Citteshvar and Vibhuti ashes

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Wazzup
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Citteshvar and Vibhuti ashes

Post by Wazzup »

Dear Hari,

Please help me understand this issue from a first hand source, namely yourself. I have heard too many different opinions and speculations by now from too many people.

The general story goes that you were given so-called "vibhuti ashes" by Citteshvar, the Oriyan tantric, for many years without knowing that these ashes were in reality a combination of two prescription medications -- Stelazine, for treating manic depression, and Artane, to treat Parkinson's disease. When in 1998 you all of a sudden decided to stop taking these "ashes" it accelerated you into the breakdown you experienced, as these are strong drugs that require one to taper off to avoid rather severe side effects. This is more or less the version that has also been presented by the GBS Executive Committee to the ISKCON world as some kind of de-facto course of events.

Over the last couple of years people have come to question this version of the events based on reasonable considerations. For instance:

- If Citteshvar gave you these medications without your knowledge (and apparently to others as well), why did the GBC never officially investigate his practices? Why was he never reported to any local authorities? Why was his status in ISKCON never questioned? Those who asked Citteshvar about giving you the medications say his only answer was that he simply did exactly what his guru (Jayapataka Swami) had told him to.

- The "vibhuti ashes" in no way resembled ashes. Rather, it appeared as a coarse, blue-violet powder, much like crushed tablets. It often contained bigger pieces, which were actually recognizable as fragments of tablets. Those who have tasted it say it tastes soapy and bitter like most allopathic medicines, not the neutral to metallic-salty of ashes. How could this have been mistaken by you for ashes left over from a fire sacrifice?

- Apparently you were very aware of your manic depression and did discuss it at times with some of your close Godbrothers and disciples. On such (former) disciple has stated that you told him you actually liked your manic phases and missed them, and that you didn’t like how the medications kept you in balance.

So, some who were formerly very close to you hold that you, being way too intelligent to be fed crushed prescription drugs renamed to ashes, knew exactly what you were taking. In that case the ashes story served merely as a cover. After all, a very powerful GBC sannyasi on prescription medications for manic depression would not have fit into the GBC picture very well. What to speak of the questions it would have raised among your disciples and Godbrothers about your qualifications as a guru. The enormous amounts of money generated in your zone were at stake, too.

Is this true? Did you know that you were taking prescription drugs and what they were for?

If so, would you mind sharing with us what led you to make these decisions? I can understand that there was an enormous pressure to perform and conform, more than enough to break anyone. Also, if it is true and you are willing to clarify the situation, then that would help us all to get a better insight into the culture of the higher ISKCON echelons, at least at that time.

If not, is it then exactly as the GBC Executive Committee presented? Did you really take these medications without ever questioning their origin? Don’t you feel betrayed by Citteshvar?

Thank you so much for this opportunity to communicate this directly to you.

Hoping this meets you well,

Wazzup
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Re: Citteshvar and Vibhuti ashes

Post by Hari »

Wazzup wrote:Please help me understand this issue from a first hand source, namely yourself. I have heard too many different opinions and speculations by now from too many people.
OK, why not.
The general story goes that you were given so-called "vibhuti ashes" by Citteshvar, the Oriyan tantric, for many years without knowing that these ashes were in reality a combination of two prescription medications -- Stelazine, for treating manic depression, and Artane, to treat Parkinson's disease. When in 1998 you all of a sudden decided to stop taking these "ashes" it accelerated you into the breakdown you experienced, as these are strong drugs that require one to taper off to avoid rather severe side effects. This is more or less the version that has also been presented by the GBS Executive Committee to the ISKCON world as some kind of de-facto course of events.
Since this is an easy explanation that does not require questioning anything within ISKCON and it creates the comfortable illusion of me having mental problems, one can see its appeal to those who needed to explain away my departure in definite terms.

The reality is: I did not know that this was a drug. The only effect it had on me was to make me tired and sleep more. Otherwise, as everyone knew, I functioned extremely well. If there were after effects of stopping its usage, they would have manifested within one week of stopping and would have been striking. None of these after effects manifested within that time frame and certainly not later. This is normal as I did not have manic-depression or Parkinsons (if what you are quoting is correct as I do not know, neither do I really care) After this time frame anything that took place was unrelated to this medicine.

The reason for my increased activity was two-fold. One: I was no longer as tired and detached from the pain of others and had increased mental energy to think in my normal manner without having to struggle as much. This allowed me to view and address the difficulties within ISKCON with greater power and energy. Two: I rapidly saw the deep and intense disturbance everywhere in ISKCON and the underlying causes of it. Therefore I increased my activity to try to assist the children through the education ministry and assist the society through the Mayapur social development project that was intended to develop a template for successful community life. I worked as hard as I could to create a world where children, women and families would feel supported, welcome and nurtured.

The breakdown was directly related to the loss of the money that was supporting all these programs and my intense, yet futile efforts, to save it. If one wishes to have an easy explanation that comprehensively explains the situation, this is it. To blame a nightly sedative to assist sleeping is a flimsy stretch. But all can and will believe what they want and nothing I say will change that.

I do not blame the EC (alas, my hand-picked crew meant to assist me in reforming the chaos in ISKCON) for what they did or said. Naturally, they were at a loss as they did not know me well, did not know what I was thinking or feeling and when I explained it to them, did not accept it. At that time in ISKCON history, deep transformational and personal change to re-establish internal harmony and peace in one’s life was dangerous, especially when it challenged the absolute nature of the sacrosanct value structure that kept ISKCON frozen in the Victorian era. I dared to challenge and speak what I came to see as the root cause of the troubles, and for this I had to suffer the natural and expected backlash. Even today, most are convinced of various myths surrounding my departure and dare not address the veracity of these creations for it would offer them an unwanted opportunity to see themselves changing into something outside the parameters of socially and ‘spiritually’ acceptable thought and action.
Over the last couple of years people have come to question this version of the events based on reasonable considerations. For instance:

- If Citteshvar gave you these medications without your knowledge (and apparently to others as well), why did the GBC never officially investigate his practices? Why was he never reported to any local authorities? Why was his status in ISKCON never questioned? Those who asked Citteshvar about giving you the medications say his only answer was that he simply did exactly what his guru (Jayapataka Swami) had told him to.
The GBC did investigate, but refrained from serious action. I must confess I protected him for some time as he did some good things for some years. Later, I did not bother. He was restrained to some extent at that time. Which local authorities should he be reported to? I hope you are not seriously expecting that the Oriyan government would do something. India was known, at least at that time, for its laissez faire attitude about most things relating to abuses against its people, especially when it involved tantrics. I truly doubt that Chittesvara did what Jayapataka Swami told him to. He did not listen to him and many times told me (I had to hide my smile at this one) that he should have entered ISKCON on the level of guru as he was so highly advanced there was no need for him to be initiated, but he did it anyway to be accepted. His guide told him to accept JPS and for this reason only he did so. As far as I know JPS, he does not tell his disciples in general what to do, but leaves it up to them most of the time (which, now that I think about it, is not altogether that bad a policy if it were adapted a bit to the emotional needs of his closer disciples) and certainly he did not dabble in the details of what Chittesvara did.
- The "vibhuti ashes" in no way resembled ashes. Rather, it appeared as a coarse, blue-violet powder, much like crushed tablets. It often contained bigger pieces, which were actually recognizable as fragments of tablets. Those who have tasted it say it tastes soapy and bitter like most allopathic medicines, not the neutral to metallic-salty of ashes. How could this have been mistaken by you for ashes left over from a fire sacrifice?
Only once did I see a chunk, and it was this chunk that made me suspicious. Seeing another chunk caused me to stop it. It did not ‘often’ contain pieces, at least not what I saw. It was mixed with honey and drunk with milk that hid its taste.

It is interesting how I thought that the ashes idea could be true. When I first got this stuff in Mayapur, the local savvy swami, BhaktiVidyaPurna Swamji, was in my room. I showed it to him and said, how can ashes be like this? He replied that as far as he knew, the ashes became the color of whatever poison it was counteracting. As he seemed to know, and it did make sense, I accepted it. Sure, hindsight is 20-20, but at that time it made sense. And since there was no side effect, I did not worry about it. Who was I to complain about a good night’s sleep? OK, it went too long and so on, but that is the way it was. No defense from me.
- Apparently you were very aware of your manic depression and did discuss it at times with some of your close Godbrothers and disciples. On such (former) disciple has stated that you told him you actually liked your manic phases and missed them, and that you didn’t like how the medications kept you in balance.
I have no idea where these ideas come from. If being depressed when hearing about the distinct possibility that Prabhupada was poisoned, with knowing the intimate details of all the child abuse, with seeing the way we created a restricted situation for families and women, and worse, that I was part of that system, with seeing how advancement was linked with power and prestige and constantly fighting with people in useless political maneuvers (some of whom I considered as important friends!) and non-stop agitated discussions about a wide variety of polemical topics is a symptom of depression, then so be it. If being excited about being able to do substantial projects of great import to the development of the society and working hard with intense energy to accomplish them for the sake of all is manic, then so be it.

By the way, I am psychic and work with people in this way. During my ISKCON times, I had to hide this for ISKCON was very much in the middle ages and eagerly enjoyed a good Salem like show. If being psychic and knowing more than I ‘should’ is manic according to the definition of the GBC, then pardon me, I am guilty. I detested having to live in a society where our natural mystical capacity was crushed by social pressure.

But, back to the point. No doctor ever gave a diagnosis of any psychological problem and I myself never said I had one as I do not and did not think I did. I am not sure what statements ‘close’ disciples or ‘godbrothers’ are quoting and I might suggest that there is a distinct possibility that they misinterpreted something I said. Of course, one silly doctor from Denmark once watched a video of a lecture I gave and declared some diagnosis to some equally foolish people who believed him. One can only smile thinking of how he would have diagnosed others giving lectures!

When I explained this to the psychiatrist that worked for the German Government who was sent by the executive committee to declare me insane so I would not testify in behalf of Hansadutta in the BBT case ((I would not have ‘testified’ on his behalf, but I would not have judged him as I did not see (and stated so) any reason to work against him since he was also printing and selling books and we did not suffer because of that)), she said that if I told her his name she would arrange that he would be sanctioned in the EU and possibly lose his license for such irresponsible behavior. The Executive Committee later came to her expecting to hear her confirm what they wanted, but instead she diagnosed them as a group of hysterical chickens clucking in a circle around me. She declared me quite healthy and quite sane for leaving the situation I was in. Another psychiatrist in Trier echoed this diagnosis when the BBT insisted that I go to him to establish that I could not be a witness in the BBT case of Hansadutta due to mental instability. He said that if he had worked as hard as I had all those years without any recreation or days off, he would have fallen to pieces years ago. He was very impressed with how I was doing when he saw me. I can only imagine how frustrating it was for all of them to have their pet theory countered by the very professionals they employed to declare me incapable.
So, some who were formerly very close to you hold that you, being way too intelligent to be fed crushed prescription drugs renamed to ashes, knew exactly what you were taking. In that case the ashes story served merely as a cover. After all, a very powerful GBC sannyasi on prescription medications for manic depression would not have fit into the GBC picture very well. What to speak of the questions it would have raised among your disciples and Godbrothers about your qualifications as a guru. The enormous amounts of money generated in your zone were at stake, too.
This is an interesting theory because it gives me some respect for being smart enough to cheat the system, and for this reason I like it. However, it is also untrue. Maybe there is a God after all under whom all things take place? But this theory is too radical, as we do not believe in divine intervention when it comes to anything but that which is demanded and expected by a society such as ISKCON.
Is this true? Did you know that you were taking prescription drugs and what they were for? If so, would you mind sharing with us what led you to make these decisions? I can understand that there was an enormous pressure to perform and conform, more than enough to break anyone. Also, if it is true and you are willing to clarify the situation, then that would help us all to get a better insight into the culture of the higher ISKCON echelons, at least at that time.
It is not true. Therefore there is nothing more to say according to these questions.
If not, is it then exactly as the GBC Executive Committee presented? Did you really take these medications without ever questioning their origin? Don’t you feel betrayed by Citteshvar?
Who can say precisely what the ‘truth’ of any situation ‘really’ is? What I related here in this reply is true from my point of view. One could write much more, but it would only address details and not conceptual substance. It would also take longer than I wish to take on this subject, which has already consumed a lot of my time. After all, I have a life and its various needs to attend to.

Sure I questioned, but I questioned Chittesvara who answered falsely. Why he did so only he knows. Do I feel betrayed? Not really. I did not see him as a friend; rather as someone I paid regularly to take care of something I thought needed taking care of. And when I think back on it, had he not been there and had he not given these medicines, I might have left ISKCON long before. After all, I myself wonder why I remained in a movement that I lost most of my taste for in 1985 after the extremely troublesome GBC meeting in New Vrindavan and the subsequent attack on Kirtanananda Swami. Regardless of one’s opinion about him, his views, his life and so on, the attack amplified within me the worry that ISKCON was harboring truly sick people within it. I had very little idea what to do about it. After so many left in 1986 and I was left carrying a burden that was far greater than my skinny shoulders could handle, I had my first collapse due to the intense and unstoppable stress that was constantly thrown upon me from all sides and from all over the world. Still, I marched on, but pretending that all was well and I had it all under control for the sake of the society was impossible and sickness forced me to be a hermit for two years. It was no small effort to bring me back into activity for I had developed a taste for peace and solitude. Well, not totally, since I love action and doing big projects to help people.
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Post by pamu »

Thank you for taking your time and answering. I know this sounds little crazy, but I found myself laughing while reading some parts of the text. Not to you, but to the whole circus we were part of. Comedie absurdum? Comedie humaine? Comedie infantile? Maybe a mix of all three.
Still, one thing I have to say. When you started taking the "medicine" I felt that your classes became pretty regular. It did not show in your day to day behaviour or other dealings, though. Maybe that was just the normal after effects of a good nights sleep :wink:.
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Re: Citteshvar and Vibhuti ashes

Post by Wazzup »

Dear Hari,

Thank you so much for your candid and open answer. I think this is the first time that your own opinion on all these speculations is coming to the public. It is much appreciated. It definitely helps me understand the situation better with the other side of the story.

I wish you the best.

Wazzup
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Post by Janus »

Excuse me Hari but may I ask, do you believe, intuit or know whether there is any truth to the allegation that Srila Prabhupada was poisoned, or do you suspect that he was or might have been?
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rehabilitation

Post by harsi »

I just came to read this article by Jayadvaita Swami and found it appropriate to post it hear.
"...a case full of emotionally and spiritually charged issues, called for a great deal of personal and ´Spiritual Healing´ between those involved..." Its really true I thought also, after I was reading this sites...

http://www.oldchakra.com/articles/pre/b ... ionbbt.htm but it seems the BBT nevertheless lost its original copyrights to the public domain in this court case, but maybe it is just a rumour... http://www.guptadas.ws/A-Books.html
http://www.guptadas.ws/default.asp
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Post by Hari »

The BBT did not lose its rights to the public domain and that is not what should be inferred from the articles you linked. Just because someone said so does not make it so.

After I heard on a tape that Prabhupada thought he was poisoned, it became a source of great anxiety for me. However, I cannot comment on the accuracy of the statement due to insufficient knowledge.
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Post by harsi »

It´s nice to hear from you that it should not be concludet that the BBT lost its rights to the public domain. The links I found in the internet a few days ago, which I was linking were also not meant to infer this, rather the oposite of what someone claimed to be so. An uncertainty from my point of view.
Thank you for the clarification.
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Post by Janus »

Hari wrote:If being psychic and knowing more than I ‘should’ is manic according to the definition of the GBC, then pardon me, I am guilty.

After I heard on a tape that Prabhupada thought he was poisoned, it became a source of great anxiety for me. However, I cannot comment on the accuracy of the statement due to insufficient knowledge.

I had just been worndering if you had applied your psychic abilities and other resources in an attempt to divulge the truth or falsity of Srila Prabhupada's assertion and if by doing so you had come up with any convincement either way and if you had become convinced of the truth of Srila Prabhupada's claim whether you might have any suspicions or certainty of who the guilty might be. I would be more interested in knowing whether they were his disciples and how they justified to themselves such a crime than I would be in seeing them suffer any punishment that society could offer them, even if they could be convicted.
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Post by Hari »

I cannot verify by any means if there was a crime and therefore I would not venture to cast blame. There is only one means by which this idea could be confirmed as a crime and that would be to test the remains. Before this is done, there is little use in worrying about it. Therefore I shall not consider this further, neither shall I comment further as there is nothing more to say. Please do not continue this line of questioning with me as I have nothing more to add.
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Post by harsi »

Hari wrote:
"Maybe there is a God after all under whom all things take place? But this theory is too radical, as we do not believe in divine intervention when it comes to anything but that which is demanded and expected by a society such as ISKCON."

Dear Hari, what do you mean by writing "as we do not believe in divine intervention...?" Would you say that this society of people was ones or ever in connection with the Divine and His will or could it be said that such a thing is more posible on a personal individual level than of that of a society of devotees or transcendentalists as a whole? I hope I expressed myself corectly and undertstandable.
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Post by Hari »

I was being sarcastic. I know it breaks the rules of writing in forums to be sarcastic since sarcasm is not easily expressed in writing. I was trying to say in a sarcastic manner that if we believed that there is a God and that He and She can and do intervene when the situation warrants, then perhaps we could consider that events which might seem strange at the time are part of a greater plan. Such events are not easily understood in the short term but become easier to understand over time. This does not mean that everyone will understand them sooner or later, but I have seen that for some it becomes much easier.

People who were or are in ISKCON seem to be allergic to such unexpected arrangements and usually react to that which is outside of the expected norm to be a product of a deviation borne of lust, aparadha, or insanity. They do not often try to see things in a larger context. The same goes for their perception of anything which is mystical or esoteric.
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Post by GPandit »

"The same goes for their perception of anything which is mystical or esoteric."

Unfortunately, I think it goes beyond Isckon also. I have a very close friend who joined Isckon with me a long time ago. He parted from Isckon in the mid-80's and followed Sridhar Maharaj and later Narayana Maharaja, even to this day. We are very close friends, true brothers, but I wouldn't discuss my mystical interests with him. I don't think he would judge me harshly, but he would not be open at all to it. It's a very strange thing--we can discuss martial arts, or even some slightly mundane tv shows, it's no problem. But there seems to be an area that is somewhat taboo. On one hand, my friend can be very loose and laid back. He never preaches to me, or attempts to convince me.

Do you know what the genesis of this kind of thinking is Hari? Is it maybe part and parcel of following a Vaishnava tradition?
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Post by Hari »

I do not think that this somewhat irrational fear of mysticism has anything whatsoever to do with Vaisnavism. After all, the Bhagavatam is filled with mystical events and personalities. Simply read the Mahabharata to get an image of mysticism being a basic requirement of the brahmana.

The next obvious question would be, why do most of the present day leaders of schools that purport to be Vaisnava condemn subtly and sometimes directly that which is connected to mystical energy? I cannot answer with certainty, but you or I can suggest some possibilities.

Now I cannot declare this with absolute certainty, but I perceived that certain contemporaries of Prabhupada used mystical capacities to do things within the world. Sometimes these actions had negative results for those upon whom their attention was directed. Prabhupada himself acknowledged this in letters and conversations around the time when the famous four devotees started to declare that he was god around the time of Janmastami 1970 in New Vrindavan. I have a personal experience of a similar kind of thing, but I am not so confident about it to declare it openly.

This could imply, and I am not saying it does, that those who have such capacities want to make sure that no one else develops them to insure their superiority or their exclusivity in these realms amongst the ‘vaisnavas.’ How one wishes to interpret this, if one would buy this theory at all, is up to the individual.

Another reason, if one were to take the positive side to this, could be that those who know the arts also know that one can get lured into these energies and harmed by them, even if one had the best intentions. Regardless if they think like that or not, the fear I just stated is a very real one and is to be considered by all who venture into these areas.

Power of any kind is not without risk. I have seen those with political or economic power become twisted by it. I have seen those who have spiritual power or who assume spiritual leadership positions become distorted by the burdens and expectations. It does not matter if one is western or Indian or is an ISKCON person or some other sect. Any kind of capacity that is greater than the masses and which is idealized and followed by others carries with it dangers and pitfalls. Some of these dangers are gross and some are quite subtle.

Etheric pitfalls are equally great and are not to be overlooked by those who dabble in mystical realms; however, to deny, ignore, or condemn such energies and realms is not only primitive, it is dangerous as all people have connections to and to a greater or lesser degree relate with etheric and mystical energy; therefore the more familiar one is with it and the greater one’s understanding of it, the easier one can use it properly for good. This is why I have spent so much time expanding such knowledge within the context of the essence of what even a vaisnava would accept; namely, love of the Supreme and being of service in awareness of one’s spiritual essence. I saw that those who are hiding behind the organization and mixing exclusively within the realms of socially acceptable power, sans mysticism, miss at least 25% of the most important parts of life. Much suffering comes from this and all exploitation thrives within such a self-inflicted state of blindness.

Yet there is another possibility and this one scares me more than the others. What if some of these personalities fear this power because they have no capacity for it and no entrance into the mystical realms where all the exchanges of love and connection to the Supreme and all divinity within the creation? Thus they would present spirituality as a collection of words, concepts, displayed actions in the name of devotion or bhakti, and the ever expanding attainment of rise in stature with the increase of followers and recognition? After all, those who are unaware on the esoteric platform have little capacity to know what is within others energetic hearts due to their lack of psychic capacity, and do not see how the energy of others manifests for better or worse in the world. Such persons look for other signs of proof of the status of their leaders and their awareness is colored by their needs to create someone to follow and believe in and their eagerness to be accepted by someone they feel is great. Rarely do they question those they follow for this is not within the acceptable realms of behavior within such groups which prevents them from doing the esoteric research required to know their leaders well. Leaders know this phenomena well and use it to their advantage. Keeping their followers ignorant of the awareness expanding techniques available to mystics is important to them, and thus mysticism must remain looked down upon and indeed, feared as an obstacle to ‘true’ devotion. It is a shame, yet everyone follows what they want for they feel this is the way for them to get what they need. Therefore, I have no complaint about it.

Unfortunately, while creating this illusion of what is great and what is not, one builds a fortress of behavioral modification that is not necessarily compatible with the human psyche. This creates yet another obstacle to be overcome before the energy of the soul may manifest as it should.

This is sad. Maybe, Garudaji, you have more to say about this? I am sure you have your own perception about this that you have never openly spoken about...
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Post by GPandit »

For me, in those days, it was all about the discovery of a life beyond the material. I wanted to meditate and live in the forest, and it seemed like a natural instinct. Moving into the association people who looked down upon such things was never in my plan. Very often, the kirtans and the japa supplied me with the much-needed "juice" of mysticism. And yes those literatures were filled with mystical events and personalities. Somewhere along the line, some people in "authority" made me and others believe that those experiences were of a lesser, or lower, comprehension. As if we were not worthy of such a beautiful inner life. Hari, I believe the fears you expressed are reasonable. Many of those leaders had no experience or comprehension of things mystical"”it’s almost unbelievable to say it, but I feel it’s true. Those guys who used to criticize "Brahman realization", I don’t believe they were anywhere near such a place,it seems like a very very highly exalted realization to me now. I wish I could be there, even if it is a stepping stone to something higher. Those who stayed in such institutions fear that they will completely destroy their spiritual souls if they stray into the world of mysticism. It’s a fear I carried for a while. What a feeling of joy and a leap of faith it has been, to let those chains fall off. Just my two cents!!
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