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By Prana dasa
On Tuesday evening the devotees of New Varsana held a ceremony in commemoration of Vrndavanesvari. Devotees and family members arrived from all over Australasia. The evening began with mellow bhajans and enthusiastic kirtan of the holy name. Between 5.00 pm and 8.00 pm, devotees and family shared their memories of Vrndavanesvari in an attempt to bring some form of closure to the deep-seated grief and unbearable sense of loss we all feel.
Many heartfelt and tearful exchanges were shared in a mixed mood of awe and intimate affection. The program was completed with the most amazing feast you could ever imagine, a fitting feast for a great stalwart master in the kitchen and then a totally empowered kirtan for the 9.00 arati until about 10.00 pm. Devotees remained huddled in small groups reminiscing into the wee small hours of the morning.
We'll never forget Vrndavanesvari. She did everything in a big way including leaving this material world. Many devotees didn't get the opportunity to share their offerings, so I am taking this opportunity to share mine here on Chakra.
Vrndavanesvari: A Tribute to a Great Soul
Vrndavan was such an inspiration. In the community, at the school, in the temple program, in every facet of our lives she was involved in a very special and dynamic way. Having said that, she never dominated us or controlled us or manipulated our lives. She had learnt a lot in her many years of sankirtan about life inside ISKCON. Indeed she had learnt all she needed to know and is now situated beyond our limited sphere of interaction.
I say this with a degree of conviction, as many realized souls comment that when one leaves this material world in the holy dhama one returns back home, back to Godhead. This is such an amazing gift that she has left. A regular, humble, and unassuming devotee can achieve perfection in this life and go back to Godhead. This is very much the essence of Prabhupada’s teachings. We have experienced other such instances in our short history in ISKCON of devotees achieving perfection in this very life..
How did she do it? Are we just idealizing her to make us all feel better?
She did it by chanting, and chanting with tremendous conviction. She received such a taste from chanting (and this taste was intensified greatly in the holy dham) that she was ready to be taken by Krsna and reinstated in her constitutional position, her svarup siddhi. She departed in Phuliyagram, the place were Haridas Thakur perfected his chanting. Phuliya is within the jurisdiction of Gauda Mandala Bhumi. If one leaves one’s body in Gauda Mandala Bhumi, one doesn’t take birth again.
A short time before she departed from this world, she wrote to me from Mayapura, sharing with me the intense appreciation she was receiving from chanting the holy name. I would like to share that with you now.
"I guess you did not expect to hear from me. We are really relishing being in the Holy Dhama. Krsna is so kind to allow a lowly fool as myself such relief and benefit being here. But I am praying for a deeper response of surrender so I can be more effective in my service to Guru and Srila Prabhupada. It is definitely the mercy of devotees, their association, that gives us the edge in trying to advance. I hope all is going well for you in your most important service."
Vrndavan asked me a number of questions about the school and our community affairs and asked me to get back to her. Unfortunately I never did. I guess it isn’t that important now anyway. She concludes the letter with this strong vision and enthusiasm for the holy name.
"I hope all else is well for you I really think we are going to move into a more positive phase on New Varsana, anyway I am praying so. I personally feel a lot more settled and committed to the project and working with the devotees. We are so fortunate to be allowed to live in the association of devotee's and of course we have the most merciful Hare Krsna Mantra. I am really excited about promoting chanting and our relationship with Krsna through it. I know you share my enthused vision of developing and appreciating the Holy Name."
I wish I could appreciate it as much as she does. Vrndavan inspired us to conduct workshops on chanting the holy name. Many devotees attended those workshops. We discussed many aspects of chanting and came up with 108 ways to improve our japa. They were very serious and powerful gatherings, and many devotees participating in those workshops felt tangible progress in their chanting. Before Vrndavan left, she reminded me that we should get back into the workshops on the holy name, as this is our real business here at New Varshan: chanting the Lord’s holy names.
Vrndavan left this material world chanting the holy names, in the holy dhama in the holy association of great Vaisnavas, her siksa guru and her husband, both completely dedicated to chanting the holy name. Although it was a great tragedy, we can appreciate the auspiciousness of her departure. She is a Vaikuntha person, gone to assist Srila Prabhupada and Tamal Krsna Goswami in their next transcendental adventure. Vrndavan, we will miss you, and at the same time derive unlimited strength and inspiration by remembering you and your attachment for the holy name.
© CHAKRA 29 March 2002
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