Passage to India (Chapter 12)

The Hare Krishna Explosion
by Hayagriva das

Part II: San Francisco, 1967
Chapter 12

Passage to India

Paradisio isn’t quite paradise. The birdstool on the Buddha was no doubt portentous. There is very little sunshine. Behind the beach house, to the east, a mountain range blocks out the morning sun, and by midday, clouds and fog roll in. The temperature is also rather cool for July.

To fully recover, Swamiji needs lots of sun. He especially misses the morning sun. He feels that if he can just get enough light and heat, his condition will improve. Because of this, he begins talking of returning to India, and this upsets us. We’ve supplied the nicest place possible near San Francisco, but we can’t supply the sun.

Moreover, Swamiji regrets having no close temple contact. He wants to visit a temple at least twice a week, but the winding road into San Francisco is too arduous.

He speaks more frequently of India. He wants to consult Ayurvedic doctors, who generally prescribe natural herbs recommended in certain Vedic writings. And then there’s Indian massage, another art unknown to us. Swamiji complains that Western doctors know only how to cut with knives and stick with needles. We don’t know what to suggest. We feel inadequate, helpless.

After the Rathayatra festival, Swamiji tells me that I should live at Paradisio and work full time on the final manuscript of Bhagavad-gita. In New York, Brahmananda continues to negotiate with publishers. The books must be printed at all costs. My job: prepare the manuscript nicely.

“It must be well stated in the English language,” Swamiji insists. “If there are any questions about the translations, you may ask me. Remember, edit for force and clarity.”

Daily, I try to clarify and strengthen the sentences without changing the style or meddling with the meaning, and, needless to say, this is very difficult. I soon find myself consulting Swamiji on every other verse, and occasionally he dictates an entirely different translation. The verse translations themselves are most problematical because they often differ from the word by word Sanskrit-English meanings accompanying them. What to do?

“Quit bothering him,” Kirtanananda tells me. “Whenever anyone’s in his room, he talks to the point of exhaustion.”

True. He talks sitting up. Then he leans back and talks. Then rests on one elbow. Then lies on his side, still talking, still clarifying, still praising Krishna.

At this time, he tells Haridas: “I no longer have a physical body. It is all spiritual.”

Haridas leaves his room almost in tears. “Swamiji’s more beautiful than ever,” he tells me. “Is it possible for your spiritual master to make spiritual progress?”

“I don’t know,” I say. “He says that spiritual life is always dynamic.”

“He seems to be vibrating on a much higher platform now,” Haridas insists.

“Others are saying the same,” I say. “But it could be just our perception.“

“He’s chanting more now,” Haridas insists. “Even more than at Mishra’s, more than I’ve ever heard him chant before.”

“I wouldn’t want to speculate about it,” I say.

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