After the divine disappearance of Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad in 1977, many of his disciples went to Srila Bhakti Rakshak Sridar Dev-Goswami Maharaj for guidance. Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad on more than one occasion advised “I consider Sridhar Maharaj to be my Siksha Guru, so what to speak of the benefit that you can have from his association.” Sripad Bhakti Sudhir Goswami Maharaj complied some of the conversations from that time into the book: Sri Guru and His Grace by Srila Sridhar Maharaj. In the following excerpts Srila Sridhar Maharaj describes the disappearance of the spiritual master:
“The disappearance of the spiritual master is mentioned in the sastra with an example. The disciple is like a lotus. The spiritual master is like the water around the lotus, just as in a pond or a lake. Your late Gurudev’s position is like the water. And Krishna is like the sun. As long as the lotus is floating on the water, the sun will nourish the lotus. But if the water vanishes, that very sun will burn the lotus. Without the help of the guru, the disciple is nowhere.”
Srila Sridhar Maharaj goes on to quote Srila Raghunatha Das Goswami’s description of the disappearance of the spiritual master and says that a deep sense of separation will come in the heart of a sincere disciple:
“In the absence of my Gurudev, Govardhana hill, the representative of Krishna Himself, seems to me just like a big python coming to devour me. And Radha-kunda, the holiest place of divinity of the Gaudiya-sampradaya, seems like a tiger’s mouth coming to devour me. They are giving me so much excitement in the absence of my Gurudev, my dearest and highest spiritual guardian. My Gurudev, who has the most intense affection for me is not here. How can it be? Everything is void. All has vanished with his departure.”
Srila Sridhar Maharaj also describes yet another serious aspect of Gurudev’s disappearance, vipralambha (separation):
“Once one of your devotees said in his lecture that separation is the highest realization. I was very happy to hear from his lips that separation (vipralambha) is the highest attainment. Without separation, nothing else can come to us. The anticipation of meeting Krishna will appear to us as vipralambha, so vipralambha is the most auspicious thing pertaining to Krishna consciousness. And we can have Krishna’s connection also in that separation. So, the safest and most fearless position is vipralambha. If we can stand firm and retain the memory of Gurudev in his separation, then we will have passed the highest test.”
When we remember Srila Govinda Maharaj we cannot help but also remember his instructions to us to be humble, tolerant and offer respect to everyone without expecting any respect for ourselves. And everywhere he went, he showed by his example the importance of service to the vaishnavas.
On this occasion of the second anniversary of his disappearance, I pray by the mercy of Gurudev, Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj, that I may serve his servants, friends, disciples and those sincere seekers who aspire to serve him.