Patriarchy Across Cultures: A Lifetime Commitment: Initiation

by TapatiTemple DeitiesIn January of 1977 Mike and I were preparing to ask for initiation. We were carefully composing letters to Srila Prabhupada to indicate that we understood the commitment we were making and hoped that he would accept us as disciples. Mike shaved his head, something he’d avoided up until that point. He knew he would not get a recommendation for initiation from the temple authorities if he kept his hair shoulder length. Embarrassed, he wore a cap over his head until it grew out again. We were more strictly abstaining from sex as well, trying to genuinely follow the instructions we had received from Srila Prabhupada.My initiation letter is dated February 2nd, 1977. W … [Read more...]

Shutting Off My Brain ~ Part 1

by JourneyThe overt abuse began the day we got married. The wedding was wonderful. I was so excited, so happy. As we drove away to our honeymoon, two Bible College students having just pledged to the Lord their love for one another, I had stars in my eyes.Then my new husband reached over and put his hand on my breast. Not fondling, not foreplay, just putting it there firmly, eyes still on the road, much like a robot.I left it there for a few seconds, stunned, and then tried to gently push it off. He pushed back, and held it tightly, right where he'd put it, firmly on my body. I pushed back harder, but Mark's large muscles were stronger than mine. I felt like I was going to … [Read more...]

Someone was trying to control every aspect of my life … including my clothes

by ErikaMe and my youngest brother, 1991 After being made to quit the basketball team and the FHA group, I was trying to find any way that I possibly could to stay close to my friends. I called them when I could, I would wait outside on my porch after school ended so that I could talk to my classmates that lived on my street as they walked home each afternoon, I would try to get down to the school or a friend's house when the chance came available. In the meantime, my parents were withdrawing us from as much as they could to be able to cut off as much outside influence and friendship as possible. I remember Mr. Thompson feeding my father the line, "Take away everything that is important to … [Read more...]

Daughter of the Patriarchy: A Terrible Secret

by SierraWhen we went to visit the house in Pennsylvania, it seemed remote, dark and expansive. At the inquisitive yet reticent age of seven, I hovered behind my mother’s leg as we looked around the basement of the long ranch house. It wasn’t quite a finished basement, but there was a bar installed with Heineken cans lining the ceiling. A child about my age was sitting on the floor playing with some ugly 1990s toys. We shared a mutual glance of childhood understanding: we were not agents in this business of buying, selling and leasing real estate (I couldn’t yet wrap my mind around what “real estate” meant in the first place). We were the dolls in our parents’ dollhouses, and I was displa … [Read more...]

Patriarchy Across Cultures: I Will Lay Me Down

by TapatiRadha and Krishna My 18th birthday came and went in December. We didn’t celebrate birthdays, although I’d made a cake for Mike’s birthday in September. I was disappointed that he did nothing for mine. I was used to celebrating it every year in some way.I began to talk about having a baby. It seemed like many of the women were having babies in New Dwaraka and the more time I spent with moms, the more I wanted a baby of my own. While there was no expectation that we would have lots of children, having children was the point of being householders. We were supposed to raise good devotee children, children who would be even more devoted than we were because they wanted to take birth … [Read more...]

Patriarchy Across Cultures: I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)

by TapatiKiss me once again Don't you never, never, never say that we we're through Cause I ain't never, I ain't never I ain't never, no, no, loved a man The way that I, I love you--Ronnie Shannon (sung by Aretha Franklin)Sri Sri Rukmini-Dwarakadhish Once we arrived at my mom’s apartment, our relationship was on fast forward. We spent a few weeks together every waking moment, with my mom at work and the run of the place. We cooked together, with Mike teaching me a lot about Indian cooking. He’d been hanging out around the temple for years and had learned a lot. He was four years older than me and seemed wise beyond his years. Like me he was raised by a single mom and had previously had … [Read more...]

No choices of my own

by ErikaMy sister and I in the winter of 1991-1992, the year we started homeschooling It wasn't long before my parents got really frustrated with the church in town and wanted something different. My father told the pastor that we would be going down to the church in Bellows Falls (run by John Thompson) but would still come to services here and there at the church in town. The pastor felt frustrated at the time, too, so he gave my parents his blessing to attend this other church.I remember when the people at church found out that we wouldn't be attending regularly there anymore. Many were upset and felt offended. Quite a few voiced accusations that my parents only stayed long enough for … [Read more...]

Patriarchy Across Cultures: Magic Man

by TapatiChicago, Illinois Cold late night so long ago When I was not so strong you know A pretty man came to me Never seen eyes so blue I could not run away It seemed we’d seen each other in a dream It seemed like he knew me He looked right through me--HeartPreviously I described how I left the Chicago Hare Krishna temple. I was headed for my friend Suprabha’s apartment. I had her phone number and address written down, and knew which El stop to look for. When I got off the El I called Suprabha and she gave me directions to her dad’s home. She’d told me that he traveled a lot and wouldn’t be around.Suprabha greeted me warmly and we talked and cooked together and generally enjoyed hang … [Read more...]

Patriarchy Across Cultures: Over The Rainbow

by TapatiSrimati Kishori, a vision of Radharani, Krishna’s consort, during Her teen years, at the Chicago temple.Somewhere, over the rainbow, skies are blue. And the dreams that you dare to dream Really do come true. Someday I'll wish upon a star And wake up where the clouds are far Behind me. –E.Y. Harburg, Wizard of OzOnce again I was on my way to St. Louis, grateful to be leaving my mother behind. I no longer considered whether or not I loved her; I just knew I had to get away.When I arrived at the bus station I was greeted by some male devotees in the polite, formal way that was common in ISKCON temples. We were not allowed to make conversation but rather had to keep to the ess … [Read more...]

Patriarchy Across Cultures: All Things Must Pass

by TapatiKeokuk is in the southeast corner of Iowa“All things must pass, none of life’s strings can last.” --George HarrisonPreviously I described how my mom and Aunt Gin came to take me back home to Keokuk, Iowa. I rode in the backseat, resigned, tearful, but filled with resentment. I had been assured by our temple president, Makanlal, that he would challenge my mother in court for custody. She didn’t know it yet but I hadn’t given up on going back to the temple for good.Back home I tried to pick up from where I left off in terms of doing my own worship, chanting my rounds, and staying focused on service to Krishna. I started writing my friends from the registered membership progra … [Read more...]


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