Devotees around the world are mourning Padma Lochan Dasa, a senior disciple of ISKCON founder Srila Prabhupada, who passed away at 6:58am on March 27 in the sacred land of Mayapur, India, at the age of 57.
After falling severely ill and beginning to cough up blood in early February, Padma Lochan received treatment for the cancer that was later discovered from both Ayurvedic doctor Audarya Dhama Dasa and allopathic doctor Saksi Gopal Dasa of Mumbai’s Bhaktivedanta Hospital.
Somewhat mistrustful of doctor’s tests and prescriptions, Padma Lochan preferred spiritual treatment. “He simply wishes to stay in Mayapur, breathe the air of Mayapur, hear the birds and cows of Mayapur, and to receive the association and blessings of the devotees,” his wife, Vrindavana Lila Dasi, wrote in an email dated February 23rd.
He received his wish, with many devotees including long-time Mayapur Priest Jananivasa Dasa and A Transcendental Diary author Hari Sauri Dasa spending time with him, chanting to him, and bringing him sacred Ganga water.
Then one morning, Padma Lochana called for his wife, asking her to help him sit up. “The cancer seemed to actually be receding at that time, and I did not see any signs that he was going to leave,” Vrindavana Lila said. “He asked me to bring a chair beside his bed, although there was no one there. I did, and then he said to me, ‘Look what’s going on outside,’ and I went on the veranda to check, but saw nothing. When I asked him what it was, he just replied, ‘Oh, you can’t see?’ It was as if he was privy to some spiritual vision that I was not.”
Padma Lochan then asked for sacred Tulasi leaves. As Vrindavana Lila placed them in his mouth and began to chant Hare Krishna loudly, he passed away peacefully.
Born in England, Padma Lochan Dasa met his spiritual master Srila Prabhupada in 1971 at the age of 18. A year later, he moved to India to assist Prabhupada in establishing ISKCON there, in locations such as Kolkata, Mayapur, Vrindavan, Bombay, and Hyderabad. He also assisted with the construction of the ISKCON temple in Vidyanagar, Gujarat. Padma Lochan spent the next 20 years of his life in Vrindavan, India, the sacred place of Lord Krishna’s birth. There, he did extensive research on the holy sites of Krishna’s pastimes, and traveled throughout the surrounding Vraja Mandala area making friends with the local Brijbasis.
This travel and research culminated in the writing of several books, including Chintamani Dhama, Madhurya Dhama, and Audarya Dhama—guides to Vrindavana, Govardhana Hill, and Navadvipa pilgrimages respectively.
He also translated the Padma Purana excerpts Gita Mahatmya and Tulasi Devi Mahatmya from their original Sanskrit, as well as Rupa Goswami’s Uddhava Sandesh. Especially popular with devotees was Pada Sevana, a book he researched and compiled containing descriptions and pictures of the feet and hands of Radha-Krishna, as well as divine personalities from the Gaudiya tradition such as Lord Chaitanya, Nityananda Prabhu, and Advaita Acharya.
Padma Lochan also directly assisted the ISKCON institution, serving at ISKCON Vrindavan as a temple commander and Goshala (protective shelter for cows) manager in the 1970s and 1980s.
After leaving Vrindavan, he spent 8 months traveling in Russia with his wife Vrindavan Lila Dasi, before returning to Mayapur in 1995, where he lived until his passing.
There he edited Mayapur Katha, a newsletter containing news and interviews pertinent to the residents of ISKCON Mayapur, as well as rendering service to his worshippable Lords Sri Sri Radha Madhava, Panca-tattva and Sri Prahlad Nrsimhadeva.
“He was not a flashy, charismatic character, but always loved to hear about Radha, Krishna, Lord Chaitanya, or Srila Prabhupada,” commented Dhruva Maharaja Dasa, an old friend. “He lived his entire adult life in one of the holy places where Lord Krishna or Lord Chaitanya performed their pastimes, and, as mentioned in Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, this is one of the five most important activities in devotional service. I’m sure that his steadfast determination to serve the Lord has now borne fruit, and that he’s passed to another realm to once again live in some holy place where the Lord’s pastimes are being eternally enacted.”