To Godbrothers and Godsisters of the First Generation
Posted August 1, 2010
Geez! Here I am -- yes, it's me -- Karuna -- feeling like I just gotta talk to you all about something that keeps buzzing in my bewildered old brain. (Pardon the casual English -- I get told all the time I'm too intellectual). But I've just got to speak up. Are you jivin' me about this 'children's karma'? Because if you're serious, I'm dumbfounded. I always thought that parents, educators and yeah, even government, were supposed to protect, guide and nurture the little folks. Beating, raping, embarrassing, demeaning, torturing them was bad -- really bad. That's why being a mommy seemed quite a big challenge. You had to get it right or you were the screwup.
But you all seem to have decided it goes the other way round -- it's on them, not us. Say what?! it's their karma, not ours? Are you telling me that all that falling down the wall, wanting to tear my face off, was just bull? And I could've just put all on Dasa, shrugged my shoulders and said, "Well, it was just your karma."? I'm amazed! Such an easy out, and it never occurred to me!
Well, somehow it still doesn't. I guess it's because I saw all the signs, looking back. They'd always been there. As the old saying goes, 'something was rotten in Denmark'. I just couldn't or wouldn't let myself see it. No -- I saw it, I just turned my back on it. Because what was I going to do -- send him to Karmi school? New Vrindaban was the last thing I had. I'd already pulled him out of two other lost-cause ashrams. And Sri Galim was such a considerate young bramachari... Never mind Dasa's endless pleas. It was just 'his creative mind', his love of 'story-telling', the twang of 'separation'. I had to keep strong, keep the faith -- ad infinitum. Schmoozed by a predator -- that was me.
Karma... my karma. What can you say about a mommy who doubts her little boy and believes the predator who's assaulting him and all his little pals? Nothing good! But wait! It doesn't end there. I see in memory, every day, witnesses throughout the movement -- whole gangs of grown-ups turning their heads and closing their eyes. I see the Governing Board Commission taking no steps to assure the proper treatment of ISKCON's Second Generation. I see parents, now saying, 'well, I never sent my children'. What does that mean? Weren't they all our children? They were the future of Sri Caitanya's Sankirtan movement -- weren't they? You know that saying; "The future is in our hands"? All I see in our hands is karma. When we say it's theirs, we're like Pontius Pilate turning from the raging crowd and washing his hands in the convenient bowl behind him.
But it just won't do! It didn't work for him and it won't work for us! Wake up, brothers and sisters! it's our karma. Nobody's going anywhere till we figure that out and own it! And what do we say to Prabhupada -- you know, the one who so kindly took our karma?! How do we square this 'children's karma' thing with him? I'm no authority, but something tells me he's not too pleased. Just a thought to ponder on.
So that's all for today, then. I know, my 'creds' as teacher look a bit dismal. But, think on it -- I have a weird kind of advantage. I was brutally forced out of my cozy denial in one terrible moment when my boy's psyche finally splintered into a trillion pieces all over our linoleum floor one afternoon nine years before he died. I woke up because I got a bucket of ice water tossed in my face. I had to look inward -- it happened too fast for me to put up a shield. In that awful moment, I knew it was on me. And I knew it was on all of us, the First Generation. So I can tell you, unequivocally, that we're the ones holding the bag, not Krsna's children.
I don't want you ever to go through what I've been through to learn whose shoulders the old Gurukula system falls on. Please trust me on this. You have to get it in this life, or you'll have to get it later. There's just no escaping karma. And I don't want you to have to know what it was like for the children of Gurukula -- or what it's like to be the mommy of a child who could only find relief at the end of a rope or the barrel of a gun.
Thank you for listening to me. Please believe me. It's all I can give -- it's all the Second Generation can give you. It's a gift, not a reproach. Accepting karma can be a hard row to hoe, but the moment you take the first step, the burden feels lighter. It's the beginning of knowledge, the beginning of wisdom.