<< 2 Coming to Kṛṣṇa >>

Gāndharvikā Giridhārī: Several days after Vraja Līlā received a copy of Bhagavad-gītā and visited the temple, there was a big Ratha-yātrā in Moscow. She went to the festival out of curiosity and arrived just before the parade began. lndradyumna Mahārāja was lecturing to a large crowd that had gathered around the Rathayātrā cart. As Vraja Līlā pressed closer she heard him say that Lord Jagannātha is very, very kind to the fallen conditioned souls and awards special mercy to anyone who prays to Him. This made a big impression on her, and she approached Lord Jagannātha and began praying very sincerely for “special mercy.”

The next day she visited the Moscow temple again. She arrived when Indradyumna Mahārāja was giving Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam class. He was recounting the story of Jayānanda Prabhu, a disciple of Śrīla Prabhupāda. Despite having been very ill with leukemia, he had worked hard to please his spiritual master by preparing a big Ratha-yātrā in America. She listened intently and was very impressed hearing about Jayānanda Prabhu’s spiritual determination. Being ill with leukemia herself, she found inspiration in Jayānanda’s devotional service. She was also very inspired by Indradyumna Mahārāja and later told me that she felt Lord Jagannātha had answered her prayers for special mercy by directing her to the lotus feet of her eternal spiritual master the day after Ratha-yātrā.

A few days later she decided to join the movement. She was only 16 years old at the time and moved into a temple in the Ukraine. Within a few weeks she was on traveling sa‰kīrtana with eight other women, distributing Śrīla Prabhupāda’s books. She relished this service, but after four months her leukemia forced her to stop, and she returned to Moscow.

Aṣ˜a Sakhī dāsī: One year after coming to ISKCON my godsister Vraja Līlā joined our temple in St. Petersburg. All the devotees appreciated her advanced qualities, even at that early stage of her devotional service. She was very humble and was always trying to please our spiritual master, although due to her illness, she was unable to do big service. Whatever little service she got she would try to do it perfectly, being attentive to every detail.

Once when Śrīla Gurudeva was visiting our temple, he stressed the importance of prayer in the life of a devotee. Vraja Līlā took this very seriously. I would often see her praying to the Deities in the temple. But she wouldn’t only pray for herself—she also prayed for the spiritual welfare of other devotees as well.

Rambhori dāsī: In the summer of 1993 Vraja Līlā came to our temple in Novorossisk.

She looked like an innocent child. In spite of her disease she tried not to cause any disturbance to the other devotees. We all tried our best to help her, but she didn’t want service from anyone. She liked to serve others.

She also liked very much to paint. Once she painted a beautiful backdrop of Varṣāna for our altar. She also did a painting of the six Gosvāmīs of Vṛndāvana. The most interesting thing about this painting was that all the Gosvāmīs were painted with faces, except Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī. When I asked her why, she replied that she didn’t understand the mood and character of Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī. Later on, when she had read a lot about him in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta she finished the work by painting his face.

At night, because of her illness, she would often moan. Sometimes she didn’t sleep at all and would simply stay up all night chanting. While with us, she would do pūjā to our temple Deities and sometimes she led ma‰gala-ārati in a very soft and beautiful way.

Once she gave me her jacket to hold and in one of the pockets was her diary. In any other situation I would not read someone’s diary, but that time I did. Upon reading it I was amazed. She was expressing dissatisfaction that only a little time was left before she would leave her body, but she had such little service for Kṛṣṇa. So many realizations came to me as a result of reading that diary. I could see how pure she was and how contaminated I was.

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