By Madhava Smullen for ISKCON News on 24th July 2010
Summer 1973. It’s 8am, and already Washington, DC is bustling with activity,
as everyone hurries to work. A group of ISKCON devotees also leave their
temple, crossing Q Street and heading towards Connecticut Avenue, a heavily
populated business district. But their job is different: as they walk,
they sing kirtan, an ancient Vedic call-and-response style of chanting
God’s Holy Names.
Suddenly, a young fellow appears out of nowhere, a flute tucked under his arm and long red hair streaming out behind him as he runs as fast as he can, trying to catch up with them. The devotees are surprised and delighted.
Then, just as he’s almost reached them, the young man loses one of his flip-flops. The devotees indicate to him that he should go back and get it, they’ll wait for him.
But he refuses. There’s no way he’ll risk losing them or miss out on even a few seconds of kirtan.
He joins the kirtan party, and that very day, he moves into the temple.
The young fellow’s name is Eddie—better known to ISKCON devotees all over the world as Aindra Dasa—and from that day on, he never stopped chanting Hare Krishna.
Discovering the Music of the Spiritual World
Growing up in Haymarket, Virginia in the 1950s and ‘60s, Eddie Striker was a jack-of-all trades artist from early on, painting, drawing, and doing his own embroidery. But it was music that was closest to his heart.
His was a musical family—his father gigged with bluegrass groups, his mother played the harp, and his brother was a bassist. Eddie, for his part, loved Jimi Hendrix and was partial to the electric guitar.
So when his family broke up in 1971, and he moved to Chevy Chase, Maryland, it was the guitar that he turned to, playing with a number of bands and beginning to make a name for himself.
“But he always had a spirit that was beyond the mundane life he was living back then,” says his brother, John. “It wasn’t long before he’d seen enough of the rockstar life and what it led to—Jimi Hendrix’s death was a particular blow to him—and he knew that there was a hole that needed to be filled by the spiritual, not the material.”
Discovering the very different music of the spiritual world, Eddie moved into the ISKCON temple in Washington, D.C. And soon after, in February 1974, on the auspicious day of Sri Sri Gaura Nitai’s installation and Lord Nityananda’s Appearance, he was initiated by ISKCON founder Srila Prabhupada and became Aindra Dasa.
Although his father was angry at this drastic change in his life, Aindra’s
little brother was happy for him and excited that he had found his calling.
“I was only nine or ten, but when he visisted, he’d bring me Bhagavad-gita and other writings, and these beautiful posters,” says John. “My room had Krishna stuff all over it. Several times he brought his drum and cymbals, and we would play together and chant. He was already a spiritual leader even then, because he made me aware of other things beyond the agnostic way we were raised, and opened me up to my own spiritual path.”
Back at the temple, Aindra became known as a rather erudite preacher—he joined everyone else in book distribution on the streets, loved speaking to guests at the weekly Sunday Feast, and was always looking for a way to spread Krishna consciousness.
His unique mood and love for kirtan also emerged early on. “Our neighbours used to complain about our 4am Mangal Arati kirtan,” says Jagara Dasa, who also served at the D.C. temple in the 1970s. “But when Aindra led the chanting—which he often did—he had the necessary constraint to keep the kirtan where it needed to be so that the police who sat outside would not come in and give us a big fine.”
Inaugurating the 24-Hour Kirtan
Later, Aindra became a priest for Radha-Madhan Mohan and Gaura Nitai, and would play around with the harmonium in between services, soon working out his first melody: Bhaktivinode Thakura’s short song Jaya Radha Madhava.
He continued to practice, and his skill and love for kirtan grew. Moving to New York City, he converted a truck that would open out into an ornate golden temple. He acquired sound permits and would drive to different parts of the city where he would set up his truck and perform kirtan for eight hours a day. His
performances were impactful, inspiring several people to join ISKCON.
Eventually Aindra decided he would like to try organizing a kirtan program in India. Travelling to Lord Krishna’s birthplace of Vrindavana in 1986, he learned the story of the Krishna Balarama Mandir’s 24-Hour Kirtan program. It had first been introduced in 1975 by ISKCON founder Srila Prabhupada—but without proper management, it began to fade, and by 1978, a year after Prabhupada passed on, it had ground to a halt.
Aindra decided to dedicate himself to the project. He began to soak up the atmosphere of Vrindavana, connect with other kirtaniyas, and learn Indian classical music or ragas, teaching himself the traditional melodies by ear. And eight years after the 24-Hour Kirtan had faded away, he reconstituted it as its own department, organizing a core group of kirtan enthusiasts to ensure its continuance.
Krishna Balarama Mandir’s 24-Hour Kirtan has been running non-stop, 24-hours a day, 365 days a year, ever since.
Someone Who Truly Cares
There was no denying the program’s austerity, and so Aindra chose men for his team that, like him, would stick it out through all conditions.
The temple room lay next to an open courtyard, and the “kirtaniyas”—mostly celibate students known as brahmacharis—had to endure Vrindavana’s unforgiving climate: its sweltering summers, with temperatures rising as high as 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit), and its cold winter nights.
As the Department’s sixteen men still do now, they slept on the floor or on basic bunks in the Vrindavana International School, in rooms with walls plasted with cow dung. They kept all their personal items on one shelf. In those days, they didn’t even have air conditioning. All they had was Lord Krishna’s name.
And kirtan was their life. Full-time members did (and still do) six hours of kirtan every day, as well as chanting Hare Krishna on their japa beads for two hours.
They would each take two of the 24-Hour Kirtan’s three-hour shifts, which start at 1am and run continuously. The kirtan even ran during temple services such as arati offerings and lectures, with kirtaniyas softly chanting “japa kirtan” on their prayer beads.
Madhava Dasa, a second-generation devotee who now travels the world both solo and with his Gaura Prema bhajan band doing kirtan, was amongst the
Department’s earliest members, joining when he was only eighteen years old.
“Aindra Prabhu was everything to me: a father, a mother, a guru,” he says. “And he taught me so many valuable lessons. When I first started, I had a lot of energy and ego and thought I was the best mridanga drum player. He would chastise me about it constantly, for literally two or three hours a day. I thought he was being too harsh on me, and finally said, ‘Aindra Prabhu, you find another mridanga player—I’ll play kartals.’
“But he replied, ‘No, I want you to play mridanga, and so do Radhe Shyam. I’m only doing this for your own good—if you listen to what I say, you’ll go far in your kirtans.’ I agreed to try and sacrifice my ego, and after that, kirtan with Aindra Prabhu became very sweet. Some people didn’t like Aindra because he was very heavy, but I appreciated his straightforwardness and honesty, and lack of superficiality. When he was heavy with me, I thought, ‘Wow, here’s someone who truly cares for me.’”
The Kirtan Revolution
Aindra and Madhava became a tight-knit team. “Those were the best years of my life, the most beautiful kirtans,” Madhava says. “They were all about the proper mood. I learned from Aindra that kirtan is not to impress anyone—it’s our way to express our heartfelt feelings for Radha and Krishna and Srila Prabhupada, and our gratefulness at being able to do kirtan and connect with our only shelter.”
Madhava believes that this approach to kirtan was what made the albums that followed so powerful. First came the double album Chintamani Nama Parts 1 and 2. Next, came the first “Vrindavana Mellows” album.
“With the very basic technology available in Vrindavana, and the frequent power cuts, others might have gone to record in a studio in Delhi,” says Madhava. “But Aindra wanted to record Vrindavana Mellows in Vrindavana. He said that every kirtan held in Vrindavana is a thousand times more powerful than kirtan held anywhere else, and he wanted to give Vrindavana to devotees around the world.”
It took six months to record Vrindavana Mellows Part 1, but when it finally came out in 1993, it took the devotee world by storm and created what Madhava calls “a kirtan revolution.”
“Those albums changed everything,” says Madhava’s friend and fellow second-gen devotee Gopala Dasa, who has been part of the 24-Hour Kirtan since 2000.
“Before them, the old-school, 1980s, one-two-three style of kirtan pervaded. Vrindavana Mellows introduced a more classical approach in line with basic Gaudiya Vaishnava standards—one with more different varieties of rhythms, karatala playing, and raga melodies.”
Vrindavana Mellows Parts two and three followed in ’94 and ’95 , inspiring many devotees to join the 24-Hour Kirtan in Vrindavana and to take kirtan more seriously than ever before.
Possibly the most enthusiastic recipients of this gift were ISKCON’s
second generation, known as gurukulis.
“We grew up doing kirtan—it’s in our blood,” says Madhava. “And we found in Aindra a kindred spirit, someone who loved kirtan as much as we did. But we also found someone we could take shelter of, a father figure. We loved him. There was always a bunch of gurukulis surrounding him, playing mridanga and kartals and chanting. He changed our lives.”
This love was also reciprocated by Aindra. After four more albums—the spontaneously recorded live album Kirtan is Our Bhajan, 1996’s Prayers to the Dust of Vraja, and 1998’s Vraja Vilasa Parts 1 and 2—and seven years with the 24-Hour Kirtan, Madhava finally went to Aindra’s room to tell him he would be leaving to get married and start a family.
“There were tears in his eyes,” Madhava recalls. “He said, ‘I trained you up, and now you’re leaving me.’ I told him, ‘Aindra Prabhu, you’ll find someone else.’ He said, ‘Yes, but I’ll never find someone like you.’ Then he told me to chant Hare Krishna wherever I went, even if I had to sing to the four walls. And, because many gurukulis love kirtan but don’t like to chant their japa (meditative chanting), he added, ‘Make sure you chant your sixteen rounds a day, otherwise your kirtan won’t have any power.’”
“Do As Many 24-Hour Kirtans As Possible”
Now living in Switzerland, Madhava continued to keep in touch with Aindra over the years, and continued to receive many such instructions, including the very last one, during a Skype Call on July 16th, 2010.
“I was about to embark on two back-to-back 12-hour kirtans leading up to the Ratha Yatra festival in Toronto, Canada, and I asked him for his blessings,” Madhava says. “His last instruction to me was, ‘Please go ahead and do as many 24-hour kirtans around the world as possible.’”
The very next day, Madhava received the shocking news that Aindra had passed away in Vrindavana, while worshipping his Deities.
“It’s very hard for me to digest,” he says now. “I will miss him for the rest of my life. But he will live forever in his kirtans, and in his instructions. I’m trying to follow his last instruction to me by doing 24-hour kirtans all over the world: We’re doing one at New Vraja Mandala in Spain on August 13th and 14th, one in Peru on September 25th and 26th, and one in Alachua, Florida, this November. And of course many other devotees are also holding 24-Hour Kirtan festivals and events around the world.”
Madhava has also pledged to participate in the original Vrindavana 24 hour kirtan for one month every year for the foreseeable future. “I encourage other devotees to also sacrifice whatever time they can every year to fulfill Aindra and Srila Prabhupada’s mission,” he says. “Now that the father is gone, it’s the real test for the children to show our love for kirtan, and our love for Aindra Prabhu.”
He reasons ill who says that Vaishnavas die,
When thou art living still in sound!
The Vaishnavas die to live, and living try
To spread the holy name around.
--Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur
Author’s Note: The information, dates, and accounts herein are the most
accurate that I could present within the short time available to submit
this article. They were given to me by the people quoted, and I have presented
their words as faithfully as possible. Many thanks to Padma-Malini Dasi
for her story about Aindra’s first encounter with devotees.
Read more: http://news.iskcon.com/node/3002/2010-07-24/aindra_dasa_living_still_in_sound#ixzz0ujnM0N4m
Diary of a Traveling Monk
Volume 11, Chapter 6
July 18, 2010
By Indradyumna Swami
Dearest Aindra prabhu,
Please accept our most humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
We, the members of the Festival of India in Poland, would like to express our extreme sorrow and lamentation over your untimely departure from this world. We know that the Lord has a plan for all His devotees, but nonetheless we are finding it most difficult to accept that you are no longer here.
For many of us, especially the ISKCON youth, you were a shining example
of a true kirtaneer: one who relishes chanting the holy names. You nurtured
that attraction by careful and attentive japa throughout your devotional
You further increased your ardent desire to chant the holy names by engaging in many years of sankirtana before coming to Vrndavana in 1986. In the holy dhama you took Srila Prabhupada's desire as your life and soul, and you took charge of the twenty-four-hour kirtana in front of your beloved Sri Sri Radhe-Syama.
Because of your purity of purpose, those kirtanas became legendary. Each year, during the month of Kartika, devotees would come from all over the world to chant with you and your kirtana crew. It is said that the main purpose of visiting the holy dhama is to associate with the saintly persons living there. You were one of those saintly persons because you relished chanting and you made others chant and become mad after the holy names.
During the early days of our movement, whenever you and I would meet we would talk about our favorite activity: the loud chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra, and we would enjoy sharing the new melodies we had learned along the way. I remember sitting in your room in the gurukula one morning as you taught me a melody you had just learned from a visiting sadhu. You told me to lead the kirtana that evening and introduce the melody to the devotees.
Sometimes I would visit your room and talk with you about deity worship. Because of your eagerness to serve and your pure heart, the Lord came to you in many forms: Gaura-Nitai, Govardhan silas, and an uncountable number of Salagrama silas. Devotees would often bring you silas, sometimes because they had lost the taste for worshiping them, and you would never refuse. You accepted each and every one that came your way, and what's more, you worshiped each and every one with undivided devotion.
I admired you for your zeal in sharing the holy names with others, but also for your internal mood of awakening your own Krsna consciousness. You were absorbed in Vraja bhakti and were never too shy to say that you wanted to serve the Lord one day in the mood of a gopi. Some may have said that it was premature, but I could see that you had understood the siddhanta of our process and were determined to achieve it.
And I miss you especially because you showed yourself to be a kind and loving friend. When my disciples celebrated my Vyasa puja several months ago in the Krsna-Balarama Mandir, you went and spoke for a long time about my service and my success in Krsna consciousness.
I assure you that I am not at all the devotee you thought me to be, but I thank you for encouraging me to become so by your kind words. I heard that you then led a long and blissful kirtana to honor me.
Now it is my turn, and the honor goes to you, but the circumstances are different. Never again in this lifetime will any of us have the good fortune to see you in your rightful place: at the lotus feet of Sri Sri Radhe-Syama, singing your heart out to Them in intense devotion. My dear godbrother, the month of Kartika in Vrndavana will never be the same without you and your rickety old harmonium, surrounded by an expert group of kirtaneers hanging onto your every note of the mahamantra.
My dear Aindra prabhu, how we all miss you! Though you were often outspoken, even fiery on issues within our movement, you were detached from management and politics. You were loyal and independent - very much an ISKCON man, very much a Prabhupada man - with an understanding of the essence of Krsna consciousness: that after all is said and done, ISKCON and Krsna consciousness means chanting the holy names with every fiber of one's body, with as much devotion as one can muster, for as many hours as possible each day. You embodied that spirit in your kirtanas, and that is why the young people looked up to you so much. That is why we all looked up to you so much. That is why we are all lamenting today.
I have no doubt that you are now in Goloka Vrndavana. You once told me that someone who is born in Vrndavana, lives in Vrndavana, or dies in Vrndavana is immediately transported to Goloka upon leaving the body. Because you yourself lived and died in that holy dhama, you have surely achieved the highest destination.
But I know you have achieved that goal mostly because you made the Hare
Krsna mantra so popular all over the world. And you did it by sitting in
one place. That's the amazing thing: you made kirtana and bhajana popular
just by sitting on the marble floor of the Krsna-Balarama Mandir, not far
from the sacred tamala tree in the courtyard. You inspired us all with
your endearing melodies, along with the intense drumming and kartala playing.
Because of your devotion-filled voice, the whole world became captivated by those kirtanas. I know, because I hear your kirtanas in temples all over the world.
You have left a void in our hearts that can never be filled in this lifetime. We can only pray to have the good fortune to serve with you again if you decide to take another birth. In the meantime we will try to follow in your footsteps and develop a genuine attachment for the holy names, our worshipable deities, and the holy place of Sri Vrindavan dhama.
Please look kindly upon us devotees here on the Baltic Sea Coast this summer. We too are trying our best to give the holy names to others. If you, from your transcendental position, are merciful to us, we may succeed in our efforts.
We submit this letter to you, confident that it will reach you through some transcendental medium, and we hope you have heard our glorification and prayers.
Indradyumna Swami and the members of the Festival of India in Poland 2010.
Jul 20, 2010 — BANGALORE (SUN) — I have been disturbed ever since hearing of Aindra Prabhu's untimely disappearance yesterday morning. As one God-nephew pointed out regarding Aindra Prabhu's pure influence:
"I'm amazed at how much influence he had on the world of ISKCON, more so than many initiating gurus put together. And yet he didn't initiate anyone…"
Purity really is the force.
I have spent hours at a time listening to his kirtans and bhajanas since 1991. Every time I went to Vraj I relished spending time listening to the 24 hour kirtan. Srila Prabhupada was right, there is actually no need to leave our compound when there is 24 hour kirtan.
The last time I was in Vraj an incident took place that indicated the impact of Aindra Prabhu's 24 hour kirtan. I was sitting in Srila Prabhupada's samdhi chanting japa when a South Indian brahmana from the Sri Vaisnava Sampradaya came in. On enquiry I found out that he was from the Ahobilam Matha Asrama in Hyderabad. He said he had visited the temple several times. I asked him if he liked it. He said he did, and with tears welling up in his eyes he told me "I especially love the kirtan, it is so beautiful." He said it all.
Sriman Aindra Prabhu displayed Vaisnava humility in the true sense of the word, as explained in the following quotation from Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Vaibhava, Volume 2, section entitled "Compassionate Belligerence and Genuine Humility" by Bhakti Vikasa Swami:
"Among Bengali Vaisnavas, humility was ranked as the prime symptom of the saintliness so much esteemed in the highly religious culture of India—hence the curious phenomenon of persons quite lacking genuine humility deliberately mimicking meekness to attract praise and respect. Typically, prakrta-sahajiyas were well practiced in making shows of treacly humility, and deemed such displays the main lineaments of a Vaisnava, even if the performer's personal habits were abominable. Srila Sarasvati Thakura declared as outright deception these sanctimonious caricatures of piety, maintaining that such religious impostors were concealing huge mountains of pride within their hearts. He described prakrta-sahajiyas as "hellish living incarnations of cheating humility." He noted that "a mere show of humility will not work, for only after duplicity has been given up can there be bhakti," and that "bhajana actually begins when one's outside and inside are the same."It was by Aindra Prabhu's courage in proclaiming the truth that Srila Prabhupada's desire for there to be 24 hour kirtan in Vrndavana against all opposition became a reality.
"Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura offered a uniquely meaningful definition of Vaisnava humility:
"The transcendental conception of thinking "I am dust at the lotus feet of my spiritual master; I am the servant of guru and Krsna" is what is meant by trnad api sunicata (becoming lower than grass). Jive daya (compassion toward all living entities), name ruci (taste for the holy names), and Vaisnavaseva—these are Mahaprabhu's three teachings. The meaning of trnad api sunicata is not disingenuousness, merely flaunting a show of humility; it means actual eligibility for kirtana by name ruci and considering oneself a servant of the holy name. Service is the gateway to name ruci; service to guru and Vaisnavas is trnad api sunicata. We should not become subordinate (nicata to nondevotees, but to devotees, from whom we should beg mercy and show respect. The mahajanas instructed us not to display humility before everyone. To show humility toward envious atheists like Ravana and the pretentious brahmana is not Vaisnava-seva or trnad api sunicata. If we transgress this instruction we will never become qualified to chant the holy name or attain name ruci; rather, our actions will result in becoming envious of others. Rama-bhakta Hanuman's burning of Lanka is real trnad api sunicata…"
…"Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati would respond that real humility is inseparable from adherence to truth, and that it is the duty of Vaisnavas to state the truth and caution truthseekers that epigones are not and could never be actual Vaisnavas."
I trust that at this time, Aindra Prabhu is relishing ecstatic kirtans with the Panca Tattva and Their associates. May he be kind enough to bless me to join him.
Your humble servant,
krsne matir astu
A brief about the final moments and departure of HG Aindra Prabhu :
HG Aindra Prabhu often performed bhajan until the dead of night. On the night of 16th July 2010, he probably did the same, and never knew it was his last day. Probably to cook some bhoga to Deities, he ignited the gas stove unknowing the gas leakage. It ignited the room making a mild blast as well because the pujaris Rupa-Sanatan Prabhu and Vraja Rupa Prabhu, chanting on the terrace, heard an explosive sound from his room. They ran down and knocked at the room, but none opened. The blast gave minor burn injuries to the skin on face and the left side of his chest, while items kept near the door caught fire and kept ablaze. Unable to find a way out, Aindra Prabhu took to the refuge behind the Gaura Nitai Deities in his room. He kneeled to Gaura-Nitai in supplication and remained in dandavat. Perhaps due to lack of oxygen, he became unconscious and finally departed this world leaving behind the body in the same position.
On 17th of July 2010, Aindra Prabhu didn’t turn up to the Krishna-Balaram temple to adorn the Deities for it was his turn on Saturdays. Therefore, Adi Keshav Prabhu went and knocked at his room. At about 7.15 AM, Adi Keshav Prabhu informed Sanak Sanatan Prabhu, “It seems, Aindra Prabhu’s room is locked from inside and there is no response after knocking for a while.” I was standing beside Sanak Sanatan Prabhu and overheard the conversation. We rushed to the spot. Sanak Sanatan Prabhu took a piece of pipe and knocked the door strong and holed it. Through the hole, Adi Keshav Prabhu and I kneeled in the room and called aloud, “Aindra Prabhu, Aindra Prabhu…,” but none replied. We smelled gas and cautious not to light a lamp. We located him behind the Gaura Nitai Deities and found him in supplication doing dandavat. Seeing him unmoved, we first removed the Gaura Nitai Deities, opened the door, and took Aindra Prabhu out. We were preparing to take him to hospital, but Adi Keshav Prabhu felt the body was cold and lifeless. He checked the pulse, heart beat and breath, and felt that Aindra Prabhu left to Goloka.
Time too sung the glories of Aindra Prabhu :
Aindra Prabhu lived in Vrindavan for the past 24 years to rejuvenate this glorious place with his inspiring 24 hour matchless kirtans as his Guru Srila Prabhupada instructed him. He usually performed sankirtana in the temple between 6.00 - 6.30 PM in winter and 6.30-7.00 PM in summer. He was finally rested on the bank of Yamuna and his funeral pyre was also lit at the same time he often begun his sankirtana-yajna. His life was full of glories blessed with the science of astrology and numerology, and it is noticeable as the numbers too stood in salutation chanting his glories.
Glorification of the memories of Aindra Prabhu :
All devotees of Vrindavan assembled at Krishna-Balaram Temple 8.45 AM on 19 July 2010 for glorifying the cherishing memories of HG Aindra Prabhu and it continued up to 1.30 PM. The disciples of Srila Prabhupada and senior devotees in Vrindavan briefed the wonderful activities of HG Aindra Prabhu and his contribution to sankirtans, and a highlight of it is as follows:
HH Prabodhananda Sarasvati Swami said, “Aindra Prabhu carried out the instructions of Srila Prabhupada single-handedly with the kirtanas and influenced many people and especially the devotees of Vrindavan. Only by chanting kirtan, one can achieve everything in this age. We must learn from his splendid example how to reach the Godhead perfectly affirmed to the instructions of one’s Guru. Aindra Prabhu chanted Hare-krishna-mahamntra to his full capacity. Once I said to him, “Thank you for complete dedication to Harinam kirtan” Aindra Prabhu said, “Thank you for your kind words.” Krishna will award a splendid life for Aindra Prabhu in Goloka Vrindavan for his exceptional dedication to chant His holy name.”
HH Radha Raman Swami said, “To purify myself, let me speak something about Aindra Prabhu. He was a perfect example of bhava-bhakti and exhibited the nine symptoms of bhakti-rasa. Aindra Prabhu was a tireless speaker and sometimes his Bhagavata lectures continued up to 10.30 AM in the morning starting from 8.00 AM. Some listeners sneaked out for the morning prasadam served at 9.00 AM and they returned only to find Aindra Prabhu still on tirelessly. He developed perfect Krishna prem lovingly attached to Vrindavan Dham. He left USA to live in Vrindavan and in 1986 he arrived here. Once I saw him with a kamandalu and on enquiry he said, “I got it from one of the babaji’s.” Such was his respect for devotees. Unfortunately we didn’t associate with him as a great devotee, although he deserved a greater service than we did. HH Radha Raman Maharaj also conveyed the deep sorrow of HH Radha Govind Maharaj about the return of Aindra Prabhu. Maharaj said Ill-health prevented HH Radha Govind Maharaj to be present in this session, but praised Aindra Prabhu as a perfect bhakta who chanted Harinam kirtan exceptionally well twenty-four hours a day all through his life as Srila Prabhupadaji wished. Let him rest at peace eternally in Goloka and associate in the nitya-lilas of Gaura-Nitai and Radha-Shyamsunder.”
HG Brahmananda Prabhu said, “He was a perfect lover of Radhakrishna
and he led the fight against maya. His devotion to Harinam sankirtan and
attachment to devotion were magnanimous. Many have tried twenty-four hours
kirtan, but they failed miserably. At first, Aindra Prabhu alone engaged
in the round the clock kirtan, Usually, in the West, one minute silence
is held in memory of a bereaved person, but I want to honour him always
and memorise him forever. Let him be at peace with Radhkrishna in Goloka.”
After praising his unmatched efforts in sankirtana-yajna, Brahmananda Prabhu
chanted one round (108 times the Hare-Krishna-Mahamantra) together with
all devotees present.
HH Bhakti Vaibhava Swami said, “It was hard to believe the sudden departure of Aindra Prabhu because he was exceptional. Aindra Prabhu inspired all in chanting the mahamantra. He demonstrated a perfect example of how the twenty-four hours a day non-stop sankirtana could be made possible. He was unparallel in his attachment to the holy name and congregational chanting. He was intelligent, wholly dedicated to service and kind-hearted. He left us returning to be with Radha-Madhav forever.”
HH Bhakti Visrambha Madhava Swami said, “It was shocking for me to believe the news of return of Aindra Prabhu. I first met him in February 1995 and congratulated him for his exceptional capability in chanting the Harinam and asked how he could derive so much inspiration? He said, “Chant with perfect attention the holy name, the name of Krishna.” Now he has been called back to Goloka eternally. It is a sad day unfortunately for the whole world. It is Radha-Shyamsunder’s plan to bring him back, but for us it is a great loss.”
HH Mahanidhi Swami said, “I am shocked to hear the loss of Aindra Prabhu. He was a great devotee, who believed in sarva-sanga and accepted saranam-bhakti (refuge of perfect devotional service). He majestically executed sanga-seva (service to devotees). He was engaged in twenty-four hour bhajan in Vrindavan and executed it even without food and water until midnight. He was a perfect example of Bhagavat-prema (lover of Lord Krishna). I met him first in 1987. He always chanted his priya-nam of Radhakrishna. He paced his Guru within and enjoyed the mellows of his rasa-raj Mahaprabhu dwelling in heart. He enjoyed Bhagavat katha, sat-sangh, and Bhagavat-shravan and was immersed in prem-bhakti in Vrajadhama. In processions, he was precisely focused in Harinam. Once he said, “Bhajan is more brilliant than the sun and we have to earn Vraja-prem for which we serve life and soul to all devotees and everyone here.” He was highly rich (karor-pati) in devotional service and he offered service to all Vaishnavas, always chanted His holy name, and read the Bhagavatam whenever he could.”
HH Kadamba Kanana swami’s message (read out by Pancagauda Prabhu, the Temple President) said, “Aindra Prabhu successfully organised the twenty-four hour kirtan in the Krishna-Balaram temple of Vrindavan. I could associate with Aindra Prabhu in 1978-1984. In New York City, he chanted the glories of Lord Krishna. He set a perfect example to chant kirtans in ISKCON temples and chanted house to house, and inspired kirtan culture. He once told me of his 108 silas and the Deity of Gaura-Nitai in his room. I saw him in Vrindavan in 1998. The master of music studied the pulse of Srila Prabhupada and the Goswamis. He was a perfect devotee with courage and austerity and attracted many people with his exceptional culture. He later became a resident of India and lived in Vrindavan Dham. He was serious in chanting, yatra, and kirtan apart from a perfect bhakta. Once, while he chanted, Srila Prabhupada was seen jumping, and probably he blessed Aindra to be perfect in his profession. His departure is not ordinary and it is a perfect example of a success story. He established devotional service with untiring chanting twenty-four hours a day.”
Thakurani Mataji said, “I arrived in Vrindavan fifteen years ago. One day I was cleaning the temple and moved the furniture. Kirtan was on then. Suddenly, a man thundered at me and said, “I am a singer you know, I cannot tolerate this noise.” Gradually, I was attracted to Aindra Prabhu’s exceptional style of tireless kirtans and he always advised us to perform the chants and engage in devotional service. Even great devotees had to undergo extreme sufferings like Haridasa Thakura and the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Aindra Prabhu’s departure was the plan of the Super Personality of Godhead, Radhkrishna. His loss is painful to all of us, but he set a perfect example for many to emulate.”
HH Vir Krishna Goswami said, “Once on Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance day, I heard Aindra Prabhu speak of his Guru Maharaj, and it was exceptional. He said, “I joined to chant Hare Krishna Mahamantra, Prabhupada told me. Harinam, Harinam and kirtanas and there is no other way.” In retrospect, I told him, “There is some other way.” Aindra Prabhu said, “There is no other way, rascal.” Aindra Prabhu continued, “Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s drive to spread Krishna consciousness made me here. People practiced yoga (meditation) in sattya-yuga, they executed homas (sacrifices) in treta-yuga, performed temple worship in dvapara-yuga, and sankirtana is the only way to succeed in kali-yuga. Krishna is the essence of all means of worship.” Aindraprabhu’s dedication was so exemplary, I can’t find anyone who can set such an example. He taught us to appreciate each other. We should serve the Vaishnavas. We shall stress to render service to Aindra Prabhu to chant and dance, and it is the frontal priority to engage in the twenty-four hour Harinam Sankirtana.”
Daivi Shakti Mataji said, “Aindra Prabhu’s departure shocked me. He was a great inspiration to me and many others. His kirtanas were absorbing and perhaps hard to imitate. Radhakrishna took him away eternally. All of us feel the loss and I miss him so much. Like Aindra, we should also engage in kirtanas and reading Vaishnava literatures to receive the opportunity to engage in eternally serving Radha-Shyamsunder.”
HG Bhuvanesvar Prabhu said, “Aindra Prabhu and I have arrived in Vrindavan to live in Vraja Dhama. He had exceptional strength and capability to be busy in Harinama sankirtana for twenty-four hours a day and he inspired many people including myself. He was planning to board a bus to sing kirtans. He followed the round the clock kirtanas as Prabhupada instructed him. He made it not 100 percent, but 200 percent. He can just make it go, go and go in the Brahmacari Ashram. He was perfectly dedicated to Srila Prabhupada until he fulfilled Prabhupada’s mission. His loss shocked me and many of us, but his perfect departure from here and return to Godhead is again a great example.”
Manjari Mataji said, “Aindra Prabhu’s departure is shocking to all of us and especially to me because I regarded him as a great example to follow. Once he said, “Eternal associates with Krishna are joyful like the Gopis.” He was a staunch brahmacari. Once I asked, “What is the mood of Prabhupada?” Aindra Prabhu said, “I have no experience. We understand the eternal mood of Caitanya Mahaprabhu from Caitanya Caritamrta. It may be Prabhupada’s mood as well.” He wanted us to understand that Prabhupada came to give us Krishna. I believe chanting is the eternal mood of Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Prabhupada returned distributing parama bhakti towards Radhakrishna. He wanted us to learn Gaura Nitai’s life and become a Gaura-bhakt and perform His wishes.”
Devkinandan Prabhu said, “We are sad about Aindraprabhu’s sudden departure
to Godhead. He always said, “Chanting of Harinam or sankirtana is the mission
of life.” He simply carried out the instruction of Srila Prabhupada to
maximum perfection possible for a person. When it came out from Prabhupada
and Aindra Prabhu, it was blissful and awakening. I saw people dancing
in ecstasy while Aindra Prabhu chanted amazingly. People never missed his
kirtans because it was full of loving bhakti. Aindra Prabhu had great enthusiasm
about kirtan and serving devotees. He was a picture of perfection to many
devotees. He visited us and showered his blessings and gave nectarine lectures,
and I cannot forget the blissful experiences with him. He perfectly followed
the six principles of devotional services. With least preparation, he gave
hours and hours of lectures. He explained the philosophy in a simple way
easy to understand and he had profound knowledge of the Vedic scriptures.
His material body transformed into a spiritual body and now serving eternally
in Vrindavan Dham. His feelings are always with us and he taught us to
recite Harinama offenselessly. He showed perfect love and simplicity free
from anger. Following him, we can develop perfect bhakti and reach Goloka
and meet him.”
Srimati Mataji said, “It was shocking to all of us the great departure of Aindra Prabhu. Yuga-dharma is aware to all devotees. Aindra Prabhu understood it and followed it perfectly. He continued his morning kirtans for four and half hours tirelessly. I felt his presence strongly and wondered how it was possible! I regret his absence very very deep. His chants, sankirtana and the Vaishnava style of living were pouring influences to many devotees. His enthusiasm was extremely rare. Such a devotee is special discussing hours and hours glorifying God and we all wish to serve as he taught. His loss is a great miss and may his soul rest in peace with Radhakrishna.”
Matsya Prabhu said, “Aindra Prabhu’s sudden departure is a great loss to us. He taught us to remember him always. Although he was exceptional in bhakti and sankirtana, he didn’t give me a way to do it. He taught us how to approach the Lord and take up devotional service. His personality is revealed in his book (the book is still under print and not yet published). He served in Vrindavan and Mayapur and learned perfectly how to approach Radhakrishna. His explanations are great giving minute details. Let his soul rest in Goloka enjoying the wonderful pastimes of Radhakrishna.”
HG Premkishore Kishore Prabhu said, “The loss of Aindra Prabhu is hard to believe for all of us and especially to me. He talked about very high things. He taught us how to head to deal with spiritual devotion. It is difficult to be Krishna conscious. Day in and out, he encouraged devotees in perfect devotional life and recite the Harinam sankirtana. He taught us how to chant the Hare Krishna Mahamatra tirelessly. With his message, we should take up to perfect bhakti. He minutely showed an example what it takes to surrender. At the moment of death how to remember Krishna, and Aindra Prabhu was perfect in it. He was very simple and followed his Guru perfectly. He has reached the eternal abode of Radhakrishna and enjoying their nityalilas.
Radha Sundari Mataji said, “Aindra Prabhu arrived to Vrindavan to keep alive the twenty-four hour kirtana. Anyone met, he called, “come and come for kirtans.” He was always a special master to many young devotees. He often said, “You cannot go away. Come and enjoy the glories of Vrindavan.” When I asked what simplicity means, he said, “Simplicity means what Krishna tells from the heart.” When sought about how to approach the Lord, he said, “You have to first get Gaura Nitai’s mercy.” Once he said, “You know the way I want to die?” I meddled, “Why talk about it now, a long way ahead.” Aindra Prabhu said, “I want to be alone at the lotus feet of Gaura Nitai.” Aindra Prabhu was special to all, but I felt he was very special to me. His loss is a shock to me, an irreparable loss. May his soul rest in peace in Goloka Vrindavan.”
Mahamantra Prabhu said, “Aindra Prabhu did excellent kirtans and he always reached Vrindavan at around 6.00 PM. and I always attended his kirtanas from behind close to him. He joined ISKCON in 1973 from Washington D.C. He reached Vrindavan in 1986. There are so many fans of Aindra Prabhu. He attracted very much love from people and he had sub-connection with Prabhupada. Once I enquired, “Did Prabhupada give you sannyasa?” He said, “Prabhupada gave me sannyasa.” I said, “Prabhupada noted you devotees who can chant well.” Whenever he chanted, all those listened to him were drawn to the ocean of bliss. His loss is hard to believe. May his soul rest in peace and enjoy the blissful pastimes of Gaura-Nitai and Radhakrishna in Goloka Vrindavan.”
Mahadevi Mataji said, “It was with great regret that I learned Aindra Prabhu’s sudden departure. He was a man of extremely special behaviour and he loved everyone and all who met him too loved him. He was an inspiration to many and especially I earned formidably from him how to chant and how to surrender to Krishna. I was encouraged by Aindra Prabhu’s influence. He had such a fine nature and RadhaShyam decided to take him back. I miss his association deeply. May his soul rest in peace with the blessings of Radhakrishna and Gaura Nitai.”
Giridhari Prabhu said, “The disappearance of Aindraprabhu was hard to believe. Once I asked him, “Please tell me the best way how can get bhakti?” Aindra Prabhu said, “Eat prasadam and always chant, Hare Krishna Mahamantra.” Once he said, “I’m surrendered to Radharani.” He actually was perfectly surrendered to Radharani.” Day by day dandavat is a perfect way of surrendering to Gaura-Nitai and Radhakrishna. His supplication to Gaura-Nitai at the last moment was his test of success. His return was properly arranged. Even if he is away, his presence is always in Vrindavan. Let him enjoy the nitya-lilas of Radhakrishna at Goloka Vrindavan.”
Preetidasi Mataji said, “Aindra Prabhu influenced me very much and his return is hard to believe. His association always gave me so much confidence and it is hard to explain. He left all of us and all the salagramas he made, and it is hard for me to forget him. He was so much to me and his presence and directions gave me so much inspiration. Whenever I asked, how can I receive perfect devotion, he always answered, “chanting and self surrender are the best. I gave everything in my book.” Let him rest at peace and let him be one of the eternal servants of Radha-Shyamsunder.”
Mukunda Dutta Prahhu said, “Aindra Prabhu’s departure was a great loss to all devotees. I couldn’t believe his return to Godhead. He often came for mangalarti and continued his kirtan. He usually arrived between 6.00 and 6.30 in the evening and performed kirtan. It was always practical in his approach. Once he said, “I always feel the presence of my Guru Maharaj. One can receive perfect bhakti by worshipping the devotees, listening to the Bhagavat-katha, chanting, and understanding the message of Bhagavatam.” I have great respect for his pastimes especially japa. In New York, he moved in a truck and it was like a small temple and he chanted the holy name of Lord and enlightened all he met. His kirtans in New York were interesting and I also attended. His Bhagavad katha inspired me and many. He loved sweets very much. He observed catur-masya-vrata. Aindra Prabhu was one of my Shiksha-gurus. He was exceptional. He was soft like a rose, but heavy like a rock. He had high relationship with his Guru and shisyatvam is the blessing to seek Radhakrishna. I am inspired by his mercy. How to serve and perfect my duties, I learned from Aindra Prabhu. He had high respect for service. He set an example of a sannyasi and a perfect example of following the guru-parampara. He is still with us here, although he moved to Goloka forever.”
Bhagavad Puran Prabhu said, “The loss of Aindra Prabhu is irreparable
and his presence was a thrill to all who met him, and I derived great pleasure
from his association. Many people and I have been inspired by his Harinam-sankirtan.
His kirtans attracted many wherever he went. Let his soul rest in peace
and let him serve Radha-Shyamsunder in Goloka Vrindavan forever.”
HH Lokanath Swami said, (Pancagauda Prabhu read out the message ), “I was shocked and shattered by the sudden departure of Aindra Prabhu. Hearing this news, I took shelter of kirtans. He excelled in his kirtan and bhajan. He distributed the blessing of Prabhupada in New York for eight years. Then he moved to perform kirtan in the Krishna Balaram temple at Vrindavan. Once when Prabhupada arrived, he asked him, “What are you doing?” I am doing Harinam-kirtan and book distribution.” The best of gosti anandi is the best of bhajan-anandi. He had a unique style of performing kirtans. Aindra and kirtan have become household words. We shared platforms together in Vrindavan and Mayapur. He inspired me and he was one of my spiritual hearers. Hopefully I join you wherever you are.”
HG Pancagauda Prabhu concluded the gathering and said about Aindra Prabhu, “His is a great loss to all of us. He was unique in kirtans and well supportive. Let him be at peace with Radha-Govinda and enjoy their glorious nitya-lilas forever.”
At 1.30 PM, bhogas and puspanjali were held. At 2.00 PM, a sumptuous feast was held in memory of Aindra Prabhu and prasadam was distributed too those gathered.
Again the devotees of Vrindavan convened at the Krishna-Balaram temple at 7.30 PM and many devotees spoke their cherishing memories about Aindra Prabhu. The assembly continued up till 11.30 PM. Many were in tears when they spoke of their lost friend, inspirer, leader, master, and guru. Even though Aindra Prabhu was a loss to the Bhuloka-Vrindavan, he will be a great gain to the Goloka Vrindavan and we cherish your glories in the depth of our hearts. Aindra Prabhu left us drinking the nectarine anitya-lilas in this mortal world, but he will be enjoying the nitya-lilas forever with Radha-Shyamsunder. Let Aindra Prabhu ever live in the memories of the devotees of Vrindavan and the Vrajavasis. Let Aindra Prabhu’s inspiration spread far and wide all over the globe through the recorded CDs of his masterpiece and his book expected to be published soon.
By the members of the GBC Executive Committee
Dear Maharajas and Prabhus,
Please accept our humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
It is with deeply sad hearts that we have come to know about the sudden passing of His Grace Aindra Prabhu.
There is possibly no devotee in the entire world of ISKCON who has not heard one of Aindra Prabhu’s kirtans, either live or from a recording, and has been left wondering whether this celestial singing was coming from this earth or from another world.
Even before going to live in Vrndavan, Aindra Prabhu’s dedication to propagating the Holy Name inspired many, many souls. Throughout his years of dedication to the 24 Hour Kirtan program in Vrndavan, his singular focus on glorifying the Mahamantra has drawn untold numbers of souls closer to the realm of devotional service by giving them a taste of Nama Prabhu. Aindra Prabhu’s vision and his unwavering determination in maintaining the 24 Hour Kirtan in Vrndavana has been a vivid example for every member of the Gaudiya Sampradaya. He is such an inspiration for us all.
For this service he has rendered to Srila Prabhupada and his ISKCON we are all deeply indebted to him.
Those who knew Aindra Prabhu well know that he had a fiery side to him as well. While there might have been differences from time to time regarding some philosophical or organizational points of view between what Aindra Prabhu and what others viewed as Srila Prabhupada’s presentation over the years, all of those concerns and exchanges fade far into the distance as we remember the overwhelming ecstatic waves of kirtan that filled the Krsna-Balarama Mandir and our hearts - the manifestation of which was certainly the fulfillment of a primary desire of His Divine Grace.
Thank you Aindra prabhu for your wonderful gifts of service to our Founder-Acarya Srila Prabhupada and to his entire society of devotees.
We fervently pray to Srila Prabhupada to take you back home, and that one day we may be together again, hearing your heartfelt kirtans in your personal association.