by Suchandra Dasi
Sri Guru Gauranga Jayatah!
Srimati Mangala Devi Dasi, a disciple of Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad and my dear mother, has left this world Dec. 6, 2013, amidst the auspicious harinam kirtan of many dear devotee friends and family.
She was born in 1955 to her beloved mother Claudine, in a morman family. She has one elder brother and two younger sisters. She had a natural love for Jesus, and a natural dislike for eating meat. She became attracted to Krsna, when some devotees did harinam sankirtan, (congregation public chanting of the Lords Holy name, Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare) in a mall one day and cherished a small Prasadam, (food which is offered to God- Krsna,) bread ball that she split and relished with her friend.
So one day, she ran away from home at the age of 13 dedicating her life to Srila Prabhupad. She loved her spiritual master, His divine Grace, Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad. Srila Prabhupad gave her diksha initiation when he took her in his room and whispered the gayatri mantras in her ear. She was such a young devotee that Jayananda prabhu also treated her like his daughter and set aside special prasadam, for her since she was a “growing girl.”
She loved Jayananda prabhu and his wife, who were like her mother and father.
At the age of 17 she married my father Sriman Chiranjib das. She wanted to always go on harinam sankirtan, and since he was the sankirtan leader and mrdanga player she thought that if she married him, that would make it so that she could always go on sankirtan. So Lord Jagannath fulfilled this desire.
She was also naturally a mother, even to others who were not her own.
When I was a baby, she was doing pujari seva. She kept me on her back in a baby carrier while she did service of the deities. She brought me to Srila Prabhupad’s classes and when devotees tried to tell her to take the baby out, Srila Prabhupad said, “No she can stay.” and luckily her milk kept me a very satisfied baby that I didn’t disturb the class. I received my first grains when she brought me to Srila Prabhupad to get a cookie. She kindly brought me to Srila Prabhupad later for many many more classes and cookies every day. (later she also brought me to my Srila Gurudev)
She served in many temples in L.A., San Francisco, New Orleans, Hawaii and other devotees may remember her in various places.
After Srila Prabhupad left, life became more sad for her. She and my father eventually packed their bags and left most of their belongings and took me, and my new sister to Sridham Mayapur, while she was pregnant. So she had me, -born Siddhanta Saraswati dasi, then Cintamani dasi and then in Mayapur dham she gave birth to Gauranga prasad das. (now Suchandra, Chandrakanta, and Gaurasundar) We lived less than a year in Mayapur where my brother was born, but had to return to America for financial reasons. We developed deep samskaras from being in the dham and became attracted to Sri Sri Radha Madhava at Srila Prabhupada’s Iskcon temple there.
Back in U.S. we traveled to different places, but mata was never happy or satisfied.
Life was hard and my parents could not stay together. Sometimes my mother lived in cars or apartments. Sometimes in little shacks in freezing weather. We had many struggles. She was alone often, only with us three kids for company. Without Srila Prabhupad, without shelter. But she always had shelter. She would take shelter painting pictures of Krsna or making songs about Krsna. She decided to get more and more serious about her music. She got a nice guitar, took lessons and started singing to us three every night before bed. The songs and her voice were so enchanting, that I did not want to fall asleep.
We left from Utah, (mata’s birthplace) and went to Badger California, (New Braja) and there my mata, together with her dear god-sisters Nilachala and Pushpanjali devil dasi, they recorded and published GOLDEN MOON a beautiful collection of english songs.
Life went in a circle. Mata married a second time to Sriman Harinam das in Hilo Hawaii. Mata then gave birth to three more beautiful children, she named Nitai Gaur Das, Gaurmohan das and Radharani dasi. Sometimes her health was very bad. Sometimes she thought she would die, then she would write a beautiful song about Krsna as a final offering using her pain as inspiration for beautiful prayers.
She struggled more and could also not find happiness in married life.
She did many austerities to get a small piece of land on the Big Island of Hawaii, living in a bus, and slowly building her house here. Her dream was that either she would go to India, or that she would make her house into a temple. ( she did both)
In 1997 her life took a huge turn, when she met her beloved shiksha guru, Nitya lila om vishnupad 108 Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayan Goswami. Srila Gurudev changed her life again, and brought to the surface her love for Srila Prabhupad and Sri Radha Krsna, smashing everything else, because she was honest and surrendered to him. She wrote and directed beautiful drama plays, and and offered beautiful songs for Srila Gurudev. She began refining her service by the direction of Srila Gurudev. He blessed her with this ability to render the Vaishnava songs into English rendition, with the same meter and tune as the original Bengali, Hindi or Sanskrit tunes.
The last 8 years of her life became a concentrated time of obsessed, dedicated bhajan fully concentrating on the Vaishnava songs, day and night. She also becomes serious in her Thakurji seva by Srila Gurudevs mercy. She finally recorded two cds Songs of Our Holy Masters and printed her Songs of Our Holy Masters song book.
Mata became more and more disgusted with the material world and so much focused on her song writing and recording that she neglected her own health.
She longed for Srila Prabhupad and Srila Gurudev and was madly in love with Sri Radha Gopijanaballabha. Her taste in the way Sri Radha and Krsna should look was very specific. Her desired relationship with Sri Radha Krsna was also very specific. She also expressed great attachment for Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur when she would translate his songs to English songs. Everyone that knows her personally, seems to love her so much. She was never formal, or wordy, or into any ritual or opulence. She is just a sweet simple devotee, she loved Radha, Krsna, loved Sankirtan, chanting, dancing, Prasadam, loved the Vaishnavas, the cows, loved the land, the trees, the holy dham, her children, smiled often and was loving to everyone, giving people so much of her time. She was fun and funny and had a sense of humor and was also a fun grandma.
This year 2013, (3 years after the departure of Srila Gurudev.) She became very sick, but didn’t tell people about it for a while. It became worse and more apparent and three months ago she was diagnosed with lymphoma, lymph cancer.
Some significant Vaishnavas worth mentioning in her life I will try to remember here. Of course her two Gurudevs Srila Prabhupad and Srila Gurudev (Nitya lila pravishta om vishnupad 108 Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayan Goswami)
His Grace Srila Bhakti Ballabha Tirtha Goswami maharaja, blessed her and her home.
Srila Bhakti Bibuddha Bodhayan Maharaj
Srila B.A. Paramadvaiti Maharaj (her dear god-brother)
Sriman Premananda das prabhu
Srimati Uma didi
Jayananda prabhu (in her youth), and too many god-brothers and sisters to mention here.
I pray for your mercy and blessings upon her. I love her heart, I love her sentiments, I love her style and taste, I miss her and she will be remembered every day of my life. I pray that she forgives my offenses to her, and I cherish her love and am grateful forever. My dandavat pranams at her feet.
All Glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga!