Bhakti Purusottama Swami Maharaj
His Holiness Bhakti Purusottama Swami Maharaja was born as Mahesh Chandra Pattanayak in Jagannatha Puri in 1957, on the sacred Mohini Ekadashi tithi. His parents Artta Bandhu Pattanayak and Sailabala Pattanayak had three sons and three daughters. The youngest Mahesh Chandra grew up in the village of Kalamati and studied at Baku High School in the vicinity of Jagannatha Puri.
In 1976, in his late teens, while attending the second year of Samanta Chandra Shekhar College, he became acquainted with the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). He initially met two disciples of Srila Prabhupada, Padmapani Prabhu and Tamohara Prabhu, who were westerners hailing from Canada. He invited them to organize a preaching program at his home in Puri . He received many of Srila Prabhupada’s transcendental books and after studying them he decided to join the ISKCON movement as a fully dedicated brahmacare.
He first met his spiritual master, His Holiness Jayapataka Swami Maharaja, at Jagannatha Puri in July of 1978. Soon thereafter, in August, he formally joined the society. During the Gaura Purnima festival in Sri Dham Mayapur, on 17th February 1979, he was initiated by His Guru Maharaja, His Holiness Jayapatäkä Swami, and was given his Dikhsa name, Jagadis Däs. In the following year, on 22nd July 1980 on the premises of ISKCON Kolkata, his Guru Maharaja bestowed upon him the second initiation.
Throughout the eighties, he served the ISKCON society in various capacities, first as the Sankirtan (book distribution) leader in Kolkata. He also initiated and led the boat preaching party based in Sri Dham Mayapur. He then took upmanagerial responsibility as the temple president at ISKCON Bhubaneswar, Orissa (his native state), from 1982 to 1987. This experience gave him an introduction to the weighty managerial positions he has later embraced.
On 7th September 1985, he received sannyasa initiation at ISKCON Kolkata from his Guru Maharaja, who renamed him as Bhakti Purusottama Swami. In 1987, Mahäräja returned to Sri Dham Mayapur to take up the duties of the general manager. Under his supervision, the GitaCorrespondence Course, Jagrata ChätChatra Samaj College Preaching, as well as itinerant book distribution parties were developed, covering the entire state of West Bengal and the surrounding areas.
At present, Maharaja is serving in Sri Dham Mayapure as one of the members of ISKCON’s Governing Body Commission (GBC), with zonal assignments in Eastern India, Bangladesh, Korea, Nepal and the GCC countries like UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Jordan, Qatar. He is also serving as the co-GBC representative and co-zonal secretary for North and South Korea, India, Arunachal Pradesh, Mayapur and West Bengal, Jagannatha Puri, North and Western Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhand, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sikkim, Assam, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Bhutan, Meghalaya and Tripura.
At the same time, Maharaja is further developing both the local and international preaching efforts in many novel ways, such as enhancing the yearly Navadwip Dhama Parikrama pilgrimage, as well as encouraging and overseeing the numerous NamaHatta centers throughout West Bengal. Maharaja also organizes a yearly Sri Khetra Parikrama, taking thousands of ISKCON devotees around the sacred places of Jagannatha Puri.
In April of 2003, responding to the expansion of the Grihasta community in Sri Dham Mayapur and concerned for the welfare of the devotee children, Maharaja established the Bhaktivedanta National School, which is affiliated to the CBSE Board. The school is unique because it welcomes not only children of the local ISKCON devotees but also the rest of the Hindu children from the vicinity of Mayapur, and even those belonging to Muslim and Christian communities.