Breaking Away From Hare Krishna
In 1977, I went to England all the while thinking I would go back to India. The Hare Krishna’s had arranged my accommodation in the UK. I was soon to find out that there was also a Beatle’s connection in my ‘Wandering Jew’ episode!
When I arrived at the country estate one hour north of London, I discovered that the Beatle’s George Harrison had bought it for the HK’s. That was pretty close to an endorsement of that movement if they ever needed one.
I was told that the global leader of the HK’s was arriving in three days and they wanted me to assist with him. I gladly accepted. He was ill and needed rest. They asked me to always stay around him and make sure that no one would abuse his space. A few weeks later, because of poor health, he decided to return to India and most likely leave this world in his own temple. I decided to also go there, but somehow I got sidetracked and went to Italy for a few months. Upon reflection, one has to marvel at the seemingly insignificant nature of being ‘sidetracked’ almost like a signal failure that causes a train to be sidetracked, thus avoiding a major collision? However, I was more focused upon my next destination at that time.
The movement had a beautiful villa just outside of Rome and I was asked to assist in their administration. However, events were taking shape that would soon lead me elsewhere. It began when that guru succumbed to his illness and passed away. From then on, the HK movement started to become uncomfortably political, and in addition very strange things began to occur. For example, the leaders’ main western disciples started to take charge and tried to fill his shoes by becoming gurus in their own right. I couldn’t hide my disgust and was asked to leave.
That was a blessing in disguise, as it led to my spending one year in Israel, before returning to America.
I loved my time in Israel. In fact it was one of the best years in my life; that was 1978-1979. If only I would have stayed! My Hebrew would have been excellent by now. However, I still had more lessons to experience. But at long last I was given a taste of my own true culture, one that would linger and grow over the years. A new signpost had appeared on my unique path, but it would take a few more years of soul searching before I fully recognized its meaning.
After moving back to Santa Cruz, I got a job in the travel industry. This in turn led to work with a travel agency on the Big Island of Hawaii. I lived there for about twelve years and started a family. I had also become more independent and established my own travel and tour company.
In 1987 real estate was booming in Hawaii so I extended my business activities and became a real estate associate. I did excellent, winning many awards for best sales. I also bought and sold property. In 1991, along with a couple of friends, we bought a 43-acre macadamia nut orchard.
Although I was spiritually distanced from HK, no longer practicing their cult, I still maintained contact with some of their members, which included my new business associates.
My business partners in the nut orchard started a HK center there, while I continued to just focus on the plantation work. But as they saw I was not surrendering to their way of doing things, they decided to sell and move away. I could not afford the whole property alone, so it had to be sold. This meant having to leave a beautiful house that I had built on that property. Obviously, these events placed an enormous strain on my marital relations. Could things have worked out differently if I had continued my Hare-Krishna lifestyle?
Around 1993 things bottomed out for me. I was feeling extremely isolated. I felt almost compelled to turn to the only people I knew at that time, the HK’s, but I could no longer relate to their politics or religion. However, I had some old friends of that movement living in Australia who had developed a ‘country atmosphere’ center and were doing things differently from those I knew elsewhere. I made a visit to that continent and loved the place and decided to move there. I got Australian citizenship, but after a couple of years, that too didn’t work out.
While in Australia and out of the blue, I decided to visit a local synagogue, and returned there a couple of times. It re-awoke my memories of the Shabbos and other traditional Jewish practices. With the benefit of hindsight, I can now understand that I was looking for Judaism in all the wrong ways and places…but occasionally I did manage to get it right! These Jewish interludes had been so few and far in between, that one has to be inspired by how much light can be cast from such rare encounters with Judaism?
Australians enjoy visiting their regional islands. On one of my trips to the Fiji Islands, I felt so good that I wanted to always return. I did, and married a local Indian from the island, which turned out to be another monumental mistake. However, life is so often lived in the present, rather than focused on the journey ahead. There is a lot to be said for growing old, if one’s wisdom can also mature with advancing age. But I was living there and then in a tropical paradise that still allures thousands of Jews and especially Israelis to sample its pleasures.
I acquired some land in a very beautiful area overlooking the ocean and built a new house. Fiji is 50% Indians from India and 50% indigenous Fijians. However, there was something of far more value that no money could help to create. We had a beautiful daughter called Gita.
With my mixed American Jewish upbringing I wanted her to be raised in a certain way. However, that was not to be. Gita’s mother would watch Bollywood movies late into the night, together with the little girl, until Gita fell asleep. We had many arguments, most important of all relating to her infidelity. She wasn’t faithful and had other relationships. If I expected any hope for normality I was sadly mistaken when she also said to me…” Jews are cockroaches of the earth”.
I was now stuck in Fiji. What promised to be a tropical paradise had become yet another false start. Not many lost Jews like me around! I wanted so much just to get my daughter out of there.
I had to make frequent meetings with the local welfare woman who also happened to be Indian. She was a nice elderly woman. She wanted to help me get my daughter out of this tangle. Meanwhile, I felt so vulnerable. I spent sleepless nights in anguish thinking how could I get out of Fiji with my daughter. However, fate had decided that my story had to suffer many more twists and turns before those Jewish signposts would become more visible to the naked eye. My elderly counselor, whom I became most reliant upon, was also a practicing Christian.
To be continued…