<< Introduction >>

On October 13, 1994, my dear disciple 19-year-old Vraja Līlā dāsī left her body in Śrī Vṛndāvana-dhāma. By the mercy of Śrīla Prabhupāda and Lord Kṛṣṇa I was by her side, along with many other Vaiṣṇavas, chanting the holy names.

One year before, while suffering from leukemia, she had gone to Vṛndāvana assisted by her godsister Gāndharvikā Giridhārī dāsī, to prepare for her inevitable departure. Vṛndāvana is the perfect place to live and the perfect place to die. Śrīla Prabhupāda writes:

“One must go to the Vṛndāvana forest and take shelter of Govinda. That will make one happy. The International Society for Krishna Consciousness is therefore constructing a Kṛṣṇa-Balarāma temple to invite its members as well as outsiders to come and live peacefully in a spiritual atmosphere. That will help one become elevated to the transcendental world and return home, back to Godhead.”
[Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 5.13.8 purport]

Vraja Līlā took shelter of Vṛndāvana in this mood. As she told Gāndharvikā Giridhārī several months before her departure, “Some devotees are praying to be able to distribute books, some are praying to be good cooks and still others to be nice pūjārīs; but now at the end of my life I am begging to become intensely attached to Kṛṣṇa.” She strived for that attachment through humble service and sincere prayer. Thus, when I arrived in Vṛndāvana at her request on the last day of her life, her Kṛṣṇa consciousness amazed me. She had developed so much faith in her spiritual master and Kṛṣṇa.

yasya deve parā bhaktir
yathā-deve tathā gurau
tasyaite kathitā hy arthāḥ
prakāśante mahātmanaḥ

“Only unto one who has unflinching devotion to the Lord and to the spiritual master does transcendental knowledge become automatically revealed.”
[Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 6.38]

I am feeling deep separation from Vraja Līlā dāsī. Her faith and love in me as her spiritual master awoke my love and appreciation for her as my disciple. Through our interactions, especially during the last days of her life, my understanding of the wonderful reciprocation that exists between guru and disciple deepened a thousandfold.

This book was originally intended only for my disciples. But after reflecting on the many realizations that I have gained from Vraja Līlā‘s departure, I now want to share them with all devotees.

I have included the memories and realizations of other devotees who were involved with her departure as well, most notably my disciple Gāndharvikā Giridhārī dāsī. Because it is only natural that the disciple will glorify the spiritual master, I ask the reader to overlook the passages where I am praised and focus on the main personality in this book, Vraja Līlā dāsī, whose example at the moment of death all of us may follow.

Several godbrothers and godsisters have also glorified me within this work. It is certainly against the principle of Vaiṣṇava humility for a devotee to publish such statements about himself. However, I am forced to do so in order not to omit the reciprocation of loving feelings which played such a major role in the departure of Vraja Līlā dāsī. I can assure the reader that I don’t feel worthy of the kind statements expressed about me, but rather see them as goals to achieve within many lifetimes.

Indradyumna Swami
Warsaw, Poland
October 24, 1994
The disappearance day of Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura

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