Bhakti-tirtha Swami has advanced melanoma cancer
Posted August 17, 2004
The following is a letter sent out by Bhakti Caru Swami to concerned devotees over the internet. It has been posted on several e-forums and read at disciple gatherings:
Yesterday afternoon, after learning about Bhakti Tirtha Maharaj's diagnosis, I phoned him at the phone number that Romapada Maharaj very kindly provided. Although I was feeling very emotional, Maharaj greeted me in such a hearty way that the heaviness of my heart was immediately dissipated. I had an extremely enlivening and uplifting discussion with Maharaj for about half an hour.
Maharaj felt an overwhelming concern about the state of affairs in ISKCON. There are so many difficulties in our movement. So many devotees are losing faith in Krishna Consciousness, so many children have been abused, so many marriages are breaking up. There is so much suffering. He wished that he could do something to help our movement overcome these crises, and he felt the most effective way to do so is by purifying himself. He considered that in ISKCON, he has gotten everything. He is traveling, preaching, attending seminars, meeting very important people. In this way, he felt that he is enjoying his situation as a leader of ISKCON. He prayed to Srila Prabhupada that this is not what he should really want; what he really wanted is purification. He asked Srila Prabhupada to help him become purified.
Maharaj considers that this is actually his purification. He feels that his only goal now, as it has always been, is that whatever Srila Prabhupada desires, whatever Krishna desires, let that be. He prays to them that in whatever situation he is, he can take that opportunity to preach Krishna Consciousness and become a better devotee.
Maharaj is certainly one of the most wonderful, exemplary devotees in our movement. I remember, when Srila Prabhupada was in Vrindavan during his final pastimes, many devotees would write to His Divine Grace, but Prabhupada was most interested in hearing the letters about book distribution. Among the letters describing book distribution, I very vividly recall that Prabhupada was very eager to receive letters from Bhakti Tirtha Maharaj describing how he was distributing books behind the Iron Curtain.
In one of his letters, Maharaj narrated that he was in a university when he sensed that somebody was following him. Obviously, there were many spies in the Communist countries in those days. In order to escape, he opened a door and walked into the room. It happened to be an office, and the gentleman sitting inside turned out to be a professor in the university. Maharaj pretended as if he had come to see him. They started to talk, and not only did Maharaj escape from the spy, but he sold the professor a set of books! He would write about so many such exciting experiences.
Bhakti Tirtha Maharaj is not an ordinary soul. He is a very, very special personality. Although it pains us to see him in this condition, one thing is certain: Krishna uses His devotees for His own special purpose. In course of doing so, He rewards them most wonderfully. Obviously Krishna will reward someone who so sincerely wants to become purified. Krishna must have a wonderful plan for Maharaj, and in due course, it will be revealed to us.
Maharaj said that he does not mind if he has to leave because he feels that wherever he goes, Krishna will allow him to serve Him, but I expressed that he has to stay on because our movement needs him. A vaisnava like him purifies just by his darshan, what to speak of getting his wonderful association.
I pray to Srila Prabhupada that he takes care of his very dear son.