Friday, December 16, 2016

RE: Passing of Prahlad Nrsimgha (by Veda Guhya das)

The Passing of Prahlad Nrsimha dasa Prabhu


With the heaviest of hearts we will try to describe the events surrounding one of the greatest soldiers in Srila Prabhupada's transcendental army of book distributors; Prahlad Nrsimha dasa, aka Philip Vahovich.

We (myself) arrived at our Krishna-Balaram home / Temple on Tuesday morning (December 6) about 7:00 am. Prahlad was already there finishing some details for his state-of-the-art, Mercedes-Sprinter Sankirtan van. From March until June of this year Prahlad and Pujana Prabhus had built out perhaps the most efficient and practical van we have ever known. Capable of living off-the-grid and self-sustaining, less the diesel fuel to power from Sankirtan spot to Sankirtan spot. After raising the funds to completely pay off his loans and his book debt he was at our place for about a month for the finishing touches.

At about 8:30 we had the morning program with the grandkids who are taking over so nicely. Laxmi (9 ½ years) performed the aratik and blowing the conch shell so loudly smiled back at us for our approval. Shyam (12 years) led the kirtans playing the drum for the initial kirtan and harmonium for Nrsimha Prayers. Prahlad and myself remained in the back seeing how nicely the next generations were taking to the front lines.

We, Krishna Books Inc. (KBI) had a 25 carton order which needed to be delivered at another location. Prahlad suggested we take his van since there we had to also pick up another 40 cartons recently received. He was as gentle as ever driving and we had some very wonderful exchanges in the couple of hours we were together with him doing the bulk of the lifting and schlepping to accommodate my age.

The next day, Wednesday the 7th, we again had a nice program and later he said he was going to his Mother's house in Nevada City (about an hour drive north) to drop some things off. I phoned him about 4:00 pm to ask when he would return because I needed to clear the driveway of other cars so he could get down with the van into the garage. He said not for me to bother that he was parking the van in front of the house. I never realized that he had taken everything personal out of the garage and loaded into the van.

After Prahlad returned and parked out front he came in the house with some things he had purchased to help Vani (Shyam, Laxmi & Radharani's mother & our daughter) cure Tulasi Devi of spider mites. Vani and he talked and he was as calm as ever. Then, about 7:00 pm on his way out the front door he must have spoken to Radhrani (4 ½ years) as later she informed when asked that Prahlad told her he was never coming back and she understood that now he was dead.

About 8:30 pm Vani distraughtly said she just received an email from Chandranana devi dasi (Prahlad's fiancé) that sounded very much to be a suicide letter. I was vacuuming at the time and after a minute it all made sense to me because of parking the van outside, etc., etc.

Ron, my son-in-law, and myself donned rain gear as the rain had just begun about that time and immediately went down with flashlights to Folsom Lake which is a huge reservoir at the bottom of the hill in our sub-division. There are paths down to the lake which is lower now with about 100' of rocky shoreline to the waters edge. With flashlights and yelling 'Prahlad, Prahlad', we searched until about 10:00 pm while the rain kept falling.

Returning home Vani had called the Sheriff who was already at the house questioning us. At this point there was not enough information to begin a County authorized search. I then connected with Chandra who was presently in Southern Oregon visiting friends. I searched for ways for her to get down here as soon as possible and a flight the next day (the 8th) was the best choice. She finally got to Portland midday and then the Alaska Airlines flight to Sacramento was eventually cancelled due to inclement weather, etc. Another man who was also on that flight Chandra began talking with and he asked where she was going? 

She said; El Dorado Hills, to which he responded that he also was going there. Then he said where in El Dorado Hills, and she said, Guadalupe Drive to which he said, I live on Guadalupe Drive and I'm going to take you there! Chandra was reticent, but he insisted on buying her a ticket on Southwest Airlines and by about 11:30 pm they arrived in Sacramento. Now, Chandra's mother, Neva, was coming standby from Chicago and miraculously arrived about the same time so they could all drive the 45 miles from the Airport together.

Very late the first night I had called Pinkie, Prahlad's mother, who was now in a state of shock and extremely anxious to come and search herself. Since it was the middle of the night, rainy and cold, I strongly advised her to wait until the 8th morning, Thursday.

Sunrise is at about 7:15 which is when I again searched for another two hours (the morning of the 8th) walking maybe two miles along the shoreline and another two miles along the path which mirrors the shoreline. I also cut back and forth between the two looking and looking now in the daylight with nothing. After some other duties I again searched in the afternoon for another long time, again with no results.

By this time Pinkie was becoming more and more upset, understandably, and we were having to try to sort out everything with the Sheriff and Deputies.

On the 9th, Friday, Myself, Chandra, Neva and Ron (for 4 hours himself) again went searching extensively with nothing. Also, all this time there was rain and mist and for myself the searching was helping me assimilate what was becoming more and more evident. All the walking in the woods and along the shoreline was ultimately very purifying for me and gave some solace for what was to become inevitable.

The 10th, Gita Jayanti & Ekadasi, Pinkie had raised her own search team with many volunteers as the rain poured, which is not so normal for this area, they also could not locate Prahlad.

By Sunday the 11th, the weather cleared finally and the Sheriff had become convinced of the situation and authorized a professional search team. Also by now all others were strictly forbidden from searching or being involved in any way. Vani spoke with a deputy about the weather being a problem for the search dogs, but he responded the opposite was true. In that rainy weather it is easier for the dogs and as far as we understand they found his body fairly quickly. There were certain protocols to follow and everyone was notified several hours later that he had indeed, taken his own life, as they say. The Sheriff's case number was: 1610869…

We feel that the Higher Authorities hid his body from his dear loved ones while the constant rains continually purified everything. Once the weather cleared his body was found even though it was not in a very difficult area to find. It was definitely Yoga Maya influencing the search!

I personally have been directly involved in the distribution of Srila Prabhupada's books since joining in Atlanta in 1974. From my perspective Prahlad Nrsimha was and is one of the most determined and fired up book distributors to walk on this planet! At the Bonnaroo Festival in Tennessee in about 2010 he distributed over 1,200 hardback books in four days. 

This is a venue where you have to sneak in and his counterpart at the time, Ahaituki Bhakti devi dasi, could barely bring him the books fast enough. He distributed thousands and thousands of books to college students covertly mingling and avoiding being stopped from his service. Relentlessly he pushed on in spite of so many obstacles and discouraging influences. Aside from his own mental difficulties his body was cursed with so many maladies. He was allergic to sugar among other substances. He went to South India and South America stubbornly searching for cures to his ailments with little or no success.

Just the previous week he had a very serious inner ear problem and had a doctor go in his ear for 15 minutes digging around as he said. He said it was one of the most painful experiences in his life and that he was still afflicted and had another appointment soon to draw out some healing agent that was left in his ear. When Shyam, my grandson and I were discussing why he left, Shyam reminded me of the ear problem which he knew was causing Prahlad so much suffering.

Prahlad always distributed Srila Prabhupada's books on their own merit. He never approved of indirect methods of getting someone to purchase a book, but would ask them if they were going to read it, and if they didn't give a donation, then his inclination was to not let the book go. He passed out thousands of books free if the young recipients showed interest. He was an ardent reader of Srila Prabhupada's books and read all the books at least three times. When we were around him working on his van he always had a lecture or kirtan tape playing and would discuss the topics.

For the historians he joined in Hawaii in the 1990's and was infected with the drive to distribute books by the great Sankirtan acarya, Yogeschandra Prabhu, the visionary of the Radha-Damodhar party in the 1970's and the western European explosion in Bhagavan's zone in the 1980's. In about 2006 on The Mall in Washington D.C., he met Palaka Prabhu who had him phone Rupanuga Prabhu. Rupanuga explained the book changes issue in depth over a one hour phone conversation and Prahlad immediately understood the pitfalls of altering the original publications authorized directly by Srila Prabhupada. He instantly became the one-man army who built Krishna Books Inc which had just began printing in large quantities.

We worked in unison, Krishna Books Inc. printing and him distributing year after year which gave our fledgling organization the energy we needed to print millions of books.

There is no doubt that he had many mental troubles and could be very stubborn and outspoken about many issues facing our transcendental mission. However, we all owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude for his indefatigable determination to distribute Srila Prabhupada's books and give so many thousands of innocent seekers the opportunity of existence to come in contact with our Acarya Srila Prabhupada and his gift of Krishna consciousness!

Yours in Srila Prabhupada's eternal service….

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