Haripuja Mataji

Haripuja devi dasi attended the Art College of Pittsburgh in 1970-71, where she learned to hand-design advertisements. Being the age before computers, this art form would later allow her to hand-correct Srila Prabhupada’s book negatives. Her real desire was to learn fashion design. Haripuja prabhu tried many things before coming to Krishna Consciousness such as modeling, traveling, and yoga. She was searching for answers about God and this world. Upon meeting the devotees, satisfying answers convinced her to join the temple in Pittsburgh in 1971. Within a year, she took initiation.

In 1972, Haripuja mataji joined Vishnujana Swami’s Road Show with Radha Damodara Traveling Sankirtan Party, after being a substitute in the show put on for Srila Prabhupada in Pittsburgh. The Road Show ended its career at the Brooklyn Temple, where she began to sew for and serve Sri Sri Radha Govinda including going out daily on sankirtan. In 1973, Haripuja prabhu married Kirtiraja das, and they went to work at the Spiritual Sky Exports in Calcutta. Indirectly, through a brahmachari, Srila Prabhupada taught her how to paint brass deities. The Deities she painted were sent to America as the service of Spiritual Sky Exports. The Polish Embassy was next door to the Calcutta Temple, and the ambassador’s wife visited the Temple. When Srila Prabhupada found out that Kirtiraja prabhu was of Polish heritage, he asked him to go preach in Poland.

Going to Poland in 1975 with their one-year-old daughter, Ragalekha, was the beginning of trying to preach in the Communist countries. The Soviet Union and other Eastern European countries were communist and therefore not allowed any religious philosophies. They were atheistic and punished their people for any connection to religion and Krishna Consciousness. After their son Radhanath was born in 1978, the family moved to England, and eventually Sweden, to carry on the activities of the Committee to Free the Soviet Hare Krishnas. There they also participated in creating a self-sufficient farm community in the Swedish countryside, and Haripuja prabhu assisted her husband who was the GBC for Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. 150,000 of Srila Prabhupada’s books were translated and published in Europe and India into Russian and were then sent into the communist countries to be reproduced and distributed underground. Some of these underground devotees were imprisoned because of their activities; some were placed in labor camps; and others were tortured in mental hospitals. Working closely with Amnesty International and other organizations, the pressure to reveal the abuses of the Soviet government toward their people became more and more known and eventually, in 1989, the imprisoned devotees were released and brought to India to fulfill the wish of Srila Bhaktivinoda that one day the Russians will chant “Jaya Sacinandana!” together with the Mayapur Bengalis. Thanks to the committee’s efforts and the help of a worldwide campaign, the devotees in Eastern Europe were from that time on freer than ever to practice Krishna consciousness!

After helping to hammer down the Berlin Wall and personally being in Moscow during the army takeover in 1990, Haripuja prabhu and family moved to Alachua. There were only about 25 devotees here at that time! Here she is the Coordinator of the Deity’s Sewing Department and a designer and organizer of the outfits for the Radharani Club. She and her ladies group began the club 15 years ago, before the installation of Sri Sri Radhe-Shyam. By Srila Prabhupada’s grace, many devotees engage in service through the Radharani Club activities of bake sales, jewelry sponsorships, and sponsoring three outfits per year. Sridevi dasi reporting