On November 4th, His Holiness Bhaktimarga Swami was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Canadian Hindu Chamber of Commerce (CHCC). The Canadian Hindu Chamber of Commerce is the first registered not-for-profit organization in Canada dedicated to the unification of Canadian Hindus and their economic interests. The CHCC wanted to bestow honour on him and ISKCON with this award and ceremony.
When Srila Prabhupada brought Krishna consciousness to the West, there was practically no awareness of Bhakti-yoga, Vedic knowledge, vegetarianism, and Krishna. Through the continued efforts by ISKCON over the decades, Vaishnavism has become more prominent and has helped the Hindu diaspora at large become more mainstream and respected. In particular, ISKCON is very well regarded among the Hindu population in Canada.
HH Bhaktimarga Swami joined ISKCON in 1973 in Toronto, Canada, and has been continuously serving the movement since then. Fifty years on, he has been an integral part of ISKCON’s outreach, from conducting several walks across Canada to expanding the number of Canadian ISKCON centres to his welcoming and inclusive ecstatic kirtans. HH Bhaktimarga Swami continuously engages Hindu leaders in the community and imparts the benefits of the bhakti tradition as given by Srila Prabhupada through the parampara system. HH Bhaktimarga Swami also serves as GBC in Canada and is an initiating Guru.
The award ceremony was part of CHCC’s 2023 Dhanteras Gala held at the OE Banquet Hall and Conference Centre in Oakville, Ontario, on November 4, 2023. Over 600 people, mainly from the Hindu Community, attended the event. HH Bhaktimarga Swami was seated with Lynne D. Findlay, who serves as the Member of Parliament for White Rock, British Columbia.
The board of trustees presented the Lifetime Achievement Award, which “recognizes and celebrates an individual’s unparalleled and enduring contributions and accomplishments over the course of their career or lifetime. This honour is reserved for those who have demonstrated exceptional excellence, dedication, and profound impact within their field or industry. Recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award are selected based on sustained achievements, significant influence, and their positive and lasting legacy. This award serves as a symbol of recognition for a lifetime of outstanding work and as an inspiration for others to aspire to a similar level of excellence and impact throughout their own careers and lives.”
In his speech upon receiving the award, HH Bhaktimarga Swami remarked, “Thank you all for this wonderful event where we are expressing our congratulations and gratitude to each other, patting each other on the back, recognizing our worth. It needs to be done. I just want to say that I am happy to be part of the community. I consider myself to be not just the Walking Monk but a member of the community of the culture of Bharat. I joined when I was 20 years old, and I became a monk, so that was half a century ago, and so I am celebrating it right here tonight. I am happy to be with you all. The whole idea is to share our great culture; it’s full of richness in the field of bhakti, which means devotion. It’s a word that is hard to translate into the English language, but we were talking about yogis, and I think more than ever before, we need to demonstrate bhakti, which is a deep loving devotion instead of the hatred that some of us are experiencing in our very troubled world, in this crazy world, and crazy planet. We have a chance and opportunity to do better, and instead of being critical, let us have some vision and see the good in each other. Thank you so much. Hare Krishna.”
When interviewing HH Bhaktimarga Swami for this article about being the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award, he humbly stated, “I am accepting this award on behalf of Srila Prabhupada.”
To watch a video of the Gala and Ceremony, please click here.
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