Message From HH Giriraj Swami

Dear Bhakti Charu Swami Maharaja,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada. And all glories to your wonderful service to him.

One of your most prominent qualities while you were physically with us was your deep love for Srila Prabhupada. Very soon after you met him, he included you in his personal staff and made you his secretary for Bengali and Hindi correspondence. Soon thereafter, he gave you first and second initiation and then sannyasa. And you personally, lovingly served him throughout his last days. 

You were also devoted to ISKCON. You always considered ISKCON to be a unique creation of Srila Prabhupada’s and always wanted to serve ISKCON—both the devotees in ISKCON and ISKCON as an entity, a manifestation of Srila Prabhupada. You loved anyone who loved Srila Prabhupada. 

You were a very pure-hearted, loving person. Your love for Srila Prabhupada was seen in your love for the devotees and for people in general, whom you wanted to bring to Srila Prabhupada—and in how you encouraged devotees to increase their engagement, take on more responsibility, and become more loving, humble servants. The more responsibility one accepts, you once explained to a devotee in Mauritius, the bigger servant of the devotees one becomes. This reminded me of something Srila Prabhupada once said when 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 around the other devotees. 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 you, in parampara, had that same understanding. 

Listening carefully to all of your instructions, we can understand how closely you followed the disciplic succession. Some of your statements were very close to Srila Prabhupada’s words, and some took the basic principles that Srila Prabhupada gave and sweetened them with beautiful personal realization.

Another of your many fine qualities was your offenselessness. You were very careful not to commit any offense against any devotee, or any living entity, and if you felt you had committed an offense, you immediately tried to mitigate its effects by approaching the person, apologizing, and asking forgiveness. Somehow or other you tried to rectify the offense. From our point of view, we wouldn’t think you had committed an offense, but within your pure heart you may have felt that you had, and immediately you would try to approach and please the person you feared you had offended, to remove the effects of the offense. 

You exemplified the principle found in The Nectar of Devotion of “Not Giving Pain to Any Living Entity,” which was supported with a reference from the Mahabharata: “A person who does not disturb or cause painful action in the mind of any living entity, who treats everyone just like a loving father does his children, whose heart is so pure, certainly very soon becomes favored by the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” That was you: so pure, just like a loving father to everyone—and favored by the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

You were a perfect gentleman—and Vaishnava. Once, an interviewer asked Srila Prabhupada, “How would I recognize a true follower of the Krishna consciousness movement by his behavior? What would his traits be? What would his outward expressions be?” And Prabhupada replied, “His behavior—he is a perfect gentleman. That’s all. You cannot find any fault in him. That is perfect Krishna consciousness.” That was you: a perfect gentleman—one could not find any fault in you.

Your heart was pure and very sensitive—full of appreciation for other devotees and sensitive to your own faults, which again, from our point of view, wouldn’t even have been 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.” You exemplified all those qualities described by Lord Krishna and thus were very dear to Him—and to us, to all others.

Now you have left this world and gone to Srila Prabhupada and Lord Krishna. As Srila Prabhupada said, when a Vaishnava departs we feel both happy and sad—happy because the Vaishnava has gone to serve Lord Krishna and sad because we will miss the Vaishnava’s association. Sometimes the pain of separation is so intense that we can only recall Raya Ramananda’s exchange with Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (Cc Madhya 8.248):

“duhkha-madhye kona duhkha haya gurutara?”

“krsna-bhakta-viraha vina duhkha nahi dekhi para”

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu asked, “Of all kinds of distress, what is the most painful?”

Sri Ramananda Raya replied, “Apart from separation from the devotee of Krsna, I know of no unbearable unhappiness.”

Still, we will try to be happy serving in separation. As Srila Prabhupada wrote to one of his disciples, “Please be happy in separation. I am separated from my guru maharaja since 1936, but I am always with him so long I work according to his direction. So we should all work together for satisfying Lord Krishna, and the feeling of separation will transform into transcendental bliss.”

By serving Srila Prabhupada’s—and your—instructions, we will feel his presence, and yours. And in fact we will live with you both. As Srila Prabhupada wrote in his dedication to Srimad-Bhagavatam: “To Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja, my spiritual master: He lives forever by his divine instructions and the follower lives with him.”

Please look kindly upon us and guide and inspire us, following in your footsteps, to serve Srila Prabhupada and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and when we have done what you want us to do here, bring us back to you and Srila Prabhupada’s lotus feet.

Your eternal servant,

Giriraj Swami