His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami is a spiritual master and a Governing Body Commissioner (GBC) in the International Society for Krsna Consciousness (ISKCON). He is a disciple of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada - the Founder-Acharya of ISKCON - and is regarded as one the most advanced devotees in the movement today.He hails from an aristocratic Bengali family - he was born in 1945 and spent most of his early childhood in urban Kolkata. He left India in 1970 to study at university in Germany, where he came across the Vedic scriptures. This spurned in him the desire to explore a deep understanding of spirituality. After completing his studies, he spent a number of years searching for a Spiritual Master to guide him on the spiritual path. His search came to an end when he came across Srila Prabhupadas teachings in the form of one of his books - The Nectar of Devotion. As His Holiness was reading this book, he became more and more convinced that Srila Prabhupada was the person who could properly guide him on the spiritual path. Thus he accepted him as his Spiritual Master. He left home and joined ISKCON in Sridham Mayapur, West Bengal, in late 1976 and served patiently there, eagerly awaiting the return of Srila Prabhupada from America. His first meeting with Srila Prabhupada took place in January 1977 during the MahaKumbhaMela at Prayag. Srila Prabhupada immediately instructed him to translate all of his books into Bengali. Joining Srila Prabhupadas entourage from this time onwards, he was soon made ISKCONs Secretary for Indian Affairs. He was quickly given first and second initiation in Mayapur during the GauraPurnima festival of 1977. Shortly thereafter, during the Snana Yatra festival in Vrindavan, Srila Prabhupada awarded him the renounced order of sannyasa. After being appointed as a GBC, he later served as the GBC Chairman in 1989. Currently he is Vice-chairman to the GBC body. He has been travelling and preaching now for over 35 years, with disciples all over the world. He continued to translate Srila Prabhupada’s series of books into Bengali to its completion in 1996 (the Srila Prabhupadas centennial anniversary year). Thereafter, he was involved in creating, writing, producing and directing the epic biographical video series - AbhayCharan. With over 100 episodes, and broadcasted on Indian National television, the series chronicled Srila Prabhupadas life and achievements.He then went on to develop the ISKCON project in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh. An ancient seat of learning, Ujjain is the place where Lord Krishna, along with Balarama and Sudama, received his education from MaharshiSandipani. Under his leadership, an extraordinary marble temple was built there in less than 10 months. As the GBC of this area, he continues to oversee the development of the Ujjain project and local outreach activities. Under his direction, more than 20,000 school children in Ujjain receive their school midday meal, and the programme is expected to expand further. He has also directed the establishment of a department in Ujjain which produces exquisitely designed altars, murtis and deity-dresses for devotees and ISKCON temples all over the world. Maharaj is developing another similar project in Panihati, West Bengal. He currently has responsibility as a GBC Zonal Secretary for Mayapur, Bangladesh Kolkata, Ujjain and Bhubaneswar. He travels all over the world to fulfil Srila Prabhupadas instruction to spread the teachings of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. He regularly travels and preaches across India, USA, UK, Western Europe, South Africa, UAE, South-East Asia and Australia. Although Maharaj attends to so many different projects and responsibilities, he continues to guide and inspire devotees all over the world, with his profound sastric knowledge, his sweet singing of devotional bhajans and his unalloyed devotion to Srila Prabhupada and ISKCON.
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