It is a privilege and a great fortune once again to be able to present more nectarean words from the lips of His Divine Grace Om Visnupad Paramahamsa Sri Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj to the English-speaking public. It is hoped that these words will find their way into the hearts of all good souls, as well as enliven the practitioners on the path of bhakti. Some people like to read a book out of curiosity, others with keen interest but a critical eye, whilst others again intend to profit by the fruit of their study, and it is this class we mainly appeal to in the present work. The successful reception worldwide of our previous publication The Golden Staircase has encouraged us in this attempt. Srila Guru Maharaj writes in his Sri Sri Prapanna-jivanamrtam (1.8):
yathokta rupa-padena nichenotpadite ’nale
hemnah suddhis tathaivatra viraharti-hrtih satam
«As Srila Rupa Goswamipad has in his humility expressed that gold can be purified with fire lit by a barbarian, similarly the pure devotee’s grief born of separation from the Lord may also be dispelled by this book.»
The words of Srila Sridhar Maharaj are already living in the hearts and homes of many, many people in the world today, in the form of books, and audio and video cassettes. The sweet vibration of his kirtan in the form of Hari-katha continues to expand to the limits of the universe. Srila Sridhar Maharaj was once described as a «man of eternal mind» — such was the feeling of those persons fortunate enough to hear him speak about the spiritual world. The preciseness of his representation of siddhanta (devotional conclusions), the clarity of his theological and ontological analysis, the startling effectiveness and simplicity of his analogies, along with the extraordinary combination of gravity and, at times, child-like simplicity, marked him as truly unique. One felt he was the most genuine person one could ever meet. His own Guru Maharaj Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur referred to him as «a man of substance». Small wonder then that devotees from far and wide would seek him out for his reliable and final judgment on any matter of importance. Even many of those who were placed in ‘opposition’ to him eventually could not help but be charmed. When he himself once inquired from one such gentleman as to why, even while maintaining this frame of mind, he still continued to visit him regularly, the man replied: «Because of your deep intelligence, sound common sense, and disinterested nature.»
The present selection is from informal talks recorded at the Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math between 1982–85. The title of the book Heart and Halo is Srila Sridhar Maharaj’s own sweet expression to describe the bhava and kanti of Srimati Radharani, the supreme predominated moiety, the consort of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna. Once when His Divine Grace was searching for a fitting expression to describe Her inner and outer qualities, the devotees attending his talk at the time attempted to provide suitable expressions: «mood and luster», «feeling and effulgence», and several other such versions were put forward, but each time Srila Sridhar Maharaj shook his head, unsatisfied. Suddenly, with a smile lighting up his countenance, he looked up and said sweetly: «heart and halo».
Especially we offer our dandavat pranams to His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj, the beloved successor of Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj and present President-Acharya of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, worldwide. Under his shelter, affection, and inspiration, a new generation of devotees are blossoming. May this generation go forth into the world carrying the eternal message of Srila Sridhar Maharaj to all corners.
We would like to personally express our gratitude to all those who have helped this work through its various stages to completion, especially: Sripad B. A. Sagar Maharaj, Sripad B. P. Janardan Maharaj, Sripad B. C. Parvat Maharaj, Sri Srutasrava Prabhu, Sri Sarvabhavana Prabhu, Sri Navadwip Prabhu, Sri Jagadbandhu Prabhu, Sri Aditi Nandan Prabhu, Sri Lalita Charan Prabhu, Sri Narahari Prabhu, Srimati Swarnangi Devi Dasi, Srimati Anupama Devi Dasi, Srimati Sita Devi Dasi, Srimati Tilaka Devi Dasi, and Srimati Diksavati Devi Dasi.
We apologise if any mistakes of any kind remain in this work despite every effort to eradicate them.