Senior Russian ISKCON sannyasi Nitai Chaitanya Goswami Maharaja was hospitalized on September 25th with COVID-19 and passed away around noon on October 14th in the city of Kursk, Russia. He was 70 years old.
Throughout his three weeks in the hospital, and even during his time in the ICU, Maharaja had Srila Prabhupada’s kirtan, lectures, and japa playing, creating an auspicious atmosphere.
His Holiness Nitai Chaitanya Goswami joined ISKCON in the early 1980s when the Hare Krishna Movement was still illegal in the Soviet Union.
During the eighties, he served by printing and binding Srila Prabhupada’s books in Russian and translating the Srila Prabhupada-lilamrita as well as some chapters of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, all of which was illegal at the time.
Upon his arrest by the KGB, he did not go to jail as no books were found in his home. He was, however, called to court as a witness, where he testified that the devotees were not guilty.
After receiving the first initiation, Nitai Chaitanya Goswami became president of the Kiev temple in Ukraine. Later, he became secretary of the central region of Russia. In 1995, he moved from Ukraine to Russia. There he oversaw the construction of a temple in the city of Kursk, which began in 2008, and was opened in 2012.
Maharaja became a sannyasi in 2010, receiving sannyasa initiation from his guru Radhanath Swami. At the time, he was only the second sannyasi amongst Russian Vaishnavas after Bhakti Vijnana Swami.
Although an elderly person, Nitai Chaitanya Goswami would travel through the central region of Russia for which he served as regional secretary three to four times a year. He was known for his sweet kirtans and lectures full of humor.
Speaking about Nitai Chaitanya Maharaja after his passing, Radhanath Swami said: “My heart is broken. His dedication, surrender, and compassion inspired our hearts. Krishna has now lovingly taken him into His embrace. I offer my love, prayers, and profound gratitude.”