April 8 2009

This one is from Bhakta Iskatel about one of early ISKCON’s favorite preachers:

“Hari Sauri Prabhu, can you clarify one point regarding Visnujana Maharaj.

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Did he initiate anyone or just brought new people to Srila Prabhupada? If he did initiated anyone are they still in the movement and what are they doing?”

Answer:

HH Visnujana Maharaja disappeared in March 1976. By 1977 Srila Prabhupada accepted the likelihood that he had committed suicide by drowning in the Ganga at Allahabad.

You can read about Visnujana Maharaja’s last personal exchange with Srila Prabhupada in Transcendental Diary Vol 1, March 11th:

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the last photos taken of Visnujana Swami before he disappeared in March 1976

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Visnujana Maharaja, the tall, charismatic co-leader of Radha Damodara TSKP, who was listening in the background, spoke up for the first time. “Srila Prabhupada, how did Chota Haridasa achieve perfection by killing himself after apparently pouring water[sic] on his devotional creeper by talking to a woman?”

He was referring to the close associate of Lord Caitanya who drowned himself in the Ganga after being rejected by the Lord.

Prabhupada’s reply was very grave. “His instance was that even an associate of Caitanya Mahaprabhu can fall down. And if one falls down, his punishment is that, suicide. There is no other punishment. He must commit suicide. This is Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s instruction. Otherwise he is Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s personal servant. He cannot fall down. But Caitanya Mahaprabhu showed this instance that ‘Even one is My personal servant, he can fall down.’ And if anyone by any cause he falls down, his punishment is he must commit suicide. This is instruction.”

Everyone’s eyes widened as they took in the statement.

Srila Prabhupada elaborated. “This falldown, there is possibility in any moment because we are very small. We can be captivated by maya at any moment. Therefore we shall be very, very careful. And if you fall down, then punishment is you make suicide. That’s all. Then next life we shall see.”
[end quote]

After this conversation, Visnujana Maharaja left Mayapur without telling anyone and was never seen again by any ISKCON devotee.  In April 1977 the co-director of Radha Damodara TSKP and Visnujana’s closest friend, Tamal Krishna Goswami, reported to Srila Prabhupada that some information had been received about a tall western sannyasi who had paid a boat man in Allahabad to take him out into the middle of the Ganga and that he had jumped in the waters and didn’t come up again. Since Visnujana Swami had not been seen for over a year, Srila Prabhupada accepted the likelihood that it was him. When asked what his fate would be, Srila Prabhupada was reported to have said that “Now he is preaching on the heavenly planets.”[note: this story was told to me by Tamal Krishna Goswami].

As far as your question goes as to whether he had any disciples, no, there was no question of his having any disciples of his own since he left his body  before Srila Prabhupada.

In the presence of one’s own guru one is not supposed to make disciples of his own. It is against the etiquette as Srila Prabhupada stated in this letter to Tusta Krsna Swami December 2 1976 sent from Vrindavana:

[TD 1]

Lastly he replied to a letter from Tusta Krsna Swami in New Zealand. Tusta Krsna Maharaja belongs to a group of devotees who split away from ISKCON several years ago. They disagreed with certain methods of book distribution and the managerial structure within ISKCON. The leader of this group is a former ISKCON sannyasi named Siddha-svarupananda Goswami. Although members of this group have their own ideas about spreading Krsna consciousness, Tusta Krsna Maharaja writes to Srila Prabhupada regularly.

Tusta Krsna had previously recommended various people for initiation, but before accepting them Prabhupada wanted to know if Tusta Krsna Maharaja himself was following. Tusta Krsna’s letter contained positive confirmation and Prabhupada wrote back, “Every student is expected to become acarya. Acarya means one who knows the scriptural injunctions and follows them practically in life and teaches them to his disciples. I have given you sannyasa with the great hope that in my absence you will preach the cult throughout the world and thus become recognized by Krsna as the most sincere servant of the Lord. So I am pleased you have not deviated from the principles I have taught, and thus, with power of attorney go on preaching Krsna consciousness. That will make me very happy as it is confirmed in the Gurv-astaka: ‘yasya prasadat bhagavata prasadah.’ Just by satisfying your spiritual master, who is accepted as the bona fide representative of the Lord, you satisfy Krsna immediately without any doubt.”

Prabhupada also alluded to Tusta Krsna’s independent mentality, carefully encouraging him to keep him close. “Keep trained very rigidly, and then you are bona fide guru, and you can accept disciples on the same principle. But as a matter of etiquette it is the custom that during the lifetime of your spiritual master you bring the prospective disciples to him, and in his absence or disappearance you can accept disciples without any limitation. This is the law of disciplic succession. I want to see my disciples become bona fide spiritual master and spread Krsna consciousness very widely; that will make me and Krsna very happy.”

He ended each letter with, “I hope this finds you well” and the epithet “Your ever well-wisher, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami.”
[end quote]

Visnujana Swami was a very charismatic personality and a wonderful preacher of Krsna consciousness. He made many, many devotees by his kirtans and preaching.

Your humble servant,
Hari-sauri dasa

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