June 5th, 1973 (PART 2)

Immediately, we took Radha Vrindavanatha and Lord Jagannatha off the altar, and hid Sri Kartamaji. At first we went up the hill in front of the temple to Hayagriva’s A frame cabin. Hayagriva was away traveling at that time.

Parayana had slipped out, made her way back up top, and found us in the cabin. Parayana was a regular resident at Vrindavan Farm, but had been spending a few days “in the city” at Bahulavan for a respite; a sort of vacation.

She began telling us what she’d seen going on at Bahulavan that morning. On hearing her story, we decided to totally vacate the cabin and immediate temple premises, and hide in the woods between Vrindavan Farm and Burches Run Lake. So we gathered Their Lordships Radha Vrindavanatha and Lord Jagannatha and carried Them deep into a heavily wooded hillside well above the old man-made lake and out of sight.

If we had known the whole story, we would have known Krishna had already extended His merciful protection to all of us and we needn’t have run with Krishna into the forest for safety.

When the gang members had cut the phone line to the one pay phone that existed in the community, one of their members was sent up the high road to Mr. Snyder’s farm. Mr. Snyder’s farm is the big beautiful multiple homestead on the ridge between Bahulavan and Vrindavan Farm, that can be seen from the main paved road.

Back then when the bottom road to Vrindavan Farm and its three creek crossings was unappeasable, we would walk across Mr. Snyder’s part of the ridge to get to and from Bahulavan on errands or for the Sunday Feast program. Mr. Snyder wasn’t interested in what we were doing, so much as that we behave as good neighbors in regard to him and his property. So, when we would be passing through, we would stop at his house to let him know we were there and get his always pleasant, and nominal permission to cross his land.

On the morning of June 5th, when Mr. Snyder opened his door a man stood there patting a semi-automatic rifle and asking Mr. Snyder if he knew how many people lived up there behind his place. The idea of the motorcycle gang was to literally wipe out the Hare Krishnas in West Vriginia, and they assumed that any local would find that a worthy goal and likely even want to help them do it. After all, the Mormons who had tried to settle in this same area some time back were driven out with fire and lynchings.

Not liking the attitude of the stranger, Mr. Snyder caustiouly answered, “Oh, about a dozen.” “Well” said the stranger patting his rifle, “That’s 12 dead.”

Pulling his own rifle out from behind his door, Mr. Snyder leveled it at the man’s chest and said, “Thirteen. Turn right around and go back where you came from.” The stranger didn’t hesitate.

Meanwhile, matters at Bahulavan had deteriorated quickly. Once the phone line was cut, gang members stationed themselves outside each of the tilt type windows surrounding the temple room. As Srimad Bhagavatam class was in session, all the devotees were inside sitting on the floor. Suddenly rifle barrels poked through every window. Several of the men raced to the windows and tried to grab the gun barrels trying to wrench the weapons out of the hands of the assailants. All were wounded to one degree or another. Bidan Chandra’s left arm was so badly wounded, he almost bled to death on the temple room floor. Bullets whizzed everywhere up and down.

Through the one and only temple room door the leader of the group entered more of his men following belligerently. The firing at the windows stopped and the leader demanded to know who was in charge. When Kirtanananda Maharaj calmly replied he was, the man slapped him across the face.

The leader ordered his men to take Kirtanananda and Dharmatma outside and to go up the hill with shovels. They were to be “allowed” to dig their own graves.

Some time before the leader’s daughter had met Dharmatma who had been heading up a traveling sankirtana party. The daughter had been interested and followed Dharmatma’s party back to New Vrindavan for the festival.
by motherrupa

The motorcycle gang had followed her. Gang memebers semi-cased the farm coming to the horrid conclusion that we had made a human sacrifice out of his daughter in one of the fire yajnas. So the gang came with a strong and murderous intention for complete revenge. While in truth the girl had left with other festival attendants apparently desiring to leave her father’s situation.

After the two prisoners were taken outside, the gang turned their full attention on the devotees left in the temple. It became a scene of wolves ravaging among sheep. There was wholesale beating and assault going on throughout the temple room. Everyone present there was convinced they were all going to meet their time of death that morning, but the sheer horriffic violence of the leader’s orders kept the mass of devotees from chanting out loud.

Suddenly, the leader turned as if summoned toward the curtains closed in front of the altar. Reaching out, he ripped down the curtains revealing Radha Vrindavan Chandra standing face to face with him.

Enraged and arrogant beyond imagining, he strode up onto the altar, turned his back on Their Lordships and declared, like Hiranyakasipu, “Now I’m your God. Worship me!” With that he turned back around and threw Vrindavan Chandra face first down the altar steps. (the same steps by the way that make up Lord Jagannatha’s altar today)

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Reader Comments

Dear mother Rupa:

Just a slight correction to your NV history. The young lady in question, the daughter of the bikers leader never made it to NV. On Friday or Sat evening they came and Romaharshan drove them off. They came back the next morning with the police and searched all the properties to no avail. We would have produced her if she was there.

She had come to me with bags packed the day we were leaving Louisville but I refused to take her on our bus with us.

Hari bol!

Your servant,
Dharmatma das

Bidan Chandra passed away from leukemia a number of years later. It was thought that lead poisining from the bullets might have caused this.

Kasyapa was also one of the wounded. He too suffers from health issues. He is now known as Varshana Swami and lives in NV.


I have seen references about “bikers” but did anyone actually see a motorcycle? According to newspaper reports, the assailants get-away vehicle was a gold Cadillac.

Hare Krishna,

Hrishikesh dasa (Henry Doktorski)