge. You were the GBC or something like that. What happened was we went there and we were training devotees up. In those days, it was like "This is how you distribute books." In San Francisco, we were trained up by Kesava that every devotee brahmacari…we had 35 brahmacaris and one or two demure brahmacarinis who stayed in the background because the energy was so intense, and they were all gung ho book distributors. Every day, every morning we'd have a huge plate of sweet rice, sugar and milk and rice, and the idea was you eat as much sweet rice as you can and you get all fired up, and then you go out on the streets and distribute books. It was like a shot of adrenaline, of sugar. So anyway, we were in London and we used to eat big amounts of double clotted cream, Devon, whatever, and we'd go out and distribute books and we were training devotees up. We were making good collections, but there was some debate about where our personal collections should go. We were ordered to send them back to San Francisco, but the U.K. management wanted that it should stay in the U.K. So then our party broke up. So I was already halfway to India and I thought I should have gone before and so I thought, "All right, I'm going." Kesava came through and took Buddhimanta with him separately, and so I was on my own. Then I came to India in 1972 in the fall. At first I came to Vrindavan just after the…I heard Prabhupada was in Vrindavan, I went there and he had just left for Hyderabad, I missed him.
Devotee: At Radha-Damodara, the Nectar of Devotion [inaudible].
Sridhar Swami: The Nectar of Devotion class, I missed that. But I met Gurudasa and Yamuna, they were there in charge. So I stayed there for a month, and we did some preaching there. It was very nice, Vrindavan. It's a funny thing, really funny thing. I came directly from Palam Airport, and usually Westerners when they first come to India it's a real culture shock. I remember one devotee, I think his name was Ruci dasa, he came from America and he got off the plane in Bombay and the odor and smell was so bad, he said, "Oh, God, what is that smell?" and he got back on the plane and went back to America the same day.
Devotee: Puranjana [inaudible] Calcutta [inaudible].
Sridhar Swami: Another one in Calcutta, Puranjana. There's one here in Bombay too. So devotees usually had a culture shock. But when I came to Palam Airport, I went right from the airport to Vrindavan, got in a taxi, and as I was going to Vrindavan it was almost déjà vu. I was saying, "This is nice." I felt like I'd been there before, I honestly had that feeling. It was just something wonderful. So then I went off to Calcutta, I was sent to Calcutta, and I ended up in Mayapur. I was in Mayapur for a number of months. We lived in a hut, the grass hut in Mayapur. Prabhupada came there, and he lived in the grass hut with us. It's not a big hut, so he had half and we had the other half. Those were wonderful days. Then Goswami Maharaja, Tamal Krsna Goswami, he organized a traveling sankirtan party. We had three Jeeps with trailers and there was Acyutananda, at that time Acyutananda Swami, Gargamuni, Tamal Krsna, Harikesa, Gopal Swami and myself, and Subhavilasa and a few other brahmacaris. One boy from Mayapur, Mahendra, very nice boy, wonderful mrdanga player. So we took off on a tour of India that was organized by Mr. H. P. Singhi, who was Mr. Birla's right-hand man, and we went to a number of factories and did programs and we ended up in Bhopal. So from there we heard about the problem in Bombay. This was early 1973. So Tamal ordered us all to head for Bombay and we drove across land, came to Bombay. And from that time, '73 up to now I guess, more or less, except for I was a year in Hyderabad…no, six months in Hyderabad and six months as the president in Calcutta…I've been here at Hare Krishna Land. I guess I'm in some ways the last of the Mohicans. Of course, I was here during that period of construction and the great fight. Prabhupada called Bombay, Juhu, he called New Kuruksetra because it was a great battle here.
Certain things stand out in my mind just now. I hadn't really thought of speaking now. His Holiness Lokanatha Swami has now come and I'll vacate soon for him, but a few things come to mind. One was how Prabhupada, he spent a lot of time at Hare Krishna Land and in Bombay. As I said before, he spent more time in Bombay than any other temple in the world, more or less. In fact, one time he spent four months in a row finishing the Caitanya-caritamrta. He would go out to Ahmedabad, he would go out to…but he would always come back to Bombay, his base was here. Of course, all the tenants here were South Indians, mostly from Kerala, and Prabhupada got a lot of idlis and sambar. He had a relationship with everybody, as you heard. I lived in the hut, we were in the hut. "The hut," it's like of like a word, "Did you live in 'the hut'?" That description of sweeping, the more you swept the more the cement would come up, it was really like that. The cement floor and then there were half walls and cement and the rest was chitai, the whole thing was chitai, and there was a court injunction because of the fight with Mr. N. Nobody knows who Mr. N is, right? Out of politeness, Mr. Nair. So a number of monsoons passed, and it was in bad condition from the first day. We had a tendency to get cheated. People thought we were all big rich Americans, they didn't know I was a rich Canadian, but they thought we had money - and even if we didn't, business is business. I remember I thought when I came to India that everybody was going to be like Prabhupada. I thought, "Oh, Indians, they're all like Prabhupada, pure devotees." I found out quite soon they weren't. A billion and there's variety. Variety is the spice of Indian life, a lot of spice. So we got well cheated. Prabhupada called us "damn cheap babus" because if someone was selling something for 50 rupees and it actually cost 5 rupees, but we would calculate in dollars, "Oh, five dollars. Oh, that's damn cheap." It actually cost 5 rupees, so we got cheated. So we got cheated on the hut, and it only got worse. I'm sure some of you have seen at Hare Krishna Land, if you come here in the early morning you will see running around…they were there at that time, I recognize some of them, my old friends…these rats that are bigger than cats. The cats run from the rats. They're big. We're sitting on this pandal, who knows the holes and tunnels that are right underneath us. Today, of course, there's so much prasadam everywhere, and what do rats like? Prasadam. They love prasadam, whether it's offered or not. So I lived in the hut. We had a common bathroom for the men and the women, and on occasion a man would walk into the bathroom and there was a woman bathing. People were sick. I think I was one of the only ones…of course, Brahmananda, Gargamuni may have been in the crowd too…but most devotees came from the West quite healthy and went back with every disease under the sun, tropical disease, because the closer you are to the equator, the shorter your duration of life is actually. It's to do with the heat, the flora and fauna, the atmosphere. So most devotees come here, and they go back very skinny. Well, I came very skinny and I'm still skinny, right?
They were hard days but they were so beautiful; and what I remember is we took such poor care of Prabhupada, it just makes me cry. We made so many mistakes. One time I remember Prabhupada was staying at the dog man's house, this big mill owner, Sri Krishna Kapoor, and he had this big car and he took Prabhupada to the beach every morning and the dog sat right beside Prabhupada in the back seat, a big black German shepherd dog. Oh, my God. Mr. Kapoor thought it was completely OK, I don't know where he… He used to walk on the beach with his dog, and he would strut down with his chest out and his dog would be on a leash strutting down the beach with his chest out. Prabhupada said, "Just see, they're the same, master and dog." Prabhupada came to stay there, he had a guest house, which was not a guest house, it was a guest bungalow. And Prabhupada, we didn't have good accommodations for him here so he was going to...he never liked to stay at other…he always liked to stay at the temple. Nowadays preachers and sannyasis, etc., they go to temples and they stay outside with disciples, OK, or whatever, but it's rare to find the big leaders who stay at the temple, sorry to say. But Prabhupada always liked to stay at the temple with his devotees; and when it was impossible, then he would stay with a member or something. So I remember he came and there was miscommunication. Giriraja Swami was our fearless leader and somehow or other between Prabhupada's secretary and him, the time of arrival, they went off to greet Prabhupada at the airport but they missed him and Prabhupada… I was at Sri Krishna Kapoor's guest house fixing the place up and I had a few helpers and we were madly trying to put things together, and all of a sudden Prabhupada shows up in a taxi with his servant. Prabhupada came into the room and nothing was ready, and I saw Prabhupada and, ohhhhh, my heart went from my chest down into my feet. I just felt, "Oh, no," and I fell down on the floor and I let my spiritual master down again. But Prabhupada just tolerated all our mistakes. It was so wonderful. So wonderful.
He was always encouraging devotees. As someone said, he knew everybody by first name and he always had a good word or a strong word for everybody. I remember once we were going for a walk on Juhu Beach and one devotee, M., who is no longer with us but…Gujarati, Manasvi…he had a lungi on. Eh, from Gujarat, I don't know, whatever. Anyway, he was a householder and he had a lungi on, and Prabhupada stopped and for about a minute at least he chastised him, "This is not proper dress. You wear a dhoti." But you never felt…although he would chastise devotees, the most dedicated devotees he seemed to chastise the most and those who couldn't take it like me, he was very gentle with me because he knew I was fragile like peanut brittle or something, I'd crack. I remember once he chastised me up here…these were his quarters where it's now the BBT…and something I'd done, I think I beat up Yasomatinandan or something. He said, "Sridhar, you work very hard, but sometimes you cause misunderstanding." "Oh, I'm sorry Prabhupada," again I fell down, offered my…he didn't heavy me out because he knew I was just such a wimp. But with Tamal Krsna Goswami, when he canceled the sales agreement here, that was…I don't know, I've heard about it in other places to some degree, but Prabhupada chastised him so heavily and he talked about it for days and days afterwards in class. When members would come he would call Tamal, "This is Tamal Krsna Goswami, he canceled the sales agreement." It was the worst thing he could do. Just to give you an idea of what we were facing. Mr. N. was the Sheriff of Bombay. He was also the owner of the Free Press Journal, which has quite a wide circulation. Plus he was a very influential land owner and construction person or whatever, he had a lot of money and friends. There was a court case and we hired a top solicitor, Mullah & Mullah, and I think they were mullahs, I don't know. Actually they weren't, but the name sounds so opportune, Mullah & Mullah. But anyway, Tamal took full shelter of them and they advised him to cancel the sales agreement, "This is ridiculous, it's a nonsense case. Mr. Nair should give the…you cancel the sales agreement. It's the absolute number one worst thing you could do."
Brahmananda: He bought our lawyers.
Sridhar Swami: Yeah, Mr. Nair bought the Mullahs, Mullah & Mullah. Anyway, what to do? But because Goswami Maharaja was so dedicated to Prabhupada and strong in his own right, Prabhupada would chastise him. But you never felt that he did anything out of vindictiveness or loss of control of his senses. He did it out of love, and you always felt that. He used to call me, I would come after making life members, preaching, I was life membership director, in charge, and he would joke, "Oh, here comes Sridhar Swami." I was a brahmacari.
Devotee: [inaudible]
Sridhar Swami: No, no, before that, I was a brahmacari, he would call me Sridhar Swami. That's why I wanted to take sannyasa.
Brahmananda: He could see the future.
Sridhar Swami: Yeah, he could see the future. Brahmananda couldn't, he tried to stop me getting sannyasa. Anyway, I'm going to stop by a little story here…

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Practice loving Krishna

By HH Sridhara Swami
Through bhakti-yoga we can finally reunite with the person we’ve wanted all along.
The Sixth Chapter of Bhagavad-gita, discusses dhyana-yoga, or meditative yoga. Texts 13-14 say: “One should hold one’s body, neck, and head erect in a straight line and stare steadily at the tip of the nose. Thus, with an unagitated, subdued mind, devoid of fear, completely free from sex life, one should meditate upon Me within the heart and make Me the ultimate goal of life.”
Srila Prabhupada’s purport to these verses begins, “The goal of life is to know Krishna, who is situated within the heart of every living being as Paramatma, the four- handed Vishnu form.”
The same form of Vishnu or Narayana is existing within the heart of every living being as the soul of all souls, and He is directing the wanderings of all living being throughout the cosmic creation. There are two souls: the individual soul, the person looking out from the eyes; and the Supersoul, the Supreme Lord who resides within the heart of each of us.
Self-help advocates say, “I have to get in touch with my real self.” They’re thinking on the physical plane. “My real self is not a doctor but a lawyer, and as soon as I discover I’m a lawyer I’ll be happy.”
But it’s much, much deeper than that. The real self is aja, “unborn,” and nitya, “eternal.” The real self does not die when the body dies. The real self is hankering after a relationship with the Supreme Person, but we’re looking in the wrong place. All of us are looking for friendship, love, guidance, and knowledge, but we’re looking for these within the phenomenal world, and this is a mistake because our very best friend is within our own heart.
It is difficult to see the nose, which is right in front of you. Similarly, it is difficult for us to see is Supersoul, who is there within us. He is ishvara, the supreme controller, and not a blade of grass moves without His sanction. He’s controlling all the universes, gravity, time, but He makes Himself available. Have you ever worked for someone who doesn’t have time for you? Krishna is the controller of everything, but He has all the time in the universe for you. And not only for you but for me too. That’s the beauty of Krishna. He is with all of us individually.
The goal of yoga is to help us get in touch with the person who resides within our hearts. Yoga is the matchmaker, you could say.
Not more than a few hundred yards from this place a yoga class is going on. Most people think yoga is either a means to lose weight so that they can have good sex or to merge with Brahman and lose all individuality, which amounts to spiritual suicide. But they’re wrong about the goal, and they’re wrong about the practice. One has to practice sitting postures to breathe properly, but that is not the goal. Real yoga is ashtanga-yoga, the eight-fold process. It starts with yama and niyama, rules and regulations that require one to be a strict vegetarian and practice celibacy.
Sex is the highest material pleasure, and love of God is the highest spiritual pleasure. For some people it’s disheartening to learn that they have to make a choice. The real thing to understand is that the pleasure of sex life has a heavy downside. There’s an old saying that if you pick up one end of the stick you pick up the other end of the stick too. If you want sense pleasure, then you have to take sense pain—sukha and duhkha, happiness and distress.
Some of us have been to the school of hard knocks and have gotten a little realization. I’m not perfect in my understanding of it, but in my heart of hearts I know that when I’m free from lust, anger, greed, envy, that kind of purity will bring me happiness beyond compare. I want that. And I’m prepared to be patient, determined, and enthusiastic to achieve it, because I’ve seen that in this world, practically speaking, there is only suffering. You can say something brings less suffering and therefore it’s enjoyable. But I want a pleasure that is ever increasing. That plea-sure exists, but it requires effort to attain. By the process of sankirtana—by chanting and taking spiritual food and living a simple life and associating with other devotees and practicing sincerely—you can attain the perfection of pleasure.
Krishna says, “Of all yogis, he who in faith worships Me is the highest of all.” Krishna is the Supreme Person, the Supreme Lord. He is the speaker of the Bhagavad- gita, and He is telling us that of all yogas—jnana-yoga, dhyana-yoga, ashtanga-yoga, kriya- yoga, this yoga, that yoga—the highest yoga, the way to reach Him, is bhakti-yoga. After jnana, or knowledge, comes love. After many, many lifetimes of analyzing the material world, one will realize vasadevah sarvam iti: there’s nothing more than Krishna. He’s the goal. To love Krishna, to be loved by Krishna, to finally come back to Him after such a long time, to finally reunite with the person we’ve wanted all along, and to never be parted from Him ever again—that is beautiful. And that can be achieved through bhakti- yoga.
Bhakti-yoga is the process by which we come to love Krishna. In verse seventeen of this chapter Krishna says, “He who is regulated in his habits of eating, sleeping, recreation, and work can mitigate all material pains by prac- ticing the yoga system.” Srila Prabhupada writes, “Extravagance in the matter of eating, sleeping, defending, and mating—which are demands of the body—can block advancement in the practice of yoga. As far as eating is concerned, it can be regulated only when one is practiced to take and accept prasadam, sanctified food.” We eat vegetarian food, but we are not vegetarians. We’re “Krishnatarians.” Rabbits are vegetarian, elephants are vegetarian. So what? Krishna says, “If all you can offer is a leaf, flower, or fruit, offer it with love. And take the remnants, the prasadam. What I want is your devotion.”
Not only is vegetarian Indian cuisine delectable, but there’s just something about Krishna prasadam that is indescribably delicious. I may get distracted by thoughts of illicit sex, intoxication (hardly but maybe), gambling (we speculate sometimes). But meat- eating—forget it. I never even think of it. Because we have literally developed a higher taste for Krishna- prasadam. We regulate our activities by taking Krishna prasadam.
As for sleeping, any unnecessary time spent sleeping is considered a great loss. A devotee uses every moment of the day to pursue his goal. None of us here has any contract that guarantees we have a hundred years to live. We could be gone very quickly. We don’t know. So it’s important to be serious in spiritual life. A Krishna conscious person cannot bear to pass a minute of life without being engaged in service to the Lord. Therefore, sleeping is kept to a minimum. The Gosvamis of Vrindavana ate, slept, bathed—everything—within half an hour or an hour. They were that engrossed in spiritual life. We may never reach that stage, but we can find a level of service that fulfills us every day of the year. During our sleep we’ll have nice dreams of Krishna and His devotees, and we’ll rise and begin our service and our hearts will be bright.
Because the Krishna conscious person is regulated in his work, speech, sleep, wakefulness, and other bodily activities, he or she experiences no misery. This is practical. If someone undergoes some sort of stress, a friend might say, “Just take your mind off it; get engrossed in your work.” People do that as a kind of therapy. Here the Gita recommends we go on permanent therapy. Work for Krishna. You’ll get so absorbed that you won’t fear even death. Steadiness comes from being constantly engaged in serving guru and Krishna. In the spiritual world the gopis compete to serve Krishna. There is so much work to do for Krishna that you can be totally carried away. Love is both a verb and a noun. To feel perfect satisfaction, you have to practice loving Krishna. You have to serve Him.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

So become...

So use your good intelligence, become enthusiastic, don't waste time, hear the instructions of Krishna's pure devotee, become a servant. There's no loss in being humble in this world. Being gentle. No loss. »One who does good, my friend, is never overcome by evil.« God is there. If you want God to talk to you, if you want to see Him, if you want to realise Him, then become a humble devotee. No one will be able to touch you. You will become so powerful by becoming so humble and gentle. There's no harm. So become a gentle devotee and try to get the dust of Krishna's pure devotees.

His Holiness Sridhar Swami

Taken from the talk »Human is meant for elevation«,

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Determination in serving Guru

Recently, as His Holiness Sacinandana Swami was visiting the local community, he narrated an incident that happened to him during his visit to India in the 70's. This was a story underlining the points in connection to determination in serving the Spiritual Master. Once he was bathing in the Ganges and as he was getting out of the water he noticed two American brahmacaris, one skinny and the otherone a bit less, close enough so that he could hear their conversation. They were talking about how they will build a huge temple in Bombay with marble walls, crystal chandeliers, a big guest-house, hundreds of thousands of guests, opulent Diety worship, crowded festivals etc... All for the pleasure of Srila Prabhupada! Maharaja admits he found the convesration a bit amusing for he could clearly see holes in the brahmacaris' kurtas but admired their visionary spirit.

However, later on, upon meeting the two in person,one of them welcomed him with »Hare Krishna! This is Giriraja and my name is Sridhar!«

Friday, May 11, 2007

I am with you

"Srila Prabhupada said that if you think of me then I am with you. So if you think of me and remember how I have guided you to follow my Guru Maharaja then I am surely with you."

from a letter to a disciple
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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Tirobhava 2007 in Sri Mayapur Dham

Sad and happy day at the same time, Tirobhava Memorial festival of Guru Maharaja, HDG Sridhar Swami started in the morning of March 12th, 2007.; by aroti at Guru Maharaja's Samadhi at 6.30 AM and audio Bhagavad Gita class featuring Guru Maharaja, in Panca Tattva Extension room at 8 AM. From there, intimate gathering continued by bhajans led by disciples and friends in room 852 of the Conch building,place where Guru Maharaja left this world.The night before and morning of the Guru Maharaja rememberance day festival, room and Samadhi mandir were nicely decorated by lady disciples.

Sharing of memories started around 10.00 am was attended by all the disciples present - Adbhuta Hari Prabhu,Ramai Pandit Prabhu,Gaura Hari Prabhu, Gaura Premanande Prabhu, Sanatana Goswami Prabhu , Laxmipriya Mataji, Mataji Manjari, Mataji Sudevi, Mataji Annapurna, Mataji Campakalata, Mataji Sacipriya and finally Mataji Sharon who was "spiritus movens" behind most of the services for the day. Few days before Radhika Ramana Prabhu came but was unfortunately not able to stay in Mayapur for the Mahotsav.
Along with few Guru Maharaja's diciples, special Guests attended Tirobhava Mahotsav: HG Hari Sauri Prabhu(ACBSP), HG Makhanlal Prabhu(ACBSP),HG Guru Krpa Prabhu(ACBSP),HG Sauri Prabhu(ACBSP), HH Narasimha Maharaja and HH Subhaga Maharaja, HG Mahamaya Mataji (ACBSP), HG Sri Prahlada Prabhu(HDG) and HG Kaunteya Prabhu (JPS) shared their personal rememberances and memorable impressions of Guru Maharaja.

The themes mostly mentioned through recalled memories of Godbrothers and disciples were Guru Maharaja's ever-jolly and friendly nature,His accesibility to different kinds of devotees,His love for Srila Prabhupada,His dedication to Sri Mayapur Temple of Vedic Planetarium and His brave and selfless visionary spirit of doing things far ahead of times that He lived in.
After memorial speeches and puspanjali ceremony, Sri Prahlada Prabhu led Sri Guru Vandanam prayers during which Prasadam was offered to Guru Maharaja, and after that, scrumptuous preparations of superior quality were distributed in large quantity to the assembled Vaisnavas inside and outside the room.

Afternoon around 17.30 ,Guru Maharaja's Video Class was screened at Samadhi Auditorium , followed by distribution of "chocolate substitute" laddu , salty somosa and lemonade for everyone present.

The Tirobhava was a festival of warm rememberances, sadness of separation and fresh effort of dedication for the pleasure of Guru Maharaja and Srila Prabhupada.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Visit to Ekachakra

On March 7, 2007 (as part of the program of Guru Maharaja's disciples reunion after 3 years of His dissapearance), we went to Sri EkacakraDham. Ekacakra Gram (village) is transcendental birth place of Sri Nityananda Prabhu, original Guru (Balarama hoilo Nitai), and those who went there could witness for themselves soothing and blissful atmosphere of the Dham. Our trip started early in the morning and we came back around 8.30 pm back to Mayapur. We visited all the important pilgrimage places of Lord Nityananda Prabhu's pastimes. For more details about Ekacakra please visit:

A wonderful association of Sri Prahlada Prabhu and Sriman Vrajanatha Prabhu made this trip extra special event for us to remember-Sri Prahlada Prabhu did that especially by leading of transcendental bhajans, and Sriman Vrajanatha Prabhu by revealing the Ekacakra Dhama to us .Special memories were also visit to birthplace temple of Sri Nityananda Prabhu ,bhajans we sang at Bankim Raya Temple, kirtan throughout Ekacakra Gram(village) and "extra" visit to a temple of Lord Nityananda "earring Sila" and Visnu temple in whose courtyard we saw kneecap of Bakasura demon who was killed by Bhima(photo in the middle of third row from the bottom).

Jaya Sri Nityananda Rama!Jaya Srila Prabhupada! Jaya Guru Maharaja!