HH Bhakti Charu Swami Maharaja


His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami is a Gaudiya Vaishnava Sannyasi and a leader of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). Maharaj was born in Bengal in 1945 and spent most of his early life in the city of Calcutta. In 1970, Maharaj left India to study chemistry in Germany.

Coming across the Vedic literatures while in Germany, Maharaj discovered the richness of India’s spiritual heritage. In 1975, he returned to India to wholeheartedly pursue spiritual life.

Having throroughly studied the Vedic scriptures, Maharaj became aware of the need to find a spiritual master who could lead him on a sound spiritual course. In search of a spiritual master, Maharaja travelled to the Himalayas for a year. Unable to come across a spiritual master to whom he could fully surrender, Maharaj felt despondent and disappointed. When he almost gave up hope, he came across a book called ‘The Nectar of Devotion’ by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (Srila Prabhupada).

Becoming engrossed in the depths of that book, Maharaj realised that he had finally found his eternal spiritual master, and the divine path for which he had been searching.

Upon continuing to read Srila Prabhupada’s works, Maharaj’s conviction grew stronger, as did his desire to meet Srila Prabhupada.In 1976, Maharaj joined the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)  in Mayapur and engaged in devotional service to the Lord, all the while awaiting Srila Prabhupada’s return to India from America.

Upon Srila Prabhupada’s return to India in 1976, the first meeting between the guru and his aspiring disciple finally took place. In their very first meeting, Srila Prabhupada instructed Maharaj to translate his books into Bengali. Srila Prabhupada soon appointed Maharaja as his Secretary for Indian Affairs, and gave Maharaja the first and second initiations simultaneously, thus bringing him into the disciplic succession. Three months later, Srila Prabhupada awarded Maharaja the renounced order of life- Sannyasa.

Maharaj travelled with, and personally served Srila Prabhupada in Prabhupada’s final days. After Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance in 1977, Maharaj served in Mayapur for several years whilst the Society was going through its critical phase.

In 1987, Maharaj became an initiating guru in ISKCON and joined its Governing Body Commission (GBC), serving as its chairman in 1989.

By 1995, Maharaj had translated Srila Prabhupada’s works on major Vedic literatures into Bengali, consisting of more than fifty volumes of books including the Bhagavad Gita, Srimad Bhagavatam, Chaitanya Charitamrita and Nectar of Devotion – just as Srila Prabhupada had instructed Maharaj in their first meeting.

In 1996, Maharaj took on the mammoth task of producing a biographical video epic on the life of his spiritual master, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada. Titled ‘Abhay Charan’, this video series was broadcasted on national television in India, and distributed globally on DVD.

In 2004, at the invitation of the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Maharaj built a magnificent ISKCON temple in a time span of 10 months. This temple is located at Ujjain – the ancient and holy city also known as Avantika, and the place where Krishna and Balarama went to school. The temple has huge altars for the worship of Sri Sri Radha Madanmohan, Sri Sri Krishna Balarama, Sri Sri Gaura Nitai, Sri Sri Jagannath, Baladeva and Subhadra and Sri Sri Narasimha Prahlad.

The Temple also has a goshala for cow protection,midday meals facility for schoolchildren, rural programme to spread Vedic culture, and several outreach centres in Bhopal and Indore.

Maharaj served as the ISKCON governor for France and South Africa at a time when each of these zones were facing immense difficulties, and through perseverance was able to turn around the situations in these zones.

Maharaj served as the ISKCON governor for France and South Africa at a time when each of these zones were facing immense difficulties, and through perseverance was able to turn around the situations in these zones.

In 2007, Maharaj began an altar production facility in Ujjain. The facility manufactures beautiful deity altars of all shapes and sizes, for temples and devotees globally.

In 2013, Maharaj began the development of an ISKCON temple in Panihati which is renowned as a holy place in the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition, being the home of Raghav Pandit and the place of Lord Nityananda’s Chipped Rice (Chida Dadhi) Festival.

In 2014, Maharaj established the Arogya Niketan, a traditional and authentic Ayurvedic clinic at ISKCON Ujjain.

In the same year, Maharaj joined the Artha Forum and delivered keynote speeches on spirituality to large audiences of business leaders, globally.

Maharaj was also the Chairman of the Annamrita Foundation, ISKCON’s midday meals programme, which feeds 1.2 million children across India everyday.

Maharaj was the Chairman of the GBC Executive Committee twice, and was the existing GBC Zonal Secretary for ISKCON in Mayapur, Kolkata, Ujjain, Bhubaneswar, Bangladesh and Seattle. He constantly travelled across India, US, UK, South Africa, the Middle East and Australia, holding spiritual retreats and seminars, thus fulfilling Srila Prabhupada’s instruction of spreading the teachings of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

In June 2020, Maharaja left India for the United States, with great determination to continue preaching and supporting the food distribution program to Covid’s first responders, i.e. hospitals, police and firefighters, in Florida. While on this great mission, Maharaja contracted the Covid-19 virus.  Maharaja departed from this earthly realm on July 4th, 2020 in Florida, United States. His Holiness was later put to Samadhi at Sridham Mayapur, the eternal land of Lord Gauranga.

Thus, Maharaja finally united with his divine master A.C Bhaktivedanta Srila Prabhupada and entered into the eternal pastimes of Sri Radha Krishna on the most auspicious day of the disappearance of Sri Sanatana Goswami, one of the six most intimate associates of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. 

He is eternally residing in his instructions of remaining fixed and united at the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada, and continuing his mission of spreading Krishna consciousness all over the world.