Bhakti Charu Swami was a native of Bengal but his path to Srila Prabhupada shelter was rather standard for western devotees – he read a book (Nectar of Devotion) while in Germany and decided to surrender his life to Krishna. He made his way back to India where Srila Prabhupada was at the time and met him in early 1977. His sincerity and determination were extraordinary and he was immediately accepted into Srila Prabhupada’s travelling party as a personal servant. He received both first and second initiation on the same day during Gaura Purnima festival and a sannyasa initiation a couple of months later. Though ordered to translate Srila Prabhupada’s books into Bengali, it was indicated that at the time personal association with guru was a better way of service and so Maharaja continued travelling with Srila Prabhupada. After sannyasa giving ceremony, for example, Maharaj returned to the kitchen to continue cooking for Prabhupada. Interestingly, his was the first case when Srila Prabhupada didn’t just add “Swami” to his initiated name but rather gave him a new one, with “Bhakti” prefix as well. Maharaja served Srila Prabhupada intimately through the last months of Srila Prabhupada’s life and it was the biggest and most important lesson he learned from his guru – the art of leaving this world while being constantly engaged in service. Eventually he translated all Srila Prabhupada’s books into Bengali, too, which took him nearly two decades. He initiated many disciples and managed many successful projects, building his “home” temple in Ujjain being one of the best examples (featured in the picture). Unlike translations, the temple was completed in only ten months and it’s gorgeous. As we mentioned earlier, twice he was selected to hold the highest administrative position in ISKCON – GBC EC Chairman, but this has never undermined his natural vaishnava humility. He was the one who brought us Srila Prabhupada’s parting words: “Your love for me will be show by how you cooperate together after I am gone,” and his life was the example of putting this order into practice. Service to vaishnavas was the central motive of his entire life and, as we know, it’s the surest way for Krishna to recognize someone as His dearmost devotee.
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