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

by Erika Me 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 Sierra When 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 … [Read more...]

Patriarchy Across Cultures: I Will Lay Me Down

by Tapati Radha 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 … [Read more...]

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

by Tapati Kiss 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 … [Read more...]

No choices of my own

by Erika My 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 Tapati Chicago, 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 --Heart Previously 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 … [Read more...]

Patriarchy Across Cultures: Over The Rainbow

by Tapati Srimati 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 Oz Once 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 … [Read more...]

Patriarchy Across Cultures: All Things Must Pass

by Tapati Keokuk is in the southeast corner of Iowa “All things must pass, none of life’s strings can last.” --George Harrison Previously 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 … [Read more...]

Something didn’t sit quite right with me …

by Erika   The morning that I left for my missions trip Boot Camp. I'm pictured with my pastor and his wife. A newspaper story that was done before I left for my missions trip. When I left for Africa in the summer of 1991, I was excited about my trip and the things that I would see but I was also disappointed to know that I would be coming home to my sophomore year as a homeschooler. I was crushed by my parents' decision and begged them to let me stay in school. After all, I wasn't the one that wanted to be taken out and I wasn't the one that had the problems in school. My parents told me that it was all or nothing. If they were taking out one kid, they were taking us all out. If my 3 … [Read more...]

Patriarchy Across Cultures: Summer of Transcendental Love

by Tapati Japa or rosary beads made from the wood of the Tulasi plant, a sacred relative of basil. Devotees of Krishna chant the mahamantra on each of 108 beads, keeping track with the “Krsna” or 109th bead. Each day a devotee is required to chant 16 rounds on the japamala, an ancient form of meditation. I was so relieved to be on the bus, headed for St. Louis. We passed through Hannibal, home of Mark Twain. I barely noticed because my mind was filled with memories of my brief visit to the temple back in November. I was also thinking back to the final few weeks with my mom, which had become very tense. In an effort to punish and isolate me, she had tried to yank my phone cord out of … [Read more...]


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