Here's a draft of the rest of my story.
The next day, I went to the place where I had recently quit working to collect a paycheck I had coming, so I could buy my own copy of Bhagavad-gita As It Is. I also started attending the Bhagavad-gita classes held three nights a week at the temple. I remember still having difficulty dealing with the fact that this spiritual treatise was spoken on a battlefield, with the Lord exhorting His friend to fight—against his relatives, friends, and teachers! I asked about it three meetings in a row. The temple president, Gaurasundar das, was very patient with me, explaining painstakingly the difference between spirit and matter, the body and the soul, and apparent nonviolence and real nonviolence. After three times, the concepts began to sink in, and I was hooked.
On the alternate nights, I found myself in
At the time, I didn’t think of myself as a devotee, or as a disciple of Srila Prabhupada’s. For some time, even after moving into the temple, I referred to Srila Prabhupada as “your spiritual master” in my conversations with the seven devotees that comprised ISKCON Hawaii at the time. My idea was that I would try to develop an understanding of
Completely rejecting all religious activities which are materially motivated, this Bhagavata Purana propounds the highest truth, which is understandable by those devotees who are fully pure in heart. The highest truth is reality distinguished from illusion for the welfare of all. Such truth uproots the threefold miseries. This beautiful Bhagavatam, compiled by the great sage Vyasadeva [in his maturity], is sufficient in itself for God realization. What is the need of any other scripture? As soon as one attentively and submissively hears the message of Bhagavatam, by this culture of knowledge the Supreme Lord is established within his heart.
In his purport, or commentary, Srila Prabhupada discusses how all beings in the material world are engaged in a competitive struggle for dominance over others. Then he contrasts with this the attitude of pure devotees of Godhead:
But the devotees of the Lord rise above such competitions. They do not compete with the materialist because they are on the path back to Godhead where life is eternal and blissful. Such transcendentalists are nonenvious and pure in heart. In the material world, everyone is envious of everyone else, and therefore there is competition. But the transcendental devotees of the Lord are not only free from material envy, but are well-wishers to everyone, and they strive to establish a competitionless society with God in the center.
This was the most radical idea I think I had encountered at the time, in the real sense of the word: it went right to the root of all our problems, and it offered the perfect solution. This, it seemed to me, was everything!
As I got further into the first canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, I found more statements in the verses and purports that showed me the profundity of Srila Prabhupada’s mission. In one such passage, Narada Muni, a great sage, explains the difference between mundane literature and transcendental literature to his disciple, Vyasadeva, the divine compiler of the Vedic literatures:
Those words which do not describe the glories of the Lord, who alone can sanctify the atmosphere of the whole universe, are considered by saintly persons to be like unto a place of pilgrimage for crows. Since the all-perfect persons are inhabitants of the transcendental abode, they do not derive any pleasure there.
On the other hand, that literature which is full of descriptions of the transcendental glories of the name, fame, forms, pastimes, etc., of the unlimited Supreme Lord is a different creation, full of transcendental words directed toward bringing about a revolution in the impious lives of this world's misdirected civilization. Such transcendental literatures, even though imperfectly composed, are heard, sung and accepted by purified men who are thoroughly honest.
I began to see that the Hare Krishna movement was not simply an exotic religion but a revolutionary movement. But this wasn’t the kind of revolution we had become accustomed to discussing in those days of social and political ferment. This, I was beginning to understand, was a revolution of the heart. I was interested in finding ways to change our culture. At the time, the most profound political influence in my life was Mohandas Gandhi. I had read pretty much every thing by and about him that I had been able to get my hands on. While I was still in the Navy, one of my friends had drawn a charcoal portrait of Gandhi that I displayed in my room in the barracks, and later in my apartment in
But this approach was completely spiritual. And the more I read, the more clearly I could see this, the more firmly I became convinced.
Later in the first canto, I read of Emperor Parikshit’s encounter with an abused bull. In the vision of the Vedic sages, the bull is Dharma, the personification of religious principles. At one point King Parikshit exclaims, “In the age of Satya [truthfulness] your four legs were established by the four principles of austerity, cleanliness, mercy and truthfulness. But it appears that three of your legs are broken due to rampant irreligion in the form of pride, lust for women, and intoxication.” In his purport Srila Prabhupada explains that the Dharma, religion, had been abused by Kali, the personification of the age in which we live, characterized by hypocrisy and quarrel. The pillars on which this age is built are destructive habits such as gambling, intoxication, unrestricted pursuit of sexual gratification, and meat eating. The antidote suggested here is a culture based on simplicity, cleanliness, mercy, and truthfulness. Now that was truly revolutionary, at least in my experience! And a little earlier, I had found the essential antidote for the influence of this age of discord. If we can make arrangements, Srila Prabhupada says, “for the constant chanting of the holy names, qualities, etc., of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, there is no chance at all” for Kali’s influence to increase the downward spiral of modern society. And Srila Prabhupada recommends using even modern technology for widely broadcasting the holy names of Krishna, as well as
That determination was further solidified when Srila Prabhupada visited