Archive for the 'Obituaries' Category

Pleasure is a misconception
4 October 2008

October 4 2008

Health is always a topic. If you have a material body, jara and vyadhi are part and parcel.

 I just got this letter from my godbrother Dhruva Maharaja prabhu (who by the way runs an excellent website called www.sadhusanga.com where you can download heaps of wonderful audio stuff, e-books etc.)

 ”A few years ago doctors prescribed some high blood pressure medicine, which I’ve been taking regularly. Although my numbers are now okay, there’s a substance in blood called triglycerides – and mine are high.

“The allopathic remedy for this is nasty – I’ve tried it and it doesn’t suit me. I’ve also tried garlic pills, but they didn’t do much. Now the doctor is saying either take the allopathic or the other remedy – fish oil….yuukkk!

“You’re the walking, talking, emailing database for Srila Prabhupada pastimes…..so I’m wondering if there’s some instance you can refer to that will answer the question what to do in this case?”

Answer:

 I can’t recall much that Srila Prabhupada said about treating high blood pressure. He did have continual problems with it while I was his servant:

[TD 1] December 21st, 1975- Bombay

There was no morning walk today. Missing Prabhupada on the beach, Dr. Patel arrived at his apartment with his son. He took a cardiograph reading and gave Prabhupada some pills. His diagnosis is high blood pressure.
Prabhupada rested. He didn’t take breakfast, and then ate only a morsel at lunch, complaining of dizziness from the medicine. He remarked that modern drugs are medicines for the demons. Prabhupada rarely goes to a doctor, although if by some arrangement one comes to him, he doesn’t refuse their help. Disease has to be treated, of course, but as far as he is concerned, chanting Hare Krsna is the best cure.
In the evening he felt better and ate some guava, three parathas, and a sabji Harikesa cooked for him.
As part of his cure Prabhupada told us that for at least one week he wants to be free of appointments and visitors. Harikesa is doubtful that we will be able to enforce this rule. Prabhupada is too enthusiastic to stop preaching and too kind to turn away unexpected visitors.”

[TD 4] September 11th, 1976 – Sri Vrndavana-dhama

Prabhupada’s health is not very good. He has been suffering from high blood pressure for several days, and today he has toothache. Indeed, he seems to be suffering a general decline in health and strength. At this time last year he was striding strongly down the road every morning for at least one hour and seemed quite full of vigor. Now he rarely takes such walks.

September 12th, 1976

Srila Prabhupada’s Srimad-Bhagavatam class was shorter than usual. He is still suffering from high blood pressure and speaking gives him a headache.

September 13th, 1976

Hansaduta Maharaja has asked Srila Prabhupada if he can record him singing some bhajanas. He wants to make a record for sankirtana distribution. Prabhupada has agreed, despite the fact that he has great difficulty speaking very much at the moment due to his high blood pressure. So at about 6:00 a.m. this morning, Hansaduta set up some simple recording equipment in Srila Prabhupada’s bedroom. His Divine Grace played the harmonium and recorded Hari Hari Biphale. Harikesa Swami accompanied him on mrdanga and I played the karatalas.

* * *

Prabhupada’s classes are becoming noticeably shorter. His high blood pressure makes it a strain for him to speak for an extended period. Still, long or short, his speaking is imbued with the same depth and power, and his realizations illuminate the text and the hearts of the devotees.

September 17th, 1976

Srila Prabhupada told Hansaduta Swami that this morning’s recording session would be the last. Prabhupada wants to oblige Hansaduta, but he said the singing is too much strain because of his high blood pressure.

September 18th, 1976

Srila Prabhupada is not feeling well again and could hardly speak this morning due to his high blood pressure, which is affecting his head and giving him massive headaches. He gave only a short class and afterwards, in his room, he said he will stop public lecturing for a while as it is a great strain.

September 19th, 1976

Srila Prabhupada didn’t give a class this morning. He rested until 9 a.m. and then followed his usual routine for the rest of the day.
His high blood pressure has become such a problem that after giving his usual evening darsana in the temple, he sat in his room and had me massage his head and temples for twenty minutes with Brahmi oil. After this, I soaked a new gamcha in cold water, folded it into a strip about six inches wide, and Prabhupada then sat with it draped over his head for about an hour. The treatment seemed to give him some relief.

September 30th, 1976

I mentioned to Tamopaha that Prabhupada was having high blood pressure problems and he suggested that Prabhupada take the pulp from the cactus-like aloe vera plant, a common treatment for heart complaints in Hawaii. He said it helps clear the arteries and is also excellent when applied externally, for curing burns and skin ailments. I discussed it with Srila Prabhupada and he agreed to try it. Accordingly, I have located some plants growing in a nearby asrama and it is being added to his diet.

October 1st, 1976

At 7:00 p.m. as arati begins, Prabhupada returns to his quarters. Most evenings he does not talk much with anyone because his high blood pressure is persistent and he gets a big headache almost as soon as he talks. Apart from his managers, only Bhagatji comes in the late evening. He chats with Prabhupada from about 8:30 p.m. until Prabhupada takes his milk and retires.

—————–

 You can see from this that his blood pressure problem was persistent. He did try the aloe vera remedy but to not much effect:

[TD 5] October 9th 1976 – Aligarh (at the house of Mr. Saigal)

Aligarh reception

Aligarh reception, Mr. Saigal at far right — (see photo gallery for more Aligarh photos)

Surendra Saigal came in to Prabhupada’s room to find out what he wanted for breakfast. Prabhupada mentioned apples and milk. Since Mr. Saigal had made some suggestions to Srila Prabhupada for helping with his health, I asked him if he could get some ghrita-kumari, aloe vera. Arjuna and Tamopaha prabhus suggested it last week as a good remedy for high blood pressure and for cleaning the arteries. Mr. Saigal happily informed us that he had it growing in his garden. His wife takes it regularly, stuffed in chapatis or parathas, and finds it quite efficacious for relieving pains in her knees. Mr. Saigal though, suggested that garlic was the best for relieving high blood pressure.
Prabhupada wrinkled his nose and grimaced slightly. “Garlic.”
Mr. Saigal smiled at his reaction. “Garlic. You don’t want it,” and they laughed together.
“Garlic, onions, prohibited,” Prabhupada told him.
So it was settled that his wife would cook aloe vera chapatis for breakfast. Prabhupada asked Gaurasundara prabhu if he knew of it, and he confirmed they had it in Hawaii. He added that it can be used externally for skin diseases, burns, and cuts.
As Mr. Saigal left the room to prepare for breakfast, Prabhupada concluded, “Body is simply troublesome.”


 Srila Prabhupada did say a lot of things about devotees taking care of their health.

  Read the rest of this entry »



Another transit – Bhaktirasa prabhu claims his inheritance
24 September 2008

September 24 2008

08:25 AM

I was just informed by my wife Sitala that Sriman Bhaktirasa prabhu from Christchurch New Zealand, left his body a short while ago. He was diagnosed with cancer of the kidney about two years ago. Bhaktirasa was a well liked devotee who joined (I think) in the late 1970s or early 80s. He was a disciple of HH Tamal Krishna Goswami.

Tamal Krishna Goswami with Srila Prabhupada 

He was being cared for by Srikari dasi, his first wife. She said that for the last couple of months he was in a good deal of pain and was having a difficult time. However, just shortly before he left, his countenance changed and his face became clear and bright. He looked just like a small innocent child. His eyes opened and he was looking at something others could not see. He was smiling beautifully. He said, “Krsna. Krsna. Krsna!” and then he left.

I had heard yesterday he was about to leave and I sent him the following letter. I don’t think that he will have received this in time, so I want to post it here as a short tribute.

September 23, 2008 – 23.37 Dear Bhaktirasa prabhu,

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

Last year I wrote to you because I heard you were coming to the end of your earthly stay and you were about to move on. Somehow that was not the time and you have remained for more than a year and half.

Now today I have learnt that you are on the verge of leaving us. I am sorry I have not written earlier to keep up with your condition. I am sorry I cannot be there to wish you well and assist you in your journey.

There is nothing much to be said. I am sure you have heard it all before over the last couple of years. I am sure you have prepared for this moment and that therefore you will have fixed your mind at the lotus feet of our transcendent Lord. Still I want to offer you my heartfelt best wishes one final time. Just this week we have heard about the departure of Sriman Sadaputa prabhu and Sriman Sundararupa prabhu. Now your time has also come. One day it will be my turn. All of us have made this transition many times before. This time, by the grace of Srila Prabhupada we have a chance to make this one the last. By chanting and hearing about the glories of Lord Krsna He tells us that we no longer have to take birth again in this material world.I sincerely pray to Srila Prabhupada and Sri Sri Gaura Nitai that you will meet with no impediment on your journey home back to Godhead. I am sure you have detached yourself from all material identifications and as such you have qualified yourself to become an eternal associate of the Lord.Chant Hare Krsna, glorify Krsna, serve Him with your heart and soul. He is waiting to welcome you into his eternal pastimes. Please accept his invitation and go to Him.

Please accept my humble well wishes and be successful in all respects. And please, when you meet the Lord, request Him to not forget this lowly soul but to bring me back also to his Holy dhama.

All glories to your lotus feet, all glories to your glorious departure, all glories, all glories, all glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga!

I remain your humble servant, Hari-sauri dasa

So today, September 24 2008, Bhaktirasa prabhu has reached his denouement. A very successful one, and one that Srila Prabhupada often told us is our rightful inheritance if we remain faithfully serving:

 [TD 3] Bury Place London, July 25 1976: 

 “Describing the material world as a very dangerous place, he advised the devotees to remain sober. They should stick to the spiritual principles, read his books and avoid being discouraged. If the karmis were successful in having them evicted, he said that Lord Krsna would certainly provide another suitable place.


“But go on executing your routine work,” he said. “I am very glad to see that you are taking care of the Deities very nicely. Whenever I come I see. This is very encouraging…. So God consciousness means you have to face difficulty, but you should not be discouraged. You must go on with your business, then success is sure. When there is difficulty, a devotee thinks, ‘It is my good fortune that Krsna has given some difficulty to counteract my previous bad action.’ So in this way, if we live, then
mukti-pade sa daya-bhak. If one is not opposed by all these difficulties and with determination he goes forward, then for him going back to home, back to Godhead is guaranteed. Daya-bhak means it is inherited. Just like the son gets the father’s property, there is no law to check it. Similarly, those who are humbly, tolerantly, going on with Krsna consciousness with full determination, for them going back to home, back to Godhead, is fully guaranteed.”

Early last year when I first learned of Bhaktirasa’s condition, I had a very affectionate exchange with him. Its a little long but I think it is worth the read because it shows how devotees prepare for death.

Read the rest of this entry »



Sriman Sundararupa prabhu
22 September 2008

September 22 2008

Sundaraupa prabhu with godbrothers

Keshava Bharati Goswami, Sundararupa Prabhu, Tamal Krishna Goswami

It is with great regret that we have to acknowledge the passing of another senior member of ISKCON, Sriman Sundararupa prabhu. Husband of Sudharma dasi he had lived in Alachua FL for many years. He had a history of heart problems and about ten years ago had a heart valve replacement. Then again this year he had to undergo a repeat of the same operation. Unfortunately his health problems continued and he was hospitalized a few days ago and put on life support. At around 8.00 PM on Saturday September 20 he departed.

I am glad I had one last opportunity to see him. On June 7 2008 I was visiting Alachua and I sent the following email to my wife Sitala:

 ”Yaduabara and I drove up from Alachua yesterday to Atlanta. It was pretty smooth going and took five hours. Before we left we went to see Sundararupa, who had just gotten out of hospital after an open-heart surgery to replace a major heart valve. He was happy to see us even though we couldn’t spend more than 15 mins. because we were running late. He showed us his scar which ran from his throat down to his gut. The doctors literally take a power saw and cut right through the rib cage, pull it apart and pin it back and then do the replacement. Its pretty traumatic for the body but as Sundararupa told us, its like going to sleep and waking up with a new body. You go in with intense chest pains, breathlessness and thinking you could die at any moment, and you wake up with normal functions, albeit with some operational trauma to get over, but the heart works normally and you feel like you have been given a new body. ”

Sundararupa told us at that meeting that his previous heart valve was artificial and only had a limited life span. This new one was real and would “last the rest of this life.” An ironic observation to say the least.

Sitala had replied my email:

“Glad to hear you took the time to visit Sundararupa. What a heavy operation to go through. I  remember years ago, he was told by an astrologer that he would die fairly young (can’t remember the
prediction) due to heart failure. Maybe his karma was minimized by Krsna.”

Through a competent astrologer it is possible to know how long we can expect our lifespan will be, but our actual life span is in the hands of Krsna:

Bg 18.61

 ”The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone’s heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy.”

In the general scheme of things according to the Lord’s sweet will and in response to our own desires and activities, we move from one situation to the next. But for a devotee, there is nothing inauspicious nor is the movement of a devotee dictated by karma. It is directly arranged by Krsna Himself.

There is no doubt therefore that Sundararupa prabhu has moved to a most auspicious destination. When he left his body he was surrounded by devotees chanting the holy names. Krsna was therefore personally present and there is no doubt that He has rewarded his servant for his many years of dedicated service. 

As proof that devotees are always in the direct care of the Lord, I recall an interesting story Sundararupa told me many years ago. In the early 80s, Sundararupa was in charge of our operations in Italy. He would also go to Israel to preach. On December 27 1985 he and several other devotees (maybe as many as seven) were standing in line at the Israeli airline EL AL ticket counter at Rome airport waiting to check in. The line was moving slowly and somehow or other, for different reasons, every single one of the devotees wandered off, leaving their luggage in the line. While they were away, disaster struck:

(from BBC ’On this day’ news service) 

December 27 1985: Gunmen kill 16 at two European airports

At least 16 people have been killed and more than 100 injured during simultaneous twin terrorist attacks at Rome and Vienna airports. Gunmen opened fire on passengers queuing to check-in luggage at departure desks for Israel’s national airline, El Al. The attacks were indiscriminate and started within minutes of each other at about 0815 GMT today. No group has yet admitted carrying out the attacks.At least 13 people were killed, three of them gunmen, after six men, described by witnesses as being of Arab origin, fired bullets at travellers waiting in the main departure hall at Rome’s international airport.Chaos broke out during what is reported to have been a five minute attack as passengers fell to the floor for cover.Italian police returned fire as bullets rang out across the concourse leaving a trail of blood and broken glass.

Some unconfirmed witness reports describe having heard two “bombs” explode before the gun fire.

Warnings

Two gunmen, in their twenties and of Arab origin, were captured alive.One of them was taken to a military hospital for surgery and a third attacker is said to have escaped.

In similar scenes in neighbouring Austria, three gun men threw four hand grenades into crowds of passengers queuing to check-in for a flight to Tel Aviv.

It is understood they then pulled out Kalashnikov submachine guns as Austrian police returned fire.

They escaped by car but were pursued by police who opened fire.

One of the men is reported dead, the other two were severely wounded and eventually surrendered to police.

It comes amid reports airport authorities received warnings Arab militant groups were planning a pre-Christmas terrorist campaign at terminals across the world.

El Al counter after the attack

El Al counter after the attack

 In all, the attacks, which were carried out by notorious terrorist group Abu Nidal, killed 18, including a child, and wounded around 140. Yet none of our devotees were harmed. I remember Sundararupa telling me that he had to dive for cover as bullets flew around and explosions rocked the air.

The moral: Rakhe krsna mare ke mare krsna rakhe ke. If Krsna desires to kill somebody, nobody can save him. If Krsna wants to save somebody, nobody can kill him.

Sundararupa prabhu has now been taken by Krsna to a new destination. We sincerly wish this dedicated servant of Srila Prabhupada an all-auspicious life in the service of the lotus feet of the Lord and His pure devotees and offer our heartfelt condolences to his wife and children.

A recent photo:

(lft. to rt.) Matsya Avatara prabhu, Narada Muni prabhu and Sundararupa prabhu

Sundararupa prabhu with Matsya Avatar and Narada Muni prabhus



In memoriam: Sriman Sadaputa prabhu
21 September 2008

September 20 2008

                           Sriman Sadaputa prabhu – A Personal Tribute

                    BI with Srila Prabhupada

July 9 1976 : members of the Bhaktivedanta Institute seated with Srila Prabhupada in Washington DC (lt. to rt): Svarupa Damodar das, Sadaputa das, Rupanuga das, Madhava das

Vedic culture dictates from the very beginning of our lives that we understand one central point: that life in this material world is temporary and precarious and our real business lies elsewhere. We should understand from the moment we can walk and talk that our tenure in these bodies is like ‘a drop of water on a shaking lotus leaf’ that there is ‘danger at every step’ and that as soon as we are born we are already ‘one day towards death’.

drops on a lotus leaf

It should come then as neither surprise nor shock when we hear of the departure of yet another soul from one body to the next. It is expected and can come during any movement of time.

Yet despite this knowledge we do expect that all of us average human beings will live the normal course–a full life of ‘three score and ten’. And beyond that there are some whom, because of their personal qualification and abilities, because of their contribution to our own lives and because of their importance to human society at large, we earnestly hope and pray will live to a ripe old age. Sadaputa prabhu falls very squarely into this latter category.

It is with great dismay, shock and lamentation then that we have face the loss of his association at the relatively young age of 61.

The work of a great man will touch the life of more people than he himself can know. It will edify, uplift and improve; it will set a foundation on which future generations can live a better quality of life; it will provide sustenance and positive direction to a multitude of souls. In Sanskrit such a person is called ‘mahatma’.

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His Grace Sadaputa prabhu
19 September 2008

September 18 2008

HG Sadaputa prabhu

I just heard the terrible news that Sriman Sadaputa prabhu, one of the foremost thinkers in our society, has just departed this world. I have no detailed information at this moment other than that his body was found in the bottom of his swimming pool at his home in Alachua FL, USA. He was a personal friend and like many other devotees around the world who knew him, this news has come as body blow.

I am including here a brief biography from the Bhaktivedanta Institute website:

Sadaputa Dasa (Richard L. Thompson) was born in Binghamton, New York, in 1947. In 1974, he received his Ph.D. in mathematics from Cornell University, where he specialized in probability theory and statistical mechanics. He went on to do research in quantum physics and mathematical biology at the State University of New York at Binghamton, Cambridge University in the United Kingdom, and the La Jolla Institute in San Diego. He is the author of seven books and the producer of six videos on science and philosophy, and he has written many articles for scientific journals and for Back To Godhead, the magazine of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. His most recent book, Mysteries of the Sacred Universe, discusses evidence of advanced astronomical knowledge in India’s ancient texts known as the Puranas. He has designed exhibits using computer animation and multimedia techniques to present the Vedic cosmology and the Vedic world view to the general populace, and he is presently writing a book discussing the laws of physics and the nature and origin of life.

My sincere and heartfelt condolences go out to his wife and children.

I will be writing a memoriam soon to this brilliant devotee, who Srila Prabhupada once praised as a ‘real mahatma.’



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