The need to create Asramas for aging devotees
Posted April 6, 2004
Hare Krsna Prabhus,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
Some of you know me. Most of you do not. I tend to be a very quiet and very opinionated person. I have one of those opinions now that I want to put forth and try to stir up general concern for this topic.
One of my main concerns for our future as devotees is not the future of ISKCon, but the well-being of aging and retiring devotees. It is obvious that we have not been able to establish a real social setting. Over the last 30 years, we have failed to develop a system that will shelter devotees through the entire cycle of birth, aging, disease, and death. HH Giriraj Swami along with Sangita dd and others are in the process of building the Vaisnava's care network to see devotees through a hospice like stage before they leave this world. This is a wonderful and difficult service that is especially needed because so many of us spent our lives inside of temple complexes and never considered materially caring for our bodies as they deteriorated. They are addressing the most difficult point in our material existence, giving it up. Still, as wonderful a service as this is, it is not the whole "ball of wax". It is no one's fault that we have not dealt with aging, and at the same time it is all our fault. Immediate problems have always taken center stage. Now old age is upon us. As a group, Srila Prabupada's disciples are growing old quickly. Do you remember how you used to look at a 60 something person when you were young? Here we are. We are not just getting oldER... but old... in many cases infirm and capable of little physical service. Where do we turn next?
My particular focus is on retiring devotees who have little measurable means of self-maintenance. I have been thinking for several years now of the need for asramas for retiring women devotees. There are many devotees in need, but I always think first about women since they tend to be among the most vulnerable members of our organization. I do not mean to be sexist, but I have "been there and successfully done that" as far as the single woman trying to find a means of support that can maintain her through her old age (we'll see). I do not see most vaisnavi's having that facility.
I am hoping that there are enough devotees in the audience who are of like mind as my own. Those devotees who individually have a deep desire and a little talent for community planning are those I am looking for. I am looking for people who are familiar with designing floor plans, meeting building code specifications, and a grant manager. In short, we need a team that can start to finish, design, fund and implement a project. I would like to hear from those devotees so we can try to organize into a team who can make these concerns a reality. I myself am an economist and a planner. Those are my limited material qualifications. If there are others out there who have the desire help, please let me hear from you. When enough of us come forward, I know that Krsna will indeed carry what we have and provide what we lack to make this happen.
Yours in the servant of Sri Sri Guru and Gauranga,