Chunnchala Lights and a Dispatched Swan

By Jiva Goswami dasa

After the first time I’d read the Bhagavada Gita As It Is, there was nothing logical to do but to surrender at the Temple. It was Vahna Prabhu who had introduced me to Krsna Consciousness, and I wanted to take up The Program in Columbus, where Vahna lived at the time.

But having material “success,” I recognized material attachment: There was always just one more something else that needed to be done: family, home, pool with cabana and flood lights, whatever. I imagined an obligation with the load. I could not let go, though ostensibly, I wanted to.

I called Narada Muni, the Columbus Temple President, and asked if he would send a Devotee to help me extricate myself. Narada Muni agreed to that proposal. With success as a Science Fiction Writer, I’d moved my family from “The City” upstate, to Woodstock.
I was told to meet my liberator at the Albany Airport.

I assumed Narada Muni would send Vahna. When my wife and I met the plane, I was surprised to see it was someone else entirely: Hari Dhama Prabhu. I’d met and admired Hari Dhama previously, on quick come and go visits to Columbus. He was slight of build, and very scholarly looking, with his steel rimmed glasses and dour demeanor. The fact is, Hari Dhama is a great scholar, but he is far more an angel of a swan than dour.

I’d wondered if devotees traveled in their dhotis and kirtas. As Hari Dhama came towards us, looking with stern glances all around, I saw that not only was Hari Dhama completely decked out as the Devotee he is, but that he was just the right person to get me out of there.

Vahna and I might have kidded around and had lots of fun, but Narada’s choice of deploying Hari Dhama was simply perfect. By sending Hari Dhama, it was clear to me the Devotees meant business.

We exchanged greetings, and brought Hari Dhama home with us. Hari Dhama took over the cooking, as we did not cook properly, being karmis and Hari Dhama had to eat, after all. I found that his cooking was just as wonderful as that prepared in the Temple.

It was around this time that my wife, who’d initially professed great interest in coming along and joining up, began to decline.

“I’m not pure enough,” she told Hari Dhama around the second evening he was with us. I’d heard that argument too, and hadn’t known how to deal with it. Hari Dhama missed not a beat. He told us about the sun purifying everything, regardless of the condition of that which is placed before it.

Next door neighbors entreated me not to go. They knew a little about Krsna Consciousness. They told me that if I came to a Temple and surrendered, I’d never be able to go back. That seemed a little far fetched to me, I imagined that I’d be able to do just about as I pleased, being a man of the world. If I didn’t like Krsna Consciousness, I reasoned, I’d return. Of course, however, they were quite correct. Once we see how the play is produced, we may admire the production, but it becomes very hard to believe in the proffered illusion. As it turned out, to go back is like pretending something is real which we’ve been given to understand is at best fleeting as clouds.

There was another couple in Woodstock who’d insisted I come over for dinner when I told them what I was up to. The meal they prepared was a vegetarian feast, but more, it was actually Temple Prasadama. I recognized it. Particularly temple like were the glubjamons. “How did you learn to make Temple Prasadama?” I‘d asked in amazement.

“Oh we just read about it,” they responded. Their offering was dead on. I understood them to be closet “ex” Devotees. They’d told me they wished all the best for me and that I was doing the right thing. To me, it was clear that these people, like Vahna and Ganendra, when I’d first met them, and indeed, like me today, ensconced in “beautiful” Wheeling, West Virginia, do not want folks to associate our styles and actions with the Krsna Conscious Movement. We are out here, but we know better. You could say we are embarrassed.

But back then in 1976 or so, it was my first time approaching. Hari Dhama very firmly presented the official Hare Krsna Philosophy. When I advocated an additional delay, Hari Dhama was steadfast. He told me the story of the house holder who’d lamented and delayed in the matter of advancing spiritually, for in that case, it would have meant giving up family life. While “crying,” according to the story Hari Dhama told us, a baby lizard fell from its nest to the floor at the candidate’s feet. “My family needs me, just as this baby lizard needs its family,” the house holder cried. Just then, an insect landed next to the baby lizard, and the lizard took that insect as God given nourishment with out ado or overt assistance. Upon seeing this, the householder had arisen and gone on as he was supposed to, and he never looked back.

“It will always be something,” Hari Dhama advised in conclusion. “You will come now or later. It is up to you. ” I wanted to come along, and at last I said my goodbyes.

Hari Dhama and I went into Saugerties to get supplies. I wanted a sleeping bag. Hari Dhama allowed me to buy him a pair of socks.

On the way back to the car, with Hari Dhama still wearing his dhoti, of course, a couple of local yokels followed us, making derisive calls, such as, “Hello, Dahlings,” and the like.

I was proud to be thought of as close to Hari Dhama, but I did not like the idea of Hari Dhama taking insults on my behalf. Apparently, Hari Dhama and I had the same idea, for we spun and faced our harassers together, and simultaneously we spontaneously fired the best weapon there is:

“Hare Krsna!” we yelled in unison. “Hare Krsna!” The heckler’s mouths formed that O of silent surprise. They stumbled over each other in retreat. They did not understand and they were actually frightened. I thought, Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. My mind was made up at that moment then forever. Hare Dhama had protected the spark and brought forward a tiny flickering flame.

We continued on our way … all the way to the Columbus Temple. Like the proverbial Swan, Hari Dhama had been dispatched to separate milk from water, or in my case, wheat from chaff. Krsna gave him the welcome tools even to the point of tabbing the environment with strategically placed challenges and remedies. As always, until death, the directions I’d take and paths I’d follow were up to me. The way I see it, it was quite an auspicious beginning.

Information and Links

Join the fray by commenting, tracking what others have to say, or linking to it from your blog.

Reader Comments

Sorry, comments are closed.