We Know the Center of a Circle by its Circumference

This continues directly from the previous excerpt; We Do Not Eat Fruits Washed by Karmīs

Then we went to other European countries and everything was so different. The devotees were kind, generous, and helpful. The parents of the straightedge kids whose homes we sometimes stayed in didn’t seem so terrified by the “Hare Krishna sect.”

I remember sitting on the grassy hill of one of the Krishna farms somewhere out there in I-forget-where, twirling a dandelion flower between my fingers, wondering how Viṣṇupāda could be the leader here, were everyone was so sweet, and over there too, where everyone was so mean? I realized that the center of a circle is perceived through its circumference. Unless we are personally very close to someone, we only experience them through those who are close to him.

I imagined the fanatical book-distributing non-karmī-fruit-eaters from over there approaching their guru saying, “Shelter is coming, but is this punk rock bonafide?” I imagined their guru saying something relative to their mood. Something like, “Well, Prabhupāda stopped Viṣṇujana from doing the same thing…” Then, I could see them coming away with the conclusion, “Our guru says you are bogus.”

On the other hand I imagined the simple, down-to-earth people from over here approaching their guru saying, “What should we do to help Shelter when they come?” Responding to their mood, the same guru might say, “Bring them prasādam and see if you can coordinate some book distribution and harinām.”

I decided to suspend my previous judgement on Viṣṇupada’s character. Maybe he was who I initially thought he was, maybe he wasn’t. Until I got to know him and his surroundings, I couldn’t know for sure. And why should I be in any rush to find out? I should have better things to do.

Then I thought of Prabhupāda. He was so different at 26 2nd Avenue and during the very early years of ISKCON, when his circumference was so much smaller and women like Yamuna Devī, Mālatī, and Jadurāṇī were an important part of it. Later, the circumference so much larger and so  very different, and he too seemed very different. I began to realize that what ISKCON accepted as “Prabhupāda’s Mood” was really only the mood of the circumference at a given point in time. Even what they saw as “Prabhupāda’s Teachings” was only the teaching they had managed to evoke from him, and was only what they had managed to comprehend of it.

This gave me some hope that I might be able to get close to Prabhupāda himself, without the circumference, if I studied his books carefully – especially the earlier ones.

– Excerpt from an early draft of

Train Wrecks and Transcendence: A Collision of Hardcore and Hare Krishna
Available May 2016

By Vraja Kishor [VrajaKishor.com ]

Categories: Tags: , , ,


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