Deity Stories

Dearest Brijabasis,

I am greatly enlivened by Mother Rupa’s excellent reminisces about the deities of New Vrindaban, and I wish to make a humble contribution of some small bits of information from my research to supplement her inspiring account.

Sincerely Your Servant,

Hrishikesh (Henry Doktorski)
Oakdale, PA


Kirtanananda sees his spiritual master again

After the shoot out of July 16, 1968, Richard Rose was indicted for malicious assault. Despite his acreage, he had little cash. If the boy’s parents won the suit, he could lose his back farm. After some hemming and hawing, Rose reluctantly accepted Hayagriva’s proposal: four thousand dollars for a ninety-nine year lease. Exuberant, Hayagriva and Kirtanananda traveled to Montreal to discuss with Prabhupada the newest developments.

Although Hayagriva had seen Prabhupada only a few months earlier in April, Kirtanananda had not seen his spiritual master for ten months, since he left India the previous year on September 22. It had been such a long time since the two had seen each other face to face. The long-awaited reunion was highly emotional, and both Prabhupada and Kirtanananda cried tears of joy. Kirtanananda presented Prabhupada with a quart of blackberry chutney and one of raspberry jam, made from wild berries picked at New Vrindaban. Hayagriva wrote that Prabhupada “forgave his renegade disciples in Montreal with a garland of roses and a shower of tears.” (49)

Kirtanananda said, “Prabhupada was very happy to see us; he welcomed us. It was an emotional meeting for me. It had been nearly a year; he was very welcoming.” (50)

Prabhupada was pleased with Rose’s agreement to lease the land for ninety-nine years, but asked, “What happens to the property after ninety-nine years?” Hayagriva responded, “I don’t know. We won’t be around then.” “But the Society will,” Prabhupada countered. “There must be an agreement that at the end of the lease, the property will go to us.” He also specified that ISKCON should have timber and mineral rights.

While in Montreal , Kirtanananda Swami and Hayagriva acquired New Vrindaban’s first deities: a set of wooden Jagannath deities which they purchased from a import house. The deities, Jagannath, Baladev and Subhadra, are abstract and colorful forms of Krishna, his brother Balarama and his sister Subhadra, which are usually carved from wood. According to the Skanda-Purana, the original deities were commissioned by King Indradyumna many thousands of years ago.

Prabhupada taught them how to offer mangal-aroti , the pre-sunrise worship ceremony of the Gaudiya-Vaishnavas. “I am very glad to learn, Kirtanananda, you are feeling so much happy in serving a beautiful Jagannath Murtis which you have taken from Montreal. . . . Jagannath Swami is very kind to the fallen souls, because He is the Lord of the universe, and all the living creatures are His subjects; therefore, Jagannath Swami will bless you with all the required intelligence needed for knowing how to satisfy Him.” (51)

End Notes

49. Hayagriva Das, “Chant,” Brijabasi Spirit (November 1981), 20.

50. Kirtanananda Swami, from a telephone conversation with the author on May 31, 2003.

51. A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, from a letter to Kirtanananda and Hayagriva dated August 23, 1968.

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