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."
Kolavecha Sridhara is an eternal playmate and associate of Lord Caitanya and is very dear to Him. He is known as Kolavecha Sridhara because he made his living by selling kola (banana) leaves, plants, stalks and plates. He was so poor that he lived in a broken down hut and did not even had proper utensils for cooking. Despite his impoverished condition, Sridhara faithfully spent fifty percent of his earnings to worship Mother Ganga. He was constantly engrossed in chanting Lord's Holy Names:
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
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."
When Lord Caitanya was manifesting His pastimes as a scholar, Nimai Pandita, He acted in a bold and insolent way. He took advantage of any excuse to visit Kolavecha Sridhara. The Lord would daily enjoy Sridhara's company on the pretext of bargaining with him. They would converse confidentially and joke with one another. In this way, several hours of the day were often passed very happily.
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."