Brihat Mridanga Dasa, a long-serving ISKCON educator and travelling preacher, was awarded the renounced order of sannyasa by ISKCON guru Giriraja Swami recently, and will henceforth be known as Bhakti Brihat Bhagavata Swami.
The initiation ceremony, held on December 24th at the Sri Sri Radha-Radhanath Temple of Understanding in Durban, South Africa, was also attended by Bhakti Caitanya Swami, Bhakti Bhringa Govinda Swami, and several hundred other devotees.
A former school-teacher, Bhakti Brihat Bhagavata Swami joined ISKCON in Durban, South Africa in 1983 after reading, and being deeply moved by, Srila Prabhupada’s books.
He spent the early years of his devotional career distributing over 30,000 of these books, including full sets which he placed in fifty South African libraries, colleges and universities. He also spread Krishna consciousness amongst many South African high school and university students.
In the early nineties, he began to focus on education, completing the Vrindavana Institute for Higher Education’s first and only Preacher’s Training Course and founding the Bhaktivedanta College of Education and Culture (BCEC) in Durban.
The BCEC, which has taught 13,470 students since its inception in July 1991, has since expanded to Hong Kong, Philippines, India, Kenya, Mauritius, England, Ireland, Canada, USA, Trinidad and Guyana under his direction.
Between 1997 and 2004, Bhakti Brihat Bhagavata Swami served as president of ISKCON Durban and then co-president of ISKCON’s Sri Sri Krishna Balarama Mandir, in Vrindavana, India.
He currently serves as co-director of the BCEC and chairman of ISKCON LEADS, an innovative leadership education and development system. He is also a board member of Mayapur Institute, the GBC Succession Committee, and the GBC Ministry of Educational Development (MED).
Yet despite so many challenging responsibilities, Bhakti Brihat Bhagavata Swami remains a friend, mentor, role model and well-wisher to those who know him well.