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A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

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Honoring the Departure of Rupa Raghunath Swami
By ISKCON News   |  Jul 03, 2024

On June 26, 2024, ISKCON community members from all over the world gathered in Ujjain to honor the departure of His Holiness Rupa Raghunath Swami Maharaj, a disciple of Lokanath Swami and a revered ISKCON sannyasi who passed away on June 22, 2024, in Bhopal, India. The ceremony was filled with devotion and deep respect, reflecting Maharaj’s profound impact on his followers and the ISKCON movement.

Last Rites and Procession

The day’s events began at ISKCON Ujjain at 8 am, where devotees paid their last respects to Maharaj. His body was adorned with flowers, and a heartfelt pushpanjali flower offering took place amidst resonant kirtan. Maharaj’s body was then taken on a parikrama around the deities three times, symbolizing his life of devotion and service.

Following this, a car procession carried his body to the Mahakaleshwar Crematorium, near the sacred Mahakaleshwar Temple, a prominent spiritual site in Ujjain. Here, Ananta Sesa Das Brahmachari performed the Mukha Agni, placing the fire in the mouth of Rupa Raghunath Swami.

Cremation Ceremony

The cremation at the Mahakaleshwar Crematorium was a solemn event marked by continuous kirtan led by prominent ISKCON leaders, including Bhakti Prema Swami, Sri Krishna Chaitanya Swami, Hari Kirtan Das, Mukunda Madhava Das, and Atul Krishna Das. The atmosphere was spiritually uplifting. A particularly moving rendition of “Bhaja Hure Mana” by Srila Prabhupada’s disciple, Mahaman Das, creates a transcendental experience despite the surrounding summer heat and funeral pyres.

Evening Sradhanjali Sabha

In the evening, a Sradhanjali Sabha was held, where senior devotees shared anecdotes and glorified Maharaj’s life and contributions. The event’s tone was set with the singing of “Je Anilo Prema Dhana,” the song of separation from a departed devotee. Many facets of Maharaja’s unique character were illuminated.  Maharaj, known for his strict sadhana, erudite scholarship, and artistic talent, painted beautiful murals depicting Krishna-conscious themes. His dedication to spreading Krishna consciousness was evident in his extensive preaching in Europe, South America, and India, particularly throughout India on Padayatra India, as well as in Maharashtra and Gujarat.

Devotional Offerings and Tributes

Heartfelt offerings were made during the ceremony. Rasanand Prabhu, president of the Bhopal Temple, recalled Maharaj’s humility and simplicity. Maharaj would often travel without expecting any special arrangements, emphasizing his commitment to a life of austerity and service. He was charitable and generous, frequently purchasing offerings for the deities and devotees of whatever community he visited. Devotees from various regions, including Andhra Pradesh and Bhimavaram, shared memories of Maharaj’s visits and his profound impact on their lives.

Legacy and Final Resting Place

After the cremation, a Pushpa Samadhi will be constructed in honor of Maharaja at ISKCON Aravade, Maharashtra. This will serve as a lasting tribute to his unwavering devotion and service to the ISKCON community.

Maharaj’s departure on the auspicious day of Jagannath Snan Yatra and his final words urging devotees to “Remember Krishna! Go to Vaikuntha!” reflects his lifelong mission of spreading Krishna consciousness. His legacy will continue to inspire and guide the devotees who had the honor of knowing him and those who will learn of his contributions in the future.

For those who wish to share their condolences or memories, please contact Padmamali Dasa via WhatsApp at +91 89806 36683. Your participation and prayers are a source of solace and strength for the entire ISKCON community.

You may learn more about Rupa Raghunath Swami Maharaja in these two commemorative videos, here and here. To view additional photos and video of the ceremonies, please visit here