My offering to HH Bhakti Charu Maharaja
By Indradyumna Swami
Dear disciples of Bhakti Charu Maharaja,
Please accept my most humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
On this auspicious day of Guru Purnima I want to express my condolences to all of you on the departure of your beloved spiritual master, Bhakti Charu Maharaja. I had planned to write an offering to him today, but I feel a letter to console all of you in your grief would be of greater service to him.
My heart goes out to all of you wherever you are in the world. The outpouring of love and appreciation for your spiritual master currently flooding the worldwide ISKCON community shows the immensity of his influence and personality. He touched the hearts of countless devotees, even those he never met:
“The transcendental attractive qualities of an exalted devotee popularise his presence everywhere even though he may be hidden from public view, just as musk spreads its fragrance everywhere even when locked away in a tight container.”
[Srila Rupa Goswami – Vidagdha Madhava]As your Guru Maharaja was a close friend of mine for many years, I am crying alongside you. Although we know intellectually from our philosophy that the “soul is eternal and never dies”, we cannot deny the sadness we feel when a devotee departs. Srila Prabhupada refers to the devotees’ soft-heartedness in a purport in Bhagavad Gita:
“While observing the situation of his enemy, Arjuna stood up on the chariot, but he was so afflicted with lamentation that he sat down again, setting aside his bow and arrows. Such a kind and soft-hearted person, in the devotional service of the Lord, is fit to receive self-knowledge.”
[Bhagavad-gita 1.46]These next few days and weeks will be a time of grieving for you. Please know that I and our entire movement grieve with you. It must be so.
“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to be born, a time to die … a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.”
[Ecclesiastes 3:1-8]In a Vyasa Puja offering he wrote in 1961 our beloved Srila Prabhupada personally expressed the same anguish we are all now feeling in reference to the departure of his spiritual master:
“On this day, O my master, I made a cry of grief; I was not able to tolerate the absence of my guru.”
I and all my dear godbrothers and godsisters have also experienced this in the loss of our spiritual master. To this day I have not recovered from Srila Prabhupada’s departure. I live in a constant state of separation from my beloved master, as well as from other godbrothers and godsisters who have since departed.
“Only in the agony of parting do we look into the depths of love.”
[ George Elliot ]The question many of you are pondering now is how you will continue on without the physical presence of the dearest person in your life. The answer is that you will continue on by remembering all the many valuable lessons you learned from him both through all that he did and all that he said.
The most important thing to remember is that there is never any question of separation from your spiritual master. Through the transcendental medium he will always be with you. This is confirmed in a 1929 edition of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati’s Harmonist magazine where we find the famous stanza Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur wrote after visiting the samadhi of Srila Haridasa Thakura in Jagannatha Puri:
“He reasons ill who tells that Vaisnavas die
when thou art living still in sound.
The Vaisnavas die to live and living try
to spread a holy life around!”
Srila Prabhupada personally expressed the same sentiment in a letter he wrote to me in 1971:
“My dear Bhakta Brian, I can understand your feelings of separation from me after I left the Detroit temple. I am also feeling separation from my guru maharaja, although I feel he is always watching over and protecting me.”
You can also find solace in knowing that although Bhakti Charu Maharaja has left us, he is Srila Prabhupada’s eternal servant and is either on another preaching adventure with Srila Prabhupada or is, by his grace, engaged in eternal life in the transcendental realm. Srila Prabhupada himself confirms that, for the devotee, both living and dying are the same:
Prabhupada: We have no such difference, disappearance and appearance.
Giriraja: Except in your case. We don’t want disappearance.
Prabhupada: Jivo va maro va. Because we are going to accept eternity, so appearance and disappearance of this body is not a very important thing. Nitya-lila, eternal life – that is our Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
[Room conversation, Vrindavan, 1977]You can be very proud of your spiritual master! He spent a lifetime in service to Srila Prabhupada and Krsna; he captured their hearts and they have taken him from this world of birth and death to be with them.
“O best of My devotees, for so many lifetimes you have abandoned your wife and home to attain Me. For the sake of My service you endured untold miseries such as cold, wind, hunger, thirst, and pain. Maintaining your life by begging, you tolerated countless abuses and insults from others. Unable to repay you, I have become indebted to you. For you, lordship over the entire earth, sovereignty of the heavenly planets, the position of Lord Brahma and all the various mystic perfections, are completely unsuitable. How could I grant them to you? These things are grass and straw which animals find enjoyable, but they are not fit for humans. Though I’m unconquerable, today I’ve certainly been conquered by you. Now I’m taking shelter of the creeper of your excellent character and gentle conduct!”
[Madhurya Kadambini, Srila Visvanath Cakravarti Thakur, Eight Nectar Shower, 4b, Bhagavan glorifies His devotee]Once again, my heart goes out to all of you. If I can be of any service to any one of you, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Your servant in service to your spiritual master,
The whole world collapsed for me
My dear disciples of His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami Maharaja,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
I will not attempt to imagine the pain and emotions you are going through at this moment after the departure of your beloved Guru Maharaja. I can only join Anuttama Prabhu’s memory of the pain and emotions we experienced when His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada left this mortal world. Although we were aware that Srila Prabhupada was very sick at that time, the thought that he could pass away from this world never crossed my mind, not even for a second. Srila Prabhupada was my life and soul – period. When I received the devastating news of Srila Prabhupada’s departure while preaching in Beirut (Lebanon) at that time, I was sitting in my room for two days, not being able to eat or sleep or do anything else, except chanting the Holy Name and remembering Srila Prabhupada with tears constantly flowing from my eyes. The whole world collapsed for me. Was there any use to continue?
Now I had to take shelter of Srila Prabhupada’s vani form, remembering him saying that he always felt the presence of his Guru Maharaja. This form of the spiritual master the disciple can render service to day and night, and Srila Prabhupada reciprocated in so many ways. Additionally, I had the association of all the wonderful Godbrothers and -sisters of which I am ever grateful. They all shared their precious experience with Srila Prabhupada, which broadened the limited experience I had with His Divine Grace. This vani form of Srila Prabhupada always remains with me till my last breath.
All I am trying to say is that we disciples of Srila Prabhupada would like to ask your permission to give our support to you at this difficult time in your spiritual life. We love and respect you, because you are the spiritual sons and daughters of your Guru Maharaja whom we love and respect dearly. As Anuttama Prabhu so nicely wrote, your Guru Maharaja often stressed the importance of cooperating with each other in our service to Srila Prabhupada’s movement. This was the direct instruction of Srila Prabhupada. If we can serve that instruction, your Guru Maharaja and Srila Prabhupada will be very pleased.
HH Bhakti Charu Swami has tested positive for Covid-19 and is currently in critical condition in the ICU
Please accept our humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
We write today to inform you that HH Bhakti Charu Swami has tested positive for Covid-19 and is currently in critical condition in the ICU at a hospital in the USA.
We request the worldwide community of devotees to offer heartfelt prayers for Maharaja’s prompt and smooth recovery.
As you all know, HH Bhakti Charu Swami is a most respected Vaisnava leader who has generously given his life to the service of his beloved spiritual master, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Maharaja is an initiating spiritual master, a member of the Governing Body Commission, a renowned speaker on the Vedic scriptures, a most melodic kirtan leader, an innovator in Krishna conscious arts and culture, and above all, a dedicated servant of Srila Prabhupada in whichever capacity he serves. He began his life in Krishna consciousness as Srila Prabhupada’s personal servant and secretary and continues every day to serve Srila Prabhupada in the same personal manner.
Again, please pray with all your heart, in line with the instructions Srila Prabhupada gave his own disciples when he was not well, “My Dear Lord Krishna, if you so desire, please cure His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami.”
Thank you very much.
Bhakti Caitanya Swami
GBC Executive Committee
HIS GRACE HANSADUTTA PRABHU. (ACBSPgen1) Posted May 1st 2020
By Lokanath Swami
In 1976 Hansadutta Swami had come to India with two German busses filled with mostly German and European devotees. I was a new sannyasi and Srila Prabhupada arranged for me to join Hansadutta Swami’s World Travelling Sankirtana Party.
We traveled together all over North India for nearly 5 months holding festivals, performing street Sankirtana and distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books. Srila Prabhupada was very pleased. We developed a strong bond of friendship and we became buddies. He was one of my favorite kirtaneers. Then we were together again during Srila Prabhupada’s final days in Vrndavana taking turns to sing for Srila Prabhupada. Amongst others, Hansadutta and I were in favor of and were preparing for Srila Prabhupada’s pilgrimage on a bullock cart to Govardhan.
Later on I still maintained my friendship with Hansadutta Prabhu, and yesterday when I heard the news of his departure the fond memories flooded back and stirred up emotions in me and I could not resist crying. I will miss him dearly.
May Srila Prabhupada forgive him and engage him eternally in the service of his Sankirtana movement.
My personal comment:
Hansadutta Prabhu was and is my most ecstatic kirtan leader, especially in the early days 1974- 1976 in Schloss Rettershof, near Frankfurt, where Srila Prabhupada gave me first or Hari Nama initiation in 1974. ” Your name is Yadavendra Das.” Video available. We used to travel all week, every week, on Prabhupada book distribution throughout what was then called West Germany. The high light of the week was Hansadutta Prabhu’s Saturday kirtans from about 16.00 hours to 21.00 / 22.00 hours. These were very, very, very ecstatic and energetic times. And I used to dance, dance and dance. What Vaikuntha feelings of liberation Hansadutta Prabhu gave me !!! His Holiness Sacinandan Swami will corroborate these matters, so can His Grace Manidhara Prabhu.
I was part and parcel of the 1976 India bus party mentioned by HH Lokanath Swami. We traveled from Frankfurt, Germany to Vrindavan, UP, India, via New Mayapur, France where we met Srila Prabhupada, Austria, Turkey, Iran along the Caspian Sea, Kabul, Afganistan, where we held some Krishna conscious programs, then Vrindavan where I was recommended for and received second initiation from Srila Prabhupada. Second birth in Vrndavan, that makes me a Vrajbasi! HH Holiness mentions only the 2 big buses. There were 2 smaller, brand new Mercedes vans as well. So four vehicles altogether. At that times I did not have a driver’s licence and therefore never drove any of the vehicles. Other members of the party were HG Iskvaku, (who is also on the picture, just on the right of Hansadutta Prabhu), HG Atmavidya, HG Talamka, HG Uthal Prabhus (who also lives in Brisbane, Australia), HG Urdhvaga Prabhu and others as well. Hansadutta Prabhu did not travel with us. He was waiting for us in India. But the whole thing was going on under his supervision.
I join HH Lokanath Swami in his shedding of tears with my own tears on the news of Hansadutta Prabhu’s departure. But these are also tears of joy, as I feel Hansadutta Prabhu must have reached the ultimate perfection of life and must have returned Back Home, Back to Godhead. There were some serious preaching setbacks under his leadership, but from Srila Prabhupada’s letters, we take it that He never ever rejected him. On the contrary, Srila Prabhupada consoled and supported him when Hansadutta Prabhu was feeling down due to his own failures. We also get often the impression that Srila Prabhupada actually enjoyed Hansadutta prabhu’s association. Just look at the above picture! A totally blissful situation! This may also have been due to the fact that Hansadutta Prabhu pioneered book production and distribution in German language, especially Bhagavad-gita As It Is or in German language Bhagavad-Gita Wie Sie Ist. Anything to do with book production, book distribution and distribution of real knowledge holds a special place not only in Srila Prabhupada’s heart but in the heart of our whole Brahma Madhva Gaudiya sampradaya. And I am not sure what His Holiness means by: “May Srila Prabhupada forgive him.”
Srila Prabhupada is simultaneously both a revolutionary and an extremely polished diplomate as well. But in this material world, His main thrust, however, is the Krishna conscious revolution. Srila Prabhupada never hesitated to break the conventional Satyam brüyät priyam brüyät ma brüyät satyam abrüyät. [If one speaks the truth, he should speak it palatably. One should not speak unpalatable truth.] when the need arose.
“A strong faith that by Krishna consciousness one will be elevated to the highest perfection of life is called vyavasäyätmikä intelligence. The Caitanya-caritämåta (Madhya 22.62) states:
‘çraddhä’-çabde—viçväsa kahe sudåòha niçcaya
kåñëe bhakti kaile sarva-karma kåta haya
Faith means unflinching trust in something sublime. When one is engaged in the duties of Krishna consciousness, he need not act in relationship to the material world with obligations to family traditions, humanity, or nationality. Fruitive activities are the engagements of one’s reactions from past good or bad deeds. When one is awake in Krishna consciousness, he need no longer endeavor for good results in his activities. When one is situated in Krishna consciousness, all activities are on the absolute plane, for they are no longer subject to dualities like good and bad. The highest perfection of Krishna consciousness is renunciation of the material conception of life. This state is automatically achieved by progressive Krishna consciousness.
The resolute purpose of a person in Krishna consciousness is based on knowledge. Väsudevaù sarvam iti sa mahätmä su-durlabhaù: a person in Krishna consciousness is the rare good soul who knows perfectly that Väsudeva, or Krishna, is the root of all manifested causes. As by watering the root of a tree one automatically distributes water to the leaves and branches, so by acting in Krishna consciousness one can render the highest service to everyone—namely self, family, society, country, humanity, etc. If Krishna is satisfied by one’s actions, then everyone will be satisfied.
Service in Krishna consciousness is, however, best practiced under the able guidance of a spiritual master who is a bona fide representative of Krishna, who knows the nature of the student and who can guide him to act in Krishna consciousness. As such, to be well versed in Krishna consciousness one has to act firmly and obey the representative of Krishna, and one should accept the instruction of the bona fide spiritual master as one’s mission in life.” BGAII 2.41 purport.
All glories to His Grace Hansadutta Prabhu and his significant contribution to Lord Caitanya’s worldwide Sankirtan movement!
HIS GRACE GOPINATH ACHARYA PRABHU. (ACBSPgen1)
It is with sadness that we learned of the passing of His Grace Gopinath Acharya Prabhu, disciple of the Founder Acharya of ISKCON, Srila Prabhupada.
He passed away near ISKCON New Govardhana, NSW, Australia, Tuesday 7th of February 2017 at about 6PM. Gopinath Prabhu was an enthusiastic book distributor and later on cared for the cows. May he achieve the best possible destination. Subject to confirmation, heart failure is suspected. Funeral ceremonies will be held tomorrow Friday 1oth at ISKCON New Govardhana. Dated: Thursday, February 9th 2017.
“It is clearly stated that “This Paramätmä, Vishnu, is staying, hrid, hrid-deshe, in the heart.” Therefore heart is always palpitating. And the jivätmä is also there and……. Then when the jivätmä leaves this body, that is called heart failure. That is heart failure. Heart is palpitating, but as soon as the jivätmä goes, heart fails. And these materialist science, they cannot give any cause. They are giving, what is that, oxygen gas and every minute injecting to keep the palpitation of the heart, throbbing of the heart, continuous. But how they can do it? As soon as the living soul is depart from the heart there is no more palpitating. It is simply a lump of matter. That requires intelligence, that this matter is never the living soul.”760404SB.Vrn
HIS GRACE VENU GOPAL PRABHU. (ACBSPgen1)
We have just received this morning of February 13th 2018, confirmation of the demise of His Grace Venu Gopal Prabhu, another direct disciple of the Founder-Acarya of ISKCON, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. After a long struggle with illness, death has caught up with him, as it will catch up with all of us. Death and taxes cannot be avoided. We remember Srila Prabhupada words about death. The cat catches the kitten in its mouth and the cat catches the rat as well. The former is an affectionate bite. The latter is a death bite. Similarly for those who have dedicated their lives to the service of God, Krishna, and have duly taken initiation in the Brahma Madhya Gaudiya Sampradaya, as did His Grace Venu Gopal Prabhu, death represents a promotion to the best of all worlds, the spiritual world, Vaikuntha, where there is no anxiety. In Vaikuntha everything is eternal, full of knowledge and bliss and everyone gladly accept Sri Krishna as the supreme predominator.
Venu Gopal Prabhu lived near ISKCON’s New Govardhana farm, New South Wales, Australia, with his family. He was an enthusiastic, smiling and friendly member of the Hare Krishna community, an effective orator and held the position of Minister for Cow Protection in the Australian Yatra. Our thoughts are with him and all those near and dear ones he left behind. May he bless us from his current privileged position. He has joined Srila Prabhupada’s ISKCON in the spiritual world. All glories to Srila Prabhupada, the Founder Acharya of ISKCON, Institutor of the BBT and Founder of BTG magazine!
HIS GRACE RAVANARI PRABHU ( THE SERVANT OF THE ENNEMY OF RAVANA) (ACBSPgen1)
Hrimati Mataji: It is with a heavy heart to give the news that our dear godbrother Ravanari Das has left his body March 1, 2018, in Ottawa, Canada. He died of natural causes in a hospital.
Ravanari has lived in Mayapur, senior Brahmachari Ashram for several years. Born in Palestine, he was Srila Prabhupada’s first Muslim disciple. He joined the movement 1974 in Germany. Later on he preached to the Muslim community in the Middle East and India. He moved to Canada and, for 16 years, dedicated his life to translating Srila Prabhupada’s books in his native Arabic language. Ravanari suffered several small strokes, after which he moved to Mayapur.
My personal note: In the seventies, in what was then called “West Germany”, we were comrades in “Krishna Sankirtan Book Distribution combat” and based in Schloss Rettershof, literally the Court of the Savior, in Fishbach, near Koenigstein, where Srila Prabhupada lectured in 1974. This is in the Frankfurt am Main area. We would leave the Schloss every Monday of the week in our vans loaded with Srila Prabhupada’s books and return empty handed Friday evening or Saturday morning depending on distances. For the purpose of fund raising, we sometimes sold records such as Srila Prabhupada’s Krishna Meditation Album. Krishna Meditation Album was recorded at the Schloss in 1974. Srila Prabhupada comments:
“The songs which I have recorded there I have heard today on the record, and they are very nice, especially the “Prayers to the Six Goswamis.” It has come out very successful on the whole. I hope the German people will like the Bengali tunes. What is the report of how they are selling?” 741112let.Hansadutta
Saturday afternoon and evening, Hansaduta Prabhu would lead for several hours some of the most ecstatic kirtans ever. There were between 3 and 6 of us in each van, which represented our home for the week. Ravanari Prabhu was martially spirited, a Sankirtan team leader and an excellent book distributor himself. I shall always remember his distinctive, strong and peculiar way of chanting the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra, a bit like a low tone, controlled volume, roaring of a lion. I sometimes felt a little intimidated (from medieval Latin intimidat- ‘made timid’) in his strong presence. Due to his substantial service contribution to Lord Caitanya Sankirtan mission, he has attained the ultimate destination. All glories to Sriman Ravanari Prabhu!
HIS GRACE NIKHILANANDA PRABHU (ACBSPgen1)
It is learned from Dandavats.com that my dear Godbrother and old acquaintance from the seventies and eighties in Germany, His Grace Nikhilananda Prabhu has passed away on the 11th of July 2019. He was always in a jovial mood and seemed to me as cool person.
I hadn’t met him for a long time and remember him as in the second picture. May he attain the supreme destination. All glories to HG Nikhilananda Prabhu and his service to Lord Caitanya’s worldwide Sankirtan Movement. All glories to Srila Prabhupada, the Founder-Acarya of ISKCON and Institutor of the BBT and BTG magazine.