- Abandoned -
Table of Contents
a religious thriller written by
Ronald E. Boutelle
Chapter 48: The Reunion
“Dad, it’s for you.”
Nick was in the backyard watering his garden when Maria’s voice rang out. Knowing that her father wouldn’t come in with wet shoes, Maria brought him the cordless phone.
“Thank you Sweetie. Hello, Nick here.”
“Nickolas, it’s Rama. My flight will be arriving right on time.”
“Rama—wonderful to hear your voice. Yes, that’s right, I’ll pick you up at seven. Blake and Maria will be there, too.”
“What about our other friends?”
“They’re all on their way. Rohini, and Chit are already here. Father Mark is due in later tonight.”
“What about Major Sutton and Judy?”
“Oh, don’t worry, they wouldn’t miss being here for the world. Everything is ready—I’ve reserved a nice lodge and thanks to Maria we’ll have plenty to eat.”
* * * * * * * *
The next day turned out to be beautiful. It’s hard to ask more from Mother Nature when it is sunny and a steady 71 degrees with only a slight breeze. By ten o’clock everyone had arrived. Greetings were heartfelt and those who had arrived early enjoyed a morning walk down by the lake. Lunch was going to be served early. Maria and her friends had cooked the previous day and everyone was treated to another delicious meal that she had become famous for. The vegetarian lasagna and Italian bread was a huge hit—her pumpkin pie and homemade vanilla ice cream a close second, everything made without eggs.
The Lodge on Medicine Lake
photo by: Mwanner
Inside the lodge there was a small fire gently flickering. Finally everyone was sitting comfortable, smelling the fragrant aroma of the burning logs. Smiling, Nick began to speak, addressing his first comment to Mark.
“Father, it is so nice to see you again but first let me say that all of us are extremely sad to hear about your dad.”
“Thank you, Nick. Yes, thank you so much—all of you. My father lived for almost 87 years and was the best friend I ever had. And as you all know, one way or another, he is the reason that I was able to meet everyone here in the first place. For a while we thought he had his pneumonia licked, but his heart just suddenly gave out. At least he didn’t suffer and went quickly.”
One by one everyone echoed Nick’s sympathies. Mark had brought a photo of his dad that had been taken about ten years before he died and everyone took turns looking at it.
Richard Penrose (1911 – 1997)
photo by: D. Grez
Five years earlier Rama had written down Mark’s address and phone number, when by chance they had made friends in India. As for Nick, after pondering the sudden turn of events of being found by his daughter and the others, he decided to return on the helicopter when Judy said it was time to leave—just one of many trips he made to get back home—eventually, even meeting the President of the United States during a special ceremony at the White House to honor him as the only American soldier to have survived the Vietnam War on his own.
Not long after returning to America, Maria & Blake said their marriage vows to each other during a beautiful wedding ceremony in the Adirondacks and shortly after that, exactly as Nick had promised Rama that he would—he made a phone call to San Angelo, Texas and spoke to Father Mark.
Mark remembered his friend Rama with great affection and was very happy to hear that he had made it back to Elephant Mountain safe and sound. Even more profound, Mark realized that he was speaking to the very man that Rama had told him so much about.
Wanting to meet each other, Nick took a flight to San Antonio where Father Mark was himself visiting on church business. Nick always remembered the beautiful mission where they spent an entire day talking about the incredible events that both men had experienced.
Mission San Jose, San Antonio, Texas
photo by: Ronald E. Boutelle
It was during this visit that the seeds were planted for the reunion that everyone was now attending, but it took a lot of planning. Major Sutton and Judy had also married but they remained in Cambodia running the orphanage. Naturally, they both played a major role in once again flying to Elephant Mountain so that Rama could accompany them on their way to America.
After everyone had expressed their sympathies, Maria smiled at Father Mark and said, “Father, I am curious about your visit to India? Of course I knew that you had met Rama in Vrindavan but still I would like to ask—especially that a few years have gone by. Have there been any long lasting effects on your life from what you experienced there?”
Everyone in the room nodded their mutual interest—also curious about what Father Mark would say. Smiling at Maria and looking at everyone in the room, Mark began to speak.
“I think that anyone would have to admit to the tremendous impact that spending time in India has had on them—especially after actually living in Vrindavan, as I did.”
“Maria, I don’t know if you have read Rohini’s essay on the “Prophesies, Preparations, and Motivation for the Advent of God.”
“I would like to but I haven’t seen that.”
Nick then spoke, turning to his daughter. “I have it and when we get back to the house—it’s in my study.” Maria smiled at her father, her way of saying, thank you.
“Good, you will like it very much. I had only been back in America a few months when Rohini sent it to me. After I read it I was filled with a host of feelings—mostly not sure what to do.” Rohini looked a Mark with a big smile on his face.
“So to answer your question, after going to India and faced with some honest decisions that I had to make, I decided to dedicate myself to learning as much as I could about Lord Chaitanya. I just felt that I needed to find out for myself exactly who He was. Everything seemed to be pointing in His direction. So yes, I have been very busy since coming back from India.
“Secondly, there is my involvement with two different groups. One is, “The Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions,” and the other is, “The United Religions Initiative.” Both are interfaith organizations that are now a major part of my life. Not only am I able to still function as a Catholic Priest—these two groups are also providing me with a very comfortable format in which to express myself—not only to other Catholics but with people of all faiths.
“As you can imagine, there are many Christians who need a safe venue to explore God outside of what they are accustomed to. Even though they would like to, many simply abstain from ever searching beyond their local church—mostly out of a fear of what their friends might say. I know firsthand about this fear. Just imagine what my fellow priests would think if they saw me paying homage to Lord Shiva?”
That immediately brought a round of laughter from everybody. Mark continued. “Maria, I have always thought that God is great. I should say, ‘more than great’—just as it is mentioned in Psalm 145. It is there that we find King David rejoicing in God’s greatness. He says, Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom.
“But in all honesty, I have to admit to never having read a more thrilling account of God’s greatness as I discovered in the books that describe the life of Lord Chaitanya.
Maria then said, “Father, would you please tell us a little about what you have been reading?”
“Certainly, but please, I encourage you to get these books for yourself. You need to hear these stories directly from the saints who compiled them.”
Nodding approval, everyone seemed to understand what Father Mark was saying.
“Maria, at first you will discover Lord Chaitanya’s grand disguise to obscure His true identity as The Almighty. As we all know, even Jesus held back for over 30 years before he started his ministry. But still, Lord Chaitanya was a very active child and there are dozens of stories about this period in His life that hint as to who He really was and the things to come. It’s nice to have this complete picture.
“Later, while still in school, he demonstrated a level of scholarship and knowledge that left even the greatest mind of His time speechless. Then what does He do? He turns right around and preaches to all these great men a theology that directly tells them to put away all their books and lofty dissertations, and instead join Him in the simple process of Nama Sankirtan—the glorification of God’s Holy Names. Lord Chaitanya taught that spiritual perfection is imbued within each of the Lord’s Holy Names.
“Then, over time, saints from across India began gathering at His place of residence in Jagannath Puri, situated near the Bay of Bengal.
Jagannath Puri, India
“By the way, Lord Shiva was also there in human form. His name was Advaita Acharya. One day he passed an encrypted note to Lord Chaitanya. This took place during the Lord’s final years and after He read it, Lord Chaitanya spent all His time focused upon absorbing Himself in the mood of Radha, His eternal consort.”
Krishna’s Most Beloved Radha
“For Lord Chaitanya, Radha’s mood of loving separation represented the gateway for experiencing the highest spiritual perfections possible. Outwardly, Lord Chaitanya became nearly oblivious to the world around Him. He spent several years like this, fulfilling one of the main reasons for His advent. Maria, when you read Rohini’s essay you will understand this much better.”
Father Mark paused for just a second. “Toward Lord Chaitanya’s final pastimes upon the earth, although He was never left alone—using His mystic powers—at times He simply vanished. He did this on more than one occasion. What happened to Him during a couple of these incidents is what I’ll now tell you about. And remember, many of the Lord’s disciples who personally witnessed what had happened were still alive when these stories were later written down.
“On the first occasion—His followers—frantic to discover His whereabouts—found Lord Chaitanya on the ground near a small cow shed. Besides being in a spiritual trance, upon looking they could hardly recognize Him because all His limbs had been retracted inside his body like a tortoise.
“On a different occasion, He had dove into the Bay of Bengal which is an enormous ocean. Unconscious when His followers eventually found Him, it was discovered that a fisherman had caught the Lord in a net earlier that morning. Lord Chaitanya had been in the ocean all night. But this time, every limb in his body had become dislocated and He was something like 12 feet long and covered with dried seaweed, sand and salt.
“Frantic to save their Lord—His disciples began to chant the Holy Names of God, just as He had taught them for so many years. And each time—both at the cow shed and there on the beach—Lord Chaitanya quickly regained His natural composure. He bathed, put on fresh clothes and spoke with his disciples.”
The beloved Lord with His disciples
“But I also read that in each instance He was actually a bit upset that His disciples had disturbed Him, because Lord Chaitanya was not really unconscious but totally absorbed in a spiritual trance. I guess you could call it a spiritual dream, if you like. After composing Himself, Chaitanya plainly mentioned to His disciples what He had been doing in His dream, and I must say that reading what Lord Chaitanya told His disciples is simply pure nectar to the ears.”
Turning to his two friends, Chit and Rohini, Father Mark said, “How am I doing? Have I left anything out?”
It was now Chit who began to speak. “Perfect, Father, and as you have correctly mentioned, everyone should read the original material for themselves.”
As Rohini nodded in agreement, once again Maria asked Mark a question. “I’m curious, Father, how are you able to balance your love for two religions at the same time?”
“Thank you Maria. Truthfully, the solution that has worked for me has been education. Otherwise there are so many pitfalls that can ensnare you. In fact, you can be so oblivious to your entanglement, that you even feel confident—even arrogant about your position—but completely missing the nectar of God’s true mercy.
“Remember the story of Paul who was persecuting Christians with such vengeance. He was instrumental in harming so many of Jesus’ followers and yet he felt no remorse.
“Saul—as he was known before receiving the mercy of Christ—was a Pharisee and he was part of the Jewish in-crowd, so to speak. They ruled Jerusalem. He came from the city of Tarsus which was well known at the time for its superior intellect.
“So, as we all know, Saul was encouraged to hunt down and destroy those early Christians, which he did with great fervor. At the time, Saul thought he was doing the right thing—in the name of God. Talk about being caught up in a web of illusion—but he was blessed and his illusion smashed, just as Paul has written about in the Holy Bible.”
Father Mark took a sip of tea and continued. “As I have said, thanks to Rohini and Chit, I have had the opportunity to read everything printed about Lord Chaitanya. This is what I mean by my education. At the same time, this is also what I mean by my blessings. But sadly, how many men of my cloth are willing to sit down, like I have, and sincerely listen to the Word of God outside their own religion—afraid that they will be damned?
“Maria, I think that looking upon a person such as myself—and even at Rohini and Chit—it’s easy to imagine some great balancing act going on inside our lives. But actually, just the opposite is true. However, yes, at first there was a struggle. And I will be honest—in the beginning I wasn’t so forthcoming with my fellow priests. But I had my father’s confidence and I spent months reading the books that Rohini and Chit sent me.
“But please, I don’t mean to marginalize the personal exchanges that I had in Vrindavan. Making friends with Rohini and Chit and their friend Jitendria, has been such a blessing. But nothing compares to the impact that reading these books have had on me.
“But I am also speaking of something gradual. For example, the Chaitanya-charitamrita took me well over a year to finish. So this education required a substantial effort on my part. Then I received a copy of the Chaitanya-bhagavata that I had read in Vrindavan—but then read again. By the time I reached the last chapter I was feeling much better about my beliefs—and then Dad told me about The Council as a possible way for me, “to balance things,” as you put it.
“Maria, this you should find interesting: I even started to discover that my love for Jesus was becoming more heartfelt. In fact, the more I read Shrila Prabhupada’s books, in my heart I also began to make friends with the all the characters that I had been reading about. That friendship soon lead to a very deep respect, and before long I even felt love for all of Lord Chaitanya’s disciples.
“Granted, on the surface their lifestyles and religious customs—how they dress, the language that they speak, and their food—yes, that can seem so foreign. But thankfully, the books let you get past all that with the speed of light.”
“Maria, you have to blind yourself to appearances and simply listen to what they are saying. Otherwise, there is the possibility for negative attitudes and prejudices to stifle the grace that is being offered to you from above.
“Let me give you an example to where this education can take you. As you are all aware, when I first arrived in Vrindavan I was involved in a spiritual mystery, of sorts. By now you all know about the nun, Maria de Jesus, who lived her entire life cloistered in a convent located in Agreda, Spain. You also know about the material I discovered about her—how she was able to bilocate from inside her room to the distant plains of West Texas. This was her way of bringing the word of God to the American Indians.”
Sor Maria de Agreda
“And then when I arrived in Vrindavan and was explaining all of this to Rohini and Chit, they took me to an ancient forest where Lord Krishna had bilocated Himself so that simultaneously, each of the young girls from His village could have Him personally as their dance partner. While the material I read about suggested that Maria de Jesus was only able to bilocate herself one manifestation at a time, Lord Krishna easily expanded Himself dozens of times. And then, just as interesting, later I read more about bilocation in Shrila Prabhupada’s books.
“For example, one of the most beloved associate of Lord Chaitanya was a Muslim outcast by the name of Haridas Thakura.”
“In just the Chaitanya-charitamrita alone, so many pages are written about this great saint. But please, I do not want to take up our entire reunion. These books are available to all of us. However, if I may just say this one thing to make my point.”
Nickolas, understanding Father Mark’s concerns, then said, “Please Father, finish your story. What you are talking about is just fascinating, so please continue. In fact, what a great way to start the afternoon.” Having heard that, everyone enthusiastically voiced their approval.
Taking a sip of tea, Father Mark looked around the room. The love that everyone had for him was obvious. “Thank you. I promise not too take long. So to start with, what you have to keep in mind is that Haridas Thakura is not an ordinary personality. He is factually Lord Brahma. Obeying the desires of the Lord, just as Rohini mentions in his essay, Brahma took birth in India to accompany God during His advent as Lord Chaitanya. Again, this is why I got so much out of what Rohini wrote because it ties this all together.
“Anyhow, as I mentioned, Haridas was a Muslim by birth and was governed by their strict laws. But instead of embracing his Muslim traditions, Haridas preferred to chant Hare Krishna. In fact, over time, Haridas became a famous saint and a staunch follower of Lord Chaitanya. However, when the Muslim magistrate discovered this, like Saul, certain individuals made it their life’s purpose to destroy Haridas.
“They actually set out to trap Haridas, using a young prostitute to prove that he was just an imposter and no different than any other man who would give up all virtue just to savor a night’s enjoyment with such a gorgeous woman. But instead, Haridas quickly converted her and over time, in her own right, this former prostitute became a renowned saint, responsible for bringing a vast number of people to the Holy Name of Lord Krishna.”
The prostitute repents before Haridas Thakura
“Unable to defame Haridas, Muslim soldiers arrested him and brought him to stand trial. Threats of torture were levied against Haridas, if he continued his refusal to give up his Hindu ways. Undeterred, Haridas remained faithful. Needless to say, this angered the Muslims greatly and they condemned Haridas to death.”
Haridas Thakura on Trial
“The sentence was to be carried out immediately and so it was that Haridas was bound and taken to the first location where strong executioners were given orders to cane Haridas without mercy until dead. The history of this kind of punishment had proven that few men ever survived for long, so violent was the beating. By the third caning most were finished for good.
“However, after the final beating—having been dragged through a staggering, twenty-one public markets, Haridas was still breathing! His tormentors became frantic knowing that they, themselves, would most likely be executed when it was learned that Haridas was still alive. Such an unheard of feat of survival could only be explained by accusing the executioners of taking it easy on Haridas. But in fact, this was not the case.
“Taking pity on the men assigned to kill him, Haridas Thakura then entered into a deep trance and all signs of life appeared to leave his body. At last satisfied that Haridas was dead, it was then ordered that his body be disposed of by throwing it into a nearby river. It had been determined by the cruel magistrate that robbing Haridas of a proper burial would destroy his very soul—thus punctuating the horrible death that had just been carried out.
“But history tells a different story. Haridas didn’t die on that fateful day. Instead, he reached a ripe-old age. When he finally did pass away, Lord Chaitanya personally carried his body to the ocean and dug a grave for him with His bare hands.”
Father Mark then paused for a moment before continuing. “Actually, the glorious life of Haridas Thakura is a story that everyone here should read. Simply hearing about Haridas Thakura imparts untold blessings—especially the events that happened at the time of his death.
“But please let me continue with the my train of thought and how the beating of Haridas Thakura relates to Maria de Jesus, and even to Jesus.”
Hearing Father Mark say this, curiosity seemed to take hold of everyone and you could have heard a pin drop. Mark continued.
“As you all know, I have raised certain questions about what actually happened to Jesus Christ on the cross. After all, the Indians certainly thought they had captured, tortured and killed Maria. Now granted, this martyrdom didn’t happen to her often, but according to her own testimony, it did happen more than once.
“Therefore, as you all know, I have asked; Who did the Indians really have? And likewise; Who did the Roman soldiers actually crucify? Surely if Maria de Jesus was able to bilocate, then so could Jesus. Also, Jesus only claimed to be the Son of God. So I have also asked, Who is greater—the Son or the Father?
“It is written that Lord Krishna (The Father) bilocated thousands of times. Therefore it only makes sense that Jesus—as well as Maria—also had this ability. And of course, Jesus even more.
“Now, as far as Haridas Thakura, how can it be explained that even after twenty-one beatings—beatings that few men survived past the first three canings—how was it possible for Haridas to have survived?
“That answer came later on. One day Lord Chaitanya revealed to His disciples that it was NOT Haridas Thakura who was beat on that fateful day, but instead, it was actually Himself. To prove His words true, Lord Chaitanya stood up and turned around so that everyone could see His bare back. In complete shock, the devotees saw the massive injuries that the canes had inflicted. Some devotees fainted when they beheld the divine vision being revealed to them.
“So no, just as the Indians did not have the real Maria, the Muslim soldiers also had a spiritual illusion in their grips—and as I have just alluded to, the Roman soldiers never laid a finger on Jesus Christ?”
“Excuse me, Father, but is this all explained in the books you have been reading?”
“Well, Blake, much of it is, but I am also jumping across decades of time, and even across continents and different religions in an attempt to make sense of certain events that on one hand are inconceivable, but on the other hand appear by all reason and evidence to have actually happened.
“But in all honesty, Blake, I haven’t dwelt on these things to the point where they have distracted me from my main duties. After all—yes, this makes for great conversation but rather, the Holy Names of God are what we must pay the most attention to. To divert from that path and wander thru a maze of speculation would be very detrimental. Even Saint Francis emphasized the supreme importance of prayer.”
Chit then began to speak. “Yes, I agree with Father Mark. After all, Lord Chaitanya came, in part, to put an end to needless speculations, regardless of how lofty and interesting they might be. Instead, His Commandment was to spend one’s devotion in chanting His Holy Names. Exactly as Father Mark just mentioned, Lord Chaitanya said,
‘There is no other way, no other way, no other way, to attain perfection in this age of Kali-yuga (the age of quarrel) except by chanting the Holy Name, chanting the Holy Name, chanting the Holy Name of God.’”
* * * * * * * *
Over the following years, Nickolas, Maria, Blake, Major Sutton, Judy, Rama, Father Mark, Rohini, Chit and many of the other characters in this book remained a close-knit family—all made possible by the World Wide Web, sharing photos, e-mails, Instagram, and Facebook. They experienced the joy of Maria and Blake’s first child (a boy), followed by two girls.
Although Father Mark comfortably remained a Catholic Priest, he took great pleasure in addressing many of the misleading and harmful attitudes against Lord Krishna found among Christians in general. In the future Father Mark would be promoted to the President’s Council of the United Religions Initiative, even opening an office in Vrindavan. Father Mark would be the first to tell you that indeed, it IS possible to love both Jesus and Krishna at the same time. In the years that followed, Nickolas returned to Elephant Mountain on two separate occasions to be with the very people who had saved his life. Maria, once again enjoyed cooking kitri for the children at the Shining Lotus Orphanage.
* * * * * * * *
Abandoned has now reached the end. Thank you for reading it. You are now invited to look at the beautiful pictures of Vrindavan that are located below, made possible by the generosity of many kind and talented photographers, all of them devotees of Lord Krishna. Furthermore, for those who would like to read Rohini’s essay, you are welcome to click on this link: The Prophesies, Preparations, and Motivation for the Advent of God. You can also find this in the Table of Contents and the link below.
Finally there are these rare photographs made available by the kindness and talent of His Grace Radha Raman Das who was born in Vrindavan, India. The Holi Festival has a 5,000 year-old and ancient connection with Lord Krishna and the young cowherd girls of Vrindavan, as shown in this old painting.
The Holi Festival
You can see the colored powders being thrown at the Divine Couple. On the ground you can see more powders and colored water. Radha Raman Das has certainly captured the excitement of the Vrindavan Holi Festival with his amazing pictures.
The Following Photos Courtesy of:
His Grace Radha Raman Das
Final Comments from Ronald E. Boutelle: The connection between the ancient Vedas of India and the construction of Angkor Wat, interwoven with the tragedy of the Vietnam war, has provided me with a fascinating backdrop for my book.
In a different book, The Journey Home, Radhanath Swami shares not only his incredible, true-life story, but his book also serves as an excellent primer for anyone interested in knowing more about the art of devotional service. Undeniably, Angkor Wat was inspired by this knowledge. The Journey Home is also worth reading because the author presents the main questions that most people would ask—including, of course, the real-life answers he received. Answers that for many have sustained for them years of solid and inspired faith.
Out of courtesy, anyone who would like to read Radhanath’s story, as only he can tell it, can click on the link provided below for more information. As the author of, Abandoned, I feel that The Journey Home is one of the best introductions to the ancient wisdom of the Vedas. On one hand, The Journey Home is a book you can hardly put down. On the other, it is a good first step toward climbing a similar mountain—a mountain of spiritual knowledge.
Sheltered high on the top of Elephant Mountain, Nickolas and his band of monks lived peacefully in a secluded temple. Contrary to this fictitious mountain which was nearly impossible to reach, there exists another kind of mountain. Not only is it real, its majestic peaks, caves, valleys, ponds, and streams are open to the public. But here I’m referring to a mountain of Grace. Furthermore, this divine mountain is also inhabited by monks—men and woman—eternal spirit souls—dedicated to serving God and who welcome all. After 40 years of “climbing,” I am simply stunned as I take in the view, held safely as I dangle by the ropes of their mercy.
As I said, The Journey Home is a good, solid, first-step up this vast and holy mountain. I have read where people have stayed awake all night reading it. I was also unable to put it down. I bought my copy on Amazon.
As with all the links in my book, I receive no monetary gain for providing this URL. Thank you and God be with you!
Krishna and the Art of Bicycle Maintenance
Read another free book by Ronald E. Boutelle