Departure of Radha Kunda prabhu
Posted on Dandavats on April 15th
Dear maharajas and prabhus, Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada, our divine master and siksa guru for all of ISKCON, even the world. In 1969, at a San Francisco, U.S.A airport arrival, a reporter asked Srila Prabhupada, “Swami, how many disciples do you have?” Srila Prabhupada replied, “Unlimited! Some, they admit–some do not.” At that time there were not more than two or utmost three hundred initiated disciples world wide. In this way Srila Prabhupada indicated that he is the siksa guru for all the three worlds.
It is with mixed feeling that I hear about the departure of my beloved God brother and close friend, Radha Kunda prabhu, from this world. He has gone to join Sri Sri Radha and Krishna in their nitya lila, somewhere in Gokula in some universe, but we are left without his loving friendship and association. I had heard some months back of his possibly terminal health problems, so at least the news did not come as a totally sudden shock.
I first met Radha Kunda in the mid-U.S. City of Saint Luis, Missouri. I was temple president there at that time, which would have been approximately 1972 to 1974 or so. He arrived at the temple sporting long hair, and easily could have been confused with being an ordinary hippie. Later, however, he told me that for years before becoming a devotee he had often lived an extreme ascetic life in caves, eating only green things from around the area, even the moss in the cave itself! His appearance as an ordinary hippie, therefore, was not his full story. However, he was going by the name “butterfly”, so he became “bhakta butterfly”. We did not try to force him to go by his legal name, whatever that was. He did nicely in brahmacary life, and was always an enthusiastic devotee. After some time, I sent his name in to Srila Prabhupada, recommending him for initiation. His name came back as “Radha Kunda”.
This in itself is very significant, for it surely teaches us something important about Srila Prabhupada. Prabhupada had never physically met him, yet as “tri-kala jna” (one who knows the past, present and future), he could see Radha Kunda prabhu’s future attachment for the most sacred pond, and that he would frequently reside there (as recommended in the Nectar of Instruction) for long periods of time. About ten years ago, I would sometimes see Radha Kunda prabhu in California (west-coast U.S.A), where I come from. On one occasion, we were both at an all-devotee festival out in the countryside, attended by about 700 devotees from all over the state. Radha Kunda was the principle cook for all those devotees, and he was super excellent in his skill–I mean, full-on gourmet of the highest quality. He could whip out a super-tasty, exceptional (on a world scale) feast for so many devotees in les than two hours! One sunny afternoon I asked him if he would like to do a guided Vaishnava meditation (I am professionally trained and certified in guided visualization, but it is a skill I very rarely apply).
He thought it was a great idea, so we went to a quiet place next to a beautiful lake where the devotees were camped. With this type of visualization, you never know what the type of experience is going to be, as it is always unique and spontaneous. To invoke auspiciousness, I asked him to meditate on the beautiful reddish, decorated palm of the hand of Srimati Radharani, as she stands in the temples benedicting the devotees. I did not know what was going to follow next, but it came as a great shock. He saw Srimati Radharani Herself, in full, standing before him! That was certainly far more than I had expected! She was wearing an apron, indicating her appreciation for his cooking service to the devotees.
Then he reported seeing just the head of Srila Prabhupada in the corner of his vision. I asked him to bring Srila Prabhupada more into the picture, so he did, but still only his head was showing. I could not see what he was seeing, but he continued to describe his vision. Srila Prabhupada was extremely grave. He did not speak anything, but he communicated a non-verbal Narashingha guru message with thunderbolt weight. His unmistakable, very clear message was, “Don’t think that you have attained this vision by any means of your own merit! It is by my mercy alone, and do not ever foret this!”
As Radha Kunda prabhu relayed this message to me, I certainly felt struck by a thunderbolt, it was so heavy! I was very shook up, and was shook up for days afterward, as Srila Prabhupada’s message reverberated throughout my heart. That was the sum total of the experience, but those two things together–the mercy of Srimati Radharani and the powerful instruction from Srila Prabhupada, was more than enough! Over the years I did not have Radha Kunda prabhu’s association at all, until I came to India four years ago. I would then see him in Vrindavan. He showed me photos of a cave in the Himalayas where he would go to stay every year. There was a village near by, across from the mountain. He proudly showed me pictures of the villagers, also, whom he was teaching to chant. The villagers accepted him as their siksa guru, and would bring him things to eat and other gifts, just like in the days of yore. He was continuing his very austere life of penance. In these later years, Radha Kunda prabhu dived deep into hearing and chanting about the pastimes of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna.
The very last time I saw him was at the sacred pond, Radha Kunda itself. I had gone there for darshan with the pond, and I met my old friend, Nava Yogendra Swami sitting there. I sat down next to him on the steps, and we were chatting. He asked me, “Do you know Radha Kunda prabhu?” I said, “Yes, I sent in his initiation and performed his fire jajna years ago”. In the next moment, Radha Kunda prabhu himself jumped down like a monkey from the stairs above us. Maharaj had known he was there, but I did not. It was a fun mini-pastime. I had the distinct feeling that Sri Sri Radha and Krishna were watching the fun (certainly it is their place of nitya lila), and that they got some pleasure out of it. Those who knew Radha Kunda prabhu know that he also had his “salty side”. His primary complaint in life was that he felt our society should immerse itself deeper in Hari katha. Those friends who want to honor him the most should do exactly that, for indeed, it is pleasing to Srila Prabhupada and to Sri Sri Radha and Krishna. I will certainly miss him and his pleasing, jovial nature. He was usually smiling and happy. It is hard to believe that I will never see him again.
Yet we must remember Srila Prabhupada’s words–”There will be another ISKCON in the spiritual world”. That does not mean that upon arrival we should look for the oval, white, pink and blue lotus sign that says “ISKCON devotees this way”. Rather, we must understand that we are all part of Srila Prabhupada’s eternal group, and are eternally under his direction, though our bodies and rasa in Vraja will be most perfect. May we all follow in the footsteps of Radha Kunda prabhu, and be personally taken Home by Srila Prabhupada and by Srimati Radharani herself.
Your eternal servant,
Posted by Jusaniya devi dasi on Dandavats on April 15th 2007
We at Vaisnavas C.A.R.E. have just received word that Radha Kunda Prabhu has left this world on the auspicous day of Vrndavan das Thakur’s disappearance, April 12, 2007. The following is an exerpt from an email received by Vaisnavas C.A.R.E.
Your servants at Vaisnavas C.A.R.E. www.vaisnavascare.com
On Thursday April 12, 2007 at 8pm on the auspicious day of Vrndavan das Thakur’s disappearance his grace Radha Kunda Prabhu left his body in the holy dham of Vrndavana. He passed away very peacefully with a tape of Srila Prabhupada chanting.
Five devotees were also present in the room and were chanting as well. Before he passed away Tulsi leaves were placed in his mouth along with drops of Radha Kund and Shyam Kunda water. Radha Kunda Prabhu then took two deep breaths and left his body peacefully without any agitation. Cremation will take place today his ashes will be placed in the waters of Radha kunda and Shyam kunda as per the wishes of Radha Kunda Prabhu.
We pray that he remains forever at Srila Prabhupada’s feet.
Jusaniya devi dasi
Departure of Radha Kunda Das and Suhotra Prabhu
Posted on Dandavats on April 16th 2007
My dear Godbrothers, Please accept my prayerful obeisances at your Lotus Feet. All glories to srila Prabhupada who is lovingly embracing you both into the loving Vraja seva of the Lord.
Radha Kunda dasa, you were convinced that the world needed more Hari Katha as a nourishment for the souls woes, Suhotra das Tapovanacari, you worked hard to give that nourishment in the form of Srimad Bhagavatam in Bhaktivedanta Academy in Mayapura.
Radha Kumda das, you remained effulgent and blissful even though your material body was wasting before all of our eyes. I last saw you March 22nd when I gave you some items I prayerfully hoped would allow you to remain a little longer. I noted, “prabhu, you look like death warmed over, like you aged 20 years in the last 6 weeks” “really…others say that I’m even more brigher then I was before..” He replied…
thus you taught me as I tried in vain to offer you some service to prolong your stay here. Daivi sakti mataji rightly mentioned, ” why help him stay? Radha kunda has one leg in a samadhi let him go back to godhead, He’s in the right place under the right kind of Love, He’ll be happy, we however have to rot here for another 30-40 years” I’d like to add to her welll-wishes some of us in this world might end up staying longer, some a few births more…
Suhotra Prabhu,,,please accept my prayful thoughts, you used the elephant goad of your wit, when after seeing me for the first time in 15 years since you shaved me up in Denver Colorado May 28, 1973, in 1988 you joked with me on the railing of mayapura during the MIHE classes where you taught “teachings of Lord Caitanya” “OH you are still in this movement,”
(My mind jerked away,, how is that a way to love your god-brothers), yet you continued to purify with sarcasm..”oh well, it’s best you stayed you’d be useless in the material world”.. I was doubly set back, but As I reflected on your sour words, I realized you were 100& right.
I and all of Iskcon servants are not really meant for the material world, but Srila Prabhupada is forcing all of us to cleanse the mud of past and present conditioning so He may call us to Krsna Balarama’s loving service.
Suhotra and Radha Kunda you both emphasised the diligent chanting of the Holy names. Suhotra ..my prayer and I hope that with every bite of the “road mode (avocado) sandwiches I used to make for you in the van in June 1974 on our 3 day usa cross country drive from san Francisco to Atlanta to see Radha Damodara and Vishnujana swami..you will bless me from your service point to increase my own dependancy on the Holy name and Iskcons network of loving devotee servitors who increase the taste for the same…
now the increasing departure of all of Srila Prabhupada’s generals and foot soldiers shout out increasingly loud how we all have to leave a lasting legacy for the upcoming devotees in this mission..
I beg you both now…Please bless me to please Srila Prabhupada in His cowherd boy form as He smiles and serves prasadam to Krsna Balarama and his friends…to focus more on the holy names and Krsna Balarama’s and Tulasirani’s glories.
Srila Tamal Krsna Maharaja once said, “before their departure we have to pray for them, but after their departure we have to pray to them”
that is a fitting way to remember each and every sweet soul that we were blest to know in Iskcon who enjoy the welcoming commitee party in Goloka, may by your grace we all get the taste for the Holy Names, Srimad Bhagavatam, Tulasi rani, and paramahamsa sadhu sanga incerasingly depend way so that we can too qualify to …see the same welcoming party,, until then Oh Godbrothers….push us on with the elephant goad of your sarcasm,,,,”Leave a legacy behind”.
Posted on Dandavats by adigurudasa on April 16th 2007
My Unlimited Obeisances to His Grace Radha Kund Prabhu.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada. All glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga
I had long discussions with him on different aspects of Krishna Consciousness. He was always blissful. Most of the times I would not understand his words. But I would just listen.
In 2004 when we were going to Mayapur Yatra, he was in my bus from Howrah Railway station to Mayapur. I sang the Bhajan ‘Yashomati Nandan …..’, he greatly appreciated it. Then someone from the bus sang Narsimha to invoke protection from the Lord.
He immediately corrected that devotee and told him, Hare Krishna Mahamantra offers all protection. Such was his faith the Hare Krishna Mahamantra. I was very very impressed. I knew that he understood all the purports of the Mahamantra.
Also one more aspect of his Krishna Consciousness that was very very inspirational to me was: He used to chant Krishna’s name before every morsel of Prasadam. He would chant Govinda and then take one morsel then Madhava and then take another morsel…. and so on until he finished his entire meal.
I was so impressed that I followed it myself for sometime during Mayapur Yatra….
I will miss him very much…
All glories to Krishna and His devotees. All glories to Srila Prabhupada for creating such an amazing society of devotees
A Farewell to Radha Kunda Prabhu, My Friend And Brother
Posted on Chakra on April 17, 2007
Yes, Radha Kunda Prabhu, was and continues to be my dear friend and God Brother and he also became my brother in life. In light of all the types I have met through our sanga over my lifetime, I found Radha Kunda Prabhu to have his very own special and exclusive candor, nearly shameless sincerity, unlike others who posture and position themselves almost in artificial imposition to the mainstream. Radha Kunda was in his own exclusive manner extremely sincere to others of exactly who he was and was not. This I found deeply and profoundly special, even though I saw it as a material weakness on his part.
I was never happier for him than when I found him living in Vrndavan years ago, finally giving up the West for Vraja. I knew then, as he knew, that this move to Vraja was permanent until the end of this chapter. He was tired of the material world and often spoke of living in caves rather than having to deal with the Maya that was driven by the rules and taboos of the various societies and cultures of East and West. This intolerance to the world made him belligerent. Radha Kunda Prabhu was difficult, irresponsible and overbearing at times, yet loving and endearing, almost tender and often generous of himself, when was able to be at rest. He made me (and so many) laugh and cry, as I cry now, and often very angry or displeased, but most of all he made me live a whole lot more than if I had never met him, both spiritually and materially. He was wild and passionate, yet he was vulnerable and sentimental. Sometimes he would make me laugh for hours on end with his cynicism of the world and the characters that surround us. I would often have to financially support him as he could not hold down a job, but when he worked he would excel beyond all others in his work. He would often sleep in bushes or in the woods to avoid association with the world. Yet, he would walk into a literally barren kitchen and whip up a feast as if he was a master chef at a six-star-restaurant. Talent was not his lack; he was charismatic, convincing, and when he worked he was a great salesman and a great preacher. He just did not like this world or the "characters in it" and always just wanted to go home.
Back in the early seventies, I saw that in his California driver's license he had changed his legal name to Rod Kund and often spoke of disassociating himself completely from this world until his time would come. His favorite song from his childhood, which he claimed plagued him by his disapproval from others since he was a young child, was "Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" from the sixties. He told me on many occasions that as far back as he could remember he felt misunderstood in this world and that always drove him to separate himself completely from the norm. Not able to fit in, he always had a difficult time with basic survival and this would in turn exacerbate and aggravate his criticism and disapproval from others.
But then he moved to Vrndavan seven or eight years ago and began telling pastimes of Krsna to everyone he met in his own graceless Rod Kund manner. He would not stop. It became an obsession of sorts almost to the point of annoyance because one could hardly hold a conversation with him. I knew then he had found his place and would finally receive the grace from the Lord, which he had lived so long and awkward life to wait for. I feel very fortunate to have known him, and cared for him from time to time, and to have been at least instrumental in giving him shelter even to his passing.
I will miss you my old friend, my life would not have been so joyous without you. I have many memories of laughter and good times, and of you making so many others smile and laugh and still giving all the credit of your charm to Srila Prabhupada and to Krsna. This was your special gift though thick and thin.
With tears and joy I wish you farewell, my brother.
All my love,
Radha Kund Remembering Srila Prabhupada
Posted on Chakra April 16, 2007
Radha Kund: As we were walking through the airport, Prabhupada stopped to tell Sri Govinda, whose tilak went up his forehead and continued on top of his head, "This is not a racing stripe. This is tilak. It stops at the forehead." Then I knew for sure how to put on tilak. I was walking and dancing in front of Prabhupada, and I could see that he was heading to an entrance door instead of an exit door, so I ran ahead and pulled the door open for him. When Prabhupada walked by he said, "Thank you." God, it was the greatest thing in the world that he said something to me.
My initiation was the next day. The Radha-Damodar traveling bus party was also there and a lot of devotees were initiated that day. About a month before this, The Nectar of Instruction had been published, and for the first time people heard of Radha Kund. As the devotees were called up to get their beads, they made a lot of errors. They paid their obeisances to Srila Prabhupada with their rear-ends facing the Deities, Kishor-Kishori. Prabhupada told them to move. They would reach with their left hand to get their beads. When one devotee recited the principles, he said, "Don't eat after dark." Everyone was nervous and ecstatically discombobulated. They didn't know what to do or how to present themselves. I was watching and thinking, "Pay obeisances to the side, reach with the right hand, the four regulative principles, sixteen rounds. Okay, I've got this. I'm going to do this right." When I was called up I was still thinking, "Four regulative principles, sixteen rounds, right side, right hand." I was so intent on saying these things to Srila Prabhupada that Prabhupada picked that up. He knew that I was anxious to tell him, and so he sat there looking at me. I was waiting for him to ask me, and he was waiting for me to tell him. Finally he smiled and chuckled. He said, "What are the regulative principles?" I recited them, and then said I would chant sixteen rounds daily. He took my beads from the microphone stand and looked at me with a smile. Then he got sober and said, "Your name is Radha Kund." When he said that, it was like the Fourth of July. Five-hundred devotees exclaimed "Ooo, ahh!" because they had just read about the glories of Radha Kund. That was my first association with His Divine Grace.
The next evening Prabhupada played the kartals in a two-four beat, which we had never heard before. With his eyes closed he sang, "parama koruna pahu dui jana, nitai gaurachandra." Only Dhirakrishna and one or two others knew the song. All the rest of us were dumbfounded to hear this concert from Srila Prabhupada. Prabhupada came out of his samadhi, looked around, and said, "You don't know this song? Tomorrow you'll know this song." He put the kartals down and started class. We all felt strange. The next day, Balavanta and Rupanuga, the head men there, gave us copies of the song. When Prabhupada sang the first stanza we sang along with him. Then Prabhupada stopped, because Paramahamsa Swami, who was playing the mridunga, had no idea how to play the two-four beat. It was altogether different. Prabhupada said, "Give me the mridunga." This was the first time Prabhupada had played the mridunga in years. It was a spectacular moment in life and also an exclusive that Prabhupada was going to play the mridunga. But since it was humid in Atlanta, the mridunga had a horrible plap, plap, bang, bang sound. It had no tone. Dhirakrishna went off and brought Prabhupada a high-quality mridunga. But it too had a plap, plap, bang, bang sound because of the humidity. In front of all of us Prabhupada performed a miracle. He put that mridunga in his lap, and just by the tapping of his hand, sri mridunga came into tune, and then he started to sing again. Prabhupada was our hero. He conquered the mridunga, and he had a look on his face that he had figured it out. Everyone was roaring. Prabhupada was victorious in everything he did. It was so cool.
When Prabhupada gave the Sunday feast lecture, a Christian woman kept interrupting him. She said, "It says in the Bible that Jesus is the only way." Prabhupada said, "Yes, the teachings of Christ are the only way. One has to surrender to a guru. One has to follow the principles of religiosity." Prabhupada humored her, but the devotees wanted to toss her out. One Sikh person called out, "In our scriptures there's no mention of Krishna, but we worship Govinda, Gopal." Prabhupada said, "That's good. Worship Govinda, Gopal; that's fine enough." Then the Christian woman interrupted again, and Prabhupada interrupted her. He said, "Have you seen God?" She said, "No." Prabhupada said, "Then why are you speaking? Don't speak anymore." All the devotees said, "Jaya!" and at that point the woman left. That was neat, because Prabhupada was caught in an awkward social situation. It was a Sunday feast. The temple was packed with devotees and guests, as well as the news media, and this woman was causing a disturbance. I wondered how Prabhupada was going to handle it, and the personality that he was, he handled it beautifully.
One morning, Pushkar's painting of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada sitting in a chair was on the vyasasana. Prabhupada kept his head tilted and away in a mood of a child sitting humbly in front of his father. For Prabhupada, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur was there. Prabhupada made sure that everything was perfect, that there were no problems. Even though his Guru Maharaj was in the form of a painting, Prabhupada treated him as if he were actually there. After Prabhupada chanted, he got off his vyasasana to offer the gurupuja arati. I was standing two feet to Srila Prabhupada's right as he did the arati, and I watched every move he made. After he offered the conch, he saw that there was no bowl for the offered water. In the roar of the kirtan, no one could hear his voice, but he looked at Rupanuga, and with his lips he said, "I need a bowl." All of a sudden, the devotees started roaring out "Haribol, Haribol!" and the whole room started chanting "Haribol." Prabhupada looked at them with the expression, "What do I have to work with here?" It was a funny moment.
In order to be continuous and keep the flow going, Prabhupada tossed the offered water to a Tulasi devi plant that was near the picture of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, about three feet away and four feet high. The water came out of that conchshell in a perfect stream and circled around Tulasi devi without as much as splashing her. It was miracle number two. I was overwhelmed. What Prabhupada did was not within the laws of physical nature.
Before this I had a romantic notion of who Prabhupada was. Although he initiated me, I was not convinced to the core of my heart that he was a pure soul who was in complete communication with Paramatma, with Lord Krishna. I didn't appreciate that reality. I thought, "It sounds good; we should think like that," but I didn't think so.
Then it was time to blow the conchshell. It was a little conchshell, and its blowing hole was not properly made. Later the pujari mentioned that he gave Prabhupada the wrong conchshell. That conchshell hardly worked for me, a twenty-year-old. The whole room was waiting to hear Prabhupada blow this conchshell. I thought, "Oh, this 'old man' ain't gonna be able to blow this conch- shell." Srila Prabhupada took this conchshell to his lips, and with- out taking a breath he blew it perfectly three times. It was miracle number three. I realized that Srila Prabhupada was a pure devotee who was outside the laws of nature. That was the most amazing thing.
On the only morning walk that I was ever on, I was directly behind Srila Prabhupada. I could see the three wrinkles on his neck, the tilt of his head, the quickness of his cane, and his smooth and soft gait, which appeared to be slow until you found yourself taking an extra-quick step to stay with him. He actually walked fast, which surprised me because it didn't look like we were walking fast. But I found myself having to move quickly to keep up. Srila Prabhupada would stop to answer a question or make some philosophical point, and all the devotees wanted to hear, so I was always being pushed from behind into Prabhupada. I found myself leaning backwards to keep from bumping Srila Prabhupada. At one point some big, tall, goofy devotee said over my shoulder, "Srila Prabhupada, is Krishna blue when nobody is around?" Srila Prabhupada immediately stopped, turned around, and looked at me with a disgusted, angry expression. Prabhupada's face was close to mine, and I tried to communicate, "It wasn't me talking, it was that guy." But Prabhupada looked at me and said, "Just read my books," with a tone that seemed to say, "You idiot." Then he turned around and continued the walk, and I stepped on the back of his shoe. First I got sauced, and on top of that I gave him a shoe flap. The devotees were looking at me like they wanted to kill me. Everyone thought I had asked that question. And then I stepped on Srila Prabhupada's shoe. Well, you can imagine.
At the Sri Chaitanya Chandradoya Mandir in Mayapur, the gurukuli boys and girls were the first ones in line in front of Prabhupada's vyasasana, and I was next to the children. When Prabhupada finished class, he walked down the center aisle and patted some of the kids' heads. I bent my head down, hoping, and Prabhupada laughed and patted me on the head too.
At this time Prabhupada was leading a procession to circumambulate the Radha-Madhava Deities and ring the temple bell. After he touched my head I paid my obeisances, and when I got up Brahmananda was standing there with a serious look on his face. I thought, "Oh, God, what are you doing here? You should be in the procession with everybody else." Brahmananda said, "I've been waiting for Prabhupada to pat me on the head for ten years, and he still hasn't done it," and then he went on. That was pretty cool. Brahmananda stopped to tell me that it was neat.
In 1976 Srila Prabhupada was in L.A. for the last time. In L.A. there's an alleyway with steps to a side door that leads to Prabhupada's apartment above the Deities. To go on his morning walks Prabhupada went through that door to a waiting car. One morning I was on the side of the steps when all the other devotees were facing Prabhupada's door. Srila Prabhupada opened the door, and everybody said, "Jaya, Srila Prabhupada!" and offered their dandavats. I offered my dandavats, "-Nama om vishnu-padaya krishna-preshthaya bhu-tale srimate bhakti-" and jumped up, because I didn't want to miss Prabhupada's form at all, ever. In all the different times I was around Prabhupada, I was always in front, and I never looked at anything else.
Anyway, as I was paying my obeisances, Prabhupada went down the stairs and said, "Hare Krishna," in a dark, deep voice. I heard that as I was getting up, and without meaning to, I mimicked him, "Hare Krishna," because it sounded so cool. I thought, "Oh, God, what have I done? I just sent myself to hell. I just made guru maha aparad." I was very scared and freaked out. I thought I'd ruined my life that Prabhupada would tell me, "Get out!" Well, to my surprise Prabhupada looked at me, clinched his fist and said, "Jaya!", and then got into the car. I was overwhelmed. Prabhupada appreciated that I wasn't being sarcastic. I said it because it sounded so great.
© 2007 Radha Kunda Das. All rights reserved.