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Srila Bhaktivedanta Vana Gosvami Maharaja

His sweetness, gentleness and humility are rare qualities to see in a single person. Such genuine and profound qualities are only the ornamentation of a high-class Vaishnava. In his twenty-plus years of preaching, he has changed and touched the hearts of many and continues to do so with equal fervour.

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Short biography

Sripada Bhaktivedanta Vana Gosvami Maharaja, a well-deserved spiritual master, traveling monk, author of several books on Vaishnava philosophy, one of the most respected preachers in the modern world, was born in the Midnapura district of West Bengal on the 2nd of January 1959, in the family of Sri Gaurasundara’s bhaktas (devotees). His birthplace is near the pada-tirtha (pilgrimage site with footprints of Lord) of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, called Pichalda, as mentioned in Chaitanya-charitamrita. The mother of Srila BV Vana Gosvami Maharaja offered her dear son to the lotus feet of their family deities on the altar, and from his boyhood, Subal Sakha (Maharaja’s childhood name) was always very attached to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Nityananda Prabhu and the whole Pancha-tattva (Five aspects of God)— worshipping Their lotus feet under his mother’s guidance. Throughout his educational years, Maharaja showed to be a very bright pupil and received his Bachelor degree in Economics from Calcutta University in 1980 at the age of only 21. 

Sripada BV Vana Gosvami Maharaja’s uncle, Srila Bhaktivedanta Madhusudhana Maharaja, was the temple commander of the Sri Devananda Gaudiya Matha and inspired him to dedicate his life to the service of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna. Thus in 1981, Maharaja went to reside at Sri Devananda Gaudiya Matha. There, he would often go hear the classes of Sri Srimad Bhakti Rakshaka Sridhara Gosvami Maharaja, who at the time, would speak in English to the disciples of his godbrother, AC Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja, and Srila BV Vana Gosvami Maharaja became very inspired by his deep attachment to Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Lord Nityananda Prabhu. Srila Bhakti Rakshaka Sridhara Maharaja blessed Sripada BV Vana Maharaja and asked him to stay in his temple. However, Maharaja was also very attached to the beautiful and nectarian hari-katha of Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja. (Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja held a long-standing friendship with Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja and was his shiksha disciple). 

Srila BV Narayana Gosvami Maharaja was mercifully giving so many blessings and various instructions to all of his disciples. He personally taught Sripada BV Vana Gosvami Maharaja how to enter Vaishnava philosophy through daily classes on Jaiva-dharma, Brahma-samhita, Bhagavad-gita, the Sandharbhas, Bhajana-rahasya, as well as other Vaishnava literature.

Srila BV Narayana Gosvami Maharaja gave Sripada BV Vana Gosvami Maharaja harinama  (Sri Krishna’s holy names), and after six months, he received diksha-mantras (mantras given for the purpose of worshiping the Lord) and was given the name Subal Sakha Das from Srila Bhaktivedanta Vamana Gosvami Maharaja, who at that time, was the only initiating President and Acharya of our Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti. (Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti was founded by the prominent disciple of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada - Srila Bhakti Prajnana Keshava Gosvami Maharaja, along with Abhaya Charanaravinda Prabhu and Narottamananda Brahmachari, in 1940. Abhaya Charanaravinda Prabhu was the name given to him by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada, and in 1959 he accepted the title of Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja from his sannyasa-guru (guru who gives renounced order), Srila Bhakti Prajnana Keshava Gosvami Maharaja). From that moment, Sripada BV Vana Gosvami Maharaja chanted no less than 64 rounds of the holy names every day.

Shortly after, Sripada BV Vana Gosvami Maharaja, under the instruction of his diksha-guru (initiating guru), proceeded to Mathura to Sri Keshavaji Gaudiya Matha, and since 1982 has served Srila B.V. Narayana Maharaja with deep devotion. He lived an ascetic life in the Mathura temple, however despite this fact, Sripada BV Vana Gosvami Maharaja performed any kind of seva (service) with great distinction. He was a keen student of the scriptures, thus absorbing into his heart the entire essence of Vaishnava philosophy and rasa-shastras  (scriptures describing transcendental mellows). 

In the year 2000, during the Gaura Purnima festival, Sripada BV Vana Gosvami Maharaja was awarded the highest title of Bhaktivedanta (‘one who has realised that devotional service to the Supreme Lord is the end of all knowledge’) and accepted the order of sannyasa  (renounced order).

Since 1997, Maharaja has been continuously and tirelessly traveling to preach the message of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu around the world, under the shelter and direct guidance of Srila Bhaktivedanta Vamana Gosvami Maharaja and Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja. Every year, he takes an active role in Sri Vraja-mandala parikrama  (circumambulation), Sri Navadvipa parikrama and Sri Jagannatha Puri Dhama parikrama— where many of his disciples and followers from all over the world receive the mercy of holy places and the exalted association of saints.

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