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Offering a garland of tributes to H.H. Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami

Wednesday, 03 December 2008 / Published in In Memoriam / 3,874 views

(Remembering H. H. Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami on his 71st vyasa-puja, Dec. 4th 2008)

By Jaganmohini devi dasi

Dear well-wishers of H. H. Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami

Hare Krishna!

Today URI(United Religious Initiatives) top leaders and representatives from their different cooperation circles have assembled at ISKCON Mayapur to hold its Global assembly from Nov. 30th to Dec. 5th in honor of H. H. Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami who was one of the founding member of URI.

(FYI, URI is one of the largest global interfaith organizations in the world, with over 400 cooperation circles(CC) and more than 200 affiliates located in seven geographic regions of the world. URI has grown from a vision to a global organization active in over 60 countries with the involvement of over 1,000,000 people annually. It has created an unprecedented global network of interfaith cooperation, launched countless successful projects around the world and become the recognized and respected leader in grassroots interfaith group. Their governing board is a Global Council of 29 members from 18 countries.)

At this juncture when this huge organization is paying tribute to H. H. Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami we are reminded of an affectionate remark and an instruction by Srila Prabhupada to H. H. Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami. They are: In one morning walk Srila Prabhupada had lovingly remarked, “.. so if I would not have students like you, they would have taken me as a crazy man..”

In one letter he wrote, “…appeal yourself to the high class of men not the mass. Mass, too, we do not eliminate anyone, but if the best men are there to run on things, mass will follow later.’

Prior to their interaction with H. H. Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami several leaders of different faith were not aware about Srila Prabhupada’s contribution to humanity and nor were they aware about ISKCON’s mission or Srila Prabhupada. In fact few didn’t think of this mission positively.

Today by H. H. Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami’s mercy the URI leaders are receiving highest devotional nectar at Sri Mayapur Dham. Many are also visiting India first time. They are associating with Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His associates, Srila Prabhupada and several Gaudiya Vaishnavas. Plus they will get a glimpse of Manipur Vaishnava culture on Dec. 4th when the Deities Sri Sri Radha Madhava along with ashtasakis will be dressed in Manipuri outfit for the first time and in the evening the ranganiketan group will be performing Rasalila in the temple.

Also after they heard about H. H. Jayapataka Swami’s hospitalization, they included maharaj in their daily morning prayers. This is a rare situation that prayers are being offered in all religions for maharaj’s quick recovery. One can imagine how potent will be such prayers.

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I urge all members of URI’s global community to include Jayapataka Swami and the ISKCON community in your prayers and meditation.

Their love for H. H. Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami was unconditional. This has been plainly exhibited by accepting to hold URI global Assembly without second thoughts at ISKCON, Mayapur and without any condition or verification. It is amazing that in the physical absence of H. H. Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami they have taken his instruction so seriously. Without any formal training or introduction to rules and regulation they have decided to abide by all Dham rules, plus greet the pilgrims with “Hare Krishna”, only to honor H. H. Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami. Undoubtedly today the entire URI community(leaders and members) gathered at Mayapur are receiving unlimited blessings from the most munificent incarnation of Lord only because of their love towards H. H. Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami.

What attracted the top leaders from religious organizations or from scientific community or any statesman to H. H. Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami?

We get the answers from their tributes itself which I share below:
(Due to lack of space we are presenting here only selected tributes’ excerpts)

William E. Swing, the Bishop of Episcopal Diocese of California and founder of URI had expressed about H. H. Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami few years ago, “Abundant thanks to God for the birth of Dr. T. D. Singh.. a great man of peace, Dr. T. D. Singh. He has been a gift to many people in this world….. The URI recognizes you as a dear friend and as a pioneer in bringing people of faiths together to pursue peace among religions”.

From Rev. C. Charles P. Gibbs, the Executive Director of URI, “…His gracious, joyous and humble spirit, his deep reverence for God, his keen intellect, his compassionate commitment, his gracious hospitality and his ready laugh are an inspiration and are incomparable gifts to any interfaith effort for peace justice and healing. ..….In particular Dr. T. D. Singh had been an extraordinary gift to URI….It has been a privilege to work side by side with Dr. T. D. Singh, to travel with him, to share visions of the possible and to join hands to make those visions real. But perhaps the greatest privilege has been to sit with him in stillness in the presence of the sacred evoked so purely in his beautiful chanting.”

From Father Maximilian Mizzi, OFM Conv. Delegate General for Ecumenism and Inter-religious Dialogue, Assisi, Italy, “…Dr. Singh is a man with great human qualities, which stem from a great heart. He is a man of deep understanding, compassion, humility, love and spirituality. It doesn’t take long for Dr. Singh to understand the human qualities of a person with whom he comes in contact. Compassion and love in Dr. Singh go beyond the barriers of race and religious background. Because of his respect for every human person, Dr. Singh doesn’t make any distinction between rich and poor, a VIP and the man in the street. He treats every single person with the same respect and love….”

From Ven. Jinwol Lee, Zen Master(Korean Buddhism), “I appreciate the personality and character of Dr. Singh as a good Hindu Acharaya and interfaith educator. He always looks compassionate and humble. I believe that his friendship with various religionists could be a model for promoting peace and love among diverse people of the world. I welcome his efforts to promote inter-religious cooperation and education for peace and harmony in the society of India and the world. I would like to support his valuable ideas and works, including cooperation among religions, spirituality, ethics and science for a better world.”

With regard to preaching among scientific community, Srila Prabhupada had told H. H. Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami, “…if you make one scientist Krishna Conscious that would please me…”

Tributes from Noble Laureates of Physics and Chemistry:

From Charles H. Townes, a NL in Physics: “Dr. Singh’s contributions to the understanding of religion and the relation between science and religion have been important and will have a long standing influence.”

From Richard R. Ernst, NL in Chemistry: “Dr. T. D. Singh represents for me a perfect role model how citizens and in particular academics should think, feel and behave. He has been building bridges between groups of society and between different schools of thought. He has bridged the gaps between science and philosophy. He showed to us what true humanness is; he showed to us what wisdom and compassion really mean. Let us keep his spirit alive, let’s not forget him as a role model and improve our own being.”

And within our society recently on Nov. 18th 2008, the Bhaktivedanta Hospital congregation disciples of H. H. Radhanath Swami paid an exceptional tribute to H. H. Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami. They staged a drama called “Bhagyachandra”. The drama was based on the Manipur king who was a pure devotee of Lord Krishna. As part of the play few glimpses of H. H. Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami’s life was also covered. The drama was well choreographed and artistes deserved full compliments.

When I visited the hospital for my scheduled check up, I decided to meet few congregation who acted in the play to thank them in full appreciation. I asked them what made them stage this drama. One of them said, it seems in the past they had never thought of offering such tribute to others but this drama they felt would please H. H. Radhanath Swami, hence they decided to stage. I asked them how? They replied that the hospital was established as tribute to H. H. Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami, since several founding congregation of the hospital were inspired by maharaj on intellectual preaching after 1986 world congress at Mumbai. The main director of this play(who also played the part of H. H. Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami) H. G. Dwarakadish prabhu a doctor by profession and few more doctors had accepted H. H. Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami as their shiksha guru since 1986 conference. Further they added that H. H. Radhanath Swami would regularly glorify H. H. Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami ever since his departure. They said, “Although maharaj was dear to many of his godbrothers but H. H. Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami was most dear to maharaj.”

Indeed H. H. Radhanath Swami was extremely pleased. I saw the love flowing from H. H. Radhanath Swami’s heart when he expressed sweet glories about H. H. Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami. After the drama, maharaj invited few of us(disciples of H. H. Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami who had come to watch the play)to the green room to meet the stage artistes. At that time maharaj said, “….Everyone glorifies Srila Prabhupada…Glorifying Srila Prabhupada means glorifying his beloved disciple. Bhaktisvarupa Damodara was the most beloved disciple of Srila Prabhupada, most lovable disciple of Srila Prabhupada, by glorifying Bhaktisvarupa Damodara maharaj, Srila Prabhupada will be pleased…..” This is the best tribute a disciple of H. H. Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami can relish that too from a pure devote like H. H. Radhanath Swami.

Reflecting on several category of tributes, I was wondering what made H. H. Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami most attractive. I had known H. H. Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami very closely for more than 10 years. He never promised anyone any reward or position or help of any category, still he drew all types of people towards him. Indeed he was a genuine personality carrying the Seed of God’s love as it is, as it was given to H. H. Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami by his spiritual master Srila Prabhupada. He never identified or advertised himself as a spiritual leader or a scientist or director or spiritual master or qualified educationist or a great devotee etc., instead he presented himself as sincere servant of Lord wanting to awaken entire humanity with love of God. The compassion in him was seen as genuine without expecting anything in return. He was always situated in his original personality as pure devotee of Lord and acted accordingly. He always waited for the sanction of his spiritual master and the Lord in taking decisions. He always depended on Lord’s will for the outcome of every step he took. He was indeed a rare combination of a perfect Saint and a perfect Scientist, still he always presented himself as an insignificant servant of Lord and of his spiritual master.

It was the seed of God’s love in unadulterated form which H. H. Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami carried in his clean heart that attracted several categories of people towards him. This seed was so potent and pure that nobody questioned H. H. Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami about his identification(which organization, spiritual group, country etc.). He didn’t adopt any formal techniques of preaching to convince people on God Consciousness. The leaders simply wanted H. H. Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami’s association. They heard him and accepted him without reservations. The URI Global assembly at ISKCON, Mayapur and the garland of tributes which H. H. Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami received in his life time is testimony to this.

Today the world, especially India is progressively becoming victim of terrorism, violence and intolerance. Intolerance is visible even among different sects of same religions; hence our techniques of preaching must be of adaptable nature, without condemn or abuse or force.

H. H. Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami was definitely blessed here by Srila Prabhupada; as a result he excelled in the method of approach, without compromising his conviction about Lord, he managed to win the hearts of every category of people he met. H. H. Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami perfectly applied the realization of three phases of Absolute Truth in his dealings. He blessed several Nobel Laureates with the pavitra of Lord Nrsimhadev convincing them that it is sign of good luck. Not everywhere we can carry prasadam, since those who don’t believe in Deity worship might not respond. Appropriate techniques of preaching are necessary today to push the mission forward. We definitely need three things one is devotional maturity, obedience to one’s spiritual master and blessings of saints.

On this auspicious occasion of H. H. Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami’s 71st vyasa-puja, let us seek his blessings and guidance on how to receive and fix this seed of God’s love in our heart and subsequently plant it in other’s heart whom we get in touch.

H. H. Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami Srila Sripada maharaj ki Jai. Srila Prabhupada ki Jai.

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