Chakra Announcements

Fire Destroys Murari Sevaka Guest House

by Jaya Kesava das

Posted November 27, 2008


After a long year of travel beginning with Vrindavan, two months with the Krishna Youth bus tour and then two months in Halifax, Canada with three other young brahmacaris entering the preaching world, I returned to Tennessee, welcomed by Their Lordships Sri Sri Nitai Gauracandra and Their servants Rama Vigraha das and Murli Priya dasi. Earlier in the year I had visited with a few friends who expressed interest in sustainable living; I had invited them to the Tennessee farm to give some input for future development. I returned with my two friends, two young men wanting to dedicate some time and learn about Krishna consciousness.

Hoping to please Krsna by reviving the preaching spirit I grew up around some years ago, and having been inspired by tried-and-true preachers, I also desired to try a hand in "making devotees". Murari Sevaka's 269 acres (109 hectares) lie far beyond the busy cities and towns of Tennessee yet are easily accessible to Chattanooga, Nashville, Atlanta, Huntsville and Memphis — major cities within one to four hours' drive. I thought this would be an ideal place to train new devotees. The valley is a lush meadow flanked by trees on top of both eastern and western hills. The southeast side is very fertile, with about twenty or more acres (8 hectares) of open land for planting — if the right crew were to come along.

To encourage me even more, I had received a letter about the harvest of the vegetables planted earlier in the year when I last visited — a little piece of heaven right before the busy bus tour. I had helped to build a deer fence to help keep the vegetables safe and avoid a repeat of last year's growing delicious food for deer and rabbits.. Unfortunately, the groundhogs were unstoppable in digging deep and stealing the cabbage and broccoli.

My plans were being manifest right before me: well-taken-care-of Deities, two dedicated devotees who supported the preaching spirit and agreed to transform the guest house into a brahmacari ashram. Aside from fresh organic vegetables, ten or more persimmon trees, with a daily discovery of other gifts such as black walnuts, hickory nuts and two apple trees that gave seven huge boxes of apples with more on the trees, we had open space to wander in, a flowing river three miles away and, most of all, plenty of time to concentrate on giving others what was given to me ten years ago: an amazing experience in Krishna consciousness. Then came brahmacharinis — women who wanted to join the farm and learn about Krsna — and young gurukulis who volunteered their time to come and teach mrdanga lessons. I tried to keep up a good sadhana and to be a good example for the new bhaktas.

On November 10 I journeyed to Nashville International Airport to pick up another boy I had convinced, even paying his plane ticket, to come to the farm and learn. From excitement expressed through his emails, I was sure that Krsna was sending more people to assist my little mission. He did not arrive at the airport and has not been heard from since. On the way back from the airport we passed a truck in flames reaching high up in the sky, and I mentioned to the devotee sitting next to me how Srila Prabhupada had saved us from a similar fire, and so we have to endeavor to save others as well.

We returned to the farm around midnight. As I parked the car and looked over my left shoulder, I saw the guest cabin burst into flames. Everything we had in there was gone — passports, clothes, books. All that remained was what we had on. Sannyasis had recently started to visit Murari, and as to the brahmacaris, grhastas, and non-devotee guests, where would they stay now? Should I call off the other four guests coming?

The fire is now believed to have been caused by faulty electric wiring, but Krsna tested us and saved us from that tragedy. It was midnight; had we not been in Nashville, we might have all been sound asleep in that cabin when the fire broke out.

The next day seemed to go on normally with a 21-year-old student doing a report on ISKCON for his last year of religious studies. We hit it off on a good note, and he plans to come once a week until his paper is done. Through the week I received a few emails from others I have met who would like to learn more about Krsna consciousness and would like to visit the farm. I invited them and, over the winter, I'll be busy teaching and learning more about the ways of Krsna, the Supreme independent Personality of Godhead. Another cabin is available to house the men, and I hope to provide a better facility for the women.


I can only hope that a few inspired souls would feel kind enough to help rebuild a nicer facility that can house more young people whom I meet on my little excursions. You are also encouraged to send some devotional clothes (dhotis, kurtas, chaddars, saris, gopi skirts, etc.), or blankets or whatever for the new bhaktas and bhaktins to use. New or in good shape is preferable, as I would really like to take good care of these young devotees who are venturing into a new realm and rekindling their lost relationship with Krsna. For myself, Krsna has taken everything, but I will feel truly fortunate when He places His lotus feet on my head and binds me not with the ropes of Varuna, but with His love.

Anyone who wants to help can call Murari at (931) 759-6888 or email rvigrahadas@yahoo.com. All monetary donations can be made to ISKCON Murari and are tax-exempt.