Memorial for Sudama

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By Omkara devi dasi (Ann Di Nicola)

Memoires of Sudama Maharaj Leaving His Body And My Experiences Taking Care of Him

August 5, 2008

I pay my respectful obeisances to my loving Spiritual Master A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, my eternal guru whom I love and thank for giving me the Hare Krishna mantra and instructions on devotional service. I pay my obeisances to all the assembled devotees who I know, whom I don’t know but am spiritually related to and to all the spirit souls I have known in this lifetime that have left their bodies and gone back to Srila Prabhupada, to Vaikuntha, reunited once again in devotional love.

Recently my Godsister Koumadakee left her body and at her memorial service many old Godbrothers and Godsisters gathered, along with newer devotees and we had a very nice memorial. I felt so close to Srila Prabhupada during the kirtan, seeing and hearing Baradraj sing, being the m. c., hearing the chanting and memorial. I contemplated how fortunate we are to have each other. How fortunate we are to serve and be connected. I pray to somehow once again serve someone who leaves his body, to chant by his/her side and help that person, that spirit soul have the peace of mind, the contentment to go back to Srila Prabhupada, back to Krsna.

When I was young I often was thinking about death and was convinced about the existence of the soul. I remember I was about 11 years old and saw a car accident on the highway and above the sprawled body there was a glowing emanating ball, glow of light hovering. I knew, without a doubt, without anyone telling me, that was the soul hovering. Hovering from attachment, bewilderment, and waiting for it’s future fate, it’s future journey of existence. That was one of the starting points of my contemplating the existence of the soul after death. I knew there was more.

I was fascinated with death and often wondered what actually happens at that time. For years I wanted to see death in another person and experience it firsthand. Approximately 14 years ago when I moved back into the temple I took a break from having a 9:00 – 5:00 job and went back into spiritual activities. I started chanting again and offering my food, going to the temple regularly and really liking it. I had a close friend Krodhashamani who was just starting her yoga business and we became good friends. It was nice living at the temple again. I never thought I’d like it. It’s like this…. you cannot pretend to be spiritual, you must feel it from deep within. You can’t fake it. I went through a period of growth, perhaps trying to grow emotionally as a person and thinking maybe I missed something because I became a Hare Krishna at 17 years of age. So I dated a little, I worked full time, overtime, sometimes on weekends, and I had a regular life. But after I got laid off and after my mom died I got a small inheritance and at that time I felt free, and I felt like I really wanted to be more spiritual. It was good and felt good, natural — something I really wanted.

One day Krodhashamani came to my apartment and asked me to come see Sudama. He arrived in Los Angeles from San Francisco, and was dying of Aids. I knew Sudama from the Brooklyn temple. At that time he was a sannyasi, therefore we never spoke. I liked him a lot because he was flamboyant, had a beautiful face and features and was very vocal in his expressions. He also was in charge of the Vaikuntha Players, a group of devotees who had plays. When we went on sankirtan there were skits about Krsna’s pastimes during our break on the chanting party. He orchestrated everything. The public seemed to really appreciate it and we drew a big crowd. Mostly we would go to 42nd street and Times Square. I went to visit Sudama with Krodhashamani and we spoke very briefly. I didn’t know if he remembered me from New York but he acknowledged me and at that time I could see he was overwhelmed with what was happening to him.

After a few days one afternoon, I remember it was after Christmas, because I still had a small Christmas tree up. One afternoon, I heard a thunking noise in the hallway on the stairs. “Thunk, thunk, thunk…..” It was a strange noise. It reminded me of Srila Prabhupada. At the Brooklyn temple one time I was leaving the pujari room and I heard the same noise…….. “thunk, thunk, thunk….” It was Srila Prabhupada! The thunking noise came from Prabhupada’s cane. All alone coming down the stairs from his quarters. I think he was headed for the kitchen. I paid my obeisances and looked at him with folded hands. I was speechless. It was only him and me. He held up his cane and looked at me smiling he said, “chant Hare Krishna”. I was shivering and excited to come so close to him. So Sudama brought this same sounding thunk to my door with his cane. I greeted Sudama into my apartment and he layed on to sofa very despondent. He acknowledged that Bhakta Chuck couldn’t take care of him and he had no one that would take care of him. He was very sad and scared. He looked very lonely. We spoke for a long time and he would stare at the lights of my Christmas tree. He would contemplate very heavily. Krodhashamani came to me later on and told me he needed someone to take care of him too, so I agreed. I never took care of a dying man but I knew the most important thing was to chant Hare Krishna for him and to make him feel comfortable. The less anxiety the better, the mind can be focused on Krishna and Prabhupada. So we got to know each other pretty well. I took care of him for approximately 2 months before he left his body.

He stayed in my apartment because he just didn’t want to leave. He only stayed for a few days because my daughter had a hard time dealing with it. Then we moved into an empty temple apartment. I slept in the same room because I feared he would die in the middle of the night and I wanted to be there to chant for him. In the morning I would go home briefly to shower and change and eat. Even though we had a Prabhupada tape playing all the time I wanted to comfort him if he needed someone. Prior to moving into his temple apartment Siddhanta went to a Chinese herbalogist and got him some herbal tea. The doctor told him he had no electrolytes and he didn’t have much time left. When Sudama and I were alone after Siddhanta left, all of a sudden Sudama started crying like a baby. Tears fell from his eyes and he put his head on my shoulder. I felt so sorry for him. Previously he had been in some denial about dying and sometimes was stubborn about it. He would not come to terms on his dying. Finally at this stage it began to sank in and he started to realize, yes this is it, he is very sick and is a dying man. I let him cry and told him in as many kind words I could gather that I would be there for him, Prabhupada and Krsna are there for him and for all the service he performed for Prabhupada he should have faith and be strong. He mustered up some strength and he was able to regain his wits again. This was a steppingstone, since now he was embracing the fact, yes I am in the process and will soon leave my body. He often lay on my sofa and lament about all the things he should have done, could have done. I let him talk a lot because I could see it gave him strength, it gave him a release and in this process he was entrusting in me to serve him as a devotee and help him think about Krsna and Prabhupada. Sometimes Sudama called some old friends in San Francisco. He called Bhavananda and spoke to him for a while. One of his friends just contracted Aids and it shocked Sudama. Another friend just passed away. The news affected him deeply.

Sudama often talked about his services for Prabhupada in the old days. How he would compete with other devotees who can serve Prabhupada better, who can spend more time with Prabhupada. Who can make the better garland for Prabhupada, who can cook for Prabhupada. Sudama helped open the Tokyo temple and had a lot to do with the Hawaii temple. He traveled as a sannyasi and stayed in the Brooklyn temple for a while. He traveled and preached and made devotees. He loved Srila Prabhupada with all his heart. He often regretted he didn’t serve enough. He regretted his falldown and other things. Sudama even told me he tried to be straight, got married and had a son named Aaron. But that didn’t work. Sudama came from a pious family. His brother was also initiated by Srila Prabhupada and his mother met Srila Prabhupada many years ago. She liked Krsna and thanked Prabhupada for taking care of her two sons. During the dying process his mother Claire would bring supplies and things we needed to take care of him. It was very hard for her to deal with this however she visited him often and was there when he left his body.

Sudama had a deep spiritual side and a little of the worldly side too. He lamented that he was dying and said to me often that he would like to take me to Paris. He exclaimed where was I all his life? And I laughed with him, thinking such is karma. Many devotees, young and old would come visit him. I remember Radha Kunda came a few times. He was very emotional about seeing his Godbrother in the process of leaving his body. We were alone a lot and I would just sit and chant by his side. Sometimes I would read from the Bhagavad Gita. Always a Prabhupada tape would be playing. His sickness took it’s toll quickly. The first sign was he would have diarrhea and couldn’t control his bowels. He couldn’t really walk to the bathroom alone so I would semi-carry him. He was embarrassed that a woman had to help him and I reminded him that I am not my body, I am spirit soul. To take it as Krsna’s mercy and not think of me as a woman. I felt this must have been very humbling for him. After a few days his bowels really went out of control so we had to use adult diapers. I would change him and clean him up. I was never scared of contracting Aids because I knew fully that Krishna would protect me. He didn’t have open sores, only at the very end he started getting bed sores. I was never affected by the stool or urine, and just did it out of duty, thinking if I was dying how badly would I want someone to take care of me like this. I wanted to help him feel comfortable with my presence and not feel attached or ashamed of what was going on during the different stages. I wished for him to just have peace of mind and want to have the desire to go back to Krishna, back to Srila Prabhupada.

So in the empty temple apartment we stayed. During the course of taking care of Sudama devotees would bring me things that were special and important. I had Vrndavan dust, Ganges and Radha Kunda water, tilak, tulasi leaf, oftentimes garlands and other things. Someone brought a really nice big brass medallian of Lord Nrsingha deva that we put on his chest during his last hour. Lots of pictures of Srila Prabhupada, Rukmini Dwarakadish and so many spiritual momentos. One day when I was walking quickly to my apartment to shower and change Svavas stopped me in the street to thank me for the service of taking care of Sudama. He said he had no one to do it. Little did he know I was in my heart profusely thanking him and Krishna for giving me this opportunity. It was so valuable to me.

Approxiamately three days before he left his body Claire, Sudama’s mother and Sudama were discussing the cremation and other arrangements. Sudama looked at me and begged me to take his ashes to India. I was a little taken aback and didn’t expect it. I could not refuse a dying man and I agreed. I have never been to India and in the past years I really didn’t want to go because I didn’t want to get sick. I didn’t want to get malaria, jaundice or any other third world country illness. This time it was different. I wanted to go. Claire didn’t offer to pay for the trip and that put me out a bit. I was almost out of money and had just enough for India. I hesitated but felt moved and inclined to do this. So I paid for the trip myself and went to Vrindavan and Mayapur.

The last two weeks prior to Sudama dying he could barely eat. I got a dropper and would drop some water down his mouth oftentimes. I could see him getting weaker and skinnier each day. One morning around 2:00 a. m. I was awakened by Sudama gurgling and struggling. This scared me a little bit and I immediately got up to chant Hare Krishna and hold his hand. I could hear him try to enunciate the Hare Krishna mantra through his intrepid gurgles. He would say, “ ha….. kh…. kh….. ra…. ha….. “ and gurgle at the same time. Sudama was trying to chant and he was struggling. This went on for a few minutes. I thought this is it. He’s dying. I chanted Hare Krishna and just prayed, please let this be auspicious. Then all of a sudden he turned to me and in a clear voice said, “I am going to pick my time to die.” Then he layed his head down and fell asleep. I was stunned. I was still a little scared but hearing him breathe gave me consolation. I chanted for a while and then went back to sleep. In the morning he told me he remembered what happened. He saw the Vishnudutas come in the room and he wasn’t ready. He tried to chant Hare Krsna and couldn’t. Then he had peace and fell asleep. The next morning I thought I should get stronger. I shouldn’t be scared of death, my fears might show to Sudama and increase some fear in him. I need to welcome death and help Sudama to want to leave his body in a good strong spiritual fashion. The doctor and nurses came. The doctor said it was only a matter of one or two days. Then later he said probably a day. We called his mother and other close friends. In the morning he looked very different. His neck, chest and face had another changed look that is hard to describe. It looked a little stiff, a lot different. I recognized the time is close. I still gave him drops of water, I still chanted, but this time I got what I needed all together by his bedside. I made sure the Vrndavan dust was close by, Ganges and Radha Kunda water, fresh tilak, tulasi leaf, and yes more garlands. I started regularly sprinkling him with Vrndavan dust and anointing him with Ganges and Radha Kunda water and I spelled Hare Krsna on the side of his stomach in large lettering. Sometimes he would get phone calls from devotees. Even though he was at the point he couldn’t talk, he could hear and acknowledge. Sometimes he had the strength to nod his head or squeeze my hand. The nurse would take his vitals and the doctor said only a few hours. At a late point almost just before he left his body the doctor started giving him morphine shots because he said his pain was very intense. Still once in a while I could feel Sudama squeezing my hand in a form of communication, however, the squeezes were very light now. He had no strength. It was around 4:20 in the morning and I called Krodhashamani. She in turn called other devotees and the room quickly became filled with devotees. A nice kirtan started. He was full of garlands, he had charinamrta. At one point his old friend Tamal Krishna called and told him to think of Prabhupada and Krishna to go back to Krishna and Prabhupada. Tamal told me to put Tulasi leaf in his mouth under his tongue. We chanted and chanted. The room was ecstatic. Sudama left his body, his mouth a little open, however he had a golden aura and looked very very beautiful. Lord Nrsingha deva on his chest and Prabhupada close by waiting to welcome him home.

Incidentally, even though the doctors said he was dying of Aids on his death certificate it said he had heart failure. The doctor was constantly checking his pulse and heart and almost was able to time his death. His heart gave out.

His mother Claire lamented however she knew he was back in the spiritual sky and she helped with the cremation and other arrangements. Then my journey to India began. The cremation was delayed due to several days of intense earthquakes. I never before attended a cremation. Many devotees came. There was a nice rip roaring kirtan and his body was burned. Put in an urn. His mother gave me the urn and then I made arrangements to go to India. Even though it was the first time I went and I was traveling alone I didn’t feel any anxiety. On the airplane, the long trip, I often contemplated Sudama in his urn, accompanied by Srila Prabhupada and Krsna. They were flying the plane. They were all with me. It was a good journey and made me very happy, very excited that I would go on a pilgrimage to the Holy Dham. I stayed in Vrndavan for a week and then to Mayapur for a week and back to Vrndavan for a half week and then back to Los Angeles. A devotee, Upendranath, picked me up. I arrived at night and could smell the cow dung burning. I liked the smell. I heard the pigs eating the garbage and snorting. It was an interesting new sound to me. When I arrived the only place that was available to stay in was a room down the road. The toilet was a hole in the floor and the shower was freezing. I didn’t mind at all. I was on a special mission and this is the Holy Place. When I laid down to rest I heard all the peacocks and other animals with their sounds. It was so beautiful and reminded me very much of that blue boy Krishna playing his flute. I woke up and went to Mangala Arotik. Sri Krsna Balaram Mandir was so exquisite. Large, full of ornate marble, and the deities enraptured my very breath. I felt so fortunate to be there. The next day I got a room at the temple. It was a simple but pleasant room and more opulent than I expected. I was happy to have a room in the temple complex. The next day I met a rigshaw walla (so called by chance). He was specifically someone that was recommended to me. He was out in the front of the temple just waiting for his next ride. He told me his name and I knew everything would be okay. Each morning he would pick me up, we would go around town visiting temples and other places and at early evening he would bring me back to the temple. He was my guide. One time he took me to the woods to see a very old babaji who was 106 years old. The babaji was performing puja. After puja he gave me maha prasadam. I felt very blessed. My most important part of the journey was to go to Mayapur and give the ashes to Jayapataka Maharaj. After arriving there I informed the devotees the reason for my visit. I was greeted very warmly. I gave the ashes to a devotee. In a few days there was a big kirtan and we went chanting to the spot where Sudama wanted his ashes strewn. That is where the three rivers meet, The Saraswati, The Ganges and The Jamuna. This is a very sacred place and many devotees go for Khumba Mehla there. Trivem Sangam – union of the holy rivers. We had a great chanting party and puja. Then back to the temple to honor and enjoy a big feast. After a few more days I returned to Vrndavan. During my stay in India at the beginning I was very careful of what I ate and drank. I had a burner and cooked soup for myself but mostly ate granola, nuts and very simple prasadam for the first week. While I was in Mayapur after a while I wanted to get purified and thought if I get sick in India that would be a good purification. I started drinking tap water and eating temple prasadam. I didn’t get sick even though I tried.

Ever since this big event I have always thought about how blessed I was to take care of Sudama and how important it is to take care of dying devotees and help them think of Krishna and Prabhupada. I would very much like to do that service again. It is the most important act of spirituality for me. And I also pray somehow I can be in this same situation and be guided by a devotee. That would be my success. For years I would think of Sudama and wonder what kind of karma that is to be placed in this situation. Taking care of a godbrother and someone who was a sannyasi at one time, a servant of Prabhupada. That is good karma for me. One day I was on the computer googling things about Sudama and came across a letter from Srila Prabhupada to Sudama thanking him for his letter. In the text of the letter Srila Prabhupada is accepting me as his disciple based on Sudama’s recommendation. I was so surprised, as I didn’t know this. I thought the temple president had asked Prabhupada to accept me as his disciple. Maybe taking care of Sudama was my way of expressing gratitude for connecting me with Srila Prabhupada. I am ever grateful. Hare Krishna.

Your servant, Omkara devi dasi

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1 Amara_dasa

Hare Krsna! What a beautifully recounted story of Sudama Prabhu’s passing. Thanks so much for sharing it with us!

Comment posted by Amara_dasa on August 6th, 2008
2 trivikramaswami

Dear Omkara dd

Please accept my humble obesiances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Thank you so much for rendering this service to our brother Sudama Prabhu. I served with him for some time in Japan, but didn’t see him for some years after that. Thanks for givng me an opportunity to be there with him in his last days by recounting those days with such feeling.

I am sure that Srila Prabhupada and Lord Krishna will bless you for the service your performed to Sudama and for the service that you have given to all of us by allowing us to enter into his final days.

Your servant
Trivikrama Swami

Comment posted by trivikramaswami on August 7th, 2008
3 soma108

Dear Trivikrama Maharaj,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Thank you for your email and acknowledgment. It has been many years since Sudama prabhu left his body and I never officially made any statements. Throughout the years I often thought I should express what had transpired and exemplify how sincere he was in his service.

As we are getting older more of our Godbrothers and Godsisters are leaving their bodies. After this experience I think of death a lot more and how I should prepare and get serious about my spiritual life.

I appreciate this experience and know that I have been truly blessed to serve my Godbrother. I pray to Srila Prabhupada for his guidance and am very grateful to be his disciple.

Hare Krsna.
Your servant,
Omkara devi dasi

Comment posted by soma108 on August 7th, 2008
4 pustakrishna

Dear Omkara dd,
Dandavat and Hare Krishna. It was very nice to hear your recounting of our dear Godbrother and friend, Sudama das. I was in the house that day in San Francisco with Sudama and with Gurudas and Tamal Krishna Maharaj. It was an important day.
Also, I was one of those Godbrothers who called to give encouragement to Sudama when he lay there in his last hours, unable to speak. I told His Grace that Krishna had forgiven him fully and that he was going home, back to Godhead. It was a heartfelt expression, since Sudama humbly felt himself so unworthy due to some of his mundane activities. In fact, Srila Prabhupad always overlooked our karma. His transcendental vision only took our attempts at service into consideration. Karma was expected, but service to Guru Gauranga is extraordinary and rare.
I best remember Sudama in Mayapur. He was dovetailing his love for dancing in the new temple. There, during the Mayapur Festival, before Sri Sri Radha Madhava, while devotees parted on the right side and the left side of the altar house during ecstatic evening kirtan, Sudama was in the center, alone, before the Dieties, dancing back and forth, to and fro, like a person possessed with the desire to please Their Lordships with his best efforts of dance. His face was serious and his eyes wide-open, as he twirled and danced about. Those who were there could never forget this. It was not at all egotistical, but rather his expression of offering the Dieties, entertaining Them it seemed.
We have never seen a character like Sudama. He was unique: charming and happy in service, flamboyant and yet humble at the same time. We, the first generation of vaishnavas in the West, share a certain bond beyond the formalities that have come to be at times. We were adventurers, voyagers, sacrificers…we often turned our backs on our families, our friends, our ambitions, and long held dreams…to serve a fledgling new spiritual movement. We travelled to far off places in Asia, Africa, throughout the Americas, and Europe. Where there was no manifestation of Krishna consciousness, we chanted and preached out hearts out, we often got arrested and abused for our efforts…but we carried on. Srila Prabhupad personally recognized our faulty efforts, he knew our names which he had given us, he forgave our shortcomings and even our failures. Sudama was one creation of Srila Prabhupad’s mercy. Affectionately, Pusta Krishna das

Comment posted by pustakrishna on August 8th, 2008
5 soma108

Dear Pusta Krishna Prabhu,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada. I thank you so very much for your message. I remember Sudama received many encouraging phone calls from his dear Godbrothers. I am sorry I did not include your name in the memoire. I know he gathered much strength and happiness receiving these phone calls. Recently Gurudas told me he transported Sudama to L.A. and I believe Brahmananda may have encouraged Sudama to go to New Dwaraka to spend his last days as well.

Thank you for exemplifying how Sudama danced in front of the deities in Mayapur. In the past I often enjoyed his flamboyant character and it showed his love for Sri Krishna and Prabhupada. I remember his dancing and his acting in the Vaikuntha Players. Sometimes he led kirtan for Prabhupada in Los Angeles.

It is good to be reminded of how in the old days many of our Godbrothers travelled far and wide to preach the holy name. To unknown areas of the world as well as the Iron Curtain. Throughout the austerities devotees have enjoyed much bliss and joy preaching, making new devotees, serving their Guru in the best way they can.

Your post is much appreciated and I thank you for this.

Your humble servant,
I hope to remain,
Omkara devi dasi

Comment posted by soma108 on August 8th, 2008
6 Unregistered

Dear Omkara devi dasi,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

I am eternally indebted to you for sharing with all the vaisnavas, the glorious passing of my dear godbrother Sudama prabhu.

I had the great fortune of his favor on several occassions. I first met him at the 1974 Chicago Ratha Yatra. At that time he was serving Srila Prabhupada and I was guarding Srila Prabhupada’s room.

Sudama told me “If Srila Prabhupada needs me immediately come and get me.”

A short time later Srila Prabhupada came out his room and called out in a very loud voice “Sudama” and I quickly ran to find Sudama who immediately came and prepared a beautiful tray of prasadam for Srila Prabhupada. Thank you Sudama prabhu for giving me the opportunity to serve Srila Prabhupada.

On his last visit to the Atlanta temple I got the opportunity to serve Sudama prabhu by arranging a meeting for him at a local TV station. Everyone at the station was totally fascinated by this beautiful Hare Krsna devotee. Practically everyone stopped to come in and meet him. I will never forget that day.

Then at the end of the day he asked me to prepare some cookies and hot milk for him. He was so happy and thanked me for such a small service.

I will always remember Sudama prabhu and I pray that one day we will be together again serving Srila Prabhupada.

Your humble servant,
Balabhadra Bhattacarya dasa

Comment posted by Balabhadra Bhattacarya dasa on August 8th, 2008
7 soma108

Dear Balabhadra Bhattacarya Prabhu,

Thank you for your wonderful account of service with Sudama Prabhu. I enjoyed reading it very much and appreciate how important it is to always strive to be servant of the servant of the servant.

Throughout our different stages in lives and the paths we lead may we be blessed with the association of devotees and guided by our spiritual master Srila Prabhupada.

I thank you.
Your servant,
Omkara devi dasi

Comment posted by soma108 on August 8th, 2008
8 Madhusudana

Dear Omkara dd,

Please accept our humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

We thank you over and over again for the wonderful memories of our godbrother Sudama prabhu. Yes, he was sweet devotee an amazingly charismatic personality–beautiful bodily features and a creative dancer and actor. I remember watching him in awe, dancing in the harinam party in NY. His love for Prabhupada was inspiring. We are honored to have been his friend.

Just reading your account was very purifying. I had many layers of realization. One of which was that I hope to never take any devotee for granted–considering someone to be “just a woman,” or “just a mother,” or “just a temple devotee.” Your own part in this story is also very inspiring. After reading I felt a renewed faith in, and connection with, Krishna, as I gazed at my Jagannath Deities.

As we were honored to know Sudama prabhu, we are also honored to know you, that we were there when you joined in Brooklyn, and served together in Los Angeles. We were so happy to read your memories.

We beg to remain your humble servants,
Madhusudan and Kanchanbala

Comment posted by Madhusudana on August 9th, 2008
9 Unregistered

Hare Krsna,

Please accept my dandavats at your lotus feet. All Glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Words fell short to describe the beauty of this article. Thats really something special. It will further strengthen our faith in our saviour Srila Prabhupada. This proves whatever he said is TRUE. This is the proof.

Reading about the departure of this pure servant of Prabhupada has definitely helped me on a personal level to improve upon my committment for the movement of Srila Prabhupada. Why in this world should we be afraid when we have the shelter of the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada and his sincere followers like HG Sudama Prabhu. This article not only makes us remember the valuable services and sacrifices Sudama Prabhu did for our society but also gives a glimpse into his exhalted status as a pure Vaishnava. Highly recommended for neophytes like me.

Thank you very very much.

your humble servant,
vibhava krsna das

Comment posted by vibhavakrsna das on August 9th, 2008
10 Akruranatha

I heard a story, I do not know if it was authentic, that Srila Prabhupada made a special promise to Sudama Prabhu, such as “If you open a temple in Japan, I will take you back to Godhead.”

Has anyone else heard that story? Can anyone out there provide more details and/or confirm the authenticity of it?

Comment posted by Akruranatha on August 10th, 2008
11 soma108

Dear Madhusudan and Kanchanbala Prabhus,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All Glories to Srila Prabhupada.

I thank you for your appreciation and remembrance of Sudama Prabhu. It is with sincerity and spiritual rendition that I recall Sudama in New York, as well as serving him here in New Dwaraka. I oftentimes relish thinking about when I first joined in the Brooklyn temple just before Sri Sri Radha Govinda were installed.

One of my realizations that occurred when I took care of Sudama prabhu was that this whole Krsna Consciousness is a preparation for leaving our body and we should not take that for granted. We should live life to our fullest and expend all our propensities in the service of Krsna remembering at any time we can leave our bodies. To value association, devotees, the shelter of the deities and the shelter of our Guru Srila Prabhupada is the essence of our existence. I look at life and death differently now and thank Srila Prabhupada so much for coming to the West — giving us this opportunity to go Back to Godhead through devotional service. We have so many Godbrothers and Godsisters that we can render service to as well as the deities, what to speak of the spirit souls out there that are still waiting to hear the Hare Krishna Mantra.

My regards to both of you prabhus. I am very glad to hear from you and wish you both health and continued spiritual progress.

In the service of Srila Prabhupada.
I remain
Your servant,
Omkara dasi

Comment posted by soma108 on August 10th, 2008
12 soma108

Dear Vibhava Krsna Prabhu,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All Glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Thank you for your post and expression of appreciation for Sudama Prabhu. For years I would contemplate the experiences I had taking care of Sudama leaving his body and sometimes would comment upon it. Recently, after the death of our Godsister Koumadakee and hearing her memorial I was inspired to formally write about Sudama Prabhu.

It is important to glorify Sri Krishna, Srila Prabhupada and also to value the surrender that devotees have offered in the name of devotional service. There are many prabhus who have preached, made devotees, washed pots all day, distributed books and sincerely went out of their way to serve Krishna. I pay my respectful obeisances unto them.

I hope to inspire and somehow be there to offer a helping hand to someone who needs encouragement. We can bow down and in a humble frame of mind follow the guidance of our spiritual master begging for his mercy.

Your servant,
Omkara devi dasi

Comment posted by soma108 on August 10th, 2008
13 Gauragopala dasa

Pustakrishna Prabhu so beautifully writes - “I best remember Sudama in Mayapur. He was dovetailing his love for dancing in the new temple.

There, during the Mayapur Festival, before Sri Sri Radha Madhava, while devotees parted on the right side and the left side of the altar house during ecstatic evening kirtan, Sudama was in the center, alone, before the Deities, dancing back and forth, to and fro, like a person possessed with the desire to please Their Lordships with his best efforts of dance.

His face was serious and his eyes wide-open, as he twirled and danced about. Those who were there could never forget this. It was not at all egotistical, but rather his expression of offering the Deities, entertaining Them it seemed. We have never seen a character like Sudama. He was unique: charming and happy in service, flamboyant, and yet humble at the same time.

We, the first generation of Vaishnavas in the West, share a certain bond beyond the formalities that have come to be at times. We were adventurers, voyagers, sacrificers…we often turned our backs on our families, our friends, our ambitions, and long held dreams…to serve a fledgling new spiritual movement.”

Yes, such a wonderful poetic moving description written by Pustakrishna Prabhu that exemplifies the sweet pastimes of the devotees.

Reading this sent shivers down my spine and for a mere moment there, by the mercy of the devotees and Srila Prabhupada, I had a glimpse a momentary realization that yes, we are not these troublesome decaying material bodies, or the dreaded mind, but rather we are eternal servants of Krsna. We just have to once again remember or regain that eternal relationship with the Lord.

All glorious to His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada

Your fallen servant Gauragopala dasa

Comment posted by Gauragopala dasa on August 10th, 2008
14 soma108

Dear Akruranatha Prabhu,

In regards to your question above I came across a letter from Srila Prabhupada to Sudama Prabhu making note of the first four paragraphs as indicated below below.

Letter dated: June 7, 1969

“My Dear Sudama,

All Glories to Sudama das Brahmacari and the Hawaii devotees for their excellent work. I have appreciated so much your letter of June 2, 1969 that I am making copies of this letter to send to different centers to show them how much potency is this Sankirtana Movement.

So for the time being as you are working enthusiastically in Hawaii, try to establish a very good center there. There is nice potential there I know, and I think Krishna is already giving impetus for this purpose, because Gaurasundara and Balabhadra have gone to find a nice place on the Hawaii Island.

So all of you work conscientiously and jointly, you are all good souls, and you will be successful if you can transform Hawaii into New Navadvipa. Lord Caitanya will shower His blessings and you will be happy, not only in this life, but you will be promoted to Krishna Loka.

Concentrate your energies now in Hawaii center, and in the future we shall establish a center in Japan. I think the roar of your Sankirtana in Hawaii will soon be heard in the neighboring places, including Japan and Hong Kong. The ocean is the father-in-law of Visnu, because the Goddess of Fortune, Laksmi, was born by the churning of the ocean.”

( 3 more paragraphs…. then signed…..)

I hope this will meet you in good health.
Your ever well-wisher,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

Excerpt above submitted by Omkara dasi

Comment posted by soma108 on August 11th, 2008
15 soma108

Dear Akruranatha Prabhu,

I found another letter from Srila Prabhupada to Sudama dated January 5, 1972.

” My dear Sudama,

(….2nd paragraph……)

I thank you for being so sincere in helping me to spread this great mission of Krishna Consciousness. You have always served me very faithfully, so I pray that Krishna may bless you with a long life with which to open many temples and that in this very lifetime you may return back to home, back to Godhead.

(submitted by Omkara devi dasi)
Your servant.

Comment posted by soma108 on August 11th, 2008
16 Karnamrita.das

Hare Krishna Omkara Devi! Respectful Pranams to you and your service. Jai Prabhupada! Jai Shri Guru and Gauranga.

Your description of taking care of Sudama Prabhu brought tears to my eyes! Very moving. Your selfless service is inspiring and I know what you spoke of was only the tip of the iceberg of what you did. Yes, I know you considered it mercy as it indeed is to help any devotee pass on in a helpful, Krishna conscious way. Yet still, to take your time and give it to help a dying devotee, is a real act of love, and sacrifice. Thank you so much for sharing this!

I served with Sudama when we went to Hawaii in 1974 to reopen the Temple there when it was closed, and we restarted the worship of the Panca-tattva. I was with him on there on the North Shore, then on Alaluoa Loop Temple where Prabhupada visited, which was just before Ambarish donated the facility where the Temple is currently. Then we went to Maui with a traveling bus, and on to the big Island farm. We had many blissful times together. He was a superior to me, and I cooked and did Deity seva. It was surprising at the time when he gave up his sannyas. When I saw him 10 years later in L.A. he was a shadow of his former ecstatic glory.

I had seen this negative transformation early on, yet it is always a loud reminder of how a life without KC looks! I know he lamented all that which is purifying, like my old friend Buddhimanta Prabhu who had a similar fall, and a similar glorious death. It is often not easy to be a devotee one’s whole life, yet some, even after a serious fall are redeemed, and again take to the path forced by impending death. Though we shouldn’t expect to be miraculously saved without our life long KC endeavor, it can happen by the mercy of Prabhupada and Lord Chaitanya. We certainly can pray for those who have strayed, and try to help them by our positive example, and sometimes helping them die. We don’t want to have to lament at death that we misused the potential our guru has mercifully given us.

I lament now that devotees don’t pull together as well in life as they do in death. We put aside our differences when someone is dying. We chant and pray for them and wish them a glorious death and new spiritual life, though normally we may not appreciate them if they think differently then we do. Anyway, at least we know how to die together. We can learn many lessons from a devotee’s life and death, and be inspired to serve as best we can and be kind to each other.

Comment posted by Karnamrita.das on August 11th, 2008
17 soma108

Dear Karnamrita Prabhu,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All Glories to Srila Prabhupada. Thank you for your post. I have thought about a few things you said and hope to respond in a humble fashion.

One reason that I wrote the memorial was to express Sudama’s service to Srila Prabhupada and his love for him. Also hopefully to inspire devotees to pull together to serve and assist our Godbrothers and Godsisters not only in preaching this Krishna Concsiousness Movement, however, to help each other become stronger. To possibly enlighten a fellow Godbrother or Godsister who feel distant or unelivened.

One of the things Sudama prabhu told me when he was passing away was that it was very very difficult for him to deal with Srila Prabhupada leaving his body. It is very natural for a human being to grieve for someone who dies, what to speak of their own Guru leaving his body. Sudama was in India taking part in the process when Srila Prabhupada was leaving his body and prior to this he was offered a future position as a guru and some territory. He refused since he was so overcome with Srila Prabhupada still in the process of leaving his body. He was lamenting and distressed. Sudama prabhu left India with a heavy heart and it was difficult for him to transgress to this new relationship of connection with Srila Prabhupada in ‘absence’. I told him that when I heard Srila Prabhupada left his body I cried a lot (so did many devotees here) and I lamented, I prayed to Srila Prabhupada to always be present in my heart and soul and to always guide me in this lifetime. I know he is present with me and I have that faith strengthened when I chant Hare Krishna, when I read scripture and when I pay darshan to the deities.

We should never consider ourself ’safe’ in Krishna Consciousness. We can at any time be distracted. Therefore it is important to always look at life and live through life with a deeper vision. Everything we see and do emanates from Krishna. That is what dovetailing is all about. Take what you have and utilize it. Reach out to someone if they are weak, if they need someone to lean on. I appreciate my Godbrothers and Godsisters and am always happy to see them and talk about the good old days. We enliven each other.

Thank you and Hare Krishna.
Your Servant,
Omkara dasi

Comment posted by soma108 on August 13th, 2008
18 Babhru

Dear Omkara,

Thanks for sharing your memories of Sudama’s service. I first met him in 1969, when he, Govinda dasi, and Turiya das had a momentous sankirtan at a Jimi Hendrix concert at the Waikiki Shell in Honolulu. When I met him again almost four years later, as a sannyasi, we immediately became friends, He and my new wife also immediately took to each other. When things fell apart in Hawaii in 1973, my wife and I were preparing to go introduce Krishna consciousness in Peru. Sudama arranged a private meeting for us with Srila Prabhupada, so when he suggested that I return to Hawaii to help Sudama get the temple there going again, I was on board. We served as the head pujaris through most of ’74 and helped open the first Govinda’s Restaurant later in the year.

I was with Sudama when he gave up his sannyasa, and saw the emotional trauma he endured afterward. We spoke together many times over the years, sometimes in person, as at Rathayatras, and sometimes on the phone. The last time I spoke with him was while he was sick, still living in the Bay Area. He even shared some confidences with me. When I heard he was in LA, I tried to make time to get up there to visit him, and I was crestfallen to find that I had missed my chance.

What I prefer to remember of Sudama is his service. That’s something I learned directly from Srila Prabhupada at the Honolulu Airport in ’74, when our Godbrother Aniruddha, at the time doing (in his words) “not so good,” met with Prabhupada. After some small talk with Aniruddha for a couple of minutes, Srila Prabhupada looked at us and said, “In Los Angeles temple, he is the beginning.”

Sudama was warm, affectionate, energetic, and dedicated to his service to Srila Prabhupada when I knew him. His kirtans were inspired, and he dealt with the devotees with whom he served in a very honest, humane way. I miss his smile, his laugh, and the way his face lit up when he talked about Srila Prabhupada. He was a good friend who helped me come closer to Srila Prabhupada.

Thanks again for reminding us of his service to our eternal spiritual master.

Yours in service,
Babhru

Comment posted by Babhru on August 14th, 2008
19 soma108

Dear Babhru,

Thank you so much for your wonderful post and recounting the days in Hawaii temple. It is very warmhearted. It oftentimes reminds me how way back in the old days devotees started from scratch. They were sent off by Srila Prabhupada to open temples, to preach, starting from practically nothing but driven by love for their Spiritual Master. Things came to fruition naturally, temples were opened, altars were built and deities installed. The chanting parties attracted many aspiring devotees and from there grew these young brahmacaris, brahmacarinis, grhastas and babies. The Hare Krishna movement flourished and many books began to get distributed. Prabhupada would travel visiting many temples and spiritually electrifying all the devotees anxiously awaiting to see him, hear his lectures, get a glimpse, offer service and most of all get his eternal blessings.

Our guru has shown us much mercy throughout our personal strengths and weaknesses and always gave us encouragement and love. He is still with us guiding us through each step and we are eternally connected to His Divine Grace.

I thank you for remembering Sudama and passing on to us your experiences with him in devotional service. As well as reminding us of the compassion Srila Prabhupada has bestowed upon each and every one of us.

It is so nice to hear from you. Hope you are doing well.

Your godsister,
Omkara

Comment posted by soma108 on August 14th, 2008
20 Unregistered

Hare Krsna Akruranath Prabhu,

PLease accept my dandavats at your lotus feet. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

I heard the same story but couldnt trace out the authencity of the same. It was also mentioned that while leaving the world Sudama Prabhu actually saw Prabhupada coming and saying,” I knew you will come” before leaving this world. But it seems to have lost its authencity with this firsthand experience of his deaprture.

your humble servant,
vibhava krsna das.

Comment posted by vibhavakrsna das on August 17th, 2008
21 Akruranatha

Thanks Omkara for finding those quotations from letters. It seems that Vibhavakrishna and I have heard a story of a more explicit promise.

My very good wife Jagarini told me that Sudama himself told the story (or something like it) on a “Memories” video. I have not had time to look for it, on the video or in the transcripts that Siddhanta publishes in book form.

I really appreciate the beautiful things devotees are writing here, and especially Pusta Krishna Prabhu’s contribution.

It reminds me to go ahead and transcribe the wonderful class H.H. Radha Natha Maharaja gave in San Jose about the “sv alpam apy asya dharmasya trayate mahato bhayat” verse. This very amazing class which told lots of sweet rememberances of Srila Prabhupada’s relationship with Hayagriva Prabhu is also full of discussion of how Prabhupada “overlooked our karma”. At the same time it reminded us how we have to very vigilantly take up the bhakti process with one-pointed attention (the next verse).

I have been negligent in not transcribing that class, and now more than a year has gone by. :-(

Comment posted by Akruranatha on August 18th, 2008
22 Unregistered

Hare Krsna Akrurnath Prabhu,

Dandvat Pranaam. AGTSP.

I have read only first three volumes of Memories ( dont know if there are more volumes). Only in first one Tape 5 Sudama Prabhus memories are mentioned and i couldnt find anything related with this. Although Prabhupada did tell him that he was a Japanese in his previous life.

I am not sure if other volumes are there which might have his other memories.

your humble servant,
vibhava krsna das

Comment posted by vibhavakrsna das on August 19th, 2008
23 soma108

Dear Akruranatha Prabhu,

Thank you for your post. I would be interested to see or hear results on a video or other, of what you have mentioned regarding Srila Prabhupada promising Sudama going back to Godhead if he opens a temple in Japan. If you come across it please let me know.

Reading the previous posts and responses have given me much appreciation and I do value very much Pusta Krishna’s contribution. It is with deep commitment that I see the older Godbrothers and Godsisters can portray their love and dedication towards Srila Prabhupada in this way.

If you transcribe the tape of H.H. Radha Natha Maharaj’s lecture, please forward it to me as well. I would like to listen to it. Knowing that you are busy, if you have a transcribing machine and a tape of the lecture, next time you are in L.A. drop it off to me and I would be more than happy to transcribe it.

Thanks again for your posts. I pay my respects to you and your good wife Jagarini. Best
Regards.

Your servant,
Omkara dasi

Comment posted by soma108 on August 19th, 2008
24 Akruranatha

Dear Omkara Prabhvi,

Dandavats. I think you will enjoy listening to Radha Nath Maharaja’s amazing lecture more than reading a transcript of it. It is wonderful to hear his voice, his intonations, inflections, and the participation of the audience too.

You can access it online as an Mp3 file at the following address:

http://virtualtemple.org/Lectu.....ontrol.mp3

Unfortunately I do not have a transcription machine. I ought to have one, as I do a lot of dictation in my work. Maybe I’ll invest in one.

Meanwhile, I have been just playing the Mp3 on my computer and typing it up, using my mouse to start and stop it. I have gotten quite a bit of it done this way, but . . . no excuses, I have to finish.

But please do listen to it. It describes how Srila Prabhupada demonstrated this essential Vaisnava quality of gratitude.

Your servant, Akruranatha

Comment posted by Akruranatha on August 20th, 2008
25 soma108

Dear Akruranatha Prabhu,

I listened to the lecture by H.H. Radha Natha Maharaj (from the above-mentioned link) and it was very inspiring. Thank you very much for this.

The lecture brought much emotion to me and reminds me that Krishna never forgets our service. Prabhupada is always there and will never leave us.

I appreciated the recounting of how Srila Prabhupada started out on the Bowery (Lower East Side of New York) and on Second Avenue. How Prabhupada engaged his disciples in many ways and brought out the best in us.

I hope that other devotees who read this message listen to the lecture as well since the lecture regarding Hayagriva’s service to Srila Prabhupada and his engagement in translating for Prabhupada, service in New Vrndaban and eventually taking sannyasa is inspirational.

The conclusion is that to go back to Godhead we need to be humble and have 100% surrender at the lotus feet of Krishna and Srila Prabhupada.

Thank you and Hare Krishna.

Your servant,

Omkara dasi

Comment posted by soma108 on August 22nd, 2008
26 Akruranatha

Dear Omkara. Thanks for listening. I was really blown away by the lecture, (and I will get around to completing the transcription so other people will get a chance to read or listen to it).

I did not know Sudama very well. I do not think I ever really spoke to him until shortly before his passing, when he was coming to the Berkeley temple, in female dress. He was really unique. An attractive and flamboyant character.

There are so many interesting and talented personalities in ISKCON. Somehow Srila Prabhupada’s pure presentation of Krishna bhakti attracts people from all walks of life, and he empowers them to attract others, too.

We never know who all these people are. Somehow we are all participating in Lord Caitanya’s lila, according to our degree of surrender. May we all humbly surrender 100% and go back to Godhead.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on August 27th, 2008
27 soma108

Dear Akruranatha Prabhu,

In regards to Sudama and not knowing him I also did not know him very well until his latter part of life just before he was going to leave his body. I remember him when he was in New York with the Vaikuntha Players performing skits on the streets of New York in Times Square or 42nd Street, also when he was a sannyasi and led kirtan. However in the old days woman rarely approached and talked to sannyasis. Therefore, when he came to New Dwaraka that’s when I got to know him well.

He told me many stories of how he served Srila Prabhupada and the big competition to serve with his Godbrothers. Sudama also lamented a great deal about missing Srila Prabhupada. By the way, when he was here he went back to wearing his dhoti and kurta.

We all are aware how our Divine Guru always looked at the goodness and brought the best out in us. So, I overlook Sudama’s dressing in female dress as some passing thing and something irrelevant compared to the many years of service, sacrifice, making devotees and preaching that he took part in. I choose to dwell on his spiritual activities am thankful that we also have the opportunity in this lifetime to perform devotional service.

I am reminded not to take much account of outwardly appearances since there may be a surprise of what we find inside one’s soul and one’s inner aspirations. For example, there is one devotee in the L.A. temple that lives outside and comes to evening aroti almost each night. I have seen him for at least 30 years coming to New Dvaraka. At first I thought he was a little bit ‘off’ or didn’t have all his mental capacities since he would dance sometimes eccentric and like a madman circling and circling and circling. Lately what I have noticed is two devotees have taken a closer attachment to him. One driving him to Mexico for a needed trip, and another devotee fully embracing him with much spiritual love in the temple. So at first glance this devotee appeared to me being not so centered, but now I see he is very special because he loves Krsna so much he can’t stop dancing for them. And other devotees are taking a liking to him.

I have learned to look at eccentricities as a person’s beauty or affliction and have come to accept them for being a spirit soul in a certain temporary type of body or consciousness.

Your servant,
Omkara dasi

Comment posted by soma108 on September 4th, 2008
28 pustakrishna

Dear Omkara,
Dandavat and Hare Krishna. It is so refreshing to see your beautiful heart shine through in this Eulogy of Sudama Prabhu. You have shown your own exceptional nature, that of a Paramahansa, who sees the good, the divine, in everyone and every situation.
To be sure, Srila Prabhupad has brought out the best in his disciples. Sometimes, an aspiring vaishnava will leave the practice of devotional service and become involved in bewildering material acts. It is not at all surprising. That is merely our karma, our debt. But, to see the beautiful qualities of sacrifice, dedication, blossoming love for Krishna…that is quite remarkable. We must never take for granted that these auspicious qualities are a gift or by-product of devotional service. They are not “our” property. Hence, the vaishnava poets repeatedly count themselves amongst the most fallen. It is a heart-felt expression that we are dependent upon the mercy of Sri Gurudeva and Sri Krishna.
How nice to recognize, alas, that this forum, Dandavats.com, has facilitated the expression of deep spiritual feelings and yearning by you and others. We are all enriched by this, and by your positive vision of Krishna consciousness. You, as a first generation western vaishnava, are a good example for the subsequent generations of devotees. When born into the families of western vaishnavas, the children may take for granted the miracle that is before them. We who suffered alternative existences, can recognize how sweet and miraculous, Srila Prabhupad’s mercy and our engagement in devotional service is. I pray that many will recognize the desperate joy that has accompanied our feelings of being saved by Srila Prabhupad. Krishna would remain a distant dream without the warm hand offered to us by His Divine Grace.
Sudama Prabhu recognized all of this. He realized the futility of his karmic activity, but he could not avoid it, until he took shelter of Srila Prabhupad, again and again and again……
Daru Brahma dd sends her affectionate dandavats to you as well.
Sincerely,
Pusta Krishna das

Comment posted by pustakrishna on September 5th, 2008
29 soma108

Dear Pusta Krishna Prabhu,

Please accept my obeisances to yourself and your good wife Daru Brahma. I hope she is doing well. I thank you for your kind words, support and encouragement.

Sudama Prabhu has given me the gift of remembering death and looking at it in a deeply spiritual manner. I daily reflect upon my taking care of Sudama with deep gratitude. I pray that when I leave my body I am fortunate to be surrounded by devotees and Srila Prabhupada chanting the Hare Krishna mantra.

I wish to express my sincere thanks to yourself, Gurudas and Tamal Krishna Maharaj for coming to meet with Sudama and encouraging him to go to New Dwaraka to leave his body. We are all dependent upon association and oftentimes need a gentle push towards the right path. I know he very much gathered the courage and strength necessary to die peacefully by the phone calls and kindness of his Godbrothers.

There were times in the past wherein I felt myself hanging just barely on a thread however I knew that if I only prayed to Krishna and Srila Prabhupada they would pick me up and give me impetus towards devotional service and chanting the Holy Name. Sometimes I feel so unworthy and am humbled by prayer and surrender. The happiness of spiritual practice and prayer has given me much solace. I thank Srila Prabhupada for being his disciple and for my Godsisters and Godbrothers who have encouraged me in so many ways. ISKCON is Prabhupada’s family and the elder disciples can benefit so much by association and setting an example of love, service and dedication.

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the posts on this site Dandavats.com and have only come to know of it by so-called chance. I wanted to write about my experiences taking care of Sudama and looked at several Hare Krishna websites. I mainly wanted something very streamlined towards ISKCON and after looking at some other sites felt this one was the most appropriate. I enjoy the articles and submissions. Thank you to all the devotees who have participated by their contributions on Dandavats.

I send warm regards to you, Daru Brahma and your family. Hare Krishna.

Your servant,

Omkara dasi

Comment posted by soma108 on September 6th, 2008
30 Babhru

Dear Omkara,

I just read through your post again and found myself overwhelmed by your good fortune and by my appreciation for your service attitude. Regarding Sudama’s “detours,” I’m reminded of Srila Prabhupada’s purport to SB 1.5.19. The verse reads, “My dear Vyasa, even though a devotee of Lord Krsna sometimes falls down somehow or other, he certainly does not undergo material existence like others [fruitive workers, etc.] because a person who has once relished the taste of the lotus feet of the Lord can do nothing but remember that ecstasy again and again.”

In his purport, Srila Prabhupada says, “There are certainly many instances where devotees of the Lord have fallen down due to uncongenial association, just like fruitive workers, who are always prone to degradation. But even though he falls down, a devotee is never to be considered the same as a fallen karmi. A karmi suffers the result of his own fruitive reactions, whereas a devotee is reformed by chastisement directed by the Lord Himself. The sufferings of an orphan and the sufferings of a beloved child of a king are not one and the same. An orphan is really poor because he has no one to take care of him, but a beloved son of a rich man, although he appears to be on the same level as the orphan, is always under the vigilance of his capable father.”

The care you gave to Sudama and the outpourings of love from other devotees, and of the love showed to Upendra by the Australian devotees, show just how this is the case. Thanks again for taking the trouble to share this with us.

Yours in service,
Babhru

Comment posted by Babhru on September 9th, 2008
31 soma108

Dear Babhru Prabhu,

Thank you for your nice post and quote from Srimad Bhagavatam 1.5.19. Srila Prabhupada helps us understand the difference between a devotee who has performed devotional service as compared to a non-devotee who has not yet taken on devotional practise. The mercy that the Guru and Krishna extend to a fallen devotee to help him/her back to the devotional path is endless. Prabhupada has explained in the past that devotional service is permanent. One who performs service and somehow falls down or is detracted, when he once again takes to devotional service, the devotee picks up from where he left. We never lose that benefit of devotional service. That is real mercy.

Also, when devotees abandon their families to take up Krishna Consciousness sometimes our family members may renounce and disassociate us from their family ties. However, Krishna and Prabhupada - our real family - are always there to guide us, to even welcome us and beckon us back to devotional service, even if we are distracted for some time.

The Holy Name is so potent that there is no other satisfaction and purification for the soul other than chanting Hare Krishna and performing service. Prabhupada has taught us so much about Krishna and the Brahminical way of life. Everything from offering foodstuffs to the deities, performing puja, preaching, compassion upon the fallen souls, even how to take care of our bodies, showering and bathing properly, drinking Brahmastra juice when we are ill, how to offer respects to fellow Vaisnavas, and now… how to take care of devotees leaving their bodies. We all owe a deep debt of gratitude to Srila Prabhupada for teaching and instilling in us this service for Guru and Krishna.

Hope you are doing well.

Your servant,

Omkara dasi

Comment posted by soma108 on September 16th, 2008

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