Tag Archives: #becausewecare

Join us to counteract the perils of illusion and material nescience

By Gurudas

Dear ‘Vedic Care’ volunteers, well-wishers and newcomers,

‘The Hidden Persuaders’ by Vance Packard (1957), is a book that exposes the insidious tactics of the advertising industry and how they’re used to influence political decisions and to get people to buy products in a consumer society; how advertisers use psychological methods to tap into our unconscious desires in order to “persuade” us to buy the products they’re selling.

“A brisk, authoritative and frightening report on how manufacturers, fundraisers and politicians are attempting to turn the American mind into a kind of catatonic dough that will buy, give or vote at their command” — The New Yorker.

The book reveals how “motivational research,” works, or the psychological technique that advertisers use to probe our minds in order to control our actions as consumers. Through analysis of products, political campaigns and television programs of the 1950s, Packard shows how these insidious manipulation practices, that have come to dominate today’s corporate driven world, began.

In another book, ‘The Waste Makers,’ Mr. Packard exposes planned obsolescence, which is the manufacturing of products to slowly break.
In other words, the products are designed to eventually malfunction, so the consumer has to buy more and more.

The changing of styles is also planned. Get the “latest” model of such and such. It may not be better, but people are induced to purchase the latest refrigerator, television or car.

This is an indication of what was predicted in the ‘Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam’ as one of the attributes of Kali Yuga. Misinformation and lying become rampant to fool people into doing what is against their nature.

Politicians and dictators have studied and implemented these tactics of “motivation research” and “planned obsolescence.”

Srimad-Bhagavatam, an epic philosophical and literary classic.
This ancient text touches upon all fields of human knowledge. Translated by
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

In wars, radio and television stations were taken over and announced falsely that troops have retreated to undermine the enemy. It worked. Life, products and ideas become shoddy and watered down.

The difference between spiritual ideas and practices are that they are eternal in nature and made to last, whilst the temporary nature is “planned obsolescence,” designed to break, and not lasting.

Krishna has given us the positive alternative for counteracting material nescience, and the means to make our own life and practices sublime, and lasting. The ends and the means are the same in spiritual life.

www.vediccare.org

We at ‘The Vedic Care Charitable Trust’ are dedicated to make things pure, and lasting. Please join with us to counteract the perils of illusion and material nescience.

Why an AYURVEDIC DIET ?

BECAUSE IT’S GOOD FOR YOU!

Ayurvedic Food Combining

For many, the concept of food combining—the idea that some foods digest well together while others do not—is entirely new, and somewhat foreign. But according to Ayurveda, it is an essential part of understanding how to eat properly, just as discovering one’s constitution and state of imbalance is important for one’s Ayurvedic self-discovery. Careful food combining can dramatically improve the quality of digestion, support the body in receiving a deeper level of nourishment, and positively impact our overall health.

However, most people in the modern world are accustomed to eating a number of foods that do not usually digest well together (like fruit with nuts, or beans with cheese). So why does it matter? The Ayurvedic perspective is that each food has a distinct combination of tastes and energies—and a corresponding effect on both the digestive system and on the body as a whole. Combining foods with radically different energetics can overwhelm the digestive fire (agni) and can cause indigestion, fermentation, gas, bloating, and the creation of toxins.1 This is why proper food combining is so important. Of course, certain combinations disturb the digestive tract more than others—an important consideration if this practice is entirely new to you. Regardless of your particular habits or symptoms, paying attention to how you combine foods can provide a valuable opportunity for insight, healing, and improved health. Remember, food combining is not about imposing black and white rules. It is one among many powerful Ayurvedic tools for improving digestive health and overall wellness.

A Balanced Approach to Food Combining

It is usually best to embrace the idea of food combining slowly and gently, allowing plenty of time to make the necessary adaptations. Some of the recommended adjustments are relatively simple; others can require a major recalibration in our habits, or be met with resistance. Often, simply developing an awareness of the improper food combinations that you eat somewhat regularly is a great place to start. Notice which foods you combine that may be difficult to digest together, and how often you indulge in them. Become aware of how you feel afterward. Do these choices affect your energy level, your digestion, your elimination, the coating on your tongue? Are particular combinations more noticeably influential than others? These are all important pieces of information. They can confirm the importance of proper food combining and can help each of us to identify the food combinations that are the most disruptive to our systems.

When you are feeling motivated and decide that you are ready to start adapting your diet to accommodate more supportive food combinations, consider tackling just one change at a time. Perhaps you’ll start by eating fruits alone, rather than in combination with other foods. Over time, you can gradually progress toward the ideal. While it would certainly be nice to avoid improper food combinations altogether, reducing their frequency can also be incredibly beneficial. If you do find that some specific food combinations are more problematic for you or your loved ones than others, focus your efforts on changing just those in the beginning. The most important first step is to become aware of your needs and your habits; from there, you can evolve an approach to food combining that works for you.

Combinations to Reduce or Avoid

The following list highlights incompatible foods and offers suggestions for more appropriate combinations. It is meant to be a helpful guide, not an exhaustive list. In fact, you may be aware of other combinations that do not work for your body. Honor those instincts. Because this resource is meant to help you determine optimal combinations at a glance, there is some repetition. Combinations listed in all caps are particularly challenging.

Compatible and Incompatible Foods: A List

Yes, some of these are staple combinations in many households. Pizza and a number of other beloved Italian dishes combine nightshades with cheese. And who among us hasn’t enjoyed beans with cheese at some time or another? Then there’s the fruit and yogurt taboo… So much for about 80% of all available store-bought varieties of yogurt; next time you indulge in a fruit-flavored yogurt, pay attention to how your digestion feels afterwards.In addition, there are some specific preparations that are challenging when combined with particular foods.

Supportive Food Combinations in Ayurveda
All of these rules can feel overwhelming, even irritatingly complicated. But, the rationale behind proper food combining really does make sense. Ultimately, combining mismatched foods generates ama , a toxic substance that is often at the root of imbalance and disease.2 But, for those of you who would like to understand a little more about HOW and WHY these food combinations tax our bodies, here are a few specific examples:

Bananas and Milk

Though commonly eaten together, bananas and milk are challenging to digest together because their qualities are so different. Bananas are heating while milk is cooling. That alone is problematic. Further, bananas become sour as they break down. So now our digestive fire has to process a sour substance and milk at the same time. Ever added a squeeze of lemon to milk? Or maybe you’ve poured a little milk into a tangy, fruity tea… only to watch it curdle instantly? What happens to these mismatched foods in the digestive tract is not much different. When bananas and milk are eaten together, their opposing qualities tend to smother the digestive fire and can disrupt the balance of intestinal flora, which results in the creation of toxins. This combination also frequently causes congestion, colds, coughs, allergies, hives, and rashes.2 A similar situation arises when we combine any sour fruit with milk.3

Eating Fruits Alone

The reason fruits are best enjoyed on their own is that fruit is usually somewhat acidic, fairly simple to digest, and often digests quite quickly. When fruits are eaten with other foods, there is usually a significant discrepancy between the amount of time required to properly digest the fruit versus the more complex food. Inhibited by the more complex food, the fruit tends to move through the digestive tract too slowly and can cause fermentation, gas, and bloating. In addition, the combination typically introduces a number of conflicting qualities into the digestive tract all at once, which has the potential to overwhelm or stifle the digestive fire.

Nightshades and Cheese

This combination is simply too taxing for the digestive fire. A nightshade is a common name for a member of the plant family Solanaceae, which includes potatoes, bell peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, cayenne peppers, paprika, tobacco, henbane, belladonna, datura, and over 2,500 other plants. Nightshades contain alkaloids, primarily as a means of defense against being damaged by insects. The alkaloids can be anywhere from mildly to fatally toxic to humans. As a result, diverse cultures around the world have long held an intriguing relationship with the nightshade family. Some have been used to make poisons, some contain incredibly addictive compounds such as nicotine, some are mind altering, and others create an incredible sensation of heat in the mouth.4 The bottom line is that nightshades contain a complex array of compounds that, once ingested, lead to a potentially dramatic cascade of chemical reactions in the body. Ayurvedically speaking, all nightshades are believed to be somewhat difficult to digest and to have the capacity to disturb the doshas. When we mix these inherently challenging nightshades with cheese—which is heavy, oily, and also difficult to digest—we can quickly overtax the digestive fire.

Beans and Cheese

Beans and cheese are similar in that they both tend to be heavy and are often difficult to digest. In order to break down properly, they both require a good deal of digestive strength. But, the similarities end there. Beans tend to taste mostly astringent and sweet, can be either heating or cooling (depending on the type of bean), and usually have a pungent post-digestive effect. Cheese, on the other hand, tastes predominantly sour, is almost always heating, and usually has a sour post-digestive effect. The post-digestive effect of different foods occurs once that food has moved into the colon; it affects the urine, feces, sweat and tissues—sometimes even at the cellular level. Two foods with distinct post-digestive effects are typically quite different from one another. This is the case with beans and cheese; when they are eaten together, they tend to overwhelm and confuse the digestive fire. Meanwhile, their combined heaviness makes them even more difficult to process, often resulting in poor digestion and the accumulation of ama.

Ease Into It

Embracing the wisdom of food combining slowly helps us to cultivate a refined awareness around how our dietary choices affect us. This heightened sensitivity can be an invaluable asset, regardless of how quickly we are able to replace improper food combinations with more supportive ones. Be gentle with yourself, progressing at a pace that works for you. You might find it helpful, on occasion, to take a moment to reflect on how your digestion and your overall sense of wellness have changed over time. Proper food combining tends to awaken the body’s innate intelligence, so for most, embracing good food combining habits gets easier with time and practice.

Much of the information contained in this article came from Dr. Vasant and Usha Lad’s cookbook: Ayurvedic Cooking for Self-Healing. Our deepest gratitude to them both for sharing an enlightened understanding of how to eat Ayurvedically.

RECOMMENDED
An Ayurvedic Approach to Losing Weight

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The Importance of Healthy Digestion
The concept of agni, the Sanskrit word for “fire,” is rather essential to the Ayurvedic tradition. Ayurveda views agni as the very source of life. It is said that a man is as old as his agni and that when agni is extinguished, we die. Perhaps even more significantly, Ayurveda teaches us that impaired agni is at the root of every imbalance and disease. So the importance of agni in Ayurveda simply cannot be understated.

Thank you ~ Banyan Botanicals

Please come learn more with us at our Vedic Care Retreats.
Next one this Summer!

Kirtan & Healing Retreat with Gurudas
August 1 – 4, 2019 near Madrid, Spain

Gurudas in Spain ~ 2019

Kirtan & Healing Retreat with Gurudas
August 1 – 4, 2019 near Madrid, Spain

DON’T MISS …

Four days and three nights at a historical finca near Brihuega, in Central Spain with Gurudas, one of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada’s earliest disciples.

Gurudas will be sharing a wealth of experience, past-times and his personal seminar, ‘We Are The Healers’.

The location is a beautiful Spanish farm with classic architecture about 100 kilometers east of Madrid, Spain’s capital city.

There’s a small farm community with flower and vegetable gardens, a beautiful goshala – place to care for cows – right across the road from the farm’s central focus, a beautiful temple.

There are approximately twelve cows and two bulls that are pampered, so milk is abundant. The farm is about 300 hectares in size with many hills, so wonderful nature walks are also available.

The Retreat offers: Vegetarian and Vegan Organic Meals, Daily Nature Hikes through Beautiful Country, Bhakti Yoga Classes, Srila Prabhupada Katha, ‘We’re the Healers’, Guided Meditation and Kirtan (Spiritual Music Sessions).

HOSTING AND GIVING SEMINARS

Gurudas, the 7th initiated disciple of HDG Srila Prabhupada. See him in the ‘New York Times’ here. He’s also the ‘Vedic Care’ Founder, an Author, Photographer and Counselor. Check out the Vedic Care’s ‘Back to Godhead’ article here.

The program is being assisted by Aradhana Devi Dasi ~ Bhakti Yogini, Film Actor & Producer and Co-Founder of The Vedic Care Charitable Trust.

ROOMS ~ SEMINARS ~ PRICES

Packages include: accommodation, breakfast, lunch and a light dinner, kirtans, Guruda’s seminars and Srila Prabhupada katha talks.

Not included: Flights, Professional personal consultations with Gurudas (minimum donation of €20), pickup/drop-off at the Madrid International Airport with our transport (upon request).

For seminars only and special packages Contact Us.

All about in English here and in Spanish here.

Devastating Fire ~ Devotee suffers loss

By Devaki Devi Dasi

A disciple of Srila Prabhupada is in need in Alachua ~ Florida

Jambuvati Devi Dasi (Nadia Miles) was initiated in 1967. She lives in Alachua, Florida. She was renting this apartment cottage dwelling out back of her place to another Srila Prabhupada disciple who was helping her fix it up the rest of the way… and living there also at the same time so she could get it to the point where insurance would approve to cover it.

She was just getting it to that point when he went on a japa walk and came back to see the place he was renting from her engulfed in flames. Complete loss. Burned to the ground and no insurance. There was some kind of problem with the electric. Jambuvati has a tiny fixed income and this unit was her income much needed to pay the bills monthly. Devastating loss for her.

We know her personally in Alachua for a long time and she has a humble dwelling and a real need right now to rebuild her life and get back on her feet so she can maintain her self once again. It will probably take more than $15,000 to rebuild.

Jambuvati Devi Dasi

In her words:

“My dear friends; I had a beautiful cottage on my property that was burned to the ground due to an electrical situation. My place was started 18 years ago and finally finished ready for inspection… and then suddenly flames coming out of the windows and doors! Firefighters could not save any of it not even the structure! It was originally built for my kids when they need a place. It was finally near inspection. It was a source of income. I know I cannot build another with donations, but I am hoping to be able to build an addition of a bedroom and kitchen into my existing mobile home. Any donations would be greatly appreciated and helpful for any amount. I thank you for your love and support.”

Please give to Jambuvati so she can regain her life as far as this goes. Just click on the donation button below. Thank you!

The Vedic Care is assisting the fundraising. Anyone can donate. In the USA, PayPal’s transaction fees are smaller then other funding platforms, primarily because we’re a 501(c)3 Charity. Also, International donations arrive immediately, and at low cost. Thank you.

Vedic Care Holistic Clinic & Assisted Living ~ Vrindavan

A letter by Gurudas

Gurudas’ letter on April 25th, 2019
Ref.: Vedic Care Vrindavan 

Dear Devotees,

The seed of an idea was planted.
The idea was to emphasize the need to care for sick, neglected, isolated and dying devotees and spiritual seekers in need.

We started the Vedic Care Charitable Trust.

We don’t know how long we have left, so let us use every moment preciously.

Very few want to think of these things.
Not me.
Not my family.

And when someone gets sick, then we react.

Why not preventative medicine?
Why not create caring assisted living places? 
Why not do this everywhere?

There is enough resources in our community.

People build temples,
havelis and businesses,
but no care facilities.

We remembered all the friends who we serve with and served with,
So we the Vedic Care Charity (VCC) have been working and serving with love and trust to implement these ideas.

Some people have resonated with the message and some have actually volunteered 
and served.

Very little funds have been coming in, but still we are caring for 10-15 people at a time with our out-reach, counseling and triage.

Some have even challenged and vilified our sincere efforts.
And yet we go on.

The care idea seed grew into little plants in Australia, England, Belgium, Vancouver, Maui, Brazil, Spain, and now by Radharani & Krishna’s blessing and grace, we have been given a 16 room Ayurvedic and multi-faceted healing and assisted living center, with beautiful surrounding gardens in holy Vrindavan.

I lived in Vrindavan for six years when I oversaw the building of the Krishna Balaram Temple, so I am experienced with how things go on there.

We need to clean and start repairs, before we can start.
We need funds, people and equipment.

If you are interested in serving in our VCC project,
please write us.

Gurudas

Please visit to watch our VCC-Vrindavan Pledge video below.
Thank you.
You can use this link to share ~ www.vimeo.com/330264236


Our VCC-Vrindavan webpage link to share is
www.vediccare.org/vrindavan-india

Please also read below the other VCC-Vrindavan article by Pranaji .

The Vedic Care Vrindavan

A pledge for your support

by Pranaji

I wonder whether the import of our VCC~Vrindavan project is being understood by the Vaisnava community we serve. I really want to see this amazing new facility rise up and function in its full glory and serve all the world’s Vaisnavas.

Every Vaisnava in the world will want to leave their body in the Holy Dham, surrounded by devotees chanting the holy names Hare Krishna and Rama. Who wouldn’t want to be cared for by loving Vaisnavas as their/our time to leave this world approaches? In the last year I had the honour to serve two Vaisnavis, to help them live and to help them to die. I cared for them both for several months and when they passed. I must say it was heart breaking because caring means your heart is in your work, but very beautiful and very sobering. Devotees and loved ones were at their bedsides singing as they passed. Tulsi leaves were put in their mouths and on their eyes, their bodies were annointed with sandalwood paste and tilak put on their foreheads. The most amazing thing that blew my mind was the look on both their faces once they had left the body.

I will never forget it and I never want to. They were lit up in a state of unexpected ecstasy. Wherever they went was beyond their wildest expectations! I was so amazed! I couldn’t check the tears as they ran down my face, I was so happy for them and so glad to have assisted them in their onward journey. After the paperwork was sorted we had the final ceremony with the funeral pyre on the bank of Sri Jamuna. We lifted their bodies into their respective pyres, and as is the custom, poured ghee over them and chanted the appropriate mantras, again tilak and chandan were applied. It rained ever so slightly then the sun shone. Just as I lit the pyre the wind rose up… everything was auspicious! I chanted several Narasimha Kavacas loudly to invoke even more auspiciousness and we sang beautiful bhajans for several hours while their bodies turned to ashes.

In the evening when all was done we scattered their ashes into the Jamuna. The first wonderful vaishnava lady I assisted in this way was Akuti devi about one year ago. I was so impressed by her, even on the day she departed she was preaching like a lioness from her bedside. Amazing…

Kunja Kishore Devi Dasi as I first meet her and three months before her passing.

The second, more recent was Kunja Kishori dd. She was instructing her friend Ananda Duhlal how to better serve her beloved Sri Krishna, she was in an altered state of internal consciousness, then she said ” something is happening, I don’t understand.” Then she left. She was already with Krishna, he just took hold of her hand. My love goes with her all the way back to Godhead and I have no doubt that’s where she went! Both these Vaisnavas had cancer, both were mother’s… both are now most certainly with Krishna.

Kunja Kishore one week before she left us to Goloka.
She had three months of acupressure by then so her life had improved considerably, however her cancer was deep rooted and aggressive.

The VCC, Vedic Care Charity ~ Holistic Clinic and Assisted Living here in Vrindavan wants to offer this same care and attention to the Vaisnavas in the world, so please dear Vaisnava family, get involved.
I remember my older brother saying to me, “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish that counts!” I couldn’t agree more. I am / we are therefore appealing to all those Vaisnavas who can afford to, to donate and participate to get this facility up and running and thus ensure it stays afloat from here on in!

Always looking forward to serving you in whatever capacity, your humble servant and ever wellwisher, Pranaji. Pranavallabha das.

May Radha and Krishna bless you for your kind service.

We’re now fundraising for its refurbishments, needed equipment and staff.

Please visit our VCC~Vrindavan webpage here and participate. You can share all from our VCC~Vrindavan Pledge Video here.
We’ve a presentation in more detail (upon request on our website) regarding what is needed to get the facility going.

Or just share this article to spread the word. Thank you!

From Despair to Care

By Ananta Sesa Dasa

The Vedic Care Charitable Trust (aka ‘Vedic Care Charity’ or the ‘VCC’) was established to offer care to those in need. One may wonder how useful and effective such a small organization can be.

The story of Anasuya Nelson illustrates the importance of the Vedic Care Charitable Trust in the lives of those in need. It tells the story of three people thrown into an impossible and desperate situation—one that could have ended tragically. Yet, thanks to the caring intervention of supporters of the VCC, the desperation was transformed through compassion. By caring about each individual, and treating each situation in its own unique manner, the VCC can help in ways that other organizations cannot—one soul at a time.

To illustrate this point, consider the case of a young woman, Anasuya Nelson, who recently traveled to India from the UK, to visit the holy sites. As she suffers from ‘level 2 mental disturbances’, she also wanted to seek out some holistic treatments for her difficulties in India. While there, she was to be in the caring and competent company of her maternal aunt, Oli Krishna devi dasi.

Sadly, Anasuya’s mental state deteriorated rapidly upon her arrival in Calcutta as she suffered a catastrophic relapse. Her aunt, Oli Krishna, her elder brother and her other family members, quickly found themselves completely out of their depth in knowing what to do, as she retreated further and further into difficulties.

Eventually, the family had to have Anasuya sedated, and driven by ambulance to a mental health care facility in Calcutta. Unfortunately, the mental health facility was woefully inadequate. It lacked many basics, such as having only one bathroom for fifty women. During this time, Anasuya became more agitated, and at one point, had to be tied down to stop her from harming herself.

Concerned family now supported by Rama Nrsimha das (VCC Trustee and UK Out-Reach) back in London, decided that the trio would need help to get out of this difficult situation.

After a harrowing week in this place, Anasuya began to calm down and the family decided to have her flown home to the UK on Jet Airways. She was discharged from the hospital, and planned to fly home with her brother, Sundar Gopal and his friend, Raman. However, before this flight could happen, Jet Airways collapsed and suspended all international flights.

The closure of the airline left Anasuya, in a mentally impaired state, along with her brother and their friend stranded in a small, sweltering airport hotel. Without a flight home, and with dwindling finances, these three were left to deal with the situation alone.

Anasuya, who was already mentally overwhelmed, began to spiral back into a disturbed condition, leaving her traveling companions bewildered and perplexed at what to do next to extricate themselves from this seemingly unending series of misfortunes. They tried to board another flight, hurriedly offered to them by Qatar Airlines, but when the booking staff saw Anasuya’s condition, they refused to allow the trio to board.

In desperation, the two boys and Anasuya visited a more highly reputed mental health care facility, called Antara, run by a group called The Missionaries of Charity. They wanted to have Anasuya admitted for therapy; however, she was not admitted. Instead, she was given some medicine to stabilize her mind.

Rama finally called Pranaji, a member of the VCC Out-Reach Team and an old family friend, who was in Vrindavan. Upon hearing of their terrible situation, he immediately traveled to Calcutta to offer assistance.

Pranaji with Anasuya, upon his arrival in Calcutta

Pranaji found them still living in the small hotel room in Calcutta, almost out of money, and still not closer to a solution. This is where the VCC organizational skills helped further. With the support and networking skills of Pranaji and Rama Nrsimha das, a donation drive was set up and shared. In less than a week, the needed funds were raised to help this small group of devotees.

Now in Mayapur and feeling much better

Meanwhile, Anasuya was evaluated by competent doctors, and the trio – accompanied by Pranaji – traveled back to spend time in the sacred land of Sri Gaura Mandala Bhumi Dham, Mayapur, on the banks of the holy Ganges. While there, they were looked after by Pranaji, and supported by Nrsingha-tirtha Prabhu and the local care team. From there, they went to Calcutta to fly to London, landing at Heathrow on May 8th, 2019. Social services and family awaited her to find a more suitable long term care solution. A member of the VCC out-reach will keep an eye on how things develop regarding her care.

A happy ending has emerged from this tragic affair thanks to the work of the VCC and many kind souls who came forward. In response, the following comments were made by a couple of the people involved.

Rama Nrsimha das wrote: “A big shout out and thank you to Aradhana dd, Matthew and Caitania Pryia dd (Head of Medical) of the Vedic Care Charitable Trust, for bringing their skills in devotee care and fundraising to the mix and for all their excellent advice, support and suggestions during the on-going rescue mission. Once again thanks to everyone involved and especially to Prana Ji, without whom, we’d still be in very uncomfortable territory.”

The trio with Pranaji at the Airport before departure towards the UK.

Just a few days ago, Pranaji wrote: “I don’t know the donors…but I am deeply grateful to all who participated in this venture. It is quite amazing how we were in a Hotel room in Calcutta with 20 rupees left, but then, because of beautiful people with big generous hearts, we were able to come to Sri Dham Mayapur, and from there arrange flights home to the UK, and even arrange social services help and accommodation for Anasuya when she arrives in London. I have watched this little miracle unfold.”

Due to the intervention of the Vedic Care Charitable Trust, and all the kind souls who assisted personally and financially, a disastrous situation for a group of devotees transformed into an exercise in compassion. Such is the power of Krishna’s love when channeled through those who truly care.

Bringing Krishna’s Mercy to the Aged

The article online @ http://btg.krishna.com/bringing-krishnas-mercy-aged

By Ananta Shesha Dasa

The Vedic Care Charitable Trust aims to help devotees in their final years.

The Bhagavad-gita teaches that we cannot avoid old age, disease, or death. When Srila Prabhupada brought Krishna consciousness to America in 1965, his young disciples accepted the truth of this teaching. And as time has passed and devotees have aged, this teaching has become more relevant. Gurudas, one of Prabhupada’s earliest disciples, has spent his life in Krishna’s service. He helped establish the London temple, traveled the world distributing books and spreading Krishna consciousness, and recently started the Vedic Care Charitable Trust to help aging devotees in their final years.

Care in Practice

Although the Vedic Care Charitable Trust (aka ‘Vedic Care Charity’ or the ‘VCC’) has only existed since 2015, it has already done a lot of good. One example involves a woman in Belgium named Manisha, who was uninitiated because she could not stop smoking. This did not deter her from devotional service, however. She chanted daily, distributed prasadam every Wednesday, and hosted a biweekly kirtana program at her home.

In 2016 Manisha was diagnosed with bladder cancer, and after an operation, she received chemotherapy. After three treatments, she decided to stop the chemotherapy, since it was making her too sick. She knew that this would mean the cancer would kill her, but at age seventy-eight, she was ready for that.

With financial support and guidance from the Vedic Care Charitable Trust, her friend Bhagavati Devi Dasi was able to help her quit smoking so that she could live out her time with the devotees at Radhadesh, the ISKCON community in the Belgian Ardennes. Through Krishna’s mercy, Manisha was able to sell her home in Liege and move to a home near the temple. Inspired by this mercy, Bhagavati wrote to her spiritual master, Kadamba Kanana Swami, and asked him to initiate Manisha. Since she was now following all four of the regulative principles and chanting sixteen rounds, he was very happy to do so. With special permission from the local temple authorities and ISKCON’s governing body commissioner (GBC) for Belgium, Manisha was initiated.

After her initiation, she did well for some weeks, but then things started to go downhill very fast. She had developed metastasized bone cancer and was in a lot of pain. For the last two weeks of her life, she could no longer leave her bed. After a few days, Bhagavati called in the local palliative care team and requested a home nurse for Manisha.

Recognizing that spiritual care was more important than physical care, Manisha’s friend turned her room into a spiritual place with an altar opposite her bed. Pictures of Krishna adorned the walls, and Bhagavati’s shalagrama-shila (Krishna’s incarnation as a deity in the form of a small stone) moved into her room. When Manisha was introduced to Him, it was explained that at the end she would be able to hold Him in her right hand.

A recording of Srila Prabhupada chanting japa played most of the time except for when she was listening to the Bhagavad-gita or the Chaitanya-charitamrita. On Lord Balarama’s appearance day, Bhagavati purified Manisha’s right hand with a few drops of water, put a flower in it, and asked for her prayer to Balarama. She asked Him to take her as soon as possible.

The next morning, Manisha was in a lot of pain, so a morphine pump was set up to help her manage the pain. Bhagavati recalls:

Manisha was very sleepy, and I just sat next to her bed to read to her. The doctor came again at 2:00 p.m. and told us that she would have another twenty-four to thirty-six hours. By 3:00 p.m. I was sitting with Manisha together with another devotee and her breathing changed into the labored “death rattle.” I knew she would probably not have twenty-four hours, so I called my spiritual master, who happened to be at Radhadesh. He came half an hour later and started chanting for her. There were many devotees in the room with her. Her family was sitting at her left side, and I was sitting at her right side, armed with tulasi leaves and Ganges water. I had put my shalagrama-shila in her right hand, and she was holding on to Him tightly.

We could regularly see her lips move when she was trying to chant with the kirtana. At 4:40 p.m. she opened her eyes and started staring with huge eyes. At 4:45 she smiled, chanted Hare Krishna, and stopped breathing for a long time. I quickly administered the tulasi leaves and Ganges water. She breathed one more time and left while her spiritual master was chanting and I was also chanting the mantra in her right ear very loudly.

In the Bhagavad-gita (18.66), Krishna says, “Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear.” In line with this teaching, Kadamba Kanana Swami stated that since Manisha had given up everything she had in Liege to move and leave her body in Radhadesh, Krishna reciprocated. This act of surrender was her ticket back home to Godhead. This story illustrates the crucially important work being performed by the Vedic Care Charitable Trust.

The Origins of the VCC

Gurudas formed the Vedic Care Charitable Trust with the help of Aradhana Devi Dasi, Rama Nrisimha Dasa, and Yadunandana Pada Dasa, who soon moved on to other pursuits. In a recent interview, Gurudas explained the need for this work: “I saw the need to take care of our devotees. For fifty years we have evolved, building new temples and communities and farms, publishing new books, starting cow protection programs, but no devotee care. Many devotees who served for years were sent out of the ashram or temple because there was no care facility. My idea is preventative medicine via outreach teams that can assist the families in homes or hospitals and bring the holy names and healthy prasadam to those devotees.”

Laying out the general idea, Gurudas explained that the VCC is an international member-supported organization meant to create retirement homes offering kirtanakrishna-katha (spiritual discussions), classes, seminars, consulting, and counseling. It also promotes self-subsistent farms and other creative projects. 

“Our retirement homes allow residents to spend their later years in like-minded association,” Gurudas said, “instead of being cared for in isolation and having to react alone to the symptoms of sickness. Staffed hospice facilities and Vedic transition support will be available through this international cooperative based on love and trust. With a focus on preventative care, we can ease the pain and suffering together.” 

In March 2016 Gurudas spoke about his vision when The New York Timesran a half-page article about him and his work. (https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/06/business/retirementspecial/krishna-devotees-look-to-provide-for-this-life.html?_r=0)

The Vedic Care Charitable Trust was registered as a charity in June 2015. Aradhana Devi Dasi, cofounder, trustee, and CEO, says, “We’re a platform for connecting everyone who is caring in an isolated way.” In other words, there are devotees who are independently trying to do what they can to help but many times lack the know-how and resources. The VCC brings those individuals together under a single umbrella and offers those resources. “Most devotees come to us when in desperate need,” she continues, “having nowhere else to go, and although we have many other caring-oriented projects, hands-on devotee care is our main focus. Being neither a religious nor a medical charity, we have the advantage of acquiring financial supporters from many other already established nonprofit organizations, from government grants, and from disparate individuals. By doing our service in an inclusive way, we’ll be extending our preaching power into mainstream yogic lifestyles and advancing Krishna consciousness. This holistic service is very needed in our Vaishnava communities.”

In its three-and-a-half-year existence, the charity has cared for about fifty devotees and begun a number of important projects. Individual care is being offered in Vrindavan, India; London, England; Radhadesh, Belgium; Alachua, Florida; and New Talavan, Mississippi. In addition, planning for a model facility is underway in Sedona, Arizona. This facility will demonstrate how devotees will be cared for in a Krishna conscious environment, where people follow the regulative principles, discuss the Lord’s glorious pastimes, and chant His holy name. In this way the aging devotee, through association with other devotees, will be able to peacefully transition back home to Godhead.

The Importance of Vedic Care

One of the premises inspiring the Vedic Care Charitable Trust is that the Krishna conscious way of life greatly benefits the spirit soul and also makes material life better. Consider, for example, three elements of a devotee’s life that the VCC offers sick or dying devotees and others: diet, association, and sankirtana.

The Bhagavad-gita (3.13) states: “The devotees of the Lord are released from all kinds of sins because they eat food which is offered first for sacrifice. Others, who prepare food for personal sense enjoyment, verily eat only sin.” The sick or dying devotee who is fed only krishna-prasadam will enjoy a karma-free diet that aids in the liberation of the soul and benefits the material body.

The second aspect of the devotee’s life to consider is association. Srimad-Bhagavatam (3.25.25) states: “In the association of pure devotees, discussion of the pastimes and activities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is very pleasing and satisfying to the ear and the heart. By cultivating such knowledge one gradually becomes advanced on the path of liberation, and thereafter he is freed, and his attraction becomes fixed. Then real devotion and devotional service begin.”

In the purport to this verse, Srila Prabhupada explains, “One must give up the association of materialistic persons and seek the association of devotees because without the association of devotees one cannot understand the activities of the Lord.” When placed into a typical retirement home or hospice, the devotee is surrounded by materialists who speak of everything except Krishna. They may discuss issues of health from a secular standpoint. They may discuss sporting events, the lottery, or wins and losses at a recent trip to the casino. They may discuss the illicit activities of royalty, celebrities, and neighbors. They may blaspheme or use foul language. One will hear every manner of foolishness coming from the lips of these people, but never will one hear the transcendental vibration of Hare Krishna. Surrounded by such people, one might decrease one’s chanting or otherwise be harmed in body and spirit. So it is crucial that devotees have the opportunity to associate with other devotees as they prepare to leave this world.

The final aspect of the devotee’s life to consider is sankirtana, the chanting and hearing of the holy names. The regular chanting and hearing of the transcendental vibration of Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare is the supreme method of attaining Krishna consciousness in this age of Kali. The benefits are legion. For example, Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.1.14) tells us that “Living beings who are entangled in the complicated meshes of birth and death can be freed immediately by even unconsciously chanting the holy name of Krishna, which is feared by fear personified,” and in The Nectar of Devotion (Chapter 2), Srila Prabhupada quotes Shukadeva Goswami’s advice to King Parikshit: “My dear King, if you want to be fearless in meeting your death next week (for actually everyone is afraid at the point of death), then you must immediately begin the process of hearing and chanting and remembering God.” (Bhagavatam 2.1.5) For this reason, sankirtana is perhaps even more important for the elderly. 

Diet, association, and sankirtana are crucial elements that will allow the elderly to accept aging without lamentation and accept death without fear. They will allow the devotee to live a healthier, happier, and more meaningful life right up to the moment of death. Unfortunately, many elderly devotees, being in traditional care facilities, are being denied these. This is why it is so important that Krishna conscious retirement homes and hospices be constructed. Once they’re established, the elderly devotee in need of care will receive nourishing prasadam while surrounded by other devotees engaged in the service of Krishna. 

Endorsements and Volunteers

In addition to the primary goal of establishing care facilities, the Vedic Care Charitable Trust runs a website (www.vediccare.org) that is useful to those needing service and those who want to help. Plans and success stories can be found there, as well as a library of Krishna conscious literature and the VCC journal, The Vedic Times. The outreach care programs allow volunteers to visit shut-ins and those in care facilities to share shastra readings, kirtana, and prasadam. In this way those like Manisha who need association and care before the VCC facilities are established can still have access to it. 

Many devotees have endorsed and applauded the efforts of the VCC. GBC member Guru Prasada Swami said, “I fully and wholly endorse this most wonderful effort to serve Vaishnavas. In the beginning of the Srimad-Bhagavatam it states unequivocally that service to the Vaishnavas is the key to performing bhakti.” 

GBC executive committee member Yadunandana Swami concurs. “Service to the Vaishnavas is the highest religious principle, the offering that pleases the Lord the most.” 

Ambarisha Dasa many have best explained the need for what the VCC offers: “Many devotees from around the world have sacrificed their lives and well-being to give the mercy of Srila Prabhupada and Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai to people everywhere. There must be a place for them at the end of life where they can be cared for in a Krishna conscious environment.” 

Prabhupada taught the principle dasa anudasa: “[I am] the servant of the servant.” The Vedic Care Charitable Trust is set up to be the servant of Krishna’s servants. Its work is a crucial form of devotional service. It will continue, and the more devotees who join its cause, the more work can be accomplished. 

Readers interested in learning more or getting involved may visit the VCC website: www.vediccare.org.

Yet We Go On

By Gurudas:

In thanks to the volunteers of the Vedic Care Cooperative

YET WE GO ON.

We have a simple vision
To care for one another

It is a challenge
In the mist of apathy
Injustice
Attacks
Complacency

Yet we go on.

The adversity to be compassionate
in this advancing world of Kali Yuga
Is the most blatant
Non act

If you’re not part of the solution,
you’re part of the problem
Now even more Quarells,
War

Crudeness and rudeness
Of so called world leaders
Injustice
Crooked politics

Decreasing rainforests
One football field a second
Loss natural medicine

Global warming

and apathy to Mother Bhumi (Earth)

in the midst of all of this

We as a empathetic group:
The Vedic Care Coperative VCC
We still care
and
Yet we go on

Whilst we continue to care and triaj for many
On little money
We volunteer our time
Expertise,
Wisdom
Experience
Compassion
Because we care.’

True Vaishnavas giving all
for love of Radha Krishna and Gurus

Yet we go on.

We have endured
Burning vehicles
Loss of jobs
Prejudice
And being taken advantage of by
Greedy insensitive
Demons

We have endured
Jail time and separation from family
having only one orange
That tasted like a feast in 16 hours
And the only thing left when stripped of dignity and country
Was faith in Radha Krishna and the holy names

and we come out stronger,
and we have endured
Personal health injuries
Being misunderstood
And vilification
And more apathy
until you all get older and sick

And yet we go……

The VCC

And we will continue to go on

WHAT IS KRISHNA CONSCIOUSNESS?

By Ananta Sesa Dasa

The Vedic Care Charitable Trust follows the principles of Vaishanavism. Many supporters of the VCC are well versed in Krishna Consciousness; however, since the VCC welcomes every spiritual seeker, it seems appropriate to take a bit of time to discuss the history and philosophy of the movement.


History
Krishna Consciousness is our original spiritual understanding, which means that its history is actually as old as the universe. However, we will start the history a little more recently.

The Vedic culture (Veda means sacred knowledge) began in India over 5000 years ago. This culture is so named because of it’s spiritual and ritualistic adherence to the Vedas. The four Vedas (Rg-veda, Sama-veda, Atharva-veda, and Yajur-veda) were delivered to the people of India by Vyasadeva in order to make this most ancient wisdom available to all. The Vedas are very technical and difficult for the common person to understand, so other writings were brought into being as a way of bringing wisdom and truth to the less intelligent of society. These works were the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Contained within the Mahabharata is the Bhagavad-Gita, considered by many to be the Bible of the Hindus, but of course, it is really the Bible of humanity.

The Bhagavad-Gita tells the story of a conversation held between the great warrior, Arjuna, and Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personification of the Godhead. Taking the role of guru, or spiritual coach, Krishna carefully guides Arjuna towards spiritual awakening and full knowledge. This text is left as humanity’s instruction manual. Its teachings are simple and to the point, but sadly, human ego drove some to abandon the true message of Krishna Consciousness, and instead to manipulate it to serve their own sense gratification for power and wealth.

Because of this corruption, Lord Krishna entered the world. This time, he appeared as a devotee of Krishna called Lord Caitanya (1486-1534). Caitanya fought against the corruption caused by ego and initiated a spiritual awakening through the sankirtan movement. The sankirtan movement, which is the chanting of the holy names, is the simplest method of reviving our dormant Krishna Consciousness.

The teachings of Lord Caitanya have been passed down from guru to initiate for the last 500 years, which brings us to the founder of Krishna Consciousness in the West, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada (1896-1977). Shortly before his death in 1933, Prabhupada’s teacher, Bhaktisiddhanta Swami, instructed him to bring this ancient knowledge to the West. Prabhupada was finally able to make this a reality in 1965.

Swami Prabhupada arrived in New York in the fall of 1965 virtually penniless, but he was able to set up a small store front temple at the former Matchless Gifts giftshop on 2nd Street. From there he began to chant, give teachings from the Bhagavad-Gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, and other important scriptures. Very slowly people started to notice, listen, and begin to follow the teachings from this spiritual coach. As the 60s moved on, and with the help of some prominent figures such as Allen Ginsberg and George Harrison, the movement grew in popularity and attracted many followers. (It attracted our own Gurudas in 1967).

During the final years of his life, Prabhupada travelled around the world 14 times and wrote over 50 books. He worked tirelessly to make Krishna Consciousness the world-wide movement that it is today.


Philosophy
The basic philosophy of Krishna Consciousness begins with the idea that we are not the physical bodies that we believe we are. Material conditioning has made us accept many falsehoods. Instead, we are spirit soul, which is part and parcel of Krishna.
In the beginning, humans existed in their original constitutional position, as the appendages of God. There was no sense of ego or desire to become anything more. We simply served the Lord and fulfilled His Divine Will. However, as time went on, a false ego developed within humans. This ego insisted that mankind was not just an appendage of God, but rather was its own person. With that mentality, desire for sense gratification developed and grew.
The created world had so many allurements, beauty, sex, wealth, power, entertainments, and so forth, that humanity forgot its true nature. As a result, we spent our time seeking these allurements and trying to find happiness within them. Of course, this is impossible. Any happiness found in this world is temporary, and when it is gone, it leaves a gap that brings misery. Suffering is the common state of existence for one who has forgotten one’s true nature.
True happiness can only be found in the eternal, which means letting go of all our temporary attachments and surrendering to Krishna. By doing so, we may return to our original constitutional positions as servitors of the Lord and find genuine happiness through that service. But how do we do this?

Lord Caitanya taught that the easiest method for reviving our dormant Krishna Consciousness, our love of Krishna and understanding of our true self, was through the chanting of the Holy Names of God. Within the Vedic traditions, the name of God, the image of God, or anything else associated with God is identical to God. So, when we chant the names of God, we are bringing Him into our presence.


The greatest desire of humanity is to see and know God. “I really want to see you Lord,” George Harrison sang in My Sweet Lord. There is a great deal of doubt and skeptism in this world about the existence of God, even from so-called believers. Like Doubting Thomas, they want proof, but it seems no proof is forthcoming. Another line from Harrison; however, says “it won’t take long my Lord”. This is acknowledgement that if one begins the process of chanting the Holy Names that one will quickly experience God and have the proof that is desired. One will soon be in the presence of God.

The Maha-Mantra
The chanting that Lord Caitanya spoke of is called the Maha-Mantra (the Great Mantra). It is comprised of three of the names of God: Hare, Krishna, and Rama.
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare
Hare Rama, Hare Rama
Rama Rama, Hare Hare

Hare is the spiritual energy of God, and also represents the feminine aspect of the divine as Radha. Krishna, a name that implies universal attraction, is the Supreme Personification of the Godhead. Rama, who entered the world in human form, is the supreme enjoyer. It is through Him that we find true happiness. (Readers from a Christian background may find a strong similarity to the Trinity. Krishna would equate to God the Father, Rama to God the Son, and Hare as the Holy Spirit.)

Lord Caitanya taught that a devotee of Krishna should chant this mantra on a string of japa beads (similar to a rosary). The string contains 108 beads, and one chants the mantra once on each bead. After 108 times, one round of japa is completed. Caitanya advised that one should chant 64 rounds each day. In this way, the mind would constantly be focused upon Krishna to the exclusion of everything else. Recent spiritual guides, such as Srila Prabhupada, have lessened the number to 16 rounds per day due to the pressures and duties of modern life.

The key point is to ensure that one is constantly thinking of Krishna. The process of Bhakti-yoga requires that one offer devotional service to the Lord with love. So, one’s actions should be directed toward the service of the Lord and one should always be thinking of the Lord. In this way, one will remember and regain one’s original position as servitor of the Lord, and not be bothered by suffering from the illusions of the material world.

For the Tour please go to www.Gurudas108.com