Krishna group in Hawaii
Date: May 22, 2006 03:56AM
Devadasi and Googling-
Thanks so much for sharing your experiences. It’s confirming some things and jogging a lot of memories. A lot of people are afraid to speak out openly for lots of reasons. For me, it was not because I never witnessed anything illegal, perverted or subversive. We all had the freedom and autonomy to live and work where we wanted. The core constrictions were self inflicted. I chose to believe that Siddha had authority to direct me because I thought he was a pure devotee, a saint, a sadhu. I let his ideas over ride my own inner authority and discernment.
The thing to look at, whether you believe yourself to have been in a cult or not, is why do you feel so bad there and why do you feel afraid to leave or why does it take so long to leave after you start seeing red flags?
I agonized for years with an inner conflict between my own wisdom and truth detectors versus Siddha’s/ followers teachings/ lifestyle. First, I had to deal with the embarrassment that I had been an idiot like my father and brothers had been telling me. Then I had to deal with the regret of the lost years, like the grasshopper in Aesop’s tales who played and didn’t store up his food for winter. Or like in the Japanese film, “Ugetsu”, about a poor man who is led away from his family by a beautiful woman. He stays with her for years forgetting about his wife and children. One day as he is walking down the road and runs into a Buddhist priest. When the priest found out where the man lived, he was horrified. He made the man remove his shirt and wrote Sanskrit prayers on his back. When he returned to the woman she became extremely agitated and the man finds out that he has been living with a ghost all those years. When he returned home all these misfortunes had fallen on to his family due to his long absence.
The fear and secrecy was all about fearing what people would think and therefore jeopardize any proselytizing activities or undermine mainstream businesses. When he had his followers venture into politics, where facades are built in to prevent too much scrutiny by the opposition, they could no longer be open about their beliefs. (I’ll examine this more when I write about politics). ISKON had already poisoned the well and alienated most people with their pushy tactics and criminal behavior of their leadership. Siddha rightfully distanced himself from that organization. The problem was that he was not able to counter peoples’ bias against alternative religions. Instead of being open and honest, as it was in the beginning, and slowly building good relationships and reputations with the community by doing good deeds, even risking losing an election, in time they would have been accepted. This was already happening with locals who had contact working with Katyayani, Balakhiya, Phenop and others. They were well liked by the community.
But to be open and transparent would mean that Siddha would lose control and be demoted to and scrutinized by the same standards as that of an ordinary man. Not that he was ordinary. He was an extraordinary man, a leader, advisor, philosopher, entrepreneur, innovator, but a man nonetheless.
There was a grandiose feeling in the group that we had a superior spiritual understanding. All of his lectures are filled with mocking and sarcasm, building up “straw men” to knock them down. Jesus was a pure devotee, but Christians were generally materialists. Gurus and Buddhists were offensive “impersonalists/voidists”. Rabbis were ignorant because they can’t tell you what G*d looks like. No one knows the truth but Siddha and the Brahma sampradaya. Just chant and serve “Jagad Guru”, Lord Guru of all gurus, because he is god’s humble representative on earth.
The basic philosophy was universal and attractive. We are more than matter, flesh, or chemicals. A materialistic lifestyle alone will not make you happy. You need to have a personal relationship with G*d based on love and not on fear. Serve G*d and fulfill the purpose of your creation. Be kind to animals, don’t eat them. Live simply; think highly. Don’t do drugs or alcohol. Don’t gamble. Don’t have sex outside of marriage. Don’t exploit people or the natural environment. Siddha’s projects seemed pure enough. Health food stores, organic farms, vegetarian cooking shows, a new political party with pro-life, anti-development and environmentalist platforms, plans for a drug rehab center, exposing organized crime in the Hawaiian tour industry and in politics, plans for an educational center showcasing eco-friendly technologies, a media center, music, schools for children that did not crush their spirits, all seemed noble goals. And he found great people to help him. But there was something not genuine. What was the lie?
What if he was not really G*d’s representative? What if I just realized that I am making major life decisions based on a man who is delusional, paranoid, and phobic no matter how kind and gentle or humble he appears? You question things. You question your questions. You are told, “Doubts are like demons.” Things don’t add up. Am I being paranoid or did I commit a horrible offence? No one is really being abused, forced, coerced. If chanting is a chore, I must not be doing it right. No one can be friends anymore. No one helps each other out because they are too busy frantically and jealously serving “Prabhupad”. People are having affairs and marriages are crumbling. Don’t complain. If you get sick everyone avoids you so they won’t be quarantined from seeing the guru. You are not your material body or mind, so any desire or thought could be maya (illusion). Just love guru and Krishna. It’s not Siddha or Bhaktivedanta or the philosophy (they are pure), it’s the stupid followers, you tell yourself. Your internal B.S. gauge gets rusty. The only happiness that is legitimate is love for the “blue boy” who incarnates in his pictures and statues. But I don’t get it, I’m not happy. I lie to myself every time I offer food on the alter. If I am honest with myself, I feel even worse. I’m a failed devotee. I must be a materialist. I must be a horrible person! Nope, I never reached Krishna consciousness or Prabhupad consciousness for that matter.
Deny this, deny that. You feel bad for that sleep deprived cook that just got fired because the tofu wasn’t cooked right. Someone else gets yelled at for suggesting that Siddha put some footnotes and to quote references at the end of his books. Mass call-ins are ordered to radio talk shows to support a cause. Staged interviews in books and videos where no real questions were asked, only prepared ones. Door to door cookies sold to raise funds for a drug rehab center that never materialized. You see a political candidate in a fake marriage ordered by Siddha so a family can be pictured on a brochure.*
All the devotees get blamed for every sneeze Siddha and his wife gets. People are told that their very spiritual lives are in grave danger if his health fails and if they are not sending in enough money. All disciples are blamed for an accident where his wife gets a head injury from a pipe that accidentally fell because of the apparently shoddy construction work of a follower. Everyone else is responsible for HIM, but himself.
He simultaneously had contempt and love for his followers, resentment and dependency. The post describing followers attending to Siddha by taking him out in the ocean on a raft to help him surf (so he didn’t have to paddle out himself) reminded me of a story he used to tell us. He used to mock Indian gurus who were impersonalists (did not worship Krishna’s form as god). He told the story of a guru who meditated day and night. He meditated so long and hard that he attained the highest Brahman realization. The problem was that he remained in the lotus position for so many years that his arm and leg muscles atrophied and locked into position. He was totally helpless and at the mercy of his followers. They would carry him around on a palanquin and parade their great guru around in his locked lotus position. He became completely dependent on them to feed him, bath him, and take him to the toilet and wipe his butt. This was the humiliating fate for a man so in control and in want of a following.
Just by me saying all of this is considered blasphemy and devotees are instructed from the Krishna scriptures to do one of three things if they hear blasphemy of a pure devotee; kill the blasphemer; and if you can’t do this, then kill yourself. If you can’t do that; then run away. Apparently Krishna will forgive blasphemy of himself, but not his pure devotee. Siddha was also considered a blasphemer when he broke from ISKON and there WERE guys crazy enough to bump him off. So his paranoia is this was not unfounded. And maybe now there are followers of Siddha crazy enough to go after me, but I really don’t pose a threat to his businesses or income. They will ride me off as an envious, disgruntled, lustful materialist who never tasted love for G*d and must be a miserable, hateful person who has committed such a great offence that I will be cut off from Krishna forever. To them, I am spiritually dead. This is the real deal for those of you who asked.
*(NOT Mike Gabbard who was really a great guy with a loving wife when I knew him).