Though I was not in constant contact with Brahmananda Prabhu I always had great affection for him and Gargamuni Prabhu, the “love brothers” because of their unflinching faith in and pure unalloyed love for Srila Prabhupada. Brahmananda Prabhu was archetypal of what it meant to be a “Prabhupada man.” He would take a bullet for Srila Prabhupada and be happy to have had the opportunity.
For several months I had the urge to contact him but didn’t as something else would come up and now I am deeply regretting that I didn’t. I should have listened to that little voice like I did when I went to Vrndavana in 2008. I was having darshan of the Deities and was trying to make appropriate prayers to Them but I realized that in reality I don’t have a direct connection with Them. That it is Srila Prabhupada who is my direct connection to Sri-Sri Radha-Shyamasundara, Sri-Sri Krsna-Balarama, and Sri-Sri Gaura-Nitai, so I needed to focus on him and get his blessings. Shortly after this that little voice told me “go find Brahmananda and Gargamuni.” So I went to find the “Love Brothers,” the name they called themselves when they toured the US in the 1990s distributing Prabhupada mercy wherever they went. When I arrived at their domicile they very graciously welcomed me and it felt as if I had just returned after stepping out for a moment rather than it being more than ten years since last seeing Brahmananda and even longer for Gargamuni. We then spent several sweet hours discussing about Srila Prabhupada. The time I spent with the “brothers” was the highlight of my visit. I then realized why that little voice told me to find them. So I was very sad to hear of Brahmananda’s sudden departure and basically the rest of the week I was in mourning and watching videos of Brahmananda Prabhu on YouTube. If I felt terrible I cannot even comprehend how Gargamuni Prabhu is feeling and my sincere condolences to him who has lost not only a brother and god-brother but also his vartma-pradarsaka guru, who brought him to the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada.
I don’t recall the first time that I met Brahmananda Prabhu but I do recall the first time I sensed that he had a very special connection with Srila Prabhupada. It was sometime between 1978-80 in Mayapura when he was giving Bhagavatam class. As he gave the class somehow the topic turned to Srila Prabhupada, Brahmananda’s voice started to choke up, I could see that he was struggling hard to control his emotions and continue with the lecture, but eventually he lost the struggle and began to openly weep and that was the apparent end of the class – but a very deep lesson for me. He was not putting on some cheap sahajiya exhibition but had very deep love and affection for Srila Prabhupada, a love that was palpable despite his efforts to hide it. And over the years the more I got to know Brahmananda Prabhu the more I appreciated that he was like the personification of love for Srila Prabhupada. And, though he was very senior to me in every possible way he always treated me with affection and respect. I never once felt that he was patronizing, arrogant, pulling rank or had a sense of superiority, importance or entitlement. In fact I found him to be learned on various topics but humble and kind, a quality we can all emulate with profit.
Brahmananda rescues Sudama Prabhu
I remember how sometime in late 1993 that Brahmamnada had fulfilled Srila Prabhupada’s promise to Sudama Prabhu. Back in the early days Srila Prabhupada told Sudama that if he started a temple in Japan (which he did) that Lord Caitanya would personally take Sudama back to Godhead. After Srila Prabhupada left this world Sudama Prabhu became a casualty in the war against maya. He eventually contracted HIV and came down with AIDS. He was dying a long, slow and miserable death. Brahmananda Prabhu heard about this and was very concerned that Sudama Prabhu should be taken care of and leave his body in Krsna Conciousness because of the sacrifices and hardships he had endured to please Srila Prabhupada. So on behalf of Srila Prabhupada (who is not an ingrate), Brahmananda and another devotee searched all over the Bay area for Sudama Prabhu and finally found him in what can only be described as a “hell hole” flophouse living in filth and squalor (he was unable to care for himself because of his illness) and whose other residents included drunks, junkies and other seriously crazy and haunted people. Brahmananda, inspired by Guru and Gauranga, took Sudama from this utterly depraved bedlam and brought him to New Dvaraka in Los Angeles where the devotees, especially Omkara Mataji, personally took care of him until he left his body in an auspicious manner, thus fulfilling Prabhupada’s promise. Read Omkara Mataji’s inspiring history of taking care of our brother Sudama Prabhu and helping him to go back to Godhead. This would not have been possible if Brahmananda Prabhu, out of the sheer goodness of his heart, had not taken it upon himself to search for and rescue Sudama.