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A Young Man's Escape from America

February 8, 2010

swami_vivekananda1.jpgby Caitanya Dasa  ([email protected])

I am 25 years old. I was born and grew up in a suburb of Dallas, Texas. I went to an expensive private school for most of my schooling. I got my first car at age 16, my second car at age 17, my third car at age 18, my fourth car at age 19. I lived in a very expensive neighborhood where the average annual income was $100,000 dollars.

In other words, I had the American dream and much more. I had written four books by age 20. I could have potentially gotten into any upper class university I wanted, if I had chosen that route. Even though I had so much wealth materially, I did not feel satisfied and I began asking philosophical and spiritual questions about life.

Around age 20, I started reading Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada's translation of Bhagavad-Gita, and it very quickly answered all of the questions I was asking, questions that I did not even have the ability to conceive, and dispelled a few philosophical misconceptions as well.

I quickly renounced all of the riches and material wealth I had, and became a celibate monk of the Gaudiya Vaisnava order at age 21. I donned the saffron robes that monks of both the Hindu and Buddhist traditions wear. I traveled around America for the next two years, distributing Bhagavad-Gitas at different colleges and universities. Internally I was experiencing tremendous spiritual happiness and felt all of my material attachments and conditioning gradually disappearing.


Around age 23, I finally did something that I had always wanted to do- I went to India to live. It was quite a big cultural shift, but I felt at home here in India. In America, I had felt like an outsider, someone who didn't fit in. As soon as I stepped off the plane in Bangalore, I felt like I was home finally.

Over the course of the next three years, I traveled all over India and saw many holy places. Vrindavan, Krishna's birthplace, south of Delhi, made a particularly strong impression on me. Now I have decided to settle down in south India, stop traveling, and leave behind the monk way of life.

All throughout this whole journey, as I studied different Vedic scriptures, especially Srimad-Bhagavatam, I began to experience an internal change of heart, something that many saints and spiritual leaders in many different religions have tried to express and explain.

Bhakti means devotion, devotion to God. The goal of religion is to develop love of God, a state of being that Hindus call prema. God is one, although different religions may call Him by different names such as Allah, Krishna, Christ, and so on. The goal of religion is one, which is to try to become a humble servant of the Supreme Lord.


Why am I leaving the monk way of life? That is a difficult question to answer, one that many monks of whatever tradition or order eventually have to ask themselves. At first reaction, most people assume it is because of a physical agitation, the desire to engage in sexual intercourse. In most cases, that is not it at all.

The desire to have a family, to have a loving wife, is a natural desire and emotion of any balanced and healthy human being. To artificially renounce women will not work. Women make up half of the world and thus to try to renounce or avoid them is not really possible, unless you live on an island where only male monks live. And even then, the desires still remain in the mind, so it is usually futile.

Do I have any regrets about becoming a monk for 5 years of my life? Not at all! It has been a tremendous period of growth, one that I feel was absolutely necessary.

I have no regrets at all about having lived as a monk, but as the character in Herman Hesse's Siddhartha book realized, he needed to move on and learn how to become a human again, how to become part of the world again. Temporary celibacy or monk life for 2 or 3 years can be tremendously beneficial to a person's spiritual development. But lifelong celibacy is practically impossible in this modern age.

What do I plan to do now? I plan to live a very simple and peaceful in a rural village in south India, living an agrarian based lifestyle.
There are a couple of Americans living there already and are engaging the local villagers in different ways. So there is already a pre-existing framework there, but still, I will make a little bit of money from various things, and I will also live as simply as possible, so I do not foresee requiring a great deal of money. This is an issue I have thought of before, and one that I am presently working on.

The way of life in rural India is very different from the lifestyle of the fast paced Western countries. It is difficult to all of a sudden shift gears, so to speak, and change from a passionate and fast paced lifestyle to a more simple and peaceful one, but I have faith that I can make the change and learn how to live naturally and in harmony with nature and God.

In these turbulent and uncertain times, when the world is being ripped apart by war, social unrest, famine, crime, and chaos in general,------- people of all religions, whether they are a Christian, Hindu, Jew, Buddhist, Muslim, or whatever else, must come together in unity and realize that we are all children of the same Supreme Father, and thus we are all a part of the same family. We are all God's children, and when we realize this, then there can be peace.

(Editor's Note: I'd like to hear from other Americans/westerners who have "escaped" their countries of origin. [email protected])

Scruples - the game of moral dillemas

Comments for "A Young Man's Escape from America"

Mac said (February 9, 2010):

I also did something similar to that of the young author of "A Young Man's Escape from America" about 35 years ago. I eventually came full circle from "We are all God's children, and when we realize this, then there can be peace.", to a more pragmatic recognition that it's going to take a bit more.

In my view our problems and solutions are systemic. To that end I eventually arrived at a system that I believe will indeed bring us peace. It can be found on my website

It is the first article: "Peace - Peer Certified Elections" The heading reads: "A New Tactic Ends War By Using Naturally Occurring Societal Forces To "Force" Adversarial Nations Into Peace Mode"

Jack said (February 9, 2010):

I have looked into "escaping" much like Caitanya Dasa. I have fantasized about leaving to another country for good, and I have spent several months at a time in Guatemala, Hawaii, Australia and Papua New Guinea.

It is amazing to experience how different life is for people around the world. America is not the best country in the world. There is no best country. They are just different. The United States of America is practically in its infancy compared to India and it might not last much longer as we know it.

I have also studied the Vedic literature and the Hare Krishna movement. While I am no longer a vegetarian and I don't subscribe to all of the Vaisnava ways, I do think it is right on about some things.

The founder of the Hare Krishna movement, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, advocated that his devotees live an agrarian life and devote themselves to "simple living and high thinking." He exposed many years ago that this world is ruled by demoniacs who will try to control everything instead of trusting God, and will create hell in so doing.

He knew that the best way for humans to have a close relationship with the Creator is to live close to the land with few material needs as farm life can provide an abundance of food and the shelter of family love. ...

I have chosen, not always without reluctance, to stay put here and see what happens. I noticed that some of the insanity of America is infecting Australia and other countries, too. There is no escaping but going inward-loving God and serving our fellow humans with this love.

We are indeed spirits in the material world and if we are attached to living well here without pain, suffering, old age, disease and death - then we are delusional. The material world has its dualities. We can't have freedom without despotism, life without death, or pleasure without pain.

As the world becomes "smaller" there is nowhere left to run anyway. We must all recognize the fact that the material world is just one aspect of the universe. Contrary to some of the opinions out there - to see that we are all God's children is not simply "New Age." If God created us all, what else can we be?

Larry said (February 9, 2010):

Why don't you ask for letters from people who decided to stay where they are, and correct the problems around them? It's easy to run away. It takes guts to stay where you are and work within the society around you. I could also run away and "monk it." I call it a cop-out.

BD said (February 9, 2010):

I read with interest and surprise the article by Caitanya Prabhu (Caitanya dasa) posted on your site Tuesday Feb. 9 and especially your ed. note expressing interest in other people who have "escaped" their country. I'm that guy who has written to you last in 9/13/09 advocating "international Community" and other things. Well I too am a "Hare Krishna" and lived in our community New Vrndaban in WV for over twenty years. I have been living main stream for about 13 years now . So I am living in this country but not of it. But its hard to raise my boys right out here in Babylon. --Bimba Dhara dasa

JD said (February 9, 2010):

Our Indian friend almost got it right. Material wealth has it's draw backs, however material wealth is not solely the AMERICAN DREAM!

So he threw the baby out with the bath water; a move that seems quite common these days. Oh, by the way, those Indian monks live off the fruits of the labors of those who seek after a meager prosperity. Isn't that a bit hypocritical?

The American Dream is LIBERTY and with liberty comes prosperity. It's the latter that is dangerous just as our misguided friend perceives, but prosperity is only as dangerous as the beneficiary's handling of those blessings. So he goes to India and found what he could have discovered in America. There are millions of religious/prosperous Americans that manage their good fortunes well. Mr. India just had too much, too soon, and too easy, but failed American Civics. I must give him credit for throwing off these material things until he gets it right.

He should have studied the founders documents on the creation of the American Civilization. He would have realized the true dream was to be a free and self-governed people able to keep the fruits of their labors, worship as they see fit, speak their minds without the danger of government reprisals, and kick the asses of those who try to destroy their LIBERTIES.

One last note: My father used to say, "For every 1000 people who overcome adversity only one overcomes prosperity." In this sense, Mr. India was the wiser for rejecting the easy money and connecting with his inner self and soul, but as I will repeat again prosperity for the sake of prosperity is not the American Dream. Good day.

Paul said (February 9, 2010):

I believe and I am convinced that one need not "escape from America" in order to exit Mystery Babylon.

The state of one's mind and soul are far more important than the physical location of one's body.

As Christians we are commanded to come out of Mystery Babylon, and so I have, as much as humanly possible:

I have terminated all contracts -- whether expressed or implied -- with demonstrably corrupt State and Federal governments.

This has not been easy, but it was not impossible.

My own experience proves that God would not have ordered us to come out of Babylon if He had not given us the wherewithal to do so -- without necessarily moving to rural areas in other countries.

The larger challenge is thus to live among those who are still seduced by Mystery Babylon, and to show them the way -- by means of examples
which they can witness, up close, and not necessarily hear from afar.

This is one of the ways of Christian Mystics, of whom I am one:

"The truth will set you free."

... implying that one can still be enslaved, regardless of one's location
and even after emigrating to a foreign country ostensibly to "escape".

Thus, it is the truth that will set us free, not moving to a different country ...
and not "may", "might' or "could" set us free, but WILL set us free.

Dan said (February 9, 2010):

Here's one young man who heard his calling at an early age, despite the distractions and temptations of personal wealth living in one of the busiest American cities who wasn't blinded by any of that. He joined a Hindu order so his calling took him to India in saffron robes. I know a Vietnamese seminarian here in Houston, and another Vietnamese holy order Catholic priest who came here from Dallas. They immigrated as children with their families from Viet Nam.

don't see Dasa's choices as motivated by a desire to escape from one country or culture to another. His story holds certain features instantly recognizable to any cleric or religious person whether Krishna Consciousness, Catholic, Buddhist or the rest. Christians refer to it as hearing 'God's calling', or vocation. Vocations vary between being single, married, consecrated, religious or a priest. The vocation of a monk or priest requires celibacy. But a single person in a non-clerical calling is chaste. The marriage vocation is by no means 'less' holy when it's properly conception and raising of children.
These protocols are universal to all religions traditionally. Doctrines and theologies are secondary to that.

From the way he writes I see no conflict in his deciding after 5 years being a consecrated Bhakti monk to leave the order to seek the marriage vocation at his age. Dasa seems to me to have been living in awareness of God's calling for him. Now he's matured to be fit for taking on the responsibilities of marriage vocation. None the worse for 'wear' of 5 years of celibacy.

In Buddhism they have the Mahayana tradition of the monastic life and Theravada in which one lives 'in the world'. Dasa will know about these anyway since they derive from Indian Buddhism. In reality no place on earth is closer or further from God. That's why Jesus didn't fear entering shady parts of town the laws of the day said were 'unclean'. Corruption around us doesn't have to corrupt us.

So I think if someone merely escapes from point a to point b live is probably going to be on the same wavelength where ever they go. If somebody's running away from personal problems in New Orleans they're probably going to fall into similar problems in Timbuktu.

But someone like Dasa who's able to hear his calling will hear it anyway, where it takes him is secondary - the difference is where ever it takes him will be the right place, because that's not 'escaping' that's following God's Will.

Gary said (February 9, 2010):

Regarding the article "A Young Man's Escape from America", I do not doubt the young man's sincerity, and I applaud him for recognizing that wealth does not guarantee happiness, but out of love and concern for his soul I must warn him that he has fallen for the "New Age" type of thinking that is setting the stage for the prophesied one world religion of the Antichrist. The same people who are behind the "New World Order" push for a Luciferian one world government are also behind the ecumenical inter-faithism movement in an attempt to effectively nullify any "Christian" resistance to the "New World Order".

In order to achieve their occult objective, New Agers have to deal with the obstacle of Christianity which had been the main threat to their vision of a one world "utopia". They had to figure a way for Christians to be either neutralized or deceived into unwittingly supporting their agenda. The modern ecumenical movement is playing a key role in accomplishing this mission. Most people do not realize that today's ecumenical movement is an integral part of the push for the New World Order one world government.

For more insight and specific details about the plans the NWO has to use religious unity to further their one world government agenda please read the article at this link:

The above scenario does not surprise those that have read the prophetic warnings to be on the alert for such deceptions so as to escape being an unwitting pawn of the NWO globalists.

Henry Makow received his Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Toronto in 1982. He welcomes your comments at