Wednesday, December 27, 2006

HH Niranjana Swami remembers HH Sridhar Swami, Part 6

Now Sridhar Maharaja likes prasadam. He's always been known as somebody who likes prasadam. He was called the "Jolly Swami" also because he had a jolly appearance. So the doctor gave him a very restricted diet and something like that was not easy for Sridhar Maharaja. But the doctor said that, "You should follow this diet and take this medicine for three weeks." It was a very bland diet. So after a few days of following the treatment, Sivarama called from Vrndavana. And he was asking Sridhar Maharaja how he was feeling. Maharaja replied, "Well my lungs are working all right." Because he was having some problems with his lungs, too at that time. He said "My liver seems to be working." Then he said, "But I'm afraid that this diet is going to kill me."

Prabhupada was like that also, actually. When Prabhupada was very ill the devotees were trying to restrict his intake of food. And they were giving him very bland food. And Prabhupada said, "Get rid of this. Let us die eating prasadam." Prabhupada also had a similar mood. He did't like this strict diet.

But still Sridhar Maharaja followed it. So, because the doctor felt so confident, Sridhar Maharaja started to feel more confident. So all the godbrothers who were there in Mayapura started to think, "Well Sridhar Maharaja is feeling so confident." Then it gradually became the time for most of the devotees to leave because the festival was ending. So Sridhar Maharaja was telling everybody, "Hey, don't come in here and say good-by to me." I'm not going anywhere. Get out of here. You should just go do your preaching. Prabhupada wouldn't want you to stay here." To many godbrothers who came in, he said, "Don't say good-by." To me he said, "I'll see you in Moscow." So his disposition completely changed.

And before that many of us were thinking, "How can we leave Mayapura?" In fact, earlier I was thinking that, too. I had changed my ticket to stay a few days longer, because I didn't know what was going to happen. Many devotees would ask me, "When are you leaving?" and I said, "Well to tell you the truth, I can't imagine going into the room and saying good-by to Sridhar Maharaja and I can't imagine leaving and not saying good-by to Sridhar Maharaja. So how can I go anywhere?" So I was also thinking that, "Maybe I'll stay a little bit longer to see how Maharaja's health develops." But Maharaja was getting so positive, that he was telling everybody, "Go, Go. Don't come in here and say good-by to me." He wanted everybody to go out and preach.

Even when I called him yesterday. Maharaja said, "Why are you wasting your money calling me?" He said you have more important things to do with your money. So I said, "Maharaja, it's not my money, it's Prabhupada's money and you're Prabhupada's dog." So I said, "Don't try to get me off the phone. Let's talk for awhile." So after some talk, he said, "Call me back in a couple of weeks." I said, "Maharaja, I'll call you back in a couple of days." And even yesterday, Maharaja's spirits were good. Although he did say to me, "Please, preach to me to keep the faith to stay here, because my faith to stay is getting a little weak right now."

So, of course, it was very difficult for me. I actually wanted to stay in Mayapura, but because he was feeling so positive, and so was I, I decided to leave. And the irony is that I had left Mayapura, and then flew from Calcutta to Bombay. Two days later I got a phone call in Bombay at about 11:15 at night. I was leaving for the airport to fly to Kiev at 11:30. Vraja Kumara dasa called me and told me, "I just spoke to Mayapura dasa, Sridhar Maharaja's servant and Mayapura says that Sridhar Maharaja is feeling distressed right now because his godbrothers have left, and he feels that it is a rough night for him tonight. He's having difficulty breathing and not many of his godbrothers are there right now. So at that particular point, I had to choose to either cancel the flight and go back to Mayapura, although I was leaving to catch my flight literally in 15 minutes, or to leave for Ukraine. I left for Ukraine. And I guess that's why it was a little extra painful for me this morning when I found out that Sridhar Maharaja had left his body at 6:15 this morning in Mayapura.