Upon viewing some of the current renderings of recreated events in an article posted on the Sun, "Faith is Blind and Ignorance is Bliss", it would be most appreciated and fair if the Sun readers would also consider something positive in memory of my dad, Hayagriva.
For the sake of chronological authenticity, I lived in Mexico with my dad as Federal fugitives the entire spring/summer of 1978 while the FBI anxiously awaited our return to the US. There is public record which attests to this fact due to the dramatic custody battle between my parents.
Also, the van safe that was cracked open by New Vrindaban inmates belonged to Hansadutta's pickers - not the Moonies - and was done in retaliation of a Zonal guru picking dispute. These basic inaccuracies call into question the validity of certain recreated events and conversations Bhakta Hank so colorfully recollects in said article.
I prefer to remember Hayagriva in a more positive light as Srila Prabhupada did upon their initial encounter:
SRILA PRABHUPADA'S PERSONAL DIARY:
Sunday 27 March 1966
Sun Rise 5/51 am. Sunset 6/20 pm. Moon Set 11/18 pm. Saptami
Today whole day I was in the Ashram and I came back in the evening at 6/30 PM. At 9 in the night Dr. Mishra, Mrs. Joans, Mrs. Ella, Miss Yolanda and others all came to see the condition of my room. All of them are of the opinion that the Suptd has a hand in this mischief.
I spent the night at the Studio 501. One Mr. Howard of 71 St. became acquainted with me. He appears to be a good friend.
I would like to also share Hrishikesh's eulogy of my dad which he posted around the same time as his "Blind Faith" article:
Eulogy for Hayagriva Prabhu (1940-1989)
By Hrishikesh dasa
I considered myself a servant--if not a friend--of Hayagriva, as I worked with him setting music to his super-excellent English poetic translations of Vaishnava verses (he was a brilliant man and a genius in my opinion with the English language), and I also visited him frequently after he had become bedridden with cancer of the spine.
I was always inspired to remember and serve Krishna by my visits with him. I found him to be thoughtful and philosophical, and he kept a good sense of humor, even as his life came to the very end, joking about his embarrasing condition when he was too weak to walk to the bathroom, and a nurse had to wipe the stool from his backside.
He was initiated into the sannyas order by Kirtanananda after it was clear that he was about to leave the planet. I was very happy to render some small service by providing music for his funeral ceremony. As was apparent by observing the dozens and dozens of Brijabasis who participated in his funeral internment, he was respected, if not loved, by the residents of New Vrindaban. His samadhi can still be seen between Prabhupada's Palace and the Temple.
Before I met him, I understand Hayagriva earned a Master Degree in English at New York University, and became Srila Prabhupada's senior editor from the very beginning of ISKCON in 1966 and into the early 1970s: he was in fact Prabhupada's right hand man for book editing for quite a few years. Hayagriva was a gifted writer and editor; he wrote 42 articles and poems for Back To Godhead magazine, beginning with the first issue in 1966: Volume 1, Number 1. His last article published in BTG was in 1980.
Hayagriva was also the author of two excellent books: "The Hare Krishna Explosion: The Birth of Krishna Consciousness In America (1966-1969)" and "Vrindaban Days: Memories of an Indian Holy Town." The first was published by Palace Press in 1985, and the second published posthumously by Palace Publishing in 1990. I heartily recommend these books to anyone.
When Kirtanananda Swami left Prabhupada's service in 1967 and was banned from the New York ISKCON temple and spat upon, Hayagriva gave his long-time friend shelter and allowed him to live with him at his home in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, where on Prabhupada's recommendation, Hayagriva had accepted a position in the English Department of the Wilkes Barre Community College.
Prabhupada specifically asked Hayagriva to try to find some land in Pennsylvania for an ISKCON Community Ashram. A few months later, in April 1968, Hayagriva and Kirtanananda visited the backwoods farm in West Virginia which Prabhupada dubbed "New Vrindaban." Hayagriva and Kirtanananda were the two original residents of New Vrindaban (co-founders, if I may say so) and remained so for many years. When Kirtanananda left New Vrindaban with his Traveling Road Show, Hayagriva remained at New Vrindaban as Temple President.
For two years (1964-65 and again in 1969) Hayagriva worked as an Associate Professor of English at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. I believe during this time he established the first Columbus ISKCON Temple. In 1969 he worked at Ohio State University from Tuesday through Thursday, and worked at New Vrindaban from Friday through Monday, building cabins, repairing the old farmhouse and barn, preparing for Prabhupada's month-long visit in May 1969, and spending the money he earned in Ohio for supplies for his West Virginia spiritual home. Hayagriva was instrumental in attracting some of his students to Krishna Consciousness; a few came to New Vrindaban and were initiated by Srila Prabhupada.
Prabhupada considered Hayagriva one of the leaders of his society, and appointed him as one of the twelve original members of the first GBC during July 1970. It is clear from reading Prabhupada's letters, that Hayagriva was dearly loved by Prabhupada.
Hayagriva showed his true colors when he defended Prabhupada during the Great ISKCON Crisis during the New Vrindaban Janmastami Festival of 1970. Four newly-initiated ISKCON sannyasis began spouting mayavadi philosophy and confusing the devotees, but only Hayagriva, who had done the editing for Prabhupada's books, understood Vaishnava philosophy clearly enough to see the errors in the sanyasis' arguments, and he courageously attempted to defeat them by scripture and logic.
One eyewitness reported: "The GBC kept meeting and discussing and trying to figure out what was going on. Because it felt really weird, really off, but nobody knew the philosophy well enough, except Hayagriva, who had done all the editing of the books. Rupanuga was baffled. Hayagriva was the only one who had them pegged. He was unequivocal."
One point I try to make here, and this is perfectly clear from reading Prabhupada's letters, is that although Kirtanananda left Prabhupada's service for nearly a year during the late 1960s, Hayagriva remained in constant communication with his spiritual master, and encouraged his rebellious friend Kirtanananda to make up with and surrender to Prabhupada. Hayagriva loved Prabhupada. He never really left Prabhupada's service, although he may have certainly been distracted at times.
Granted, Hayagriva may have had some difficulties in his devotional life, which Satsvarupa das Goswami briefly alludes to in the Foreword to Hayagriva's book "The Hare Krishna Explosion," but Hayagriva always remained devoted to Prabhupada. Satsvarupa called Hayagriva "an honest, adoring disciple." Hayagriva's faith in and service to Prabhupada made him a great man; worthy of our respect, despite his weaknesses.
In the long run, Hayagriva's devotion to Srila Prabhupada and Krishna should be the all-important factor in how his legacy is remembered. From my visits with Hayagriva near the end of his life, I believe he was constantly remembering Prabhupada and Krishna, and for this inspiration he provided me, I will be forever grateful to him. I wish him well, wherever he might be, in whatever form of life, on whatever planet, but I have the feeling that wherever he is, he is continuing his progress in Krishna Consciousness. I can only hope that in the future I can experience the same.