Friday, December 15, 2006

HH Niranjana Swami remembers HH Sridhar Swami, Part 1

I'm always happy to come to Kiev, especially here at the Sunday Feast and see that there's always new faces coming to hear about Krsna. This is always very inspiring for me to see.

Although I am going to speak about a few different subjects, hopefully we will be able to connect them to Krsna, because ultimately any topics that are connected to the Lord are beneficial for everyone to hear. As explained by Suta Goswami, only questions and answers that are related to Krsna will be able to fully satisfy the self. But connected to Krsna-- one will always see that He is surrounded by many devotees. To discuss the devotees of the Lord are also topics which are related to Krsna.

Today happens to be the appearance day of Srivasa Thakur. So we hope to have an opportunity to speak a little bit about that. But today also happens to be another day, which I haven't been able to fully digest and therefore I beg your forgiveness if I become emotional, because at 6:15 AM my godbrother H.H. Sridhar Maharaja left this world. So it is also his disappearance day and he was a very dedicated servant of Srila Prabhupada. He gave his life to serving Srila Prabhupada's mission.

Although we were expecting it because about four weeks ago he was told by doctors that he had cancer, still somehow we were thinking that he was going to fight it. I was just on the phone with him yesterday. I called him in India, he was in Mayapura and we spoke for about 20 minutes. Sridhar Maharaja is always positive and at that time during our conversation he was telling me that he had plans to travel and preach, but he begged me to please convince him to keep up the faith that he could possibly do it. Of course, there were also times when he would resign himself, saying, "Well if Krsna wants to take me then that's my fate. I'm ready to go whenever He desires to take me."

Sridhar Maharaja was known as the "Jolly Swami." He was always laughing and smiling. His disposition was always that of somebody who was very positive and happy to be serving his spiritual master.

Every evening for the last several weeks he was hearing about Srila Prabhupada from Hari Sauri Prabhu's diary. Hari Sauri would go into Maharaja's room to read for sometimes, even up to two hours. And then after finishing reading from Hari Sauri's diary Maharaja would usually ask me to chant. So practically every evening for the last three weeks, up until just about a week ago, I was chanting in his room. And he would personally tell me that, "I have no taste for chanting the holy name of the Lord." And then he would say, "I know that you are going to say something to try to counter that statement, but it's the truth. Don't say a word. Just be quiet and listen to me." He said, "I have no taste. But if I'm here to try to prepare myself for giving up this body, I have to develop some taste. So he begged me, "So please, you will come here and chant?" And I said, "Maharaja, I have no taste, either." And then he said, "Well, now I'm going to speak. And you shut up." He said, "When I hear you chanting, then I get some taste."

So in this way he would say these things to encourage me to come and chant with him in the evenings. I wasn't able to go every single evening. But usually, whatever program was going on in Mayapura at the evening time I would just kind of disappear and go up to Sridhar Maharaja's room at around 7:30. And we would sit with many devotees in the room and just have kirtan. There were usually up to 50 devotees in the room. Maharaja usually would be lying on the bed. He was not completely bedridden all the time. But usually in the evening he would be quite exhausted. He had liver cancer and the doctors would have to come from time to time and drain litres and litres of fluid that would accummulate in his abdomen.