Written by Rukmini dd
The end of an era…
Amidst the cows in the goshala and the soft Vrindavan sand, lies the samadhis of the sons and daughters of Srila Prabhupada whose lives are etched in dedicated service. On Tuesday, 10th November, we gathered there to place the ashes of HG Brahmananda Prabhu into samadhi. It is a challenge to do justice to this event in mere paragraphs. The colossal collection of saints present at this gathering was enough to give one goose bumps.
Indraduymna Swami called Brahmananda Prabhu his vartmapradakshaka guru (the first person who connected him to the path of devotion). He mentioned how Brahmananda Prabhu often cried when speaking about Srila Prabhupada and how this was reciprocal because Srila Prabhupada cried when he heard about Brahmandas preaching in Africa. Radhanath Swami explained how he was the first person in the Western world to dance in Lord Caitanyas kirtan. Besides these giants in the sankirtan mission, there were those who were very close to Brahmananda Prabhu, his caretaker, his secretary from the 70’s and Navayogendra Swami who served with him in Africa. Others mentioned that he was also the first temple president, the first to publish the Srila Prabhupada’s Gita by Macmillan, the first to give Prabhupada the Krsna book and the first to go into Africa and Brazil, when no one else wanted to go.
Brahmananda Prabhu’s brother, Gargamuni, mentioned how Srila Prabhupada said that his financial problems where solved when Brahmananda came. He gave his $400 pay check to Srila Prabhupada each month and asked him each day for the 25 cents he needed to take the bus to work. There were many loyal godbrothers and godsisters including Malati mataji, Laxmimoni Mataji and other Vrindavan veterans. Guru Kripa Prabhu mentioned a dream he had of Brahmananda Prabhu where he appeared in a lean, effulgent form and insinuated that Guru Kripa would really enjoy what Srila Prabhupada had in store for them (in the after life). Burijana Prabhu called Brahmananda Prabhu’s book, “Swamiji”, as the ultimate love story of one who gave their heart at young age and never wavered.
Kadamba Kanana Swami highlighted the innocent and unassuming nature of Brahmananda and his simple focus on what Srila Prabhupada wanted. He mentioned how once Brahmananda Prabhu was asked a question that sounded like, “For you it seems that Srila Prabhupada is God.” Brahmananda Prabhu responded by saying, “No. No. I made that mistake before. The guru is not God. He is as good as God. But these days I begin to think that he is better than God because he came to New York and saved me.” And Brahmananda Prabhu began to cry. Maharaj added that Brahmananda Prabhu was also not just lost in those moments he shared with Prabhupada over forty years ago but was very aware of the preaching happening currently around the world and thus even at the very end, Brahmananda Prabhu still felt responsible for Prabhupada’s mission. When Tamal Krsna Goswami passed away, Maharaj and Brahmananda Prabhu stood at the gates of Mayapur awaiting the arrival of his body. Brahmananda Prabhu commented that it was not the end of Tamal Krsna Maharaj but the end of an era. Similarly, Maharaj commented that this was also not the end of Brahmananda Prabhu but the end of an era. “Where would we ever find another Brahmananda?” he questioned.
We were purified by the dust of Vrindavan, by the presence of vaishnavas of exalted caliber, by simply hearing of Brahmananda Prabhu’s deep qualities; his impenetrable devotion to Srila Prabhupada , his incredible contribution and his soft heart.
It was a day to etch into eternal memory lest we forget the shoulders of the giants upon whom we stand.