Crush My Head

Be Careful What You Wish For

By Srila Jiva Goswami dasa

Radhanatha Maharaja was getting his car gassed up down at the Bahulabhana lower parking terrace. We had a pump down there, next to the Free Store. I was standing around with a bunch of Devotees. Everyone was in awe of Radhanatha Prabhu and the perceived very steady nature of his Devotional Service.

I saw Radhanatha as a very nice Devotee too. I saw him as one of my elder God Brothers. My perception was sufficiently dull to allow me not to see much more than that. I understood that practically everyone around me saw Radhanatha as so much more and so very superior, and on that basis, the opinion of my God Brothers and the Community at large, I felt my own glaring deficiencies.

Radhanatha this and Radhanatha that, he said this, he did that, he sang all night to the Deities, and that was his Service. He lived at the Brahmacari Asram for so long … none of that meant more to me than say, cooking for Krsna, or collecting the garbage for the Devotees. I always wanted to ask, “And the big deal about Radhanatha in particular is …” but I understood that the fault had to be in my own perception.

And so on this day, down on the lower lot, standing around and keeping my less than appropriate thoughts to myself, I remembered how it was said that Devotees could arbitrarily achieve perfection by sticking their heads under the wheels of the Ratha Yatra Cart.

I did not consider myself to be a Devotee at all, but I liked to serve the Devotees and to at least, externally act like Them, and I knew that even that attitude had benefit and was accepted. So, on a spur of the moment, show bottle like whim, I announced that I would place my head under the wheel of Radhanatha’s car if he would only drive over it.

Radhanatha wrinkled his nose at me and nodded his assent. Devotees at the scene continued to chat and chant Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. I had thought Radhanatha would never accept such an impractical and untimely offer. I decided to pretend to go through with it. Radhanatha’s car was gassed. He started the engine and pointed out the open window at the left front wheel. I got on my knees in the dust and pebbles and thought, I’ll put my head under the back of the wheel, not the front, so when Radhanatha guns it, he’ll pull away and I need only watch out for the oncoming rear wheels.

It is a strange thing, but at the last moment, I felt a draw, an attraction for the feel of that hard rubber tire pressed against the side of my head in the dust there. I could really wedge it. I had my bead bag in my hand, I was chanting, but I was really only thinking about how to come close without actually doing. Yes, the back of the wheel was the answer.

“Ready?” Radhanatha Prabhu had that tremolo in his voice. With his right hand in his bead bag, his fingers were curled around the shift lever.

On my knees by the front of the car, I hesitated. Put my head against the back of the wheel, and I’ll be unhurt as he drives away forward, I thought. I could practically sense the feel of the tread against my face as I leaned closer. I smelled the rubber and the dust. I looked up at the driver’s window. Radhanatha gunned the engine. Vroom vroom. I heard the click and saw the surge as he put the vehicle in gear. The Devotees who were standing around paused a moment and watched in a detached manner.

I broke it off. I stood and dusted my knees. “Uh uh,” I said. “I can’t do it.”

Radhanatha smiled mildly at me. “Very well,” he said.

“Besides” I said, “I was going to put my head in back of the wheel, not the front.”

Radhanatha beckoned to me with a crook of his finger. I leaned close and looked where he bade me. The car was in reverse.

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Reader Comments


As your daughter, now 32 and probably the same age as you when you did that, I understand why you never told me that story before. And your granddaughter says “Oh my God, you could have gotten killed like Kamsa…” She is stiting here kidding around waiting to get her Krsna book bedtime story.