Sometimes some vegetable grew on this thatched roof. He would sell bananas and banana leaves, and banana trunks and roots to make a meagre living. He would always charge the lowest, fairest price from his customers. Whatever little money he earned, he would first spend half of it to worship Lord Vishnu and mother Ganges. And with whatever remained, he somehow maintained his life. He always chanted the Holy Names of Krishna and was filled with ecstatic love for Krishna. Sometimes he would chant Krishna’s Holy Names the entire night. Many of his atheists and wealthy neighbours mocked at him. “Why don’t you worship goddess Durga?” some asked him. “You are so lean and thin. You have nothing to eat. Krishna has given you nothing. You should pray to Durga and earn more money.” And others said, “You cry and chant the whole night because you suffer hunger pangs and you are in pain.” Some would throw an occasional vegetable at him and say, “Here, take this and feed your empty belly and satisfy your hunger; and stop crying, for God’s sake!”
Sridhar didn’t mind any of the taunts and criticisms. He was in an inner state of bliss because his heart remembered Krishna with love and devotion as he chanted Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.
Vishwambhar would come daily to Sridhar’s house and one day he said, “Look at your clothes. They have so many holes and patches. What is the use of your chanting and worshipping of Krishna? The worshippers of demi-gods have such nice clothes and why don’t you also worship these devtas for material prosperity? What are you eating? You hardly have any food in your house? You are so skinny and emaciated. And look at your house. It’s made of straw and could collapse any moment.”
Sridhar said, “Oh Nimai, the king wears beautiful silks with expensive jewels and ornaments. He lives in a palace eating fine foods. And a bird resides in a small grass nest and puts on the same feather whole life. He spends the whole life eating some small insects and leaves. Yet, both the king and the bird pass time in the same way.”
To be continued…