I first heard Srila Bhakti Charu Maharaja speak in 1987. He was giving a Srimad Bhagavatam class at the Krishna Balarama Mandir. I was immediately impressed by his speech, his deep empathy, compassion and narrative. After the class I followed him into the reception area of our Krishna Balarama Guesthouse to speak to him. I thanked him for the inspiring talk and invited him to South Africa. Over the coming years he would fondly remind me that I was the first to invite him to South Africa.
Subsequently, if I remember correctly, in 1988 he was appointed the chairman of the GBC and he came to South Africa to unify the devotees and help with the spreading of Krishna consciousness here. His mood stressed co-operation and the most senior grand disciples of Srila Prabhupada, namely Sri Hari Prabhu, Tribhanga Prabhu and Srutakirti Prabhu took shelter of him and later became his disciples.
Over the years Srila Bhakti Charu Maharaja personally helped me on various occasions when there were some misunderstanding or politics. I remember Maharaja as a sensitive and spiritually advanced gentleman. I accept him as an eternal associate of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and that his birth in Bengal and service to Srila Prabhupada from 1976 onwards was a direct arrangement of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Srila Prabhupada personally gave him sannyasa and he served Srila Prabhupada intimately, especially in 1977.
Within my mind there is no doubt that he has now joined in the Lord’s pastimes in the spiritual association of our beloved Guru Maharaja, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, Srila Gaura Kisora Das Babaji and Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. All these acharyas are intimate associates in Goloka Vrndavana and by their arrangement Srila Bhakti Charu Maharaja appeared in this material world for the express purpose of serving Srila Prabhupada and establishing Krishna consciousness in various parts of the world.
Two weeks ago when I first got news that Maharaja contracted the virus and was hospitalized, I saw it as a lila of Maharaja’s and it reminded me of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta’s lila of leaving this world. At a time like this it is important to see through sastra, sastra-caksus. It is easy to feel desperation, despondency and despair. And while this is natural as there is no greater pain than the pain of separation from the Vaishanvas, I immediately thought of The Passing of Haridasa Thakura as described in the Caitanya Caritamrta, Antya-lila Chapter 11.
When you read the description of Srila Haridasa Thakura passing away there is jubilation, happiness, ecstasy, bliss, charm and sweetness. I humbly request the devotees to please read Antya-lila Chapter 11. I would like to quote Texts 57 to 64 in this offering to Srila Bhakti Charu Maharaja
“Seeing the wonderful death of Haridāsa Ṭhākura by his own will, which was just like a great mystic yogī’s, everyone remembered the passing away of Bhīṣma. There was a tumultuous noise as they all chanted the holy names “Hari” and “Kṛṣṇa.” Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu became overwhelmed with ecstatic love.The Lord raised the body of Haridāsa Ṭhākura and placed it on His lap. Then He began to dance in the courtyard in great ecstatic love. Because of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s ecstatic love, all the devotees were helpless, and in ecstatic love they also began to dance and chant congregationally. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu danced for some time, and then Svarūpa Dāmodara Gosvāmī informed Him of other rituals for the body of Ṭhākura Haridāsa. The body of Haridāsa Ṭhākura was then raised onto a carrier that resembled an airship and taken to the sea, accompanied by congregational chanting. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu danced in front of the procession, and Vakreśvara Paṇḍita, along with the other devotees, chanted and danced behind Him. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu bathed the body of Haridāsa Ṭhākura in the sea and then declared, ‘From this day on, this sea has become a great pilgrimage site.’”
We can understand from the words of Srila Krishna Das Kaviraj that at the passing away of Srila Haridasa Thakura there were no mundane sentiments of depression, material despair, nor hopelessness rather it was a way to ecstatic love of Krishna, prema-vista, to become absorbed in love of Krishna. Indeed, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was dancing with the body of Haridasa Thakura.
Our ISKCON, as Srila Prabhupada has stated in a commentary in Caitanya Caritamrta, is non-different from the pastimes of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Still, it’s natural for the disciples to feel separation from the spiritual master. And it’s sad that we can’t be together giving each other support, but you are all in my thoughts and prayers. It’s important that we all carry Maharaja’s mood and instructions in our heart and act in a way that will please him. Maharaja was so full of love and compassion, always enquiring about one’s welfare and making arrangements to accommodate devotees of all stature.
If we see from a spiritual point of view as described in Caitanya Caritamrta there is no cause for lamentation but simply joy that Srila Bhakti Charu Maharaja has now gained the personal association of Srila Prabhupada in his spiritual body in Goloka Vrndavana. This is the destination for all serious and sincere followers of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
I repeatedly offer my koti koti dandavats to the dust of Srila Bhakti Charu Maharaja’s divine lotus feet and pray that I can try to please Srila Prabhupada and our guru parampara as he did. Srila Bhakti Charu Maharaja will always remain my senior siksa-guru, a beloved intimate servant of Srila Prabhupada, an exemplary inspirational leader within the International Society for Krishna Consciousness and the perfectly devoted disciple of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. If in this lifetime, I can please Srila Prabhupada and our guru parampara even one-millionth of what Srila Bhakti Charu Maharaja did then I will consider my life a great success.
To Maharaja’s disciples, please know that you are not alone, Maharaja always had a family spirit and we are all one big family so please take shelter of those you have faith in. This would please Srila Bhakti Charu Maharaja.
Srila Bhakti Charu Maharaja ki jaya!
Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!
Ananta koti Vaisnava vrnda ki jaya!
Your lowly and fallen servant,
Partha Sarathi Das Goswami
July 5, 2020
(Source – http://www.dandavats.com/?p=87115)