Joining the Hare Krsna Movement

I got my first Krsna Book from Sura Prabhu in a parking lot in Seattle. He showed me what George
Harrison wrote and that made me take the book. I gave him $20 and he also gave me the Sri Isopanisad.
When I saw the picture of Lord Visnu on the cover I remembered a dream I had about that same Lord
Visnu with lots of incense smoke swirling around Him. I told Sura about that and he said that means I was
meant to be a devotee.
I took the book home and started to read it but I stopped because I thought it was too philosophical. A
few months later I couldn't sleep and I started staring at the picture of Sri Sri Radha and Krsna on the
cover of the Krsna Book. After about twenty minutes of staring, wondering why Krsna was blue, not even
knowing that Krsna is God, all of the sudden Krsna came to life to me flashing His effulgence and smiling.
That got me very excited! So I started reading the book and read about a third of it that night. I liked the
fact that Krsna played in the forest and I remembered my happy days as a child playing with my brothers
and friends in the forests.
When I went out to party with my friends the next night I kept thinking about the Krsna Book. I was tired
of sense gratification and the intoxication that was prominent in society. I told my friends, soon to be X,
that I was going home early to read a book. They looked at me like I was Crazy! But I didn't care, I was
getting a higher taste.
My parents saw my Krsna Book and warned me not to get involved with it because it was a cult. But
when I finished reading the Krsna Book I wanted more books so I went to the Temple as the address was
in the book and I bought every book they had. Like $350 worth. Srila Prabhupada always said his books
are like timebombs that would work in time and it sure worked for me!
His Holiness Visnujana Swami who was a true modern day saint who really inspired and inspires me in
my spiritual life. I remember when I was a new guest at the Seattle temple in 1974. I had gone to the
temple to attend the Sunday Love Feast and was gazing out the upstairs window when I heard a deep
voice behind me say, “Haribol! I’m Visnujana Swami. I’m on my way to a festival in Vancouver and am
stopping by for theSunday festival. Please accept my humble obeisance’s.” As I turned to look at him I
noticed he had a very bright aura. He looked very pure and innocent. I had never offered obeisance’s
before and here was a swami offering obeisance’s to me!
I bowed down with him acting like I knew the prayers. Visnujana Swami started an ecstatic Kirtan and
more and more devotees started showing up than ever before. People would come out of the woodwork
when Visnujana came around. He did devotional bhajans until about midnight. Every time he stopped
chanting the devotees begged him to continue.
We were dancing so much Sukadeva Prabhu, the temple president, was looking worried about the floor
possibly caving in. What a way that would be to go! I’d never stayed at the temple before, but since it was
so late I decided to stay that night. I laid down outside of the door where Visnujana was staying. I couldn’t
sleep because I was still excited from all of the chanting. At about 2:30am Visnujana came out of his
room and seeing me laying there he said, ‘Haribol’ in his esoteric devotional voice. I was blissed out even
more. I laid there thinking about my future as a spirit soul.
The devotees at the temple told me that I should go to San Francisco Rathayatra because Srila
Prabhupada would be there. At that time I was attending college and working at Boeing Airplane
Company. I decided to take a transcendental ‘vacation’ and headed for San Francisco Rathayatra. When
I arrived at the temple on Market Street in San Francisco, I was greeted by Jayananda Prabhu who was
serving out prasadam. He asked me if I could help prepare the Rathayatra carts. I happily agreed to help,
sensing his sincerity and humility. He would always be singing as he drove us out to the Rathayatra site.
He was always working and serving everyone very nice Prasadam, often that he himself cooked.
Jayananda was amazing and inspiring for all of us from the karmi's to the devotees, everyone loved
Jayananda Prabhu.
When the day for the festival arrived, it appeared as if it was going to rain. When Srila Prabhupada
arrived and got upon his Vyasasana on Lady Subhadra’s cart, the clouds opened up and shined a beam
of light on the self-effulgent Acharya. Even though I was new and didn’t know much philosophy, I knew
this was an auspicious omen and that Srila Prabhupada must be very special. At that point I accepted
Srila Prabhupada as my guru in my heart.
The day before Rathayatra, Visnujana Swami was giving a lecture in the Armenian Hall where most of the
visiting devotees were staying. Visnujana Swami said, “Don’t think that these Deities are idols. This is
Krishna!.” Just then a rose fell over Lord Damodara’s arm from below His cheek. This really impressed
me. I was staring and meditating on the Deities of Sri Sri Radha Damodara at that time. Visnujana Swami
always decorated the Deities fabulously with lots of flowers and his unique dressing style. Lord Damodara
had a blue light on Him and Radharani had a gold light on Her and They were very attractive and magical
and mystical looking. When I saw the rose drop down when Visnujana said the Deity is Krsna, I felt The
Lord was communicating this to me personally to inspire me to surrender to Him.
Srila Prabhupada gave a great lecture at the Rathayatra festival. He mentioned that the whole world
follows America and if we could make America more Krishna conscious, the world would follow and it
would become like Vaikuntha, the spiritual world. The crowd of around 10,000 roared in response.
The feast was also awesome. We were served out as we sat in huge rows. It was an unforgettable event
organized mostly by Jayananda Prabhu, with all of the preparations and the expert serving of the
The day after Rathayatra I had packed my bags and was walking out of the hall on my way back to
Seattle when I was stopped by Tamal Krishna Goswami. He asked me if I would like to see Srila
Prabhupada in his room saying that if I joined their party I could. I said that I was not ready to join at that
time and he then made another proposal saying that if I just got the hair trimmed around my ears, I would
be presentable and I could see Srila Prabhupada personally. So I agreed to his proposal. He said, "Aja
here is an expert hair stylist, and if you just let him trim your hair you will be presentable, and you can go
see Srila Prabhupada with us in his room." Aja Prabhu then led me into the bathroom and started to ‘trim’
my hair. I felt a few snips on top of my head and asked to look in the mirror. I was shocked to see bald
spots here and there. I could not go in public like that. I told him to just shave if off because anything
would look better than that. Then I was dressed in a dhoti. I became new bhakta #13. I was very upset
and decided to tell Srila Prabhupada about how i was cheated when we arrived at his quarters.
We arrived at Srila Prabhupada’s apartment and headed up to his room. We were all given a longstemmed
rose to hand to His Divine Grace. We were told to offer our obeisance’s but I didn’t even know
them yet! I was newest new devotee and last to go into Srila Prabhupada's room. I was very nervous as
my turn approached.
Srila Prabhupada was very effulgent slightly smiling and sitting behind a low table gracefully with one leg
up. My hand shook as I reached to hand him the rose. My body shook as I offered my full dandavats. I
was now too overwhelmed with Srila Prabhupada’s transcendental presence to be mad. I forgot my anger
and the speech I was thinking of, about my being tricked into shaving up and joining. As we all settled in
and sat down Srila Prabhupada looked serene and began to speak, “So your all very bright-faced and
fortunate to come to Lord Chaitanya’s movement. Now that you are fortunate, you should make others
fortunate. Preach this message of Lord Chaitanya’s all over the world.”
Srila Prabhupada went on speaking for about twenty minutes and melted my heart. I realized it was
Krishna’s arrangement that I was tricked into joining, but I thought He should have let me move out of my
apartment in Seattle first!
We left the room and boarded the Sri Sri Radha Damodara bus and headed out to perform Harinam
Sankirtan in a fair in Minot, North Dakota. It was ecstatic cruising down the freeway performing Aratika's
and having great Kirtans along the way. We were shocking to people at times when we stopped at gas
stations etc. and when we were performing Kirtan as we drove down the road sometimes the bus would
be Rocking! LOL \o/
The morning we arrived in Minot, we pulled up behind a closed gas station to take our baths with a water
hose. It was about 4am, when all of the sudden a truck pulled around back by us with its lights shining on
us as we bathed outside in just our kaupins. We froze like deers starring into the headlights as the truck
stopped then backed up and took off in a hurry. A short time later three police cars arrived at the scene
after receiving a report of a UFO landing. Ha Ha Haribol!!! We explained ourselves as they scratched their
heads wondering if we were for real. For them seeing us shaved headed devotees was like seeing aliens.
We set up a nice booth at the fair and the programs went well. We chanting until aboutmidnight and our
morning program started at about 7am. We would fill up the bathrooms with devotees washing and
shaving their heads and washing their feet in the sinks. Needless to say it was a culture shock to some of
the locals and fairgoers. Some of them turned right around and walked out shaking their heads.
As we chanted people gathered and some were so shocked that they stood there with wide open eyes
and some even dropped their beer bottles. We had a booth where we sold books, incense, oils and
posters, etc., making about $800 a day, which was a lot in those days.
About seven more devotees joined our Sri Sri Radha Damodar Party at that fair. The program was so
pure it attracted and purified so many souls. We were like magnets pulling the purest souls out if the mud
of Maya.
It was so nice being on the traveling party. We did Kirtan Programs 6 to 8 hours everyday in Fairs,
Collages, Temples and Parks all over America. Generally we followed the sun. Southern States in the
winter and Northern States in the summer. Another advantage we had was whenever Srila Prabhupada
was in America we would go to where he was and have even more ecstatic programs. I will write about
those experiences later and my memories of when I served Srila Prabhupada personally in India in 1977.
Those were the days!
All glories to the Sankirtan Mission of Sri Sri Guru and Gouranga which cleanses the heart of all the dust
accumulated for many years and extinguishes the blazing fire of material existence. All glories to
Jayananda Prabhu and Visnujana Swami.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada and his books, the law books on spiritual life for this Golden Age of Lord
Hoping this meets you well and Happy in Krsna Consciousness