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The, Meeting—Spring 1971
Kenneth Robbins had, at the age of 18, come to be known as Krishna das, servant of the Lord. Like thousands of other young Westerners, Krishna das had become interested in the Vedic approach to spiritual life after being introduced to a right understanding of its intimate secrets by his new-found spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. He had read at least a dozen versions of Bhagavad Gita, the great scripture which the Personality of Godhead Shri Krishna delivered on the battlefield of Kurukshetra 5,100 years ago to His friend and devotee, Arjuna. But none of these translations had instilled in him sufficient insight into its timeless wisdom to cause any significant revelation in his life, indeed, it was only after he read Bhagavad Gita As It Is that Krishna das had become convinced of the value of Krishna consciousness. Just through studying the books of Shrila Prabhupada, Krishna das had been able to give up the numerous bad habits he had picked up as a result of growing up in Western society.
Now, as a devotee of Shri Krishna and resident of the ISKCON ashram, he found a genuine and very practical use for the education he had received. Now Krishna das applied his numerous talents in joyfully spreading the gospel of Lord Krishna. As he had heard Shrila Prabhupada say, "All devotees of the Lord traverse this earth just to recover the conditioned souls from their delusion."
Although his official duty was that of temple commander (ashram supervisor) at the Berkeley ISKCON Center, he had spent the past several weeks in San Francisco helping to prepare for the annual Rathayatra Festival, during which three huge wooden carts carrying Deities of the Lord were pulled by a joyous crowd through Golden Gate Park. And well his work had paid off, for he had been invited to sit alongside the beautiful throne he had helped construct, in which sat his Guru Maharaja during the parade. At one point, Krishna das had felt a great burst of ecstasy at the sight of his spiritual master throwing flowers into the eager hands of the people who walked alongside the cart as it slowly rumbled through the park to the chanting of Hare Krishna. After the celebration, which had been attended by over 50,000 people and hailed by the city's mayor, Krishna das silently recalled his first Rathayatra. He contemplated how his spiritual master had gently tossed each carnation or rose into the crowd. He considered carefully the words he had once heard Shrila Prabhupada speak in a lecture, "You are admiring the skill of a great artist who paints a flower, but do you not see the workings of the hand of God who is the Supreme Artist? It is He who creates the flowers of the earth which possess three-dimensional form, soft petals, sweet fragrance, and the ability to reproduce dozens of other flowers like themselves." He knew that this ancient wisdom was a silent offering accompanying each flower tossed into the crowd. But what about those who caught the flowers, would they see this poetic and meaningful lesson? Would they also become devotees of Krishna? He thought this over as he recalled the words Shrila Prabhupada had used to describe the Western boys and girls who had surrendered their lives to Lord Shri Krishna, in a letter to the President of the United States. Shrila Prabhupada had written:
"These Krishna conscious hoys and girls are the flowers of your country."
Overwhelmed with silent gratitude, Krishna das began to think of an appropriate offering that would say "thank you" to his guru and the Lord. "What more perfect gift," he considered, "than a few roses for Krishna?"
He knew of a beautiful public garden where white roses grew in abundance. He meditated, "How great is creation. When a flower is picked, the bush automatically produces many more to replace those which have been lost. In just the same way, that which is sacrificed in the service of Krishna is returned in unlimited abundance." Slipping his hand into his bag of japa mala (chanting beads), he began to prayerfully repeat the mahamantra, the "great chant for deliverence:" Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. In a peaceful and contemplative frame of mind, the dhoti-clad bhakta headed for the rose garden east of the U.C. campus. Just as the campus came into view, he happened to meet an old acquaintance named Nathan who had gone to the same high school as he. Nathan had joined a meditation center in the secluded and peaceful woods of Marin County, but he still made frequent pleasure excursions to the city from time to time, out of loneliness. He thoughi of himself ab having accepted an impersonal understanding of the Absolute, and he seemed to think that this rationalized any act of sensual pleasure. To Nathan, or Nirvishesh, as he was now called, the doctrine of oneness authorized any sensual quest, with no thought of future consequences. Convinced that his passionate search after enjoyment during his city sprees had divine blessings, the offering of friendly counsel or logical reasoning to Nirvisheshi had been an impossibility in the past. His love of sense enjoyment had blinded him to the fact that a higher understanding than physical pleasure, his so-called "meditation," might exist.
The faith and determination of a devotee such as Krishna das is admirable. His only work was now the deliverance of fallen souls. Nirvishesh, whose only preoccupation was the bodily concept of life, would be difficult to reason with: he had been taught for a considerable sum by an Oriental swami that God has no intelligence or spiritual form (nirvishesh). Therefore, since we are accountable to no one but ourselves for whatever we do, all inhibitions should be cast to the wind. "Whatever turns you on...do your thing" was Nirvishesh's motto. Even as Krishna das met him, he held in his hand the book Great Sex Through Yoga.
Though quite young, Krishna das had a deep understanding of Bhagavad GitaAs It h due to the blessings of his spiritual master, and he welcomed discussing philosophy with his old friend whom he looked upon more as misguided than insincere. The two young men greeted one another with smiles. Krishna das invited Nirvishesh to sit before him on the grass. The Spring day was warm and sunny, a gentle wind moved through the branches of the trees around them, causing the leaves to rustle. The sweet fragrance of white roses drifted in the breeze. Greetings having been exchanged, Krishna das waited for Nirvishesh to express himself.