The Passing of a Great Soul

by Advaitacarya
And of All Yogis

“The yogi who is progressive is therefore on the true path of eternal good fortune.” …..Purport: 18:47

My friend Mahayogi Dasa was a great yogi.

My friend Mahayogi Dasa was better than a great yogi.

My friend Mahayogi Dasa was a great devotee of Krishna.

Some devotees reading this already know who Mahayogi Dasa was.

Other readers do not.

Still other readers will finally get an opportunity to put a face on the person whom up till now might only have been a voice at the other end of a telephone call.

Or, numerous telephone calls.

Or, innumerable telephone calls.

Maybe you sat at a desk at the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, or at ISKON’s  archives, or at Blue Boy Herbs and you received the calls – often multiple calls a day.  Usually, he was asking for you to send him some of Prabhupada’s books that he could distribute on the streets. Or, maybe for a particular poster to hang in his room. Perhaps for an herbal remedy to help with his larynx. You may have begun to think to yourself that if he didn’t make so many calls maybe his larynx wouldn’t be strained, and he wouldn’t need the herbs. 

He was relentless. He would call you every day for a year only to disappear and reappear a year later when it would start all over again. If you took the call it would usually not last for more than a few minutes. If you didn’t take the calls they would still come one after another until they filled up your answering machine. If you worked in one of the above mentioned offices you might have someone sitting at a desk across from you. When the call would come  in you might have both looked at each other saying in unison,  “Mahayogi.” If you were in your home a neighbor from down the road might have been visiting you. You got the call. You would both look at each other, “Mahayogi.”

Mahayogi Dasa was not a big devotee. He was not a Guru. Not a member of ISKCON’s ruling body the GBC. He was never a temple president. In fact Mahayogi Das did not live in a temple or in the association of devotees since around 1972.

Mahayogi Dasa was not perfect, but he was perfectly honest about it. He would not always follow the regulative principles  (no meat eating, no gambling, no illicit sex, and no intoxication)– he smoked cigarettes. He did feel terrible about it and was always asking Krishna to help him stop and to give him the strength to serve Srila Prabhupada better.

Mahayogi Dasa was not perfect, but Mahayogi Dasa was a great devotee.
“Every living entity is part and parcel of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and thus every living entity is intended to serve the Supreme Lord by his own constitution. “ …..Purport: BG 18:47

I say this because for the remainder of the time in a day when Mahayogi Dasa was not smoking a cigarette he was incessantly talking about Krishna, thinking about Krishna, remembering his time in ISKCON, talking favorably about his godbrothers, talking about Srila Prabhupada, quoting verses from the scripture. He quoted as much scripture as anyone I know. Especially remarkable considering the fact that Mahayogi Dasa had cataracts and could not read the books.

Schizophrenia is an illness usually striking young men in their early twenties. In Mahayogi’s case he was struck soon after taking initiation from ISKCON’s founder Srila Prabhupada in 1971. As a result he has been in and out of institutions ever since. Mostly he was picked up off the streets by the police for overzealous preaching or chanting. For Mahayogi Dasa it was a struggle not to tell everyone he met about Krishna. Passersby walking down the street. The teller or the people on line in a bank. The nurses or the people in the waiting room at the doctor’s office. Anywhere, everywhere, anytime, all the time, tell someone about Krishna. Give them a book. Get them to take prasadam – sanctified food that has been offered first to Krishna.

Oh yeah, Mahayogi Dasa loved prasadam. He was as enthusiastic nearing age sixty about prasadam as he was as a new brahmacary in 1971. Any and all prasadam. In fact that was another reason you may have gotten calls from Mahayogi Dasa. “Gee whiz  prabhu,  I can’t eat anything cooked on these pots. All I get to eat is peanut butter sandwiches, do you think you could send me some prasadam? I can’t get purified if I don’t eat plenty of prasadam!”  

And, so some devotees sent the small packages. “Today I got some sweetballs from Mother Dhara in New Vrindaban!”  or “Today I got a package from the nice girl at Krishna Culture.”

Sometime ago Mahayogi Dasa was remembering his godbrother Puru Dasa from New York City who passed away in 2006. Over all the years Puru Dasa had shown kindness to Mahayogi maintaining contact with him and sending him Srila Prabhupada’s books to distribute and prasadam. Mahayogi Dasa turned to me and asked, “Prabhu, when I pass away will you send a nice picture of me to the devotee magazines and tell the devotees I passed?”

Advaitacharya das

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With a Heavy Heart
By Dharmatma das
We first met Mahayogi in the early 70’s at the Pittsburg Temple. He would come to the Sunday Feast and visit the Temple regularily. He was always jovial and loved Krishna Prasadam and doing some service for the devotees.

Many years later he came back into our lives as we know he did with many other devotees. We never saw him personally. Our link was through the telephone. It started so long ago that we just can’t remember when. For nearly 20 years Mahayogi was just always there. He brought joy, sadness and especially inspiration to our lives.

Despite all of the difficulties he experienced, the horrible institutions he spent most of his adult life in, his numerous medical challenges, and so on, first and foremost Mahayogi was a devotee, never forgetting Krishna.

His phone calls were relentless. When you answered he would always talk about Krishna and devotees. He would amaze us with his knowledge of scripture & verses. Yes, he would complain about the enviroment he was in but he never stopped preaching to his doctors, nurses and counsellors and anyone else who would listen. If you weren’t home he would leave long, long messages ladened with Krishna katha.

And yes, PRASADAM! His love for Prasadam was amazing. We sent him over 30 packages of Prasadam and books and I know he was getting equal amounts from so many other devotees. I think he played all of us telling each of us, “Prabhu, I haven’t had Prasadam for ever, can you send some?” He knew what he was doing. Ha! His determination to get Prasadam was amazing. It made us laugh and love him even more.

It was an emotional roller coaster being friends with him. One day he’d call and sing a song he made up about Krishna accompanied with his Harmonica. It made us feel joyful. Then he’d call and say he got arrested distributing books in Squirrel Hill and the police, who all knew the Yogi, picked him up and took him back to Western Psych where they put him on heavy medication. And for a while all we heard from him were almost incoherant ramblings, but always about Krishna. We’d then feel sadness.

So much can be said about Mahayogi. He was a sweet, gentle soul, who not being a big, so called important devotee, was, against all odds a lover of Srila Prabhupada and Lord Krishna and PRASADAM.
The question he asked so many times was: “Prabhu, please tell me how I can become a better devotee?” He was battling so many demons but this was his foremost thought.

The last call came on Christmas morning. He had received our package of Dvijapriya’s cookies and Kripasindu’s Samosas. He was happier than I’ve ever heard him, absolutely blissful. What he said was a Yogi classic.
“Prabhu, next time can you send NINE Samosas?” We had only sent three. I told him that I’d send him 900 and we laughed and laughed. Thank you Mahayogi for being in our lives. You definitely made them better and more Krishna Conscious.
There is an emptiness knowing we won’t hear your sweet voice again.

We would like to thank all of the devotees who took the time out of their busy lives to encourage Mahayogi over the years. I’m sure you all feel the same sadness on hearing of his passing.

A Special thanks to Advaitacarya prabhu for the wonderful photo of the Yogi. He loved you and appreciated all you did for him so much. Your taking him with you to NY was a highlight in his life.

We read this morning:

Now I am attracted to those instructions imparted
to me by the Personality of Godhead because they
are impregnated with instructions for relieving
the burning heart in all circumstances of time and
space. S.B. 1:15:27

Srila Prabhupada says in the purport:

“The Bhagavad Gita can be consulted in all critical times, not only for solace from all kinds of mental agonies, but also for the way out of great entanglements which may embarrass one in some critical hour.”

Your servants.
Dharmatma das
Dvijapriya dasi

Surprised, yet not so
by Devananda pandit das
When I heard the news of Mahayogi’s passing it was with mixed thoughts and feelings.” No I thought, not yet! I still have unfinished business with you. Did you get those harmonica recordings I sent you last week? i still haven’t sent you that package of burfi.What about our next visit?” Yet, the week before his passing, while listening to his strained voice , I distinctly remember thinking ” how long will he be around?”
“Yogi, you will be remembered, by those who had the good fortune of your association, in the words of Krishna to Arjuna: “There is no one more dear to Me than he who preaches this message to my devotees.””
Hare Krishna

I met the one and only Yog back in 1973 in the Forbes Ave. Pgh. Temple. He was a beloved member of our brahamacari crew for several years during which time we had the special duty of delivering and picking him up with some regularity from Western Psych. Hospital. It was a natural part of our service. “OK someone has to go get Yogi from the hospital,” or, “Yogi’s spun out again, someone gather up his stuff and make the run.” That was how we rolled with our bro. Then it was the ten hundred phone calls from the ward and the daily prasadam drops. All in a day’s work.

We loved Mahayogi. He constantly surprised us, made us laugh and reminded us of Krishna. He was a fountain of Krishna Katha, pretty much non stop whenever he was with us. And of course he led the way for all in the glories of honoring prasadam. He had a wonderful self deprecating sense of humor – he knew he had an uphill fight on his hands – but he was more often than not accepting of his disabilities and was often downright jolly in the face of them. I could tell some hilarious stories, but they probably should remain private. All I can say is that Yogi was uniquely adept at dovetailing his schizophrenia in Krishna Consciousness. Does anyone remember one of Yogi’s MPD alter egos named Mr. Green? He was also a devotee.

After I left Pgh. I lost touch with Mahayogi, but I was greatly heartened by hearing that Puru das had taken him under his wing and cared for him. They indeed had a special bond.

We often remarked that Mahayogi must certainly be a rare devotee just working out the very last vestiges of some unusual karma. Hearing now how he never wavered from the Yogi I knew, well it seems like a good bet that his dues are paid and he’s well on his way back to home back to Godhead. Jaya Mahayogi prabhu! Put in a good word for us and maybe make your own run to pick us back up from the mental ward of this material world.
Candrabhanu das