On August 20, 1987, Acarya Visvambhara Gosvami, head of the Radha-ramana temple in Vrndavana, India, and a long-time friend of Srila Prabhupada and ISKCON, passed away in Vrndavana. Visvambhara Gosvami was born in Vrndavana in 1922.
The Radha-ramana temple was established almost five hundred years ago by Gopala Bhatta Gosvami, and since then the temple has been run by the ancestors of Visvambhara Gosvami, who took over the management of the temple when his father passed away in 1964. Visvambhara Gosvami had a successful law practice in Mathura, but he gave it up to devote himself fully to serving Sri Radha-ramana. He was well known and respected in Vrndavana, and served as Vrndavana's mayor for some time.
During the fifties and sixties, when Srila Prabhupada lived in Vrndavana he would visit Visvambhara Gosvami, who always appreciated Srila Prabhupada's desire to spread Krsna consciousness all over the world. He was genuinely impressed by Srila Prabhupada's accomplishments and often spoke heartfelt appreciations during the annual festival in Vrndavana commemorating Srila Prabhupada's passing away. He recognized that Srila Prabhupada had been sent by Lord Caitanya to spread Krsna consciousness around the world.
Srila Prabhupada also recognized Visvambhara Gosvami's devotion to Krsna and sent some of his disciples to learn from Visvambhara Gosvami the intricacies of Deity worship. Srila Prabhupada told them that the worship of Radha-ramana was of a high standard that they should try to emulate. Visvambhara Gosvami was eager to assist the devotees, who found his instructions about Deity worship very valuable.
Anyone who had the good fortune to associate with Visvambhara Gosvami appreciated his Vaisnava qualities. He was exceptionally humble. Even though he was the leader of a prestigious institution, with hundreds of disciples throughout India, he wanted no respect for himself. Rather, he treated everyone with the greatest respect. When ISKCON devotees were guests at his home, he would often serve them himself.
Visvambhara Gosvami was enthusiastic to spread the message of Lord Caitanya, and he took to heart Lord Caitanya's instruction that anyone born in India must make his life successful by becoming Krsna conscious and then giving Krsna consciousness to others. Visvambhara made three trips to the West for preaching, twice to the United States and once to Europe. He traveled to many Western cities, speaking at temples, colleges, and elsewhere, and meeting many important persons. When he visited New York City, he went to see the places where Srila Prabhupada first preached when he came to America. He said they were now holy places.
Visvambhara Gosvami was everyone's well-wisher. Those who knew him will feel a great loss by his absence. Indeed, the whole world suffers with the departure of a pure Vaisnava like Sri Visvambhara Gosvami, who has now returned to Krsna's eternal abode.