Jan
20

In loving, devotional memory…

By

 

Hari OM…Beloved friends and loved ones of Shyamdasji and bhaktas and kirtan lovers. Our priceless friend Shyamdasji left this world last night. He spent his remaining hours, as usual, in satsang and bliss with a group of dear friends. On this night in particular they were reading Shri Vallabhacarya’s teaching “Krsnashraya” and reflecting deeply on and repeating the refrain, “Krsna eva gatir mama…Krishna is my refuge and destination.” He has arrived at his final refuge and destination now.

 
Though nothing can replace this loss for us, he left us with so much, so many teachings, reflections, and memories, and most of all, the example to live a divinely inspired life, in constant search for bhava and in appreciation for one another. He loves us all very much and would love nothing more than for us to continue our own journey towards eternal bliss and appreciation for satsang and kirtan of all kinds.

 
To support one another as Shyamdasji’s loved ones grieving around the globe, please feel free to share any inspirations, memories, or special ways you are commemorating Shyamdasji’s ecstatic lifetime and his return to the divine abode, by posting comments here (To comment, click on the title above, “In loving devotional memory”

Jai Shri Krishna

Categories : Latest

Comments

  1. Mahesha Mrtyunjaya says:

    Thank you for your love and devotion.
    Radhe Radhe

  2. Joni Giconi says:

    Reflections following the puja for Shyamdas today at the Hindu Temple, Casselberry, Florida.

    I felt very blessed being in the company of so many individuals who have known Shyamdas for such a long time and who have heard his teachings over the years.

    I feel fortunate to have been in Shyamdas presence for the first, and little did we know, the last time at his Kirtan at Red Sun Yoga in Winter Springs, Florida on May 26, 2012.

    We had the opportunity to witness his beautiful smile, his pure eyes that were open to his soul, and his love that was as vast as the sky. The energy of his music and teachings still lingers as part of the continuum-beyond space and time.

  3. Annie Odette says:

    I was so saddened to learn of Shyamdas’s passing – for I’d only seen him once, but what a once. I was at the Omega Ecstatic Chant last September and oh the joy, the gift of love and devotion I felt from everyone and importantly Shyamdas.
    I watched as he wondered the grounds, talking to many folks, I too shy at that point to go up to him, but I will treasure the time I was in his presence. Also too, as I am 8 years older, his passing helped me again focus on living today fully, being totaling present to all that happens. Now of course I can’t do that too well, but I’ll be trying more in his memory.
    Namaste Shyamdas
    Annie O

  4. Amanda Feinstein says:

    The first time I met Shyamdas was at Yoga on Main in Philly about 5 years ago. I attended a workshop with him a few days before I was relocating to Atlanta. Chanting with him was like a ride on a roller coaster that went into the depths of my soul and then arose straight to the heart of heaven…over and over and over again. I was so moved by that experience that I asked him to please come to Atlanta once I was there. After a couple of years of emailing, he made it down here. My memories from the time we shared were so wonderfully sweet and moving, and some funny, so I will share a few memories.

    The first time I sang with him, before kirtan I said– ‘Shyamdas, I don’t think I know all of the words to all of the songs. Do you have a chant sheet or something?’ He looked at me right in the eyes and said ‘Don’t worry about the words, just stay in the Bhava. Just stay with me in Bhava, that’s all that matters.” I have thought about that statement so many times since then and shared it with many people too. Just staying in the Bhava. That is one of the things that Shyamdas gave to us. He was so deeply immersed in the Love of the Divine, that to sit and chant with him was to be granted the blessing of diving into his thick saturation of that Love. He allowed and invited us to go with him as he called to the Divine.

    Another one of his sweetest gifts that I appreciate was a workshop he led on the Hanuman Chalisa. Before he came to Atlanta, we discussed the program for the weekend and I practically begged him to lead a Hanuman Chalisa workshop. He agreed and didn’t say anything else at that point. When he arrived and we prepared for that part of the weekend, I was so excited to have this amazing chant master sing the Chalisa and explain it’s meaning and history. I went to take my seat in the audience to soak it all in and he said something like “oh no [as in, don't get off this stage], you are singing with me. if i’m doing a Hanuman Chalisa workshop you are going to sing the Chalisa with me.” he later told me that he doesn’t normally do this type of workshop and that he just did it because i asked him to. Another example of Shyamdas bringing us to our Beloved in any way that he could assist.

    I will miss his songs, his yearning for the Beloved through his voice. I will miss the way his body swayed while he sang. I will miss his walk. I miss him wishing me good luck with school but never failing to follow that sentiment with “but remember to stay in the Bhava.” I will miss his story-telling and his meals. His ability to tell it like it is. His enthusiasm for Divine Love, and ushering the longing for Love out of those singing with him.

    Shyamdas, you are a great blessing to us all. You are still here and we will continue to sing with you and to you.

    May all of our songs be sweeter from drinking in the Divine well of Bhakti that you shared with us.

    Jai Shri Krishna
    All Love,
    Amanda

  5. rupa raghunath das says:

    For anyone who is at present in Vrindavan, tomorrow January 31st we will have a nice feast in loving memory of our dear friend Shyam das, the feast is sponsored by “Equal Vision Records” Please Join us.

    12:30 at Sandipani Muni School, Chaitanya Vihar, Vrindavan. feel free to bring friends.
    yours rupa

  6. Divya Sernaker says:

    What a happy day it was, going to spend an evening with Shyamdas–supreme satsang, just being in his presence and experiencing his words and kirtan. He brought such joy and spontaneity and a deep desire to share the knowledge. He said that “bhav” would became a household word over here.

    He brought India to us in heart and spirit. he brought Sadhu Maharaj, Milan Baba, and others and sat at their feet with us, asking questions about how we could be better devotees. He was the captain of the bhajan boat.
    He said, “it’s by the will of Hari that you get the parking space, and it’s by the will of Hari if you don’t.”
    Many around the world are saying the mantra, sending Love and Blessings and eternal gratitude.
    Joining in spirit in the Vrindanvan gathering.
    Divya
    Woodstock, NY

  7. Agnikumara / Fred Smith says:

    Shyamdas – I will miss you greatly for the rest of this life. He introduced me to the worlds of pushti that are almost entirely closed off. I met him in India in 1980 and we were closest friends since then. He introduced me to Gokulotsavaji Maharaj, Suresh Baba (who taught me so much), Shyam Baba, Milan Baba, and Milan’s grandfather as early as 1980, Prathameshji, Shyamdas’s guru; to Jyotsha behin – a true pushti saint – and an entire world of pushti devotees and bhavadiyas, not least Meilu, Mohan Nai (AKA Mohan bhaiyya), and Deepu Pandit and family. He allowed my work and bhakti to proceed almost entirely unhindered except whatever karmic obstacles I brought to it. We spent hundreds of hours reading Braj and Sanskrit texts and commentaries together, and ashtchap poets, and for that I am forever indebted. He will always retain a high place in my small constellation of bright stars in the firmament. My love and gratitude to him will never end. I envision the rewards for him now in terms of nitya lila, the fruit of nirodh, and, I am certain, meeting once again the best friend he ever had, the late Asim Krishnadas.

  8. Agnikumara / Fred Smith says:

    Let me add a few words about Shyamdas as a person. His generosity was unsurpassed. Often people say a person gives them the shirt off their back. More than once I saw Shyamdas do just that. If the spirit of generosity is exemplified by the story of the poor brahman family at the end of the Asvamedhika parvan of the Mahabharata, it should be known that Shyamdas would do just that – give his last handful of gleaned grain flour to a guest. He held all as completely equal, especially in a society – India I’m referring to – that strenuously protects inequality. One example was Dhundakari, a poor disheveled Pushti sadhu in Gokul who dressed in rags and always carried a roll of old blankets and folded newspapers that he probably never read. Dhundakari (everyone’s name for him, after the character in the Bhagavatamahatmyam) always seemed to know where all the Pushtimarg Vallabhkul members were at every point. If we, particularly Shyamdas, wanted to consult one of them, Dhundakari would leave town, probably sleeping on the roadsides, and return a few days or a week later with his exact coordinates. We would feed Dhundakari at our table, meaning thea for us, for Shyamdas, he was panktipavana, totally equal. Shyamdas never said a negative word about anyone. Never. Never. This is to be celebrated. His dedication to the Pushtimarg, to the development of his knowledge of Pushti rag, to the musicians in Gokul, Gopirasik and others, to all the Vallabhkul, was unsurpassed. He honored his wide circle of friends and associates at all time with a smile on his face. He was a true exemplar for all of us……

  9. Radha Damodar das says:

    Dear Shyamdas ji, you are with your beloved now, but you have remain in our hearts too, and there you can’t scape, thank you for the love you give us, Jay Sri Radhe

  10. Durga Uller says:

    Dear Blessed Shyamdas,
    Thank you for your beautiful, precious Bhakti soul!!!!! and sharing with all of us the power and deep love of Presence with your voice , your words, and your heart.!!I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to be in your presence and receive your teachings and to be gently reminded of the Power of LOVE !!!!!!
    Jai Shri Krishna

  11. Drew Thomes says:

    Mirabai Devi sends this out to honor and commemorate Shyamdas:

    “Our beloved Shyamdas has left this world and gone to be with Krishna in his eternal abode. He was on a pilgrimage in India where his home is and left his body. He was leading a group through India with Sridhar and Saul David Raye to the Maha Kumbh Mela and to other sacred sites.

    I met Shyamdas at the Boston Yoga and Chant Fest with Radhanath Swami in 2011. We also have been speakers and workshop presenters at Bhakti Fest and Shakti Fest in Joshua Tree in S.California twice a year and we spent some wonderful moments together in bliss sharing devotional exchanges and talking about Vrindavan and planning some work together for the future.

    He lives on in my heart as a dearly beloved spiritual inspiration, He leaves us with so many warm memories in our hearts. If you can all please take a few moments in your prayers and meditation to connect to Shyamdas’ beautiful vast infinite heart of devotion and feel the blessings that he is sending out to everyone, now that he is free of his body…..

    We will all be feeling him with us in the time to come….
    My deep Love and Gratitude for Shyamdas and all he brought and touched my life with forever,
    Mirabai Devi.”

  12. Meilu Ho/Braj Mela says:

    Shyamdasji, bhaiya-re, friend, brother, mentor. Jai Shri Krishna. I will always miss and love you.

    We first met under the full-moon light of Sharad, when Krishna dances the eternal dance. When I started talking about rasa and the path of grace, Pushti Marg, song, and heightened experience, your eyes lit up, opened wide, all fired up. As always.

    You showed me Braj, the sacred dust at Krishna’s feet, the magic of Yamuna, the love of Gokul. I asked my silly Phd questions, you did the dissertation, and ten more. Kirtans you sang, kirtans I learnt.

    Magisterial, humble, loving, open, generous, kind, and so much more. Whether welcoming Vallabh Kul into our sparse dharamshala or performing Krishna seva, picking the brains of the local Sanskrit shastri or sitting at the feet of elderly Vaishnava ladies, asking yet one more esoteric question, you moved grandly, fully rasa-filled, fully loving, fully devotional. I never saw you angry, sad, jealous, upset, regretful, or unhappy with yourself. Always firm in your love of the lila at the feet of Hari.

    I learnt pushti, you lived pushti. You live pushti. Grace was as natural for you as the sky, and the full aesthetic experience of the moment, the lived moment, as easy as drinking your favorite glass of milk. Gokul, the childhood home of Krishna, was always your playground, Braj your eternal playground. Whether it was a threesome with Mohan or plus a few visitor friends come in search; with Fred Smith the Sanskrit pandit, Bhatyaji the model Vaishnava caretaker downstairs, or Shrikant our singer friend. The moment was always graceful, always beautiful, always the best it could be. A true and authentic existence.

    On tours we went, of the important Pushti Marg sites, the places dearest to you, the quiet spots where Mahaprabhuji Vallabhacharya reposed and taught. At each time, every visit was new; every mukhyaji (caretaker) of each location was a character from the eternal realm, a divine soul to you. Everywhere we went, they loved you; with devotional love.
    The 1990s.

    You lived beauty and grace in this world. Easily. Effortlessly. Whether skiing or driving on freeways, trekking in the holy land or translating Braj Bhasha passages, the moment was always yours. Chaka chak. Full. Full with aesthetic pleasure. Not that you claimed it, but that it was, simply so. Nothing was ever too difficult; everything was always attainable. Drinking a glass of fresh, orange juice or reading over a kirtan, the rasa of the moment simply arose in you. All moments were beautiful, everything was always beautiful. Kya bat. Hari iccha.

    A huge laugh, a huge smile, a cackle. Joy, anand. All aglow, all over again. Shyamdasji.

    Like the song:

    Aj aur kalha aur din prati aur aur,
    dekhiye rasik Sri Giriraj dharan.

    Today evermore, tomorrow even more,
    every day more and more,
    Oh friend, look at the aesthete par
    excellence, Lord and Lifter-of Giriraj.

    Now, forever be where you have always been:

    Tarati Sri Govardhan ki rahiye.
    Live by the Govardhan hill and
    place your mind
    at the feet of enchanting Gopal.

    Ever-brimming with joy, ever-full of energy, ever-overflowing with love.
    Shyamdasji.

  13. Robert Svoboda says:

    Though I had been introduced to Vallabhacharya’s sampradaya and visited Sri Nathdwara before I met Shyamdas in 1986, it was Shyam who magnified that world and brought the Pushti Marga to life for me, by tutoring me patiently in the songs of Mahaprabhuji and his descendants, and of Rasa Khan, Surdas, and others of the ashtachaap poets. My most vivid memories of Shyam are of the two of us singing together, particularly during our last meeting, last February in the sacred city of Kashi. From now onwards I shall envision him free of earthly concerns, ceaselessly singing the glories of Gopala. Jaya Sri Krsna!

  14. Suzanne Alvarez says:

    I do not really know what I want to say about Shyamdas passing. I am finally coming to a place of peace and acceptance about such a profound loss. I find comfort in knowing Shyam is in his true home and in his true form…living fully in the sacred abode with his beloved – happy… well… and eternally in the flow of grace and bliss. This is what I dwell on. When I think of him — I can almost sense a golden presence of light hovering ( almost saint-like really): for to me, you were a living example of a truly a good human being! As many have said- I too found you to be: generous, kind, energetic, tirelessly devoted and deeply inspiring.[ I also titled him the Bhav-bomb which he may not have entirely liked so how bout Bhav -Balm!] I never knew how much I was missing till I had the honor of singing beside him in a kirtan in Tampa last year. I can not put into words the beauty of presence I experienced. He brought it, he lived it, he was it. He was True devotion. He made the magic of mystical India come alive in his stories, his singing and his heart vibration. He made the love of Krishna real. All I can say is thank you Shyamdas! I am so honored to have met you. That I should have been the one to drive you to the Ft. Myers airport when you left Naples to return to New York was a treasured honor. Then, I really did not know how to talk to you, I never did.. When we arrived with barely a second to spare, and you went to check your ticket, I just stood there mutely like a statue, just looking at you. I felt like crying, for I didn’t know when I would see you again. It was like saying goodbye to the best friend I ever had, but I had only met you three days before. I felt soooooooo much deep ( yet uncategorizable) emotion. And you were sooo compassionate. In your ever jovial, yet profound way, you paused and with a firm gaze looked at me in that direct yet indirect sideways manner and gently yet powerfully declared: “Bhagavan takes care of his own.” And with that you picked up your bags and vanished into the small crowd of people moving through those airport terminal doors. —-Shyam, you are unforgetable and I remember you every day when I sing and play those mantra songs. (But you probably already know this….) JAY RADHE!

    HARI OM.

  15. Hari says:

    Jai Shree Krishna! loving Shyamdas ji.
    I will always cherish your sweet ‘bhaava’ memories. I will never miss your bhakti which was so contagious and made me forget all the worry and be with pyaare Hari (instantly!). I will miss your lovingly prepared ‘prasaad’ and delicious puris at the Bhandaaraa. I came to feel the presence of Raadhaa raani in your bhakti, so true! I would never want to miss that bhakti which you have spread so far wide, liberally and deeply. Your kirtan brings immortality. You remain ‘amar’ Shyamdas ji, your ‘bhaava’ Lives forever with us dear ji. You were so always cheerful with us in your presence, how can you leave us in tears? Be in our hearts. Radhe Radhe… Jai Shri Krishna!

  16. C.C. White says:

    How I met Shyamdas: By C.C. White.

    Little did I know how this beautiful soul would change my life. Cooper Madison, a good friend of mine, and an incredible wallah and tabla player, invited me to come and set up sound for Shyamdas at Mike D, the drummer for the Beastie Boys house. At that time I’d just purchased new sound equipment, and loved to set up, and help for those that didn’t have it. I knew who Shyamdas was, and I had so much respect for him. I use to watch him at the festivals, and at gatherings, and marveled at how much everyone loved him, and how he left no one out as far as sharing love. He was like an Uncle to everyone, and it was beautiful to behold. As I was setting up the 2 spots, one for Cooper, one for Shyam, he walks in and says “where will you sit?” I fumbled for words, and was stunned. This was Shyamdas, the great scholar and teacher of devotional poetry and the lineage of Bhakti Yoga, in all aspects of Lord Krishna. A man fluent in 5 languages, a friend to all, and a being of immense devotion, and love for India.

    I couldn’t imagine sitting next to him and chanting, but Shyam knew something I didn’t. I said no, he said yes, I said no, he said yes…..and as we all know, Shyamdas just has a way, and eventually my legs gave way, and I sat down next to him. I was sweating, and so nervous, I didn’t want to mess up, I wanted to please him, and be respectful of his beautiful devotion.

    He turned to me and said “It’s okay, I know who you are”, I’ve heard you, I want you to chant and sing with me. My heart began beating so fast. I felt as if I was out of my body, then I surrendered. I sat quietly with my hands folded, staring at him, and trusting I would be alright, next to Shyam. I always felt that way, safe, and in the bhav of the divine.

    He began to speak, I loved what he was saying, such wonderful stories of beautiful India, Bhakti and Bhav, and of his beloved guru. So engaging, so loving and genuine. However when he began to sing…..I could not take my eyes off of him. The sound of his voice, just tendered my heart, and it melted into a calm within my soul. His sweet Bhajans, and chants were like a beautiful warm light that bathed my soul. The tone of his voice, up and down, so free, everywhere all at once. It was a ride, a sweet, wonderful ride!

    But then, something started to happen. After a while, I began to weep, quietly. Gradually my tears became a river, and I could not stop. I no longer tried to wipe them away, instead I let them fall. Shyam continued looking at me with those beautiful gentle eyes, as if to say, “it’s alright, be in the sweet bhav.” I was transported to the sweetest place, and I wanted to stay there forever. Til this day, whenever I chanted with Shyamdas, I always wept, caught up in the beauty of his heart, chants, and bhajans, and his love for pure and true divinity. He brought that out of me, he touched my heart, and I’ll never forget that blessing from him. He was always so supportive, so encouraging, letting me know that what I was doing was different, beautiful and good. He knew I needed to hear that every once in a while, and his kindness I’ll never forget.

    After we finished chanting, I was still trembling, and crying, and felt as if I’d been washed anew, born again. I was bewildered, and in awe, and he sat next to me, put his arm around me, and said “Lila, when you weep within the mantra, you become the mantra”, you chant from your heart, you are so soulful, India is in you. You will chant bhajans with me, we sound good together, our voices dance soulfully, while chanting the names of Krishna.

    That was that. Shyamdas introduced me to Omega Ecstatic Chant, such a pure place of devotion, beauty, acceptance, and love of chant, it’s heaven. His definitely had his own way of chanting, and his original chants such as “Making My Way Back To You, I Wanna Say Radheeee” were the highlights of Omega! His sense of humor, that twinkle in his eye, so easy to laugh, and embrace the beauty of life. I loved watching him with his great friends, Radhanath Swami, Jai Uttal, Krishna Das, Mohan, Stephen Rechtschaffen, ohhh they all loved each other so much. Wherever Shyam would go, everyone would follow, there was always a group of loving souls following him around everywhere, just wanting to experience his love, and shining bhav. He was always willing to talk to you, teach, share, encourage, so non-judgmental was his heart.

    When I came to Bhakti Fest, one of the highlights was chanting with Shyamdas, we all loved him so, and I adored him. His last set at Bhakti Fest 2012 was historic, Earth, Wind and Shyamdas! It was raining, the wind was whipping everything everywhere, and on his face was the biggest smile, he was so happy. Afterwards, everyone was hugging and kissing him, and he turned to me and said “that felt so divine, yes, yes amazing joy, so great, Radheeeee!!”

    Uncle Shyamie as I would call him, would send emails from India, and from his home in New York, “checking on my bhav meter” he would say, sending beautiful poems, and encouraging words to stay on my path. I’ll miss that so much. He was completely unconditional, in all ways.

    It’s hard to let go of such a beautiful, breathtaking being as Shyamdas, to accept that he’s gone. I’ll work through my grief, take my time, smile, cry and just remember the sweet moments. He’s in my mind, my heart, every moment, and will stay there forever. He’s changed many of our lives, and most definitely has changed mine. I’ll be forever grateful. We used to laugh with each other about having the same Birthday, I’m honored by that.

    Love is Shyamdas, we miss you, Love You, and Life will Never Be the Same Without You.

    Happy Birthday To You, Sweet, Wonderful Man.

    In Loving Memory of Shyamdas 1953-2013.

    C.C. White

Quotes

The ways of seva can be seen in the devotion of the Gopi dairymaids of Vraja. They serve Shri Krishna, and when He goes out to the forest to graze His cows, they experience profound separation (viyoga) and sing the Song of the Flute and the Song in Couplets (Venu Gita and Yugal Gita) found in the Shrimad Bhagavatam. Later, the blessed Lord returns home to give those Gopis the gift of His bliss, and they joyfully behold Him. — Shri Gopeshwarji, Shiksha Patra 1.1