"Who is a sādhu? A sādhu is not just an ordinary man with a saffron robe or long beard. A sādhu is described in Bhagavad-gītā as one who unflinchingly engages in devotional service.“ (1)
In our society, we tend to give all respect and honour to those in the renounced order of life, but sometimes we forget that other saintly devotees are among us. Some of these devotees might not carry the symbols of a sadhu, like saffron robes and sannyasi danda, yet, they are just as spiritually advanced, if not more so, in some cases.
I had to reflect on this topic when I remembered my dear Godbrother Rajammani Dasa (BSDS), who recently passed away. His departure was extremely painful for all he left behind, especially his beloved wife and two children. At the same time, his departure was very auspicious in many ways, as he left on the day of Govardhana Puja, during the month of Kartika, on the 14th of November (the same day Srila Prabhupada left this world in 1977). For me, it felt as if Krishna wanted to show the world: "Rajamani Dasa is very dear to me.“
Rajamani, meaning a gem (mani) amongst Kings (raja), is a name of Sri Krishna or Lord Ramacandra. As a dear servant of the Lord, Rajamani Dasa himself was a jewel amongst devotees. If I were to describe Rajamani's character, I would use three words: enthusiastic, sincere, and compassionate!
Rajamani was always very enthusiastic to serve Krishna and the devotees. He was the kind of person who worked very hard, and the more service he did, the more blissful he became! I never heard him lament or say anything negative about anyone or anything. He was full of energy and positivity!
Rajamani was very sincere. He was eager to have Sadhu Sanga and to hear Krishna Katha. He was incredibly respectful and humble in his dealings with others. His enthusiasm and sincerity came from his strong attachment to his guru and from profound realizations. A Vedic astrologer told him about ten years ago that he would not live long. Understanding the futility of material existence, Rajamani deeply took shelter in devotional service.
Rajamani was very kind and compassionate. He gave me a lot of support. He often encouraged me to remain a brahmachari and to be engaged in the Sankirtana mission. He would also support me financially if a need arose. When he donated a brand-new iMac Computer to me this spring, he simply said, "This is our good fortune. It's Lord Jagannatha's mercy. I am simply an instrument. He arranged everything for you. That's what the Lord says, 'I always take care of my devotees.' I am so happy that you got this instrument to be used in the Lord's service. It's our honour to serve you!“
I was impressed by his generosity and detachment. I happened to talk about it without any intention to ask for money from him, but he immediately said, "Do not worry, I will take care of it.“
Rajamani also felt great compassion for those suffering due to a lack of Krishna Consciousness. He had ideas on how to reach out, especially to his fellow countrymen from Sri Lanka, who, like him, immigrated in the 80s when the civil war took place.
He envisioned going to Vrindavana after retirement to immerse himself in the shastras. He wanted to study for a couple of years and get trained in the art of preaching. Once, he even told me that he sometimes thought of accepting Sannyas. I felt that his intention was very pure, that there was no desire for honour and prestige in his heart; he simply had a strong urge to share Krishna Consciousness.
His determination and enthusiasm was great an inspiration. I truly felt uplifted by his association. Undoubtedly, I received many gifts from him. And this is what makes a sadhu; in his association, we feel nourished and enthused in our practice:
„Sādhur eva sa mantavyaḥ. A sādhu is a strict follower of devotional service. (..) Attachment to a devotee is attachment to the service of the Lord because if one associates with a sādhu, the result will be that the sādhu will teach him how to become a devotee, a worshiper and a sincere servitor of the Lord. These are the gifts of a sādhu.“ (2)
All glories to Rajamani Dasa and all glories to the many devotees in our wonderful Krishna Consciousness movement who are similarly dedicated and devoted to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga!
1-2 - From Srila Prabhupada’s Purport to SB 3.25.20