I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to present these gems from the treasurehouse of devotional service to the Supreme Godhead which emanated from the divine lotus mouth of Om Visnupad Paramahamsa Srila B.R. Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj between 1981 and 1985. Known affectionately to his disciples simply as Srila Guru Maharaj, His Divine Grace personified the life of eternality, supramundane knowledge, and divine happiness, and he planted the nectar-seeds of Krishna-prema — the supreme goal of life — in the hearts of the fortunate souls. He extinguished the burning fire of separation we felt in our hearts following the disappearance from this world of the great ambassador of Krishna consciousness to the West, His Divine Grace Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad, simultaneously fulfilling our cherished desires for spiritual nourishment and inspiring within us an ever greater thirst for spiritual perfection.
The topics presented here have been selected to illustrate the proper and practical way for a sincere sadhaka (aspirant) to progress on the path of pure devotional service to the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna, especially in His form as Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Srila Guru Maharaj repeatedly emphasised that the path should be followed carefully, step by step, without omitting anything, lest one fall into the traps of either sahajiyaism (imitationism) or mayavad (impersonalism). He taught that by always keeping sadhu-sanga (association of good devotees) — either personally or through their siksa (instructions), by chanting the Holy Names of the Lord with sincerity and faith, and by rendering loving service to Sri Guru and the Vaisnavas, one could steadily progress on the path back to Godhead.
This progress continues and accelerates by our acceptance of ever higher conceptions and elimination of lower ones, and such progress is infinite, going beyond the tatastha region of Viraja (nirvana), the goal of the Buddhists, the brahma-jyoti, the goal of the yogis, and onward through Sivaloka to the spiritual abodes of Vaikuntha, Ayodhya, Dvaraka, Mathura, and finally Goloka Vrndavan. There, the Supreme is worshipped as Sri Sri Radha-Govinda in Vraja Dham or as Their combined form as Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in Nabadwip Dham, and it is by Their own grace that one may ultimately attain the inconceivably high position of service to the servants of the servants of Srimati Radharani Herself, which is the ultimate goal of the Gaudiya Vaisnavas.
Preliminary instructions regarding the process for controlling the mind and senses and the principles of devotional behaviour have been given in books such as Sri Upadesamrta by Srila Rupa Goswami, and carefully following this advice in a properly-adjusted way will ensure genuine progress on the path of bhakti. Srila Sridhar Maharaj spoke at length on all these topics, but he always emphasised that it is one’s sincere internal hankering for the Lord’s service and the genuine feeling of one’s own incapacity which are the real keys to realising saranagati, the pure soul’s surrender.
Ultimately, when genuine divine love awakens within the soul, that love will itself direct the soul to his or her best serving location within a particular serving group (svarupena vyavasthitih) imbued with one of the predominant serving mellows of either servitorship (dasya), friendship (sakhya), guardianship (vatsalya), or the all-inclusive mellow of amorous love (madhura-rasa). Srila Guru Maharaj explained that within these rasas there are divisions and subdivisions, heads of groups and their followers, right-wing and left-wing parties — so much gradation, all of which is ultimately arranged by the Supreme Lord’s own yogamaya potency to provide a dynamic interplay of ‘variety-in-oneness’ by which the Lord’s Pastimes (lila) are supported, nurtured, and enhanced.
The Infinite is not static (nirvises) but dynamic, and that dynamism generates sweetness in service through both union and separation. Srila Sridhar Maharaj’s explanations of these finer points and his revelations of the inner meaning of the slokas of Srimad Bhagavad-gita and Srimad Bhagavatam and the gayatri and other mantras give such new dimensions of depth to one’s consciousness and nourishment to one’s devotional creeper (bhakti-lata) that they are impossible for the truly fortunate souls to ignore.
The devotees who were introduced to the teachings of pure devotional theism by the unparalleled preceptor and saktyaves-avatar Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad will find in this book a very sweet and glorious illumination of his teachings. The ‘matchless gift’ of Krishna consciousness which Srila Prabhupad gave to the West must be carefully accepted in the heart and preserved and nurtured there. That is only possible by the supporting strength of the devotional illumination given by great beacon lights of the spiritual world such as Srila Sridhar Maharaj, whom Srila Prabhupad loved and revered as his own Siksa-guru in spiritual matters. The fortunate and awakened soul must see the value of this spiritual interchange as a cause of growth if he is to really progress towards the all-harmonising Truth beyond all material sectarian concerns.
It is also my heartfelt feeling that the legacy of both Srila Prabhupad and Srila Sridhar Maharaj is being carefully preserved, practised, and preached by Srila Guru Maharaj’s successor, Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Maharaj, and that in the unbearable fire of separation from those two great souls, our hearts may be given hope once again.
The Lord mercifully comes as the Acharya to deliver Himself to the souls of this world. All glories to Bhagavan Sri Krishna and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu! I offer my sincere dandavat pranams to all the holy Vaisnavas through whom we may have the benediction of divine faith’s revelation.