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Chaturatma Das leading kirtan in Ukraine, 2017, while traveling with Indradyumna Swami and Bada Haridas

During COVID-19, we are missing out on the association of devotees, as well as on many of the devotional activities we used to do in person. Lives of Service is a new ISKCON News interview series that we hope feels like sitting down for a chat at the Sunday Feast with an old friend or a devotee you’d like to get to know. Told in their own words, it’s an insightful, inspiring, lighthearted, and at times humorous look at their stories and lives of service. We hope you enjoy!

Madhava Smullen: Where are you based now, and where are you from? Chaturatma Das: I live in Alachua, Florida. Born and bred in St. Louis, and joined the temple there in 1973.

What is your current service? Traveling and preaching [in Poland, Russia, and India with Indradyumna Swami and Bada Haridas before COVID-19], brahminical services like assisting with the Deity worship in Alachua and doing samskaras for the community. I also give classes on the lives of the Vaishnava Acharyas ( – well-known ones like the Six Goswamis and Svarupa Damodar, as well as lesser-known ones like Pundarik Vidyanidhi or Nrsimhananda Brahmachari. I try to weave a combination between the philosophy of the individual and the timeline of their life, and then throw in humor as I can to keep it light.

What are some of the other services you’ve done over the years? I was assistant pujari in all three of the New York temples – 55th Street (in the late 70s and early 80s), 7th Avenue, and the current Brooklyn temple. I was the head pujari in Chicago, St. Louis, Dallas, and Houston. And I was the temple president in St. Louis, my home temple, from about 1990 to 1995. I was also a cook, sankirtan leader, and temple commander.

Can you share some memories of your bhakta (young devotee) days? I lived in a fun temple, St Louis. The temple president was a devotee named Makhanlal, and he had a very wonderful mood of dealing with the devotees – very loving, fatherly, and encouraging.

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