Saturday, April 4, 2009

Remembering Dadu

Mar 31, VRINDAVAN, INDIA — On 31st of March morning, I was thinking to call to Vrindavan and find out the condition of our wonderful letter Dadu, who had suddenly taken sick just before I left for Ahmedabad ISKCON. Then a call came from Vrindavan that at 4 AM, Dadu had left this world. I'm extremely sorry that I was not able to be there for Dadu's last rites.

I remember in 1987, that one elderly Bengali gentleman named Dhiren Sen came to me when I was President of Krishna Balaram Mandir. He was having an introduction letter from Adhridharan of Calcutta and wanted to join our Krishna Balaram Temple. He explained to me that he was living in Radha Kunda, but the politics between the Brijbasis and the babajis was intolerable. No matter how you tried to stay neutral, you got dragged one side or the other. He further explained that he was interested in sakhya rasa and was sure at the lotus feet of Krishna Balaram, he would be able to achieve this.

I understood that he was initiated by someone in the temple next to Krishna Dasa Kaviraja's bhajan kutir. Even though he wasn't an ISKCON devotee, his gentle nature and sincerity were very charming. I reasoned that Srila Prabhupada has built a house for the whole world to live, and if this fellow is willing to do service, then why not let him join. His attraction for sakhya rasa was also quite charming as I feel myself attracted in this way, and I agreed with him, that at the lotus feet of Krishna Balaram, he would definitely achieve his goal. So I gave him the chance to stay.

He always faithfully carried out whatever service was given to him despite his age. Sometimes he obstinately letter-followed whatever instruction was given him, but he was quite good natured. He always rose for Mangala arti and he was a fixture just to the right of the Vyasanana at Srimad Bhagavatam Class every day. His gentle nature captured everyone's heart. Eventually he was given the task of receiving the mail from the post office in front of the Gurukula and distributing it to it's proper receiver. He was very tenacious with letters who's receivers he did not recognize and tirelessly traced them out. So gradually he became know as Letter Dadu. Dadu, of course, being an affectionate Bengali term for a grandfather, or any older gentleman for that matter. We have many Dadus in our temple, but even after giving up this service in the last couple of years, he was still know as Letter Dadu.
He always used to tell us some amusing Bengali stories, some of which were a little strange, but always amusing. Eventually Daivishakti Mataji published a small book, called "Dadu Tells a Story" even though he was adamant in his own humble way that his name not come on the book.

He recounted how he had never married and always laughed in his own humble way when we tried to call him a naistiki-brahmacari. He gradually endeared himself to everyone in the temple, including Ayodhaypati das who eventually became known as BB Govinda Maharaja, who was very fortunate to be there in Vrindavan for Dadu's last rites.

He had no enemies, only I remember one Co-president refused to let him take prasad with the temple brahmacaris since he was an "outsider". I was shocked as he was probably one of the few actual brahmacaris I had ever met.
The temple brahmacaris can't bear to see the faces of the foreign devotees, so they have their separate prasada place. Against all Vedic culture, they serve themselves nice prasada and give second class prasad to all their guests.
Even he was eventually refused prasadam at all, but Dhanjaya and Bala Gopal always gave him an open invitation to the MVT restaurant, and hearing about his predicament, Ananda Vrindavan let him take prasad with the Gurukula. Eventually some devotees intervened and everything was settled out.

Then last year just prior to Gaura Purnima, Dadu had pnemonia and many other problems. Eventually he was shifted against his will to the hospital and every time I visited, we could talk of nothing except get me out of here, I want to be in Krishna Balaram Mandir. He was eventually discharged, but grew very weak. I can remember coming with Govinda Maharaja to see him and he was very feebly, brokenly, and slowly reciting Krrriiissshhhnnaaa Balaaaaraaaammm. We were sure he was going. Somehow he pulled thru and he asked both of us to talk to Mahaprabhu to let him pass on Gaura Purnima. I argued with him that it would ruin the festival and he please wait till after.

Then Parvati's daughter, Radhika Priya, who is studying to become an Ayurvedic doctor, began to treat him with Ayurvedic medicines and very soon he regained his health and remained quite hale and hearty up till the day before I had to leave for Ahmedabad. I was praying that he would hang on until I returned, but Krishna Balaram had their own schedule and have called him back to Them.


Today I spoke with one devotee from Vrindavan and that devotee told me that How Dadu had a desire to be the messenger of Krsna and Sri Mati Radha Rani ji delivering Their messages to each other. When I first went to Sri Vrindavan Dham and during my subsequent visits i always find Dadu, despite of his old age he would regularly attend SB class sitting at the same spot every day. So i was very much impressed with his devotion though i never got a chance to speak with him but i think he also helped me in my devotional service one way or other. Actually Krsna arranges all the possible means by which one can return to Him. We just need to use our intelligence and grasp the opportunity. There are some devotee by just looking at them you remember Krsna and Dadu was one of them.

Hare Krsna
Nitai Prema Das