Sriman Ramakeli das Passed Away

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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.

ys,
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.

your servant,
Sikhi Mahiti das (acbsp)

email: Mirabhai Grenham, md184@hotmail.com

cell phone in Ramakeli’s room: 601-433-8291

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1 Payonidhi Das

dear devotees
Please accept my humble obaisences
All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga , andNitai Gaura,Krsna Balarama and Radha Shyamasundara
All glories to Srila Prabhupada
I called Ramakeli Prabhu this morning after I read the postings on Dandavats.com that he has only short time to live.
He said Hari bol and tried to speak something but was not abel too.I can tell he was very happy to hear from me.As I was to talk to him.
Ramakeli Prabhu being reduced to this state is mind blowing.Such a strong bodied tall devotee with an “eternal smile on his face”.
I paraphrased SB 1.6.27

This is the actual vers and purport

Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 1.6.27
evaḿ kṛṣṇa-mater brahman
nāsaktasyāmalātmanaḥ
kālaḥ prādurabhūt kāle
taḍit saudāmanī yathā

TRANSLATION
And so, O Brāhmaṇa Vyāsadeva, in due course of time I, who was fully absorbed in thinking of Kṛṣṇa and who therefore had no attachments, being completely freed from all material taints, met with death, as lightning and illumination occur simultaneously.
PURPORT
To be fully absorbed in the thought of Kṛṣṇa means clearance of material dirt’s or hankerings. As a very rich man has no hankerings for small petty things, so also a devotee of Lord Kṛṣṇa, who is guaranteed to pass on to the kingdom of God, where life is eternal, fully cognizant and blissful, naturally has no hankerings for petty material things, which are like dolls or shadows of the reality and are without permanent value. That is the sign of spiritually enriched persons. And in due course of time, when a pure devotee is completely prepared, all of a sudden the change of body occurs which is commonly called death. And for the pure devotee such a change takes place exactly like lightning, and illumination follows simultaneously. That is to say a devotee simultaneously changes his material body and develops a spiritual body by the will of the Supreme. Even before death, a pure devotee has no material affection, due to his body’s being spiritualized like a red-hot iron in contact with fire.
Krsna does not forget a sincere devotee like Ramakeli Prabhu.
In the end of Isopanisad the personified Upanisads pray:
Iso 15: O my Lord, sustainer of all that lives, Your real face is covered by Your dazzling effulgence. Kindly remove that covering and exhibit Yourself to Your pure devotee.
Iso 16: O my Lord, O primeval philosopher, maintainer of the universe, O regulating principle, destination of the pure devotees, well-wisher of the progenitors

Comment posted by Payonidhi Das on September 27th, 2012
2 Unregistered

All Glories to Sri Ramakeli das for his service.
All glories to the hospice team and other devotees helping devotees in the most needed time.

Thank you for the information.

Comment posted by scooty.ram on September 27th, 2012
3 Unregistered

I will really miss Ramakeli Prabhu. His passing is so unexpected. We were talking several months ago about the plans to go back to Africa and establish preaching centers in few countries that had not being touched with Krishna consciousness before. Well, Krishna has His plan. Krishna knows what is better for His devotees, and He has taken proper care of Ramakeli Prabhu.

I pray to be similarly fortunate to receive the mercy of the Lord and His devotees at the time of my passing.

Jaya Srila Prabhupada, isvara dasa

Comment posted by isvaradas on September 28th, 2012
4 Shyamasundara Dasa

Last Monday, September 24, 2012 was the 36th anniversary of the day I first met Ramakeli Prabhu. I vividly recall it because it was the day I surrendered to Srila Prabhupada. I had been reading Bhagavad Gita As it Is and Krsna Book, chanting the mahamantra as explained in the books and offering my food to the Gita. I had never been to a temple, I lived in Sudbury, Canada and the closest one was 400km to the south in Toronto. For weeks I had prayed every day and night to Lord Krsna to send me a genuine guru. Then on September 23 my girl friend told me she met some devotees but I was not able to meet them. The next day, Friday, when she told me they were again downtown I didn’t waste time and immediately went to meet them. The first person I met was Krsnadasa Kaviraja Prabhu and asked him where my girlfriend was? He pointed out that she was talking to Ramakeli Prabhu the sankirtan leader. Ramakeli Prabhu stood out like the proverbial sore thumb because he was a black bodied devotee. Living in Northern Ontario you rarely meet black people I had only ever met 2-3 in my life till then. I went over to meet him.

Ramakeli Prabhu was very gregarious and spoke well. I recall that in his peaching to me about the power of Srila Prabhupada’s books and the process of Krsna Consciouness that he told me that he had formerly been a junkie but by the effect of the Bhakti Yoga process he had left that all behind, and had joined the Radha Damodhara Sankirtan party led by TKG. I told him I had read Gita and Krsna book and he began asking me questions about mayavadis and other topics to see if I had actually comprehended anything. He was happy to see that something had penetrated my thick skull. He offered to buy us (my girl friend and I) bus tickets to come to visit the Ottawa temple (he had been traded from Chicago to Ottawa for Mother Karana Karana and was the sankirtana leader). At that very moment I had a completely mystical experience in which all of the external sound suddenly turned off, by that I mean even though we were standing at a busy street corner full of traffic noise and him speaking to me right in my face all external sounds were turned off and I just saw his lips moving.

continued

Comment posted by Shyamasundara Dasa on September 28th, 2012
5 Shyamasundara Dasa

Then a very loud voice like a PA system inside of me told me repeatedly the command that “This is the time to surrender” and finally said “This is what you were praying for.” After that all external sound returned including Ramakeli speaking to me in mid-sentence. My jaw must have dropped. What could I do after that? So I just told Ramakeli “I’m joining now!” Then his jaw dropped. I guess he never made a devotee so quickly (-:

I told him that I liked to read and study a lot I remember him telling me “don’t worry you will have plenty of time to read and study.” Which of course was not the case as I was piled with service from the moment I moved into the ashram. No regrets.

I went back to work and informed them I had better offer in Ottawa and was quitting that day itself. Ramakeli and the others (Karttikeya Prabhu and Krsnadasa Kaviraja Prabhu) picked me up and I stayed the night with them and the next day (Saturday) I was on the street with them. The next day after that was Sunday and time to go back to Ottawa (560 km away). This is when Ramakeli started training me in earnest. Even though I had a very sore throat Ramakeli Prabhu insisted (and rightly so) that I chant all my 16 rounds. I had been chanting before but never on beads and never that much what to speak of with a raw, sore throat but he convinced me of how important it was to chant all my rounds. Ramakeli Prabhu thank you for not being soft on me and making me understand the vital importance of chanting the Holy Name in any and all circumstances no matter what, a lesson I have never forgotten.

Then on Monday it was decided that I would join the sankirtan party (Ramakeli Prabhu, Laksminatha Prabhu and Dayalji Prabhu) to Rouyn-Noranda and Val-d’Or, small mining towns in French speaking Northern Quebec. Neither Ramakeli nor I knew French but the others taught us a few lines and off we went. Ramakeli Prabhu was a big hit with the locals, as they had never seen a black-bodied devotee before. He couldn’t speak French but he was all smiles and very friendly and he came back every evening with massive amounts of laksmi. Every morning we had what might be considered a feast in some temples today. Two subjis, dahl, rice, oatmeal halava etc. It was delicious and all cooked up by Ramakeli and the others on a small hotplate in a motel room.

continued

Comment posted by Shyamasundara Dasa on September 28th, 2012
6 Shyamasundara Dasa

Later the lease ran out on the Ottawa temple so while the TP was searching for a new location the Gaura Nitai deities and all other devotees temporarily relocated to Montreal temple for a few months. Here Ramakeli lead us out on many forays to collect laksmi for getting Gaura Nitai a new temple.

Ramakeli was very strict about making sure that no matter what I would always come for the whole morning program. I remember one instance very well.

I those days the brahmacari ashrama in Montreal was just one huge room, a former gymnasium. We all slept on the floor there must have been 30 of us. Anyway one day I got a bad stomach flu and was up all night vomiting, probably kept everybody else up too. But to “Sargent Major” Ramakeli Prabhu this was not even close to a reason to miss mangala arotika so he helped me to the shower and get dressed and even though I was turning various shades of green I was somehow in mangala arotika and the rest of the morning program as well. Thank you Ramakeli Prabhu for showing me the importance of attending the whole morning program, though I must admit that sometimes I wimp out and baby myself too much when I shouldn’t.

Soon after this the Chicago temple started missing Ramakeli Prabhu too much and he was traded for another devotee. We all missed him a lot especially me. After that our paths went in different directions, I went to India and he to Africa. We would occasionally meet over the years at Panahati festival in Atlanta or elsewhere. The last time I saw him was in Mayapura 2006.

Ramakeli was a very warm and friendly person yet at the same time he was strict and deadly serious about spiritual life and pleasing Srila Prabhupada. You can see from the photograph of him in the hospice bed what a wonderful smile he had, he looks completely blissful. I want to thank Sikhi Mahiti Prabhu and others for taking care of this saintly devotee in his last days with us. Lord Krsna blessed him to have a painless death and in such auspicious circumstances that we can only imagine what good fortune he is now experiencing. In fact I am not sure if I should be praying for him or to him.

I feel privileged to have had his blessed association and for the vital lessons he taught me as a new devotee. And, I lament that I will not get his association again in this life.

Your humble servant

Shyamasundara Dasa
www.ShyamasundaraDasa.com
krsne matirastu

Comment posted by Shyamasundara Dasa on September 28th, 2012
7 Payonidhi Das

Today I called Yogindra Vandana Prabhu in New Talavana who told me of the peacefull passing of Ramakeli Prabhu…I know he went straight back to Godhead and perefected his life

Comment posted by Payonidhi Das on September 28th, 2012
8 Unregistered

Hare Krishna

I am greatly saddened to hear of the departure of Ramakeli Prabhu. Always enthusiastic to serve it was a pleasure to be around him. Although such occassions of being together were few over the last years I will always remember his cheerfully hardy being in the service of Srila Prabhupada.

Ramakeli Prabhu! I know you have gone to a better destination. Please bless me so that I may depart this world with the name of the Lord and His devotees like you did. Congratulations, you made it.

your friend,

Sesa das

Comment posted by sesa das on September 28th, 2012
9 Unregistered

All glories to you Ramakeli Prabhu!!!

You have undoubtedly gone on to the service of Srila Prabhupada elsewhere. In the association of our beloved Guru please remember us, the ones you have left behind, and bless us that we may one day again have your association.

Wishing all the best for your family in this time of difficulty.

Sesa das

Comment posted by sesa das on September 28th, 2012
10 Unregistered

Hari bol agtsp and their lord ships. It is sad to see so many devotees leaving their bodies like this.
But again, after reading all the books it seems it is how we seem to go from this world. The pandavas left timely and sadly as well lord Ramachandra left in a sad way as well. Our acarya set the example of fearless-
ness, don’t fear don’t hesitate and don’t worry. We will see krsna again and sri caitanya/nityananda
afterwards for sure. My respects to you Ramakeli prabhu. Hare krsna agtsp.

Comment posted by Antaryami Dasa on September 29th, 2012
11 Unregistered

We were shocked to hear about the passing of Sriman Ramakeli Prabhu ,My encounter with him was in 1982 in Nairobi Kenya.I remember well getting off the plane and seeing this tall devotee with a bright smile and who looked intimidating to me .He reminded me almost of my Principle.Oh no, I said to myself will I be able to communicate or deal with this person ?His American english his authoritarian personna .I felt discouraged at first but as days and weeks went by I came t o appreciate his attitute his willingness to take me under his wings and teach me of how to be a good sankirtan devotee .He made sure that I had breakfast prasadam before going out on Sankirtan and after .When I was feeling homesick as I was only a mere teenager who was always under the protection and shelter of my parents he would preach and comfort me as a father .Seeing his bright smile when I tell him the score of my sankirtan collection for the day would make me feel so inspired to go out day after day and preach and be the best Sankirtan devotee there can be .We will surely miss him.I am certain he is off to serve Srila Prabhupada and Lord chaitanya Mahaprabhu where ever he may be .
Jaya Srila Prabhupada!Sachi Dasi Potomac Maryland

Comment posted by sachi dasi on September 30th, 2012
12 Payonidhi Das

I recall one time when on sankirtana in 1995 with Ramakeli Prabhu in New Orleans and two British young ladies was lamenting that their purse had been stolen and they did not know what to do until they where catching a flight back to London. Ramakeli Prabhu was TP at the time for New Orleans .He talked with them and understood their grief, and allowed them to stay in the ladies asrama telling them about the 4 regulative principles. They aggreed.They did some service in the temple for the few days they where there and chanted on beads and attended the temple programs and dressed in Saris that was provided for them by Ramakeli Prabhu and his wife.They left the temple thankful a few days later.A year later on Oxford street in London while distributing Srila Prabhupadas books with other devotees in front of a famous record store, I met the one of the ladies that came up to me. She asked if I remembered her, and reminded me, she was surprised to see me in London. I smiled : ” This is the international society for Krsna consciousness….”.She laughed and asked about Rama Keli Prabhu ,she bought some of Srila Prabhupadas books, and later visited the ISKCON Soho street temple along with her friends. Later when I told Ramakeli Prabhu about these 2 ladies how I had met them again..he was very happy..he said :” Just see the mercy of Srila Prabhupada”. But I do not forget his kindness on these ladies and they never forgot him….

Comment posted by Payonidhi Das on October 1st, 2012
13 Unregistered

Just wanted to thank the devotees here in New Orleans temple for organizing and participating in such a moving program for Ramakeli prabhu last night. I only recently had the good fortune to have any personal association with Ramakeli prabhu since moving to NOLA a few months ago, although I had known him in a casual way for many years. I must say that he was a very important part of my days this past summer. He was always inspiring to me in his single-minded dedication to preaching and spreading KC to everyone, and he always had an encouraging way to suggest solutions to questions or problems I discussed with him. Here in NOLA, he will surely be missed by all - especially as this is not a temple with many of SP’s direct disciples any longer. I feel very fortunate to have had these past few months with him, and I hope Krsna will bless me never to forget what he taught me about sharing KC with the world.

Comment posted by jayadayini on October 2nd, 2012
14 Unregistered

Dear Ramakeli,

Hare Krishna!

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada. All glories to your service to Srila Prabhupada. All glories to your transcendental departure from this world. Now you are back home with Srila Prabhupada serving him, Lord Caitanya and the Divine Couple Sri Sri Radha-Krishna. All glories to you Ramakeli.

It is unfortunate for me that I have not had your association in many years. But I was fortunate enough to get your associate and I remember you were always enthusiastic, full of energy, always happy and positive. In the BG 9-2, Krishna speaking about the highest knowledge says that it is joyfully performed, and that is how I remember you performing your service. Thank you Ramakeli. Hope to get your association once again.

Your humble servant,
Pyari Mohan Das

Comment posted by Pyari on October 3rd, 2012

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