Chakra Announcements

Srutakirti prabhu succumbs to diabetes complications

by Bhakti Caru Swami

Posted December 10, 2003

A very wonderful devotee from South Africa, Srutakirti das, left his body Sun., Dec. 7, 2003 at 2:40 p.m., South African time.

He joined ISKCON in 1979 when he was still a university student, first initiated by Jaya Tirtha das and then by Bhagavan das. Despite the spiritual difficulties resulting from their falldowns, Srutakirti prabhu did not lose faith in Srila Prabhupada and his transcendental institution, ISKCON, and continued to serve with great determination and sincerity in many responsible positions in ISKCON.

When the devotees of South Africa were building a gorgeous temple in Durban in the mid-'80s, one of the main ways of fundraising was through the selling of paintings. Srutakirti headed up that department. After completing that project he became the president of the temple in Cape Town, and then the temple president in Durban.

In 1997, he went to India to help in the production of the Abhay Charan film series. In 1998, he went back to South Africa to give support to his ailing mother. It was around that time that he developed complications with his kidney, resulting from high blood pressure aggravated by acute diabetes.

About two years ago, I got the news that he was in the Durban hospital in a rather serious condition. I went to see him and suggested that he came back to the association of devotees in the temple. He did so. Seeing he needed constant care and attention, a wonderful congregation devotee named Mukunda das, a disciple of His Grace Partha Sarathi das, took him to his home and cared for him, in a way that is very rare in this world. The care, concern and affection he displayed towards Srutakirti prabhu can only be compared to the loving care of a mother for her ailing child. Mukunda prabhu was by Srutakirti's side practically 24 hours a day. He used to sleep on the same bed with Srutakirti, just in case he needed something at night.

About September 2002, Srutakirti's condition deteriorated drastically. He became totally bedridden and lost his eyesight -- a frequent complication of advanced diabetes. At that time Srutakirti became so resigned to the will of Krsna that the doctors who were treating him became quite frustrated that he had lost his will to survive. Although the doctors several times declared he only had a few days to live, and although Srutakirti was resigned to that idea, he nevertheless remained in this world with us for 15 more months.

Srutakirti always displayed a wonderful attitude of surrender to Krsna and to Srila Prabhupada. He would eloquently describe how Prabhupada had saved him and had guided him through so many difficulties.

In spite of his invalidity, he continued to preach from his wheelchair and he even organized festivals. He shouldered the total responsibility of organizing Srila Prabhupada's Vyasa Puja celebration this year. Devotees have told me that this festival was the grandest Vyasa Puja celebration they ever witnessed in Durban. Although it was held during a weekday, more than 2500 people attended, and everyone was amazed at its success. During the aroti kirtan that day, Srutakirti got up from his wheelchair, led the kirtan himself and even started to dance, to everyone's amazement. On November 18, when I was in London, I received news that his condition was very critical and that he could leave his body at any moment. I immediately took a flight to Durban, intensely hoping that I would be able to see him before he left his body. By Krsna's mercy, his condition miraculously improved, and I had a wonderful time with him for about two weeks until I left for America on December 3.

Although he had not eaten for 18 days and his body was critically ill, his consciousness was very clear. One day, recalling his condition that was almost at the verge of death, he told me, "I knew I was going to die. I was not afraid. It seemed so easy. I felt so peaceful."

On another occasion, when I asked him, "When you go back to the spiritual world, what will you do?" he responded, "Serve Krsna. Love Krsna. Glorify Krsna."

I was supposed to leave South Africa on December 1, but I changed my plan and instead of flying to London from Johannesburg I went back to Durban to see him again. It was a very wonderful experience. Both of us knew that this was the last time that we were seeing each other. At the same time, we had a very deep conviction that our relationship will continue.

He had been one of the most exemplary devotees, and he practically demonstrated how genuine this process of Krsna Consciousness is. From his example we got a very clear perception that a devotee simply surrenders himself to Krsna, and Krsna takes care of him in all respects. We are eternally indebted to Srila Prabhupada for offering us this most wonderful process and training us to take full advantage of it.

Please bless this very wonderful devotee, Srutakirti das, so that he can fully receive Srila Prabhupada's mercy and become most wonderfully engaged in the service of our Supreme Lord.