A Truth About Transcendentalism

Wise Guys and Everything Else

by Srila Jiva Goswami dasa

As a resident of Old New Vrindabana, I used to like to make Devotees laugh. I’d think up one liners and rim shots all the time, and when the opportunity arose, I’d go ahead with the humor.

This is a little vignette for your amusement about the time I brought suit against Jai Maurari Prabhu.

One of the most beautiful vehicles on the farm at the time was the 3/4 ton Dodge pick up we called Dodge Rama Dasa. By agreement, she was driven exclusively by yours truly, selected with the expertise of Janalada Prabhu, and purchased brand new with cash.

The arrangement was that the Community laid out the money and I paid it back. I used the truck for personal transportation, and for Devotional Service. It was an extraordinary, dependable simple truck. It had the famous reliable Dodge 318 engine, a four speed manual transmission, the sliding window in the back of the cab, a limited slip differential, and a black cap with roof racks. The cap had side windows for easy loading. There were heavy duty helper springs. The truck ran smoothly and well, and performed terrifically for years.

How it was purchased was an unusual arrangement, but I kept my side of the bargain, and Janalda’s expertise paid off in spades. There was no air conditioning, or power windows. There was no cassette player or even FM radio. It was a work truck, pure and simple. It dovetailed perfectly with the ideals of Devotional Service. I was very proud of the truck, and the trust the New Vrindabana Community showed by sponsoring me in the acquisition of Dodge Rama Dasa.

In the town, it was not unusual to pull into a station or a stop, loaded with sheets of plywood, racks of pipe, stacks of roofing, barrels of nails and sacks of cement and have people wander over and ask me where the work was.

Vahna Prabhu is the author of the somewhat notorious observation that Devotees treat vehicles like paper cups. We did not see many brand new vehicles at the farm. Anyone could drive virtually any vehicle, and with unlimited drivers, the responsibility for maintenance was unavoidably diluted.

Dodge Rama Dasa stood out in stark contrast. She was even under warranty.

When we were building the temple it was my practice to pull up with whatever I’d be delivering to that location. I’d park a little ways out from the big double front doors where Jaya and Vijaya stand today. There was almost always a delivery to be made there. I loved the fact that I was assisting Devotees in their Service. I was Serving the Servers. Dodge Rama Dasa positively glittered in the afternoon light when I made deliveries there. She was new, pristine and beautiful.

Jai Maurari Prabhu sometimes took his plumbing truck right on into the temple in order to carry out his service.

One day, to my initial horror, Jai Maurari backed out of the temple at pretty high speed and rammed straight into the exposed flank of Dodge Rama Dasa with such stunning and sudden force that the side nearest the Temple was lifted off the wheels and into the air. She came down with a slam and a cloud of dust. There was no harm to Jai Maurari’s vehicle, but for Dodge Rama Dasa there was a new tremendous marring stove in dent.

“Sorry!” Jai Maurari gave me a broad grin as he climbed down from his cab. He was wiping his hands on a rag. His body language was as if he’d just completed a job well done. His eyes seemed to be twinkling.

It did not seem to me that he was sorry at all.

With all the examples we hear about not being our bodies, any more than a Karmi supposedly thinks he is his or her car, I understood that the hit did not really matter, and that in ways as yet unperceived, it was a benediction.

I recalled an episode of “Kung Fu”, many many years earlier when the actor David Carradine was walking through a village and experiencing his periodic flashbacks to flute and “Grasshopper” admonition. In this particular episode I was recalling, along the path where Carradine’s Caine character strode, a young handsome boy stood, berating his parents. The mother and father were intimidated by their good looking but ill-mannered son.

Caine, without breaking stride, upon passing, fetched the boy a sudden ruinous blow which broke the lad’s nose.

To the accompaniment of flashback and flute, we learned that to be to pretty (Like Dodge Rama Dasa?) is not productive, and can lead to falldown due to pride.

So, I was taking the blow philosophically. But I felt the seedling of a joke. I could bring suit against Jai Maurari Prabhu … I could sue him to help me become Krsna Conscious.

The next time I saw my Guru, I told him that Jai Maurari had smashed into my truck and I wanted permission to sue him. This was a crazy proposition, but the punch line was: “…to help me to become Krsna Conscious.” At first, Kirtanananda took my request at the level of buffoonery it could only elicit. It was preposterous … sue Jai Maurari who had no material goods whatsoever?

On its face, this was in itself a sin and offense. Then I delivered the punch line: “…to make me Krsna Conscious.”

Kirtanananda waved at me then. The mood I took away was a sort of “…go on, then.”

It wasn’t long before I again had the chance to confront Jai Maurari Prabhu. I opened up with the declaration that Kirtanananda had given me permission to bring suit for the damage he had wrought upon Dodge Rama Dasa.

Jai Maurari was of course, totally unperturbed. “Go ahead …” he returned. He gave me one of his patented wide open contagious smiles.

I could not help smiling back. “To help me become Krsna Conscious,” I finished off. Badda bump bump bump.

To this, Jai Maurari raised an eyebrow. “OK,” he declared solemnly. Like any other joke, this one was fraught with a very serious edge. Jai Maurari was and is one of the rare masters of renunciation.

Even before since then, Jai Maurari has always shown only that total Krsna Conscious example, and it boils down to another return of question by my Guru when I’d asked him one day if he would help me become Krsna Conscious: “Will you give up your material desires?”

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