Gold, Guns and God: Vol. 8—The City of God

A Biography of Swami Bhaktipada and a History of the West Virginia New Vrindaban Hare Krishna Community in Ten Volumes by Henry Doktorski

Sri-Sri Radha-Vrindaban Chandra, the presiding deities of New Vrindaban, on their altar at Bahulaban (c. early 1980s).

Krishna Book Suite by Yamini devi dasi

Children have been singing as a group at New Vrindaban since the gurukula was first established at the Nandagram farm in 1976, if not earlier. In the late 1970s, a talented musician, singer and songwriter and disciple of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (the Founder/Acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Inc.), Yamini dasi (Joanne Cappelletti: 1951-2018)—the wife of New Vrindaban’s premier architect at the time, Bhagavatananda (Joseph Cappelletti)—composed a set of children’s songs about the childhood pastimes of Krishna and taught them to the New Vrindaban children. The lyrics she took from her spiritual master’s Krishna Book. This charming folk suite (actually an oratorio), consisting of songs titled Govardhan Puja, Putana Killed, Baby Krishna Kicked the Cart, The Salvation of Trinavarta, The Killing of Dhenukasura, The Killing of the Aghasura Demon, and others, was performed during the Palace dedication festival in September 1979.

After the Palace dedication, I briefly taught music at the Nandagram boy’s school and, at the request of Nandagram headmaster Sri Galim, composed another song for Yamini’s suite: Vrindaban Is Such a Nice Place, which Yamini used as the opening number for her oratorio. Yamini’s Krishna Book Suite was recorded at Prabhupada’s Palace by the gurukula children in November 1980. Yamini played harmonium and sang, Deva Deva Jagat Pate dasa (as I recall, a devotee from Montreal) played flute (and also sang the roles of Nanda Maharaja and King Indra), thirteen-year-old Lalita Madhava played mrdanga, and Aravinda (Alex Georgiadis), an ashram teacher, operated the recording equipment.

Yamini’s Krishna Book Suite is a superbly-crafted composition with sensitive word/music-painting and thrilling climaxes. Especially memorable, in my opinion, are

    (1) the two-part canon at “All you people of Vrindaban, for your good fortune,” (5:05)

    (2) the duet between Krishna and the villagers at “Don’t be afraid and think it will fall,” (10:10)

    (3) the ascending melismatic vocal line and key change during the transition between Indra’s apology to Krishna and Indra’s prayers in glorification of Almighty Krishna: “I take shelter unto your lotus feet. You are my master, the most powerful,” (12:45); and

    (4) the powerful and awe-inspiring finale in Christian-hymn style, “My dear Indra, I have stopped your sacrifice to show my causeless mercy.” Yamini’s melody is actually a variation of the famous Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott (A Mighty Fortress Is Our God) composed in 1527-1529 by the great German theologian and reformer Martin Luther, which became the anthem for the Protestant Reformation, and is still a favorite Protestant hymn today, after 500 years. In my mind, I can hear Yamini’s hymn sung by a Cathedral choir accompanied by an enormous pipe organ. In the 1980 recording, Deva Deva Jagat Pate actually sings the bass vocal part in contrast to Krishna’s soprano melody sung by Yamini (14:05).

Yamini’s Krishna Book Suite remained a staple in the repertoire of the New Vrindaban school children for at least two decades, until the school closed in 1999. Today, more than four decades after the premier of Yamini’s Krishna Book Suite, devotee children (and adults) still sing her songs. Many New Vrindaban gurukula alumni have taught these songs to their children, and I expect in the future their children will teach these songs to their children.

Nityodita dasa, a longtime New Vrindaban resident, spoke during the memorial service for Yamini held at New Vrindaban during the Fiftieth Anniversary Reunion (September 28-30, 2018). He glorified Yamini and compared her to Narottama dasa Thakur (1550-1587), a Gaudiya-Vaishnava saint and the son of King Krishnananda Datta and Narayani Devi who resided in Gopalpur Pargana of the Rajshahi district of Bangladesh. Narottama dasa is best known for his devotional poetry wherein he describes emotionally intense feelings towards Radha and Krishna. His prayers Sri Rupa Manjari Pada and Sri Guru Carana Padma are still sung in both Gaudiya Math and ISKCON temples on a regular basis.

Nityodita praised Yamini, “On a personal note, I don’t think anyone could find a more gentle, soft-spoken, kind-hearted devotee at the New Vrindaban community. She was always super sweet. On a historical note, we should know in Gaudiya-Vaishnava history that from time to time great acharyas have appeared. Originally the gopis set the standard for remembering Krishna. They sing songs that are all about Krishna. And they chant those songs in Sanskrit or Vrajabhasi. Narottama dasa Thakur, one of our great acharyas, he took the Vedic conclusions and created beautiful songs in the local language where he was from, at that time in Bengali. And those songs are sung by common people. We sing them now ourselves. What mother Yamini has offered to the Vaishnava community is very historical. And you can see the effect on those children who were trained in the singing of these songs, forty years ago, thirty years ago, when they come to New Vrindaban sometimes for a gurukula reunion, they get together and they sing these beautiful songs. They remember Krishna. These songs are permanently implanted in their hearts. I think the greatest way we can honor Mother Yamini is by somehow or other keep teaching these songs, and songs inspired by what she’s done, to the children. And to the adults too! Why not? It’s very powerful. So I’m hoping some of our musically-talented devotees can carry on this tradition and in this way truly glorify Mother Yamini’s contribution to the whole Vaishnava world.”

For more about Yamini’s life, see About AverageSoul. To see the memorial service for Yamini held at New Vrindaban and uploaded to Facebook on October 2, 2018, go to 50th Anniversary Reunion—Memorial of Yamini.

Photo of Radha-Vrindaban Chandra courtesy of the Keith Gordon Ham/Swami Bhaktipada Archive at the West Virginia Regional and History Center, University of West Virginia, Morgantown. Photos of Yamini courtesy of Mangalananda Prabhu, from his website AverageSoul. I would have liked to post photos of Yamini and the children from 1980 or so, but couldn’t find any. If anyone has photos from this era, I’ll be happy to put them up on this page.

Krishna Book Suite Lyrics

Vrindaban Is Such a Nice Place
Lyrics and music by Hrishikesh dasa

    Vrindaban is such a nice place!
    Vrindaban is such a nice place!
    Vrindaban is such a nice place!
    Vrindaban is such a nice place!

    Flowers are always blooming
    And there are even various types of decorated deer.
    Birds are always chirping.
    The peacocks are crowing and dancing.
    They’re crowing and dancing.
    And the bees are humming.

    Vrindaban is such a nice place!
    Vrindaban is such a nice place!
    Vrindaban is such a nice place!
    Vrindaban is such a nice place!

    In Vrindaban there are many falls which are always flowing water.
    And the sound is so sweet that it covers the sound of the crickets.
    Because water flows all over,
    The forest always looks very green and beautiful.

Govardhan Puja
Lyrics and music by Yamini devi dasi

    Narrator (spoken): One day, Krishna and his brother Balarama noticed that their father, Nanda Maharaja, and the other cowherd men of Vrindaban, were preparing an opulent sacrifice.

    Krishna: My dear father,
    What is this plan for a sacrifice? Please explain it to me.
    Is it a Vedic injunction, or a popular ceremony?

    Nanda Maharaja: My dear boy.
    This function is traditional, we have to thank Lord Indra
    For kindly sending rainfall, we cannot live without the rain,
    For farming and producing grain.

    Krishna: My dear father,
    Let us not worship Indra, we have our duties to perform.
    Rain will come from the clouds above, and not by worshiping him.
    Rain is falling on the ocean, and on the land as well;
    Besides, we have our relationship with the brahmin men and Govardhan Hill.

    Brijabasis: We are satisfied living in this forest of Vrindaban.
    So let us take the grains and ghee collected for the yajna
    To satisfy our Govardhan and never mind Lord Indra.

    Nanda Maharaja (spoken): My dear boy, Because you have requested, I shall arrange for a separate sacrifice for the local brahmins and Govardhana Hill. But for now, let me continue this offering to Lord Indra.

    Krishna (spoken): But father, that will take too long! It will be better to gather up all the things you have collected for worshiping Indra and immediately use them to worship the sacred Govardhana Hill.

    Nanda Maharaja (spoken): Very well, Krishna. How should this sacrifice be performed?

    Krishna: Dear friends,
    Please prepare rice, dahl, halavah,
    Puri, pakora, laddu, rasagulla,
    Sandesh, sweet rice, then call the brahmanas.

    Krishna and the Brijabasis: Grains for the brahmin men chanting the Vedic hymns.
    Decorate the cows, feed them well.
    Keeping them in front, circumambulate the hill.

    Brijabasis: Govardhan Puja, Govardhan Puja,
    Lots of prasada for dog and chandala.
    Govardhana Puja, Govardhana Puja.
    If you neglect Govardhana worship
    You will be killed by the snakes on the hill.
    All the people of Vrindaban, for your good fortune,
    And the fortune of your cows as well, worship Govardhana Hill.

    Narrator (spoken): When Indra understood that the sacrifice offered by the cowherd men in Vrindaban was stopped by Krishna, he became angry, and he vented his anger upon the inhabitants of Vrindaban, who were headed by Nanda Maharaja, although Indra knew perfectly well that Krishna was personally protecting them. As the director of different kinds of clouds, Indra called for his most devastating one: the samvartaka.

    Indra: Samvartaka clouds, go destroy Vrindaban!
    They have stopped this sacrifice which was meant for me.
    Samvartaka cloud, inundate their homes!
    They have taken Krishna so seriously.
    Go, and I shall follow you, riding on my elephant.
    Great storms will come with me to give the proper punishment.
    Pour down rain, you great storm clouds!
    They should be destroyed along with their cows!

    Narrator (spoken): Ordered by Lord Indra, all the dangerous clouds appeared above Vrindaban and began to pour water incessantly with all their strength and power, frightening the inhabitants.

    Brijabasis: Indra’s sending rain like sharp, piercing arrows.
    See it falling down as thick as pillars;
    Thunder, lightning, ice is falling too.
    Heavy winds are blowing, what can we do?
    This is a dangerous situation,
    Clouds are pouring water without cessation.
    Krishna, save us! You are very strong,
    All the land will flood before very long.
    Every living creature is trembling from the cold
    And we find no source of deliverance.
    Krishna, you are affectionate to your devotees.
    Now please save us from angry Indra, Krishna! Krishna, dear Krishna.

    Spoken: Look! Krishna’s lifting Govardhana Hill! Jaya Sri Krishna!

    Krishna: My dear father, my dear brothers, dear inhabitants of this land.
    Now I have lifted the hill of Govardhana.
    Don’t be afraid and think it will fall
    From the little finger of my hand.
    You have all been afflicted by heavy rains and winds that were sent by Indra.
    Now be protected by this big umbrella.
    Bring your cows and come under the hill,
    Be happy together.

    Narrator (spoken): When Lord Indra saw that the people of Vrindaban were safely protected under Govardhana Hill, which was miraculously being supported by Lord Krishna, Lord Indra then put an end to his storms.

    Krishna (spoken): My dear cowherd men, now you can leave and take your wives, children, cows and valuables, because everything has ended. The inundation has gone down, along with the swelling waters of the river.

    Narrator (spoken): When the inhabitants of Vrindaban returned to their respective homes, Lord Indra, conscious of his great offense, appeared before the Lord.

    Indra: My dear Lord, being puffed up by my false prestige,
    I thought you took my offerings, and this offended me.
    But I am the offender, with my anger and ignorance,
    Sending rain and hailstorm to cause you disturbance.
    You have shown me your kindness, although I am only foolish.
    Within this material world, many fools like me
    Will falsely claim to be God.
    But without giving punishment, you find the means
    So their false pride will soon be destroyed.
    Coming to my senses, I now take shelter unto your lotus feet.
    You are my master, the most powerful,
    The son of Vasudeva, the supreme Lord Krishna.
    Please excuse me, I am fool number one,
    And bless me so that I may never act that way again.

    Krishna: My dear Indra, I have stopped your sacrifice to show my causeless mercy.
    And to revive your memory that I remain your master eternally.
    I am the master of the demigods as well.
    Everyone should always remember that I am the Supreme Lord.
    I can show anyone my favor, or chastise anyone.
    For no one is superior to me.
    If I find that someone is falsely proud of opulence that came from me;
    Then I show my favor by withdrawing them, and that is my causeless mercy.
    Return to the heaven, remain there as the king.
    Always be my servant, for I am the Supreme.
    My dear Indra, I have stopped your sacrifice to show my causeless mercy,
    And to revive your memory that I remain your master eternally.

Putana Killed
Lyrics and music by Yamini dasi

    Putana was a kechari witch and so she could fly in the sky.
    Although she was evil, she entered Gokula where everyone let her pass by.
    Because of her smiling beauty and the lotus in her hand,
    Yasoda and Rohini said that the Goddess of Fortune had come.

    Putana was a sword in a decorated case
    Because of the poison upon her breast.
    She was a demon. Krishna could tell,
    So he sucked out her milk and her life as well.

    Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare;
    Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

Sakatasura (Baby Krishna Kicked the Cart)
Lyrics and music by Yamini devi dasi

    Baby Krishna kicked the cart; it fell to the ground and broke apart.
    Sakatasura was pushed along with the cart upon the earth.

Salvation of Trinavarta
Lyrics and music by Yamini devi dasi

    Trinavarta came from Kamsa shaped like a whirlwind.
    Putting Krishna on his shoulder, darkening Vrindaban.
    Dust blown all around. Baby Krishna can’t be found.
    Yasoda is crying upon the ground.

    But baby Krishna made himself as heavy as a mountain.
    He caught Trinavarta's neck and made him fall down.
    Down, down to the ground. Sinful Trinavarta.
    Demons have to die but Krishna is alive.

    Down, down to the ground. Sinful Trinavarta.
    Demons die away but Krishna is saved.

Killing of Dhenukasura
Lyrics and music by Yamini devi dasi

    Dear Balarama, your arms are strong.
    Dear Krishna, you can kill the demons.
    Nearby is the Talavana Forest.
    Full of palm trees, filled with fruit.

    No one can get them because of a demon there: Dhenukasura.

    Dear Krishna and Balarama, only you can kill such demons.
    All the birds and animals have left that forest filled with fruit.
    Please let us go there, we like the aroma.
    Don’t you smell it from here?

    Today in the forest of Talavana Lord Krishna and Balarama
    Killed the Dhenukasura by wheeling him around and around.

Deliverin the Wives of the Brahmins
Lyrics and music by Yamini devi dasi

    Mothers, gather up a feast.
    Hurry let us fill the pots.
    Krishna and Balarama must eat.
    Now they are calling for us.

    Husbands, brothers, sons and friends.
    All have asked us not to go.
    But come let us bring him a feast.
    Krishna is our life and soul.

Krishna Hiding from the Gopis (Gopis’ Song)
Lyrics and music by Yamini devi dasi

    The Gopis: Dear Tulsi, where is Krishna?
    Dear blackberries, where is Krishna?
    Dear kadambe flower, where is Krishna?
    Where is Krishna now?

    Krishna: Don’t be afraid of Kamsa’s rain,
    A severe hurricane,
    I’ll save you.

    Gopis: Where is Krishna now?

    Krishna: Rascal Kaliya, leave this place.
    I have descended on the earth to punish all kinds of miscreants.

    See the flames of the fire are coming.
    Close your eyes, I’ll save you.

Devouring the Forest Fire (Description of Krishna Playing and Gopis’ Song)
Lyrics and music by Yamini devi dasi

    In the forest Krishna is dancing.
    Cowherd boy friends offer praise.
    “Dear brother, you are dancing very nicely,” they say.
    Lord Krishna and Balarama, cowherd boys too,
    Are tending their cows and blowing their flutes.
    And they enter where flowers are always in bloom.
    The beautiful forest of Vrindaban.

    It is the evening. Krishna and Balarama,
    Along with the boys and cows are returning
    To Vrindaban playing their flutes.

    Now they are approaching Krishna and Balarama
    All through the day, they are in the forest.
    In their absence, we think one moment to be like twelve years.

The Killing of the Aghasura Demon
Lyrics and music by Yamini devi dasi

    Cowherd Boys: Krishna, Krishna! Let’s all play—going to the forest.
    Sound upon our flutes and horns. Keep the cows before us.
    With a stick, lunch bag too, we’ll be happy seeing you.
    Krishna, beautiful and blue, Hari, Haribol.

    Krishna, Krishna! Now we’re here dancing all together.
    Decorate with leaves and twigs, clay and peacock feathers.
    Putting flowers in our hair. Krishna’s pleasure is our care.
    Loving him, we have no fear. Hari, Haribol.

    His name is Aghasura, he is fat and round.
    His lip is in the sky and his chin is on the ground.
    his wide open mouth is just like a cave.
    His tongue appears like a broad traffic way.

    From his mouth a hurricane blows.
    From his eyes fire glows.
    Now he is waiting to swallows us all.
    But Krishna will kill him like Bakasura.

    Krishna will save us.
    Krishna will save us.
    Krishna, Krishna, Krishna.

    Aghasura: Everyone has entered but Krishna,
    Who killed my brother and sister.
    I am waiting for him to come in.

    Krishna: How can I save my intimate friends?
    I will enter within.

    Demigods: Alas! Alas!

    Cowherd boys: Jaya Krishna, Jaya Krishna! He brought us back to life!
    Jaya Krishna, Jaya Krishna! Just see that dazzling light!

    Jaya, Jaya! All glories to the Supreme Personality of Godhead!
    Jaya, Jaya! All glories to the Supreme Personality of Godhead!

    Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare;
    Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

    Brijabasis of New Vrindaban: Jaya Prabhupada, Jaya Prabhupada, Jaya Prabhupada, Jaya Prabhupada!
    Jaya Bhaktipada, Jaya Bhaktipada, Jaya Bhaktipada, Jaya Bhaktipada!

Mangalananda and Yamini (c. 2003).

Mangalananda and Yamini (c. 2012).

Yamini (undated).

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