Fountain of the World

Fountain of the World

In the 1950s Krishna Venta convinced his followers in the Fountain of the World cult that he was the present incarnation of Jesus Christ.

Krishna Venta gave birth to himself as a new incarnation of Jesus Christ in 1951, after long, arduous troubles with the law and a long string of failures in other more mundane endeavors. The messiah had been born in San Francisco in 1911 under the “earth name” of Francis Pencovic, and it was under that name that he had studied theology. In 1941, while living in Phoenix, Arizona, he was held and questioned by the police for allegedly writing a threatening letter to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Later, he transformed himself to “Frank Jensen” and committed a number of petty thefts and burglaries. It was sometime after he had been placed in a hospital for psychiatric evaluation that he received the supernatural word that he should metamorphose himself once again—this time into Krishna Venta.

Once he had convinced himself that he was the Son of God, it didn’t take him long to convince others of his divine credentials. The mystic, resplendent in his yellow robes, persuaded his followers that in 1932 he had teleported himself to the United States from the Valley of the Masters below Mount Everest. He had lived in Nepal for centuries, having originally arrived on Earth in a spaceship from the planet Neophrates. He told his disciples that he was ageless.

It seemed that in no time at all he had ordained a priesthood composed of donors to the cause of the Fountain of the World, as he called his enterprise, refusing admittance only to those who did not come bearing gifts. Beautiful women, however, could enter by virtue of their physical attributes.

A benefactor’s large donation enabled the Fountain of the World to purchase twenty-six acres in beautiful Box Canyon, about forty-five miles northwest of Los Angeles. In the early 1950s a nonprofit corporation was formed in California with Krishna Venta as president. Under him were twelve disciples. All applicants were technically required to bequeath to the Fountain of the World all earthly wealth that they possessed.

From the beginning, Krishna Venta was determined not to be run out of the state by the authorities. He earnestly set about creating good public relations, training his followers in disaster aid and other socially helpful fields. Of special note was the skill of the Fountain of the World cultists as firefighters. Timber fires in that section of California were a menace, and when one was reported, Krishna Venta, at the command of his brigade, would speed to the scene in his station wagon to supervise the construction of firebreaks and trenches to combat the blaze.

As noble as all this might seem, what probably caused the messiah’s downfall was his penchant for racing to the fires in the company of young, beautiful female disciples. He had the back of his station wagon outfitted with a mattress, and whenever there was a break in the firefighting, Krishna Venta would steal away with a lovely disciple.

The doctrine of the Fountain of the World allowed its members the unrestrained use of tobacco or alcohol, but it ordered a tight rein on their sexual desires. It was not, of course, that Krishna Venta was against sex, but he did most heartily wish to keep the cult’s personal expression of sexual activity away from the unfavorable scrutiny of the public eye. He did not want rumors of orgies and free love to excite his more conservative neighbors.

Most of the true believers went along with the cult’s rules and got married before they engaged in any serious or regular sexual intercourse. As one might suppose, as the spiritual master of the Fountain of the World, Krishna Venta reserved the right to dally with whichever women he chose. On occasion, his sexual indulgence was cloaked under the guise of various subterfuges, some religious and some therapeutic. Most often, however, he simply willed into bed a host of mistresses.

Krishna Venta’s image as a perfect savior began to melt. He went to Las Vegas and lost a great deal of money at the craps tables, claiming that he had done so only to see how the sinners conducted themselves in that city of glaring neon lights and clattering slot machines. He traveled to London on a missionary tour, but reports reached his followers that even though the British had given him a cool reception, he stayed in expensive hotels and lived in the grand style, as if he were a visiting rajah. Once back home in Box Canyon, he continued to eat nothing but the finest foods while his disciples were left to scrounge for themselves.

Finally, his annoyed followers began to question the validity of his messiahship. As is too often the case with cult leaders, Krishna Venta had failed in his relationships with his own subjects. Greed and sexual promiscuity had ensnared him, and he had come to believe his own pronouncements that he was truly what he proclaimed to be and just as invincible.

The spiritual straw that broke the faithful’s back was the discovery by two disciples, Ralph Muller and Peter Kamenoff, that their wives had been summoned to their guru’s private orgies in the back of the infamous station wagon. Such knowledge proved to be more than they could endure, and it became the catalytic element that brought them to the door of the Fountain of the World’s administration building on the fateful evening of December 10, 1958. When the bundle of dynamite borne by Muller and Kamenoff was detonated, the two-story administration building disintegrated along with Krishna Venta, his two assassins, and seven other members of the cult.

References in periodicals archive ?
We were there recently on a fine March day, and could see past the Vietnam and Korean Memorials up through the Reflecting Pool (currently under repair for a leak), to the giant fountain of the World War II Memorial (dry also), to the Washington Monument beyond (pointing resolutely upward, but unclimbable until it gets some postearthquake repairs).
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And among the rescuers were bedrobed followers of the WKFL Fountain of the World - a long-haired cult espousing wisdom, knowledge, faith and love - who were living in nearby Box Canyon.
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