I have taken a detour for this post.
I am requetsing that the FBI investigate the alleged murder of seven Hare Krishna Devotees by Prince Johnson in Liberia.
The FBI has jurisdiction over American nationals. If Johnson murdered these persons and they are American citizens. The United States Should prepare extradition papers for Prince Johnson.
Initiated By: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Devotional Name: Hladini devi dasi
Date of Initiation: Detroit 29 March, 1970
Date of Death: September 13, 1990
Age at Death:
Cause of Death: Homicide
Survived By: Mahananda dasa
Memorial by Satyahita das
We knew Hladini devi dasi in 1969 for a year & 1/2 as a dedicated Lord Jaganath pujari & all around enthusiastic devotee. With no other devotee's to attend on one day we went out on Harinama for a couple hours in down town Miami. I greatly appreciated her absorption in, & her enthusiasm for Harinama Sankirtana . Normally our small temple went out 6 days per week performing Harinama street kirtans & BTG distribution for 4 hours. 2 before & 2 hours after a lunch Prasadam & rest period in a local park.
Years later i again saw Hladini devi dasi as a dedicated Lord Jaganath pujari in a slightly remote old house (the first), on a hill in New Vrindavan & when Lord Jaganath became ill Hladini devi dasi took care of & painted all the Lord Jaganath deity sets from New Vrindavan in Pittsburgh & honored only what They were offered. She was in love with Lord Jaganath
Memorial by Vajresvari dasi
Remembrances by Vajresvari dasi, Hladini Devi dasi's friend
I lived in New Vrindaban from August `72 through October `77. And I visited during the months of August and September, 1979. I can only relate to you a few incidents from my limited memory concerning Hladini Devi dasi. Immediately after Janmastami `72, after Srila Prabhupada finished his stay in NV, (he stayed at the old house at Madhubahn), I was living in a little brahmacharini ashram at Bahulabahn. It included the following devotees: Mothers Hladini, Gomata, Gunyarupini, Shalavati, Kutila, Isani, Sudakari and myself. Also the householders Vijaya and Parayana were around. I remember Hladini was cooking at the time at the old Bahulabahn kitchen in the old house. One time Kirtanananda called her to chastise her for cooking malpuras that came out in the shape of a fish! Later she told me about it and was laughing at herself. She was always able to laugh at herself. I lived at Madhubahn during the time she was also there taking care of big Lord Jagannath. She was, a great devotee of Lord Jagannath. By great I mean, sincere, devoted, and totally in love with Lord Jagannath, Lord Balaram and Lady Subhadra, but especially Lord Jagannath. In fact she often looked just like she had a lover, she really appeared to be a woman in love, that was how much she loved to take care of Them, and how much mercy They were bestowing on her due to her love and devotion and surrender.
I used to assist Mothers Hladini and Ruparameswari in the kitchen, rolling chapatis. Mother Hladini was reading the Mahabharata and would tell us more each day as we worked in the kitchen. I never saw her cry or even unhappy except for one time, when Kirtanananda asked her to marry. Then she cried, she was so happy just being pujari for Jagannath. But she married Vahna das and became a happy wife, serving her husband and continuing her service to the Jagannath dieties. She found out I could crochet and asked me to crochet chaddars for them. She was so pleased when they were done. I remember her telling me about her experiences doing sankirtan in Chicago. She said that in Chicago you could hear when the cows were weekly slaughtered. Their cries could be heard for miles.
Mostly what I remember about my dear Godsister is her kindness, her being one of the most non judgmental, compassionate, kind and faithful devotee one might find. Her vision and faith in Krsna consciousness: not to worry, not to get hung up on the things the neophyte usually does, and just follow the process, it will work. Even if you don’t feel like it is working, it will work. That was her faith and she inspired me and often relieved me from my anxieties in those days, my first months in Krsna consciousness.
Just being around her was inspiring, strenghening. I consider Mother Hladini my guardian angel. She came to me in a dream about two years ago. When she appeared to me in this dream, I had not been thinking about her for many years. I suppose you can’t write about dreams devotees have had about her after she left her body in a formal memorial honorary. But the dream was such a miracle, because it was as real, hearing her words and seeing her face in my dream, as this computer I am writing at. It was as vivid as being awake. Her face was close to mine and I looked into her beautiful blue eyes. She told me "Your life is wonderful, you have nothing to worry about" at a time when I had been worrying. When I woke up I realized that she had come personally to give me that message. The dream experience is still with me, giving me faith, knowing that not only is Krsna within and without, guiding me, loving me, more than I am able to experience, but undoubtedly the Vaisnavas who are no longer in their bodies, are also remembering us, assisting Srila Prabhupada in this incredible pastime of saving the fallen souls. Krsna, the dearmost friend, is arranging everything as we surrender, so happy that we are trying to go back to Him.
With love and obeisances, Vajresvari dasi
Memorial by Jalakara dasa
The Martyrdom of Hladini © 2000
Hladini devi dasi and her husband Mahananda dasa were initiated in Detroit on 29 March 1970. How she came to be in Monrovia, Liberia at the time of her death is obscure. Because she was aligned with the breakaway Kirtanananda faction at the time of her death she has never been given the recognition she deserved. Now that a general amnesty has long since been granted to the breakaway faction, and indeed as former breakaway members now serve on the GBC, perhaps her story can now be told.
By the time Hladini got to Monrovia, the various factions fighting in Liberia had gotten a reputation for bizarre behavior. They wore strange costumes like wedding gowns, Donald Duck masks, shower caps, or nothing at all. They fought in a drug-induced frenzy. Many of these warriors were children who went into battle carrying teddy bears and baby dolls. Why devotees were there at all is an open question with mysterious overtones. The temple was in the capital, Monrovia, in an area nominally controlled by the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG). The Freeport area, which is about five miles outside Monrovia, was controlled by the troops of the Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL), led by Prince Yormei Johnson. Prince Johnson was a notorious killer who had tortured and killed the former President Samual Doe. The event was filmed on video and the copies sold in the marketplace. Johnson also was known for killing his own men at a faster rate than the enemy.
Now, it so happened that the devotees wanted to do food distribution: there was widespread starvation and two out of every three Liberians had been made homeless. So, they approached Johnson and made a proposal to him which ran something like this: “Since you control the port and all the international food aid that comes to the country passes through your hands, why don’t you give us some of the food? We will distribute that food to the hungry and you will get credit for being a great humanitarian.” The warlord agreed to this proposal and thereafter he diverted supplies of commodity food to the devotees, who then distributed it as prasadam. He even visited the temple and received a Bhagavad Gita as-it-is. Apparently he visited more than once and enjoyed prasadam. But, the warlord’s reputation for insane murder bothered some of the devotees, so one day a Nigerian devotee wrote a letter to Prince Johnson that said, in effect, “You are a great personality, so you should stop conducting yourself in such a demonic manner and stop killing people. This will benefit you and all humanity.” It has been claimed that Hladini was the author of the letter, but that is not true. There were two young brothers who were bhaktas in the temple. It is they who heard Johnson and his troops arrive late in the night of Thursday, 13th September 1990. One of them hid behind the bathtub, the other in a closet. Because they hid, they survived. There was banging on the door, and then a crash. All the devotees were rounded up downstairs. There were seven African men and an African woman, plus Hladini devi dasi, disciple of Srila Prabhupada. Johnson ranted and raged and held up the letter, shaking it. “How dare you send this to me!” he bellowed in his pidgin West African English. Then they pushed the devotees out and shoved them into a waiting vehicle. They were driven over the low bridge that crosses the muddy St Paul River and then the little convoy stopped at a dirty beach by the mouth of the river. At gunpoint, the nine devotees were forced out and herded onto the sand. Johnson announced that only the men would be killed. It may be the women were to be raped and released, or left entirely unmolested. Such things are terribly random in these circumstances, and very hard to predict. But it was then that Hladini had her finest hour and showed bravery greater than any man I have ever known. As Johnson raised his weapon to fire the execution volley, Hladini leapt forward and attacked Johnson with her hands. “How dare you kill devotees of Krishna!” she shouted. But she was a woman, and a beautiful but weak one at that, so her attack had little result but to ensure her own death. All were slain save the African girl, who is no longer an active devotee. They chanted as they were shot down. That was the night of September 13th, or it could have been the early morning hours of September 14th (Indira Ekadasi). The bodies were left on the beach. When the tide came in they were washed out, but as the river is tidal at that point, the bodies were carried back into the town with the tide. The bodies of some of the men could be seen drifting in and out in the St Paul River for days, their dead hands stiff with rigor mortis holding their beads within their beadbags. Hladini’s body also drifted in. Her sari became entangled with the structure of the bridge and remained there for several days, rising and falling with the tide. According to Tribhuvanatha prabhu, who helped investigate this and interviewed one of the brothers, “It freaked out the whole town.” Not content with his work thus far, Prince Johnson continued on his bloody rampage, murdering a total of 29 people that night. In 1996 the interim government of Charles Taylor attempted to arrest him for murder and Johnson precipitated a wave of violent riots. He later went “insane” and is rumored to be in an asylum in Nigeria. The faction he led disintegrated. The next time you are distributing a book and someone insults you, think twice about calling him a demon. Understand what a demon really is, as opposed to the merely misguided or unfortunate. For a chaste woman, given the choice between rape and death, with your students about to be slain in the cruelest manner before your eyes, what do you do? Hladini faced an impossible choice in a doomed, impossible situation. She reacted with integrity and loyalty and without fear and is a credit to her spiritual master. Oh, such a disciple! But she had such a spiritual master! And, we know how Prabhupada admired courage. In short, she passed her test gloriously. Let no one attempt to minimize her. In Lagos, Nigeria the devotees found out about it from Liberian refugees they encountered on sankirtan several months later. One of my Nigerian friends wrote me in London about it.
Mahananda dasa: “She telephoned me from the airport on her way to Africa. I should have told her to stay right there, I’ll get on the next plane and come and get you. I know she would have listened to me. But I didn’t say it. I wish I had. I think about her every day.” In London we wanted to hold a mohotsava feast in honor of the departed devotees, but we didn’t know their names, except for Hladini, so we put it off. It was never held.
Radhanatha Swami: “She sent me a letter from Liberia. She said that all the foreigners had been evacuated and there was no way to leave. There was so much violence and starvation. She said she thought she would probably die there.” This coming September13th 2000 (September 22nd by lunar calculation) will be the tenth remembrance of that sad and glorious event. Will anyone have a mohotsava for her?
Please return by mail. I have no problem with doing this in public.
Thank you for your consideration.http://www.iskcon.net/inmemoriam/devotees/d_Hladin.html