The Passing of ISKCON Chicago’s Beloved Bhakta Jerry
Iskcon Chicago’s devotees: It is with great sadness in my heart that I am writing to inform everyone that on Friday morning, August 24, 2012, Kishore Kishori’s beloved devotee, Bhakta Gerald Schutt, left his body. Although we have firm faith that he is in the hands of our dear Lord Krsna, we nonetheless will miss him tremendously. Bhakta Jerry joined Krishna Consciousness through the ISKCON Prison Ministry. He began chanting while in prison and after his release, came to our Chicago temple where his main service was working with the IPM. Jerry regularly wrote to inmates who were inquiring about Krishna Consciousness, he sent them Back to Godhead magazines in addition to Srila Prabhupada’s books. He was also responsible for starting the IPM newsletter. Jerry was kind hearted, sincere, charismatic, and a loving father.
“My duties with ISKCON Prison Ministry include guiding and encouraging the inmate yogis around the country to come closer to Krsna. Sometimes I may correct but I almost never chastise but I would chastise bhakta Jerry. He knew I loved him and would visit my family and I periodically and stay in our home. He knew how much I cared for him still, he would get angry with me and then later settle down and say, "Everything you told me is true. It is coming from Srila Prabhupada. I should show self-restraint and never be angry at the instruments of my karma. I'm going to practice to do what you say." He would accept huge projects with IPM benefitting inmates in prisons all over the States and I would wonder, "How will he do it all? How does he do it all?" and he would. He was one of the few people in my life who would chase me down, looking to talk to me…a younger brother looking for some association, maybe a little guidance and our last few phone calls were sprinkled with Krsna consciousness and laughter. He was a high-powered, passionate rascal but I loved that rascal. I'm going to miss him deeply…as I do now.”
-Candrasekhara dasa gauravanacari
“I remember Jerry as a jovial fellow always willing to share some new realizations about Krishna Consciousness and his misadventures in the material world. He said, that after talking to the people in prison, He could see why they were there. He could see that they were suffering. He could identify with their situation because his situation was similar. He was empathetic, he was able to relate with the prisoners and so he was dedicated to IPM. “
“Bhakta Jerry was a fun loving devotee who helped in serving others all the time. He always gave his all to devotional service, which he loved. I first met him several years ago. During that time H. H. Candramauli swami had him engaged in working with the Prison Ministry. He was always “fired up” about his service and that is good because devotional service is eternal and beyond the modes of material nature. Bhakta Jerry attended our bhakta vriksa classes often with his family. He served Lord Jagannatha in our annual entry into the Bud Billiken Parade and Picnic here in Chicago. I remember he arranged for the purchase of the first 500 ears of corn we gave away as Prasadam in the picnic area. We all will miss Jerry’s bright eyes and warm smile along with his laughter. I pray for him as well as his son Kishore and Claudia, Kishore’s mother. I remember when my wife Syama Priya devi dasi and myself were participants in Bhakta Jerry and Claudia’s Vedic Wedding at the temple here in Chicago. We both are very fond of Bhakta Jerry, Claudia and little Kishore. May the Lord’s mercy reign upon them. Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.”
-Gaura-mani and Syama Priya Dasa
“My remembrance of Bhakta Jerry was that he was very good at engaging the energy of many, devotees and non-devotees alike, who might not otherwise come together in the same environment. Upon moving to the temple, he immediately spearheaded the ISKCON PRISON MINISTRY newsletter, which appeared to expand the influence of Krsna Consciousness in the prisons around North America; the amount of letters he would get would be inconceivable. To see to this, a total remodeling of a very neglected part of our temple was required for which he engaged his brother. That work turned out to be what are now the new book room and a very nice office space for devotee work. The food for life program expanded to colleges, homeless shelters, and hip areas around Chicago thanks to his enthusiasm; and most memorable aspect of that experience was having facility for engaging many persons, some new, some students, even some persons who felt inimical toward one another, etc. all become engaged together. After he got married, I remember his enthusiasm to invite devotees over for programs regularly and again devotees who might not otherwise have "no time" to associate together would come together for simple and sublime sanga. Aside from these technical remembrances, the most intimate experiences I had with Bhakta Jerry saw us both laughing a lot until the stomach got a good work out! I mostly remember laughing a lot in his association. I guess I even got so inspired by his association that he felt genuinely concerned for my spiritual welfare at one point because his sense of humor was kind of dark! Even though he had many struggles during the course of pure devotional training, he had a good bouncing back spirit and devotees were always open-armed with him due to his guileless determination. Sri-Sri Kishore-Kishori is supremely merciful and I have personally seen that Their Lordships NEVER forget one who has once rendered sincere devotional service; they always make for further opportunities for the guileless. Certainly Their Lordships arrangement for Their devotee is most suitable, and in the word of the great mahajana, Bhismadeva, "No one can know the plan of Sri Sri Kishore Kishori. Even though great philosophers inquire exhaustively, they are bewildered."
-Jaya Jagnnatha das
“I really appreciate from the very beginning how bhakta Jerry was a devotee who, when he wanted something to happen, did whatever was necessary to make that happen. When he moved into the temple he started his service for IPM under Candramauli swami and Candrasekhar prabhu's care. Both of us shared the same office in the temple basement. I did Spanish preaching services and Jerry would do IPM services and Prasadam distribution management. I had plans to renovate the office but didn’t get things to happen fast enough so Jerry immediately called his brother for help. In a very short time we had a nice office that was good for planning, preaching and receiving guests. I remember that for improving his services Jerry took an intensive course on Microsoft office. With the skills he gained from that class, he made a program to manage IPM and our temple library. The library was really a mess before Jerry got his hands on it. He also started a beautiful newsletter for IPM. After that he started organizing and planning a program for prasadam distribution. By his enthusiasm, every week we were distributing free food in shelters around the city. When Jerry moved out of the temple to his fiancé’s house, the two of them started doing nice programs especially for temple devotees. We used to go for harinam at the beach and then go to his house and take "organic" prasadam. While in the temple, Jerry learned the mrdanga drum and basic Sanskrit. He also loved to study the Srimad Bhagavatam. Jerry always used to encourage me in my services. Sometimes we would get into little arguments but just a short while later, Jerry would tell me in a humble mood ‘I’m sorry for being a rascal.’ We would laugh and he would say ‘The false ego is such a silly fool.’ Jerry was really in love with his little son Kishore. He would introduce him to the kirtan and dance with him. He looked very happy with Kishore in his arms…
Well Jerry, Vaisnava, I know that our journey home is a mystery. Thanks for all your service and kindness and for bringing Kishore into this world. Glad to meet you in the journey. I will take many lessons from you that will help me forever in my spiritual life. I will miss your presence and remember always your service and kindness. You did a lot of devotional service and that's what will remain. In the mood of Sri Isopanisad, a book that you really appreciated, I just offer this prayer on your behalf: O my Lord, as powerful as fire, O omnipotent one, now I offer You all obeisances, falling on the ground at Your feet. O my Lord, please lead me on the right path to reach You, and since You know all that I have done in the past, please free me from the reactions to my past sins so that there will be no hindrance to my progress.
Wish you all the best in your eternal existence,
Bhakti te mukti”
“I remember Bhakta Jerry heading out until late at night with extra plates of prasadam to distribute them down on Belmont with a group of the younger devotees when we first started coming to the temple. He also showed that same enthusiasm whenever he and mother Claudia invited everyone over for a Sunday brunch, which definitely had more tasty preparations than I could eat. He had an enthusiasm for doing things big, and I'm sorry that we won't get to see him utilize that to the fullest extent in Krishna consciousness.”
“I remember going to Bhakta Jerry’s wedding. He and Claudia were standing outside of the wedding hall waiting for everything to begin. His Holiness Candramauli Swami walked up to Bhakta Jerry, and like a father, fixed his tilak (sacred body markings), making sure that he looked proper before his marriage. I was really touched by that. During the wedding, which was conducted by Maharaja, Jerry and Claudia were sitting in front of the fire sacrifice. When it came time for Bhakta Jerry to give Claudia the ring, he didn’t have one. All of a sudden, from his pocket, Maharaja pulled out a small box. Jerry and Claudia looked surprised. Maharaja opened the box to present to them their wedding ring. Maharaja was a loving father to Bhakta Jerry. I also remember regularly attending their home programs. Everyone was always so excited to attend their programs because they would always have the most amazing prasadm and they took care of us so nicely. They would have different varieties of home made ice cream, cookies, scrambled tofu, enchiladas, cakes, pizza, avocados and they always used organic ingredients. I really felt that they wanted to offer the best to the devotees. Bhakta Jerry also used to love prasadam distribution throughout the city of Chicago. Just a couple of weeks ago, Jerry was sitting on the floor in the gift store reading a story about Lord Nrsimhadeva, the half man half lion incarnation of the Lord to his son. I remember that he was very patiently reading the story to Kishore and Kishore was very attentive, asking many questions and Jerry prabhu would reply very lovingly.“
-Hladini Shakti devi dasi
“When I first came into the association of the Devotees, I slowly started to understand the concept that we must do everything for Krishna's pleasure. Because of so much material conditioning, it was a difficult paradigm adjustment. I distinctly remember that Bhakta Jerry was very instrumental in teaching me that I should do things to satisfy Krishna's senses, and not my own. The first time I ever entered into the Chicago Temple kitchen, Bhakta Jerry was leading the other devotees in cooking for a food-for-life program. I walked in, and after about 5 minutes I said to Jerry, “wow this food looks really good!” Jerry looked at Bhaktin Claudia in amazement. He then smiled and said, “ It looks good for Krishna!” This was the first time anyone had ever told me that we should not try to enjoy anything before offering it to Krishna. This lesson came again when Jerry, Claudia, and I went to the plant store to buy some herbs for cooking. Jerry found some basil plants and after selecting the best one, handed it to me to look at it. I immediately smelled the plant and commented on its wonderful aroma. Jerry looked at me with disappointment, put the plant back where he found it, and grabbed a different plant that had not become a victim of my uncontrolled senses. These two moments will forever stand in my mind, and are fresh as ever, even seven years later. I would like to thank Jerry for teaching me this valuable lesson, one that we all must learn as new aspiring devotees. I will always remember his kindness and friendship, and I pray that he may find the shelter Krishna's lotus feet.”
“On Sunday’s, Jerry would come to the bake sale table with his son Kishore. I would always give Kishore a cookie and a cake. A few minutes later, Kishore would come back for more and I would ask him, “How is it that you have eaten so many sweets so quickly and still you want more?” He would reply that actually his father ate everything and now he would like some for himself. Jerry would actually help me set up the bake sale just so he could get free cookies and cakes. He was really a fan of Krishna’s sweets. I remember the first time that he met Claudia. He came to me and said that he has fallen in love. He just stood there for at least one hour talking about her. He couldn’t stop talking about how she grew tomato plants in her kitchen and her cooking. He asked me what he should do. I told him to speak to His Holiness Candramauli Swami who for Jerry, was a second father. Maharaja always kept Jerry engaged with work from ISKCON Prison Ministry. Jerry was always working on the newsletter, writing to prisoners, and sending them Srila Prabhupada’s books. The quality that I find most remarkable about Bhakta Jerry is that despite the fact that he had struggles of his own (as we all do), he was dedicated to reaching out to persons who were in similar situations. Regardless of where he was in his life, he always took the time to give Krishna to others. I also remember attending his home programs. He and Claudia would have the best prasadam. I remember going there one New Years Eve. We had such an amazing feast of Enchiladas, salad with avocados, home made ice cream, smoothies, varieties of nuts, Spanish rice, and this fabulous fruit tea with tamarind and special Mexican fruits. Afterwards, Jerry played the game Krishna Land with my son Krishna das. Bhakta Jerry was and will continue to be very dear to so many devotees. He is a compassionate, loving, and sincere soul who will no doubt, continue to inspire others wherever he goes. May Krishna bless him for all of eternity.”
-Kirtida-Kanyaka devi dasi
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