Compiled by Mahavishnu Das
The following recollections were told to us by his disciple, Srila B.V. Narayana Maharaja:
“When my gurudeva arrived from Navadvipa, he called Prabhu and told him, Narayana Maharaja and others hope that you will take sanyasa. I also support this idea. Do not hesitate to take the renounced order. You are so qualified; please take sanyasa now. It will be very beneficial.’ Abhaya Charanaravinda Prabhu thus agreed to accept sanyasa. The ceremony was held the next day, Vishvarupa-mahotsava.
He became Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja. The sanyasa name my gurudeva gave to Abhaya Charanaravinda Prabhu was ‘Swami,’ one of the bona fide sanyasa names. The title ‘Bhaktivedanta’ had already been awarded in Calcutta in 1939 by some of his godbrothers and it is also the title my guru Maharaja gave to those he initiated into the sanyasa order. “After the ceremony, Gurudeva requested Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja to speak, and he spoke in English, though almost everyone there could not understand that language.
He explained that just at this time he remembered his gurudeva’s specific orders to preach in the English language. He said, ‘I feel fortunate to accept sanyasa from my godbrother, Srila Bhakti Prajnana Keshava Goswami Maharaja. I have known him for a long time and he is my close friend. He is a very bona-fide disciple of our Jagadguru Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. He has kindly given me this sanyasa. Srila Narayana Maharaja and Srila Muni Maharaja have also given me inspiration to do this.
The order of sanyasa means to preach the mission of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and the mission of Sri Guru everywhere. My gurudeva instructed me to preach in English in the Western countries and that is why I am writing English articles and books. I am praying to Krishna, Gurudeva and all the Vaishnavas that they should give me the power to preach this mission all over the world.’ Excerpts from his speech and a description of the ceremony were printed in a news article in our Bhagavata-patrika.
“The well-known photograph of our gurudeva sitting between Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja and Srila Bhaktivedanta Muni Maharaja was taken on that day. Kunjabihari Brahmachari, a formerly wealthy devotee who had helped build our matha, gladly donated five paisa he had saved, which at that time was the cost of one photographer’s snapshot. Thus today we can all honor this sanyasa portrait.