Episode 2-moving into the temple 1981

hmmm's picture

Average: 4.8 (8 votes)

After my meeting with Tirhapada,I gave my notice at work and moved in a month later-march 1981.
I found the disciplined life-style very difficult and lived for the times our guru visited and gave classes.For the first time in my life,I wanted to listen to someone with undivided attention and it was pure nectar to be in his presence and to hear such eloquent spiritual teachings.
Srila Prabhupada(the founder of ISKCON)had left behind 11 initiating gurus to carry on his mission of mercy.Tirthapada was one of them and boy was I glad he had been given England as one of his zones!

As I was still in the throes of post traumatic stress syndrome,I was not always the most enthusiastic participant but loved the morning prayers,the chanting and the dancing and the food!Prabhupada,who was apparently very strict and stern in many ways,was also deeply compassionate and because devotees had to give up so many material pleasures,he encouraged new members to "eat till they waddled!"Because Prasadama was sanctified foodstuff we were allowed to have as much as we wanted!That was one instruction I took very literally and think I became rather overweight,actually!!

My mother who was of Greek-Cypriot origin, nearly went mad when I joined the temple and tried to forcibly remove me-she thought I was worshipping idols and that ISKCON was demoniac!She even took me to Cyprus and tried to steal my passport!
I returned to England and the temple and continued my life there.
I started to notice something of a serious nature happening,there was an underlying tension and Tirthapada seemed sad and over burdened,whenever I saw him,though he remained wholeheartedly devoted to Radha-Krishna and the philosophy and was always a great inspiration.

I didnt really understand the politics in the temple or the male dominated GBC-Governing body commission but I could feel rumblings of discontent taking place.

All the other gurus had taken sannyasa-which meant renouncing wives,family,sex life and travelling the world preaching krishna consciousness,basically.
For some reason Prabhupada had singled out Tirthapada to remain married and in white robes,saying he would be exemplary of what a pure Krishna conscious marriage should be.
The other gurus must have resented this and somehow forced him,very much against his will,I believe to take sannyasa and leave behind his beloved wife and little son,both of whom he absolutely adored.

When I met him,he was in the saffron robes,that signified renunciation.
One morning he called all the devotees into the temple room and spoke very sadly and apologetically to us all.
To be honest,I didnt understand what it was all about and just felt sad that he was feeling sad.
Apparently he was telling us that he wanted to return to his marriage and family life and to wearing white robes.

I only understand all of this retrospectively,as at the time,I simply didnt understand,what all the various sanskrit terms he was using,meant!

I believe his godbrothers who he loved greatly,deeply disapproved of his decision and this all caused him alot of pain and inner conflict.

A few months later,on February 14th 1982 I finally received initiation and was given the name Govinda-mohini-which is a name for Radha(krishnas female consort)meaning "one who bewilders the mind of Govinda".Govinda is the name of Krishna meaning the cow protector and pleaser of the senses.
Apparently the one thing that the supreme creator himself could not fathom was the depth of her devotional love!

Shortly afterwards,in March 1981,all hell broke loose at the temple-I was in fact living in an all female ashram close to Bhaktivedanta manor,at this stage and suddenly we were told to lock the doors,as various leading members were trying to get in to demand we renounce Tirthapada as according to the rumours,he had started taking drugs and was now considered dangerous and immoral!

It was a very scarey and confusing few days and emotions were running so high,that I feared for our lives.I didnt want to renounce my guru and those of us who remained in that ashram determined to stay loyal to him,were subjected to some heavy outside pressure,that resembled gangster warfare more than that of spirituality!

Tirhapada was at this point in Navadwipa-India,taking shelter from a great soul known as Sridhara Maharaja.He was also being condemned by GBC members for taking guidance from anyone other than Prabhupada(who had left this earthly plane a few years previously).

So,a few days later we left ISKCON took shelter in a hindu temple in london,whilst some of Tithapadas most fanatical followers arranged tickets for us to go to india to show our support.

I will describe the Indian adventure in my next chapter.

anderlaus's picture

Questions questions questions

What do you mean by "moved in"? The Hare Krishna temple provided accommodation? Was it like an ashram?

I assume that over the years since this period you came across the people you knew back then in the temple, what happened with them? (Speaking about meetings and this is a bit delicate question: have you ever came across these men who committed the terrible gang rape?)

You write about your mother response to joining the temple - was it typical to these days? how was it to be spiritual in England in the 80s, didn't they look at you as strange freaks? What were the main venues and gurus back then? Was Osho popular in England?

Waiting impatiently for the Indian chapter. You are a gifted story teller.

anderlaus | Fri, 12/18/2009 - 22:07
hmmm's picture


Yes,there is accommodation in all the ISKCON temples,both for visitors and full time devotees.
Nowadays,I tend to do my own thing and dont have much contact with the devotees.
I dont mind answering questions about my rape ordeal,and no I left Manchester the next day and left their fate in Gods hands.
My mothers reaction was not untypical,although she was particularly opposed to my spiritual path because of her own greek orthodox beliefs amd was very possessive of me.
Will try to procceed with story tomorrow and thank you so much for your comments and encouragement.

hmmm | Fri, 12/18/2009 - 23:47
hmmm's picture

England in the 80s?

Oh yes,forgot to answer that question!The hare krishnas did seem a bit alien to this culture with their shaved heads,saffron robes and chanting in the streets!The women wore saris and that really freaked my poor mother out!
I met a few osho followers and one became a good and loyal friend to me during the psychedelic era-which I will tell more about as story progresses.

hmmm | Sat, 12/19/2009 - 00:17
superwoman's picture


I'm dying to know what evolved with Tirthapada. Is he still a teacher nowadays? Did you ever meet him again? Have he remained with his family later on?

superwoman | Fri, 12/18/2009 - 23:01
hmmm's picture


I do mention what happened to him in my first blog and will tell in more detail as I progress with my story.

hmmm | Fri, 12/18/2009 - 23:52
solo's picture

Spoiler, beware

Dear, I don't see it in your 1st blog (the one with the lockets etc.) but I see it in your profile's "about me" (I don't want to spoil so I will refrain from saying what it is...).

He seems up to now as a very unique person.

solo | Sat, 12/19/2009 - 13:18