On October 16th, a well-known devotee of Krishna and successful businessmen Sri Nathji Das (Dr. Narendra Desai) has left his body at the age 76 due to heart failure while traveling in Bhutan. The Executive Committee of ISKCON Governing Body Commission has issued the following statement:
[ gbc ] [ narendra-desai ] [ sri-nathji ]
“His Grace Sri Nathji Prabhu was a Vaisnava of rare caliber indeed, teaching by example the true meaning of selfless devotional service.
From his youth, he was in search of a genuine guru. His mother encouraged his interest by bringing him to the feet of the perfect spiritual teacher: His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
Although, as Sri Nathji Prabhu himself described, he would utilize his time with Srila Prabhupada to argue in favor of Mayavada philosophy, eventually, he was convinced by Srila Prabhupada's infallible logic that the highest path of worship is to engage in the service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna.
From that day forward, Sri Nathji Prabhu dedicated mind, body, words, family, wealth, intelligence--everything in his possession--to the service of the Lord and his devotees. It is practically impossible to list the many contributions he has made to ISKCON.
Certainly one of his most wonderful contributions is the creation of Sri Sri Radha-Gopinath temple in Mumbai, which has become a beacon of bhakti for tens of thousands of souls. Sri Nathji Prabhu not only gave the land upon which the temple was started, but served as a founding member and provided spiritual, managerial, and financial support throughout the decades.
At the same time, he maintained a level of material success that is rarely achieved, from his many degrees to his management of some of India's most successful business ventures. For Sri Nathji Prabhu, this success only meant that he and his family had more to offer in the service of the Vaisnavas. He gave financial support, advice, and encouragement to projects and devotees worldwide without the slightest desire for recognition.
In fact, Sri Nathji Prabhu could easily be seen giving Bhagavatam class in the morning, brokering a high profile business deal in the afternoon, and chopping vegetables in the temple kitchen in the evening, such was his humility!
Contemplating the glorious life of Sri Nathji Prabhu, the mind naturally reflects on the parallels to exemplary devotees described in sastra. In particular, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's statement to Ramananda Raya comes to mind. Caitanya Mahaprabhu compares him, a wealthy governor and grhastha, to Sanatana Goswami saying, "[His] renunication of material connections is just like yours. Humility, renunciation and excellent learning exist in him simultaneously." (Cc. Antya 1.201)
Like Ramananda Raya, Sri Nathji Prabhu managed his material engagements and wealth in the service of the Lord, the real test of renunciation, and exhibited the utmost humility and excellent learning through his ideal behavior.
We pray at the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada and Sri Sri Radha Gopinath that They continue to engage Sri Nathji Prabhu in Their eternal service and empower us to always draw inspiration from his glorious example. We also pray to Their Lordships to shower Their mercy upon Sri Nathji Prabhu's family, particularly, his esteemed wife, Maithili Priya Devi.”