Summary of Krishna’s Dawn-līlā (Govinda-līlāmṛta 1.5)

रात्रान्तेत्रस्तवृन्दे रितबहुबिरवैर् बोधितौकीरसारी
पद्यैर्हृद्यैरहृद्यैर् अपिसुखशयनाद् उत्तितौतौसखीभिः
दृष्टौहृष्टौतदात्वो दितरतिललितौ कक्खतीगीःसशऩ्कौ
राधाकृष्णौ सतृष्णाव् अपिनजनजधाम्न्याप्ततल्पौ स्मरामि

rātrānte trasta vṛnde / rita bahubi ravair / bodhitau kīra sārī
padyair hṛdyair ahṛdyair / api sukha śayanāt / utthitau tau sakhībhiḥ
dṛṣṭau hṛṣṭau tadātvo/dita rati lalitau / kakkhatī gīḥ saśaṅkau
rādhā-kṛṣṇau satṛṣṇav / api nija nija dhām / nyāpta talpau smarāmi

trān te tra sta vṛn de ri ta ba hu bi ra vair bo dhi tau ra
pad yair hṛd yair a hṛd yair a pi su kha śa ya nāt ut thi tau tau sa khī bhīḥ
dṛṣ ṭau hṛṣ ṭau ta āt vo di ta ra to la li tau kak kha gīḥ sa śaṇ kau
dhā kṛṣ ṇau sa tṛṣ nāv a pi ni ja ni ja dhām nyā pta tal pau sma

As the night comes to an end and dawn approaches, Vṛnda hurridly awakens them with the songs of many love-bird parrots.

The birds recite poems to help them arise from their pleasure-bed; some poems are dear to their heart, and also some are not. The girlfriends witness it all and participate.

When they finally rise from their graceful romantic dalliances, they are shocked to see the dawn and hear the words of Rādhā’s favorite monkey, Kakkhatī.

Although they still thirst for one another, Rādhā and Krishna return to their own rightful beds in their own abodes.

I meditate on this.

The reason some songs are “not dear to the heart” is that the parrots must remind Rādhā and Krishna that they have to get out of bed and leave one another. The fearful words that Kakkhatī exclaims to Rādhā are something along the lines of “Your mother in law might be coming down the path right now, searching for you!”

It is a very magical, fantasiac, wonderful scene – with all the forest animals awakening Rādhā and Krishna.

The sakhīs watch while the animals waken Rādhā-Krishna. They they begin to participate, once the couple has arisen. Eventually they also express pleasant and unpleasant poems to help the couple separate and return home.

– Vraja Kishor



Constitution for this “Individuals Search for Krishna Consciousness”

The Articles

Article 1: Hare (Rādhā)

Article 2: Krishna

Articles 3 & 4: Repeat Articles 1 and 2.

Articles 5 & 6: Repeat Article 2, twice.

Articles 7 & 8: Repeat Article 1, twice.

Article 9: Hare – as in Article 1.

Article 10: Rāma – Rādhā’s lover.

Articles 11 & 12: Repeat Articles 9 and 10.

Articles 13 & 14: Repeat Article 10, twice.

Articles 15 & 16: Repeat Article 9, twice.

Article 17: We, the bhaktas, shall treat the above 16 Articles as ends in and of themselves, not as means to any other end. We shall therefore set aside or best time, energy, and concentration to cultivate these Articles. These Articles are not encumbrances or obligations to complete, nor are they tools to serve our illusion-intrinsic exhibitionism.

Article 18: In our personal practice of these Articles, nāma-japa, we shall sit firmly, and work diligently against addictions to self-centered thoughts which keep the mind loud, occluding true personal relationship with the 16 Articles.

Article 19: In our communal practice of these Articles, nāma-saṁkīrtan, we shall decorate the Articles with exquisite melodies and delicate rhythms, to fully express the inner bhāva trying to dawn within our hearts, not to occlude it with the loudness of ego that makes an exhibition of skill or “advancement.” We shall take our time, explore the articles fully and slowly, and allow the energy to peak when natural.

Article 20: There shall be no further articles. Though there may be amendments to support them.

The Amendments

First Amendment: Śrīmad Bhāgavatam

Second Amendment: Explanations of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam by realized Gauḍīyas. Especially:

  • Śrī Jīva’s Ṣad-sandarbha
  • Śrī Viśvanātha’s Sārārtha-darśinī
  • Swāmī Prabhupāda’s purports

Third Amendment: Expansions of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. Especially

  • Expansion of Bhāgavatam’s sambandha-tattva – like Śrī Sanātana’s Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta, and Śrī Vyāsa’s Bhagavad-Gītā
  • Expansions of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam’s abhidheya-tattva – like Śrī Rūpa’s Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu
  • Expansions of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam’s prayojana-tattva – especially Śrī Kavirāja’s Govinda-līlāmṛta, Śrī Bīlvamaṅgala’s Kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta, and Śrī Jayadeva’s Gītā-govinda.

Fourth Amendment: Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta

the only active memember of this
Individual Search for Krishna Consciousness,

Vraja Kishor dās


Consciousness is Light. The external world is Dark.

Consciousness is “light” (jyoti) because light illuminates the world and makes it perceptible. External objects are described as “dark” (tamas) because they are insentient. Yes, this is a dualistic paradigm, but is nonetheless useful and accurate because it describes the situation in the external world – which in fact is a dualistic reality.

Infinite lights shine upon the dark world, but the peculiar thing about consciousness-light which is different from ordinary light is that it is “svayam-jyoti” – a light that illuminates things only for the light-source (svayam-jyoti, btw, also means that it can illuminate itself to itself). Someone in a different city reads a Harry Potter novel, for example, and their consciousness illuminates the book to themselves. I don’t learn all about the goings on of Hogwarts as a result of someone else reading the book. I don’t see what you see, only you see what you see. [note: it IS possible to see what others see, but only if one looks inward properly]

Therefore the world is “dark” even though it has infinite points of light in it. The world only becomes bright to us, only insofar as we shine our own light upon it.

We try to shine our light upon other sources of light, but all we can illuminate is their projection into the external world of objects. This is because our light is fixed towards that external direction – we are “bahir-mukha jīva” – consciousness that faces outward. We try to experience and understand other people – the most valuable objects in existence – but we fail to penetrate beyond their mutable and mysterious physical, intellectual and emotional layers.

Direct experience of other sources of light (other “souls”) is not possible while our own light shines outward. Only when we illuminate our own inner reality can we be truly connected to other conscious, sentient beings – via Paramātma – a super-conscious being at the root of all conscious beings.

– Vraja Kishor


An Incarnation of Viṣṇu Proposes Cow Slaughter and Meat Eating?

This tale of Pṛthu’s confrontation with the Earth Goddess continues from my previous post.

“I will destroy you,” Pṛthu replied, “because you do not observe my orders.”

She would certainly wonder, “what orders did you ever give me?”

So he explained that he was referring to the standing order that the gods must reciprocate with sacrifices. “The people worshipped you and you accepted it,” he said, “but you refuse to grant us blessings. You are like a cow eating grass day after day but never giving milk. Such a creature should be punished and corrected, even if she is a cow! Your mind is so lowly that you refuse to fructify the seeds created by Self-born Brahmā, even when I ask you to!

“My poor citizens suffer from starvation! I will put a stop to their laments by feeding them your meat, sliced from you by my own arrows!”

The earth become absolutely terrified and wanted to cry out, “But I am a woman!”

Pṛthu stopped her by declaring, “You are not a woman – you are selfish! A selfish person has no compassion for anyone else and is therefore the worst person in the world – it doesn’t matter if they are a man, a woman, or transgendered! If a king kills such a person, it is not ‘killing’.”

She would cry, “But I am a cow!

Pṛthu said, “You are pretending to be a cow! In truth you are a madly stubborn creature, and my arrows shall reduce you to food!”

“But I am the earth,” she would cry, “If you destroy me how will you keep from falling into outer space?”

Pṛthu said, “I will take care of that myself, by my own mystic power. I will personally become the ground upon which the citizens can stand.”

– Translation of Śrī Bhāgavata 4.17.22 ~ 27
A draft for Part 4 of Beautiful Tales of the All-Attractive

by Vraja Kishor


Shelter, Inside Out, Quicksand – Summer Tour 1990

Shelter, Inside Out, Quicksand – Summer Tour 1990… It wasn’t a tour; it was the big bang, the the beginning of a completely new chapter in the history of rock music. Shelter was the dawn of Krishna-core, a genre that would dominate straightedge for at least four or five years. Quicksand would spawn the post-hardcore genre that would lead to bands like Tool and the Deftones. Inside Out was at the beginning of its end, which means the rap-rock genre pioneered by Rage Against the Machine was about to be born.

Ironically, at the time, Krishna-core seemed the biggest of the three developments. At least, to me.

The tour moved by two vans, a motor-home, and a greyhound bus. The inside of the bus had been gutted and converted into a rolling “preaching center.” It belonged to a Hare Krishna swamī, who captained it with a middle-aged single man as first-mate and a crew of three or four teenage boys – all practicing celibacy. Ray and I glued ourselves to this bus. We didn’t hang out with our own bands. Ever. 

They weren’t devotees.

My old friends, Tom Capone and Alan Cage were in Quicksand. They traveled in the van that always lagged behind and showed up suspiciously late. I don’t recall making any effort to speak with either of them more than once or twice, or for more than a grand total of three minutes. Maybe they used to be my dearest friends, but they weren’t devotees.

Unlike most tours, social dynamics were not determined by the boundaries of bands so much as they was established by simple census of who was a devotee and who wasn’t. An infinite chasm of total mutual disinterest separated the two groups: devotees and “non-devotees.”

The only exception was Shelter’s bass player, Yaso – a middle-aged Hare Krishna carpenter with no ties to punk rock at all. He was a tall, lanky, gentle angel; a friend to everyone. Yaso chanted with the devotees with just as much zeal as he chilled out and joked around with the non-devotees. Perhaps coincidentally, he was the only Hare Krishna on the tour who was married and had a child.

He often drove the motor-home, which I called “the swāmī van” because another swāmī traveled in it (yes, not one but two swāmīs came on the tour). The swāmī in the motor-home had a particular knack for being able to come down to earth and respond to all sorts of questions in relatively reasonable, intelligent, and logical ways. So, Ray and I would orchestrate occasions to have  people from the non-devotee clan ride in the motor home and talk with the swāmī.

I particularly remember Zack’s and Tom’s conversations.

Zack talked a bit about how he accepted my proposition that spiritual change in the individual was the only real foundation for true social change, but it was clear that he mostly conceived of spirituality as feelings and emotions and had no sympathy whatsoever for a hierarchically organized religious institution. The swami thought wasn’t impressed with Zack’s “sentimentality” and was honestly surprised a year or two later, when Zack achieved superstardom vastly outshining anyone else ever spawned from the depths of hardcore.

Tom’s conversation with the swāmī started out similar to the conversation we had years ago in my Dodge Dart. “Krishna enjoys life,” he asked, “so why should his devotees have to renounce everything? It’s not right.”

The swāmī tried to explain that sense gratification doesn’t lead to true  happiness, but Tom wasn’t into it. “There is happiness in sense gratification. I’ve experienced it.”

After a little more back and forth, the swāmī explained, “There are three kinds of intelligence. First-class intelligence hears, ‘sense gratification causes suffering’ and stays away from it. Second-class intelligence hears, ‘sense gratification causes suffering’ but engages in sense gratification anyway. Then by personal experience he realizes that it leads to suffering, and stays away from it. Third-class intelligence hears ‘sense gratification causes suffering,’ suffers first-hand by pursuing it, but still holds on to the hope that he will somehow achieve happiness from sense gratification. It seems like you have third-class intelligence.”

Tom took it as an insult. Maybe he thought he had a different kind of “first-class intelligence” – one that doesn’t believe in ideas that don’t match the reality he could experience.

This is a first draft. If you were there and have memories, opinions, etc. that might change how this is written, or expand it, I would love to hear from you in the comments below.

– From a first draft of
Train-Wrecks and Transcendence:
A Collision of Hardcore and Hare Krishna

by Vraja Kishor



Words about Women – From The Earth-Goddess

Bhāgavata 4, Chapter 17, tells the tale of King Pṛthu ending a severe famine. During this tale, the earth manifests as a Cow-woman and says several very important things, especially about how women should be treated…

The philosophers had coronated Pṛthu and declared him the protector of the people, so the citizens – emaciated from the famine spread across the faceof the earth – came to beseech him. “O King, hunger torments us, like fire burning a tree from the inside. You can protect us, and now we beg your protection, for you are the one who will bring about our prosperity. Please find some way to give us food, oh god of the gods of men. If we cannot get nourishment, the tormenting fire of hunger will devour us. We trust in your protection, for you protect the prosperity of everyone.”

Hearing the pitiful citizens, Pṛthu cried. Thinking carefully and patiently, trying to discover the cause of the famine. When his intellect became firm and decided about the cause, he picked up his bow, nocked an arrow, aimed at the earth, and drew back the bowstring – as angry as Śiva, the destroyer of three cities.

Seeing his immanent attack the earth began to quake. He would not lower his bow, so she manifest as a cow-woman and ran from Pṛthu in fear, like an animal pursued by a hunter.

KamadhenuVidura had just previously asked why the Earth had become a cow, of all things. The answer is that she was in fear of her life, and so took the form of a creature against which any form of violence was forbidden. This creature was gauḥ satī – a “cow-woman.” (The Surabhi / Kāmadhenu is a divine creature that manifests the physical form of both a cow and a woman – along with the tail of a peacock and wings of a beautiful bird.) 

But Vena’s Son, his eyes red with rage, would not let her go – the arrow on his drawn bow followed her wherever she fled. The goddess fled in every direction, on the earth and into caves – but wherever she ran, she always saw the king right behind her, with his arrow drawn. Like a person unable to escape death, there was no place in the world she could escape fro Vena’s son.

Maitreya repeatedly addresses Pṛthu here as “Vena’s son” to imply how fearsome and relentless he could be when necessary.

P1100523.2Then, trembling with a terrified heart, she turned to face him. “O most opulent and blessed knower of morality and father of those who seek your shelter,” she said, “your majesty protects all creatures, including me. So please spare me from your wrath!

“Why do you want to kill a poor creature who has committed no crime? Everyone knows the saying, ‘How could a knower of morality ever harm a woman?’ Women must certainly never be physically punished, even if they have committed a crime. All people know this, so certainly a learned person like you must also know it, for you are a merciful king, like a father to the poor.

This is the verdict of śāstra, directly stated by the goddess earth, who is the eternal śakti of bhagavān, an expansion of the adi-śakti Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. No one who strikes a woman can ever be considered a moral person – for a woman must never be physically punished, even if she has committed crimes! 

No one who values Śrī Rādhā or cherishes the ideal of transmorphing in liberation into a functional assistant of Śrī Rādhā can ever condone or ignore the instructions of Goddess Bhūmi.

pt01If Canakya Pandit (or whoever may have interpolated his nīti sūtra) says something to the contrary, followers of the Bhāgavatam know it to be trash, and reject it. If any so called sādhu or guru says anything to the contrary, directly or indirectly implying that “physical discipline” is applicable to women, followers of Bhāgavatam denounce that person – loudly if necessary. Or, as far more likely, if any inept, inexperienced, and uneducated followers of a genuine sādhu or guru insist on representing their guru as condoning violence and threats towards women – we instantly and without second thought reject those useless person as far away as possible.

If anyone want to become an object of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī’s mercy, a genuine sādhu, but if that person has committed the heinous act of violence towards women, the first order of duty is to repair the evil they have done.  To a subtle extent, all men behave violently towards women by the instinct to enlist them in their personal gratifications. And all creatures have been men at some point. Therefore no one is exempt from the need to repair the evils and exploitations of women.

“Anyway, think carefully!” the goddess concluded, “I am the ageless boat upon which the whole world stands. If you destroy me, how will you keep yourself or your citizens from drowning in the universal waters?”

– Translation of Bhāgavata 4.17.8 ~ 21
a rough-draft for Part 4 of Beautiful Tales of the All-Attractive

by Vraja Kishor

Motorola RAZRV6 98.30.80R 2009:11:17 15:02:07


aṣṭha-kāliya līlā summary in one verse. (Govinda-līlāmṛta 1.4)

kuñjād goṣṭhaṁ niśānte / praviśati kurute / dohanānnāśanādyāṁ

From the groves to the villiage at dawn
making his return.
Then sleeping, having breakfast, and milking the cows.

prātaḥ sāyaṁ ca līlāṁ / viharati sakhibhiḥ / saṅgave cārayan gāḥ

Enjoying play day and night 
enjoying with his girlfriends
enjoying and moving among them

madyāhne cātha naktaṁ / vilasati vipine / rādhayāddhāparāhne

Then, during mid-day and mid-night,
manifesting delightful dalliance with Rādhā
(And in the afternoon and predawn, unmanifestedly)

goṣṭhaṁ yāti pradoṣe / ramayati suhṛdo / yaḥ sa kṛṣṇo ‘vatān naḥ

Going to the villiage in the evenings
To delight his dear ones.
Thus Krishna reveals himself to us

There are 8 divisions of the day, 4 of the daytime, 4 of the nighttime.

The 1st division of daytime is the daybreak. At this time he returns to the village from the groves and catches a few winks of wonderfully deep sleep. In the 2nd division he wakes up, has breakfast, and milks his cows. In the 3rd division, mid-day, he plays with the gopīs headed by Rādhā. In the 4th division, afternoon, he plays with them in an unmanifest way – he stays in their hearts and minds, but goes externally to play with the boys.

In the 1st division of night, evening, he returns to the villiage, and delights his family. [He has dinner and so on] In the 2nd division of night, he moves to meet the gopīs, and plays with them. In the 3rd division, midnight, his play with the gopis is at its manifest height (as it was at mid-day). In the 4th division the play is unmanifest – they all sleep.

The meter for chanting the sanskrit is: – – – – * – – / * * * * * * – / – * – – * – – (“–” is a long syllable, held twice as long as “*”, the short syllable). The pattern is the same for every line.

Vraja Kishor



An Introduction to Pṛthu – Avatar of Krishna

“You mentioned that Pṛthu would ‘milk the earth,’” Vidura asked Maitreya. “The earth has so many forms, why would she chose to appear to Pṛthu as a cow? What sort of ‘milk’ did she give? Who was her calf? What did Pṛthu use as a milking pot?”

“You mentioned that Pṛthu would level the mountains to create smooth roads,” Vidura continued. “The very nature of the earth is to become mountainous, so how did Pṛthu manage to level her?

“You said that Indra stole the horse meant for Pṛthu’s hundredth and final horse-sacrifice. Why did Indra do this?

“You mentioned that Pṛthu gained transcendental knowledge from the blessed Sanat Kumāra, the greatest knower of spirituality. What knowledge did the philosopher-king gain? How did he realize it? What result did he achieve?”

In case Maitreya might wonder why he was so curious to learn more about Pṛthu, Vidura concluded by saying, “I am very eager to hear all these wonderful things, and more, because Pṛthu is a previous birth of my Prabhu, All-Attractive Krishna. So please tell me all about Transcendent Krishna who took the form of Vena’s son and milked the earth. I will listen attentively and with devotion.”

– Translated from
Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 4.17.3-7
An initial draft for part 4 of Beautiful Tales of the All-Attractive
by Vraja Kishor


Some Q & A on A Simple Gita

Q: I have been reading your “A Simple Gita” and there are many things I like about it. For example, the very clear and modern language, which makes me think about what Krishna says in a slightly different way, which makes the message sink in better.

For example, I like how you have replaced the word “lust” with “selfishness” in chapter three. Of course both words are useful. “Lust” connotes the strong desire for sense objects. “Selfishness” is more general and explains a bit less of the mechanics, but is a term much more widely understood.

A: Thank you!

The term in chapter three is काम (kāma) which is one of the four goals of life, indicating happiness or pleasure, but as it is used in this content, a negative context, it refers to selfish conceptions of pleasure. Kāma (“lust”) is actually defined as a selfish conception of pleasure.

ātmendriya-prīti-vāñchā — tāre bali ‘kāma’

“Kāma” is known as self-centered desire”

Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, ādi-līlā, 4.165

Q: However, I don’t know why you use the word “nirvana” in several places. For example in verse 2.72, in fact Krishna uses the word “brahma-nirvanam”, which Prabhupada translates as “the spiritual kingdom of God”. You translate it as “the supreme spiritual peace (nirvana).”

A: I think you’ve answered the question yourself. I use the word nirvana where Krishna uses the word nirvana.

Q: Also, you translate 4.35: “You will see that all living beings are within you, and that you are within me.” Whereas Prabhupada translates: “…you will see that all living beings are but part of the Supreme, or, in other words, that they are Mine.” All living beings are within Arjuna?

A: 4.35 says: येन भूतान्यशेषाणि द्रक्ष्यस्यात्मन्यथो मयि – yena bhūtāny aśeṣāṇi drakṣyasy ātmany atho mayi

The word yena refers to the subject Krishna was discussing, knowledge.

Bhūtāni aśeṣāni means “in endless creatures” / “in all living beings.”

Drakṣyasi means to see.

ātmani means “in the self.”

So bhūtāny aśeṣāni drakṣyasy ātmani means “seeing all creatures within yourself.” It means seeing unity with all creatures. Seeing every creature as we see our own self. Seeing no divisions between oneself and others.

Then the line conclues, atho mayi.

Athaḥ means “then” or “thus”

Mayi means “in me”

So this means that by seeing the self within all creatures, we will see Krishna everywhere.

The full meaning is that all three entities – Arjuna/the self (ātma), Krishna/God (“mayi”) and all creatures (“bhūtāny aśeṣāni”) – are all unified, and one sees all three in all three.

It’s quite difficult to express it succinctly in English. In the next revision of A Simple Gītā, I will look at this verse carefully again and see if I can make the English include more of the full meaning, without rambling on too much.

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 19.08.19

The Day Punk Rock Learned the Dark Side of Hare Krishna

Ray Cappo was on the east coast getting Shelter ready for the hordes of Youth of Today fans. I was on the west coast doing Inside Out and Enquirer zine. Between the two of us, and a few others like Kalki of Razor’s Edge, Krishna was pushing into the hardcore scene in a huge way. But in December of ’89 the scene pushed back for the first time. Maximum Rocknroll, the biggest zine in hardcore punk, delivered an issue called “Inside Ray Cappo and the Krishnas” with a creepy infinity-mirror photo of Ray on the cover and 15 no-line-spacing-tiny-font packed pages tearing Hare Krishna to shreds and then shredding those shreds.

I bought a copy while at a show at the Gilman Street Project in Berkley. There was a five page interview with Ray called, “Ray of Yesterday Meets Ray of Tomorrow: It’s Enough to Make me Start Drinking!!!!!” followed by a ten page article called, “The Truth, The Whole Truth, And Nothing But The Truth, So Help Me Krishna?”

The more I read, the more I wanted to fall into a crack into the earth.

Compared to the “Whole Truth…” article, Ray’s interview wasn’t too bad. It was basically just an argument between him and Tim Yo. Usually Tim sounded a lot smarter than Ray, but Ray had his moments too – especially considering that his expertise in Krishna consciousness was the result of hardly a year of familiarity with it. The worst part was where Tim embarrassed Ray for thinking that his body was completely different from the body he had been in as a child.

The “Whole Truth…” article was more like several articles and interviews stitched together in a rambling frankenstein of nausea. It started off with a woman’s story of intrigue about how her husband Ed had become brainwashed by the Krishna cult and how she turned to ex-Hare Krishna’s to successfully get him out. Then MRR interviewed Ed and the ex-Hare Krishna’s who had helped him “exit” ISKCON. These guys convincingly depicted ISKCON as a deviant and dangerous branch of an otherwise admirable religious and philosophical movement.

Then we heard about the deceitful fund-raising practices pervasive in ISKCON, called saṁkīrtan (making it a deception not only of the public, but of ISKCON members as well – since actual saṁkīrtan was nothing of the sort). This was followed by a long list of serious crimes the Krishna’s and their leaders had been convicted for: huge drug rings, illegal possession of firearms, murder, and child molestation, to name a few.

Next the ex-Krishnas talked about the sexism rampant in ISKCON, saying there was a hierarchy considering cows more important than women: “Man-Cow-Woman-Dog.” They explained that ISKCON leaders encouraged physical “discipline” of women, quoting the former ISKCON guru Bhaktipāda who said, “There are three things that get better when you beat them — your dog, your wife, and your drum.”

Finally – there was a section on how mind-control and brainwashing work, and how deprogramming worked.

I felt like I was in the vortex of a black hole as I stood on the sidewalk outside Gilman, flipping from one emotion to the next with exhausting speed. One moment I was fucking furious at MRR for giving such a “one-sided story.” The next moment I was pitifully embarrassed to be a a spokesman for such a freak-show circus of lunatics. How the fuck would I manage to explain all this shit to all these kids who were getting interested in Hare Krishna because of me? Then I felt like vomiting or crying because I didn’t even know how much of what I read was true, or to what extent – maybe it was bad enough that I myself would have to get the fuck out? By the time we were heading for the car to go home, I had wound up feeling less like a human being and more like a growling wolf backed into a corner, bearing his fangs and posed for a battle to the death.

Over the next few weeks, though, I realized that nobody in the straightedge crowd seemed to really cared much about what Maximum Rocknroll had printed. I think MRR was just too fucking hard to read – disorganized, rambling, and way too unpackaged – the underbelly side effect of crust-punk ideals of anarchy and anti-capitalism. And straightedge kids didn’t really seem to care much what the crusty Berkley punks had to say, anyway. After all, they were just crust-punks with their constant bitching and moaning. Yeah, the issue phased people – but not half as much as it phased me. The thing that disturbed them the most, I noticed, was the sexism. More than the drug-running, abject exploitation and mind-tyranny, straightedge kids were disgusted by the sexism MRR depicted in Hare Krishna.

As for me, the whole thing set me off balance. Devotees assured me the people behind MRR were “envious demons,” and the ex-Krishnas interviewed were just “too weak to make it at devotees” and came up with all these things as excuses to justify their weakness.

I wasn’t dumb enough to believe any of that crap.

Instead I just steeled myself to the ugly reality that a good percentage of ISKCON was really fucked up in a big way. But even if a diamond is covered in shit, I reasoned… just wash off the shit and take the diamond. Devotees assured me that the vast majority of all the insanity MRR revealed was a thing of the past, and ISKCON was now making strides forward to reform themselves and represent Krishna and Prabhupāda more purely.

I could buy that, it seemed true.

I decided I would be one of the guys helping the reforms.

– Excerpt from an early draft of
Train Wrecks and Transcendence:
A Collision of Hardcore and Hare Krishna

by Vraja Kishor


Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 19.08.09The relevant parts of the MRR issue