I just read in the Sampradaya Sun that an old friend from California, Ajitananda prabhu, has left this world. Ajitananda did not come across as a complicated person but was always nice. That's not to say that he didn't have his share of problems. Who doesn't?
Ajitananda was a very sincere personality. Not one to stand out in the crowd, or to impress others, he was sweet and simple. We first met in Los Angeles in the 70's. I really don't remember him well from those days. Then we met again in India, about 10 years ago. He had gone there with his wife and only daughter. They were always rather poor, just getting by. Somehow they got the money to spend some time in Vrindavan. Ajitananda loved the holy dham. When his wife and daughter felt it was time to return to L.A., Ajitananda opted to stay. He rented an apartment across from mine. We would run into each other there. He was excited about painting the qualities of Srimati Radharani on a large pink plywood board. When he completed it, he convinced the head pujari at Krishna Balaram Mandir to hang the signboard just to the side of Sri Sri Radha Syamasundara's altar. It listed all of Radhika's qualities. He was very pleased with it. And i believe Radharani was pleased with him.
We never had much to talk about with each other, but Ajitananda would always say something to me both simple and transcendental whenever we met. The last time i saw him was 3 years ago, in Berkeley, California. He was living in a room in a devotee's house. He had separated from his wife. He didn't seem happy, but he didn't complain either. I had heard he had a substance abuse problem, but neither of us mentioned it. Instead, he talked about Srila Prabhupada, how wonderful his qualities were. I listened to him as he told me about a book he was writing describing Prabhupada's 26 qualities as a pure devotee.
He published that book, and the article in the Sun mentioned that he had just completed a 4 part video based on the book. Ajitananda completed the videos just 6 weeks before he died, last week, during Kartik. Although we were not close, i feel sad to think that i will not see him again in this life.
Prabhupada collected many jewel-like souls. They were covered with dust or dirt, but they were jewels underneath, shining with faith and love. Ajitananda is one of them. Ajitananda prabhu ki jai! Srila Prabhupada ki jai!
p.s. the video can be found on YouTube: