Sundarupa Prabhu is Remembered By ISKCON Italy
Posted September 28, 2008
Saturday, September 20, at 2 AM, Italian time, Sundararupa Prabhu, God brother and dear friend of our Guru Maharaj, with whom he had shared long years of spiritual service for the development of the Villa Vrindavana Project and the Italian ISKCON, has unfortunately left his body.
For the past two years, Sundararupa Prabhu has been actively cooperating with Centro Studi Bhaktivedanta (CSB) for the recognition and diffusion of this project in the USA and he has reached significant successes.
We remember him with affection, appreciation and esteem. We also remember the important and joyous seva experiences shared throughout the stories and the memories of Shriman Matsya Avatara Prabhu below.
Thanking Shri Shri Guru and Krishna for showing us the way that leads us beyond death,
Memories of Sundarupa Prabhu
by Shriman Matsya Avatara Prabhu
"I met Sundararupa Prabhu in May-June 1977. His first residence in Italy was my home. Later, in September of the same year, upon my return from a trip to India, we have begun to cooperate very closely. When I knew him, I discovered a well organized, serious, dedicated and responsible devotee. I was 32 and he was 27.
From the beginning we have worked closely in performing our devotional service and we had a very good relationship. My role was to assist him in his President duty by helping him with his work in certain environments and services. Particularly, we had the chance to work together on the strategy for the development of the Movement in Italy and I assisted him mainly with the administrative and legal aspects and with the relationship with the Italian Nation, the institutions and the public organizations. I introduced him to the Italian reality in its cultural, historical and social-political prospective. Sundararupa Prabhu, gradually, has given me many institutional responsibilities and in 1978 he gave me the Presidency of the Italian ISKCON. Together we looked for a place that could be called the house for the devotees, the main office for the Italian ISKCON and finally on December 4, 1979 we found and purchased a property in San Casciano Val di Pesa, near Florence that was later named Villa Vrindavana. We have developed this Project with the help of many devotees. Among these devotees was my father Caitanya-Nitai, who has given a great contribution to the realization of Villa Vrindavana in a cooperation relationship with Sundararupa Prabhu that was friendly and filled with esteem. He was the director and had the responsibility for the Italian ISKCON, I was his assistant and I was later elected president by him and Bhagavan das. We have served under Bhagavan's guide happily for years.
This cooperation lasted steadily and constructively without interruptions from September 1977 when we met, until October 1986, for nine intensive years. In 1986 Sundararupa left for Israel and then returned to the United States and remained there until his departure on 20 September 2008.
Our relationship was so personal, strong, special, founded on such intense sentiments of affection and esteem that even after Sundararupa Prabhu left Italy, I went often to the US to see him, every time I had the chance. We met in many occasions, one time in Dallas, Texas, another time in New York, again in Washington DC where we visited George Town University that he was attending to complete his Degree and when he had the opportunity to visit Italy he came to see me. Our relationship has always remained strong. We both throughout the years have over and over expressed and demonstrated affection for one another, esteem and deep appreciation for each other.
The main tie that kept us together was no doubt the affection that we shared for our Guru, His Holy Grace Bhaktivedanta Svami Shrila Prabhupada, and all of our subjects, cooperation and projects were to satisfy His desires, to carry on His wonderful Mission. Our relationship based on devotional service has enriched us enormously. One was complementing the other. We greatly enjoyed each other's company. Throughout the years I appreciated his genuine dedication and devotion to our Guru, his great engagement in developing the Italian ISKCON, his caution, foresight and operative and managerial capability and I have personally witnessed how his work was functional to the expansion and differentiation of the Italian ISKCON. I saw how he dedicated himself with enthusiasm, shrewdness, diligence and proactive, programmatic, strategic and tactical intelligence for the diffusion of the teaching of the Bhakti by organizing groups of preachers, books printing and festivals for thousands of people.
My role was to assist him, as his counselor for the resolution of strategic and tactical problems of various natures and under his guidance, the ISKCON Italia project has considerably expanded and the number of devotees has multiplied along with the creation of new Temples and centers for the diffusion of the Bhakti. Sundararupa Prabhu was a leader very loved and followed. He was a charismatic leader, dedicated, affectionate and capable of sacrifice spirit. In 1986 he departed from Italy and returned to the United Stated and thereafter there was a period of twenty years of great trials.
In 2005, Sundararupa Prabhu during one of our exchanges, that, to tell the truth was never interrupted even after his return to the USA, while I was telling him about my project with the CSB, he expressed the desire to enroll for the Academic Study Course of Philosophy. With joy, appreciation spirit and affection I encouraged him to deepen his knowledge of that institution that I had founded and gave him the chance, when I saw and listened to his interest and appreciation for what we were doing, to cooperate in close contact like we used to do. I offered him a role in the CSB, the role to develop this project in the United States. In 2006 Sundararupa has began to seriously thinking of this chance and offering his availability to this service with enthusiasm even though he had a very objective and realistic vision of his multiple engagements and responsibilities as a father of a 13 year old girl, a marriage and a family to take care of. We have weighted for about a year what would have been his real capability to cooperate and undertake responsibilities in the CSB. In 2007, upon my invite, he came to see me in Italy. It was a wonderful experience. He spent 15 days with me, my disciples and cooperators and he took the opportunity for visiting Villa Vrindavana and Medolago.
During this visit he participated in a week long festival that I held in a Villa in Colle Val D'Elsa. He wanted to live this experience to understand his role in CSB with its activities and its participants. Before the seminar he spent 4-5 days with us at our main Office where he came in contact with all the instruments available to the CSB. By learning it closely, he fell in love with this Project and together we developed his role in it. Sundararupa Prabhu in that occasion took the responsibility of having the US Government and in particular the State of Florida recognize CSB as a no-profit organization. After reaching this recognition, unanimously he was elected President of the CSB in America and a very close relationship began between him and other devotees of CSB that I have tasked to help him such as Naradamuni, Anantadeva, Madhavipriya, Radharani, Paramatma, Gopalprasada and others that have helped him reaching the second step that we were taking. This was the academic recognition of our School by the State of Florida by instituting the Bhakti Yoga College in January 2007. The third step would have been the recognition of the Bhakti Yoga College by the US Government as accredited University. Between the second and the third step Sundararupa Prabhu has unfortunately left us. He certainly departed toward a superior reality and he left all of us with a great sentiment of esteem, affection and appreciation toward him and also an unpleasant emptiness because we will certainly miss his cooperation and experience and his capability to administer and manage what we had given him with great trust. However, we will have in our hearts, his affection, his joy, his enthusiasm and his happiness in serving this Project. During the past two years he gained a new life of hope, knowledge of his capabilities and potentialities to return to diffuse Krishna Consciousness in contemporary society through the CSB Project. This Project utilizes an indirect mean through the modality of culture. This modality was discussed among us 20-30 years ago when Sundararupa Prabhu appreciated its importance to favor people in pursuing consciousness and awareness of the existence of a Superior Reality.
Sundararupa Prabhu was a devotee very dear to me who lived and will always live in my heart and in my mother's, my wife's and my children's' hearts. During the past two years when our cooperation was intensively reactivated I could experience once again, as it had happened in the past for numerous days, the pleasure, the joy and the great satisfaction of sharing the practice of Bhakti with a devotee so sincere and dedicated to the spiritual realization of Krishna Conscience."