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Episode 11: Malaria!

(This  is how the Nivaquine tablets I purchased from the local pharmacy were packaged in India.  They spared me from the severe pain caused by the reoccurring malaria attacks that I fell victim to on several occasions when I wore my body down too much.)

“Canakya Pandita has advised that fire and disease and debt, don't neglect. You must clear.” - Audio Transcript, “The Nectar of Devotion” - January 28, 1973, Calcutta 

The days crept closer to Friday July 7th, and on Wednesday July 5th the life member finally showed up to see what he needed to do to put brakes on what was now the freshly painted chariot.  He was totally unprepared and did not instill any confidence in me regarding what he was doing.  After looking around a bit he went away saying he needed to get his tools and come back with parts on the next day, which he did.  I watched him install the hydraulic lines but when he hooked up a traditional brake pedal I understood that all he was doing was installing a standard brake system from an old Ambassador automobile.  It was then that I realized we were in trouble.   I was now facing the same dilemma Jayananda prabhu told me emphatically to avoid.  We had a brake system to point at if anyone asked, but I knew it would be useless, especially when the cart was being enthusiastically pulled by Jagannatha Bhaktas.  So following in the footsteps of what Jayananda prabhu did, I arranged for ropes to be attached to the rear axle and let the temple know that a team of devotees needed to be assigned to act as brakes by tending to the ropes which would be in the back. 

On top of the fact that the sun was unbearably hot, having to devise a makeshift solution to stop the new Rath cart at the last minute started to make me physically sick.   I literally began to melt down from the inside, which I at first attempted to ignore, something I was in the habit of doing, but it got worse.  A few minutes later, even though the afternoon sun was still blazing down, I started getting cold shivers and I realized that I had run myself down so much that the Malaria hibernating in my blood stream had overcome my compromised immune system.  My body was under attack again from the Malaria parasite.

In 1976, after getting initiated in the courtyard of the Krishna Balaram Mandir I contracted Malaria.  Not realizing what was wrong I ignored it for nearly a week and by the time I got back to NY I had become so deadly ill that I ended up in Roosevelt hospital on 60th street with a temperature of 107°.   I had started to lose my eyesight which was what happens right before your body completely loses the battle and if not for the remarkable skills of the doctors that took care of me that first night I would not be here to tell this story now.  It seems like Krishna wanted me to stay on this project. So when I knew I wanted to return to India I went to the health clinics in N.Y. and got all the appropriate shots and learned as much as I could about how to combat Malaria.   I knew what the symptoms were so this time when that little nasty parasite waged war on my body I did not waste any time.  The cart was ready to go but I was not.  I had to get back to the temple and swallow down some Nivaquine tablets then promptly lay down and pray that Lord Jagannatha make me whole again by the next day.  

I was in the habit of chanting my rounds before Mangal Arati and so I got up at about 2am to feel if Nivaquine worked.   I knew it would be a very long day and the first thing I had to do when the sun came up was to move the chariot from the construction site to where the parade would commence at the 3 Albert Road temple.   The soft chanting at that early time in the morning brought me back into functioning mode.   The Nivaquine appeared to have worked but because it does so by destroying the blood forms after their release from tissue schizonts. (Skiz-onts)   What that meant is the fever and chills were gone but my stomach was all messed up and it would take a while before I got my full strength back.  By the time the sun was popping up I still felt nauseous but I was strong enough to walk back to the Rath site with Venkata to get the Chariot.   We rolled it back to the temple so it could be decorated and everything seemed to be working well on the maiden voyage.

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