Bhakti Hridaya Bon
Bhakti Hridaya Bon also known as Swami Bon was a
guruin the Gaudiya Mathline of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakurafollowing the philosophy of the Bhaktimarg, specifically of Caitanya Mahaprabhuand Gaudiya Vaishnava theology. At the time of his passing he left behind thousands of Bengali disciples in India. His current successor is Swami Gopananda Bon Maharaj [cite web|title=Gopananda Bon Maharaj - Current direct successor of Swami Bon Maharaj and his Radha Govinda Trust, India|url=http://www.vrindanews.com/photos/displayimage.php?album=2&pos=8|accessdate=2007-03-28] . Some reference books on Swami Bon's life are "On the path to Vaikuntha", "Viraha-vedana" (Bengali), and "Vaikunther Pathe" (Bengali), "My First Year in England", etc. He is noted for his translation into English of Sri Rupa Goswami's Sanskrit classic, Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu[cite web|title="Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu translation by Swami Bon Maharaj - Rector, IOP, Vrindavan. Text on-line|url=http://bvml.org/SHBM/brs3.html|accessdate=2007-03-28] [cite web|title=Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu (Vol. 1).Sanskrit to English trans. Bhakti-Hridaya Bon. Vrindavan: Institute of Oriental Philosophy, 1965|url=http://www.bhasa.net/bibliography.php?area=search&t=literature&pubplace=*Vrindavan*l|accessdate=2007-02-16] ; as also his educational activities in Vraja Mandala, a sacred area associated with Lord Krishna, located between Delhi and Agra in U.P., India. He is the Rector of the Institute of Oriental Philosophy in Vrindavana[cite web|title=The Education of Human Emotions by Klaus K. Klostermaier|url=http://www.iskcon.com/icj/4_1/klostermaier.html|accessdate=2007-02-16] [cite web|title=Swami B. H. Bon Maharaj, the rector of the Institute of Oriental Philosophy in Vrindavan, India|url=http://www.bookrags.com/research/study-of-religion-eorl-13/the-academic-study-of-religion-in-s-eorl-13.html|accessdate=2007-02-16] , and Founder of "Sri Krishna Chaitanya Academy" in Nandagram, U.P., India [cite book|title=Vraja-Rasa-Bindhu|author=Richard Shaw Brown|year=1997] . During his life Swami Bon is known to have initiated a few westerners such as Swami Lalitananda and Walther Eidlitzwho was coverted to Gaudiya Vaishnavismby meeting first western disciple of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, Svami Sadananda Dasain a concentration campin India. [cite book|title=Sri Bepin Sakhi Vilas|author=Lalitananda Vana|year=1971|id=OCLC|31935694 ] , and Ashim Krishna Das [cite web|title=Allan A. Shairo - initiated by Swami Bon - 1971 Weblink|url=http://ignca.nic.in/kp_02.htm#ASIM|accessdate=2007-03-28]
His Early Life
Born Narendra Nath Mukherji in 1901 in
East Bengal, the Gaudiya VaishnavaBrahmana son of Brahmarishi Rajanikanta, who was a Vedic scholar. Swami Bon Maharaj was a lifelong celibate and as a brahmacari he joined Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakuraand took initiation in the early 1900s.
Later, in 1924, at the age of 23, he was the third disciple to accept lifelong Tridanda Sannyasa from Srila
Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati ThakuraPrabhupada and quickly became one of his leading preachers. He preached the message of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, delivering many lectures all over India, including at the Royal Albert Hall in Kolkata. He also established a new Gaudiya Math in Madras(now Chennai), and he organized successful theistic exhibitions in Kolkataand Dacca.
He was so successful as a preacher, introducing the message of Srila Sarasvati Prabhupada and Lord Chaitanya up to the highest levels of social and intellectual society of that time (during the British Raj) that he soon became known all over India.
Because of his good breeding and high education he was sent by his Guru, Srimad Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada, to UK and Germany to preach. He took Lord Chaitanya's teachings to the very top of society (even being received in audience by H.M. The King of England) and gave many lectures throughout England and Europe. Swami Bon Maharaj converted two German gentlemen (Dr. E.G. Schulze
Sadananda Swamiand Baron Koeth) whom he brought back to his Guru, Srila Sarasvati Prabhupada, for initiation. He also established the Madras Gaudiya Math.
In 1942, after the disappearance of his Guru, Srila Sarasvati Prabhupada, Swami Bon Maharaj voted for Swami Bhakti Vilas Tirtha Maharaj to be the next Acharya of the
Gaudiya Math[cite web|title=Swami Bon Maharaj Weblink|url=http://vedicwiki.com/en/index.php?title=H.H._Srila_Vana_(Bon)_Maharaj|accessdate=2007-03-28] .
Swami Bon Maharaj went by foot on a solitary pilgrimage into the Himalayas for years of severe penances (described in his book, On the way to Vaikuntha). His vows were (1) not speaking to anyone, (2) eating only fruits and nuts off of trees, (3) sleeping bare bodied on the ground, and (4) not taking a single step without chanting the Maha-mantra. He journeyed 650 miles on foot and lived at the source of the Yamuna River under very severe circumstances. During these years alone Vana Maharaj describes in his Bengali book, Vaikunther-pathe, how he had vision darshan of his Gurudeva, who revealed to him his siddha-bhajan-pranali, and ordered him to go serve Sri Vrindavana-dhama.
Thereafter he retired in
Vrindavanawhere he constructed a small bhajan-kutir on land donated to him. He also excavated an under-ground cave-room where he spent many years performing secluded bhajan (chanting in meditation).
His Later Life
By the age of 70 Swami Bon Maharaj had over one thousand initiated mostly Bengali and other Indian born disciples, out of which were 10 Tridandi Sannyasis (monks). In some East and West Bengali villages such as Vishnupur the entire populations, husbands, wives and children, were his disciples. Swami Bon lived in
Vrindavanain his ashram, "Bhajan Kutir." He was active in attracting scholars and other people to Vraja Dham for theological studies, as well as creating a Post-Graduate College in Vrindavan, the Institute of Oriental Philosophy (Aff. University of Agra), where many local people received their education. He also founded the Sri Krishna Chaitainya Primary School in Nandagram in 1970, and he had ashrams in Vrindavan, Nandagram, and Kolkata. He spent much of his time associating with his close friends and Godbrothers, "bhajananandi" Krishnadas Babaji and Bhakti Shuddha Ashram Maharaj. He was close with all his Godbrothers.
He initiated the following 10 (Vaishnava) Tridandi Sannyasis (Monks):
* Srila Krishnananda Bon Maharaj , Former Acarya
* Srila Rashananda Bon Maharaj, Former Acarya
* Srila Rasikananda Bon Mahahraj, Forner Acharya
* Sripad Mohananda Bon Maharaj
* Sripad Sudhananda Bon Maharaj
* Sripad Syamananda Bon Mahraj
* Sripad Madhavananda Bon Maharaj
* Sripad Gopananda Bon Maharaj (Present Acarya)
* Sripad Kesavananda Bon Maharaj
* Sripad Satananda Bon Maharaj [cite web|title=Ref Website.|url=http://bvml.org/SHBM/index.htm|accessdate=2007-01-30]
During his life Swami Bon Maharaj wrote many books including his master-piece translation and commentary of Sri Rupa Goswami's Sanskrit classic, Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu [cite web|title="Ref to Swami Bon Maharaj - Rector, IOP, Vrindavan. UP, India|url=http://www.iskcon.com/icj/4_1/klostermaier.html|accessdate=2007-03-28] . Books by Swami Bon which have been published include the Gita As a Chaitanyite Reads It, Sri Chaitanya, Viraha-vedana, On the Way to Vaikuntha (Hindi & Bengali), and seven more books in German, English, Hindi and Bengali.
ervice to Vraja Dham
Swami Bon Maharaj also served Vraja-dhama by offering the local people accredited education...
1) He built the Vaishnava Theological University (later became affiliated with the University of Agra as the Institute of Oriental Philosophy), in Vrindavana, where many Vraja-vasi's received BA, MA and Ph.D. degrees;
2) He also constructed the Sri Krishna Chaitanya Primary School next to Sanatana Goswami's bhajan-kutir in Nandagrama.
3) He also maintains Sri Sanatana Goswami's bhajan kutir in Nandagrama where many of his Godbrothers would stay, and even now this tirtha is still under the care of his disciples. It is also the sacred spot where Akinchan Krishnadas Babaji Maharaj has his samadhi (tomb).
4) His personal Math is called "bhajan kutir" in Vrindavana where he lived a quiet life with brahmacari and sannyasi disciples. Swami Bon Maharaj was always very strict with the four regulative principles, and he never acted or spoke sahajiya or fallen in any way; he was a fixed-up, lifelong celibate sannyasi disciple of Srila Sarasvati Prabhupada who mostly performed private bhajan after returning from his tapasya, followed by educational activities in service of Vraja Dhama.
Many of Bhakti Siddhanta's leading disciples would often come to visit their Godbrother, Swami Bon Maharaj, in Vraja, including Srila Krishnadas Babaji Maharaj; he also went to visit his Godbrothers and his disciples in Bengal every couple years.
Swami Bon Maharaj revealed his spiritual identity (svarupa siddhi) in his books, such as Vaikuntha Path Par" (Hindi & Bengali) in which his spiritual name is given as "Kunda Latika Manjari," with his eternal service always in Pratham yama nitya lila.
Swami Bon Maharaj left his body in the company of chanting disciples at 9:04 PM on July 7, 1982 at his Bhajan Kutir in Vrindavan, U.P. India. The facts about his passing are reported in the book "Supreme Divinity and Sad-guru" by Dr. Tapodhir Krishna Dastidar.
Bhakti-Rasamrta-Sindhuh. by Sri Rupa Gosvami Review author [s] : Agehananda Bharati, The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 27, No. 2 (Feb., 1968), pp. 412-413 doi:10.2307/2051795
B. H. Bon Maharaj. IPC 18, 1973: 200261. ... 3.455: B. H. Bon Maharaj, 'Life and message ofSri Caitanya', IPC 17, 1972
jaar.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/XLI/2/296.pdf Comparative History of Religion by B.H. Bon
* [http://www.richardshawbrown.com/mysticarticles/Tridandi.html Further information on Swami Bon Maharaj]
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