Second Conversation With Srila Sridhara Maharaja

BY: SUN EDITORS - 1.11 2017

Today we begin a serial presentation of another historical document related to the Zonal Acarya era. This one is a transcript entitled "Second Conversation with Sridhara Maharaja, August 19th, 1980, Nabadweep, India.

There were a number of important conversations between ISKCON GBCs, senior devotees and Srila B.R. Sridhara Swami. Most well known are the two meetings held in March 1978 between members of the GBC and Srila Sridhara, for which transcripts have been readily available for years. The history of how the GBC engaged in discussions with Srila Sridhara, then abruptly stopped engaging with him, and then offered apologies for having summarily dismissed him, are also well known.

Less familiar to many devotees, however, is the transcript of a 'second conversation' some of the senior devotees had with Srila Sridhara Maharaja a few years after the GBC discussions. Devotees present at the August 1980 discussion were:

Srila Sridhara Maharaja ("SM")
Bhakti Caru Swami ("BCS")
Dhira Krsna Swami ("DKS")
Sarvabhavana dasa ("SBD")

Over the last twenty years, we have written many articles on the subject of Srila Prabhupada's godbrothers, on engaging in sadhu-sanga with members of the Gaudiya Math, associating with B.V. Narayana Maharaj, etc.

The transcript we are about to present is a very interesting and historically important one. The conversation was held approximately two years after the departure of His Divine Grace, during which time the Zonal Acarya System took power in ISKCON, having usurped the Governing Body Commission, and thus the governance model establish by Srila Prabhupada.

The transcript (29 pages long) begins with a brief philosophical presentation by Srila Sridhara Swami, who then goes on to discuss the particulars of the Zonal Acaryas' misuse of power and position. He strategizes with Bhakti Caru Swami, Dhira Krsna Swami and Sarvabhavana dasa about organizing a confrontation with the errant Zonals. If the Zonal Acaryas refuse to behave properly, then an independent preaching mission under Srila Sridhara Swami's direction is proposed.

Unlike some of the partly illegible hand-written documents we've presented recently, the transcript of the conversation with Srila Sridhara Maharaja is presented here verbatim. Any editing marks (e.g., blank lines) are present in the manuscript.



August 19th, 1980 Nabadweep, India


DKS: The first question is in the Fourth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam in the allegorical story of Puranjana, when the wife loses her husband, Srila Prabhupada compares this to the disappearance of the spiritual master, and she says that the world has become overrun with rogues and thieves in the absence of her husband. Srila Prabhupada says that after the disappearance of the acarya, that irreligious principles, unauthorized, irreligious principles are introduced and there is so much disorder and chaos, and it is the duty of the perfect disciples of the spiritual master to then, recognizing those conditions, establish his mission.

BCS: Bengali translation

SM: In the common sense also, about the history, proves that. Visvanatha Cakravartypada somewhere in Bhagavat Bhasya also mentioned. And in this country, in the varnasrama system, also it is mentioned that when maha-guru, that anyone's father or mother disappears, then with that crisis accompanies many disadvantages with them. And it is also a common sense, when the extreme misfortune is to lose the company of gurudeva, and that misfortune never comes alone. It brings in its retinue many small incidents that is detrimental to our progress. And progress means… presupposes, and progress… hindrances for a man of real character, the hindrance, that is like some examination, to promote. Its purpose is to promote us. So the sincere student, he will, real student, he will pass the examination. Others will fall prey to the failure. So bona fide student… it comes, misfortune comes to enhance the beauty of the bona fide and to eliminate the ostentatious attempt. So it is a fact that with the disappearance of gurudeva, many undesirable things will come, will happen. And the suddhi, a period of suddhi, the purification, that will actually take place and those that are sincere, they will be victorious. Movement, that movement will… almost sure to come, to befall on the followers.

SBD: Bengali (re: Sridhara Maharaja speaking previously on same subject) Misfortune, after the departure of an acarya, if Krsna wants, He can actually avoid, make… stop this process of misfortune, but in order to give us the lesson…

SM: Krsna willing, everything may happen, but this is the general ____

SBD: But you said once that, just to show that this was a great sage and pure devotee, that he has left us. Krsna imposes this misfortune so that we can understand…

SM: Ultimately (Sanskrit) that period of purification helps the sincere, the bona fide in misery also, they come from a misery period with flying color. And in a general sense some disaster comes, accompanies the disappearance of gurudeva or the leader, something like, it is an ordinary fact, it will be. But Krsna may even do anything and everything. By special veto power He can do anything. But the general current of events, events in this process.

BCS: Sarvabhavana is trying to say that in order to increase the mood of vipralambha (separate), Krsna makes the arrangement, right after the disappearance of the spiritual master.

SM: Yes that may be, there may be… that is purification. It's a purification. Failures also are teachers; not only teaching in the direct method but in the indirect method also teaching can work. (Bengali re: Haridas Thakur) What to speak of gurudeva, even a favorite disciple disappears, that's also a shock to the gurudeva himself. A shock, a loss, but still we shall have to adjust with that. Krsna's will, and His will is always good. In this way we have to adjust. You see, one… the guardian is trying to teach the boy to walk. Sometimes he is taking the hand, he's helping him to walk. Sometimes he removes his help, "You walk," …"alone." Something like that. It is also necessary, to teach self-help…

SBD: And you also said once, giving the example of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur, that even an acarya tries to find his acarya, his guru, amongst his disciples.

SM: Yes, he did so.

SBD: You gave the example of one particular devotee…

SM: Bhagwatjanananada, "Bhaktivinoda Thakur came, I could not understand, could not catch, Bhaktivinoda Thakur came in his ____." … searching, always guru darsan, maha-bhagavat guru is always, generally in the company of his darjan guru. Amongst disciples also he is eager to see that these are all vaibhava, extensions of my gurudeva. Our Prabhupada used to say that the whole thing… I should… it is my duty to perform to look after everything, but I can't do so, so my gurudeva that sent all these helping persons, to help me. The whole thing is my responsibility to do the whole service. I must do, but I am unfit, I am not able, so my gurudeva has sent all these faces, only to help me in my work. This is the vision, conception. So they are sent by my gurudeva to help me in my work. I am unfit. That sort of conception is also there with gurudeva. I am unable, I am unfit, so they have come to help me, sent by my Lord to help in in discharging my duty. That is also possible, not only possible but in the highest position it is like that. And guru lives in Vaikuntha not much conscious of the mundane world. At that time the atmosphere seems to him like this: that I am doing some service of Krsna. I am not fit, well fitted, so Krsna has sent all to help me. They are my guru. Sisya sees guru is sisya, guru is vaibhava in sisya, in disciple. Mahaprabhu says, sanatan mukhe krsna more shikaila, "Krsna taught me through Sanatana". Another place in Puri, ______ bhakti tumi shkahaya camore, Mahaprabhu says to Sanatana Bengali: Mahaprabhu said, "Sanatana, you have taught me how to practice devotional service." When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was going to Vrindaban, thousands and thousands of people were following him. So Sanatana Goswami told Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, "You are going to Vrindaban. You won't get the real pleasure of going to Vrindaban with so many people around you." So hearing this Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu wondered, "Yes, what Sanatana told me, that is correct. All these hundreds and thousands of people will create a chaos in Vrindaban. They will start breaking and smashing everything in Vrindaban so I won't get any pleasure in going to Vrindaban." Considering this He decided to go to Puri instead of Vrindaban and He announced that He would go to Jagannatha Puri instead of going to Vrindaban. Due to this instruction of Sanatana He cancelled such a big campaign of going to Vrindaban and instead He went to Jagannatha Puri. And then from there just with one companion with Him, He went to Vrindaban.

SM: English:
So He Himself says like this. So that does not harm their absolute position.

SBD: It increases the sweetness of the absolute position, to know that God, the Personality of God, is so easily accessable to mortals like ourselves.

SM: ______ bhakti, suddha bhakti. According to our Prabhupada, the real significance of devotion is to be traced to an event where the Lord is defeated by the devotee. That is the special characteristic of prema bhakti, Bhagavan Himself, He admits that I am defeated by my devotee. The most beautiful thing, and that is beauty, that… this extraordinary beauty shows the greatness of prema bhakti. Prema is such a wonderful thing that Lord Himself comes within the fist of the devotee (Sanskrit). "_____________" means accepting the defeat by Himself: One thing I shall say. Once I asked Prabhupada, "Sanatana Goswami, he, in his Brihad Bhagavatamrta, he concludes Braja Lila in a particular way, closed in from, in Mathura, not took it to Dvaraka. And Rupa Goswami took Krsna to Dvaraka, and the gopis also, in different form, deha. What is the cause of this difference? Both Sanatana and Rupa vary in particular case. One closing in Mathura and another taking it out from Mathura mangalam to Dvaraka." Prabhuapada's answer was, "Adhoksaja." It cannot be ascertained to the extreme degree, nothing… otherwise why it has been told "adhoksaja"? jnane prayasa udapasya (SB 10.14) "that everything I shall bring within my fist," this attempt is foolish and detrimental to the real knowledge. We must always be conscious of that fact that He is the absolute. hmmm (Sanskrit) jnane prayasa udapasya namanta eva jivanti sanmukharitan, all these things we… He is immeasurable, that characteristic we must not forget, that everything… I, in the position, being in the position of a subject, I shall make everything about the God as my object. Myself remaining the subject. It is impossible and foolish and it takes me far away from the real conception of the transcendental substance.

BCS: That is maya.

SM: That is maya. Perimeter of the thing, to measure everything and to… the attempt to control everything, that I shall be the master of everything, this is maya, to make too much of one's own subjective selfish ego. namanta eva. Our attitude will be that of always submission to the infinite. As much as He will kindly make me know, that much is sufficient. _____ With this sincere and genuine hankering we shall always awaiting to understand anything about the transcendental world. Whenever we shall lose this temperament, we are cast outside. Hare Krsna. Hare Krsna.

DKS: Yesterday he said that loss of faith in the parampara is sufficient grounds for removal…

SM: Honest inquiry is allowed. Pariprasna. Eh. tak vidhi pranipatena pariprasnensa sevaya. The pariprasnena will come, will be the outcome of surrender. "I am hopeless I can't ascertain, it is dire necessity for me but I can't help myself." With this hankering and no remedy, otherwise, so I shall try most humbly, start inquiry, most modestly, humbly, I shall try to know, "What is this? What is this? What is the meaning?"

BCS: The mood must be that I do not know anything, so I must approach a senior Vaisnava…

SM: The mood not that, "I shall finish knowing about the matter." That sort of attitude will not allow us to enter into the real domain. Pariprasna is allowed, and another thing, most important thing and that is also necessary for the service. Service is the only important thing absolute. "What is necessary, what will be necessary to render proper service?" That sort of pariprasna, inquiry, inquiry not to satisfy curiosity, even. But it is dire necessity for service, for discharging my duty. So that prasna, pariprasa, not out of curiosity or philosophical mastership or anything of the kind. It is only necessary for the satisfaction of the Lord. Reality is by itself and for itself. It must for, for Himself. For His interest this prasna is necessary, not by my any… astrayed purpose. The prasna, the inquiry should be made only to satisfy Krsna and the devotees of Krsna, for His cause, not for my cause if it is independent of His satisfaction. Do you follow? That prasna.

Then he will come. The solution is He. samanta sakta ___ (Sanskrit) The proper solution is He, Himself, Krsna. Krsna, He. Siddhanta is He. So he will come and He does not allow Himself to render service to anybody eh? Only for Himself, He's for Himself only, then He is Reality, then He is Krsna, He's for Himself and anything for Himself that will have in the transcendental position in His consideration. Do you follow?

(To be continued…)