The Grihastha Vision Team was founded in 2002 under the inspiration of Her Grace Krsnanandini devi dasi. It is with a heavy heart that we remember her passing, November 13th, 2020. Just to think of her, makes one feel ‘blessed by the best’ as she would often quote.
The GVT was developed with her vision of helping to support marriage and family to fulfill Srila Prabhupada’s dream of loving, happy communities. She would finish every correspondence with, “All glories to Srila Prabhupada, who built a house the whole world could live in.” I often think she gave birth, not only to 10 children, but to a family the whole of ISKCON wanted to live in
She became a remarkably close friend, but more importantly, a mentor to me. She had the grace of being able to be right there with you, even in an email. No one sentence, abbreviated replies- always taking the time to acknowledge the grace of guru and Srimati Radharani and to glorify and thank the recipient in some way.
Having experienced racism in her early years of Vaisnavism, she took the experience as an opportunity for growth. She saw that discrimination as a catalyst that opened the door to her meeting and becoming initiated by Srila Prabhupada. Her faith in his mercy and love constantly shone forth and expanded as inspirational guidance for others, regardless of race, religion, or gender.
Krsnanandini was a broadminded soul, which was expanded by the appreciation of her husband.
She married Tariq Ziyad, seeing he was a spiritual aspirant and a good role model for her children. She thought that he was a good person who could easily appreciate Vaisnavism. He did become a lover of Krsna and appreciative of the Srimad Bhagavatam and Bhagavad Gita and the principles of devotion. Inspired by her devotion, he became an even better servant of Allah. They inspired each other and together they served in each other’s spiritual communities. Tariq knows Bhagavad Gita well and many of his Muslim friends have read the whole Srimad Bhagavatam, recognizing Srila Prabhupada as a great saint, by the influence of Krsnanandini. She could touch the hearts of everyone with her personal attention and inclusivity.
She also spearheaded a Lord Have Mercy Festival in Cleveland for many years, inviting all faith denominations to join. Everything she did had the aim of connecting souls to each other and to God. This is not just a cliché; it was her modus operandi.
As Tamohara Prabhu shared, “Krsnanandini devi dasi was a very rare and exceptional devotee who touched and affected everyone she met. My wife and I were among some of the first members of the Grihastha Vision Team, but everyone knew that the life and soul of the group was Krsnanandini prabhu. She worked tirelessly for years to promote the devotee values she believed in, including healthy grihastha marriages and families, good communication skills, and above all, loving devotee relationships.
“I have no idea how many devotees she counseled, mentored, and helped, but it is a great number. She was one of those people with a “good heart,” one that was filled with love. I never heard her say an unkind word. She always encouraged and supported others.
“Her love for Srila Prabhupada was part of her being. She was someone who made you feel and love Prabhupada and Krsna more, by her association. She was so down to earth that for some reason it surprised me the first time I heard her give SB class. The class was which was filled with deep realization and philosophical understanding. While kind and caring, she was not “sentimental” and knew KC philosophy thoroughly; it was her inspiration with which to help and serve devotees, and to make ISKCON a better movement.”
Krsnanandini was a woman with a vision, and she had the experience and training to carry it out. It was amazing how quickly our team came together- we developed our courses in the first year and …… well, our book did take quite a few years of collaboration, having so many co-authors. But Krsnanandini was so proud of it. And each time a new translation came out, she was elated. I just sent her the latest translation of Heart and Soul Connection, A Devotional Guide to Marriage, Service and Love in Chinese a month before she passed. While in Vrndavan in her last year, she had further inspired some devotees to complete the task.
She had a B.S. Ed which she utilized to formulate couples’ courses and to homeschool her children and sometimes their friends also. As Certified Family Life Educators also, she and Tariq offered many programs for youth and couples in the Cleveland area. She was instrumental in developing the GVT’s premarital mentoring program, From Couple to Couple. Using her curriculum, we train couples, happily married for 7 or more years, how to share their success with engaged and newly married couples, providing them with skills, hope and resources for a healthy marriage.
Arcana siddhi devi, “Krsnanandini and I connected 18 years ago when she asked me and my husband to join her in the creation of the Grihastha Vision Team. We shared a vision to bring healthy paradigms into the ashram and to give couples relationship skills and tools to make it for the long haul.
“Her passion for this service came from a dream of Srila Prabhupada, her mentor Bhakti Tirtha Maharaja and her life experience of raising a large family in ISKCON. What attracted me most to taking up the service was who she was a person. She was a serious practitioner of bhakti, a broad-minded thoughtful visionary, a friendly warm-hearted person who made everyone she connected with feel special and loved.”
Sometimes we would discuss couples heading for divorce, and she always had hope that there was a way for them to redevelop their love and connection with each other. She never gave up on anyone. Her heart was so huge that she had love for everybody and that made deep impressions on others. Krsnanandini was loved for who she was, and she encouraged us to see everyone else with that same quality of love.
Jagannatha Pandit and Cintamani share, “Most importantly, we are grateful for WHO YOU ARE because what you do naturally flows from who you authentically are. Under your loving leadership and steadfast example, the GVT is such a source of love, team ship, friendship, enrichment, guidance, fun, and loving exchanges. We appreciate your gifts of cooperation, grace and heartfelt love for everyone. Your prayerful devotion and conviction are such an inspiration to me. We know that you will continue to be with us. Just as the mother and child are one and eternally connected, the GVT is your birth child and will always carry its mother in her heart. Whoever sees the child, sees the mother. May you always shower blessings, empowerment and inspiration upon us from within our hearts to carry on your legacy.”
Krsnanandini was always scouting out possible new team members to be able to help more devotees around the world. Vrajalila and Ekavira share, “We both still remember your kind words when you invited and welcomed us to be members of your Grihastha Vision Team. You said, “We want Grihasthas who are committed to being examples for Srila Prabhupada, we want to have an ISKCON where people around the world can see that ISKCON as an organization, has happy families.”
I remember sitting with her at our booth at a festival in Mayapura in early 2018. She said she had something she wanted to share with me. My first dreaded thought was, “Oh no, not cancer!” Yes, and an exceedingly rare form of a quick spreading variety that doctors know little about. The medical advice was to have the infected organ removed with the hope of prolonging her life. She agreed, at the urging of her children, but not before a quick trip to the holy dhama to get blessings. She understood that everything was under the control of the Lord, and that His blessings were essential, no matter what the outcome of the disease. The operation was successful for awhile, but sometime later, the cancer chose another place in her body to take root.
Karnamrita shares, “When I was doing my intense Ayurvedic treatment in Vrindavan in late 2019 she also came there to do the same treatment. It was an exceedingly difficult and challenging regiment, and in the beginning my steadfastness in doing it helped her persevere. I was amazed that in the midst of this challenging treatment, she still managed to serve the devotee and had frequent Srimad Bhagavatam classes in her apartment and also gave ones at the temple, plus speaking to different groups of devotees—something I never did. Although, once we spoke together at the Russian house on grihastha life.
“I got to interact with her frequently as we were neighbors and she shared her struggles to persevere, and yet she was always a loving, encouraging and kind friend to me. I pray to imbibe even a fraction of her spirit. She kept a positive attitude throughout her treatment. Being separated from her family and the restrictions of not being able to interact with others as much as she would like was exceedingly difficult for her. Eventually her increased pain level caused her to stop treatment and return to the USA.”
She had great faith that Krsna would guide and inspire her. I asked her how she knew it was time to stop her Ayurvedic treatment. She told me that when she noted added complications in her health, she went before Lord Balarama and prayed for guidance what to do. As she turned away, she heard the Lord, loud and clear in her heart. “Take pain medication, you should not suffer so much, and return home to your family.”
After returning home, the doctors could not offer her any effective treatment, and she was put on hospice care. Krsna was kind to arrange a situation outside of the hospital, at home, surrounded by loving family.
She was not one to be easily deterred from sharing the nectar of devotion. Despite considerable levels of pain, she would vigorously share her realizations on many of the active video conferencing platforms that had sprung up during the Covid-19 pandemic. As always, she was such a dynamic presenter. It was a pleasure when we could co-host programs; she was so easy and inspiring to work with.
While planning one such program in October, she told me she had been thinking of the next steps for the GVT, and she would endeavor to write them down. I really wanted to hear them, so I kept prodding for an opportunity for her to share them with all of us.
Arcanasiddhi shares,“In her last week, we had a Zoom meeting with Krsnanandini and her daughter, Ganga, read us a letter with Krsnanandini’s wishes on how the GVT should go forward. She wasn’t strong enough to speak but was determined to share her vision.”
Vrajalila and Ekavira: “Thank you, Krsnanandini prabhu, for showing us by your example, how to be compassionate, appreciative and most importantly how to keep Guru and Lord Krsna in the center of our Grihastha relationships. You have disappeared from our vision; however, you will always be remembered for your devotion and dedication to follow Srila Prabhupada’s instruction.”
My husband, Partha, summarized, “Krsnanandini is rare soul who touched the hearts of all she met, who brought out the best in everyone, who made all feel comfortable in her presence, who gave love, care, humor, and compassion and who created hope, vision, and tears of joy. Her love will never be forgotten.”
Her physical presence will be greatly missed, but her legacy will live on for many years to come.
With great love and gratitude,
Your servants, Uttama dasi
And all the other members of the GVT