Purushottam Nitai Das: He was so insignificant materially that no one cared about him. He was an unknown person living a life of penury. So, during the mahaprakash pastimes, when Lord Chaitanya told the devotees to bring Sridhar to him then all were amazed.
“Why is the Supreme Lord so concerned about him? And most importantly where could we find him?” The devotees were wondering.
“Go out and you will hear someone loudly chanting the holy names of the Lord. Follow the sound and you will come to the beautiful house of Sridhar.” Lord Chaitanya said.
Devotees immediately left and soon could hear the loud chanting of the Lord’s name. They followed the holy sound which took them to the house of Sridhar. It was a straw hut with so many holes in the roof, the floor was of mud. There was nothing worthy in the house except a rusted broken iron pot which contained little water.
When Sridhar saw the devotees he was overjoyed and when he heard that Lord Chaitanya wanted to see him he was overwhelmed with emotions.
He had a long association with the Supreme Lord. As a young boy the Lord would daily come to him to purchase banana products from him. Sridhar sold kola (banana) leaves, plants, stalks and plates and so was called Kolavecha Sridhar. The Lord used to have sweet loving exchange with his dear devotees. Sridhar was such a kind hearted person that he charged a very fair price for his products and whatever he earned fifty percent of it he used to spend in worshipping mother Ganges. But when Nimai Pandita would come to buy products from him then he would accuse Sridhar of charging exorbitant price. The argument about the price would go on for hours and finally the Lord would say I will not pay anything for the products and would just take it away or pay a very meagre amount much less than what Sridhar asked for. And the materially impoverished but spiritually nourished Sridhar could not say anything because he used to get captivated by the beauty of young Nimai.
During Krishna lila when a fruit selling lady saw Krishna then she offered the entire basket of fruits to Krishna without expecting any payment in return. She then immediately ran back home to bring more fruits for beautiful Krishna.
Nimai would often tell to Sridhar, “You just pretend to be poor, you have lots of wealth which you have hidden from all and a day will come when I will show your hidden treasure to the whole world.”
And today Lord Chaitanya had called him to show the world that how Sridhar’s opulence had no parallels in the whole world. As soon as Sridhar entered the house of Srivas Pandita where Lord Chaitanya was waiting for him, he became unconscious out of deep love.
Lord Chaitanya was very pleased to see his dear friend and he eagerly wanted to satisfy Sridhar’s all wishes today. And so he asked, “Tell me, what you want?” Sridhar remained quiet. Lord Chaitanya said, “If you want, I will give you the eight mystic powers or make you the king of an empire.” Sridhar did not say anything. He was too satisfied by being in the company of the beautiful Lord. But the Supreme Lord wasn’t satisfied; he thought he is not being able to satisfy Sridhar. It seemed that the Supreme Lord was ready to give anything to Sridhar today – even the throne of Indra or Brahma.
Unable to satisfy Sridhar, the Lord finally asked him what he wants. And Sridhar who was overjoyed with deep love said to the Lord, “I do not want anything from you. I just want YOU.” All the assembled devotees were struck with wonder seeing the extraordinary devotional qualities of Sridhar. Sridhar was echoing the mood which the Supreme Lord wants all his devotees to have:
“O almighty Lord, I have no desire to accumulate wealth, nor do I desire beautiful women, nor do I want any number of followers. I only want Your causeless devotional service birth after birth.” Siksastakam 4
Extremely pleased, the Supreme Lord granted pure devotional service to Sridhar which is very rarely achieved. Sridhar had no material wealth but had unparalleled spiritual wealth. Wealth of this ephemeral world does not accompany us when we leave this world. But if we have wealth of Krishna’s love in our heart then it remains with us for eternity bringing deep satisfaction and unlimited joy. Sridhar’s exemplary life shows what pure devotion is. In our spiritual journey we should look within and check if we are following the footsteps of Sridhar or not. If not then we should immediately go for course correction if we sincerely want love of Krishna.
(Purushottam Nitai Das is a member of congregation at Iskcon Kolkata. He blogs at http://krishnamagic.blogspot.co.uk/)