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Dandavats! All Glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga!

The “bomb” he dropped on my life

Thursday, 21 May 2020 / Published in Articles / 5,434 views

By Gargamuni das

It was 1981 and early in my senior year of high school, I was walking out of the East Brook Mall in Willimantic Connecticut with two friends named Steve Walton and Clyde Hall. In my hand I was holding a bag with Jimmy Hendrix’s “Axis Bold As Love” album in it, that I had just purchased at Music World. I had loved Hendrix’s “Are You Experienced”. and had played it again and again over the summer as I delved deeply into the world of marijuana and LSD.

Though, by this time, I was burning out on drugs, so to speak, I was still anxious to get into this next taste of Hendrix. On the cover was a picture of Krishna’s Universal Form (never had I seen it before) but with Hendrix’s head super-imposed on the bodies. We had skipped last period and gone to the mall only months since Steve had escaped from security after trying to steal a music cassette. The security guard had grabbed him and was calling the police when Steve broke free with a snap of his wrist and ran out into the parking lot and through the woods to get away. Steve was understandingly paranoid when an official looking person approached us in the parking lot just as we got to our car. He said he was doing a survey for Yale and asked us how much we liked certain subject matters. When he got to science I said I hated it and thought their conclusions excluded metaphysics. At this point the man presented a glossy book called “Life Comes From Life” to us. Steve immediately acted indifferent but told the man to show it to me “’cause he’s into weird stuff like witchcraft and out of body experiences’.

As I held the book in my hand Clyde and I looked it over. It appeared interesting and other worldly. There was a picture of an elderly Indian man walking with a cane. I immediately felt drawn to what the book might say. When the man asked us for money Clyde and I pooled about $3 together in mostly change. The man said thanks and walked away towards his next car. Little did he or I know how much that two minute exchange would alter my life forever. Later I would meet him in Boston. His name was Vrajendra Nandana, an old time veteran book distributor. To this day, wherever he is, I thank him, for the bomb he dropped on my life that afternoon. A few years later I would go out to distribute books and understand the great sacrfice involved and the immense fortune that results from it. But now I was riding home from school in the back of Steve’s car, passing a joint around, listening to Rush’s 2112, and flipping through the new book with the far out paintings in it.

Both Clyde and I took turns with the book; and both of us were effected. The first thing I read when I opened it up was Srila Prabhupada saying something that sounded a little too far out for my spirtually virgin ears to comprehend. He was explaining the logistics how a god decended to earth via reincarnation to take a human form (those gurukulis who think they might have come this way take note). Although I don’t have a copy of “Life Comes From Life” handy, he stated something similar in his translation of the Gita. In the Bhagavad-gita As it is, 8.3 purport, he explained thus:

“In the process of sacrifice, the living entity makes specific sacrifices to attain specific heavenly planets and consequently reaches them. When the merit of sacrifice is exhausted, then the living entity descends to earth in the form of rain, then takes on the form of grains, and the grains are eaten by man and transformed into semen, which impregnates a woman, and thus the living entity once again attains the human form to perform sacrifice and so repeat the same cycle.”

“Incredible” I thought, although I didn’t know if I could believe it..sounded like American Indian stuff. As I read on the main thing that I noticed is how 100 percent Srila Prabhupada was convinced that Darwin was wrong. His arguments were the best I had ever heard against biological evolution. “What’s the difference between a living body and a dead body?” he asked. Of course the answer was that matter cannot move unless its touched by spirit, or the fact that when the soul leaves, the body is no longer animate. He challenged the scientists to create life in the labratory, even a single blade of grass. He referred to them as rascals for presenting their unproven theories as facts. How could something so organized as the universe and nature come into being by some accident or big bang? His presentation was heavy, but it seemed without anger or personal animosity. Another factor that attracted me was that although he was totally convinced (and convincing I might add) he didn’t come off as a fanatic like a born again Christian or something. His arguments were based in logic although he kept quoting the Vedic scriptures. He seemed to have access to some ancient knowledge that was just as relevant today as it ever was. I got the immediate feeling that he was the living example of it. At the time I was a practicing Rosicrucian to some extent and had dabbled in white witchcraft and different types of meditation. I had been a vegetarian of sorts for a little while as well. I had always dreamed of finding some source of ancient knowledge that would answer all my questions about life and make me some mystical wizard or something living in an enchanted forest. Perhaps this was it.

Clyde liked the book as well; but of everyone my brother got into it the most. He started adopting the philosophy immediately and we would talk about it often. Soon other books started to appear. My friend Mike found a softback Gita in an abanoned gym locker. Another friend gave me a copy of Search for Liberation which was a conversation between John Lennon, George Harrison and Srila Prabhupada. “Wow the Beatles met Srila Prabhupada and they were into him. Amazing!” I thought. If the Beatles were into Hare Krishna then it was definetly something I should delve deeper into it. After sometime I realized that the song “My Sweet Lord” had the mantra in it as well. I had been hearing it all these years and hadn’t even notice it. My interest gradualy became more than just casual. From the back of the books we contacted a store on the west coast and started ordering more books and beads for chanting. When they arrived we started chanting Hare Krishna in circle groups, getting many of our friends involved. There was my brother Kevin and I, Phil, Mark, Clyde, Randy, Donna, John and whoever else would chant with us from time to time. Chanting the maha-mantra became quite infectious for me. It was truly amazing how it changed my way of looking at things. Daily I was getting profound realizations about life. Krishna was obviously giving me a taste. I remember an edited yellow paperback Gita that arrived in the mail. I started making it my nightly practice to chant a round and then relax by smoking marijuana and finally reading an hour from Prabhupada’s Gita. I remember looking through the glossary and index to try to find the definition of illicit sex. Sex can be spiritual, I thought, so what is this illicit sex that is prohibited?

I vividly recall the scare I got one night when Prabhupada warned in a purport not to copy the isvaras or controllers like Lord Shiva by smoking ganja, like some of Shiva’s followers do. He wrote that Shiva drank an ocean of poison, but if we drink one such drop we would die immediately. Similarly those who imitate Shiva by smoking ganja are actually drawing death very near. I got the hebee gebees when I read that one. Marijuana makes you paranoid enough, but reading this while on the stuff… it was quite a wake up call. Suffice it to say, shortly thereafter, I gave up the drugs for good.

I also became frightened when I saw the painting by Jadurani of the half-man half-tiger face (a reincarnation promise for those who eat meat). Although I wasn’t eating meat by then it was startling to see how our activities send us to our next body. Other depictions showed humans turning into pigs and trees. The paintings moved me and hit me very powerfully. Like it or not this is the truth, I thought, and no opinion can change the truth. Another painting that effected me greatly was that of Gopal Krishna with his arm around a deer. It was stunningly beautiful. Here was my long lost friend I pondered as if being awoken from a dream. The first image I ever saw my entire life that made me feel that all would be alright in my life. Here was my shelter where none of the fears and dangers of the world could penetrate or ultimately harm me. I sent away for it and put it up in my room after I tore down my posters of Pink Floyd and Steve Miller.

Looking back I realize that a metamorphosis was occuring. I also felt I was picking up something from a previous life as it seemed very familiar and natural to me. Soon we would visit the temple, start preaching to others over zealously (but sometimes quite effectively) and face the polarization that ranged for several counties. In other words, the proverbial shit was about to hit the fan, and our early pre-temple Krishna conscious period was about to begin. Yes the dust was about to fly and all bets were off regarding who would be left standing when the dust finally settled.

Affirmation, repetition, contagion
ISKCON Ministry of Education - Symposium - June 4th-7th 2020 Virtual

6 Responses to “The “bomb” he dropped on my life”

  1. sdmuni108 says :

    Life Comes from Life is a great book – a project filled with devotion, and a testimony to the dedication to all the sincere devotees involved in producing it.

    Unfortunately, it is near impossible finding anything in this book that we have a record of Prabhupada actually saying. It appears to be a completely rewritten account, and one often filled with creative exchanges not found in the archival records of the original historical discussions.

    So while useful for drawing a sincere sense of conviction, neither Prabhupada, nor his disciples, actually expressed themselves in this manner – certainly not verbatim. I would be impressed if anyone can find at least three words in sequence as published in this book, that matches what Prabhupada and his disciples actually said as found in the Bhaktivedanta Archives transcripts and recordings.

    Again, a sincere effort, no question, and devotion is the key we say. But perhaps this particular should more accurately be considered a historical reimagination. Fortunately, for serious study, we have those recordings and transcripts. There are so many far more credible accounts produced by the BBT of how Prabhupada expressed himself in intelligent discourse – The Science of Self Realization is one such effort.

  2. Paramadayala Dasa says :

    Dear SD Muni Prabhu,
    The two citation below were found with a 5 minute Vedabase search.
    If the living entity could be generated in the scientist's laboratory by "the interaction of certain physical and chemical combinations" then why haven't the boastful material scientists been able to manufacture life? ( EJ 1)
    A human being must be conscious of the fact that all foodstuffs, namely grains, vegetables, milk, water, etc. -the prime necessities of life-are supplied by the Lord, and such foodstuffs cannot be manufactured by any scientist or materialists in a laboratory or factory established by human effort.(Purport SB 3.3.28).
    You recommend seeing LCL as a "historical re-imagination" and claim it is not Srila Prabhupada verbatim. First,Srila Prabhupada's words, verbatim, are not required. Irrefutable arguments can be made on the essence of his words.That is realization, not imagination. Second, how can you argue that LCL is imaginary without directly addressing the thesis?
    LCL is grounded on the fact that,even the simplest form of life cannot be created from chemicals.The argument that life comes from life is an observable fact.Our challenge that life cannot be created by chemical is potentially disprovable, and therefore within the scientific paradigm. These facts shoot holes in the theory of evolution. This is clearly asserted in the citations above.
    It is the scientists who theorize life from chemical who are presenting something imaginary( we have never seen it happen). Yet you try to present LCL as imaginary without addressing the facts it presents. What type of argument is this? If you want to have a mock debate please present something more challenging. We have to defeat the best arguments of the materialists. They can certainly come up with something cleverer than this.
    Your old friend and servant,
    Paramadayala Nityananda Dasa

    • sdmuni108 says :

      Interesting comment, to be sure. Of note, I am recalling that the article and comment from yours truly had been originally posted years ago. Perhaps useful to consider offering intial date if reposting.

      >Prabhupada verbatim. First, Srila Prabhupada's words, verbatim, are not required. <

      To be sure, Prabhupada instructed his followers to preach in their own words, according to their own realizations as per the guidelines of guru, sadhu and sastra.

      But as for Prabhuapda, he may well have chosen his words carefully, wisely. He specifically instructed Hansadutta Pr, in a letter available in the Bhaktivedanta Archives VedaBase, to present the LCFL conversations with the editorial adjustments required to bring up to standards of published written English. Prabhupada did not instruct his followers to rewrite a reimagined dramatization and claim that as an accurate historical account of Prabhupada instructing his followers, particularly on topics inviting intellectual, what to speak of devotional, dexterity.

      So perhaps good to consider Prabhupada as an intelligent individual, and in that mood faithfully follow his instructions to the best of our ability. The original recordings and transcripts are readily available for all to see at Vanisource. Why avoid? That does not appear to be Prabhupada's intention while offering instructions on how to publish a faithful account of these conversations.

      • Paramadayala Dasa says :

        I cannot evaluate your accusations unless you email me specifics. If I compare Vanisource with LCFL, and see a seeming mismatch, I can only guess that it is what you are referring to.Similarly, your statement "…neither Prabhupada, nor his disciples, actually expressed themselves in this manner…" is too vague. Are you denying that Srila Prabhupada derided evolutionists? The fact is he called them "grossly materialistic demons"
        "The grossly materialistic demons are so completely bereft of spiritual knowledge that although at every moment they perceive the transience of the material body, all their activities center on the body. They are unable to understand that the soul within the body is the permanent and essential substance and that the body is mutable and temporary. Becoming first deluded by the theory of vivartavada( the theory of evolution), they conclude that the entire cosmic body also lacks a soul(RTW 1.3)"
        Similarly, "rascal scientists" gets 84 hits on Vedabase, "frog in the well" gets 47 hits.
        Of course Srila Prabhupada considered the specific audience, and we should also. Incidentally, I was trained in book distribution by Vagendra Nandana in 1981( in parking lots in Connecticut). He would quote a line from a couple books and ask the person which topic they liked best. So anyone who got LCFL would be likely to appreciate it. When distributing at MIT we focused on different books.But I am a bit stuck on your choice of words. You may have valid contentions, but it does not automatically follow that the thesis of LCFL is erroneous. You have not repudiate any of the arguments; therefore labeling it imagination seems misleading.I am guessing you have an issue with the tone. Is that accurate?

  3. sdmuni108 says :

    Note: I wrote the message below at same time as previous post referring to "Prabhupada verbatim."

    >It is the scientists who theorize life from chemical who are presenting something imaginary<

    Not just the scientists, of course. Further, not sure about the suggestion that all scientists speak in one voice on all such topics. As for Dr. Abraham Kovoor, who Hansadutta Pr famously debated back in the 1970s on this topic, he technically was not a scientist, but rather a medical doctor. That of course is a side issue.

    In any case, the life comes from life argument remains a useful central argument for establishing essential siddhantic principles. Prabhupada point blank based this specific argument on Brahma Samhita 5.1 verse. So, let’s study how Prabhupad actually used it, how he precisely formulated his specific arguments, rather than idealize what some then very young enthusiasts located in Germany in 1974 may have felt inspired about Prabhupada – while presenting their personal realizations, in Prabhupada's name, as a disciplined historical account. (As mentioned, the English language edition follows a 1974 German language edition, far, far more closely then the actual English language spoken by Prabhupada and his disciples, as per the archival recordings and transcripts now readily available to the public.)

    Perhaps there is no harm in studying how Prabhuada, as founder-acharya of ISKCON, actually framed his arguments. Possibly we might agree on this point. Fortunately, as per Lord Krishna's arrangement as facilitated by his followers in Prabhupada's line, faithfully reproduced archival recordings and transcripts are readily available to study. Why not?

    Your old and faithful friend (even if I may not be able to recollect who you might be in my ever, advancing dotage!)
    ys sdmuni

  4. Paramadayala Dasa says :

    You can never forget me- just my new name. I used to be called Sita Rams Dasa( up here in Boston).
    I think email is not practical for this. We can talk when I see you again. Also people reading this might think we are arguing. Up here they all know we are just butting heads.

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