On August 5th, 2014, one of Srila Prabhupada’s earliest disciples, Madhudvisa Das, passed away. He was a great book distributor and kirtaniya.
He was 67.
He took his initiations in 1968; the first in San Francisco, and the second in Los Angeles. Both ceremonies were performed directly by Srila Prabhupada.
In 1972 Srila Prabhupada personally requested him to become a member of ISKCON’s Governing Body Commission (GBC). During Srila Prabhupada’s time, he served as one of Srila Prabhupada’s “right-hand men” in America, India, Australasia, and elsewhere.
He received about 100 personal letters from Srila Prabhupada.
Many devotees think Madhudvisa was especially dear to Srila Prabhuda. Madhusevita Das recollects a conversation with Tamal Krishna Goswami:
“One time Tamal Krsna Maharaja and myself were having breakfast in his room in Mayapur and, while speaking about Srila Prabhupada’s favourite disciples. He said without the shadow of a doubt that Srila Prabhupada loved Jayananda and Madhuvisa the most; he said that when Madhuvisa would enter Srila Prabhupada’s room our Guru Maharaja’s face brightened up…..”
Indradyumna Swami posts:
Today ISKCON lost Madhuvisa prabhu, an iconic figure in the pioneering history of spreading Krsna consciousness around the world. Srila Prabhupada once described him as the, “Emperor of Kirtan.” When Srila Prabhupada himself was departing this world he said, “bring my son Madhuvisa here.” He was a powerful general in Lord Caitanya’s samkirtan movement, while at the same time a very humble soul. He once spend 10 days on our festival tour in Poland and enlivened us all with his kirtans, classes and love for Srila Prabhupada. No doubt he is with Srila Prabhupada at this very moment.
Hridayananda Das Goswami remembers Madhudvisa in the following way:
“I just learned of the passing of my dear Godbrother Madhu-dvisa Prabhu, one of the greatest Hari-nama sankirtana leaders in the history of ISKCON. When I joined ISKCON in Berkeley, in September 1969, Madhu-dvisa Prabhu was president of ISKCON San Francisco, on the other side of the Bay Bridge.
I first met him in the fall of 1969. The following is a true account of that meeting: One evening, the Berkeley devotees were on the third floor of our center, chanting in the temple room. Suddenly the house began to shake as if there was an earthquake. Our president asked me to go downstairs and see what was happening. I found the cause: Madhu-dvisa Prabhu and the all-brahmacari San Francisco temple had come to visit us and they were doing kirtana downstairs. Among these devotees was the famous Jayananda. The kirtana, led by Madhu-dvisa, was literally shaking a three story house.
Madhudvisa had crossed the bridge to invite us to organize with the San Francisco temple the first great Gaura Purnima festival in ISKCON, to be held in Berkeley near the university. The festival took place and received much praise from city leaders, and Prabhupada.
Madhu-dvisa created a unique sankirtana party in San Francisco. In those days, the devotees would chant all day on the streets of major cities. Madhu-dvisa would personally lead the Hari-nama sankitana, singing and playing the drum, for at least 10 hours daily. And he would always use the exact same drumbeat, as taught by Prabhupada. To me, a young brahmacari, Madhu-dvisa was a great general, a fearless, powerful leaders who was steady as a rock, inspiring great achievements in those around him. In my mind, I clearly see him on the streets of San Francisco, tough and blissful, leading his famous sankirtana party.
After I left Berkeley, Prabhupada called Madhu-dvisa Prabhu to join him in India, and there Prabhupada crowned him as the “Emperor of Sankirtana.” Later he became GBC of Australia, which at the time was not a very productive Yatra. Madhu-dvisa turned that country into a world leader in sankirtana, book distribution, and devotee-making. Prabhupada himself often visited Australia and was always received with amazing enthusiasm and festivity, all under the charismastic leadership of Madhu-dvisa Prabhu.
During my first several years in ISKCON, Madhu-dvisa Prabhu was certainly one of the most inspiring figures in my life, so much so that he will always remain in my heart as an emblem of powerful Krishna consciousness.
No one can doubt his glorious destination at the feet of Prabhupada, to whom he devoted his heart and soul.
May 15, 2022
Sunanda Das, Temple of the Vedic Planetarium