I was a receiver on

June 23rd, 2001

I was a receiver on the following message sent by Mahatma Prabhu.

?Mother Kirtida left her body Tuesday morning. It was her desire to leave during the brahma-muhurta hour, hearing kirtan, with a Govardhana sila on her head, and be peaceful and in full consciousness. All these desires were fulfilled.

?For two weeks before she left her body, there were continual kirtans and readings in her room. For the last week there was only 24-hour kirtan. She was in ecstasy in those last days and she was never happier in her life.

?She expressed no fear of death. She boldly fasted until death, taking either only a little coconut water or water for 60 days. For the last five days of her life, she didn’t take anything. Her mind was fixed only on Vrndavana and Srimati Radharani and her assistants. Thus everyone who came into her presence felt that they had come to Vrndavana.

?Her dying brought the Dallas community together in a way that no other devotee could. Even the doctors and nurses that attended her were astounded with her level of spirituality and were deeply moved and impressed.

?I feel fortunate to have witnessed this event. Her example of fearlessly dying in ecstasy cannot be forgotten by anyone who witnessed her passing. We all agree it was one of the most purifying events in our lives, perhaps the most purifying.

?There is so much more to say about this wonderful event. A small biography is being written and it will include the details of her passing. But at least I wanted to give you a few details. Mother Padma was present, so you may want to contact her to get the full story.”

I have been following the passing away of Srimati Kirtida-devi dasi at the Sri Sri Radha Kalachandji dhama in Dallas mostly through messages from Jahnava and a telephone call from Seva-Priya. Jaya Subhadra and Govardhan Lal also gave me a report upon returning from Dallas. Kaustubha and I talked extensively about it over the phone as well. They all said the same thing. Kirtida gave herself selflessly to others her whole life?and especially to Srila Prabhupada’s mission and devotees?and whatever love she gave was being returned in her last days, all at once, in a floodgate of affection from those whose hearts she has touched. Her consciousness was fixed to the end in the humble service of the devotees; there were incredibly intense 24-hour kirtans surrounding her bed; she was conscious, fearless, and blissful. Not a scent of illusion or despair entered her consciousness for a minute at anytime.

Srila Tamal Krishna Maharaja, her spiritual master, was at her bedside practically the whole time. Toward the end, seeing her unwavering devotion and the overwhelmingly vibrant and loving devotional mood expressed through the continuous and intense kirtan surrounding her, he lovingly commented to her, “There is not a chance that maya can seep into here!” How fortunate! Actually, for those who knew Kirtida, maya never had a chance to seep into her life.

I knew Mother Kirtida quite well from Vrindaban, where she came to leave her body almost eight years ago. She was always very frail and sickly, but somehow she continued her life by devotional energy. I was amazed by the gusto in which she regularly did Govardhana parikrama. A few years ago I asked her to lead some of the younger ladies on my tour on Govardhana parikrama and they reported that they were unable to keep up with her, despite her ailing and aging body. The only explanation? She was not on the bodily platform. I would sometimes take her friends from South Africa on pilgrimage, and she would reciprocate so nicely, always ordering three new sets of sannyasa attire for me, in appreciation, with the local cloth merchant, Ganga Prasad.

Looking back I can say I only saw the deepest kindness and humility in her demeanor and I wished I served her more. If we think carefully, there are pure devotees in the Hare Krishna movement, sincerely humble Vaishnavas, rare souls, fully dedicated to the mission of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. We should seek them out and try to serve them and not mistakenly wait until they leave to recognize them. A word of advice: They may be in any country, in any position, in any ashram, and in any gender. They are recognizable by their qualities and generally loved by everyone. I now suspect at least a few such unalloyed devotees?actually, quite a few?and I am inspired to serve them, not just remember them at death.

A few years ago I wrote a Vyasa-puja offering to Srila Prabhupada where I tried to document the phenomena of the remarkable success at death by those who served or even touched his mission. Mother Kirtida is another magnificent example. Srila Prabhupada is an ocean of mercy. We are fortunate, and should just remain forever obliged.

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