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Friday, June 28, 2019

Kul Bhusan Chaudhary ‘Bush’ – A Friend of Vedanta Society Passes Away

By Swami Yogatmananda, Minister, Vedanta Society of Providence

‘Namaskar, Swamiji’ – Kul Bhusan Chaudhary was on phone. ‘There is a festival in the Providence today, where different ethnic groups will be gathering and will be displaying the exhibits about their culture, arts, history & so forth. It will be nice if you can come. I can pick you up, when you are ready’.

It was the summer of 2001. I had been in Providence then barely for two months. This gentleman had met me just one or two times before at Vedanta Society, when he had come primarily to meet my predecessor, Revered Swami Sarvagatananda. He introduced me to ‘Bush’. Just one brief meeting was enough for us to form a cordial bond of friendship. He offered to introduce me to the socio-cultural backdrop of Rhode Island/ Providence and the Indian Community here. I was quick to take this offer. He opened many windows for me; it was a difficult task during my initial days here in US, to get culturally adopted to the new paradigms. But Kul Bhusan made things easier for me. 

He taught me how to walk on snowy, icy sidewalks around with less chance of slipping. ‘no, no – watch me – you have to step on the fluffy snow and avoid those shiny patches’ – was a simple tip he gave that saved me many a nasty fall. He asked me to come for the first Indian Classical Sitar concert at the India Museum hall at Telle St. Our talks ranged from the American political system, interaction between religions, the lessons of 9/11 terrorist attacks, nuances of American English, … down to how to use a dishwasher most efficiently.

In consultation with other members of the Vedanta Society, I had decided to start observing ‘Universal Brotherhood Day’ on every 2nd September afternoon-evening from 2002 September. Kul Bhusan was a very important contributor in putting the whole program together. He and his family and friends did the cooking for the dinner at the end of this event for many years. Later (probably from 2012), with his multiple health issues, other family members and associates from India Museum have till this date continued with this tradition of making all the food arrangements for the Universal Brotherhood Day function.

In 2003, we arranged a special function to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Center. His help in organizing the event was immensely valuable. It was a great learning for me to see how to help without demanding, how to firmly state your counter opinions, yet without ceasing to cooperate even if those opinions were turned down. He always helped but never made the helped feel weighted down by it. Our loving association became stronger as the years rolled on, in spite of the ups and downs in his professional life and health condition. This is the time when my admiration for Lucy, his wife, increased more and more. She stood by him rendering all the service and support in these difficult times. 

I remember his giving me an important book to study – ‘American Democracy’ by French scholar Alexis Tocqueville. ‘There is a chapter on Democracy and Religion in it; that is a very interesting read’ – he told. That book helped me a lot in understanding some cardinal principles of democracy and the direction some of the popular religions were going to take as democracy advances. 

The end of his physical life brings the curtain down on an important act in the long drama of Vedanta Society of Providence and on act in my life too. But many important seeds have been sown in this act to grow in times to come. Life moves on…

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