Nobody knew me better than Bhakti Tirtha Swami. He knew the details of my quest and also my hesitation to write about them. One day he clasped my hand, gazed into my eyes and said, “This is not your story. It is a tale about how God led a young boy onto an amazing journey to seek the inner secrets that lie within all of us. Don’t be miserly. Share what has been given to you.” His voice choked and a tear streaked down his ebony cheek. “Promise me,” he said, “here on my deathbed, that you will write the story.” A few weeks later, on June 27, 2005, he passed from this world. This book is my attempt to honor his wish. –from Radhanath Swami’s Autobiography ‘The Journey Home’
Even before I knew much about spiritual life, destiny made me experience the friendship and love that Radhanath Swami and Bhakti Tirtha Swami shared with each other.
I had just started to frequent Radhagopinath temple. One Sunday, during the weekly discourse that’s attended by thousands, I found an Afro-American sharing the stage with Radhanath Swami. He spoke with exuberance and filled my heart with spiritual inspiration. After the program, I too stood in line to have a personal audience with this new Swami, whose name I came to know was Bhakti Tirtha Swami.
No sooner had I knelt before him that he proclaimed, “You should take initiation”. I was jolted. Though it was an honor to take initiation, and though I had a desire to take initiation, I knew I wasn’t qualified. One had to chant a prescribed number of rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra on prayer beads for several years before one could even think of getting initiated. But before I could put forth my thoughts, Bhakti Tirtha Swami had repeated several times, “You should take initiation”, and every time he said that he indicated that I should take it from Radhanath Swami. As I struggled to adjust with this dream-like situation, Radhanath Swami leaned over to me and whispered, “Who is your counselor?” It was just a week ago that the temple management had recommended my name to a spiritual counselor who would be advising me in how to progress spiritually. I told his name to Radhanath Swami, and quickly walked away, out of the uneasy situation.
A few days later, my counselor called me, “Would you like to take initiation?” Again I was jolted, but this time I knew a reply, “Yes, of course.” As the conversation proceeded, I came to know that Radhanath Swami had contacted my counselor and expressed his desire to give me initiation if I desired to take. Radhanath Swami wanted to give me initiation, though I wasn’t qualified, simply because he wanted to honor the wish of his friend Bhakti Tirtha Swami.
Soon, I was initiated.
–Krishna Das (name changed)