Amala-bhakta Das, author and famed narrator of hundreds of hours of Krishna conscious audiobooks, accepted the renounced order of life from Radhanath Swami on September 16th in New Dwarka, Los Angeles, at the age of 83. His new name is Amala-bhakta Swami.
Dressed in saffron robes, he addressed the crowd of devotees, saying, “I beg for your mercy to receive my new name, and also to understand that this name calls upon me to detach myself from all designations and to attach myself to the family of Krishna.”
“I speak on behalf of the assembled sannyasis, all of New Dwarka community, and the whole of ISKCON, when I thank you for your lifetime of devotional service,” Radhanath Swami responded, adding with humorous affection, “And the whole of Brahma’s creation.”
Joined on the seats of honor by Giriraj Swami and Navayogendra Swami, Radhanath Swami then announced, “On behalf of his Divine Grace Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, we confer upon you the sannyasa ashram, and we are honored to offer you the name Amala-bhakta Swami Maharaja.”
The announcement was received with a rapturous “Haribol!” from the packed temple room, as Radhanath Swami embraced the first devotee to receive sannyasa at New Dwarka in three decades.
Born in New York City, Amala-bhakta Swami worked in motion pictures in Santa Monica, California before beginning a search for the true purpose of life. Moving back to New York in 1957, he studied and then began teaching ashtanga yoga, establishing his own yoga center and amassing a following of 400 disciples.
In 1976, wanting to deepen his spiritual realization, he moved to Los Angeles to join the ISKCON temple there and receive initiation from ISKCON Founder Srila Prabhupada. New Dwarka has remained his base ever since, although he often travels to other states and countries, teaching, counseling and lecturing. He was a brahmachari (celibate monk) for many years prior to taking sannyasa.
Amala-bhakta Swami pays his respects just before receiving sannyasa initiation
He is the author of four books – Mystical Stories from the Bhagavatam, Mystical Stories from the Mahabharata, The Life of Tulasi Devi, and The Supreme Mystic, on the early years of Lord Krishna.
But of course he is most well-known for producing and narrating dramatic recordings of a large portion of Srila Prabhupada’s works, including the full Srimad-Bhagavatam, Sri Caitanya Caritamrita, Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Krsna Book, Nectar of Devotion, Nectar of Instruction, and many, many more.
While he may not always be recognized in person, his is perhaps the most recognized voice in ISKCON – untold numbers of devotees have grown in their spiritual lives or literally grown up listening to his audio recordings, and deriving deep inspiration and absorbption from them.
“All glories to His Holiness Amala-bhakta Swami,” said Chintamani Dhama Dasi on hearing about his sannyasa initiation. “His recordings of Srila Prabhupada’s book have nourished my spiritual life for more than the last two decades.”
“I can’t begin to count how many times I’ve listened to his recitations of the Bhakti scriptures, and shared them with others,” added Dina Sharana Das. “What an incredibly valuable service he has done. He has planted so many seeds of bhakti it is beyond counting... I hope I can follow in his footsteps like a trailing star, or spark.”
Video about the event:
[ audiobook ] [ los-angeles ] [ sannyasi ]