By Radhanath Swami
nama om vishnu-padaya krsna-presthaya bhutale
srimate bhaktivedanta-svamin iti namine
namas te sarasvate deve gaura-vani-pracarine
vancha-kalpatarubhyas ca krpa-sindhubhya eva ca
patitanam pavanebhyo vaishnavebhyo namo namah
sri-advaita gadadhara srivasadi-gaura-bhakta-vrnda
hare krsna hare krsna krsna krsna hare hare
hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare
I would like to begin by quoting the words of our beloved founder acarya A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. “All glories to Svarupa Damodara.” Those words emanated from the heart of Srila Prabhupäda, in immense love and gratitude for this disciple. I believe the legacy of Srila Prabhupäda’s love and faith in Bhakti Svarupa Damodara Maharaj will forever shine in the pages of Vaisnava history. A simple boy from the poverty of an obscure farm in faraway Manipur, he earned a Ph.D. in science at an American University. But captured by the love of Srila Prabhupäda he dedicated his life and soul to the spiritual welfare of all living beings. Srila Prabhupäda saw in Bhakti Svarupa Damodara Maharaj an intellect and an academic physician that could affect the world. Yet he saw in him a simplicity and humility that Srila Prabhupäda loved dearly. Srila Prabhupäda incited Sripada maharaj to ask question after question and in his answers, Srila Prabhupäda spoke to the whole world for all time to come through him. On Srila Prabhupäda’s order Bhakti Svarupa Damodara Maharaj established the Bhaktivedanta Institute and worked tirelessly in his service, holding conferences for the synthesis of science and religion, publishing books. Over the years he became a world figure in inter-faith dialogue on the highest levels, an inspiration for devotees all over the world and in his own country he single-handedly established a magnificent temple and in fact, by his personal qualities he was the spiritual hero of the nation of Manipur. The president of India knew him and had tears in his eyes a few days back. The highest officials of Manipur were pouring their praise and grief in separation from him. And devotees from all over the world, at hardly a moment’s notice left everything to proceed to Sri Radha Kunda, to be present for his last darshan.
Why? Bhakti Svarupa Damodara Maharaj although in such an exalted position, spiritually, socially, academically, always maintained a simplicity and humility that very much charmed our hearts. From the day he met Srila Prabhupäda here in New Dwaraka to the end of his life in this world, his vows to Srila Prabhupäda and his character were spotless. Srila Prabhupäda saw in this disciple someone that he can,… Srila Prabhupäda entrusted so much of his faith in. Again and again he told leaders of ISKCON to provide anything and everything he needed for his cause of scientific preaching. Srila Prabhupäda dedicated so many hours and hours and hours of his personal time encouraging that preaching. Bhakti Svarupa Damodara Maharaj, such a selfless servant as he was, traveled the world time and again with his Manipurian cultural show simply to help temples all over the world to prosper. And it was so successful that even governments invited them to perform. For those of us who have been at Bhakti Svarupa Damodara Maharaj’s kirtans they were unique and extraordinary. It was really a cultural display. His dances, his gestures, his melodies, his feelings from his heart enchanted and inspired our hearts to cry out the Holy Names as he was doing. His sweet sense of humor, radiant smile and profound grasp of Vaisnava philosophy, convinced the minds and the intellects of those who heard him. Bhakti Svarupa Damodara Maharaj coming from a Vaisnava nation with his roots in the preaching of the disciples of Narottama das Thakura, was something…. His example was such a special offering to Srila Prabhupäda’s society. He really carried not only the philosophy and feeling of bhakti but such a deep sense of the culture of pure bhakti. And he sacrificed his life and his soul … everything. It is a tragedy to our hearts to be separated from his physical presence. But we also celebrate with joy because we know that Bhakti Svarupa Damodara Maharaj is once again in the loving embrace of his beloved Guru Maharaj, Srila Prabhupada. Thank you very much.