In 2000, Sangita Devi Dasi (Susan Pattinson, RN, CHPN) and The Late Jusaniya Devi Dasi (Judy Harris, RN, BSN), both disciples of Srila Prabhupada, co-founded Vaishnavas C.A.R.E. (Counseling, Assistance, Resource, and Education for the Terminally ill and Their Caregivers) in service to their spiritual master and the worldwide community of devotees of Lord Krishna. Because the concepts of hospice and palliative care were unfamiliar at that time within ISKCON, educational articles, online coursework, as well as one-on-one communication were used to introduce and teach basic care for the terminally ill via its initial website.
In addition, Sangita Devi Dasi and Bhaktavatsala Das, RN, BSN, APN traveled to Mayapur, India that same year in 2000. During a meeting of ISKCON’s Governing Body Commissioners (GBC), Bhaktavatsala presented Vaishnavas CARE’s vision to ISKCON’s GBC leaders by explaining our desire to introduce hospice care in every temple and community in ISKCON so its worldwide family of devotees would receive the end-of-life care they deserve. In addition, Bhaktavatsala explained Vaishnavas CARE’s hope to build an inpatient hospice facility within Vrindavan, India (a holy place of pilgrimage for Vaishnavas around the world).
Sangita Devi Dasi
Eventually, Sangita traveled to cities throughout North America and India giving one to three day hospice training seminars. In addition, she encouraged and helped organize “Vaishnavas Care Teams” in ISKCON Temples and Communities so volunteers would be trained and ready when the need arose within their congregation. With the publication of her book, "The Final Journey–Complete Hospice Care for Departing Vaishnavas" (Torchlight Publishing, 1st and 2nd Editions) devotees around the world now had a hands-on manual to follow when caring for a dying loved one. This helped push forward Vaishnavas CARE’s cause and made the information more readily available because it was written specifically for layperson caregivers within the Vaishnava faith.
Meanwhile, Sangita worked with His Holiness Giriraj Swami for almost a decade to design, build and establish the Bhaktivedanta Hospice in Vrindavan, India so devotees from around the globe could easily come to the Holy Land to pass away when diagnosed with a terminal disease. After much work and the help of His Holiness Radhanath Swami and many of his sincere disciples, a 40,000 square foot hospice facility opened their doors in 2010 and still functions in Vrindavan for devotees of Lord Krishna to come to when facing the end of life. In addition to caring for western devotees with terminal diseases, the dedicated staff of this comfortable facility also offers home and inpatient end-of-life care for approximately 200 terminally ill local patients per month. Their care is funded by the kind donors from around the world who donate through “Share Your Care” (www.shareyourcare.com).
In addition, several years ago Sangita Devi Dasi spent time at the Bhaktivedanta Hospital in Mumbai, India encouraging the start of their Hospice and Palliative Care Department which has since expanded with two enthusiastic and caring Physicians, several Registered Nurses, Other staff members, and over 50 volunteers to serve their local population who are facing the end of life.
Thanks to Vaishnavas CARE’s dedicated group of donors and enthusiastic volunteers, Vaishnavas CARE continues to make available the organization’s many services, such as hands-on care from our trained volunteers, educational seminars, a popular online Distance Learning Course, inspiring online articles on our website, grief counseling, emotional and spiritual support for the patient as well as the caregiver/family members, and continued training for our Vaishnavas CARE teams and individuals who desire to learn “The Art of Caring for Vaishnavas.” Vaishnavas C.A.R.E. remains an ongoing resource for members of the Krishna consciousness movement as well as anyone who feels they can benefit from our assistance. We thank our Supporters for their ongoing encouragement and our Donors for their continued contributions and participation!