Mukunda Das Begins Service as New ECO-Vrindaban Co-Manager


By Madhava Smullen

Mukunda Das — ECO-V’s brand new co-manager along with Ranaka Das — moved to New Vrindaban on May 17th from Alachua, Florida with his wife Bhakti-lata Dasi, and has enthusiastically started serving in the community.

Born Marc Gauthier in Montreal, Canada, he was always an outdoorsman and interested in the deeper questions in life. As a young man, he worked at seasonal jobs doing tree-planting and apple-picking in Western Canada. In his free time, he would hike the Canadian Rockies in Banff National Park and reflect on how to find an engagement that would truly bring him satisfaction.

Meanwhile he also practiced Hatha yoga and studied Eastern philosophy with the Theosophical Society, which led him to Sri Aurobindo’s Bhagavad-gita. Finding it hard to understand, he went to another Gita he had gotten in college — Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is.
“I still couldn’t understand, but the one thing that grabbed my mind like a catchy song was the name at the bottom of the cover,” he says. “I started reciting it constantly: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada; A.C. BhaktivedantaSwami Prabhupada.”

Soon after, in 1984 at the age of 22, he met an old friend who had joined the Hare Krishna movement, and told him that it answered all the questions they had been asking in college. Marc spent a few days in the temple, and after experiencing the peace it gave him, decided to move in.


First, though, he had to tell his girlfriend Bernadette, whom he had met a year and a half before and instantly clicked with. Bracing himself, he told her, “I’m going to live with the Krishnas.” Immediately, she responded, “Well, if it’s good enough for you, it’s good enough for me.”

The couple became Mukunda Das and Bhakti-lata Dasi. Over the next five years, she served as Lord Jagannath’s pujari, he cooked at Govinda’s restaurant, and they both collected funds for the Montreal temple, among other services.

In 1989, they moved to a devotee community in Mississippi, where Mukunda became a construction worker. From there, they moved to Prabhupada Village, North Carolina, and in 2001 to Alachua, Florida, where they remained until moving to New Vrindaban this year.

While in North Carolina, Mukunda got his State Contractor’s license and started his own construction company. Working with a special energy efficient construction technique using insulated concrete forms, he has since built most of the houses in Prabhupada Village, constructed a secure vault to store all of Srila Prabhupada’s original manuscripts at the Bhaktivedanta Archives there, and built many residential homes and some commercial buildings.

Interestingly, in the late ‘90s he also helped construct the houses at Balabhadra Das’s cow protection program ISCOWP in New Vrindaban using the same technique.

Always looking for ways to broaden his skillset, discover his full potential, and help others, Mukunda also took many personal development, communication, and leadership courses over the years. He completed a certification in life coaching at the Coaches’ Training Institute (CTI) in San Rafael, California, one of the first and most prestigious life coaching schools in the U.S., and has coached several clients including devotees, PhDs, and a CEO.

“I followed that with the CTI’s ten-month intensive leadership training program, which was life-altering,” Mukunda says. “It gave me a lot of my perspective on the necessity for community development, and inspired me to try to realize Srila Prabhupada’s desire for self-sufficient communities, which I call devotional Eco-Villages.”

On this mission, Mukunda discovered the Fellowship for Intentional Communities ( and took several of their courses on community building and conflict resolution. He also took classes in natural building techniques such as cob, straw-bale, and traditional timber frame. And he visited several successful intentional communities including the Farm in Summertown, Tennessee and O.U.R. Eco-Village on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

“During my visits, I took the permaculture design certificate training, and had conversations with the communities’ founders to find out what worked, what didn’t work, what made them successful, and what the challenges were,” he says.

So when Mukunda learned that ECO-V was looking for a co-manager, it seemed like an opportunity he had to find out more about. After submitting a questionnaire to then chairman Navina-Shyam Das, he was invited to New Vrindaban to meet with the joint boards.

When the mutual decision was made for Mukunda to come on-board as ECO-V’s co-manager, he made arrangements and moved to New Vrindaban on May 17th this year.

His wife Bhakti-lata Dasi has moved with him. She runs the U.S. ISKCON Prison Ministry – which corresponds with inmates all over the U.S. and sends them Srila Prabhupada’s books — and will be relocating it to New Vrindaban.

The rest of Mukunda’s family is remaining in Gainesville, Florida. His youngest daughter, Ulupi, 21, is working in retail and is in the process of finding her career path. His older daughter Manjari, 27, works as a massage therapist and birth doula. His son-in-law Madhava – Manjari’s husband and your reporter on this story – also works for ISKCON New Vrindaban remotely as its communication department’s staff writer. And his grand-daughter and Manjari and Madhava’s daughter, Ambika, 11 months, mostly points at things and shouts, “Ga!”

Mukunda will start out at ECO-V by helping or overseeing a number of construction projects. These include completing the renovation of “the Green House,” now known as the “the Prabhupada House,” where he and his wife are living temporarily; coordinating with Vyasasana who is finishing renovations on the exterior of the Bahulaban ox barn; and renovating an office space for himself and his future team next to Ranaka’s office at the Valley Barn.

As co-manager, Mukunda is also assisting Ranaka Das in his service. “A large percentage of my service could be called Human Resources, or HR,” he says. “I’m assisting and communicating with the devotees engaged in various ECO-V services such as the ox training program and soon the cow protection program. I’m trying to hear their needs and ideas, come up with ways to make their service easier, and improve their overall service environment. And I’m interviewing applicants for ECO-V’s new organic garden and ox training manager positions.”

There are more long term projects too. ECO-V plans to cooperate with ISKCON New Vrindaban to build a Food Processing facility right next to the Garden of Seven Gates, which will ready produce for the Deity, devotee and restaurant kitchens, and dehydrate or freeze-dry excess produce so it doesn’t go to waste. Mukunda will also participate in the long term development of a devotional eco-village within New Vrindaban.

“Although I miss my family in Florida so much, I am thrilled to be in devotee association, using my full set of skills and then some, and being stretched into all the talents that Krishna seems to have given me over the years,” he says. “And I feel very, very grateful to ECO-V for that opportunity.”

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