Diary of a Traveling Preacher - Volume 9, Chapter 16 - September 2, 2008
By Indradyumna Swami
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My dear Godbrother Sridhar Maharaja,
Please accept my most humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
Today is the celebration of your Vyasa-puja. It is a day of mixed feelings for me: I am happy to remember your exalted service to Srila Prabhupada, and at the same time I am sad. I miss your association and friendship more than you can imagine.
Despite our intimacy I always considered you my respected Godbrother and held you in the highest esteem. I remember my good fortune in the early
1980s, when as a new sannyasi, I traveled with you throughout Canada and the USA.
During those three months, I served you as a menial servant and you reciprocated by training me in the life of the renounced order. Although this life is strict and demanding, you made it fun by showing that real pleasure is in service to guru and Gauranga, and although at times our schedule was intense, your jolly mood created an atmosphere of light-heartedness.
You were older and more advanced, but you were always kind and encouraging in many ways. I especially remember something you said to me one day: “Indie,” you said, “before you took sannyasa, most leaders in our movement had never heard of you. I remember you as a grhasta chanting and dancing through the streets of Paris. Now, suddenly you are in the renounced order and a great asset to our movement.”
Thank you for those kind words, Maharaja. They still reverberate in my heart, though many years have passed. We all need the encouragement of our Godbrothers and Godsisters, and when such words come from a devotee of your caliber, they are especially meaningful.
Being a well-wishing friend, you offered not only praise but also chastisement. You were direct and to the point, not compromising in your presentation or practice of service to the Lord. Once you scolded me for placing some laksmi on the ground. “How dare you place the consort of the Lord on the dirty ground?” you said.
I feel especially blessed that I was able to help you in your final days. I met you in London just before our journey to Mayapura, your final destination. Again I was able to render menial service, as you were incapacitated and rapidly declining in health.
I was amazed that despite your pain and discomfort you remained upbeat while instructing your disciples, who had come to see you for the last time. The airplane trip was long and hard, but I watched you take the time to preach to people who came to you with questions about Krsna consciousness.
I’ll never forget the wonderful reception the devotees gave you in Mayapura. They knew you were coming to the holy dhama to leave your body, and they rushed to greet you and express their appreciation for your years of service. Our car slowed to a snail’s pace as everyone surged forward in a show of love.
How proud I was of you! How grateful I was to Krsna for arranging such an acknowledgment of your service!
Now you are gone, and the days of your association are no more. Your humor, which could light up the darkest day, is a distant memory. Your example as a dedicated disciple of our Guru Maharaja is no longer present for those of us less inclined in service. It’s harder without you here to inspire us. It’s difficult for your disciples, it’s difficult for your Godbrothers, and it’s difficult for the souls who would have benefited from your association had you stayed longer in this world.
Your last words to me were, “Happy trails, until we meet again.” Because you’ve gone ahead of me on the trail of serving our spiritual master, you’ll once more be in a position to guide me.
Ultimately, one goes where his heart takes him. Thus my heart goes out to you with the hope and expectation of seeing you again. I look forward to that day with great anticipation.
so ‘py ascaryamayah prabhur nananayor yan nabhavad gocaro yan nasvadi hareh padambuja rasas tad yad gatim tad gatam etavan mama tavad astu jagatam ye nye py alankurvate sri caitanya pade nikhata manasas tair yat prasangot savah
“Because the wonderful Lord never came before my eyes, and because I never tasted the nectar of service to His lotus feet, I simply pray to attain the jubilant festival of the association of those great souls now decorating this world whose hearts are fixed at Lord Caitanya’s lotus feet.”
[Srila Prabhodananda Sarasvati, Sri Caitanya-candramrita, text 50]
Your servant in separation, Indradyumna Swami.
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