A Sampling of Deliberate Misunderstandings

By Srila Jiva Goswami dasa

Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare!

For Mother Rupa!

In the Temple, as a fresh Bhakta in an older body, over-reading under experienced yours truly sometimes did unusual, but well intentioned things.

“I should make obeisances to the Mothers!” I declared to myself one evening. Spirit Soul? Not our bodies?

Next morning, bright and early, as the Mothers came in; I made it a point to render obeisances unto them. Not my usual Dandavats, but by way of concession to the way things were accepted to be done, just only an honorable light touch of forehead to the floor.

This was met with a flurry of giggles, and a fluffy return of greeting or two. Narada Muni Prabhu called me over. “We don’t do that,” he advised.

“OK,” I responded. It was true. Certain things are counter to the Krsna Culture, and upon reflection, contrary to the natural core of our heart’s direction.

For example, swaggering about as I dried myself off, I quickly learned that men did not shower as if we were at the Y, as the guys I’d bathed with left quick in a hurry. I was alone with Narada Muni, who gently clued me about the appropriate nature of a little modesty.

After first initiation, from Agni Dhama, a certain tractor driver, who also lived in one of the apartments there, took a ride downtown with me. We found ourselves outside the Giant Eagle in Moundsville. There was a Dr. Pepper machine. I had change. To drink some would be taking caffeine; a definite violation. We were initiated Devotees. We’d talked before about not “…being a robot.” I sprang for the sodas. We each took a small sip and leaned back against the wall. We contemplated a nearby bench.

By that time, having not taken intoxication for more than a year, the caffeine hit home immediately. It was a queasy feeling; it reminded me of amphetamine, only milder. My body seemed to say, “Hey, you don’t need this.” I turned to my companion. “Do you feel it?” I asked.

He was grinning like a loon. “The caffeine?” he returned. His eyes rolled a little skyward. “Yeah,” he said. “I feel it.”

Just then, two Karmis appeared, walking in our direction. They were clearly openly and sloppily drunk. One came along with an exaggerated spongy bending of his knees with each and every step, as if he were climbing something. The other swatted at his partner with his cap. They lurched by like features at a side show.

My Devotee friend walked to the trash, tossed away the barely sampled soda and dusted his hands together. “Well,” he announced. “That was nice. Now, let’s get back to work!”

I followed suit.

Another quick instance of a deliberate flavored misunderstanding came about when my daughter was in the Young Girl’s Asram there. Some of her teachers were truly excellent. Mother Vishvadika was a fierce protector of her flock. I respected Mother Vishvadika very much; as I did any of the Devotees I came to interact with.

To and from the Town Runs, I’d pass right by the Girl’s Asram a few times a day. It was my practice to toot the horn a couple of times by way of a greeting. One day, I was rolling by with my daughter aboard, and I wanted to spend time with her, without clearing with anyone. “Vimala,” I said.” “When we go by your Asram, duck down.”

“OK, Pita,” Vimala replied. As Dodge Rama dasa came off the turn and began to fall on down the straight–a-way hill past the Girl’s Asram, I gave the horn our typical toot; as if I thought I was saying “Hello” to my daughter.

“That was sneaky,” Vimala noted. She sat up and looked about her. We were halfway to Bahulabhana already.

Before too long, our merry visit was over, and we climbed back on the truck for Vimala’s return to the Ashram.

As we approached her building, I was surprised to see Mother Vishvadika spring up onto the road from the pretty little mini valley where the Asram stood. I did not have a chance to pull in by the mailbox before Mother Vishvadika planted herself in the street with her arms up in the classic, “All Stop” gesture.

Mother Vishvadika was looking very grim indeed as I brought the truck to a halt in the middle of the street under her outstretched hands. With the grill of the truck too close and the 318 engine giving off heat, Mother Vishvadika looked materially small, frail, and oh by the way, purely livid. There had been no doubt or care as to our ability to stop. Stop we would, and roll no farther.

Garments fluttering, Mother Vishvadika moved quickly to the passenger side and unlatched the door. With shooing, protective gesture, Mother Vishvadika ushered Vimala out of the truck and over toward the Ashram. Then she came around to the driver’s side, and began, with her wonderful hoarse voice, to give me sauce, as good as any Marine Drill Sergeant.

I got dressed up and down. That was treacherous. That was a violation of the responsibility Mother Vishvadika bore for her charges. Mother Vishvadika moved her head side to side, like an Egyptian, or a Black Woman. I should have asked, the answer was almost always, “Yes.” Mother Vishvadika had assumed I’d temporarily purloined my daughter, but when I went by and tooted the horn, Mother Vishvadika was no longer certain where Vimala was. I would not have been surprised if Mother Vishvadika had reached up and snapped her fingers in my face. She was hot. She’d thought about calling the police.

These things were all true and right. I was very glad. I wasn’t ashamed or anything, because I’d instantly been brought to learn so much which heart core common sense should have told me already. I’d never do that again, and I so swore. I apologized, and I meant that apology very deeply and sincerely. What I was seeing was a caring, and very proper responsibility, far beyond “chore,” and more on the order of Love.

I left, and I felt extreme gratitude for having stumbled into that wonderful place, Old New Vrindabana.

Next day, after the morning program, there was a note in the windshield of Dodge Rama dasa. It was from Mother Vishvadika, and it was full of apology for having talked to me so.

When later, I had occasion to interact with Mother Vishvadika, I made certain to thank her for her Service. I could not accept the apology, and Mother Vishvadika could not accept my thanks.

When things are ever taken through the purifying filter of Krsna Consciousness, even misunderstandings become but loving, respectful bonds.

Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare!

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