My Gratitude to H.H. Kadama Kanana Swami
„Know that there can be no greater gift, than having someone in your life that has more faith in you, than you have in yourself.“ - H.H. S.B. Keshava Swami
In my life, Kadamba Kanana Swami was such a person, as he always encouraged me to go deeper and to dedicate my life fully to Srila Prabhupada's Mission. He had a huge impact on my life. Now Maharajas left this world and we are encouraged to associate with him on a deeper level; mainly through his vani, his instructions.
Maharaja was already weaker but still had his usual powerful presence and charming humour when I got a chance to see him in Vrindavana in November 2022. As I expressed my gratitude to Maharaja, I realised how much I had received from him over the years; so many valuable instructions, and so much association. I could not think of any questions as I felt Maharaja has already given me so much guidance. Maharaja has been a siksa guru and a friend, in some ways, for over twenty years. When it was time to leave, I offered my obeisances, and Maharaja smiled at me. That was my last impression of him; seated on a couch, smiling, his right hand in his bead bag and waving his left hand, saying „bye-bye…We need kind leaders! You have my blessings! May you be successful!“ It was a very emotional moment; I knew this was the last time I would see Maharaja.
Dear Kadamba Kanana Swami, I am eternally indebted to you for your unlimited kindness and encouragement:
I am grateful to you for touching my heart with your Kirtanas
I first met you in a town called Will, St.Gallen in Switzerland, at a House program. Your bhajan pierced my heart with the first tone. I was new to Krishna Consciousness, but listening to your singing brought tears to my eyes. I could understand that this mantra singing is very powerful. You gave me that faith. I was wondering “who is this person who can awaken such spiritual emotions within me? Is he my guru?” You were a young sannyasi at that time and did not yet accept disciples. Nevertheless, I could understand that you will play an important part in my life.
I am grateful to you for introducing me to Srila Prabhupada's Rooms in Vrindavana
During my first visit to Vrindavan, I was fortunate enough to go with you on a parikrama with a small group of Swiss Sankirtan devotees. It was you who introduced me to Srila Prabhupada's rooms at Radha Damodar Mandir. You glorified Srila Prabhupada and sang a beautiful bhajan. You brought me closer to Srila Prabhupada and to Vrindavana Dhama, which is not very surprising as you are a Prabhupada man, and Vrindavan is your eternal home!
I am grateful to you for being so approachable
At first, I was bewildered, and I thought: „He is a Sannaysi and I am meant to fall at his feet, but he is cracking jokes, laughing with us as if he is just another brahmachari…!“ You have always been so approachable! Although you deserve all respect and honour of the world, you never expected any special treatment, and there was always this lightness, this kindness and a friendly atmosphere around you. Over the years, I developed my relationship with you, and you would lovingly call me „Mr Prema“ or „Prem, Prem, what’s up?“. How did I deserve your friendship? I do not know. Your kindness and compassion will be remembered by thousands of devotees who had similar experiences, I have no doubts about that.
I am grateful to you for inspiring me to study shastra and becoming a preacher
When I accepted the service as a temple president at ISKCON Zurich, you encouraged me to go deeper in my study of shastra.You wanted to ensure that while I make a career in the Institution, I simultaneously advance spiritually! You shared some files from your computer with me with the instruction to study the Bhagavatam with the commentaries of previous acaryas and to speak Krishna Katha whenever I get an opportunity. I was amazed to hear about your lifestyle as a Temple President in Vrindavana, chanting most of your rounds before Mangala Arati, reading Srila Prabhupada's books and lecturing almost daily to devotees from different departments. You showed, by your example, that absorption and preaching are essential aspects of spiritual leadership.
I am grateful to you for encouraging me to be loyal to my vision
You repeatedly encouraged me to focus on becoming a sadhu and not so much a manager. You emphasised that this movement needs more sadhus. You also advised me to be more of a prophet (one who gives a vision) than just a priest (one who performs rituals). You also cautioned me to not just become an instrument in the Institution. You said, „At the end of life, I do not just want a statement written on my tombstone saying: he was a loyal soldier! No, I want to do something extraordinary for Srila Prabhupada’s movement, something according to my nature, and my abilities —An individual contribution to society that makes a difference!” You told me that that I should never forget my own vision! I so grateful for your example of being a staunch follower of the parampara and, simultaneously, very broad-minded; having a huge vision for a progressive movement that meets the needs of the hour while preserving its essence at the same time.
I am grateful to you for urging me to dedicate my life fully to Srila Prabhupada’s mission
Just a couple of hours after giving Sannyasa to Sutapa Dasa, now H.H. Svyama Bhagavan Keshava Swami, you asked me in the Bhaktivedanta Manor garden in front of everyone: „So, when will you be on the (Sannyasi waiting) List?“. I was speechless. What could I say, I do not feel qualified to take up such a life long vow; but you always believed in me. For years you had encouraged me to fully dedicate myself to preaching.
I remember a conversation that we had in 2014. You asked me: „How old are you now?“ When I told you that I am thirty-seven, you continued saying: „You get old. I took Sannyas when I was 40!“ I said, “At the Retreat, you mentioned we must absorb ourselves to be fixed. So I think I will have to do that first.“ „Yes, you have another three years!“ you counteracted. I argued, “But Maharaja, I am not a travelling preacher; I am a manager, a Temple President“ Then you said, „This is also preaching, you can take Sannyasa and then manage on spiritual strength! And also, Preaching is not the only reason to accept Sannaysa; you can follow Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who said to his mother: An ordinary son brings only mundane wealth. I am going to bring the wealth of prayojana-siddhi, the ultimate goal. Thereby, you will get the Lotus feet of Krishna which are the source of all fortune. Mahaprabhu took Sannyasa to develop pure love of godhead, the ultimate goal in life.“
When I faced some challenges in my brahmacharya you wrote a powerful letter to me saying: „What to say about this. Life is so short, and to invest so much in something so temporary and to make such a big sacrifice for it…. Just remain fixed in your Brahmacarya a little longer. Why worry about yourself and personal sex desire? Let’s worry about all these conditioned souls trapped in ignorance in the material world. Let’s use all our energy to pull them out of Māyā, and in the course of it we pull ourselves out of Māyā.“
Your mood has always been: preaching, helping others, and sharing Krishna Consciousness!
I pray that one day I may also feel such compassion in my heart!
A parampara of Lions
And last but not least; I will always remember you as an embodiment of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhus mercy. You are truly a gaura-priya-jana, a dear devotee of Gauranga Mahaprabhu.
In one of your last lectures at the Krishna Balaram hall in Vrindavana, you spoke about Srila Prabhupada's lions at his Vyasasan: „I like these two lions. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur was known as the Lion Guru. Amongst his disciples, he had a lion - Srila Prabhupada. Amongst my disciples, I also would like to have some lions!“
That's the mood of the parampara! It's all about empowerment. This is how I will always remember you - as one who was empowered himself by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and one who was able to empower others! I feel privileged to be part of those fortunate souls who got your association. I pray that I may be able to follow your instructions and, in this way, will be able to please the parampara. You will always have a special place in my heart, and I dearly miss you!
Know that there can be no greater gift, than having someone in your life that has more faith in you, than you have in yourself. His Holiness Kadamba Kanana Swami ki jaya!
photo by Gokularanjana Dasa