Shyamdas was a unique soul, as was clear from his ecstatic dynamic presence. Still we have all been astounded by his deepening impact on the kirtan and bhakti communities around the world even after his passing from this world in early 2013. Memorial kirtans were held in Goa, London, Berlin, Jatipura, Los Angeles, Woodstock and elsewhere on the anniversary of his death on January 19. His presence and bhava have been remembered and celebrated at hundreds of kirtan gatherings this year. It all confirms the power of his spiritual life and teachings.
I had wondered if anyone would still come to Shyamdasji’s long-time residence here in Jatipura, but happily, people have been streaming through the door here all year to see his room, enjoy prasad and sing kirtan. We are expecting about 50 guests for his birthday celebration this week. The local Brajvasis, the residents of Shaymdas’s beloved Braj, remember him as one of their own and are as sorrowed by our loss as much as any family member, kirtan fan or friend of his around the world.
Shyamdas left very explicit instructions for his charitable and devotional works to continue into the future. His niece Mae Ryan gathered a group of close friends and family to establish the Shyamdas Foundation and carry out those wishes. One of the major concerns people have expressed is, “Will Shyamdasji’s books still be made available?” The Shyamdas Foundation therefore set as its main priority the creation of an Archive of his works, to collect, preserve and publish his books, performances, interviews, articles, photos, and videos.
One of Shyamdasji’s passions was showing people around the sacred sites of Braj. In that spirit, the Foundation has also resolved to undertake beautification and restoration projects at his favorite pilgrimage sites, like kunds, the Govardhan Hill, and Vallabhacharya baithaks.
Shyamdasji’s brilliant concept of the “Bhajan Boat” was an explicit attempt to spread the bhava of kirtan but also to support the Vrindavan charity, Food for Life. The Shyamdas Foundation have decided to continue contributing to that charity in Shyamdasji’s name, because of the effectiveness and impact of their programs for the children, poor, women and environment in Braj.
We hope you will keep in touch and offer your inspirations and bhava to these and other projects beloved to Shyamdas!