Today, December 2nd, at about 5:30 am California time, during the auspicious Brahma Muhurta time, His Grace Sura prabhu (disciple of Srila Prabhupada and long-time servant of the BBT) left his body in Los Angeles. He had been hospitalized since November 26th, after being diagnosed with Covid-19. His son, Ram Nomi, and his daughter, Sitapriya, were in the room chanting when he departed. Srila Prabhupada’s chanting was also playing softly in the background. Sura prabhu had his japa beads and was wearing a Nrsimha pavitra from Mayapura.
Some years ago, Sura prabhu had a kidney transplant and thus was obliged to take medicine that suppressed his immune system. He caught Covid and his body did not have the strength to fight it off. Sura prabhu had been struggling for years with a number of health challenges (a kidney transplant, dialysis several times a week, and the various ravages of severe diabetes). Yet he continued his service at the BBT with deep dedication and determination up to his last few days.
Sura prabhu was born in Chicago in1952 and joined ISKCON in Seattle in 1973. He immediately began distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books. He was so determined and successful that he became one of the top distributors in the USA and was honored during the opening of the Krsna-Balarama temple in Vrindavan by being given the opportunity to be one of the three devotees who offered the first arati by Srila Prabhupada’s disciples, along with Tripurari Swami and Vaisesika Prabhu.
In 1979 Sura Prabhu became the president of the St. Louis temple, and in 1988 he joined his old friend Svavasa prabhu in Los Angeles to help manage the North American offices of the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust (BBT). Sura prabhu handled the accounts but also inspired the production of new mass distribution books like “The Journey of Self-Discovery”; “The Quest for Enlightenment”; “Beyond Illusion and Doubt”; “Dharma, the Way of Transcendence”; “Spiritual Yoga”; and “The Laws of Nature: An Infallible Justice”.
Sura prabhu was also an accomplished kirtan leader and musician. While at the Los Angeles temple, he started the Temple Bhajan Band (a group of excellent devotee musicians) and spread the chanting of the Holy Name at yoga studios, music festivals, interfaith gatherings, and many other venues. Of course, you could always find him leading the Temple Bhajan Band in chanting on stage for hours each year at the Los Angeles Ratha-yatra. True to his nature, he always took advantage of these opportunities to distribute large quantities of Srila Prabhupada’s books.
We all have our individual personalities, but Sura was definitely unique. His combination of humor, gruffness, tenacity, keen intelligence, and a deep preaching spirit will always be remembered and cherished. He was, above all, a “Srila Prabhupada man”—completely dedicated to Srila Prabhupada’s mission.
He will be sorely missed by all who knew him.
Dravida dasa, Arcita dasa, and Badrinarayan Swami