Mother Kaulini Health Update

This evening I spoke with Mother Kaulini on the phone. She is in Upstate New York, staying in Saci Suta’s swami barn with Mother Swarga, who is looking after her.  As many know, Mother Kaulini was pretty incapacitated after cooking for the last Romapada Swami retreat. Attendance was around 30, so Mother Kaulini didn’t think it would be a problem taking on 3 meals a day for the weekend all by herself.  When I think of Mother Kaulini, I think of a gopi with an incredible capacity for service.  She is more than my role model, she is my istha-deva…in a complicated, motherly kind of way.  But still, her physical body is subject to the limitations of material energy and this exertion really pushed her to her limit.

After getting mis-diagnosed as having a Lyme’s disease relapse and also a diagnosis for arthritis, Mother Kaulini was put on pregnesone.  By the time Govardhana Puja rolled around, Mother Kaulini had moved into Mother Swarga and Mother Vegavati’s place since she was unable to care for herself. She could not walk and her eyesight was extremely blurry.  Saci-suta Prabhu attended the GN festival and took her back home with him so that she could get better medical care.
Two days after Govardhana Puja she couldn’t even lift her head.  Her eyesight was pretty non-existent. She was taken to the hospital and her blood sugar was at 1000.  My husband said that 400 is considered high.  She was admitted to the ICU and diagnosed as diabetic.
When Mother Kaulini was telling me this tonite she said, “If I had stayed at Gita Nagari I would have died.”  This really disturbed me since Mother Kaulini has dedicated her life to the farm, but I understood what she meant.   The facility just isn’t there. The doctors, shopping…everything is far and an endeavor to get to.  
In the ICU Mother Kaulini’s nurse was a man who had just recently attended Gaura Vani Prabhu’s kirtan and yoga retreat at Keli’s studio.  She felt really blessed by Krishna to have such a special nurse taking care of her.
The day after Mother Kaulini was released from the ICU (I assume she was in a step-down unit) she was in her hospital bed chanting like a madman.  An Indian bodied man came to take blood. Mother Kaulini was struck by his features; she said he was very beautiful, like the boys who do the lila performances in Braja.  She was furiously chanting and he started chanting, too.  Only he was singing–the standard Prabhupada tune–but with a different mantra. 
“Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Rama Rama Hare Hare.”
When Mother Kaulini heard this, she got very angry at him.  Anyone who knows Mother Kaulini knows that anger is not in her usual repertoire of emotions. But she started chastising him heavily, “No! That is not the mantra! You have to chant properly…like this!”  And she recited the maha-mantra to him.
But the sweetness of his voice, which also reminded her of the lila actors of  Vrindavan, soothed her anger and she said, “Okay, you can chant your mantra and I will chant my mantra. The maha-mantra.”  So like this he was taking her blood and back and forth they would take turns chanting.  This is the Mother Kaulini I know.  Strict with herself and lenient with others. The very definition of sadhu sanga: encouragement.
Now she is out of the hospital and staying at the swami barn. She is in awe of the facility, which is so nice compared to her humble room and decrepit bathroom back at the farm.  I am laughing to myself because I am remembering Kiriti’s words from a while back.  “She should be treated as good as a sannyasi.”  Well, my dear friend Kiriti, Krishna heard you!
Yesterday she and the devotees from Stuyvesant Falls had an intimate and sweet celebration of Srila Prabhupada’s Disappearance Day.  They chanted bhajans in the temple room and brought the Prabhupada Murti right up close to Mother Kaulini so that she could see him (her vision is still a little fuzzy).  Then they watched the Prabhupada movies that Vishaka Mataji and Yadubara Prabhu put out.  It was a lot of New Vrindavan footage and a lot of (fuzzy) familiar faces.    I asked if Mother Taruni was on there and she said no.  Then she told me that she just spoke with Mother Taruni and that Mother Taruni said that when she saw Mother Kaulini at Govardhana Puja she thought Krishna was going to take her soon.
This is the kind of stuff I am having a hard time, personally, hearing.  Mother Kaulini told me this, I think, to say that she is doing so much better now.  But it makes me feel awful for leaving Gita Nagari.  Just awful. And foolish.  And like a horrible person. Not like me being there would have prevented any of this. Not like my life was such towards the end that I had time for anything more than driving my kids back and forth to State College and cooking dinner, but still.  When I moved there I really wanted to do service with and for Mother Kaulini.  Sometimes the situation was frustrating, because she sees things completely from a spiritual perspective and I am a gross materialist in comparison.  But still, I was well situated in her association.  I was fortunate.
I told Mother Kaulini I will call her. Every day.  I realize, especially after Mother Taruni’s comment, how I need to take advantage of whatever association I can get from this advanced devotee who allows me to be her friend.  I wish there was some service I could offer her, but I am so far away and so engrossed in life with kids and husband and house and stray cats.  Like most things in life, this isn’t how I feel it should be.


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7 responses to “Mother Kaulini Health Update

  1. bcd.rns

    I was there when Mother Kaulini arrived Stuyvesant falls. She came out of the RV with Mother Svarga and Saci Suta Prabhu. I offered Pranams and said, Hare Krishna Mother Kaulini!" At that time she was right next to me. Shee look up at me and said,"I was looking for you. No on is around so I can hug you!" She then embraced me and I reciprocated very lovingly being very happy to see her and know she was in a safe place. The next day I was able to do a little service then I left without saying goodbye. The next day Mother Kelli Lalita called me and updated me with her health report and said that Mother Kaulini asked if I was still around. She liked the butter nut squash soup I had cooked and hoped I would still be staying so I could cook for her. When I heard that I immediately wanted to get on a plane and fly there to serve.

    Thank you for sharing your reflections. -bcd

  2. Devadeva Mirel

    thank you, bhaya!

  3. Shannon

    I say this with all respect for the devotees who paved the way for the international society that I sometimes take for granted. But this old school Hare Krishna mentality of ignoring the needs of your physical body for the sake of service has got to go! These vaisnavas are too precious to lose. Thank you for posting the update. I called Krsna Kumari as soon as I read it and she said Mother Kaulini is doing so much better today. I am planning to drive up there to visit her, bow down with straw between my teeth and beg her to be a little "selfish." Actually, I'm the selfish one, I'm not ready to lose her yet.

  4. Ananga-manjari

    i was in tears when i saw mother kaulini during govardhana puja. she spoke to me so tenderly. i love her so much.

    losing my gurudeva's physical presence in my life was so rough, adding another loss like that of mother kaulini would be devastating.

    our physical bodies are a gift from sri krsna. let us all take time to care for our spiritual and physical selves.

  5. Frontier Dreams (Nicole)

    deva deva!! can you please email me: i need to get in touch with you about mother kaulini ASAP! i miss you!!
    bhaktin nicole

  6. marcus

    If i could humbly add a few words in the spirit of Mother Kaulini.I just wanted to say that when I think of the term Mother used before devotees names,this term is very much realized when used for Mother Kaulini.In a very practical,loving kind of way.If i remember correctly the laundry room was across from Mother Kaulini`s room in the old GN temple building.The devotees used to approach Mother Kaulini for coins or tokens for the washer/dryer,and although this must have been annoying at times,it seems that Mother Kaulini saw this as a service,but in a very silent kind of energy that this part of the building is mine and its all under control.So, how amazing it was one time that i came back for my clothes and i noticed that they were neatly folded into 2 piles.Later, i found out that Mother Kaulini had done this,and of course i thanked her.But as I look back almost 10 yrs later, i realize that this was a perfect example of `serving thru example`.Of course i was.nt humbled or worthy of such service but due to a much higher understanding Mother Kaulini not only transcended any social status quo but performed a powerful act of devotion that i am still trying to understand.Although it is accepted that we perform service to our elders and those more senior,we sometimes forget that service coming the other way is needed and is so potent it has the ability to heal and nuture.when devotees serve others with a type of causeless service(mercy), i feel krsna blesses both the devotee who serves and also the receiptant of the service.and we should nt have to be on the receiving end of the service to understand this mercy, although i m sure we all have our individual experiences.Mother Kaulini once gave me a small mirror( not sure if it came from india)and although that mirror has taking some real punishment it has never broke.( i still have it,and now treat it as if it is maha,imagine,a maha-mirror)Likwise,devotees take a lot of punishment to their physical bodies and yet, they never break.We must look after our bodies especially if we have others who depend on us.And if we don`t,it is a individuals choice,but i dont believe the philosophy was meant to purposely put in harms way but rather to protect the body so that it can better serve the supreme,his associates,and his devotees.For all of those who are serving Mother Kaulini in her fragile state, may Krsna bless 1000 times over.thank you for letting me share these pastimes,although brief at the time,we full of potency that have stayed with me.

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