Mother Vrajavadhu—The Embodiment of Prabhupada’s Love
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Today was the memorial service for Mother Vrajavadhu, Srila Prabhupada’s wonderful ninty-nine-year-old disciple who passed away on July 20 in San Diego. Here is my remembrance of her.
By Giriraj Swami
In Mother Vrajavadhu’s presence, I felt Srila Prabhupada’s love very strongly—his love for her and her love for him. When I once visited her in her apartment in the towers, immediately upon entering I perceived a palpable spiritual atmosphere, or presence. My experience of every activity there with her—chanting the holy names, discussing Krishna consciousness, even looking at the spiritual pictures on the walls and shelves—was heightened; everything was so alive and real, as if the Lord was actually with us—a phenomenon I could attribute only to Srila Prabhupada’s presence.
Because Mother Vrajavadhu’s memory was failing, Ladali would visit her regularly every day to make sure she was all right and help her take care of her basic needs and functions and just spend time with her in Krishna consciousness. And Ladali had posted notes all over the apartment to remind Vrajavadhu about what she should do—and not do—in Ladali’s absence. Ladali took care of her like a daughter, but better than any ordinary daughter. Not only did she encourage Vrajavadhu spiritually, which no ordinary daughter could do, but because of her pure heart and selfless mood, she could serve her without any consideration of return, and with her clear consciousness, she could anticipate Vrajavadhu’s every need—and be there for her.
I relished every moment I spent with Vrajavadhu that day, feeling Prabhupada’s and Krishna’s pleasure, and I did not want to leave. But eventually I had to—it would have been too tiring for Mother Vrajavadhu to continue—yet even then she wanted to accompany me down the elevator and to my car, parked some distance away. At the door to the elevator I insisted that she must stay back, but when I got to the bottom and exited the building, from across the street I saw her, Ladali by her side, looking affectionately down upon me, and again I did not want to leave her. But again I did not want to detain her, and so I offered my obeisances and continued on my way.
Mother Vrajavadhu often mentioned how she would hear Prabhupada’s kirtana in her mind. It sounded like his singing on the original Happening LP, she said, and it was so real to her that she thought someone was playing the record. But when she discovered that no one else was hearing the kirtana, she realized that it must have been in her mind, or heart. This was Srila Prabhupada’s loving mercy upon her. The Nectar of Instruction lists six symptoms of love (priti-laksana) shared between one devotee and another, and one is dadati, “offering gifts in charity.” Srila Prabhupada explains, “Contributing or distributing the holy name of the Lord is a sublime example of contributing or giving charity (the dadati principle). By the same token, one must also follow the pratigrhnati principle and be willing and ready to receive the transcendental gift.” (NOI 4 purport) Out of his causeless mercy and love, Prabhupada gave her the holy name, and out of her appreciation and love, she accepted the gift.
Ladali’s caring for Mother Vrajavadhu, too, was Srila Prabhupada’s merciful arrangement; like any pure, loving reciprocation, it was beneficial for all—for Ladali and for Vrajavadhu.
At this time, we also feel the pain of separation from Mother Vrajavadhu. It reminds me of when I offered my obeisances to her while she was looking affectionately down upon me from the balcony. She is there, more than ever, with Srila Prabhupada, and she is looking down mercifully upon us, waiting for the next time we will meet.