Bhakta Kapila Das Passes Away
Posted March 27, 2012
We wish to inform all devotees, especially those who have served or will serve the Vancouver temple, of the sad departure of Kapila das about three weeks ago there. He had been suffering from cancer for more than three months.
A lot can be written about this dedicated devotee. But firstly, I met Kapila das (then Keith) when I saw him walking into the temple property sometime around 1985. At that time, he was around 40. He quickly joined the fold and started to practise devotional service. There was no turning back to material life, nor did he exhibit desires to do so. Later he received formal initiation and was given the name Kapila das.
At the outset, Kapila das gave me the impression of a matured man, and he proved that to me, especailly with his tolerance. I once offended him on the travelling road "sankeertan" painting business (and later apologised), I re-organised his room without his permission, and once I even took pleasure reporting him to the then temple president Dharmarupa das for smoking, but he never complained, confronted me or even discussed a word about the incidents with me.
Lest one point fingers to his smoking, there is something "wonderful" about it. It wasn't an accidental fall, but in fact the last spin of the wheel of his former smoking habit. As Prabhuppad writes in the purport of Bhagavad-Gita As It Is, 3:31, "Because one is not resentful of the injunctions of the Lord and works sincerely without consideration of defeat and hopelessness, he will surely be promoted to the stage of pure Krishna consciousness." True to this teaching of Prabhupad, Kapila das afterwards served Prabhupaad and Shri Shri Radha Madana Mohan in his deity service with pure bhakti for the next twenty-five years.
When I used to live in the Vancouver temple in the company of the ex-Vipramukhya Swami, he used to tell me how Krishna has never described a sannyasi in the sixth chapter as someone like him, carrying a danda and dressed in saffrron, and that anyone who is surrendered with his mind, body and words is a sannyasi. The same point was repeated by Prabhupad in a lecture I listened to recently. It seems he always has some guidance — if one wants it — as to what one may be experiencing at the moment. Fittingly, in that lectiure, which I heard during Kapila's illness, I heard him saying of Arjuna, a military man: "sa sannyaasee ca yogee ca — he is a sannyasi and yogi." The same can be said of Kapila das, as he was a soul fully surrendered to Krishna.
There is one outstanding quality that Kapila das possessed (along with some other devotees) and that was his freedom from envy. It was this quality and the encouragement I knew I would get from him that made me want to complete an article, "A Night in Salzburg "- — having spent a night in that city — and which would be a reply, I hope, by Prabhupad's mercy, to Ilana Kirchberger prabhu's Sampradaya Sun article "What have Austrians done wrong"?
Though I had joined the temple about three years earlier, Kapila das was the first devotee to explain to me, while we were in a van somewhere in Saskatoon in the province of Saskatchewan, who Srimati Radharani is.
While in hospice, he was well taken care of by my close friend Revatipranatha das (ACBSP 1973) and his British fiancée and other devotees in the Vancouver temple.
Throughout his sickness, Revati prabhu kept me informed about his condition though texting me. One day last month I was fortunate to speak to Kapila for a good ten minutes. In the conversation, he was quite happy, despite his sickness and impending departure from this mortal world. In a typical Canadian way of speaking, he said, "Oh yeah" repeatedly, in response to me.
In 2009 I attended Rathayatra in Vancouver, and of course, I ensured I took pictures of Kapila das. Here are two temple photos of him for the pleasure of those devotees who know him and are living in other parts of the world.
When Revati das told me that Kapila prabhu was about to leave his body, I texted him, saying: "Let's hope Mahaprabhu takes him back to His abode." What else can we wish for this great soul?
Kapila das was cremated recently, and then another Vedic ceremony was held in the Vancouver temple for his departure.
Many of us will miss his company. All glories to Kapila das!
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