Tag Archives: #srilaprabhupada

Love, Medicine, and Music: The Flipside of the Sixties

An Evening with Gurudas Prabhu 2018

Dear Devotees and Readers,

Please accept my humble obeisances, all glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Thinking back to the evening, amid the music and the stories, and the sense of shared space and warmth that comes with gatherings such as this, one quote from Gurudas Prabhu has remained with me above the others, “We have family, now we need community.”

In some ways the sentiment might be baffling.  What is a community if not a kind of family?  Yet, as Gurudas Prabhu spoke on a time gradually fewer will be able to remember, fondly wearing the hat of his beloved Guru, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, I began to understand.

Much like today in many ways, 1960’s America was nothing if not a time of change.  Revolution followed revolution as a disenfranchised youth sought change and reformation in every place that offered it, and some, like Gurudas Prabhu, sought a spiritual revolution, a revolution of the heart through a radical decision to be happy without everything American consumerism told people they needed.

Many encountering what came to be known as the “Hare Krishna Movement,” or Gaudiya Vaishnavism in non-colloquial terms, had families, but family, like many people find, isn’t always the same as community, isn’t always the same as a group of people from different backgrounds and experiences choosing to be with each other out of love rather than obligation.

As Gurudas Prabhu told stories and shared memories of meeting the Beatles, his friendship with George Harrison, and his personal relationship with His Divine Grace, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, what stood out was his gentle love and affection for everyone he spoke of.  In a time when practitioners were being kidnapped off the streets to be held by the police or their families, coming from a background of social and civil activism, Gurudas Prabhu seemed to have never hardened, instead telling story after story of how Bhakti Yoga became revolutionary to so many, as Srila Prabhupada taught his clumsy and heartfelt disciples that in Bhakti Yoga there would be no difference between the men and women, no value to be put on class or race, that to be gentle with themselves and to learn was enough.

With shining eyes, as he discussed his early memories, Gurudas Prabhu said, “don’t beat yourself up—do things sincerely.  We are children.” When many find it easy to stress the aspects of discipline or austerity in a practice, the urge to put rules above affection, Gurudas Prabhu painted a unique picture of the social stresses of the time through a distinctly personal lens, that allowed no room for distancing the people of the 1960s from the social and historical personalities it’s viewed through now.  Because for Gurudas Prabhu, as he recalled his friends, his journey, and his guru, what he shared were memories and all that comes with them, rather than a speech or a lesson.

As we closed the evening with more kirtan and food, everyone sought to make sure Gurudas Prabhu received his refreshments first.  Yet as other students and myself sat on the floor to sing more kirtan while food was being served, Gurudas Prabhu held a pair of kartals with great care and seated himself on the floor with the rest of us, food temporarily forgotten as he sang with all of us, his smiling face that of a joyful youth.

A man who learned that the permission to be happy and serve the ones you love was a revolution to last generations, carried on the back of a gentle Swami from Kolkata to California, to meet Gurudas Prabhu and so many others as they were.  “We are children”, he said.  “Just do things sincerely.”

Thank you so much to ASSG, SOAC, and the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, and everyone from CSI who helped out for sponsoring this experience and allowing this event to be possible, and thank you, most sincerely, to Gurudas Prabhu himself.  The evening you gave to our campus and our humble club was an experience as valuable as it was special, and truly an evening to be cherished beyond all words.  Being able to share these aspects of Bhakti Yoga with the CU Boulder community was an honor made possible by all of you.

Sincerely with Affection,
Your Servants,
Panchali Walford & The CU Boulder Bhakti Yoga Club

To order Gurudas’ books, click here.

Peace is preferable to War

San Franscisco, June 2nd, 2018.

After 50 years of service to Krishna and Prabhupad I am saddened by the divisiveness of his family.

I am tired of the sectarianism, that separates rather then unites us.
We can do so much if we cooperate with the principals that Prabhupad gave us.

There are so many devotees feeling alone and apart. These schisms are based on adopting body consciousness which boxes people into surface identities that separates us.

Krishna’s variety encourages celebrating our differences rather than hating the unknown… This is counterproductive and not Vedic, which encourages sanatan dharma,  which transcends and supersedes this mundane thinking.

When so many people are trying to serve Krishna but in slightly different ways, instead of conflict on the mental platform, we can cooperate better. In other words, why can’t we get along?

We started as a growing family and helped Prabhupad and yes we grew because Krishna blessed our endeavors. We grew on the simple principal – das and das and “love and trust”.

As we grew like all movements and groups, some get titles, property wealth, false adoration, e.g. power. These hard hearted devotees take advantage of the soft hearted adherents. Many over the years have ignored our principals, so much so that changes were made to Prabhupad’s words, ideals and plans.

The soft hearted ones are true bhaktas and bhaktis as we were devotees and not business people per se. Of course all types are needed, but the merchant Vaisha types took advantage of the simple Brahmin devotees.

So I have seen this phenomena before: The beginning zeal and idealism tarnish into complacency and power struggles based on the ego false separations; but even the Bhagavad Gita started on a battle field, so it is under Krishna’s purview and these quarrels are material nature. But we could and should know better.

Prabhupad was our example on good manners and good management.

So I am sadden by so many mistakes and even insidious acts over the years, a far cry from Vaishnava ethics and behavior. Yet we have evolved and despite the mistakes, the broken marriages, the mistreatment of woman, children and men… Yes, also impersonalism in the guise of personalism and complacency.

Yet we have started farms, restaurant and schools, etc etc. etc. and grew in spite of a somewhat dysfunctional family, we are. We have grown. And as I travel around the world, I see great hope for our movement and our future. And any movement is made up of individuals. E.G: The army uniform and the person in the army are different. People and governments etc.

So we devotees, as individuals have rebelled against bad behavior, and carried on our Sadhana practices, which transcends sectarianism; we persevere through troubled waters, resolute in purpose, Bhakti Yoga or Love for Radha and Krishna; Our unified goal. And if we love them, then we can love others here on this planet, seeing into hearts and souls rather then dwelling on surface bodily perceptions.

So many devotees have left the ashrams and communities and forged ahead on their own. It is challenging to be transcendent of the material world (as we know better) when we are in the midst of nescience.

That is why community is important.

And yes, we have grown and yes, started so may projects including planetariums, but neglected one thing and that is devotee care.
So I started the idea and some very sincere souls coalesced together to help me actually begin to care by identifying those devotees who are isolated and poor and neglected – after years of service – by the insensitive authorities.

So by Krishna’s, Radarani’s,  Prabhupad’s  and Bhakti Tirtha Swami’s blessings and empowerment I started out. Planting the message of devotee care. Aradhana Devi Dasi, a once successful model and actress reached out to become our C.E.O. and together we formed the Vedic Care Charity.

We have ambassadors and well wishers all over the world, and we’re grateful. We have many amazing carers and doctors,  we’ve a few competent Administrators, and Matthew J. Morreale is our office affairs assistant.

But even today as we are helping people, we are mistrusted and sometimes attacked or more often, met with complacent interaction waiting for each other to support us.
Lots of lip service but few real supporters.
I believe in deeds not words.
So we are caring for people today, when many devotees who have served for many years are neglected and are kicked out of the temples, put out to pasture or thrown on the garbage heap of callous society,  alone,  and afraid.

We at the V.C.C., are here for you!

We have trained professionals who are doing out-reach now. Caitania Priya dd and Chaitanya Swarup das are caring personally and running our medical front: and with Rama Narashima das (UK), Mathura Lila (Canada), Devaki dd &  Stritama dasi  (Florida),  Bhagavati dd (Belgium), Prashanti dasi (Texas), Ram Tulasi das &  Ananda Shakti dd (Oregon),  Gopaswami das & Krishna Caranaravinda dd (France), Jaya Krishna das (Florida), Vasanta das (California), Heather Holman (Arizona) and Bhakti das (NY);  they are all carers or trained counselors facilitating this project.

We’ve helped fifty devotees in great need in the past two years alone, some for much longer. To mention a few: Mahananda das (ACBSP), Krsna Pryia dd, Caruhasa dasa (ACBSP)Mahaksha das (ACBSP), Ishan Chaitanya das, Bhakti Vasudeva Swami (Iskcon), Manohara dd, Jatayu das (ACBSP) and many more who prefer not to be mentioned.

Now we are working towards our first retirement village and care facility in Sedona, Arizona.

Please come to our seminars and please donate your time or funds (Lakxmi).

Thank you very much,

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
Lisa

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,
Gurudas

Where is the Love and Trust?

by Aradhana devi dasi

I recently watched the great black and white movie by Frank Capra, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ with James Stewart. Frank said that James Stewart’s appeal was that he was unusually usual; we can’t help but love him and the parts he plays.

In this particular movie, James plays an average guy with great aspirations. Unfortunately, he’s unable to achieve what he sets out to, but in the end, he achieves so much more, and is dearly loved and cared for by the community. It’s very inspiriting. Even God has a voice in the movie and is guiding events; such a rarity in movies today. It’s definitely one I’d recommend.

As a filmmaker, I keep up with what’s happening in the film business, and sadly what the industry has mostly been promoting over the last 30 to 40 years is atrocious. My husband (writer/director) and I (actor/producer) are set to make movies that will inspire again, that will empower and enlighten the masses, in the hopes of bringing them close to God; even if it only reminds them that God is something to actually be considered, it will be a success. We’ve created ~ what we hope will become ~ a great film studio, Yoga-Maya Entertainment.

But why do I ask about the Love and Trust?

‘Love and Trust’ is disappearing from our entire society, and not only from society at large, but even in our spiritual communities ‘Love and Trust’ is becoming very rare. In ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ this ‘Love and Trust’ is real and thrilling.

So what happened to humanity and it’s ‘Love and Trust’?

In my humble opinion, we’ve been bombarded and manipulated by leaders who’ve mostly been trained as lawyers, and whose business thrives by a lack of trust and increased conflict. This, in x trust, and in this way it permeates every culture and society, including the spiritual ones. People are stressed, tired, abused and constantly cheated and cannot therefore trust one another. Without trust, there is no love, and without love, there is no care.

Since the inception of the Vedic Care Charity (www.VedicCare.org) nearly two years ago, the Vaishnava community have been extremely skeptical and some even averse to our Devotee Care endeavor. A few well-wishers and trustees have asked: What is there to be skeptical about? We just want to assist, serve and care for devotees in need, and most importantly, we want to bring back the ‘Love and Trust’ in our hearts and society.

Sadly, and most unfortunately, the VCC is still being challenged today. Serving under these conditions is already hard, before adding the small amount of funds available to lend assistance to all the devotees we know are in need right now; really, it’s not even possible, were it not for the VCC team being full-time volunteers.

The VCC have not only been threatened with unfounded law suits, and been called scammers in online forums, but we’ve received ‘demands’ for open accountability with heavy undertones of accusation. As a charity we comply with all legal requirements, of course, but we’d so much prefer being approached in a more respectable manner; not charged as guilty before even starting.

I was expecting a more personal welcome; somehow, to be given the benefit of the doubt and treated in a caring, more forward thinking way. We never expected being talked to in an incriminatory and threatening way. It’s as if some are just waiting for a little mistake to bring the house down.

On the other hand, when ‘Love and Trust’ is the norm, with all our 1134 ‘likes’ (today) on ‘The Vedic Care’ Facebook page giving a little monthly (sadly not the case at this time), we’d be able to run our website and outreach teams so nicely, giving the reactive and urgent care needed now.

So, we’re left with a few questions still:

Where did the love, care and trust go? How can we relate to one another as spiritual seekers when there’s so much animosity? Have we forgotten that love and trust is actually what makes a community successful? Have we forgotten that love and care is the light that inspires us to truly help one another in times of difficulty?

The Vedic Care Charity will keep going, as we strive to serve Srila Prabhupada and his mission, trusting that we will actually create our VCC model facility; a place to welcome devotees in their later years who are unable to care for themselves. We already have a number of devotees lined up for our model facility in the USA, and we hope to accommodate so many more through the fulfillment of our other wonderful plans.

In closure, I must share our puzzlement, that in almost two years of full-time work, building and promoting the obvious, urgent and real need for care in our society, and that, with high hopes of bringing back the ‘Love and Trust’ the society once had, there have been few sincere inquiries as to the nature of our personal health, spiritual or material needs. Although this is heartbreaking news, we’ll continue, happily and with enthusiasm; confident that Srimati Radharani and Srila Prabhupada will bless us with success in our endevours to manifest this so needed service.

It’s a wonderful life, indeed.