Bhakti Rasamrita Swami (L), Candramauli Swami and Radhanath Swami.
Former ISKCON Vrindavana temple president Devamrita Dasa was initiated into Sannyasa, the renounced order of life, this March 24th and given the new name Bhakti Rasamrita Swami by his guru Radhanath Swami.
Although current GBC law requires sannyasa candidates to go through an extensive approval process—often lasting five years or more—by both its Sannyasa Committee and the entire GBC, Devamrita Dasa passed through the process in a much shorter amount of time, due to strong endorsements from senior devotees around the world.
He also received a higher majority vote from the GBC than most candidates—a further requirement added by the GBC to his approval procedure due to its faster process time.
Over one thousand devotees attended the ceremony at South Mumbai’s Sri Sri Radha Gopinath Mandir on the auspicious occasion of Lord Rama’s Appearance Day, including senior leaders Chandramauli Swami, Janananda Goswami, and Bhakti Vidyapurna Swami, who performed the sannyasa rites.
Many other prominent devotees, such as Yadubara Dasa of ISKCON Cinema, BBT trustee Bhima Dasa, and various temple presidents from across India were also present at the event.
All the many celibate brahmachari monks of Radha Gopinath Mandir, including the program’s MC Gauranga Dasa, also attended, creating what looked like an ocean of saffron cloth.
Radhanath Swami began his introductory speech by citing Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the founder of Gaudiya Vaishnavism, as the ideal sannyasi and and His mission of spreading the holy names of Lord Krishna as the ideal pursuit of a sannyasi.
He next mentioned that Devamrita Dasa had joined a bank as a high-ranking officer after graduating from the University of Baroda’s Engineering College, and pointed out that it was extremely rare for someone to renounce such a comfortable position to become a monk. Praising Devamrita Dasa’s character, he opined that there was no one more qualified to enter the renounced order of life.
Other speakers echoed Radhanath Swami’s points. ISKCON Baroda temple president Basu Ghosh Dasa, speaking in Hindi, praised Devamrita’s character and proven outreach track record, which he said was an inspiration to all ISKCON devotees. In Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s line, he noted, sannyasa was not for completely renouncing the world and all its people, but for attracting others to Krishna consciousness.
Bhima Dasa requested the audience to bless Devamrita that he would successfully fulfil the vows of the renounced order of life.
Meanwhile, Chandramauli Swami’s observation that “usually beggars want to become bankers, but here a banker has become a beggar,” provoked appreciative laughter from the crowd.
Next, Janananda Goswami spoke of how, as temple president of ISKCON Vrindavana, Devamrita Dasa had inspired him during his visits there, and how the two had developed an enduring friendship. Devamrita, he said, was like Gaura Nataraj (dancing Chaitanya Mahaprabhu)—always encouraging everyone to chant and dance.
After these speeches, Bhakti Vidyapurna Swami completed the first portion of rituals, and directed Devamrita Dasa to an adjoining room to change into his sannyasa robes.
Upon returning to the temple room, Radhanath Swami whispered the sacred sannyasa mantra into Devamrita’s ear, before announcing, “Your name will now be Bhakti Rasamrita Swami.
Paying his obeisance to the deities of Sri Sri Radha Gopinath and to the murti form of Srila Prabhupada, the newly-named Bhakti Rasamrita Swami then took his seat while Bhakti Vidyapurna Swami conducted a “homa,” or fire sacrifice, to complete the rituals.
After the “purnahuti,” or closing oblation, Bhakti Rasamrita Swami spoke eloquently, thanking Radhanath Swami and the other senior devotees for speaking so kindly about him, and saying he felt humbled by the occasion.
Basu Ghosh Dasa, Janananda Goswami and senior speakers of the Radha Gopinath temple then gave a series of edifying talks, concluding the ceremony.