31 March 2012
Nrisimhadeva was one of those great souls who was universally well liked and whose presence was always a pleasure to be in.
He joined ISKCON in the early 1980s and became one of the stalwart sankirtana devotees in Melbourne almost overnight. Travelling the world he collect an estimated several million dollars for Srila Prabhupada’s movement.
Later on he started his own painting business with a turnover of over a million dollars a year, much of which he donated or spent on preaching enterprises. I personally benefitted from his financial support and willingness to share his good fortune, as did many others. As one devotee recently commented, “He had a heart like an African taxi: ‘always room for one more!”
seen here with HH Mukunda Goswami, Bhagavat Asraya prabhu, Peshala dasi and myself in 2004
and here with my wife Sitala, Bhagavat Asraya, Mukunda Maharaja and myself
He was particularly noted for a largess and generosity of spirit rarely found in this world. He fitted the description given by Srila Prabhupada of a genuine, non-envious devotee:
“So the Bhägavata-dharma is meant for paramo nirmatsaräëäm. Matsarata means one who cannot endure or can tolerate others’ advancement. That is called matsarata. That is the nature of everyone. Everyone is trying to advance more. The neighbor is envious: “Oh, this man is going ahead. I could not.” Even if he is brother, even if he is son, this is the nature of the… So therefore this Bhägavata-dharma is not meant for such persons, who are envious. It is meant for the paramo nirmatsaräëäm, who has given up this envy or envious attitude ultimately. Now, how it is possible? It is possible only when you have learned how to love Kåñëa. Then it is possible. …” — March 12 1975 London
He was always thinking of different ways to spread Krsna consciousness and despite some ups and downs that would have daunted lesser souls he remained a firmly committed supporter of ISKCON.
The 40th anniversary of the installation of Sydney’s presiding Deities Sri Sri Radha Gopinatha and Prabhupada Disciples Reunion held in May last year was my last meeting with him.
Nrsimhadeva with Jnana-samudra and Partha;
Charu, Nrsimhadeva and Jnana-samudra
After a tremendously enlivening three day festival Nrsimhadeva came over to me as we were preparing to leave and planted a big kiss on the top of my head. He grinned and told me how grateful he was to the disciples of Srila Prabhupada for bringing Krsna consciousness to so many souls like himself. It was a typical down to earth expression by him of his genuine love and appreciation of everything to do with Krsna.
He was a dedicated disciple of Srila Tamal Krishna Goswami
and it is this connection that I chose as my theme to write my simple eulogy of Nrsimhadeva prabhu which was read out among many, many offerings at a special Utsava at New Govardhan farm last Saturday March 24:
This is an obituary I didn’t want to have to write, but one I am honoured to offer. Nrsimhadeva prabhu was universally liked; a dedicated servant of his spiritual master Srila Tamal Krishna Goswami and Srila Prabhupada; a loyal ISKCON man; a hard working and responsible husband to his wife Shyamarasa mataji and a loving father to his daughters Tarunya and Sundi.
To me personally he was a great friend and a generous supporter who went out of his way to provide facilities for me in order to do my service. I am indebted to him in many ways and I will sorely miss his association, as we all will.
In an active devotional life of 30+ years there are too many stories to tell and too many examples to give of a life well spent in transcendental service. But like a pot of rice that can be understood by sampling a single grain, there is one example that I always remember which for me exemplifies who Nrsimhadeva prabhu was and the true nature of his character.
In the late 1990s his guru maharaja, Srila Tamal Krishna Goswami, was facing a life-threatening operation. As he awaited surgery in Dallas, he called Nrsimhadeva prabhu all the way from Australia to come and be with him. It wasn’t because Nrsimhadeva had any special insights or expertise in medicine and how to treat the disease. It wasn’t because he wanted funding for some project. It was simply because Nrsimhadeva’s presence automatically cheered him up. Nrsimhadeva’s general disposition was such that his guru wanted him to be around and felt better for it.
I think that says volumes for the kind of person Nrsimhadeva prabhu was. You wanted to be with him and his presence automatically brightened up your day. It is no small thing and nothing superficial. In the society of devotees there is no treasure greater nor more desirable than the association of each other. That is what spiritual life is all about, and Nrsimhadeva prabhu had that life-enhancing persona in great measure.
I was particularly glad to read the report that one of the devotees had a dream before Nrsimhadeva left in which Tamal Krishna Maharaja informed her that he was calling Nrsimhadeva prabhu to again be with him. Not many souls get that call. Most simply pass from one state to another, anonymous and unrecognised. To be called by Krsna or His devotees is special. It is a recognition of a life well-lived, service well done, and a sincerity of heart that is unusual in this world. As he had previously called him to Dallas his Gurudeva has again called him and we should be glad that we knew one who has been so recognized and whose association is so desirable.
Sabhapati prabhu commented to me after hearing of Nrsimhadeva prabhu’s passing, “He had a heart of gold.” That I think is a good summary of a devotee who we will all remember with great fondness and who we will miss intensely.
All glories to Sriman Nrsimhadeva Prabhu!