Preaching styles among Vaisnavas may differ greatly. It is Krsna's special mercy that He empowered one Vaisnava, Srila Prabhupada, to spread Krsna consciousness all over the world and chose another, Srila Sridhara Maharaja, to stay in one place and preach. Many great Vaisnavas in our line did not preach extensively, such as Gaura Kisora dasa Babaji, Lokanatha Goswami, and Gadadhara Pandita. Yet all these devotees greatly served the Lord according to His desire and are considered most dear to the Lord. Srila Prabhupada's contribution is unique, unprecedented, and deserves the highest praise. This does not mean, however, that the activities and contributions of all other devotees must then be seen as insignificant or worthy of criticism. Each Vaisnava is unique and should be seen in this way:
Some say that Srila Sridhara Maharaja's tasteful illuminations of the most sublime aspects of madhurya-rasa and the tantamount importance of Srimati Radharani and Her dearmost Rupa Goswami [Manjari] are not in line with Srila Prabhupada's teachings. But we cannot deny that we are a madhurya-rasa sampradaya. It is our Gaudiya sampradaya's prominent teaching, and it was dealt with skillfully by Srila Prabhupada. He warned us not to read the tenth canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam, neglecting the first nine cantos, but presented Krsna Book early on, showing us the standard. We invite our readers to read Loving Search For the Lost Servant by Srila Sridhara Maharaja to see how he also tastefully presents madhurya-rasa. In this sublime literature, Srila Sridhara Maharaja presents the highest ideal, prayojana-tattva-- the ultimate aspiration of the followers of Sri Rupa--in a sweet and relishable way with such taste and careful consideration that one will not be mislead. Srila Prabhupada has also said:
Srila Sridhara Maharaja was certainly qualified to speak of the higher dealings of Krsna and His confidential associates, always doing so in the most tasteful way. Srila Sridhara Maharaja's statement in 1983 was that "our mission is to uphold the integrity of madhurya-rasa." Srila Sridhara Maharaja's article Fools Rush In Where Angels Fear to Tread clearly shows him doing this. The acaryas in our parampara are predominantly of madhurya-rasa. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's lila is audarya-lila--the magnanimous distribution of madhurya prema, manjari bhava-unnatojjvala-rasam sva-bhakti-sriyam. (Cc. Adi-lila 1.4)
prema-rasa-niryasa karite asvadanaraga-marga bhakti loke karite pracarana
The very name of Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Deva Goswami Maharaja--Bhakti Raksaka--literally means guardian of devotion, a name given by his Guru Maharaja, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, in recognition of his purity in the line of Srila Rupa Goswami. When it was suggested by his godbrothers that Srila Sridhara Maharaja had been granted entrance into manjari bhava by Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura at the time of the Thakura's departure, Sridhara Maharaja remarked that he felt that he was posted at the gate. Later, recalling this incident, he remarked further that "he was not letting just anyone in." Thus his discussions regarding the highest mellows of love, the prayojana-tattva, were always tasteful and appropriate. Srila Sridhara Maharaja spoke about things that Prabhupada had not gone into detail about, yet everything he spoke about was appropriate for advancing sadhakas. Should we think that our siksa guru will have nothing new to say? If so, what then is the purpose of a siksa guru?
A Pound Of Caution
Srila Sridhara Maharaja's penetrating explanation of Brahma Gayatri pointing to radha-dasyam revealed his profound depth of realization. He also gave a deep explanation of Sri Bhagavad-gita, revealing the extent to which the Gaudiya siddhanta is represented in the Gita. His brilliant and penetrating madhurya commentaries charmed and captured many hearts. But it is to be noted that Srila Sridhara Maharaja always gave us a pound of caution with every ounce of sweetness. His distaste for the sahajiya section was well-known. He referred to the premature siddha-pranali advocates as pukura-curiwale, pond thieves, and called their so-called sakhi identity false and imaginary and their achievement sheer concoction-having not even passed through anartha-nivrtti.
Examining the quality of Srila Sridhara Maharaja's writings, one cannot help but realize his substantial connection with the topmost object of our aspirations, his total internal absorption and dedication to the highest ideals of Vaisnavism. That Srila Sridhara Maharaja presented profound realizations and deep knowledge of the scriptures is self-evident to the unbiased observer. And this is the criterion for judging a Vaisnava as given by Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhupada--to take note of his internal absorption over his style of delivery or temperament. One simply has to read Srila Sridhara Maharaja's literatures or listen to the recordings of his talks for oneself.
Most of the controversy surrounding the subject of how many rounds Srila Sridhara Maharaja recommended one to chant centers on a misrepresentation of Srila Sridhara Maharaja's teachings. Although the following excerpt instructs that a devotee should chant sixteen rounds, it was propagated that Srila Sridhara Maharaja taught that only four rounds were necessary. The following excerpt from his book Search for Sri Krsna: Reality The Beautiful shows how his teachings were misrepresented:
Krsna Nama-An Express Train to Vrndavana
Srila Sridhara Maharaja continues:
Srila Sridhara Maharaja is enunciating the teachings of his Guru Maharaja, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, so one should be careful not to criticize these instructions of our param guru; rather, one should try to harmonize them with Srila Prabhupada's.
But Srila Sridhara Maharaja Was Outside ISKCON
While it is true that certain institutional considerations must be maintained, we cannot forget that it was Srila Prabhupada himself who opened the door for his disciples to hear from Srila Sridhara Maharaja: he sent Acyutananda Maharaja and others to Srila Sridhara Maharaja to receive siksa from him, and Srila Prabhupada informed his disciples that after he left this world they should "see my godbrother B. R. Sridhara Maharaja for questions of philosophy." The principle of siksa guru, essential in our evolving Krsna consciousness, is discussed in detail in Sri Guru and His Grace by Srila Sridhara Maharaja.
Did Srila Sridhara Maharaja Re-initiate Srila Prabhupada's Disciples?
Srila Sridhara Maharaja has sometimes been portrayed as eager to collect Srila Prabhupada's disciples, as several of his godbrothers were. The following section includes excerpts from various darsanas of Srila Sridhara Maharaja. These excerpts reveal that Srila Sridhara Maharaja's mood was in fact just the opposite. Srila Sridhara Maharaja expressed many times, however, that he could not ignore those having a faith crisis-he felt it his duty to give them strength, nurture them, and in some cases, when devotees did not have proper connection with a guru in good spiritual standing, connect them to the source of their newfound faith-a natural spiritual progression.
Many Came to Take Initiation
Srila Sridhara Maharaja related on August 19, 1980 that Srila Prabhupada had implicit faith in him because he knew that Srila Sridhara Maharaja would not re-initiate his disciples:
Prabhupada's Disciples Never Re-initiated
Srila Sridhara Maharaja never re-initiated Srila Prabhupada's disciples. Some of Srila Prabhupada's disciples, out of their great love and affection for Srila Sridhara Maharaja, recognizing his unlimited grace, felt that they wanted some sort of affectionate connection with him. So, he gave a name to them--in the spirit of encouragement--hardly could this be called a re-initiation. We may recall that it was Srila Sridhara Maharaja himself who suggested the name change from "Bhaktisiddhanta" dasa to "Bhaktivedanta" dasa for Srila Prabhupada--confirmed by the assembled godbrothers. Srila Sridhara Maharaja is also the sannyasa guru of Srila Prabhupada's sannyasa guru, so in this way, he is substantially connected to our parampara prior to Srila Prabhupada, and as such his activities should not be questioned in this way. Many have wished to deny this essential truth.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja's mood of disinterest in collecting disciples may be contrasted with the mood of other godbrothers of his, some of whom re-initiated or tried to capture Prabhupada's disciples during the time of Srila Prabhupada.  It would also be prudent to contrast his disinterested mood with regard to collecting disciples with the mood of those who criticized him, asserting that he was eager to collect followers and to live off Srila Prabhupada's accomplishments.
Re-initiation: Grand Disciples Only
Those who were grand disciples of Srila Prabhupada and had lost faith in their guru due to his being in questionable standing were sometimes given re-initiation. Srila Sridhara Maharaja was most careful in this regard. Many were refused. Mukunda Mala dasa, a first initiated disciple of Srila Prabhupada with diksa (gayatri) from a disciple of Srila Prabhupada, had lost all faith in his mantra guru and taken off his brahmana thread. In a disparaged state, he approached Srila Sridhara Maharaja. His faith in this divine process rekindled by the potent hearing sessions with Srila Sridhara Maharaja for many months, he requested diksa initiation. Srila Sridhara Maharaja then requested that his mantra guru be approached first for his blessings. However, his mantra guru replied to this humble request with, "I'd rather see him rot in the hell of guru aparadha." Hearing of this, Srila Sridhara Maharaja responded, "This will not increase his fame as a merciful man."
Many within ISKCON, having lost their taste for Krsna consciousness, found great inspiration and renewed enthusiasm in the words of Srila Sridhara Maharaja. Subsequent to giving initiation to devotees whose severely diminished faith had been rekindled, Srila Sridhara Maharaja sent them back to ISKCON with the instruction to continue their service there as before. The response of the ISKCON leaders to this was complete intolerance--the GBC issued an ultimatum that if these devotees wished to continue their service in ISKCON, they must reject their initiation. No proper attempt was made to approach Srila Sridhara Maharaja on a middle ground. Nor was consideration given to the faith that the devotees had developed in their siksa guru. These devotees then had no choice but to join completely with Srila Sridhara Maharaja. Srila Sridhara Maharaja's mood was that of relief work for the discouraged and disillusioned; in no way was he "trying to collect ISKCON's devotees as disciples." Devotees who joined with Srila Sridhara Maharaja in this way were requested to live and manage themselves separately from his matha.
When three disenfranchised devotees left ISKCON to take shelter of Srila Sridhara Maharaja, after hearing from him over a period of many months, they were given sannyasa--a natural, spiritual progression in their ongoing, intimate relationship. This was taken by the ISKCON leaders as an intolerable attack-that Srila Sridhara Maharaja was stealing their men. Srila Sridhara Maharaja's sweet and substantial response to this is presented in Sri Guru and His Grace, in the section entitled, "God Consciousness vs. Society Consciousness."
We Will Be Responsible to Mahaprabhu
Srila Sridhara Maharaja related that he felt it his duty to give proper advice when requested by devotees--that it was an offense to not help. Although asked by the GBC to not advise members of ISKCON, it soon became apparent to Srila Sridhara Maharaja that it was the GBC's activities that were the very cause of the majority of these devotees' problems. The GBC wished to maintain the status quo without any suggestion of reform. By providing counsel to disturbed ISKCON devotees, Srila Sridhara Maharaja provided a forum for the many problems within ISKCON to be voiced and proper solutions suggested. However, any such suggestion of impropriety on the part of the GBC, or reform of such, was strongly opposed.
On August 25, 1981, Srila Sridhara Maharaja addressed accusations that his preaching to disenheartened devotees was inappropriate:
On January 11, 1982, he spoke further:
Is Sridhara Maharaja's Mood Different From Prabhupada's?
A more pertinent question to ask is whether the GBC's mood is different from Srila Prabhupada's. Srila Prabhupada was always ready to show with reason, logic, and scriptural references how all his plans and decisions were solidly Krsna conscious. The GBC, on the other hand, has shown a different mood over the years.
If Srila Sridhara Maharaja's mood was different from Srila Prabhupada's, the difference did not compromise the unity they both lived for. Furthermore, Sridhara Maharaja knew well both the internal and external mood of Srila Prabhupada, and he was thus competent to advise Srila Prabhupada's disciples. Indeed, it is rare to find a siksa guru that is as acquainted with the mood of the diksa guru. Rather than being a point of departure for the disciple, the difference in mood between that of Srila Sridhara Maharaja and Srila Prabhupada served as an added advantage for the advancing disciples of Srila Prabhupada. This was so because it gave them the opportunity to rise above a kanistha-adhikari conception of guru and consider the very principle of guru, as opposed to the guru's particular style of presentation.
The GBC, in their 1995 Mayapur resolutions stated:
Somaka Maharaja, a respected sannyasi preacher in ISKCON, in his paper entitled In Search of Harmony, asks relevant questions in light of this GBC statement:
ISKCON: Kanistha Society?
Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu gave a still applicable description of ISKCON in his paper Ending the Fratricidal War (written in the mid-1980s). Therein he stated, "A society of devotees in which proper Vaisnava relations are not yet the norm is called a kanistha-adhikari society," and "spiritual immaturity often leads a kanistha-adhikari to identify spiritual advancement with organizational advancement. He thinks that attaining prestige, power, and the perquisites of office are evidence of spiritual advancement. In this way, competition becomes institutionalized in kanistha-adhikari societies." Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu reiterated in February 1995 this previous statement that ISKCON is a kanistha-adhikari society: "Well, lets face it, ISKCON is a society of kanisthas."
Living GBC Committee Wanted
In the Prabhupadanuga newsletter (Vol. 1, No. 1), Sivarama Swami suggests that the GBC members should be more in touch with the rest of ISKCON:
Srila Sridhara Maharaja's advice was similar:
Srila Prabhupada himself personally fired the entire GBC on at least two occasions and always reviewed their resolutions and rejected inappropriate ones. For example, a memo was sent to all ISKCON temples on April 8, 1972:
Three days later, Prabhupada wrote to Hamsaduta:
It is ironic that the far from perfect activities of the GBC differed from the standard of Srila Prabhupada greatly, while the apparent discrepancies between the teachings of Srila Prabhupada and those of Srila Sridhara Maharaja were misperceptions on the part of those who differed considerably from Srila Prabhupada in their administrative policy as well as their understanding of Gaudiya siddhanta.
 SP Ltr. Govinda Mj, Jan. 29, 1969 (not in BBT archives)
 SP Ltr. Mukunda, March 26, 1968, SP Ltr. Brahmananda,
September 17, 1968, SP Ltr. Karunasindhu, November 9, 1975