Tag Archives: #becausewecare

To Collect Debts, Nursing Homes Are Seizing Control Over Patients

From The New York Times: A New York State statute to protect the infirm has become a routine tool for nursing homes to ensure bills are paid.

Lillian Palermo tried to prepare for the worst possibilities of aging. An insurance executive with a Ph.D. in psychology and a love of ballroom dancing, she arranged for her power of attorney and health care proxy to go to her husband, Dino, eight years her junior, if she became incapacitated. And in her 80s, she did.

Mr. Palermo, who was the lead singer in a Midtown nightclub in the 1960s when her elegant tango first caught his eye, now regularly rolls his wife’s wheelchair to the piano at the Catholic nursing home in Manhattan where she ended up in 2010 as dementia, falls and surgical complications took their toll. He sings her favorite songs, feeds her home-cooked Italian food, and pays a private aide to be there when he cannot.

But one day last summer, after he disputed nursing home bills that had suddenly doubled Mrs. Palermo’s copays, and complained about inexperienced employees who dropped his wife on the floor, Mr. Palermo was shocked to find a six-page legal document waiting on her bed.

It was a guardianship petition filed by the nursing home, Mary Manning Walsh, asking the court to give a stranger full legal power over Mrs. Palermo, now 90, and complete control of her money.

Few people are aware that a nursing home can take such a step. Guardianship cases are difficult to gain access to and poorly tracked by New York State courts; cases are often closed from public view for confidentiality. But the Palermo case is no aberration. Interviews with veterans of the system and a review of guardianship court data conducted by researchers at Hunter College at the request of The New York Times show the practice has become routine, underscoring the growing power nursing homes wield over residents and families amid changes in the financing of long-term care.

In a random, anonymized sample of 700 guardianship cases filed in Manhattan over a decade, Hunter College researchers found more than 12 percent were brought by nursing homes. Some of these may have been prompted by family feuds, suspected embezzlement or just the absence of relatives to help secure Medicaid coverage. But lawyers and others versed in the guardianship process agree that nursing homes primarily use such petitions as a means of bill collection — a purpose never intended by the Legislature when it enacted the guardianship statute in 1993.

At least one judge has ruled that the tactic by nursing homes is an abuse of the law, but the petitions, even if they are ultimately unsuccessful, force families into costly legal ordeals.

“It’s a strategic move to intimidate,” said Ginalisa Monterroso, who handled patient Medicaid accounts at the Mary Manning Walsh Nursing Home until 2012, and is now chief executive of Medicaid Advisory Group, an elder care counseling business that was representing Mr. Palermo in his billing dispute. “Nursing homes do it just to bring money.”

“It’s so cruel,” she added. “Mr. Palermo loves his wife, he’s there every single day, and they just threw him to the courts.”

Brett D. Nussbaum, a lawyer who represents Mary Manning Walsh and many other nursing homes, said Mr. Palermo’s devotion to his wife was irrelevant to the decision to seek a court-appointed guardian in July, when the billing dispute over his wife’s care reached a stalemate, with an outstanding balance approaching $68,000.

The Palermos at the Mary Manning Walsh Nursing Home, which had tried to obtain guardianship over Mrs. Palermo. Credit Piotr Redlinski for The New York Times

“The Palermo case is no different than any other nursing home bill that they had difficulty collecting,” Mr. Nussbaum said, estimating that he had brought 5,000 guardianship cases himself in 21 years of practice. “When you have families that do not cooperate and an incapacitated person, guardianship is a legitimate means to get the nursing home paid.”

Guardianship transfers a person’s legal rights to make some or all decisions to someone appointed by the court — usually a lawyer paid with the ward’s money. It is aimed at protecting people unable to manage their affairs because of incapacity, and who lack effective help without court action. Legally, it can supplant a power of attorney and a health care proxy.

Although it is a drastic measure, nursing home lawyers argue that using guardianship to secure payment for care is better than suing an incapacitated resident who cannot respond.

Mr. Palermo, 82, was devastated by the petition, brought in the name of Sister Sean William, the Carmelite nun who is the executive director of Mary Manning Walsh. “It’s like a hell,” he said last fall, speaking in the cadences of the southern Italian village where he grew up in poverty in a family of eight. “Never in my life I was sued for anything. I just want to take care of my wife.”

A court evaluator eventually reported that Mr. Palermo was the appropriate guardian, and questioned why the petition had been filed. But the matter still dragged on, and Mr. Palermo, who had promised to pay any arrears once Medicaid completed a recalculation of the bill, grew distraught as his expenses fighting the case reached $10,000.

In the end, Medicaid’s recalculation put his wife’s monthly copay at $4,558.54, almost $600 less than the nursing home had claimed, but still far more than the $2,642 Mr. Palermo had been paying under an earlier Medicaid calculation. As soon as the nursing home cashed his check for the outstanding balance, it withdrew the guardianship petition.

“They chose to use a strong-arm method, asking for somebody to be appointed to take over her funds, hoping for a rubber stamp to do their wishes,” said Elliott Polland, Mr. Palermo’s lawyer.

Many judges go along with such petitions, according to lawyers and others involved in the process. One judge who has not is Alexander W. Hunter Jr., a longtime State Supreme Court justice in the Bronx and Manhattan. In guardianship cases in 2006 and 2007, Justice Hunter ordered the nursing homes to bear the legal costs, ruling they had brought the petitions solely for the purpose of being paid and stating that this was not the Legislature’s intent when it enacted the statute, known as Article 81 of the Mental Hygiene Law.

Last year Justice Hunter did appoint a guardian in response to a petition by Hebrew Home for the Aged at Riverdale, but in his scathing 11-page decision, he directed the guardian to investigate and to consider referring the case for criminal prosecution of financial exploitation.

The decision describes a 94-year-old resident with a bank balance of $240,000 who had been unable to go home after rehabilitative treatment because of a fire in her co-op apartment; her only regular visitors were real estate agents who wanted her to sell. After Hebrew Home’s own doctor evaluated her as incapable of making financial decisions, the decision says, the nursing home collected a $50,000 check from her; it sued her when she refused to continue writing checks, then filed for guardianship.

“It would be an understatement to declare that this court is outraged by the behavior exhibited by the interested parties — parties who were supposed to protect the person, but who have all unabashedly demonstrated through their actions in connection with the person that they are only interested in getting paid,” he wrote.

Photographs of the Palermos from the late 1960s. Mrs. Palermo, now 90, has been living at the nursing home since 2010. Credit Nina Bernstein/The New York Times

Jennifer Cona, a lawyer for the nursing home, called the decision “grossly unfair to Hebrew Home,” but said she could not discuss details because the record was sealed.

Many cases in which judges grant nursing homes’ guardianship petitions never come to light. But one that challenges the legal propriety of such petitions for bill collection is now pending before the Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court. Without explanation, that record, too, is sealed from public scrutiny.

“There is no transparency in the whole process,” said Alexandra Siskopoulos, a lawyer who represents a relative of the nursing home resident in the appellate case — a relative who had wanted to take the resident home. “Unfortunately, people’s eyes are not opened until it’s their family member, and at that point, it’s too late.”

Throughout the country, data is lacking on the most basic facts about guardianships, even how many there are. In New York State, with different rules in 62 counties and no centralized database, it has taken a team of researchers more than two years to collect information from a fraction of case files in 14 counties, said Jean Callahan, the director of the Brookdale Center on Healthy Aging at Hunter College.

Preliminary findings of the center’s study are not expected until later this year, but at the request of The Times, the researchers undertook a breakdown of the petitioners in a sample of the 3,302 guardianship cases filed in Manhattan from 2002 to 2012. More frequent petitioners than nursing homes (12.4 percent) were hospitals (16.1 percent), friends and family (25.3 percent) and Adult Protective Services (40.1 percent).

New York’s guardianship statute was part of a national movement to limit guardianships to the least restrictive alternatives necessary to prevent harm. A petition is supposed to be brought only by someone with the person’s welfare at heart, and guardianship is to be tailored to individual needs, taking into account the person’s wishes.

Instead, Ms. Callahan said, “it has become a system that’s very focused on finances.”

One afternoon, Mrs. Palermo dozed in her wheelchair while her husband described their careful preparations for old age, and the shock of discovering that papers drawn up by an elder law specialist were insufficient protection.

He recalled the fear and anger he felt when he first read the nursing home’s petition, on his bus ride back to a rent-stabilized apartment on East 36th Street filled with mementos of their happy marriage. They have no children. “Who better than me, the husband for 47 years, that she gave power of attorney?” he asked.

As his voice grew anguished, Mrs. Palermo began to moan and cry out incoherently. “Are you O.K., baby?” he asked, jumping up to embrace her. “Now, don’t do that. Come on, give me a hug.”

He soothed her in Italian, speaking of the polenta he had made for her that morning. He wheeled her to the dining room. Later, he would serenade her.

But in the night, again he could not sleep for worry. He fingered drafts of his own petitions, hand-lettered pages that he debated sending to nursing home administrators. One was addressed “To God and to whom it may concern.”

“I’m trapped in a web of people and lawyers that will exhaust my 50 years of sacrifices and savings,” he wrote. “Please, dear God, grant me strength and wisdom to take care of my wife.”

If not now, then when?

Love Is The Best Medicine & The Soul Of A Farmer
By Lisa

I would describe Jatayu’s situation as being similar to watering a garden with roundup. Dying a slow death.

He has been a farmer and lived on fresh vegetables his whole life. In tune with nature, in touch with the seasons, one with the outdoor world. Almost every day of his adult life in contact with sunshine, fresh air.

Now he lives on a diet of prescription drugs, confined in a small hospital room where fluorescent lighting has replaced the sun, and the stale, cold recycled air is filled with sickness and death. There are no birds or trees and you never see the sky. There is constant, amplified, artificial, surround sound disturbing noises coming from all directions that even ear plugs would not allow one to escape.

They keep him sedated to keep him calm. Yes he has a heart condition, but he doesn’t like having to take to take ten different drugs or endure their severe and countless side effects.

He enjoyed the carrot juice I brought for him but was so weak he could barely hold the cup to drink it. We joked that I didn’t grow the carrots but I juiced them. We wanted to take him for a walk outside, in a wheelchair, a little fresh air after almost 3 weeks in this environment. But the nurse said no. That they didn’t want to stimulate him because he could get upset. I would be more than upset in his condition too. So we opted for a few slow laps around the nurses stations on his floor. He brightened up as we began softly chanting while we walked. Passing door after door, you could not avoid seeing or hearing the sufferings of his neighboring patients. He said he had seen it all since he had been there. Even though a few of the nursing staff were exceptionally joyful and happy to see him, it was a sliver of light in what could be the scene of a twilight zone nightmare movie.

Once you are in this system, you may never get out. I’ve worked in nursing homes before. With all its good intentions and well meaning staff, the patients were kept sedated too, because there wasn’t enough personalism to meet their needs if they were too functional. Many of them wanted to die than live in this kind of hellish prison. I could understand why. I would too. After a few months of seeing the inside of an elder home system and crying myself to sleep on a nightly basis with the sadness I felt, not being able to really help the residents, I quit and went into private duty caregiving, where I could have more personal care and time with the elderly in need.

Jatayu was functional but barely. He has round the clock supervision and is definitely not able to care for himself. He was shaky, unsteady, and had a risk of falling sign on his door and wristband, likely due to the medication. He said there is not much personalism in there and was confused why they can’t they pay the staff more to give better care. His room was a mess and he lacked proper warm clothes and a suitcase. I understand that his state of mind at the time of his car accident was in rough shape, and that all of his possessions are in mixed chaos in his van.

Devaki dd had brought him a cd player, headphones and chanting music to listen to, but the staff don’t have time or interest to manage helping him play it and he thought the batteries had died. So it just sat on his bedside table unused. I asked him what was his favorite kirtan music and he said Prabhupada chanting. So I pulled up one of Prabhupada’s YouTube videos on my phone and played it next to his ear as he laid in bed. He smiled, started crying saying Prabhupada, Prabhupada and soon drifted to sleep.

As my friend Gajendra and I prepared to leave, we leaned over to whisper goodbye. He started to cry again as he expressed to us how grateful he was we came to visit him and began telling us about Haridas Thakur in relation to Sri Chaitanya, how the company of devotees is the most meaningful thing in life.

He said being in a place like that, on so many medications, with no exercise or sunshine makes you wither away. He didn’t think he has long to live and wants to die in the company of devotees. He said he has never suffered like this before and you could tell the experience has left him with a heavy heart, a fragile body and a confused mind.

I left the hospital with my own deep sadness and confusion. How is it possible that there is no solid, functioning, fully funded Krishna Conscious, devotee living option, center(s), for those in need, whether senior citizens, hospice care, disabled, homeless? A kind of spiritual retirement farm of low income or high means, anywhere in Alachua, in Florida, in the US or the entire world? Those residents with means would pay for care and help offset the expenses of those who could not pay.

Jatayu was moved to a senior care center in St. Pete today for rehab, but I don’t think that’s the kind of rehab that will help him. He wants to stay where there is devotee association.

I am aware and very much appreciate what Gurudas, Aradhana and locally, Devaki of the Vedic Care Charitable Trust is trying to do in this arena. It’s an enormous task and the best and only program it seems that is even addressing this issue in the devotee community. But as wonderful as it is, unfortunately they are not receiving adequate support. Is it possible that we can organize a meeting in Alachua with the VCC team to expedite a plan for increasing their resources, organization and funding?

If I am incorrect in my understanding, that there is no established care home or center, anywhere in the world, at this time, where a devotee like Jatayu would be welcomed, cared for and able to live out the rest of his life in peace, with dignity, in the association and protection of devotional caregivers, would someone please contact us with this information.

With the population of aging devotees growing, why isn’t this kind of service or facility a foundational priority, to uphold the core principals of Krishna Consciousness pivotal to the mission Prabhupada stood for?

What is self sufficiency and sustainability that does not care for devotees in their darkest hour?

What is the point of having countless other types of worldwide spiritual projects if we are not able to provide the most basic caregiving, especially at the end of life?

Why not start teaching our children the importance of self sufficiency, that includes increased awareness around death and dying through intergenerational living programs that train and employ younger caregivers, and farmers?

When I first came to the Alachua community more than 10 years ago, I was most inspired by the simple living, high thinking teachings of the Krishna philosophy. I had never heard of any religion or spiritual organization with this focus, and I had never met a spiritual farmer.

Meeting Jatayu and having a direct, real world experience of these combined principals for conscious living was a core element in furthering my association with the temple and devotees, and I would say a pivotal reason I am still here. It gave me a kind of optimism that there really were people on this planet that had an understanding of the right ways to live in harmony with the Earth while seeking God.

It was a natural step to connect with Jatayu. His bright and bubbly personality mixed with his dedication for returning to natural farming was impactful. He lived and breathed having his hands in the soil and I had a longstanding desire for living in a spiritual, green community. He was always at the temple every Sunday with tables full of produce he had picked that morning. He wanted an ox and told stories of his early days as a devotee farmer. It didn’t take long for us to realize our combined talents and optimism would be able to advance his efforts and greater outreach for organic produce education, and I soon joined his farm to create and manage his first Community Supported Agriculture/CSA farm program.

Soon after that, because of him, I started my first real garden. We laughed at how the deer ate the whole thing, right before harvest time, before I could. From there I grew a multitude of new endeavors and ideas, diving even deeper into connecting gardening and healthier living. My kitchen also became an indoor garden (deer proof) where I experimented and watched in wonder as new things came to life, and turned them into everything from kale chips, hummus, kombucha and wheatgrass juice to fermented vegetables and seed butters. And there were always talks and dreams of having a cottage industry farm business in the devotee community.

Working with Jatayu was the most meaningful right livelihood job experiences I have ever had. One that gave me a new lease on life I wanted to share with the world. I watched in awe as the public and devotees alike sprouted new energy and vitality every time we would set up the vegetable stand, both at the temple and local farmers markets. It brought people together and gave them something to believe in, formed lasting friendships, it motivated a priority for better health, it raised awareness about natural living, a vegetarian diet, Krishna. It was a place many stood in line to talk with Jatayu about farming as they filled their baskets with a rainbow of fresh living foods to feed their families. But more than that, I witnessed them filling and feeding their hearts with hope in something deeper than words can describe. There was an air of truth that became evident in this space, where Krishna smiled and gave his blessing. I miss this time and I miss the Jatayu that I witnessed bringing vibrance, life, love, hope and meaning into the lives of many. I will always remember with great affection, the effect he had on my life.

People may ask, what about this mistake he made, or this thing he didn’t do. I do not judge these things, that is Krishna’s job. But I do want to honor his efforts and successes where he invested his entire life. I think we all would like that people remember the good we did in the world instead of finding judgement with our faults.
I make this plea for his welfare, to create a path of gratitude, returning our appreciation for what he did do to bring attention and real world application to Prabhupada’s mission for self sufficient farm communities.

We may have lost the ability to have him serve as a role model and teacher for devotional farming, but we should not lose the lessons of the seeds he planted.

His heartbreaking circumstance shines light on a beautiful opportunity and raises important questions that can’t be ignored. I can’t help but ask, if this need is not seriously addressed now, then when?

In service,
Hare Krishna

Travels with Gurudas in Europe

Travels with Gurudas in Europe

By Gurudas, edited by Anata Sesa das

Bhakta Chaitanya Swami met me in Montreal for a festival of India, and he invited me to the summer festival in Lithuania. Since I experienced other festivals in The Ukraine, and Czech Republic, I agreed to go with him. At the other festivals, I was impressed with the enthusiasm, discipline and receptiveness of the participants. 
As a result, I asked if I could go to the Czech Republic as well. I had visited there four times previously, and had many friends in that part of the world. The trip was arranged, and the challenges in traveling became lighter due to the grace and mercy of Krishna and Prabhupada.

I met Prabhupada when he came west. Working together, we started, formed, and built the beginning foundation of Krishna consciousness in the Western world and then internationally. We started with nothing– just the Swamiji. We had no tulsi beads, mridanga’s, kartals, prayers books, elders to learn from, no movement, no money or anything. What we had was the Swami who gave us the Vedic culture. Prabhupada once said, ” I gave them something tangible–the Vedic culture.”

As I experienced Krishna’s love inside and out, I wished to give both Radha and Krishna’s love to everyone. This love is present whenever I see new temples, with old familiar photos of my parampara gurus, beautiful decorated Deities, and Prabhupada sitting there regally. I feel that divine love in other places half way around the world when devotees speak the same language through prayers, bhajans, kirtans and service attitudes.

Prabhupada gave me the principal das anu das, which means, we serve each other with love. Due to this principle, I want to see the successes of my spiritual family.
 Therefore, when I see progress such as Govinda’s restaurants, bakeries, farms,  prasadam factories, beekeepers, children, people hugging, people smiling, people ecstatically dancing with an attitude to serve,  it brings joy to my heart.
 In spite of growing pains, and some mismanagement, I see ongoing progress of Krishna consciousness in the West.

This was the wish of Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati. The essence is the same as when Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu changed people’s lives through the Maha Mantra. His efforts brought the holy names to every town, village and country. All of this was accomplished because of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, and it is still going on


After landing in Latvia, we were met with smiles respect and garlands. We rode to Riga, where I was greeted with a kirtan party, and given a tour of the Riga Krishna temple. The building included a restaurant, an ayurvedic clinic, residential quarters for men and woman, and a very nice room for me. I was informed by the lovely lady hostess, that my Braja brother Dina Bandhu would be sleeping across from me later that night. Old friends and new friends are met on these magical Krishna tours.

The next morning, we piled into a van with Dina Bandhu, His assistant Arjun, the wife of the driver and his child sat in the front seat, and other devotee girls sat in the back seats. We stopped and had a prasadam picnic near a sea-side resort. We explored the resort, and then went on to Vilnius, Lithuania. Once again, we were greeted by a kirtan party (just like the old days). I was escorted to a very nice suite. It had one room with a desk, couch, and table. There was also a kitchen and sleeping quarters. The site had workshop rooms, p

ools and saunas. A lake and forest were nearby.
While in Latvia, I had two assistants assigned to me.

The next morning, Bhavananda, one of the assistants, took me to me to a large tent wherein about 800 devotees were ecstatically chanting and dancing. It contained an altar with all our inspirations decorated beautifully. There were also altars on the side.

While there, I proposed several seminars:
1) “Prabhupada is with us”
2) “Every town and village” {the history of Krishna Consciousness in the Western World}
3) “Krishna Consciousness is a great and joyful adventure”.

I spoke morning, evening and in between, while the younger devotees lapped up the nectar like kittens. The various Swamis also appreciated the talks, and asked questions from me. This is a list of the Maharajas present: Shubha Swami,
Dhirashanta Swami (He was with me as a bramachari during the early days in Vrindavan), Niranjan Swami, Sat Chid Ananda Swami, Chaitanya Swarup Swami, Chaitanya Swami, and Dina Bandhu.

The morning kirtans involved lively dancing and nourishing holy names. There were also gifts presented by many, including some artists. Kunda data devi dasi (Kamile Tamosulnaite) gave me some art etchings as a gift.

We rode to Riga with a nice family. The driver was a gifted astrologer and palmist; while his mother was an elderly devotee. Another bright-faced Bramacharini squeezed in. As we entered Riga, and crossed the river, I saw the old and new towns. The temple was in a great location. Kirtan and smiling devotees greeted me again in Riga. In fact, warm welcomes seemed to great us at each placw we visited.

I gave the evening class.  As someone in Britain once said, “Gurudas mixes Prabhupada and Krishna.” When I discuss Prabhupada as a person, I speak of his courage, humor, wit, intelligence, compassion, and open mindedness. The third generation of devotees only know Prabhupada through his wonderful writings. Many realizations come from this awesome and instructive perspective, so when they see Prabhupada in his personal way, they understand his real greatness. They see that he practiced the shastras daily, and they see how he manifested the Vedic culture in the modern materialistic world. People say that “my realization and flavor of Krishna Consciousness has changed for the better,” and “I feel you have brought Prabhupada to us.”

Most of the Eastern European devotees lived under strict totalitarian regimes, they already lived simply, and so they eagerly accept the simple living and high thinking, as well as the exoticness of the Krishna consciousness philosophy.

We went early to the airport, where we took Ryan airlines to Prague (or Narayan airlines, as we like to say). In Prague, we met some old friends and recorded a few bhajans such as “Gauranga Bolite Habe”, “Gurudev Kripa”, “Nitaipada Kamala”, and the “Hare Krishna Maha Mantra”. After the recording session, I gave a class at the Prague temple.

Jay Gurudev, a College Professor, arranged for me to stay in a college facility in a room overlooking a running track and footbal field. The Prague skyline could be seen in the distance as soaring swallows zipped near the window.

The next day, I had breakfast with Prema Priya and Puniya  Palika . Their daughter was getting married in a few weeks. After breakfast, Puniya Palika and I walked through a green park and past an old monastery. Then we got on the bus (they don’t charge seniors) and rode to a Krishna temple in Prague. At the temple, I met Sridhar Swami from Poland, who was at Chestahova in 1976 when Avenesh Chandra, Bhakti Bhibhava Swami, Suhotra and I were there. Chitrashekar was also present.

A photographer from Poland picked us up in a car, and we rode to the riverside docks. Puniya Palika arranged a boat ride. Then we met Captain Milan, and meandered peacefully in the middle of the river. This allowed us to see Prague, the beautiful city of towers, from another perspective. Thank you Krishna for opening doors, introducing me to people, allowing me to serve, and taking me on boat rides.

The next day I saw my old friends from Prague, and I gave the Sunday love feast talk. One of the old friends at the Prague temple was Kate, who ran a hotel castle, and theater. She is probably going to live at the Prague farm to continue her devotional life.

Padapangana took us to Nava Sady, a village where many devotee families live and work at the Damodar prasadam, catering and manufacturing plant. I was given a tour of a building next door that was new since the last visit. Panga told me of a big factory in a nearby town that was a possible site for the Vedic Care Charity (www.VedicCare.org).

I usually stayed with Lila Purosshattam, but Stitha Krishna Swami was staying there, so I stayed with Pada Panga and his family. They showed me before and after photos of the temple. There were two abhisheks, and one julan ceremony taking place. Maharaja and I sat on the vyas together. I like him because he is genially humble, curious and scholarly.

During the morning class on Janmashtami, the devotees asked me what quality of Srila Prabhupada impressed me the most? I responded, “His mercy”, and everyone laughed. Then I spoke about Prabhupada’s forgiveness, mercy, and inclusiveness. My friend, Shymananda, gave me a Venu Gita by Shivaram Swami that I read on the ride. I enjoyed devouring the nectar just in time for Janmashtami.

Padapankija told me that he bought another building in a nearby town, and asked if I would like to see it for a possible care facility. Purroshattam, Stitha Krishna Swami, Shymananda, Puniya Palika and I rode to the factory building. It is huge and can have many uses. We again talked about using the building as a care for devotees facility. Such a facility could house a school, care rooms, and a multi-faceted healing center (which could include Vedic arts and culture healing workshops). There would also be room for administrative offices and an organic farm plot. We will see what Radha Krishna have planned for us.

After the Vyas Puja feast, we rode to the Prague  Krsna Dvir farm with my good friends Pada Pankaja, Puniya Palika, and Shyamanada. We stopped at a Govinda’s restaurant in a nearby town and I saw my old friend Lilla Shakti, wife of Priya Kirti. She ran over and embraced me. Their son, Vamsi, smiled and greeted me.
He had two ice creams with umbrellas, and I always have a gift for him, so we made a paper car and boat. Later, I remembered how to make a paper airplane for him. I discovered that the Govinda’s restaurant also fed homeless people after closing.

I stayed with a wonderful family: Keshava Puri, Yoga Mayyee and Bhakta Mayee. Bhakta Mayee was a special child, who also warmed up to me as I was playful with her. They were formal at first, but soon they relaxed and we became a family, which I considered a great compliment. They took me to a Castle on the way to the post office. Deena Bhandu was arriving, so we reunited at a lunch from the devotees that run the Balaram restaurant in Prague.

On Sunday, I was visited by Martin Bursik, the minister of the Environment in the Czech Republic, and his wife.  Two other friends happened by. Ladislav Heryan , or Ladin as he is known, is a priest for the youth, and the other was a priestess from the Ukraine.

I opened up the Trutnov Open Air Music Festival with them two years earlier. She held the Ukrainian flag, and a 32-person kirtan band appeared on stage. We reminisced and exchanged many ideas. Martin had once met the Dalai Lama, and had a ring given to him. When their child chimed in sweetly I said, “She is the future.” They excitedly said, “That is what the Dalai Lama said to her also.” We proposed to form a gathering with the theme “Spirituality and the Environment”, and invited the Dalai Lama as well.

I am especially fond of Priya Kirti and family and we talked about starting a Vedic care project over lunch prasadam. Kesava Puri drove us back to Prague, I stayed at the college and gave two classes at the Prague temple, and a love feast with Nara Hari and Maha Duti Swami.

The next day, at the Airportin Belgium, there was a terrorist alert and I had to move through security twice. Finally, I spied a tilak and a devotee wearing it, and he helped out with suitcases. We rode through the Belgium countryside and a WW II battlefield before arriving at Radhadesh. Aradhana, who so expertly arranged everything, was meeting me from England. She is very thoughtful and expert, so the classes, meetings and tours at Radhadesh were paced nicely.

In fact, she facilitated my whole trip wonderfully. I toured the wood furnace, solar heating, the guesthouses, seminar hall, restaurant, boutique bakery, art gallery and museum.

Bhagavati, a wonderfully intelligent and competent devotee, has already been assisting devotees who died in Radhadesh. She is maintaining a room in cooperation with us at the Vedic Care. She is a devotee of Kadana Kanana Swamiji, who I had met before, (so another old Swamiji friend–there are so many). He sings like an angel and has overcome many obstacles by Krishna’s protection and Grace.

Ram das and Dhiti Dasi, artists from California, were teaching an art class and we became friends. Other devotees, such as President Manohar das and Mahaprabu were hospitable. We had some meetings regarding care for devotees as a possible college course. Eventually.  Dina Dayal, the director of the Bhaktivedanta College, took me on a tour to nearby rock formations.

We met with Bhagavati many times in an attempt to secure our plan to continue her service of care.  She had served three dying devotees recently, and it is important to secure more rooms for this purpose.

 Aradhana and I rode the train to London. It was a pleasant and easy ride from St. Pancreas station to London. My friend Yasodananda was there and greeted us.
That night, there was a house gathering with more Prabhupada katha.

The next morning, we attended a Srimad Bhagvatam class at Sri Sri London Iswara temple in Soho. Aradhana arranged a two-day filming with Barnaby at Birkbeck University, followed by an evening gathering

 on Radhastami in London. Deena Bandhu gave me his last copy of Vraja lilla and I gave a two-hour talk during which I read from Bhakti Rasamirtra Sindhu, Venu Gita and the Vraja lilla. I shared how Radaharani is the giver of compassion, and manifested Vrindavan for Krishna’s pleasure, and her wonderful qualities.

After some more filming, we took a train to Elstree and lunch at Sri Kama’s and Kishore’s. Then we visited Bhaktivedanta Manor, George’s garden, and did some filming in Prabhupada’s rooms. We then met with Gaura and talked about how they would adopt care for elderly devotees.  He also proposed a book launch tour for my up-coming book of my classic photos of A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami.

An evening gathering at Gangamata’s Gauidiya Math was very nice.
 I had a morning meeting with Rama Narishima, Aradhana, and Radha Priya dd.
Then we traveled to Gatwick, where as usual, my competent wearer of many hats helped rearrange suitcases crammed with many gifts and appreciations.

As always, it is rewarding to bring Prabhupada’s compassion, mercy, humor, flexibility, adventurous curiosity, and open mindedness to many. One can witness the transformation as the flavor of Krishna changes from the awesome and stern instruction to real personalism, love and understanding of how it began.
I watched as stoic faces changed into smiles, tears and laughter as they met Swamiji. This is my and our legacy.

The Success Story of Sudhama Maharaj

By Gurudas,

A gray faced man let Varuna and I into the national hotel.
He buzzed us through a heavy metal latticed door.
We walked up the dingy stairs to the third floor.
The halls were filled with debris, needles, children’s toys, clothes, and a cat wandering aimlessly..

We went to the third floor.
Some of the doors were open, with music, shouts, and various members of humanity inviting us into their dens.

Our mission then was to find Sudhama. Sudhama who loved and served Prabhupad. By now his disease had spread, and he was dying.
Loud sounds music, arguing, people banging on the walls greeted us.
Sudhama’s room was at the end of the hall of many small rooms.

Even though he was sick and dying, his room was meticulous, and everything was in place, there was a bed a small desk which was now an altar, a hot plate in the kitchen area.  His clothes were pressed and grains were in jars/pressed and immaculate, hanging on a pipe.

The window looked onto a a brick alley. Someone was banging on the wall again. Sudhama said “come in”,  weakly when we knocked. He was skinny and emaciated, yet he smiled and perked up when he saw us. He was frightened, his eyes were hollow.

They said “I don’t want to die”. However he was too weak to entertain, and we asked him if he would like to get out of this unsavory hotel. He immediately said yes, and we arranged for him to fly to the Los Angeles Krishna Temple, and into the loving care of Omkara devi dasi. Subsequently the transition in a proper manner and environment.

This is just one instant where I was privileged to be at the bedside or helping a great Vaishnava into Krishna’s care.

Hare Krsna! Jaya Sudhama Maharaj!

A ‘Vedic Care’ Success Story

Hare Krsna dear Gurudas Prabhu,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

In August you visited and lived in our house. You gave
a lecture on Harinam, and a few lectures in our
temple in …

My little daughter is ill and our business felt apart. I hope you remember us. I thought of you so many times. I remember how you held my hands and prayed for me while I was crying.

I do not know how to express my thankfulness that you treated me in such a personal and human way. Even from last year my memories were that you are so personal, with you I felt like with my family. Many devotees were nice to me when they found out we were in such difficult time, but for me you are totally extraordinary because I felt extraordinary care and endeavor to understand me and feel with me. Such warmth coming from you.

And I wanted to write you this, that your approach is so deeply carved in my heart. Even if I was not able to meet you again, you left such impression on me that I will remember that till the end of my life.

Thank you for showing us what it means to be a Vaishnava.
I am so grateful I got to know you. Wishing you all the best!

Your servant,
… devi dasi

Devotee’s names and place are omitted for privacy.

Gurudas is the Founder of the Vedic Care Charity ~ www.VedicCare.org

Care of Devotees

By Gurudas

To all Vaishnava devotees,

Prabhupad said “Those who have given their lives for Krishna should be taken care of at the end”.

When I said “Prabhupad sometimes I am sad by the way people treat each other, and sometimes…. Prabhupad replied “Why sometimes, we should always be compassionate.” And he bandaged my foot; himself, in Vrindavan when my foot was cut.

I heard recently a female devotee who gave ten years of full time service to Temples, was neglected by the devotee administrators, and shipped off to her parents who do not support Krishna consciousness and eat meat, etc.

There are too many stories of neglect or even abuse to elders and devotees in general.

Do not turn your backs on aging devotees who have served for most of their life; some for 50 years.
We are not ready to be forgotten.
We are still serving,

Das anu das is one of the main principles Prabhupad gave us. And it works when we perform it sincerely.

Again: “Any one who has given their life for Krishna, should be cared for at the end.”… A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad.

We at the Vedic Care Cooperative want to provide a model Vedic atmosphere for devotees and other spiritual seekers in need. However we cannot do this in every town and village, so we will assist, teach care, give classes, create more devotee care-giving Out-Reach Teams, etc.; but we really want all of you to take notice and create care places in your temples, homes, etc.

We can be examples of a positive alternative to the Callous apathetic material world, by caring for our own.
Please don’t turn your back!

We could be you,as you are getting older and you never know when you will be in need of care.

Please act on this need, or support our VedicCare.Org.

Truly yours,

The ‘Vedic Care’ Retreat in Paraty ~ Brazil

The Yoga & Ayurveda Retreat will be held in May 2018, in English, Portuguese and Spanish.

The Eco-Village and the Hotel Dharma Shala are in the mountainous jungle on the coast of Rio.

The Eco-Village has:
Many waterfalls in the mountains, near gorgeous preserved beaches; vegetable gardens, cows, exotic tropical birds, wild bananas, tropical fruit trees, fresh ‘ahimsa milk’ and a beautiful temple.

The Retreat offers:
Vegetarian and Vegan organic meals
Daily hikes to different waterfalls
Bhakti & Asana Yoga classes
Ayurvedic teachings
Shamanic experiences & Guided meditation
Vegetarian & Vegan Cooking classes
Kirtan (spiritual music sessions)
Herbal/Botanical Medicine/Natural healing
‘Cinema and the Psyche’ workshop
Murals and basic painting workshop

We will also have music and other performances during a bonfire on the last night.

Massages, one to one therapy with the Ayurveda, Natural Medicine Doctors and Counselors, day or half-day visits to the historic town and preserved beaches nearby can be arranged but are not included.

Seven Days and Six Nights

For Prices, Packages and the booking form to secure your place, please go to here.

Package prices include all seminars and workshops, its certificates and all meals. Not included: Flights and pickup /drop off at the Rio de Janeiro International Airport.  Pick-ups with our Van (12 persons) cost $60 each way.

Seminars/workshops descriptions are here

The location is near the costal town of Paraty, in the Rio de Janeiro State ~ Brazil.

See our amazing location in the video below or on Vimeo.


GURUDAS: Guided Meditation”, “We’re the Healers”, “History of Western Vaishnavism” with personal reportage photos and films, and “Introduction to Bhakti Yoga”
ARADHANA DEVI DASI: Introduction to Bhakti Yoga ~ Mantra Meditation
CHAITANYA SWARUP DAS: Ayurveda ~ Self Management of Health Seminar. You will learn a mixture of popular interest and advanced Ayurvedic concepts.
Dr. CAROLLE CHAPMAN: The Healing Power of Herbs ~ Our Friends and Supporters in Life, Health and Healing
Brief Introduction of the ancient use of herbs in all cultures to heal, and Introduction to Bhakti Yoga
MATTHEW JOSEPH MORREALE: Cinema and the Psyche workshop.  ‘Cinema and the Psyche’ is an exploring into the nature of cinema, the psyche and how they interrelate.
JODY VAN BRUNT: Asana & Pranayam. “I believe Yoga starts with the breath, if you can breathe you can do Yoga!”
SUE ANN BECK-RYAN: Murals and basic painting workshop
KIRTAN: (spiritual music) bhajan leaders from Brazil

Average Weather in April in Paraty

In Paraty, the month of April is characterized by gradually falling daily high temperatures, with daily highs decreasing by 3°F, from 85°F to 82°F over the course of the month, and rarely exceeding 92°F or dropping below 76°F.

Daily low temperatures decrease by 3°F, from 74°F to 70°F, rarely falling below 65°F or exceeding 77°F.

For further details please visit www.vediccare.org/paraty-retreat

All ‘Vedic Care’ Events are to assist the fundraising of our global endevours and model facility.

The ‘Vedic Care’ ~ An Oasis of Love