All glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga 

In Honour of Sripad Rshabhadeva Prabhu

The followoing letter by Sripad Bhakti Kanan Giri Maharaj was read to the assembled devotees during the Festivals held in honour of Sripad Rsabhdev Prabhu.

Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math
P.O. Box 311
Oaklyn NJ, U.S.A.
Phone: (856) 962-8888
Fax: (856) 962-0894

My dear devotees and friends,

Please accept my humble dandavat pranams in remembrance of our Divine Master. All glories to Sri Sri Guru Gauranga.

I want to say a few words to you regarding the disappearance of my dear Godbrother and friend Sripad Rshabhadeva Prabhu.

I was fortunate to speak with Rshabhadev Prabhu a couple of weeks ago just before he left for India. I also spoke to him a few days after he had arrived at our Math in Calcutta. He was extremely debilitated from his illness but you could not tell it by speaking with him. He showed his enthusiasm and faith fully even under such severe circumstances and can certainly be counted as one of the most fortunate among us as you'll recognize when you read Sriman Mahananda's account of his passing away.

When I spoke with him before he went to India I expected he would pass away within a couple of weeks. I jokingly accused him of cheating me by leaving without saying goodbye. He said "I'm not going anywhere Maharaj" and also told me he would go to Russia with Srila Govinda Maharaj which gave me a little hope that he would remain with us.

Rshabhadev is a stalwart disciple of Srila Prabhupad and one of the first to enthusiastically take up the banner of Srila Sridhar Maharaj in America. I went with Sripad Goswami Maharaj to Badger in 1982 with some videos of Srila Sridhar Maharaj to show the devotees there. Rshabhadev Prabhu immediately accepted Srila Sridhar Maharaj as his siksha guru and was anxious that everyone get the opportunity of hearing from His Divine Grace.

Rshabhadev was already familiar with the exalted position of Srila Sridhar Maharaj and his esteemed philosophical expositions. In the early 70's Rshabhadev traveled throughout the United States establishing accounts for selling Spiritual Sky incense to support the Guru Kula in Dallas, Texas and other ISKCON temples. An article had been published in "Back to Godhead" magazine titled "The Descent of the Holy Name". This article was composed by Srila Sridhara Maharaj but few devotees knew this. Rshabhadev had a tape recording of this composition which he loved so much that he listened to it over and over again as he traveled, practically memorizing it word for word.

Later in 1982, after seeing the videos of Srila Sridhar Maharaj, Rshabhadev Prabhu rented a motor home and arranged with Sri Govinda Prabhu for the first "World Tour" through California consisting of a journey from Badger to San Jose, Los Angeles, Laguna Beach and San Diego. Some of the members of the party included Sripad Sagar Maharaj, Sri Govinda Prabhu, Srimati Sri Lekha devi, Sudharshana Prabhu and myself. Rshabhadev Prabhu's enthusiasm was without limit. We had many programs and met with hundreds of people. Some became disciples of Srila Sridhar Maharaj, all would be forever changed having heard Srila Sridhara Maharaj's divine precepts.

After Srila Sridhar Maharaj's disappearance Rshabhadev gave himself fully to the seva of Srila Govinda Maharaj. His enthusiastic spirit of devotion captured the heart of Srila Govinda Maharaj and his followers. When Srila Govinda Maharaj travelled several times to California before his quarters were constructed at our Ashram in Soquel, he always stayed in the home of Rshabhadev and Kumkum didi. They offered him their home and he considered it as his own. Even after his beautiful quarters were completed in Soquel, Srila Govinda Maharaj insisted on visiting Rshabhadev at his home in San Jose and was not satisfied until he was taken there.

As I said, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to speak with Rshabhadev Prabhu shortly before he passed away. I reminded him of this history and my affection for him, always considering him my good friend and well wisher. I was surprised and deeply moved to hear him say he considered me as one of his very good friends.

In the Chaitanya Charitamrta there is the following verse:

mahaa-yogeshvara-praaya dekhi svacchande marana,
'bhishmera niryaana sabaara ha-ila smarana

"Seeing the wonderful death of Haridasa Thakura by his own will, which was just like a great mystic yogi's, everyone remembered the passing away of Bhishma."

Rshabhadev Prabhu often reminded me of Bhishmadev. His character was noble, generous and protective as was Bhishma's. Now that he has passed away in this glorious fashion I cannot help but again consider the similarities not only to the passing away of Bhishmadev but also Sri Haridas Thakur. Srila Govinda Maharaj himself has made his own comments in this regard that you may read in his email to Srimati Kum Kum and Sanatani didi's.

As I've told you several times, I've been blessed to see many miracles in my life and now another miracle has come in front of me. Everything connected with Rshabhadev's passing away is beautiful and mysterious. I will tell you of one last item to illustrate this. I had sent him an email just one or two days before he passed away. Remember, I had chided him about leaving us a couple of weeks earlier and he told me "Maharaj, I'm not going anywhere". I received his response on Monday evening, two days after his disappearance as if to prove the point that he was still with us.

We are fortunate, we are happy and we are proud to have been the recipient of his holy association and bear witness to his remarkable devotional activities. Certainly he has received the unreserved blessings and mercy of our Divine Guardians.

Sripad Rshabhadev Prabhu KI JAYA!!!

A humble Tridandi Bikshuka,
BK Giri.

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June 21, 2000
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