The Day I Shaved Up

And then, the day finally came. It was inevitable.

There seemed no way to become a true Hare Krishna without it.

It happened in an empty bathtub, in the bathroom of that small house on the San Diego temple property. Wielding the electric razor was a latin teenage brahmacārī with a Krishna ponytail that would reach down to his knees when he untied it – one of the guys from the greyhound bus that had come on the tour with Inside Out, Quicksand, and Shelter. We stepped into the tub wearing “gamcha,” Indian equivalents of towels.

I looked down at the whiteness of the porcelain.

He clicked on the razor and set to my head.

Clusters of hair fell reluctantly. Each bunch that came off my head removed another bit of my former identity – and sent it to cling to my feet, as if desperate in the final throes of hopelessness.

It was exhilarating. There was no turning back. Now I was 100% committed, and there was no way to hide it.

I was bald.

I had a Krishna pony tail.

I was a Hare Krishna.

Guṇagrahi Swāmī, the man in charge of that same greyhound bus, had given  me permission to shave up and dress in saffron. So, when I stepped out of the tub I changed into the orange-pink Hare Krishna robes.

And the transformation was complete.

Vic DiCara was gone. All my nicknames were gone, they couldn’t apply to this new being. The only name that now fit was Bhakta Vic. And even that would soon have to go.

I looked out the bathroom window into the yard to see short, round Umāpati Swāmī exiting the temple’s side door and climbing the steps on the outside of the building, leading up to the men’s ashram.

Now I was just like him.

His head was bald, my head was bald.

He wore saffron colored robes, I wore saffron colored robes.

He was a Swāmī – a fully dedicated devotee, and I… well not quite yet. But soon! I hoped that Guṇagrahi Swāmī or someone else might make me a Swāmī, and give me one of those awesome staffs. I expected I might have to wait for two or three years.

Then I would be perfect.

– Excerpt from an early draft of
Train Wrecks and Transcendence:
A Collision of Hardcore and Hare Krishna
By Vraja Kishor []
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