initiation in both Harinam and Brahminical (diksha) from the World Acharya His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada. Although a home grown resident of New York, he joined the movement in Miami, Florida in 1971 at the age of 19. Once there, he became the book distribution and Sankirtan leader for the yatra (church). As Srila Prabhupada’s literary publishing house the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust was established in 1972, Sulocana had the great privilege of being selected to be involved in the first big book traveling BBT party based out of Chicago, IL. In the Spring of 1976 he relocated to Atlanta, GA and continued leading Sankirtana book distribution and outreach preaching programs for the next 10 years.
Being in the grihastha (householder) ashram, having 2 young boys, and the need for economic grounding, he shifted his efforts back to New York. While there he established a thriving high-end decorative art facility near Princeton, NJ. The business offered persons a solid economic base to meet their financial needs. Alongside running the art business and sensing the need for better personal relationships among others, Sulocana and his wife Mahodari attended and competed a 4 year, accredited Science program at the Barbara Brennan School of Healing.
In 2014 Sulocana retired from active business life and reentered the field of preaching the adi vani (original instructions) of his Spiritual Master. He built a house in the 2,000 member bhakti-yoga community in Alachua, FL, the largest in North America. He and his wife currently split their time between Alachua and New York.
Mahodari dasi has been a practicing Bhakti-Yogini since 1975. Hailing out of the Los Angeles area she ended up joining Srila Prabhupada’s Hare Krsna Society in Laguna Beach, California. In that same year she moved farther south to the San Diego chapter where she procured her formal initiation from the World Acharya himself: His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Srila Prabhupada. One of Mahodaris’ many varied services consisted of the introduction and dissemination of her spiritual masters’ Vedic Literatures. This she accomplished by traveling for 5 years all over the southwestern corridor and meeting many interested persons who purchased books and began their own spiritual journey back home back to Godhead.
Over the years she has found the role of partnering with her husband in running their art establishment and raising 2 boys to adulthood both challenging and rewarding by keeping Krsna (God) in the center as much as possible. In retirement she has appreciated the expansive opportunity to delve more deeply into vegetarian cooking, Deity worship, book distribution, and making friends with like-minded individuals.
Bhakta Eric Johanson was born in Brooklyn, NY and was raised on Long Island. He has a degree in civil engineering with a minor in math and works in that field. Bhakta Eric later joined the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) in December 1977 at the Berkeley, California temple after having lived in that city for 5 years. Bhakta Eric was trained as a bhakta by Vatsala dasa. In May 1978 bhakta Eric was among the first batch to become so-called disciples of the zonal acarya that was posted in Berkeley, Hansadutta “swami.” Then called Vrindavana Candra dasa, bhakta Eric was trained in book distribution by Mahanidhi dasa, but wasn’t especially adept at fund raising in general. Having helped Vatsala dasa build new carts in 1978, bhakta Eric annually assembled the Ratha Yatra cart for the yearly festival in either San Francisco or Berkeley. A number of elements of the cart were a different form of prasadam, having been earlier handled or built by Jayananda prabhu.
Bhakta Eric later became involved in the management of the zone’s rural community in northern California, Mt. Kailasa Farm, and became one of the directors, the corporate secretary (under the able brahminical guidance of Berkeley’s Hanumat Presaka dasa) and later president. Because of this he was more familiar than most with Hansadutta “swami’s” ongoing spiritual difficulties. For apparently not much more than a show of defiance to ISKCON’s Governing Body Commission (GBC) in 1983, Hansadutta dasa decided to independently make nine sannyasis. Bhakta Eric was chosen, despite his feeling that he was completely unqualified. He just did what his so-called guru ordered. Another perhaps more appropriate question would have been if then Hansadutta “swami” was actually qualified to give sannyasa to anyone. Generally one receives genuine sannyasa from a sannyasi who is truly following the vows of the renounced order.
Sometime in early 1985 on a traveling fund raising mission, bhakta Eric finally came to the conclusion that it was impossible to have absolute faith in someone with the loose habits of Hansadutta dasa (then remarried) and realized that such faith could only be placed in Srila Prabhupada. He began personally chanting Srila Prabhupada’s pranam mantra instead of that of Hansadutta dasa. As confirmation, bhakta Eric received Srila Prabhupada’s guru puja garland the morning he returned to the temple. This was many months before many other so-called disciples more angrily gave up on Hansadutta dasa. Bhakta Eric is, however, quite grateful to Hansadutta dasa, a legendary cook, for personally training him in the farm’s outdoor kitchen.
In the summer of 1985 bhakta Eric read Sulocana dasa’s The Guru Business and realized that he had yet to achieve any genuine link with the disciplic succession. Shortly after, he met Kailasa Candra dasa and understood that it was he who had injected the philosophical knowledge and conviction into Sulocana prabhu’s writing. Bhakta Eric invited Kailasa Candra dasa to manage the farm in the summer of 1986. Although he was not requested to do so, Bay Area GBC Atreya Rsi dasa then ceased visiting the farm and also had his associates, such as Shivananda dasa and Vipra Mukya swami, leave.
Bhakta Eric served more or less as Kailasa Candra dasa’s personal secretary from 1986 to 2012. On the recommendation of Kailasa Candra dasa, and as part of the transfer of the Dieties at Mt. Kailasa Farm to Hansadutta dasa, bhakta Eric received Hansadutta dasa’s permission to be freed from any previous vows or “spiritual” connection with him.
Bhakta Eric co-founded the non-profit Vaishnava Foundation with Kailasa Candra dasa when it incorporated in 1987 and had a hand in most of the day-to-day functioning of the farm from 1985-88. However his dream for Mt. Kailasa farm did not go as planned. He had thought that bringing the right perspective and siddhanta there in the person of Kailasa Candra dasa would automatically attract many sincere devotees who would work to bring back Srila Prabhupada’s pre-zonal acarya movement. Although he got free from the personal burden of possibly misusing a huge asset, there were apparently other reasons why devotees would not stay or come.
In 1995 bhakta Eric understood that the internet would provide an alternative means for devotees to preach and communicate. Under the direction of Kailasa Candra dasa, he started the Vaishnava Foundation’s website in early 1996, managed it and replied to virtually all inquires. Previous to this the Foundation had been limited to posting classified ads in Yoga Journal. Besides posting many articles from 1996-2012 on the foundation’s website, many were simultaneously posted on the Vaishnava News Network (VNN) and the Sampradaya Sun.
Bhakta Eric aspires to become sincere enough to contact a devotee on the highest level of Krishna consciousness.