By Piyush Gupta
My friend Nitai left for good yesterday, he is not coming back, he died in a car accident, he is not going to ask me again in a dry monotone-” whats going on”
I met Nitai in the summer of 2003 at the Festival of Inspiration in New Vrindavan, that was before I pod or I pad came, it was the time when MP3 players were big and Nitai had recorded lots of classes of HH Radhanath swami and HH Hridyananda das Goswami on MP3’s. He was so enthusiastic about sharing them and he wanted every one to have them, I bought almost everyone of them.
Nitai was handsome- an American boy with shining bright face, blue eyes, a dry sense of humor, a renounced disposition, a smile which made you feel stupid, and I don’t give a damn attitude. He knew Krishna consciousness and could speak on the most difficult things about KC in a normal, matter of fact way. . He was never showy, or pretentious, he had an honest air about him, he could relate to anyone in a very normal friendly way. He was incredibly enthusiastic and always was planning and scheming how to make Krishna accessible- through media, posters, communication materials, twenty four hour Kirtans, rainbow gatherings or his famous burning man festivals. He was never worried where money is going to come from or how things will happen, they just happened. Often we would sit down for hours and he would show the pictures he had taken in India, the places he visited or the burning man festival. He was good with technology and he used it in Krishna’s service. Life was always on the edge with him, he would be travelling around the world, taking pictures, organizing festivals through out North America and creating spiritual adventures. How I yearned to go to one of those burning man festivals in Nevada.
My relationship grew with him through his MP3 ministry, he gave me the sacred journeys(MP3s of various pilgrimages HH RNS took all over India) and over the years I gave those to many whose lives became transformed because of Nitai’s hard work, creativity and ingenuity. I would ask him, “hey Nitai, you got some new recordings”. Every day many devotees around the world listen to the MP3s he recorded.
Me and Carl went once to Rainbow gathering in West Virgnia, Nitai had organised the Krishna camp with Balaram chandra, Gauranga and Chaitanya. I remember thousands of people taking prasadam, dancing and chanting Hare Krishna and lining up for hours just to get some halwa.
2 weeks before he left, he called to say hello and asked ” whats going on” - i said “nothing much and whats up at your end”- he said that he just put up 13 festivals this summer across North America. I asked him to visit Columbus but he said that there is a festival in Florida where he has been invited, he is working to get the Krishna kitchen there. I asked “can I help?”, as usual he said “I am good”.
Wish I could have spend more time with him but he was always travelling, on the go, a enthusiastic Sannyasi who brought Krishna to the desert of Nevada, and to the forests of West Virginia and in the plains of California and to Jacksonville, Florida. Burning man will miss him, and so will the rainbow gatherers and the hippies and happies of America. Who will set up the burning man, or Krishna’s kitchen or rainbow gathering or the 24 hour kirtan.
He went back to Godhead, to participate in the eternal loving past-times of Lord Nityananda, going door to door and begging people to take up the holy name, but he left us to cry and to wonder if Krishna is really Mother Yashoda’s son or the indwelling Paramatma who impartially awards fruits of one’s karma. Nitai was an extraordinarily humble soul who was pleasing to everyone so hey Gaura, hey Krishna and hey Srila Prabhupada, have mercy.