During the Gaura Purnima season, many pilgrims come from all over the world to our Central Math in Nabadwip to participate in the festivals, making it the busiest season of the year. It is always buzzing with so much joy as everybody prepares to go on Parikrama and celebrate the Advent of Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu.
Sometime during 2007, by Srila Gurudev’s mercy, I was staying in Nabadwip and trying to help accommodate our western devotees who were there visiting. I would assist with their
transportation arrangements from Kolkata and their lodging. So it was my great misfortune that during that time I forgot to make the arrangements for Sripad Yudhamanyu Prabhu who was arriving in Kolkata on a late night flight from China!
The next day before darshan when Srila Gurudev, Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj, learned I had forgotten, he told me very seriously I could forget the whole world but never to forget Sripad Yudhamanyu Prabhu! As it was his habit, in a beautiful mood he reminded us of all the service Sripad Yudhamanyu Prabhu had done. It is not news to anybody how much affection Srila Gurudev had for Sripad Yudhamanyu Prabhu. But it is always good for us to have some remembrance of the beautiful service activities of the devotees.
I remember another time as Srila Gurudev received a new printing of the Sri Bhagavad Gita, he started happily reading some slokas and their translations. When he read
“the valiant Yudhamanyu” he smiled and re-read it with much emphasis and affection.
At present Sripad Yudhamanyu Prabhu is residing in China, where he was sent to serve by Srila Gurudev, and where he has been for over ten years. Many Chinese devotees have come from his service and dedication. One time when Srila Govinda Maharaj was asked if a certain event surprised him, he answered that he was not surprised by anything anymore. Then he added: “except that they are chanting Hare Krishna in China!”
I heard Srila Gurudev say once in Venezuela how Srila Swami Maharaj (A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada) had blasted a tunnel to the western world and we have all come through that tunnel. In my limited vision I feel that in the same way, so many of our Chinese godbrothers
and sisters have come through Sripad Yudhamanyu Prabhu’s efforts. This brought Srila Gurudev so much happiness! Also, many other devotees have gotten the chance to visit Yudhamanyu Prabhu in China and have the association of our Chinese devotees! Our own Srila Bhakti Pavan Janardan Maharaj goes there at least once a year to nourish the devotees’ hearts!
We can see that it is a day-to-day labor of love to be there in China and try to communicate “heart to heart” as Srila Gurudev would say, since Sripad Yudhamanyu Prabhu does not speak Chinese and many of the Chinese sincere seekers do not speak much English. But still the mission goes on there, and by his tireless, valiant effort many sincere souls have gotten shelter and affection, and others have gotten a connection and a chance to serve in this beautiful endeavor to satisfy our spiritual master.
While he was here in Soquel, between trips to China, we asked Sripad Yudhamanyu Prabhu to tell us a little bit of his story. By his humility, he was very hesitant to do so. But finally after many requests he told us a little bit of his history and this we are presenting to you here:
In 1981 I started going over from ISCKON, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, in Mayapur to the Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math in Nabadwip. I used to go there with Srila Goswami Maharaj. This is how I started to make a connection with Srila Guru Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Rakshak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj.
At that time I was living in South Africa. After the darshan of Srila Sridhar Maharaj when I went back to South Africa we were inspired to start the temple there; a Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math temple. We started distributing Sri Guru and His Grace and other books. Srila Guru Maharaj was very happy with that! When I went back to India he asked me if it would be alright if he gave me a title. I almost fell backwards! A title! He said he wanted to give me the title ‘Seva Vikram’ which means “one who is strong and courageous in service”. Then he asked me to form a collecting party for the Nabadwip Math, and he used to call that party ‘my personal party’.
After Srila Guru Maharaj left this world, Srila Govinda Maharaj asked me to come help Srila Janardan Maharaj restart the San Jose temple. This was around 1991.
At the beginning we started in a rented house on 17th street. But then when Srila Gurudev came to San Jose on his first world tour
he asked me to visit him in his room after his afternoon rest: ‘so I can beat you’, he said! When I went up there he asked me to get a permanent place, a place that we could use for the San Jose and Santa Cruz devotees not to rent but to own! And from that request the Soquel Ashram was manifested. That was the year of 1993.
Then in the years that followed our Srila Gurudev installed the Deities in our Soquel Seva Ashram and arranged for Sri Mahaprabhu Gauranga-Sundar, to be sent to the San Jose temple.
Then in 2003 he sent me to China, where I have been for the last 10 years. In Gurudev’s Last Will & Testament he asked my wife, Srimati Jivana devi, and myself to take care of the Ashram in California until the day we die!
And so they have done. Till this day Sripad Yudhamanyu Prabhu and Srimati Jivana devi dasi have been serving the Sri Chaintanya Saraswat Math not only in China, but in our Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Seva Ashrams in San Jose and Soquel tirelessly. They are very dear to Srila Gurudev and all the Vaisnavas and we feel very fortunate to have their association in our service lives.
All Glories to their unflinching service!