BY BHAKTI MADHURYA GOVINDA GOSWAMI
KUALA LUMPUR - This morning we received the news that His Holiness Bhakti Vrajendranandana Swami has left his body. We have lost yet another great soul from our society.
Over the years, I have had the opportunity to associate with Maharaja during my tours in Malaysia. At the Kuala Lampur temple, I would often take prasad together with him in the VIP room. In spite of his health problems, he would amazingly pack in large amount of very good quality prasad. It seems that quality prasad was one of his only solaces for his suffering condition.
We would often be on the same stage together at the festival programs at the end of the multiple Rathayatras held every year in Malaysia. He was not interested in self aggrandizement. He would humbly defer at programs, requesting that I should speak before him. Conspicuous, however, was the fact that he was not feeling well. For many years, he had suffered greatly from health problems, but he would still attempt to inspire the devotees with a few words, and would continue to go to festivals even if he was not feeling up to it. Because of his health, he would only speak for about ten minutes. In 2013 he almost left his body do to extreme trauma, but Krishna miraculously brought him back. Because of the degree of his suffering for so many years, we should be joyful that he has gone to the spiritual world to be with Srila Prabhupad eternally, in blissful devotional service, without any problems whatsoever, having attained his spiritual body.
Never the less, when remembering Maharaj, we should meditate on his “golden years” of service and preaching in Malaysia. He was the only sannyas disciple of Srila Prabhupad from Malaysia. He was officially the president of ISKCON Malaysia since 1980. He was a great pioneer and early general in developing the preaching in Malaysia. Srila Prabhupad came to Malaysia in 1971, paving the way for Maharaj to develop the preaching. Maharaj was a major player in expanding Srila Prabhupad’s movement so nicely in Malaysia, crowned by the grand opening of the Penang octagonal temple attended by at least 10,000 guests. For India, that may not be such a large number, but for Malaysia that is huge. ISKCON Penang, with its beautiful deities Sri Sri Radha Krishna Kanhaiya, is certainly one of the grandest and now one of the most popular of “Hindu” temples in all of Malaysia. Below is a photo of the grand opening of the temple.
Of course, in subsequent years, the preaching begun by H.H. Vrajendranandana Swami was developed by H.H. Jayapataka Swami, but in honoring Vrajendranandana Swami, we must always remember that he was the selfless pioneer of the Malaysian preaching which helped build it all. May his legacy live on in the great history of Srila Prabhupad’s movement.