Memories and Miracles

By Surevara dasa (as taken from the Sept. 1977 issue of the BRIJABASI SPIRIT)

Six summers ago New Vrindaban was the incense capital of ISKCON (east of the Mississippi anyway). Crates of plain sticks arrived regularly from the Far East via Los Angeles temple. Bahulaban shipped and received orders from New York to Nairobi, supplying Lord Caitanya’s legions with crores of scented swords to help fight the war on maya. In between shipping and receiving, the task of dipping the sticks in oils was giv­en to Ranadhir and a few of us at Madhuban.
Madhuban was brand new territory. We were the first devotees to tend cows and plant crops there. In the mornings, Stan (now Satadhanya Maharaja), An­thony (now Amburish dasa) and my­self dipped incense and fought off the flies. Afternoons, we worked in the gar­dens or on a thousand and one other projects. What times. Pots-and-pans kirtanas, fireside prasada, classes by candle­light after big electrical storms (or bills). The weather around New Vrindaban is so changeable. Whenever you get lazy or loose on a sunny day, you know that maya is just setting you up for the kill. Once, lightning struck a tree trunk a few yards away from me, and I about jump­ed out of my body. Krsna!

One day at lunch I noticed some new kind of vegetable on my plate. I didn’t know what it was, but it was spiced nice­ly, so I just kept on eating. Lunch pra­sada was standard but succulent: dahl, rice, capatis and a varied vegetable from the garden or picked wild. Everything was cooked, offered and served with re­markable patience and devotion by Mo­ther Sandhini and Vicki (now Mother Vijaya), So, after lunch I walked out to east ridge, as usual, to chant japa. Look­ing out past the pine forest toward the gently rolling hills, the view was very majestic and serene. Suddenly, 1 felt diz­zy, so I sat down cross-legged and con­tinued to chant. Then I began to see double, then triple. I didn’t move, but inwardly my mind was reeling. It oc-cured to me that I was about to die. Well, I thought nervously, I’m rightly situated. Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare / Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. After what seemed like a very long time, my vision returned to normal. The crisis had passed. Slowly, I got up and walked back to the house. I felt as if I’d been through an LSD nightmare. Finally, I reached the place where the devotees were.

“Hey prabhus, I don’t know about you, but I fee! aw—.” I looked down. Everybody was on their backs. Ranadhir’s eyes were rolling in their sockets. I thought that he was dying, but then 1 saw he was laughing. “Ranadhir, what was that plant we picked for lunch to­day?”
“I thought it was wild carrot.”
“What was it?”

Sure enough. Later, we took a speci­men across Kesighata to Vrindaban and Hayagriva’s herbal encyclopedia con­firmed it. We offered Krsna hemlock. What fools. And we ate enough to fin­ish a whole assembly of Socrates. But just on this one point, that at least we offered it, Krsna saved us. “I shall deliv­er you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear.”

As summer faded the air turned cool. Soon the sun was too weak to dry the incense properly, and our hands began to numb during dipping. Finally, we were forced to move the whole operat­ion down to Bahulaban into the old barn. We shared the barn with the cows—half Spiritual Sky, half Goloka. When the weather turned colder still, Uncle George, our Ph.D., masterminded and built a wood-burning furnace to blast hot air through a large insulated pipe into the barn. This homemade heating system was never very effective nor did it look very safe. It seemed to be better than nothing, but was it good enough for Krsna?

The answer came one morning as I was walking from the barn to the tem­ple. BOOM! I looked left and saw the furnace burst into flames. Krsna! Incon­ceivably and simultaneously, a fire en­gine was passing by on the road. Now, you just don’t see fire engines every day on McCreary’s Ridge—nor every week, month or even year. So before I knew what to do, there was this fireman in full gear, running up the bank and shooting torrents of water at the blazing furnace. Already the flames were mov­ing along the pipe towards the barn. Now they were licking at the old wood walls. Just in time, the fireman swung his hose to the critical spot and, with a mighty gush, doused the danger. I was dumbstruck. Fools again. Incense, hay, wood. There were enough combustibles connected to that infernal contraption to burn Bahulaban to ashes. And now what a divine drama. Krsna, the fire! Krsna, the water! Go-brahmana hitaya ca. He saved His cows and devotees and taught us a good lesson.

In Vedic times Krsna also saved the Pandavas from poison and fire. The Pan­davas, great devotees of the Lord, were always being imperiled by Duryodhana and the demons. Miraculously, Krsna rescued them every time. But in Kali-yuga, as the above incidents show, the foolish demons are living right inside of us. So, Lord Caitanya and the spiritual master have come to clean our hearts with the sweet sound of the holy names. This is the greatest miracle. All glories to you, Srila Prabhupada! You are inducing so many of us Jagais and Madhais to chant Hare Krsna and become devotees. “Miracle done, Your Divine Grace.”

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