Lost and Found Faith of a Gurukuli
From Raghunath das, Italy
4 December 1994
I am writing to tell you that I cannot thank you enough for finally having the courage and humility to reveal the truth. You have been a key factor to finally ending what has been a very painful and long inner struggle, a battle that began in Vrindavan Gurukula back in the early eighties.
I was born into the movement and raised in its ideals. As early as I can remember, I knew I was part of an organization that was going to change the world. I was raised with the feeling that I was lucky to have been born in the Hare Krishna’s. My parents told me I was part of a generation that would set an example for the world. I accepted this as the truth. I remember as a kid how much I believed in the movement. I made a lot of effort to please my parents, so much so that when they asked me back in 1980 if I wanted to go to Gurukula in Vrindavan, India, Krishna’s birth place, I agreed enthusiastically, although I had mixed feelings inside.
I was five years old. I knew nothing but the Hare Krishna movement. And I really was set on becoming a brahmachari. I guess, as a child I had a natural taste for Krishna consciousness, and as a child I was able to feel its pure form. I know kirtan in the temple felt good. All the philosophy, customs, ideals were very easy to understand. I know I was very clear-minded (but spacey) and felt naturally that my elders were just as happy. So I was pretty surprised when some teachers would tell me to be more serious or whatever. I couldn’t understand why I should change the state I was in and be angry and mopey like some people. Most of all, I couldn’t understand how the people teaching me how to live weren’t just as blissful as I was. The programs, festivals, feasts were all big occasions. And the people that were teaching me were usually chastising me for this, punishing me for that. Then there were a lot more darker events. Most of those memories only surfaced recently.
Letters were screened before sending to home. It turned out to be four years of heavy experiences. I remember surviving malaria and lots of tests of endurance. I guess I got to be known as a pretty tough cookie. That feedback started getting me rebellious. I never cleaned my trunk, refused to go for outings, not get phased by beatings. I knew they were not what they claimed.
Anyways, made it out, never talked to my parents about the place. Either I was too happy to be home or liked the praise from my parents of how proud they were too much that it slipped my mind. Spent next couple of years in the Philippines, getting my first exposure to public school and the outside world. Started seeing how few Hare Krishna’s compared to the rest of the world there was. Spent a lot of time answering questions about my hair and neck beads and after a couple of years in public school, started becoming embarrassed for being different. Started to really be uncomfortable with my background. Finally, I was 13, and I went to go live in Germany with my grandparents, who were happy to get me away from the movement. Only ended up starting a long haul of drug use and hanging out on the streets that ended only recently.
All the scandals in the movement had me convinced that Krishna consciousness was nothing but a scam, like they said. I lost all faith for a long time. Only till two years ago did I start looking at Prabhupada’s books. I didn’t know what to believe. They seemed to make a lot of sense, but if they had all the answers, then why were major gurus dropping out, why were people being killed and kids raped?
I couldn’t understand the logic and decided they might have some good ideas but weren’t practical.
Very recently, we had a visit at our house from Krishna Balarama Swami. I joined him in a long kirtan. Afterwards, I felt very good. He also gave me a couple of your magazines.
In just one night of reading, the cloud that had been blocking my vision for three fourths of my life was suddenly gone.
I thank Krishna for bringing his messenger of mercy to my door. I have finally had my faith in Krishna consciousness and Prabhupada’s books fully revived. I can open one of his books now and fully understand the knowledge. Maybe I can fully recharge that energy that I had as a child.
I offer my heartfelt thanks and gratitude for doing what you have done. I guess Hansa means swan, and swan symbolizes grace, and through Krishna’s grace you were able to reveal the truth, although I hear you had your own battle, too.
Anyways, I just felt I had to share my experience. I wouldn’t mind hearing your personal view of the entire situation. Especially the present…
Hare Krishna!!! Jai Srila Prabhupada!!!