Letter from Bhakti-Tirtha Swami
Posted April 8, 2005
(7th March 2005)
Dear Disciples and well wishers
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
I want to apologise, as I won't be able to travel to visit any of you in your various temples and projects. The cancer is spreading everyday. The tumours in my body are also getting larger everyday. My main personal caretaker at this time in addressing issues with my body is Dhruva Maharaja Dasa from S. Africa, he literally sleeps in the room with me every night. I am waking up about every hour and a half. I am not able to get up on my own to go to the bathroom so I have to be wheelchaired into the bathroom. He and Ekavira also have to bathe me each day.
In many ways I've become fully an invalid, as some caretakers have to be with me at every moment of the day. We're seeing externally the tumours are getting bigger and we can understand that internally the cancer is gradually spreading all over the body with tremendous vigour. Now I'm mainly doing some treatments to try to minimise and dull the pain. At this point I could have weeks or (I'm so stubborn) still a few months. However, I really don't see how the soul will be able to stay in this body for months due to its rapid deterioration. Even though I'm still giving the classes once a week, which I hope you're all listening to, it has become so hard for me. On Sunday just driving from Institute house to the temple on the bumpy road in Gita Nagari, I felt like my already cancerous and damaged collar bone was going to fully break. It also felt as if my head and neck were too heavy for my shoulders and chest. At the same time however, I am dying on the battle field.
Three days ago I did a one hour live radio show over the telephone and yesterday morning devotees managed to prop me up and dress me very nicely to make a recording for the Oprah Winfrey show. It seems that we have an angle to share with millions of people around the world who watch the show. Let us see if she picks up on this before I depart. It doesn't really matter, as the message has already been recorded, as well as the fact that my life has been my message in the rather unique way that I served Srila Prabhupada's mission.
For those who have received formal recommendations, I will start chanting on your beads next week. To save time we have purchased the beads on this side and once they're chanted on we will send them to you. We will post the new names of the first initiates and a list of the second initiates on www.btswami.com and they should later be posted on all the other foreign websites. For those who have been accepted for 2nd initiation, you will have to have a siksa or authority in you area who is a brahmin, to give you the mantra on my behalf (and the thread for men). This authority should explain to you all that is necessary for chanting the mantra. You will also receive a MP3 (on CD) of a short class I gave to the 2nd initiates in Gita Nagari about chanting Gayatri, but first you must hear the mantra in your right ear from someone in your area who makes a connection with you on my behalf.
Now the question is why am I at this time ready to take more disciples when I am leaving in a short time and won't see 99% of you again in this lifetime other than if I appear to you via visions, dreams or sound etc. I have prayed over this and my initial feelings were that since I cannot physically visit your places, I should just accept it as Krsna's mercy and request you all to take shelter elsewhere. However, I am feeling my higher self is now dictating that yes I should encourage you all, even those of you who are already initiated, to find formal siksa with other leaders and devotees. But since most of you are so deeply connected with me in the heart and some even have connected with me from a previous life, I want to do what I can in this short time to connect you with the parampara and to accept your ongoing love and devotion to me which I then pass on to my own guru.
So I cannot tell you no, I will not pass on your dedication and love to Srila Prabhupada as I must deliver whatever's necessary as his disciple, envoy and ambassador. Can you imagine in one sense, how difficult it is with all the physical complexities I am having, after being such an active person for almost my whole life. None of you can fully imagine how joyful and happy I am about how my impending death has had, and is having an impact on the international community. It is not only those in the ISKCON community or those just in the vaisnava communities but, also so many of the people who are connected with nama hattas, workshops and seminars that I've given in many other pious communities. So when I do finally leave, by the mercy of my guru, perhaps I will be able to return back to the spiritual world with great happiness, knowing that my little service on this planet has pretty much been carried out successfully based on my commission.
So I want all of you now to fully accept that I have left, and just see any additional days, weeks etc as a special arrangement in bringing last closure to my little efforts to raise global consciousness. I will also begin to nourish my internal life more even though I chose to die active here in the west, on the battlefield. We really cannot join the residents of the spiritual world unless we are ready, or have become like them. So you can imagine I've got a whole lot of work to do in a short time. Don't worry; my books will have more impact after I leave, even though there are already 17 books being translated into 15 different languages. Those who know me closely know that I don't have any serious qualifications in any area but miracles have always happened around me, even to the point that I began to expect them.
In other words, there are many things I have somehow been able to do, which I know were far beyond my rational power and influence. The biography of my life that was written two years ago by a writer and disciple of Jayapataka Swami in Russian will come out in English at some point. I think the biography will increase your faith in Srila Prabhupada more. Just as the life of so many of our senior devotees, when fully shared, will show how they were brought to this mission so miraculously, what to say of their many awesome accomplishments. They are the real heroes. The difference between me and them, is that I was always upfront and often announcing or informing the vaisnava community of some of my achievements. I've always been spoiled and I've always found ways to get love and distribute love. Just look at my situation now. I will not and cannot die quietly. I will be receiving love and affection until I take my last breath.
Thank you all so much for your love. Yes, I continue to repeat, 'I am blessed by the best and will never settle for anything less, and I'm just waiting to pass a few more tests'. But I'll only be able to pass these last tests as you send more of your love and as you show more determination to do more on your own part in making sacrifices for others. I will live on in such a wonderful way through my disciples, especially those rare disciples who will be 'love in action' as they interact as sweet sadhus in their various communities. What a wonderful life I've had and what a wonderful death I'm approaching. So upon reading this letter I request that you intellectually accept that the entity that you knew in this present and physical form is eternal but has already departed.
I will not be personally answering anymore emails from disciples. If you send an email to me there's a chance that it'll be read to me and some of my caretakers will answer on my behalf. I will of course be answering emails from my God brothers, God sisters, leaders from other traditions who are in touch with me and those connected with the harinama press work in different countries. The next 4 books that will come out; Beggar 4 - Die before Dying, which will be ready in 3 weeks , Spiritual Warrior 6-a book on terrorism, war, fanaticism, sectarianism and the peace solution, Reflections 5 - 64 principles for developing a sound vaisnava community by Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, my little book on aparadhas and then my last book on surrender will all basically conclude the major messages that I wanted to share, in helping to bring about some national and international transformation. Some of the things that I have done in this lifetime, I have done in previous lives.
So some things were just destined to happen in certain ways. Even the minority body that I've appeared in, in this lifetime has been given as a special asset for my services. I had a lot of fun, I raised a lot of hell, and oops...... I will keep doing it until the helpers who come for me tell me 'maharaja, you no longer have to deal with negativities. Your work now is all blissful loving service.' Next time when they come I will not procrastinate. Everything that needed to be said by me or done by me has all been done. Can you believe, I've even helped pick out my own samadhi and all the stuff that comes with it! I want even the arrangements for my remains to be upbeat.
What can I say.......I am outrageous as a god brother, as a member of my biological family, as a disciple and as a spiritual master. Maybe Lord Nityananda and some of his cowherd boys gave me kick in head as i was leaving home : ) So what can I do? I refuse to take all the blame for my outrageousness. When the full biography comes out and when some of you later visit the museum that's being set up, and you see all the outrageous clothes, crowns, canes and the volumes of books that I used as references, you will realise its amazing how I appeared to be as sane as I did. But I guess there's some value in being insane in a world where the norms are down right expressions of insanity. So no time to waste just keep sending the love. Yes, I know you love me but I love you all three times as much. I will find some ways to show you this even more after I have departed.
Yours in Srila Prabhupada's Service
Previously known as John Favours, Ghanasyama, Swami Krsnapada,
Bhakti Tirtha Swami.