In Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya 22.128, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu explains that of all devotional practices, five are most potent. The life of HH Kadamba Kanana Swami was an ideal illustration of all five of these most potent limbs of bhakti: sadhu-sanga (association of the Vaisnavas), nama-kirtana (chanting the holy names), bhagavata-sravana (hearing Srimad-Bhagavatam), mathura-vasa (residing in the holy dham), and sri-murtira sraddhaya sevana (serving the Lord’s deity form with faith).
From the very beginning of his journey on the path of Krishna consciousness in 1978, Maharaja found shelter in Sri Vrindavan Dham, where he served until 1984, thus exemplifying Mathura-vasa, residence in the holy dham.
In 1985, Maharaja traveled to Sri Dham Mayapur, where he supervised the construction of Srila Prabhupada’s pushpa samadhi. Immediately thereafter, Maharaja returned to Vrindavan to serve as temple president until 1995. Maharaja continued to offer his service and guidance to the Vrindavan and Mayapur projects through his life, thus offering his faithful service to Sri Sri Radha-Syamasundara and Sri Sri Radha-Madhava (sri-murtira sraddhaya sevana).
Maharaja then dedicated himself to sharing the gifts of the holy dhams with the suffering souls by incessantly traveling all over the world. By his lifelong study of Srila Prabhupada’s books, Maharaja possessed a realization of sastra that he was able to convey with deep conviction, astute observations, and a charming sense of humor, thus sharing with us all the fruits of his bhagavata-sravana, meditation on Srimad Bhagavatam.
And who among us has not been seemingly transported to another realm by Maharaja’s melodious kirtans, taking one from deep meditation to energetic ecstasy, all the while being inspired to chant more and more? Nama-kirtana (chanting the holy names) at its finest! He even celebrated his vyasa-puja by taking the assembly of devotees on an hours-long harinama during the Kings Day public holiday.
Through all these decades of incessant service, Kadamba Kanana Swami remained a humble and approachable well-wisher and friend to devotees all over the world, young and old alike. He both offered and accepted sadhu-sanga (association of the Vaisanvas) with love and affection. He captured the hearts of thousands and directed them to take shelter of the process of devotional service.
Kadamba Kanana Swami was an indomitable force, overcoming inconceivable challenges to further the mission of Srila Prabhupada. No matter what the obstacle, Maharaja forged ahead with his deep conviction, his uplifting classes, and his world famous kirtans. At the same time, Maharaja possessed a sharp intelligence with which he served Srila Prabhupada’s mission as a manager and advisor on ISKCON’s most important projects, from Vrindavan to Mayapur to New York City, helping hundreds of devotees to optimize their own offering of service.
It is rare indeed to find such a multifaceted personality who is simultaneously deeply thoughtful, managerially astute, fixed in sadhana and sastric study, exemplary in every anga of bhakti, and loved by so many.
When Maharaja was diagnosed with terminal cancer, he returned once again to where his spiritual journey began and took shelter of the divine above of Sri Vrindavan. Perhaps for the first time in Vaisnava history, Maharaja allowed the community of devotees to be virtually present with him as he prepared himself for the moment of death, teaching us essential lessons in these five limbs of bhakti that will prove invaluable to each and every one of us when we face that final test.
In the final days of his manifest presence among us, Maharaja showed us the highest example of determination to take shelter of the process of Krishna consciousness. Remaining fixed in his vow of japa until the very end, Maharaja departed from this world among resounding kirtan, under the merciful gaze of Sri Giriraj, in the association of his spiritual master, HH Jayadvaita Swami, and the Vaisnavas in Sri Vrindavan Dham.
We pray that this auspicious departure brings some solace to all of us bearing separation from our dear Kadamba Kanana Maharaja. Maharaja himself expressed such conviction and joy in the knowledge that death simply signifies a change of service, an opportunity for which he was as enthusiastic as ever.
We especially offer our prayers for Maharaja’s disciples that they may find shelter and comfort in the holy names, Srila Prabhupada’s books, the association of the devotees, and service to the mission of His Divine Grace, just as Maharaja exemplified. Please know that on behalf of HH Kadamba Kanana Maharaja, we offer you our full support and affection.
The GBC shall be eternally indebted to Maharaja for his innumerable services to ISKCON.
HH Kadamba Kanana Swami ki jaya!
Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!
Ananta koti vaisvnava vrinda ki jaya!
Revati Raman Das
Guru Prasad Swami
Tapana Misra Das,
GBC Executive Committee