Proposal for Bhaktivedanta Retirement Communities
Posted August 27, 2010
This story is actually about my godbrother Sridhar Maharaja. He was from Canada. He had Hepatitis C, which is practically incurable. He had tried everything conventional and alternative, and all had failed. So he resigned himself to leaving his body. He was on a last visit to Canada to see some devotees before he went back to Mayapur to leave his body. I called him and we reminisced about our brahmachary days in Bombay, India. Sridhar Maharaja was not a fancy or proud person. He was what you would call a workingman's Swami. He never fussed over being a Swami or a guru; he was just one of the guys. Never wanted any special treatment. He was very ordinary, which made him very special.
At one point he said to me: "You know what, Bhagavat, the devotees all over the world are treating me so nicely. They are giving me such comfortable places to stay and such nice care and attention in my last days. But I feel bad. Because I am a sannyasi and guru, I get this service. But what about all of my godbrothers and godsisters who also sacrificed their youth and life for Srila Prabhupada? They do not get this kind of care and attention. I want that all of us should get the same care and attention."
As I heard him speak, I was deeply touched by his sentiment. I praised him for his genuine spirit and desire to see all of our spiritual siblings receive the care and attention they deserved. We finished our conversation, and I thought about it that night. The next day I called him and told him: "Maharaja, I will make a place for devotees to retire to and leave this world with the same care and attention that you are getting."
He said, "That makes me feel really happy. I am so glad that you will do this. Thank you so much for that. It is a great parting gift from you."
That was the last time we spoke; a couple of months later, he left this world.
I travel and preach all over the world. I have met many of my godbrothers and sisters who are living isolated and unfulfilled lives in little apartments, especially in America. I feel sorry that they have no place to go to live where they can have the association of devotees on a daily basis and finish their lives in peace and spiritual happiness. I am feeling compelled by Srila Prabhupada and by my promise to my dear godbrother Sridhara Maharaja to make such places where all the devotees can live and practice Krishna consciousness peacefully and happily in their last days.
Yadunandana Pada prabhu has an excellent record in serving his godsiblings in this capacity, and he was so excited when I mentioned to him that I wanted to start such a program. So I feel greatly honored to work with someone like him to make this possible