Patriarchy Across Cultures: Kung Fu Fighting

by TapatiEverybody was kung-fu fighting Those cats were fast as lightning In fact it was a little bit frightning But they fought with expert timing –Carl DouglasWing Chun CharactersWhen I returned from my trip to see my family, I was relieved to be away from all of their drama. Mahasraya was happy to see me and we had a honeymoon period. He had given up on growing psychedelic mushrooms and we had the use of the bedroom. He slept in there alone because otherwise Lakshmana’s crying would keep him awake. He was working for the temple, guarding at night, so we still had the same graveyard schedule as before, waking up in the early afternoon.Now that he had his own income from guarding, th … [Read more...]

Patriarchy Across Cultures: Smiling Faces

Grandpa holding Lakshmanaby TapatiSmiling faces show no traces of the evil that lurks within Smiling faces, smiling faces sometimes They don't tell the truth Smiling faces, smiling faces Tell lies and I got proof --The Undisputed Truth, in Smiling Faces SometimesAunt Gin had a serious look on her face and I thought, “Uh oh. What now?”“I know your mom talked to you about your grandpa,” she began.Oh no. I knew where this was going. Mom had talked to me but I had tried to forget what she’d said. I just assumed it was more of her drama. It couldn't be true.“Maybe you didn’t believe her,” she continued. “I know you don’t always get along. But I can tell you that everything she told you … [Read more...]

Patriarch Across Cultures: Cat’s In The Cradle

Lakshmana visiting Great Grandma’s Houseby TapatiLakshmana and I had a long trip to reach our family. First we took TWA to St. Louis and then we had a two hour layover before we connected with a propeller jet that took us to Quincy, IL. Grandma met us at Quincy and drove us to Wayland where she and Grandpa had a log cabin behind their antique shop. Just down the street her sister, Dorothy, and brother-in-law, Wayne, had their own antique shop. On the sides of barns around the area one could see the sign “Two antique shops in Wayland.” Above my grandparents’ shop was a one bedroom apartment where my mother lived. When my mom came back from her trip to see me in L.A. she urgently needed a … [Read more...]

Patriarchy Across Cultures: Family Affair

by TapatiLakshmana at 4 monthsThe morning after I gave birth to my son, reality set in. I was so bruised inside I could hardly walk. I couldn’t get up from the floor using my own muscles without extreme pain so Mahasraya pulled me up as a dead weight. (I can’t say he never did anything nice for me!) That evening Srilekha and Mitravinda came over bearing food and supplies and I had to crawl over to the door to let them in. They did my laundry for me and brought me some hot food. This food was a godsend. They also gave me advice on the care of the umbilical cord stub and nursing, diaper changing and so on.I was so amazed that I had received this miraculous gift of a beautiful son. I had … [Read more...]

Patriarchy Across Cultures: When The Levee Breaks

 by TapatiCryin' won't help you, prayin' won't do you no good, Now, cryin' won't help you, prayin' won't do you no good, When the levee breaks, mama, you got to move.—Led Zeppelin version, original lyrics by Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie.Previously some friends had offered me shelter at their cabin in Big Bear, a mountain community. I said a tearful goodbye to my husband Mike—now known as Mahasraya following our initiation.Their cabin was cute and had an amazing view of the snowy landscape. The main living area contained the kitchen, dining room and living room in an open floor plan. I was to sleep downstairs where there was a separate bathroom. Jayasri and I enjoyed being two … [Read more...]

Vegetarian for God

by Tapati  A typical Indian-inspired meal at our houseI am often asked why I’m still a vegetarian if I left the Hare Krishna Movement. The only way some people can make sense of being a vegetarian for thirty five years is if religious conviction is involved. It is rare to find a vegetarian for health reasons abstaining as strictly. Don’t we all lapse from our commitment to do certain things for our health? Who avoids sugar all the time, even when they’ve made a promise or a New Year’s Resolution?My own vegetarianism came more from my upbringing on my grandparents’ farm than just from a rule given to me by ISKCON. While that helped me make the final commitment, I was thinking about b … [Read more...]

No Turning Back

by TapatiTapati's altar I was asked recently if I felt there was any hope that I might someday renew my desire to serve and unite with Krishna and engage in kirtan with others of a like mind in a non-denominational, low pressure environment. Following that, I was asked what I missed about the Hare Krishna Movement. Others wondered why I kept my initiated name, Tapati and made it my legal name.I can imagine that my spiritual path seems confusing. From outside it might look like I have worshiped more than one God in my life: The Trinity of Catholicism, Krishna, myriad Goddesses, and Kuan Yin.What I have been doing from my perspective is sorting through different cultural viewpoints … [Read more...]

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...]

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...]


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