devaṁ divya-tanuṁ suchanda-vadanaṁ bālārka-chelāñchitaṁ
sāndrānanda-puraṁ sad-eka-varanaṁ vairāgya-vidyāmbudhim
śrī-siddhānta-nidhiṁ subhakti-lasitaṁ sārasvatānām varaṁ
vande taṁ śubhadaṁ mad-eka-śaraṇaṁ nyāsīśvaraṁ śrīdharam
(Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj)
“I offer my obeisance unto my lord, Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj, whose speech is most pleasing; whose divine form is adorned with garments the colour of the newly-risen sun; who is an abode of intense, ecstatic devotion; who is the sole choice of the sadhus; who is an ocean of renunciation and knowledge; who is a treasure-house of perfect conclusions; who is resplendent with pure devotion; who is the best of the followers of Srila Saraswati Thakur; who is the giver of all good; who is the leading general of the tridandi-sannyasis; and who is my sole shelter.”
A Brief Biography
Om Vishnupad Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj is the Founder-Acharya of the Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math in Nabadwip, West Bengal, India. He appeared in the world in 1895 at Hapaniya, Burdwan, West Bengal.
From his childhood he had inner faith in Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, with a natural attraction and affinity for Nam-sankirtan; his scholarship and worldly detachment was formidable. His first contact with Sri Gaudiya Math was in 1923, and he fully commited himself to this Mission of his guru, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Prabhupad, in 1926. In 1930 his guru gave him sannyas, giving him his transcendental name, Bhakti Raksak [Guardian of Devotion]. He took a prominent part in the founding, organising, and preaching of many of the Sri Gaudiya Maths all over India.
Srila Sridhar Maharaj composed many unique spiritual prayers and commentaries in Sanskrit and Bengali, revealing a devotional stature in common with that of the famed Goswamis of Vrindavan. Often thought even more amazing was his special ability to represent those thoughts in the international language of English. In this way, many of his holy teachings have been published in the form of books.
Srila Sridhar Maharaj departed from the eyes of the mortal world in 1988. Thousands from all over the globe had by this time taken shelter in him as disciples. Prior to his departure, publicly, and in his Last Will and Testament, he named his beloved Divine Servitor Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj as his successor.
His Divine Grace Sri Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj, the founder of the Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, was born in India in 1895, in a respected brahman family of the Bhattacharya order, at Hapaniya, District Burdwan, West Bengal. He received his education at Baharamapur University.
Having taken his pious birth in Sri Gauda Mandal, the holy lands where Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu exhibited His divine pastimes on this earth, Srila Sridhar Maharaj, from his very childhood, had a natural affinity for the mission of Sri Chaitanya-sankirtan—the grand congregational chanting of the holy Names of the Supreme Lord.
In 1926, Srila Sridhar Maharaj joined the Sri Gaudiya Math, and became an initiated disciple of its founder, the illustrious Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur Goswami Prabhupad (1874-1937). He later accepted the holy order of sannyas [monkhood] in 1930. Recognising him as a faithful stalwart preacher of the perfect precepts of Gaudiya Vaishnavism, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Prabhupad conferred upon him the name ‘Sri Bhakti Raksak,’ which means “Guardian of Devotion.” And further echoing the statement of the great Vaishnava Preceptor, Srila Jiva Goswami—who referred in his Sanskrit writings to the renowned Srimad Bhagavatam commentator, Sri Sridhar Swami, as bhakti eka raksak [Supreme Guardian of Devotion]—Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Prabhupad gave him the tridandi-sannyas title of ‘Sridhar.’ Thus, he became Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Maharaj.
As a prominent preacher in the Sri Gaudiya Math mission, he travelled extensively throughout India and preached fluently in Bengali, Hindi, Sanskrit, and English, spreading the teachings of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu on many levels in universities, public seminars, and sankirtan festivals.
Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Prabhupad also expressed high appreciation of Srila Sridhar Maharaj’s Sanskrit composition, Sri Bhakti Vinoda Viraha Dasakam, considering it an omen of assurance that the grand ideals and dignity of the Sri Gaudiya-sampraday would be perfectly upheld and preached by such a learned and sensitive devotee as Srila Sridhar Maharaj.
As a testimony to this fact, just prior to Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur Prabhupad’s departure from this mortal world, Srila Prabhupad had Srila Sridhar Maharaj sing, in his presence, the holy prayer most venerated by the entire Sri Gaudiya Vaishnav community, Sri Rupa manjari pada.
After the passing of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur Goswami Prabhupad, Srila Sridhar Maharaj’s godbrothers, associates, and the public, naturally revered him as the senior-most representative of the Sri Gaudiya-sampraday, although Srila Sridhar Maharaj himself was more inclined to anonymity as a humble Vaishnav. Nonetheless, by the call of divine duty and divine inspiration, he established the Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math at Sri Nabadwip Dham, hinting in a short Sanskrit poem that the Math—as a sanctuary where the holy message of his Gurudev, Sri Rupa, and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was preached—would inevitably become renowned throughout the world amongst the sincere and pious seekers of unalloyed truth and divinity.
Srila Sridhar Maharaj is the composer of numerous classical prayers and commentaries in Sanskrit and Bengali. His works are hailed as gems of pure Vaishnavism by scholars, philosophers, and devotees worldwide. He authored Sri Sri Prapanna Jivanamritam, a Sanskrit devotional treatise on the subject of divine surrender, which has become a standard text-book for devotees everywhere.
Upon reaching his eighties, not only Indians, but persons from America, Europe, and the world over, became attracted by Srila Sridhar Maharaj’s teachings and personality. He was known as a pure saint of the most simple living habits. He was respected and loved for his saintly simplicity, and his affectionate nature and dealings. He was revered by his godbrothers, disciples, other devotees, and the general public, and was unanimously venerated for his formidable encyclopedic command of the revealed scriptures, and his unique and unprecedented style of casting newer and newer light upon the most internal philosophical and revelatory purports of pure Sri Gaudiya Vaishnava siddhanta.
A vast library of Srila Sridhar Maharaj’s taped discourses has been compiled by his disciples, and from such recordings, the exquisite English books—Search for Sri Krishna, Sri Guru and His Grace, The Golden Volcano of Divine Love, Loving Search for the Lost Servant, and Srila Sridhar Maharaj’s unique commentary and interpretation of Srimad Bhagavad-gita: The Hidden Treasure of the Sweet Absolute—and many other books have been published. Many more publications are also anticipated.
On 12 August 1988, His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj departed from this world, to enter into his eternal pastimes. His departure did not herald the departure of one of the great stars of the Sri Gaudiya Vaishnav firmament, but that of the moon itself. Even the Earth herself trembled on two occasions, forecasting and punctuating the event. A divine temple, The Temple of Union in Separation, was erected at his holy shrine at Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, Nabadwip, and worship will continue throughout the generations.
Srila Sridhar Maharaj selected his most intimate and senior sannyas disciple, Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Maharaj, as his successor, blessing him with the position of Acharya-President of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math and its affiliated branches worldwide.