Shriman Kratu Das ji Maharaj is the disciple of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada,the founder Acharya of International Society of Krishna Consciousness(ISKCON). He is one of the present initiating spiritual masters/Guru in ISKCON. He has his disciples in India, Damodardesh, America, Canada and various places around the world.
Following the most important instruction of His Guru, Shriman Kratu Das ji Maharaj made spreading the teachings of Lord Chaitanya, the prime aim of his life at an early age. Despite of receiving higher education and a job, Kratu Maharaj followed the instructions of His Guru and started preaching round the globe, round the clock. Till date, he visits different countries every year, conducts Bhakti Retreats, Bhajan Sandhyas, Kirtan mela and other devotional activities in these countries.
He is the author of the book ‘Sadhu Sanga’ which is a compilation of evidences and proves from scriptures as well as his life experiences to establish the importance of Vaishnavas and devotees.
Manahar Bhai Patel had his first association with Srila Prabhupada in 1970 where his eyes received the divine darshan of a few devotees distributing Back To Godhead and his ears came in contact with the blissful Harinaam Kirtan. Enthralled, he bought a Back To Godhead through which he got to know the address of an ISKCON centre near to his residence. Sri Manahar Bhai Patel then wrote a letter to his wife, assuring her that there is Krishna, his devotees and Tulasi Maharani. Srimati Kalpana arrived in St. Louis in 1971. Both, Sri Manahar and Srimati Kalpana ben then went to Toronto, Canada where they regained their touch with ISKCON and devotees.
Unfortunate was the time for Sri Manahar Bhai Patel and Srimati Kalpana Ben, when Srila Prabhupada visited Toronto in 1975 but they couldn’t meet him as Srimati Kalpana Ben was not well. But Lord Sri Hari is ever merciful to his devotees, Srila Prabhupada visited Toronto again in 1976 and this time brought a gleaming wave of mercy with him. This time Sri Manahar Bhai Patel and Srimati Kalpana Ben at first enthusiastically reached the airport to receive Srila Prabhupada. Srimati Kalpana Ben made a lustrous garland from different coloured roses hand picked from their garden. But she was unsure whether Srila Prabhupada would accept it or not. A numerous Sanyasis surrounded Srila Prabhupada who stopped Sri Manahar Bhai Patel to offer his garland, but the merciful spiritual master told the Sanyasis to let him offer it. As Sri Manahar Bhai Patel bowed in dandavat, Srila Prabhupada lift his foot and planted it on his head. Sri Manahar Bhai Patel could not have asked for more, it was not just darshan that he gained, but an unforgettable moment for a lifetime. Later, when Srila Prabhupada giving lecture, he started removing all the garlands because of the heavy weight. Srimati Kalpana Ben prayed ‘Please Prabhupada, wear my garland for little longer, don’t remove if’, and little did she know that Srila Prabhupada would hear so easily. He removed all the garlands but kept her garland on.
Sri Manahar Bhai Patel and Srimati Kalpana Ben got initiated in the Toronto temple in the following year in 1977 and got the name ‘Kratu Das’ and ‘Amrira Keli Devi Dasi’ respectively.
Shriman Kratu Das ji Maharaj became a full time devotee in ISKCON when Srila Prabhupada asked him one day ‘How much are you doing for your body and how much for your soul, What work do you do?’, HH Kratu Das ji Maharaj told that he was an engineer. Srila Prabhupada instructed him that ‘There are many engineers, you become a preacher’.
And till date Shriman Kratu Das ji Maharaj is carrying that instruction to his heart, and spending his every moment in spreading the teachings of his Sri Guru, Srila Prabhupada.
Under Radha Parthasarthi's Shelter
After inspiring a thousand souls in Baroda, HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj (present GBC, ISKCON) told HH Kratu Maharaj to move to New Delhi and serve Sri Sri Radha Parthsarathi temple in East Of Kailash. He came to Delhi in 1997 and was made the temple president.
In his tenure of five years he made significant changes in the temple for the benefit of the devotees.
He introduced the concept of Bhakti Vriksha and conducted various house programmes which attracted a lot of youth. He made almost 300-400 life members during this time and started the tradition of greeting visitors with pictures of Srila Prabhupada and the Lordship at the counter.
He would take group of devotees for Morning walks on Saturdays after Mangala Arati and would perform Congregational Chanting of the Hole Name in different parks in public, therefore attracting a large number of people to the Holy Name.
One of the major contributions made by HH Kratu Maharaj was the establishment of the Japa Club. He would personally stand near the Garuda Dev greeting everyone with a warm smile and a wave of love. He enthused the visitors to chant the holy name by giving each one of them Japa beads and quoted ‘Don’t try to control your mind, Just try to chant the Holy Name’.
To take this forward, he got 108 flowers painted around Garuda Dev where he encouraged the visitors to chant one holy mantra on each flower and would often state ‘जो आएगा नाम पाएगा’.
He firmly believed in Love, Trust and Cooperation amongst devotees and hence provided with certificates and gifts to the devotees participating in the Japa Marathon. He stayed in personal touch with devotees and encouraged the similar feeling of Love in everyone.
He would even bow down to greet the younger kids with immense affection. By such gestures, he would give life to his own words- ‘We have to train ourselves to see Krishna everywhere and in everyone.’
A large number of devotees considered these qualities of HH Kratu Maharaj divine and started following him religiously. Soon, in 2002 GBC made HH Kratu Prabhu, HH Kratu Maharaj and he started giving initiations thereafter.
Bullockcart Sankirtan Party
After serving Vancouver ISKCON temple as a president for 13 years, HH Kratu Maharaj returned back to his own native land Gujarat in 1993 and stayed for the next 5 years, to spread the sweet nectar of the holy name of the Lord.
HH Kratu Maharaj is known all over for his humility and compassion, hence he had a desire to preach in the smaller villages of the state. He started the Bullock Cart Sankirtan Party along with some Russian devotees and started visiting nearby villages regularly. His activities were not determined by nature, whether in sunshine or in rain, his activities were determined by the instructions of his Guru, Srila Prabhupada. He tied this very instruction by Srila Prabhupada close to his heart, closer enough to give him motivation everyday, day in and day out.
During the morning’s he visited villages and performed Nagar kirtan and gave lectures at various spots. He would spend his day doing book distribution because he had unfathomable faith on Srila Prabhupada’s writings. He knew that one day when someone would read these books, he would definitely understand the philosophy and would connect to it.
During the evening’s he would gather the village people and showed them pictures and videos of Srila Prabhupada’s worldwide preaching activities.
This would be his routine everyday. Gradually, people starte becoming aware and started inviting the Party for Prasadam.
The manifestation of the love HH Kratu Maharaj could still be felt when one visits his village. Each devotee and resident of the village welcomes him and all his disciples with utmost love and care.
Shriman Kratu Das ji Maharaj presently resides in Vrindavan and travels around the globe and round the clock for preaching activities. He regularly visits places like America, Canada, Damodardesh, Vancouver, Hyderabad, etc. He regularly conducts spiritual trips, Braj Yatras in Kartik, Bhakti retreats, Kirtan melas and Bhajan Sandhyas throughout the year. He recently wrote the book ‘Sadhu Sanga’ sharing his own realisations as well as evidences from scriptures stating the importance of association of devotees. Other Books are Bliss & Beyond, Maya Ki Maar, Man Ki Manmani, Aanad Ki Aur. Also, he is presently supervising the construction of the ISKCON Aligarh temple under him.
Iskcon Aligarh - Project
Srila Prabhupada says “My temples are non-different from Vrindavan, or any other holy dham”. In order to enliven these words of Srila Prabhupada, his disciples and followers have, and are, constructing many temples in various parts of the world. The prime objective to construct these temples is to spread the divine message of Lord Sri Chaitanya to one and all, and also to provide the longing eyes of the devotees with beautiful darshan of the Lord. Not only the longing eyes of the devotees are satisfied here, but it also quenches the never ending thirst the Lord’s devotees have for his service, as these temples provide a platform to perform numerous personal services to the Lord himself and his devotees.
Even though Krishna is the reason behind the movement of even a blade of grass and for arranging everything happening around us, yet the ‘Bhakt vatsal bhagwan’ chooses to work through his devotees. Lord Sri Hari chose HH Kratu Maharaj, who always keeps this deep desire in his heart to fulfil each and every desire of Srila Prabhupada, to construct the first ever ISKCON Temple in Aligarh.
Preaching activities in Aligarh were started under the guidance of HH Kratu Maharaj by HG Rasraj Das along with his wife in 2011. Initially, minimal devotees were associated with them but gradually their preaching activities flourished in the course of which they met ‘Dr. Maheshwar Pratap Varshney’.
Dr. Maheshwar Pratap Varshney donated 4 acres land in Harduaganj, Aligarh. He spent his entire life devoted to Srimad Bhagwad Gita. He owns a huge college of 15-20 editions of Bhagwad Gita and also a 25 year old Bhagwad Gita temple. Krishna planted a desire in his heart to spread his teachings far and wide, and Dr. Varshney found ISKCON to be the most worthy institution which would be able to do so.
Currently, ISKCON Aligarh centre is preaching in various parts of Aligarh. Youth preaching is also done Atrauli in various colleges and school.
HH Kratu Maharaj looks at this project of ‘ISKCON Aligarh-Gita Mandir and Education Centre’ as a base of large scale preaching and for providing better facilities to devotees.