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Krishna Prema’s Food for Thought 2024 # 3 - The Bright Moon who Illuminated the Darkness of my Heart

— Remembering Sripada Caitanya Chandra Dasa (GGS), Odhisa, India

It was well past midnight when I finally reached the cremation site. Despite arriving on the day of Gurudeva's departure, I found myself too late. By the time I got there, all rites had been completed. (1) As I gazed upon the spot where the body of my beloved siksa guru had been cremated just hours earlier, tears welled up in my eyes, and I sank to my knees, weeping uncontrollably, overcome with grief. The moon cast its golden glow, and the air was heavy with the scent of earth, cow dung, and ashes. At that moment, my heart shattered as I realized I had lost one of my greatest well-wishers.

As I seek solace during this painful period, reflecting on his glorious qualities and pastimes becomes my only refuge. Allow me to share some cherished memories.

The Beginning — Finding my Spiritual Home in Gadeigiri, Odisha

My profound admiration for Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja initially led me to Odisha in the early stages of my journey in Krishna Consciousness in 2002.

Sripada Caitanya Candra Prabhu, being a close disciple of Maharaja, continued the tradition of sharing the nectar of Krishna Katha. During my year-long stay in the village of Gadeigiri, I had the privilege of immersing myself daily in hours of Krishna Katha. During my stay, I began seeking Prabhu's personal association and discovered in him an extraordinary spiritual guide and much more. (2)

Dear Gurudeva,

I am eternally grateful for the boundless love you have shown me. Your heart is like an ocean of compassion and wisdom. Whenever I looked into your eyes, I felt overwhelmed by the love emanating from them. In your transcendental presence, any doubts or worries that clouded my mind dissipated immediately. Gadagiri felt like my second home, and you became a spiritual father to me. Moreover, you introduced me to my diksa guru and even personally preformed the yajna during my initiation ceremony.

First Visit to Switzerland

"I have not come as a Guru, a Preacher, or anything like that. I simply have come to share some Krishna Katha that I have heard from my Gurudeva!" These were Prabhu's opening words at the first program we organized for him at a yoga studio in Bern back in 2005. His genuine humility left a lasting impression on me. We were all thrilled about his visit. Many of us had already experienced the bliss of his association in Gadeigiri, and we were eager to introduce others to it. Those days were filled with joy, spending each evening at a different program, eagerly listening to his Katha. Gurudeva would always emphasis the importance of hearing:

"śṛṇvatāṁ sva-kathāḥ kṛṣṇaḥ puṇya-śravaṇa-kīrtanaḥ… we must listen Krishna Katha, that listening will help us to get rid of our anarthas, then only bhakti will rise in our hearts. That's why sravana is the root cause of bhakti! When we listen, we can chant; when we listen, we can behave like a bhakta; when we listen, we can also preach! One who has listened to Krishna Katha, he is a sisya! Those who have not listened cannot claim to be disciples!"  

Dear Gurudeva,

I am eternally grateful for nourishing us with your transcendental Krishna Katha. You exemplified true loyalty to the parampara. Every word you spoke was empowered by sadhu, guru, and sastra. You simply repeated the teachings of your own Gurudeva and Srila Prabhupada. Furthermore, you delved into the writings of Srila Bhaktisiddanta Sarasvati Thakur and quoted extensively from his teachings and those of other acharyas. Your words were imbued with immense compassion and profound realization, unlike anything I had experienced elsewhere.

Installation of Sri Sri Nitai Gaurancandra - Becoming Gurudeva’s Purohit Pupil

In the summer of 2006, Caitanya Chandra Prabhu made his second visit to Switzerland, this time accompanied by the wonderful Sri Sri Nitai Gauracandra Deities. Their arrival marked the establishment of a new preaching center in Bern, the capital city, under his guidance.

A couple of days before the installation of the deities, Prabhu, as we affectionately called him at that time, informed me that he wanted me to conduct the yajna, the fire sacrifice, at the installation ceremony. I was taken aback—I had never performed a yajna before! Although I had taken a course on how to conduct yajnas from Mandali Bhadra Prabhu, our local priest, I had never actually led one publicly.

Gurudeva instructed me on how to conduct the yajna according to the "Sat Kriya Sara Dipika" written by Srila Gopal Bhatta Goswami. He himself had been trained by Srila Gour Govinda Swami, and now he wanted me to follow the same tradition. I felt a mixture of excitement and nervousness—how could I learn all of this in just a couple of days? Prabhu recited the mantras, and I diligently wrote them down as I heard them from him. I didn't have a book; I simply made notes from his verbal instructions.

Finally, the day arrived, and Sri Sri Nitai Gauracandra were grandly installed, with Prabhu overseeing every detail. By his grace, the yajna proceeded smoothly. I was merely his instrument, guided by his instructions throughout the ceremony. Essentially, he sat beside me, directing my every move, and I obediently followed. It was a remarkable event that will forever remain in my memory.

Dear Gurudeva,

I am eternally grateful for the immense trust you placed in me, granting me the opportunity to assist in your service to Sri Sri Gaura Nitai and Sri Sri Radha Gopaljiu. Coming from a brahminical family where your father served as a purohita, a priest at a king’s palace, and as the head pandita at a Sanskrit school, you hailed from a truly exalted background. It is out of your boundless mercy that you chose to engage someone like myself in the Lord's service.

Empowerment to serve more - Becoming a Temple President

I never had any intentions of becoming a manager in ISKCON. Yet, somehow, I was approached to take on the role of Temple President at ISKCON Zurich. It was the early summer of 2007, and Prabhu had just arrived for another visit to Switzerland, with plans for a tour to Germany as well. I found myself grappling with doubts. Why should I manage a temple? Was it suitable for my nature to undertake such a service? Did I possess the necessary qualifications? What training did I have to be considered fit for such a significant position?

I asked for Prabhus advice. By then, my diksa guru had already departed from this world, and I had accepted Caitanya Chandra Prabhu as my primary siksa guru. So, I turned to him for guidance. His response was very clear: "If the senior Vaishnavas in your yatra request and encourage you to take up this service, then you should accept it as Krishna's desire."

I had a sleepless night, struggling with the weight of the request from my seniors and the instruction from my guru. In the end, I reasoned, "Well, at least I can give it a try." And so, by Srila Gurudeva's mercy, I assumed the position and served in it for the next 14 years.

Dear Gurudeva,I am eternally grateful for the encouragement you bestowed upon me throughout these years. With your empowerment nothing seemed to be impossible. mūkaṁ karoti vācālam: "A dumb is a great orator." Paṅguṁ laṅghayate girim: "The lame man is jumping over the mountain." Yat-kṛpa: "By the mercy of guru it is possible."

That mercy of guru is always availible, but we have to develop the spirit of anugatya - subordination, submissively following. Anugatya, you explained, is the way to get krishna-bhakti. If someone is following krishna-bhakta nicely, very humbly, then he can develop krishna-bhakti. And if someone is developing independence, what will he get? He will lose krishna-bhakti, krishna-kripa. Therefore our independence, our enjoying mood becomes the cause of losing krishna-bhakti.

Turning Point - Prabhu becomes Gurudeva

By this time, Prabhu had been visiting Switzerland and other places for about five years, and for many of us, he had become the primary inspiration for our spiritual lives. It became increasingly apparent that he was our guru, prompting the question to arise: When would he officially begin accepting disciples? When would he become an initiating guru in ISKCON? The scriptures explain that the person who imparts the most siksa typically later assumes the role of diksa guru as well. Prabhu himself expressed feeling unqualified for this task, merely waiting for a sign from his Gurudeva.

In 2010, the moment arrived when Prabhu consented to formally embrace the role of an initiating spiritual master. It was my honor to serve as the chairman of the ten-person committee tasked with submitting the official request to the GBC Body for Caitanya Chandra Prabhu to assume the responsibilities of an initiating spiritual master.

When Prabhu arrived at Zurich Airport in the summer of 2011, he grasped my hands and said, "So, now this is the turning point!" Prabhu then took his oath in front of Srila Prabhupada at ISKCON Zurich and commenced accepting disciples.

Over the years, I observed Prabhu, who was now affectionately referred to as Gurudeva, or Maharaja (3). His sincerity, care, and love for all of us never ceased to impress me. Despite his increasing numbers of disciples and followers, he remained remarkably humble, always identifying himself primarily as a disciple of his guru. This humility was the cornerstone of his character—a humble servant of Srila Gour Govinda Swami, Srila Prabhupada, and the parampara. Gurudeva's sole desire was to serve Gaura and Gauranga with a pure heart, devoid of any personal agenda.

Dear Gurudeva,

I am eternally grateful to you for imparting the invaluable lesson of serving the spiritual master with unwavering love and faith. You embody a true disciple, adorned with all the Vaishnava virtues such as humility, simplicity, and compassion. Among your many admirable qualities, your pure, unadulterated guru-bhakti shines like a precious jewel.

Determination to follow the instruction of Sri Guru is indeed the key to success for anyone seeking the perfection of life—pure love of God. You serve as a living embodiment of this principle, radiating brightly and offering light and hope to all of us.

Travelling with Gurudeva in Europe, Russia and Bali

Traveling with Gurudeva not only afforded me the opportunity to hear Krishna Katha but also provided ample personal association. In 2011, I joined a group of devotees on a tour to the Netherlands and Belgium. Later, I was fortunate to accompany Gurudeva and some Swiss devotees to Russia, where devotees had organized programs in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

However, the most unforgettable experience was undoubtedly when I accompanied Gurudeva on a two-week preaching tour in Indonesia in 2015. We held programs in Bali as well as on the islands of Sulawesi and Lombok. During these travels, I had the opportunity to perform some simple personal services for Gurudeva and cherished his association immensely.

In Palu, where we attended a Ratha Yatra Festival, I shared a hotel room with Gurudeva. In the early morning Gurudeva told me to take shower first. Wanting to ensure his comfort, I hurriedly took a shower so that Gurudeva wouldn't have to wait too long.  When I came out, Gurudeva looked at me with wide eyes and a smile, and said:

Very quick! bathing like a crow! Kaka-snana! A brahmacari, has five symptoms: Kaka-snana, baka-dhyana, alpa-bhojana, svana-nidra, videsa-gamana — bathe like a crow, meditate like a crane, eat little, sleep like a dog, and stay in a foreign place. One should think, “I have very little time. I have to do bhajana. I have to serve. I should spend very little time in bathing. Brahmacari life is very nice, happy life. If you can maintain brahmacari throughout your life, that is very good. You will make rapid advancement on the path of Krishna consciousness!“

Dear Gurudeva,

I am eternally grateful for continually reminding me about the ultimate goal of life and for encouraging me to walk the path of renunciation. You taught that for a Vaishnava, there is no question of bhoga and tyaga:

„Enjoyment and renunciation are not meant for us. Both are meant for Krishna. If He wants to give up, He will give up. If He wants to enjoy, He will enjoy. Our duty is only to please Him, that’s all, nothing else. So, if you are going to please Him, automatically you give up many things. We are here only to render devotional service, bhakti to Him. Then automatically, whatever is not pleasing to Krishna, we cannot do it. How can you do something, if it is not pleasing to Him?“

The last Years and Gurudeva’s Teachings

In the last few years, Gurudeva stopped traveling, which meant that we would have to journey to Odisha to see him. While Zoom classes and communications via WhatsApp continued, being in Gadeigiri and directly listening to Gurudeva's lectures always remained a uniquely enriching experience.

My last personal interaction with Gurudeva in Gadeigiri was in November 2022. During these days I was fortuned to spend couple of hours in personal conversations with Gurudeva receiving instructions for my personal life as well on different aspects on tattva.

Now that Gurudeva has departed from his physical form, we are left with our memories and the invaluable instructions he imparted to us. These days, I find solace in reading my diary notes, listening to recordings of our Darshana sessions, and reflecting on the personal instructions I received. And of course, there are the recorded lectures! Nearly 20 years of daily Krishna Katha captured on tape, containing thousands of hours of nectar!

The main topic that Gurudeva again and again stressed was the importance of understanding the ultimate goal of life, which is to attain pure love of God:

„What is the topmost necessity for a human being? According to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, prema pum-artho mahan. The highest goal and the topmost necessity, prayojana, for a human being is to have love of God. This human form of life is rarely achieved, but in a human life one can get the love wealth, prema-dhana, and that is possible only by the mercy of Bhagavan Gaurahari. (…) ,O people of the world, worship the lotus feet of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in all respects. Only in this way will you achieve the nectarean treasure of ecstatic love for Krishna’.“ (4)

Other topics that Gurudeva gave a lot of emphasised were the importance of Sadhu Sanga, hearing Krishna Katha, developing unflinching faith in both guru and Krishna, giving up envy, pride and duplicity and cultivating qualities such as tolerance, humility and simplicity.

There would be so much more that I could write about Gurudeva, his teachings, my experiences with him, his glories qualities and activities. But some of these memories I prefer to simply keep in my heart and therefore end with a last prayer:

Dear Gurudeva,

I am eternally grateful for having had your divine association, and I deeply miss you.

As the Caitanya Caritamrita says, jaya śrī-caitanyacandrera bhakta candra-gaṇa: „All glories to the moons who are devotees of the principal moon, Lord Caitanyacandra! Their bright moonshine illuminates the entire universe.“ (5)

Your name, Caitanya Candra Dasa, signifies your intimate servitude to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. You are such a unique personality, such a moon, such an amazing example of a pure devotee. Undoubtedly, you have illuminated the darkness of my heart and the hearts of so many of us.

I pray that I may always remember you, follow your instructions faithfully, and that many more devotees may find inspiration from your wonderful Krishna Katha. Your teachings will continue to resonate through recorded lectures, published books, and the Krishna Katha spoken by your disciples and followers, thus upholding the glorious parampara. Sripada Caitanya Chandra Maharaja ki jaya!


1 - Although its custom that the body of a saint is placed in samadhi, it was Sripada Caitanya Chandra Prabhus instruction to his disciples that his body shall be cremated.

3 - Sripada Caitanya Chandra Prabhu did not took Sannyasa, but accepted saffron color as sign of his renunciation as a vanaprasthi, his disciples and followers called him Maharaja.

4 - From the Book „Prema Thakur Sri Gaurahari“, Chapter 4, page 75

5 - Sri Caitanya Caritamrita Ādi-Lila 13.5


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