Bhakti Tirtha Swami
|Bhakti Tirtha Swami|
John E. Favors, Toshombe Abdul, Swami Krishnapada,Ghanasyama Dasa (pre-sannyasa)
|Born||February 25, 1950|
|Died||June 27, 2005|
|Predecessor||A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada|
|Post||ISKCON Guru, Sannyasi|
Bhakti Tirtha Swami (February 25, 1950 – June 27, 2005) (previously known as John Favors and Toshombe Abdul), also known as Swami Krishnapada, was a leading guru and governing body commissioner of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (commonly known as the Hare Krishnas or ISKCON). He was the highest-ranking African American in ISKCON. Bhakti Tirtha Swami met with prominent world figures such as Nelson Mandela and Zambia's president Kenneth Kaunda, was frequently interviewed in the media, wrote 17 books on religious topics and led community development projects in the United States and other countries. He was the founder and director of the Institute for Applied Spiritual Technology in Washington, DC, "a nonprofit, nondenominational organization whose membership represents a variety of spiritual paths and professional backgrounds". He traveled the world constantly and served as a spiritual consultant. He also served as chairman of the Third World Coalition. On February 7, 2006 the Council of the District of Columbia recognized "His Holiness Bhakti Tirtha Swami Krishnapada for dedication to social change that has impacted civil and human rights for residents in the District of Columbia".
Bhakti Tirtha Swami was born John Edwin Favors on February 25, 1950 into a Christian family living in Cleveland, Ohio. His parents instilled in him the values of self-confidence, religiosity and a spirit of generosity demonstrated by giving to persons less fortunate than others. As a child, John Favors appeared on television to preach Christianity. He excelled in his academic achievements while attending East Technical High School in Cleveland and received a scholarship to attend the prestigious Hawken School, where he spent an additional year of college preparation in philosophy and political science. While at Hawken, he was a member of the football and wrestling teams.
In 1968 he came to Princeton University. While at Princeton, he was a leader in Martin Luther King's civil rights movement being "at the forefront of political activism on campus, a leader of the Association of Black Collegians (ABC) and a founder of the Third World Center". He also served as a president of the student council. In 1972, he earned a B.A. in psychology and African American studies.
Attending lectures at the university and reading books on different subjects, "he began feeling the futility of acquiring knowledge, which would become obsolete very soon". After Princeton, he joined the Hare Krishna Movement and "began a career of worldwide travel, study, teaching, lecturing, and writing". On February 16, 1973 in Los Angeles he was initiated into the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition by ISKCON's founder A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, whereupon he was given the name Ghanashyam Dasa (meaning servant of Krishna). In the 1970s, Ghanashyam Dasa preached Gaudiya Vaishnavism in Eastern Europe by distributing religious books and working with scholars.
On March 13, 1979 during Gaura-purnima festival at New Vrindaban, he was initiated into the Vaishnava sannyasa order of renunciation by Kirtanananda Swami and given the name Bhakti Tirtha Swami. In the same year, he became the first devotee of the Hare Krishna Movement to visit Nigeria and preach there. In 1990 his holiness was coronated as high chief in Warri,Nigeria. Later he went on to become a senior leader and one of the most prominent preachers within ISKCON and a member of its management body known as the Governing Body Commission. He was the first person of African descent to become an initiating guru in the disciplic succession of the ancient Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya Sampradaya. As a religious leader, Bhakti-tirtha Swami made a friendship with celebrities and served as a spiritual consultant, specializing in international relations and conflict resolution to high-ranking members of the United Nations and world leaders, including former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela. Ex-member of ISKCON Nori Muster, who worked for ten years as a public relations secretary and editor of ISKCON's newspaper, the ISKCON World Review, recalls in her book:
By design, the ISKCON World Review was limited to pro-ISKCON good news from GBC zones around the world. We also printed profiles and covered activities of preachers in the movement. One of our favorites was Bhakti-tirtha, a Princeton graduate who once called himself Toshombe Abdul, president of his university's Association of Black Collegians. Bhakti-tirtha had a way of striking up a spontaneous friendship with celebrieties such as Muhammad Ali. In one issue we reported Bhakti-tirtha's visit to the Zambian statehouse, where he had dinner with the country's president, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda. He met the president through a judge, Aiyadurai Sivanandan, who had become a devotee. We also printed a photo of Justice Sivanandan, dressed in his black judge's robes and powdered wig, with tilak on his forehead. The judge resigned his post in Zambia to serve ISKCON temple in India. One of ISKCON predecessors had predicted that in the dawning of Lord Chaitanya's golden age judges would wear tilak and become devotees.
In 1990 Bhakti Tirtha Swami was coronated High Chief in Warri, Nigeria, West Africa in recognition of his reputable work performed there. Bhakti Tirtha Swami died June 27, 2005, of complications from melanoma, at Gita Nagari, the Gaudiya Vaishnava community in central Pennsylvania. Bhakti Tirtha Swami is survived by four sisters, Bernadette Satterfield, Julia Henderson, Frances Myers, and Marguerite Brooks; a brother, Paul Favors; and numerous nieces and nephews.
On February 7, 2006 the Council of the District of Columbia adopted ceremonial resolution, in which it "recognized His Holiness Bhakti Tirtha Swami Krishnapada for dedication to social change that has impacted civil and human rights for residents in the District of Columbia".
In 2007, his biography was released entitled Black Lotus: The Spiritual Journey of an Urban Mystic, the 410-page book is complete with full-color pictures, interviews with loved ones, and comprehensive Index. The author, Steven J. Rosen is senior editor of the Journal of Vaishnava Studies and associate editor of Back to Godhead, the magazine of the Hare Krishna movement. According to Princeton University website, the book "explores the life and mission of His Holiness Bhakti Tirtha Swami (1950-2005), an African-American seeker who rose from impoverished conditions in the Cleveland ghetto to become a global spiritual leader of the Hare Krishna movement".
- Bhakti Tirtha Swami Leadership for an Age of Higher Consciousness I: Administration from a Metaphysical Perspective. — 1st ed. — Largo, MD: Hari-Nama Press, 1996. — 324 p. — ISBN 1-885414-02-1
- Bhakti Tirtha Swami Leadership for an Age of Higher Consciousness II: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Times. — Largo, MD: Hari-Nama Press, 2002. — 162 p. — ISBN 1-885414-11-0
- Bhakti Tirtha Swami Reflections on Sacred Teachings Volume I: Sri Siksastaka. — Washington, D.C.: Hari-Nama Press, 2002. — 247 p. — ISBN 1-885414-13-7
- Bhakti Tirtha Swami Reflections on Sacred Teachings Volume II: Madhurya-Kadambini. — Washington, D.C.: Hari-Nama Press, 2003. — 196 p. — ISBN 1-885414-14-5
- Bhakti Tirtha Swami Reflections on Sacred Teachings Volume III: Harinama Cintamani. — Washington, D.C.: Hari-Nama Press, 2004. — 283 p. — ISBN 1-885414-15-3
- Bhakti Tirtha Swami Reflections on Sacred Teachings Volume IV: Sri Isopanisad. — Washington, D.C.: Hari-Nama Press, 2005. — 320 p. — ISBN 1-885414-19-6
- Bhakti Tirtha Swami Reflections on Sacred Teachings Volume V: Srila Bhaktisiddhanta's Sixty-four Principles for Community. — Washington, D.C.: Hari-Nama Press, 2007. — 235 p. — ISBN 1-885414-21-8
- Bhakti Tirtha Swami Reflections on Sacred Teachings Volume VI: Radha-Sunya: Missing Mercy. — Washington, D.C.: Hari-Nama Press. — 147 p.
- Bhakti Tirtha Swami Spiritual Warrior I: Uncovering Spiritual Truths in Psychic Phenomena. — Largo, MD: Hari-Nama Press, 1996. — 201 p. — ISBN 1-885414-01-3
- Bhakti Tirtha Swami Spiritual Warrior II: Transforming Lust into Love. — Largo, MD: Hari-Nama Press, 1998. — 238 p. — ISBN 1-885414-03-X
- Bhakti Tirtha Swami Spiritual Warrior III: Solace for the Heart in Difficult Times. — Largo, MD: Hari-Nama Press, 2000. — 296 p. — ISBN 1-885414-06-4
- Bhakti Tirtha Swami Spiritual Warrior IV: Conquering the Enemies of the Mind. — 1st ed. — Washington, DC: Hari-Nama Press, 2004. — 285 p. — ISBN 1-885414-16-1
- Bhakti Tirtha Swami Spiritual Warrior V: Making the Mind Your Best Friend. — Largo, MD: Hari-Nama Press, 2003. — 275 p. — ISBN 1-885414-17-X
- Bhakti Tirtha Swami Spiritual Warrior VI: Beyond Fanaticism, Terrorism, and War: Discover the Peace Solution. — Largo, MD: Hari-Nama Press, 2006. — 306 p. — ISBN 1-885414-18-8
- Bhakti Tirtha Swami The Beggar I: Meditations and Prayers on the Supreme Lord. — 1st ed. — Washington, D.C.: Hari-Nama Press, 1994. — 160 p. — ISBN 1-885414-00-5
- Bhakti Tirtha Swami The Beggar II: Crying Out for the Mercy. — Washington, D.C.: Hari-Nama Press, 1998. — 162 p. — ISBN 1-885414-04-8
- Bhakti Tirtha Swami The Beggar III: False Ego: The Greatest Enemy of the Spiritual Leader. — Washington, D.C.: Hari-Nama Press, 2002. — 194 p. — ISBN 1-885414-10-2
- Bhakti Tirtha Swami The Beggar IV, Die Before Dying. — Washington, D.C.: Hari-Nama Press, 2005. — 155 p. — ISBN 1-885414-22-6
- From slogans to mantras: social protest and religious conversion in the late Vietnam War era by Stephen A. Kent - Syracuse University Press 2001, p.66.
- The Class of 1972 2005
- Muster 2001, pp. 100–101
- Bryant & Ekstrand 2004, p. 253
- Bhardwaj 1980, p. 73
- In Memoriam Bhakti Tirtha Swami “JohnFavors” ’68
- Council of the District of Columbia 2006, pp. 1502–1503
- Kent 2001, p. 66
- Srila Prabhupada Disciple Database
- Ezekwugo 1992, p. 117
- Books Received 2006-07
- Council of the District of Columbia (2006), "ACR 16-1 83, His Holiness Bhakti Tirtha Swami Krishnapada Ceremonial Recognition Resolution of 2006", District of Columbia Register 53 (9): 1502–1503
- Bhardwaj, P. (1980), "The Man From Hare Krishna", Viva 6–7
- Bryant, Edwin; Ekstrand, Maria (2004), The Hare Krishna Movement: The Postcharismatic Fate of a Religious Transplant, Columbia University Press, ISBN 0-231-12256-X
- Dwyer, Graham; Cole, Richard J. (2007), The Hare Krishna Movement: Forty Years of Chant and Change, I.B.Tauris, ISBN 1-84511-407-8
- Ezekwugo, Charles Maduabuchukwu (1992), Philosophical concepts: esotericism, religiosity, metaphysics, the stolen legacy of African heritage, Agatha Series Publishers, ISBN 978-31622-0-9
- Kent, Stephen A. (2001), From slogans to mantras: social protest and religious conversion in the late Vietnam War era, Syracuse University Press, ISBN 0-8156-2923-0
- Muster, Nori Jean (2001), Betrayal of the spirit: my life behind the headlines of the Hare Krishna movement, University of Illinois Press, ISBN 0-252-06566-2
- Yahya, M. T. (2006), Issues in the practice of religion in Nigeria, Nigerian Association for the Study of Religions, ISBN 978-2331-01-5
- Rosen, Steven J. (2007), Black Lotus: The Spiritual Journey of an Urban Mystic, Hari-Nama Press, ISBN 1-885414-23-4
- The Class of 1972 (2 November 2005), "John Edward Favors '72", Princeton Alumni Weekly
- McCray, Melvin R. (1983), "The Two Lives of John Favors: A Political Activist becomes a monk in the Hare Krsna Movement", Princeton Alumni Weekly
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- Bhakti Tirtha Swami's Official Website
- Harinama Press, the publishers of Bhakti Tirtha Swami's books
- Reflections by Adisajion the Life & Times of Bhakti Tirtha Swami