Aug 032008

New Dwaraka, Los Angeles
July 31, 2008

On Thursday, July 31, my guru maharaja, His Holiness Giriraj Swami, and about forty other devotees gathered at the ISKCON New Dwaraka temple in Los Angeles for the memorial service of Kaumudaki devi dasi, a very dear disciple of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Kaumudaki left this world on July 3, 2008, in Vancouver, BC. The name Kaumudaki may refer to the round inside portion of a lotus flower, the cushion pad upon which Lord Krsna stands, or the sitting place for the Divine Couple, Sri Sri Radha and Krsna.

To begin the program, Srila Prabhupada’s disciple Uttama-sloka dasa led a short, sweet kirtana. Then the master of ceremonies, Bharadhvaja dasa, introduced the event. He read a letter written for the occasion by Murlivadana dasa. This was followed by a brief talk by Hridayananda dasa Goswami, in which he appreciated the exceptional qualities of Mother Kaumudaki as a well-organized and dedicated secretary to the BBT. Then devotees who had served with Kaumudaki in the early days were requested to speak. Nirakula dasi, Jagarini dasi, Bhargava dasa, Kausalya dasi, Nistraigunya dasa, and Rasesvari dasi shared with the devotees some of the intimate moments and realizations they had with Kaumudaki. They mentioned some of her wonderful qualities as being down-to-earth, independent, undeterred, adventurous, honest, and straightforward.

Next, Giriraj Swami shared his experiences and realizations. One remarkable point was that he phoned Kaumudaki on July 3. That afternoon he suddenly felt the impulse to call her, and so he phoned the hospice in Vancouver. This time, however, Kaumudaki did not answer, but rather, Kriyashakti dasi, who was dutifully attending to her, picked up the phone. She told Giriraj Swami that Kaumudaki had just left this world five minutes earlier. Kriyashakti repeatedly exclaimed, “You are the brahmana who has entered the room.” Giriraj Swami explained to the devotees that according to Vedic tradition, it is auspicious when an unexpected brahmana enters a room where a devotee has just passed away. He also read a letter written by Rose Forkash, who had close association with Kaumudaki in the early days in Los Angeles in ISKCON and had maintained a close friendship with her ever since.

Finally, Kriyashakti dasi spoke very eloquently and in detail about the last days in the life of Kaumudaki devi dasi. She read a few of Kaumudaki’s poems, narrated some intimate pastimes she had with her at the hospice, and described her learning experiences as a witness and aid to a devotee transcending this world. At times, the mood in the temple room became so serene that one could hear a pin drop, and at other times Kriyashakti described Kaumudaki’ jovial and humorous nature. Also, at intervals, excerpts from the DVD “Following Srila Prabhupada, Vol. 7″ were shown, in which Kaumudaki spoke about the San Francisco Ratha-yatra festival of 1974. The memorial service ended about 11 PM.

In conclusion, here is a poem that Kaumudaki wrote in 2006:

Journey Poetry–agannatha Puri
Sri Krsna Caitanya
Took up austere life

To teach pure devotion
Beyond worldly strife.
Returning to be

In Jagannatha Puri
The Car Festival to see.

A great soul appeared–
Restored pure devotion,
All obstacles cleared.

And now every summer
With pennants unfurled
The Car Festival of Puri
Is held around the world.

Her Grace Kaumudaki devi dasi ki jaya!

Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!

–Krishna Kirtan dasa
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