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Memories of Suhotra Prabhu

By: on April 28, 2007

The following is a transcription of a homage made by Murari dasa at a memorial service held for Suhotra prabhu in Mayapur. 

I offer my humble obeisances to the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada, the guide and shelter for all sincere devotees of ISKCON. 

I offer my condolences to the disciples, family and friends of Suhotra Prabhu. 

Suhotra ji was a very close friend of mine; so today I am both sad and happy. 

I cannot speak about Suhotra Prabhu's activities as a member of the library party, nor about his many years serving in Europe with Harikesh Prabhu, nor his activities while serving as a GBC, nor even as a guru. Quite simply he was my friend. 

My first remembrance of Suhotra Prabhu was when I took him on the back of my bike to Krishnagar FRO (Foreign Registration Office) sometime in the early 80s. It was typical of his style. He had very few pretensions and was always ready for a little adventure. 

After his round house in the old gurukula acquired a new owner, I built a small thatched house for him in front of my house and he used to stay there during the festivals, sometimes extending his stay to a couple of months. 

Every day I would serve him prasadam at my house, just the two of us, and it gave me a wonderful chance to discuss all manner of topics with him. His grasp of philosophy and the scope of his knowledge are already legendary in our society, and we would talk always as friends, despite the obvious differences in our status. 

When I went through difficult times he, more than anyone else, offered me sympathy, practical advice and a philosophical view of the events. I would look forward every year to his arrival as he always brought a breath of new and fresh air to our home in Taranpur. 

Suhotraji never nibbled at life, he took huge bites that would choke a person with weaker digestion. Some people think he was eccentric, but I don't think he was. He would move in a particular direction, in a particular way, but if he encountered resistance he would generally alter his course to avoid conflict. He was very sensitive, not in the false ego sense, but in the sense that he didn't want to be in company where he wasn't welcome, and he didn't want to be a part of something he was not happy with. 

When he took varnaprastha, I don't remember what year it was, he opted to stay in his cottage in Taranpur. In his own words it was the darkest time of his life. He felt embarrassed, he had many self doubts, one time he said to me that he felt he didn't know any more than a new bhakta. 

He tried to analyze what had gone wrong. At one time he felt it was due to his upbringing as a child in a military environment as his father was a master sergeant in the US military. Another time he felt he was in the wrong varna and that he was by nature a ksatriya. That sparked a series of martial arts classes at my house. 

Another time he felt the society had veered from the course Prabhupada had set for it and he had been swept along with it. He felt very depressed at times because it was always his desire to do something wonderful for his beloved spiritual master and he didn't feel able to accomplish that. 

Throughout the many months during this time that he spent at my house I saw him go through many changes, but some things never changed. He always remained true to ISKCON and Srila Prabhupada and he always remained submissive to the authority of the GBC. 

As his depression diminished, he took up the work of writing a study guide for Srimad Bhagavatam in conjunction with his long time and true friend BVPS. Every day as his study progressed, over lunch he would discuss the new and profound insights he was discovering as his work proceeded. It was wonderful to see him recover. 

He was once again animated and excited and he would talk for up to two hours at a time. 

I would like to make a special mention here for the wonderful service my better half did in cooking and waiting patiently for those lunches to finish. 

Being freed from his previous responsibilities he was happy simply as the humble servant of His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Some of you may know that his e-mail address was humserv@yahoo.com. 

In time he moved out from his little cottage and into a custom made room at the gurukula, where he continued his work and began giving the classes that he had spent months preparing with Bhakti Vidya Purna Swami. 

Although he was no longer staying with us, he was still a regular guest; actually guest isn't the right word. A guest doesn't come at 9.30 at night asking if there is anything to eat because he hasn't eaten all day. Only a close friend would do that. 

Although he was working at a prodigious rate on the Bhagavatam, Suhotraji still had a few other irons in the fire. He had started a novel, well, a fable in fact, to introduce newcomers to vedic culture, to the vedic concepts in a story form. There isn't time to go into the details of that suffice to say that it would have made Lord of the rings, Harry Potter and John Le Mesurier all look like Winnie the Pooh. This book required an immense amount of research, as it was essentially based upon fact. 

He was working on a Bhagavad Gita course and a comparison of different texts, details I am not sure about. 

He also felt very acutely the discomfort that been had forced on some of his friends by decisions of our society, and this upset him greatly, making it difficult for him to apply himself to his task in hand. 

A few days before he left, he shelved all these things and announced that he was going to work purely and simply on the Srimad Bhagavatam, embarking on a marathon to the exclusion of everything else, even forgoing the classes he would give at the gurukula. 

Having made this decision he was in very good spirits and confided with Bhakti Vidya Purna Swami that he was completely content just doing this work. 

It is my opinion that he had cleared all the final hurdles between himself and Krishna, and Krishna took him back immediately. I believe Prabhupada brought him here to Mahaprabhu's Dham to deal with his last obstacles; Mahaprabhu's mercy is inconceivable and unlimited. He stripped him of all position in the society freed him from any tinge of desire for name or fame, He offered him the Bhagavatam for shelter, and when Suhotraji passed all the tests, He rewarded him by taking him back to where we all belong. 

I am very proud that Krsna gave me, along with many others, the opportunity and some ability to be a part of it. 

All of Suhotra Prabhu's disciples should know that he cared very much for all of you, and wants only that you all become Krsna conscious and get out of this wretched material world. 

Maybe that's a rosy picture and the truth wasn't like that at all. I don't really care; people can believe what they want. 

It is alright to cry at the passing of your guru, but when the tears have dried, you can be happy and proud that you knew a unique, brilliant, faithful son of Srila Prabhupada, whose leaving has left the world a little less colourful. 

He was one of my closest friends and I will miss him for the rest of my life. 

Source: SivaramaSwami.com 

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