apāyayan mām anabhīpsum andham
kṛpāmbudhir yas tam ahaṁ prapadye
devam divya-tanum sucanda-vadanam-bālārka-celāñcitam
sāndrānanda-puram sad-eka-varanam airāgya-vidyāmbudhim
śrī-siddhānta-nidhim subhakti-lasitam sārasvatānām varam
vande tam śubhadam mad-eka-śaranam nyāsīśvaram-śrīdharam
I would like to first read an excerpt of an article written by Śrīla Bhakti Pramoda Purī Gosvāmī Mahārāja expressing his appreciation of Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja’s Brahma Gāyatrī Bhāṣya. I wanted to read what Śrīla Purī Mahārāja has said here in regard to Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja and then say a few words after that:
The explanation of Śrī Brahma Gāyatrī, the mother of all Vedas, signifying devotional worship unto Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī (rādhānudhyāna-para) explanation which was revealed in the depth of realization of Pūjyapāda Śrīdhara Deva Gosvāmī Mahārāja, possessed with the divine grace of paramārādhya Śrī Śrīla Prabhupāda upon his head, is deeply appreciated by those fortunate intelligent devotees who are aware of the relishable beauty of pure devotional service. The Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, which is revealed in the transcendental meditation of Śrī Veda-Vyāsa, is the quintessential scripture of all the Vedas, Vedānta, Purāṇas and Pañcarātras. Vrajendra-nandana Vṛndāvana-candra Śrī Kṛṣṇa has alone been manifested therein as the Supreme Worshipable non-dual object (the Supreme Personality of Godhead – the summum-bonum of our lives).
In the revealed truth of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, Vrajendra-nandana Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the sole matchless wealth of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī’s life, is the Supreme Reality and Supreme Object of all adorations. Śrī Radha, the Crown Jewel of all Vraja-vāsīs, is the full-fledged Divine Potency and is the exclusive pleasure-giver in all respects to Her dear Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa-candra. Therefore it is only under submission to Her that that glorious, fathomless, devotional service to the Lord, that genuine worship and adoration of the Lord, the very means of attaining Divine Grace, can become a reality. By realising this deep meaning of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam and revealing it in his commentary param-pūjyapāda Śrīdhara Deva has presented to the World this most beautiful, full-fledged explanation of Śrī Gāyatrī the mother of śruti. He has shown us this treasure of the most beautiful opulent wealth of the Supreme Reality; that the loving adoration of vareṇya bhargo, who is the Supreme Loving Worshipper, ecstasy giver and Internal Potency of the Supremely worshipable Śrī Līlā Puruṣottama Deva, is the best way to attain the grace of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa. She is the benevolent source of pure devotional inspiration and intelligence required to attain the grace of Lord Kṛṣṇa, the Divine Lord of this Universe and that it is the exclusive meaning of the expression:
śabalāc chyāmaṁ prapadye
“For receiving the mercy of Kṛṣṇa’s energy, I surrender unto Him.” (Chandogya Upaniṣad 8.13.1)
Śrīla Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmīpāda did not like to accept Lord Kṛṣṇa merely as bakāri (the slayer of Bakāsura and other demons) nor the idea of residing in Śrīdhāma Vraja without the grace of Śrīmatī Rādhā Ṭhākurāṇī. One cannot live in Her domain or have the fortune of darśana of the original transcendental form of Śrī Vṛndāvana-vihārī Śrī Kṛṣṇa without the grace and sanction of His svarūpa-śakti Śrīmatī Rādhā-Ṭhākurāṇī.
“Mādhava belongs exclusively to Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī.” (Ṛk Pariśiṣṭha)
We find in Śrī Kavirāja Gosvāmī’s writings:
hlādinī karāya kṛṣṇe ānandāsvādana
hlādinīra dvārā kare bhaktera poṣaṇa
(Cc. Ādi-līlā 4.60)
“The hlādinī-śakti, Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, is always engaging Kṛṣṇa, Her Divine Lord, in tasting and profoundly relishing the Divine Pleasures and infinite Divine Ecstasies, and it is through that hlādinī-śakti that Lord Kṛṣṇa maintains and sustains the devotional life of His devotees”.
Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura has written in his Amṛta Pravāha Bhāṣya:
“Śrīmatī Rādhikā is the svarūpa-śakti of Lord Kṛṣṇa and is known as hlādinī because She always keeps Him merged in the ocean of Supreme Ecstasy. In addition She is also defined as the supreme maintainer and sustainer of divine devotional life, the Supreme Promoter of kṛṣṇa-prema within the original selves of all jīva souls, who are the eternal parts and particles of the infinite transcendental potency of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa.”
Paramārādhya Śrī Śrīla Prabhupāda has commented on the same śloka in his Anubhāṣya:
“The potency by which the Supreme Lord maintains and sustains the entire entity, the existence of all, is called sandhinī-śakti, the revealer of time, place, things and circumstances. That potency by which He Himself can know and make others know is called samvit-śakti or jñāna-śakti. That Supreme Consciousness Potency of the Lord by which Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī can directly know of the ānandam (the Lord, Reality the Beautiful) and most graciously allow others to know feel and taste the same ānandam is called hlādinī-śakti.
That original Supreme Ecstasy Potency, namely Śrī Hlādinī, is always engaged in giving pleasure to Her dear Lord Kṛṣṇa, the dear most son of the King of Vraja and the full moon of Vṛndāvana-dhāma. Therefore, essentially, we must do all our devotional duties, services and worship with the acceptance of unconditional surrender at the Lotus Feet of Śrī Vṛṣabhānu Rādhā-nandinī, the dear-most daughter of the King Vrsabhanu and the Crown Jewel of all the Vraja Devīs. Hence, abhidheya means the profound thinking, feeling and absorption in all respects upon the Supreme Lord and through that process of meditation and absorption the attainment of that plane of pure devotional consciousness prayojana or premāvastā– the lofty storage of Divine Love”.
Therefore this pure devotional meditation upon Śrī Rādhārāṇī is the topmost confidential meaning of Śrī Brahma Gāyatrī.
The commentary upon Śrī Gāyatrī revealed by pūjyapāda Śrīdhara Mahārāja was published from Śrī Caitanya Sārasvata Maṭha on 12 Kārttika 1395 (30th October 1983) in the Vyāsa Pūjā issue in an article entitled Śrī Gāyatrī-Nigūḍhārtha (The Profound Definition of Śrī Gāyatrī). This commentary has been elaborately explained and I am bereft of the proper language to elucidate the profound meaning of Śrī Gāyatrī as revealed by pūjyapāda Mahārāja, which is that sublime rādhā-dāsya or rādhā-pāda-dhyāna – the exclusive devotional servitude to Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. Therefore it can only be presented and understood through his own illustrious transcendental language and by his exclusive divine grace. This deepest meaning of Śrī Gāyatrī has been nobly established by every aspect of the message emanating from his lotus lips and by the exultant mood radiating from the core of his heart.
Without submission to the lotus feet of pūjyapāda Śrīdhara Deva Gosvāmī Mahārāja, whom Śrīla Prabhupāda Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura has directly absorbed in the divine rūpānuga flow, we cannot have access to that confidential realm.
To see such a high appreciation of Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja really captured my heart. Other things were also said in that article that I did not read, as I did not want to make this talk too lengthy, but Śrīla Purī Mahārāja’s deep appreciation of Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja definitely captured my heart. Of course, I must also consider my Guru Mahārāja, Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Prabhupāda. Certainly anyone whom I approach must have a favourable attitude towards Prabhupāda in order for me to seek their holy association. But very often that is more of a general thing – a more general conception. Yet very specifically, those who have a deep appreciation for Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja capture me. And after that, my experience shows me that any such person will also have a deep appreciation for all Vaiṣṇavas.
Once I commented to someone that, “Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja seems to have a capacity of speaking where he can put so much meaning into so few words.”
At that time one of his disciples who had been with him for many years said, “Yes. Bhakti Dayita Mādhava Mahārāja used to say that, ‘Every word of Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja is a sutra. He has packed so much meaning in each and every of the few words that he has given.'” So, not only are we very fallen souls charmed and attracted by his words, but even his own godbrothers who are themselves very advanced devotees and servitors of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta, have given heartfelt recognition to the depth of Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja.
To quote another instance, I was once informed that Mādhava Mahārāja told, “If Śrīdhara Mahārāja is reading the newspaper that is the same as his studying the Vedas.” In my āśrama, if I see you reading the newspaper, I will say, “Why are you wasting your time reading the newspaper?” This type of comment Mādhava Mahārāja gave -even his reading the newspaper is as good as his studying the Vedas. What is to be known by studying the Vedas? Ultimately it is Kṛṣṇa, and one who has awakened his pure love of God, will see Kṛṣṇa everywhere, even in the newspaper. But without the depth of vision, we will only see the māyā. We will not see the transcendental reality beyond that.
Again, Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja had a very penetrating vision of reality and once he said, “The cinema music in Navadvīpa is superior to the kīrtana that is going on around the world.” I had a hard time adjusting to understand such a profound statement, “What is this? The cinema music?” I always complain about the cinema music – of Navadvīpa especially. So how is that? But his vision of the dhāma did not have any mundanity attached to it. He had a pure transcendental vision of the dhāma and whatever comes out of the dhāma has got profound divinity behind that. We are trying to reach that holy dhāma through saṅkīrtana, preaching and doing so many things all over the world. But he saw that it is present here, living always – the divine conception – even in the apparently mundane, he could perceive it.
During the time when I visited Caitanya Sārasvata Maṭha, I wanted to go and get Ganges water to put in a bottle to bring for the devotees in Hawaii. Someone then told me that Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja had said that the water in the maṭha’s well was superior to the Ganga. Again, this was like a thunderbolt upon my head. Two or three times I have been to Gaṅgotri and worshipped Mother Gaṅgā in different places. How is it possible that this well was superior to Mother Ganga? That devotee then explained, “No, Guru Mahārāja said that the Gaṅgā comes from outside and it comes through Navadvīpa-dhāma. But the water in the well has originated from the dhāma itself.” These were some (as we say in English) ‘wake-up calls.’ This was how Śrīla Guru Mahārāja always perceived things. He saw how profoundly transcendental and spiritual the dhāma really is. Maybe he saw the tendency in us to only see the external, mundane features of the dhāma – the chaos, the dirtiness, the noise etc. But he was always very deep – not superficial. In every issue he always gave a depth of understanding.
In relation to the Gāyatrī-bhāṣya, some people have said that ‘it is written in many places’, but these ears of mine don’t know any language other than English, so I cannot say that I have found the meaning of Śrī Gāyatrī in many places. I have only heard it through the transcendental wisdom of Śrīla Śrīdhara Deva Gosvāmī Mahārāja as it came in the English language. Although it is said Jīva Gosvāmī has written a commentary to the Gāyatrī, Śrīdhara Deva Gosvāmī himself said that he had never seen it. He could not find it so he wrote a commentary himself and this has been acknowledged. Since the day of Brahma, everybody chants the Brahma Gāyatrī –from general Hindus to the Rāmānujas, Madhvas and Śaṅkarites. But through the Brahma Gāyatrī commentary of Śrīdhara Mahārāja, the illustrious conception of Mahāprabhu and His camp stands above all.
It is not an ordinary thing. It is not a thing of scholarship or word jugglery. As Śrīla Purī Mahārāja has said, it is a ‘heart realization’. So, wherever I find appreciation for the depth of Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja’s realisations, I am ready to be a slave to that, under any circumstance. I will break the rule of trust and tell something which Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura once said in regard to his own inner conception -“In my divine vision of service I have seen that Svarūpa Dāmodara and Hari Dāsa Ṭhākura have reappeared as Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura and Gaura Kiśora Dāsa Bābājī. But don’t make this public, people will laugh at me and think that I am a madman.” Mahāprabhu also told Rāmānanda Rāya, “Don’t tell these things to others. They will simply consider us mad.” But he said, “I have seen with my divine service eye.”
In all regards Śrīla Śrīdhara Deva Gosvāmī Mahārāja, from beginning to end, is an exalted servitor of Śrīman Mahāprabhu and His divine disciplic succession and of His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. Whatever few words we can speak in glorification of him will raise us up from the filth of this material existence and gradually take us to the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa. It is the speediest vehicle. Of course, we may also glorify other Vaiṣṇavas, but on this day we are particularly trying to remember the glorification of Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja in some humble way. It is also my personal opinion that if a day passes and I fail to speak something in glorification of Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja and our other Divine Masters and Guardians, then that day has been a waste – despite having chanted 32 or 64 rounds and performed wonderful pūjās and abhiṣekas. If a day passes without glorification of the Vaiṣṇavas, the exalted eternal servitors of our Supreme Lord, then that day is a total waste.
Śrīla Bhakti Raksaka Śrīdhara Deva Gosvāmī Mahārāja ki jaya!