A Tribute To Yamuna Devi Dasi
By Bhakti Madhurya Govinda Goswami (Formerly Makhanlal das)
Dear prabhus and Vaishnavis,
Dandavat pranams. All glories to Srila Prabhupada, our only hope.
It is with mixed feeling that I find myself again writing a brief eulogy so soon for a departed God brother or God sister, in this case Yamuna Devi Dasi. I say mixed feelings because I understand that her health has not been good for a long time, which means suffering to one extent or another. I haven’t had her association for some ten years, but when I last saw her, her health was certainly nothing to brag about even then; thus going to be with Srila Prabhupada and Sri Sri Radha Krishna in a spiritual body is a magnificent upgrade. Some prabhus are saying we should pray for her, but I respectfully submit that there is no need, for Srila Prabhupada and Srimati Radharani Herself personally came to take Yamuna home without even a slight doubt. Srila Prabhupada Has come to escort much lesser persons back to Godhead, what to speak of an exalted soul like Yamuna.
I am forever indebted to her, in particular, for creating such a wonderful mood in the San Francisco temple in 1968 when I joined. She and her extended “family” of Guru das, Malati, Syamasundar, Janaki, and others created a truly warm family feeling which touched my heart, making feel completely at home in this new spiritual environment. Yamuna was always soft hearted, kind, gentle, compassionate, caring, motherly, tolerant, having so many other good qualities of a vaishnavi as well. The prasadam was super fabulous, gourmet to the maximum. After all, she was personally trained how to cook by Srila Prabhupada. Of course the talented group of cooks added their own touch with deep dish apple pie with oatmeal crust, and other fine dishes. One of my first services was to help them roll the samosas for the Sunday feast. I thought it was great fun learning how to crimp the edges artistically. Under the direction of Yamuna and her associates, everything was cooked in pure ghee. In those days the devotees had to make their own ghee from unsalted butter, by cooking it down over a low flame until it turned pure gold color. It took hours to complete. There was no question of running to an Indian store for ghee because there weren’t any. Never the less, no one, not even one of the devotees, ever thought of using vegetable oil. It never even crossed their minds! After all, they were trained by Srila Prabhupada. Unlike “modern ISKCON”, there was no consideration of the cost, even though the devotees were so poor they often couldn’t even pay the rent for the temple room. Cooking had to be in ghee, because Srila Prabhupada ordered so, and it was for Lord Jagannath.
One of the best ways to honor Yamuna is to try to implement her heart felt appeal before the GBC in March, 2000. She fervently emphasized the urgency of establishing high standards of integrity in the various leadership roles in ISKCON; that leaders should not be chosen merely for their material portfolio, even as big projects come up like the new Mayapur temple. Let us all strive to assist her desire by helping ISKCON to raise its standards even as ISKCON continues to grow worldwide.
Bhakti Madhurya Govinda Goswami
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