Dear well-wishers of the ISKCON Ministry of Cow Protection and Agriculture
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
As you all must have heard by now, our very dear, senior Vaisnava and close associate of Srila Prabhupada, H.H. Bhakti Charu Swami has departed this world, on the Guru Purnima tithi, in Orlando, Florida, near to the Deland farm project that he had recently initiated. For me, amidst my personal feelings of loss and disorientation in his absence, I feel it is very significant that Maharaja had been intending to be at Deland at this time. I am reminded of Srila Prabhupada’s great desire to make a final visit to Gita Nagari, despite his dwindling health, in September 1977. He wanted to go to Gita Nagari because he wanted to encourage the devotees there to develop that project, to realize his vision of Krishna conscious rural communities based on cow protection and agriculture. Bhakti Charu Swami’s desire to go to Deland, despite advice from his close attendants in India not to travel under the present dangerous conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic, is for me a very strong message that he wanted to put special emphasis on the importance of not only the Deland farm but all the ISKCON rural community projects.
As we know, H.H. Bhakti Charu Swami’s support for the IMCPA was very substantial. By his stature among the leaders of our Society, he was able to call attention to the importance of the ministry; he supported it financially; he helped in making favourable legal arrangements for the North American branch of the Ministry; he personally attended a farm meeting in Deland (thereby foregoing his expected participation in London Rathayatra); he helped form the Ministry’s board of advisors and, as some of us personally witnessed in Sridham Mayapur this last February, he took part in the formation of the Ministry’s Council of Elders, thereby hosting the ceremony establishing H.H. Smita Krishna Swami as the Council’s first member.
Even as we mourn the departure of Bhakti Charu Swami Maharaja, let us be resolved to carry on our mission to facilitate and expand this very essential component of the Krishna consciousness movement, namely, the application of “plain living and high thinking” through rural, agricultural, cow-based living. And let us continue to be inspired by remembering the example that Bhakti Charu Swami Maharaja set for us.