This morning the kirtan community lost one of its great guiding lights, Shyamdas, whose heart continually overflowed with passionate love of Radhe Shyam.
Shyamdas travelled to India in 1972 to meet Neem Karoli Baba, and then continued to explore the devotional Bhakti lineages of India under the tutelage of His Holiness Goswami Shri Prathameshji, his guru in the Pushti Marg: the Path of Grace. Shyamdas has lived in Vraj, the sacred lands of Shri Radha Krishna, for most of his life and has written and translated many books on devotional subjects.
After 35 years traveling sacred India and studying with saints and teachers, he has developed fluency in Sanskrit, Hindi, Gujarati, and Brajabhasha. Shyamdas has skillfully and insightfully translated many sacred texts into English. Shyamdas lead kirtan and satsang, devotional singing and discussions on Bhakti Yoga, in India and America.
Here’s a short tribute to Shyamdas followed by a letter from John Bush about his last days.
Shyamdas / Last Days
If you have not heard before, Shyamdas – kirtan singer, sanskrit scholar, devotee, father, friend – died early this morning.
I was with him at a friend’s dinner party last evening in a remote part of North Goa. We were laughing and joking with Shyamdas just prior to his leaving on a motorcycle with his lovely partner Ally. He seemed very happy.
Five minutes later four of us left in a taxi and came upon the accident scene. Having lost control and thrown off the cycle, Shyamdas and Ally were conscious but in acute shock and undetermined injuries. I tried comforting them in the middle of the mayhem, but there is no way to prepare for this.
Our friend Sophia, who had emergency medical training, was extraordinary in her attempts to stabilize them. They were rushed by car to the closest hospital – 45 minutes away. Upon arrival, because of internal injuries, it was too late to save Shyamdas.
Ally will apparently be ok physically after she mends from multiple injuries, but she is hurting and of course devastated by the sudden loss of her lover and constant companion. She needs support and caring.
Shyamdas was very happy in his last days here in North Goa. We had a lovely sunset kirtan on the beach the day before, and his singing was sweet, heartfelt and inspired. After sharing four meals with him in these last two days, watching him with others, speaking with him at length, I can say he was happy, at peace, in love and closer to God.
Arrangements are being made for cremation, apparently in Brindavan, and many close to him are now arriving. We will have a big kirtan tonight with satsang and friends.
I will remember Shyam Das with love and a respect for what his four decades of life in spiritual India gave to many.
To those who knew him so much better than I did, I offer you my deepest sympathies for your loss.