Saturday, April 28, 2007

Trippin, Road Style

I live in Washington, DC. Three hundred miles outside my hometown...that is where the Hare Krishna's decided to build a big home.

The Hare Krishnas are an offshoot of mainline Hinsuism. Many remember them as the evangelical kooks who beat tambourines and asked for some of your time and money. Many were right.

Many of the leaders were Americans. One such American was a man named Keith Ham. Who later became known as Kirtanananda Swami. He created the utopia that is the New Vrindavan community just outside Wheeling, WV. A beautiful place, highlighted by the beautiful Palace of Gold.

Here is what I learned about the Kirtanananda Swami from Wikipedia:

"In 1986, Kirtanananda Swami was removed from ISKCON for failing to submit to the ISKCON Governing Body Commission and for illegal activities. He then established his own organization and took several properties with him, including New Vrindavan. New Vrindavan was excommunicated the following year.

In 1990, the US federal government indicted Kirtanananda Swami on five counts of racketeering, six counts of mail fraud, and conspiracy to murder two of his opponents in the Hare Krishna movement. The government claimed that he illegally amassed a profit of more than $10.5 million over four years. It also charged that he ordered the killings because the victims threatened to reveal that he sexually abused minors.

The swami was convicted on nine of the eleven charges in 1991, but the Court of Appeals threw out the convictions, saying that child molestation evidence had unfairly prejudiced the jury against Kirtanananda Swami who was not charged with those crimes.

In 1996, before Kirtanananda Swami's retrial was completed, he pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison but was released in June 2004."

I came to the New Vrindavan ready to ask tough questions about Keith Ham. "A" convinced me not to. Instead, we walked around a beautiful place, our heads down so we wouldn't be harrassed by the community members. We sat down by a beautiful pond. Took it in. Watched a couple of frisky swans bask in a beautiful day. Thought we'd avoided the community. Until "they" came.

They snuck up behind us. Not a word. I don't know what they would have done to us. If I had not seen them.

"Oh shit, get up," I said to A. They were bigger than I expected. An they were up to no good.

I don't know what you know about peacocks, but they are sons-of-bitches. Mean suckers. And they were coming for us. They are like crack fiends. But instead of crack they want and expect seed. The good kind. And, all we had was cash. And they'd take that instead if they could.

We got up and walked away with pride. Fast, but with pride. And soon made our way to the Wheeling Gaming Center/Island. To bet on dogs. With sophistication.


Blogger Alexei said...

Peacocks, ducks, chickens don't do much to help their cause. Wonder how tasty peacock is? Probably not tasty at all. If they were I'da eaten one by now...

7:46 PM  
Blogger Vikrant said...

Whatever you said about Kirtananad Swami is correct but now he has changed & a perfect saint now.

ISKCON society is about spreading GOD Consciousness in the world so you don't have be afraid of them.
Whatever money they will collect as donation is used for the service of the God.

They provide you the best way of realising GOD in the shortest time. They are really great people. Don't try to blaspheme them.

9:50 AM  
Blogger Joseph K said...

Ok, in fairness, Vikrant, the people in the community were nice. They offered us lunch and gave us chai at one point. I was making a cheap joke about the stereotype of hare krishna advocates from the 70s and 80s. I wasn't blashpheming your God or anyone elses.

You have to admit some of the American hare krishnas from that era were offputting. Especially the bad tambourine-playing.

10:24 PM  

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