Call and Response Ep. 69 | Maharajji’s Passing, India, Joya
Q: How did you take losing the physical form of your Guru? And how did you cope with it?
“When He did leave the body, I was destroyed. Because the only place I ever felt loved was with Him. That kind of love, I never felt it anywhere and now it was gone. Why live? What’s the sense? You know? I mean, we find reasons to stay alive, but we don’t really believe there’ll ever be any real, real happiness for us. That’s how it felt for me. For a long time.” – Krishna Das
Q: My name’s Christian.
Q: How did you take losing the physical form of your Guru? And how did you cope with it?
KD: I didn’t cope with it. I just lost it totally. I had become very attached to His physical presence. He kept me in India two and a half years, pretty much longer than any of the other Westerners. He kept me with Him for two and a half years. Then one day, He looks at me and says, “Ok, go back to America.” “What? I’m just learning Hindi.” “Too bad. You have attachment. You have to go.” So, I went back and then after a few months, He wrote to me, He had somebody write to me and said, one day He looked around and said, “Where’s Krishna Das?” The guy who knows everything. So, somebody said, “Baba, You sent Him to America.” “No. Tell Him to come back. I want to hear Him sing. I want to hear Him sing.” So my friend wrote to me. “You’ve got to come on back. You’ve got to,” you know? So anyway, long story short, I didn’t make it back in time. So, when He did leave the body, I was destroyed. Because the only place I ever felt loved was with Him. That kind of love. I never felt it anywhere. And now it was gone. Why live? What’s the sense? You know? I mean, we find reasons to stay alive, but we don’t really believe there’ll ever be any real, real happiness for us. That’s how it felt for me. For a long time. So then, He left the body in 1973. In 1984, I went back to India. I was in pretty bad shape. I had been strung out on cocaine, freebase cocaine for a year and a half and I had just gotten over that but I was pretty fragile, pretty freaked out. And I thought, “All right, I’ll just go back to the temple. I’ll just go in my room and sleep for a month,” you know? So, I get to the temple and it turns out it’s Durga Puja time, which is this ten-day ceremony honoring the Goddess Durga and they do a fire ceremony every day with the “swahas” and everything. It’s really great, you know? So, I get into the temple and everybody’s “Oh, Krishna Das, you’ve come. This is so good. Come, you’ll sit with us in the puja.” Really? And you can’t say, “No.” They love you too much. So instead of hiding in my room and sleeping, all day long I sat in the goddamned puja with this hot fire, “Swaha” into the fire, sweating with ashes and dirt all over me, you know? Sitting up. I hadn’t sat cross-legged for ten years and now it’s like… aargh. I can’t tell you how horrible it was. It was indescribably horrible. So, there was a morning session and an afternoon session. And there was a couple hours break in between the two sessions, but you had to fast all day, by the way, you couldn’t eat until the last session was over. Terrific. You know? So, and then, so during that break, at the end of the morning session, everybody would come from the yagya shala, the place where the fire is, the sacred fire, they come up to the front of the temple where Maharajji’s cot was, and we’d do aarti, we’d sing this hymn and wave the lights and then everybody would go rest for a couple of hours before the next session. So, four or five days into it, everybody comes up from the fire and we do this puja and I’m just standing there like this, you know? All right. When’s this over. I’m going to go lie down, ok. So, while I’m standing there, the chant was over and everybody bowed down, you know, like this, and then everybody left except one old lady had put her head down on the tucket and she didn’t get up. She went into samahdi. She went into a very high blissful state. Just from bowing to His tucket. She was just like, gone. And I saw that. And it was like a knife in my heart. And I thought, “He’s real for these people. They feel Him.” And I felt, I couldn’t imagine… you can’t imagine how I felt. And I’m just, it was like a shock and I just went, like, sat down on the edge of the temple right there and I was just like, like this. And this woman comes out of the back of Maharajji’s rooms and said, “KD, KD. Siddhi Ma calling.” And I thought, “Why doesn’t she just leave me alone. Let me just die here. Leave me alone.” But you can’t say “no.” They love you too much. You can’t say no. Ok, I got up. I walked in this back door through this little courtyard where Maharajji used to sit and into this room where Siddhi Ma was sitting on the floor by His bed and I walked into that room and I got hit by a lightning bolt right here. I fell to the floor. And I was crying uncontrollably because in that second a few things happened. The first thing that happened was, I saw every second of my life from the moment I heard He died until that moment, like the frames of a movie, you know? Ffft. When they used to have film. Like this. Every frame was a moment of my life. I saw everything in an instant. I saw my whole, every second of my life for the last like 12 or 13 years. And I saw that He had never left me for a second. But I would not let myself feel Him. I refused to let myself feel that love because I was angry, I was pissed, I was sad, I was hurt that He had left me. And I would not let myself feel. I was like a little kid. I wouldn’t let myself feel that. But I saw He’d been with me every second, that I had put a wall around my heart and I wasn’t letting anything in, but that He was on the wall, in the wall, over the wall, both sides of the wall, the wall meant nothing to Him. And I saw every brick in the wall and it had like a little flashing neon light… shame, fear, anger, selfishness, everything, every brick had a flashing light of bullshit. And I saw in that second, I can take this wall down. I can take this wall down. All I have to do is look at this stuff. I can’t pretend it doesn’t exist. It exists. I put this wall up. But I can take it down. And I have to tell you, I was in absolute total bliss. I was blissed out of my bird. I was gone. I could, every breath felt like the whole universe was making love with me. It was unbearable almost. It was like I could barely stand up. And then, and the whole time, Siddhi Ma’s just sitting there, She didn’t say a thing. I kept thinking, I’ve gotta stop crying, She must think I’m crazy, but I couldn’t stop crying. And then somebody comes to the window. “KD? We’re waiting for you for puja.” Where did two hours go? So, I’m weeping. I’m still weeping. And I go sit in the puja and I’m going… you know and Indians aren’t big huggers, you know? So, the guy next to me who was sponsoring the puja, my good friend, he kept looking at me and I’m weeping. He said, “Krishna Das, has someone died?” He kind of, very tentatively reaches around and pats me on the back like this. It was incredible. Incredible. I’d taken a thousand micrograms of pure Sandoz acid. I couldn’t even see it from where I was. It was so down there. Nothing compared to this. This was beyond belief. And it lasted for days. I was just walking around like… I was just like melting all day long. One morning I woke up and I woke up and I realized it was gone. I felt like an old burnt out building that had been rained on and the dogs came in and pissed all over the place. And I was just like, I completely went nuts. And I went up on the roof of the building in the back of the temple. It’s a big long roof and I was… the temple’s in this beautiful valley with a river running through it and this acid blue sky and it’s just so incredibly beautiful and I was storming back and forth on the roof screaming at maharajji. “If you’re going to close me down, then don’t open me. Just leave me alone,” at the top of my lungs. The whole valley was like, “What is this? What is this?” You know, and I’m screaming back and forth, “You son of a bitch, you leave me alone.” So after a while of this, that same lady comes over and said, “KD, Siddhi Ma calling” and then she ran away. I was like, you know, and I said, “Good. Because I’m leaving. I’m going back to America today and I’m going to tell Her.” And I stormed down, boom, boom, like what’s that big green guy, what’s it, the Hulk. Boom, boom, boom and She had come up to the Tiwari’s room, my Indian parents that are up in the back of the temple and I walked up to the door. And She looked at me and said something and everybody giggled and I said, “What did She say?” And I was told that She said I was like a little boy who had been given a sweet and gobbled it all up in one bite and wanted another one. But I couldn’t have another one right away, but I’d have another one, don’t worry. Oh. Ok.
“I’m going to go lay down, ok? Yeah, you know, in my room. Ok? Yeah, ok.” I slept for like two days and when I woke up I was back to normal.
But that was it. You know? It was ok to be alive. I really didn’t think I’d ever feel like that again, that it was ok to be alive.
So that’s how I dealt with it. Or it dealt with me, really. But that was just the beginning, you know, it was ok to be alive, now what? You know? I had to look at those bricks. I had to look at that stuff, I couldn’t pretend they weren’t there and that they weren’t screwing me up. It was a good beginning.
Q: Hello, oh Hey.
Q: A little lighter question: What are some of your favorite places that you’ve been to in India?
KD: I like the mountains really the most. India’s a lot different now than it was in 1970. Not only weren’t there mobile phones, but even telephones didn’t work. You had to book a call. Like, if I wanted to call back to the states, I had to call the local operator who called the county operator, who called the state operator, who called the federal operator, who got in touch with the international operator, who made the call and then, once it was connected, the international operator called the federal operator who called the… it could take a couple of days sometimes to get through. So, it was a very different life up there in the hills at that point. There was only one road. There still is only one road, although now it’s busy 24 hours a day. But in those days, just a few cars, a few trucks… modern life didn’t make it up to the mountains very far at that time. They were still living very much the way they had been living for thousands of years. Most of the villages didn’t have electricity way up in the hills. There’s incredible places all around India. I’ve been in the jungles and there’s places that are so beautiful it’s hard to imagine, just incredible. There’s beautiful places everywhere. I don’t, I don’t, when people say, “I want to go to India,” I say, “Why?” Really, you have such a desire for dysentery? Very good. Anything you can get in India, you can get here, because you’re here. You think you can go to India? I thought I was going to go to India and live in a cave, right? One snake is all I needed to see before I got my ass out of there. Whoa. You know, and the vibe of these snakes, these are not just like, little snakies. They’re like prehistoric. Dark. Hello. And vipers, they’ll just bite you for fun. Cobras will not bite you unless you’re really threatening them, but a viper, you know, they’ll just bite and then go, they don’t care. They’ll bite you.
Yeah. The Grand Canyon’s nice. At least the rattlers you can hear, you know? So many beautiful places. There’s places in India that are just so extraordinary. I mean, they say it’s the actual, the earth, the ground in India has, is able to hold a certain vibration that makes it easy for Saints to live there because, well, whatever. So, for thousands and thousands of years people have been doing practice there, you know? One place in the center of India, we went to, and we were staying with this yogi who was 163 years old. He’s about 190 now, I guess. And He would take us through the jungle, and He’d say, “You see that mountain over there, that hill? It’s not a hill. Inside that hill, there’s, it’s a crystal cave inside there.” He said, “There’s a yogi in there who’s been in there for thousands of years.” And He kept pointing to places like that.
KD: Yeah, next question.
KD: Hi. You don’t have to stand if you don’t want to.
Q: I’m short.
Q: It’s hard to see. May I ask you…
Q: Ok. About Ma Joya, the Guru who used to live in Florida. May I ask you about her?
KD: You can ask whatever you want.
Q: I have been down there a couple of times. And they claim you as Gurubhai and say that you come and visit and I’m just… ok.
KD: Yeah. I visited once to visit a friend who was dying.
Q: And this is what I wanted to clarify, because they claim you and I asked about Ram Das and about the article and they’re like, “Oh, KD, no, he’s family.” And I just wanted to say…
KD: It’s nice they feel that.
Q: But that was what I wanted to clarify.
KD: So what’s your question exactly.
Q: My question is, what are your thoughts and opinions on her?
KD: I was, I spent, Jaya, “Joya” we called her. Ram Das met Joya in New York through another woman who we had, I had been kind of studying with, her name was Hilda, she was a, she had lived many years in India and had a really good Guru. Nityananda was her Guru. Also, she said, she was very close with Sathya Sai Baba. That’s a whole other story. But, so she put us in contact with this woman Joya and I stayed with, kind of with her, for maybe three years and then I left. And then I saw her maybe once after that. That’s the whole story. If I, obviously if I thought, I didn’t stay, let’s put it that way. So, I would have stayed if I was getting something that I thought was worth getting. But I didn’t. The people there I know, you know, but, they’re all good people. People say lots of things and who knows, you know? I don’t know. I just know what I felt and at one point I felt, this is not for me, and I left.
Q: I’m short, too, So I’ll just stand. I wanted to thank you for coming and making it so accessible for everybody regardless of gender or anything…
KD: Or what planet you come from.
Q: Well, my question is, obviously there are societal and cultural differences between the U.S. and India.
KD: Oh, really?
Q: Does that make it more difficult for a woman to find a teacher in India?
KD: Well, that’s like two different questions. India’s difficult for women in general because it’s difficult. A lot of terrible things happen there and they can happen very quickly. So, I never, if a woman says she wants to go to India, I say, “Well, ok, if you’re gonna go, you can not go alone. I’ll kill you if you decide to go alone, so you’d better not. You have to go at least with one other person and preferably travel with a guy as well.” Because it’s a different place and it’s, for anybody it can be, very immediately, the bottom can drop out and it can get pretty crazy. On the other hand, there’s millions and millions of extraordinarily wonderful people and I’ve met so many of them, but I still don’t think it’s a good idea for… I never suggest that people go and just wander around India. I say, “If you know where you’re going, get your tickets, you can’t travel alone. Get your tickets and go where you’re going. And then if you want to go somewhere from there, you’ll meet somebody who wants to go where you want to go. You go together. Don’t go wandering around like, you know…” That’s not the best idea. A lot of, a lot of things happen that aren’t a lot of fun. As far as finding a teacher, that’s a whole other ballgame. Why would you go to India when you’re here? If you think there’s more people… A teacher comes to you as a result of your karmic ripeness. And that’s, you’re here. But why go there? If you’re pulled there like I was pulled there, I was just going and I was never coming back. That was different. I had to go. So, unless you feel like you have to go, that your life is over if you don’t, until you go, well, then I guess you have to listen to that. But, it’s not an easy place. Even though it’s easier on the physical plane, getting around, it’s a different culture, they do things differently and it’s often difficult to navigate those differences. But as far as finding a teacher, when the student is ready, the teacher comes. That’s the way it is. You don’t know when you’re ready. You may think you’re ready. But if you’re not, if the teacher’s not there, you’re not ready. That’s just the way it is. That doesn’t mean you’re dead. You still have things you can do. You still have practice you can do. You can treat everybody, you don’t wait for your teacher to come. You’re here. You’ve gotta breathe, you’ve gotta eat and you’ve gotta find a way to be a good human being. And there’s plenty of teachers. There’s so many teachers now teaching meditation and asana practice and pranayama, all kinds of things that are really helpful for you, helping calm your ass down and learning how to be happy. So, why not take advantage of that? Go try to find a guru? You know, you’ll wind up… you know, defecating in places you wish you didn’t have to. I’m sorry. There’s a lot of Indian people here, you know. If I didn’t feel like you were my people or I was your people I would never say things like this. And if I hadn’t defecated in any places that I wish I didn’t, I wouldn’t have said that, either. Oh, boy. Try being in a bus, you know, on the way up into the mountains and if you don’t have lamotil you’re dead.