July 4, 2020
My dear Bhakti Charu Maharaja,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
When you first met Srila Prabhupada he recognized you as a special soul, so much so that within a short time he accepted you as a sannyasi disciple. For the next 45 years you faithfully kept your difficult vows, travelling constantly, promoting Krishna consciousness in service to Srila Prabhupada. Your astonishing, flawless legacy will forever inspire all of Srila Prabhupada’s followers. Today, hearing the devastating news of your departure, I remember your unbroken loyalty and determination.
When you first came to America in 1979 I picked you up at the LA airport and set up programs for you in New Dwaraka and other temples. One of the temple presidents asked if this new sannyasi spoke English. Thus began your preaching in America, where you touched so many hearts from coast to coast, just as you did in Europe, India, and everywhere. Today, hearing the devastating news of your departure, I remember you as a fearless, blissful preacher who saw the whole world as his family.
Your book, “Ocean of Mercy,” beautifully recounts your relationship with Srila Prabhupada. Your lectures reflected an understanding of Srila Prabhupada’s book with depth that could only come from translating all of them into Bengali. In your joyous kirtans and bhajans, your voice, unpretentious and pure, intoned the powerful vibration of selfless devotion. In the last of your bhajans I had the privilege to attend you sang the Damodarastakam in a lilting melody that has engrained itself in my heart forever. When you kindly invited me to lunch with you, your disciples served simple but exquisite dishes prepared under your watchful guidance. Today, hearing the devastating news of your departure, I remember you as the unassuming master of all the Vaishnava arts.
“ISKCON is constipated,” you once told me, lamenting the slow delegation of spiritual leadership in our sanga. Capturing the mood of Lord Caitanya, you wanted as many devotees as possible to serve as spiritual masters. Despite your profound personal spiritual advancement you said that ISKCON is Srila Prabhupada’s ashram and that every initiating guru in ISKCON, including yourself, was empowered only under his authority via the GBC. You set the standard for taking great responsibility and accomplishing great things in your guru’s service without becoming proud. Today, hearing the devastating news of your departure, I remember your natural humility.
“My true disciple is a perfect gentleman,” Srila Prabhupada said. No one exemplified this quality more than you. Whomever spoke to you felt like the most important person in the world. Regardless of the problem or question they would bring to you, you would listen carefully and reply with wisdom, compassion and tact. In the sometimes heated GBC meetings your voice was always measured, thoughtful, calm and loving. You never offended anyone, but if you thought you had, you would beg their forgiveness. Now that Lord Krishna has taken you, who will we turn to for a living example of perfect Vaishnava behavior? Today, hearing the devastating news of your departure, I remember you as the impeccable Vaishnava gentleman, a disciple of whom Srila Prabhupada was truly proud.
Lord Krishna has blessed us with your association. Now, for His own sweet reasons, He has taken it away. With tears in our eyes and broken hearts, we simply pray to Lord Krishna to bless us to once again have your association when we leave this world.
Your servant, Kalakantha das ACBSP