on Feb. 26, 2011
Today, at 69 years old, Chaitanya Prema Dasa is a robust, healthy devotee, visiting the Potomac, Maryland ISKCON temple every Sunday and working at the Pentagon, where he has served for twenty-five years in the Department of the Defense Inspector General. He keeps a small altar with Srila Prabhupada and a large, beautiful picture of Lord Krishna in his office, so that his boss and co-workers see the Lord every time they have meetings there.
Seeing him, you would never guess that back in 1997, at age 55, Chaitanya Prema was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma—or blood cancer—that had already reached stage four.
The disease spread to his bone marrow, liver, spleen, and lymph nodes. His white blood cell count was high.
“The only thing we could do was to pray nonstop,” says his daughter Jahnavi Dasi, who is now doing her PhD in microbiology and holds weekly Krishna conscious programs at the University of Maryland. “I was so worried, I couldn't let go of my beads. I chanted all the time because I was extremely scared.”
Chaitanya Prema’s doctors wanted him to undergo chemotherapy, but Jahnavi was apprehensive. She knew that radiation treatment not only killed the cancer cells, but also burned, scarred and damaged healthy cells in the bone marrow and gastro-intestinal tract, and could cause tissue and organ damage. They could even destroy our immune system’s defence cells, known as Natural Killer Cells. In fact in the past, two of her family’s friends had gotten chemotherapy for their cancer, seen remission initially, and then died two years later when their cancer returned more aggressively than ever before.
Jahnavi asked the doctors if, instead of doing chemotherapy, they would let her try to boost her father’s immune system by natural means to fight the cancer. She had beeen inspired by the movie Lorenzo's Oil, a true story about parents who were determined to save their son from an incurable brain disease. She felt that there must be powerful medicines out there that had not yet been discovered or become mainstream.
“I’ll monitor his blood counts the entire time,” she said. “And we’ll always have chemo to fall back on.” All of her father’s doctors—the oncologist, the surgeon, and primary care physician—were upset with her, and told her she was making a big mistake. But Jahnavi felt sure there was a way.
Then, on the holy night of Gaura Purnima 1998, Jahnavi dreamt that she was in the Potomac ISKCON temple, looking into a miscroscope. Through it, she saw Tulasi Devi, the personification of the famous sacred plant, telling her father’s Natural Killer Cells to eat the cancer. When she straightened up, she saw Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura, the spiritual grandfather of ISKCON’s founder Srila Prabhupada.
“Don’t take your spiritual dreams lightly,” he said. “Tulasi Devi is the cure.”
As soon as Jahnavi woke up, the tightness in her throat and the fear in the pit of her stomach that had been there for so long faded away. Now she knew what to do.
Jahnavi began to research Tulasi, also known as holy basil, or by her botanical name Ocimum sanctum. She found and read many studies from around the world explaining that Tulasi (as well as turmeric) was very powerful and rich in antioxidants that kill cancer. She also read that the sacred plant contained a phytonutrient called ursolic acid, which has been found to cause the programmed cell death of human leukemia cells. This she was excited by, since her father’s cancer, like leukemia, was blood-related.
The studies she read were done by major Universities and published in prestigious medical journals. There was a November 2006 study done at the Center for Cancer Biology in Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center; a 2009 study done in Texas and published in the International Journal of Oncology; an October 2009 study conducted at the College of Oriental Medicine in Seoul, South Korea; and a June 2010 study published in the medical journal Food and Chemical Toxicology.
They all showed how Tulasi causes cancer cells to self-destruct, and repairs damaged DNA by activating MGMT repair protein. They also proved how holy basil is radioprotective, and increases the activity of Natural Killer Cells.
Jahnavi contacted devotees in Hawaii, who FedExed her large boxes full of Tulasi Manjari garlands offered to the Deities. It wasn’t unusual for them to have giant Tulasi plants growing everywhere on their property, or to be making such large quantities of Manjari garlands—the same is true for many temples located in warm climates.
“I began to get my father to eat several Tulasi leaves a day, and then to munch on the Tulasi Manjari garlands,” Jahnavi says. “I also mixed the dried Tulasi leaves with honey. He loved it!”
Along with Tulasi, Jahnavi also added many natural foods and supplements to her father’s diet to help boost his immune system and Natural Killer Cells to fight the cancer.
“I started giving him carrot juice, wheatgrass or spinach green juice daily, which are all high in phytonutrients,” she says. “We switched to a low fat diet, with whole grains, unrefined sweeteners, spring water, and organic foods. We also made sure to avoid fried food, artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.”
Jahnavi also gave her father ginseng, and ten grams of Vitamin C a day.
“Nobel Prize winner Dr. Linus Pauling made many studies showing how vitamin C is one of the key nutrients that are needed to give the patient's body cancer-fighting ability,” she says. “He describes how when he gave one patient with an inoperable brain tumor ten grams of vitamin C every day, her tumor shrank in eight months. This daily dose of Vitamin C was also found to significantly increase the life span and enhance the quality of life in 100 terminal cancer patients.”
In addition to the Vitamin C, Jahnavi started giving her father 500 mg of Vitamin B3 three times a day and 25,000 IU daily of Beta Carotene and Vitamin E, as well as B complex, Selenium Zinc, and Coenzyme Q10.
Adding to his treatment, Chaitanya Prema also absorbed himself in chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra and meditating on God.
Within only six months, he showed marked progress. Eight months after starting his new regimen, repeated CT scans and blood work demonstrated that his body no longer showed any signs of cancer.
“It was all by Lord Krishna and Srila Prabhupada's mercy,” Jahnavi says. “Tulasi Devi is our hero!”
She explains that all types of cancer grow due to deficiencies in the immune system, and that the way to defeat cancer is to strengthen the immune system.
“The immune system can be compared to the police department, and cancer cells of any kind to criminals,” she says. “If we have weak police officers that are thin and malnourished, then how will they fight the criminals? But if we have lots of strong, powerful policemen (Natural Killer Cells) that outnumber the bad guys (cancer cells), then the policemen will defeat them. No more criminals—no more cancer.”
Following Jahnavi’s footsteps, we can boost our immune systems by taking vitamins and nourishing foods such as fresh fruit like grapes, blueberries, acai berries and pomegranate, which are are loaded with phytonutrients that have anticancer properties. Eliminating toxic overload on our immune systems is also a must, including unnecessary over-the-counter drugs, chemical additives, artificial colors, and MSG in foods. Keeping away from second-hand smoke, pollution, and intoxicants also helps to relieve the burden on your “police officers” so that they can be at their optimal strength.
Keeping a positive mindset helps, too. Jahnavi believes in the therapeutic power of hope, and feels that enhanced hope has a considerable positive impact on the immune system and can contribute to a much more favorable outcome in the fight against cancer.
“Our immune system is there for a purpose,” Jahnavi says. “It's designed to kill cancer before cancer can spread. So let’s give it a boost.”
And of course, one of the biggest boost-givers is Tulasi Devi, the sacred plant and beloved servant of Lord Krishna.
“It’s been fourteen years now since my father’s cancer went into remission, and to this day, he’s still cancer-free—and he still takes his Tulasi leaves every day!” Jahnavi says. “We pray that our story can help others with cancer, too. Remember, there is hope. After all, anything is possible by the power of Lord Krishna, and his miraculous servant Tulasi Devi.”