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New story: CONJURELLA KRISHNA: How I became a REAL Hippie Guru!

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  • T. Casey Brennan
    CONJURELLA KRISHNA: SRILA KASIPADA Or: How I Became A REAL Hippie Guru! by T. Casey Brennan Copyright 2003 by T. Casey Brennan This, of course, is a sequel to
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 24, 2003

      Or: How I Became A REAL Hippie Guru!


      T. Casey Brennan

      Copyright 2003 by T. Casey Brennan

      This, of course, is a sequel to the earlier CONJURELLA
      stories posted at:





      This is the story of two dreams, two Hare Krishna
      gurus, and the Kennedy assassination. In the period
      from late 1983 till mid 1985, I had left my adopted
      home of Ann Arbor, Michigan and journeyed to
      California. In the 1970s, I had been known as a
      popular comic book writer, my work appearing in such
      titles as Warren comics' CREEPY, EERIE and VAMPIRELLA,
      a few scattered small press publishers such as POWER
      COMICS, FANTASY QUARTERLY, and the Canadian ORB. But
      1983 had found me destitute, and, with the help of my
      friends, I traveled to California, hoping for more
      professional validation. Favors from a power
      structure which now just barely accepted me had been
      slim; California had brought me a few scattered radio
      and television interviews, a comic con guest
      appearance at a building in Berkeley's Sproul Plaza,
      and a write-up in the U.N. World Health Organization
      magazine WORLD HEALTH, published in every major
      language in the world, October 1983 issue, page
      30...look for it at your local UN office, your public
      library, or your university's public health library --
      a follow-up report on me appeared in WORLD HEALTH,
      January-February 1986, page 9. Then WORLD HEALTH
      magazine editor Peter Ozorio had been supportive of my
      purported work, as an award winning comic book writer,
      to ban smoking in comic books. Later, in an interview
      in COMIC BOOK ARTIST magazine's excellent history of
      Warren Publishing Company, THE WARREN COMPANION, I
      would admit that it had all been a desperate publicity
      stunt. But then, in the mid 80s, it had been a
      vehicle for keeping my name and work alive, in a
      decade before the internet took hold, when the fans of
      my comic books had all but forgotten me.

      Though this is a story, not only of dreams, but of
      drugs, cults, and murder, it must be prefaced with
      background information on my work. The 90s had
      produced not only my trade paperback, VAMPIRELLA:
      TRANSCENDING TIME & SPACE, a compilation of Vampirella
      stories by myself and Steve Englehart, but also my
      story of my adventures at the Berkeley Krishna Temple,
      whose title was a take-off on the title of my book:
      story had been published twice, in a comic book called
      THE STORK, back when editor Ray Earles had been intent
      on making THE STORK look like an underground comic,
      and in the Winter 1998 issue of an Austin, Texas based
      rock and roll magazine called SALT FOR SLUGS, carried
      internationally by Tower Records. March 1984 had
      found me penniless in Berkeley; I appeared at the
      Krishna Temple there, on 2334 Stuart St., suitcases in
      hand, and nowhere to go. I had run the gamut seeking
      money from friends and political contacts; Peter
      Ozorio had arranged for a check to be sent to me c/o
      General Delivery, Berkeley, from a United Nations
      account in Zurich, based on the first WORLD HEALTH
      article. The check had only a serial number for the
      issuer, and an illegible signature, but had been sent
      via airmail with a signed United Nations voucher; I
      had had no difficulty in cashing the check at the Best
      of Two Worlds comic book store in Berkeley, who knew
      me by name and professional reputation, but by now, it
      was long gone. In that bygone era, the Krishna
      people, besieged by scandals, had begun the long
      process of excommunicating their ill-behaved gurus,
      and, strangely, had initiated the process by ousting
      the least offensive of them, saving the worst for
      last. The first two excommunicated gurus, Srila
      Hansadutta and Srila Jayatirtha, were denizens of the
      San Francisco Bay, as I was now, quite unwillingly. I
      would have traded an arm to get back to Michigan then,
      but no one was buying human arms, so I stayed, quite
      miserable and mistreated, in the temple of poor
      Hansadutta, whom I later maligned for his escapades,
      in the aforementioned FEVER story. In that story, I
      had omitted my brief adventure with the Krishna
      people's only LSD guru, Srila Jayatirtha, much like my
      mentors, saving the worst for last. Jayatirtha had,
      it was said, originally been a protege of Timothy
      Leary. According to legend, he had renounced LSD
      before accepting the Krishna guruship, then later,
      resumed the practice, resulting in his eventual

      But this was the tale of two dreams. In 1996, I had
      written a story called "Castle Mirage: the Prelude -
      Conjurella", alleging my own, and my late parents'
      unwilling involvement with the JFK assassination. It
      was posted immediately by several conspiracy sites,
      inspiring dozens of Internet fan pages about me, and a
      host of sequels, of which the Hansadutta story,
      CONJURELLA FEVER, was only one of many. Ironically,
      the original CONJURELLA story did not see print off
      the Net, till it appeared with title and contents
      shortened, in the St. Louis-based political conspiracy
      magazine, STEAM SHOVEL PRESS, issue #19, summer 2002
      issue, as "JFK Redux - Castle Mirage" on page 21.

      So that was the first dream. The second must come
      later in this story, after I tell what I left out in
      CONJURELLA FEVER, after I tell of my meeting with
      Jayatirtha, and his eventual murder. Unlike the first
      dream, the second may not have happened at all.
      Unlike the first dream, the second may be only a joke
      among my many fans and followers, and, like my
      ill-fated ban-smoking-in-comics campaign, only an
      excuse for further professional exposure. Unlike the
      first dream, the second may be blasphemy; unlike the
      first dream, the second may be the lowest form of
      self-promotion; unlike the first dream, the second may
      be truly, truly evil. So, for now, I will wait in the
      telling of the second dream. And for now, I will tell
      only the facts of my meeting with Jayatirtha.

      It was on Thursdays, as I recall, that Jayatirtha's
      disciples came to the Berkeley Temple of Srila
      Hansadutta, where, by early 1985, I was firmly
      entrenched as dishwasher, semi-unwelcome guest, and
      impoverished semi-follower of Srila Hansadutta.
      Except for ingrained rowdiness, the Hansadutta
      devotees, as the Krishna people call their followers,
      were not significantly distinguishable in their
      philosophy from their former parent group, the
      International Society for Krishna Consciousness or
      ISKCON. Hansadutta's followers were aware of their
      guru's inconsistencies, apologized for him, and
      followed him anyway, still attempting to promote among
      their supporters the ISKCON position condemning
      intoxication of any kind. Hansadutta had regretted
      his inability to follow that position; Jayatirtha had
      not. Jayatirtha had been defiant, and, following his
      removal from his formal position as ISKCON guru, had
      taken to selling marijuana and LSD at HIS temple,
      across the Golden Gate Bridge, in mountainous Marin

      So it was on Thursdays that they came, I think. Like
      the Hansadutta devotees, they danced and chanted
      before the deities, the magical statues of Krishna on
      the temple's altar. The deities had not been invented
      by the Hare Krishna people, the system had been
      created thousands of years before, in India, when
      Hindu priests began the tradition of calling the
      presence of Krishna into statues of his likeness. To
      Christian missionaries in India, it had been idolatry,
      but to T. Casey Brennan, abandoned and impoverished in
      Berkeley, the beaming statues had been his only source
      of inspiration in a cult which, it seemed, had set
      themselves at variance not only with him, but with the
      rest of the world as well. The Berkeley devotees
      frequently hated each other, hated the stifling rules
      and regulations of ISKCON, and, at times, hated their
      own guru, but loved the deities. Consequently, the
      presence of the Jayatirtha devotees before our temple
      altar was not always considered proper, but I did not
      give a damn. I needed a secondary refuge besides the
      Berkeley Temple -- I advanced on the Jayatirtha cult,
      hoping to shift my loyalties, as I had done so many
      times before.

      A Berkeley Hansadutta devotee named Dave had taken to
      the Jayatirtha followers before I had, and they to
      him. So much so, that they had offered him
      Initiation. Initiation, in the Krishna people, works
      like this: the trainee is initially a Bhakta, and is
      known by this tile, followed by his name, in this
      case, Bhakta Dave. But when he receives Initiation,
      he is given a Sanskrit name, and renounces his former
      life -- in this case, Bhakta Dave was henceforth to be
      known as Deva Das.

      So on that day in 1985, a carload of Berkeley devotees
      embarked, with only minimal support from their
      comrades in Hansadutta's temple, to accompany Bhakta
      Dave on his initiation, and to smoke marijuana and
      take LSD in the process. Along the way, someone said,
      Srila Hansadutta was thrown out of ISKCON because he
      was into guns, Srila Jayatirtha because he was into
      LSD. I could not let that conversational opportunity
      slip away; T. Casey Brennan, former writer of comic
      book stories known for their quality and idealism in
      the '70s, was now a bitter cynic.

      "I like both guns and LSD," I said, "So I like them
      both. Maybe they should get together on it -- start
      the 'LSD-GUN NEWSLETTER'." I think, only Bhakta Dave
      laughed. But then, that was the way of most of my
      jokes in Berkeley. We stopped along the way, to check
      tires or something. Bhakta Dave and I walked to the
      back of the car. He took out a pack of cigarettes,
      shook one up quite professionally, and offered it to
      me. I took it, and we both lit up, as the other
      devotees in the car looked around scowling.

      We crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and reached
      Jayatirtha's Temple in the mountains. Somewhere, we
      had crossed an expanse of smoke-belching factories.
      One of the girls had commented that she disliked the
      smell of the factories. But this was 1985, and I was
      intent on portraying myself as a conservative.
      "Myself, I don't like the smell of the unemployed,
      homeless people that are left when the factories close
      down," I said. That didn't get much of a laugh
      either. That same year, I appeared on KFCB's
      CALIFORNIA TONIGHT show, a religious talk show from
      Concord, clad in suit and tie, with shoulder-length
      California bleach-blond hair, made that way from
      constantly walking around in the sun (usually to avoid
      the Berkeley Krishna people) -- host Ron Haus had
      given me the biggest build-up I'd ever received on a
      TV talk show, noting letters of support from Art
      Linkletter and the aforementioned UN WHO articles --
      and called for a return to the comic book burnings of
      the 1950s, as inspired by religious groups and a
      crusading psychologist of that bygone era. It had
      been my last TV appearance, as of this writing, in
      2003, and was last broadcast, I believe, on
      Valentine's day of 1985.

      But here I was no star, no celebrity; here I was the
      least of the Berkeley Krishna people, accompanying
      Bhakta Dave for his initiation by a rival guru, the
      now legendary and murdered Jayatirtha.

      We parked and entered the huge mansion. My first
      impression was that it was bitterly cold, as the
      mountains in Marin usually are in winter. Jayatirtha
      had not yet arrived, but we approached the altar.
      Krishna's statutes were upon that altar, as was a
      photograph of Jayatirtha, but so also were statues of
      Jesus and Mary, in defiance of ISKCON regulations
      forbidding such things. I turned to one of the other
      devotees and said jokingly, "These are dangerous men,"
      though, in fact, I was impressed by their soft-spoken
      gentleness. It was that T. Casey Brennan cynicism
      again, and again, no one understood, and no one

      At some point, we were each provided with The
      Sacrament: LSD on rice paper, embossed with the word
      YES. Some weed was smoked, and periodically, I asked
      for more of the pleasant rice paper LSD. The devotees
      complied, tearing the YES squares in half with some
      difficulty, supplying me with half a hit at a time,
      each time I asked.

      Gradually, due to the LSD, my mountainous
      surroundings, and the diverse nature of Jayatirtha's
      followers, I began to get the impression that I had
      entered some strange fairy tale kingdom. A hunchback
      arrived, some children, some Indian-born Hindus, and
      assorted Berkeley hippies, all in the bitter,
      shivering cold. It was night now, and Dave and I
      walked onto a wooden porch overlooking the majestic
      Marin landscape. At last, Jayatirtha arrived,
      apologized for the cold, and said it would be better
      when the fire sacrifice began. Though young in
      appearance, he had long gray hair, also in defiance of
      standard Hare Krishna custom, which preferred the
      shaven-headed-with-ponytail look. Jayatirtha was, it
      was said, Jewish by birth, and a British citizen.
      Though expelled by ISKCON, his tremendous charisma had
      caused Temples to spring up in England and India and
      elsewhere in Asia, following him still, whatever his

      Bhakta Dave, of course, had the seat of honor, but was
      not handling his LSD as well as I, or the others.
      Later, though I was not present, he told me that, as
      he sat down, he suddenly shouted "They're going to
      kill me!" and bolted for the door. "I was scared," he
      told me later, back at the Berkeley Temple. Still
      with that 1985-style T. Casey Brennan cynicism, I'd
      replied, "If I'd known that, I would have pulled a gun
      and shot you in the back." But the gentle Jayatirtha
      had said, "You have to come back and sit down now,
      Dave. We're going to begin." And it had worked.

      Now, not to be self-deprecating, but most of my life,
      I've been just a tad out of synch with what I'm
      actually supposed to do. The Jayatirtha initiation
      was no exception, and the LSD had nothing to do with
      it. My last television appearance had been in 1985 in
      Concord, California, but my first had been in the
      1950s in Columbus, Ohio, on a children's show called
      THE FIVE AND TEN SHOW, so named because you had to be
      between ages five and ten to be on it. A row of
      children, including me, were supposed to do a dance
      with motions to "jump down, turn around, pick a bale
      of hay". I did all that, but completely out of synch
      with my child colleagues, and the last scene found me
      still spinning awkwardly, as the rest of the line of
      children bowed and left the stage. The Jayatirtha
      fire sacrifice experience was similar. On an altar
      fire of burning aromatic wood, we were instructed, on
      signal, to throw a handful of rice on the fire and
      chant "SVA-HA!"; it's Sanskit, I didn't know what it
      meant, I still don't. So each time the devotees
      shouted and threw the rice, I waited five seconds and
      did the same after them, and each time, they all
      turned to look at me contemptuously, as had the other
      children on THE FIVE AND TEN SHOW.

      As we had been given the LSD, we had been told proudly
      that the building had once been the old Owsley LSD
      factory, since reopened. Owsley, like Leary, had been
      one of the early LSD pioneers. So I was tripping
      heavily by the time of Jayatirtha's sermon, as he
      finalized the initiation of Bhakta Dave, who, at some
      point, had become Deva Das. Jayatirtha told Dave that
      now that he was receiving initiation, the most
      important thing was that he be a good person.
      Jayatirtha paused eloquently, and added "Now that
      isn't always possible. But, always to try..."

      I shall never forget those words or that sermon.
      After the initiation, we went to Jayatirtha's other
      mansion, and Jayatirtha led us in a song of his own
      making, "Temple of Peace". I was deeply moved. In
      the morning, we returned, and our driver was still
      feeling the effects of the LSD, speeding down the
      treacherous mountain highway at a breakneck pace.
      Dave, now, Deva Das, and I tried to calm him by
      nervously invoking the philosophy. "Well," I said, my
      cynicism replaced by mortal fear as the high-on-LSD
      driver negotiated the mountain curves at 90 or 95,
      "The devotees don't care about speed; no, the devotees
      have a more relaxed kind of lifestyle..." Deva Das
      chimed in, "No, the devotees don't care about speed,
      hare krishna, hare krishna, krishna krishna, hare
      hare, hare rama, hare rama, rama rama, hare hare..."

      But the driver was chanting, "I love speed, I love
      SPEED!" I never thought I'd make it through alive.
      But I did. But Jayatirtha didn't.

      Later that year, in the fall, I believe, the
      Jayatirtha temples made national news when they were
      raided, and LSD, marijuana, and cocaine, plus a half
      million dollars in British and American currency were
      seized. The story was carried in USA TODAY, and the
      San Francisco papers, and safely back in Ann Arbor, I
      saw footage of a hooded Jayatirtha in custody on
      television. Amazingly, there was no trial to follow,
      and no mention of the raid in the later books and
      articles chronicling criminality in the Krishna
      movement, though numerous pages are devoted to his LSD
      usage and sales. The raid and its consequences have
      simply ceased to be. History has been rewritten, even
      by ISKCON's self-professed staunchest critics.
      Several years later, Jayatirtha was found murdered in
      England, his head cut off, and a knife driven into his

      A berserk former devotee was arrested and committed to
      a mental institution. No credibility was assigned to
      the theory that Jayatirtha had been murdered by the
      CIA for becoming too indiscreet with the LSD they had
      helped prepare for him at CIA LSD laboratories...the
      raid was not the reason, after all, it had never
      happened. Those who persisted in this account were
      told what was, they said, the REAL story. In hushed
      tones, they told what they said was the SECRET truth;
      the berserk devotee who had killed Jayatirtha had been
      inspired, not by the CIA, but by Jayatirtha's WIFE,
      whom he was in the process of leaving. And after the
      CIA blew Kurt Cobain's head off for the exact same
      reason, they told the exact same story about HIS wife.
      The names were changed, but the story the same, but
      then, I said there was a second dream, didn't I?

      So this was the second dream. Jayatirtha's followers
      told a bit different story about his excommunication
      than did ISKCON. The Hare Krishna movement had been
      begun in America by an aged guru, a Hindu by training,
      though he despised that word, preferring the more
      specific term, Vaisnava. He was known as His Divine
      Grace, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, usually
      called, simply, Prabhupada. They Jayatirtha devotees
      told me that Prabhupada had appointed Jayatirtha as
      his sole successor, a position not easily refuted,
      since his papers allegedly denoting succession upon
      his death, now appear, even in the eyes of the most
      impartial observers, to be, at best, unclear, or, at
      worst, forged or altered.

      In the second dream, there are two initiations taking
      place, one on this plane, one on a higher plane of
      existence. Here, Bhakta Dave was being initiated as
      Deva Das. But in the higher plane, the gentle,
      eloquent Jayatirtha tells the cynical, self-promoting
      T. Casey Brennan, "When I am murdered, you must take
      up my place, and tell what you know on the Kennedy
      assassination. When I am murdered, you must become
      Srila Kasipada, in direct succession to those who came
      before us."

      "You are Srila Kasipada," Jayatirtha said, in the
      dream, "Meat-eater, fornicator, blasphemer, the last
      and the worst of Krishna's gurus."

      And, you know? I guess I am. And that was the story
      of the two dreams, how Bhakta Dave became Deva Das,
      and Srila Jayatirtha became a murder victim, and the
      cynical, blasphemous T. Casey Brennan became Srila
      Kasipada, the last and the worst of the Krishna gurus.

      The End


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