Bhakti Tirtha Swami (B.T. Swami) was born John E. Favors in a pious, God-fearing family. As a child evangelist, he appeared regularly on television, and as a young man, he was a leader in Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s civil rights movement. At Princeton University, he became president of the student council and also served as chairman of the Third World Coalition. Although his main degree was in psychology, he received accolades in many other fields, including politics, African studies, and international law.
After exploring different spiritual and religious traditions, he found the teacher he was looking for in A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. In choosing Bhaktivedanta Swami as his guru, B.T. Swami felt compelled to share the wisdom he learnt from his guru with the world in a relevant and practical manner. B.T. Swami’s books are used as reference texts in universities and leadership organizations throughout the world. Many of his books have been printed in English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Macedonian, Croatian, Russian, Hebrew, Slovenian, Balinese, and Italian.
A specialist in international relations and conflict resolution, B.T. Swami constantly travelled around the world and had become a spiritual consultant to many high-ranking members of the United Nations, to various celebrities, and to several chiefs, kings, and high court justices. In 1990 he was coronated as a high chief in Warri, Nigeria in recognition for his outstanding work in Africa and the world. In recent years, he met several times with then-President Nelson Mandela of South Africa to share visions and strategies for world peace.
In addition to encouraging self-sufficiency through the development of schools, clinics, farm projects, and cottage industries, B.T. Swami conducted seminars and workshops on principle-centered leadership, spiritual development, interpersonal relationships, stress and time management, and other pertinent topics. He was also widely acknowledged as a viable participant in the resolution of global conflict.
On August 5, 2004, B.T. Swami was diagnosed with melanoma cancer in his left foot. Although he made every effort to treat his condition, the cancer continued to spread, leading His Holiness’ to teach the most important lesson—how to die. During and after his diagnosis, he gave numerous lectures on the topic and completed a book of meditations, The Beggar IV: Die Before Dying, also dedicated to this same topic. Almost a year later, on June 27, 2005, He departed from this world, surrounded by loving friends, relatives, and students.