Sridhara Aangan – Kolavecha Sridhara’s Place
“Sridhara Aangan” – Kolavecha Sridhara’s Place
The Eternal Residence of Sri Kolavecha Sridhara
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare ||
Sridhara chanted loudly all night. This upset his atheistic neighbours who complained, “That poor vagabond cannot fill his belly during day and now he is keeping us awake at night with his pangs of hunger.” In spite of hearing such criticism, Sridhara remained undisturbed and always joyfully chanted Lord’s Holy Names.
Several wonderful pastimes happened here at Sridhara Aangan including “Banana Love-fights” between Nimai and Kolavecha Sridhara. Kolavecha Sridhara’s devotion is in class:
anukulyena krishnanu silanam bhaktiruttama
“Real devotion is uncontaminated by any type of selfish desire- desire from material benefits or even desire for liberation.”
“Sridhara Aangan” Kolavecha Sridhara’s place is in open fields behind Rajapur Jagannatha Temple. One can visit this place passing through vast and very beautiful mango tree groves behind the Rajapur Jagannatha Temple. This area is non-different from Madhuvana forest of Vrindavana where Lord Sri Krishna and Lord Balarama had many pastimes with Their sakhas, cowherd boyfriends. One of these sakhas was Kusumasava Gopala sakha who appeared as Sridhara in Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s pastimes. In his Gaura Ganodesa Dipika, verse 133, it is stated:
panditah sridharo dvijah
asid vraje hasya-karo
yo namna kusumasavah
"The cowherd boy known as Kusumasava in Krishna-lila later became Kolavecha Sridhara during Caitanya Mahaprabhu's lila at Navadvipa."
Sridhara always charged fair price for his products but this did not prevent Nimai from arguing and fighting with him to get His goods. The Lord would simply pick up the goods and give half the money. In agitation, Sridhara would jump up and try to take back the goods.
“I am sure you have immense wealth hidden somewhere," accused the Lord, “and you are relishing opulent food in secret. Soon I will make it known to everyone, and then we will see how you continue to cheat the people.”
“Come to my house, dear learned brahmana," invited Sridhara, “and see for Yourself. We should not start an argument here.”
“I am not going to let you off so easily," said Nimai, “Tell Me what you are going to feed Me?”
“I make a simple living selling leaf cups," replied Sridhara. "What can I offer to give You from such an income, respected brahmana?”
“I am not going to touch Your hidden wealth now: I will get that later," assured Nimai. "But if you give Me banana root and some banana stalks right now without taking money, then I will not fight with you anymore.”
Sridhara thought to himself, “He is a very aggressive brahmana. Someday He might even beat me. But even if He does beat me, what can I do? I really cannot afford to give Him whatever He wants free each day. But I see He has a godly form; He is not an ordinary personality by any means. If He takes my things by force or by some other tricky means, then He is free to do so. I think this is my good fortune, and in spite of my poverty I will continue to give Him whatever He wants.”
Having made his decision, Sridhara answered the Lord, “Dear brahmana, You do not have to pay me anything at all. I will give You whatever You want with an open and happy heart. Take Your bananas and other vegetables, take the leaf cups that I have, and please do not fight with me anymore.”
“Yes that is a very satisfactory agreement," said Nimai. "There should be no further fights, but please see to it that I get good quality bananas, banana stalks, and radishes.” Daily the Lord ate with Sridhara from his leaf cups, relishing his bananas, banana stalks, radishes and Sridhara’s cooking in general. When a gourd grew on Sridhara’s roof top, the Lord had it cooked into a special preparation made with milk and hot spices.
One day the Lord asked, “Sridhara what do you think of Me? As soon as you tell Me that, I shall return to My house.”
Sridhara replied, “You are a brahmana, part and parcel of the Supreme Lord Krishna.”
“No, you do not know," said Nimai. "I belong to the community of cowherds and milk men. You see Me as a young brahmana boy, but I consider Myself to be simply a milk man.”
Sridhara just smiled at the Lord’s comment; he could not recognize his own Lord and master, being deluded by the Lord’s internal potency.
“Sridhara, I am going to reveal to you an esoteric truth. You see the River Ganges? I am the source of the Ganges.”
“O Nimai Pandita! Have You no fear in disrespecting Gangadevi like this?” asked the disturbed Sridhara. "People usually become grave and serious as they grow older, but Your frivolity seems to have doubled since Your childhood.”
Once Lord asked Sridhara: “Sridhara you are always chanting Lord Hari’s name, so what is the reason for your suffering? You are serving the husband and master of Sri Lakshmidevi, the goddess of fortune, so why are you always in want of food and clothes?”
“I am not starving," replied Sridhara, “And as You can see, I have clothes on. They are neither fine clothes nor the right size, but my body is covered.”
“But Sridhara," argued the Lord, “your clothes are torn in several places and I know you have neither straw nor rice in the house. Look around you. All the citizens worship goddess Candi (Durga) the destroyer of all enemies, and none of them suffer for want of food, shelter, or clothing.”
“You have made a good point," replied Sridhara, “but generally speaking, everyone’s life is almost the same. The King may live in a palace surrounded by opulence and eat sumptuously while the birds live in the open or in a simple nest in a tree top and gather their own humble food. But basically everyone’s approach to life is similar. By the Lord’s design each of us must meet the demands of duty and in doing so we behave more or less alike. Personally I prefer to live the life I am leading now.”
Once after snatching goods from Sridhara, when Sridhara tried to take back the goods, Lord said to him, “Why my dear brother Sridhara! You are a renounced person and quite wealthy, I believe. Then why do you try to snatch away these things from My hand. I am also surprised that in all this time you do not know who I am.”
The Supreme Personality of Godhead Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu saw there was no trace of anger on Sridhara's face and so He snatched away the articles.
Lord Gaurasundara was looking so beautiful that He could captivate even Cupid's mind. His fine forehead was decorated with radiant urdhva-pundra, tilaka marks. He wore the dhoti in a most attractive manner tucking it in three different places, His earrings were nicely designed and slightly slanting. The Lord's temperamental and eyes were both extremely agile and restless. The shining white brahmana thread goes elegantly around His shoulder; Lord Ananta Sesa has accepted this very thin form of a brahmana thread to decorate the Lord. He smiled at Sridhara with cherry lips reddened from chewing betel and again picked up the articles.
Sridhara said to the Lord, “Listen O brahmana, please forgive me this time. I am just Your dog.”
The Lord replied, “I know you, you are very cunning. You have saved much money selling banana.”
Then Sridhara spoke, “Are there not any other shops besides mine, please purchase from there at a cheaper rate.”
Lord Caitanya said, “I do not want to so easily abandon a steady supplier like you, give Me what I want and take your money!”
Sridhara was helpless against Visvambhara's charm, so he smiled at Him captivated by His extraordinary beauty, while Visvambhara continued His harangue being very pleased with His eternal associate and devotee Sridhara.
Lord Caitanya said, “Every day you buy offerings for mother Ganges, then why can you not sell Me your things at a discount? I am the father of mother Ganges you worship daily, this truth I am revealing to you.”
Shocked at hearing this, Sridhara covered his ears with his palms and repeated Lord, Krishna's name. And seeing that Visvambhara was in an insolent mood gave Him the bananas. In this way the Lord bargained and fought with Sridhara every day; Sridhara thought of the boy as a very restless young brahmana boy.
Sridhara finally agreed, “I give in to You, I will give You something free of cost, but then please leave me alone. What will I lose if I give away a piece of banana spathe, a banana flower, and a slice of banana root?”
Lord Caitanya replied, “Good, good that is enough, do not give anymore." The Lord daily ate dishes prepared with Sridhara's gifts.
The Lord loves to receive gifts from His devotees. He would never ask for anything from a non-devotee. The Lord desired to perform this pastime and so by His arrangement He had Sridhara sell khola. Who can understand these transcendental exchanges between the Supreme Lord and His devotee?
Sri Vrindavana Das Thakura in Sri Caitanya Bhagavata writes that, No one can perceive these transcendental activities without the blessings of the Lord, this fact is being reminded by the Lord.
#2) Sasthi-Tirtha-Kunda: On the right side of the building is a field that is dug out and surrounded by raised edges. This was a kunda in Lord Caitanya’s time. Young Nimai used to play here and also steal bananas from Sridhara’s nearby banana patch.#3) Visrama-sthala or Resting place: This is also known as visrama-sthala (resting place) as Lord Caitanya would take rest here after performing His Harinam kirtana.
Transcendentalists discussing Kolavecha Sridhara’s pastimes during annual Navadvipa-Mandala Parikrama at Sri Kolavecha Sridhara’s place
Transcendentalists HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj and HH Bhakti Vighna Vinasa Narasimha Swami Maharaj, performing drama about great devotee of the Lord, Sri Kolavecha Sridhara
Transcendentalists performing drama about great devotee of the Lord, Sri Kolavecha Sridhara
Drama performance on pastime between Nimai Pandita and Kolavecha Sridhara over the transcendental bananas
Transcendentalists performing drama about great devotee of the Lord, Sri Kolavecha Sridhara
Transcendentalists performing drama about great devotee of the Lord, Sri Kolavecha Sridhara
“Maha-prakasa pastime” - Lord Caitanya revealing His Supreme form as Krishna in Vrindavana with Srimati Radharani to His dear-most devotee Kolavecha Sridhara
Throwing and catching of the transcendental bananas at Kolavecha Sridhara’s place
Throwing of transcendental bananas
Transcendentalists at Kolavecha Sridhara's place
Beautiful Mango groves between Rajapur Jagannatha Temple and Kolavecha Sridhara's place
Sri Kolavecha Sridhara’s Place (recently renovated)
The Lord then ordered, “Go and bring Sridhara, immediately, let him see My opulence. He is constantly thinking about Me in separation. I want him to come right away. Go to the outskirts of town, wait there for anyone that calls for Me, and bring them here.” The Vaishnavas rushed to fulfil the Lord's order and went in the direction of Sridhara's residence.
The devotees who had gone to find Sridhara had covered only half of the way to his house, and could already hear his loud chanting. Following the voice they came to Sridhara's house. They said to him, “Please come with us O holy one and meet Lord Caitanya, we are greatly blessed being in your august presence.”
When Sridhara heard the mention of Lord Caitanya he became overwhelmed with ecstatic feelings and feel unconscious to the ground. Quickly the devotees picked him up, and they very slowly and gently led him to the Lord.
Lord Caitanya was extremely happy to see Sridhara and called out loud and warm invitations to him saying, “Come, come, you have amply worshiped Me, many lifetimes you spent in My devotional service. In this life you have rendered abundant devotional service, I have tasted your `kola' (banana) countless of times. Many times I took different things from your hands, you have forgotten the verbal exchanges we had.”
The Lord Caitanya said, “O Sridhara, behold My beauty. Today I will bestow on you eight mystic perfections.” The great devotee Sridhara lifted up his head and saw that Lord Visvambhara had changed His complexion and become as dark as the bark of the tamala tree, He was holding a flute in His hands, and on His right stood Lord Balarama and the entire scene was engulfed in a glowing radiance. He saw Lord Brahma and Lord Siva approach their Lordships and offering lotus and betel they began reciting verses in praise of the Supreme Lord. Lord Ananta Sesa standing behind the Lord His hood above the Lord's head like am umbrella, and saintly personalities like Sanaka, Narada, and Sukadeva Gosvami offered prayers to the Lord. All around the beautiful heavenly damsels sang glorifying the Lord with folded hands.
Sridhara seeing this wonder of wonders was so astounded that in the next moment he slumped to the ground. The Lord called out Sridhara's name asking him to rise, Sridhara on hearing the Lord's command awoke from his swoon and stood up.
Lord Caitanya instructed Sridhara, “Sridhara, say something to glorify Me.” Sridhara replied, “Dear Lord I am illiterate and foolish. What intelligence do I possess to glorify Your Lordship?” But the Lord said, “Anything you speak is always glorifying Me.”
By the Lord's order mother Sarasvati, the goddess of learning, now presided over Sridhara's power of speech, and Sridhara began to glorify the Lord. “All glories to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. All glories to Lord Visvambhara, the Lord of Navadvipa. All glories to the Lord of the entire cosmic manifestation. All glories to Visvambhara, the son of mother Saci. All glories to Lord Caitanya whose incarnation and activities are a mystery even in the Vedas. He has appeared as the best of the brahmanas. Taking different forms, He appears in every millennium to uphold religious principles. Secretly You went about the town managing and maintaining everything, Your real identity unknown to all, for it is impossible for anyone to know Your real self without Your mercy.”
“O Lord You are religious principles, prescribed duties, devotional service, knowledge, the scriptures, the Vedas, and the object of all meditation. You are the mystic perfections, the ever increasing opulence, the enjoying spirit, and the path of mystic yoga. You are the faith, benevolence, illusion, and greed in man. You are Indra the king of heaven, the moon, fire, and water. You are the sun, the air, wealth and strength, devotion, and liberation. You are Lord Brahma and Lord Siva. O Lord, You are not in need of anything because everything belongs to You.”
“You had told me earlier that mother Ganges whom I worship has emanated from Your lotus feet, and yet due to my sinful heart I would not recognize You. I had no realization of Your supreme position. You are the same Supreme Personality who had preciously blessed Gokula with Your appearance and now have again incarnated as the sweet Lord of Navadvipa. You are the embodiment of the highest esoteric process, that same devotional science You have propagated all over Navadvipa.”
“Bhisma defeated You (by making You break Your promise) in battle because of his devotional service, and for the same reason mother Yasoda bound You. Satyabhamadevi could once sell You, her husband Lord Krishna, because of her desire and love for You. Captivated by the love of Your devotees You carried the young cowherd boys on Your shoulders. The entire living creation carries and cherishes thoughts of You in their hearts, yet You carried Sridhama on Your shoulders. It is a great secret and mystery how You are defeated by Your devotees.”
“Although You are defeated by devotional service, You keep devotion hidden. That quality of Yours is not present now, for the whole world is begging for devotion. Previously You were defeated by only a few, but now everyone will bind You with devotion.”
Hearing Sridhara’s prayers, which were inspired by Sarasvati the goddess of learning, all the Vaishnavas were struck with wonder.
The Lord said, “O Sridhara, choose some benediction. Today I’ll give you the eight mystic perfections.” Sridhara replied, “O my Lord, please do not worry for me or deceive me anymore.”
The Lord said, “Seeing Me cannot go in vain. You must receive a boon according to your desire.” Lord Visvambhara repeatedly said, “Ask for something. Ask for something.”
Then Sridhara said, “O Lord, give me this boon: May that brahmana who took my khola (banana) be my Lord birth after birth. May the feet of that brahmana who quarrelled with me be my Lord.” Saying these words Sridhara’s ecstatic love increased, and he raised his arms and cried loudly.
Seeing Sridhara’s devotion, all the Vaishnavas present became overwhelmed and cried. Lord Visvambhara smiled and said, “Listen Sridhara. I’ll make you king of an empire.”
But Sridhara replied, “I do not want anything, just allow me to chant Your Holy name.”
The Lord said, “Sridhara, you were able to see this manifestation because you are My servant. That is why your mind did not waver, and therefore I gave you devotion which is unknown by Vedic study.”
Hearing the benediction received by Sridhara, all the Vaishnavas chanted, “Jaya! Jaya!”
Sri Vrindavana Das Thakura narrates in Sri Caitanya Bhagavata, he did not have wealth, followers, or scholarship. Who can understand these servants of Lord Caitanya? But what can learning, wealth, beauty, fame, or good birth do? They simply increase one’s false ego and everything becomes useless. Whatever Sridhara received by selling bananas and roots will not even be seen by someone who lives for billions of years and has unlimited opulence. In sense gratification there is only false ego and envy, and the ultimate result is degradation.
Whoever ridicules an uneducated, poor devotee will certainly go to the hell known as Kumbhipaka for his offense. Who has the ability to recognize a Vaishnava? Although he may have all perfection, he may appear wretched. This Kolavecha Sridhara is the prime example, as he neglected the eight perfections for devotional service.
Although a Vaishnava may appear to be suffering, know for certain that he is in great happiness. Everyone is blinded by pride and sense gratification. Being proud of their education and wealth, they fail to recognise a Vaishnava.
One who hears these topics of Sridhara offering prayers and receiving benediction will attain the wealth of love of God. One who does not blaspheme Vaishnavas attains Krishna through loving devotional service at His lotus feet. Nothing is obtained through blasphemy except sinful life, therefore great devotees never engage in such activities. Lord Sri Krishna will without doubt deliver one who sincerely chants the Holy name.
When Sridhara saw what Visvambhara was doing he came running, shouting, “O death, I am finished!” I know You have come to my house to destroy me!” So saying, Sridhara the most saintly personality, fainted on the ground out of great spiritual trepidation.
Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu with utmost satisfaction said, “My whole being has now become purified. Today finally I have attained devotion to the lotus feet of Lord Sri Krishna simply by drinking water from Sridhara's pot.” Saying this the Lord shed tears of divine ecstasy. The lesson the Lord taught everyone through this pastime was that by drinking water from a pure devotee’s water pot one immediately develops attachment to the lotus feet of Lord Krishna.
In the Padma Purana, Adi khanda 31.112 it is stated, “The wise devotee who is desirous of purifying himself completely of all sinful reactions should specifically approach a pure Vaishnava and beg from him his food remnants. If all this is not available then at least he should beg some of his water remnants, or drink the water that has washed his feet.”
The devotees began to cry in great joy to see the Supreme Lord manifest such mercy and special affection towards His devotee. Lord Nityananda, Sri Gadadhara Pandita, Sri Advaita Acarya, and Srivasa Pandita fell down to the ground and began to roll and cry. Haridasa Thakura, Vakresvara, Candrasekhara, Jagadananda and the numerous other close associates of the Lord, were unable to contain their spiritual emotions, they burst out in tears of exultation. They cried out Krishna's sweet name. Sridhara's house became the blessed exhibition site for the highest form of spiritual ecstasy in love of Godhead. The whole universe exulted with the chanting of Krishna's holy name; Lord Gauracandra smiled benignly His mission was accomplished.
Sri Vrindavana Das Thakura in Sri Caitanya Bhagavata narrates, just behold the glories of this devotee's devotion, the Supreme Lord reciprocated his devotion with His full mercy. The Lord drank water with infinite pleasure from Sridhara's water pot made of a base metal. The pot was full of repairs and dents, a pot that was used for many purposes. The Lord enjoyed drinking from this pot because He was drinking Sridhara's transcendental devotion to Him and so the common liquid water was immediately transformed into divine ambrosia. Thus the Lord taught that everything in relation to a pure devotee is transcendental.
The Supreme Lord, on the other hand, ignores the valuable gem-studded water pot of insolent materialists. Supreme Lord Caitanya is unattainable by wealth, fame or erudition, but He is captivated by unalloyed devotion. He accepts any offering from His surrendered devotees, irrespective of any rules and regulations for offering. If His devotee has little and ordinary food then He forcibly takes it from him, as He has displayed this quality in Dwarka with Sudama Vipra. It has been seen that the Lord sells Himself to His devotees. When the Pandavas were banished to the forest, Lord Sri Krishna relished a simple offering of leafy vegetables form Yudhisthira Maharaja. Lord Krishna manifests Himself to His devotees according to the desire and mellow of the devotees. Lord Krishna allows Himself to be sold or purchased by His unalloyed devotees. All the scriptures have described this wonderful quality of Lord Krishna that He specially favors His pure devotees and is always protecting them personally from all calamities.
One should see the magnanimous position of a pure devotee and thus be inspired to develop spiritual attachment for
Krishna. Therefore the devotees position is almost equal to the Lord Himself, and the Lord always sees His devotees in a more exalted position that Himself even. Although the pure devotees are almost equal to the Lord Himself, yet they are constantly wanting to serve Him in loving attachment.
It was difficult to understand the transformation that took place in the Lord after He drank water form Sridhara's water pot. Sridhara was thunderstruck and with tears brimming over in his eyes holding straw in the teeth in utter humility he knelt before the Lord chanting His holy name and said,
“What have You done my Lord, what water have You drunk?”
But Lord Visvambhara's bliss was uncheckable after having drunk water from His devotees water vessel, He danced in ecstasy surrounded by all His associates who sang and danced along with Him. Lord Nityananda and Gadadhara Pandita were always like two jewels decorating the Lord's either side.
When Kolavecha Sridhara heard about the arrival of Lord Nityananda, he immediately came forward and offered prostrated obeisance. He worshipped Lord Nityananda and said, “O, my Lord! You are very merciful towards this menial servant of Yours. I humbly request You to kindly take rest today at my residence.” Lord Nityananda said, “You are very fortunate person. Lord Gauranga has personally blessed you. Today all of us will stay here and take rest.” Kolavecha Sridhara was extremely satisfied to hear this desire of Lord Nityananda.
Immediately he brought all the ingredients for cooking and had a devotee brahmana cook the feast. First Lord Nityananda and Srivasa Thakura took prasadam and after they had concluded their meal, Sri Jiva very happily honoured prasadam. When Nityananda Prabhu reclined on a bed after taking prasadam, Kolavecha Sridhara, massaged His divine lotus feet.
When will I shout “Ha Gauranga!” at this Visrama-sthala?
When will I roll upon the ground and cry in solitude?
Overwhelmed with emotions of ecstatic love, will I ever see the beautiful Gauranga-sundara drinking water from Sridhara’s iron pot?
And when, by the power of great fortune, will my eyes behold the young son of Saci in the midst of a rousing kirtana along with Lord Nityananda, Sri Advaita Acarya, Sri Gadadhara Pandita and Srivasa Pandita, dancing and begging for ecstatic love at the house of Kolavecha Sridhara?”
Kolavecha Sridhara’s drama: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nc07X0R8ZYE
Sri Navadvipa Mandala Parikrama: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=14426
Holy Pilgrimages: www.Holy-Pilgrimages.com
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Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare |Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare ||