This last holiday season one Swedish man in his forties didn’t feel like joining the festivities and decided to get away from it all. He packed up his car, drove to the North of the country and parked away from the main road. He didn’t miss anyone and had a jolly good time to himself. Ten days later, just before New Year, he ran out of food. He still had booze and smokes, though, so he thought he would stay a little longer, he didn’t want to return yet.
Ten days later he ran out of alcohol and cigarettes, too. By that time his hatred and resentment of the world grew so much he thought that he’d rather stay hungry and cold than come back to the society. To hell with them, he thought, I’m staying here. Ten days later someone called the police about a car parked in the woods but because it wasn’t reported stolen the police didn’t want to investigate it, apparently there are lots of abandoned cars all over Swedish forests.
The man still had his plan B – the main road was very close and the nearest gas station less then two kilometers away but he didn’t use it, he decided not to give a shit about the world he has left behind. And then came the snow, a lot of it, waist deep. By the time he tried to walk back he could make only ten meters before getting exhausted.
Fair enough, the man thought, I gave up on the world and the world gave up on me. He returned to his car and snuggled in his sleeping bag. He didn’t have any food but when he was thirsty he would scoop up some snow and eat it.
He was found on February 19, still alive, two months after he left the society behind.
When snow bikers who found him opened the door of his car he asked them if they had any coffee – no, they said. Well, do you have any cigarettes? No. Then get the hell out of here and close the door, you are letting the cold in!
The man is recuperating very well and is almost ready to be discharged from the hospital but so far he still refuses to talk to anyone. Sometime last year he got into a bad business venture and amassed huge debts. His house was repossessed and in Sweden you can’t claim social benefits if you don’t have a place of residence, and you can’t rent a place if you don’t have any money – catch 22. His girlfriend had also left him. He didn’t speak to his parents for twenty years and is not going to start any time soon either.
It’s an amazing story but what has it got to do with Krishna consciousness? Not much on the face of it, just another misanthrope, or another case study of the modern uncaring society. Most of online commenters can’t understand his point of view at all. People think he was crazy or suicidal, some think it’s a hoax because they don’t believe he couldn’t walk to the gas station (some say he actually went there to get supplies but that can’t be confirmed atm). Some people think it’s a publicity stunt to attract attention and make money on movie and book rights, they don’t understand how shallow and repulsive modern society can appear to someone who wants to look beyond its superficial charms.
We, as devotees, should take note of it next time we get excited about some new social invention like gay marriages or vegans.
More interesting, however, is how he survived the cold – it got down to -30 Celsius during that time. He didn’t have any food, he had only snow for water, and he still lived, just on his will power alone.
We think that only people like Hiranyakashipu or Ravana can perform austerities like that and it was millions of years ago in a different age. Apparently it’s still possible if one is determined enough.
So what’s stopping us from leaving this world on the power of the Holy Name? Why do we think it’s impossible to live in Himalayas like Nara Narayana or Vyasadev? Why do we not have faith?
I’m not saying that we should all try something similar, I’m saying that we should have full faith that it’s perfectly possible. I personally knew a devotee who spend whole night outside in -20 Celsius without a coat on, he didn’t even get sick afterwards. He was chased by the police for distributing books in some remote, unenlightened village, he ran outside of his hotel and was afraid to come back, chanting Hare Krishna through the night instead.
Last time I heard he left the movement and is considered blooped but I don’t believe for a second that he abandoned Krishna or that Krishna abandoned him, not after making sacrifices like this. They can say whatever they want but I will always see him as an eternal servant of Lord Chaitanya, no matter what he does in the material world, which is nothing major anyway.
I hope that when my time comes to go through tests like this I’ll have enough faith to keep going. I need to grow beyond the bodily conception if I ever want to become a devotee, these two concepts are incompatible, you choose either one or the other and I hope I’ll have enough strength to make the wise choice.
I’ll end with some pictures of the car and its insides: