Go to the Srimati Vrndavanesvari dd Page
by Sri Sudevi dasi
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
I was most blessed by being able to spend time with Vrindavanesvari these last six months as I was living in New Varshan. Sometimes she travelled around to make money for devotee projects and to sustain her family, but mostly she was on the farm and each morning would be at mangalarati wrapped up in her chaddars, absorbed in the kirtan, and then she would sit and chant japa until greetings without fail unless she was cooking breakfast.
She and I talked for hours on many occasions about the Holy Name and the joys of chanting. These were ecstatic sessions and ones I will never forget. She had become grateful for the personal traumas in her life, as through them she had taken complete shelter of the Holy Name, and this was a fixed and constant source of strength to her. The opulence of Queen Kunti, gratitude for Krisna's presence in her life, was certainly hers. From this, her love for anyone she came into contact with shone through, and her caring was always so practical, detailed and appropriate— genuine and personal
She took me to the airport as I came to the UK just before she left for India— we left early. On the way, the car broke down and I remember looking at her and our other dear friend who was with us, Krishna Prema Vati, and saying, "We have this time for a reason. We may never see each other again."
I am almost sure Vrndavana said, "I really hope we do, but you never know, especially in India."
I said, "We have to use it well." So we talked at great length about some particular issues on the farm we were all concerned with. I wish I had been more focused, as I was really feeling it was a time to really appreciate each other. Time was alway precious to us, and we are always chasing such times— how we had it. I remember hugging her to me as she left me at the airport to take Krishna Prema Vati to her parents’ house for some healing. She was always concerned to genuniely do whatever she could to benefit others
She was excited about coming back from India and organising a festival next January in New Zealand with Indradyumna Maharaja, her spiritual master, and some preaching she and I were going to do locally
On many occasions we talked about relationships and how to encourage and help devotees in difficulty. The focus was always on the spiritual aspects. Again and again, we would be talking of the Holy Name and the power of japa and kirtan to practically change our lives, our consciousness, and our world. She inspired me deeply due to her real happiness in talking about Krishna and her genuine love of chanting japa. It was real and as natural as talking about the next feast. It was a feast for her!
I did one thing I am so glad of. At Radhastami last year, Vrndavan gave class. She never gives class, but I insisted she do it and encouraged her through those days before with rehearsals, and she of course gave a beautiful class, which I am sorry we didn't record. Anway, she was very happy to have done it.
I will always think of her on so many occasions during programs, running from the altar to Prabhupada at the other end of the temple room and back, smiling and singing, in the New Varshan temple in the presence of Sri Sri Radha Giridhari. It’s the custom to parade up and down there, but Vrndavan put such style into this and always found someone to link with, hold the arm of, and bring into the midst of the kirtan.
I will remember the times in the kitchen with her up to her arms in cream, organising us all to create one of her delicious feasts, her smile, and her tangible love— that glow.
I will always remember her sitting chanting her japa with deep deep songful attention next to Tulasi. I will never doubt that Krishna is in control and reciprocates with us according to our mood, our taste, our love for Him. She left her body with her dearmost siksha guru, Tamal Krishna Goswami, near to where Haridas Thakur chanted 300,000 names of the Lord each day. I used to call her— jokingly but with very serious intent— our acarya of the Holy name, and it was her birthday gift to travel with him.
I pray to travel with conviction back to Godhead and disregard the difficulties of the journey— to embrace the setbacks and collisions and to know that Krishna is always with me. Her hand was set in japa mudra when her body was prepared for cremation, though the rest of her body was still soft and supple.
Vrndavanesvari, bless me and us all from where you are to be strong and never ever doubt that Krishna dances on our tongue when we chant His name. Vrnavanesvari prabhu ki jai!
Vrndavana leaves her 13 year old son, Raghu, and her husband Kalas, both extarordinary devotees, in different ways. Please pray for them. Kalas along with Vrndi's help was, and still is, acting temple president of New Varshan. He does an excellent job guiding the community with vision, enthusiasm, and clarity, caring for the devotees with sensitivity and tolerance, and is always totally dedicated in his service to Srila Prabhupada, his spiritual master. He is also a lover of the Holy Name.
It's a very special community, with a wonderful gurukula and a new temple nearing completion. I am very grateful to have the association of such devotees. The women’s group is a source of strength to us all, and I pray it will continue in the physical absence of Vrndavana, and my being here in United Kingdom for a while. If anyone visits New Varshan, they will undoubtably receive a very warm welcome and be showered with blessings. Haribol!
Let there be unlimited glorification of this devotee, one of many women who could be forgotten due to the nature of their service, our at times strange etiquette practices, and that deep Vaishnavi humility, amongst a hundred other things. But Vrndavanesvari cannot now ever be easily forgotten, and for this I am overjoyed. I want to follow her in her footsteps and take the loud impact of her death as my call to life. Wake up, sleeping soul!
It is no coincidence she left the planet with Tamal Krishna Maharaja, her dear siksa guru and friend. Though how can I understand what it all means? She was, by all reports, ecstatically absorbed in kirtan each evening, swimming in the Ganaga each day, upriver from the men of course. Then their bodies went into the same sankirtan van back to the temple after the crash, and each was prepared for the final cremation and burial service in adjoining rooms in the Conch Building. She was loved by the advanced souls, her broken head was cradled in the lap of her husband as she left her body. Who am I to glorify her?
Waves of sadness come and go when I make myself acknowledge the fact that I have lost someone I could really talk to. We spoke the same language about details of the things that really matter— Krishna conscious relationships— especially the relationship with devotees and the spiritual master. She had even arranged for a small extra unit to be added on to their new house for me. The ground-breaking ceremony was a few days before I left for the United Kingdom, though for some uneasy reason I now understand, I did not attend. I feel an even greater sense of transcendental homelessness now that she is gone.
Her happiness carried clear above the buffeting of material obstacles delighted me. Her support for her husband's work— always totally fixed in Prabhupada's service— was a real example in grhasta life. When the twin towers disaster occurred, I watched the news with them and Raghu. I remember how he looked into my eyes that morning with such rare ease and sort of soul-searching kindness, while he snuggled in his duvet with scenes of carnage in front of him. He is her son, and he is also someone much older and wiser than I. I thought then that these devotees are the ones I feel genuinely safe with. Even if the whole world goes crazy, we will work together and know Krishna is with us. Dear Vrndavanesvari, look out for me now and give me your blessings!
I have to smile. Sometimes out of Krishna's inconceivable desire he puts the devotee in a very difficult situation. We do not know the exact nature of Tamal Krishna Goswami and Vrndavanesvari's relationship now, but I am sure it is unlimitedly glorious in the service of Sri Sri Radhe Syam, and she will be serving him as this is her nature— to serve. (She knew— really knew— her identity as a servant of the Lord, though she would be the last to say so. She was quite shy and, I realise now, eve rso humble.) I was given the mercy of witnessing their unusually strong spiritual relationship through her description of it, but what is left in my heart is an indelible imprint of love— of how Krishna is the master of all ceremonies— that she took shelter of her own spiritual master, Indradyumna Maharaja, and also this very special servant, accompanying him faithfully in that ghastly exit from our material view. Beaten in 22 market places, chanting 300,000 names a day, undeterred by Maya's most subtle entreaties, Hari das Thakur lives on in our hearts. The same blend of violence, love of the Holy Name, and purity surrounded these two staunch and adored devotees near Shantipur, and is surely brought to perfection now.
On Thursday at Bhaktivedanta Manor, we had a wonderful memorial tribute to Vrndavanesvari and cooked a feast for the devotees. Thank you to Gauri Prabhu, our temple president, for helping us with this and all the devotees who shared and gave time to help, speak and attend. Last Sunday and again today we remembered Tamal Krishna Goswami through the words of his devoted disciples. Hare Krishna.
© CHAKRA 24 March 2002
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