Monday Morning Greetings 2022 #14 – How a Bhaktivedanta Purport Saved Me from a Mental Hospital

April 4th, 2022

Dhanurdhara Swami has been hosting a retreat this past week in Shyam Ashram in Cali, Colombia and hasn’t been able to finish this week’s Monday Morning Greeting so we are reprinting one from 2016.


How a Bhaktivedanta Purport Saved Me from a Mental Hospital

October 24, 2016


I am fortunate to have had very wonderful parents. In fact, my ninety-six-year-old mother is still alive, and when I am in the US I try to stay with her for a couple of days every month. Why am I saying this? Because I am about to tell the story of when my parents had me kidnapped to save me from being a Hare Krishna, which they were convinced at the time was a cult, and I would not want anyone to think bad of them in the least. They were very decent people. They kidnapped me over forty years ago, when we young, passionate, dedicated devotees couldn’t always communicate properly the profound truths that we were experiencing, especially to our parents, and when most people, such as my parents, had very little frame of reference to understand an exotic new religious movement in America. Out of love for me, they tried to save me from something they thought was harmful, and unfortunately, not being properly informed, they resorted to deprogramming. Looking back, I blame myself equally for that miscommunication.


I am just going to highlight the part of the story where the recollection and sharing of a Bhaktivedanta purport saved me from being committed to Kings County Mental Hospital.


After being kidnapped from the temple in Dallas, Texas, by the famous deprogrammer Ted Patrick, I was eventually able to feign that he was successful in his attempt to deprogram me. I was thus sent home, but under the watch of his assistant, a thug named Goose.[1] When my father and Goose took me shopping to get new Western clothes at Kings Plaza, the largest shopping mall in Brooklyn at the time, I made a run for it when Goose went into a bank to change money. As I was running out of the mall with my father chasing me, the police nearby apprehended me, thinking I was a thief. When they asked my age and understood that I was twenty-four years old, they initially wanted to let me go free, but on my father’s insistence that I was crazy, they agreed to take me to a mental hospital to determine if I should be committed.


I was booked at the nearest police station, handcuffed, and taken to the mental hospital to be interviewed by a psychiatrist who would make the final decision on my mental status. My parents were interviewed first to register their complaint. I was left in the waiting hall outside his office. I paced back and forth among the other people there, chanting on my fingers (my beads had been taken). Many of them were also in the process of being committed. I remember one lady talking to the wall as if it were her boyfriend who had jilted her, and another man strapped to a wheelchair in a straitjacket screaming and kicking as violently and angrily as anyone I have ever seen.


The interview with my parents was soon finished and the psychiatrist called me in. I sat down directly opposite him, and he examined me carefully. He looked me in the eyes and asked in earnestness, “Are you hallucinating?”


“Why do you ask that?” I replied.


“I saw you pacing back and forth in the hallway, talking to yourself.”


I must have looked crazy, I thought. When I had returned home, I’d had no Western clothes, and my parents had confiscated my devotional attire. That’s why they had taken me shopping. All they had been able to find around the house were extremely baggy jeans (before they were in fashion), an old high-school sports-team jacket, and a strange fez that my father had been gifted by a Pakistani insurance salesman. To make my appearance even stranger, I had been pacing back and forth, shaking my head rapidly back and forth in ecstasy as I chanted the Hare Krishna mahā-mantra aloud, keeping track by counting on my fingers. I must have looked, well, crazy!


But somehow, in response to the psychiatrist, I had the gumption to look him right in the eye and with the Hare Krishna missionary zeal, enthusiasm, and confidence of those early days of the movement—“fired up” as we would say—repeat exactly what I had read the day before I was kidnapped in a purport from the Third Canto of the Bhāgavatam.


“Although I am not hallucinating,” I told him, “it can’t be said that I am seeing the same as you. Just like one who is not a theist sees a rose as separate from God and made only for his own enjoyment. A devotee, however, sees that flower as the energy of God and meant to be used in his service. And therefore, although I am not hallucinating, it cannot be said that I am seeing the same thing as you!” As I spoke those last words, I slowed down for emphasis and pointed my finger directly at the psychiatrist.


His jaw dropped, and he paused before gathering his words. “That’s very intelligent,” he finally said. “I think your parents are crazy!”


I could imagine the fervor with which my parents presented their case and the contrast between my lucid and clear explanation, practically word-for-word from Srila Prabhupada’s book.


The doctor released me. And that’s how Srila Prabhupada’s books saved me from being committed to a mental hospital.


Rathi Krishna recently found the exact purport that I had studied and repeated to the psychiatrist that one fateful morning forty-one years ago. I think the readership of Monday Morning Greetings will value its clarity and force. Even that psychiatrist, who probably wasn’t even a theist, appreciated its profundity at a time when the Krishna consciousness movement was not yet recognized as an established religion.


“A conditioned soul sees a very beautiful rose, and he thinks that the nice aromatic flower should be used for his own sense gratification. This is one kind of vision. A liberated soul, however, sees the same flower as a reflection of the Supreme Lord. He thinks, ‘This beautiful flower is made possible by the superior energy of the Supreme Lord; therefore it belongs to the Supreme Lord and should be utilized in His service.’ ” (Bhāgavatam 3.27.13, purport)


Epilogue: A few years after the kidnapping, my parents visited me in India and became very appreciative of what I was doing, as did the rest of my family.


[1] “Goose is big, about six-foot-five, and strong as iron. He wears his hair long, with a sweatband around it. His arms are tattooed, and when he goes out on a mission he wears heavy boots, a leather vest, and a black leather gloves like a strangler. I think all that is part of psyching himself up. At heart he’s really a gentle young man, but when he gets riled, he has known to become aggressive. That night he got carried away.”—from Ted Patrick’s book, Let Our Children Go!


Comments are closed.