Departure of Sri Bhakti Prema Prabhu
Posted November 30, 2004
We are sorry to inform the devotees about the sudden and surprising departure of our dear godbrother and friend, Sri Bhakti Prema Prabhu. Bhakti Prema passed away in Sri Vrindavan Dham on Monday the 29th of November.
At the time of his departure, Bhakti Prema was only 36 years old. Raised in the UK in a pious Indian family, he came to India to take shelter of Sri Srimad Gour Govinda Swami. Bhakti Prema stayed in Bhubaneswar for several years and during that time he received a lot of merciful attention from Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja. After Maharaja's departure, Bhakti Prema received the mercy of Srila Bhakti Svarup Damodar Maharaja and took initiation from him. Since 1996, Bhakti Prema kept the ISKCON Gadeigiri temple in Orissa as his base. There, he rendered various services as a kirtan leader, preacher, and laksmi collector for Sri Sri Radha Gopal Jiu, the beloved deities of Sri Srimad Gour Govinda Swami. He was a well known traveling brahmacari preacher and gave many classes in Europe and South India.
Shortly before his departure, Bhakti Prema Prabhu was attending the Vraja Mandala Parikrama of Sri Ramesh Baba of Barsana. For nearly the whole month of Kartika he was daily absorbed in hari-katha, blissful kirtan, dancing and taking darsan of different deities and holy places of Vraja. Devotees have told us that he was having stomach problems due to some water he had drank on the parikrama. Kartika finished on the 27th of November and the next day he went to Srila Bhakti Svarup Damodar Maharaja's temple at Radha Kund to recuperate. However his condition worsened and he started suffering from severe dysentery. The next day when he began badly shaking and vomiting blood the devotees took him to the hospital at Govardhan. They said they could not help him and referred him to the hospital in Vrindavan. He was admitted to hospital in Vrindavan and that afternoon, sometime between four and five PM he left his body there.
That night, the devotees in Vrindavan phoned to inform us here in Bhubaneswar. They said that because he was a foreigner, government regulations would not allow them to burn his body until his passport and papers were cleared. Hence Bhakti Prema Prabhu's body was taken to Srila Gour Govinda Swami's Puspa Samadhi in Vrindavan where the devotees performed kirtan for him all night.
Bhakti Prema Prabhu was a young healthy brahmacari, his sudden departure was a shock to everyone. However, we consider his departure in Vrindavan to be the most wonderful and glorious event. In his "Sri Mathura Mahatmya", Srila Rupa Goswamipad has described the glories of Vraja Mandala. Therein Lord Varahadev says to the Earth goddess (texts 33-34):
"O Devi, among all holy places, Mathura (the town, but is also another name for the area of Vraja) is the most important because Lord Sri Krishna performed many pastimes there. Every step of this land is purifying. It is the abode of Sri Krishna's childhood pastimes with His cowherd boy friends and this place is decorated with the marks of Sri Krishna's lotus feet."
In text 41, Rupa Goswami quotes Narada Muni from Skanda Purana, Mathura Mahatmya:
"The result one obtains by performing pious activities in any part of India for thirty-three thousand years is obtained simply by remembering Mathura."
In text 87, Srila Rupapada again quotes Lord Varaha's words to Bhumi Devi in the Adi Varaha Purana:
"O Devi, if persons give up their bodies anywhere in Mathura such as a in a house, on the water, in the land, on the road, or in a courtyard, they will certainly attain liberation."
Text 97 states:
"What to speak of human beings, if even insects, worms, flies, or trees die in this holy land, they will also attain the supreme destination."
Although we will miss our old friend, when we contemplate his good fortune, our hearts feel a great happiness. "Bhakti Prema Prabhu, wherever you are today, we offer you our humble pranams. All glories!!"
Your old friend and servant,