Saturday, December 30, 2006

HH Niranjana Swami remembers HH Sridhar Swami, Part 7

There are many things more we could say about Sridhar Maharaja. He was a very wonderful devotee and the world is going to experience a great loss. He was a Vaisnava through and through. He had only one attachment. He just wanted to be Prabhupada's dog.

Of course as we know there is really no cause for lamentation. "He reasons ill who say that Vaisnavas die when thou are living still in sound. Vaisnavas die to live and in living try to spread the holy name around." (Some difficulty translating and it was taking some time)

Vaisnavas don't die! That's the point. They may simply disappear from our vision. But Vaisnavas will always go on, continuing to do what they've done in this world, which is serving the Lord. Of course, we lament for the loss of the association of Vaisnavas. But for the Vaisnavas, themselves, there is no cause for lamentation. So in that sense, that's why we celebrate the disappearance day of great Vaisnavas. Someone might ask, "How is it a cause for celebration?" But it's a celebration because when a Vaisnava departs from our vision they are simply going on to continue their service for the Lord. When Sridhar Maharaja departed he was fully conscious. Devotees were chanting and he was hearing the holy name. He was completely absorbed in meditation on a picture of Prabhupada. Prabhupada's dog. That's all he wanted to see, was Prabhupada. And he departed very peacefully. Devotees who were present with him said that it was a very auspicious departure.

So actually, in a sense, we do lament for the departure of a Vaisnava. Just like Srivas Thakur. Right. Today is his appearance day. There is a very wonderful pastime of Srivasa Thakur. Srivas Thakur as we know, he would conduct kirtans every night in his home with Lord Caitanya and His associates.

Lord Caitanya would appear in four places. He would appear wherever Lord Nityananda was dancing in ecstacy. He would appear in the altar room of Sacimata. He would appear in the home of Raghava Pandit. And He would always appear when there was kirtan in the house of Srivas Pandit. The Lord would appear in different ways. One way is called "saksat", when he would directly appear. Another was called "avirbhava". He would manifest due to the strong love of His devotees. They would attract him to come. Not everybody would see His presence. But those whose eyes were deeply imbued with love and who had attracted the Lord could see the Lord's presence in His "avirbhava" form. And He would also appear in the form called "avesa." Avesa form is when He would appear in an empowered person. So Lord Caitanya would appear in the house of Srivasa Thakur.

Of course, at this particular time about which we are speaking, He was directly present. And Lord Caitanya would regularly conduct all-night kirtans. He would experience great ecstasy during these kirtans. Only the most confidential associates of the Lord were allowed to participate in these kirtans. Present were Haridas Thakur, Lord Nityananda, Advaita Acarya, Srivasa Pandit, Srivas Pandit's brothers, Srirama Pandit, Srinidhi, Sripati and so many other associates of the Lord were there. And the Lord, in the presence of these intimate associates would experience such great ecstatic love.

But one night, during one of these kirtans, the son of Srivasa Pandit left his body. Present at the time of the son's departure were Srivas Pandit's wife, his brothers and their wives. And when the son of Srivasa Pandit had departed, many of them felt great lamentation within their hearts. They were crying, very distressed at the disappearance of their close son. Srivasa understood that something had taken place in the other room, so Srivasa walked into the other room and saw that his son had returned to the spirtual world. He then turned around and saw that everyone was lamenting, and immediately chastised them, "Why are you lamenting? Why are you crying like this? Don't you understand? The Supreme Personality of Godhead is here in our home, dancing in kirtan. Anyone who sees His face receives the highest benediction. Anyone who hears His name receives the highest benediction. Why are you lamenting in this way? The Lord is omniscient. He knows everyone's heart. Please give up your lamentation. Otherwise you will disturb the kirtan of the Lord." Srivasa Thakur was thinking that the Lord was experiencing so much ecstasy, but if He saw everybody crying and lamenting then His ecstacy would break. He said, "If you do not give up your lamentation right at this minute, I will immediately tie a rope around my neck and I will drown myself in the Ganges."

So Srivasa Thakur preached very strongly to all of his family memmbers to give up their lamentation and go back in the kirtan and smile. And he threatened them, "If you don't, I'll drown myself." So he returned to the kirtan and he was ecstatic, dancing in ecstasy. And everybody else was also dancing, but within their hearts they were lamenting. But all Srivasa could think of was that he did not want to disturb the ecstasy of the Lord. And so the kirtan continued for many hours.

Then at one moment, all of a sudden Lord Caitanya stopped, and He came to external consciousness. Because usually when He was in such ecstasy, He would lose external consciousness and would go completely into internal consciousness. So He came to external consciousness and said, "I think that something has happened here in this house," because the Lord could understand what was going on in their hearts. Then Srivasa Thakur immediately spoke up. "Oh Lord, how can there be anything lamentable in my house? You are present. I am seeing Your face! You are dancing in such bliss! Everyone here is so blissful. What could be the cause for lamentation?! Nobody can be lamenting." And Srivasa Thakur was trying to convince Lord Caitanya that, "Nothing is going on here. Please continue. Chant! Dance! Ecstacy! Ecstacy!" But gradually Lord Caitanya could understand and others began speaking.

They said, "Oh Lord, Srivasa's son has departed from this world. And Lord Caitanya said, "What? Tell me, when did it happen? How long ago?" The devotees said, "It happened about seven and a half hours ago. But Srivasa, not wanting to disturb your ecstasy, told us all to keep it within our hearts." When Lord Caitanya heard this he began to cry. He understood how much love Srivasa had for Him. And He said to Srivasa, "How is it possible that you have so much love for Me that you don't even know grief for your departed son?" So Lord Caitanya then went into the other room and He saw that Srivasa's son had departed. He approached the son, and He asked, "Tell me, why did you leave?" And everyone was gathered around. Srivasa was gathered there, all his family members were gathered there. So the Lord arranged for the living entity to appear back in the body of Srivasa's departed son. And then the son began speaking.

He said, "Oh, my Lord. The destined time for my life span in this world is now exhausted. Now it is time to depart from this world and go on to my next destination. Who is anyone's son? Who is anyone's father? We are all living beings meant to go on in our journey from one body to the next. Oh my Lord, I simply pray to Your lotus feet. Please forgive me for any offenses I may have committed in your presence, and please allow me to continue to my next destination." And then he stopped speaking. Everyone that was standing there were overwhelmed. Through the mouth of this young boy, they were all given appropriate instructions and they could all understand that the living entity that was in the body of Srivasa Thakur's son was simply returning back to the spiritual world. Lord Caitanya arranged this simply to remove everyone's lamentation. The Lord does not like to see lamentation within the heart of His devotee. So He instructed everyone through the mouth of the departed son of Srivasa Thakur. And when they heard all of these instructions, all of them, folded their hands, they bowed down, touched the lotus feet of the Lord and began offering prayers. "Oh Lord, You are our father, You are our son, You are everything to us! Simply by Your presence we are feeling such great happiness and they began many wonderful prayers in gratitude to the Lord. Then all all the proper rites were performed for the departed son of Srivasa Thakur, and everyone's lamentation was completely dispelled.

Then Lord Caitanya turned to Srivasa Thakur, and He said again, "Srivas, how can I ever give up the association of one who has so much love for Me? One who does not even know grief for the loss of his own son? From this day, both Nityananda and Myself, We will become your sons. You will never know suffering. Anybody who ever sees you will also never know suffering. Simply by seeing you all their suffering will go away."

In this way, Lord Caitanya gave the benediction to Srivasa. Because Srivasa was so devoted to the Lord, the Lord benedicted him.