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E-Pao! Features :: Remembering Sripada Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Maharaja

Remembering Sripada Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Maharaja

By: Sriman Prasada Das, Et. Al. *


It is not about how much money you have collected, how many temples you have built or how many men you have, it is about how pure you have become." - Sripada Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Maharaja
Srila Sripada Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Maharaja, beloved spiritual son of Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, disappeared from this mortal world during the Ratrilila period of Lord Sri Krishna's Astakaliya lila on Vijaya Dasami, which according to this year's Panchangam, is the most auspicious day of the calendar year, 2006.

Sripada Maharaja's disappearance took place in Calcutta, the holy appearance place (Janmasthan) of his divine master Srila Prabhupada. Calcutta is also the holy site from which His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur chose to disappear.

Due to Sripada Maharaja's deep and intense love for his divine master Srila Prabhupada, he not only chose Calcutta as his place of work but also as his place of disappearance.



"I have got great hope for Svarupa Damodara and his colleagues. I want them to travel vigorously throughout the world to lecture in all universities and other institutions. There is no lack of financial resources and we shall spare nothing to see this party's success."
- (Srila A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja)

Sripada Maharaja's unwillingness to compromise on Srila Prabhupada's instructions is well known and we hope that his dedication to Srila Prabhupada's instructions will serve as an illustrious example for the world-wide devotee community, now and for all times to come.



As most of you may have heard, there was a serious bomb blast inside of ISKCON Manipur's temple complex on August 16, 2006, Sri Janmastami day. Six devotees including two children left this world and over forty devotees were seriously injured.

Sripada Maharaja's body was also injured during this blast. He had a deep cut and a fractured bone in his left forearm, a small puncture in his left eardrum and a tiny shrapnel burn on his back.

After preliminary treatment in Manipur and performing the sraddha ceremonies for the departed devotees, Sripada Maharaja came to Calcutta on August 25, 2006 where he was admitted into the Apollo Hospital. There, he underwent successful operations on his forearm and ear. He was discharged from the hospital on September 9, 2006.

On September 19, 2006 Maharaja visited the hospital for a routine checkup. At that time the burn on his back had almost healed and the doctors were surprised by how quickly the fractured bone in his forearm was setting. The cut on his forearm was also healing well.



While returning from the hospital to his flat Sripada Maharaja asked us to search his room and find his Manipur Nat Sankirtan (Rasa Lila) audio cassettes. From September 10, 2006, until the day of his disappearance, Sripada Maharaja's mood and behavior was different from what we had previously experienced.

Everyday, he would listen to and sing along with these cassettes for the entire day except for when he was taking his medicine, prasadam or a little rest. We thought that Maharaja was taking it easy during his recovery, as his normal schedule was very active and he never previously took the time to listen to Kirtan cassettes.

The Manipuri Nat Sankirtan cassettes that he was listening to are Kirtans sung in the Manipuri language, which describe the pastimes of Lord Sri Krishna and Srimati Radharani. Since we do not understand the Manipur language, Sripada Maharaja, during his lunchtime, would sometimes explain to us what was being sung on the tapes.

He said that the songs describing the Rasa Lila are so absorbing that one can completely forget this world. He said, "This world is on one side and that world is on another side." He was always in an extremely happy mood and said he was feeling more enthusiastic than ever.


"You (H. H. Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami) are one of the strong pillars of the mission. So I have all confidence in you. ... Be fully strong to push on this cult amongst the educated scientific circle...When you present more scientifically, they will be convinced." -
(Srila A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja : Letter to Svarupa Damodara Das, Vrindavana, September 8, 1974)

One afternoon, Sripada Maharaja explained to us that one of the Manipuri songs described Srimati Radhika's walking to be like that of a graceful female elephant. Sripada Maharaja expressed many other details about the pastimes of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna, however, due to our unfortunate lack of qualification we could not understand them nor did we make any recordings of Sripada Maharaja during this time.

Sripada Maharaja described how the Rasa Lila is performed according to the ancient Manipuri tradition. He also told us that once he discussed the Manipuri Rasa Lila with Srila Prabhupada and said that Srila Prabhupada was very pleased with the profound Manipuri Vaishnava culture.



We asked Sripada Maharaja how the Gaudiya Vaishnava culture and these peculiar Manipuri tunes originally came to Manipur. Sripada Maharaja said that the songs and devotional culture are from Narottam Das Thakur whose disciples came to Manipur and initiated King Bhagyachandra Maharaja.

The tunes were developed by Bhagyachandra Maharaja himself and some subsequent Manipuri kings. While explaining more, Sripada Maharaja described how the performance of Rasa Lila is done in the Manipuri tradition. It first begins with the glorification of Gaura Lila wherein Lord Gauranga is requested to come and be the principal witness of the Rasa Lila. The glories of the Yuga Dharma Hari Nam Sankirtan are extolled, and prayers are sung to Lord Nityananda. Then only does the Rasa Lila begin.



A week before his disappearance, Sripada Maharaja, in a deep mood, wrote down a wonderful transcendental song in the Manipuri language. He then sang and recorded it for all of the devotees. Many devotees now have a recording of this wonderful transcendental song. It was sung in what we, his disciples, call "his gopi voice". We are very fortunate to have this recorded.

Maharaja often sang these verses in crying mood. (In "his gopi voice":)
Vrajapremda Luppe Angaobagumle Radhabu Thirakle Sri Gaurana
Keidano Brindavan Keidano Kunjavan Kadaida Leikhre Sakhishingduna Thirakle Radhabu Sri Gaurana
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
Vrajapremda Luppe Angaobagumle Radhabu Thirakle Sri Gaurana


( Immersed in the loving thoughts of Vrajaprema,
Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu is searching for Srimati Radhika like a mad man.
He is constantly heard saying,
"Where is Vrindavana? Where is Kunjavan? Where are the loving sakhis?"
Crying again and again uttering these words,
Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu is searching for Srimati Radhika like a mad man. )



On October 1st, 2006, Sripada Maharaja around at 8:30-9:00 PM took a little soup as his dinner and after that he went to take rest. About an hour later Sripada Maharaja got up from his bed and walked to his connected office room where some of his assistants where sleeping.

He woke one of them and asked him to come to his room. He was extremely jolly. He asked, 'What is the time now?' His assistant said it was 10:35 pm. Sripada Maharaja then requested to have some ice put on his left fingers as they were feeling a little hot and on his left shoulder where he felt some pain.


Sripada Maharaja then called in Manipuri language for his elderly Manipuri assistant, who was also resting nearby, to come and massage his shoulder. We were surprised that although Sripada Maharaja stated he was experiencing some pain, he was simultaneously exceedingly blissful and joyous.

It was just a moment later that Sripada Maharaja tilted his head back slightly and disappeared from this world. One of assistants cried out "No Sripada! You can't do this!"

We were shocked by what was happening. We immediately called two assistants who were in the next room. We all started rubbing Sripada Maharaja's feet and hands hoping our most beloved Guru Maharaja would awaken from his Samadhi. But Sripada Maharaja had already entered Lord Sri Krishna's divine Rasa Lila.

(Manipuri Gopal Mandir at Sri Radha Kund)


The following day, Sripada Maharaja's transcendental body was brought to Sri Sri Krishna Balaram temple in Sri Vrindavan Dham for one night. There, many devotees had his darshan before the Samadhi ceremony that took place the next day, October 4th, 2006.

As per Sripada Maharaja's desire, he was placed in Samadhi at the Gopaldeva Mandir just on the bank of Sri Radhakunda, on the auspicious disappearance day of Srila Raghunathadas Goswami (our Prayojan Acharya), Srila Raghunatha Bhatta Goswami and Srila Krishnadas Kaviraja Goswami.

For the disciples and friends of Sripada Maharaja we feel his desire to enter Samadhi in Sri Radhakunda has now opened an eternal residence for us in Sri Radhakunda. For the disciples, the Guru's Samadhi is the place to meditate on the pastimes of their Guru Maharaja and their respective personal association with him.

During Sripada Maharaja's pastimes in this manifest body, he arranged for us to have many wonderful pastimes with him at his Sri Gopaldeva Mandir in Sri Nabadvipa Dham. Now as we begin his un-manifest lila, he has brought us all to Sri Radhakunda and we cannot express our gratitude in words.

(Samadhi of Sripada at Manipuri Gopal Mandir, Sri Radha Kund)


Let's meditate on Svarupa Damodara Maharaja's wonderful service to Srila Prabhupada as we go about doing our own service to Srila Prabhupada and the Vaisnavas.

Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Maharaja ki jai!
Srila Prabhupada ki jai!
Gaura premanade!


Check out the gallery for Sripada Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Maharaja here.


* Sriman Prasada Das, Et. Al. is a devotees about His Holiness Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Maharaj. This article was brought to you by Ms. Roshni Thokchom (Ranga Rupini Devi Dasi) from Muscat. This article was webcasted on 28th October, 2007



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