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Yamuna Devi: A Life of Unalloyed Devotion
Yamuna devi personified “unalloyed love.” From the onset of her commitment to the process of Krishna Consciousness, she was unwavering in her determination to know Krishna as the only “lovable object.” Those who had the fortune of her association during her lifetime witnessed her uninhibited joy in all aspects of Krishna Consciousness, her natural humility, all-embracing compassion, disinterest in personal honor and distinction, and earnest desire to encourage others as Srila Prabhupada had encouraged her.
This illustrated memoir and biography unfolds the inspiring internal and external spiritual odyssey of Yamuna’s devotional life, recalled in her memories, talks, journals and writings, as well as through the remembrances of the author, Dinatarini devi, her Godsister and companion of 37 years, and other associates and friends. It is richly supplemented with many rare photos, Yamuna’s calligraphic works, illustrations and art.
In Part One: Preparing an Offering of Love, Yamuna meets her spiritual preceptor, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, at her sister’s wedding in 1965 and begins her first tentative steps in bhakti. In San Francisco she and a group of friends establish a vibrant temple and celebrate Rathayatra. Yamuna is initiated, married and begins cooking for Srila Prabhupada. She, her husband and two other couples then travel to London and ignite the fire of sankirtan in England. She records with George Harrison at Apple Studios and helps establish a temple in London. Her guru’s promise to take her to India is fulfilled in 1970, when she travels with the World Sankirtan Party throughout India. Despite hardships and obstacles along the path, the seed of Yamuna’s bhakti grows and matures into a life of unalloyed devotion.
In Part Two: Offering the Gift of Bhakti to Others, Yamuna faces challenges and austerities while serving in Vrindavan. In 1974, she leaves the Krishna-Balarama Temple project and moves to Oregon with her Godsister, Dinatarini, to begin a women’s ashram. Her beloved Deities, named Sri Sri Radha-Banabehari by Srila Prabhupada, are installed there. In the ensuing years, Yamuna and Dinatarini move extensively, each move bringing its own challenges and inspirations. In 1984, Yamuna’s epic cookbook, Lord Krishna’s Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking, is released to unprecedented praise. In 1998, Yamuna and Dinatarini, seeking a simpler life, move Saranagati Village to live off-the-grid in a self-built Vastu designed home. Here, Yamuna lovingly shares kirtan, classes, deity seva, and devotional inspiration. Health issues later force Yamuna to move to Florida, where she continues to inspire others in bhakti until her passing.
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