- Abandoned -
Table of Contents
a religious thriller written by
Ronald E. Boutelle
Chapter 47: Lord Shiva
Father Mark and his dad, Mr. Penrose, had just passed the San Angelo city limit sign. In the back of his father’s 1989 Isuzu Trooper were 12 bags of special cement for the monks at the hermitage. This would be used as mortar to help complete what seemed like an endless number of projects that the monks were working on.
Stone Masonry at the Hermitage
photo by: Ronald E. Boutelle
“How long have I been back from India, dad? A few months, right?”
“More like six.”
“My goodness, has it been that long? Well, I have certainly been lost in my thoughts this past year.”
“That’s interesting because I’ve also noticed a change in you, son.”
“For the better, I hope.”
Mark’s father laughed, “Yes, for the better. You just seem a lot calmer than you were before you left. I sense something very deep has been at work—such as, inside your soul.”
Again the two men laughed, happy to be with each other and pleased to be delivering their cargo to the monks. Funds for the 12 bags were donated by the children where Mark taught school—a special piggy-bank drive that only took 4 months to reach their goal. Of course, a bag of mortar mix is not that expensive and the rocks, the monks found those free for the picking. That’s one thing Texas has plenty of.
Field of Rocks Near the Hermitage
photo by: Ronald E. Boutelle
“Mark, it’s pretty obvious that your trip to India has had a strong impact on you. But you did stop in Spain first. Did something happen there—or in India? Now you’re even a vegetarian! That bilocation stuff can really stretch one’s faith to the limit.”
“Actually dad, I had a great time in Spain but as you know I’m a big believer that nothing happens without God’s hand in it. Besides, I had been studying the life of Sister Maria for nearly a year before you had asked me to go to India. No, Dad—visiting Agreda and talking to the nuns at the convent was great. Rather, I think the tipping point came when I went to Vrindavan.”
Mark paused for a moment to gather his thoughts. “I mean—you want to talk about something totally unexpected—because any connection between Sister Maria and Lord Krishna was not even a remote possibility. You know, two totally different religions. After I had left Agreda—sure I was still intrigued with what had happened to her, but my focus moved onto the real reason I was going half way around the world; and just like you told me before I left, India can be full of surprises.
“Dad, the more I think about everything, it’s as if God wanted to first show me the deepest recesses of my Catholic faith and then open up a whole new set of windows for me to look out—and even show me how they are connected. But then I had to ask myself, why? Since our drive out to the hermitage is going to take awhile, would you like to hear what I’ve been thinking about these past few days?”
Turning toward his son, “Yes, very much.”
“OK, you asked for it. As far as Sister Maria, I must say that the more I think about what happened to her when the Indians killed her, the more I wonder what really happened to Jesus. I have to admit that there is the real possibility that ‘The Jesus’ whom the Roman soldiers ‘thought’ they had crucified—was in fact ‘NOT’ the real Jesus, at all. No dad, like I said, things don’t happen by chance and I guess all that calmness you mentioned is just my attempt to hold still and listen to what is being said to me.”
“So exactly what are you hearing? I’ve always admired your deep devotion to God.”
“Well, that’s just it. Along with that dedication has to come truthfulness. Look dad, besides God, you know me better than anyone else in this entire world.”
“Absolutely Mark, and I don’t think you’re interested in just going to the half-way point.”
“Well, trying to fill in the blanks has been one heck of a ride. When I was in India I met a lot of people who instead of rejecting Jesus have simply embraced what they feel is a better way to worship Him. Not a different God—but certainly they feel that they have a better picture of Him. This, they say, makes understanding and worshiping the Lord so much easier and is exactly what they always wanted from religion in the first place.
“Why do they say a better picture?”
“Well, dad, I understand their point, although I’m still wrestling with what it has to do with me. What I mean—is that, of course, it’s through the Holy Scriptures that we learn of Godly matters—and it’s also true that in their Scriptures, God is wonderfully described, and in fact, all over Vrindavan there are the most lovely pictures of Him. And as you know, they call God, “Krishna”, and all over Vrindavan, paintings, murals and statues of Him are everywhere.”
photo by: Mathura Lilaprija
Mark reached over and put his left hand on the Bible that was sitting on the console next to him. Looking out the window, endless rows of empty cotton fields went whizzing by. The price for cotton on the world market had just broken all records.
Bailed cotton waiting to be picked up
photo by: Ronald E. Boutelle
Mr. Penrose flipped on his left turn signal to pass a slow moving truck. Mark turned to his father and began to say a few more words.
“When I was in Vrindavan, I remember talking to this nice American who lives in Mexico. His friends all call him Chit, and he told me how he had recently spoken to a Catholic priest in Mexico City. The priest admitted that there was so much more to know about God—however, he also told Chit that when the time was ready for this knowledge, that it could only come through the Roman Catholic Church. Therefore, any new, but outside knowledge would have to be rejected as impure. Well, even though Chit told me that he had been raised a Catholic, he said that he just couldn’t accept such a closed-minded position.
“You know Dad, it’s very tempting to think that we Catholics have all the answers and that the truth ultimately rests with us. After all, don’t we already have everything we need in Christ? You know, ‘from the cradle to the grave,’ and, then beyond. The most beautiful churches—we have. Saints—we have. Miracles—we have. God’s favor—we have. But then you sent me to India!”
“Now wait just a darn minute. Don’t blame me.” Both men began to laugh out loud.
Taking his eye off the road for just a moment to look at his son, “I’m curious, Mark, did going to India somehow disturb that ideal picture you just described?”
Smiling, Father Mark said, “Let’s just say that whenever a new vista is unveiled—especially when we’re talking about the inconceivable landscape of the Almighty—what you’re suddenly blessed to see can have a profound effect on your soul. Even turn a person into a vegetarian!”
Again both men began laughing.
“Mark, you know that movie you took me to that we both liked so much?”
“Oh, you mean, Avatar?”
“Yes. I think that’s why I liked it so much because it put all these new ideas and images in front of me. Inconceivable vistas if you want—like those floating mountains. I just really like it when my reality gets a little jolt.”
“Absolutely Dad, and what a great movie! But of course the entire content of Avatar came straight out of the highly imaginative mind of James Cameron, but yes, kind of like that. Thank you, this will help me to explain some things to you.”
“Well, Mark, maybe there was a reason why I bugged you so much to go see it.”
Again the two men found themselves lost in laughter, very much enjoying the trip to the hermitage. The weather was perfect. Taking a long breath, Mark continued. “Yes, India was kind of like that—but it wasn’t science fiction. OK, sure, at first I didn’t know what to think and maybe that’s it—I’m still wondering. It was actually a bit overwhelming for a simple priest from West Texas and now I’m struggling with a lot of other questions.”
“So I take it you’re talking about something fairly major?”
“Yes. Now granted, there WAS a cultural shock, but what I’m talking about are the spiritual windows that I never knew even existed. Yeah, kind of like the movie, Avatar.
“You know, right from the start I was so fortunate. Not only did I arrive safely—but almost immediately I met these spiritual guides that led me right to the heart of what you wanted me to discover. That part was almost like magic.”
“So what you are kind of saying, son, is that just like Jake Sully who had to enter that link-machine in order to connect with the consciousness of his avatar—that you had to enter Vrindavan before your vision expanded.”
Experimental prototype of link-machine
“Yes, that’s exactly right.”
“Wow! That sounds pretty exciting, son. I mean, your spiritual guides—I can only guess what they must have looked like: matted hair, living in caves, chanting Sanskrit mantras. Did you take any pictures of them?
Mark began to laugh again. “No dad—they didn’t look like that and I must say that ever since you went to see Avatar your imagination has grown by leaps and bounds. But don’t let me disappoint you entirely because I did stumble upon some of your holy men while I was there. No telling what they would have told me if I could have spoken their language.” Again the two men were laughing as they gradually approached their destination.
Father Mark’s Photo Album
Photo by: Luca Galuzzi (www.galuzzi.it)
Now it was Mr. Penrose who was speaking. “Well then, just who were they?”
“They were Christians.”
“Christians? I’m sorry son—you’re going to have to explain this one to me. I thought you said you went to India!”
The mood was merry in Mr. Penrose’s old Trooper. Although he had bought it used from a rancher in a small town outside of San Angelo, it seemed to perfectly match his character and lifestyle.
Mr. Penrose’s 1989 Isuzu Trooper
“As you know dad, I didn’t fly all the way to India to just take a fast, five-day tour and come back home. I stayed way beyond that. And like you said, I can now see that this was why I got so much from my trip. Otherwise, I would have taken a couple of guided tours—placed the whole experience in a few neat boxes; arranged my photos; labeled everything, and told all my friends about the idols I had seen.”
Again laughing, Mr. Penrose said, “But that happen, didn’t it?”
Smiling, Mark continued. “Dad, all those books you got at the airports over the years—as you know they were all published by the Hare Krishna’s—and Vrindavan is their Mecca; their Jerusalem; their spiritual center. The place is obviously sacred, and has a history going back well over 5000 years—immortalized in both ancient and modern scriptures.
“As we both know, Dad, holy words are spiritual windows and I spent a lot of time looking out those windows All I can say is, unbelievable!”
“But I don’t hear you saying that in a derogatory way.”
“Oh no, just the opposite—and as I was getting at—almost as soon as I arrived, I just started meeting all these really nice Christians. They had not abandoned Jesus at all, but had decided that in these scriptures there is a more precise picture of God.
“But Dad, what I experienced is not that easy to accept. I guess this is what you have been noticing in me—this struggle. I keep reliving things in my mind and trying to decide what to do.”
“Well, I never felt that you were not up to the challenge. You’re always so happy.”
“Thanks, but I want to be really happy. But I can see now why they say, ‘Be careful what you wish for’.”
“Well, all my life I’ve just known that God is far greater than I could ever imagine.”
“You mean, ‘inconceivable’?”
“Precisely—and I’ve always wanted to experience as much of that as I could. But we both know, I’m not a saint. You certainly won’t find me floating off the ground like Sister Maria or Saint Joseph. But sincerity is there—in my heart. I’ve always known that God exists in the most marvelous way. However, I never expected a spiritual bomb to go off in my lap.”
“My goodness, son, those are some pretty strong words. I guess I’m not sure what you mean.”
“Well—spiritual things have a way of snowballing. Take Jesus for example. If you worship Jesus, then you must ALSO accept whatever Jesus deemed worthy and true. For example, Jesus accepted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. We have no record of Jesus rejecting this story as false—in fact, just the opposite is true. All three of them were thrown into a raging furnace because they had refused to worship King Nebuchadnezzar’s golden idols. But when the King looked, instead of seeing three figures inside the furnace he saw four—the fourth person being an angel of God who was protecting them from instant death.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
painting by: Gustave Doré (1832-1883)
“So, this is the kind of thing I have been thinking about. Belief in the Almighty has pushed me with almost lightening speed right into the realm of ever increasing faith. As Christians, when we reach out to people and ask them to have faith in His Son—in a round-about way we are simultaneously asking them to have faith in so much more. In a moment you will see the enormous consequences of this.”
Mr. Penrose slowed down as he turned off a paved road onto the long driveway that led up to the hermitage. On their right a beautiful icon smiled down upon them. Within minutes Mr. Penrose stopped in front of the entrance.
The Hermitage near San Angelo, Texas
photo by: Ronald E. Boutelle
The cement was graciously received by the monks and they were treated to a little vegetable soup, homemade bread and apple pie. Because Christmas was fast approaching, the monks were busy tending to the needs of about a dozen visitors. Their beautiful gift shop was full of Christmas shoppers. Understanding, Mark thought it best not to take too much of anyone’s time, although they were encouraged to stay longer. Within minutes two more cars drove up and taking that as a sign, Mr. Penrose pulled the keys out of his pocket.
“Please Father, come back again when things are more peaceful and of course, don’t forget to thank the children for the cement. We will keep them in our prayers. And Mr. Penrose, it is so nice to see you again—thank you so much. God be with you.”
“Oh, you’re most welcome. The peace and beauty you have created out here is such a welcome for an old man like me. God be with you.”
“God be with you.”
It was just past two in the afternoon as Mr. Penrose and Mark resumed their journey, this time headed back to San Angelo. Mr. Penrose also wanted to stop by and see his little dog that some friends were taking care of. As they pulled away from the hermitage, off to their left they could see rows of statutes honoring Jesus.
After a short drive back to the main highway, Mr. Penrose figured it would take them about an hour to get back to The Manor. After dropping off some dog food for Coco, once again they were on their way.
It was now Mark who turned toward his father. “Dad, I want to show you a picture that I bought in Vrindavan. I guess it sums up what I’ve been trying to tell you, all day.”
Thumbing through his Bible, Father Mark found the small picture that was tucked between two pages and handed it to his father.
Mr. Penrose adjusted his glasses and stared at the picture. It was a picture of Lord Shiva who is worshiped by millions of people—his followers stretching far beyond the shores of India.
“I must say Mark that your taste in art is also changing.” That comment brought reels of laughter from both men. Finally settling down, Mark began to speak.
“Seriously Dad, can you just imagine what the other priests would say if they saw me with this? What would the Bishop think? What would His Holiness say? I wonder what judgment Jesus Christ would render on this picture? And yet, on the other hand, just listen to these short verses from the Chaitanya-Bhagavata. The person speaking here is Lord Chaitanya.
Mark then pulled out a piece of paper that he had written some notes on. “Dad, Lord Chaitanya was asked a question by a priest who was concerned about one of the Lord’s most intimate follower. His name was Nityananda. Lord Chaitanya said that Nityananda was none other than His older brother and spiritually, non-different from Himself.”
“Dad, the deadly poison is in references to the Ocean of Milk that was being churned by the demons and the demigods. As it was being churned, different things were being produced, including a deadly poison. Lord Shiva drank the poison so that the churning could continue.
Lord Shiva Drinking the Poison
© Bhaktivedanta Book Trust
“Dad, the point is that Lord Chaitanya is acknowledging the existence of both Shiva and the Ocean of Milk. OK—and here are a couple of more references.” Mr. Penrose again looked at the picture of Lord Shiva.
Mark looked at his notes and began to read: “The Lord (Chaitanya) soon arrived in Jalesvara village. He went directly to the temple of Lord Shiva, the main Deity of that village. The Shiva-linga Deity was well looked after by the local brahmana priest.”
photo by: Yosarian
“Enlivened by the opulence and influence in the temple of His dear devotee (Lord Shiva), Shri Chaitanya began to dance very happily. Lord Chaitanya knows the glorious character of Lord Shiva, for he is a favorite amongst His devotees. If anyone disrespects Lord Shiva, not following the example of Lord Chaitanya, then all his spiritual advancement is annulled.” Antya-khanda 2:57
“The Lord was very pleased with the words of Lord Shiva and He embraced him firmly saying, 'Hear Me, O Shiva. You are as precious to Me as My own body. One who is dear to you is even dearer to Me. I reside always within you, of this there is no doubt.'” Antya-khanda 2:85
“So there you have it in a nutshell, Dad. While I was in Vrindavan I read the entire Chaitanya-Bhagavata and Lord Chaitanya’s deep devotion to Lord Shiva is mentioned so many times.”
“So now do you see my predicament? How do I explain Lord Shiva to my Catholic friends? Do I keep His picture hidden in my Bible? What am I to do? I just read that Lord Chaitanya has warned that whoever rejects Lord Shiva is finished, spiritually.”
“But son, do you really think that this applies to you? Granted, Lord Shiva has a place in India but this is America. But yes, of course, I understand your dilemma. Honestly, I had never really thought this whole thing out like you have. Actually you’ve made a really good point and you’re 100% right when you say that having faith in Lord Chaitanya—or Jesus—involves an ever-increasing faith in so many ways. I definitely see that now. It’s no wonder you’ve had so much to think about, Mark.”
“Dad, I know we have already covered a lot of material this afternoon but earlier you had asked me if bilocation was what was bothering me. No, I think, “intrigued” is a better word. Like I was telling you earlier, the tipping point was when I got to Vrindavan and then one day, suddenly it was right there in front of me—the connection between Krishna and Sister Maria.
“To be honest, the stories of Sister Maria and the other Catholic Saints that we have been talking about are nectar to my ears—and so you can imagine my surprise when I discovered that there is a special forest in Vrindavan called Seva Kunj where 5000 years ago Lord Krishna danced with all the young maidens—Radharani, being the topmost dancer. She is called a “gopi,” or a young village girl.
Seva Kunj – Where Krishna danced
with the Cowherd Girls
photo by: Atatax4 (wikipedia)
“What is so amazing is that there is a vivid account of Lord Krishna bilocating himself into dozens of replicas so that each of the young girls attending the dance would be able to have Him personally as their own dance partner.”
Later that day, back at The Manor, Father Mark and his dad continued their conversation: “My God, Mark, you know, you’re onto something. Let me get a book off the shelf.”
Mr. Penrose quickly sat back down with the book in his hand. “Here it is. This is the first book I got at the Airport. Alright, let me see if I can find this.”
About a minute later, “Good, I found it. I must say it is equally amazing how much you forget when you turn 84—I had totally forgotten about this. Here it is in the first chapter. This book also has explanations in it and…”
“What book is that, dad?”
“The Shrimad-Bhagavatam. OK, son, listen to this: “As mentioned above, the Lord entered His palaces, occupied by 16,108 queens. This means that the Lord at once expanded Himself in as many plenary expansions as there were queens and palaces and entered into each and every one of them simultaneously and separately.”
Mark felt stunned. “So instead of the word, “bilocation,” the Vedas call a second body a “plenary expansion.” I’m not real familiar with that word. What does plenary mean, Dad?”
“Plenary means complete in all respects—unlimited or full. No wonder Sister Maria was so real to the Indians.”
What else does it say?”
“This is called the transcendental potency of the Lord. Ordinarily, a yogi or mystic is able to expand himself at utmost to tenfold expansions of his body, but the Lord can do so to the extent of many thousands, or infinitely, as He likes.”
Closing the book, Mr. Penrose looked at his son. “Remember when you asked me who is greater, the disciple or the master, and we both agreed that the master is greater? I think this has just been confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt by Shrila Prabhupada.”
“It sure has—more pieces to the puzzle of Sister Maria bilocating to help the American Indians. Dad, who would have ever thought that I’d discover this in India?
“Well Dad, I’ve asked it once and I guess I will keep asking: “Just as the Indians were able to touch, capture, torture and kill Sister Maria’s body while all along she was safe and sound in her room in Spain - who did the Roman soldiers actually touch, capture, torture and kill on the day of the crucifixion?”
“You know, Dad, the more I think about this whole matter, the more I don’t believe that the real Jesus was ever in harms way.”