June 5th, 1973 (PART 3)

The leader ordered one of the devotees to come up and do the same to Srimati Radharani. Kiranasa, newly initiated, refused to obey. Gang members began beating him terribly with both their rifle barrels and their fists. One of them began dragging him by his sikha jerking his head around and jokingly asking one of his friends if he would like to see some brains. The other gunman said, “What brains? They haven’t got any brains.” Still Kiranasa refused to harm Srimati Radharani.

Being forced to witness any second the murder of their Godbrother, Kuladri and Vipina Purandar stepped up to the altar. Gloating, the leader let them gently lift Srimati Radharani, one of them on each side. He ordered them to carry Her out into the center of the temple room and break Her up.

Of course, no devotee could do that. So looking at one another, they let their grip go while holding Radharani a few inches from the floor. She sat down very hard on the marble floor and fell forward.

It is described that the sound Srimati Radharani made when She hit the floor was so horrendous, so frightening, and so piercing that it totally unhinged the attackers. Terrorized out of their own wits they all ran off; even the ones who had gone up the hill to execute the prisoners suddenly ran away. In Her inconceivable compassion, Srimati Radharani had saved New Vrindavan and all the residents at the expense of Her own arca-vigraha. What a great example of how our compassion for each other should be willing to express itsself.

A letter was sent at once to Srila Prabhupada describing what had happened and the damage done to Sri Sri Radha Vrindavan Chandra. He replied that Their Lordships should be repaired and returned to the altar for worship. In an extreme state of shock, the devotees moved Radha Vrindavan Chandra out of the temple and up to Kirtanananda’s cabin. There was no question in the minds of the devotees other than to care for Their Lordships and regain Their darshan: their life and soul.

For five days Radha Vrindavan Chandra stayed in the cabin being worshiped and repaired, and new traveling cloaks were made for Them for Their return to the temple.

Meanwhile, Bahulavan began looking like an armed encampment. Sandbag pillboxes sprouted up all around the property, both on the ground and on top of some of the one-story buildings. Two devotees who had had extensive military experience were recruited to teach the men marital arts and how to shoot. Devotees were assigned to sleep in the temple room vestibule with a sawed off 12 gauge shotgun. They had orders to shoot first and ask questions later if someone tried to force an entry. There was even a serious suggestion to ring the temple room in numb-chucks so weapons would be on hand in case of another attack.

The atmosphere was like that of a body with the heart torn out: anxiety, fear shock, and guilt were palpable elements in the ether. Almost no one could stand to be in the temple room emptied of Radha Vrindavan Chandra’s merciful presence for very long. Various devotees began taking on austerities to both apologize to Radha Vrindavan Chandra and to thank Them for Their protection. Some gave up a favorite or opulent type of prasadam (which in those days of near starvation was a great sacrifice). Some vowed to add an extra round of japa to the basic sixteen each year for many years afterward.

The Friday evening after the attack, Sri Sri Radha Vrindavana Chandra came down from the cabin to Their altar in a procession for the evening arotike. Kirtan started as usual, but when Sri Vrindavan Chandra came down the stairs and mounted His altar, the devotees began responsively and joyously chanting only His Name over and over in a near riot of happiness and relief. But that was almost minimal compared to the reception of Srimati Radharani as She came down the stairs in Her traveling cloak, Her face radiant with Her compassionate glance for all the devotees. In spontaneous unison the devotees began chanting “RADHE! RADHE! RADHE!” over and over again at the top of their voices. Unwilling and unable to stop, they were literally beside themselves with their overriding joy of reunion and thankfulness.

The great change in the Personal sweetness and beauty of the features and faces of Sri Sri Radha Vrindavan Chandra are dated from the time of Their triumphant return to Their altar. Pictures of Their Lordships from the time of Their installation at Vrindavan Farm up until that incident are vastly different from the pictures of Them since after the attack until Their move up into Their present temple room and Deity house.

Unlimited affection, gratitude and glories to Sri Sri Radha Vrindavan Chandra, all Their devotees, and the mission of Their New Vrindavan.

P.S. In spite of the gang members being apprehended, brought to trial, and identified by eyewitnesses, all were set free by the judicial system of the time.

Many years later Mankumari met a man in a wheelchair while she was on sankirtan for New Vrindavana. She was wearing street clothes and doing what was popularly called the pick—wherein the people you approach can’t tell at all easily that you are a Hare Krishna or that the movement is what they are donating to. Yet the man recognized her as a devotee instantly and was very eager to discuss something with her.

During their conversation, he revealed to Mankumari that he had been one of the members of that gang that had attacked the temple. And he felt his present invalid condition was his reaction to that violence.

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As I remember, Mankumari Prabhu told me that the man who confessed to be one of the assailants had a badly burned face but walked. –Bimbadhara das