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 Sannyasa [monkhood] in 1930. Recognizing 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 Rakshak," 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-raksaka [Supreme Guardian of Devotion] - Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Prabhupad gave him the Tridandi-Sannyasa title of "Sridhar." Thus, he became Srila Bhakti Rakshak 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 Bhaktivinoda Viraha Dasakam, considering it an omen of assurance that the grand ideals and dignity of the Sri Gaudiya Sampradaya 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 Vaishnava 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 Sampradaya, although Srila Sridhar Maharaj himself was more inclined to anonymity as a humble Vaishnava. Nonetheless, by the call of divine duty and divine inspiration, he established the Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math at Sri Navadwip 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 Jivanamrtam, 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 - Reality the Beautiful," "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 August 12th, 1988, His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Rakshak 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 Vaishnava 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, Navadwip, and worship will continue throughout the generations.
Srila Sridhar Maharaj selected his most intimate and senior Sannyasi 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.
Introduction to Sri Guru and His Grace
[To Be Continued...]
"In compliance with the Rules and Regulations of the aforesaid Deed, all my lawful claims, directorship, and rights will automatically be inherited by him. In all my Maths, etc., he alone shall as the Acharya, confer initiation, etc., and shall as the Sevaite [Guardian-Servitor] and President, manage all the duties of my established Temples, Ashrams, etc.
"Hereby, I do reveal my final desire and directives unto all my Eastern and Western lady and gentlemen disciples, as well as to the faithful souls devoted to the Divinity, that: they must respect him as the exclusive Acharya and President, and remain faithful to him and cooperate with him in the service duties of the Math.
"If anyone cannot honor these directives and this final desire of mine, then they shall be bound to dissociate themselves from my established Maths."