Bhakti Abhay Narayan Maharaj
by Giridhari das
In 1954 near the town of Baja on the Danube River in Hungary was born an auspicious
child to a poor Hungarian family who named the child, Dénes Vida. As
a young boy, the family unit disintegrated and eventually when he reached is
early teens, caused them [he and his brother] to emigrate to Italy first and
then to Sweden. After a few years of interest in Christian and other spiritual
scriptures, he met devotees of Krishna in Stokholm. He joined the mission and
with full inspiration, he begins selling Srila Prabhupada`s books. Within one
year he took initiation from His Divine Grace. Srila Prabhupada graced him with
the name Dwarakesha Das in 1972/73. He was to become very instrumental in Srila
Prabhupada's plan to inundate the world with the chanting of Hare Krishna. Dwarakesha
Prabhu worked together with his god-brothers, Alanath (B.A. Paramadvaiti Swami)
Prabhu, Ajit Prabhu and Vegevan Prabhu. By the inspiration of his spiritual
master, he began to translate transcendental scriptures to Hungarian and Russian.
He became a leading book distributor and inspired others to take up Sankirtan
book distribution. He was an adept scholar, learning to translate Srila Prabhupada's
books more precisely. He was known to be a tireless servant, enthusiastic until
sleep forced him to retire. He wanted to go to preach in Hungary [following
in the footsteps of his translations]. At the time, because of the difficulty
of documentation, it was impossible. Initially, Alanath Prabhu and Harikesh
Swami were selected and sent. They made programs in the first Yoga club in Budapest
and from that place came the first indigent Hungarian devotees. In 1976, six
months after this, Dwarakesh Prabhu finally received immigration clearance and
travelled to Hungary. He established the first ashrama in Budapest apartment
with Parama Karuna Prabhu, Angira Prabhu and Ishvara Chandra Prabhu - all Hungarian
disciples of Srila Prabhupada who took Ritvik from Harikesh Swami. This was
a landmark action being the first ashrama established by Srila Prabhupada behind
the iron curtain. Dwarakesh Prabhu acted in the capacity of shiksha-guru for
those Hungarian devotees in Budapest.
He became a legend in his youth behind the iron curtain as dangerous and treacherous
as it was. He continually brought in transcendental books illegally and began
distributed them profusely and very successfully. He had many difficulties crossing
the iron curtain border between Austria and Hungary but in most endeavours,
was surprisingly successful in transporting this transcendental literature.
Another Hungarian devotee received connection in 1977, Krishnananda Prabhu,
who was to become very helpful in the spreading of the Hungarian mission.
Dwarakesh Prabhu was made zonal secretary for the GBC for Hungary, Romania,
Bulgaria and Yugoslavia. From time to time Harikesh Swami, Dhir Krishna Swami
and Krishna Kshetra Prabhu came to assist the Hungarian mission but it was Dwarakesh
Prabhu who inspired and came continuously through the iron curtain border bringing
books and transcendental nektar for all the young Hungarian devotees.
In 1978, he established the first Farm Community behind the iron curtain at
Keshi Ghat on an island in the Danube River. By this time, he had published
three books in Hungarian by the German presses; Perfection of Yoga, Sri Ishopanishad
& Bhagavad-gita As It Is. In 1979, he established a second farm community
in Nanda Falva near Szeged which is today the centre of devotional activity
for the Hungarian mission. Crossing the borders became increasingly difficult
and he had to carry up to five passports sometimes. Nanda Falva in that time
in the early 80's continued to increase in devotees and land slowly.
In 1982, he received renounced order [sannyas] and in 1984, confirmed that renounced
through the Mahanta Guru, Srila Bhakti Rakshaka Sridharadev Goswami. In that
time he left the ISKCON mission and became an independent preacher under Srila
Sridahra Maharaj. However the devotees and Nanda Falva wanted to follow him
and they also came out from ISKCON due to the love and trust of their Shiksha-guru,
who was now known as Bhakti Abhay Narayan Maharaj. 1985/86 he began to publish
Kagylókürt, first Hungarian Spiritual Magazine quarterly which is
still flourishing today. His will was to make Krishna Consciousness as a part
of the Hungarain culture, not a strange Eastern religious cult. Kagylókürt
is a strong preaching instrument to be utilized in this objective.
In 1989 the communist regime fall down and Narayan Maharaj moved his centre
of operations from Vienna to Hungary at Nandafalva. He traveled not only in
Hungary but also, the neighboring countries of Romania, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia.
He had many friends and he initiated many devotees. He also traveled around
the world to enthuse his god-brothers.
His book publishing continued and by this time, he had also published Sri Upadisamrta,
The Bhagavata by Bhaktivinode Thakur, Golden Volcano by Bhakti Rakshaka Sridharadeva
Goswami, Sri Chaitanya's Life and Teachings - an original writing by himself
which was originally written for the magazine, Kagylókürt, and a
devotional periodical, Gangesz.
He built a very strong devotional community at Nanda Falva and other places
in Hungary. He liked things small and beautiful, quality as opposed to quantity
and a very special close and inspiring connection with his disciples. He became
a professor of Hinduism in the University of Pécs where he taught Vaishnava
philosophy. He used to comment that he was teacher in the University but he
himself did not even graduate from secondary school. Such were his uncommon
qualifications. Other professors sat in on his course at the University of Pécs.
By the Lord's arrangement he departed for his eternal pastimes in 1993 by a
car accident - a big shock to all his followers. However, in spite of carpetbagging
opportunists bothering the community of devotees at Nanda Falva, the community
stayed together, thanks to Narayan Maharaj's loving devotional mood.
Thereafter, we took shelter of a shiksha-guru, Bhakti Alok Paramadvaiti Maharaj,
the former Alanath Prabhu who had also taken sannyas initiation from Srila Sridhara
Maharaj and was the intimate friend of our Gurumaharaj. He is very different
in his style but he has the same high devotional ideals. The Hungarian devotees
today work together without any external formal institution [however there is
a registered society, Magyar Vaisnava Hindu Egyesület, Hungarian Vaisnava
Hindu Society for the purpose of legalizing book publishing and temple properties],
there is a Vaisnava Council, discussing the main topics, like new books, temple
Today the community continues to grow. There are ashramas in Nandafalva (Nandagram),
Szeged, Pécs, Hásságy, Budapest, Györ, Eger, and in
Kecskemét. The new initiating gurus accepted by Vaisnava Council are
B.K Tirtha Swami [the only sannyas disciple of Naryan Maharaj], His Holiness
Krsnananda Prabhu, and Bhakti Alok Paramadvaiti Swami. In this way the community
continues to grow. Devotees have many different projects. The magazine, Kagylókürt,
is for the public. Gangesz magazine is for the more serious spiritual people
and Vaisnava News for devotees only. New books like Srila Prabhupada`s The ultimate
goal of life, Bhakti Siddhanta`s Brahma Samhita (forth-coming). We hold public
programs: Kagylókürt evenings are big programs for the public in
vegetarianism, spiritual music, lectures and other devotional programs; Bhagavat
Gita courses in the ashram are offered; and recently, we have begun a big project,
Vaisnava Academy (which hopefully will become a legal high school in years to
come); radio programs; participating in other movements: Vegetarian Society,
Club Budapest etc.
But for the coming year, all devotees have a special project to serve the wishes
of Bhakti Abhay Narayan Maharaj - the project is the temple construction in
Nandafalva. The style is a mixture of ancient vaisnava and Hungarian elements.
Sri-Sri Radha Gopiwallabha, installed deities from 15 years previous by Narayan
Maharaj will now move to Their Lordships new home.
Our community is a good standing member of World Vaishnava Association having
held the first two Annual Euro-Melas with over 250 devotees from all over Europe
and points beyond participating in five days of devotional programs. Next year
we also host the Fifth Annual Vaishnava Euro-Mela at the new temple construction
in Nanda Falva-the first time that the Euro-Mela will be held on our own land
[not a hired camp]. All these events are very inspiring to the devotees and
we also have good connections with many different Missions internationally and
in Hungary too.
Giridhari Das Vanachari, Associate Editor of Kagylókürt