Bhaktivedanta Manor is a pivotal force for disseminating Krishna conscious culture, knowledge and building spiritual relationships in the community. The key to its success in these areas has been the quality and exemplary character of devotees that have spearheaded the community’s development. One such personality is Sutapa Das, a local lad born in Wembley west London, in 1981.
In a packed Haveli including a wide range of devotees and well-wishers from across Europe, on 26th June Sutapa Das accepted the holy renounced order of sannyasa. In the presence of Jayadvaita Swami Swami, Indradyumna Swami, Dayananda Swami and other seniors, Sutapa’s spiritual master Kadamba Kanana Swami ceremoniously awarded him the name Svayam Bhagavan Keshava Swami.
Growing up, Svayam Bhagavan Keshav Maharaj would visit the Manor as a child with his parents, but nothing extraordinary seemed apparent at that time. However something started to stir in him after receiving a copy of Bhagavad Gita As It Is. The philosophy inexplicably gripped him and years later after completing his Degree, he adopted full time monastic life in the Manor. He donned saffron robes and deepened his spirituality and knowledge.
Over twenty years, he established himself as one of the driving forces behind the flourishing of Krishna consciousness to a whole new generation of spiritual seekers throughout the United Kingdom.
Sannyasa means a life of complete renunciation and abnegation from all material attachments, security and family bonds. It’s an order only for those with a very high level of spiritual calibre who can transpose their innate love, kindness and compassion from immediate spheres of familiarity and see the world as their family that they should spiritually guide.
Despite his increasing profile and stature in the community, he has always embodied the great Krishna conscious qualities of being equal to everyone, friendly, peaceful and humble. He has always just steadfastly carried on with his services, absorbed in his writing, teaching and counselling.
And he always practiced what he preached. As the head monk of the ashram, he would be called for many programs, often running late into the night. But no matter how many late programs he may have had, he would always make it for the first morning service program of each day promptly in the temple room by 4.30am.
He has also authored a series of ground-breaking books on the scriptures in a modern, easily digestible manner which has really helped to bring the scriptures into people’s lives in a practical manner. Examples of such books are ‘In Essence’, ‘Gita 3’, ‘Bhagavat Life’ and so on.
For those who have spent time with Sutapa Das over the years will know that taking sannyasa was not such a wild dream after all. He shared the following statement over five years ago,
“What inspires me are the unique opportunities to live in the renounced order. In the morning we engage in deep chanting and beautiful prayers. During the day we work hard for Krishna, fully engaged in missionary activities. Through all these activities, there’s a constant plethora of opportunities to go deep and really find yourself.”
We pray for the onward journey of our home-grown spiritual pioneer, in this new chapter of his life. May he continue to inspire and transform people’s lives around the world but also continue to grace the Manor community with his presence.
Sutapa Das meeting Her Majesty the Queen (2012)