- He informed me that he had spoken to a devotee he knew with a legal background about my intentions and that, under New York State law, I could be sued for desertion if I tried to leave. At the time, I was 18 years old and ignorant of the law, so I was understandably intimidated.
- After I persisted, Gopal undertook to frighten me even further, telling me that he would inform the New York City Housing Authority that my grown siblings still lived with my mother, with the intention of having my entire family evicted and turned out on the street.
- Finally, after I piteously begged him to leave me alone and let me go home, he explained to me the real reason why he would not let me leave him:[i]
Some offenses are too great to “forgive and forget,” as a well-known follower of Gopal Krishna once advised to me to do, as if he could have any idea of how such maltreatment damages a life. The trauma is usually so great that it effectively silences the sufferer for decades, if not permanently. That I have chosen to speak out is a blessing that has turned the misery I suffered into a mission: I believe that my blogs have helped at least a few of the hundreds who visit them each day. May the grace of the Lord and His guidance illuminate each of your lives.
I would like to end this essay with a snapshot of the life I led as a very young devotee just prior to the catastrophe I have detailed above:
Every day I would rise at 4:00 like every other devotee, shower and quickly prepare breakfast for my little Jagganath deities (usually halva and the few mixed nuts and maybe, if I could afford it, a few figs and an apple or pear). Then I would prepare the aarti, offering incense and other offerings as I sang the devotional prayers as my mother slept in the bed across from my own. Then I would draw the curtains across the tiny house where my deities waited for me until I came home. Then I would eat part of the prasadam I had prepared and pack the rest in a piece of plastic wrap and take it with me to eat during the lunch break at school. After that, I would leave the house with my books and my bead bag, and embark on the bus and hour-long subway ride that took me to school in Manhattan (New York City). While on the subway, I would discretely chant as many of my 16 rounds on my japa beads as possible. At school, I would preach as far as possible and during lunch could be found sitting by myself in the crowded, boisterous lunchroom, eating my meager meal while reading my guru’s translation of the Gita or his latest volume of the Srimad Bhagavatam (Bhagwat Purana). After arriving home in the late afternoon, I would prepare my deities a simple evening meal, change their clothes, kiss them goodnight, and perform another aarti, after which I would do my homework and finish my 16 rounds.
A final word for the ISKCON hackers whose malice caused the above disclosures: be advised that your actions have effectively cancelled any previous agreements I might have made not to directly contact ISKCON members or its leadership. Those days are over. From now on, my modus operandi will be entirely proactive.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
For more information in this regard, see my essays: