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The Life of Srimati Mangala Devi Dasi

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.

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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!

18 Responses to The Life of Srimati Mangala Devi Dasi

  1. Lavanga Manjari dasi December 9, 2013 at 3:40 PM #

    Dandavat pranams!

    To all her family members!!!

    I believe this wonderful woman and nice devotee was a very authentic soul and Srimati

    Radharani will take care of her …. 0=)

    My prayers are going to all her family members . I love her life history and for me is an

    example of dedication to her gurus and humility because of the good sanskars!

    Beautiful woman from inside to outside, transparent and artistically gifted like her kids. I

    love Suchandra’s postings and Chandrakantha’s songs!!! ‘_’ Sweet!!!

    Haribolo!!! All glories to Srila Gurudeva and Srila Prabhupada!!!!Jaya all the assemble

    sincere devotees of the Lord!!!!

    Lavanga Manjari dasi

  2. venu December 9, 2013 at 3:54 PM #

    Thanks so much for this wonderful offering and description of your mother’s amazing life.

  3. Hemangi dasi December 9, 2013 at 3:59 PM #

    wow!
    very beautifull glorification of Mother and Vaishnavi.
    thank you!
    Srila Gurudeva ki jay

  4. Jiva Pavana Dasa December 9, 2013 at 6:29 PM #

    So beautiful so sweet.May the blessings of the entire Vaisnava community descend on her and all her family. I am truly inspired.

  5. Kilimbā dd /Kanaka manjari dasi) December 9, 2013 at 7:01 PM #

    Sri Sri Guru Gauranga ki JAYA Sri Sri Radha Gopijana-vallabha ki JAYA

    Thank you so much for sharing so succinctly this beautiful life history of your glorious Vaisnavi mother, Suchandra! The tears were needed and somehow cleansing. How great to be brought so near her and you all by your own very personal account of her life.

    Coming soon, either to you personally or more publicly on Facebook, my ONE little story of a very special time with her. So glad to hear of your LIFETIME with her!

    Dandavat pranam with affection and prayers for you and Srimati Mangala Didi’s entire family,

    Kilimbā dd / kanaka manjari dasi

  6. Rupa Raghunath das December 9, 2013 at 9:35 PM #

    Srimati Mangala Devi Dasi Ki Jai! She has led such an exemplary life of dedication to Srila Gurudeva and Srila Prabhupada. Her separation from her Gurudevas must have been too much for her and now she has joined them. If we can just remember how near and dear she was to them and how much they loved her, we will experience our own separation. Thank you for showing us how she surrendered and how merciful Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva were to her and how they changed her life, making it a complete spiritual success.

  7. Malati dasi December 10, 2013 at 2:29 AM #

    What an inspired life of service!
    Thank you for sharing these precious moments of Mangala Mata’s life.
    Jai Jai Sriii Radhe! Syama!!

  8. Abhimanyu Das December 10, 2013 at 5:01 PM #

    Dandavats! All glories to Sri-Sri Guru-Gauranga and Srila Prabhupada!

    I have heard that my gurudeva, His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Vallabha Tirtha Maharaja, would generally not hear women singing when he lived in India due to the culture there, but when he heard Srimati Mangala Dasi’s songs during his preaching in Hawai’i, he was in tears relishing them. What a fortunate soul to have served and pleased so many exalted Vaisnavas! My dandavats at her feet.

  9. Devi dasi December 10, 2013 at 9:55 PM #

    A Vaishnavi saint who will be missed.

  10. Swami BV Vaikhanas December 13, 2013 at 2:38 PM #

    Thank you Suchandra didi for the lovely words of praise for your dear mother, my godsister. I met her but once and only knew her through her music
    and the activities of her children. Your heartfelt eulogy has illuminated all that was special and wonderful about Mangala dasi and it serves as an inspiration to me. To hear how she persevered in her bhakti despite all the hardships and obstacles in her life gives me strength and conviction to go on, although my life has not been nearly as testing as hers. I am humbled by your words and her shining example to us all.

  11. Swami BV Vaikhanas December 13, 2013 at 2:40 PM #

    Thank you Suchandra didi for the lovely words of praise for your dear mother, my godsister. I met her but once and only knew her through her music
    and the activities of her children.

    Your heartfelt eulogy has illuminated all that was special and wonderful about Mangala dasi and it serves as an inspiration to me. To hear how she persevered in her bhakti despite all the hardships and obstacles in her life gives me strength and conviction to go on, although my life has not been nearly as testing as hers. I am humbled by your words and her shining example to us all.

  12. BV Padmanabha Swami December 14, 2013 at 10:17 AM #

    I wrote this offering to her after I received an email from my godsister in Hilo Hawaii informing me of Mangala didi’s passing, and she was requesting me and three other vaisnavas from our sanga who had some special relationship with her and her family to write our remembrances of her which would be read at the memorial service they were to hold in a few days. I posted this on my facebook page also, but decided to also post it here since the beautiful homage by her beloved daughter Suchandra dasi touched my heart so deeply and made me remember her in so many ways. I cannot exaggerate in the slightest when I say that she was truly one of the most special vaisnavis and godsisters I was ever so fortunate to associate with. I hope these few words do justice to her amazing devotional life as all who read the above can observe.

    Homage to Srimati Mangala devi dasi, a devotional reservoir of jewel like good qualities

    I am offering my dandavat pranamas to my dear godsister, Srimati Mangala didi and praying that I may write a few words in her glorification of which she is so deserving.

    I must say that I feel sadness that I will no longer be able to have the opportunity to have her most sweet and saintly association which would always inspire me due to her very evident and natural humility in her devotional practices. To me, she is a model devotee in the modern day, a very real and true role model after which devotees may gauge their own application of the principles of pure bhakti in their lives.

    As a most unobtrusive and unassuming vaisnavi, she always lived the life of a devotee, creating for herself and her immediate family members as well as the devotee community, a haven of pure spiritual vibrations in her home, a place to rejoice in kirtan, in Hari katha, in worship of Sri Sri Radha Krsna and Gauranga Mahaprabhu. She was a model vaisnavi mother who raised six vaisnava children, all of whom have embraced sincerely the path of Gaura kirtan as their lives’ practice. It is no small feat to accomplish this in the modern, western Kali Yuga environment, as is plainly evident by observing the unfortunate victimization of many of the fortunate souls who have taken birth in vaisnava families and been raised with vaisnava parents and community. To raise a child in the present circumstances in the world, giving them protection from the onslaught of the kali yuga degradations and allurements by providing them with the positive atmosphere of the purifying Nam samkirtan in the home, is a great and most glorious achievement of any hopeful vaisnava parent. She has achieved this with flying colors and thus has pleased the Supreme Lord. Therefore I say that she is a true role model for all vaisnavas around the world to aspire toward.

    I was always impressed from the beginning of my association with her and her family as I witnessed their wonderful loving relationships based upon their mutual liking of the practices of Krsna bhakti. Each one of her children shined with notable spiritual qualities, and each of them had inherited the musically ability of both their fathers and her good self. They also have demonstrated their creative abilities in kirtan and preaching the message of Mahaprabhu on the internet and through media.

    She was a gifted kirtaniya and musically talented personality who so happily engaged this ability in the service of our Guru varga. When she would play the guitar and sing so sweetly the songs she had composed, the hearts of the audience would be affected and moved in devotional reverie to Sri Guru, Vaisnavas, Gaura Nitai and Sri Sri Radha Govinda. Her rendering of the Vaisnava songs of our Gaudiya Acaryas into the English language in poetic verse was most charming and unique, and fulfilled the prediction of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur that in the future the devotees of Lord Gauranga from all nations would glorify the Supreme Lord in their own languages.

    The first time that I heard her sing in English the song of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, Gurudeva Krpa bindu diya, at one of the Hawaii festivals of our Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Goswami Maharaja, and especially to hear it sung in the same melody and meter, I was very moved and impressed, and I approached her after the program had concluded and the devotees were taking prasadam. I expressed to her how moved I was and impressed with her sweet style of musical accompaniment with her guitar and voice, along with her daughter, singing together in such a heart melting mood. I tried to impress upon her the great need of such a contribution and that she should definitely continue to render all of the vaisnava songs into English. I mentioned to her this prediction of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur. I do not remember whether Srila Gurudeva had instructed her to do the same prior or if His order came later, but she was given this task to complete by our beloved Srila Gurudeva, and she accomplished this by rendering entire books of songs of our Acaryas. And in doing so she was assisted so ably by her musically competent and devoted children. This is truly a momentous achievement and legacy she has left and will be remembered for into the far distant future.

    She was an early disciple of His Divine Grace Srila AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada having joined His Hare Krsna movement in 1971 in her early youth. She gave her life fully to the practice and preaching of Krsna Consciousness all throughout her forty two years of service to her beloved diksha and siksha Gurudevas. I was fortunate to meet her in later years when she came to the shelter of our Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja. Since that time I would see her in His association at various festivals and came to appreciate her sincere and simple hearted nature.

    She also persevered in her life in the midst of the greatest adversity brought about by the will of Krsna and she always served with an exemplary mood of following the great sloka from Srimad Bhagavatam Tenth Canto, “tat te ‘nukampam susamiksamano…”, fully embracing the environment as created by Krsna’s mercy and thus as definitely favorable. She never wavered in her care of her vaisnava children even in the midst of their greatest tests.

    I feel that she has achieved the supreme success of pleasing her Gurudevas and Ishtadevas. Her passing is a joyous one because she is now moving into accelerated gear in the highest association and headed straight to her eternal Home with Sri Sri Radha Govinda. I consider that she was brought by them in perfect timing to her next auspicious destination. I will always remember Srimati Mangala didi as one of my sincerest godsisters and a true devotee of the Lord of the Gopis, Sri Gopijanaballabha. May she attain her highest aspiration of her heart as she moves to her final destination.

    Srimati Mangala didi ki jaya!!

    An aspirant for the dust of the feet of the vaisnavas,

    BV Padmanabha Swami

    • Suchandra dasi December 17, 2013 at 10:19 PM #

      Sri Guru Gauranga Jayatah!
      Dandavat pranams Maharaj!,

      Thank you so much for your homage. I remember the day in Hilo when Srila Gurudev was so heavy on me that I cried and you came out and consoled me, saying that it was his mercy. Now I understand more and more how it was his mercy. After seeing my mother pass away, it has made a deep deep impression in my heart. Srila Gurudev was very stern and heavy with my (then) mother. He smashed every anartha out of her, churning her and making ghee of her life. The songs are the ghee. Her passing revealed that she was successful. It’s not easy for us to let go of our attachments and to surrender. But because of her honesty with Gurudev, and her surrender to his instructions, we have all become fortunate! She made our lives auspicious. She taught me the first thing about mrdanga saying, “Srila Prabhupad says this is the root beat from which all other beats come”, she trained us in fine points of music to the point that we’d be in tears. She trained me in points of art, cooking, and tips in dressing the deities. She would tell me things that Prabhupad said. She taught me how to dance properly, how to dress properly, and everything. I am so so so grateful. Before she officially’ became a devotee in 71, (as the records say,) she had already become a rebel, chanting Hare Krsna, and getting thrown in “kid” jail back in Utah. Luckily I didn’t have to rebel against my devotee mother, but I join her in the rebellion.

  13. Radharaman Das Vanacari December 15, 2013 at 3:20 AM #

    what can l say but you have been blessed to have srimati mangala didi as a mother and grandmother dandavats hare Krishna

  14. Stavyadeva das December 16, 2013 at 1:54 AM #

    Brought tears to my eyes. A true inspiration to all. We will all remember her kind and loving nature. A true mother to all. She never turned anyone away and tried to help and inspire all.

  15. bv damodara December 20, 2013 at 12:32 PM #

    Dandavat pranams to all the Vaishnavas,
    All glories to Sri Sri Guru and Gauranga.

    Dear Mangala didi,
    My pranams to you. A Vaishnava is eternal, so wherever you are please remember me like your son and bless me.
    I was in China and had no possibility of writing anything. So this is my first possibility to write properly.
    I was amazed to read that you left home at 13 to engage in devotional service. I had no idea. This is proof of your great samskaras from previous life.
    You were always so kind to the devotees who came to you.
    What struck me most about you was the selfless way you took care of Gaurasunder Prabhu after his accident. It is very rare that anyone in this world can forget themselves so fully to serve another Vaishnava. You did that because you knew he was dear to Gurudeva and the Vaishnavas, not because he was your son!
    Your home was a shelter to all, you had no conception of “I” and “mine”.
    You will be missed by the devotees not only in “Big Island”, but also the world.
    I really feel blessed to know you…….I am saddened by your dissapearance. Of course in a higher sense there is nothing to lament because you have definitely served your Gurudeva and the Vaishnavas, so for you there is only gain. We, who are bereft of your glance are the only losers.
    Again I offer my Dandavats to you.

  16. Ananga manjari d.d. (at that time Rupa) December 29, 2013 at 10:01 PM #

    My dear Mangala, when i came the first time in Hawaii in your house, it was for an kirtan evening…I just felt that this house is very special…Devotees came and the atmosphere of Kirtan started to gow, suddenly you came in the room and when you entered the room the whole atmopshere changed and i felt like Vrindavan was coming with you in the room, i was just looking at you thinking, “you are so special, such a real great devotee”…this is what i can say about you, my deep deep respect of your devoted soul…later we became friends and we went some times alone for a whole afternoon to swim at the hot ponts and once we had a long driving together…during this long ways you told me so many things about your life, your very intime moments with Srila Narayenmaharaj and you gave me so sweet and nice adivese for my life…i felt you so close to me and once you said: “…so strange, you seem to me like an old devotee witch i know for a long long time…” Yes, Mangala for me it was the same, i had the impression i knew you so good, i felt you so close…and now you went, and i was not able to say god by to you…my heart is crying, because i had to less moments with you…You blessed me and you blessed so many souls with your very soft but always intense devotional fire…every morning we did Managala arti together, i have your voice again on my tape register…my dear Mangala, i m so sad that you left, but im so happy when i heard that you where with your beloved family and devotees, around you when you left, that makes me feel better, may your soul be now with your beloved Gurudev…i deeply miss you…yours Ananga manjari…

  17. Pushpanjali devi dasi June 9, 2014 at 9:44 AM #

    Gaura Haribol!

    It is an honor to have known such a saintly Vaishnavi, and especially to have participated with Mangala dd and Nilachala dd in the recording we made to honor Mahaprabhu’s 500 year Appearance anniversary. One day during that time Mangala sang one of her many divinely inspired songs for me called The Cause of It All. Struck by its beauty and wisdom, with her permission, I wrote down the words in a notebook, along with her guitar chords. Shortly before she became ill, I happened to come across that notebook again. Even after so many years, the melody was still in my memory as she had sung it. While doing some recording very recently, I was blessed that Nitai Prem agreed to help with mrdanga backing, and this lovely song will soon be available for the enjoyment of the devotees. Here are the words:

    The Cause Of It All

    Gone, deep in a dream
    Will it go on without You
    Without You forever

    Deep, deep in the heart
    I hear a voice far away
    But so near together

    Forever is my soul
    Bound to Your love, my goal
    Only You could ever know
    The cause of it all

    Lost, swept on a wheel
    A cycle that never stays still
    It seems forever

    Time passes away
    But there was never a day
    We weren’t together

    Forever is my soul
    Bound to Your love, my goal
    Only You could ever know
    The cause of it all

    Only You could ever know
    The cause of it all

    Govinda, Govinda
    Govinda, Govinda
    Govinda, Govinda
    Govinda, Govinda

    Jaya Mangala Mata!

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