In Memory of Gopi Lila

(Ed. note: read Hari Bhakta’s (her husband) blog update here)

by Gokulataruni dd

Two days ago I woke up to a phone call telling me that Gopi Lila passed away. Though I knew that this was coming it still came as a surprise. She was someone that was dearly loved by the devotees in our community, and will be greatly missed.

Gopi Lila joined at the rainbow gathering in the early 90’s and spent well over a decade living in the New Vrindavan and Columbus temples. Her son, Gopala Bhatta, was born in the little green house next to Tapah Punja’s garden. For a while she lived with her husband and baby on the third floor of the temple building. I remember her walking around, gathering herbs with little Gopal toddling behind her. Her son had long hair at the time and she wrapped it into a top knot and put kajjal on him so that he would look like baby Krishna. Seeing them brightened everyone’s day.

The thing I remember about her the most is what an amazing mother and wife she was. When I was pregnant I spent a lot of time talking to her and getting tips on childbirth and caring for a baby. She was into a very natural way of life and had given birth to both of her children in houses, without the use of modern medicine. I enjoyed hearing her stories and I learned a lot from her about what it meant to be a mom.

She also helped me out quite a bit financially during that time. She passed on a ton of maternity clothes, nursing shirts and baby things that kept me going for quite awhile. My son is close in age to her daughter and whenever they would visit (since she lived in Columbus at that time) the two played together.

The last time I saw Gopi was right before she moved to China. Her husband, Hari Bhakta, had been hired to teach English as a second language over there. I remember thinking how brave she was to move with two little kids to a country where she had never visited and didn’t know the language. We sat around joking about some of the problems she would likely encounter. Though she had a few hesitancies, her adventurous spirit eventually took over and she moved overseas.

While she was in China we kept in touch and she wrote about the things she struggled with there, sometime amused by it, sometimes frustrated. After that she went to India to spend time with Hari Bhakta’s family. While she was there she started to write about different health problems and infections that she was getting.  She was soon diagnosed as having the advanced stages of cervical cancer.

After that her health rapidly declined. I was amazed though by how well her and her husband were handling it. I’m sure that they had their weak moments and breakdowns, but every time I spoke with them they were amazingly detached from the situation. Both of them seemed very clear and focused on the fact that she had spent all of her years as a devotee preparing for this. They both accepted that it was time for her to move on.

I spoke with her a few days before she passed away and I couldn’t believe how much things had changed since the last time we had spoken. She was on too much morphine to have a conversation and was moaning from the pain.

Though I will miss her I am glad that her passing was relatively quick and that she is no longer suffering. Her husband stayed home with her the last few months and did everything possible to take care of her and make her comfortable during her last days. The devotees from Boston also spent a lot of time with her and were there with her when she passed away. My sympathies go out to her family that has been left behind.

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I miss Gopi Lila a lot!she has so many wonderful vaisnava qualities. she lovingly took care of her children Vinda and Gopal, at the same time perform the duty according to Indian tradition as a good wife although she is a western lady. I know she has been too tired in serving, so Krsna has better arrangement for her. We cry for berefting of her loving association.We pray for her well-being in another world.