Date: July 7, 2007 Location: ISKCON Gita Nagari [www.gitanagari.com] Occasion: Opening of HH Bhakti-tirtha Swami Maharaja’s Puspa Samadhi Mandir ________________________________
[note: transcription is not verbatim]
Part One: Radhanath Swami and Appreciations:
Radhanath Swami: We have all gathered today to express our sincere love and gratitude to HH Bhakti-tirtha Swami Maharaja at this most holy occasion of the inauguration of his Samadhi mandir. Within our Gaudiya Vaisnava sampradaya, the samadhi of the great souls invokes union in separation. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu especially gave prominence to this principle, vipralambha-seva. Uniting within our heart of hearts with the Lord and his devotees through a spirit of service in separation. In fact the last twelve years of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s lila were predominantly spent in the Gambhira in the house of Kasi Misra in Puri where he exhibited these qualities of vipralambha-seva like the world has never seen.
Krsna lived in this world for 125 years of which less than twelve years he resided in Vrindavan in his physically manifested form. But yet, the quality of the love of the residents of Vrindavan is supreme. Uddhava was living with Krsna in Mathura. When he came to Vrindavan to deliver a message, he saw the gopas’ and gopis’ love in separation, how intense it was and how pure it was. He prayed to be a creeper or a shrub or a blade of grass on the ground to receive the dust of their feet on his head.
Separation tests how genuine one’s love is. The residents of Vrindavan as the decades and decades and century passed, their gratefulness, dedication and their love only increased. And this loving separation has very much been exhibited by our acaryas. Our own beloved HH Prabhupada, approximately 30 years after his Gurudeva had left this world, he established this worldwide mission. When he was walking up those steps to the Jaladuta with no money but forty rupees, not knowing who would be there on the other side if anybody, there was one thing that he had: a firm desire to serve his Guru Maharaj, to fulfill the misson of his Guru Maharaj. And we find that same spirit in HH Bhakti-tirtha Swami Maharaj.
Bhakti-tirtha Maharaj was only twenty-seven years old when Srila Prabhupada left this world. He only had about seven or eight years of serving during Prabhupada’s physical presence. Of course we know the service he did at that time. Prabhupada embraced him with tears in his eyes and said, “Thank you, your life is perfect.” But after Srila Prabhupada’s physical disappearance from this world, HH Bhakti-tirtha Maharaja’s love, his enthusiasm and determination only increased year after year after year.
Yesterday morning we were watching a video of HH Bhakti-tirtha Maharaj in amazing venues preaching what was most in his heart. At the beginning of the video was a special footage that he made when he was dying with cancer. This was his message. . . .
. . . . He was just over brimming with affection. With that luminous smile that just lights up the whole universe and how he would hold my hand and we would. I consider that his mercy upon me. But knowing HH Bhakti-tirtha Maharaj, I know something else, perhaps he wanted me there with him for those last eight weeks to lift me out of maya, to be with an old and dear friend, but along with everything else, he always was an acarya trying to teach by his example. There is no doubt in my mind that he called me there because he wanted to make statement to all the people who love him how important it is, personal loving Vaisnava exchanges in everyone’s life.
We spoke many times on this subject. We know that simply by chanting Hare Krsna and fixing our mind on Krsna and hearing the sweet glories of Krsna, our hearts will become purified and we will attain the spiritual world. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu taught us how to chant Hare Krsna, how to have hari-katha and how to remember Krsna, by his example. What is Caitanya-caritamrta and Caitanya Bhagavata about? About intimate, selfless, humble, loving relationships between devotees and how they center their focus together on worshipping Krsna and showing compassion to the conditioned souls of this world.
Unless we develop communities that are nirvisesa and sunyavada, that are free of impersonalism and voidism, where we are really caring about each other on all levels to uplift each other, how many people will carry on chanting Hare Krsna with quality and carrying on with Krsna in their lives? Srila Prabhupada quoted from the fable that if sticks are bound together, they cannot be broken. If you take a stick out separately, it can easily be snapped. United we stand, divided we fall. Maya can crush any of us, whoever we are, but if we are united in the name of Krsna, hearing his glories, chanting his names, and spreading his glories, then we will always be under the protection of Guru and Gauranga and nothing can stop us individually or collectively.
It was HH Bhakti-tirtha Swami’s love and compassion to all of us and to all the world to make this statement. Yes, Bhakti-tirtha Swami Maharaj to the last day never missed a round of his sixteen rounds in his life. He was a strong sadhaka, attached to the holy name. When we would speak about Krsna together, in fact, he forbid me to speak anything but hari-katha. I wouldn’t even dare talk about current events in ISKCON or the world or anything else. [mild laughter] We just spoke from Bhagavatam, Caitanya-caritamrta, the writings of the Goswamis and he would just cry and be so grateful and so attentive. He loved Krsna.
One day I was speaking and he was in so much pain, trembling and trembling in pain. I saw he was trying so hard, straining to concentrate on what we were speaking about Krsna. Then I just chanted the Mahamantra and tears poured from his eyes. I never saw him cry when he was in pain, no matter how severe it was, but when he heard the Mahamantra, tears poured and he held my hand and smiled. His body was shaking in pain, but his face was smiling, blissful. He said, “Amazing, how fortunate we are! I wouldn’t trade my position for any other position in the entire creation just to be with a Godbrother chanting Hare Krsna.”
That is the message of HH Bhakti-tirtha. We all have our egos, we all have our opinions, we all have our stances on different issues, but his message is, for the higher cause of pleasure to Guru and Gauranga, we should rise above them, whoever we are and show kindness, forgiveness, and love to each other in a spirit of service. And in this spirit, we can really relish hari-katha and chanting the holy names:
Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.
By his own will, his Samadhi Mandir is in Mayapur and his Puspa Samadhi is here in Gita Nagari. I am praying, praying from the core of my heart that this Samadhi here in North America will represent what he gave his life for and who he was because if we take that message seriously, we will become so purified that we can help the whole world become purified.
On this day, I express my deepest gratitude to His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada for giving me the sweetest, most beautiful relationship with a Godbrother, His Holiness Bhakti-tirtha Swami Maharaj. And I thank all of you today. Hare Krsna. [applause]
Agnideva Prabhu: Hare Krsna. First and foremost, I want to thank His Holiness Radhanath Swami for such deep and heartfelt words to start the occasion off. I want to thank each and every one of you for coming out.
Ekavira Prabhu: His Holiness Bhakti-tirtha Swami Maharaj ki jai! His Holiness Bhakti-tirtha Swami Maharaj ki jai!
I know that Agni Prabhu has thanked you all for coming, but I want to reiterate that, express our gratitude for you assembling here for this special occasion. I will give a brief overview for I have only been given two minutes to speak.
First, I’d like to say that His Holiness Bhakti-tirtha Swami requested of Vrajalila and I during the last few months before he departed to make sure that we constructed his Samadhi in Mayapur and the Puspa Samadhi here in Gita Nagari Dham. He expressed that he desired for us to place the Puspa Samadhi right here on the property at the lotus feet of Sri Sri Radha Damodara. He made that so clear to us. He told us so many different times, “Make sure you place the Puspa Samadhi at the lotus feet of Sri Sri Radha Damodara because I wish to continually serve their lotus feet. By doing so, you will also see a change in Gita Nagari. By doing so, I can continue to offer them service even though you may not see me doing it.”
And so, we tried to follow those instructions to the best of our ability, but these instructions would not have manifest today if it were not for the well wishers, the disciples, and so many loving Godbrothers and Godsisters. Because of your prayers and blessings, we are able to offer the Puspa Samadhi here in Gita Nagari Dham. Thank you so much. Ananta koti vaisanava vrnda ki jai!
The Puspa Samadhi went through different phases. We started with one design then it was changed to another design and finally, the third design is what you see here today. It went through these changes although we had a committee and we sat down and discussed different ideas and what Bhakti-tirtha Swami would like, but those who served Bhakti-tirtha Swami knew that you may have your own plas, but you had to be spontaneous because those plans can change at any moment.
So we had a design and somebody would come in and say, “You can’t do this.” The design was a box. One time, it was Sadacara Prabhu, He said, “Remember, Bhakti-tirtha Swami said, ‘Do not place him in a box.’ He said, ‘I’ve been placed in a box throughout my entire life, so don’t do it with the Puspa Samadhi.” [laughter So I expressed this to the architect and he said, “OK, I’ll come up with a design.” Within three hours, he sent a design. He said, “We want to do something like this so that you can approach it from all sides and actually have a good visual view of the Puspa Samadhi.”
That’s is the first devotee I would like to express gratitude for. And as the Puspa Samadhi went through a transformation and this devotee did also doing this service. When he started out and his name was Pragnesh Prabhu, however, today his name is Caitanyananda Dasa.
If I call you, please stand so the devotees can see you. [Haribol!] Caitanyananda Prabhu has been with us throughout this entire phase. I could call him, email him at any time and he would respond within minutes. I am so grateful. He is a disciple of His Holiness Radhanath Swami and he is my brother. [laughs]
His Holiness Bhakti-tirtha Swami asked me to construct the Puspa Samadhi in Gita Nagari. A few days before one of his Godbrothers came to visit him in Gita Nagari. They were communicating and Bhakti-tirtha Swami grabbed him and hugged him and said, “Ekavira is supposed to do the Puspa Samadhi here. Could you make sure it gets done?”
That devotee is Suddha-jiva Prabhu. Suddha-jiva is, I guess, you could say, my building guru. Anyone that works with Suddha-jiva, they know that they have to be a disciple when they are around him because he is quite intense, but we call on Suddha-jiva when we want to get something accomplished. Thank you very much, Suddha-jiva Prabhu.
The design, of course, we expressed, was done by Caitanyananda Prabhu. It was so nice, but we did make some changes. So if you see anything that you don’t like, that’s because we made those changes.
The next devotee, Advaita Acarya Prabhu, he is an artist. So when I talk about those changes that were made, he made them. Actually, I have to tell a story about Advaita. There was another devotee who was in charge of placing the marble on the exterior. Advaita was so determined to put each piece in the proper place, so the devotee put the marble without Advaita’s approval, so Advaita came over and said, “Prabhu, could you take this piece of marble down?”
The devotee said, “Are you crazy? Do you know how much work it takes? If you want to take it down, take it down yourself.”
Advaita was trying to pull the marble off the Samadhi. So the devotee turned around and said, “What are you doing, don’t pull that down.” Unfortunately, it was on for too long, he couldn’t remove it from the Samadhi. The best offering we could make. He was with me throughout the entire phase. I am grateful for his assistance.
The next devotee, Ganesa Prabhu, where is Ganesa? Ganesa is an expert at so many different things. He is a carpenter, a mason, an electrician, he is a cook, so ladies, you hear all that? Another thing that is so special about Ganesa Prabhu and Caitanyananda is that they are second generation devotees and Bhakti-tirtha Swami had so much affection for those devotees. Thank you so much.
Sanatana Prabhu, Advaita Acarya saw him at the Ratha Yatra in New York, he is from Lithuania, and asked him to come to Gita Nagari and expressed that we need his assistance here. He also laid the marble for Sri Sri Radha Damodar’s altar for the new temple.
There is also Narada who is Sanatana’s son; Krsna Bhrnga; Ganesa’s brother, Bali Maharaja [cheering & applause]. Bali Maharaj, he is quite, what can I say, unassuming, simple. One time, when Bhakti-tirtha Maharaj was leaving Gita Nagari, we asked him, “Is there any special service we can do for you?” He said, “Take care of Bali Maharaj because he is actually going to take us all back to the spiritual world.”
There is also Tota Gopinatha who assisted. He is from Hungary. He was a resident of Gita Nagari for a year, he had to go back to Hungary and now he is assisting Suddha-jiva.
There is also Sadacara Prabhu. There is Haricakra Prabhu and family. So he would come, anything we would ask of him, Haricakra and Sadacara. Vrajalila and I were not in Gita Nagari for some time, but anything we’d ask of him. of course, the entire family, we’d say, “Haricakra Prabhu we need some help,” and he’d come with about twenty devotees. They would just work so hard, so we are grateful to their entire family. Haribol!
There is younger devotees, Mukunda Prabhu, Bhagavan, Dhanavantari, Ian. There is Brahma Muhurta Prabhu, Brahma Das, and Paramananda Prabhu, where are you? Vilasa Manjari. There are so many devotees that assisted by donating funds and Paramanada Prabhu we want to express our gratitude not only to him but to Vilasa Manjari and the entire family, this is Ganesa’s father and mother.
Paramananda Prabhu has been with us not only with the construction of the Puspa Samadhi here but also the Samadhi in Sri Dham Mayapur. He acted as supervisor and he gave his son to offer service, and he was the largest donor to this project. [Applause] He is a disciple of Bhakti-tirtha Maharaj and Vilasa Manjari is a disciple of Romapada Swami. They show they are well wishers of this project, Gita Nagari and HH Bhakti-tirtha Swami Maharaj, they donated over 12,000 dollars. Thank you so much.
If you have ever been to New York and the programs they give at their house, so fantastic, so fabulous, it is almost larger than most temple programs. They are an excellent example of offering their house, bringing together devotees for kirtan, prasad. Anytime you go to the house, no matter what time it is, Vilasa Manjari will come out with a plate of prasadam. As you offer everything in the service of Krsna, we just wanted to offer you some token so that you can continue to serve the devotees. This is a representation we are offering to you. [devotees bring a big box over, invoking laughter and cheers] This is a representation. There is actually a saw that goes in that box. Paramananda is a builder by profession and that is how he earns laksmi to offer to the devotees in service.
These are some of the primary devotees that assisted with the construction of the Samadhi. There is also the fundraising team, Cintamani, Navakisore, Murari Gupta Prabhu. And also all of you who contributed.
Phase II is landscaping around the area of the Puspa Samadhi. That will be directed by a person or devotee to be announced. If there aren’t any devotees that would like to take on that responsibility, we will take on that responsibility also.
[Jayapataka Swami makes an inaudible comment]
Thank you, Maharaj, that’s phase III. Also, Jayapataka Swami, he came to America all the way from India specifically for this program.
His Holiness Bhakti-tirtha Swami Maharaj ki jai!
[Various speakers begin their talks]