His Holiness Vedavyasapriya Swami Maharaja, born in an Audichya Sahasra Brahmana family on 1st August 1944 in the town of Kadod, Gujarat, India, on Sravan Sud Dwadashi, also celebrated as Pavitra Dwadashi, that follows Pavitraropana Ekadashi. His early life was spent in Gujarat, then his family moved to East Africa in the mid 50s, and afterwards he migrated to USA in September 1971.
Vedavyasapriya Swami’s mother, who is also an initiated devotee, recalls his traditional Brahminical initiation at the age of 7 when he received brahmana thread and danda (staff). She has a photo of him taken at this time, which she plans to share with us when she remembers to bring it. Vedavyasapriya Maharaja, himself, recollects that he was always more interested in spiritual matters and welfare of the people than in any business matters. As a young adult he made a daily practice of reading Bhagavad-gita slokas, and also studied the sanskrit language during his High-school years.
Vedavyasapriya Swami worked as a research biochemist first in East Africa and then later when he migrated to USA. Within a week of arrival in the USA, he met the devotees, disciples of His Divine Grace, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Srila Prabhupada, the Founder-Acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON).
A chance visit to Vrindavdan in 1975 brought Vedavyasapriya Swami close to meeting Srila Prabhupada. He came to Vrindavan one day before Srila Prabhupada’s scheduled visit and, having become a Life Member in 1974, was invited by the Vrindavan devotees to stay overnight for the opportunity to meet Srila Prabhupada. Unfortunately Vedavyasapriya Swami missed this opportunity because his luggage remained in Delhi while he had taken a tourist bus trip to Vrindavan.
The following year, 1976, Vedavyasapriya Swami became more involved with the local temple in New York in liaising between the local Indian community and the temple, and in August managed to hear the conversation of Srila Prabhupada with Life Members. The following day was Rathyatra, and at that time Srila Prabhupada was very sick and well protected by his closest disciples and servants so the opportunity for personal interaction was not there, but he got his first darshan (view) while Srila Prabhupada was getting onto Sri Subhadra’s cart. Srila Prabhupada was able to give only a short lecture during the Rathyatra, which was attended by Vedavyasapriya Maharaja.
Vedavyasapriya Swami continued to have the association of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples who instilled in him their enthusiasm for His Divine Grace’s Krishna Conscious philosophy. He took shelter of Srila Prabhupada, and was received initiation beads and spiritual name sent from Srila Prabhupada who, due to his poor health, was unable to personally attend the initiation ceremony. Maharaja recalls at that time his preaching mood was already strong, he inspired two of his close friends and fellow Life Members to be initiated at the same time as he was, persuading them that they would always be in regret if they missed this opportunity. He would also take the Bhagavad-gita with him to his research lab and preach to his co-workers, particularly against the cruelty of live research on animals. Vedavyasapriya Swami continued to have a lot of interaction and association of his god-brothers including Tamal Krishna Goswami, Bhakti Tirtha Swami and others.
In 1978 Vedavyasapriya Swami began a project to install and worship the Sri Nathji Gopal deity in New York for the first time in the Western world in response to the desires of the Gujarati community lead by ISKCON life members. Worship of the Sri Nathji deity was established by Sri Madavendra Puri, who was led to discover the Sri Gopal deity (Who later became known as Sri Nathji) on Govardhana Hill, by the urging of the deity Himself, having been hidden there to keep Him safe from Muslim raiders. He is well known and loved by the Gujarati community and the life members saw the potential of establishing His worship in New York to encourage the local Gujarati community in devotional service. Having the plan to establish Sri Nathji in New York approved by the GBC (Governing Body Commission of ISKCON) Vedavyasapriya Swami had a deity carved by devotee Mahesvara Das and began worship of the Sri Nathji deity in New York’s 55th street temple. This temple was sold in 1980 in favor of establishing five temples spread throughout New York and New Jersey. Devotees, led by Vedavyasapriya Swami as temple president, established a center in Queens, New York, and in 1981 brought a marble Sri Nathji deity from Jaipur for their center. However, in 1982 a new GBC changed this original decision to have five separate temples established and Sri Nathji temporarily became without a permanent home. Traveling throughout USA to raise awareness to the need to have a temple for Sri Nathji’s proper worship, Vedavyasapriya Swami and the other devotees roused the interest of the New Vrindaban community of devotees in West Virginia, who agreed that Sri Nathji would be a wonderful deity to host in their temple. Thus Sri Nathji arrived in New Vrindaban on January 21, 1983 and was installed the following July 4th weekend, and Vedavyasapriya Swami established and led the proper worship of Sri Nathji in USA.
While in USA Vedavyasapriya Swami held various administrative positions like personal secretary to the GBC, president of Queens, New York and Director of Bharatiya Community Services in New Vrindaban, West Virginia. His preaching mission and service to the Indian community’s many life members grew and blossomed. After 1987 Vedavyasapriya Swami shifted his attention to serving in India following the instruction of Srila Prabhupada that every Indian devotee trained in the West help to serve in India to bring awareness of the bona-fide teachings of the Vedic literatures and worship of Sri Sri Radha Krishna and Sri Sri Gaura Nitai (Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabuu and Sri Nityananda Prabhu, incarnations of Sri Sri Krishna and Balaram). Since 1991 Vedavyasapriya Swami Maharaja has been based in Vrindavan, India. He has held various administrative positions while continuing to preach and spread the mission of Srila Prabhupada and Lord Chaitanya in India and worldwide and support the Indian communities in many countries around the world. His administrative services in India have included overseeing the functioning of one ashram in Vrindavan and also the Bharatpur Ashram, and wider services as Regional Secretary in Punjab and Haryana, and as Chairman of North Indian Temples Divisional Council for the seven years following its inception. More recently Vedavyasapriya Swami has served on Regional Governing Body as Zonal secretary for Eastern UP, Bihar and Jharakhand temples for one year.
Since 1998 also Vedavyasapriya Swami has been serving Srila Prabhupada and his movement as a Spiritual Authority in the form of an Initiating Spiritual Master (Diksha Guru), and has been preaching far and wide throughout the world the message of Sri Guru and Sri Krishna. He is currently free from management duties, making a full commitment to giving spiritual guidance, preaching and teaching. Many devotees around the world know Vedavyasapriya Maharaja’s beloved deities Sri Sri Radha Syamasundara, Who have been traveling world-wide with him for many years. He has been serving Sri Sri Radha Syamasundara since 1980 along with Sri Nathji, and they will soon live in a new permanent home in Vrindavan.