The early 1980’s were exhilarating times in the Irish Yatra. Dublin in particular was the place to be if you were young, enthusiastic and fearless! We were definitely causing a stir with our high profile Harinama’s up and down O’Connell St, media appearances and concentrated book distribution.
By Uddhava Das
The early 1980’s were exhilarating times in the Irish Yatra. Dublin in particular was the place to be if you were young, enthusiastic and fearless! We were definitely causing a stir with our high profile Harinama’s up and down O’Connell St, media appearances and concentrated book distribution. If there was a Rock Festival, you could count on the Hare’s being in the thick of it.
Actually we had created such an impact in this small country that the established church started to target us and with the aid of a number of influential politicians managed to lump us in with a few of the more notorious cults.
Their campaign resulted in the removal of ISKCON’s charitable status. This in turn signalled the start of the devotees move to Northern part of Ireland (which is a part of the UK) because of the perceived notion that it would prove more favourable for spreading Krishna consciousness. A few of us were left to carry on the task of preaching in Dublin.
We were young and I guess we didn’t really fully grasp the responsibility bestowed upon us. Frankly, we had no time. We had a huge house/temple to look after (albeit Radha Madhava had been moved to the Belfast temple). We wanted to go out and encourage everyone to discover the beauty of Krishna consciousness. We were bold, the Temple was in the suburbs and we wanted a presence in the city centre as well.
We opened a little drop in centre on Dawson lane in the heart of Dublin. We had no preconceived idea on how best to utilise this space. We started off bringing in some prasadam to share with those we invited back from our time spent on the streets on Harinama and book distribution etc. This soon developed into a vibrant lunch programme and eventually into our first restaurant. We named our little restaurant ‘The Golden Avatar’
These times were exciting, there was so much going on. There was the temple, the preaching centre, daily street programmes, book distribution and a vibrant and well attended Sunday feast among other things. The most incredible aspect about all of this is that there were only a handful of very young devotees responsible for all this. Of course these devotees are not ordinary people and at another time I want to tell you about all of them.
An important element of our endeavours was to look for help. We had no choice in this, we couldn’t achieve anything without the help of everyone and anyone that we came into contact with.
I love people from Dublin. They are so colourful, straightforward, honest and fun to be with. At this time there were a bunch of guys from the inner city and Finglas, (a huge sprawling housing development in the northwest of Dublin).
The Malone’s were two Finglas brothers that came to visit the devotees at this time. I first met Mick at a lecture given by Satsvarupa Maharaja at Trinity College. Almost instantly he became part of the devotee community helping in whatever way he could. He eventually went beyond anything we could expect from any new member of our fledgling and growing congregation, he took it upon himself to fundraise for the temple. A great soul is our Mick!
His younger brother Pat, who was very young at the time, in his teens I would guess, was quietly assisting the devotees, particularly in the Golden Avatar. It was Pat’s manner to do things quietly and without fuss, in fact it remains his style! Devotees appreciated his commitment and reliability, but it was his humility that melted our hearts more than anything. From then until now he is affectionately known by those who love him, as Humble Pat.
Pat and his friend Gary started to clean up the restaurant after lunch and this freed the devotees to go back to the temple and prepare for the next day etc. Without this offer of help from the ‘lads’ I wonder if we could’ve maintained the intensity of our outreach.
However before we knew it Pat and Gary were taking care of late comers that dropped by in the afternoon. Because of their presence and friendliness the amount of stragglers started to grow. I can’t remember how it developed exactly, but they started to run the preaching/drop in centre in the evening. Their enthusiasm expanded the preaching!
I have nothing but found memories of these days; we were blessed with fearlessness that comes with youthfulness and to know devotees like Humble Pat is what makes it such a joy to reminisce.
Many years later, there were a few of us who wanted to do something positive to encourage others to accept Krishna into their lives. We were especially concerned that there were many devotees living outside the shelter of the temple. Devotees that had no longer lived in the temple, or had never moved into an ashram/temple environment.
Humble Pat (because of his now perceived success in business, was now sometimes referred to as Vishnu Pat!) was a great supporter and contributor to this programme. He purchased living facility for the Name Hatta preachers to travel around the country spreading the word! Krishna consciousness is for everyone, not just a select few.
Pat was not only supporting this programme he was a major player now. I really was enjoying his association and benefitting from hearing his realisations. It is amazing how one can get stuck in a time warp. Pat was obviously no longer the teenage kid that was intent to be inconspicuous. While he was still one to shy from the limelight, his enthusiasm to give Krishna to others resulting in him emerging from the background. Of course, for years Pat had become a great support of Tribhuvanatha prabhu’s festival programme donating, preaching and travelling all over Europe and as far reaching as Africa.
From a personal point of view we were now becoming firm friends and I was more than happy that we were entering a deeper appreciation of each other’s inner life. I think I was benefitting more than Pat. I was gaining firsthand experience of how a quiet and unassuming person thinks. How foolish it is to think that because someone is taciturn it is somehow evidence of their intelligence or lack off. Who can understand the mind of a Vaisnava?
Around this time we took a two weeks driving vacation around Europe, just the two of us. We drove around France, Northern Italy, Switzerland, Germany etc. Yes, we visited temples etc. However, our time was best spent really getting to know each other. I can’t speak for Pat, but this trip opened my mind in so many ways and I cemented a lifelong friendship with Pat as a result.
Pat was a bachelor at this time but he had revealed to me that he was in correspondence with a devotee from the Ukraine. It wasn’t too long after we came back from our European adventure that Pat travelled to Eastern Europe. The next time I saw him was when I bumped into him at our local bank. He was with his new wife. Pat may be humble and may not always disclose what he is thinking, but boy when he makes up his mind, he just goes for it!
Krishna Loya and Pat have been married over ten years now and they have two beautiful daughters, Sita and Radharanai. They are very serious Krishna conscious devotees. I had the pleasure of visiting their home last summer and I was so impressed at how Krishna is in the centre of everything they do. Not only is their home life a great example to all of us at how to be Krishna conscious these devotees have quietly (true to form for Pat) reached out to others in their surrounding area. They regularly venture out on harinama and now other devotees have joined them in their undertaking. Oh, and Pat frequently goes on the street and distributes Srila Prabhupada’s books. I bet many of his friends didn’t know that!
Pat prabhu you have humbled your foolish friend, but I don’t mind that in the slightest because by your grace I am learning the beauty and strength of humility. Thanks for the lesson of my life.