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MAGIC TOWN

By Gurudas
aka Roget Siegel

Oh country village
tulsi forest
named Vrindavan

Even the rocks are alive
for the pleasure of Govinda
the trees
are swaying hairs
twisted in a dance
with the Lord

Birds fly in and out
of the window
of my adobe hut
In Vrindavan animals and humans
interact
geckos on walls
sparrows in the houses
monkeys swinging on electrical wires
bats flying
owls eating
peacocks calling
buffalo soaking
donkeys hauling
cows mooing
camels snorting
elephants trumpeting
horses neighing
as fathers watch
their children play
riding on a water buffalo’s back
in the Jamuna river

A clay pot
made of earth
is used and broken
merging back into the earth
A pair of shoes
or winter hat
are tailored from start to finish
children learning numbers spiritually
one God
two to love
three Dieties
Brahma Shiva and Vishnu
four Kumaris
five Rishis
six Goswamis
seven Temples
eight Gopis
nine gates of the body
ten directions

Auspicious guides
talk to me within
everything in order
exemplified by
all the new baby animals
that come out seasonally
when it’s their time

Positive portents
flags waving
full water buckets
elephants spewing water
saints singing

Ill omens show too
empty water pots
flags drooping
owls screeching
barking dogs
clouds raining blood
the left side of a face twitching
people cheating

We are minor players
darkness to light
eternal prayers
all day and night
We see the stars
and dance in the full moon

Goswamis and ancient sadhus
walked these sands
and form the backbone
of our path
pilgrims pray
while babas laugh

Let my love
in compassion’s ray
uncompromising
as nature’s play
come inside me and stay

Elusive Blue Boy
whom I don’t know
I can feel your shelter
in this protective place

Why then do I run away
from your home?
What compels me
in crowded cities?
Seduced by secondary illusions
accepted as primary importance
life’s cosmetic shadows
mix with soot
neon rays swallowed by
cracks in yellowing walls

Oh green hills I hear your call
I remember forest groves
where divinity romps
and magic pastimes abound

I snuggle in
Your milky bosom
softly I drink your essence
security in every drop
of holy water

Cows freely give religiosity
flowing from Surabi’s
milky drops

Chintamani
Your touchstone nectar
makes the lame walk
and the blind to see
Your silk like hair
is swaying kusha grass
the very straw mats
that sages pray on

Lying down on golden sands
as nearby Jamuna’s river shores
black and white striped birds
dive into Your watery mouth
Kalindi or jamuna you
flow to reunite with Mother Ganges
getting together
in Pravag’s Kumba mela place

Above demigods are
pulled by snowy swans
and scented water fountains
spray in celestial gardens
whilst they shower
us with rose petals
from above

we taste the tears of joy
from the great Rasa dance
as Krishna dances with the Gopis
with each cow girl individually
under the full moon light

Chakora birds eat moon beams
during all night chanting kirtans
I shared my heart
with ex-kings
and singing saints

Encircling you my holy Vrindavan
on parikrima path
in fresh morning’s dew
my bare feet
touching your white sands
makes me weep
Your sweetened countenance
is reflected in your pearly shores
or Madhuban forest glen
playing hide and seek

You offer Annapurna’s peaks
like a babe
I wander and drink
from mountainous breasts

In mystic forests
desire trees abound
kadamba and champa
hold the stolen clothes
of the Gopis
as they bathe
in the Jamuna River
lazily we play
and love in your boughs
dream in your branches
and wade on your banks

Soma elixir divine appears
fruits jump into my mouth
everyone is cared for
like sticks pilgrims pray
lying prone
praying for the touch of Govinda
of Your red lotus feet
on their reverent forms

So you can embrace
and know us all
even the small grasses
jump into place

humbly awaiting
your foot’s embrace
heaven’s grace
from Your pores
the struggle gone
in your sheltering doors
ecstasy abounds
in chanting dance
oh country village
a magic romance

Vrindavan, India 1974

For all his books please visit www.Gurudas108.com

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

MORE FOR YOU
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