By Sikhi Mahiti das
At 11:40pm est, September 27th, the Appearance day of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, at ISKCON New Talavan, Carrie, Mississippi, Sriman Ramakeli das, disciple of HDG Srila Prabhupada, left this mortal world.
He was surrounded with the chanting of the maha mantra by his family and well wishers. Srimati Tulasi devi was at the head of his bed, Giri Govardhan sila was on his chest, Nrsimha, Varaha, Gopal, and Dwaraka silas were within his vision. A garland from Sri Sri Radha Radha Kanta of New Talavan was around his neck. He took a small bite of prasad and carnamrita before he began the final journey.
A brief history of service performed by HG Ramakeli das as I remember it.
His Grace Ramakeli das was accepted as a disciple of HDG Srila Prabhupada in December 1974 at ISKCON Chicago (Evanston temple). He tells the tale of how he said he would make the final decision to surrender after seeing His Divine Grace on Yadubara’s “Following Srila Prabhupada” DVD series. Srila Prabhupada was coming to attend the Rathayatra celebration on State St in Chicago. After seeing his Divine Grace, Ramakeli said he immediately surrendered.
Ramakeli prabhu served in Chicago from 1974 - 1980. He was a book distributor, as was most devotees at that time, and became a world class cook after taking 2nd initiation from Srila Prabhupada in Detroit 1976. His eggplant prakoras and tomato chutney were to die for.
I recall how many Chicago sankirtan devotee would schedule their day off to coincide with the day Ramakeli prabhu would cook the 4:00 offering. This offering was very elaborate. Full cakes, pies, milk sweets, and nectar drink. The devotees would plan how to steal the maha or use their connections to get a nice portion from the TP, pujari, or the cook - Ramakeli. I usually had the inside connection since we were friends and sankirtan partners.
Another highlight of his service to Srila Prabhupada was getting a prison preaching program established in Cook County Jail of Chicago around 1978. . This was the largest jail in the USA (not prison which is different from a jail). It took about a year to get permission from the authorities. They finally relented (the Catholic priest were the real problem) because they thought no one would attend our program.
Our program became the most popular weekly event in the jail. A prisoner had to be on the “good behavior” list to be able to attend. And, that list was no guarantee of entry because it was long also. They would only allow 50 or so prisoners to attend at one time. We would have kirtan, halva, and cookies made by Ramakeli. The prisoners loved it.
Ramakeli prabhu served in East and West Africa. He was the Temple President of Nairobi in the 80’s and Regional Secretary during that period also. He attempted to establish temples in Kisumu, Kenya and Kampla, Uganda.
In the 90’s and later, he ran a orphanage in West Africa for many years. He would take the youth and train them as devotees. Ramakeli prabhu also served at ISKCON Boston before going to Africa.
During the last six year he has battled the effects of Hepatitis C which destroyed his liver with cirrhosis and a tumor. The disease was most likely contacted during his African service.
A memorial service is being planned at New Talavan. Most likely it will be Saturday, October 6th. Please check with New Talavan or email me for information if you would like to attend.
Ramakeli prabhu’s passing was not full of pain. As he began to fade from this world he was calling out to Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur. He said, “Bhaktivinode… I’m ready to go…” I whispered in his ear “Please go… you have completed your service here… Srila Prabhupada and Krsna are waiting for you somewhere. Please go… your family will be OK. Thank you for training me in Krsna Conciousness in the early days. Thank you for you service to Srila Prabhupada. Please go.. don’t hold on to this useless body.” He didn’t speak anymore for about two hours… and then stopped breathing.
We wish him well in his service to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga.
Sikhi Mahiti das (acbsp)
Ramakeli das acbsp terminally ill
By Sikhi Mahiti das
Ramakeli das, disciple of HDG AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (Chicago 1974), is in his final days. He has been in hospice at ISKCON - New Talavan, Carrie, Mississippi for the last two weeks. He has been fighting Hepatitis C for the last seven years. He served in East Africa in the 80’s for many years and also in West Africa in the 90’s. He most likely contacted the disease there.
He currently has scirosis of the liver and a tumor that is blocking the flow of bile from the liver. His white blood count is low, kidneys failing, and belly is swollen from the fluids not being able to pass via the liver.
He has stopped eating about five days ago and currently he is only taking some ice in his mouth. Swallowing is difficult as well as breathing. He is on oxygen. Overall, he is not in a lot of pain with the exception of small bedsores. I’m staying with him 24/7 and trying to keep him comfortable. Medicare is providing hospice equipment, medications, and a visiting Registered Nurse.
About 2,200 Srila Prabhupada photos are cycling on a 24″ LED monitor in front of him with all of Srila Prabhupada’s bhajans and purports to bhajans playing when no one is in the room to read to him. We have watched and reminisced during the Srila Prabhupada videos and other movies about Vrindavan and Mayapur.
Of course, no one can predict when we will leave our bodies, but the visiting hospice nurse feels he has seven days or less.
If you like to send a message to Ramakeli prabhu, please email his daughter, Mirabhai. She is here at the farm and will bring the message to him daily. There is no internet and poor cell phone coverage at the farm location. You can call but he can only say one or two words with a whisper. And, he only has strength to speak for one or two minutes. And, he can’t handle two or three phone calls in a row. So, it is better to email something to be read to him.
His family has stated that Ramakeli’s memorial will be held at New Talavan on a Saturday after his passing. It will be at least one week ahead and not two or three days. He will be cremated ASAP and memorial will be as stated.
A more detailed email will follow immediately after his passing with a brief history of Ramakeli’s service to Srila Prabhupada.
He told me to offer his obeisances to all the vaisnavas. And, he ask forgiveness for any offensive to all the devotees, and especially those godbrothers whom he has offended.
Please forgive the late posting of this info. The combination of no internet, poor cell phone coverage, and taking care of Ramakeli kept me from posting sooner.
Sikhi Mahiti das (acbsp)
email: Mirabhai Grenham, email@example.com
cell phone in Ramakeli’s room: 601-433-8291