One of Sripada Bhakti Charu Swami Maharaja’s most prominent qualities is his deep love for Srila Prabhupada. Very soon after Maharaja met Srila Prabhupada, Prabhupada included him in his personal staff and made him his secretary for Bengali and Hindi correspondence. Soon thereafter, Srila Prabhupada gave him first and second initiation and then sannyasa. And Maharaja personally served Srila Prabhupada throughout Prabhupada’s last days.
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami is also very devoted to ISKCON. He has always considered ISKCON to be a unique creation of Srila Prabhupada’s and has always wanted to serve ISKCON both the devotees in ISKCON and ISKCON as an entity, a manifestation of Srila Prabhupada. He is really in the mood of service to the devotees, especially the devotees of ISKCON, and to ISKCON itself.
Maharaja is a very pure-hearted, loving person. His love for Srila Prabhupada is seen in his love for the devotees and for people in general, whom he wants to bring to Srila Prabhupada—and in how he encourages devotees to increase their engagement, take on more responsibility, and become more loving, humble servants. The more responsibility one accepts, Maharaja once explained to a devotee in Mauritius, the bigger servant of the devotees one becomes. This reminded me of something Srila Prabhupada once said. A disciple came into his room in Mayapur one day and began to complain about the management. Srila Prabhupada said, “If you think you can do better, why don’t you?” Somehow, the disciple came out and announced that Srila Prabhupada had made him the temple commander, and he began to boss the other devotees around. Some devotees complained to Srila Prabhupada that the devotee had said that Prabhupada had made him the temple commander and that now he was barking orders at everyone. So Srila Prabhupada called for the devotee and instructed him, “First you become the servant of everyone, then you become the temple commander.” Thus Srila Prabhupada expressed the same idea, that a bigger position means becoming a bigger servant. And Bhakti Charu Swami, in parampara, has that same understanding.
If we listen carefully to all of Maharaja’s instructions, we can understand how closely he follows the disciplic succession. Some of his statements are very close to Srila Prabhupada’s words, and some take the basic principles that Srila Prabhupada gave and sweeten them with personal realization.
Another of the many fine qualities exemplified by His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami is his offenselessness. He is very careful not to commit any offense against any devotee, or any living entity, and if he feels he has committed an offense, he immediately tries to mitigate the effects by approaching the person, apologizing, and asking forgiveness. Somehow or other he tries to rectify the offense. From our point of view, we wouldn’t think he has committed an offense, but within his pure heart he may feel that he has, and immediately he will try to approach and please the person he fears he has offended, to remove the effects of the offense.
Maharaja’s heart is pure and very sensitive—full of appreciation for other devotees and sensitive to his own faults—which again, from our point of view, wouldn’t even be considered faults. That’s really the heart of a Vaishnava—full of love and appreciation for others but sensitive to one’s own deficiencies or mistakes.
As stated by Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita (12.13–14), “One who is not envious but is a kind friend to all living entities, who does not think himself a proprietor and is free from false ego, who is equal in both happiness and distress, who is tolerant, always satisfied, self-controlled, and engaged in devotional service with determination, his mind and intelligence fixed on Me—such a devotee of Mine is very dear to Me.”
I wish I could be with Maharaja in person for his seventy-fourth birth anniversary and the fifty-fourth anniversary of Srila Prabhupada’s arrival in America. Still, as Maharaja always reminds us, we have the wonderful association of the devotees in ISKCON, and through their association we can experience Srila Prabhupada’s presence, and along with Srila Prabhupada’s presence the presence of Srila Prabhupada’s dear and beloved associates such as His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami Maharaja.
Srila Bhakti Charu Swami Maharaja ki jaya!
Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!