Born in Palestine, Ravanari prabhu joined ISKCON in 1973 in Germany.
As a young devotee, he heard that it was Srila Prabhupad’s desire to have Bhagavad Gita translated into Arabic, so he began that service immediately. A couple of years later, he met Srila Prabhupada personally in Vrindavan during the opening of the Krishna Balaram Temple in 1975.
“I couldn’t believe Prabhupada wanted to meet me,” he said. “The effulgence coming from him made me speechless. I had no way to converse with him. I was completely awestruck.”
“Why are you sitting so far away?” Prabhupada asked him when he entered his room for darshan. “Come closer. Sit next to me.”
When Ravanari prabhu saw that Srila Prabhupada had a copy of his translation in his hands, he was overwhelmed.
“Read me the translations,” Prabhupada asked.
“But Prabhupada, it is in Arabic,” he responded.
According to Ravanari Prabhu, Srila Prabhupad then began to recite the entire Arabic alphabet and started to read some of his translation work. Ravanari prabhu spent the entire morning in Prabhupada’s quarters reading out loud his translations while he listened attentively.
At the conclusion of the reading, Prabhupada announced, “Print it. Learn how to transliterate the Sanskrit verses as well. Print it as soon as possible”.
After this time, he ran a preaching center in Beirut, “in the middle of a military zone” where he was tortured and imprisoned along with Tribhuvanath Prabhu (Ireland,) Omkar Prabhu (Mexico,) and Padmapani Prabhu (Canada.) They were not fed for weeks and almost starved to death in a small cell.
“The soldiers beat me only because they considered me a local and suspected me to be the leader of a spy mission,” he explained. “They kicked my head with their boots on and beat their guns into my skull. There was blood coming out of my eyes”.
Later, while translating Prabhupada’s books in Cairo, his only son, Shyamasundar, contracted meningitis and left this world at the age of 3.
“Somehow I had previously been inspired to bring him to Mayapur at a very young age. He went on parikram with me, took prasadam, and got a lot of blessings.”
After this, he moved to Canada and spent his time translating every book of Srila Prabhupada into Arabic.
“I took seasonal jobs. I’d work for a few months at a time and then live off that money. I sat and translated for months and then I’d get work again for another few months,” he explained.
Ravanari Prabhu currently maintains a website where all of his Arabic translations of Srila Prabhpada’s books and lectures may be accessed: www.ravanari.com.
He now spends most of his time in Mayapur.