5th July 2020
Remembering Srila Bhakti Caru Swami Maharaja
(1) je ānilo prema-dhana koruṇā pracur heno prabhu kothā gelā ācārya-ṭhākur
(2) kāhā mora swarūp rūpa kāhā sanātan kāhā dāsa raghunātha patita-pāvan
(3) kāhā mora bhaṭṭa-juga kāhā kavirāj eka-kāle kothā gelā gorā naṭa-rāj
(4) pāṣāṇe kuṭibo māthā anale paśibo gaurāńga guṇera nidhi kothā gele pābo
(5) se-saba sańgīra sańge je koilo bilās se-sańga nā pāiyā kānde narottama dās
Nitai Gaur Premanande Hari Haribol. Srila Prabhupada ki jay. Srila Bhakti Caru Swami Maharaja Tirobhāva Tithi Mahotsava ki jay!
Yesterday after the news of Bhakti Caru Maharaja's departure, I wanted to hear Maharaja, so then I came across this song that Maharaja had sung on one of the Acarya’s disappearance's Tithi. Now we are ending up hearing the same song on the occasion of Srila Bhakti Charu Maharaja's disappearance day, the day after the disappearance.
Today we are celebrating Vyasa Purnima, Guru Purnima in India, in Pandharpur. I just heard that in America yesterday was Vyasa or Guru Purnima. Maharaja departed on Vyasa Purnima. It is a very auspicious departure in that sense. Today is the appearance of Srila Vyāsadeva here. One is an Appearance and another one is a disappearance. But it is also not like that. They only appear. Acarya or Gurus do not disappear. They keep appearing with their Vani, their life, and teachings. They will never disappear. They are eternal. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura says, "He reasons ill who thinks that Vaisnavas die or disappear". Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura says this is not true. They live on and on with their life and teachings, with their vani.
kīrtir yasya sa jīvati
Translation: One who has done service to the Lord lives forever.[ Cāṇakya Paṇḍita]
Sa jīvati. He lives forever who is kirtimaan. With the glories of that person, he lives forever. Maharaja has not disappeared. He is here in the form of his vani, his exemplary life and his teachings. In Marathi also there is a saying:
Marave Pari Kirti Rupi Urave
Of course, you have no choice. You have taken birth so you have to give up the body. But saying that, he should remain behind in the form of kirti. We cried and prayed to the Lord. The atmosphere was globally surcharged with prayers. There was Srila Bhakti Caru Maharaja Consciousness all around the world.
ebe jasa ghushuk tribhuvana
Translation: Your fame is spread all over the three worlds.[ Guru Vandana verse 4]
Literally, we were experiencing how Srila Bhakti Caru Swami Maharaja was on the mind of millions of devotees all over the world. prthivim sa sisyat. He has disciples all over the world. Some are his Diksa disciples, and some are Siksa disciples. My disciples are also Siksa disciples of Srila Bhakti Caru Swami Maharaja. Srila Bhakti Caru Maharaja was a Jagat Guru, not less. He represented Srila Vyāsadeva perfectly. He was the representative of Srila Vyāsa deva that we can understand by knowing, seeing, experiencing, how perfectly he was representing Srila Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada represented Srila Vyāsadeva. Srila Bhakti Caru Swami Maharaja represented Prabhupada so it is the same as he represented Śrīla Vyāsadeva.
We were talking yesterday also, remembering Bhakti Caru Swami Maharaja, I said how in a very short time he became Prabhupadised, as we say Krishanised and Iskonised. He came in contact with ISKCON in 1977, at Kumbha-mela in Prayagraj. Eleven months association, but very intense association, It became a marathon. Being in close proximity to Srila Prabhupada he captured Srila Prabhupada’s Spirit, imbibed Srila Prabhupada spirit. In some ways, Srila Prabhupada's disciples are a little like Prabhupada, representing Prabhupada. He was acting on behalf of Srila Prabhupada, following the dictation of Srila Prabhupada. He was completely Srila Prabhupada conscious. He was born near Kolkata and studied in Kolkata. Certainly he was born in the same state where Srila Prabhupada was born, in the same state where Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu appeared. The name Vyasa means one who expands. While representing Srila Vyāsadeva and Srila Prabhupada, Srila Bhakti Caru Swami Maharaja certainly expanded Krishna consciousness, expanded Vedic literature which is the main contribution of Srila Vyasadeva, the compiler of all the Vedic literature.
vedaiśh cha sarvair aham eva vedyo
That literature is meant for knowing the Lord. Srila Bhakti Caru Maharaja certainly expanded. "You preach in the English language" was the instruction of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. That instruction Srila Prabhupada certainly followed. Then Srila Bhakti Caru Swami Maharaja also followed to expand and spread Krishna consciousness. He spread the message of Sri Krsna Caitanya and spread the holy names around.
"Translate my books in as many as languages as possible." Srila Prabhupada wanted to further expand that body of knowledge. Different devotees stepped forward and translated Srila Prabhupada’s books in various languages. Srila Bhakti Caru Swami Maharaja gets the credit for translating all Srila Prabhupada's books into Bengali. There is the expansion. He is known for his own preaching in English. He traveled. That's what he was doing mostly and lately. He was traveling to all the six continents and representing Srila Vyasadeva and Srila Prabhupada wherever he went. Last time he went to America for the same purpose - to expand and spread Krishna consciousness.
As Srila Prabhupada left India and went to the West, Maharaja was following in his spiritual master’s footsteps. Risking his life, he went to America. Srila Prabhupada arrived in America in 1965 on September 17. The day on which Prabhupada arrived, our Sundar lal was also born on the same day. Prabhupada arrived in America and Sundar lal arrived in Mauritius. Srila Bhakti Caru Maharaja also appeared on the same date ie September 17. What I do know is how Prabhupada conscious he was. I have attended several Vyasa pujas. I had the good fortune and for my own purification, I was with him. He celebrated his Vyasa puja as Srila Prabhupada Memorial Day.
He is the one. No one else on the planet thought of making a documentary on Prabhupada's life, Abhay Charan. He wanted to see Srila Prabhupada's life and teachings immortalised. As we were celebrating Srila Prabhupad's Centennial anniversary each disciple was making his contributions. The translation of all Srila Prabhupada's books was a major contribution. The other one was the documentary. We had a grand celebration of Srila Prabhupada's 100th birth anniversary in the Netaji Subhas stadium in Kolkata. On that occasion, the Abhay Charan documentary was released. Maharaja dedicated Abhay Charan, as his offering to Srila Prabhupada.
What about the Ujjain temple? ISKCON Ujjain ki jaya! ISKCON Ujjain Temple and his glorious disciples, we are with you, Prabhus! We are right behind you. He built Ujjain temple within 10 months. That was another record. We know this. It seemed that the Bureau had just approved his purchase of land and building the temple and the next thing was that we received the invitation for the temple opening. On Nityananda Trayodasi of that year, before the GBC Meetings all the GBC'S landed in Ujjain and we had a grand temple opening celebration. I was thinking, he built a temple in Ujjain, Avantipur, in Lord Krsna's Guru Sandipani Muni’s home town. In that town, Srila Bhakti Caru Maharaja opened the ISKCON temple, continuing the tradition. Avantipur is the place where Krsna and Balarama underwent their studies and then Bhakti Caru Swami Maharaja installed Krsna Balarama on the altar and in the temple hall there is a Sandipani Muni murti. The only temple which has a Sandipani Muni murti.
Yesterday Prana Govinda Prabhu from Alachua was rushing to the hospital where Bhakti Caru Maharaja was hospitalised. Prabhupada understood that Bhakti Caru Swami Maharaja wanted Prana Govinda Prabhu to do something with his final rites. I spoke with Prana Govinda Prabhu. He was still on the way. Soon he would be reaching Maharaja and he wondered whether he was going to reach the hospital and speak to Maharaja. Since Maharaja would only listen, he asked me, "Is there anything you would like to convey to Bhakti Caru Swami Maharaja?” I said if you could manage to please convey to him not to leave us behind. Please come back and join us. Be amongst us. We are missing you. And I also said that if Krsna doesn't want this to happen and Krsna wants him, has some plans for him, then I said, “Please convey to Bhakti Caru Swami Maharaja that he may leave peacefully, happily, and we will take care of his zone, his services, especially his direct disciples.”
The last talk I had with him was just before he left for America. It was during the Pandemic lockdown period when Maharaja called me. I was surprised to receive his call and wondered why he is calling me. Then he disclosed the reason. He had some free time during the lockdown. He was talking and preaching for months. I was also preaching, but he did so much. It was a marathon. Every day for weeks and months he was giving English talks and Bengali talks. He was really giving himself to the world. He called me and told me that he had just finished watching the Lost Village documentary. The Lost Village is my village and he was so pleased to watch the documentary. He said to me that he got to know me more. He was really appreciating and congratulating me for my upbringing in a simple, natural village. He went on. Maharaja said to me, “Promote this video. Especially during this pandemic time that type of simple living was needed.” We were both talking that it would be good to do something so that we do not lose the villages and the culture. How we could revive, promote and propagate the spirit of Simple living and High thinking, and natural living. I had also invited Maharaja. He asked me, “Where are you?”
I said, “In Pandharpur.” I also invited him to Pandharpur. I told him, “You could also visit my village which is not far from Pandharpur.” He was asking how far it is. So I extended that invitation to him to visit Pandharpur, and to visit the village that is getting lost. He had kindly accepted the invitation. We also talked about talking over the phone more often. I think of that meeting now and realise talking is only possible on another plane.
Srila Bhakti Caru Swami Maharaja Tirobhāva Tithi Mahotsava ki jay! Srila Prabhupada ki jay. Gaur premanande!Hari haribol.