In those first months it was just Kanina, Gaudiya, myself along with our families. The three of us formed the core group. Kama Nagari, Lilashuka and myself were Prabhupada disciples, all the others, including Kanina, were Bhaktipada disciples. We had seniority. I had known Lilashuka for years in the Toronto temple, so we had a special repore. She had known me as Bhakta Brian and used to see me coming to the temple every Sunday. She worked at the university and sometimes we would walk together to the university. She was going to work and I was going for classes. So we had some history and a friendly relationship. Kanina was also a long time devotee, but he had never taken initiation during the Prabhupada years. His original family, when I met him was from the same area where we were going to build our community. As I recall he had a most beautiful wife and a young son and daughter. His wife was a quiet girl, but she had no interest in Krishna Consciousness. She feared it. Consequently, most of the devotees in the temple encouraged him to leave her because she would not become a devotee. This was a terrible thing to see and eventually he did leave her and his family. I was extremely upset to hear of this and I have never forgotten or forgiven the devotees for encouraging such a thing. Karina’s second wife was a devotee, but a very unstable person who would run off and get into all sorts of trouble usually with drugs. Kanina was much better off with his first wife. This second wife put Kanina through hell. So even though Kanina was a Bhaktipad disciple he had an early history like me and we had known each other in the Toronto temple for years. Gaudiya, Lilashuka’s husband, was a passionate and hot blooded young devottee. A very stern and rigid guy, but also a dedicated hard worker. He was the kind of person who needed a master, and once dedicated, he would do anything for that person. He was also a potentially dangerous person because he could turn on you with the same veracity as he would work for you. He became my arms and legs.
For the first few months it was just the three of us, so we gradually setup our spiritual program and developed some routines. We would share the cooking and eat a communal noontime meal. My house was the temple and the place for cooking and eating. Even I used to cook for everyone! Together the three of us made trips to New Vrindavan for Bhaktipada’s advice and we even arranged for deities, Radha Vrindavan Natharaj, dancing Radha Krishna. They were very sweet murtis. On one occassion Bhaktipada even visited and blessed our community. To me Bhaktipada was a Godbrother, an equal, but to the others he was a god, but I adopted their mood and got into their excitement. I even personally washed his feet! I groan when I think of this now. It was the only time I ever washed anyone’s feet and it will be the only time I wash anyone’s feet, but at the time it was an important event and I enjoyed it. His visit was also one that enraged the rest of the
Canadian devotee community. He was a hated and feared guru crossing enemy lines at my invitation, so I also became despised. Our community was operating from the perspective of inspiration and faith and they were working from the perspective corporate protocols and political boundaries. A war was about to begin.
After Bhaktipada’s visit our first brahmachari arrived. What is a brahmachari?
Literally the word means “one who walks in the ways of God; it means an unmarried young man, a dedicated worker, a money maker! Do you remember that I told you about “The Pick”? Originally, devotees would go into the streets and chant the names of Krishna, later, that also included selling religious books, but afterPrabhupada’s passing it quickly degenerated into selling “whatever,” flowers, bumper stickers, records, anything for money. This brahmachari was sent to by Bhaktipada to be our first collector. My God, I had criticized the pick and now here I was taking full advantage of it. We needed a separate building for a temple. We simply could not continue to use my house and so we rented a farm house as our first temple and now we needed money to pay the rent. It became the job of Jnanidas, our brahmachari, to collect these funds. And collect he did! We now had a very positive cash flow. Yes, I now understood why every ISKCON temple president promoted the pick. But picking met that we were now competing with the other Canadian temples for a limited events market. By events I mean rock concerts, football games, race car competitions and so on. Our brahmachari would often be seen at these same events as the Toronto and Montreal devottees. They viewed us as a New Vrindavan satellite crossing turf boundaries, and unfortunately New Vrindavan had a reputation for being extremely aggressive. They would move into a town, break the law, clean the place out, and then let the local temple take the “rap.” Our pick was not like that, but still I do not blame these Canadian temples for becoming alarmed.Image Source: http://outsideinlife.com
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