"When truth and compassion part ways, follow compassion." ~ Unknown

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Laddu and the crow

Yesterday was Janmashtami, Krsna's birthday, and we attended the festivities which were held at a Buddhist temple in Reno. Great food. Interesting mix of people, mostly Indians. Seems the majority were there for the Rishi, a tiny, handsome, songbird of a fellow in town for the week raising money for his charity in India. We were there because some ISKCON devotees, in town for Burning Man, were sharing the evening and the microphone. Couldn't resist.

There was kirtan (chanting). I played my kartals (brass hand cymbals). That was a treat even though it all stayed pretty tame. And we endured a couple of canned lectures, the most egregious being the devotee from ISKCON. I know the phony Indian accent and hand-me-down metaphors are considered parampara but really... the less talking, the more chanting the better. Anyway, the feast was delicious.

Then, just as we were leaving, M. Lee got into a conversation with a young guy from Krishna Camp, the group attending Burning Man. He was born in ISKCON. His parents are still there. Nice fellow. Clear-eyed. Friendly. Curious. Turns out I know, knew, his guru, before he became a sannyas. Radanath. Krishna Camp is his creation. M. Lee did a little online research this morning. Seems I, as one of the Brijbasi Players theatre troupe, was part of Radanatha's first road tour. That was at the Rainbow Festival, precursor to Burning Man et cetera. 1980. Ironically the following year, when eight of us, the press, were preparing to leave the movement Radanath, who later became known as the Rainbow Swami, was sent by the temple to dissuade us, knowing we trusted him. We left anyway. Long story. Dangerous times. Then the temple authorities sent him to New York to track us down. Last night, for me, was 27 years later.

Janmashtami kirtan, Reno


I brought home a laddu from the feast for the birds. Prasadam. Holy food. If the story is true, one bite guarantees a human birth in the next incarnation. That would explain Bush, Cheney, McCain, Gonzo and the rest of those bastards. In their last time around they were probably a pack of alley rats with a dumpster behind a Krishna temple on their rounds and nibbled a crumb or two of prasadam along the way. Anyway, the crows were wild about the laddu. Charlie clucked and cajoled all morning demanding more. He finally gave up on sweet talking me and just sat in the poplar tree squawking at my window. Clown. I had to go out and tell him to cool it. Neighbors, ya know. Gets us both in trouble.

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