Today, Wednesday 15 August, I heard the news that my godbrother and friend Vrsa dasa had passed away here in Perth, Australia on Monday 6th Aug. at 8.30am. His private funeral was held last Friday.
I grew up “in Krishna Consciousnesss”, as we devotees say, with Vrsa. We cooked together, performed temple worship together, visited India together, got hepatitis together, learned Sanskrit verses together, before our paths separated in the eighties.
We met up again at the Prabhupada Disciple Reunion that I organised in Melbourne, 1992. Vrsa is pictured, above, second from the right, top row.
We drifted apart, then our lives overlapped again after I moved to Perth in 1999. By then Vrsa was immersed in his studies and I saw him two or three times a year, at festivals like Perth Rathayatra and big temple feasts.
Even in the midst of much ill-health in the last few years, Vrsa never lost his keen and slightly off-beat, cynical sense of humour.
A few months ago, before the effects of his bone marrow cancer became pernicious, Vrsa prabhu wrote his own memoriam, his life story in a nutshell if you wish, starting, significantly, with his meeting the devotees and then Srila Prabhupada. Allow me to share it with you.
Vrsa dasa, (Dr Wayne G. Moredoundt PhD, Curtin)
“I joined the movement full-time in Melbourne, just before the first Australian Rathayatra, in Winter 1972, having travelled (hitch-hiked) from Perth with three friends. They also moved into the ashram, later taking the initiated names of Ganesa das, Atri dasi and Stradisha dasi. We four had been sharing a house at a Perth beachside location and, for some months, had been following the ‘regulative principles’ and chanting 16 rounds of japa a day.
I had been aware of Iskcon for a few years before this time, and had chanted the Mahmantra sporadically (under the influence of the Beat poet, Alan Ginsberg) from around 1966-67. Seeing the devotees on the streets of Sydney, and attending my first Sunday feast, in September 1970, had provided further inspiration.
I was initiated by Srila Prabhupada at the beginning of 1973, as one of a large group of new bhaktas, in a ceremony in the backyard of the old Sydney (Hereford Street, Glebe) temple. Others initiated at the time included: Ganesa and Sukla (initiated a few days earlier, in Melbourne) plus Balarama, Gaura Mandala Bhumi, Parambrahma, Somendranath (2nd), Stradisha, Atri, Gopikanta, Ramaprasad, Rukmavati, Gopal, Kamarupa, and others, whose names I cannot remember now.
I served in Sydney 1973-75 (Double Bay, Bellevue Hill, Drummoyne, Alexandria), then in Melbourne (Burnett Street, St Kilda), where I helped renovate the (then newly purchased) Danks Street property. From 1977, I was at the Sydney temple (Buckingham Street, Surrey Hills); in 1978, I relocated to the newly-purchased Colo River farm (Bhaktivedanta Ashram); in 1984, I lived a few months at ISKCON Auckland; then to New Govardhana (late 1984), where I became headmaster of the gurukula; and returned to Sydney at the end of 1988.”
(Vrsa is pictured above being interviewed by Bruce Redman from Channel 9 on the set of ‘The Krishna Kids’, New Govardhana Farm)
“In 1989, I studied law; in 1990, philosophy; both courses taught through the University of Sydney. In 1991, I commenced a B.A. at the University of Sydney, with a double major in History and Religious Studies. Graduated with First Class Honours in 1994, then moved to Perth at the end of that year. In 1995, I completed a one-year postgraduate course in Public History at Murdoch University.
In 1996, I was granted a Commonwealth Postgraduate Award and commenced a PhD at Curtin University, through the South Asia Research Unit there. During the next few years, I also tutored in History and Politics at Curtin, while researching and writing my dissertation. In 2003, I submitted my thesis for examination, and was awarded my doctorate sometime after this.”
Vrsa is survived in Perth by his wife, his 14-year old son and 19-year old daughter, his 25-year old son and 28-year old daughter, his mother and father, his younger sister, and his eldest daughter, who gave birth to a son 5 hours before Vrsa’s death.
He will be sorely missed.
Posted by Kurma on 15/8/07; 9:29:37 PM