INTERVIEW SESSION WITH CHARLYBOY’S GURU
NO, WE CHANT HARE KRISHNA, HAIL RAHMA… says CharlyBoy’s Guru
There were two spiritual leaders whom CharlyBoy earnestly desired to witness the burial of his father. One is his Bhuddist leader and the other, a leader from Hare Krishna. Unfortunately, they were both engaged with spiritual activities that did not permit them to make a trip to Nigeria at the time.
However, two weeks after the burial, one of them, Maharaj…was in Abuja to commiserate with CharlyBoy and the family while the other one is due in the country next week.
From what one may call a chance meeting over thirty years ago, their relationship with Maharaj…has blossomed, that the maverick Areafada unequivocally refers to him as one of his spiritual mentors.
Below are excerpts from an interview with the ‘Guru’…
Question: You are CharlyBoy’s Guru, from the Hare Krishna sect. What is Krishna all about?
Answer: Well, Krishna is the name of god. In many languages, god has a different name. Krishna is the name of god in the ancient language. It means all attractive, greatest pleasure, all beautiful.
Question: So what can you tell me about God?
Answer: Basically, it means a supreme person, the origin of everything, the most beautiful, the richest, the most intelligent, the most powerful and most importantly, the most loving.
Question: So do I call the Hare Krishna a movement or a religion?
Answer: it’s a movement because it’s moving. It’s not a religion in the sense of Christian or Jewish religion, but it is a religious spiritual movement. Religion means developing love for God not just saying you belong to this group or that.
Question: What is your gospel?
Answer: We preach first that, you are not the body. We are eternal souls, Servants of God. So we are not Nigerian, American or Indian, young or old, that’s the body and it’s always changing. Therefore if we identify with the body then we also have to identify with its sickness, unhappiness, the ups and downs and that’s not the real person. So we teach that. And how to achieve that mainly is by praying all the time in the name of God which you will find recommended in every religion.
Question: Since you believe that man is a spirit being and is eternal and not mortal, do you expect that the mortal body shouldn’t fall sick or be in turmoil?
Answer: Yeah, we have to live in this body. Just like you have a house and a car, you have to take care of them. But that’s not you. For the body it’s the same thing. It’s our body and we’re living in it for the time being but it’s not the real you. God has given it to us and we have to take care of it as well as use it properly in serving God.
Question: From your disposition, are you saying you believe in God, the God that the Christians believe in?
Answer: There’s only one God. God means one supreme person. There can’t be two. People always make this mistake when they say my God, Your God, Christian God, Moslem God and so on, But God is the same and He is only one. He is One original being but has many names.
Question: Does being a Krishna make you a perfect person?
Answer: The soul is perfect. We are only masked by illusions. This makes us think that we are something else and then we act in that way sometimes. So if someone is practicing a spiritual activity then he is trying to be perfect and it’s working.
Question: Do you believe in miracles?
Answer: Everything is a miracle. The birth of a child is a miracle, growth is a miracle. We don’t claim to do miracles like healing the sick, the blind or making you rich because that’s not what this movement is about. But sometimes they do happen. What we say is that you’ll become happy and if you follow, you’ll be satisfied with what you have.
Question: So how long have you known CharlyBoy?
Answer: I don’t remember exactly. I met him sometime in the 90s.
Question: How did you meet?
Answer: Well it wasn’t exactly a miracle but it was quite interesting. I had just arrived in Lagos from our base in India a day before we met. I was supposed to go somewhere, and we were late as usual. So we had to stop for gas and this made me upset. So I was looking and there was Charlyboy quite far from where I was. So I kept wondering to myself, “who is that?”. As soon as his eyes caught mine, he came over and said “You are a Hare Krishna leader right”, and I said “something like that”. He then said “I want you on my TV show”. So we made that arrangement and I went for his show, the CharlyBoy show at that time, and since then we’ve found time to get together somehow.
Question: CharlyBoy refers to you as his Guru, what does that mean?
Answer: Yea, well we talk a lot and he is very interested in his spiritual life, he is very spiritual, just like his father. I wish most famous people are that way. A big introvert, but you can never see that from afar. His father was spiritual and a deep thinker. Guru means teacher. CharlyBoy is a very nice person; he is charitable and wants to help people. I share with him spiritual knowledge; he is an interesting person and I’m glad I met him. It takes a lot of courage, guts and absolute confidence in oneself to be who you are.
Question: Nigerians are very conservative people and are not very open to new things so how is that possible?
Answer: You know when Christianity first came in that was also what people said. But we can see the results *chuckles*. We had a lot of people join us in the 80s when we first came and when the economic crisis came we didn’t have many but we have quite a number.
Question: Would you consider yourself a rich man?
Answer: Personally I don’t own much. A few clothes, computer, telephone and I live alright because our members around the world make charitable donations to cover our fares round the world. If I have extra I use it for a cause down in Africa where it is needed the most.
Question: So you are saying you don’t have any assets of your own?
Answer: No, because I will one day depart, and will take nothing with me. We train ourselves not to be attached to material things. Life is much easier this way.
Question: Interesting. So what’s that in your hand?
Answer: Oh, these are prayer beads. Like a rosary used to count your prayers. Muslims also use something similar.
Question: What do you chant? Or do you just say a prayer as you count the beads?
Answer: No, we say “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Hali Krishna… Hare Rahma Hare Rahma Hard Rahma… Rahma Rahma Rahma…” and we chant on and on.
Question: Is that like speaking in tongues for the Christians?
Answer: No. this is an ancient prayer. It’s saying the names of God.
Question: The bead on your neck, does it hold any significance?
Answer: Yes, it is a traditional bead made out of a certain kind of wood for everyone, not only in the Hare Krishna movement, but also traditional people who worship Krishna. It identifies the Krishnas. It actually became popular in the United States with young people. They called it Krishna Beads.
Question: I’m curious about your hair, why do you have it this way?
Answer: Well, monks shave their hair. Buddhist monks shave everything but Krishna monks shave half for ourselves and leave the other back part for Krishna. A Catholic priest once told me that when he took the vows they shaved that part of his hair. So it’s actually the same thing. It also means moving the consciousness out and thinking towards God.
Question: Do you put a mark on your forehead every day, like the one on your forehead right now?
Answer: Yes it’s like a uniform that we like to keep. It is our tradition and we want people to know who we are. Some people like it and CharlyBoy’s father said it was once part of his native tradition but you see people don’t know that anymore cause the Christians came and told everybody “Your tradition is all wrong”. We are not into that type of conversion. We try to teach people that whatever you say your religion is you should understand the will of God. People are so concerned about all the violence in the world, about the children suffering and dying in Sudan, but everyday tens of thousands of children are aborted. It is the number one cause of death in America, more than cancer or heart attack or diabetes. That’s not in the news because they feel it’s okay. People are saying it’s natural to mate but it isn’t natural to have children. So we are trying to tell people control yourself, find a higher pleasure than this temporal external one.
Question: Are you saying that the Krishna movement is a higher level than Christianity?
Answer: Not exactly. It’s basically the same thing Jesus taught. He taught the love of God to fellow men, praying all the time and simple living. God takes care of all the living. Some people are rich and they are living, others are poor and they are still living.
Question: How do you deal with people who think you are cazy?
Answer: I feel sorry for them. It’s just like CharlyBoy told me, we should talk to people because they don’t know what we are. I remember going to speak to an adult summer class at a university and when I was done the first lady walked up to me and spoke to me. She said she always thought we were a bad crazy bunch of people but now she knows that we have very good ideas. That happened again when I spoke with a king. You see the same thing happened when Christianity came into the world. People thought they were crazy. So it’s always like that.