Sivarama Swami was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1949. In 1956, during the failed Hungarian revolution, he emigrated with his family to Canada. Sivarama Swami first came in contact with the books of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in 1970, becoming an initiated disciple of Prabhupada in 1973. Six years later he was awarded the order of sannyasa. In Canada and the USA he served ISKCON by distributing books, and opening and managing temples.
In 1980 Sivarama Swami moved to the UK, becoming the president of Caitanya College, and the UK’s National Sankirtana leader. He was requested to accept the responsibility and service of a GBC member and ISKCON initiating guru in 1986. In 1988 he took up the leadership of ISKCON in Hungary, while in June 2003, Sivarama Swami stepped down from his GBC duties in UK and Ireland to be able to concentrate on his growing commitments in Hungary. As a member of the Governing Body Commission he is currently responsible for leading ISKCON’s mission in Hungary, Romania and Turkey.
In Hungary he led a budding group of young devotees through the country’s transition from a member of the former USSR to a democratic republic. Krishna consciousness has flourished in Hungary under his leadership, with ISKCON becoming the fourth most popular religious group in the country.
Sivarama Swami’s major achievements in Hungary
He led and organized:
The translation of all of Srila Prabhupada’s books into Hungarian.
The opening and running of the Bhaktivedanta College for Religious Science, an official college accredited by Hungary’s Ministry of Education which offers a Bachelor’s degree in Vaishnava Theology.
The New Vraja Dhama temple and farm community project in south-west Hungary.
New Vraja Dham
Situated in the hills close to Lake Balaton, New Vraja Dham is the Hungarian yatra’s varnashram farm community. On official Hungarian road maps the farm is marked as ‘Krishna Valley.’ The farm consists of 450 acres of prime arable land and a purpose-built temple which is the transcendental home of Sri Sri Radha-Shyamasundara. The goal is to make the farm self-sufficient. It does not have main electricity. Heating is provided by wood burning stoves. Milk, fruits and vegetables are produced on the farm for the Deities and devotees. Every year about 25,000 tourists visit the project.
In 2009, Sivarama Swami was awarded the Gold Cross of Merit of the Hungarian Republic, the second highest award in Hungary, from Károly Manherz, the then State Secretary for Higher Education and Science. The award was for Sivarama Swami’s outstanding and valuable charitable and humanitarian work.
In ISKCON, Sivarama Swami is well known for his scholarship. He has written several books on Gaudiya Vaishnava theology and philosophy and has taught many courses in Gaudiya Vaishnavism in various parts of the world. He is also well-known for his Holy Name festivals which annually attract hundreds of devotees to a feast of kirtan.
Books Sivarama Swami has authored:
* The Bhaktivedanta Purports: Perfect Explanation of the Bhagavad-gita; 1998.
* The Siksa-guru: Implementing Tradition within ISKCON; 1999.
* Venu-gita: The Song of the Flute; 1999.
* Na Paraye ‘Ham: I Am Unable to Repay You; 2000.
* Siksa Outside ISKCON; 2002.
* Krsna-sangati: Meetings with Krsna; 2004.
* Suddha-bhakti Cintamani: The Touchstone of Pure Devotional Service; 2007.
* Nava Vraja Mahima; To be published 2012