Pravrajika Varadaprana (Doris Ludwig) 4/22/23—1/4/14
Varadaprana was born Doris Ludwig in Los Angeles in 1923. She was born with an innate musical talent, which she used and enjoyed her entire life. She began piano at the age of five and soon progressed to violin, organ, voice, harmonium and tabla. Her exquisite and original musical compositions were her greatest gift and are widely performed in Vedanta Societies throughout the country. While still a teenager, Doris discovered The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna at the Los Angeles Public Library and that discovery changed her life. When she turned 21, she became one of the original nuns of the Vedanta Society, joining its convent in Hollywood in 1944. She moved to the Santa Barbara convent in 1947 and remained in here until her passing.
In 1949 she took first monastic vows and became Brahmacharini Varada. “Varada” in Sanskrit means “giver of blessings,” and those who knew her will attest to how well named she was. That same year, Varada visited India with Swami Prabhavananda, the founder of the Vedanta Society of Southern California, along with four other early convent members. This was first of five India pilgrimages that Varadaprana would make. With every pilgrimage she brought back numerous transcriptions of Indian devotional songs, which have been widely used ever since. Varadaprana also studied ritualistic worship (puja), which she taught to several generations of nuns that followed her. She performed the temple pujas for five decades, maintaining and training others in a tradition that she loved until she was well into her seventies.
In 1959 Varadaprana took her final monastic vows (sannyasa) and became Pravrajika Varadaprana, one of the first Western women to take formal Hindu monastic vows in the Ramakrishna Order of India. Varadaprana’s life was infused with love for God, which she conveyed through her music, her worship, her love for her family, monastic and lay, her friends, pets and garden. Even as her memory failed her in later years, her natural sweetness and thoughtfulness continued to touch everyone who encountered her. She remained gracious and affectionate to all that met her. Her last year was made much more comfortable by the loving care of the staff at Gracious Living, and prior to that, to those at the Friendship Center. We are deeply grateful to them all.
Varadaprana’s memorial will be January 17th at 11:00 am at the Vedanta Temple. The music for the memorial was composed by Varadaprana and the memorial songs have been performed hundreds of times. They will continue to enrich our lives for many, many years to come.