Just a year ago she seemed a bright butterfly, living a life of glamor. The blue-eyed, blond Danish beauty Ann Schaufuss earned $60 an hour as a Paris fashion model and was the favorite mannequin and girlfriend of English photographer Clive Arrowsmith. Today she is a votary in a temple of Krishna, doing menial chores, denying herself earthly pleasures and begging alms in the streets. Ann has become a disciple of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, an 85-year-old globe-trotting guru. For the love of Krishna, she has chucked her career, her connubial arrangement with the photographer and all her worldly goods.
“I used to have terrible depressions,” explains Ann, 26. “Clive and I couldn’t stay together more than an hour without fighting. I went to a psychiatrist. I sought relief in drugs. Then I met a disciple of Krishna, who gave me his teaching.” After periodic trips to the Temple of the Conscience of Krishna in a mansion of Paris’s Rue le Sueur to study the sacred teachings, Ann made a pilgrimage to India. Utterly won to the faith, she joined the community of 130 disciples upon her return to Paris.
In her new life, Ann rises at 4 a.m. from her sleeping place on the floor of the women’s dormitory. After a cold shower, she puts on the clothes she washed the night before and joins the service in the sanctuary, chanting the holy name of Krishna for an hour. Next, Ann studies the Bhagavad-Gita—the teachings of Krishna—before cleaning and polishing the chair occupied by his Divine Grace, Swami Bhaktivedanta, when he visits. After a vegetarian breakfast, Ann’s day of kitchen and cleaning chores begins. It is brightened by the flowers she weaves into garlands to decorate the likeness of Lord Krishna in the sanctuary and by the children of the married disciples whom she oversees.
Though Ann had taken a vow of celibacy, a few months ago she fled the order and spent three days with Clive. Those days of “wild love and fights” convinced her she was right to choose her new life. Content now, she believes in reincarnation. “In my next life, I’d like to be a little blade of grass, so Krishna could poise his foot on me.”