Help for a devotee urgently needed
The front and back covers of the book Salted Bread,a book written about the persecution of the early Russian devotees at the hands of the KGB. The title refers not only to the prison camp diet, but also to the material from which they made their chanting beads!
It’s not often that I publish an appeal on these pages, but I thought the following deserved special attention. The letter concerns a Vaishnava named Sarvabhavana Das, a pioneer of our movement in the former Soviet Union who was arrested and tortured for his faith:
Dear Vaisnavas and Vaisnavis,
Please accept our obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
It’s not often that we get an opportunity to do deeply satisfying service for a devotee who directly
sacrificed his own body for the sankirtana movement. In the past few weeks, we have raised the
funds—thank you!—for medical treatment for his most pressing difficulties. Please join us in
donating to provide a very literal shelter for him and his family—a simple home that will allow them
the peace for sadhana and preaching.
You are probably already familiar with Sarvabhavana dasa, one of the heroes of the book “Salted
Bread.” For the so-called “crime” of distributing books in the former Soviet bloc, he was imprisoned
and repeatedly beaten severely. The results? KGB agents knocked out several teeth, and there
was permanent damage to the ones he kept, both due to being beaten and the poor diet in Soviet
prisons and labor camps. A prison guard deprived him of most of the sight in one eye, and, by
jumping on his back, gave him disability and pain that never went away. He was put in psychiatric
hospitals and administered drugs to disturb his mind and harm his body. But he remained firm,
like stone or iron. He never gave the KGB information on who was printing Prabhupada’s books in
the USSR, where the press was hidden, where the books were stored, or what other persons were
heading the spread of Prabhupada’s teachings. He refused to sign papers denouncing the movement
of Krishna consciousness that could be used to arrest other devotees. For his non-cooperation, he
was imprisoned and tortured for years. He followed all the devotional principles in prisons full of rats
and rat-like men, in cold Siberian labor camps where his fingers grew numb while in forced sewing
for the Soviet armies. Chanting 16 rounds a day at the price of beatings when his chanting was
heard, preaching to the criminals there, and tolerating hell for the sake of Mahaprabhu’s mission.
Since being released from prison, he has done much preaching and befriended many devotees. He
kept pushing his damaged body in service, with some kind devotees helping him here and there
along the way. He wrote a book about his experiences that has inspired thousands. And now we
have an opportunity to offer him some service in return, as the combination of aging and the abuse
he suffered from the KGB have left him destitute.
Kindly donate to help us purchase a simple, two-bedroom house in Armenia for him and his family
that he can use until the end of his life. At his passing, either the house or the money from its sale
will go to the Garuda Foundation for the use of other devotees with similar needs. In this way, our
care for Sarvabhavana dasa will be the start of care for others. Houses in Armenia are relatively
inexpensive. The cost will be US$30,000-40,000. As of Februrary 23, we have received about 1/4 of
that amount from many devotees, including some ISKCON leaders. Kalidosa-pranasana dasa will find
and purchase the house to give to Saravabhavana dasa.
We need to receive donations by March if possible—the need is great, and Kalidosa-pranasana has
a small window of time when he can be away from his own family to arrange for the purchase of a
house in Armenia. See the bottom of this letter for the ways you can donate.
We hope this meets you in good health and blissful Krishna consciousness.
Malati devi dasi
Urmila devi dasi
Acutya Priya dasa
The donations are being handled by Padma, Inc. All donations are US tax deductable: Padma, Inc. tax
Four ways to donate to Padma Inc.
Donate through Paypal:
for donations of less than US$500, please send the funds as personal/gift
for donations of more than US$500, if you have a bank account in the US, UK, Australia, or Canada
that is linked to your Paypal account, then please use the echeck option rather than regular Paypal.
To do this you need to click on “funding options” before you finalize the payment. Echecks have
much smaller fees for the recipient
Send a cheque in the mail:
Made out to: Padma, Inc.
Mail to: Keshava Best, 445 Corporate Dr., Suite B, Escondido, CA, USA 92029
Please write on the cheque that the donation is for Sarvabhavana
To send a donation this way, we have to be able to deposit the cheque in a US account
For wire transfers:
Wells Fargo Bank
1510 W Valley Parkway,
Escondido, Ca 92029
Tel: +1 760-480-3300
* Domestic (USA) wires: 121000248 * International wires: WFBIUS6S
Bank Account Number: 1992663698
Bank Account Name: Padma Inc.
(If you send a wire transfer, please email me to inform me of the amount and when it was sent so
that we know it was given for Sarvabhavana email@example.com)
For Western Union, Monneygram, etc.:
Send to Keshava Best, San Diego, California, USA. Send an email to me informing me of the amount
so I can ask Keshava to pick it up and deposit it (firstname.lastname@example.org)